Iraq

Shoes for Bush

On Bush's surprise visit to Iraq, an Iraqi Journalist threw his shoes at him.

In the middle of the news conference with Mr Maliki, a reporter stood up and shouted "this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog," before hurtling his shoes at Mr Bush, narrowly missing him.

"All I can report is a size 10," Mr Bush said according to the Associated Press news agency.

Surprisingly witty for dubya - and also good reactions on display. He waves off the security guys who were about to bundle him out. Honestly, this is probably his most impressive performance of the whole presidency.

Saddam Hussein and Hostages

Today is the 15th Anniversary of Saddam Hussein appearing on Television with his 'Human Shield' of hostages. This is one of those events that make one realise that time is moving on. That only seemed like yesterday.

At the time I was mid A-Levels, and taking part in a summer job for Kent County Council. I had the task of visiting council properties, including schools and offices, to fit curtains and carpets.

I think that week I spent working in a theatre, dealing which huge stage curtains - and at the time being terrified of what might happen next. There was talk amongst my peers of a draft!

I well remember seeing that boy being patted on the head by Hussein.

Iraq Invaded Kuwait

Today is the 15th Anniversary of the day when Iraq invaded Kuwait. A few days later, a British man was shot by the Iraqis as he tried to leave Kuwait.

Some three weeks later, western hostages were shown on Iraqi TV as 'Human Shields', they were freed in December.

This sequence of events ultimately gave rise to the first 'Gulf War', operation Desert Storm was launched in January 1991.

Nothing to say here....

I've hit a dry spot. It's odd, after lots of posts about everything from ID Cards to electoral reform; from OU courses to movies; from Coffee shops to Ciak; I've written letters, and sometimes have even got replies.

I feel all posted out!

It's not as if there is nothing to talk about. ID Cards - Song: (audio alert) and Voting Reform are ongoing issues, there's also draconian restrictions on protesting.

Now, as of right now, I want to write something, but nothing is screaming 'write me' at me - though lord knows that there are things that are happening in the world that demand attention.

Guantanamo is still out there, and Geldof being silly over ticket reselling (just how is someone selling on a ticket that they can't use undermining the cause, Bob? - it's not as if touts got hold of the tickets in bulk preventing the punter from getting them, in that case I'd agree with you!)

There's Donald Rumsfeld giving interviews. This quote made me laugh in it's apparent naivety: "certainly my hope and prayer would be that any employee of this department who sees something illegal or wrong or improper would report it to the Department of Justice or the proper authorities." (Donald Rumsfeld on Deep Throat). In the case of the US president, this seems rather foolish.

There's arguments in the EU (for the record, Tony's got the right line here - one can't debate the rebate without looking at other aspects of EU funding such as the CAP), and armed men have just raided a Cambodian School.

There's Anthrax in Orissa, and plans to pump Carbon Dioxide into the depleted oil and gas reserves under the North Sea

There's the Human Cannonball, fired through fear of flying and HMV in Canada boycotting Alanis Morrissette. There's also Michael Jackson looking like he might sue Martin Bashir, but as with all things Jackson this holds little interest.

So much going on in the world, and yet I can't seem to get my act together to come up with a post for the website. I can't just do a plug for my Ebay Store, can I?

I could write a little about Cryptography, given the pages I've just moved into the main site, but I'd like to do some behind the scenes work first.

What am I to do?

What's that you say?

.... ah, right. I see your point. I'll just click 'save' now then, shall I?

(The gist of the article above re: inspiration, is semi-serious. Any comments, even if by email rather than the comment form, are gratefully received)

Interesting Quote: Vietnam and Iraq

WASHINGTON, Sept. 3 [1967] -- United States officials were surprised and heartened today at the size of turnout in South Vietnam's presidential election despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting. According to reports from Saigon, 83 per cent of the 5.85 million registered voters cast their ballots yesterday. Many of them risked reprisals threatened by the Vietcong. The size of the popular vote and the inability of the Vietcong to destroy the election machinery were the two salient facts in a preliminary assessment of the nation election based on the incomplete returns reaching here. Sounds familiar....

Can you feel a draft?

Given that in the US there is much rumour and rebuttal about the possibility of a draft, it is interesting to see this court case. An ex-soldier is suing the US Govt. Essentially the US is operating a 'Stop Loss' policy, and this soldier, who was told he was discharged has been ordered to report.

There are many articles on both sides of the draft issue, one article (republican) finishes with: The Bush administration could put the wild rumors to rest and save taxpayers nearly the $30 million a year it costs to administer the Selective Service's draft registration program by asking Congress to terminate draft registration.

The question is, if a draft is out of the question, why don't they pass this legislation and cut the ground out from under the rumour?

The Whitehouse has said that there will be no draft. Indeed, letters have been sent demanding that people stop talking about it on this basis. However, some people aren't believing this assurance. A senator from Ohio explains why (media link).

The reason this is pertinant in the UK (quite apart from the issue of who gets to lead the remaining superpower) is that the US recently requested around 850 troops to move north from Basra (despite there being over 100000 US troops around, they couldn't spare any). There is speculation that Blair and co. controversially acceded to this in order to relieve political pressure upon the current president. The pressure arose due to the talk of a draft.

