Back From Baghdad 157

The good news is that I am back safely from Baghdad where I attended (and spoke at) the Arab League conference on Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The bad news is that as usual I am knocked flat with a bug or two picked up on my travels.

I will write on the subject matter of the conference and on the Baghdad experience when I feel a bit stronger. But one thing is for certain – the politicians who peddle the line that, while they may have been wrong about WMD, Iraq is now a haven of freedom and democracy, are telling a most blatant lie. Nothing in the mainstream media conveys the sense of what a total disaster zone Baghdad now is, and I have never been anywhere – not Uzbekistan, not Turkmenistan, not Belarus, not Sierra Leone during the war – that felt less like a free democracy. More detail later.

157 thoughts on “Back From Baghdad

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  • Jon

    Ginger Nuts – no, I am not being harsh with you because of your views – as a moderator it is my job to ensure that the rules are applied fairly to everyone. We don’t tolerate racism, persistent disruption or multiple identities here (you can change your nick if you like, but infrequently, and be transparent about it).

    If you’d like to switch to “Useless Eaters” then that’s fine, but please stick to it.

  • Ginger Nuts

    Jon/Mod is trying to make a big deal that I regularly change my nick, I always have done.

    He’s using that as an excuse to delete my posts and he just deleted my rebuttal that I am sock-puppeting. Maybe it was the (correct) allusion that he is collating posts that did it.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Ginger; I often change the descriptor next to my Nym to reflect my mood or the prevailing mood wrt the topic. You may find that satisfactory for yourself, and others will be able to identify you readily.

    just sayin….

  • Mary

    Good old Ed on medialens….

    Channel 4 Dispatches…The Palestinian School Children Massacre…
    Posted by Ed on December 17, 2012, 6:09 pm

    …sorry, I meant “The American School Massacre”.
    Who’d want to hear about Palestinian kids being massacred?

    Matt Frei doing a special report tonight on “Dispatches”…complete with references to the “emotional” child killing president, Obama, King of the Drones.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    MK/Ultra Monarch? LIBOR? General Electric? I must be crazy with these theories.

    “The father of Newtown Connecticut school shooter Adam Lanza is Peter Lanza who is a VP and Tax Director at GE Financial. The father of Aurora Colorado movie theater shooter James Holmes is Robert Holmes, the lead scientist for the credit score company FICO. Both men were to testify before the US Sentate in the ongoing LIBOR scandal. The London Interbank Offered Rate, known as Libor, is the average interest rate at which banks can borrow from each other. 16 international banks have been implicated in this ongoing scandal, accused of rigging contracts worth trillions of dollars. HSBC has already been fined $1.9 billion and three of their low level traders arrested.”

  • Clark

    There are various reasons to stick with a single identity:

    * It is common courtesy, similar to introducing yourself.
    * It enables people to build up their understanding of your perspective, which helps them to converse with you.

    There are various reasons not to use multiple identities:

    * You have been asked not to by a hard-working volunteer administrator.
    * It is deceptive, like donning various disguises.
    * It hides the frequency of your comments.
    * It is confusing to other readers.
    * It makes your opinion look more popular than it actually is.
    * Names are a resource; you are awarding yourself more than others.
    * When a new contributor arrives at this blog, readers cannot know that they’re new, as it could be just you under yet another different name.

    Why, exactly, do you want to comment under thirty or more different names? Are you trying to force the implementation of registration, possibly to discourage other contributors? Are you just taking advantage because you can? Are you attempting to degrade the quality of the debating environment?

  • Rose

    Sad to see rough sleepers in Norwich today; would be good if the EDP did a feature about them alongside all the other festive “news”. But perhaps they have and I missed it.

  • mike

    Not quite so much from the UK media on how, in recent days, the bloodthirsty jobbing jihadis in Syria have kidnapped Russian workers and a Ukrainian journalist. As with Iraq, our new pals are threatening to execute these people. They’ll probably post the videos on YouTube.
    But, if Russia chooses to use them in this way, these events could play right into their hands. Quite justifiably, they could command the moral high ground and say: We’re going in to Syria to protect our people. That would forestall any UK/US/France invasion, and all that hardware currently parked in the Eastern Med would have to go home.
    Let’s hope this happens. The only nation that can stop the destruction of Syria as a functioning modern state (albeit a dictatorial one) is Russia.

  • Mary

    It’s a weird concept that the MoD ‘own’ something so intangible as the ether in which airwaves are transmitted.

    I trust that I have used the correct terminology!

    Osborne would sell his grandmother.


