Friday, October 29, 2004


Drove to Cambridge today to see parents and Aunt.

Had a front car seat full of old Indie tapes - The Fall - The Wedding Present - The Pixies - New Order - Half Man Half Biscuit etc.

I played them as a kind of personal tribute to John Peel. Everyone is sad about it. It seems to have touched everyone - I guess because he was around for so long and had of late become quite a mainstream figure.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

John Peel is Dead

John Peel died this afternoon - in Peru - of a heart attack.

Urban 75 has an ongoing thread on the subject which I've contributed to.

Radio 4 headed its PM News with a 20 minute tribute. Even Noel Edmunds made a tribute. Billy Bragg has been on Radio 6 talking about Peel.

It's a very sad day...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Homophism amongst Afro-Carribeans

Unbelievably, John Gaunt is making a big deal about a holiday program on last night and has turned in to a debate over whether being gay is like being black!?! This is cos some people compared racism and the black minority with homophobism and the gay minority. Clearly it was just being used as an analogy… Loads of Afro-Carribeans coming on to deny that there is such a thing as a gay black. “It’s not in my culture to be gay”, said one guy. The homophobic blacks are getting really angry too. “What makes me homophobic is when it’s rammed down my throat.” These men (all men) are also saying they don’t want to be associated with gays. But they’ve missed the point.And the argument that gay is wrong and unnatural because if we were all like it there’d be no people left. If we were all women then there’d be no people being bred either, doesn’t mean its wrong to be a woman, or asexual. Loads of people don’t have sex. Should we kill them? Of course it’s natural to have gays – as it is amongst many (or all?) animals. But if all out gays tend to be about 10% of the population, and Bisexuals and people who find themselves other than completely hetero, can be a much higher figure, there is no problem surely? Finally at the end of the programme a black guy rang in to say that he’d read a New Scientist article showing that homosexuality was found to occur in over 250 species, in some study.The upshot is John gaunt has given the opportunity for bigots to air their vile views.

BBC London leaked into my dreams and so dreamt about me andy and some others standing about trying to come up with film sripts. Then I was leaving with some old Sutts (my old school) and Bill Bailey. I wasn’t interacting andstood in BB’s personal space in a pub we went into. He said “do you really even see us?” I followed him to the toilet, and went to the urinal while he went to a bar strangely located within the toilets, and there were people standing around socialising.

The Sopranos. Wow. That dream sequence. Tony B went and did a hit on….

My company has clamped down on overtime which has worried a few people here. One wonders how far behind their maintenence schedules LUL contractors will be in a few months time.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

English public schoolboys run amok in Africa

I found this on the Julian Cope web site:
by Merrick

On 10th September 2004 a Zimbabwean court sentenced Simon Mann to seven years in jail for illegally buying arms for a coup against Equatorial Guinea. The BBC news report called him a ‘coup plotter’, in quotation marks.

Isn’t it odd how whenever someone British is tried abroad the media always take their side. Always, this insinuation that it’s a miscarriage of justice, some terrible travesty, cos surely our people are good, and anyway no other country is grown-up enough to have a proper legal system, not like our faultless one here.

Even after conviction their crime is put in quotation marks, their case is treated as unproven. They are never referred to as a ‘murderer’, they’re always ‘convicted of murdering’.

Simon Mann was described in the British press as ‘looking more like a jailed intellectual than a freelance commando’. What is there in a mercenary leader’s appearance that would be so different from a jailed intellectual? As Leonard Cohen said in response to the normality of the captured Nazi Adolf Eichmann, ‘what did you expect? Talons? Oversize incisors? Green saliva?’.

The BBC even had a big-print quote from someone calling this mercenary leader a ‘humane man... very English, a romantic, tremendously good company’.

A humane and romantic breaker of both British law and the GenevaConvention, Mann is an ex-SAS soldier who runs a company called Executive Outcomes. They are mercenary soldiers, using apartheid South Africa’s special forces for butchering whoever they are paid to. The phrase 'international terrorist' could not be more aptly applied.

The quote from a friend saying he and his companies have ‘been scrupulous about operating in concert with Western policy goals’ is right on the money though.

