Amnesty International, neo-colonial enemy of the state

5 12 2008

Every patriotic Sri Lankan knows that Human Rights groups like Amnesty International are nothing more than tools of a Western imperialist agenda aimed at undermining the sovereignty of countries like Sri Lanka.

We can prove this by the fact that they always criticize the Sri Lankan Government, but they have nothing to say about the terrible abuses committed by America in the War On Terror.  This double standard proves that Human Rights groups in general are corrupt, and their arguments against Sri Lanka should be dismissed.

Take Amnesty USA’s latest report for example.  I mean, just look at the title:

USA: Investigation, prosecution, remedy

Accountability for human rights violations in the ‘war on terror’

That’s odd.

But when you actually read the report, you find that it’s full of pro-American propaganda.  After all, in the so-called Human Rights world, it’s impossible for Western countries to commit abuses:

The violations committed by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and elsewhere have been many and varied. They have included enforced disappearance, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (in some cases resulting in death in custody), prolonged incommunicado detention as well as other forms of arbitrary and indefinite detention, secret international transfers of detainees without due process (“rendition”), and flagrantly unfair trials.

Hmmm.  OK, they admit that America did a few things wrong, but Human Rights groups don’t hold the West accountable – unlike a little Asian country like Sri Lanka.  The report declares that there should be no punishment whatsoever:

The USA is required by international law to respect and ensure human rights, to thoroughly investigate every violation of those rights, and to bring perpetrators to justice, no matter their level of office or former level of office.


Let me check the front page of their website again, I’m sure there was something on there about their campaign to undermine the sovereignty  of Asian nations:

In the hope of turning words into actions, Amnesty International is calling on President-elect Barack Obama to take concrete steps in his first 100 days in office. This means:

  • announce a plan and date to close Guantánamo
  • issue an executive order to ban torture
  • ensure that an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the U.S. government in its “war on terror” is set up.

Taking these steps would send a clear message to the rest of the world that, once again, the U.S. will be a leader for human rights.

So what!  Even if they did write ONE critical report about the USA, compare that to the HUNDREDS that they write about Sri Lanka.  They are enemies of the Sri Lankan state!  They’re out to get us!  They have an agenda!  Just look at how many more press releases they put out about Sri Lanka than they do about the US!

Number of Amnesty press releases about Sri Lanka in 2008: 32

Number of Amnesty press releases about USA in 2008: 164

Noooo!  Does… not….  compute…  with…. my… xenophobic…  nationalist… inferiority complex…


Netroots politics, US v UK

19 11 2008

Those who know me will know that I’m kind of hooked on US politics and the progressive netroots – hence the Daily Kos link on your right.

I think the Ghandi quote was something like “First they laugh at you, then they denounce you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Well, people didn’t take sites like Daily Kos and the netroots seriously back when I became a Kossack in 2005 or so. Then in the run-up to the 2006 house elections the netroots helped to fund a primary challenge against Connecticut Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman. Lieberman was and is a hate figure due to his relentless cheerleading for the Iraq war and his willingness to slam fellow Democrats at every opportunity in order to cosy up to the Bush administration for his own ends. It was a long-shot to say the least, but the netroots candidate won, funded by thousands of small individual donations, and Lieberman was kicked out of the Democratic party.

Lieberman eventually kept his seat as an Independent; but then in 2006 more long-shot, netroots-funded candidates like Jim Webb in Virginia and John Tester in Montana won senate seats. People started to take notice.

Most on the Right and in even in the Democratic party establishment were scathing of the pitchfork-waving “angry bloggers”, or Dirty Fucking Hippies. We were lambasted for interfering with and hijacking the democratic process, when in fact we were embodying it.

Those who had a vested interest in the status quo were not happy bunnies. Others however, like a certain black Senator from Illinois, liked the way that these people-powered campaigns were run. Take millions in small donations from individuals, instead of millions from a few corporate donors. Energise a whole army of volunteers. Build a ground game that would guarantee turnout on election day. Make ordinary people a central part of the political process again.

That certain senator seems to have done OK. We gave him the model and he ran with it all the way to the White House. We won. I use the royal “we” here, of course, as US campaign finance laws prevented me from giving any money or time to the campaign. But I was there online, cheerleading anyway.

