Monday, July 31, 2006

Rhinoplastic Rundown

And now, to lighten up the mood (the Saccharinist needs a rest from worldwide horrors just as much anyone!), let's take a closer look at some celebrities who, as we've noticed before here at the Saccharinist, are not quite as good-looking as you may think. In this edition of Saccharinist Surgico-Freaks, we're going to focus on what many surgeons and patients claim is the most satisfying plastic surgery procedure out there: the rhinoplasty -- a subject near and dear to many an Iranian nose, oops, I mean, heart! It's satisfying because with a tiny saw here and a little bit of sewing up over there, the most prominent feature of your face dramatically changes your entire look -- hopefully for the better.

First off, let's check out Frida-babe Salma Hayek who, by most accounts looks very natural indeed...


...well, almost. See, it turns out that Ms Hayek has had her nose done which explains why I've been telling people for years that her nose looks abnormally small for her face. She was and is a beautiful woman. It's just that now with the refined nose she looks, well, refined which would have been useful had she not spent the great part of a decade playing ditsy topless roles in Hollywood B-films. Still, I think she looked sweeter before -- but what do you expect of a Saccharinist?

Next up, our favorite perfect Oscar-winner, Halle Berry (also, like Hayek of mixed-race)...believe it or not, she wasn't born so perfect!


Halle, it seems, decided that the one thing she was missing was a smaller nose. The difference is perceptible and I would have to agree is an improvement. Is plastic surgery wrong -- especially when it brings so much happiness to the world? I think not!

The next rhinoplastic celeb has been very vocal about how much she hates her nose. In fact, even now, post-op since she was a teenager, she still complains that the top of her nose is weird. We here at the Saccharinist agree. Observe:


Yes, indeed, Britney Spears has got a weird nose and absolutely no rhinoplastic procedure can correct a bizarrely large bone at the top of one's nose without making one's eyes appear even farther apart than they already do. Good luck with all that lady!

Finally, we come to a specimen of celebrityhood that most women have finally outgrown, though the Saccharinist never quite understood the appeal in the first place. Yes, surely you will be shocked to find that Tom Cruise was not a natural beauty...uh huh:


Nope, Tom, as most rational people saw even post-op, is an average Joe who at one time had a major schnoz.

And there you have it, there is a very tiny percentage of people possessing an extraordinary natural beauty -- everyone else got a good job in Hollywood!


Batebi Arrested Again

In other Iranian student prisoners news, the famed 1999 student protester, Ahmad Batebi, has reportedly been arrested again. It is a wonder that he is alive at all, considering the high number of casualties sustained by the peaceful student demonstrators of 9 July 1999 and, four years later, 9 July 2003. Is there a new crackdown in place -- considering the news of Akbar Mohammadi and now Batebi?

For anyone who is still under the impression that Mohammad Khatami was a reformist and much better than the hardliners, consider the long and lamentable list of injustices committed during his presidency -- the horrific backlash against Iranians who participated in these two demonstrations being at the top of the list.

This regime never had a reform movement and it never will.

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Iranian Regime Kills Student

...................................................................Painting of Akbar Mohammadi by artist Tom Block for Amnesty International

In yet another piece of deeply disturbing news, the Iranian government is responsible for the death of another innocent person in Evin prison. This time, the victim was student demonstrator Akbar Mohammadi.

During his international lecture tour, famous political activist and Evin prisoner, Akbar Ganji, has said that the Iranian "regime has not executed a political prisoner in years." While that seems quite implausible, it is certain that they are nonetheless killing people.

Mohammadi, like all of the prisoners of consience at Iran's prisons, sustained multiple and extensive short and long term injuries as a result of severe torture and maltreatment. Injustice Minister Jamal Karimirad has told Reuters news agency that Mohammadi "was under intense supervision by the prison physician. Last night his health condition deteriorated," which, in aggressor-speak means this poor soul was brutally murdered. Even if he was on a hunger strike, as has been reported, he should not have been allowed to die which, at the very least, is what the authorities did.

In fact, the government account about how Mohammadi was receiving proper medical care is almost certainly a falsehood considering that, amongst various other severe injuries he sustained during the course of his imprisonment, the first year he was imprisoned his pelvis was very seriously injured after he was thrown down a flight of stairs in the prison and was never treated properly which resulted in permanent pelvis damage and a deterioration in his ability to walk.

It is a conundrum beyond any comprehension that we must even discuss post-torture medical care. Clearly there is absolutely no regard for the health and welfare of a prisoner when he is systematically and brutally tortured in the first place.

Neither the official state media nor the so-called Iranian Student's News Agency has anything to report about this news which is certainly of great interest to a very high number of Iranians who have been following the tragic case of Akbar Mohammadi. However, many Iranians are no doubt assuming that Mohammadi was intentionally killed to keep him from divulging information about the government and his torture in prison which he did once in 2003 during a 6-day prison leave to receive an operation for extensive injuries sustained in prison.

Akbar Mohammadi is an incredibly brave individual -- a hero by any standards -- to stand up and speak out against a regime so ruthless, so violent and so extremely intolerant, inhumane, and unjust toward anyone who dares question it. Akbar Mohammadi's entire family, in fact, is an Iranian national treasure -- heroes who have suffered beyond belief for the cause of democracy in Iran. Their sacrifice will not be forgotten.

