That Mitchell & Webb Crook

by craig on February 19, 2013 10:40 am in Uncategorized

Robert Webb gave the following highly revealing answers to a Guardian interview in 2005:

Which living person do you most admire and why?
Christopher Hitchens

What makes you depressed?
Suicide bombers and their apologists

Which living person do you most despise?
George Galloway

he has now found a way to channel his hatred of the anti-necon movement into “comedy”, by making a sitcom poking fun at me, and making light of our government’s alliance with the Uzbek dictatorship.

Our Men, commissioned by the BBC, is a hilarious comedy about the drunken and incompetent British Ambassador in Tazbekistan [which the BBC says does not represent Tashkent, Uzbekistan] and the jolly despot President Kairat [No relation, says the BBC, to President Karimov].

Let us remind ourselves about the Uzbek regime with which the UK has a close military alliance. There are over 11,000 political prisoners held in terrible conditions. Thousands are tortured every year. There is absolutely zero freedom of speech, media, religion or assembly. All opposition parties are banned. Millions are forced into slave Labour in the state cotton plantations, including many thousands of children as young as eight years old.

Over 800 pro-democracy demonstrators were killed in a massacre at Andijan in 2005. Routine torture includes beating with rifle butts, smashing of knees and elbows with hammers, suffocation by gas mask with closed vent, electrocution,
mutilation of genitals, rape, both homosexual and heterosexual, rape with objects, and torture of children in front of their parents. There are properly documented instances of the most extreme torture imaginable, including Mr Avazov, on whom whilst Ambassador there, I obtained a pathology report from the University of Glasgow which said he had died of immersion in boiling liquid.

Good for a laugh, that, isn’t it?

But something is happening with Mitchell & Webb more sinister than an argument about the limits of comedy. World War 1 was terrible, but Blackadder Goes Forth is still funny and legitimate, while Mash and Catch 22 undermined war with humour. But this Mitchell & Webb vehicle is being written with the active cooperation of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Because the Uzbek government, the fifth most corrupt in the world according to Transparency International, is being sustained and protected by its alliance with the United Kingdom. Just last week the Defence Secretary announced to Parliament a new partnership with this vicious ductatorship which will see most of the equipment of British forces from Afghanistan leaving through Uzbekistan:

The Republic of Uzbekistan has already played a constructive role in helping to secure Afghanistan’s stability but will face increased security challenges once ISAF has withdrawn from Afghanistan. We have therefore been examining options for gifting surplus UK equipment to help meet those challenges. The departmental minute which I have today laid before Parliament describes a gifting package to the Republic of Uzbekistan of surplus Leyland DAF trucks and Land Rover spares that is intended to contribute to this. Both items have been examined and cleared against the consolidated EU and national arms export licensing criteria, which include an assessment of whether the equipment might be used for human rights violations or internal repression.

The last sentence is as breathtakingly tendentious as anything that has ever been said to parliament, but it is only about Uzbekistan, so nobody cares. In the last three years nobody, on any side of the House, has ever said anything about the appalling human rights record of the Uzbek government.

There is certainly huge room for satire in the British government’s support of this despotism – Bremner, Bird & Fortune did it to great effect. But the Mitchell and Webb comedy is coming from quite a different direction.

The comedy in “Our Men” comes from the exposure not of the hypocrisy of foreign policy, but from the exposure of our drunken and incompetent Ambassador. That is exactly what the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has put a huge media effort into telling everybody I was, ever since I blew the whistle on the Uzbek regime and our complicity with it.

The comedy also aims to defuse the horror of our alliance with Uzbekistan and make it banal, accepted and safe.

There is an obvious issue of copyright here, as the substance and themes of Our Men are clearly taken from my book Murder in Samarkand. My literary agent therefore contacted the man of business at Mitchell & Webb’s production company, Big Talk. He said that the series is completely different from Murder in Samarkand ; it has nothing to do with human rights and “the writers have researched the project with the diplomatic service“. That is a direct quote from my agent’s record of the conversation.

Talk about comedy at the service of the establishment. Big Talk also deny having heard of me or Murder in Samarkand, and say that Tazbekistan is not meant to be Uzbekistan. They lie. Here is a quote from their advice to actors, issued through the actors’ website Spotlight:

The accent is mild Russian. Perhaps have a listen to an Uzbek national speaking English to get an idea.

When David Hare went to Tashkent to research his adaptation of Murder in Samarkand, (which became the radio play starring David Tennant), which strongly attacks the government stance, he was not allowed even to enter the grounds of the Embassy to discuss it. Sir David Hare was left standing outside a locked gate. Yet the Diplomatic Service has been working with the writers of Our Men. The reason why lies in the quotes from Robert Webb right at the start of this article.

This is comedy in the service of the state; where the victims are the butt.

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132 Comments

  1. Craig: you seemed a lot more sanguine about all this last August when you spoke to the Independent. You seem to have had a change of heart.

    “I’m a believer in free speech and a great fan of David Mitchell, so I’m not too upset. There certainly were comedic moments in Uzbekistan but the issues of torture and rendition were serious”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/was-our-man-in-uzbekistan-the-real-inspiration-for-beebs-new-comedy-our-men-8082547.html

  2. MJ

    I have learnt a lot more about the angle they are taking since – and I didn’t know they were doing it in cooperation with the FCO. Also I don’t think the quote above is an entirely fair reflection of what I said, which was rather more nuanced and the “but” a lot longer. It is a genuine quote, but shortened.

  3. Look at the tone of that Independent article. All the smears and lies which were bandied about when the story was current are aired again, only this time in a showbiz context so no need to justify them.
    Character assassination in the guise of light comedy, and anybody who objects is a killjoy who doesn’t have a sense of humour.

  4. Government-approved satire? Easily our greatest cultural innovation since corporate buskers appeared on the Tube.

  5. This could be good for Craig. If the show is funny and popular it will raise his profile and broaden public awareness of the issues of torture and rendition in Uzbekistan. He might even get invited onto chat shows.

  6. Robert webb nor his comedy partner wrote the show so they haven’t chanelled their hatred for you into this.

  7. How do you know they’re doing it with the cooperation of the FCO?

  8. Jim

    Robert Webb seems pretty damn close to it in the article in the Independent linked to by MJ above. If you are saying that Mitchell and Webb have no creative input into the shows they appear in, that is quite interesting.

    Who the precise tools are who do the writing is not exactly the point. If Mitchell & Webb had any genuine political concerns, they would not be going along with this project as at present formulated.

  9. Jim

    read the article to the end, you stupid pillock. Big Talk have said the writers are cooperating with the diplomatic service.

  10. Craig Murray, I applaud you for being one of the few people from the diplomatic service to speak out against corruption and torture instead of greasing the palms of bent governments. This approval by the foreign and commonwealth office of Mitchell and Webb’s Our Men shows the deplorable state the UK has reached in its support for despotic regimes.

    There is something very disturbing about the way Theresa May has recently attacked the judiciary for giving occasional protection to citizens from abroad with a criminal record being allowed to stay with their family in this country. And how the wicked witch sent good people back to Uzbekistan despite protests about the sickness of the regimes to which they are being sent (I won’t mention the specific case but regular readers of this blog over the last two years know who I mean).

    Keep at them Mr. Murray. It adds to your integrity, which rates much higher than any other UK embassy and former embassy staff or member of the diplomatic service of whom I have heard.

  11. Craig – its writers are listed here – neither are mitchell or webb. http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/our_men/

  12. Just when you think the British government couldn’t sink any lower…

  13. Craig – Robert Webb seems pretty damn close to it by giving a quote about the style of the show?

  14. Can’t see the FCO link but I’m only skim reading

  15. Jim

    Several months before it was written yes, that is pretty close to the creative process.

  16. Jim

    You are not skim-reading, you are trolling. Stop writing and read the article first. But due to your limited attention span, here is the relevant quote:

    ” My literary agent therefore contacted the man of business at Mitchell & Webb’s production company, Big Talk. He said that the series is completely different from Murder in Samarkand ; it has nothing to do with human rights and “the writers have researched the project with the diplomatic service“. That is a direct quote from my agent’s record of the conversation.”

    The diplomatic service is the operative part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in case that is what is confusing you.

  17. Well if he’s going to star in it he’s going to have to be told what its going to be like. He’s an actor starring in a programme, he doesn’t have to write/be behind every thing that he stars in. Its called being an actor.

  18. Craig – not trolling, was looking for the quote in the wrong article, the one listed in the comments above. Im just saying direct your anger at producers, writers but not the actors who are just playing roles in a show.

  19. Jim,

    That is true of the actors playing the other characters who have just been recruited within the last month to play parts. But it’s not true of Mitchell and Webb and their role with Big Talk in creating and pitching this vehicle for them; they do not stand in that regard as ordinary jobbing actors. They have been much more involved since inception, and indeed since the idea was only a short pitch document.

  20. State sponsored laughter is just as divisive as the ‘importance’ of gay marriage. The BBC propaganda unit is dismantling our minds, by equivocating [conflating] our sense of ‘reasonableness’ with disgust. We all like a ‘good’ laugh, and unfortunately the mechanism of diffusing our emotional fluxes, is being used to diffuse the evil of the State.

  21. It’s all in time to justify using Uzbekistan to ferry our troops and equipment out of Afghanistan. We couldn’t supply our boys in Afghanistan with the right equipment and 12 years on we’re going to give much of it away to a repressive regime.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-13/u-k-to-take-afghan-kit-home-via-uzbekistan-pakistan.html
    And it wont be the first time that Film / TV has been used for propaganda purposes.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clza1XVA0SI
    And why should you as a whistle blower be treated any differently than all the other people trying to get the truth out.Our very own NHS is now 100% censored to avoid the truth coming out as a National Treasure is sold.
    I hope you find a way of prosecuting them before they soften up the British public to more of the correct Dictator ass licking that our Govt seems to wallow in.

