Sunday, September 30, 2007

Craig Murray's New Webhost Hacked

At 10.00pm UT on Sunday 30th September the following message
appears on the Atlantic Free Press Website:

" has been hacked. We are currently restoring from backup files and database on backup server.
Thank you for your patience.

Richard and his team host, among others, Atlantic Free Press, Pacific Free Press, and Chris Chris is also down.
This Server is run from Holland and was recently reported to have agreed to host Craig Murray.

It is not action by Usmanov's legal team at Schillers which has created this problem. It is action by others. Mind you, it is not only Usmanov (with his
power in Russia and Uzbekistani) who has an interest in silencing such determined and courageous sources of report, analysis and comment.



"poor indeed"

posted by k

" Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,

Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed."

I've seen those words quoted with approval on a number of websites. They even appear in the Harvard Gazette as an example of the value poets like Shakespeare place on an individual's reputation. But the websites rarely mention which character in Othello speaks those words. It's Iago, the villain of the play, and he uses his praise of reputation to further the plot which will end in the deaths of Othello, Desdemona and his own wife.

The law of libel does protect reputation. But the case of Craig Murray, whose blog was silenced by Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov, raises questions about how this is done, who benefits and what truths are being silenced.

Of course, there is some value in libel laws. For instance, a candidate for a job or for public office shoud not be able to spread lies about another candidate. Nor should journalists be able to ruin the reputations, careers and personal happiness of footballers, pop singers or politicians by printing lies about them. I haven't been too worried about people in the public gaze moving to protect themselves from press intrusion. I don't see why I have the right to know about a sportsman's legal sexual preferences or behaviour on the spurious grounds that athletic brilliance turns its possessor into a role model.

But what about truths that need to be told? The Usmanov story - not mentioned in the press - concerns activities in other countries where Usmanov is protected by the regimes. If Usmanov really is, as alleged, a thug, criminal, racketeer and heroin trafficker, this is of direct concern as he attempts to take over Arsenal Football Club. The allegation of rape is trickier since the victim and witnesses seem to have disappeared before the case could come to court.

Usmanov isn't just accused of a particularly unpleasant criminal career. His role within Gazprom raises important questions about the role of big business in international political processes. It is of particular concern as European nations rush to privatise essential services. (The question has been raised by Tom Wise MEP - briefed by Craig Murray - in the European Parliament. Reporting has been lamentably scanty although the speech was given under parliamentary privilege and reporting is not covered by libel laws.) And that's before the question of human rights and international obligations is considered.

Craig Murray challenged Alisher Usmanov to sue him for libel and test the allegations in open court. This is a brave challenge. If Craig Murray were to lose, he would stand to lose everything, given the gravity of the allegations. He attacks both Usmanov's personal reputation and his international role. He urges people not to do business with him. A jury finding in Usmanov's favour would reasonably present him with huge damages.

But Usmanov doesn't want to go before a jury. His solicitors won't sue Craig Murray as the author of the allegations but instead attacked and threatened the people who published them - in this case, the company providing the web-host for his blog. Courageous individuals can be silenced by putting pressure on publishers, printers, bookshops and webhosts. It's the modern equivalent to the licensing of the press against which Milton wrote in his 1644 pamphlet Areopagitica. Milton argued that Truth should be allowed to "grapple" with falsehood in open debate through publication - and he feared that the licensing of books - the prevention of publication - would injure Truth.

At the moment, questions of libel seem to be decided with more attention to wealth than truth, though the McLibel case demonstrates some of the problems big corporations may face against poor, determined defendants.

But if the poor are libelled, they don't have the same chance to defend their reputations. The rich can defame the poor with little fear of prosecution. Usmanov is better protected than the refugee who flees his power in Uzbekistan or Russia. I doubt a cleaner at Arsenal Football Club could afford the fees charged by Usmanov's lawyers. It's unlikely the poor could even raise the court fees.

The current law doesn't seem to protect the truth. It doesn't act equally toward rich and poor. It has little to do with justice or the public good.

