After World War II, many believed that Germans were incapable of democracy. The German people proved them wrong. Yet today, many of the same Germans look down on the Iraqi people and condescendingly declare that they are incapable of democracy and that they are doomed to a fundamentalist state. Perhaps Germany has become so bogged-down in a sense of collective pessimism that it is difficult for most of the people to imagine the power of hope and freedom in Iraq today. Perhaps it has become difficult for them to comprehend someone as brave as Hussein Khazaal.From Davids Medienkritik: Iraqi Journalist, 3 Year Old Son Murdered
A growing number of Russia watchers seem to be coming to the conclusion that the political machine of President Vladimir Putin is entering a profound, systemic crisis that has been provoked by a string of political failures both at home and abroad. Over the last 10 months or so, Moscow has been shaken by a number of setbacks, including the assassination in May of pro-Moscow Chechen leader Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov, a large-scale raid by Chechen militants into the Republic of Ingushetia in June, the simultaneous terrorist bombings in August of two passenger airliners, the horrific hostage taking in Beslan in September that left more than 300 dead, and a wave of social unrest in the North Caucasus Republic of Karachaevo-Cherkessia. These domestic incidents were compounded by failures abroad such as the scandalous convictions in June of two Russian security-services employees in Qatar in connection with the assassination there in February of former acting Chechen leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiev. Other such foreign setbacks include the collapse of the pro-Moscow administration of Aslan Abashidze in the Georgian province of Adjara, the failures of pro-Russian candidates in elections in the Georgian Republic of Abkhazia and Ukraine. All of these events occurred against the backdrop of the long saga of the de facto renationalization of oil giant Yukos. And now this litany of failure appears to be being capped off by massive national unrest against the government's effort to convert the in-kind social benefits that were the heart of the Soviet-era safety net into cash payments.Yeah, they're so superior to normal human beings. Thank goodness they're in charge with their superhuman loyalty and prescience. Give me a break.
The ‘Chekist Manifesto’
Many analysts place responsibility for the resulting crisis on the so-called silovik oligarchy, a group of security-apparatus veterans, or chekisty, within the Putin administration that replaced the Yeltsin-era commercial oligarchy as Russia's ruling elite. Perhaps as a reaction to such criticism, one leading member of this group, Colonel General Viktor Cherkesov, published in Komsomolskaya pravda on 29 December a long programmatic article that might be considered something of a "Chekist Manifesto". Cherkesov, who is director of the Federal Antinarcotics Service, worked for many years in the Leningrad branch of the KGB, where he earned a reputation as a dissident hunter. He is a close friend of Putin's and formerly served as Putin's envoy to the Northwest Federal District. According to recent media rumors, Cherkesov is in line to replace Nikolai Patrushev as head of the Federal Security Service (FSB). In his article, Cherkesov states directly that "the chekisty and contemporary Russia have become historically intertwined". "We should understand that we are one single entity," he wrote. "None of us strove for power or wanted to gain the role of the dominant estate in Russia. But history turned out such that the burden of maintaining the Russian state has been laid on our shoulders." Cherkesov's article is alarmist and repeats some points already made by Putin and others. In a speech to the country in the aftermath of the Beslan events, Putin said, "Russia is threatened both from the East and the West". Presidential aide Vladislav Surkov in October gave a long interview to Komsomolskaya pravda in which he denounced a "fifth column" of liberal politicians and activists who were undermining Russia. In his article, Cherkesov dismisses criticism of the chekist elite as a campaign directed against Russia by its enemies, who are threatening the country's territorial integrity. He writes that Russia faces a real threat of disintegration, and even admitted that the chekisty often failed to appreciate dangers confronting the country. "Even very recently it seemed as if all danger was behind us," Cherkesov wrote. "It seemed as if we were entering a period of relative stability. I am not shirking responsibility for mistakes that were made. And in admitting this, I remain loyal to the main thing, the purpose of my work and fate as a chekist. No matter what the name of the agency I am heading is and regardless of my rank and status, I have been and remain a chekist." Cherkesov's article condemns the entrenched nomenklatura of the old Communist Party for the collapse of the Soviet Union. "Clinging to power that they were unable to wield, cut off from responsibility, and having lost a sense of reality, this arrogant and helpless caste dragged the state, society, their own ideology, and their own historical mission to their graves." However, he says, the contemporary chekisty will not leave the historical scene so easily or "repeat the shameful fate of the degenerate Soviet nomenklatura". "I believe in our community, in our caste that supports the state, in our ability to appreciate threats, to discard petty concerns, in our ability to remain true to our oath," Cherkesov wrote.
The high-security court, which could start hearing full trials "within months", will have its proceedings led by an Iraqi-style panel of five examining judges rather than use the adversarial system favoured by British and American courts.Code Napoleon justice is fit for a pathetic little Napoleon like Saddam. What do our readers with a legal education think of this?
Western advisers said this kind of set-up would deprive Saddam of the confrontational platform offered to the likes of Slobodan Milosevic at the war crimes tribunals in The Hague.
