Friday, December 19, 2003

Tis the season for creative spelling....
Let's see. There's Lightspeed New Yeah! for Lightspeed's new years dance party, then there's Summadayze Festival, a dance event in jan. They've taken their crazy wacky spelling one step further, with posters advertising individual acts at the event, including one for Groove Armarda (correct spelling Armada). Put my brain on hold and pas me the alcohol.....

What's up with the media beatup on police chases ending in deaths? What about driver responsibility? Two fatal crashes in the last two days, one with a suspected drunk driver (who killed two people, in another car and one of his passengers), another driving dangerously in a stolen car. Are the police supposed to not chase dangerous idiots?

I went to see Return of the King last night. Four word review - It rocks, oh yes. There's the general advice doing the rounds, which I recommend - don't drink any fluids for two hours before, or during the film - its three hours twenty minutes long - and if you have a problem with spiders, don't go. There is a huge freakin' spider in this film.
The Guardian has a good writeup on the experience, commenting on the ditching of footage of Saruman -

"...Without Saruman, it's not good versus evil. It's good versus... a sort of swarming amorphous danger.

...There is no sobering experience of loss, no real sense of the obscenity and tragedy of war and therefore nothing really at stake. That's why it appeals to adolescent boys, and to adults sentimentally loyal to their departed, adolescent selves.

It may seem churlish to remember how shallow The Lord of the Rings is, when the Peter Jackson movies have turned out to be such terrifically enjoyable escapism. I started the series an atheist and finished an agnostic.

With enormous energy and a passionately exacting eye for detail, Jackson has made the regressive-romantic legend live again. He has given the Tolkien myth a turbo-charged rush into the 21st century. It's tripe. But he's made it mind-blowing tripe."

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Close to home
Last night at about 7pm, I was walking down Queen St in central Auckland, when a bunch of cars drove by, the drivers honking their horns and their passengers cheering and waving flags. The front car had an American and Iraqi flag, the other cars had Iraqi ones. There was probably a dozen or so cars, in this spontaneous parade, celebrating Saddam Hussein's capture. They stopped at the lights, kept up the cheers and horn blasts, then drove off to the bottom of town, still cheering.
The effects of the Iraq War seemed like something so distant from where I live (except for puff pieces on local Iraqis by that great humanitarian Paul Holmes), and yet, there it is, driving down Queen St. Local Iraqi's celebrating, just like they did on television.

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

Heres the News, in American.
Last nights TV news coverage (TV One) of Saddams capture provided some interesting pictures, but was sorely lacking in quality reporting. The local reporters returned to the horrible, overblown language they used during the Iraq War, trumpeting about the formerly defiant leader was now a cowed and broken man; reading online reports yesterday suggested otherwise, as did another foreign report during the TV news.
Reuters reports that several of Iraq's Governing Council were taken to see Saddam. "Shi'ite Muslim leader Adel Abdul Mahdi said Saddam was scornful of mass graves unearthed after the fall of his government which opponents accuse the deposed leader of responsibility.
"When we asked him about the mass graves he said those were Iranian agents and thieves...He did not appear repentant and even justified his crimes," Abdul Mahdi said.

One aspect of the TV new coverage was the lack of any reaction from the Arab world, just scenes of jubilant Iraqis. What I read online yesterday suggests that many in the Arab world were disappointed to see Saddam give himself up, instead of fighting for his life and dying as a martyr, as he had claimed he would.

"For some Arabs, Sunday's announcement of the former dictators' capture was disappointing, because they viewed Saddam as the only Arab leader who stood up to the United States.
According to Arab affairs expert, author and lecturer Abdullah al-Ashaal, many Arab citizens are willing to overlook the alleged brutality of Saddam Hussein because, he says, in some respects they do not see much difference in their own countries.
"They need someone, even if he is a criminal, he should do something against the United States and against Israel," he said. "And, they know Saddam Hussein was harsh against his own people, but they say, Who is not? All the Arabs, all of them are Saddam, but in different clothes. So, I think Saddam still has, in the streets, a lot of support."

There was also an item in the TV news on the possible trial of Saddam. Iraq's governing council recently set up a tribunal to try various former govt officials, and wants to try Saddam before it. As a human rights expert pointed out in the item, the problem with this approach rather than using an international tribunal, is that it would be very difficult to find judges and lawyers in Iraq who were impartial, as they would have worked under Saddam's regime. International tribunals have been used post WWII at Nuremburg, and most recently for former Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milosevic. The catch with an international tribunal is that it would not hand down a death sentence, which is likely to happen under the Iraqi tribunal.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Ace of spades
The US have captured Saddam Hussein - they shaved off his beard (see pics), and did a DNA test on him, just to make sure it really was him, not one of his body doubles. Back Stateside, Rumsfeld tells Bush, but they hold back from announcing his capture, one, to make sure that its confirmed, and two, so that it can come from Iraq, not the Whitehouse first.
Salaam Pax's reaction is on the Guardian's site, he was amazed that Saddam was hiding in Tikrit, as that's such an obvious place for him to be.
What I'm curious about is when did the US Government start collecting DNA samples of world tyrants? Who else have they got on file? Do they have Bin Laden's DNA?

The hut near where Saddam was found "consisted of one room with two beds and a fridge containing a can of lemonade, a packet of hot dogs, an opened box of Belgian chocolates and a tube of ointment. Several new pairs of shoes lay in their boxes scattered around the floor." Livin' large.