  22. Your point is correct. The government of Uzbekistan is one of the most repressive, corrupt and torture-inclined in the world, yet it is supported and assisted by the United Kingdom. One means of blunting the human rights outrage is to trivialise the issue, and to this end the Foreign Office is supporting a comedy based on an imaginary country which resembles Uzbekistan.

    I know nothing of the people making or acting in this comedy. But surely the comedy, whatever the government and comedy writers intend, also focuses the popular mind on this country, which makes it easier to talk about the terrible human rights abuses happening there.

  23. How far we have come since “Carlton Browne of the F.O….”

  24. Being a bit more familiar with TV than some better focused people here, i will report that David Mitchell has made some exceptional comedy and made some outstanding condemnations of war lies, bankers, poitical ills etc.
    But the hopeful ’10 O’clock Live’ show which David was the most effective host in, despite delivering some rare passion and information in the early episodes, it descended into a conflicted angry news farce, with low points including Charlie Brooker denigrating people for working in Supermarkets and Mitchell schmoozing compliantly with previously condemned warconman Alistar Campbell.
    David Mitchell has been one of the most soulful and sharpest of the tv chatty comedians; self deprecating and now with success moving on to deprecating other things. Things that wont get him into trouble with his media colleagues, and perhaps his devastingly sweet and clever, establishment friendly, culture cogitating media wife Victoria Coren.

  25. I think a few commentators here are right…This could be a great opportunity for you to jump in and grab the spotlight…I would wait for the first episode to air and then blitz the newspapers with a media campaign of some sort…maybe create your own “Our Men” alternative website ? Sure some people on this blog could help you on that..with some forethought and a lot of devious planning this could be a great opportunity to knee the FO and the BBC straight in the balls !

  26. Oh, and I just read a comment by David Mitchell and I quote ” Its such a good subject, we couldn’t believe that something along these lines hadn’t been written before ”
    Maybe you should send him a copy of Murder in Samarkend, or actually turn up at rehersals to give him a copy personally !

  27. I like your mind Frazer.

  28. @crab 19 Feb, 2013 – 12:12 pm

    Totally agree, the “10 O’clock Live” should have been funny as hell, with the best of the best; but it became a party political platform for State-Marxism.

    Consider this, regarding the politicization of BBC ‘comedy’, Ben Elton could hardly be removed from our screens, then suddenly he is a none-person, like some Soviet dissident undergoing internal exile. What happened?

  29. What we need is someone to spill the beans on how FCO propaganda works – what the offices are called, who’s in charge, what editors and production editors are on the payroll, how they are paid or ‘helped’, who picks up the phone and calls whom when something’s urgent, etc. Sounds like this was information you were kept away from, Craig.

    That’s one of the areas that remains largely in the dark. Another is control over the judiciary and civil service. Yet another is the influence of the royal family.

    Communications between the BBC and the FCO wouldn’t be gettable under FOI from the BBC, but someone might try from the FCO side, I suppose.

    Of course it’s not just the FCO. Something like the Archers on Radio 4 is obviously used for propaganda purposes by the ‘home’ authorities. What issues are current; what range of opinions is on offer. ‘Ooh – going to college? I expect you’ll be doing a lot of drinking!’

    The FCO were also involved in ‘Cool Britannia’ in the late 1990s. Easy to laugh, but this was a serious propaganda effort to win ‘friends’ for ‘Britain’, where ‘Britain’ denotes a tower block in Vauxhall and the money-grabbing interests it serves. (How’s that for metonymy? :) )

    Looking at the big historical picture requires considering what’s new and what isn’t. I haven’t watched ‘Blackadder’ and so can’t comment in detail, but surely turning the experience of WW1 into comedy discourages people from effectively opposing today’s warfare state and military-industrial complex. Or are the BBC just filling a space? I doubt it. Probably a lot of the themes and motifs and what-makes-people-laugh could easily be transferred to some non-war context and work just as well. There’s little creativity in what passes for ‘creativity’.

    I doubt that such a series could be made in Russia about WW2.

    In Britain, ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ was broadcast as early as 1961. Good for a laugh, what happened to British prisoners held by Japanese forces, wasn’t it? But context is everything…people were relieved that conscription had just ended.

  30. The BBC are also making comedy out of the horror of Afghanistan.

    BBC to air comedy-drama on British soldiers serving in Afghanistan
    Bluestone 42 follows bomb disposal squad on tour of duty in warzone, with military advisers working on show’s production

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/feb/14/bbc-comedy-bluestone-42-soldiers-afghanistan

    On the previous thread this morning I posted a link to Hammond announcing a £6m MoD grant for microprocessor artificial legs for 160 of our brave boys rendered limbless in Afghanistan.

    “I am delighted, therefore, that we have been able to make funding available for this cutting edge prosthetic technology, which will go a long way to improving the lives of people who have done so much for the UK.”

    What exactly have they done “for the UK”? Under orders they illegally invaded a couple of countries. They did not defend the country from Iraqis and Afghans massing at our borders and they chose to take the risks. How many legless, armless Afghans and Iraqis of all ages are just stuck with it? UKUSIsNATO Inc should be paying for their ‘cutting edge’ prosthetic limbs plus compensation.

  31. David Mitchell has made some exceptional comedy and made some outstanding condemnations of war lies, bankers, poitical ills etc.

    Yes yes luvvie, très exceptionnel.

    That’s when it’s not being outstanding, anyway. (I thought they meant the same?)

    Oh, how du jour Mitchell sounds! Has he exposed how the huge expansion of the ‘higher education’ system took place on the orders of money-lenders? How and why average personal debt in Britain is so much higher than in places such as France, Spain, Germany, Scandinavia, even the United States? How the insurance sector is as predatory and thieving as the banking sector? (I bet he hasn’t. For 5 years or so, punters in Britain have had the OK to be superficially critical of ‘bankers’, but the insurance boys…well let’s keep quiet about them.) Because frankly if someone wants to get their head round this stuff, the first thing they’ve got to do is turn off their TV – preferably permanently.

    But the hopeful ’10 O’clock Live’ show which David was the most effective host in, despite delivering some rare passion and information in the early episodes,”

    Yes, luvvie.

    it descended into a conflicted angry news farce, with low points including Charlie Brooker denigrating people for working in Supermarkets and Mitchell schmoozing compliantly with previously condemned warconman Alistar Campbell.”

    You sure do follow stuff.

    David Mitchell has been one of the most soulful and sharpest of the tv chatty comedians; self deprecating and now with success moving on to deprecating other things. Things that wont get him into trouble with his media colleagues, and perhaps his devastingly sweet and clever, establishment friendly, culture cogitating media wife Victoria Coren.

    Dig the adjectives and adverbs. Do you want a job? :)

  32. @Mary – agreed. The paying of reparations should be a main demand, as well as prosecution of war crimimals, which shouldn’t be just of the very top people. We want a near future where when soldiers are ordered to go to Afghanistan, they say ‘hell no, we won’t go’.

    My impression from occasionally conducting low-level surveillance on ‘ARRSE’ (the British army internal-market participatory propaganda site with a fittingly juvenile name) is that we are a very long way from that. Further than in the days of Greenham Common.

  33. I could not have said it better than John Goss above.

    I have just been looking the duo up. We have the incubator at Cambridge University and Cambridge Footlights to thank for this pairing. Gone are the days of Peter Cook, Dudley Moore and the rest who gave us satire and humour. The current crop of comedians seem an incestuous self-regarding crowd and to me, quite unfunny. Why are they so dull and reactionary?

    Strange that they have progressed from this.
    Mitchell’s first project with Webb was in January 1995, a show about the First World War entitled Innocent Millions Dead or Dying: A Wry Look at the Post-Apocalyptic Age. Webb later described it as being “fucking terrible”. After leaving university he and Webb began performing a number of two-man shows at the Edinburgh Fringe.

    Webb is a member of the Labour Party, enough said, and they were best men at each other’s weddings, the most recent being that of Mitchell and Victoria Coren.

  34. Three big cheers for David Mitchell! No, not that one. The county court Judge David Mitchell.

    RAF Fairford protesters win legal battle
    http://civilisation3000.wordpress.com/2013/02/14/raf-fairford-protesters-win-legal-battle/

    Judge says police action was ‘an interference with the right of ordinary citizens to go about their business’

    Anti-war campaigners have just won a landmark case at the Central London County Court after ten years. In March 2003 approximately 159 protestors, including some Quakers, set out from Euston for the Fairford military aerodrome to protest against the war in Iraq. They were stopped by the police three miles from the venue and sent back to London under a police escort.

    /…

  35. Craig, I suggest you find out exactly who at the FCO’s Diplomatic Service appointed the staff to “help with the research” for this series. Attitudes diffuse between people, and we can’t generally tell those who are projecting propaganda from those who are merely repeating that which they’ve innocently absorbed.

  36. I think people like Mitchell, Brooker and Fry (I don’t include Webb in this as he’s clearly just a harmless tit) could be considered quite dangerous as they are the ones who – in their self satisfied vaguely left-wing intellectualism – delimit the debate. Anything that is considered too outre for their self-serving (and let’s be fair, occasionally funny) musings is reviled as coming from spotty Assange wannabe who has a picture of Alex Jones on his bedroom wall. Hence whole swathes of legitimate debate about quite important things like western intelligence services’ war crimes are off the MSM agenda. The very people who might be interested in these subjects are put off by ‘comedy’ exactly of the ilk this article is about.

  37. Outsourced to Big Talk Productions. The founder is Nira Park and the head honchos are Kenton Allen and Matthew Justice.

    Biogs http://www.bigtalkproductions.com/people/

    I see Allen was once with Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine.

    Making programmes for the BBC is a lucrative business presumably.

    I am sending a printed copy of Craig’s article, photos and all, to Milord Patten to register my disgust and outrage at this obscenity and to ask him to get it taken off the schedule.