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Special Relationship: Media & Politics

As the Saccharinist has demonstrated repeatedly, one of the most significant -- if not THE most significant contributing factor to worldwide violence and unrest is the lack of information provided to the citizens of Western nations. People in Occupied Palestine, in Somalia, in Afghanistan, in Iraq and Iran and a long list of other countries are suffering the consequences of uninformed Western publics through the actions of the so-called elected leaders of those nations -- leaders who are elected and supported (though decreasingly so) by publics who are not informed of the violence and human rights violations which their governments perpetuate in their name.

Essentially, this is a highly significant issue pertaining to Western media bias -- which is itself a consequence of uninformed and affiliated (meaning they have relationships, both personal and business, with the people and entities they are meant to objectively cover in their news reports) journalists churning out disinformation and misinformation. A simple example of this is the fact that a majority of foreign correspondents (especially those in war-torn developing countries) for major Western media outlets do not even speak the language of the nation they are posted in. Truly unbelieveable.

Another contributing factor to the media bias is the close, personal relationship of politicians with media organizations -- something that basic journalistic principle discourages but which is so prevalent and at such a powerful level that there is even a long list of famous and less-than-famous "journalists" who are actually married to or in a relationship with a politician. For example, the infamous case of Christiane "I have an over-sized picture of my glorious self hanging in the window of my office at CNN" (doubts? go see for yourself.) Amanpour and her less-than-intelligent and clearly out of the loop husband, James Rubin.

Over the past weekend (and continuing through this week), this close, personal relationship was on full display at a conference organized by News Corp. in California. Yes, this is the very organization run by Rupert Murdoch whose news channels and publications are all very well known for their racist and highly biased "reporting," to say the very least. Guess who was in attendance? Tony Blair, Shimon Peres, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Lawrence Summers (remember this sexist?) and U2's own personal man of God: Bono.

Yes, it was a veritable list of self-righteous, sexist and religionist (if not outright racist) men -- whose value for human life and human rights is weighed on a scale of benefits to themselves and not to the millions of people who they are in a position to help. Case in point: Tony "Conservatives are my best friends forever" Blair. On the very day he was supposedly in the US to broker a ceasefire in war torn Lebanon and the Occupied Territories -- on the very day when Israelis illegally bombed a residential complex killing 54 civilians, 37 of whom were children -- Mr Blair was shamelessly enjoying the frivolities of Rupert Murdoch's luxurious Pebble Beach festivities. (Amazingly, there is not a single news story on BBC News Online which mentions Tony Blair's attendance at this conflict of interests event.) Clearly, nobody was doing anything to stop this war.

How can there be an improvement in the fairness of news reporting when politicians and powerful figures are in bed with each other? The answer is that there can't be. The world's only hope rests in finding a means of better, more accurately and more independently informing the majority of the public of the realities of violence, human rights violations and illegal wars which abound across the globe. One answer may very well be the growing number of unaffiliated journalists, commentators and observers found on the Internet.

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Headline Killers

A Red Cross worker carries a body inside an ambulance after an Israeli air raid in Qana, 6 km (4 miles) from the port-city of Tyre (Soure) in south Lebanon, July 30, 2006. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra (LEBANON)

Israel kills 54 Lebanese, Mostly Children

News sources throughout the world have today confirmed that the illegal and ruthless targeting of a residential building in the city of Qana in Southern Lebanon has killed at least 54 civilians where at least 34 of those (more than half) were children. To demonstrate the biased journalism in the West, especially in the United States, let's examine the following headlines, keeping in mind that the last time there were major Israeli casualties in this war (or their war against Palestinians), the media's approach took a suspiciously different angle:

Yahoo! News Deadly Airstrike Sparks Fury

This particular headline is replete with Israel-cautious framing. There's no mention of the fact that it was a Deadly Israeli Airstrike. There is no mention at all of the extraordinary number of lives lost. There is no mention of the extraordinary percentage of children killed (over 50% is quite remarkable when you try to convince the world that the housing complex was a terrorist hotbed). But even more stunning is the way this headline turned the whole issue around from a news story about the savage and illegal bombing of civilians into a scare tactic about how angry the terrorists are now. Anyone who thinks these headlines are merely thrown together by an editor should definitely think twice after this one.

BBC News Dozens Killed in Lebanon Air Raid

Here again we are missing any reference whatsoever to the culprit, Israel, and in exchange the reader is immediately asked to associate (as always) the Arabs with violence: killed....Lebanon -- those are the key words in this headline. Again, the extraordinary number of civilians is also left out, as is the crucial word civilians itself. Finally, we have the sanitized phrase "air raid" whereas in the most simple terms this was an air attack, if not a bombing. Again, this is taking the violence down several notches and one wonders why this must be done at all when it is completely avoided for news items that refer to the killing of Israelis (or for that matter, Americans in other wars).

CNN Children Victims of Israeli Attack

Compared to the other headlines, this is actually an improvement, though still not free of bias. The children are mentioned, as is Israel, and the word Attack (though as always we never seen the word bombing associated with Israel, even though that is exactly what an air attack involves: massive bombing). However, the word victim is problematic because it avoids a very straightforward point: the children were killed, they were murdered and the residential building they were in when this happened was intentionally targeted. At the very least, the word victim should be replaced with killed, if not massacred.

New York Times Deadly Israeli Attack Escalates Conflict

Finally we come to the most concocted headline and accompanying news story in this little experiment. Again, there is no mention of the extremely high number of people killed, of the fact that they were civilians, of the fact that over half of them were children, of the fact that they were intentionally targeted. It is also a curious arrangement of the first three words such that it would not be surprising if the reader's first sight at the headline would read Deadly Israel Attack -- this would be a natural reaction for a great many people whose only exposure to the violence in that region has involved repeated headlines about major events in which Israel was attacked, i.e. the relatively (in comparison with the daily casualties of Palestinians in the occupied terroritories) infrequent episode of suicide-bombings. The point being that the headline would be read as an attack on Israel rather than by it.

