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Eddie Mair | 14:59 UK time, Tuesday, 14 November 2006

will be on our programme tonight, and we'll mention the results of an opinion poll conducted inside the country. If you want to read more - here it is.


  1. At 03:31 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Sophie wrote:

    just got the newsletter which was sent at 12.40 and it is now 15.29. does this mean we are on the slow descent into communication black out again?

    I just saw that you had already told us it would be late. sorry.

  2. At 03:32 PM on 14 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    I know I should really say something relevant to the blog when it's only recently gone up, but I want to have a moan. So I direct this specifically at Eddie and Lissa.

    Drinks apparently got moderated last night. Now some might think that she should be moderated more often, but it raises a serious point. Most froggers invest a significant amount of time, effort and thought on a comment every now and then. We do so in the hope that the comments will appear - to amuse, inform or randomly use up a few bytes of the BBC's storage capacity. When they don't, it is invariably frustrating. In accordance with good HCI principles, not knowing if a comment has been moderated is actually more frustrating than knowing it has - hence the emergence of the "shuvva" - or comment sent in an attempt to unblock the tubes. More frustrating, still, is that most moderated posts are surely fingered for some relatively small part of their content - especially from reg'lars. Would it not be possible to mail a comment back to the person who submitted it if it is not deemed appropriate, and therefore allow the frogger to amend and try again? I know this will do nothing to stop intended abuse and indeed it will do nothing (I can see) to increase it, but it would allow genuine contributors to carry out a bit of self-censorship if they have breached notions of "acceptable conduct" - without all the frustration of wondering what happened and then having to put all the same effort in again.

    I appreciate that, on occasion, technical failure will be responsible for comments going missing - but some sort of positive feedback would help in these situation too - i.e. it wouldn't arrive...

    Thank you for listening/reading. Moan over.

  3. At 03:36 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Peter Wharton wrote:

    The survey suggests that over 50% are not happy with the direction Afghanistan is going. A percentage could not be surveyed because of the security position. I can well imagine their response.
    I would think there would have been a similar response to Genghis Khan's attempt at pacification. Not to mention the Red Army and the great adventure in Queen Victoria's time.
    We never seem to learn from history.

  4. At 03:43 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Peter Wharton wrote:

    Clarifying my earlier contribution: 21% say wrong direction, 29% mixed views and 4% unsure.
    Not exactly a massive vote of confidence.

  5. At 04:01 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Lucy wrote:

    can we have more pics of Eddie please?

  6. At 04:15 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Mark my words.





    No oil, no invasion, however 'evil' the regime.

    Funny, that.

  7. At 04:23 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Mark Drew wrote:

    The decline in support for the direction the country is going in I would suggest is extremely serious. Remember this is the source of much of the opiate that infests the world; ruining lives in the process. Getting Afghanistan sorted such that the population have confidence in their security and government is extremely important and may reduce the uncontrolled opium supply.

    Comparing Afghanistan to Iraq in terms of problems is inappropriate the former is clearly affected by terrorist the latter has a defacto civil war on its hands particularly in the light of the abduction of 100 people from the Education Ministry.

  8. At 04:26 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    Peter (5), no, that 56% of people feel that the country is not on the right track is hardly something to wave the flags about, but I was surprised that 44% felt positively; a number far far greater than I would have personally estimated, given the long-term situation there.

    44% was also a greater figure than the same question asked of Americans prior to their mid-term elections, and the US is hardly a place with no security, economy or stability. It might be down to different priorities: that 44% of Afghans may just be thankful that they are still alive after all.

  9. At 04:31 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Lissa, PM Blog Editor wrote:

    Hi John H...we're looking into this but I'm a bit confused...we can't find any comments by a blogger called Drinks (whether published or rejected).

    Could you email me with some specifics then we can let everyone else get on with the Afghanistan thread and get this sorted out. (Send it to pm@bbc.co.uk and put attn Lissa in the subject box).

