The late, great Douglas Adams.
Make the time for this magnificent and hilarious speech and you will not regret it. In fact, to paraphrase Adams himself, you’ll probably want to send me an email to thank me for pointing it out to you…
The late, great Douglas Adams.
Make the time for this magnificent and hilarious speech and you will not regret it. In fact, to paraphrase Adams himself, you’ll probably want to send me an email to thank me for pointing it out to you…
The thing that immediately caught my eye was the slogan which says “Once is not enough”. Now, that happens to be the same title as my book (which you can download on the right of this page).
Now I don’t know if we came up with it independently or not but I can tell you for absolute certain that I did not get it from there. It was a bit of a shock for me to read it there actually.
However, I don’t really care too much if they did take it. Other things I would mind if they didn’t have a link or a credit or something but this I don’t mind particularly – it is not as if I invented the phrase. If you look through some of my posts about Nepal and look at the comments there then you will see a lot of comments saying thank you for writing nice things about Nepal and such like so that is always nice for me too.
I also still regularly get emails about “I’m going to Nepal, can you tell me A,B,C etc” which is fine even thought things have changed a lot since I was there. And I may or may not have had an email from tourist industry people but I tend to keep a clean inbox so I am not sure.
I’ve finally arrived at my first proper bit of time off in a long time.
Naturally, I will be spending the first night or two of that in the pub.
After that I can do something about the appalling lack of posting on here lately. Got a lot of good things that just need touching up almost ready to go but haven’t had the time or energy.
I am also just beginning to understand what Twitter is all about [sort of] and so am using that too now. My name on it is just mgreenwell if anyone wants to find me.
Sorry about delay in the release of the podcast. It is coming very soon, and after that there should be one a month to begin with and then we’ll see. I am learning the technology on the job and that and work are the reasons for the delay.
I have also recently had a story that is in the Nepal book published on a Celtic Football Club website called lostbhoys.com, so that is one ambition fulfilled.
In the meantime…here is a repost because I like it. I was calling for God Save the Queen to be banned for inciting racial hatred….
The new anti-terror laws that the UK government have been passing since the London bombings got me thinking. One of them in particular, which is the new law about ‘Indirect Incitement’ whereby people said to incite terrorist acts can be prosecuted. This is all seems alarmingly vague so lets get some definitions…
Terrorism as defined by the US Department of Defense is “the unlawful use of — or threatened use of — force or violence against individuals or property to coerce or intimidate governments or societies, often to achieve political, religious, or ideological objectives.”
That seems both a reasonable and clear definition. So what does ‘Indirect Incitement’ constitute?
“[it] would apply to people who seek to glorify terrorist activity, perhaps by saying: ‘It’s a marvellous thing that this has happened. These people are martyrs.’ ” Such comments could be construed “as an endorsement of terrorism”.
Asked to define “indirect incitement”, she said: “It is very difficult to give examples of this. It would depend on what words were used. Were they an endorsement, were they a glorification? In some cases, the tone of your endorsement might take it into glorification.”
The new offence would also apply to both public and private statements, Miss Blears said.[i]
This means a whole host of things will have to banned. One of them is the UK national anthem ‘God Save the Queen’. The fourth verse of this song states that…
Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush
This song of ‘hatred’ then is clearly invoking religious power (’Lord Grant that Marshal Wade…’) in order to achieve a political aim – hushing sedition – and also to achieve this by violence by crushing ‘Rebellious Scots’. If any Englishman attacks a Scot therefore, he could be said to have ‘indirectly incited’ by this song. Not only will he be arrested but so could anyone else who has sung this. Say goodbye to the ‘national’ anthem.
Another favoured song down in England (not in Scotland) is ‘Jerusalem’. It is often sung at state events and also in Churches up and down the country. It is a song that clearly invokes religious, middle-eastern and violent imagery…
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land
This song clearly suggests that God is on the side of those wishing violence upon others. It also has defined religious and political/military objectives. If someone goes on holiday to Jerusalem and takes home a souvenir have they been incited by this song to rebuild it in England? This one then, will also have to go. [here is a picture of some people inciting terrorism]
Other laws are being enacted to deal with so-called ‘Radical Clerics’. This should please the Northern Irish Catholic community who have been dealing with a community ‘incited’ by a radical cleric …Ian Paisley.
Some Ian Paisley quotes…
“I will kill all who get in my way”, after a loyalist rally in 1968. He shouted this out at some reporters
During a visit from the Pope, Ian Paisley yelled “I denounce you. Anti-Christ” several times at the European Parliament.