The second major manipulation in this headline is that it takes the focus away from the issue at hand -- the fact that an incredibly high number of civilians were just murdered -- and instead attempts to frame this single horrific event in the context of a conflict, thereby both justifying the event and suggesting that an equal number of civilians are being killed on both sides, which with figures of nearly 700 Lebanese civilians killed and 18 Israelis civilians killed just doesn't add up.

Finally, it is fascinating to see how the word attack is consistently used to represent what would have been the word bombing had it been committed by Hizbollah or any other Arab group -- how many times have you seen a headline about how one of these "terrorist" groups bombed someone?

But the article itself is a far more fascinating example of the relentless pro-Israel bias -- certainly at the New York Times. It starts off by again avoiding a direct reference to if not the number then the percentage of children killed amongst the civilians -- according to the New York Times over 50% is the same as many, though if any adjective were meant to replace "over 50%" it would be most, not many.

The next well-crafted belittling of the attack suggests that the building somehow fell apart on its own rather than by a massive bombing campaign. Observe the careful wording and passive phrasing used to avoid any blame on Israel: "the attack caused a residential apartment building to collapse." No, the residential apartment building was targeted and then pounded with a number of extremely deadly bombs -- that's what made it collapse.

Next we find what would be amusing if it weren't actually about a large number of innocent civilians being murdered: the New York Times actually engages in a discussion with itself, trying to prove to us (unsuccessfully) that not that many civilians were killed anyway. First, the NYT states its own belief of the number killed "28 confirmed dead, 20 of them children" (that's over 70% children). Then it cites, 50, 57, and "as many as 60." Eventually it settles with the following unbelieveably insensitive phrase: "Whatever the actual toll..." wherein the article changes direction completely and starts admonishing the people who have begun worldwide protests against this illegal war. Nothing could have better exemplified and described the New York Times's attitude toward the non-Israeli civilians killed: "Whatever the actual toll" indeed!

The rest of the article is a typical rearrangement of the facts through careful wording and phrasing in which the angle is changed from Israel's murderous rampage on civilians into the importance of not letting the terrorists win, and so on. Terrorists, wonder the American public is deluded.

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NYC & London Protests

There is a great deal of protest in the two nations whose governments most support this illegal war in Lebanon, not to mention the other illegal activity going on in this Wart on Terrorism. It seems democracy needs some sort of adjustment -- the public should be allowed to vote for more than their leaders (sadly, the US system has failed even on this point), they should be allowed to vote for major government initiatives such as war, government spending, and maybe someday the laws themselves. There can be no democracy where the people feel their voices don't count.

New York City -- Anti-War Protest -- 28 July 2006

London -- Anti-War Protest -- 30 July 2006

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Friday, July 28, 2006


Humans are emotional beings and the single thing that can help us to coexist in a civilized manner, despite our emotions, is the rule of law. Sadly, in our day and age such a thing does not exist. The very institution that was created to establish laws and orders to prevent any repetition of the horrors of WWII -- the UN -- stands impotently by as genocides continue and illegal wars abound -- not least by the very nation of people whose plight prompted the urgent need for such an institution.

It was shamelessly ironic to witness this week how Israel cited the failure to enact UN resolution 1559 as a primary reason for its killing of over 600 Lebanese civilians and 150 Palestinian civilians. Not to mention the abhorrent amount of damage to infrastucture and the condemnation to a lifetime of terror for the young innocents who had to witness their lives and their familes being torn apart -- literally. It was ironic because Israel is itself in violation of countless UN resolutions and has been for a very long time, proving time and again that a system of laws is as useless as the paper it is written on if those laws are not enforced.

What should have been created 60 years ago with the establishment of the UN but which has so far failed to exist is an authentic and authorative world governing body whose laws actually demand submission. It is only then when war criminals like Ariel Sharon, Condoleezza Rice, Madeleine Albright, George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Tony Blair, Ehud Olmert, Dickless Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Henry Kissinger, Ali Khamenei, Ali Akbar Rafsanjani, and Haji Rezaii, to name a very few who come immediately to mind, will be put behind the bars of international human rights violations and governments like Israel, the United States, Saudi Arabia and others will be forced to think twice before they recklessly and shamelessly destroy innocent peoples' lives.

We need a world governing body that actually governs and enforces laws that the majority of the world -- meaning, the people of the world or those who have been democratically elected by the people precisely for the role of representing them at such a body -- have passed and demanded to be followed. And we need it urgently.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Iran's Execution of a Girl

A deeply disturbing (though well-researched) new documentary details the horrors of sharia law in Iran. The documentary, "Execution of a Teenage Girl" by filmmaker Monica Garnsey, brings to light the penetratingly disturbing case we all heard about two years ago but knew nothing of except rumors that the girl had been a child with mental problems, an orphan, and a victim of rape by a much older man. From the interviews and facts presented in this documentary, it seems that while all of those things were indeed true about young Atefeh Sahaaleh, it was also true that she was an incredibly courageous and intelligent young woman whose death will not be in vain as more and more people become aware of the inhumanity, ruthlessness and, in effect, lawlessness of sharia -- especially when it comes to women.