    One of the problems I am having (which is a compliment to you all really) is that you are all posting so many comments the blog administrators site is working really really slowly. Richard the Blog Wizard is working on a fix.

  10. At 04:32 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Katherine wrote:

    I completely agree with Fifi, the actions of the large fuel guzzling coutries around the world do seem rather arbitrary and illogical, until you look at the oil distribution and how available that oil is made to those fuel guzzling nations (and at what price)...

  11. At 04:50 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Valery P wrote:

    John H, currently 3, I know what you mean. I often post and then end up convincing myself that I must have pressed the wrong button or summat, but today I know (because it was such a completely unusual and never to be repeated occurrence), that I found the 2 blogs which were put up at 5.45, at 5.50 when I went to turn off the pc. So delighted was I by the news about the beach, that I posted twice on one and once on the other. Judging by the time Ffred's first one got put up on Standby and gossipmistress and Robbiedo on New Beach, I presumed whoever does the approving had gone back to sleep, but mine never appeared. The ones of mine that Are there were subsequent, I have to admit, rather miffed ones, because I had been so excited about being first on the Beach!!

    All rather trivial I know, but your point about investing time and so on, brought it to mind.

    P.S. they weren't at all contentious either, honest guv.

  12. At 04:53 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    Katherine and Fifi: God forbid if Canada ever decides to invade Alaska.

  13. At 04:54 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Ironically, Iran has to import Petrol because it lacks the necessary refinery capacity. It exports crude to get money to subsidise the price of petrol for its citizens...

    It's a bit like Scotland giving grants to foreign corporations to help them build windfarms here and sell the electricity to England...

    We're a third world country!

  14. At 05:01 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Sophie wrote:

    Re the dogs on the beach. Eddie, I am picking up an adorable puppy in January and he wants to know if he is welcome on the beach. Can we see pictures of the dogs that are already on the beach and can we submit pictures of dogs who wish to join the beach pack? Can we upload them or would we have to send them in by snail mail?

  15. At 05:01 PM on 14 Nov 2006, ian wrote:

    Afghanistan will be on our programme tonight

    Blimey! Exactly how big is the PM studio?

  16. At 05:09 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Ed (12): * We're a third world country! *

    ... you've only just noticed?

    Heaven help us if we ever have another war on our doorstep, now that we can no longer feed ourselves or build anything.

    Maybe we could appease the invading forces by offering them the use of our call centres.

  17. At 05:31 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    1. Drinks is John H's nickname for Aperitif.
    2. As John says, posts not infrequently go into some sort of twilight zone from which not all reappear.

    Spooky. And no indication of what or who might be at fault.

    Still love you, anyway

  18. At 05:43 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Lissa, PM Blog Bodger wrote:

    Dear Ed, John H, Valery,

    Thanks...Richard the Blog Wizard has just emailed me having figured out the Aperitif-Drinks link.

    The blog is pre-moderated which seems to be the quickest way to get the most comments through the moderating system. But there seems to be a pool of about 200 odd comments that have been deferred - Aperitif's being one of them (though having read it I'm not sure why).

    Let me have a look through them and try and figure out what the blog moderating company seem to be deeming inappropriate.

    I will get back to you.


    PS I'm meeting Richard the Blog Wizard for the first time tomorrow morning.

  19. At 05:59 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Rosalind wrote:

    I love the story of the Fra Angelicos. Magic still happens even today. And behind the bedroom door!
    Sophie, I know that dogs are welcome on the beach. Charlie (Labrador puppy) and I had an idyllic time there this morning, avoiding the light but soaking rain here in this part of Britain.

  20. At 06:00 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Rosalind wrote:

    Lissa, you do work beyond the norm. We all appreciate what you do. A lot!

  21. At 06:03 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Paul wrote:

    If it doesn't already exist, someone should create a counter cyber terrorism unit, employing the best hackers to use their skills to directly attack the enemy infrastructure - not only would this this help to gather intelligence, but would serve to sabotage the servers used by the extremists - as a spin off this would give hackers constructive employment and there would be fewer of them to make the rest of the population's lives a misery.

