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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  • Mary

    Clark. Quite right. Even my GP practice where I have been a patient over 30 years have introduced a calling system on an 0844 number. They helpfully tell you what your place is in the queue while you listen to some mangled electronic musak. Thankfully, I hardly ever need their services.

    I thought I would just check. WTF! All these good people on a forum were confused. Depends on the digits following apparently. What a rip off.
    http://community.bt.com/t5/Phones/How-much-do-calls-cost-to-0844-numbers/td-p/348503

  • Mary

    St Vince of Cable is looking into the Comet collapse. Don’t hold your breath. It all sounds very space-explorational. Probes and comets.

    Government launches probe into Comet collapse
    Vince Cable’s department has launched an investigation into the demise of Comet as it emerged that OpCapita and its backers charged Comet millions for fees despite the chain racking up losses.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9752148/Government-launches-probe-into-Comet-collapse.html

  • Jives

    Mary,

    “St Vince of Cable is looking into the Comet collapse. Don’t hold your breath. It all sounds very space-explorational. Probes and comets.”

    LOL.

  • mike

    Russia is sending some of its Baltic Fleet to Syria to reinforce the forces that arrived earlier this month. Two American carrier groups are in the process of leaving the Med.
    Depending on what the Russian fleet have (or will) drop off by way of assistance for Assad (and what the Americans have given the rebels) this might tip the balance one way or t’other.
    It’s a crying fucking shame that I find myself rooting for the Syrian regime, but when it comes to waging constant war as a profit engine I’m definitely a peacenik. It’s being going on for decades but the first time I really saw it for what it was was Serbia in 1999 (and the pernicious Rambouillet agreement).
    With a bit of luck most of Syria will take one look at Iraq and especially Libya and say: You can keep your humanitarian intervention. Fingers crossed the country stays united – and therefore harder to dominate by the Imperial carpetbaggers from Bechtel, Halliburton, Amec, and all the rest.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    ” Fingers crossed the country stays united – and therefore harder to dominate by the Imperial carpetbaggers from Bechtel, Halliburton, Amec, and all the rest.”

    The lesser of two evils? Now I’m glad I voted for Obummer.

    Meh…..

  • thatcrab

    Their evil choices are either to be torn apart by our War industry or defend themselves together.
    A different situation than “will we plunder this lot or that lot?”

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    “defend themselves together.”

    That sounds about right, crab. If you mean, ‘survival is the only imperative, ends justify, means”

  • Ginger Nuts

    “This blog has international readership. You seem to be assuming that all readers are familiar with a selection of biscuits from the British market.”

    Now you’re just scraping the bottom of the barrel.

    Fair enough on all things said about changing IDs (even though I’ve been doing it for over a year without a problem) but let me repeat that I have not sock-puppeted or changed my nick mid-thread.

    The problem is that I’ve had previous posts *selectively* deleted so that it creates an unfair impression of my views and looks like I’ve not provided a response to unfair accusations.

    The ID issue was raised as a distraction to me pointing this simple fact out – why delete some messages, on the same thread, about the same topic, with the same ID, and not others if the problem is simply with the ID and not the content? Surely delete all the messages or none.

    This is the point I started making and it is still a valid one. Obviously I don’t expect the mods to say “We’ve got this agenda see….” hence they’re sticking to the ‘it’s so horrible to regularly change your nick’ meme.

    I suspect its the fact that they have to work a bit harder collating the posts for their mates in the Home Office/MI5/GCHQ that’s really pissing them off.

  • nevermind

    @Mike Equally torn here, this looks like another one of these old cola war encounters, where the super powers test their hardware in action, with the civilian playing little piggy in the middle being used by the MSM for their own propaganda agenda.

    @ gingernuts. How much does this spreading of nonsense and mucky brand names on popular boards bring in/week? 300 pounds?

    your blatancy has been duly noted. You will find you sad method of advertising multinationals here will eventually come to an end, turning your ginger nuts into ginger ‘klabusterbirnen. that’s clingon’s to you.

  • Ginger Nuts

    How much does this spreading of nonsense and mucky brand names on popular boards bring in/week? 300 pounds?

    your blatancy has been duly noted. You will find you sad method of advertising multinationals here will eventually come to an end, turning your ginger nuts into ginger ‘klabusterbirnen. that’s clingon’s to you.

    Perhaps my ‘nonsense’ would make sense if I were not selectively deleted, eh?

    Perhaps you, and the rest of the group-think crowd, simply don’t like the idea that this is not a “popular board” as you assert but merely a platform for an ‘establishment’ dissenter and to act as a honey pot for the online community. I’ve seen and heard enough to spot a duck when it come a waddling and a quacking.

