25 February 2010


Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I in 1570.  Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, was sworn in as a US Senator in 1870, becoming the first black man to serve in the US Congress.  In 1992, Armenian troops killed 613 civilians in Khojaly in the the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in 1992.

Born today:  Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), Anthony Burgess (1917-1993), Tom Courtenay (1937) and George Harrison (1943-2001).

It is National Day in Kuwait.


  1. Thanks for all the birthday wishes. I had a grand old time at the clinic, getting chest x-rays and doing pulmonary function tests. I flunked -- lungs at 63% of normal capacity right now, so new asthma meds & antibiotic for the lower respiratory infection.

  2. That sounds like a dreadful way to spend a birthday, Ms Wildhack. Did your day get any more pleasant in the evening?

  3. Oh poor Montana! what a way to spend your birthday! You have my sincere sympathy, know how it feels! Spent the afternoon of my last birthday in Accident & Emergency, the staff kept asking for my date of birth and then saying happy birthday (lol!)

  4. Ow, Montana, your poor thing, hope new meds get sorted v soon.

    Was going to whinge about having woken up with a cold, but that now seems inappropriate. Bleah, though. Very bleah.

  5. Hi Montana. Happy birthday for yesterday. I am sorry you had to spend it in the hospital, what a rotten way to have to spend it.

    I hope the meds start to work for you very quickly.

  6. oh god bea c obe is on woman's hour...

    wonder what she sounds like?

  7. She's equating any male-led activity on 'the left' as selling out to 'the right'. I think. She mentioned Match of the Day.

  8. Ugh, Montana, hope you feel better soon!

  9. Bloody hell, Seumas 'Tankie' Milne has completely lost whatever plot he had. That's a bizarre piece even by his dubious standards.

  10. Peter, exactly what is your objection? I agree that he over egged the pudding a bit but the essential thrust of his article, namely that the heavy handed approach we see here is alienating many law abiding muslims.

    I think it has to be seen in the context of the 'war on terror' which has always reeked of 'divide and rule' to me.

    Yes we need a degree of vigilance but we should still assume innocence until proved guilty and act accordingly.

  11. Anne, my objection starts with Milne's premises, continues through his argument, and ends with his conclusions. It requires a longer piece than a simple comment; if Montana would allow, maybe I could put one up on Untrusted Too?

  12. Anne, of course people should be assumed innocent until proven guilty, but these people *have* been proven guilty and were sentenced within the guidelines. Nowhere does Milne show any proof that their sentences were harsher than any other violent protesters'.

    Then someone got on the thread to express outrage that one man got 9 years for *only* setting a car alight and pushing it down a hill, presumably not in the remote countryside somewhere but into a crowd of people!

  13. PeterJ you need to email Montana:


    She'll send you the details on how to post a longer piece on UT2 - look forward to reading it.

    She sent the `details to everybody whose email address she had when UT2 was started. It was always intended to be an open house

  14. Blimey

    I wonder if Mr Milne read my little rant about apparent disparity in sentencing between Muslim "conspiracy to bomb"ers and right-wing "got bombs in my house actually" ones?

    I haven't looked at CiF yet as only just got in, so I shall give it a read.

    Montana - so sorry you spent your birthday in hospital, that really sucks. Big hugs and hope you get better soon xx

  15. PeterJ thanks, the problem is a complex one and he did not make a good case for what is in fact a genuine problem as many people now equate being a Muslim with being a terrorist. It is as you say a complex argument- look forward to seeing your piece.

    Thauma yes they were found guilty but surely before that they (and especially their families) should be teated with respect. I am personally not comfortable with the way some of these people are arrested in the first place. Its not what you expect of a democracy (but then are we/were we ever a real democeacy anyway?)

    In general I have been uncomfortable with the way that ever since the Berlin wall came down the muslim world seems to have been 'elected' as the substitute for the soviet union as the enemy of the 'military industrial complex'.

    I have worked with many muslims as colleagues and students in the past and they were as anti terrorist as anyone else. After all the muslim world suffers far more terrorist attacks from these extremists than we do.

  16. Anne - oh, yes, agree. And I am a mouth-frother about the Gaza attacks and many other Israeli 'policies'. Some of the more rational posters pointed out that the Green movement in Iran is Muslim vs. Muslim, so they are not in fact some evil homogenous bloc.