Painfully, Atefeh's case is not unique in Iran. Like many girls -- most of whose accounts go unrecorded and therefore unknown -- Atefeh was gang-raped by the very officials, the so-called morals police, who repeatedly dragged her into prison for violations of chastity even as she was not yet 13 years old. Like many girls, after the age of 9 (the age at which, according to Islamic law a mere girl is considered a woman) she was continually under threat of rape or accusations of violation of chastity because she was physically developed and quite beautiful (the townsfolk called her Madhuri, after the popular Hindi film actress of the same name). Like many girls, her only hope for a future at all, let alone a positive one, was marriage. Like many girls, the system was brutally unfair to her because she was a woman -- the 51 year old married man and father of 3 who regularly raped her was give 90 lashes for what in most nations would have been legally termed statutory rape. Like many girls in a society that doesn't consider females equal to males and leaves females very little hope or prospects for a future, Atefeh lashed out. Like many girls and women in Iranian society, she paid the price set by a government that, like all totalitarian systems, cares pittance for its very own citizens.

What makes Atefeh's case stand out is that the judge in her case, Haji Rezaii -- an older man, at least as old as the 51-year-old rapist whose crimes sent her to the gallows -- personally took out a vendetta on this child. He so frustrated and no doubt insulted her during the so-called trial in which he was the judge, the jury, and as it turns out, the executioner, that she became emotionally overwhelmed and hysterical, shouting at him, crying, removing her veil, and eventually throwing her shoe at him. According to one report, Rezaii claimed afterwards that the main reason he executed her was "for her sharp tongue," as shockingly illegal as that would seem to be. In an entirely illegal act, he assisted in fabricating her age (from 16 to 22) thus avoiding the crime of executing a minor, and personally hand-delivered and rushed the execution order to the Supreme Court in Tehran. In a final act of inconceivable hatred and sadism, he personally tied the execution rope around this poor child's neck.

Of course the West becomes arrogant and condescending toward the East, toward the developing world! Though the West is itself far from total gender equality, civil rights, and due process, the strides it has made in these fields far, far outdo the East. But what can Easterners do when our governments are puppets or handlers for the economic and power needs of the West?

I don't fully blame Iran, the Iranians, or even fundamentalist Islam for this abyssmal state of affairs -- I mostly blame the Western nations who never gave us a chance for democracy, who ever impeded any efforts we made to advance ourselves, by ourselves. And who actually introduced and fully condoned fundamentalist Islam as a movement when they trained, funded and encouraged the Taliban in Afghanistan 30 years ago as they were trying to defeat the Russians -- those 'damn Commies' for whom the entire world had to pay the price. The Islamic Republic of Iran was never chosen by the people of Iran, was never even voted for. Islamists, with the help of the West (who can ever forget Khomeini's royal treatment in France where he was courted by Western diplomats of all shapes and sizes?) hijacked a popular revolution and formed a religious dictatorship -- and the innocents, as always, are suffering the consequences.

It seems our only hope of ever being let alone to choose our own government and to run our own societies will be the day when that last bitter drop of oil is sucked out of our lands and our value as a Western commodity instantly disappears. Till then, there will be no shortage of Atefeh Sahaalehs over which to despair.

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It is imperative to make a distinction between governments and publics for the main reason that even in so-called democratic countries, the US comes to mind, the public's voice does not count for much. We saw that during the two Bush elections very clearly, but we also see that with research and polls which indicate that a great majority of the US public is, for instance, against the ridiculous carnage that is known as the Wart on Iraq. The American public does not support this war and yet the war machine in Washington -- the people this public innocently entrust their lives and reputation to -- barges on.

Obviously, Bush was not elected to office, but he is the least of anyone's concerns: the Senators, Congress representatives, Cabinet members, Supreme Court members and policymakers of all sorts who were elected (or elected by those who were elected) to represent the people are blatantly doing anything but that. One looks forward to the time -- it was always inevitable -- when the American public will lash out at this injustice against them and we're not just talking about a decade of Vietnam War protests, we're talking about a revolution in thought, attitude and behavior. And thanks to the Internet, this will happen sooner than would have been otherwise possible as more and more Americans seek, find, or come across news information which their mainstream media and the government it's in bed with has refused to inform them of.

The Israeli government is attempting to bank on this huge distinction between a government and a public by stating today that the world supports Israel's war in Lebanon: "We received yesterday at the Rome conference permission from the world... to continue the operation," Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon said. No, no you didn't. The government unrepresentatives of the US and the UK -- both of which, according to recent polls (here and here) have publics that are largely and increasingly against the war in Lebanon and who are extremely dissatisfied with their leadership (Bush has a 36% approval rating these days), have failed (or is it succeeded?) in doing their job. The world, in fact, is quite against this war and the number of other illegal wars being conducted by these carte blanche government criminals.

Condo-sleaze-a Ice and her British plaything Margaret Beckett-and-Call have "resisted calls from 13 other countries, as well as the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, for a ceasefire." Beckett's comments are especially impressive and could well qualify her for an honorary degree from Oxford University's Department of Philosophy and Illogic: "Even if you could get a ceasefire half an hour ago, you would probably be back in hostilities in a few days." The thing Ms Beckett cares pittance for is that at the rate things are going, even a few days of ceasefire would be a welcome relief to the hundreds of people who are dying on both sides of this illegal war.

And so we wait...for a real International Court of Justice to put these criminals behind bars where they belong.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Happy Anniversary

A year ago today, this infamous sign was posted in an Underground station in London -- one of, if not the most, international and diverse cities in the whole world. It was just days after someone who looked "a bit foreign", i.e. Jean Charles de Menezes, was brutally murdered by the British police for that very reason. As we know, the police got away with this injustice -- but what do you expect? Thanks to British support, innocents are being murdered daily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, to name a few. If they're getting away with large-scale murder, one little foreign-looking Brazilian doesn't count for much.