If you have a suggestion for how the British libel laws should be changed, please post a comment here or join the detailed debate at Ministry of Truth.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Listening to Craig Murray

posted by k

While Craig Murray's blog is absent, it might be a good idea to listen to what he has to say. I'm adding a few videos. They don't all give the date when they were made.

Here is a rather smartly-dressed Craig Murray talking about evidence of torture used by the Uzbek regime. Craig Murray is referring to evidence he encountered when he was the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan.

Clicking the hotlink will take you to part 2 and part 3 of this interview.

This is a more recent talk by Craig Murray. Much of it covers the same ground but he has evidently had more time to reflect and is giving a talk rather than answering questions. The video lasts 55 minutes and the sound isn't brilliant, but I think that what he has to say remains important. That's one reason why I mind so much that his blog has been silenced.

I'm worried that there is so little coverage of the important matters addressed by Craig Murray in the national press. And there is no newspaper in Britain, so far as I can see, with the courage to repeat what Craig Murray has written about Alisher Usmanov. But the blogs continue to tell the story of Craig Murray's silencing.

Watch the videos and decide for yourself whether Craig Murray is a man you would trust.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bloggers for Craig Murray

posted by k

This is a list of the blogs which have posted in support of Craig Murray. The list is probably incomplete. It encourages me. (So does the news, posted by john commenting on my previous post, that Alisher Usmanov has not yet bought Arsenal.)

Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North (193).

If you are on Facebook, you may wish to join the group "Craig Murray's blog should return" and recommend it to your friends. You may also write comments on the wall or post recent news. The news I would like to read is the return of Craig Murray's blog.

It's curious, isn't it, that some people find it very hard to get visas to ths country. Why are visa authorities so slow to help bona fide students, tourists and asylum seekers when Alisher Usmanov is apparently welcome in Britain?

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Disappearing blogs

posted by k

It seems that Craig Murray's informative, thoughtful and combative blog has been taken down by his web-hosts after threats from the lawyers for the new owner of Arsenal Football Club. I don't know the truth of the allegations but I think the proper course for a billionaire, if the allegations aren't true, would be to sue for libel and clear his name rather than taking down a whole blog, especially since the relevant post was removed as soon as this was requested.

The blogosphere now lacks one of the best political blogs - a forum for dissidence and debate with a large number of readers.

The new owner of Arsenal Football Club has behaved like a man who sets fire to a library because he doesn't like one of the books in it.

I hope Craig Murray will find a new host for his blog soon. In the meantime, google searches can throw up cached material from some of his previous posts.

Note: This hotlink will take you to the post recommended in the comments. It's very useful and informative and has further helpful links.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Juggernaut of Subjection

A summary of the principal legislative sources of the erosion of
rights and freedoms in Britain becomes cumulatively chilling.
This entirely excludes all of the procedural shifts which facilitate
the huge expansion of (for example) CCTV. Or the
fingerprinting of children in schools without prior parental consent.

I have avoided entering commentary on the shift in the Zeitgeist and
the obfuscation which has permitted the general public acceptance
(and even support) of such cumulative repression.

Further commentary can be found with the intelligent use of Search engines.
Preferably other than Google if you want to keep your browsing habits
untracked. Do not forget that the information collection for
marketing purposes by Corporate Institutions, from Google to Tesco, is
a further reflection of the extent of the erosion of the liberty to lead your
life without unseen monitoring or intervention. In this, there is a meeting
of minds within the realms of both Civil and Corporate Governance.


Abolishes a suspect's right to silence (by permitting Courts and
Juries to draw inference from a suspect's refusal to disclose
matters to the Police at the time of arrest).


Allows the police to break into property and install
electronic surveillance.
A chief constable can make such authorisations if he
believes it will help fight serious crime.
The occupier of the property need not be under suspicion of a crime.
The decisions can be taken without a warrant. (Sections 91 to 108)


First facilitation of ASBO's and the conception of causing Harassment,
Distress or Alarm. Introduction of Parenting Orders and Curfews on
Offenders released on Licence.