After a Loyalist rally in 1968, Ian Paisely justified outrages by claiming: “Catholic homes caught fire because they were loaded with petrol bombs; Catholic churches were attacked and burned because they were arsenals and priests handed out sub-machine guns to parishioners”; he also said the massive discrimination in employment and allocation of public housing for Catholics existed because “they breed like rabbits and multiply like vermin”.[ii]
Surely then this religious and political leader is fomenting intolerance,violence and hatred and should be subject to retroactive arrest under the new laws?
So, can we soon expect mass arrests at football matches, rugby matches and churches up and down the country. All those caught on camera singing some of these songs at the remembrance day services will have to be retroactively arrested. The majority of the English public will be imprisoned. Only a few ‘rebellious Scots’ and ethnic minorities will be left in all of Great Britain and the patriotic white English public, protected inside their prisons, will be finally be safe and free from all the horrors that Scots, immigrants, catholics and muslims and single mothers always seem to be trying to inflict on them.
So thanks to both of them for doing it and a special thanks to the Curmudgeon as it was something he said to me that was partly responsible for me getting my finger out and actually making the thing.
You may have already noticed but I have put a little book together and made it available for free download. It is just on the right of this page, just below the quote of the day.
Don’t click on the picture, right-click where it says ‘Nepal – Michael Greenwell’ then you can download it free.
I used to love protesting…or is the right name demonstrating? In fact, many of the things I went to could probably be called ‘walking around a bit with posters’. Thankfully, some of the ones I went to weren’t exactly like that.
I liked the colours, the cameraderie, the noise, some of the songs and in particular the creativity of some of the people there.
I am now fairly disillusioned with the whole process and thinking it over I am reminded of something I read that I think was in a Jack Kerouac book.
He was talking about a group of Buddhist monks that used to go to the house of the master to meditate. However, the master had a cat that ran around and tended to disrupt the whole process.
In order to combat this the monks would tie the cat to the bed to immobilize it before they started to meditate. When they had finished meditating they would release the cat.
They got into this habit so much so that it became part of their ritual. After a while the master died but the monks continued to go to the house and tie the cat down and meditate.
Some more time passed and eventually the monks forgot what the master had told them but had become so habituated that they went to their ex-masters house every week to tie the cat down to the bed for a short time and then release it and leave.
I got some unusually direct experience of this little story when I was in Nepal and we had walked a couple of hours to reach this statue.
When we arrived we were told to be very quiet because we might upset the monk – apparently it was his time to come out and grovel in front of the statue.
We were told this at the bottom of the stairs that lead up to the statue and on my way up I noticed a fair number of potted cannabis plants. The only odd thing about that in Nepal is that it grows everywhere anyway so there is no particular need to put it in a pot.
Shortly after our arrival, with a seemingly just-about-the-right-time-to-take-a-few-photos pause, the monk made his appearance. He was wearing the traditional Buddhist robes [Kesa]. He proceeded to kneel in front of the statue, completely ignoring us.
He grovelled and muttered some things in this spectacular setting but all the while all I could see was his nike trainers and the potted cannabis plants.
Life is what happens when we are busy trying to imagine what it might be.
This is the Bouddha monastery in Kathmandu..
Did you notice that there wasn’t a question mark next to the title? You decide, it is one or the other.
I have a BBC section on this site. That organisation fascinates me in that some of its output is wonderful, particularly in the field of nature documentaries. However, a lot of its political content is absolutely dreadful.
Its international remit is different from its ‘home’ one. On the world service there are a lot of things that don’t turn up on the ‘home’ broadcasts.
It actually provides them with some good excuses to do that. The BBC can say they give air time to all sorts of dissenting views and point to the programmes and say look at/listen to/read that. However, the kind of thing that might be contrary to the prevailing views of the UK government tends to be on BBC-middle-of-the-sahara at about 4 in the morning.
In the UK the BBC attempts to perpetuate the myth of a unified United Kingdom. That was why it was set up.
Just looking today though, I found an article about Nepal in which the last sentence is a clear giveaway. The international stuff is not normally so blatant but the article goes…
Former Maoist rebels in Nepal look set to back a 73-year-old leader from the south of the country in presidential elections due on Saturday.
Disagreements up to now have prompted the Maoists, the biggest party, to join hands with parties elected from southern Nepal to find a compromise.
If everything goes according to their plan, 73-year-old Ramraja Prasad Singh could be the first president of Nepal.
The Maoists say Mr Singh will present a “new political face”.
By all standards, it was an unprecedented decision by the Maoists to reach agreement with a group of at least three other parties from the south, which up until now have been political enemies.
Maoist leaders said they had no choice but to agree on Mr Singh – who leads a small republican party – because he is a “neutral face”.
“We didn’t want the present Prime Minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, to be the new president,” said Maoist Chairman Prachanda.
“We wanted a new face and Mr Singh is the right candidate.”
