Technical woes

As Francis has helpfully pointed out, large chunks of this blog are defunct – including comments, individual entries, and all the archives. I’ve not worked out why yet, but bear with me and eventually things will be back to their usual semi-functionality.


: I’m still not sure what was causing this, but I’ve turned off dynamic publishing and now things are mostly working. if you find things still broken.


Coalition pressures Iraq to adopt detention without trial?

Reading this article, I find myself desperately struggling to find an innocent explanation – and failing. The gist is that the US can’t hand over control of prisons to Iraqis, because the Iraqi government has too much respect for human rights.

The commander of U.S. prison operations, which include Abu Ghraib and three other sites, said he could not predict when the Iraqi government will match U.S. standards of care for detainees

and pass laws allowing it to hold people without trial

— key conditions for handing over detainees, numbering 14,700 today.

The US authorities believe that they, unlike Iraqis, do have the right to waive due process:

while the United States points to a United Nations Security Council Resolution allowing it to detain people without charge as suspected guerrillas, the Iraqi government would need to pass its own legislation to do that

I’m not sure where they think this legal authorization comes from. All I can see is that Resolution 1511

authorizes a multinational force under unified command to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq

Resolution 1546

Decides that the multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq

If that’s all there is, this is as legally dubious as it is morally dubious – but quite possibly I’ve missed something elsewhere. Anybody want to see what information Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have collected on this?

I won’t go into the ethical and political dimensions to why this is bad; no doubt anyone reading this post will already be convinced that giving people a trial before jailing them is a Good Thing.


Cross-post from the [Iraq Analysis Group blog](


Church of Noise

Over the Easter weekend I don’t have to go into work until 2am. This is a Good Thing.

So, I spent yesterday evening at Church of Noise, with i_am_marky, innocent_irony and killingpuritans. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the music – a year of WUS had convinced me that I didn’t much like rock, but this was hour after hour of stuff I could dance at, and not all the tracks sounded identical to each other. Another of those times when I do something, and then wonder why I didn’t try it a year ago.

Current plans involve spending tomorrow evening in the Castle with gothsoc, then Saturday at the Indie Thing. Anybody have better suggestions, particularly for Saturday? Spending three nights at the Kambar in one week feels a lot like overkill.

Dr. Who sings Common People

Common People, with vocals from the automated Tom Baker voice that reads out text messages. I can’t think of any better way to end the Calling than that; it’s a pity so many people missed it. Fortunately there’s an mp3 for you all to revel in. Others are here – the version of God Save the Queen is absolute genius.

The rest of the music at the Calling was also unusually great. I’ve been wishing I danced more; one day I’ll work out the art of dancing


talking. Really I will.

Before that, thanks to Roo, Kai, and the assembled LARPers in the Druids for making Dan have an extremely enjoyable afternoon and evening.

Meeting the Yezidis

One positive byproduct of the war in Iraq has been the increased contact between outsiders and some of the smaller cultural groups in Iraq. I’m thinking particularly about the Yezidis, a religious group in North Iraq. Frequently misunderstood – even seen as devil-worshippers – they have been the objects of prejudice within their own country, and confusion outside it.

Then suddenly in the past few years a steady stream of outsiders have made their way to the Yezidi villages near Mosul and Dohuk. Most recently there is Michael Totten‘s report, written in February. Before that Michael Yon did something similar. And back in April 2005, Jacob Appelbaum wrote his own two-part account of the Yezidis, with many pictures he’s taken.

All three have written touching and human portraits of the Yezidis, as well as collecting ever more accurate information about their beliefs and lifestyles. They certainly compare favourably to this account of them written back in 1941, and even to the photographs from the same time, recently shown at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford.


As if Christ, vampires and lesbians weren’t enough, i_am_toast and  i_am_marky have treated me to Toxic Avenger, which involves “the first superhero from New Jersey” protecting a small town from evil. Better still, he does it

in a tutu

.There was also another film about panther-people, murder and incest,but nobody was paying much attention by that point. Silly films are


more enjoyable than ones that want to be taken seriously.

Update for those of you concerned about the Abolition of Parliament bill: the third reading looks likely to happen during the last week of this month. So far, only one Labour MP is publicly opposing it. Be scared!

Hoping to see lots of you at the


(*) Calling tonight.

* you don’t want to know how close I came to using a blink tag there

Iraq’s death toll in historical perspective

[warning: the following is fairly macabre]

I’m trying to get my head round the death toll in Iraq. I don’t know what the latest estimates are (some past ones are collected [here](, but it’s clear that we’re well over the 100,000 that the Lancet [guessed]( back in October 2004. Compare that to [this collection of 20th century death tolls]( , and you’ll see Iraq is in the running as a serious catastrophe on historical scales. It’s caused more than [these wars and atrocities]( (e.g. the Boxer rebellion), and is comihng close to [some of these]( (e.g. the Lebanese Civil War). Worse, it feels like we’re only getting started.