The question of the troop movement is sure to be discussed in the excellent 'Any Questions?' (a show which I'm not sure has a parallel in the US). This weeks show will be downloadable until next weekend, when it will be replaced with the latest version. Quote from the 5 min 30 sec mark in the show: "No, I don't think the redeployment of the troops is particularly in the interest of the US elections. It does however happen to be my view that the best interests of the US elections are served by voting for John Kerry..." <pause> <applause> (I'm listening to it now, there is some good stuff near the 14 minute mark)

Journalism in Iraq

According to the Guardian, the war in Iraq has been the most dangerous ever for Journalists, and an International Press Freedom group has suggested that Journalists may be being targetted. In this war, there has been a push toward embedding Journalists rather than having full independence. Looking back at earlier articles reminds us that the Pentagon suggested the military would target journalists using the satellite phones as they could not differentiate them from radar, we also see articles discussing how embedding might work in practice. Claims remain that non embedded journalists are being targetted.

Electronic Iraq writes about the bombing of the Al Jazeera offices in Baghdad, and the BBC writes about the hotel attack.

The Americans are claiming that they fired on Journalists hotel as they were being fired upon, a few days ago Blunkett verbally attacked the media coverage in Iraq, one could imagine that he would not wish any reporting at all from inside Iraq. He specifically mentioned AlJazeera as a puppet of the regime, this was shortly before AlJazeera's disagreement with Baghdad.

Two Polish Journalists who were taken captive at an Iraqi checkpoint have escaped with the help of an Iraqi teacher.

Meanwhile, Blunkett has said that there may be no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, what's the betting that if this is the case then this was will have been about something else all along?

Update: Just as this was uploaded, I noticed a story about 'Jubilation in Baghdad' if this is true, then it could be the beginning of the end, though the end could be a long drawn out affair, as this report from Afghanistan shows.

Post War Administration

The British have established the first post-war administration in Basra, by appointing a local Sheikh to put together an administrative committee. I can't help feeling that this could be viewed by the locals as installing a 'puppet' of the Invading army - and can only hope that they make it clear very early on that it will be an interim measure, and that the early folks cannot automatically keep 'power'.

The BBC has an analysis of the situation in Basra.

Al Jazeera Ban

Now, this is interesting, Iraq has banned two Al Jazeera reporters from working in Baghdad. Al Jazeera have suspended reports from Baghdad in protest. Al Jazeera are now 'in the doghouse' with 'the allies' and with Iraq. Could this indicate that they're getting the balance about right? Or could there be some other explanation?

At the time of writing, the English Language Al Jazeera site is down.

Additional: Apparently this came about due to Al Jazeera trying to do interviews without Iraqi minders. How ironic that Blunkett just came out with a quote which says that Al Jazeera are "only there because they are provided with facilities and support from the regime".

Iraq

I thought it about time that I included some links to the current situation in Iraq. Please note that what follows were interesting links. It is likely that some links will contain propaganda (from both sides) and judgement should be used when interpreting. I make no representations about the accuracy of the links. I will not enter into an email debate on this topic. Firstly, there is the English language Al Jazeera website. My impression of Al Jazeera is that though it caters for the Arabic audience, it has managed a fairly good job of balance, though it is currently frowned upon in some quarters for showing the Iraqi TV pictures of US captives (pictures which I've seen despite not watching AlJazeera). The site was fairly slow to load when I tried it, I did read that there is a possibility that hackers are attempting to mount an attack. There are many western sources of news, the most obvious being the BBC, and CNN.

One of the best sources for general news is Google News. Google searches many news sources throughout the world and uses these to form it's headlines.

In the news at the moment is a lot regarding the Iraqis showing allied prisoners of war (though I seem to recall seeing Iraqi POWs on my TV screen, and there does seem a contradiction at Guantanamo bay). So I looked up the geneva conventions.

I found many articles, the first articles which I stumbled across were rather disturbing, if true, and relates to an alleged serious mistreatment of POWs in Afghanistan. These theme is repeated in many other locations.

A seattle newspaper published an article today regarding the ongoing situation at Guantanamo bay and making reference to the situation in Iraq. The article says that "Bush's call for U.S. prisoners to be treated humanely would command more credibility and wider sympathy if his administration had appeared more amenable to accepting rules that most other civilized countries accept" and that "there were those, in the United States and abroad, with the prescience to warn that America's refusal to recognize their detainees as POWs could rebound in the event that U.S. soldiers were taken prisoner in future". There is a much shorter article on TheState.com.

The US has acknowledged that the Geneva convention applies to members of the Taliban at Guantanamo, but this leaves a large number of people without legal status.

The San Jose News has also written on this topic today.

For the most objective view, the Red Cross (Red Crescent) is the source I would trust. According to the financial times the Red Cross say that both sides in the conflict have flouted the convention. This article at Amnesty International is also worthy of attention. As you may imagine, the red cross has many references on the web, some include the Red Cross/Crescent Museum and the Red Cross itself.

The text of the 1950 Geneva Convention on POWs is online.