29 November 2007

Jail for Gibbons

Gillian Gibbons has been found guilty in Sudan of insulting religion after she allowed her primary school class to name a teddy bear Muhammad and sentenced to 15 days in prison. She will then be deported.

She had been accused on three counts of insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs. Earlier, Foreign Secretary David Miliband had met the Sudanese ambassador to discuss the case, stressing it was an "innocent misunderstanding". The prime minister, Sudanese embassy officials in London and UK Muslim organisations also expressed the hope that Mrs Gibbons would be released. However it seems that Sudan's top clerics had called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam.

The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones - who knows Mrs Gibbons – said ''Obviously relief that there won't be the public lashing which everybody feared, but deep disappointment because this was clearly a mistake and I know that the Muslim community here in Liverpool will be as disappointed as anybody.I think, too, a real anxiety that something like this so badly handled in this way [and] won't do anything to build up good relations between the faith communities.''

would have said that this verdict while a lot milder than feared won’t do the perception of Islam any good. Too many will simply see this idiocy as typical of all muslims when it is clearly not the case. Then again I can’t imagine Sudan’s clerics giving a damn about their religion’s image. I presume that many of them are like their Saudi counterparts and have their mindsets stuck in the 7th century

Can you tell the difference between a computer programmer and a serial killer?

I know it's an oldie but it's still fun. Try it here. On the whole they look the same to me. I only got 5/10!

I think the h/t is due to Snoopy

28 November 2007

William Blake

I had not realised until I visited Bob From Brockley earlier on that today is the 250th anniversary of William Blake's birth

The Soul of Man Under Capitalism has an excellent post on Blake as prophet of Freedom. His post is far better than anything I would have written.

Here's a Blake Poem for your enjoyment.


"I die, I die!" the Mother said,
"My children die for lack of bread.
What more has the merciless Tyrant said?"
The Monk sat down on the stony bed.

The blood red ran from the Grey Monk's side,
His hands and feet were wounded wide,
His body bent, his arms and knees
Like to the roots of ancient trees.

His eye was dry; no tear could flow:
A hollow groan first spoke his woe.
He trembled and shudder'd upon the bed;
At length with a feeble cry he said:

"When God commanded this hand to write
In the studious hours of deep midnight,
He told me the writing I wrote should prove
The bane of all that on Earth I lov'd.

My Brother starv'd between two walls,
His Children's cry my soul appalls;
I mock'd at the rack and griding chain,
My bent body mocks their torturing pain.

Thy father drew his sword in the North,
With his thousands strong he marched forth;
Thy Brother has arm'd himself in steel
To avenge the wrongs thy Children feel.

But vain the Sword and vain the Bow,
They never can work War's overthrow.
The Hermit's prayer and the Widow's tear
Alone can free the World from fear.

For a Tear is an intellectual thing,
And a Sigh is the sword of an Angel King,
And the bitter groan of the Martyr's woe
Is an arrow from the Almighty's bow.

The hand of Vengeance found the bed
To which the Purple Tyrant fled;
The iron hand crush'd the Tyrant's head
And became a Tyrant in his stead."

He that hath no stomach for food pye, let him eat hessian

There is a website called Cooking with Rock Stars where Jennifer Robbins interviews musicians about what they like to cook and eat. It was good to see that Robyn Hitchcock gets a two part interview ( Part1 here and Part 2 here) which must have been done when he was set to perform at TT the Bears on Cambridge Massachusetts . I know I’m biased but I can listen to Hitchcock’s surreal ramblings all day. Even better, there is a recipe for Robyn’s Food Pie out in his own inimitable style. Here are a few extracts:

  • Take a deep breath and clear your cooking area. Chose what kind of music or silence you want to listen to. Brian Eno’s Music For Fungus would be great. Range up your ingredients so you can access them when the moment comes and not be rummaging through the cupboard in a shower of weevils while your kitchen ignites. ...

  • Flip the disc. Side 2 of Music For Fungus is just dandy. If you wish to add tuna, open the tin now and keep it away from the cat. Wave some celery at the cat to confuse it, and then give it a little tuna on a fork in another room if you feel guilty about confusing it. Add the rest to the lentils....
  • Prod the potatoes with a fork – pretend they are the souls of the damned, and you are God. Or the Devil. Whoever it is that wields the fork, anyhow.... Turn on the oven, by whatever means necessary. Not as hot as the Devil might like it.....
  • Bake the pie till the wind starts howling and the demons thrash against the oven door; wait above all for the moon to swim with her wan face against the cobwebbed window.

You don't get that with Delia Smith!

Wordless Wednesday - Last fuchsia of the season

This week's entry for the Tuesday and Wednesday edition of Wordless Wednesday. The frosts have finally come and killed off most of our remaining flowers. The Thalia is not frost hardy so it has gone into the greenhouse for the winter. At least it will only be a couple of months until we see the first Snowdrops.

27 November 2007

The case of the blasphemous teddy bear

British diplomats are trying to secure the release of a British schoolteacher who has been arrested in Sudan.Gillian Gibbons may face blasphemy charges for insulting Islam's Prophet. A conviction could mean six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine. The crime – letting her pupils name a teddy bear Muhammad.

The toy was named in September as part of the class's study of animals and their habitats. But several parents made complaints to the authorities which led to Ms Gibbons' arrest on Sunday. The school, the Khartoum Unity High School, has now been closed until January for fear of reprisals. Fellow teachers feared for her safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held.

Ms Gibbons, who had joined the school in August, was following a British national curriculum course designed to teach young pupils about animals. She had asked a pupil to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it. The children chose Muhammad as their favourite name. Each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it. The children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad." The bear itself was not marked or labelled with the name in any way, he added.

One Muslim teacher at the independent school for Christian and Muslim children, who has a child in Ms Gibbons' class, said she "I know Gillian and she would never have meant it as an insult. I was just impressed that she got them to vote," the teacher said. The country's state-controlled Sudanese Media Centre reported that charges were being prepared "under article 125 of the criminal law" which covers insults against faith and religion.

Oh for pity's sake what a stupid charge. Presumably a photograph of a person with the name Mohammed would be equally blasphemous. I hope the Sudanese government sees sense and drops this stupid case forthwith

Award! Award! (again!)