  22. At 06:06 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I think post-moderated is quicker, but more open to abusive posts. Perhaps we are a sheltered lot who have been 'protected' against the raging hordes of offensive folk banging on the blog gates?

  23. At 06:09 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Insurgent Activity Soaring in "Forgotten War" in Afghanistan
    The Associated Press

    Sunday 12 November 2006

    Kabul - Insurgent activity in Afghanistan has risen fourfold this year, and militants now launch more than 600 attacks a month, a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006, a bleak new report released Sunday found.

    In the volatile border area near Pakistan, more than 20 Taliban militants - and possibly as many as 60 - were killed during several days of clashes, officials said Sunday.

    The new report said insurgents were launching more than 600 attacks a month as of the end of September, up from 300 a month at the end of March this year. The violence has killed more than 3,700 people this year, it said.

    Afghanistan saw about 130 insurgent attacks a month last year, said the report by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, a body of Afghan and international officials charged with overseeing the implementation of the Afghanistan Compact, a five-year reconstruction and development blueprint signed in February.

    The violence "threatens to reverse some of the gains made in the recent past, with development activities being especially hard hit in several areas, resulting in partial or total withdrawal of international agencies in a number of the worst-affected provinces."

    The report said that the rising drug trade in Afghanistan is fueling the insurgency in four volatile southern provinces. The slow pace of development is contributing to popular disaffection and ineffective implementation of the drug fight, it said.

    Why don't we just buy all the opium they can produce for the NHS? A whole lot cheaper than trying to bribe them to grow something else.

    With the money they can buy food and re-build their devastated country

  24. At 06:50 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    I now have this vision of some poor harassed character called Manuel M'Oderatores, inundated with our maunderings, in what to him/her may well be a foreign language.... povera petit...

  25. At 06:56 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Aunt Dahlia wrote:

    I don't think you can make people change their beliefs by waving guns at them. The whole situation seems to be like trying to argue rationally with a two year old anticipating that he shares your value system.
    Q.What do the 'insurgents'/terrorists actually want?
    A. Their own way regardless

    Now how do we resolve that through the negotiating efforts and metods of Bush-Blair?

  26. At 07:07 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Of course dogs / puppies are welcome on the beach! Provided they are well behaved and house-trained, of course.

    Who's going to guide you home when you've over-indulged at the bar? Better yet, get it trained to fetch your next drink for you, straight to your lounger.

    Better carry a pooper-scooper and a plastic bag or two though, better safe than sorry...

    Shih-Tzu anyone?


  27. At 08:45 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Wow Lissa, thanks! And imagine fathoming out that JH was on about me - many people call me all sorts but he's the only one who calls me "Drinks".

    I remember the thrust of my post rather than the words themselves, but I don't think I was offensive, or any more subversive than usual. I might've mentioned the Prime Minister's bottom, but I've said a lot more about Eddie and his Speedoes and got away with it, so I didn't understand why I'd been moderated either.

    You're a star.

    JH, I forgot to say - I encountered a woman who knows you last week. Her name was Terry (not Terri), but I won't say any more for fear of the pixies again.

  28. At 08:48 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    P.S. Give Clever Richard an encouraging hug from all of us.

  29. At 09:49 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Majad wrote:

    I am writing to complain about today's PM show where I was shocked to listen to your report on "Muslim youth" allegedly being led to a life of violence and crime by the Islamic political party Hizb ut Tahrir.

    This was extremely gutter journalism and sadly lacking of the facts - the complete opposite of your what your report claims is true.

    Hizb ut Tahrir was in fact the party which stepped in to pacify a full scale turf war in south London between rival gangs of youth - so much so that the Metropolitan Police recognised their contribution.

    Aside from this, your report claimed that Hizb ut Tahrir encouraged its members to rob and commits acts of violence - this is absolutely laughable and any member of any Muslim organisation in this country (moderate or otherwise) would tell you how far from the truth this is. HT have been the source of inspiration and guidance to political work for thousands of young professionals throughout the UK, thier contribution to healthy debate, dialogue and exchange of views in the most amicable way has been unmatched by any organisation thus far.