The worst thing about this Wart on Terror and its precursor the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is that it has bred so much anger and hate in the world. Even if these injustices stopped now, it would take generations for people to mellow and forget their antipathy. The situation is so grim that we've come to the point where we must differentiate between aggressors -- one-time attackers -- and bullies -- persistent aggressive forces who callously murder and destroy, never satisfied with their blood-soaked victories, ever dismissive of the human rights of their enemies.

Because of the politics of money and power, the institutions that were created after WWII to prevent such horrors again -- the UN and its conventions on war and human rights, the International Court of Justice and other so-called international bodies where today's bullies strike a firm hand against justice and where accountability is a theory and not a practice -- all of these institutions, have proven largely ineffective. There can never be hope to prevent, stop or curtail such hate and war until an international body is created that has equal partners from all nations of the world -- because even then issues of money and power will be influential but at least there will be more representative nations whose opinions will actually matter and whose votes will actually count.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Madame Philosopher

The English, as we know, do not tend to be beauty contest winners -- their greatest product these days has been model Elizabeth Hurley who is only tolerable now after having undergone a major upheaval, mainly involving lip enhancement, possible blepharoplasty, other unknown cosmetic procedures and a helluva good stylist. Yes, indeed, generations of aristocratic inbreeding has done its deed. The men tend to go bald quite early and have sagging jowls or misplaced features, such as noses that are too close to the forehead or mouths that are too close to the chin -- not to mention ears that aspire to be wings or other abnormal appendages. The women fare no better and, especially as they age, tend to look more and more like men with wigs.

Nobody's perfect of course and race is an ambiguous designation after millennia of interbreeding amongst the once scattered but later well-travelled ethnicities of the world. Still let's not forget the Prince Charleses of England...

This is all by way of introduction to one Baroness Mary Warnock -- an interesting octogenarian who is a medical ethics expert and philosopher. She also happens to look like a man with a wig...but that's beside the point, of course. This week, the UK Independent online featured a segment where readers emailed questions to Warnock and she answered them. It is fascinating to observe the confidence and established knowledge of an older and indeed wiser individual -- especially one with such a strong academic background. The following is a selection of the questions and her answers. For the whole lot, click on the Independent's link to the feature.

Is there a God?
There have always been gods, either as objects of fear or of aspiration. Our ideas of God change with our understanding, both of ourselves and of the rest of nature. I doubt whether such changing ideas will ever disappear.

What happens to us when we die?
We disappear from existence. But that doesn't mean that we disappear from other people's minds and hearts.

When does life begin?
At no one moment. Fertilisation (or its equivalent in the production of an embryo in cloning) is a process rather than an event.

Should animals have rights?
We have duties towards animals that are in our power. But this does not entail that they have rights against us. The notion that all animals, wild as well as domestic, should be able to have rights upheld against human beings (or other animals) seems to me nonsensical.

Is it ever right to kill innocents in war?
It is never right to kill innocents - in the sense that it is never a duty to do so. But it may be inevitable that, in war, innocents are killed. War should be so conducted, if it must be, that the killing of the innocent is kept to the minimum. Its inevitability is the strongest argument against war.

Do you think women in the West have achieved equality?
No, though they have advanced.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Get Ready for Somalia...

Did you know there is a significant and growing branch of the Wart on Terrorism being conducted in Somalia? I didn't until today -- it's a page two story, as they say, but I think anything to do with the Wart is page one -- thousands of people are losing their lives and livelihoods, if that's not frontpage news then what is?

For years (unsurprisingly), as has been their practice, the US government has funded and supported ruthless warlord governments in Somalia -- a predominantly Muslim country in East Africa -- mainly because they have been trying to stop an Islamic government from coming to power.

This is an interesting point and something the US never seems to learn: the more you antagonize or attack any single political group, the more popular and ultimately more powerful it becomes. This happened with Communism and is now happening with Islamism, neither of which were or are good for a healthy society. The US, despite all its vacuous talk about democracy has done more to avert democracy in the world than any other modern entity. In fact, it is exceedingly adept at preventing and destroying democracy.

The solution for many countries throughout the world has been Islamism -- fundamentalist Islamic government. And it's a worrying state of affairs when non-Islamist publics are willing, nay, eager, to support Islamist governments because they at least represent native sentiments rather than foreign invasion -- nobody likes to be told what to do by outsiders, especially when those outsiders only want to take advantage of you.

Well, years of supporting the warlords in Somalia came to an end last month in the valuable metropol of Mogadishu when an organization called the UIC (Union of Islamic Courts) took power from them. According to the UK Independent, the UIC already controls half of Somalia and is "far more popular among ordinary Somalis than the fragile transitional government". The US fear is the Islamists will take over the whole country soon and so they have sent their own troops (remember the Black Hawk Down disaster of the mid-90s?) and are now funding Ethiopian troops (there are 5,000 in Somalia now) to battle out the UIC. Obviously this will only anger the people into supporting the UIC even more.

Let's point out again, for those of you who think there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans in the US or who think that the Bush administration is implementing their own brand of foreign policy that it was under Clinton that the Battle of Mogadishu occurred, Bush is merely repeating his predecessor's exact same policy.

