I don’t normally post here on technical things, but it seems a small percentage of Apple iPods shipped carrying a Windows virus, RavMonE.exe (previously unknown, but probably a variant of the W32/RJump family)
The Times interviews a former member of the janjaweed milita from Sudan.
Dily, a Sudanese Arab, recounts how for three years he and his fellow Janjawid charged the farming villages of Darfur on their camels and horses, raking the huts with gunfire and shouting: “Kill the slaves. Kill the slaves.”
He reckons he attacked about 30 villages in all, and cannot count the people he shot. The villages were invariably destroyed, he says. The homes were burnt to the ground and the men, women and children killed — sometimes with the help of government airstrikes. If there were survivors “they would be left there . . . They couldn’t get help. Sometimes they made it to camps but mostly they died of thirst or starvation”.
While Newsnight reported that:
we have a world exclusive interview with a former member of the Janjaweed who was involved in raids that massacred thousands of civilians.
He claims he was acting on orders from the Sudanese Government.
The Times also reports from Darfur on the state of the African Union peacekeeping force:
“They are seen as Keystone cops, nothing more than a token force designed to show Africa is taking the crisis seriously when everyone knows it is not. It is disgraceful to think people’s lives depend on such a force,” an aid worker recently told The Times.
Senior officers say they have orders to report violations, not to intervene. “If there is fighting going on, we could get harmed . . . That is against the mandate,” Major Namara Gabriel, a Ugandan, declared.
Last year, Thabo Mbeki spoke to the National Assembly of Sudan:
…our shared colonial past left both of us with a common and terrible legacy of countries deeply divided on the basis of race, colour, culture and religion.
As of yesterday, Sudan has a Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The protracted and destructive war in the South has come to an end, never to return. It is also our firm view that that Peace Agreement and the new Sudan that will be born as a result of its implementation, provide a firm basis for the solution of other conflicts in Sudan, including the conflict in Darfur.
Today, I visited El Fasher in the Darfur region and have witnessed the challenges facing the government and people of Sudan in the area. I am confident that working together with the AU the leadership of this country will fully resolve the situation.
While George Galloway offers his analysis:
it is right that the remit of the African Union peacekeepers has been extended to the end of the year.
It provides a space to negotiate a peace, just as a peace was negotiated over the conflict in the south of Sudan.
But there are pro-imperialist forces that are seeking to prevent such a peace. They are the same forces that undermined the African Union mission. They want peace and the African peacekeepers to fail because they want a Western force in Sudan.
There are two reasons for this. First, it is about rehabilitating the discredited doctrine of humanitarian imperialism. Afghanistan was meant to be the great showcase for that. Look at it now. With every disaster in Afghanistan, Blair in particular is more and more desperate to find another benighted people he can liberate with daisy cutters and cluster bombs.
The second reason is that Sudan has oil reserves which might turn out to be among the largest in the world. It is a vast country.
We are being reminded by various cruise-missile liberals that its borders were created by colonial administrators. The subtext is clear – it is not a legitimate state, it’s a state we can feel free to bomb, as Bill Clinton did in 1998, wiping out half the country’s pharmaceutical capacity.
In the name of suffering black people, Bush and the neocons have their eyes on Sudan’s black gold.
Peter Tatchell in Tribune (not online) has a better analysis:
To date, between 200,000 and 400,000 people in Darfur have been killed and two million others displaced. Three million Darfurians now live a knife-edge existence, with many dependent on international aid for their survival.
The genocide in Darfur is not separate from the many other conflicts and brutalities in Sudan. It is one aspect of Khartoum’s generalised oppression of all Sudanese people.
Sudan is ruled by a harsh Islamist dictatorship. Human rights abuses are widespread. This is the elephant in the room that most people ignore when they discuss Darfur.
The mass murder of black Africans in Darfur is directly related to the fact that the government of Sudan is an Arab-dominated Islamist dictatorship.
The Darfur killing fields are a litmus test of the UN’s willingness to enforce international law and challenge murderous regimes. So far, the UN has failed the test. It has allowed the killing to continue. The signal to tyrants everywhere is that they can get away with mass murder. On this form, there will be many more Darfurs in the future.
Calling for UN action to save lives in Darfur isn’t neo-imperialism, as some on the left allege. It is international solidarity to secure justice – the liberation of the oppressed – in the same tradition as the global movements against apartheid South Africa. Doing nothing, which is what sections of left would prefer, is collision with the oppressors in Khartoum. How can it be right for the supposedly ‘anti-imperialist left’ to leave black Africans to die in their hundreds of thousands?