  30. At 10:18 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Valery P wrote:

    Lissa, I can only re-iterate what has been expressed, we really appreciate all the extra you must have to put in, on top of the day job!

    Inspector Lissa Investigates... (and thanks to the Blog Wizard too, I hope you enjoy good meeting tomorrow)

    Sophie - what kind of puppy? Pluto (Sam actually) is a Border-Lakeland X Terrier and he is totally charming, he has changed my life!

  31. At 10:33 PM on 14 Nov 2006, anne wrote:

    Fi-fi, well of course it's all about oil, in a way it's a shame they don't have any in Zimbabwe, although given the mess we're in everywhere else perhaps it's as well they don't.

    oh dear, someone on TWT has just used that frightful phrase 'empowering'. He'll be muttering about closure next.

    Lissa give Richard a big hug from us all - and if you can have someone standing by to take a phone pic of his reaction, I'm sure we'd all like to see that posted up here sometime tomorrow.

    And just going back to oil, IT'S SCOTLAND'S OIL you know.

  32. At 11:35 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Frances O wrote:

    Ed (14) - hmm, so wind is the new oil?

    Remember 'It's Scotland's Oil', long, lonnggggg ago?

  33. At 11:42 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Annasee wrote:

    Lissa, how amazing that Richard has been helping out with the blog for so long, & you've never met. This would never have happened in my younger days. In my naivete I imagined that Richard would be there in the office, peering over your shoulder pressing buttons on the computer trying to clear the blog blockages & other techno gremlins. But he's not even in the same ROOM. That seems like magic to me. We definitely need a photo of this wizard.

  34. At 11:46 PM on 14 Nov 2006, Frances O wrote:

    Oh, blast, posted before I read anne's no 32. Well, there you go. And, indeed, there I went! Where angels feared to tread (thread?)

    Appy, I've never seen you called all sorts before... (28). Are you, in fact, a liquorice aperitif? I haven't seen one before, but anything's possible in frogland.

    But then, I've just found this on Wikipedia:

    'The Finnish people are very fond of black liquorice flavored candies and beverages, and one increasingly popular alcoholic drink in the demoscene is Salmiakki Koskenkorva (Salmiakkikossu for short), a salty and sweet liquorice drink which may be purchased in liquor stores or homemade by dissolving finely-crushed zalmiak candies in a bottle of vodka.'

    I don't fancy candle-flavoured vodka myself, but I'm not even remotely Finnish.

    I am, however, finished for the night. Sleep well, all!

  35. At 11:52 PM on 14 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Well, whilst I'm sorry I've been absent, I guess I'm glad that we've got a response. Lissa, thank you. Thank goodness I didn't address my comment to Lizzy and Eric. Actually, I am sorry about the confusion - should've thought - "Drinks" came from "Drinks at Six" - apparently it was preferred to "Dentures" - not sure why. [wistful memories of the early not-yet-frog]

    Interestingly (for me) is that we have already come up with the concept of a moderating pixies meeting to discuss "questionable" comments - I guess this matches your comment about "deferred" status. That this runs to 200 is not so surprising - that Drinks is included is even less so - let's weed out those subversive elements... (ho ho ho).

    Drinks (28) don't think you're right there (although of course I have reason to believe that you have more information - you and your cameras!). There are a lot of "Me"s around - away from here - who aren't, in fact, me. And conversely, there are some "not-quite-Me"s close to home - well known, but also not me. The latter has resulted in some interesting emails, and some interesting documents, come to that - hush, hush, say no more!

    Wish I had time to return to the "English" discussion...