Awards are like buses, I wait ages then a load come by at the same time. Here are two more.

The first is from Teacher Julie

This one is from my dear friend Siani.

My ego runneth over! It will take me ages to decide who to award them to. Instead I have decided to open them up for sale. Any bid over 3 pence will be considered....

26 November 2007

Oh so she was an adulterer, well that’s alright then...

In attempt to remind the world (as if we needed reminding) that its judiciary is a rabble of 12th Century misogynists, Saudi Arabia's Justice Ministry has said the Girl from Qatif who was gang raped by seven men and then sentenced to six months prison and 200 lashes had confessed to cheating on her husband. The statement, which was carried by the Saudi Press Agency late on Saturday, confirmed that the flogging sentence against the rape victim would be carried out and condemned foreign interference.

"The Saudi justice minister expressed his regret about the media reports over the role of the women in this case which put out false information and wrongly defend her," said the statement. "The charged girl is a married woman who confessed to having an affair with the man she was caught with."

In 2006 “The girl from Qatif”, a 19-year-old Shiite Saudi, had met a high school friend in his car to retrieve a picture of herself from him. While in a car with him, two men got into the vehicle and drove them to a secluded area where others waited, and then she and her companion were both raped. She was sentenced to prison and 90 lashes for being alone with a man not related to her, and when her lawyer, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, appealed the sentence, he was removed from the case, his license suspended and the penalty doubled to 200.

The increase in sentence received heavy coverage by the international media and prompted expressions of astonishment and utter outrage. The Justice Ministry maintained, however, that the ruling was legal and followed the "the book of God and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad," noting that she had "confessed to doing what God has forbidden." The ministry added that the woman and her husband were "convinced on the verdict and agreed to it."

The Justice Ministry's account of the incident differed substantially from that given by the woman and her lawyer and largely glosses over her rape by seven men, focusing instead on her plan to meet her lover for tryst in his car "in a dark place where they stayed for a while." "Then they were spotted by the other defendants as the woman was in an indecent condition as she had tossed away her clothes, then the assault occurred on her and the man," the statement added.

Under Saudi Arabia's strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, women are not allowed in public in the company of men other than their male relatives. Also, women in Saudi Arabia are often sentenced to flogging for adultery and other crimes. The seven men convicted of raping the woman were given prison sentences of two to nine years. The initial sentences for the men convicted of the gang rape ranged from 10 months to five years in prison

What can you do but wonder why Saudi Arabia is not a pariah state (Oil and arms sales may answer that question) . As for shared values mentioned by our PM? There are some allies we can do without.

Hawkwind - Quark, Strangeness and Charm

Here's some footage of Robert Calvert in action with Hawkwind (minus Dave Brock). I've posted it before , I know but it usueally gets taken down fairly quickly.

25 November 2007

A Mormon who resisted the Reich

The story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Group is well known. The story of Helmuth Hubener seems to be rather less well known although he suffered the same fate as Sophie. Aged 17, he was the youngest opponent of the Reich to be sentenced to death by the “People’s Court” (volksgerichtshof) and executed

Helmuth Hübener was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka the Mormons). Already uncomfortable with the repression of the Reich, he began an apprenticeship in administration at the Hamburg Social Authority 1941. It was there where he met other apprentices who got him listening to enemy radio broadcasts (considered to be an act of treason under the Reich). In the summer of 1941 he began listening to the BBC by himself, and used what he had heard to compose various anti-fascist texts and anti-war leaflets.

In the autumn of 1941, he recruited friends and fellow workers Karl-Heinz Schnibbe and Rudolf Wobbe, and later Gerhard Düwer, who helped him to distribute about 60 different pamphlets, containing material from the BBC broadcasts all over Hamburg. This is an example of what he wrote:

Who is Lying ??????????????????
The official report of the German
High Command of the Armed Forces

Quite a while ago they claimed
The roads to Moscow, Kiev
and Leningrad were opened

And today-six weeks after
Germany's invasion of the USSR,
Severe battles are still occurring
Far from these places.

This is how they are lying to us!

The President of his church, knowing about Helmuth’s good stenographic and typing skills, had asked him to type letters to soldiers on the front lines. This gave him access to a typewriter and paper.

Hubener was arrested at his workplace in February 1942 while trying to translate the pamphlets into French so that they could be distributed among POWs – he had been denounced by Nazi Party member, Heinrich Mohn. Hubener's case was tried by the People’s Court in Berlin and he was sentenced to death. He was executed at Berlin’s Plotenzee Prison on 26 October 1942..

Karl-Heinz Schnibbe was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. He was released early and drafted into the Army. He was taken prisoner by the Soviets and did not return to Germany until 1949. Rudi Wobbe survived the war and returned to Hamburg in 1945. In the early 1950s , both men, along with Hubener’s two half-brothers, went to live in Utah. Both have written accounts of their resistance.

A film about Helmuth Hubener called Truth & Treason is due to start filming early next year. Haley Joel Osment is scheduled to play the lead role. The film will bring Hubener’s story to a much wider audience.

The Poor Mouth, Jams O’Donnell and my avatar

I’m not in the mood to post anything new this morning so I thought I’d just recycle a couple of posts from last year which explain why this blog is called the Poor Mouth and where the name Jams O’ Donnell comes from.

In my blog header I explain that the title of this blog comes from a Gaelic expression "putting on the poor mouth" (An Beal Bocht) which means to exaggerate the direness of one's situation in order to gain time or favour from creditors. It can also simply mean grumbling. I I love the expression but the blog title is intended as a tribute to one of my favourite authors the late, great Irish novelist/humorist/civil servant, Flann O Brien. (Aka Brian O Nolan, aka Myles na gCopaleen).

The Poor Mouth was originally published in Gaelic as An Beal Bocht in 1941 and only appeared in English translation for the first time in 1973 – seven years after his death. (I would have called the blog An Beal Bocht but someone had beaten me to that name). The |Poor Mouth is set in the fictional village of Corkadoragha, a place which knows suffering an poverty in spades, It is a place were the torrential rains are more torrential, the squalor more squalid, the hopelessness more utterly hopeless than they are anywhere else in Ireland. It is the story of Bonaparte O'Coonassa who, like the other characters spends the bulk of his time lamenting the fate of the Gaels whose lot it is to live a hard, miserable life. But it is certainly not a miserable book. It is very readable and very, very funny!