Among other matters, facilitating the establishment of Detention Centres.


Definition of “terrorism” close to catch-all..
The government can proscribe organisations without
having to prove that they have committed any offence.


Authorises Surveillance and disclosure of Communications
largely without warrant.

Authorities able to do so range from any Police Force to include any
Local Authority and the FSA.


Enables courts to place banning orders on people, prohibiting
them from travelling when a football match is on, without proving
they committed an offence.

Allows the police to prevent a person without a banning order
from leaving the country if the police have “reasonable grounds”
for believing the person may cause trouble at a football match.


Enables the Health Secretary to authorise disclosure of
confidential patient information to anyone he chooses if he
believes it is in the public interest or will improve patient


Allows government departments and public bodies to disclose
confidential information to police forces for the purposes
of investigations of any crime anywhere in the world.

Permits the Home Secretary to certify any foreigner as an
“international terrorist” if he/she decides that they are
a risk to national security.
Terrorism is defined as in the Terrorism Act 2000.
Section 29 prevents courts from challenging the detention of
foreigners under sections 21 – 26,.


Officials authorised by local councils and the Department of
Work and Pensions can demand that banks, credit card companies,
utility companies, any company providing financial services
and phone companies hand over any data they think is necessary
for the purposes of preventing or detecting benefit fraud,
without a warrant.
These officials can also demand that telecommunications companies
tell them who owns a particular account, when given only a number
or electronic address associated with the account,
again without a warrant.


Under this Act, the Criminal Assets Recovery Agency is set up
and in Part 5, it is given the power to seize a person's assets
using civil procedures in court.
This law applies civil proceedings to a dispute between the state
and an individual, with the state as the adjudicator.


Extends the thinking behind ASBOS and includes premises closure,
obligations on landlords, parenting orders, dispersal of groups,
public assemblies (the 1986 Public Order definition of an assembly
reduced from 20 to 2).


Part 2 - unratified treaty with USA. No prima facie evidence
required for extraditions from the UK to the USA, but still
required for USA to UK extraditions.

Part 1 of the Act implements European Arrest
Warrant extraditions.
There is no requirement for evidence to be heard before a UK Court.
Also refer to the
Home Office website.


Facilitates the elimination of Juries from complex fraud cases.
Removes protection against “double jeopardy”. Permits hearsay evidence.


Authorises any cabinet minister to make "emergency regulations"

Emergency regulations may make any provision that can be made by
Royal Prerogative or Act of Parliament.....
the FIRST of the real shifts towards Enabling Act thinking.


Under this Act, the government can impose “control orders” on
anyone they suspect might be involved in “terrorism-related”

The person subjected to a control order does not get a trial,
is not charged with anything, and may have the evidence or
accusations against them withheld from them or their lawyers.
Terrorism is defined as in Section 1 of the Terrorism Act 2000


Sets up the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)
All offences, no matter how trivial, are now arrestable,
granting powers to obtain DNA, intimate samples, fingerprints
and photographs of those arrested,
to be retained on file regardless of whether the suspect is
charged with or convicted of an offence.
Don't discard your cigarette butt.
Protestors, even a single protestor, must apply at least 24
hours (and more normally 6 days) in advance for a permit
to protest within 1km of Parliament.


Originally drafted in terms which would have made this an
Enabling Act, the diluted text with some safeguards introduced
remains the second part of Enabling thinking.
By this, Ministers can, with minimal Parliamentary
scrutiny, modify and enact regulations, interpretations,
resources targeting and law.


Further powers tor restrict the rights of immigrants
and asylum seekers.

Sections 56 and 57 modify the British Nationality Act (1981)
to permit the Home Secretary to deprive a person of citizenship
or the right of abode.


Further clarification of offences of glorification etc.
Extends detention period.


Well publicised. Read and weep.
Also introduces the National Identity Register.
More detail of this and other intrusive measures at
the No2ID resource.

