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25 October 2006

What it's come to

I am sort of watching (intermittently listening to) PMQs on the TV (Prime Minister's Questions for those not familiar with British politics, and no, I can't explain what it is, you will just have to watch it sometime.) I see in the Guardian that support for Labour has slipped to a 20-year low, and that the Conservatives have a chance at coming back to power. How can they be so stupid? Also in the Guardian is this excellent comment piece from Simon Jenkins on Iraq.

This country has been turned by two of the most powerful and civilised nations on Earth into the most hellish place on Earth. Armies claiming to bring democracy and prosperity have brought bloodshed and a misery worse than under the most ruthless modern dictator. This must be the stupidest paradox in modern history. Neither America nor Britain has the guts to rule Iraq properly, yet they lack the guts to leave.
Blair speaks of staying until the job is finished. What job? The only job he can mean is his own.

I voted

Two years ago, I joined Democrats Abroad, not that I'm a Democrat necessarily (except, of course, the small "d" kind) but it was important to try to oust Bush when we had the chance. Now "we" (whoever that is) have a chance to have a Democratic congress. Not that that is going to solve all the world's ills, but at least they will (hopefully) stand up to Bush and give him a cold bath of reality for his last two years in office. But anyway, I managed to get myself just barely organised enough to do the ballot and get to a post office and get it sent on its way.
Not much else going on in my so-called life. Today we are getting two more budgies - numbers four and five - who are hand-reared babies. I have managed to get myself back to Pilates for two weeks in a row. I think our GPs are going to get all medieval on my husband and me and force us to tackle our obesity (that awkward phrasing is somewhat appropriate, because it is rather as if we share one big obesity between us.) More on the subject of health - we joined an organic box scheme, and I have blogged about it over at Deborama's Kitchen. (I apologise for the wonky layout of DK; I am working on it.)
And this Saturday I am planning to go to London with friend and fellow American ex-pat Jay. The main objective - a trip to Harrod's (we've never been, either of us.) I probably won't buy anything more than a book and what my DH calls "foodie shites". It's more for the experience.

14 October 2006

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace laureate 2006

As Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, "the most effective anti-poverty organisation in the world" is announced as winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace prize, Middle Tennessee State University is proud to claim him as one of their own. (He was a professor of Economics there.) Back in Tennessee, Yunus's work with the Grameen Bank has always been greatly admired - and influential. Numerous economics students from Tennessee have served internships with Grameen Bank in India, and some southern progressives are considering a programme based on it to help the refugees of Hurrican Katrina.

We are now just another tribe

A quote from a British officer serving in Basra. Here is the whole quote, and its context:

Basra has become riddled with organised gangs, militias and death squads, and its police force is corrupt. According to senior coalition advisers, there are around 20 different security and police groups in the city, ranging from the directorate of education police to the justice police; the governor alone has 200 armed gunmen protecting him. Some of the police units are active in organised crime and have been infiltrated by militias, others work as death squads. There are also around a dozen religious militias.
"We are in a tribal society in Basra and we [the British army] are in effect one of these tribes," said Lt Col Simon Brown, commander of the 2nd Battalion. "As long as we are here the others will attack us because we are the most influential tribe. We cramp their style."

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