So, there you have it: the Wart is far from over and as we've witnessed recently, is merely only expanding. It's a good thing the US media is so propagandist in favor of US government policy and actions, otherwise Americans would realize exactly how badly their government is screwing up the world and do something about it -- that's what democracies do, don't they? When they work, that is.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

US v Iran: The Lebanon Front

...................................................On the horizon of war... (Photo: Al Jazeera)

Iran via Southern Lebanon and the US via Israel -- this is the closest we've gotten to the Iran-US war. It seems clearer now than it did even at the beginning of this Wart on Terrorism that the US's main target in that region is Iran. This new war (to add to the fronts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the northern territory of Pakistan and the unreported skirmishes in the states of Baluchistan on the border of Iran and Pakistan which have killed tens of people in the last few months) is the most overt conflict with Iran to date. The US has so-far failed to get its out-an-out with Iran over the ridiculous construct of the nuclear weapons issue so instead is fighting Iran in Lebanon. Bush and his Klan do not like to wait around when it comes to death and destruction.

Al Jazeera reported today that the US government, "after relatively little debate in the White House" has shipped over a whole new batch of precision-guided bombs to Israel. Al Jazeera sources the New York Times who quote several highly-placed sources in the White House. What this means is simply that there's a whole lot of targets planned and this war is not gonna end so soon.

Why don't the Israelis speak up? Surely they must now be tired of being the US tool for destruction and target for hate in that region. It seems that Israel, like all 'democracies" has a government that is not representative of its people because it would seem that just as the Lebanese and Palestinians are frightened and on the brink of death, so are the Israelis -- they, too, most certainly after the events of this week, must be nearly fed up with living in a state of perpetual conflict.

Meanwhile, as predicted, Condo-sleaze-a has announced that there ain't gonna be no ceasefire anytime soon -- obviously! I believe her quote was something along the lines of "we cain't stop now! I gots demands -- you hear me? -- demands! Ain't nobody gonna tell me what ta do!" Someday, far far from now, there will be a real International Court of Justice and war criminals and human rights violators like Sleaze-a, et al, will be accountable for their crimes. For now, we the public must helplessly suffer their reckless violence in hopes of living to see that day.

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BBC's Journalistic Incursions

In the West, or that entity that we all somehow recognize as "the West", it is impossible to find a mainstream media outlet that offers a fair account of the events in the Middle East, let alone a fair analysis of it. Forget the US press, that goes without saying -- as does anything owned or operated by Rupert Murdoch.

But even the BBC is a clear example of the complete lack of objectivity in the Western media. And it's easy to point a finger at the Western media because they claim to be democratic and free of bias -- they, in fact, claim that the non-West (as we know it) is where the problem with censorship and media freedom exists.

Not so -- just take a look at simple terminology on the BBC News website: they still insist on casually describing the Israeli war in Lebanon in sheltered terms such as "Israel has carried out air strikes and small-scale incursions into Lebanon." "Carried out"?! "Small-scale"?! "Incursions"?! Nobody carries out a war, they fight out, attack out, murder out, but not carry out -- that's what you do with your groceries and your library books, it's not how you describe the violent destruction of war. "Small scale?" -- to define a parameter on the scale of any event that is costing innocent lives is pretty irresponsible, not to mention prejudiced. And to describe violating borders with tanks and other weapons of human destruction as an "incursion" is fantastic evidence of creativity but otherwise inexcusable -- an incursion is toilet papering your neighbor's front yard, not fighting a bloody war.

The Editors over at the BBC actually sit there and change words to fit this "safe" (i.e. less negative) representation of any entity, person, place, or thing that the BBC must be certain not to offend -- which is apparently a very select list. And the Editors don't really have to work too hard on this tidying up process because the journalists, if they plan to keep their jobs, have learned the game themselves.

Institutional practices in the newsroom are entirely overlooked by the public -- we search for news and information not always realizing that it's constructed, it's framed, it's not fact but depiction.

How about the use of the terms 'terrorist' and 'militant'? We've gotten past the 'terrorist' discussion -- most credible news outlets today shy from such a term that carries with it ramifications of extremism and perniciousness which should not be used lightly. So the acceptable alternative is now 'militant' -- Yes, Hezbollah is militant: it is a military operation at its core, but doesn't that describe the IDF or any other army? If Palestine were an actual country, Hezbollah would merely be described as a branch of the Palestinian army since it no doubt has similar aims as more overtly Palestinian militaries such as Hamas. Why is one destructive military operation called an army and the other a militant?

This -- the issue of mere words -- may seem trivial but it has a substantial impact on the reading public, on taking advantage of the ignorance of the masses -- and that is the key to democracy: keep the voting public stupid and on your side and you can get away with anything.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Yes Sir-kel!

As if playing lovey-dovey with Tony "Evil Eye" Blair wasn't enough, the Bushmeister has gyrated his G8 appearance into a Love Fest the likes of which even Bill Clinton would surely have spurned. Yes, that's right folks, George W. Bush touched Angela "my shulters ah ay-kink Herr Bushmann!" Merkel. And we're not talking a harmless handshake -- he actually gave the ogre, I mean, woman (I use the term loosely) an impromptu massage! Click here to see video proof of the latest development at the G8 summit.

What was that, honey? Are you calling for me? For me?!

Is this what you want? With two hands? Like so? Please tell me what you want babydoll!

I'm gonna just dig right in baby... Easy!'s alright now...Papa's here...That's right...

There now! Don't tense up on me! Let it all go schatzi...don't you worry your little, I mean, big, ol' self about nothin'....Voot you like a little wiener? Papa's gotta little wiener for you!

-Nein! Get avay! I don't like to be touched by men! You're not my Papa! HEEEEEELLLLP!

-Nah nah! Don't get all excited. I didn't mean nothin' by it. I'm not a sexual harnesser -- I swear it ain't me!