It is hoped to limit the former dictator’s ability to use the court for political grandstanding, although human rights groups fear it could also prevent him raising awkward questions about western governments’ involvement in his regime.
"The trial chamber will be very different from the adversarial system that we are familiar with in the West," one western legal official based in Baghdad said yesterday.
The crash of an RAF Hercules which killed ten British servicemen in Iraq is thought to have been caused by a bomb being smuggled on board, according to reports today.
Military investigators have inspected the site of last month’s crash north of Baghdad, but the Ministry of Defence has so far released no details of their findings.
But sources close to the inspection team were today reported to have concluded that the crash was caused by the catastrophic loss of the plane’s right wing. The plane lost its 65ft right wing in mid-air, raising suspicions that the January 30 crash may have been caused by a bomb on board.
An MoD spokesman refused to comment on the report. "We don’t speculate when the findings of a board of inquiry have yet to be concluded," he said.
RAF sources reportedly said: "A bomb now looks the most likely cause. But sabotage is another distinct possibility. Metal fatigue is another option, but is considered much less likely. The suggestion that the plane was hit by a missile is a virtual non-starter."
A British woman was sentenced to two and a half years in jail Thursday for ripping off her ex-lover's testicle with her bare hands during a drunken brawl after he refused her sex.
Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage in May last year after Geoffrey Jones, 37, who had ended their long-term relationship, rejected her advances.
She grabbed him by the genitals, tearing off his left testicle, then hid it in her mouth before a friend of Jones handed it back to him saying "that's yours."
Monti, of Birkenhead, near Liverpool, pleaded guilty to unlawful wounding at an earlier hearing.
Howard Dean, the outspoken medical doctor whose run for the Democratic presidential nomination last year spectacularly flared and burned out, surprised fans and foes alike by taking the leadership of the Democratic Party.YEEEEEEEEEEEEAAARRRRRRHHHHH! (Cough, hack, choke...)
As chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he assumes responsibility for a party much-chagrined after ceding two presidential races and control of Congress to rival Republicans, and unsure how to define itself to voters.
Branded a radical leftist by his opponents and distrusted by the party's powerful Washington old guard, Dean is now tasked with reinvigorating Democrats and delivering more victories in the elections of 2006 and 2008. Howard Dean, rebel firebrand turned Democratic Party head
IKEA has vowed not to repeat a sales stunt that led to fighting and people being taken to hospital, after a stampede at the opening of a new store in the early hours of yesterday morning.I like IKEA and I shop there too, but I would never be in a crowd with thousands of people waiting for IKEA to open. Maybe it's just me. On the other hand, in the States, I've heard about huge lines of people waiting for days for concert tickets. I've also heard about long lines of people waiting for the 6 a.m. day-after-Thanksgiving sale at Target. I've never heard of a riot though... so maybe Americans queue up more politely than the Brits? (These Brits, anyway.)
Thousands of bargain-hunters gathered on Wednesday at the new outlet, the company's 13th and largest UK store, in Edmonton, north London.
From 8pm onwards, a crowd estimated at 6,000 stood outside the building in anticipation of the special offers that had been widely trailed in the local press, including leather sofas for £45 and bed frames for £30.
The offers were staggered so certain items would only go on sale for a specific hour, but shoppers were intent on getting into the store and laying claim to them as soon as possible.
People had even left their cars on London's busy north circular arterial road, causing severe traffic congestion.
But as the store opened its doors, people outside the controlled queue surged forward, causing a crush at the entrance.
Nine ambulances were sent to the scene and one person sustained crush injuries, while four people suffered minor injuries. Dozens of others needed treatment for heat exhaustion.
Dwayne Smith, 24, from Enfield, said that what had started off as a good-spirited event turned sour as the evening progressed. "People were getting restless outside, although there was a carnival atmosphere. Then they started kicking the door down. The fire service came, then turned round and didn't come back," he said.
"I watched as one woman collapsed and the man next to her put her on his shoulders and carried her away."
Staff attempted to relieve the pressure by letting in people one at a time but, once inside, they traded blows to secure their bargains.
Karyn Christian, 38, from Edmonton, was one of the first into the shop. "People were fighting over the sofas in the back of the store," she said.
"Someone pulled a wooden mallet and threatened my friend. People were lying on sofas to stop them being carried away."
Even when staff told the crowd that the shop had been closed, people refused to disperse and attempted to break glass doors down.
A spokeswoman for IKEA said that the company had liaised with police and Enfield Council prior to the store's opening. "We will not be repeating this sort of event," she said, adding that the store will remain closed until further notice and that all opening offers had been withdrawn.
IKEA's deputy UK manager, John Olie, apologised to all customers who had either been involved in the crush or were now disappointed that the store had not opened.
He said: "I am sorry for the customers and the co-workers. It was a total shock. I have opened all 12 stores in the UK and nothing like this has ever happened before."
Mr Olie denied that the special offers were irresponsible.
IKEA was previously hit by a tragedy at the opening of a store in Saudi Arabia in September last year, which resulted in the deaths of three people.