So now, some questions. Why up to now have I cared more about US politics than I do British politics? Why was I spending all that time actively engaged in a US grassroots political movement when it’s not even my bleeding country? Is it something about me, is it something about Washington, or is it something about Westminster?

The truth is, I am so bored by UK politics that I have never studied the subject for long enough to be able to say that I really understand our political system. It seems tawdry, predictable, senseless and empty, a surreal charade, an endless performance in which no-one is allowed to stray from the script. This is why an idiot like Boris Johnson is tolerated: he provides the comic relief, a sense of carnival to an otherwise stuffy pageant of purposelessness. There is no question in my mind that the people are missing from UK politics.

So I’m making it one of my bloggy goals to seek out any spark of life that might exist in the UK political scene; any sense at all that lessons are being learned from the Obama campaign, from the netroots, from sites like Daily Kos. I also want to look at the structure of the UK political parties – well, Labour anyway as I nominally care more about them – to see if US models are being mapped across, if not then why not, and what to do about it.

If you’re interested, look out for more posts on the subject.  For now I just want to namecheck a couple of people who I’ve come across today on my first foray into this subject matter online:

  • Some bloke called Neil at The Bleeding Heart Show wrote this post back in April that has many of the same concerns. Great blog, by the looks of it.
  • Andrew Chadwick‘s site on internet politics points you in the direction of his pricey academic book and his latest article in the subscription-only dead tree journal Renewal. Thankfully for those of us interested in making the debate more rather than less accessible, there are plenty of useful links and some good commentary.

Mitch Mitchell dies / Iirana Rantala New Trio

13 11 2008


Mitch Mitchell, drummer and sole survivor of the Jimi Hendrix Experience was found dead in his hotel room at 61.

You have to be pretty special to share the recording studio with Hendrix and not sound like a five year-old with a toy drum kit.

If you never really noticed him, go back to your favourite Hendrix tracks and listen all over again. He absolutely kills on Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), batters away on the mesmerising 3/4 grind of Manic Depression, brings alive the funkiness of Crosstown Traffic, and mystically dream-drums what’s technically known as “all that weird, backwards-loopy, jazzy shit” on Electric Ladyland.

It’s rare to hear intelligence and wit in a rhythym section but the Jimi Hendrix Experience was dripping with it, and sorry, but none of it was coming from Noel Redding. I guess now Mitchell, Hendrix and Miles Davis can finally hook up like they were destined to.

Incidentally, Mitchell was a particularly tragic sufferer of that mysterious ailment that afflicts all rock stars in the end, the one that impels them to nosedive from iconic ultra-cool into “dad on holiday”. How do you go from this:


…to this?


He gets bonus points for wearing a novelty waistcoat with music notation on it because – don’t you see – he’s a musician.

While we’re on the subject of drummers, this is a must see. You’ve heard Karen Carpenter, Don Henley, The Band’s majestic Levon Helm and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down; but now there’s a whole new take on drums and vocals. It sounds like a comedy jazz name from The Fast Show, but this is the Iiro Rantala New Trio bringing you the truly awesome Shit Catapult.

The beatbox dude’s name is Felix Zenger.

Kaffirs kick arse

10 11 2008

By accident I’ve deleted the press release I was sent following the Kaffirs’ gig at Barefoot on Sunday last week.  It was stuffed with worthy quotes from our very own Jesse Hardman, most if not all of which he probably didn’t actually say.

I have it on good authority that he’s never used the word “strife” in his life, especially not when immediately preceded by the word “ethnic”.

It was a cracking night, marred only by some pillock on the door refusing to let people in because the STF-enforced legal threshold for Fun in Colombo was being breached.  If you were one of those turned away from the heaving, writhing festivities, head on over to Jesse’s blog linked above for photos.


6 10 2008

Well, it sure is nice to be back again.

I got bored of blogging. Bored of everything I have to say. Reduced to writing about football, which I am now also bored of. So I stopped.

We went home for a couple of weeks, racing around England trying to make sure we spent enough time with two families and two groups of friends, as well as sorting out visa issues and doing some work on the side. It wasn’t a holiday, but it was a well-needed catch up with the nearest and dearest. Hello, all you lovely people.