  36. At 12:17 AM on 15 Nov 2006, patricia Elliot wrote:

    Re (Aperatif)

    The world is full of crooks and thieves my dear

    p. Elliot

  37. At 12:24 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Annasee wrote:

    Frances O (35) we went to Finland some years ago & I must say they have a spectacular range of horrid-tasting liqueuers(sp?). Also an awful lot of men with serious drink problems. We went on a ferry across to Estonia for a day trip. much favoured by the Finns because they could have access to cheaper alcohol there (it was very highly-taxed in Finland, thus terribly expensive). I have never seen so many morose, dead-drunk men in my life as on that ferry. Not noisy or violent drunk, just deathly pale, silent, & lurching ready to topple over at any moment.
    So maybe the nasty licorice stuff is an attempt to make it too disgusting to drink!

  38. At 12:29 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    Has this become identity crisis central?

  39. At 12:38 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Annasee wrote:

    Since we're nominally in Afghanistan, can I risk appearing woefully frivolous by saying the friend who was working there has just brought me back a beautiful pashmina. The place can't be all bad, I deduce from that. A lot of traders are making a very good living out of the constantly changing US & other forces who are out there. No-one goes home without a carpet, & usually lots else besides, eg tailored suits, gemstones, jewellery etc. If there were no well-paid international forces there, who else would be buying their goods at such generous prices?

  40. At 02:19 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Loooonnnngggg ago, it may have been , but i remember. Some of us immigrants are more nationalistic/localistic than natives, even though we may be ironically challenged.

    Palnackie forever!

  41. At 09:00 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    Rosalind, Simon, and others -

    Re dogs on the beach. Long ago, when the beach was moored at Day One, there was some talk along these lines.

    We're very careful to make sure the beach is kept nice and clean for everybody, dog lovers and non-lovers alike, and there is a another beach - Fido's Run - which is the next bay along which is a dog walking beach where RobbieDo, myself, and others take our K9 pals and where they have priority over humans.

    Just so as your aware - The dogs love it there, and never find themselves having to deal with any grumpiness from humans.

    If you haven't been there yet, I'm just off now with my old chap (Welsh border collie, just coming up for 16 1/2) who loves to meet others, especially puppies and humans.

    See you there!

  42. At 09:06 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Bill Scolding wrote:

    I am getting increasingly fed up with the BBC using its news programmes to create rather than report news. The article on Tuesday's PM on extremist muslim groups, and which was expanded into half-an-hour on Newsnight, was actually lacking in any real news content at all, and comprised largely of unsubstantiated stories from anonymous sources (who may well have their own axe to grind). The fact that PM used its prime news slot from 1705 to trail the Newsnight report is also reprehensible, although something which is becoming all too frequent. How many times do we listen to an apparent exclusive news story, and then hear afterwards 'and if you want to see Lunchtime O'Booze's special report from Iraqistan then watch Newsnight/Panorama's feature tomorrow night...'
    So, stop peddling dubious sensationalist stories as 'news', stop trailing other BBC programmes within news programmes, and get back to reporting what is really news. God knows there's enough of it out there.

  43. At 09:06 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Big Sister wrote:

    On another doggie point:

    Sophie mentioned about pictures of our pooches. I think that's a great idea, though it would require a lot of technical argy bargie for Eddie/Lissa/Richard, so we may have to accept that we can't.

    It may be that there is a way of posting somewhere externally, through another blog or whatever. Not sure that this would have the same effect, however.

    I know there are froggers out there who can answer this one, which is why I'm posting it. There are some frogging wizards. Wonderful people.

  44. At 09:24 AM on 15 Nov 2006, RobbieDo wrote:

    Big Sis.

    I'll catch you up. Just going to get Fido. Ive got an idea about the dog pictures too.

  45. At 09:29 AM on 15 Nov 2006, OnTheLedge wrote:

    Eddie mentioned something last night about some Blog development (no, he wasn't referring to the beach).

    Now, Sequin is on tonight, which means our Eddie isn't around today, but perhaps Lissa knows what this is? Sounded like something engaging, though I don't think it was a competition .....

    Of course, it may yet be a brainchild and therefore undisclosed to Lissa and others, like the New Beach.

    Eddie keeps tricks up sleeves.