Prachanda is the Maoist prime ministerial candidate, and the country’s interim constitution vests executive powers in him.
The three southern parties who are backing Mr Singh for the largely ceremonial role are led by the Madhesi People’s Forum, the fourth largest party after the April elections.
With the backing of the Madhesi parties, the Maoists hope that they can win a clear majority – more than 50% of the votes in the 594-member house – in Mr Singh’s favour.
In return, the Madhesis have demanded that their candidate for vice-president, Paramananda Jha, be elected.
Meanwhile, the Nepali Congress and United Marxist-Leninist parties have entered their presidential and vice-presidential candidates into the fray.
The newly-elected constituent assembly functions as a parliament but is also charged with writing Nepal’s new constitution. It declared Nepal as a republic in late May – bringing an end to the monarchy.
OK. Almost fair enough so far.
It is just one word in this last sentence that I have a major problem with
The elections in April saw the Maoists emerge as the biggest political force. Their 10-year insurrection claimed the lives of over 13,000 people.
Did you see it? It was the word ‘THEIR’.
Do the research yourself. I have consistently said I have been there and saw some shit and I don’t support the Maoists and that I get annoyed when I meet protestors here handing out ‘support the maoists’ fliers.
Why did the trouble in Nepal start? Did a few unhappy people that decided to call themsleves maoists and make trouble against the king that the BBC reported Jack Straw described as “a safe pair of hands” and then deleted the story from the archive?
Lazy journalism or finger-pointing? You decide.
John Pilgers latest article tells some harsh truths…
The military has created a wall of silence around its frequent resort to barbaric practices, including torture, and goes out of its way to avoid legal scrutiny.
Five photographs together break a silence. The first is of a former Gurkha regimental sergeant major, Tul Bahadur Pun, aged 87. He sits in a wheelchair outside 10 Downing Street. He holds a board full of medals, including the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery, which he won serving in the British army.
He has been refused entry to Britain and treatment for a serious heart ailment by the National Health Service: outrages rescinded only after a public campaign. On 25 June, he came to Downing Street to hand his Victoria Cross back to the Prime Minister, but Gordon Brown refused to see him.
The second photograph is of a 12-year-old boy, one of three children. They are Kuchis, nomads of Afghanistan. They have been hit by Nato bombs, American or British, and nurses are trying to peel away their roasted skin with tweezers. On the night of 10 June, NATO planes struck again, killing at least 30 civilians in a single village: children, women, schoolteachers, students. On 4 July, another 22 civilians died like this. All, including the roasted children, are described as “militants” or “suspected Taliban”. The Defence Secretary, Des Browne, says the invasion of Afghanistan is “the noble cause of the 21st century”.
The third photograph is of a computer-generated aircraft carrier not yet built, one of two of the biggest ships ever ordered for the Royal Navy. The £4bn contract is shared by BAE Systems, whose sale of 72 fighter jets to the corrupt tyranny in Saudi Arabia has made Britain the biggest arms merchant on earth, selling mostly to oppressive regimes in poor countries. At a time of economic crisis, Browne describes the carriers as “an affordable expenditure”.
The fourth photograph is of a young British soldier, Gavin Williams, who was “beasted” to death by three non-commissioned officers. This “informal summary punishment”, which sent his body temperature to more than 41 degrees, was intended to “humiliate, push to the limit and hurt”. The torture was described in court as a fact of army life.
The final photograph is of an Iraqi man, Baha Mousa, who was tortured to death by British soldiers. Taken during his post-mortem, it shows some of the 93 horrific injuries he suffered at the hands of men of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment who beat and abused him for 36 hours, including double-hooding him with hessian sacks in stifling heat. He was a hotel receptionist. Although his murder took place almost five years ago, it was only in May this year that the Ministry of Defence responded to the courts and agreed to an independent inquiry. A judge has described this as a “wall of silence.”
A court martial convicted just one soldier of Mousa’s “inhumane treatment”, and he has since been quietly released. Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, representing the families of Iraqis who have died in British custody, says the evidence is clear — abuse and torture by the British army is systemic.
Shiner and his colleagues have witness statements and corroborations of prima facie crimes of an especially atrocious kind usually associated with the Americans. “The more cases I am dealing with, the worse it gets,” he says. These include an “incident” near the town of Majar al-Kabir in 2004, when British soldiers executed as many as 20 Iraqi prisoners after mutilating them. The latest is that of a 14-year-old boy who was forced to simulate anal and oral sex over a prolonged period.
“At the heart of the US and UK project,” says Shiner, “is a desire to avoid accountability for what they want to do. Guantanamo Bay and extraordinary renditions are part of the same struggle to avoid accountability through jurisdiction.” British soldiers, he says, use the same torture techniques as the Americans and deny that the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on Torture apply to them. And British torture is “commonplace”: so much so, that “the routine nature of this ill-treatment helps to explain why, despite the abuse of the soldiers and cries of the detainees being clearly audible, nobody, particularly in authority, took any notice.”