    His PA is:
    June Prunty
    PA to Chairman
    BBC Trust
    180 Great Portland Street, London W1W 5QZ
    T. 020 3214 4941 E. june.prunty AT bbc.co.uk bbc.co.uk/bbctrust

  38. There’s Mark Thomas I suppose. Also Peter Richardson who did the Comic Strip programmes. The one about Tony Blair last year was pretty good I thought.

  39. Checking the writing history on IMDB I see that co-writer Rupert Walters last credits as a writer were for episodes of “Spooks”. Somewhat curious.

  40. He’s currently doing something else for the BBC called “A Spy’s Life”. Interestingly he’s mostly done book adaptations.

  41. There was an open debate at LSE last night on Humour, under the auspices of the Forum for European Philosophy dialogue. The philosopher Julian Baggini was lightweight and poor, but Hardeep Singh Kohli dealt at various points with serious aspects of what could and could not be funny. Some of his examples were close to what seems to be happening with “On Men”. If anyone knows how to draw Hardeep’s attention to this string, I think that might help to create the type of public debate that a number of contributors rightly see as a desirable outcome, difficult though that may be to achieve. I’ll try with some LSE contacts.

  42. Digging further, as well as “A Spy’s Life” for the BBC he appears to be working on “Spy Project” which seems to be this: “Project will be inspired from the true story of intelligence operative Kathi Lynn Austin in dealing with arms trafficking and terrorism. She is noted to have undertaken field missions in Africa, Europe, Southeast Asia, also Central America and most recently worked on contract for the U.N. Security Council. ” From http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00012787.html

    He also lists “Blowback” by Kudos Productions under current projects but I can’t find any further info on that. Title sounds interesting though.

    Definitely an interesting co-writer. http://unitedagents.co.uk/rupert-walters

  43. ” ‘Oh What a Lovely War’ was broadcast as early as 1961. Good for a laugh, what happened to British prisoners held by Japanese forces, wasn’t it?..”

    No. You can’t have seen it: it was about the Western Front.

  44. Some demonisation of China ongoing today. There is a different daily choice of ‘state’s enemy’ by the MSM.

    China military unit ‘behind prolific hacking’
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21502088

    Sky News have their reporter in Shanghai waving his copy of the report around.

    Chinese Military’s ‘Global Hacking HQ Found’
    http://news.sky.com/story/1053970/chinese-militarys-global-hacking-hq-found

    Second only to the sensational SA murder charges with the harpie Alex Crawford reporting on her iPhone from the courtroom. She is normally in Syria working up the war propaganda against Pres. Assad and before him, Col Gaddafi in Libya.

  45. Can’t you get Sue, Grabbit and Runne on to them Craig for plagiarisation, misrepresentation, defamation et al? We will all contribute to a fund for costs.

  46. If Robert Webb is to be believed it is not a straight comedy but apparently a “drama with a dollop of comedy” Would be nice if the person who isn’t you turns out to be the hero. If that’s the case maybe you could get a cameo appearance. Perhaps it is more subversive than you fear. Probably not though.

  47. O/T but related.

    Secret Courts: Email your MP
    February 18th, 2013 by India Thorogood

    Is this the end of the principle that no one is above the law? The government are currently pushing drastic changes to our justice system through parliament, which would allow trials to take place in secret. If they’re successful, it could mean serious abuses like torture, or detention without trial, never come to light. This would make government cover ups much easier, and make it much harder to get a truly fair trial.

    Your MP could be voting on secret courts as early as the 25th February. And it looks like the vote could be very close. There’s already been a massive rebellion in the House of Lords, key Liberal Democrats, Labour and top Conservatives have all spoken out against the government’s plans. With some pressure from us, their voters, we might just persuade enough MPs to stop this attack on British justice.

    Time is running out to stop these changes. Click here to email your MP to stand up for justice and vote against secret courts now.

    /..
    http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/02/18/secret-courts-email-your-mp/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+38DegreesBlog-PeoplePowerChange+%2838+Degrees+-+people.+power.+change.%29

  48. Mary,

    I have spoken to Sue Grabbit and Runne. Minimum court costs of £30,000 just to get started, and if I go for an injunction I need to post an indemnity of circa £500,000 in free cash. You offer is very kind, but I fear the law only exists to protect those much richer than we are.

  49. I still think my idea is the best one…cost you zilch for a lot of free publicity…

  50. I’m instinctively very reluctant to criticise shows/films etc before having seen them. I’m particularly reticent if the criticism is that the show has a political view with which I disagree.

    Two reasons for this – (1) this is a favourite tactic of right-wing reactionaries, to criticise something for a bias that offends their beliefs. Among other weaknesses, it comes across as horribly whiny. And (2) you never know what might be in the content. If they’ve drawn some Bremner, Bird and Fortune inspiration for the show – and how couldn’t you if you wanted to poke fun at the establishment – there could be some good satire in there.

    However, there is a legitimate issue to be pursued here – the idea that the writers have been collaborating with the FCO. The most obvious parallel is the utterly horrible Zero Dark Thirty, the only redeeming feature of which is that there was no particular effort made to obscure the propaganda. If that’s what has been happening behind the scenes here, the BBC should not be putting this show on our TVs.

    This is not a point about whether Mitchell and Webb make comedy I like or approve of, and certainly not whether I agree with their political views. It’s whether they are complicit in a propaganda effort. It’s whether they are, if you will, putting horsemeat into our public broadcaster’s serving of beef lasagne.

  51. Eddie-G,

    I agree with all that. There is, however, also a genuine question of copyright theft. I find Big Talk’s claim never to have heard of Murder in Samarkand, and to have been struck absolutely independently with the idea of making a series about the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan (of all places), a blatant lie.

  52. A tweet by Kenton Allen of Big Talk Productions. https://twitter.com/kentonallen

    Feb 18 kentonallen‏@kentonallen

    Take 20 Day 16 Back on it. Felt rather good. Now off to the Foreign Office for an historic read through….

    Expand Reply
    Retweet

    Favorite

    More

  53. Wow Mary that is unbelievable – talk about a smoking gun!!!

  54. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    19 Feb, 2013 - 3:39 pm

    “”It’s such a good subject,” Mitchell told Reader’s Digest. “We couldn’t believe that something along these lines hadn’t been written before.”

    Mitchell will play Keith Davis, the newly appointed British Ambassador of Tazbekistan, while Webb is cast as Neil Tilly, Deputy Head of Mission.

    “Like a lot of things we do, it’s exploring different attitudes to authority,” Mitchell explained. “In contrast to Peep Show, these are highly capable senior people who very much have jobs. But they have very different views on [how to do them].”

    He added: “Some people will think my character is right and some people will think he’s wrong, and both sets of people will be correct.”"

    Read more: http://www.digitalspy.com/british-tv/news/a430964/david-mitchell-on-new-bbc-two-sitcom-its-such-a-good-subject.html#ixzz2LMMoBzlt
    Follow us: @digitalspy on Twitter | digitalspyuk on Facebook

    A situation comedy to die for. I don’t know what’s becoming of our yoot.

  55. ‘xcuse me, sorry to butt in everyone. Just bringing some O/T but, I think, important news.

    It sounds as if the case for Assange’s safe passage is already with the European Court (of Justice? of Human Rights? – the video doesn’t make it clear which).

    RT’s post-election interview with Rafael Correa (and English transcript):

    “If Assange’s lawyer, Baltasar Garzón, is lucky at the European Court and achieves a safe passage for Assange, who is staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy, the situation will be finally resolved. It is all now in Europe’s hands.”

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/343850

  56. Terry wrote:
    Oh, how du jour Mitchell sounds! Has he exposed how the huge expansion of the ‘higher education’ system took place on the orders of money-lenders? How and why average personal debt in Britain is so much higher than in places such as France, Spain, Germany, Scandinavia, even the United States? How the insurance sector is as predatory and thieving as the banking sector? (I bet he hasn’t. For 5 years or so, punters in Britain have had the OK to be superficially critical of ‘bankers’, but the insurance boys…well let’s keep quiet about them.) Because frankly if someone wants to get their head round this stuff, the first thing they’ve got to do is turn off their TV – preferably permanently.
    I dont disagree much, but unfortunately TV is the most influential technology of the time, so it begs involvement also from (at least some of) those who wish it wasn’t.

  57. This blog is gutsy and evidence that faithful Englishmen do exist. The rest are sucking on celebrity nipple and football obsession.

  58. Craig,

    Point taken, but I am not sure they are denying the Uzbekistan angle for fear of copyright lawsuits etc, I reckon they are being evasive about something else. And my working assumption would be that it is because of having worked with the FCO, this might have been part of the deal – or at the very least, intended to avoid any official embarrassment if the Karimov gang don’t like the show.

    Here’s the thing, when asked if Uzbekistan was the place they had primarily in mind, the obvious answer for an artist would be: “sure, we drew ideas from many areas, and from writing particularly about modern Uzbekistan, including Murder in Samarkand. The final output however is something that is ultimately fictional, in the spirit of a show like ‘In The Thick of It’.”

    (As a comparison, Sacha Baren Cohen openly admits Gadaffi was the main inspiration for his character in The Dictator. Why would Mitchell and Webb not be able to do the same when they’ve made even less effort on fictionalisation?)

    Whichever lawyers helped write the responses know well enough that a copyright lawsuit would be a longshot anyway – a bungling drunkard establishment ambassador is hardly a caricature uniquely applicable to how the government smeared you – what’s more surprising is that they’ve made no attempt to defend the program on purely artistic grounds.

  59. Right. Some facts to counter all this absurd tinfoil-hat stuff. A friend linked to this post on Facebook and as I read it my disbelief turned to full-on hysterical laughter.

    Firstly: that Guardian questionnaire. The Hitchens answer is tongue-in-cheek. Check out the sketches Webb wrote and performed satirising Hitchens on That Mitchell and Webb Sound. And can you really not imagine why a Londoner in 2005 might not be a huge fan of suicide bombers? And then what? The government thought ‘Ah, I see from the Guardian that Webb is One Of Us. We must recruit him to appear in propagandist sitcoms’. Hilarious fantasy.

