ISIS as art and antiqities thieves

I started an Irwin tale a few years ago that was going to involve art thefts and smuggling, but couldn’t find quite the right hook to hang it on. Thanks to this article, and a few others, I think I now have the source of the stolen objects pinned down, and I’ll be back on the story soon.

ISIS Cashing in on Looted Antiquities to Fuel Iraq Insurgency.

And a few other articles, so I can come back here and refer to them when I start research proper-

How an arrest in Iraq revealed Isis’s $2bn jihadist network – The Guardian

Isis: the inside story – Guardian

UNESCO Confirms ISIS Funding Terrorism by Selling Artifacts – artnet

Voodoo Histories keep repeating

I recently read Voodoo Histories: How Conspiracy Theory Has Shaped Modern History by David Aaronovitch. It’s an interesting book which clearly, though with much sarcasm, lays out the history of several conspiracy theories then debunks them. From the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to (in the revised edition I read) the fuss over Obama’s birth certificate, it takes apart the most popular made up histories of the last century.

One of the theories examined in the book is the “mystery” of the death of David Kelly, a conspiracy theory which has been dug up again by the Daily Mail. The in-depth and considered (“The Mail has a healthy scepticism of conspiracy theories.” insists a related editorial) drags up the same arguments as previous iterations of this tale. “Severing the ulnar artery couldn’t have produced enough blood loss to die from.” But only one mention of the overdose of co-proxamol painkillers Kelly took, enough to be fatal by themselves in most cases, and none of an existing arterial problem. “Kelly didn’t seem suicidal.” To people who knew him in passing and are looking back on the events with the whispers of foul play colouring their opinions. His wife, on the other hand, had noticed how depressed he was about his sudden unwanted notoriety. “The Government stood to gain from his death.” Now I’m no fan of Blair, and opposed the invasion of Iraq, but I can’t see any way that the slimy little bastard could have benefitted from Kelly’s death. If anything, the suicide kept the spotlight on the flimsy reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq far longer than if Kelly hadn’t died.

Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a conspiracy theory wouldn’t die. I bet the Protocols are still considered real in certain circles. And it’s no surprise that the Daily Mail should be so intent on stirring it up. It’s just a shame that so much time is going to be wasted on this when there are more important things to be dealing with.

Cloud seeding ships to combat global warming

This could also be posted to How to Save the World for Free, but it’s relevant to the phone comic I’m working on.

Unmanned ships that sprayed sea water into the atmosphere to boost low lying clouds could produce sufficient cooling effects to counteract global warming due to CO2 rises. They’d cost £1m to £2m and at least 1500 would be needed. If they did work that’s £3billion to mitigate the damage already done and buy us time to find alternative technologies. That’s just over a fortnight of the abomination that is the Iraq occupation, to make such crimes less likely in the future.

So don’t be surprised when Bush and Brown don’t invest in it.

Leaving Iraq

Baghdad blogger Riverbend and her family have left Iraq.

Packing that suitcase was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do. It was Mission Impossible: Your mission, R., should you choose to accept it is to go through the items you’ve accumulated over nearly three decades and decide which ones you cannot do without. The difficulty of your mission, R., is that you must contain these items in a space totaling 1 m by 0.7 m by 0.4 m. This, of course, includes the clothes you will be wearing for the next months, as well as any personal memorabilia- photos, diaries, stuffed animals, CDs and the like.

I packed and unpacked it four times. Each time I unpacked it, I swore I’d eliminate some of the items that were not absolutely necessary. Each time I packed it again, I would add more ‘stuff’ than the time before. E. finally came in a month and a half later and insisted we zip up the bag so I wouldn’t be tempted to update its contents constantly.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tonnes of cash into a war zone?",,2008189,00.html
In the year following the invasion of Iraq the US shipped over $12billion of funds to the country as bundles of shrink wrapped 100 dollar bills.  A lot of this money has disappeared, unaccounted for, through incompetence and corruption.  It’s like the plot for a new version of Three Kings.

Bacteria, scum and friendly fire
Anyone with OCD- don’t click the link.  Scientists have found over 200 species of bacteria on skin.

I probably shouldn’t have told you that, should I.
The government wants sex offenders to register details of their "online identity" to keep them from visiting sites popular with youngsters.  They’re called aliases for a reason, and there’s no law of the internet that says you must have only one.  Any technically adept kiddy fiddler is going to find a way around this scheme with ease.  It might work if they logged IP addresses or took the dubious step of installing spyware, but those can be circumvented as well.
It feels odd to be applauding The Sun for anything, but their publication of cockpit footage from a friendly fire incident is gutsy.  Whoever leaked the video is even braver, I can’t imagine the US military being lenient on anyone who highlights their arrogance and fear of scrutiny.

It can be a civil war without battles everywhere

Sorry for the rather cumbersome title. The Today programme today had some senior armed forces spokesman on. Amongst the many things he uttered and denied was that the current situation in Iraq isn’t a civil war because there are areas where there isn’t heavy fighting.

A map of the English not-civil war.

A map of the American outbreak of minor disturbances.

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"If you believe in Mr Flibble, it's made by Mr Flibble as well."

Mr Flibble is very angry.

Okay, so Tony didn’t do a Dubya and say that God told him to invade Iraq. But do you really want the country to be run by a man who’s decisions are influenced by what he thinks his invisible friend will make of them?

Michael: But you mention there, I mean the Prime Minister, the commander in chief, has the ultimate say about the nation going to war and that’s the most serious decision you can take in any event. I mean you’ve been called a liar and a warmonger and all that sort of thing, what’s your feeling, your attitude when you read that? And also too when you read of casualties and people blame you for those casualties, I mean that’s a terrible, awful thing to live with and I wondered how you coped with it.

