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Afghanistan. The Children's Crusade

There are chilling similarities between the death of Princess Diana and the latest grief campaign by those who support the idea of sending children to die in Afghanistan for the political causes of the old and cynical. In both cases, the mourners abetted the deaths they are celebrating. Diana Spencer was elevated above her capacity to live a normal life by the market for cheap celebrity magazines. Squaddies fresh from the dole queues on their way to squalid roadside deaths in Afghanistan are partly encouraged by the reception their dead colleagues are getting every day. Both sects need the deaths of others for some strange emotional reasons of their own, but the obvious nett effect of all the enforced solemnity and hymn-singing to lowered union jacks is the glorification of war, and more confused, jobless, macho-struck teenagers sent to their graves.
Every day this week, British TV has been draped in the images of dead soldiers, and processions and church services in their memory. The youngest to die, out of the ten who have been sacrificed in the last ten days, was 18 years old. Hardly old enough to vote, yet apparently old enough to have a knowledge of global politics mature enough to make the informed decision to lay down his life for Gordon Brown. No 18 year old can be allowed to make that decision, no matter who is the leader, or how much poverty the potential recruit is escaping from.
If children were prevented, rather than actively encouraged, from making this decision until they were old enough to know what they were doing, wars would be much harder to fight. Whether that would stop them buying the ultimate con of God & Country, only time will tell. But creating a semi-divine Warrior Caste to be worshipped by all in the name of God and Country will only inflame their adolescent glory-seeking, and make war even more like one of the extreme sports teenagers love so much.

Raining Gold.
During the worst bombing of Vietnam, one folk-tale was that a commander of the Vietcong had told a western reporter that if the Americans had bombed with fridges and TVs they would have won the war.
It was obvious from the launch of the first $30 million Cruise missile in Afghanistan that the best way to eradicate the Taliban was to load a single transporter with especially minted gold coins, and parachute them over the entire country. For the cost of one or two cruise attacks, the entire country could have been carpeted in gold like a scene from tale by Scheherazade.
Apart from instantly destroying the currency system of the taliban state, the massive injection of spending power would instantly elevate may labouring peasants to the level of the aspiring middle class, with hopes which did not need the taliban and their goats and Kalashnikovs. It is hard to imagine mothers and fathers in such a fairytale wanting to send their children to die for the benefit of a few rich and powerful men. Just as it is hard to imagine any but a few slaves in the Alabama cottonfields in 1850 believing that their freedom was anything but a fairytale.
Fairytales sometimes come true.

Wapping-gate Day 2. The Andrew Neil Red Plot

Like the bankers last year, and the politicians last month, News International is today peddling the Rotten Apple theory, but most industry insiders, including Andrew Neil, think it's inconceivable that only a few rogue hacks were involved.
Those with a lot to lose, like Kelvin MacKenzie, think former Sunday Times editor Andrew Neil is at the heart of a dastardly commie plot. Which only goes to show the decrepit state of the former Sun editor's political compass, and how little attention we should therefore pay to his ravings. He thinks everything is a red plot.
Meanwhile, the expected legal action is brewi
ng. The News of the World has spent a long time making and selling enemies. Hard, professional fighters like Vanessa Phelps and Max Clifford. I can't see mercy in their eyes, only the greed and vengeance which is at the heart of the Sun's value-system. Those who live by the sword.... etc etc
The Sun's messageboards does not seem to allow a dedicated thread on the subject. As predicted by other posters, mine was removed at some point before or after the long shut down of the site, which opened again today.
'Wapping-gate Day 2' is now running as a condensed version of this post (nothing blue) on Sun Online. But for how long only the teenagers moderating the board know.



