February 23rd, 2006


Iraq slips into civil war.

It sounds like open civil war in Iraq is now a potential reality, as one of the world's most historic buildings is shattered.

Police and military sources in Iraq tallied more than 130 deaths, mostly of Sunnis, around the two biggest cities Baghdad and Basra in the 24 hours since the bloodless but highly symbolic bombing of the Shi'ite Golden Mosque in Samarra. Dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked and several burned to the ground.

In the bloodiest incident, officials said 47 people who had taken part in a joint Sunni and Shi'ite demonstration against the Samarra bombing were hauled from vehicles after they left and shot dead on the outskirts of the capital. The identities of the gunmen and the victims was not clear.

The Interior Ministry said all police and army leave was canceled, curfews were extended as the country locks down for three days of national mourning. Universities postponed Saturday's start of the spring semester by nearly three weeks.

A bomb blasted an Iraqi army foot patrol in a market in the religiously divided city of Baquba, killing 16 people.

Three journalists working for Al Arabiya television were found shot dead after being attacked while filming in Samarra.

The Iraqi Accordance Front, which won most of the minority Sunni vote in December's parliamentary election, said it would need an apology from the ruling Shi'ites before it would consider rejoining talks on a national unity coalition.

Raed, an Iraqi weblogger, says:

"Today’s attack on Al-Askari Shrine is a tragic milestone in the history of Iraq under the occupation. It’s a sad day for all Iraqis, Muslims and non Muslims, Arabs and non Arabs.

Iraqis are very very angry now. This attack was followed by more condemned small attacks against some 89 mosques around the country in a manifestation of the sectarian tension growing under the US led occupation, but all of these attacks were condemned and stopped.

When the Iraqi volcano erupts, it won't burn Iraqis. Unlike what the bush administration is trying to promote and claim, Iraqis never had a civil war, and they’ll never have one unless the occupation troops stay in Iraq. The US troops should leave Iraq as soon as possible so that Iraqis would have the time and space to heal their wounds and deal with their internal issues. The US army shouldn't be left in Iraq to face the ire of millions of Iraqis.

Today’s attack was yet another disaster that will be contained and dealt with by all the different Iraqi religious and social leaders. I hope this incident will not cause any further vioence against anyone, and I hope it'll prove to the world that Iraqis are capable of handling the most tragic crisis without turning against each other. The only help anyone outside Iraq can offer in the meantime is to ask the occupation troops to give Iraq back to Iraqis, or at least stop killing them in the occupation prisons."

Raed used to be more moderate in his opinions, but he doesn't seem to pull many punches nowadays. That said, I hope he's right that the Iraqi leaders can put a lid on this violence, because things are looking pretty ugly from over here...

The big heist.

Finally, a big heist that deserves its own movie. It would be interesting to see it too, I suspect. I just wonder how it's going to end. £50m is a lot of money... and so is a £2m reward.

One thing I find amusing about it is that the case is being investigated by Assistant Chief Constable Adrian Leppard. (See this video.) Reminds me of a Monty Python sketch!

Inspector: Not so fast, Yakomoto. (trumpeters play a fanfare) Shut up! (fanfare stops) Allow me to introduce myself. I am Inspector Leopard of Scotland Yard, Special Fraud Film Director Squad.

Court: Leopard of the Yard!

Inspector: The same. Only more violent. (he demonstrates this by kneeing the copper in the balls) Right, Slit Eyes Yakomoto, I'm arresting you for the impersonation of Signor Luchino Visconti, famous Italian director of such movie classics as 'Ossessione' 1942, 'La Tetra Trema' 1948, and 'Bellissima' 1951 - a satisfying ironic slice-of-life drama. 1957 brought to the silver screen his 'I Bianche Notre' adapted by Dostoyevsky, a mannered and romantic melancholy of snow and mist and moonlit encounters on canal bridges. 'Boccaccio 70' followed five years later and the following year saw 'The Leopard'! So impressed was I with this motion picture treatment of the Risorgimento that I went along to Somerset House and changed me own name to Leopard, preferring it to me original handle, 'Panther' (Aargh). I digress. 1969 saw 'The Damned', a Götterdämmerung epic of political and industrial shennanigans in good old Nazi Germany, starring Helmut Berger as a stinking transvestite what should have his face sawn off, the curvaceous Charlotte Rampling as a bit of tail, and the impeccable Dirk Bogarde as Von Essen. The association of the latter with Signor Visconti fructified with Dirk's magnificent portrayal of the elderly poof what expires in Venice. And so, Yakomoto... blimey, he gone! Never mind. I'll have you instead. (grabs the queen)

Queen: What?

Inspector: I haven't got time to go chasing after him, there's violence to be done...

Bush's "pepperoni" defence of outsourcing.


"India's middle class is buying air-conditioners, kitchen appliances and washing machines, and a lot of them from American companies like GE and Whirlpool and Westinghouse. And that means their job base is growing here in the United States. Younger Indians are acquiring a taste for pizzas from Domino's, Pizza Hut..."
- George W. Bush, Feb. 22, 2006

Sounds like a sweet deal for the multinationals. Too bad about the US workers.