-Ooh! Wait, I take it all back -- I loved every moment of it -- all 5 seconds. Maybe hubby was right: touching can be fun! Will I ever see you again?

-You gotta be kiddin' lady...I'm no fool! Well, I am, but damn you're ugly!

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

The War: Chomsky Analysis

It's good to have a voice like Chomsky's that gives us a measured, factual and succinct analysis of the war in Lebanon-et-al. Click here to watch a 6 minute video describing the background to the war (including the real reason Hezbollah abducted the two Israeli soldiers) and the US's main goal in the region (think: obliteration). The video is courtesy of Representative Press and was found on YouTube where you should definitely look to find more videos and mini-docs on the conflict.

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The Core of Hate

Monday, July 17, 2006: Kiryat shmona -- Israeli girls write messages on a shell at a heavy artillery position firing into civilians inside Lebanon (Photo:

An American friend has passed along a link to some extremely graphic images of the damage done against civilians and infrastructure in Lebanon. While the images are indeed disturbing, I found these two to be particularly unsettling because they demonstrate an early indoctrination of hate and disregard for human equality. It's also quite shocking that these young girls are not frightened to be next to such powerful devices of destruction -- obviously military equipment is not an enigma for them and that says quite a lot on its own.

There has been much in the Western press about how the Israelis condemn Palestinian school text books that carry anti-Israel messages, but surely no one believed that this was a one-sided game. Should we be afraid of these girls? Will they be even more hateful and ruthless than their parents? It seems likely now.

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UN Picks Nose. Again.

A Lebanese woman points to a mosque under construction that was destroyed Thursday. (Photo: AP)

What else can you title a post in which you describe that the UN has once again exclaimed outrage over blatant violations of international law and universal standards of human rights then has stood by to watch them escalate. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbor has announced today that "indiscriminate shelling of cities constitutes a foreseeable and unacceptable targeting of civilians. Similarly, the bombardment of sites with alleged military significance, but resulting invariably in the killing of innocent civilians, is unjustifiable."

By Jove, you're right Ms Arbor! You're rootin' tootin' right! There now, don't pout, we heard you loud and clear: you see bad things but, like the rest of us common folk, you can't do jack about it. And, though she obviously can't point a finger of blame, the numbers speak for themselves: an estimated 300 Lebanese killed, 100 Palestinian and 30 Israeli. These are people, not numbers, though obviously it's just the same to the powers-that-be.

So how do you keep safe in the face of such violence? Obtain a passport from a handsome list of Western countries who will gladly export you far from these dangerous situations. Like they say, if you can't beat them, join them.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Israel Blames Iran

A wounded boy rests in a hospital after Israeli warplanes attacked several houses in the village of Srifa near the port-city of Tyre in southern Lebanon July 19, 2006. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho (LEBANON)

As expected, Iran has officially been implicated in Israel's new lease on war. Let's keep in mind that this whole war began when Hezbollah (the Iranian-bankrolled fundamentalist Shiite organization that was originally created in Southern Lebanon for the very purpose it is being employed today: to stop Israeli attacks there) kidnapped 2 Israeli soldiers last week and, in the process, killed 8 others -- none of whom Israel seems to care about as much as the 2 living kidnapees. Well, according to Israeli PM Olmert this act was an Iranian directive with the main aim of detracting G8 attention from a topic that neither the war on Iraq, the war on Afghanistan, nor a large number of other horrible natural and man-made disasters has managed to avert their attention from for several years: namely, Iran's nuclear program.

Well then let's thank the Iranians for finally and unequivocally demonstrating what we already knew, that the G8 is only useful for two things: to prove (thanks to press-call line-ups) that Vladimir Putin is an extremely short man (even shorter than Angela "I'm wider than I look" Merkel) and to prove that the G8 doesn't do jack squat for anyone. Oh yeah, and they're also really good at getting their own citizens out of dangerous war zones.

Even if, according to Olmert, the G8 is now entirely focused on the Israeli war in Lebanon it clearly hasn't mattered because nobody in that elitist clan of corruption has done anything to stop it or even condemn it. As with the inhumane occupation of the Palestinian territories, it seems this war will continue and more people will be murdered until Israel is good and ready to stop what it started -- in this case an all-out war in the name of a kidnapping. And all the while, innocent civilians on all sides of this war must suffer in terrifying, blood-soaked silence.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Yo Blair, 'Sup?"

....................................................G8 2006: Bush Blair Open Up (Photo: CNN)

In another unabashedly entertaining appearance on the world stage (you'll recall Bush's pee-pee note at the UN last year), Sir Bush-a-Lot has stuck it to the Brits. This time it wasn't a sneak-peek at Bush's toilet request but an actual recording of an off-the-cuff conversation between the BB's at the G8 conference in St. Petersburg yesterday. And while the US press does damage control for their BushMaster, the conversation speaks volumes about the BB relationship, the truth about the Middle East and famous personalities that simply nobody can hide or brush off. For your reading pleasure (courtesy of the UK Independent), I offer the Bush-Blair Diaries transcript (complete with Saccharinist commentary):

Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing? (No, dude, how you doin'?)

Blair: I'm just... (waiting for your signal baby! I'll blow anything you want: Iraq, Iran, um...anything...)

Bush: You're leaving? (I hear you baby, shakin' that thang!)

Blair: No, no, no not yet. On this trade thingy....(inaudible)

Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man. (Oops, I mean da man! Wait, das me, ain't it?)

Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not? (Can you speak on your own behalf or do you want me to help you baby?)