Tony: Because the King of the Potato People won’t let me. I begged him. I got down on my knees and wept.

Michael: Of course.

Tony: I was just doing a little test — a little test to see if you had gone crazy. CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s crazy people.

Michael: And you sent them there.

Tony: You don’t think there’s anything amiss? I’m sitting here wearing a red and white checked gingham dress and army boots and you think that’s un-amiss?

Michael: Sorry, what do you mean by that?

Tony: I mean by other people, by, if you believe in God it’s meant by God as well and that judgement in the end has to be, you know when you are faced with a decision like that and some of those decisions have been very very difficult, as I say most of all because you know there are people’s lives, this is not just a matter of a policy here of a thing there, but their lives and in some cases their death. The only way you can take a decision like that is to try to do the right thing according to your conscience. And for the rest of it as I say you leave to the judgement that history will make.

Michael: So you pray to God when you make a decision like that?

Tony: You want to fly on a magic carpet to see the King of the Potato People.

(Red Dwarf: Season Five- Quarantine)

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Praise God and pass the Semtex

I may take the piss, but I’m actually really worried by this “Glorification of Terrorism” law. What exactly constitutes glorification?

Basically, I remember enough of the eighties to know that if this law had been around then Maggie would have had hundreds, if not thousands, of people locked up. Blair, Brown, Clarke and any number of the others who championed the bill would likely have been rounded up for their support of the ANC or the Sandinistas or for questioning the shoot- to- kill policy in Northern Ireland.

How long will it be before some documentary about Iraq is pulled because the producers are told their attempt to understand what drives the insurgents is somehow “glorifying” them? How long after that until an author’s career is ruined because they dare to show a freedom fighter in a sympathetic light? What if someone finds that blog post I did about shooting Tony Blair?

I’m not about to change the nature of the stories I’m planning. But I think I should start setting aside some money for a good lawyer for when my time comes. I wonder if I can get Cherie Blair?

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I don’t know how far the proposed law against glorifying terrorism will go. Might it catch all sorts of popular culture? All it would take would be a few people saying that V for Vendetta is an allegory of the resistance in Northern Ireland/ Palestine/ Iraq and we could see Alan Moore and David Lloyd, and the Wachowskis now the film’s due out, going to jail. The Wachowskis are repeat offenders, because what else is the Matrix trilogy but a long elegy to the noble sacrifice of “freedom fighters”.

And don’t get me started on Asterix.

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Control Room

Before and during the invasion of Iraq the US forces fed the world’s press through a dedicated section of their command centre in Qatar. As local Arab news service Al Jazeera negotiated the politics of the newsroom two documentary film makers recorded their war.

Three people get the lion’s share of our attention- an earnest young US press officer, a large, jovial and very sharp former BBC reporter and a professorly interviewer/ interpreter. We keep coming back to them after digressions into the worlds of other correspondents and media advisers.

The media centre was intended to control the news, something the likes of Fox were willing to participate but non-US media disliked. Al Jazeera in particular came in for condemnation for their failure to play along and insistence on showing footage of the dead and wounded. Every channel had its “war reel” of footage shown on the hour. Al Jazeera’s had the requisite footage of tanks, planes and US military might, but rounded it out with injured children and dead bodies.

The villain of the piece is Donald Rumsfeld. Looking like a barely animated corpse he keeps popping up to remind us that Al Jazeera is a tool of Iraqi propaganda. To counter point this, Comical Ali appears to tell us that Al Jazeera is a tool of American propaganda. Other compare and contrast moments include the Al Jazeera reporter being told he should be more objective about Iraqi casualties whilst the press corps is practically ordered to break out the yellow ribbons for Private Jessica Lynch.

Toward the end the press officer has a haunted look, like he’s realised that the whole world doesn’t think like the US and he might have been selling the wrong product. The professor wants to send his children to school in America so they can opt in to the cultural imperialism rather than being victims of it. And a hard rain comes to cleanse the press centre as everyone is leaving.

It would be interesting to see an equivalent documentary concentrating on the correspondents of Fox or some other Western news agency. But I doubt they would be as honest.

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Ah'm on a mission from Gawd

The White House denies it, of course, but Dubya claiming he invaded Afghanistan and Iraq because God told him to rings horribly true.

One of the delegates, Nabil Shaath, who was Palestinian foreign minister at the time, said: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I am driven with a mission from God’. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’. And I did.”

Mr Bush went on: “And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East’. And, by God, I’m gonna do it.”

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I want to punch George Bush

According to the BBC President Fuckhead stood up at Gleneagles and said “the war on terror goes on”. Guess what? It wouldn’t have to if you and your cronies weren’t such incompetent, arrogant warmongering pricks.

Whilst I’m at it, Blair deserves a slapping as well. His statement is slimy twat for “Oh look, something else I can use to justify identity cards.”

Update Thanks to being linked from some rightwing site or other I’m getting a few visitors who want to lecture me on how wrong I am, so I ought to clarify a little.

I want to punch George Bush on a good day, he just has one of those faces. What drove me to my outburst is two things.

Ever since he started pulling troops out of Afghanistan and lining up the lies about Iraq, Wubble U hasn’t been fighting a war on terror, he’s been conducting one to encourage terrorism. He’s admitted that he wasn’t interested in tracking down Bin Laden. The head of the CIA has said that they know where OBL is, but they’re not going to get him. So standing up and touting the “war on terror” after abandoning it over two years ago is one reason he deserves a slapping.

The other reason is that he’s a callous little fuck. Within hours of a terror attack he was already lining up the dead so he could spit on their graves every time he invokes this bombing to justify another false start in combatting global terror.

So I put down what I felt, as succinctly as possible. Thanks for all the comments. Your presumptions about me, based upon a few sentences, have been amusing.

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