    Secondly: the ‘drunken incompetent’ ambassador character that you claim is smearing you. I can’t find any reference in any of the pre-publicity of the show to any such character. The character Mitchell is playing is described as highly ambitious.

    Thirdly: The absurd claims of plagiarism. I don’t think you’re as famous as you think you are. I vaguely remember reading about you in the newspaper but had never heard of your play or your book. I think a stretch to assume that anyone involved in this show had heard of it, and it’s really rather daft to be talking about lawyers.

    Fourthly: Kenton Allen’s ‘smoking gun’ tweet. That’s the point where I burst out laughing. If there’s this big conspiracy going on why on earth would he TWEET about it?

    Full disclosure: I’ve known David and Robert for twenty years. The idea that either of them would be involved in either plagiarism or ‘government-approved satire’ is beyond laughable. This is quite simply a comedy set in an embassy. It’s not a rip-off, it’s not a cover up, it’s not a smokescreen, and you’ve really made a bit of a fool of yourself with this post.

    Perhaps you’ve met Robert’s wife in the course of your human rights activism? She worked for several years at the Medical Foundation for Victims of Torture. Just thought I’d mention it.

  60. Jon Taylor,

    And I think it is beyond belief that anyone involved with the show could not have heard of Craig Murray once they became involved with the project. If it was set in say South America you might have a point but “Tazbekistan ” and called “Our Men” which obviously nobody noticed was similar to “Our Man in Tashkent” _ Try Googling that.

    Pull the other one,

  61. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    19 Feb, 2013 - 4:37 pm

    http://rt.com/news/assange-ecuador-uk-passage-823/

    “Earlier, the FCO spokesman pointed out that even if Julian Assange wins the asylum bid, a request for safe passage will have to be filed to transport him to the airport.
    “This would be refused,” said the official. ”

    Arbed @ 3:48:

    Is ‘safe passage’ some iron-clad guarantee from the UK? Would that extend to Sweden and obligate them to refrain from extradition to the US?

  62. Craig, I agree with some others here who advise you to use this to drum up awareness of the issues in Uzbekistan. You can view the episodes and then write ‘true story’ explanations behind the comical fiction and in a way that appeals to both fans of the show and those interested in improving human rights in the country.

    As you described, the cost of litigation is prohibitively expensive, so turn it around the other way and use it positively for your own publicity purposes.

  63. “There is, however, also a genuine question of copyright theft”

    You say in the Independent piece that Baby Cow (Steve Coogan’s production company) owns the screen rights to Murder in Samarkand. Have you discussed this with Coogan?

  64. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    19 Feb, 2013 - 4:45 pm

    “(As a comparison, Sacha Baren Cohen openly admits Gadaffi was the main inspiration for his character in The Dictator. Why would Mitchell and Webb not be able to do the same when they’ve made even less effort on fictionalisation?)”

    Cohen lampoons everything and everyone. But his satire would carry a lot more weight if he would include Israel.

  65. MJ

    Baby Cow have lapsed the rights precisely because Big Talk are doing it.

    Jon Taylor

    “I vaguely remember reading about you in the newspaper but had never heard of your play or your book. I think a stretch to assume that anyone involved in this show had heard of it,”

    I certainly do not dispute this account of your ignorance. However as Big Talk invited me to their offices in 2007 to discuss whether they might take out an option on the book, their claim not to have heard of it is rather difficult. It sold some 40,000 copies in this country, which is very good indeed for non-fiction. It was also serialised over three weeksa in the Mail on Sunday (readership 6 million) and was the biggest audience Saturday Play on Radio 4 for years, due to the David Tennant/David Hare combination (audience about 2.5 million). So while you may be supremely ignorant, to assume everybody else in the production is as thick and uninterested as you is a bit of a stretch.

  66. The Jon Taylor at 4.09 is probably Jonathan Dryden! Taylor, one of the writers?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/That_Mitchell_and_Webb_Sound

    and photo.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/galleries/p012gys4

    Dryden will be turning in his grave.

  67. Hi Ben,

    Actually, they are already obligated by law, but both the UK and Sweden are ignoring that, hence I guess the need for Garzon to take the matter to the European Court.

    This is my understanding of the legal principles involved (cut and paste from something I posted elsewhere):

    Yes, your first sentence is absolutely true, but the fact is that – because of the absolute supremacy of the concept of non-refoulment in asylum/refugee law (which trumps extradition law, btw – completely logically, if you think about it) – Sweden is obliged under umpteen different international law treaties to give guarantees against refoulment to anywhere a political refugee is in danger of persecution.

    A brief outline of the principles involved:

    http://justice4assange.com/extraditing-assange.html#SWEDENVETO2

    I got into an argument with someone on that other site who tried to claim that non-refoulment only meant not returning an asylee to their country of citizenship (and when that argument didn’t work, they changed it to not returning them to their place of origin, ie last country of residence). It doesn’t – it means not returning (or sending) a refugee to the country where the danger of persecution exists.

  68. Jon Taylor “That’s the point where I burst out laughing”

    You feel alright declaring that? –you laughed at the worries of a man who was crushed by the same institution involved in influencing this production, which by all appearances parodies Craigs character location and circumstance, with no consultation or recognition to him. And he was crushed by the institution for giving some representation to the tortured people and enslaved children in the t-zbekistan dictatorship.

  69. Being told that not having heard your play makes me ‘thick’ has provided the second big laugh of the day. Narcissist much?

    ‘Mary’: I didn’t hide my identity, so I don’t know why you’re so proud of the detective work. Thanks for the ad hominem insult, too.

    Oh well, I tried. Go back to your wild theories about a programme none of you has seen and which hasn’t yet been made.

  70. Jon Taylor,

    For an ordinary member of the public not to have heard of my book by no means makes them thick. But for the writer of a series about the British Ambassador to Tazbekistan (which the instructions to cast members make even more plain is Uzbekistan) not to have discovered that there was a recent well-known book by the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, would make him very thick indeed.

    Except, of course, that you are lying about not having heard of it.

  71. Um, I’m not the writer of anything of the sort. I have no connection with this show at all. I know Rob and David socially and worked on their sketch show.

    And I’m not lying about never having heard of your play. Why would I? I really am done with this now, but you need to withdraw the accusation of lying.

  72. Jon Taylor,

    Perhaps you could (as a tv “insider”) give us your interpretation of Kenton Allen’s tweet. What exactly do you think he meant by “off to the Foreign Office for an historic read through”?

  73. Jon,

    Mary wrote that you were the writer and you congratulated her on her detective work. As you now make plain you are not the writer, I apologise to you for calling you a liar.

    But I do not doubt for one moment the writers of this have not only heard of but have used my book. Perhaps you might ask them.

    I am a great supporter of the Medical Foundation, and have done fundraising events for it. If Webb’s wife used to work there, she is well placed to explain to him why he is being a tosser over this cooperation with the FCO over Uzbekistan. In fact, you remove from him the defence of ignorance.

  74. Glad I got the correct one!

    Why not do one of your funnies about Bradley Manning who has just spent his 1,000th day in prison. Or about Julian Assange holed up in Hans Crescent. Where is your humanity? Does not that photo of the man that Karimov had boiled alive revolt you or even upset you?

    I don’t know about Comic Relief but we do need some relief from the ‘comedians’.

    Was it ‘Oh what a spiffing idea. Let’s shaft Craig Murray’? None of them can compare to him in terms of moral courage or bravery.

  75. Sorry about misleading you on that Craig. I should have made it clear that Jon Taylor was a writer on the Mitchell and Webb Sound, as it said on that link.

  76. Craig,

    If you follow Mary’s link you find that Jon was a writer and actor for the sketch show but not the current production. There’s a picture of Jon Dryden Taylor in Mary’s second link at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/galleries/p012gys4 in Slide 10 (of 14)

  77. Thanks Mary and Anon – my fault for being over-hasty. The horribly smug Jon Taylor got under my skin in a way I should not have allowed. This smarmy superior set of BBC linked media people should try actually meeting victims in Uzbekistan. They might find it less funny.

  78. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    19 Feb, 2013 - 5:35 pm

    Arbed; Greenwalds response to Green is lengthy, but succinct….

    “He (Green) said that this is so in part because “any final word on an extradition would (quite properly) be with an independent Swedish court, and not the government giving the purported ‘guarantee’.” He then cited a British lawyer (notably, not a Swedish one) who made the same claim:

    “[I]t appears that if the extradition is contested as it would be in Assange’s case then it is a matter for the court not the government to decide if he is extradited.”"

    Greenwald; “This is completely and unquestionably false. It is simply untrue that it is Swedish courts, rather than the Swedish government, who are the final decision-makers in extradition requests. It is equally untrue that the Swedish government has no final decision-making power regarding extradition requests that are legally sanctioned by the Swedish judiciary. These are not matters for reasonable debate. The law is clear. Green’s claim is false.”