The Poor Mouth is a wonderful tale in which you learn about being a child of the ashes, Ambrose a pig the size of a house, Sitric O Sanassa (the excellence of his poverty was without comparison in all of Ireland) and the awful Sea Cat a harbinger of misfortune that looks uncannily like the island of Ireland. You also discover that when an Irish person says calls you sir they could be insulting you ( “sor” is the Gaelic for louse)

O’Brien actually wrote the Poor Mouth as a parody of Irish literature such as Tomás O’Criomhthainn, whose work dwelt very much on the hardship of Gaelic life. In addition it was intended as a swipe at the patronising attitude of “Irish Irelanders” towards rural Gaelic speakers –as evidenced in one glorious scene where Gaelic enthusiasts mistake the grunting of a pig for melodious Irish simply because they cannot understand it! Needless to say it caused a storm when it was published. It does not matter if you have never heard of Tomas O Criomhtnainn and couldn’t care less about the attitude urban Gaelic enthusiasts towards the residents of the Gaeltacht, the Poor Mouth is a wonderful read. I would strongly recommend you find a copy of the book as its likes will certainly never be there again!

So why Jams O’Donnell? The name comes from an episode in The Poor Mouth when Bonaparte O’ Coonassa’s attends school for the first time:

“We all gathered in the schoolhouse. We all sat on benches, without a word or a sound for fear of the master. He cast his venomous eyes ever the room and they alighted on me where they stopped. By jove! I did not find his look pleasant while these two eyes were sifting me. After a while he directed a long yellow finger at me and said: “Phwat is yer nam?”

“I did not understand what he said nor any other type of speech which is practised in foreign parts because I had only Gaelic as a mode of expression and as a protection against the difficulties of life. I could only stare at him, dumb with fear. I then saw a great fit of rage come over him and gradually increase exactly like a rain-cloud. I looked around timidly at the other boys. I heard a whisper at my back: Your name he wants!

“My heart leaped with joy at this assistance and I was grateful to him who prompted me. I looked politely at the master and replied to him: Bonaparte, son of Michelangelo, son of Peter, son of Owen, son of Thomas's Sarah, grand-daughter of John's Mary, grand-daughter of James, son of Dermot…

“Before I had uttered or half-uttered my name, a rabid bark issued from the master and he beckoned to me with his finger. By the time I had reached him, he had an oar in his grasp. Anger had come over him in a flood-tide at this stage and he had a businesslike grip of the oar in his two hands. He drew it over his shoulder and brought it down hard upon me with a swish of air, dealing me a destructive blow on the skull. I fainted from that blow but before I became totally unconscious I heard him scream:

Yer nam, said he, is Jams O'Donnell!

So there you have it. I hope you sleep easier with this knowledge in your head. It’s like will never be there again….

While I’m at it my avatar is of course not me. It is a photo of the late, great Robert Newton Calvert. The image is from around 1976 when he was lead singer in Hawkwind. Robert recorded several albums with Hawkwind, first appearing as a poet on the Space Ritual. He appeared on an off until the late seventies when his increasingly eccentric behaviour became a liability. He also recorded several solo albums, the most famous being his concept album about the Lockheed F-104G Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, several plays and poetry collections and a novel called Hype. He died of a heart attack in 1988 aged 43. I never saw him with Hawkwind but I was fortunate enough to see him perform live a couple of times not long before his death.

Further Reading on Flann O’Brien

Gaelically Gaelic by Eric Mader-Lin (From Necessary Prose)

Flann O’Brien: A Postmodernist When It Was Neither Profitable Nor Popular by Robert Looby (At the Scriptorium website)

The No Bicycle Page

Further information on Robert Calvert

Spirit of the Page, an extensive site devoted to all things Calvert.

If you would like to hear Calvert live the Steve Pond’s Inner City Unit website has his 1986 Carlisle concert available as a free download. It is well worth checking out

24 November 2007

Howard gets a drubbing

Scroll down for Photo Hunt

Although Kevin Rudd yet to claim victory in the Australian general election it looks as if the Labor party is set to form the next government. Early vote counts also indicate that Prime Minister John Howard had lost his parliamentary seat.

"On the numbers we are seeing tonight Labor is going to form a government," said Labor deputy leader Julia Gillard. Mr Howard was bidding for a fifth term in office, but tallies indicated his Sydney seat had been lost to Labor - Figures from the electoral commission suggested with more than 50% of the votes counted in Bennelong, he had lost the seat to Maxine McKew, a former TV journalist.

"I have to say there is a strong mood for change in Australia. People want new leadership with a positive plan for the future," Mr Rudd said as he cast his ballot in his Queensland constituency. During the campaign, Labor sought to capitalise on the Howard administration's refusal to sign the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

For me, the (beds are) burning question is whether Pete Garrett will be in Rudd’s cabinet. This question is, of course, just an excuse to post a video of one of my favourite Midnight Oil songs!

By chocolate car to Timbuktu

Keep on scrolling for Photo Hunt, you're nearly there!

Isn’t a chocolate car on par with a chocolate teapot? Perhaps but the car isn’t made out of chocolate, rather it is powered by it. According to today’s Independent two Britons have embarked on a trek across Europe and West Africa which aims to show that chocolate could be a new, clean mode of transport.

Andy Pag and John Grimshaw left Poole ferry yesterday in a Ford Iveco Cargo lorry powered by fuel which began life as chocolate, in an attempt to raise awareness of "green" biofuels. Their 4,500-mile (7,250 km) trip across the Sahara desert to Timbuktu in Mali should take about three weeks. The pair has taken with them a small processing unit to convert waste oil products into fuel, which they will then donate to an African charity, along with the lorry. They are taking 2,000 litres (454 gallons) of biodiesel made from 4,000kg (8,818lb) of chocolate misshapes – equivalent to 80,000 chocolate bars.