    As for being in the pay of biscuit manufacturer… you silly old prick, get back to your Len Deighton. Yes, I’m insulting you and it’s utterly deserved for such a ridiculous statement – and you have the temerity to accuse me of spreading nonsense?

    The mods can’t reply other than to repeat their already debunked excuses. Shame in it? But that’s what happens when they exercise censorship in the guise of ‘protecting’ their readership.

  • Jon

    Ginger Nuts, I did remove one of your posts, thinking you’d stuck to a different name as a challenge to the stated rules here, but I undeleted it ten minutes later. Put it down to me being tired, if you like. Yes, quite happy to believe you’ve not actually been sock-puppetting, but nevertheless the rules on identity stand.

    Anyway, it would be great if we could stop discussing biscuits, and resume the discussion on the Baghdad conference. Or, Syria. Or, whether the US Dems will consider a permanent ban on military-style assault rifles. Or…

  • Fred

    Ginger Nuts

    I don’t understand why you hang around on a blog you obviously don’t like. The internet is a big place, full of blogs like this one, I tend to read the ones I like and not the ones I don’t like.

    It’s like going out to an Indian restaurant then complaining the food is too spicy.

  • thatcrab

    Ben wrote: “defend themselves together.” That sounds about right, crab. If you mean, ‘survival is the only imperative, ends justify, means”

    I dont see that follows Ben, if it is not held as a general truism, which i dont. The idea that everyone is similarly choosing between lesser evils, flatters the greatest evils.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Crab; you don’t have to live the truism. You just have to accept it as someone else’s if I understand your words ‘defend themselves together’ as a sort of devilish alliance for short term goals.

    It doesn’t flatter either, but may bring one side down a level.

  • Ginger Nuts

    Fred,

    you seem to think that a person should not object to being misrepresented through the selective deletion of messages. I guess that is fine for you because it’s not something you will ever have to worry about. You are a passive consumer. Everything about your statement says that you have never entertained an original thought in your head. You are spoon-fed easily digested morsels so that you won’t have nightmares.

    When *you* go into an Indian you go because you know what to expect, not because you are looking to try something new, different or unusual but because it is safe and you are not going to be challenged. Indian cuisine is generally not that hot and those restaurants you call ‘Indian’ are in fact Bangladeshi. Enjoy your poppadoms you patronising know-nothing

  • Clark

    Ginger Nuts, yes, everyone is wrong except you. Craig Murray, Jon, Fred, Nevermind, and myself. So please just go away so we can all be wrong together. Then you can stop worrying about your comments being watched by GCHQ, the terrible injustice of your comments being deleted will stop; we’ll all get what we want. I don’t know why you bother with sheeple like us in any case.

    Implicit registration, anyone?

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Clark;

    I guess the question is, which is more difficult to administer for the mods? I think the imbroglios between single-nym commentators, who would register, create as much difficulty as the multiple-personality instigators. It’s really up to the moderator(s).

  • Clark

    Ben, implicit registration is used on nearly every small-staff or single-operator blog there is. It is the simple tool that makes a blog manageable.

    Implicit registration works as follows: when a comment is submitted with a new name/e-mail combination, it is queued for moderation. Once that first comment is approved, the software adds those credentials to the “approved contributors” list, and all further comments with those credentials are published automatically and immediately.

    If the mods wish to ban a contributor, they just remove the appropriate credentials from the list. Trolls stop trolling because they know that their comments will get queued.

    You can even set up a blog to create the list of credentials, but not to queue first comments. For all that I or Ginger Nuts or any contributor knows, this blog’s WordPress software could be doing that in any case. Then, if disruption starts, mods just switch on first-comment queueing, and remove any offending credentials.

    This blog makes no pretence of preserving anonymity; the URL is http, not httpS, so Ginger Nuts’ comments about surveillance is alarmist nonsense that applies just as much to any http web site. If he’s really that worried, he needs to stay off the ‘net, throw away his mobile ‘phone, check all his belongings for RFID tags and only venture into urban areas with a bag over his face.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Clark; Some blogs I visit use that method. It is a little annoying as to immediate feedback and getting a flow going on the conversation, but here I don’t see that as an issue.

    Cheers…sounds like you things are moving ahead, swimmingly. Good to see.

  • glenn

    Mary: you might be interested in this : http://www.saynoto0870.com/

    Clark: Good work lately, and may I raise again the possibility of a checksum of the posters’ IP be placed with the name/timestamp? The checksum is effectively one-way encryption, so it would not intrude on privacy. But it would allow for easy identification of sock-puppets and so on.