    But I don't support violence, and Milne's article provided no proof whatsoever of his main assertions.

  17. There I was thinking you were absent because you were having a good time! Is this asthma related to your cat, I know my girlfriend narrowed hers down to her cat, just a thought.
    Now I'm going to read the Seamus thread.

  18. Agree about violence Thauma and yes he justifies it doesn't he. Its part of the 'The oppressed so can do no wrong' agenda that infects all identity politics doesn't it.

    These people do their fellow muslims no favours, just wish the govt would find a way of speaking for the ordinary majority, they always go after self appointed 'community leaders' who frankly only speak for themselves.

  19. That women and girls and gangs thread is going to get nasty,isn't it? Well played on that thread,BB. FWIW, I think it's a shoddily written piece, on a report designed to trigger funding and so whose findings were predetermined in a sense. Doesn't make those findings wrong, but in my naive way, I tend to think research ought to be a little more rigorous than simply finding the evidence to fit an assumption.The piece does come close to asserting that women and girls have less moral agency, and so their involvement with gangs is more "acceptable", because it blurs the boundaries between explaining female gang involvement and excusing it.

  20. I just read Seamus article, on the whole his argument is sound. This is not about "justifying violence" but are these protestors treated differerntly then others. Last year we had the G20 protests too, they seemed more violent and bigger then the Gaza protests. I'm interested in what the sentences were for these protesters....anybody? If the Muslim protesters got extraordinary sentences for exemplary purposes then that is effing outrageous!

  21. Actually, mchica, I just found this in relation to the student who chucked a computer through the window of RBS at the G20 demo last year.

    He got 2 and a half years too

    So perhaps I was being a tad over-zealous. (Who, me? Never!)

    I still stand by my derision for the ridiculousness of the 3 year sentence for having bombs and a gun in your house if you are a nazi though.

  22. Newsnight on BBC2 are broadcasting an investigation into vulture funds tonight.

    They have uncovered evidence "that speculators subverted the international debt relief process for Liberia, in an attempt to gain more money from its government and international donors than 97% of its other creditors accepted"

    These vulture bastards have really got to me and am seriously rethinking my previous devotion to non violence. I mean being prepared to screw an entire country thats already poverty stricken, facing the abyss and going through the courts to get what little they have, in order to make a few bucks really is beyond my capacity to live with.

    According to the graun

    In Feb 2002 Michael Strauss and Eric Hermann (two of these bastards), sued Liberia for $18m for debts they had obtained for a fraction of that sum. They filed the suit in the US, the week Liberia's capital was under siege from rebels, without electricity, water or functioning government. Straus and Herman won a judgement for the $18 million by default

    Some people really don't deserve to live.

  23. Andrew Brown being peculiar about some shenanigans on Richard Dawkins' website, finishing:
    "To anyone who has been on the receiving end of this kind of abuse, which is sometimes directed at people who do not work for Richard Dawkins..."
    Now, does that sound like someone smarting from that 'NSS misrep' thread?

    Also, saying:
    "I have to say that when I see people had made 7,000 posts on the board in three years, this might be read as evidence of a vibrant community, or it might be that they need to get out more"
    When you're editor of a section of a comment site that takes about that many posts a day, does seem a bit silly. and rude.

    but then i need to get out more.


  24. MsC

    Please would you email me. Ta chuck.

  25. Sheff - those bastards don't deserve to die, they deserve to live out the rest of their miserable, poverty-stricken existences in a shanty town while their wealth is distributed amongst its former residents.

    Philippa - I refuse to click on any more Brown articles after the NSS one. Although one or two have intrigued me and I was bit spoiling for a fight and itching to get into it ... but no, I restrained myself!

  26. thauma - i check them out, but have imposed a 'no comment' rule on meself. very calming. very zen.

  27. Ah, but he's still getting the page hit.

    (Also I have less self-control than you do and wouldn't be able to help myself.)

  28. @Mchica

    One of the many things wrong with Milne's piece is the claim that sentences for the Gaza riot were disproportionate and discriminatory. They were not, as it is easy to find out if you are interested.

    But Mr Milne is not interested, in his eagerness to make a political point.