The pair will drive across France and Spain and then catch another ferry to Morocco. The will then cross the country to Mauritania and from there, they will drive to Timbuktu in two converted 4x4 Toyota Land Cruisers, which are carried in the main lorry. The pair wanted to come up with a trip that would be carbon neutral. They contacted a Preston company, Ecotec, which had been testing a biofuel made from waste chocolate collected from factories. Ecotec turned the waste chocolate into bio-ethanol by mixing it with vegetable oil collected from restaurants.

Mr Pag said: "Timbuktu is renowned as being the back of beyond, the furthest place away that you can possibly imagine. If we can make it there with biofuel, there is no reason why motorists can't use it on the school run or their commute to work." Mr Pag said he hoped the expedition would encourage people to think about their carbon footprint when travelling. He added: "I have made many expeditions and visited these amazing landscapes but to get there I have contributed to their destruction by driving a guzzling diesel engine."I wanted to do something that is carbon neutral. What we have actually done is carbon negative."

There’s nothing wrong in what Messrs Pag and Grimshaw are doing and converting waste products into biofuel is not a great idea (if the energy input involved in conversion is significantly less that the fuel’s output of course). What does concern me greatly is the prospect of a large amount of arable land in the third world being turned over to biodiesel crop production just to sate the fuel thirst of developed nations. That could well be a (yet another) recipe for disaster

Photo Hunt - Hot

The theme of this week's PhotoHunt is Hot. Mimi's been told she shouldn't go too near the fire, but does she listen? Does any cat listen to us, except when they think we say food???

Actually it's just sunlight reflecting off her fur, but it looks like she's glowing like embers!

23 November 2007

If only he had stayed a sports presenter....

I suppose when you believe, as David (f**k me, what a nutter) Icke does, that the world is run by V-like reptiles everything fits into place. Me. I thought the Jehovah’s Witnesses were a harmless annoyance and that the Mormons were harmless genealogy enthusiast but how wrong could I be!

According to David (f**k me, what a nutter) Icke the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses are not separate organisations but are in fact pretty much the same thing... According to him the founders of both "faiths" were of the Illuminati bloodline (ie, bloody huge lizards crammed into a human body suit). Oh and he manages to get the Rothschild’s a couple of mentions too

Charles Taze Russell, who founded the Watchtower Society, was apparently of the same Illuminati Russell bloodline that founded the infamous Skull and Bones Society at Yale University. Not only that but he was a Satanist, a paedophile and (oh the horror) a friend of the Rothschilds. According to F**k Me, What a Nutter, the Rothschilds funded the Jehovah's Witness operation into being through "contributions" by organisations such as B'nai B'rith... Russell was also a high degree Freemason and Knights Templar. He promoted Zionism, another Rothschild creation (see Was Hitler a Rothschild), on behalf of his friends and backers.

Joseph Smith, along with Hiram Smith and Brigham Young, were the key figures behind the creation of the Mormon religion. According to F**k Me, What a Nutter the three were of the elite of the elite Illuminati bloodline, the Merovingian or "Holy Grail" line, and were all high degree Freemasons. They were also Satanists and formed their "church" as a front for Satanic activity which very much still goes on today (err I don’t think the Tabernacle choir really can be classed as a satanic punishment). The Mormon empire was funded into existence by the Rothschilds and by B'nai Brith,

Oh and it gets better..... F**k Me, What a Nutter Charles Taze Russell used the Watchtower Society as a front for black magic, or Enochian magic as his brand of Satanism was called. The Watchtower magazine has apparently always been a mass of subliminal and less subliminal occult symbolism and the very name, Watchtower, is part of Illuminati and Freemasonic legend and code. Russell was buried under a pyramid in the United States after being ritually killed on Halloween 1917.

F**k me, What a Nutter claims that the Mormons were also created as a front for Satanism and that many survivors have told of their horrific torture in Salt Lake City in Mormon buildings and centres. The Mormon genealogy operation is also a front behind which the Illuminati keep track of the reptilian bloodline, who has it to a "pure" enough level and who has not.

I really wonder about people like Icke and what goes on inside their heads. I just don’t get it. I don’t get the people who are prepared to believe such arrant nonsense either. Then again people believe that the Holocaust never happened, Stalin was guilty of nothing worse than wearing comfy slippers of an evening, and that the perpetrators of 9/11, 7/7, Omagh and so on were meting out justice. People seem to be happy to believe any old rubbish so perhaps I should not be surprised that some will believe we are ruled by reptilians.... Hiho!

Guest cats for Friday





This week's entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats. The cats in question lord it over my sister

22 November 2007

Can't be bothered with any more words. Have some music instead

Wet Blanket - The Chills

Johnny Hit and Run Paulene - X

Don't Want to Know if You Are Lonely - Husker Du

A wiser Moses

Recently, while going through an airport during one of his many trips, President Bush encountered a man with long gray hair and beard, wearing a white robe and sandals, holding a staff. President Bush went up to the man and said, "Has anyone told you that you look like
Moses?" The man didn't answer. He just kept staring straight ahead.

The president said, "Moses!" in a loud voice. The man just stared ahead, never acknowledging the president.

The president pulled a Secret Service agent aside and, pointing to the robed man, asked him, "Am I crazy or does that man not look like Moses to you The Secret Service agent looked at the man and agreed.

"Well," said the president, "every time I say his name, he ignores me and stares straight ahead, refusing to speak. Watch!" Again the president yelled, "Moses!" and again the man ignored him.

The Secret Service agent went up to the man in the white robe and whispered, "You look just like Moses. Are you Moses?"

The man leaned over and whispered back, "Shhhh! Yes, I am Moses. The last time I talked to a bush, I spent 40 years wandering in the desert and ended up leading my people to the only spot in the entire Middle East with no oil.

Well I thought it was funny!

21 November 2007

Khmer Rouge head torturer stands trial

The genocide tribunal in Cambodia staged its first historic hearing yesterday when Kaing Guek Eav (aka Duch), the head of the butchering regime's Toul Sleng torture centre, appeared before the panel of judges, accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The first hearing of the war crimes tribunal gives millions hope that the Khmer Rouge's senior leaders will finally face justice and provide answers as to why "Cambodians killed Cambodians". In the tribunal's so-called "pre-trial chamber" Duch was watched by a handful of journalists and members of the public. The atmosphere crackled as everyone craned to see the former maths teacher, who was in charge of a prison where 14,000 men, women and children died.