  46. At 09:36 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Anne (32):

    If you're interested in Zimbabwe, I receive a newsletter every now and then which is absolutely chilling.

    It's written by a white woman stuck in Z. who, if she's caught telling it like it is, will most certainly be shot.

    What it's like to live day-to-day with galloping inflation, corrupt govt and police, complete anarchy on the streets and big business the only winner. . . it makes me (temporarily) glad I'm in this country.

    And that's saying something.

    Contact me via the website if you'd like me to forward it to you in future.

    That goes for everyone. Sobering stuff.

  47. At 09:55 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Anne P. wrote:

    Annasee (40)

    Sorry if this seems an over heavy reaction to your posting (always difficult to get the tone right without the associated voice and body language), but I can't see how invading a country to be able to purchase its craft goods is an improvement over straightforwardly trading for them.

    It may help to mitigate some of the hardship caused by years of conflict but can hardly justify it (which I suspect is not what you were trying to do). Bringing back ethnic goods in return for taking over someone else's country smacks of the worst kind of imperialism to me.

    I'd far rather we were helping people find good economic alternatives to poppy cultivation, or legal, medical uses for the crop, so they could create a stable economy rather than wading in with large numbers of troops. I may be wrong but I don't believe anyone has ever 'won' a war in Afghanistan.

    I guess the most surprising thing about the survey which triggered this thread is just how many people have managed to remain relatively optimistic despite everything.

  48. At 10:07 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    The way it came across last night, it sounded like a competition to me, which means I can forget about it, as I am completely untalented in every area and never win anything which involves either brain-power or artistic skill.

    As for the post above by Bill Scolding about the BBC creating the news and pimping stories for other shows, I'll just say this: The minute that ANY media outlet actually just reports basic facts, rather than opinion, talking heads, editorials or speculation which furthers an agenda, will be the moment when I start investing my hard-earned money in the media again. I prefer to make my own mind up about issues, not be told by someone else what to think.
    Being TVless, I don't know anything about ratings, but is Newsnight struggling to keep viewers lately? They've been pulling some odd stunts such as the Madonna interview, which started an increasing proportion of celebrity articles, and now they've started to adher to the News of the World adage: "If it ain't there, let's report it anyway!". Last night's report on PM was weak in many areas, but if the intention was for me to be interested enough to watch Newsnight then it also failed miserably, as I forget the report as soon as it had ended.

  49. At 10:09 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Brightonram wrote:

    Am I mistaken in believing that the correspondent in yesterday's report used the expression "a phenomona"?

    Don't these reports get marked for grammar, spelling and punctuation?

  50. At 10:10 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Bill S. (43);
    strong opinions, but I have a certain sympathy with your views.

    One thing that makes me shake my head whenever I hear it on the news is that '..(something or other) is creating unrest/dismay/disquiet/anxiety (insert your own version here) amongst the British public'.

    Invariably you've never heard anyone discussing it at all. So much for public disquiet, etc. No masses on the streets showing their anger/fear/opposition/whatever.

    It often feels like the news organisation is trying to start the debate, rather than report it.

    About the item on Hizb-ut-Tahrir I have no particular opinion. If proof exists that they are hatred-stirring-extremists or terrorist supporters then ban them. But Majad (30) certainly does have an opinion and it's odd that not one of the regular froggers have commented on it.


  51. At 10:17 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    At risk of being labelled a malicious multi-poster, I do have to say that the BBC is in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation regarding the Newsnight/PM report. For a long time now, the BBC have been accused of being an anti-Christian, pro-Islamic, liberal-bias tree-hugging organisation. Last night they did a report (whether true or not, I do not know- the weakness of the report was that it didn't convince me either way) which lambasted a particular Mosque for controverisal teachings and here we are this morning: everyone is complaining about it for being anti-Islamic. I don't envy these reporters, I can tell you.

  52. At 10:24 AM on 15 Nov 2006, anne wrote:

    only peripherally related but I did think it was both ironic and true when whatisname - I think Ortega, said the other day that the best thing celebrities could do for his country was stop taking cocaine. Possibly a bit harder than just turning up to sing a song at a concert? in any case I didn't hear of any celebs queueing up to fall in with the suggestion.