    “Extraordinary rendition provoked a diplomatic crisis between the United States and Sweden in 2006 when Swedish authorities put a stop to CIA rendition flights.[136] In December 2001 Swedish police detained Ahmed Agiza and Muhammad al-Zery, two Egyptians who had been seeking asylum in Sweden. The police took them to Bromma airport in Stockholm, and then stood aside as masked alleged CIA operatives cut their clothes from their bodies, inserted drugged suppositories in their anuses, and dressed them in diapers and overalls, handcuffed and chained them and put them on an executive jet with American registration N379P. They were flown to Egypt, where they were imprisoned, beaten, and tortured according to an extensive investigate reports by Swedish programme “Kalla fakta”.[137] A Swedish Parliamentary investigator concluded that the degrading and inhuman treatment of the two prisoners violated Swedish law.[138] In 2006 the United Nations found Sweden had violated an international torture ban in its complicity in the CIA’s transfer of l-Zari to Egypt.[139] Sweden imposed strict rules on rendition flights, but Swedish Military Intelligence posing as airport personnel who boarded one of two subsequent extraordinary rendition flights in 2006 during a stopover at Stockholm’s Arlanda International Airport found the Swedish restrictions were being ignored.[136] In 2008 the Swedish government awarded al-Zery $500,000 in damages for the abuse he received in Sweden and the subsequent torture in Egypt.[136]
    [edit]United Kingdom
    After claims by Liberty that British airports had been used by the “CIA for extraordinary rendition flights, the Association of Chief Police Officers launched an investigation in November 2005. The report was published in June 2007 and found no evidence to support the claim. This was on the same day the Council of Europe released its report with evidence that the UK had colluded in extraordinary rendition, thus directly contradicting ACPO’s findings. Liberty has challenged the findings and has stated that its original claims were based on “credible evidence”.[140]
    In July 2007, the government’s Intelligence and Security Committee released their Rendition report, detailing U.S. and U.K. activities and policies.[141][142]
    On 21 February 2008, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband admitted (despite previous government denials) that two U.S. extraordinary rendition flights had stopped on Diego Garcia in 2002, a U.K. territory.[143] When questioned as to whether the government had deliberately misled the public over rendition, the Foreign Secretary apologised and stated that the government had simply “made a mistake”. His statement also laid out the current UK Government view on Extraordinary rendition;
    Our counter-terrorism relationship with the United States is vital to UK security. I am absolutely clear that there must and will continue to be the strongest possible intelligence and counter-terrorism relationship with the US, consistent with UK law and our international obligations. As part of our close co-operation, there has long been a regular exchange with the US authorities, in which we have set out: that we expect them to seek permission to render detainees via UK territory and airspace, including Overseas Territories; that we will grant that permission only if we are satisfied that the rendition would accord with UK law and our international obligations; and how we understand our obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture.[144]”
    —David Miliband
    [edit]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extraordinary_rendition#Sweden

    The past behaviors might have embarrassed the Swedes, but that doesn’t make the courts independent from the government. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…..

  79. Well done Mary – good research.

    Maybe ‘Frazer’ is right:

    “I think a few commentators here are right…This could be a great opportunity for you to jump in and grab the spotlight…I would wait for the first episode to air and then blitz the newspapers with a media campaign of some sort…maybe create your own “Our Men” alternative website ? Sure some people on this blog could help you on that..with some forethought and a lot of devious planning this could be a great opportunity to knee the FO and the BBC straight in the balls !”

    Let’s hold a mirror up to the ugly sister!

    Craig is welcome to host ‘ourmen’ (omen?) on my server free gratis. The domain ourmen.org.uk is available 4 a fiver.

  80. I have n’t seen enough of either Mitchell or Webb to comment on their comedy I.Q .What is truly disgusting is that the Brainwashing Corp: even thinks that such a ‘Stan’ is a suitable subject for humour,however when one learns that the”Fuck’em and Castrate’em” Office is complicit all is clarified.Lest anyone object to this renaming of the F&C Office I would direct them to the recent trials in the High Courts of the elderly Kenyans who were suing the Government over their appalling torture. Regrettably all lessons learned at Nuremberg are now forgotten,torture is just one of those things people do and hey we might as well have have a laugh about it. Or better still let’s point the finger at a drunken ambassador to distract from the very real horrors that you Craig have outed to the public.The bill currently before Parliament will establish totally secret courts when necessity and/or undue publicity dictates but the public will know nothing.Indeed the bill gives carte blanche to the security services. Bye bye Habeus Corpus, trial by jury all that irritating stuff, hello the fascist neo-liberal corporate world, Geneva conventions? Yes indeed they have many and a good time is had by all.It is difficult to know how to proceed in the face of such a systematic retreat into barbarism,oh well we’ll have to learn!?

  81. Craig,

    Further – Jon Taylor has been immersed in the tv world all his life. Check out http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2956455/ and then linked father Don Taylor. Everything from “Z Cars” to “Churchill’s People”. Mother has an entry in IMDB as well. A very strange sense of humour this upbringing seems to have resulted in.

  82. Ben, 5.25pm

    Greenwald; “This is completely and unquestionably false. It is simply untrue that it is Swedish courts, rather than the Swedish government, who are the final decision-makers in extradition requests. It is equally untrue that the Swedish government has no final decision-making power regarding extradition requests

    Indeed. I’ve just posted this in the John Bolton thread:

    Possibly relevant to the above is Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt’s present deafening silence but busy travel schedule.

    Following his recent trip to South America to lobby CELAC, he is meeting today, 19th February, with William Hague in London, after which he will be travelling to Australia on Sunday, 23rd.

    Any bets on whether “L’Affaire Assange” will be on the agenda of Mr Bildt’s discussions?

    I’m pretty sure there’s some relationship between your quote, my quote and Correa’s remarks in that RT interview which explains Mr Bildt’s hectic schedule.

  83. john taylor….straight to the point … …your third and fourth poiints…..third…..two things…..you dont have to be famous to be plagiarised…thats the thinking of somebody who accepts celebrity culture……the sort of idiot who only vaguely remembers reading about a man who blew the whistle on the british govts collusion in uzbekistan ….who in so doing knowingly gave up his pension……secondly you assume anyone associated with the show wouldnt be aware of either the book or the play…..surely somebody whos wife worked for several years at the medical foundation for victims of torture would probably be in a better position than most to have heard of uzbekistan…torture…..ambassador …whistle blowing …about TORTURE in……uzbekistan…………just thought i’d mention it.

    your fourth point……this will probably whistle over your head…..but…theres an old saying…the best kept secrets are on the bookshelves of the british library…just thought i’d mention it.

    go on off you go……i think there might be another series of the 10 o clock show on fairly soon……

  84. Ben and Arbed, thanks for the discussion of JA and the possibility of getting justice in Europe. Unfortunately Barbar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan failed to get justice. My suspicions are at this level heads of state screw-pressure the judiciary like they did getting Justice Nicholas Phillips to preside over JA’s Supreme Court appeal against extradition. Theresa May is not even letting solitary judges get away with flouting her repatriation laws.

  85. The barristers on the SIS payroll include judges, but SIS influence over the judiciary rarely gets talked about, any more than its influence over the media does, or its stock of medics, or whatever, and unfortunately, for the time being, the propaganda line that the judiciary isn’t part of the executive stands solid.

    Foreign news and foreign-based comedies at the BBC? State propaganda? Hold the front page! (joke) The BBC is a government propaganda ministry. The hell with judging regimes in the terms they apply to themselves – royal charters, executive agencies, all that crap.

  86. US UK ‘NACHT UND NEBEL’

    Craig,

    I was surprised to (relatively recently) read, or hear, you say that of all those rendered to Uzbekistan by the US and UK, _none_ had ever been seen again.

    In other words, they were rendered to Uzbekistan by the US and/or the UK for extermination. A U.S and/or U.K ‘Nacht und Nebel!’

    I read it. Or heard it. Your words.

    I was amazed that this had not been mentioned for _years_ after the boiling alive became widely known.

    Unfortunately I did not at the time note where you said that.

    Do you perhaps recall it? An interview. An article. A blog entry. A link?

    With thanks.

    PS

    fwiw I have linked to that photograph many times. Eventually I started to feel a duty to include his name. Muzafar Avazov. As I use his iconic image he deserves that respect, I feel. fwiw.

    As he surely did not deserve to be the victim of such a totalitarian terror state.

    And the murdering swine – theirs. And ours.

    ‘Nacht und Nebel’ -

    - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacht_und_Nebel

  87. Its sad to read that these two could be stooges, as I enjoyed their shows in the past: post modern and ironic, geeky and self deprecating. Anyway isn’t all publicity good publicity – not always true i grant you, but probably there will be a few (maybe just one) who will find the way from the programme to Murder in Samarkand, and that then may be a job well done; all depends on who it is who takes the step from the telly to the book and where it leads them.

    Its sometimes the case that a spot of embargo and ridicule can do wonders for sales and reputation.

  88. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    19 Feb, 2013 - 11:05 pm

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2013/02/19/aaron-swartzs-fbi-file/#comments

    “I was fully prepared to get a letter saying no such file existed, after all Swartz was not really a criminal. Instead I received 21 pages out of a 23 page file the FBI had put together on one Aaron H. Swartz.

    Two of the 23 pages were not released, according to the FBI, due to; privacy (U.S.C Section 552 (b)(7)(C)), sources and methods (U.S.C Section 552 (b)(7)(E)) and, curiously, putting someone’s life in danger (U.S.C Section 552 (b)(7)(F)). Putting someone’s life in danger? TYPICALLY, THAT REFERS TO INFORMANTS {EMPAHSIS MINE}. Did someone close to Swartz provide information to the FBI on him or is the FBI just being really dramatic? Or is this standard justification for not releasing the Special Agent on the case’s name? I am honestly still confused by that box being checked off.”

    Carl Malamud, the online activist?

  89. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    19 Feb, 2013 - 11:08 pm

  90. Lubitsch could make a farce about the Gestapo and concentration camps, but that was permissible because it was the Nazis he was making fun of, not their opponents.

    As for state-sponsored satire, I can’t think of a single example where it really works. I’ve always found the Soviet Krokodil “humor” magazine supremely unfunny. And, if you read through issues of the German Simplicissimus of the 1930′s, you get a distressing contrast. Up to the Nazi takeover, it was very funny. But once it was coordinated with the rest of Goebbels’s propaganda machine, it altogether ceased to be funny.

  91. Of the “notable prisoners” listed at the end of the Wikipedia “Nacht und Nebel” article, some two-thirds survived until long after the war. So our current “Nacht und Nebel” policy would appear to be worse than the original Nazi one.

  92. ‘Jon Taylor has been immersed in the tv world all his life’

    Quelle surprise. No wonder Craig @5.33pm rightly detected his BBC snootiness & swarm; that’s been in the air he’s imbibed since he arrived on the planet. Truly a pompous prick to the manner born.

