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Archive for September, 2012

That is what protesters placards have been exclaiming from the Middle East to Australia in the last few days. Nice world we have to live in.

Well, modern technology, a badly made film and a religion founded in hate and mystery came together this week and made sure people died and suffered.

This was a defining breath-taking week with consequences we can only have nightmares about. It told us a lot about Islam and how that religion cannot live with free speech, whilst it also defined free speech as requiring honesty, responsibility and fore-thought. Such a head-on clash was just waiting to happen between North African and Middle East communities (who have recently been freed from government control) and an international internet community who forgot that YouTube was not just for them but was accessible to the whole world. Add a trouble making TV host who probably discovered the video “The Innocence of Muslims” by chance (or who was waiting for the right moment) and couldn’t wait to air bits of it and you have a medieval powder keg such as often happened in the past when brainless followers of any faction are fed a tit-bit which they feel hurts and then go berserk. And the more berserk the better to display their holy zeal to neighbours and anyone watching; and who knows they may end up on the right hand side of God and have 72 virgins to play with for eternity (or something like that). Such is an easily kindled hate which believes as fact “anything produced in the USA and posted on the internet must be under the direction of the US Government”. And all that based entirely on the lingering effect those generations of Arab governments and dictatorships which controlled everything in their lives has remained embedded in their thinking. Fertile grounds for manipulation by the worldly rebel factions which want to take the revolution one step further….total domination by strict Islamic Law. Something which the average Muslim (no doubt demonstrating right now) may not want.

Many say it is a pity that the major Abrahamic Religions have lasted into the modern world; if only they had withered with the other out-dated practices. Politically we have come a long way from the 7th Century when slavery was rife; Kingdoms attacked Kingdoms, the massive Arab expansion East to West began (following Muhammad’s death) spreading eventually from Toledo to Kabul, producing hegemony  under which anyone non-Muslim was at risk of being put to the sword in the way Muhammad had prescribed. Not to mention the ill-conceived Crusades which then followed to “free” Jerusalem.

The future? The current world super power the USA may soon be led by a Mormon and all of North Africa and the Middle East may be under the rule of hard-line Islamists, and there is very little the Christian and Atheist populations of European can do about that, but the tensions will be massive and the outcome for all probably disastrous. Islam is as much a political ideology as a religion. Leading Islamist thinkers emphasize the enforcement of Sharia (Islamic law); of pan-Islamic political unity; and of the elimination of non-Muslim, particularly Western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influences in the Muslim world, which they believe to be incompatible with Islam. How this will pan out between the Abrahamic Religious based blocs (ie Christian and Muslim) who despise each other but need each other, no one knows. But without doubt a lot of people will suffer and die as a consequence; that is what history has taught us  because we seem to be stuck with these out-dated  Abrahamic cults.

Of course it won’t be as simple as that and I believe there is a chance those doomsday scenarios will not happen. The new Arab Governments will tip toe along explaining the demonstrations are nothing to do with them (locking up and beating the odd one) and keeping the zealots happy with the occasional anti-western piece of rhetoric and a creeping Sharia Law. Israel will come back under immense pressure from their neighbours and Russia who senses an elbowing back in of influence in the region will come in from the cold.

 The outcome of the Syria rebellion is as yet unsure; if Assad hangs on and support for the rebels tails off, Russia will take full advantage, to the demise of Israel and the West’s influence. If the rebels keep the flame alive and Romney gets his hands on power, expect fireworks again and the US war machine to swing back into operation to the glee of the industrialists there. The last two years of unprecedented arms sales will continue one way or another.

History has shown us that it has twists and turns and can  never be predicted, only one constant that people caught in the cross fire (women, children the elderly) will continue to die and suffer. If only……

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On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies — featured the now-infamous heading: “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” A few weeks later, on 9/11, Al Qaeda accomplished that goal. (The New York Times)

Looking back eleven years after the unforgivable suicide attack on the twin towers in New York, it is tempting to consider what the world would be like today if the warnings indicated by that security briefing placed in front of President George W had been given more attention. Historians will I think ponder this and will add it to the list of similar errors made by politicians which then led to more extreme suffering.

In October 2001 Operation “Enduring Freedom” commenced in Afghanistan after the Taliban refused to hand-over Osama Bin-Laden and close down the Al-Queada bases there. Since 1990 to that date almost 400,000 people (combatants and civilians) had already died in Afghanistan in various actions and the scene was now set for even more deaths which continue to this day.

It’s possible to argue that George W would still have found a way into Iraq to complete the “unfinished business” started by his father but that’s an easy speculation. However the frantic response which followed (and with the Weapons of Mass Destruction fiasco) seemed to galvanise the Western World into acting without any clear policy of how anger and revenge would bring about a peaceful and just end. The 9/11 Commission discovered that Iraq, had not been in league with Al Qaeda; It had not provided “substantial” assistance to Osama Bin Laden and his lunatic mass killers.

Now, the US is a civilised society, and in a less civilised country there would have been pogroms against Muslim and Arab people living in the US, with mass lynchings beatings and the like. This being the way of humanity for thousands of years, and the anger would have worn itself out. But this is a modern civilised anger and we send ship loads of attack aircraft, tanks, rockets and large army’s to punish and engage in a war well away from the civilian population which has been wronged. But it did use brutal measures that amounted to torture and it established secret prisons in other lands and set up the Guantanamo detention centre. And in accordance with modern warfare civilians got killed and maimed in the inevitable “collateral damage”. Soon whenever anyone accused the US of bad practice it rang true, and that is a shameful state of affairs for the world’s leading nation.

So things changed forever as they say on 11th September 2011; Bin Laden got his hatred sated (Americans got to ponder “why the hatred” and examined themselves) and Bush W got to Saddam Hussein and he was killed and later the US got to Bin Laden and he was shot on sight. Tony Blair must sit and worry about his legacy and fate.

Saddest of all a civilised society was tested to the full and found they had to use torture on a regular basis to bring about “justice”.

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Journalists sometimes get dogs abuse and like Amy here should stand up for themselves and back their judgement. That is what we expect from them folks.

The Taylor Trash

I updated this blog for the first time in nearly three months last week, but I couldn’t update again without discussing the tale of my recent experience of dealing with a very difficult company at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This encounter was very unpleasant, stressful and infuriating. Despite my anger, I’ve decided not to name the company involved, but for the purposes of this blog I will refer to them as Sunshine Inc.

This was my fourth year of reviewing during the Fringe and my first experience of being a Fringe editor, as I took up the post of Scotland Editor at The Public Reviews in May. In the midst of sorting through the thousands of Edinburgh Fringe PRs I received, my editor, John, forwarded me a PR for a Fringe show, suggesting that we book tickets and make a fun evening of it. The show was being performed by…

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