    Ministry of Defence to sell part of its radio spectrum
    The spectrum being sold by the MoD is being cleared of military users

    Can 4G auction hit £3.5bn target?
    Autumn Statement: Carrot and stick for business
    Ofcom reveals 4G auction plans

    The Ministry of Defence says it will auction some of the radio frequency it owns in a move that will increase the capacity for 4G mobile services.

    The spectrum being sold is below the 15GHz frequency, which is seen as the most useful type because it can be used for a wide range of communications.

    Mobile phone and broadband suppliers are seeking access to more spectrum.

    Demand for this is mounting, fuelled by rising use of data-hungry devices such as smartphones and tablets.

    The sale, which will take place in 2014, will give private operators the chance to buy more spectrum to support the introduction of fourth-generation (4G) mobile services to people in cities, towns and villages across the UK., which will allow much faster download speeds.


  • Phil W

    Mike – Dont see how Russia could go into Syria. It would be far, far worse for them than going in to Afghanistan. The US, UK, Israel etc are already pouring fighters and all sorts of hi and low tech equipment in to the rebels, and this would only increase. The Syrian border with Iraq is wide open. And how would the Russians supply their forces?

    Sorry, but I think even the Russians accept now that Syria is doomed. The US has just about failed it.

    Lebanon next. Hezbollah are really going to be made to pay for making the Israelis look fools last time round, I’m afraid.

  • oddie

    iraq? afghanistan? libya? what has the MSM shown us of these countries since the West brought them “democracy”? almost nothing. move on.

    abc radio australia presenter’s talk topic last nite – newtown massacre. presenter says great feedback from a listener – obama can’t run for president again so he has nothing to lose and therefore he should ban guns:

    TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562-3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474-881 were civilians, including 176 children…

    and that’s just pakistan! btw where’s the outpouring of sympathy for the 10 young girls who were killed when a landmine exploded as they were gathering firewood outside their village in eastern Afghanistan, or for the 22 school children and an adult injured by the knife-wielding maniac in China, which was reported almost simultaneously with the newtown massacre?

    seasons greetings craig. get well soon.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Again…how do you separate the unholy Assadists from the rebels? What’s the distinction between Assad’s forces continually targeting an Aleppo hospital , versus the egregious inhumanity of the rebels. Yet you take one side (Assad) over the rebels. You really should explain this cognitive dissonance.

  • Jives

    I think it far more likely the MOD were awarded – or appropriated – a part of the radio frequency spectrum rather than bought it.

    Although i could be wrong.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    I second Jives on the welcome, komo. I trust the sabbatical was refreshing?

  • thatcrab

    I need to put in a respectful word for Ex Pats posts – i recall they might be occassionaly grumpy or edgey, but i often find them high quality and substantial. Sad to read that some were rejected.

    When the old Cat i am minding returned recently after his dissappearing, a mist cleared and i realised i was too obnoxious in the earlier thread. Best wishes all.

  • Mary

    What’s with HM’s visits to see Cameron and Hague in action today? Last week it was the Bank of England and the gold. Is it some PR move to reassure us that all is well in the Kingdom when we know differently?

    Further to mine of 16 Dec, 2012 – 11:59 am, I see we are now in for £50m minimum. Why is the state picking up the bills when the collapse of this chain is down to greedy private equity outfits?

    ‘On Monday, administrators Deloitte said unsecured creditors would get back less than 1% of the money owed to them.

    The chain’s collapse will also cost the government £49.4m in redundancy payments and foregone tax revenues.

    The redundancy money owed to thousands of former Comet workers totals £23.2m and will be paid by the government’s Redundancy Payments Service (RPS).

    Meanwhile, £26.2m is owed in taxes to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), which is one of dozens of unsecured creditors of the retailer who are owed a total of £233m, none of which will be repaid.’

  • Mary

    Iraqi broadcaster and radio station forced off the air

    New York, December 17, 2012–Iraqi security forces shut down two broadcast outlets on Friday for alleged administrative violations, according to news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Iraqi authorities to allow the stations to resume broadcasting immediately.

    Security forces surrounded the Baghdad offices of the Cairo-based satellite channel Al-Baghdadia TV, and Radio Al-Mahaba, an independent women’s radio broadcaster, and forced the outlets off the air, according to news reports and local press freedom groups. The soldiers also forced the staff out of the buildings, the reports said.
    News accounts reported that journalists at Al-Baghdadia said they believed the station was shut down in connection to its exposure of corruption of government officials. Radio Al-Mahaba, the first women’s radio station in Iraq, covers women’s issues and reports critically on the government, news reports said.


    What was it that Bush and Bliar were bringing to Iraq? Oh yes. Freedom.