    And that is another thing wrong with the piece.

  29. Peter - buried in the article is a claim that complaints of police brulaity were ignored. We all know that bad policing of protests does occur, and if this is the case, then I'd like to know more. However, Milne again does not back this up with any facts.

  30. Sterling work, atomboy on the 3rd sector/Stephen Bubb (who is very well paid) thread. I put some of my feelings about the issue on here yesterday.basically the term 3rd sector is Blairite sleight-of-hand to give for-profit organisations a benevolent sheen, as it jams together genuine charities with social enterprises,corporatised contract-chasers, Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all.
    Oh, and besides the 3rd sector's wolves in sheeps' clothing,there's co-production. Now I'm in favour of the principle, but when both major neo-liberal parties seize on it and with us being in a recession, a rabbit is off.
    Co-produced or 'people-provided' services are a noble idea, but not dirt-cheap. Putting it bluntly, I personally have little problem with higher levels of tax so long as it ensures higher quality and levels of service provision. failing that, the next best (but to me, much less agreeable) position would be minimal levels of taxation,and bare-bones safety-net services only, leaving individuals with enough money to seek their own add-on provision (and a guaranteed citizen income to shore up the most dispossessed). What I fear is an unholy dismal hybrid, with continued high levels of taxation, little service provision, with much of it farmed out to 'people-provision' with inadequate funding to accompany (as typically happens with outsourcing,unless it's to corporates/corporatised charities: the small and medium vol/com sector is expected to do the job for peanuts). Too much rake-off retained by the centre which isn't providing services. Put basically, take money form the people and provide quality services good. Don't take any money from people, don't provide much by way of services, far less good, but at least relatively honest (and some-not I- would say empowering). Take money from people, give but a small fraction back and then expect them to provide for themselves, and refuse responsibility when things fail, bad and bad again.

  31. Brulaity? Had enough of that one on the Montgomerie thread.

  32. right - am retiring to the sofa to feel sorry for myself and watch crappy tv. bleah.

    evenin' all.

  33. Bye, Philippa. I have a sore throat - if this turns into a cold, I'm blaming you.

  34. AlisdairCameron

    Thanks, although I cannot pretend to know anything about it and have read nothing. I am please that AllyF has posted with a good link, as I suspect he does know a bit about it.

    I know you have imposed a type of moratorium on your own postings in the other place, but I know you would make a better job of exposing the lies and fallacies than I could.

    Thanks and best wishes to all here.

    Montana - Sorry about your travails. Hope things look up soon.

  35. Are Muslims paranoid about being singled out with out rhyme or reason? I don't think so, there s a systematic effort to do that with internet and CiF being absolute proof of that.
    However is this particular handling of the incident skewed. I am not really sure, as this protest (surprise surprise) was under reported in the US. I had only the G20 protest to go by and apparently my summary googling shows the Gaza was larger. Don't have the time now but probably will look into it more closely tonite...and no doubt the Seamus' thread will be closed by then...aaarghh!

  36. Blast - a whole heap of interesting stuff mentioned upthread & I'm so f*cking tired + keep getting a 'blog timed out' message on here (?).

    sheff - I've emailed you.

  37. Sheff,

    when I read things like that I seriously begin to believe that the Calvinist concept of predestination may be in fact true.

    You know- God has foreknowledge of all that will happen; all humans sin and deserve only condemnation, but God has pre-ordained, at the beginning of time, who it is that He will graciously save--in Calvin's words, "favored with the government of His Spirit." We, of course, cannot understand why some are saved and others not.

    I seriously think the reprehensibility of these fucking wankers comes from the knowledge that they're already saved. They are the Robert Wringhims of James Hogg's Justified sinner.

    It's the only conceivable explanation.

  38. Montana sorry I missed your 29th - hope the rest of the week is better for you.

    I'm no medic, but lungs at 63% capacity is a toughy, doubt if it can be your cat - if it was an animal allergy thing, I'd have thought you'd have been hit before as mogs and dogs are everywhere, clearly you need a proper diagnosis


  39. Peter & anne - haven't read the piece you mention yet, but what I do know is that Muslim and non-Muslim people are being targeted for abuse in communities because of the confusing counter-terrorism message. I've heard of abuse in post office queues eg: 'Muslim immigrants getting benefit money' when in fact their victim is a SE Asian-origin Christian who was drawing the state pension they had paid for over a lifetime of working here.