There are times when I feel utterly lost, demotivated, by this
juggernaut of intervention, the abuse of an authority with a
“reasonable” face. The perversion of minds continues through
misrepresentation, through propaganda, through
an arrogance of rectitude which denies freedom in the name
of some collective "security".
Measures such as these laws were not deemed necessary
during the IRA campaign from 1969 to 1997.
Nor, for that matter, during the Second World War of
the last century.

How much freedom will you give up for a Government's definition
of what it is which should make you feel secure?
For the Government's actions in the name of "security" do nothing
to ease any personal sense of vulnerability. They act in the
enhancement of fear.

Remember Pastor Niemoller.



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Sunday, September 09, 2007

"the unmentionable odor of death"

posted by k

I watched the towers flame and tumble on live television. I had to work out how to tell the children. They were going to hear about this horror from their friends. In the end, I thought they had better see for themselves. Children's imaginations can conjure up something even worse than tiny human figures leaping from windows and tumbling through the air.

Even that afternoon I was hoping that when people saw the horror and the pain and the grief they would decide that this was something they could not inflict on anyone else. This smashing of ordinary lives is what vengeance looks like. But soon we were told we had to support more vengeance and applaud as more lives were smashed, usually out of sight because surgical strikes look more tasteful if shown as blobs of light on computer screens.

A week after 9/11, I stood in silence thinking of the dead. It was a time for sorrowful reflection and should have led to intelligent questioning and deeper thought. But anniversaries of 9/11 were used to confuse loving memories with new hatred. Silence was enforced as "respect for the dead". Memories and grief were dragooned into support for blanket-bombing. Fear was promoted. We were told we were conducting a "war on terror" but our leaders wanted us to be terrified. Our leaders got away with kidnapping and torture as well as killing. I stopped observing the anniversaries.

But on Tuesday there will be a new way of commemorating the anniversary of 9/11. It's the first day of DSEi 2007. DSEi stands for Defence Systems & Equipment International and on 11th September 2007 they will be opening one of the biggest arms fairs in the world, in London's docklands.

If you look at the DSEi website, you can see that it will be quite a jamboree. There will be opportunities for networking as suppliers and buyers meet one another.

United States companies are advised about the need to market in Europe:

"The European Union boasts a defense budget of US$190bn (source: Office of Defense Cooperation) and is focusing on promoting a highly open and competitive environment. The UK market in particular is one of the most open in the world. US companies often lead, or are members of, winning bid teams for UK defense programs.

European nations are also responding to new roles such as homeland security and peacekeeping, creating fresh areas of opportunity for US companies.

As well as conducting international business in English, the European militaries are renowned as prompt and reliable payers reducing the financial risks of dealing in international markets."

It's a cosy club. While United States companies are urged to find "a ready-made point of access to lucrative overseas defense markets", this marketing strategy sits snugly within policies outlined by Britain's Ministry of Defence and endorsed by cabinet ministers. And the DSEi exhibition is marketed as an enjoyable break for exhibitors and delegates. It's international (according to DSEi's website, there were 86 overseas delegations in 2005). There are networking opportunities over lunch, wine and gourmet coffee. There's an Electronic Warfare Pavilion and a Night Vision Technology Forum. There are conferences and workshops. There's a company recommending delegates to arrive in chauffeur-driven Mercedes and an opportunity to soak up London culture in the evening.

Of course, you have to be a genuine arms trader to get in. The admissions policy states firmly:

"Anyone attending DSEi must not take part in any canvassing, leafleting, demonstrations, objectionable behaviour or any activity which may disrupt DSEi."

Demonstrators have got into past exhibitions. The comedian Mark Thomas observed the sale of banned electro-shock equipment in 2005. There was even an electro-shock spray. These have been illegal since 1997 but Mark Thomas found they were still on sale in Birmingham this June. I expect they'll look out for him in London on 9/11.