He stood before the panel of robed judges - three Cambodian and two international - bowed slightly and held his palms together in a gesture of respect. "My name is Kaing Guek Eav," he said. "I am 66 years old." Lawyers for Duch argued that their client should be given bail until his trial, due to begin in the middle of next year, as he has been held in custody for eight years without trial, which they said breached Cambodian and international law. But descriptions of the crimes committed on his orders at Toul Sleng prison were also detailed: the people allowed to bleed to death, victims whose toe-nails were pulled out, or those put in pits that filled with water until they drowned. Prosecutors argue that his freedom could stir anger and unrest and fear he might flee justice, and observers believe it highly unlikely the tribunal will grant him bail after refusing an earlier application.

Duch, who became a born-again Christian, was seized on May 10 1999, after confessing and expressing remorse to British photojournalist, Nic Dunlop, who spent years tracking him down. He claimed he acted on Pol Pot's orders. He was transferred into the custody of the £23m war crimes tribunal and charged in July when the rules governing the hearings were finally settled after tortuous talks between Cambodia and the UN. The landmark hearing brought a crumb of comfort to some of those who crowded into the courtroom to witness the day they have long awaited but feared would never come.

"[Duch] should acknowledge his guilt," said a villager, Chhouek Sao, 55, who lost five members of his family to the Khmer Rouge. It's obvious that justice has been delayed and some people are so frustrated by waiting for so long. We victims of the Khmer Rouge absolutely want Duch to be kept in jail forever because he killed so many people."

I wish Duch a long, lucid life so that he can reflect on his terrible crimes. He is a man with a lot of justice coming his way and a hell of a lot to repent.

I never expected to end up in hospital...

she was concerned that the underlying infection wasn't responding to treatment (and it had been a pretty strong dose). So Yesterday was just one of those days. I had to go and see my GP yesterday to check on an infected sebaceous cyst for which I had been prescribed antibiotics last week. I fully expected her to say that it is well on the mend, now get off to work. While the inflammation had subsidedwhe wrote a letter and sends me off to A&E at Romford's new Queen's hospital.

I got there at a bit after 10am. At around 12-15, I was finally seen, the doctor did not like the look of what she saw so decided to send me to see a specialist at another hospital, King George V at Goodmayes. Several hours later, the specialist takes a look and takes that sharp intake of breath you usually see when a plumber realises that the size of his bill is only slightly less than the term fees for Eton. I thought he would take a lancet and give the cyst a squeeze - oh no! It's an operation under general anaesthetic for me.

I'm booked into a surgical ward, I am given an ECG and more BP and Heart rate tests, I am questioned by the anaestheist who checks, inter alia, that my teeth are okay and I am able to open my mouth wide open, I sign the consent form.

Just as I am fitted out in DVT stockings and, have my arse hanging out of the hospital gown, and am resigned to a short stay in hospital the consultant pays a visit, takes another look at the cyst and decides to put me on more and stronger antibiotics (Three different ones!) and says I can go.

It's 9pm by then and I hadn't eaten since the the previous day and had nothing to drink since my morning coffee. Needless to say I'm ravenous and spitting feathers. The only vending machine available offered coke at £1 a 500ml bottle. I don't like Coke very much but I was thirsty enough to drink slurry. Twice that vending machine took my money and twice it offered me nothing. I think my expletives were heard in Belgrade....

20 November 2007

Wordless Wednesday - Shoes on the Danube Promenade, Budapest

This week's entry for the Tuesday and Wednesday edition of Wordless Wednesday is not my own image but it is too powerful to pass. What may look like a piece of whimsy is anything but. It is a memorial to jews murdered by Hungarian fascists (the Arrow Cross) during WWII. the victims were forced to take their shoes off before being executed and their bodies dumped in the Danube.

Straffen dies

John Straffen the UK's longest-serving prisoner, died in jail aged 77, 55 years after he was convicted of murdering five year old Linda Bowyer.

In 1951 Straffen was s arrested for the murder of nine-year-old Cicely Batstone in Somerset. He confessed to the crime and to the murder of Brenda Goddard, aged six. Straffen was sent for trial at Somerset assizes in Taunton in October 1951 but was found unfit to plead. He was declared insane and was sent to Broadmoor asylum. In April 1952 Straffen escaped briefly from Broadmoor. When recaptured he is said to have told the police"I did not kill the little girl on the bike". Linda Bowyer’s body was found near Broadmoor and he was charged with her murder.

Unlike his previous trial Straffen was declared fit to stand trial on the basis that he understood four of the Ten Commandments. Straffen pleaded not but was convicted of her murder and sentenced to death. The then home secretary Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe commuted the sentence (subsequently released medical records made it clear that Straffen was reprieved on the grounds of insanity).

Straffen served his sentence in maximum security prisons rather than a high security hospital such as Broadmoor. He died in Frankland prison in Co Durham.

19 November 2007

The local girl’s done good but not good enough to be first lady

Elizabeth Harper moved to the USA in 2005. She was 27 and sported a piergced tongue. Now she is Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of Ohio Congressman Denis Kucinich. For a second time Kucinich is aiming to secure the Democrat presidential nomination. His prospects of securing the nomination are not good.

I hadn’t taken much notice of Kucinich’s campaign, so I really wasn’t aware of his young six foot, redhead wife. Let alone her tongue piercing, I had no idea she was a local. Elizabeth Harper is from North Ockendon which is a few miles away. It is a village within the boundary of the London Borough of Havering – the bit of Greater London I live in, although it used to be part of Essex

Elizabeth is an old girl of Coopers Coborn in Upminster, one of the best state schools in the country. She spent a year working in a Mother Theresa orphanage in Agra. She then studied for her Bachelor and Master’s degrees at the University of Kent. She then spent 16 months working in a rural Tanzanian village. Further volunteer work brought her into contact with financial analyst Stephen Zarlenga who hired her to as his assistant at the American Monetary Institute. That brought her into contact with Kucinich and the rest is history.

Elizabeth gets more attention for her looks than her views (and the fact that she is a full kilometre taller than Kucinich) but then I suppose her past work is of little interest in middle or any other part of America.

