Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, in an exclusive interview with CNN, acknowledged Monday that the war in Iraq may have played a role in his decision to dismantle his country's weapons of mass destruction programs.
No doubt it did: he knew he could get a better price for his warehouse full of junk if he got the timing right. I think one thing that coverage of Britain, Libya and the clammy embrace the last government inaugurated between the two is the fact that Gaddafi's WMD offer came at a time when the government’s Iraq policy was under severe pressure, along with Blair’s general conduct of the “war on terror”. Hence the particular enthusiasm here over a supposed success in the WOT. A rogue regime had come in from the cold into the warm embrace of moderation. And so the moderates embraced Libya warmly: the Clown Show of the Clerks was very much an initiative of moderates.
Contrary to claims made by informants within the Sicilian Mafia, sulfuric acid will not dissolve a corpse in minutes, a new study finds. The research, reported Feb. 23 at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, was part of a wider effort to test claims about the mafia’s “lupara bianca,” or “white shotgun” murders, wherein the subject is known to be dead but a body is never found.
... Experiments conducted on partial pig carcasses, a widely accepted stand-in for human bodies, showed that it takes days to melt flesh in sulfuric acid. Adding water to the acid speeds up the process, dissolving muscle and cartilage within 12 hours and turning bone to dust within two days, suggesting that the technique could render a corpse completely unrecognizable.
“But it is impossible that they completely destroyed a corpse with acid,” said study coauthor Massimo Grillo of the University of Palermo in Italy.
Such things they study at the University of Palermo! Anyway, old news. Back in 1948, John George Haigh was convicted of serial murder with evidence reconstituted from the remains of people he killed and tried to dissolve in acid. The false teeth of one of his victims were recovered – also, gallstones – and identified in evidence by her dentist. I don’t believe he took out any advertising based on that fact.
In a lot of murders it’s the attempt to dispose of the body that provides the evidence to convict the killer. The old crime/cover up law I suppose. Via.
One of the fundamental similarities between the US and China is that both of them whine constantly that they're not being treated fairly by others. ("Anti-Americanism!" Anti-China forces!") Was this always a mark of global superpowers? It's certainly prevalent in Germany from the 1870s to the 1940s, but it doesn't seem to be a big theme of British or Roman writing - paranoia that they might be overthrown or overtaken, sure, but not the constant, nauseating whinge of complaint. Definitely there in Britain in the 50s and 60s, though, so perhaps it's more a mark of the ailing or uncertain superpower.
Week two of the great export Jasmine to Beijing saga. No protestors spotted. Instead, frustrated cops wade into assembled journalists. Expect 'what I saw in jail' stories soon.
Anyway, this week we’ve seen a multi-layered exposition in modern repressive techniques. Call it Operation Big Smother. Let’s start from the outside-in:
Multiple hacks on the Boxun website, the US based forum which posted the appeal to protest. These have been serious enough for Boxun to put up the white flag. From now on, no more appeals on their site.
Activists in China who reposted last week’s appeal have been detained, harassed and some have been badly beaten up. At least three are looking at decade long prison sentences for subversive activities. Not much reposting this week.
It’s been discovered that suggested sites for protest have been in immediate need of street repairs, and are now the sites of large holes dug in the middle of the road. There have also been street cleaning vehicles riding up and down drenching the venues with water.
And lastly, the cops. Lots and lots and lots of cops.
Most of the cops seemed alternately bored and annoyed, and with little else to do they started clashing with the other group well-represented this afternoon: the foreign press corps. One foreign journalist was assaulted by plainclothes officers and there were numerous smaller scuffles. This evening, French journalist Jordan Pouille reported on twitter that he had been arrested, and while at the station saw at least seven other journalists who had also been taken into custody.
Jeremiah notes that this makes the story about the response, rather than the non-event of the protest. That would have been at least partly true anyway. I think the real vulnerability here is that whoever is doing this now controls the deployment of the police. Let’s say that they announce a protest at a major foreign tourist destination, maybe calling on foreign friends to join in. A coach suddenly pulls up. A group of elderly waiguoren emerge blinking into the sunlight ready to see the sights amidst a herd of bored, frustrated Chinese cops, with the foreign press corps also there ready to bring the news of what happens next.