Perhaps all of the items on sale this year will be legal. It still disgusts me that the British government subsidises an organisation that markets killing. 9/11 seems a particularly inappropriate day on which to open a major arms fair, but I suppose it will give the government a further excuse for a high level of surveillance and heavy-handed policing. Away from the comfortable networking, soldiers will use the weapons and equipment sold at the fair. Planes continue to attack buildings. Buildings still go up in flames. More tiny human figures tumble through the air. Grief and horror continue. This time there's no doubt that we're responsible.

There's just a chance things could change.

DSEi is up for sale. The British government has announced the closure of the Defence Export Services Organisation. This doesn't mean arms fairs will stop. It doesn't even mean that the British tax-payers' subsidy of the arms merchants will end. But the government seems to have realised that promoting war and torture doesn't win votes or improve its image.

On Tuesday 11th September, Campaign Against Arms Trade is organising a peaceful protest against DSEi. Joining the protest, or supporting CAAT's campaigns, might be a good way of commemorating the dead of 9/11. Some may even wish to remember that earlier 9/11 - the day in 1973 when the legal government of Chile was overthrown by a military coup. It was replaced by a fascist dictatorship employing torture and murder as weapons of control. The 1973 coup was made easier because the army had Hawker Hunter jets which bombed the presidential palace. The planes were made in Britain.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

"the war itself had causes"

posted by k

In Tom Stoppard's play, Travesties, set in Zurich in 1917, the diplomat-protagonist Henry Carr reflects on the causes of the First World War: "I forget what they were, but it was all in the papers at the time. Something about brave little Belgium, wasn't it?
" Later he wonders if the cause wasn't "saucy little Serbia." The key point is not the truth but effective headlines. As he puts it, "The newspapers would never have risked calling the British public to arms without a proper regard for succinct alliteration."

We forget the causes of war. So many countries, so many names - such difficult sets of belief and complicated histories. Even important politicians can't keep track of which is which. It's much easier to latch on to what the papers say - to news that is often fed to journalists by government sources.

When Tony Blair spoke about the war in Iraq, which he linked with the so-called "war on terror", he used to go back to 9/11 as the day on which everything changed. He described the war as "an eopchal struggle between the forces of progress and the forces of reaction" set in motion by a "poisonous ideology" which had "chosen Iraq as its battleground." (I thought Iraq was chosen by Bush and Blair - but that doesn't fit the myth.)

One odd thing about this war is the way in which the sides change. One week we have one enemy, then another. Sometimes we're fighting Shi-ite extremists, sometimes Sunni extremists, sometimes both together.

Our allies are a funny lot too. So many people are keen to be against Terror. Russia is a keen ally. Sarkozy seems to be bringing France into the "War on Terror" camp. President Karimov of Uzbekistan was free to torture and murder dissidents and their families, so long as he spouted the "War on Terror" line. Libya was against us. Now Libya is our ally. Today, North Korea announced that it is to be removed from the U.S. list of rogue states. How long our leaders describe Kim Jong-Il as a democrat and friend of freedom?

Rogue states are defined by the White House as states that:

  • brutalize their own people and squander their national resources for the personal gain of the rulers;
  • display no regard for international law, threaten their neighbors, and callously violate international treaties to which they are party;
  • are determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, along with other advanced military technology, to be used as threats or offensively to achieve the aggressive designs of these regimes;
  • sponsor terrorism around the globe; and
  • reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands.
It's worth testing Britain, the United States and all their allies against these standards. I've noticed quite a few countries developing weapons of mass destruction, disregarding international law and using threats to achieve their designs. I've noticed quite a few people in public life getting rich from defence contracts. Does that squander national resources for personal gain - at the cost of human lives? Or aren't we supposed to consider ourselves? Perhaps ethics are just for other people. Or perhaps ethical standards change as fast as our history is rewritten.

At the end of 2001 the four main rogue states were listed as Iran, Iraq, Libya and North Korea. Now there's only one left - and the hawks are circling.

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