    I am concerned that people don't understand that there are 13 very different Muslim communities in this country (ie: they don't all hail from one corner of Pakistan) & don't know how to distinguish between the different 'schools of thought' within Islam. I believe that the govt training is not making these important distinctions, although it does distinguish between organised terrorist groups & terrorist 'lone wolves'.

  40. Your Grace there is a Kipling story in which a team of volunteers from heaven persuade people waiting to go to hell that they are not damned - Calvin himself joins the picket to explain to a Scottish soldier that there are certain errors in the Institutes!

    But oh dear - wish all the fatalism was in the past. Some of my mother-in-law's neighbours on Skye are free church, others are splitters from that church and they all hate each other with a passion - god's will it is.

  41. Edwin,

    I'll look that Kipling story up. Us Jocks still suffer the hangover of centuries of Calvinist fatalism.

    I just genuinely cannot conceive of the moral and ethical vacuum these vulture fund creatures exist in, which makes me think they already know they are saved.

  42. Alisdair

    This drink still on tomorrow? Who's going?

  43. Wish I was MF.

    Been a tough day at work. Then just checked back on the story about baby who was injured when a lamppost fell over in Chiswick yesterday, the poor little lad died this morning. How the fuck does a lamppost fall over, unless it has some serious structural problem? Presumably some authority checks these things fairly regularly?

    And then read that Cameron is going to change the child protection system (will someone tell him it's called safeguarding these days). These recent cases in Birmingham, Sheffield, Doncaster etc - areas blighted by Tory policies of shutting down local industries / cutting funding to councils (esp to Labour councils) so increasing need for family support while reducing the capacity to meet it. And he wants to publish the serious case reviews - doesn't he know that some Soc Services already do that? Obviously an edited version with no identifying details about the family which is done to protect the children of the family usually.


    Going to calm down, chill out & zen out for a bit. And let someone who's pestering me watch 'Lost' on here. BIAB

  44. MsC

    Just gone through a nightmare with BT re my email which they fucked up in spectacular style, and I hope they have now fixed, but am not that confident - would you email me and let me know you got the one from me saying I'll meet you at the Crucible at 7pm Weds 3rd March.

    Everyone else - have got a couple of comp tickets to Ibsens's Enemy of the People and me and MsC are going.....great play!

  45. Ahh, BT - one I *wouldn't* like to see re-nationalised.

  46. Ibsen? Not many laughs though, sheff.

    Marge: Let's have a family outing.

    Bart: I'll start. Lisa's gay.

    In other news, cracking article by Milne today. Anyone think that there's a website alerting every fucking Islamophobic loon with Cif posting rights of a thread they might want to spill their guts over?

    That's not to say that PeterJ doesn't make some valid objections above, but jeez, there are so many muppets on Cif who attack in formation and swamp any hope of sensible debate.

    I reckon they need to drop the "recc" option, particularly in the run up to the election. It only encourages the trolls.

  47. Your Grace the story is

    'On the Gate: a Tale of ’16"
    A fantasy in which St Peter and the administrators of Heaven struggle to cope with the surge of souls from the war' - In Debits and Credits

    It's a story which had some influence on Neil Gaiman (who did a good intro to a collection of Kipling stories).

  48. Thauma

    Having spent nearly all fucking day driving back from Kent (accident on M11 meant mega tailbacks and tortuous detours) - got home to find BT had instituted some "innovation" that had screwed up my email. Have now spent over an hour on phone to some call centre in India trying to sort it out. whilst charming, the first bloke I spoke to managed to screw up my mac mail as well...then had to spend another hour whilst a more technically savvy colleague sorted out the mess.

    Did all this whilst reducing a bottle of whiskey at speed - so am now pissed and still not sure whether anything works. I despair!

  49. Hank

    not many laughs? I suppose this is true - but Enemy of the People is a great play and not to be missed - especially when free. My daughter in law is wardrobe mistress and can get the tickets.

  50. Jenni Russell's on Brown's case now. I'm fucking bored of this agenda.

  51. Hank

    If MsC couldn't make it you were next in line for an invite - so count your blessings chuck....