We know the fascist left is drawn inexorably to support every murderous tyranny in the world, but the left is not the only problem.
While African leaders like Mbeki have just one analytical tool – the lens of post-colonial solidarity – the suffering in Darfur, Zimbabwe and other parts of the continent of Africa will continue.
This is not just a failure of the U.N., it is a failure of African leadership.
Acknowledgement to Harry’s Place.
Headlines this morning from The Times.
Scientists say that a complete ban on cod fishing is the only way to save the species in the North Sea, after the complete failure of the European Union’s fishing policy.
Meanwhile, the E.U. is moving to ban standby settings on televisions and DVD players.
UPDATE: Instead of just making fun of the E.U., Tim Worstall has something useful to say on the subject of fishing.
In the Pope’s recent, controversial speech, he said, inter alia:
A reason which is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion into the realm of subcultures is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures.
I think that’s flying in the face of experience.
We have a global, rationalist, humanist culture that includes science that is not riven by violent misunderstanding. People might disagree about why the dinosaurs died out, or whether string theory is science – and these can be serious disputes about the work of lifetimes – but nobody beheads, and nobody has ever burned, anyone because they disagreed about such issues.
The dialogue of rational, sceptical people transcends all boundaries and unites us all. Through that unification, we explore each other’s cultures with interest and enthusiasm.
This is an interesting point. Has American pressure got anything to do with the Labour Party’s recent change of direction on Islamism?
Here’s one reason to think this might be an issue, from the C.I.A.’s website – a U.S. national Intelligence Council document. Quote:
A New Caliphate provides an example of how a global movement fueled by radical religious identity politics could constitute a challenge to Western norms and values as the foundation of the global system.
Hat tip – Sir Percy.
One prominent supporter of the Rally for Free Expression was the humanist Leo Igwe, from Nigeria. I said at the time that he should stand as a reminder that there are people in the world who are fighting for freedom under far more trying circumstances than our own, in Europe.
A reminder of this comes today, in the news that a Nigerian Christian teacher who had the temerity to discipline a Muslim student first had to flee for his life, and is now under arrest, charged with blasphemy.
Leo and Joshua Lai (the teacher) deserve our admiration and our support. Geography and nationality do not outweigh our bonds of common humanity.
There is a very worrying trend in the U.S.A. where two speakers (Carmen Callil and Tony Judt) have recently had appearances cancelled following pressure from Jewish lobby groups. For convenience, both cases can be read about at this single link.
Arguing for freedom of speech for those with whom you agree is meaningless. Of course none of us want our own opinions supressed. It only carries any weight at all when extended to include those with whom you disagree. That’s why the supporters of the March Rally for Free Expression were the genuine article. Speakers disgreed strongly with each other on almost everything except the importance of being able to disagree in a peaceful environment, where nobody gets sent to prison, threatened or killed for their opinions or utterances ESPECIALLY when they are offensive. It’s not an issue when people’s views are not offensive to someone.
That’s also why the equivocal waffling of organisations like Amnesty International over the Danish Cartoons affair was so degraded. Yes, we must have free speech, they said, but we must use it “responsibly”, which is to say not at all if someone known to be violent might take exception.
Sorry. Free speech is an absolute. And that applies to Carmen Callil, Tony Judt, George Galloway, the American Minutemen, my old friend Ismaeel and David Irving. It applies to Mother Theresa, the Pope and the Mufti of Jerusalem.
It applies to everyone.
In a climate wherein anti-semitic comment has swept through the halls of academia, and anti-Israeli sentiment is the rule at the BBC, Reuters, AFP, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times and other media organisations, the Anti Defamation League should know well what the problem with the suppression of opinions and news is, and they should be ashamed of their recent conduct.
Dennis MacShane, writing in today’s Telegraph:
At long last, the debate on Islamism as politics, not Islam as religion, is out in the open. Two weeks ago, Jack Straw might have felt he was taking a risk when publishing his now notorious article on the Muslim veil. However, he was pushing at an open door. From across the political spectrum there is now common consent that the old multicultural emperor, before whom generation of politicians have made obeisance, is now a pitiful, naked sight.