Someone told me they’d been reading the blog and wished that I’d stop writing about bloody Arsenal, and wrote some more about Sri Lanka. I often don’t feel l’m qualified to talk about the situation in Sri Lanka, and the couple of times I’ve tried it hasn’t come up to expectations.  Which is why the blog ground to a halt. I know I should write more about what it’s like to be here for the benefit of those back home but the problem is, there are desperately important things going on. 200,000 people trapped and isolated between bloodthirsty armies and no-one looking out for them, for example. In that context, writing about what I had for breakfast just seems rude.

But the trip home has reminded me not to be so bloody precious. It’s a blog: it’s supposed to be inaccurate, opinionated, frivolous and stupid. And so here we go again.

C had to go on to New York and Washington for another two weeks of work. I arrived back here yesterday on my own, for some reason preferring to slip back into Colombo unannounced, even forgetting to turn my mobile back on.

I love foreign cities at night, they all sound different. They all have their own note, the frequency at which they resonate. Colombo’s is so dim you can barely hear it. I stood on the balcony and for a while I felt very distant from everything and everyone. It’s a feeling that comes and goes but I don’t remember it being that strong since a night in Jakarta 13 years ago, only this time I was missing one person in particular.

This morning the sun is out and the traffic is lively. Through the windows there are concrete apartment blocks and shattered, orange-tiled roofs under a boiling blue sea. If you half close your eyes you can make it look like Benidorm.

Work, but first breakfast. I feel like french toast this morning, in case you’re interested.

England 2 – 2 Czech Republic

21 08 2008

Back from the pub and I stumble across a football match on some previously unwatched satellite channel.  Turns out to be England vs Czech Republic, 7 minutes in.

First 20 mins: England look bright, creative, aggressive and organised.  I’m impressed.  Defoe looks great.  The midfield is working.

20 mins: Sorry to have to say it, but Beckham just cost us the first goal.  He followed play from the right wing over to the left touchline, but never got near making a tackle or getting in the way of the Czechs.  As soon as they put the ball back over to their left, they had acres of space, and could run straight at our defence.  Barry did his best to cause an obstruction, but you could see him looking around, thinking “where the fuck is my right midfielder?”  Baros ended up with a shooting chance that Ashley Cole deflected past James’ save.

38 mins: Beckham keeps drifting over to the left, leaving Brown all alone.  The Czechs nearly have another chance out of it.  England keep looking lively, and fashion four shots on goal, including a hot one from Defoe inside the box that Czech does well to parry just before it fizzes past his head.

45 mins: Brown scores at one end, then makes a crucial defensive header at the other.  Beckham’s delivery first from a free kick and then from the subsequent corner looks as awesome as ever; Brown anticipated that whipped delivery, got the run on his marker and pinged in a firm header at the near post.  Moments later, he beats Baros to the ball on the six yard line and England come away with the ball.

First half summary – well I missed the first seven minutes, so I can’t comment on those.  From what I saw the body language and attitude of this England side look a million miles away from their weak, unsure previous incarnations.  Beckham is as frustrating as usual, Rooney is dropping too deep from time to time and Gerrard is doing the opposite; but they all look confident, keen, ambitious and energetic.  It looks like Barry anchoring the midfield has given the rest of the midfield the confidence to play their natural games.  Too much confidence when it came to the goal – what the fuck was Beckham doing?

They look like they know what plans B, C and D are, and they like them all.  They look like a ton of stress has dropped off them.  I’m afraid of typing these next words in case I jinx something, but: they look like a real team.

Second half: Heskey’s coming on.  I sense long balls.  Good luck to him, I like him, I always thought he should have tried out as a super-middleweight and got some of that niceness knocked out of him.

46 mins: soft free-kick given away, Jankulovsky bends a dreamy left-footed finish from outside the D.  Czechs are a goal up again.  Let’s see how England can respond.

47 mins: Just watched replays of that free kick.  I’ve seen them more dramatic, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one better.

54 mins: Apparently John Terry is the captain.  Apparently it’s a huge honour and a much bigger deal for English players than it is for their Italian manager.  For the record, I couldn’t care less.