  93. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 12:13 am

    Malamud’s 10 rules for radicals—-(Be nice ! )

    https://public.resource.org/rules/

  94. Fuck ‘em all.

    All their cosy BBC/ITV/C4 “comedy” laugh-ins and “quizzes” and fake cut and paste “100 Best TV Comedy Moments” and insider Oxbridge shite.

    So sick of them all…Jimmy Carr,Alan Davies,Ian Hyslop,Stephen Fry,Mitchell and Webb et al..

    They are all patsies and slaves to the spookdom game of propaganda and brainwashing.

    We all know how long TV shows,especially Big Productions,take to get rolling through commissioning and planning etc.

    Funny how Spooks and 24,both massive production jobs,just suddenly seemed to arrive so soon on our screens after 9/11.It musta been a world record for such major productions to get on air so swiftly.Almost like someone expected,or even staged,the paradigm shift towards total espiocratic paranoia in our TV schedules,and ultimately,our collective consciousness.

    Thanks for this really really important post Craig.

    Nauseating that some people will seek to make comedy,or other value,out of people being boiled alive.

    Evil twisted bastards.

  95. Ben Franklin, 5.35p re Final decision on extradtions from Sweden

    Greenwald; “This is completely and unquestionably false. It is simply untrue that it is Swedish courts, rather than the Swedish government, who are the final decision- makers in extradition requests. It is equally untrue that the Swedish government has no final decision-making power regarding extradition requests that are legally sanctioned by the Swedish judiciary. These are not matters for reasonable debate. The law is clear. Green’s claim is false.”

    - – -

    For those who argue that the courts have the final decision on extradition matters, they simply do not understand the nature of law and politics.

    It is the government who makes the laws and on a matter as important as sending a person into a foreign jurisdiction in which they have no further say, the govt would never surrender their power of veto. To do so would provide a foreign power with the means of seriously disrupting the internal affairs of a country. The terms of extradition treaties make provision for these considerations. Any other arrangement simply does not make sense.

    Sweden, despite its history of compliance, will not surrender their fundamental sovereign powers to the US or anybody else. Instead, they negotiate deals and there can be no doubt that they have already made a deal with the US to facilitate Assange’s tranfer into US DoJ custody. If the courts have any say, it would be to say ‘no’, but I doubt that there would be any objection on the basis of legal technicalities or human rights considerations.

    The US is going all out to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ to prevent any embarrassment to their friends in compliant governments. If he is eventually sent to Sweden, he will be tied up in legal processes for years and denied freedom to continue his work. The Swedes will inch him ever closer to eventual extradition until we have all got used to the idea that he’s on his way to the US where he will be tied up again in legal processes for 10 years while incarcerated on remand.

    Lastly, I want to point out the long demonstrated fact that the police and governments can, and do, selectively apply the law and invent pretexts to prosecute or drop investigations when it suits their political agendas. It’s all in the manipulation of language. The unlawful leaking of police reports to the Swedish media without any subsequent investigation is but one glaring example. Put simply, the law is often irrelevant.

  96. BrianFujisan

    20 Feb, 2013 - 4:32 am

    This is all Disgusting… The lying Bastards… So even if they HAD claimed to Know nothing of Murder in Samarakand, and Craig’s Treatment by the evil Pinstriped Rags as it were.. They Know Now….And they have been on this Blog…They have seen Craig’s most recent foto of the tortured to death soul… I will be sick if this project airs after the activity on Craig’s Blog… But It’s Nothing new, regards intelligence using hollywood, bbc, ect, as tools… -

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-cia-and-other-government-agencies-dominate-movies-and-television/5319262

    Nice lively post jives..exelent

  97. “Nauseating that some people will seek to make comedy,or other value,out of people being boiled alive.”

    Thats not the issue, as blackadder goes forth was comedy about millions of people getting shot to bits. Difference is it wasn’t written in consultation with the ministry-of-arranging-for-people-to-be-shot-to-bits.

    The apparent problem with this production is the enthusiastic consultation with the FCO, the very government agency responsible for attacking the real ambassador for acting on the grave problems which are undeniably referenced in the comedies description along with other crucial associative details. And there is no other even slightly well known ambassador in half similar circumstances to relate the story to, which makes the claims of irrelevance absurd deceits.

    Anyway, it is open bets on what the result will be – whether the FCO will approve of the results. Embarassing at this stage for the team to have cosyed up to the FCO and ignored, even denied Craig. But there is a slim chance that their work will defy its tainted origin.

    Will Mitchell Webb and Co be “marching under the banner of a rats anus” ?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVEIlObp22s

    Time will tell

  98. I thought the comment underneath and the canned laughter were good. Do production companies run to the expense of having a live audience? Probably not. Bring back the BBC Theatre in Shepherd’s Bush, once the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Live everything then. It is now part of the O2 empire.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepherds_Bush_Empire

    In March 2003 the Dixie Chicks were performing there. Good for Natalie.

    ‘”Just so you know,” says singer Natalie Maines, “we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” It gets the audience cheering – at a time when country stars are rushing to release pro-war anthems, this is practically punk rock.’
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2003/mar/12/artsfeatures.popandrock

  99. Jemand, 2.49am

    Great post. Two things I thought you might be interested in (I think I’d better do these as separate posts as they are so long).

    1) Sir Menzies Campbell made clear during the Parliamentary debate on the UK’s extradition treaties (both US and European ones) in December 2011 that Theresa May’s plan to remove the final say on individual extraditions from the UK Home Secretary “fails to understand the nature of extradition… Extradition is diplomatic in the first instance. It becomes judicial and ultimately it is political.” Yes, that’s spot-on, extradition is ALWAYS a government decision.

    I found that quote from an open letter to David Cameron, reproduced on the Justice4Assange site. It covers a lot of ground so I’ll paste it in full below; hopefully the embedded links in the letter will survive the transposition. If not, check out the original here:

    http://justice4assange.com/Action.html#UK

    Dear Prime Minister,

    I have been discussing the recent Supreme Court Assange extradition verdict with friends, work colleagues and neighbours and want to share with you how ordinary British voters view its implications.

    The Supreme Court judgment is stunning in its overreach. It has effectively annulled parts of the UK Extradition Act 2003 and undermined Parliamentary sovereignty, on the basis that Parliament was misled or that it didn’t know what it was doing when drafting the Act. Here’s a good article that explains what’s wrong better than I can. Here’s another (read the comments for a flavour of how UK citizens view what’s just happened). As I understand it, the judges say the decision to implement a treaty overrides any intention Parliament had to vary its terms (ie the 2003 Act), based on an obscure clause of the 1957 Vienna Convention not discussed during the appeal hearing. Oh, and that French is now the ‘preferred’ language of our courts.

    At the heart of the matter is where the legal sovereignty to enact the laws which affect the British nation lies. The EU Framework Directive on which our UK Extradition Act is based says that every Member State has the right to choose whom they call a ‘judicial authority’ – except the UK, it now seems. We would say ‘a judge’ under our Common Law system, but the Supreme Court disagrees and says the European Civil Law system takes precedence over ours.

    We’ve been told that a successful appeal by Mr Assange would throw the EU justice system into turmoil as 11 Member States use prosecutorial figures in some form of judicial capacity, but I believe there are only 2 out of the 47 Member States where there is no proper separation between executive and judiciary and prosecutors are part of the executive (Sweden being one of them), a point of Mr Assange’s appeal which seems to have received little attention in the judgment. To jettison 800 years of Common Law legal heritage – solely to avoid inconveniencing two European Member States – would, at one point, have required the agreement of the nation in a referendum. In fact, in light of this judgment, a referendum now on extradition reform would be a very good – and popular – idea.

    In view of the above, I sincerely hope this case is re-opened – and not via written submissions studied behind closed doors, but in a full hearing televised by the Supreme Court so that the British public can see what is happening to a law which Parliament had intended would protect their rights.

    I am aware Home Secretary Theresa May wishes to offload the legal and human rights responsibilities of her office as regards extradition entirely into the hands of the judiciary. This judgment is a perfect illustration of why that is such a bad idea; Ms May’s plan too subverts the primacy of Parliament and “fails to understand the nature of extradition… Extradition is diplomatic in the first instance. It becomes judicial and ultimately it is political.” Sir Menzies Campbell MP

    There is a suspicion among people I’ve spoken to that long-promised extradition reform is being delayed until after Mr Assange has left these shores, perhaps because of this, which shows high-level US involvement in the Scott Baker extradition review – itself suffering from excessive secrecy (along with other FOI requests concerning Mr Assange, which have all been denied). What good will reform do at that stage if, thanks to the Supreme Court verdict in his case, anything Parliament enacts in future is deemed automatically superseded by the European Civil Law system?

    I will be asking my local MP to sign Caroline Lucas’ Early Day Motion 128 calling for an end to these delays to urgent extradition reform, a halt to all US extraditions meanwhile, and the publication of the Baker Review evidence.

    The allegations against Mr Assange have NOT been brought by the women; the allegations have been levelled by the Swedish State. That was the whole point of his Supreme Court appeal. The women are as much victims of the Swedish State as Mr Assange himself is, as they went to police for advice about HIV testing and have publicly stated that he is not violent and they did not wish to file a complaint. One of the women has stated she felt “railroaded” by police and did not sign her witness statement, which was later amended by a politician acting as the women’s lawyer. After reviewing the police file, a senior Stockholm prosecutor dismissed all the allegations bar one (non-extraditable) molestation offence for further investigation, then closed the case entirely.

    The case was re-opened by a politician (same one) campaigning during an election to expand Sweden’s sex crime laws and passed by him to an investigating prosecutor in another jurisdiction. That investigating prosecutor has publicly stated: “The detention time can itself be used as punishment if the offender subsequently is not convicted.”You may wish to read that sentence again. Yes, that’s right, punishment instead of conviction. Is this the level of ‘judicial impartiality’ the British public is expected to accept from now on? Ms Ny’s comment reads more like self-appointed judge, jury and executioner to me. I thought we disapproved of that sort of thing in the UK.