North Ockendon is not the only part of the Borough with an American connection. Cranham parish church is the last resting place of James Oglethorpe, the founder of the state of Georgia.


Someone from North Carolina became the 100,000th visitor to the Poor Mouth since it opened for business last April. It is a shame that Redwine, who urged me to set up the Poor Mouth in the first place, just missed out on that accolade being visitor 100,001, another favourite blogger, Dave Marlow from the Red Mantis, came in at number 100.002.

Thanks to everyone who has visited over the last 19 months. Rest assured, there will continue to be fresh drivel every day!

Castree, Kiszko and other criminals

Not exactly hot news I know, but this post was inspired by Mark Hodkinson's thoughtful article in today’s Observer . It concerns the effect of the Lesley Molseed murder on his home town of Rochdale

Last week, Ronald Castree (above)was jailed for life for murder of schoolgirl Lesley Molseed in October 1975. Castree, who was convicted by a majority verdict, claimed in tears from the dock that he was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Castree was identified as Molseed’s killer after a DNA sample taken following an alleged sex attack on a woman matched the DNA found on the Molseed’s knickers (the knickers had been carefully stored so it was possible to obtain reliable DNA samples many years later).

Castree’s conviction should have been viewed as a triumph of forensics and “cold case” work had not the Lesley Molseed case previously seen one of the most atrocious miscarriages of justice in British legal history. It is a matter of record that Stefan Kiszko spent sixteen years in prison having been convicted of Molseed’s murder in 1976. West Yorkshire Police Officers and pathologists criminally suppressed information that would have seen Kiszko cleared instantly. Kiszko was represented by a QC of such gross incompetence that his defence could not be described as half-baked.

On 5 October 1975 Lesley Molseed (above) went off to perform an errand for her mother. Her body was found three days later. She had been stabbed and her murderer had ejaculated on her knickers. The following month three teenage girls claimed to police that one Stefan Kiszko had exposed himself to them the day before Lesley’s murder. One also claimed that Kiszko had exposed himself to her after the murder and had been stalking her. The West Yorkshire Police immediately decided that Kiszko (below) was their man.

The West Yorkshire Police had chosen a quiet loner with the mental age of a 12 year old who worked in a lowly position for the Inland Revenue and who had never previously been in trouble with the law. They stopped all other lines of enquiry, and arrested him. After two days of relentless questioning he confessed to the murder. The police did not tell him of his right to have a solicitor present and refused his request to let have his mother present when being questioned.

At his murder trial Kiszko was defended by David Waddington. Waddington and his team made a series of errors that can only be described as laziness and gross incompetence:

  • Waddington (The blame for all of the errors must lie solely with him in that he led the defence team) did not seek an adjournment when the Crown delivered thousands of pages of additional unused material on the first morning of the trial.

  • He based the defence (without Kiszko’s authority) on diminished responsibility on the grounds that the testosterone he was receiving for hypogonadism might have been responsible for his behaviour. Waddington does not seem to have bothered consulting Kiszko’s endocrinologist who would have correctly testified that the treatment could not have caused such behaviour. Waddington failed to call the endocrinologist to testify

  • Waddington did not use other evidence that would have dented the prosecution: Kiszko had broken his ankle a while before Molseed’s and would have found it virtually impossible to take her body (even though she was little more than 42lb) to the place where it was discovered.

The prosecution suppressed a key piece of evidence that would have exonerated Kiszko. Forensic examination of the semen stains showed that there were sperm in the semen stains on Molseed’s knickers. Semen samples showed that Kiszko was sterile. He simply could not have been the murderer.

Kiszko was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. The judge, Hugh Park praised the teenage girls who made the exposure claims for their "Bravery and honesty" and "Sharp observations". He also praised the police officers involved in the case "For their great skill in bringing to justice the person responsible for this dreadful crime and their expertise in sifting through masses of material" and said that "I would like all the officers responsible for the result to be specially commended and these observations conveyed to the Chief Constable". To be fair to Park he could not have known that the prosecution’s case was a tissue of lies.

Stefan Kiszko spent the next 16 years in prison. As a convicted child murderer his life was an utter misery. Although he was “on the numbers” - a segregated prisoner – he was still subjected to vicious assaults, one of which resulted in a broken leg. Had he accepted a false guilt he would almost certainly have been released on parole by the late 1980’s. Yet he continued to maintain his innocence even though this meant he stood a very good chance of remaining in prison until his death. His mother Charlotte never stopped protesting his innocence. Lawyer Campbell Malone took up the case and prepared a petition to the Home Secretary in October 1989. By then the Home Secretary was.... David Waddington (who proved during his short tenure to be the most incompetent holder of that office in the past several decades - (believe me, there’s been some bloody stiff competition!). Unsurprisingly he did absolutely nothing.

In 1991 Waddington (above) was gone. Malone urged the Home Office to reopen the case. The Home Office did so. Superintendent Trevor Wilkinson of the West Yorkshire Police was assigned to the case and immediately found that Kiszko's innocence was apparent. Not only did he unearth the suppressed evidence over Kiszko’s infertility. He found three witnesses who could have provided Kiszko with a cast iron alibi. Finally the three girls, who told the police that Kiszko had indecently exposed himself, admitted they were liars; they had given the story for a “laugh”. In August 1991, the then Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker referred the case to the Court of Appeal. In February 1992 Lord Chief Justice Lane said "It has been shown that this man cannot produce sperm. This man cannot have been the person responsible for ejaculating over the girl's knickers and skirt, and consequently cannot have been the murderer". Kiszko was cleared and released from prison the following day. Sadly Kiszko had developed schizophrenia during his imprisonment

To his credit Park, who had praised the police and the girls for bringing Kiszko to justice at the trial, apologised for what had happened to Kiszko although he wasn't sorry for how he had handled the court case. This is quite correct as Park’s handling of the trial was beyond reproach. The Molseed family publicly apologised for the terrible things they had said about Kiszko after the conviction (again to their great credit. The Molseed’s had been given false closure by the criminal behaviour of the investigating officers) On the other hand, Maxine Buckley and the other girls who had lied to the police the West Yorkshire police and the forensic scientists all refused to apologise to Kiszko for his wrongful conviction. Waddington refused to acknowledge that his handling of Kiszko’s defence was in any way defective. Other people who had vilified Kiszko inundated Charlotte, Kiszko with letters of apology. She was made Rochdale’s Woman of the Year in 1993.