Bush: If you want me to. (Thanks mommy!)

Blair: Well, it's just that if the discussion arises... (please, please let me say something too!)

Bush: I just want some movement. (I hate fuckin' hate waitin' around. Diplomacy sucks.)

Blair: Yeah. (Uh! I mean, Yes.)

Bush: Yesterday we didn't see much movement. (Yesterday I came this close to fuckin' killin' someone I was so damn bored waitin' for that slow-ass Kofi to make it clear who the real boss is here.)

Blair: No, no, it may be that it's not, it may be that it's impossible. (Um, well, see, the thing, sometimes you, well, uh, don't get what you want. I mean! You do, but maybe it might possibly take a little time and um, diplo...diplomacy. Please don't hit me!)

Bush: I am prepared to say it. (Fuck them all. I do what I want!)

Blair: But it's just I think what we need to be an opposition... (We need to take a stand Bushy baby. Let's do it together. You and me baby -- together forever.)

Bush: Who is introducing the trade? (Who's gonna get this off my back?)

Blair: Angela (You know, freckle-arse...last night was great wasn't it, baby? You know we're hot!)

Bush: Tell her to call 'em. (Tell that overgrown bitch I want this done. Now! And I'M hot, got it? ME, not you!)

Blair: Yes. (Yes, sir. Right on! I mean, it, Sir!)

Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for the sweater it's awfully thoughtful of you. (Can't make this stuff up folks! Real life is real comedy!) (Anyway baby, if it weren't for you I don't know what I'd do -- I'd just. Gosh, your affectionate little gifts just make my pretty little day. Kissy?)

Blair: It's a pleasure. (Anything you want, baby. Just say it and I'll do you...I mean, it!)

Bush: I know you picked it out yourself. (Don't let me find out that your goddamn secretary or that wack-jawed wife a yours picked this shit out! I'm Number One, you hear that? Number One!)

Blair: Oh, absolutely, in fact (inaudible) (in fact, I liked it so much, I bought one for myself. We can be bosom buddies. Can we both wear them to tonight's event? Then everyone can know! Everyone can know!)

Bush: What about Kofi? (inaudible) His attitude to ceasefire and everything else ... happens. (What the fuck? Have you lost your mind, you know it's me and Kofi right now! I've got a lot needs doin' over that UN shit. Kofi's still kinda upset about Colin and Iraq...Don't stress me like this baby! You know what it does to me!)

Blair: Yeah, no I think the (inaudible) is really difficult. We can't stop this unless you get this international business agreed. (No, no, no! I understand, baby. Um, anyway, even though we can stop this gratuitous killing in the Middle East with just one word, it would be best if we got our business demands met first, right, baby? You know I want you happy and rich most of all -- those Arabs can just keep dying until my Bushy is satisfied on world trade.)

Bush: Yeah. (Let them die and don't you try to convince me that money isn't worth more'n human life. I took pre-algebra in college mothafucka!)

Blair: I don't know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral. (Sure, sweety, but, um, maybe we can do both. I mean, I'd be more than happy to head over to the Middle East today and make myself a candidate for the Nobel, oops! I mean, and make myself useful in trying to stop this needless killing.)

Bush: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon. (You wish, pasty-ass! I've got Legs-of-Steel headin' over there. She doesn't mind it anymore ever since Sharona dropped outta the scene.)

Blair: But that's, that's, that's all that matters. But if you... you see it will take some time to get that together. (Certainly, Sir! I would never suggest that I take her place in your bed, I mean, at your side!)

Bush: Yeah, yeah. (Back off will ya? I told you last night your breath stinks. I need some air!)

Blair: But at least it gives people... (though, of course, I could always, I mean, I'd be happy to...)

Bush: It's a process, I agree. I told her your offer to... (Piss off! The answer is NO.)

Blair: Well... it's only if I mean... you know. If she's got a..., or if she needs the ground prepared as it were... Because obviously if she goes out, she's got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk. (But baby! I wanna be in the limelight too. You never let me do things anymore. I can just be a talking head -- I promise I won't achieve anything -- I'll just act like I give a shit about this illegal war.)

Bush: You see, the ... thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hizbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over. (Whatever, Syria's in charge and I want them to stop Hizbollah.)

Blair: (inaudible) (It's not Syria, baby...I swear they're powerless.)

Bush: (inaudible) (What the fuck did you say? Are you talking back to me? Now tell me again who I want stopped?)

Blair: Syria.

Bush: Why? (That's more like it. And for what reason do I went them stopped?)

Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing. (Because they run Hizbollah. Right? That's what you want me to say, right? Please affirm me! Please make me whole again!)

Bush: Yeah. (Now get up off yer knees.)

Blair: What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way... ("He" refers to Syria's Bashar al-Assad)

Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet. (Sweet my ass. I'm sweet! I AM SWEET!)

Blair: He is honey. (Yeah, that's right: honey. But you're sweeter baby!) And that's what the whole thing is about. It's the same with Iraq.

Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen. (That Kofi needs to be told what to do. I swear I'm tired of keepin' that niggah's back all the time.)

Blair: Yeah. (Me too. (Sheds tear).)

Bush: (inaudible) (What'd you say? What did you call me?)

Blair:(inaudible) (Nuttin' honey! I was just agreeing with you.)

Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government. (Anyway, obviously Lebanon is a non-player here. They're just stuck in the middle of this. But make sure the press clearly implicates Lebanon -- we can't let anyone think we're randomly brutalizing a blameless nation.)

Blair: Is this...? (Fin! According to the Indy, Blair tapped the mic at this point and the sound was cut.)

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