  • thatcrab

    I will lament the passing of a channel immediate open comment, where the visible activity is a measure of the wide audience rather than the systems configuration to involve them. The more noise is filtered the more responsible you might be held for remaining sounds. If they settle into a dominant mode it is becomes just another pipe organ.

  • thatcrab

    IP Checksums are attractive but rather hard to implement properly and practically. To use properly they have to be well encrypted with a ‘salt’ The salt code would need to be held in inaccessible server memory somehow. If lost your inaccessible salt, due to server reset or something, your blocklist would be wiped. If you dont go the encryption route but use a reducing checksum instead, the blocks will apply to more than one ip at time, to ‘innocent ones’ as well, and true sources could still be deduced from checksum by elimination.

    It is just more doable to periodicaly clear ip logs , while keeping a bulk blocklist of spammers and flooders. At some level it will all be logged elsewhere anyway though, to avoid that one would need to comment using an unrelated persons equipment.

    The facility to post as “anon” or “guest” or other without making any appeal to identity, is an accident of early arrangements which i think some good people still appreciate being around.

    Do what you have to but less may be best.

  • thatcrab

    ooT – Michelle Shocked’s response to the US Copyright Offices proposals which theregister.co.uk summarises “means the composer cannot stop the distribution or performance of the work, but must hope for remuneration.”

    Like growers in Columbia, we see the price of our ‘beans’ being manipulated and devalued for the commodities market and we understand the consequence of not being able to make a living wage from our work. Beck released his new album as sheet music. I will boycott this system of exploitation and my work will be only available through underground means. I am part of a revolution that will watch your children grow up listening to soft porn, being raped and abused by a porn-and- contraband-drug machine that uses music as a blackmarket portal for its sausage-grinding wares; that will consume your own children and then, heartbroken at their funeral you can reflect back through your guilt and wonder if you caused your own misery and this puny little rant will come back to your rememberance like the prophetic cry of anguish that it is.

  • Ginger Nuts

    I appreciate that the issues I’ve been repeatedly raising have now been acknowledged and I have been vindicated. My messages (it was certainly more than one) were being selectively deleted based on their content to make it look like I could not support my own position in an argument. The mods then tried to pretend this was not the case by bringing up the multiple id issue with claims that I was sock-puppeting, a claim also acknowledged as false.

    I may have been rude to one or two on the way simply because they made the mistake of sticking their oar into something that had nothing to do with them. Some did not even seem to understand the issue. Anyway, many people have been telling me repeatedly to ‘fuck off’ from the very start. On balance I have suffered more abuse than I’ve dished out simply because my arguments were not reliant on ad hominem attacks.

    Any unpleasantness that has caused offence would have been avoided if the Mods acknowledged their error early on instead of making silly, provably false excuses and trying to hide behind their own anonymity. I know many users will appreciate that I’ve done a small service here – good moderation always goes un-noticed.

  • Fred

    Oh we understand all right.

    You were using multiple identities and the moderators quite rightly asked you to stop.

  • Jon

    Glenn, IP checksums are tricky because many posters use non-static addresses. A minor change in the last two bytes of the IP would make the checksum hugely different, and so not very useful.

    My view on (implicit) registration is that is creates more work for mods; since I don’t want to keep new posters waiting long for approval, I’d have to check several times a day. The current amount of multiple-identity users is extremely low, so I’m disinclined to risk creating more work.

    I think improving performance for long threads is a more pressing issue, personally, given the size of the last Al-Hilli discussion, and there’s only a finite amount of spare time 🙂

  • Clark

    Jon at 20 Dec, 1:39 pm, and
    thatcrab at 20 Dec, 3:18 am, an excerpt from my comment:

    “You can even set up a blog to create the list of credentials, but not to queue first comments. […] Then, if disruption starts, mods just switch on first-comment queueing, and remove any offending credentials.”

    See? All regulars’ credentials would already be in the list, so comments from regular contributors wouldn’t get blocked when queueing was switched on. Mods would just need to delete the credentials of the offender, and monitor the queue until disruption subsided. Disruption consumes moderators’ time in any case, and at such times, this would be a very helpful tool.

    Jon, I agree that IP blocking is not specific enough, and that hashing has various drawbacks.

  • mike

    We really are through the looking glass with this shit – Cameron saying the civil war in Syria is attracting al qaida type elements! Of course it is. We’ve funded and armed and trained these fuckers!
    Putin is right (jesus, what am I saying!) this isn’t about Assad – this war is about the integrity of Syria as a nation state.
    Cameron’s words remind me of the old saying attributed to Native Americans: white man speak with forked tongue.

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