Him and his mercenary scum friends have been making sure the rich get richer by fucking over the poor and the environment, a clear Western policy goal if ever there was one. They’ve exacerbated wars in order to get themselves personal wealth not only by providing the troops, but by taking the mineral resources of the lands they’re fighting in.

It’s not surprising Mann was collared in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean authorities acted in part to defend the regime of Equatorial Guinea, but there are old scores to settle too.

Eeben Barlow, founder and, until recently, director of Executive Outcomes, was second in command of apartheid South Africa’s elite special forces 32 Battalion, and was also an agent of the Civil Co-Operation Bureau which murdered anti-apartheid activists both at home and abroad. The majority of Executive Outcomes’ soldiers are drawn from apartheid South Africa’s special forces. Their old job entailed destabilising several southern African governments, including Zimbabwe.

Still under the regime that took independence from the white colonialists, the Zimbabwean authorities are always ready to take on the old racist governments of southern Africa. Or the next best thing, their elite forces run by colonial directors like Simon Mann.

He’s going to have seven years in a cruel all-male prison of punishment and buggery. As an old Etonian, he’s well prepared.

Despite what his friends may say, he’s not such ‘tremendously good company’ if you’re trying to defend your ancestral land against a multinational mining corporation. In Bougainville, an island off Papua New Guinea (PNG), transnational mining corporation RTZ ran the Panguna copper mine, one of the largest human-made holes on earth.

Survival International has called RTZ the ‘worst of the world’s worst’ corporations with respect to indigenous people and the environment.

To make Panguna they destroyed vast tracts of forest, and in running the mine they have poisoned the local rivers. The people who live there had their livelihoods taken away, and all the profits went to the PNG government and the mining companies.

The exploitation had extra resonance for the Bougainvillians. They got constitutionally lumped in with PNG by colonial Britain and Germany; culturally and ethnically they’re Solomon Islanders with little to do with PNG.

The Bougainvillians defended themselves with the splendidly acronymmed Bougainville Revolutionary Army. Their direct action forced the closure of the mine. In May 1990 Bougainville declared its independence, statusonly recognised by the Solomon Islands.

The PNG forces fought back, but the BRA outwitted them. Under siege, they made their guns from piping lying around at the mine. They fuelled their vehicles with coconut oil. They relearned the medicinal properties of their native plants. They became self-sufficient. They had successfully fought to reclaim their land for sustainable living instead of mineral extraction. It was the world’s first environmentally-motivated revolution.

After eight years of losing, the PNG government hired Sandline, a British-based company of mercenaries. They subcontracted their friends Executive Outcomes to provide troops, weapons, aircraft and training to the PNG forces. They were hired for $36m to fight for three months or until the BRA were beaten.

The PNG military didn’t like the idea of the mercenaries, and the rift between the military and the government forced a change of Prime Minister to avert a civil war. The military then kicked the mercenaries the hell out. To this day, the government in PNG knows it must play second fiddle to the military.

When it went tits up and got Western coverage, Sandline said they’d be brought in to merely ‘advise’, and that their troops were going to use their Mi24 helicopter gunships to do nothing harsher than broadcast propaganda.

Their leader Lt Colonel Tim Spicer was booted out of the country. He told reporters ‘I don’t want to get into a debate about the rights and wrongs of the issue’. Nope, just be told which darkies to kill and get on with it, right Tim?

A ceasefire was negotiated in 1998, and the Bougainvillians have got their own government and are looking at full independence within a decade.

The combination of expert killing and mineral wealth is at the core of what Mann and friends do. Executive Outcomes was registered in the UK by Simon Mann and Tony Buckingham. Buckingham is also ex-SAS, and chief executive of a company called Heritage Oil And Gas. Heritage is associated with a Canadian corporation, Ranger Oil. Both companies had drilling operations in Angola. Since the mid-1970s Angola had been riven with civil war between the Marxist government fighting the UNITA militia assisted covertly by South African special forces.

In 1993, Mann and Buckingham used Executive Outcomes troops to capture the Angolan oil town of Soyo from UNITA for Heritage Oil. Soon after the EO troops left, UNITA retook the town. Having been impressed with EO’s work, the Angolan government hired EO to fight for them in exchange for oil concessions.