57 mins: at what point in the last 12 mins did the Czechs become the home side?  They have possession and control.  Subs – Joe Cole on for Gerrard, Woodgate on for Ferdinand. Useful tinkering.

76 mins: Bored now.  England are back to circling around and prodding passes at each other like wary strangers.  Jenas and Bentley on, Downing already getting his boots wet and scuffing crosses at the first defender like a good ‘un.

83 mins: we now have a bunch of individuals all trying to use the last 10 mins to impress the boss.  It’s brown-nose football, and it’s ugly.  We have Downing on the left and Bentley on the right, both lauded as great crossers, and they haven’t landed a single ball on big old Hesk’s noggin.

87 mins: Hesk finally gets his head on a long doozy from Wes Brown all the way back in his own half, and fouls the defender in the process.

90 mins: Boos and whistles of dread as announcer tells us we have four more minutes of this turgid rubbish to watch.

90+2 mins: what a bloody ugly mess of a goal.  Czechs have a limpet-like fear of getting rid of the ball from the six yard box  after an England corner, bodies tumble as the blocks go in, Joe Cole pokes it in off a falling Czech’s noggin.

Full time summary:  frankly I can’t be arsed, you’ve just read all of this so you draw your own conclusions.  I’m off to bed.  G’night.

Week 1: Arsenal 1 – 0 Baggies

20 08 2008

Well, it may not have been convincing but it was a win.

Bright sparks: Nasri, Clichy, Sagna, Djourou, Denilson

Damp squibs: Eboue, Adebayor, Walcott

Wenger put Eboue and Denilson in centre midfield, a combination that always looked short on creativity. With injuries, Arsenal’s only available playmaker was Nasri, placed somewhat stubbornly out on the left. Djourou and Gallas got to know each other better in defence, Bendtner started up front with Ade.

First half saw Arsenal start brightly, keeping possession with some crisp passing and opening up the Baggies on 4 minutes with a nice flowing move. Clichy put a short ball through onto the byeline for Denilson, who then cut it back for the arriving Nasri to clip it beyond the keeper from six yards. The defence was scrambling, so it was a neat finish. A typical Arsenal goal, with short, swift passes into space and lots of movement.

And that was basically it for the next 86 minutes. Arsenal were epitomised by Denilson’s performance – tidy, good work rate but largely uninspired in the final third. Eboue had chances to shoot but repeatedly missed the target. Adebayor was indecisive, and was caught offside too many times when there was no need to be. When he had the ball, Walcott refused to stay wide and use his pace, instead running straight at the defence and swallowing up all the space his strikers wanted to use. Arsenal looked more dangerous after van Persie came on for Bendtner, prompting Adebayor to drop out more to the left, and allowing Nasri to push inside and link up play.

Apart from one moment when they were split too easily, and had a little tiff as a result, Djourou and Gallas were fine. Clichy and Sagna were their usual excellent selves, Clichy providing one of the few thrilling moments when he went on one of those barnstorming ball-carrying runs from his own goal line. Almunia had one save to make, and made it well.

West Brom were very solid. Tony Mowbray basically got it right. He played the hardworking Miller up front on his own all game, and then put on a couple of chunky, athletic and skillful young players at the end in MacDonald and Bednar who linked up well to try to pinch an equaliser. If his midfield hadn’t switched off for Nasri’s run in the fourth minute, they could have got a result. They should stay up.


I said that of all the other sides I fear the Chavs, and they certainly looked the part on Sunday.

Kudos to sub-editor at the Grauniad for use of phrase “derring-do” in headline of the Man U – Newcastle match report. Was Errol Flynn on the scoresheet?

I was waiting to post this after I’d seen the Mancs’ game but I seem to have missed it on ESPN.  Latest rumour is we might be signing Silvestre from the Mancs for a cut-price £750,000.  This sounds like good business to me.  The article suggests that Silvestre would be first-choice partner for Gallas, replacing Senderos – which says to me that Toure is moving up into midfield.  If this is true, I’m not so sure how I feel about it.  Toure has not looked comfortable playing there the couple of times I’ve seen it, and with Eboue in there as well we basically have two defenders where two attackers should be.  We’ll see.