  52. I'd have probably come along, sheff. I'm not a complete palestine. I might have needed to consult our friend in Brussels about appropriate evening wear and etiquette though.

  53. Nightmare, Sheff. Glad you've found proper sustenance.

  54. Hank

    We don't do posh at the Crucible, so sod our friend in Brussels...this is the people's theatre, so come in your plebby rags, that's how i go. if you want a ticket for anything let me know.

  55. Hank, all you need to know is that some of the richest, cleverest and most powerful people I know follow a religion be it Christian, Hindu or Jewish.

    From this knowledge flows all things beneficial to society.

  56. Heh, last time I saw an event at the Crucible all the guys had dress shirts, waistcoats and bow ties, so I'm not buying that sheff.

  57. Did she really say that, thauma? Priceless.

  58. On the Montgomerie thread, Hank.

  59. That was the bloody snooker Hank - it's a different world when thats on.

  60. Sheff :-D

    Have fond memories of watching Alex "Hurricane" Higgins when I was growing up. He was either brilliant or terrible. Never let his whiskey glass stray more than a few inches from his lips.

    Them were the days.

  61. Thauma

    Higgins was rather big on the booze I have to say and I met him once at a local do. An old friend of mine's claim to fame was shagging him back in his glory days.

  62. MF,yup still on for tomorrow.No idea who else,if anyone at all,will show.

  63. "Was he any good?"

    He was from Norn Iron, thaum. Waddya reckon?

    He was never short of a cue though.

  64. Thauma

    A bit erratic I think, rather like his snooker, she wasn't giving much away.

  65. Hank, since you put it that was, I reckon he was fucking fantastic.

    With a nice, well-polished length.

  66. Right...well I should be up about 8ish..

  67. I'm not carrying a Guardian mind...anyone sending a bottle of champagne?

  68. "was" = "way"....

    Sheff, "a bit erratic" - sure, and that wouldn't have anything to do with booze or stardom.

    Come to think of it, 'twas about the same time that Bestie and Van the Man were at their peaks too. A good few years for Norn Iron (not counting all the sectarian violence and army occupation).

  69. Alisdair

    I hope you have a good evening. i just wish i could get up there but sadly can't make it as will have no transport.

  70. Would love to be going tamarra, but it's a fuck of a long way away and also there is a very important rugby match on.

  71. Thauma

    i think they call it mixed blessings.

  72. Hi All

    sorry about your birthday bash Montana, You can celebrate later when you're feeling better.

    Have a great time at the meet up - I doubt the Champers will be waiting for you.

  73. Funny you should say that, Leni - we didn't get any either. Perhaps it was just an oversight.

  74. thauma

    something akin to strawberries to donkeys suggests itself.

    i prefer donkeys to social lions myself

  75. Well. I was going to try to post a Van M tune as a lullaby, but the man is ridiculously protective and there's none available that I can find quickly.

    So it's just goodnight from me and I'm off into the mystic.

  76. sheff - email sent.

    hank - never been posh at the Crucible! In the good old days you used to be able to sneak into the snooker for an hour at lunchtime for free.

    Me dad was one of the builders working on the Crucible so I trod the boards there before it was even open. And me mom's front room had one wall in the same textured finish as most of the Crucible. Not Artex, but some new & expensive plaster finish that was sprayed on.

  77. Has the UT been pluck'd? Its acting weird.

  78. "It's acting weird" - it's been like that since the new search engine was installed, mschin. I reckon Bitey's to blame. Somehow.

  79. I'm sure bitey's to blame Hank, he's to blame for most things isn't he?. I have visions of him trawling endlessly through all our back numbers. will be a hoot if/when he decides to appear with some of our more tetchy offerings to throw at us.

  80. I.m not part of the bitey saga - I am however building a picture of a prowler with sharpened teeth - gnashing and grinding. No-one can really be that bad.

    Having a go on 3rd sector thread but very few takers.

  81. Just read the girl gang thread, propped open my eyelids and am pondering ..

    Whatever the glitch was, it upset my security software while I was away in the porch. Reassuring to know we've established the source of the threat on such firm evidence, I hope bitey appreciates it.

    **btw, bitey, loved it when you said on that thread the other day that you are never wrong. Almost as good as your 'finest hour' one on here.