Now that Boxun have retired from the field, the Gongers have announced that they’re going to assume responsibility for further notices. Or should that be officially assume responsibility.
Ah-ha! I've been looking for this for ages. I think there may be an original in Chinese on People's Daily; if anyone can find it I would be grateful, since, uh, someone might have added a fair few lines to the original during editing to make it *slightly* less wide-eyed and crawling.
In the very brief interlude between when Ceaucescu fell in 1989 and when he was executed, the Foreign Office rushed to rescind his knighthood. This struck me even at the time - I was 11, but my family's from Transylvania, so the collapse of his regime is the first news event I can remember following closely - as a remarkably shitty way to handle it. Either you don't give the knighthood in the first place, or you acknowledge your own dirty hands; you can't back away at the last minute and pretend it never happened.
I was reminded of this by the treatment of Said al-Qaddafi, who was clearly being groomed to be Michael by the clan but ended up coming over all Sonny. A little more contrition on the part of the people who schmoozed with him and his dad, rather than pretending that all this comes as a terrible shock, would be nice. And I'd be very interested to know, as mentioned before, quite how his PhD got written.
But perhaps they are genuinely shocked. Stick on a suit and tie, spout the right buzzwords (and his PhD title hits a whole rack of them - The Role of civil society in the democratisation of global governance institutions: from 'soft power' to collective decision-making?"), and bring a couple of million, and you'll never have any trouble being accepted as a "reasonable" kind of chap.
It's very hard to maintain the kind of moral distance you need when dealing with terrible people - or most often, people benefitting from and helping sustain a terrible regime - in a civil context, though it often has to be done. And there's always that thrill of being close to the smell of power. I mean, I think Henry Kissinger's a disgusting human being, but I'm still a little disappointed that I never got a chance to meet him*. We could have played Risk.
In my experience, it's aid workers and other charitable types who play the balancing game best. Politicians, on the other hand, jump on the chance to claim so-and-so as a "personal friend" - and there's something particularly oleaginous about the way "personal" gets used there, I think. Not just a friend. A personal friend. I wonder how much of it is due to the recognition of kindred spirits, and how much is just because going into politics in the first place is often about trying to get that scent of power.
*A little context; my friend and one-time boss Arthur Hertzberg was a close friend of Kissinger's.
Nelson Mandela apologised today after pictures emerged of him consorting with a notorious warlord responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Speaking from his home in Johannesburg, the aged secular saint said: “I’m really sorry. I wasn’t long out of prison. I just didn’t understand who Tony Blair was.”
“You meet all kinds of people in politics – that nutter from Libya whose name escapes me, for instance.
But I was over the line here.”
Other world leaders sympathised, but said that Mr Mandela had shown a lapse in judgement.
“You should see my diary” said US president Barack Obama. “We call it the ugly book. But Tony Blair? That’s really got a kind of yuck factor.”
Once thought impregnable because of his role as a key satrap of the Khanate of Washington, a palace coup saw Blair ousted from his Downing Street stronghold by bitter factional rival Gordon Brown in 2007. An inconclusive 2010 election brought a reactionary junta drawn largely from the country’s traditional aristocracy to office, leaving many analysts troubled by the prospect of Britain becoming a failed state.
In 2008, regime change in Washington deprived Blair of his main sponsor. And the wave of people power revolutions in the Middle East has robbed him of his remaining friends and supporters among local regimes.
His current whereabouts have not been disclosed. Some rumours have Blair hiding under a water bed at the Sardinian harem of longtime ally Silvio Berlusconi. Others say he has retired to a bunker at the Bahamas estate of former regime troubadour Sir Cliff Richard, where he is believed to have stockpiled chemical and biological weapons.
World leaders say that Mr Mandela’s association with Blair is likely to damage his reputation.
“Politics is a rough old game” said China’s president Hu Jintao. “I got my start running round Lhasa wearing a tin helmet and telling my soldiers to shoot Tibetans.
“But meeting Blair? Eewwwwww. That’s a tragic lapse in judgement by a great man.”