Sadly, Kiszko’s freedom was short lived. He died of massive heart attack on 23 December 1993. He was just 41 but he died the innocent man he always was. Lesley Molseed's sister attended his funeral and paid tribute to him. Charlotte Kiszko died vindicated just four months later. Fortunately (I am being sarcastic here) for the Home Office their deaths meant that it did not have to pay out most of the £500,000 compensation awarded for the 16 years stolen from Stefan.

The deputy head of the Kiszko case, DCI Dick Holland (the head, Chief Superintendent Jack Dibb had already died) of the , and Home Office scientist Ronald Outteridge were summonsed after Kiszko's acquittal for suppressing evidence. In 1995, however, a magistrate decided that too much time had passed to root out who was to blame. Holland cheated justice and died in February. Outteridge is in retirement but testified in the Castree case, this time there were no lies. Waddington is still alive. He is a life peer

I hope that Castree’s conviction will give Lesley Molseed’s family proper closure they so rightly deserve. They were lied to in 1976. It is a tragedy that Kiszko is not alive to see Castree go to jail. As for Waddington, surviving officers from the original case, Maxine Buckley and the other two girls from 1975, if they have not yet apologised for their roles in this disgraceful miscarriage then they should go down on their knees and beg Lesley’s and Stefan’s remaining family for forgiveness. Otherwise I wish them very long, very miserable lives.

18 November 2007

Award! Award! (again)

Woohoo! I have another excuse to post this clip from Father Ted, the second best sitcom of all time (after Blackadder):

The occasion of said excuse? Siani over at Siani's Pot Pourri has awarded me a blogger of the month. Siani and I have been online friends for almost as long as I have I got home internet access in 2001. Thanks!

I will pay the compliment forward shortly

An Iranian post that does not feature Ahmadinejad

I'm still trying to get over my disgust at the disgraceful sentence handed out by the Saudi judiciary to the Girl from Qatif (scroll down a few posts). Before I get as disgusted at the Iranian judiciary over the sentence of jail and lashes handed out to Iranian women's rights activist Delaram Ali, I thought I would post yet more you tube fodder. This time it's a couple of Anglo Iranian comedians and a wonderful singer.

First here's Darya Dadvar performing at the Iran Heritage Foundation Norouz gala in London earlier this year. Enjoy!

Here's some of Omid Djalili's stand up routine

Omid is British born. His family is Bah'ai which may well explain why he is here and not in Iran, given Iran's disgraceful treatment of this religion.

Here's Shappi Khorsandi

Her father was a comedian too. He lampooned Khomeni in 1985 and was given a choice of leaving Iran and living or staying and and running the risk of one of the many death threats coming true...

Watch this space for me raving over Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, one of the best graphic novels ever written

17 November 2007

We are putty in reptilian hands...

In a world that is full of nut jobs and lunatics it makes me proud that Britain can produce a head-the-ball that can compete with the best. I am of course talking about the former Coventry City goalie turned son of God, David Icke.

Icke is not content with serving up the usual nonsense that the world is ruled by a secret group called the Illuminati (You know them, they serve Bilderbergers with lies... Bilderbergers, bilder burgers, geddit? Geddit? Sorry it was a crap joke) He throws in the usual rubbish about the Protocols but believes that the illuminati are in fact a V-style race of reptilians.

If you think about it logically it makes a lot of sense. Are not our most prominent figures just a bit inhuman? However I think he oversteps the line when he accuses this fine gentleman of being one of the elite:

Old news, I know but I just fancied posting a bit of Boxcar Willie!

Little Tich and real Irish pubs

Scroll down for this week’s Photo Hunt

QI does it again! I had not heard of this music hall performer until last night.

Little Tich, born Harry Relph, (21/7/1867 – 10/2/1928) was most famous for his Big Boot dance, which involved a pair of 28-inch boots. He was also popular as a pantomime dame, appearing one season with Marie Lloyd and Dan Leno.

This surviving film of the Big Boot dance, made by Clément-Maurice for the Phono-Cinéma-Théâtre in 1900, was described by Jacque Tati as 'a foundation for everything that has been realised in comedy on the screen

Relph was born in Cudham, now Greater London, one of fifteen children to the landlord of the Blacksmith's Arms. He made his first stage appearance at the age of twelve at. Anyone stout at that time earned the nickname of Tich (referring to the Tichborne claimant); Harry who was only 4ft 6in (1.37m) became Little Tich. He performed internationally, and at the age of 42 was made an officer of the French Academy for his performances at the Foleies Begers. His final performance was in London in 1927, with Jack Hylton’s Band. He died the following year.

He was also polydactyl, having five fingers and a thumb on each hand, and six toes on both feet. Mementoes of his life are still preserved at the Blacksmith’s Arms. I must visit the place. There was a pub called the Grafton in Strutton Ground, off Victoria Street in Central London which had a load of Goons memorabilia. All that went when it became another bloody Oirish pub. NB I am proud to be an Irish citizen, I just despise these ersatz drinking holes. If you want to see a real Irish pub visit the Malpaso Bar in Millstreet, county Cork (Sorry Brian, it’s been too long since I’ve been there)

Some things make me really angry. This certainly does

Scroll down for this week’s photo hunt

Words fail me. We are all too often reminded that our justice system has serious flaws (Barry George and Stefan Kiszko spring immediately to mind) but we would never see a sentence like this in the UK. A judge in Saudi Arabia has ordered a victim of gang rape to receive 200 lashes for being alone with a man who was not a relative after she appealed against the lenient sentences given to the men who attacked her. He also jailed her for six months.

The 21-year-old woman, who was 19 at the time of the attack and is known by the Saudi media as "the girl from Qatif", was raped 14 times by a gang of seven. Although her attackers were found guilty and sentenced to between 10 months and five years last year, she was simultaneously sentenced to 90 lashes as punishment for riding in a car with a man who was not a relative. By appealing against this decision, the judge ruled on Wednesday, she was attempting to "aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media".