    People ask “If he’s innocent, what’s he afraid of? Why doesn’t he go to Sweden to clear his name?” without realising that the only venue being offered to argue his innocence is incommunicado solitary confinement under Sweden’s heavily criticised pre-trial detention regime. Despite nearly two years of requests to be interviewed, the Swedish prosecutor refuses to use standard Mutual Legal Assistance channels to question Mr Assange in the UK, without giving any reason. The Swedish authorities say they are seeking to extradite him for questioning (there are no charges) and yet it’s the one thing they seem least keen on doing.

    It is time for Britain to formally request that Sweden does what it claims it wants to do: question him – here, on British soil – before we start dismantling Britain’s Common Law justice system in order to facilitate the extradition of one man. I ask that this formal request be lodged with the Swedish Ambassador as a matter of urgency.

    Or do you agree that a foreign prison cell is the only suitable place for someone to answer an investigating prosecutor’s questions about not using a condom during consensual sexual encounters? Because if you agree that for Mr Assange then, due to the precedents set by his case, you agree it for us all, and for the next set of McCanns labelled arguidos by a European investigating prosecutor.

    The shadow hanging over this whole case from the very beginning, of course, is the looming threat of Mr Assange’s extradition to the US, which would like to see him prosecuted for espionage for his journalistic activities. This can be facilitated very easily through Sweden’s “temporary surrender” arrangements in its bilateral treaty with the US, a clause not available in Britain’s own US treaty. Some of us see that shadow again in the announcement a few days before the Supreme Court’s judgment was due that the US Secretary of State would be visiting Sweden four days after the verdict, for the first time in 36 years – “a very long time” as Swedish FM Carl Bildt proudly tweeted (and I hope the Supreme Court’s communications system doesn’t fall within the ambit of the government’s forthcoming total surveillance for intelligence services bill).

    For how much longer can Britain’s senior politicians remain wilfully blind to that shadow when it is becoming more and more visible to their constituents and there is justifiable anger that so many of our rights are being thrown away in subservience to it?

    Please answer the questions raised in this letter. You are the Prime Minister. You are expected to care about the laws Parliament enacts to protect the legal rights of people in this country.

    Yours sincerely,

    [Name] UK Citizen

  100. @Crab

    “Nauseating that some people will seek to make comedy,or other value,out of people being boiled alive.”

    Thats not the issue, as blackadder goes forth was comedy about millions of people getting shot to bits. Difference is it wasn’t written in consultation with the ministry-of-arranging-for-people-to-be-shot-to-bits.

    Yes it is the issue. Do you think they’d run a comedy that encouraged the view that WW1, like WW2, was principally and essentially about rich bastards murdering large numbers of poor people for profit, using nationalism as their main lie, just as they do today? Do you think if any such comedy or other form of TV programme (and it’s all bullshit, exactly as Crab describes it) would get anywhere near to being shown if it did anything like this?

    Of course it wouldn’t. Someone with a ‘safe pair of hands’, whether at the Foreign Office or somewhere else – maybe just some worthy who knows what the masters want and don’t want – would step in and boot it into the bin, and a note would be made in the offenders’ personal files.

    It doesn’t really matter much that this person said blah blah blah to that person, or there’s a formal channel, or whatever. That’s unless you think the system can be made clean by having a decent culture among its executives, or by somehow having rich and influential people who sincerely believe they have a duty towards the oiks they’d rather eat shit than breathe the same air with…which wonderful ‘reform’ would doubtless involving lots of jobs for decent middle class representatives of the public who had loads of ‘conscience’.

    The whole system stinks, and there really is no solution other than revolution. And no, I don’t know how to get there.

    Don’t watch TV. If that isn’t voting with your feet, what is?

  101. @Jives @Crab

    I wrote

    and it’s all bullshit, exactly as Crab describes it

    Sorry – I meant to type:

    and it’s all bullshit, exactly as Jives describes it

    (I wish we could edit our posts, or even just preview them before posting)

  102. Jemand, 2.49am

    Second thing, this one only tangentially related to your post, but very relevant in a thread discussing state-sponsored propaganda, imv.

    There have been a couple of news reports that Julian Assange has refused to meet with Benedict Cumberbatch, who will be playing him in the forthcoming Hollywood movie – working title now “The Fifth Estate” but previously “The Man Who Sold the World” – despite Cumberbatch’s publicly stated support for Wikileaks’ cause and desire to meet with the man himself. Some commentators have called this Assange ‘sulking’ about a film he doesn’t like the sound of – despite the fact he read out sections of the script he’d got hold of in his Oxford Union address detailing all sorts of nonsense about Iranian nuclear sites, Wikileaks’ releasing the names of US informants, etc, etc. These commentators say Assange should meet Cumberbatch because he will then be able to bring a more favourable ‘nuance’ to what seems on the face of it a pretty biased script.

    This is naive in the extreme. The script is based on two books written by a couple of Assange’s biggest detractors: Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s “WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website” and David Leigh/Luke Harding’s “Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy”. ‘Nuanced’ lies based on the contents of two books with titles like that? Those lies will just seem all the more believable then, won’t they? And what can Wikileaks do about it once the damage is done, sue Hollywood? Where’s the money for that?

    Also, what people miss about the dangers of a Hollywood film misleading the public based on lies in a script produced from these two books is the specifics. For example, in one of those books a lie is told that “Assange said informants deserve to die”. According to the Congressional Research Service (and Stratfor head Fred Burton), this is a valid basis for prosecution of JA for USC 794(a) – conspiracy to espionage/aiding the enemy charge – FOR WHICH THE DEATH PENALTY EXISTS if any US HUMINT asset (ie informant) dies as a result of the espionage ‘conspiracy’. There are Stratfor emails existing in which Fred Burton advises (and remember his VERY close contacts with the Washington national security services) that Assange should be prosecuted on “political/conspiracy” charges THEN “declassify the death of an asset, someone we could link to Wiki”. Of course, the plan is to get Sweden to lay copyright charges to get around the initial bar to extradition on political/conspiracy/espionage grounds (that’s why they’re holding Anakata without charges – these ‘copyright’ charges against WL they’ve got lined up). Once they’ve got him on US soil, of course, everything changes and Fred Burton’s Plan A will be instigated and there will be fuck all the rest of the world – no matter how big the outcry – can do about it.

    Congressional Research Service 31/1/13: Criminal Prohibitions on the Publication of Classified Defense Information:
    http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/R41404.pdf

    (pages 17/18 and footnote 95)

    Stratfor email: Email ID 1074383 on this page: http://wikileaks.org/Stratfor-Emails-US-Has-Issued.html

    I think it’s wise to assume that Assange knows a great deal more about both this film, its script and the US prosecution than we do, and that he’ll have thought through his decision not to meet Benedict Cumberbatch very carefully indeed, based on that knowledge.

  103. N and Jives,
    Blackadder goes forth may not have set out specific blame, but it was anti-war. Comments are getting into the realm of condeming arts, condemning everything except.. protest?

    I think Craig has a perfect right to be concerned and attack this process which has excluded him, as it clearly involves him in a better way than it involves FCO and it involves guilt and a situation of great suffering. But i dont think it is supportive to go beyond Craigs complaint and expectations, and simply condemn all modern comedy involving grave themes.

  104. Arbed at 11.29 AM. It’s a good letter. I will sign it. But my gut-feeling is it needs something simpler, less wordy, that busy people will read and sign. Just an observation not a criticism of the letter. The prime minister’s address is:

    David Cameron, Prime Minister, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

  105. John Goss,

    I think it’s an old letter and now a bit outdated. I was only dropping it in here because of its relevance to the arguments about government vs judicial decision-making on extradition, and that what needs to happen now – as Rafael Correa told RT yesterday – is for the Swedes to question Assange in London.

    The letter could be updated and simplified a bit and sent again, I suppose. Better addressed to William Hague now, of course, and at least some of the embedded hyperlinks in the original letter retained.

  106. I’m absolutely shocked to see this, as I’ve always found Mitchell and Webbs comedy, the likes of Peep Show, very funny, and my sister is a particular fan of David Mitchell. Ironically I think I was in a car with you Craig during the Norfolk by-election and Mitchell was being interviewed on the radio, at least one of the campaign team exclaimed he was much more boring there than in his act! I have know vaguley for years that one of them (I thought it was Mitchell actually not Webb) hated George, but thought little more about it and was starting to think it might have been misreported, especially as Mitchell’s satire on Channel 4′s 10 O’clock Live seemed to show him as a good man of the left. His new bride, Victoria Coren, has impressed me even more, in her panel appearances and Guardian columns she really seems to be a clever and clued up leftist. So I wonder what Mitchell, and his Mrs, think of this “government satire” as someone above brilliantly called it; is Webb the bad apple; are they just in it for a quick buck; or are they, like some other “liberals”, good on opposing austerity but terrible on foreign policy?

  107. Arbed

    Thanks for explanation. The links in fact are inaccessible by letter. The other thing is that most M.P.s, especially front benchers and those with ambition, which includes mine, do not sign EDMs. He gets a lot of letters from me. Many he answers.

    I’ve just written a letter to Cameron and Hague.

  108. Arbed 11.29am, 12.03pm

    Thanks for the links, Arbed.

    I find it exasperating that so many people who advocate on behalf of Sweden’s now discreditable justice system have such a poor understanding of political reality. History should be their teacher on the disparity between theory and practice. Even workplace experiences teach us that.

    Regarding the film, which represents the start of a new genre of cinema, namely ‘Wixploitation’, it was cursed before it was even conceived with the involvement of the diabolically ambitious trojan, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Why should Assange meet the cast of a film instigated by this extortionist and digital vandal? DDB, or Dumbshit to those who know him best, could have been charged with serious crimes had Wikileaks been a pro-establishment collaborator.