  • Mary

    Just some revolting MoD propaganda. Our brave boys are now our brave dancers. Some lardies amongst them (fit for military duty? surely not) and I didn’t spot P Harry. Perhaps he was the one dressed up as the turkey.

    British troops in Afghanistan raise money Gangnam Style

  • Ginger Nuts

    I object to the accusation that I change my nick all the time or that I do so in order to mislead or sock-puppet.

    I challenge the mod to show one example where I have posted in response to myself or have changed my nickname halfway through a thread (other than being a name chosen for comedic effect, e.g. Gideon Osborne.)

    Also, I have always had the same email. Hardly an attempt at subterfuge.

    I have not been ‘Ginger Nuts’ for many months. Since being ‘Ginger Nuts’ I’ve been Wagon Wheels, Rich Tea, Chocolate Hobnobs, McVities Digestives, Lemon Puffs (you don’t have to work at GCHQ see a pattern there), Destroyer of Words, a few sarcastic ones, like Gideon Osborne, and others. Why Jon/Mod picked up on ‘Ginger Nuts’ is a mystery to me.

  • nevermind

    Good to smell your rotten odour again, scaly beast, and with such imminent issue, i.e. the priory of the worlds chocolate dollar and why those who dared to challenge it were attacked and are going to be attacked.

    W must not forget that Iran was asking not so long ago to be paid in a basket of currencies, rather than the petro dollar.

    It is is now paid in gold for its services, thanks to the sanctions piled upon it. sanctions that are unjust and designed to stop it trading, collective punishment for the ‘crime’ of a few that had enough with propping up a currency that is guaranteed to send the word down a chute.

  • Clark

    “Also, I have always had the same email. Hardly an attempt at subterfuge.”

    This places the blog team in a conflict of interests. Should they keep your secret for you, or tell other contributors?

    I’m asking you to stick to one identity; it’s just normal Internet etiquette. Why do you object? If you’re just trying for a humorous effect, pick an identity and keep to it, but start your comment text with “Call me Wagon Wheels” or something similar.

  • Clark

    And you don’t submit comments under an e-mail address at all; just a very generic string of the same format. You’ve again deceived the readers by claiming to comment under an e-mail address.

    “Since being ‘Ginger Nuts’ I’ve been Wagon Wheels, Rich Tea, Chocolate Hobnobs, McVities Digestives, Lemon Puffs (you don’t have to work at GCHQ see a pattern there)”

    This blog has international readership. You seem to be assuming that all readers are familiar with a selection of biscuits from the British market. But in any case, this ignores the other twenty or so names you’ve used.

  • Mary

    Does anything work in Cameron and Clegg’s broken Britain?

    Hanging on phone for HMRC cost public £136m – NAO The NAO said there had been some improvements, but callers were still not getting a good service

    Delays in answering phone calls to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) cost callers £136m last year, it has been estimated.

    The National Audit Office (NAO) has calculated that members of the public spent £33m on call charges while holding on HMRC phone lines in 2011-12, wasting time worth £103m to them.

    The same applies to banks, energy suppliers, phone providers, councils, government departments, online shopping if there is a query and almost any operation that is supposed to serve its customers.

  • Clark

    Mary, yes; and where does the £33 million end up? These are 0870 etc. numbers. That money presumably gets split between telephone companies and the companies and organisations being called. So the more complaints that are generated and the longer the wait, the more money is made, creating an incentive for poor service. Even one of my local doctors’ surgeries has an 0870 number for booking appointments.

    The problem needs to be tackled at source. Making such calls non-chargeable would be best. Failing that, a single connection charge without charging per-minute for the calls would seem a reasonable compromise.

  • Jon

    Thatcrab, thanks for your point on Ex Pat’s posts. I analysed some of the phrases (Captain Renault Award, John Stockwell, Johan Galtung, Perfidious Albion) and found they were repeated in similar sequences of posts on other threads. Some of the links were also identical. So, I suspect the new material is only slightly different to stuff that you’ve already read from him/her.

    That said, I’m happy to go slightly easier on it if readers appreciate the material. I would ask though that the contributions are shorter (two or three posts of 10+ external links does take up rather a bit of space) and not repeated from one thread to the next.

  • Jon

    Ben Franklin, your approach to nick changing seems like a good idea. Get a Gravatar, and modify just the name suffix. It’s recognisable to all readers, and yet changeable to fit the mood. Works for me!

  • thatcrab

    Thankyou Jon – I appreciate your work. I hope Ex Pat can appreciate the requirements against flooding and will keep an oar wet here.

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