At the appeal, the rapists' sentences were increased to between two and nine years. "Some Saudis agree with her being lashed for being with a male that wasn't a relative," said Rasheed Abou-Alsamh, international news editor at Jeddah-based Arab News, "but most feel that doubling her punishment on appeal was unfair. Among many level-headed Saudis, the consensus is: 'Come on, she's been raped multiple times. Hasn't she suffered enough?'"

Amnesty International condemned the sentence. "Human rights activists and lawyers worldwide have expressed shock and sympathy," said Lamri Chirouf, a researcher for Amnesty who specialises in the region. "There is still opportunity to appeal, and so we are mounting a campaign that we will address to the king. [The Saudi courts] have got the priorities completely wrong. They have to protect the victims, not punish them."

The victim's lawyer, a prominent human rights defender, Abdul Rahman al-Lahem, was suspended from the case as a result of the appeal and his licence, granted to Saudi lawyers by the ministry of justice, has been revoked. "I explained to them that it was my job to do everything legal in order to serve my client. But they did not listen," he told Arab News. Lahem is known in Saudi Arabia for his work defending women's rights. He has taken on some of the country's most controversial and sensitive cases, often making the headlines.

Last year he defended a woman whose brothers forced her to divorce her husband after they accused him of lying about his tribal affiliation. This month he was due to represent a 50-year-old woman and her daughter who claim two undercover officials commandeered their car and drove them recklessly through Riyadh after accusing them of not conforming to customs of decency.

Lahem told Reuters: "The court blamed the girl for being alone with unrelated men, but it should have taken the humane view that it cannot be considered her fault." Lahem's critics have called him an infidel and "lawyer of homosexuals". In the past he has been jailed and banned from travelling abroad. He will appear before a disciplinary committee at the ministry of justice on December 5, charged with criticising the judiciary and conducting activist campaigns in the media.

Words fail me. I remember in the 80s being outraged a judge who accused a rape victim of contributory negligence for wearing a mini skirt (I do hope that God is a woman and is giving him a suitable punishment for such a statement). The sentence handed down to this Saudi woman is an affront to humanity. It is further proof that it is a nation run by misogynistic scum. Sadly there is no chance of regime change in that pariah state (or at least it should be) not when Gordon Brown sucks up to the king and talks about “shared values”. A boot in the King’s testicles would have been a more appropriate gesture

16 November 2007

I Love........




and Bebe

Npt to forget the not-wife if I wish to avoid being flensed! The portrait was a birthday present. It is one done from photos by artist Suzy Ripley. The not-wife is portrayed as Waterhouse's Ophelia. Let's say I was in her good books on her 37th birthday!

This week's entry for the Friday Ark and Carnival of the Cats. It is also my entry for this week's

The PhotoHunt theme this week is I love....

15 November 2007

The Nutcracker that's taking over America?

Well maybe next November. Also breaks balls.....

My thanks go to Steve over at The Yellow Doggerel Democrat for drawing my attention to this must-have (or never-have, if Republican or leftist) utensil.

Most definitely not the tinfoil hat brigade

A panel of retired pilots and aviation officials risked possible ridicule by sharing their personal stories of close encounters with unidentified flying objects. They urged the US government to reopen its investigation into extra-terrestrial spacecraft.

Among the incidents discussed at a recent gathering in Washington DC was an alleged sighting of a triangular-shaped flying machine with unfamiliar markings near the former US air base at RAF Woodbridge in Suffolk in 1980. (Rendlesham Forest?) "Nothing in my training prepared me for what we were witnessing," James Penniston, a retired US Air Force pilot, told the panel. He said the UFO, with "blue and yellow lights swirling around the exterior", was "warm to the touch and felt like metal". Finally, "it shot off at an unbelievable speed" in front of 80 witnesses. "In my log book, I wrote 'speed: impossible'," Mr Penniston added.

Jean-Claude Duboc, a former Air France pilot, recalled spotting "a huge flying disc" about 1,000ft (305m) across which left no image on his radar as he flew over Paris in broad daylight in January 1994. He said the object started to become transparent and, within 10 to 20 seconds, had vanished without a trace.

Fife Symington, a former governor of Arizona, said that it was time for the US government to reopen Project Blue Book, the US Air Force inquiry into 12,500 UFO reports, which was abandoned as a "waste of time" in 1969. "Incidents like these are not going to go away," he said. "We want the government to stop perpetuating the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth, conventional terms."

Talk of flying saucers resurfaced in the US media a few weeks ago when one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Dennis Kucinich, claimed during a televised debate that he had seen one. His comments may not have been total political suicide – two former US presidents, Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, each spoke early in their careers of encounters with UFOs.

13 November 2007

Soccer Dog – A Maoist perspective

Scroll down for Wordless Wednesday

Soccer Dog was a 1999 in which a man who misses his soccer days so adopts an orphan in order to play the sport with him. After he brings the orphan home, the man learns that the orphan isn't interested in soccer. His new son (Clay) finds a stray dog and tries to hide it in his bedroom. Clay's father thinks that Clay is not feeling welcome, so he comes into Clay's bedroom to find he was hiding a dog. In the middle of the soccer season, Clay's dog, Lincoln, plays for the team when a team member gets hurt. Lincoln scores a goal minutes afterwards. At the end of the season, the team wins the championship. Lincoln's original owners take their dog back, but Clay gets a puppy at the end.

It looks to me like harmless entertainment that children will enjoy but then I am not a Maoist. Acording to the Maoist International Movement (MIM) In their view:

“ it was inevitable that we would start seeing more and more movies about pets taking on humyn roles. In "Soccer Dog," a dog plays soccer for a boy's team in middle Amerika and promptly proves to be most valuable player. The obsessed coaches, Mafia dad, profiteering trinket sellers and a whole town mad about sports as long as its team wins is all reality TV on Amerika.Nonetheless, this film is crass trash exploiting people for their love of family and pets. It does nothing but express and reinforce the contentment of the Amerikan petty-bourgeoisie focused on family, pets and suburban life.”

So there you have it. If you believe the Maoists then youyou were reinforcing bourgeois Amerikkkkkkkkkkkkkkan (sorry I should have stopped at just three ks) $tereotypes by showing them this film. Personally , I think the Maoists should stop idolising one of history’s worst butchers and do something a little more productive like getting laid!