Unbelievably, says Shiner, the Ministry of Defence under Tony Blair decided that the 1972 Heath government’s ban on certain torture techniques applied only in the UK and Northern Ireland. Consequently, “many Iraqis were killed and tortured in UK detention facilities”. Shiner is working on 46 horrific cases.
A wall of silence has always surrounded the British military, its arcane rituals, rites and practices and, above all, its contempt for the law and natural justice in its various imperial pursuits. For 80 years, the Ministry of Defence and compliant ministers refused to countenance posthumous pardons for terrified boys shot at dawn during the slaughter of the First World War. British soldiers used as guinea pigs during the testing of nuclear weapons in the Indian Ocean were abandoned, as were many others who suffered the toxic effects of the 1991 Gulf War. The treatment of Gurkha Tul Bahadur Pun is typical. Having been sent back to Nepal, many of these “soldiers of the Queen” have no pension, are deeply impoverished and are refused residence or medical help in the country for which they fought and for which 43,000 of them have died or been injured. The Gurkhas have won no fewer than 26 Victoria Crosses, yet Browne’s “affordable expenditure” excludes them.
An even more imposing wall of silence ensures that the British public remains largely unaware of the industrial killing of civilians in Britain’s modern colonial wars. In his landmark work Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses, the historian Mark Curtis uses three main categories: direct responsibility, indirect responsibility and active inaction.
“The overall figure [since 1945] is between 8.6 and 13.5 million,” Curtis writes, “Of these, Britain bears direct responsibility for between four million and six million deaths. This figure is, if anything, likely to be an underestimate. Not all British interventions have been included, because of lack of data.” Since his study was published, the Iraq death toll has reached, by reliable measure, a million men, women and children.
The spiraling rise of militarism within Britain is rarely acknowledged, even by those alerting the public to legislation attacking basic civil liberties, such as the recently drafted Data Communications Bill, which will give the government powers to keep records of all electronic communication. Like the plans for identity cards, this is in keeping what the Americans call “the national security state”, which seeks the control of domestic dissent while pursuing military aggression abroad. The £4bn aircraft carriers are to have a “global role”. For global read colonial. The Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Office follow Washington’s line almost to the letter, as in Browne’s preposterous description of Afghanistan as a noble cause. In reality, the US-inspired NATO invasion has had two effects: the killing and dispossession of large numbers of Afghans, and the return of the opium trade, which the Taliban had banned. According to Hamid Karzai, the west’s puppet leader, Britain’s role in Helmand Province has led directly to the return of the Taliban.
The militarizing of how the British state perceives and treats other societies is vividly demonstrated in Africa, where ten out of 14 of the most impoverished and conflict-ridden countries are seduced into buying British arms and military equipment with “soft loans.” Like the British royal family, the British Prime Minister simply follows the money. Having ritually condemned a despot in Zimbabwe for “human rights abuses” — in truth, for no longer serving as the west’s business agent – and having obeyed the latest US dictum on Iran and Iraq, Brown set off recently for Saudi Arabia, exporter of Wahhabi fundamentalism and wheeler of fabulous arms deals.
To complement this, the Brown government is spending £11bn of taxpayers’ money on a huge, privatized military academy in Wales, which will train foreign soldiers and mercenaries recruited to the bogus “war on terror”. With arms companies such as Raytheon profiting, this will become Britain’s “School of the Americas,” a center for counter-insurgency (terrorist) training and the design of future colonial adventures.
It has had almost no publicity.
Of course, the image of militarist Britain clashes with a benign national regard formed, wrote Tolstoy, “from infancy, by every possible means — class books, church services, sermons, speeches, books, papers, songs, poetry, monuments [leading to] people stupefied in the one direction”. Much has changed since he wrote that. Or has it? The shabby, destructive colonial war in Afghanistan is now reported almost entirely through the British army, with squaddies always doing their Kipling best, and with the Afghan resistance routinely dismissed as “outsiders” and “invaders”. Pictures of nomadic boys with NATO-roasted skin almost never appear in the press or on television, nor the after-effects of British thermobaric weapons, or “vacuum bombs,” designed to suck the air out of human lungs. Instead, whole pages mourn a British military intelligence agent in Afghanis tan, because she happens to have been a 26-year-old woman, the first to die in active service since the 2001 invasion.
Baha Mousa, tortured to death by British soldiers, was also 26 years old. But he was different. His father, Daoud, says that the way the Ministry of Defence has behaved over his son’s death convinces him that the British government regards the lives of others as “cheap”. And he is right.