    The third sector. Mmm, as someone who does stuff as a volunteer for regd charities and has also done same for a social enterprise which truly was social & therefore couldn't get enough income to survive, I'd say there was an entirely different ethos in the regd charities. I base this assertion on my IRL experience: that whether paid or unpaid, people still turn up and run things in charities even when you haven't got actually any money left - they put people first. Few people will do that for an 'enterprise' or similar.

  82. Good posts on there, Leni.

    They're fucking charlatans.

  83. Hank

    Tried to copy linky thing - failed. Check out Clearsprings private bail hostels.

    They were awarded 5.8 million contract about 3 years ago. Now lost contract. Gvt. failed to renew after resident was murdered - no supervision etc. Contract now gone - going - to probably equally dodgy lot who under tendered Clearsprings for continuing contract.

    Stories would make your hair stand on end - one briefly. Christmas eve - resident threatens suicide - no visit next day. Report said simply - she seemed a bit low. This one was luckily saved. No referral to professionals.

    These reports have been going to Dept, of Justice for 3 years - nonone flagged up inaadequcy - until the guy was murdered. Untrained caseworker was fall guy. Hadn't reported victims girl friend staying there against rules - guy killed by GF's angry husband. Child also staying there.

    Clearsprings CEO on something like 7000 thousand pa.

  84. MsChin

    Agree about small charities - they often do struggle on. As an eternal volunteer I understand you.

    But what of Atos and others like them? Third sector verbiage is being used to cover up an underlying malaise in services for the underprivileged, poor and needy.

    A turd is but a turd even when capped with a crown.

  85. Leni - back in the mid-80s, I was at NUS conference and went to see a fringe debate hosted by the Federation of Conservative Students.

    Even at Thatcherism's highwater mark, these guys were considered as on the loony fringe, wearing Hang Mandela t-shirts, calling for the legalisation of heroin etc. They were expelled from the Tory Party around that time.

    Anyway, one of their policies was privatisation of prisons. I watched a debate where some young wonk said that prisons would only work if the profit motive was central.

    I thought they were bonkers, obviously. As did most of the mainstream, ie Thatcherite, Tories there.

    And yet, here we are, and it's all come to pass under a nominally social democratic party.

    And the really scary thing is that I probably brushed past Cameron, Gove, Bozza and the rest at that event.

    The libertarian Tories who've railed against cctv, arbitrary powers on detention, arming the police etc, will no doubt swallow their objections in the next few years. They're gonna be grateful for all the security apparatus in the next few years, I reckon.

  86. Hank

    Many people seem unaware that creeping lunatic Thatcherism has been slowly strangling public services for years. Very little said in news about it - private this that andt'other. third sector nonsense dressed up as power to the people. Latest thing now is the closure of council run old folks homes. In this area alone this will mean the loss of 450 jobs - how many places for old folk will be lost not yet clear. We have home here - serves 6 small villages - many of us drop in, local women work there - often related to residents. Closing. People slowly waking up to what has and is happening. I live in an old fashioned Labour area !!! Many voters not yet realised it no longer exists.

  87. Before I disappear to bath and book - Community benefit from Wind farms? Any experiences? More money going to 3rd sector. Small village sports clubs have to draw up new constitutions - loads of stuff going on here that is never discussed.

    Any grant less than 5000 pounds does not have to be accounted for any longer than 12 months - take it, fill in a monitoring form, which nobody checks and close down 'activity'

    Accountability I know you not.

  88. Back from the girl gang thread & wish I'd gone third sector instead now.

    Creeping privatisation is everywhere, nothing will be sacred soon, not even women's refuges which can also find themselves in competition with housing providers (as opposed to housing providers which work with them). Here in Sheffield, there are 2 domestic abuse support projects closing down as charities at the end of March because the council wants things done differently, so have forced mergers / relocation which don't necessarily suit existing staff & volunteers (never mind the victims). So while I can see why the council is changing things to some extent, I don't think it seriously thought about all the local volunteers which underpin the work of these kind of projects.

    ATOS & the like should be taken outside & shot, imho.

  89. Must go to bed before I wake up with the imprint of a keyboard on my cheek instead of the imprint of my pillow. Night.