EO were effectively an oil company with a private army. Weirder still, they were fighting UNITA using the same South African soldiers who’d once fought alongside them!

Other great romantic adventures of Mann’s include running guns and 120 mercenaries to Sierra Leone in 1995 at the height of the killing, in direct contravention of a UN embargo designed to limit arms input and stem the bloodshed.

They pulled a couple of PR stunts – memorably taking a Sierra Leone football team to the African All Nations Cup – but they weren’t in Sierra Leone to be socially useful. You don’t bring two Mi17 transporter gunship helicopters, an Mi24 helicopter gunship and an Andover casualty evacuation aircraft with you unless you’re there to fight and kill.

They were paid around $40 and, as in Angola, an ongoing mineral interest. This time it’s a 25 year lease for EO’s diamond mining sister company Branch Energy on the enormously lucrative Koidu diamond mines in the area EO had been fighting in.

So, having done that in Angola and Sierra Leone, it’s not too hard to guess what they were thinking when they went into the mineral-rich Bougainville debacle. It’s made clear in a letter from Sandline’s Tim Spicer to PNG Prime Minister Julius Chan dated 1 August 1996, six months before EO troops went in, proposing ‘a joint venture with your government, ourselves and RTZ to reopen and operate the Bougainville mine once recovered’.

A report by the United Nations' Special Rapporteur Enrique Bernales Ballesteros says this is common. Once a degree of security and stability has been achieved, the mercenary organisation ‘apparently begins to exploit the concessions it has received by setting up a number of associates and affiliates… thereby acquiring a significant, if not hegemonic, presence in the economic life of the country in which it is operating.’

Once it was colonial governments who would send in the soldiers to acquire the natural resources of poor nations, now it’s private enterprise. The same old British aristocracy, the same brutality and exploitation, just a couple of generations later.

Sandline and Executive Outcomes aren’t the only ones. There are a number of ‘contract military’ firms in Britain; Control Risks Group, Integrated Security Systems, Saladin Security and Defence Systems Limited. DSL was set up in 1981 by,surprise surprise, ex-SAS soldiers. It describes its ‘core business’ as ‘devising and implementing solutions to complex problems through the provision of highly-qualified specialists with extensive international experience in practical security’. As with the others, they’re active in mineral-rich hotspots. They even got the job of guarding the US embassy in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The other country with plenty of mercenary forces on offer is, unsurprisingly, the USA. They follow the same model – formed by ex-high ups from the military, they maintain a personnel rota of ex-special forces and sell themselves using pretty clear language. Military Professional Resources Incorporated, for example, is run by people like General Carl Vuono (US Military Chief of Staff during the Panama and Gulf War campaigns) and General Frederick Kroensen (ex Commander of the US Army in Europe). They offer ‘worldwide corporate contractual functions requiring skills developed from military service’.

Tim Spicer closed down Sandline after the bad publicity, but his work continues. His new company, Aegis Defence Services, have landed a $300m contract providing ‘counter-insurgency operations’ in Iraq. These are the sorts of people who are referred to as ‘security contractors’ in news reports about Iraq.

It suits the soldiers – the pay is better than the regular army with shorter tours of duty. It suits the US government and their allies too; sending the mercenaries in on the dangerous jobs minimises the number of real soldiers killed and if they use notably deplorable methods the government doesn’t get the blame.

This is the same system of killing for resources as we’ve seen for five centuries, with just a little shift. As power cedes from the nation state to the transnational corporation, so the muscle is moving with it. In this peculiar transitional stage, it is the same individual soldiers who used to fight for one that now fight for the other. Their job is the same. Indeed, they readily admit it. Eeben Barlow, founder and ex-head of Executive Outcomes said, ‘I’m a professional soldier. It’s not about politics. I have a job to do. I do it’.

A Cape Town neighbour of his friend and co-coup plotter 'Sir' Mark Thatcher, Simon Mann represents the new generation of colonialism, using military force to take the natural resources of poorer countries.

Brutal, exploitative, greedy, murderous. Not humane, not romantic, but yes, historically speaking, very English.