    I’m glad you raised the issue of copyright infringement. Whenever there is a police raid on a target, all computing equipment and digital media is scooped up for analysis. It doesn’t matter if a warrant does not specify offenses against copyright laws. If you have in your possession a 2 minute video of some cute asian chick blowing an old guy, you can be nailed for copyright infringement. Getting the cooperation of the American producers of porn wouldn’t be hard. It doesn’t even have to be porn, it could be a funny youtube video or photos of scenic beauty.

    And with that you have a holding charge for the many other charges that surely follow and used to intimidate you into cooperating and informing on your friends. That’s why copyright treaties between the US and compliant states represent an insidious extension of the US arm of political harrassment across international jurisdictions. If someon has breached copyright, let the matter be tried in the jurisdiction in which the person committed the offence, not in the US.

  109. doug scorgie

    20 Feb, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    JimmyGiro
    19 Feb, 2013 – 12:33 pm

    “Consider this, regarding the politicization of BBC ‘comedy’, Ben Elton could hardly be removed from our screens, then suddenly he is a none-person, like some Soviet dissident undergoing internal exile. What happened?”

    He became a capitalist money sponge.

  110. doug scorgie

    20 Feb, 2013 - 4:01 pm

    Charles Edward Frith (@charlesfrith)
    19 Feb, 2013 – 4:01 pm

    “This blog is gutsy and evidence that faithful Englishmen do exist.”

    Hey I’m Scottish ye Sassenach!

  111. Ben Elton produced a (live?) show in Oz that got cancelled after a couple of episodes. I didn’t see it but read that it was dreadful and awkward. Maybe he just got too comfortable. I think the best art comes from hungry, desperate artists. We need an Arts Gulag filled with angry, depressed, hungry, confused, hurt young people who venture beyond the intellectual envelope to produce the great works of art that we yearn to hang on our loungeroom wall and fill the voids in our bookcase between Moby Dick and Triumph Repair manuals.

  112. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 4:33 pm

    “Hey I’m Scottish ye Sassenach!”

    Aye ! Lang may yer lum reek!

  113. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 4:41 pm

    Arbed @11:29

    ” Speculate on possible reasons for the discrepancies between what happened, how the case has been prosecuted, and how it has been presented in the press.I taught my students to distinguish between”

    Cui Bono……

    A rationale for proceeding….imagine that.

    Did you see my link on Aaron Schwartz? If they’ve got a bun-on for such a minor series of non-events, imagine their eagerness to reign in Assange.

  114. doug scorgie

    20 Feb, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    This blog – 112 comments – not one from Habbabkuk, KarimovaRevengeFantasist or Guano. I wonder why?

  115. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 5:07 pm

    Jemand; HST once stated that politics is the art of manipulating your environment, and Law is often the result of those elected leaders who are masters of manipulation. But the interpretation of those laws is with the courts which are ostensibly independent, but we know how that works.

    ————————————————————–

    Here is a pretty comprehensive micro-bio of Aaron Scwartz. Unlike the Industrialists of code and hardware, like Steve Jobs or even Dotcom, Aaron was far from their for-profit ventures.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-brilliant-life-and-tragic-death-of-aaron-swartz-20130215

  116. Because they know Craig’s around and might get the big heave-ho! I never had a reply from U No Who to the question contained within my comment on the Bolton thread.

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2013/02/john-boltons-fake-applause/#comment-394586
    :)

    I note ref the following thread that Kenton Allen carried on regardless with his tweeting. Some stuff about Prescott’s incoherency on Radio 4 Today. That’s nothing new is it!

  117. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 6:01 pm

    “Ratzinger was a young Theologian at the Second Vatican Council, and he was quite Progressive there; he complained about the Curia and all the rest. But then in 1968, when he was a professor at Tubingen University in Germany, the student riots were happening there (as they were in Paris in Berkeley and every place else), and the students invaded a faculty meeting and were honored to be heard, ranted and raved; and all the faculty at the [incoherent word] stayed except one guy, and that was Ratzinger, who stood up and walked out. People said the next time they saw him, he was an arch-Conservative.

    Then he made his way up the Ecclesial ladder, but meanwhile, he brought the Inquisition back. That’s how History will remember him. And he didn’t do it alone: his boss John Paul II gave him complete carte blanche to do that. And it’s scary, because when you dumb down the church, which is what has happened the last forty-two [42] years, deliberately dumb it down, it’s like General Motors firing all it’s engineers!

    That’s really what the Vatican has done: they fired all their Theologians, and they destroyed Liberation Theology, which was the most vibrant and justice-oriented movement on the planet after the Civil Rights Movement. They replaced the heroic Bishops, including people like Oscar Romero, who was actually martyred for his work with the poor in El Salvador, they replaced him with an Opus Dei Bishop; and they’ve done this all over South America. Opus Dei is a Radical, Fascist, Right-wing Catholic movement begun by a Fascist Priest, Escriva, who actually praised Hitler. And Ratzinger and John Paul II rushed him into canonization! They made a saint of him faster than anyone in the history of the church, and they destroyed the whole process of canonization to do it. They did away with the Devil’s Advocate tradition, where you have someone there representing the “shadow side” of the guy — they had none of that. Anyway, the guy is leaving a very dirty footprint behind.”http://www.opednews.com/articles/Transcript-Former-Catholi-by-Rob-Kall-130220-447.html

    Will there be another Pope? If Nostradamus is correct, the new one could be from France.

  118. Ben Franklin

    The genral policy of this blog is to let people witter away as they will – and what you say about Ratzinger and Opus Dei is very valid. But please tell me that reference to Nostradamus was tongue in cheek.

  119. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 10:01 pm

    Craig; Snark is a difficult task with texted comments, and I often fail. Nostradamus, like Galileo had to hide his ideas from the Inquisitors. That was my only point of reference.

  120. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 10:15 pm

    BTW; Glad to see your comment activity, of late.

  121. Les simulacres d’or & argent enflez,

    Qu’apres le rapt au lac furent gettez

    Au desouvert estaincts tous & troublez.

    Au marbre script prescript intergetez.

  122. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 10:34 pm

    BTW; Where is Jon, lately?

  123. Nostradamus? And the next pope, the last one, being from France?

    Don’t you mean St Malachy (who predated the Inquisition), and the next pope, the last one, being from Rome?

  124. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    20 Feb, 2013 - 11:10 pm

    N__; i would never impugn a fellow Irishman.

  125. Everywhere there’s lots of piggies
    Living piggy lives
    You can see them out for dinner
    With their piggy wives
    Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnlijUAuna0

  126. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    21 Feb, 2013 - 12:25 am

    Desmond has his barrow in the market place…
    Molly is the singer in a band…
    Desmond says to Molly “Girl, I like your face”
    And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on.

    Desmond takes a trolley to the jewelry store…
    Buys a twenty carat golden ring… (ring!)
    Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door…
    And as he gives it to her she begins to sing…(sing!)
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on.

    In a couple of years they have built a home sweet home,
    With a couple of kids running in the yard,
    Of Desmond and Molly Jones… (Ha ha ha ha ha)

    Happy ever after in the market place…
    Desmond lets the children lend a hand…
    Molly stays at home and does her pretty face…
    And in the evening she still sings it with the band…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on.

    In a couple of years they have built a home sweet home,
    With a couple of kids running in the yard,
    Of Desmond and Molly Jones…

    Happy ever after in the market place…
    Molly lets the children lend a hand…
    Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face…
    And in the evening she’s a singer with the band…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on…
    O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!…
    Lala how the life goes on.

    And if you want some fun,
    Sing O-bla-di-bla-da.

  127. Remind yourself of this one Ben including the guitar solo. Breakthru stuff when it was born….
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jd3jDzp0QjM

    what do you say, you and i start a night time pirate radio station here?

  128. Great article on the HSBC scandal…see the interview with the employee who worked in the Money Laundering division.

    Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail
    How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it

    by Matt Taibbi

    February 14, 2013 8:00 AM ET

    The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks’ profit – but they didn’t extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214

  129. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    21 Feb, 2013 - 12:54 am

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OgM_CO-hzo&list=PL50996F9499B93200&index=8

    Villager; I don’t think it gets better than Led1……so you take AM….I’ll take PM on the underground platter feeds.

  130. Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    21 Feb, 2013 - 1:04 am

    Also this whole freakin album should be played at least once, every day, Villager.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWt1YBhkc4Y

  131. Sure Ben, there’s enough hours in the day, but never seems enough at nite….

    Over to you….

    Groan Rudling will be happy to hear that size doesn’t matter….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzthPEKsImU

  132. “All their cosy BBC/ITV/C4 “comedy” laugh-ins and “quizzes” and fake cut and paste “100 Best TV Comedy Moments” and insider Oxbridge shite.” Jives.

    Jives, man, you’re beginning to sound like me!
    Though I have say that in the round, I do agree.

    Indeed, I would add, ‘metropolitan Oxbridge shite’, a particular kind of organic entity worthy of dissection and study upon a microscope slide.

    I think that in a very real sense, the one (domination of all ‘sides’ of the political and artistic discourse by a specific social grouping) ultimately – not absolutely (lip-service has to be paid, and a little hard-core reassures the discomfited that the rebel yell remains within the breast of the decent toady) but largely and very effectively – facilitates the other (clever propaganda in support of the interests of the specific social grouping). It is of course, simply a reflection of the re-asserted class system in the UK, combined with the hegemony of neoliberal economics – the worst of all worlds, one might say. I’ve been writing this for ages. But who am I? An Outsider. So, like the rest of us, of no consequence.

    And the result will be, precisely this (and yet more luscious, sepia dramas from 1934, with white rose’d-women and bolt-hard men). Enjoy.

    Personally, I’d much rather watch a carpenter make a table. That actually is closer to whatever-it-is and so is a better, more powerful, form of art.

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