'Murdoch Papers Use Criminal Methods to Get Stories'

'Murdoch Papers Use Criminal Methods to Get Stories'

Shame that it won't be Jon Gaunt or Murdoch going to jail. Still, it's a start.
After the bankers and politicians, now it's the the turn of the press to get knocked off its high horse. And who would complain about those tax-avoiding, expenses-inflating fatsos getting a kicking?
As that agent of the Devil, the Guardian reports:

"The evidence also poses difficult questions for:
• David Cameron's director of communications, Andy Coulson, who was deputy editor and then editor of the News of the World when, the suppressed evidence shows, journalists for whom he was responsible were engaging in hundreds of apparently illegal acts
• Murdoch executives who, albeit in good faith, have misled a parliamentary select committee, the Press Complaints Commission and the public
• The Metropolitan police, who did not alert all those whose phones were targeted, and the Crown Prosecution Service, which did not pursue all possible charges against News Group personnel"
There will be a flood of legal action by the likes of John Prescott, who was allegedly spied on for years. This is good news. Not because Murdoch and his Empire of Lies deserve to be torched with lasers and the ground beneath drenched in Nitric acid to prevent any vestiges of its spoor from surviving. And not even because it buys some breathing space for the BBC in its constant battle for civilised decency against the barbarians of Wapping, Teacosy England and the Mary Whitehouse Memorial Society. But because it is the first step in debunking the so-called Fourth Estate. The professional lie machine which has been riding its moral horse pretty high for a long time and which is as much to blame for the mess we're now in as anyone - including bankers and politicians.
The Wapping Spin Machine has to make money. And the way to make money in this primitive competitive economic system we endure is at the expense of others. Greed is good, but not practicable without liberal doses of hate. Too little hate would make us share too much, and there would not be enough greed at work either to run a newspaper like the Sun, or for its relentless message of conflict to be marketable. So it is also in the interest of the gutter press to make us hate each other as much as possible. Naturally, we find it easier to trample on colleagues we dislike than those we feel natural human sympathy for. Hate is a skill which needs constant practice. So every piece of dirt the News of the world and the Daily Mail can unearth, by whatever methods, and use to exercise the hate glands of the nation, is just money in the bank. If their proprietors weren't such gigantic hypocrites, every redtop masthead would brag about how it supplies the capitalist system with the anger and confusion it needs to keep going.
The allegations made yesterday involve thousands of victims. As even Homer Simpson would say; I'm no fancy city lawyer, but that suggests a class action to me.
I wish I was on the News of the World's hack-list, I could do with a cool million or two. But more significantly, in the interest of being 'Fair and Balanced' I would like to know the nett political effect of the entire alleged operation. If the political smears
which eventually emerged are all lined up against the stories which were supressed, which side comes out least effected (I wonder)?
In other words, if these allegations are proven, which they will be, just how much do Rupert Murdoch's mouthpieces manipulate the British political system, and just how illegal are their methods? More illegal than the 'scandals' of the politicians on the redtop hitlists, with their scandalous expenses claims for toilet seats and taxi rides? Probably. Which raises the entire question again of the hidden Wapping archive.
If the gutter press has a right (in the public interest) to spy on elected politicians, supermodels and drunken musicians, why shouldn't the nation have a right to know what information Wapping holds on all of us? And to know (in our interest) which information finds its way onto the front pages and which is swiftly hidden in the lead-lined vaults under Fortress Wapping, never to be seen again.
Since media corporations have become unelected fiefdoms with laws of their own, which exert huge political and economic power, and now, it emerges, have the capacity to spy on all of us, it is time they came under the same sort of scrutiny and regulation which other bodies of the same power and influence have to endure. In practise this might well mean disclosing all hidden archives of images and other data under amended Freedom of Information law. Then we might discover how many stories the media have suppressed over the years, what their political implications might have been, and even who killed Blair Peach. 'Public interest' my arse.
Then we would know how 'Fair and Balanced' they have been, and even why.
The price might well be to discover just how widespread this abuse of power has become - because if the hacks at the News of the World can do it, there is no reason why their counterparts in other newspapers can't. We might have to face the systemic sleaze of a profit-driven media market, which will not be a pretty sight. But that would be a price most decent people would be prepared to pay.