America is too sensitive

Dumb show
Charlie Brooker
Saturday October 23, 2004
The Guardian

Heady times. The US election draws ever nearer, and while the rest of the world bangs its head against the floorboards screaming "Please God, not Bush!", the candidates clash head to head in a series of live televised debates. It's a bit like American Idol, but with terrifying global ramifications. You've got to laugh.

Or have you? Have you seen the debates? I urge you to do so. The exemplary BBC News website ( hosts unexpurgated streaming footage of all the recent debates, plus clips from previous encounters, through Reagan and Carter, all the way back to Nixon versus JFK.

Watching Bush v Kerry, two things immediately strike you. First, the opening explanation of the rules makes the whole thing feel like a Radio 4 parlour game. And second, George W Bush is... well, he's... Jesus, where do you start?

The internet's a-buzz with speculation that Bush has been wearing a wire, receiving help from some off-stage lackey. Screen grabs appearing to show a mysterious bulge in the centre of his back are being traded like Top Trumps. Prior to seeing the debate footage, I regarded this with healthy scepticism: the whole "wire" scandal was just wishful thinking on behalf of some amateur Michael Moores, I figured. And then I watched the footage.

Quite frankly, the man's either wired or mad. If it's the former, he should be flung out of office: tarred, feathered and kicked in the nuts. And if it's the latter, his behaviour goes beyond strange, and heads toward terrifying. He looks like he's listening to something we can't hear. He blinks, he mumbles, he lets a sentence trail off, starts a new one, then reverts back to whatever he was saying in the first place. Each time he recalls a statistic (either from memory or the voice in his head), he flashes us a dumb little smile, like a toddler proudly showing off its first bowel movement. Forgive me for employing the language of the playground, but the man's a tool.

So I sit there and I watch this and I start scratching my head, because I'm trying to work out why Bush is afforded any kind of credence or respect whatsoever in his native country. His performance is so transparently bizarre, so feeble and stumbling, it's a miracle he wasn't laughed off the stage. And then I start hunting around the internet, looking to see what the US media made of the whole "wire" debate. And they just let it die. They mentioned it in passing, called it a wacko conspiracy theory and moved on.

Yet whether it turns out to be true or not, right now it's certainly plausible - even if you discount the bulge photos and simply watch the president's ridiculous smirking face. Perhaps he isn't wired. Perhaps he's just gone gaga. If you don't ask the questions, you'll never know the truth.

The silence is all the more troubling since in the past the US news media has had no problem at all covering other wacko conspiracy theories, ones with far less evidence to support them. (For infuriating confirmation of this, watch the second part of the must-see documentary series The Power Of Nightmares (Wed, 9pm, BBC2) and witness the absurd hounding of Bill Clinton over the Whitewater and Vince Foster non-scandals.)

Throughout the debate, John Kerry, for his part, looks and sounds a bit like a haunted tree. But at least he's not a lying, sniggering, drink-driving, selfish, reckless, ignorant, dangerous, backward, drooling, twitching, blinking, mouse-faced little cheat. And besides, in a fight between a tree and a bush, I know who I'd favour.

On November 2, the entire civilised world will be praying, praying Bush loses. And Sod's law dictates he'll probably win, thereby disproving the existence of God once and for all. The world will endure four more years of idiocy, arrogance and unwarranted bloodshed, with no benevolent deity to watch over and save us. John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?

Original URL:,14676,1335307,00.html. As of 2004/10/24, 8:11 PM EDT, that page contained the following text instead:

The final sentence of a column in The Guide on Saturday caused offence to some readers. The Guardian associates itself with the following statement from the writer.

"Charlie Brooker apologises for any offence caused by his comments relating to President Bush in his TV column, Screen Burn. The views expressed in this column are not those of the Guardian. Although flippant and tasteless, his closing comments were intended as an ironic joke, not as a call to action - an intention he believed regular readers of his humorous column would understand. He deplores violence of any kind."

Friday, October 22, 2004

more troops in iraq

I stayed up till 2.30 watching Black Books and uploading pictures from our PC.

Then I got up late again. Got quite a lot to do - S arrives back tomorrow, and I need to tidy up.