Dominic Abrams, a professor of social psychology at the University of Kent, said that in crowds the size of the one at IKEA, without some single rallying point, the behaviour becomes "uninhibited".
"People co-ordinate their behaviour in relation to others in crowds," he said.
"In large groups, people tend to lose their sense of individuality and become less inhibited. You usually see this at football matches and protests, but there is a single focus for their behaviour, supporting the team or whatever.
"But when people are there for very individual reasons, they tend to act in a very uninhibited, chaotic way, and that can end up with this sort of incident."
DENVER—An exhaustive investigation by Bob Newman of Newsradio 850 KOA (Denver), who is also a frequent guest military & terrorism analyst on the FOX News Channel and a Men's News Daily columnist, into the genuine Vietnam service record of radical University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill, has revealed that Churchill’s claimed combat experience is in direct contradiction to his official military records. After a confidential source provided Mr. Newman with documents pertaining to Professor Churchill’s military service and his employment at the University of Colorado, Mr. Newman began an investigation into the documents’ authenticity. Using his own sources and calling upon the investigative skills of FOX News Channel’s Rita Cosby, Mr. Newman was able to verify that Professor Churchill, despite his public claim (in a 1987 Denver Post interview) of having been a paratrooper (Airborne qualified) who conducted long-range reconnaissance patrols (LRRPs; extremely dangerous missions conducted by some of the most elite soldiers in the US Army) hunting North Vietnamese in Vietnam during and after the Tet Offensive of 1968, and despite his claim that he was a point man in an infantry combat unit, was in fact trained only as a jeep driver and projectionist (he was trained to operate film- strip machines and movie projectors), according to official documentation from the National Personnel Records Center, the US repository for military records. Denver attorneys Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, both colleagues of Mr. Newman at Clear Channel Colorado, then acquired Professor Churchill’s original resume that resulted in his being hired by the University of Colorado. That resume matched exactly the resume Gunny Bob had acquired from his confidential source. On that resume, Professor Churchill cited no combat experience whatsoever, no Airborne training, no infantry training or experience and no winning of the Combat Infantry Badge. Instead, it said his experience in Vietnam consisted of his duties as a “Public Information Specialist," as which he “wrote and edited the battalion newsletter and wrote news releases." Verification of Professor Churchill’s real Vietnam service record was completed with the direct assistance of the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Gunny Bob notes that in the same 1987 Denver Post report, Professor Churchill admitted to being a bomb-building and weapons instructor for the Weather Underground, a domestic terrorist group active in the 1970s. Gunny Bob won a 2002 National Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting on homeland security.Wow.
Hey, it's Friday night -- let's stay up late and play some games!
You probably know that if you ask 'em nicely by email, our hosts evariste or zorkie will be happy to add your profile to the Discarded Lies "personals." But maybe you haven't put up a profile because you're still looking for just the right picture. In that case, why not try the LEGO® Avatar Generator?
It takes excessive liberties, in my opinion -- it's quite all right to give users the choice of skin tones other than LEGO's standard lemon-yellow, but the female torsos with protruding 3-D boobs just look wrong. Still, it's good for some fun. Here's Throbert in butch Jethro drag:
Speaking of SAD, playing that "Ratman Ralph" game linked above has reminded me that my arcade-fu is hella weak. (I was always more into Infocom's text adventures, where eye/hand coordination is unnecessary.) I'm part of the arcade generation, but during those formative years, my innate uncool-ness was compounded by the fact that my stingy and uncaring parents didn't give me the kind of allowance necessary for developing a quarter-a-game arcade habit. I guess that's why I did so poorly at this 'Name That Tune' twist, in which the object is to match the sound effect with the video game. Q*bert's cussing was instantly familiar to me, but do you remember what Centipede sounded like?
As I said, I grew up with Infocom adventure games like Zork, Trinity, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. The first graphic adventure I ever played -- in 8 shades of amber on my dad's monochrome monitor -- was LucasArt's Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders. I chose it at the computer store because (a) its system requirements were within the limitations of dad's computer; (b) it looked fun; and (c) because Steve Purcell's box-cover rendition of the title character was so sexy:
I mean, that strong jaw and devil-may-care grin! That tousled hair! That crotch! At 15 or so, I was still several years away from admitting to myself that I was gay, but even then, I knew for sure what I liked.
Of course, the actual onscreen Zak McKracken looked like this:
But that was okay, because the playstyle closely resembled the classic Infocom games in their fairness to the player, and in their respect for the player's faculty of logic. In contrast, the King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry adventures from Sierra had puzzles that could only be solved by "brute force" -- i.e., you just kept USEing every item in your INVENTORY until something worked, often in an outlandishly improbable way that left the player thinking:
"Oh. I guess that would work,"
"[forehead smack] Of course, why didn't I think of that sooner? The clues were there all along!"
Anyway, here's a cute online game that's very much in the wacky spirit of LucasArts classics like Zak McKracken, Sam & Max Hit the Road and Grim Fandango. (Alas, it does have a couple of "Sierra" moments, as described above -- to spare you the frustration, I'll just hint that the game designers don't know the difference between a live crab and a Swiss Army knife.)