This is not confined to the labour Party, but it is most obvious there, with Ruth Kelly leading the charge. The idea that Jack Straw would have published his thoughts on the veil without reference to his party and then held his breath is not credible.
In their recent letter to Ruth Kelly, the Muslim Council of Britain said:
In recent months there has been a veritable regular drip-feed of ministerial statements stigmatising an entire community. We have seen ministers’ tours and even legislation being proposed on the premise that ‘mosques are a problem’. We have been told to accept that greater numbers of Muslims will be stopped and searched and also to ‘inform’ on our children. This relentless barrage has been disheartening and you will understand our worry about where all this is leading. Some Muslims have even sought the MCB’s advice on whether they should change their names in order to avoid anti-Muslim remarks. This is what happens when a community is singled out by those at the helm of affairs.
The MCB is right about this.
The consequences of giving preferential treatment to extremists like the MCB for a decade, of deferring to the real or imagined sensitivities of a small section of the population, and thereby causing genuine resentment, dislike and even hatred of all Muslims generally within society, then reversing the position and releasing a constant stream of remarks, initiatives and policy changes that feed this cultivated dislike could be horrendous.
Why are Labour doing this? It must be a deliberate policy. I can see no other explanation than that their private polling has revealed a serious threat to their position with the bedrock of their support, the white working class. Having caused the problem, by favouring Muslim extremists to the great personal cost especially of moderate Muslims in the country who have had to endure a surge of religious conservatism, veilings, forced marriage, curtailed female education, lost voting rights for the weakest (especially women) and “honour” violence, they are now reversing the position, also to the potential great cost of moderate Mulsims in this country.
The problems we now face that are associated with supremacist, absolutist, “fundamentalist”, fascistic Islamism are entirely the fault of the governing and media elites in western countries, and in this country mainly of the liberal and Labour left. All religions have conservatives and extremists; the great thing is to avoid giving them undue, or even any, influence in society. From the government’s contacts with the MCB to the BBC’s “Prophet Mohammed” bullshit, this problem has been caused not by the Muslims who are trying to get on with their lives, but by those whose unconscious, automatic racism finds it appropriate to treat all minorities as “communities” with strange and unique properties, lacking the common humanity that should bind us into one great community.
Let’s remember, though, that Michael Howard set the ball rolling for recognition of the MCB – who are now so conspicuously worried that the gravy train is about to resume its journey without them.
This is a mark of the collective failure of the entire British establishment. Members of the awkward squad might soon find themselves moving from attacking radical Islam to defending ordinary Muslims. This sort of reversal happens: Libertarians have found themselves moving from having to defend homosexuals against discrimination to having to defend the right of homophobic bigots to free speech.
The best stance to take is very simple indeed. It’s better to have free speech and have to listen to idiocy from time to time than to have censorship. Religion should be an entirely private matter but the right of people to follow their religion, or lack of it, privately must be defended. Free markets suck and on humanitarian grounds need safety nets but they have the merit of being the only economic system that works. In a democratic system, the only thing a community leader can do is weaken the democratic basis of society. You can’t participate in society if you don’t speak the language. There is no humane alternative to integration but integration is not homogeneity.And so on.
Above all, we share a common humanity that binds us and transcends any and every difference of race, sex, religion, sexuality or opinion.
We need to focus the spotlight where it belongs, on the people who have caused these problems, on the political and media elites and the civil service. We need to shine it on those who supported the “at-least-he’s-our-son-of-a-bitch” tyrants abroad, raised up community leaders at home, turned a blind eye to terrorists planning outrages so long as the outrages were to be committed elsewhere, who distorted media coverage to suit their political prejudices.
We should not let the focus turn to ordinary Muslims. Not even to extremist Muslims, who would never have gained the prominence they have without the sins of the establishment.
And that establishment includes Dennis MacShane.
From the MCB letter quoted in an earlier post:
We know that there are a clique of Islamophobic journalists (including Nick Cohen, Michael Gove, Melanie Phillips, Martin Bright and John Ware), each with a sharp axe to grind, who have desperately and repeatedly tried to malign the MCB and other important Muslim institutions.
That’s a lovely thought: Nick Cohen (Euston Manifesto Decent Left) and Melanie Phillips (Daily Mail Strident Right), Martin Bright (New Statesman Unreconstructed Socialist) and Michael Gove (Libertarian Tendency Tory MP) forging “closer and more lasting friendships” and “sharing a sense of belonging”. Perhaps that’s why their axes are so sharp.