It seems that Geoff Hoon and the wonderful Tony B Liar have decided to back the US forces in Iraq, yet again, with deployment of more UK troops. There were no votes in the Commons this time. In the run up to the Iraq invasion the revolts were getting bigger and bigger. Bliar relied on the Tories to get him parliamentary support for war. I think he knows he wouldn't get support this time. A lot of people are saying it's a politically motivated decision - nothing to do with military imperatives. Bliar will do anything to help his buddy Bush get back to power.

I don't think he need worry too much - the chaos surrounding the Diebold voting machines looks like playing straight into the Republicans hands. If what happened in Florida was enough last time - then god knows what dirty tricks will be performed to get GW in again.

pointless ramblings

I failed to get up at 6.00 this morning as I wanted. Got up at 8.30 and left for work at 9.15. Drove again - can't resist it - the car's warm, comfortable,and bulging with 6 of my cds.

Played John Coltraine, Count Basie, King Tubby and Brian Wilson. Brian Wilson really worked for me - in leafy sunny Mile End, driving along. Fantastic.

Only started to feel crappy towards the end of the day. Did some research in the early afternoon. Found out that the accepted cause of the Tupolev crash on October 4th 2001 may not be the complete truth. It appears that the US pressured Ukraine to admit that they had shot the airliner down, but weren't all that happy about doing so. The plane contained Russian Jews travelling from Israel to families in Russia. I think that its not impossible that the US shot it down. This may have been to strongarm the Israelis into shutting the fuck up while the US needed harmony and support from Arab countries.

I can investigate further regarding what happened in Ukraine. I've got names of a few individuals involved. I'll try to work out what actually happened. I need to follow up on reports that the Ukrainian president wanted to lift the plane up out of the water to investigate the cause of the crash, believing that it would show that Ukraine was not at fault, and thereby humiliating the US.

This evening I got stuck in very bad traffic down the A11, along Mile End, and through Tower Hill. Raced with some f****r in a BMW who thought he'd be happier if he was in front of me. Stopped him getting in front of me till I got on New Kent Road, but he passed me in the buslane. I passed him later on the Elephant and Castle roundabout.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Beginning

I've been trying to keep a diary for some time but usually fail for long periods. This may be a way of doing it. I want to include some personal information, and a fair amount of non-personal information.

I copied a fair amount of this stuff from my original Blog site on AOL - burt this no longer exists. I had left the pictures on it, but removed most of the text. I originally thought it could be the illustrated counterpart for this Blog, but then I discovered how to upload photos to Blogger. (2009 edit)

At the weekend I drank quite a lot of cider, and left myself in pain and feeling sick for the last few days. I didn't realise how intolerant I'd become.

Now, after two late nights, staying up to watch the two HBO programmes that are just about the only good things on British television at the moment, I feel tired, groggy, and thought processes are garbled and confused.

Consequently I'm driving to work. I'm not that groggy - I'm able to drive safely enough. Left work at 7.00, after listening to that Graham Garden / Alan Davies comedy about a dog, on Radio 4. Some of it was very funny.

The cats were pleased to see me, mainly as I hadn't fed them in the morning. I ate sausages, cheesy mash and baked beans. Felt so full up I couldn't move.

I watched a programme on BBC2, The Power of Nightmares, about fear and how our politicians exploit this and exaggerate it for their own benefit. The programme followed the lives of a neo-con and an Islamic intellectual, both who founded respective movements in USA and Egypt, and both movements grew into respectively government of USA and radical Islamic organisations in the Middle East.

I recorded the programme and will write out a transcript some time. I need to include the information in my research, although most of the programme does seem to support what I have written so far in my draft.

The programme seemed to be true up to a point, but did leave some stuff out. It left out George Bush, head of the CIA in 1975, and his possible involvement in supporting the coup in Iran in 1979. It does appear that the CIA sparked this coup for whatever reasons - maybe it was to humiliate Carter who had sacked Bush - but maybe it was the beginnings of a policy to destabilise the Middle East. Certainly, an Islamic revolution in Iran was enough to create conflict between Iran and Iraq.

My wife's grandmother's partner died yesterday - he'd been ill since before Christmas and we knew he would die soon.