    BTW we love Finland but it has to be admitted that there is a serious alcohol problem there, possibly not unrelated to city living and long dark winter days and long light summer nights.

  53. At 10:40 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Anne P,

    I don't think Annasee was condoning, but, like many of us foreign folk, she may have a wee bit difficulty using irony. At this very moment I'm wearing an Afghani hat, the price of which has gone to support secular schools in remote upper Nuristan. This is down to a couple of friends of mine, and is an example of what private effort can achieve - an inspiration in these troubled times.

    Simon: I don't know much about Hizb-ut-Tahrir, except that they aspire to Sharia law. They have obviously got some pretty calmly articulate defenders, including Majad. I, for one, am prepared to give them a lot more rope before condemnation. There are plenty of candidates for that among our own Great Leaders.

    Vaya con Gaia

  54. At 10:44 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Anne P. wrote:

    Majad (30)

    I am not able to judge the accuracy or otherwise of the report you complained about, but would like to make three points.

    1. It is really important that we can all continue talk to each other about such issues.

    2. I am very concerned at the evidence, which I think does exist, that some groups of young muslims are exposed to faked videos of atrocities in order to incite them to violent reaction (which is not to deny that atrocities are committed on all sides of any conflict).

    3. I look forward to the new English language service of Al Jezeera which I hope will be able to provide a fresh perspective for us all, and whose voice may perhaps have greater credibility among those who have come to doubt the objectivity of existing media outlets.

  55. At 11:10 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Annasee wrote:

    Anne P - I was attemptimg to be a little ironical. I suppose my point would be that some actions can have unlooked for consequences. Say the US & UK govt's decided to pull out all their troops tomorrow, which presumably is an action a lot of people here would approve. The result for a lot of Afghans,particularly in Kabul, would be instant unemployment or loss of their income as traders to the "invaders". How could they make up that income? What better or more reliable way than cultivating the poppy. Result , even bigger supply of the drugs we're trying to stop getting to the UK.
    Apparently, & this is the most depressing bit, the years of lowest supply of drugs from the Afghan poppy fields came during the Taliban rule. And the best ever year for poppies, with an absolutely bumper crop? That would be this year, during the "War on Terror/Drugs," (whatever it's about).
    If you have answers, I'm sure Tony Blair would appreciate them on a postcard.

  56. At 11:33 AM on 15 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Simon (51, I think) - the HT story was completely lost on me - I didn't hear the item on the programme and didn't see Newsnight. The result is a limited capacity to comment. Just did a bit of 'oogling to see if anything interesting cropped up - and this did. I have no way of knowing if there are inaccuracies in Newsnight's reporting, but it does appear that the interest is long standing (the linked item appears to be from 2003).

    Back to trivial stuff now...

  57. At 11:48 AM on 15 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed (41 & 54),
    I need to share this, although it will probably get me shot - I have never found Americans to be the worst offeneders when it comes to "not doing irony properly". That accolade, I find, tends to be reserved for some (is that enought stress on the 'some'?) people from the South of England. Watch as they look puzzled and attempt a serious response when one was being flippant; listen in amazement as they attempt to explain why they don't agree with the general thrust of a clearly (to everyone else) humourous and trivial conversation. I say again "some" lest I should upset anyone. But this happened to me several times...

  58. At 12:01 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    P.S. JH, Having seen your website I'm pretty certain that this Terry and I were referring to the same version of you. She knew who you were rather than claiming to know you well. Odd how it came up actually, but I fear the pixies so, no more. (Doo-doo doo-doo, doo-doo doo-doo...)

  59. At 12:05 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Anne P (and all)

    Al Jazeera do have considerable web output in English, for those interested.
    which seems (temporarily?) unobtainable.


  60. At 12:17 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Aperitif (58),
    Thanks for that, intended in all seriousness, I suspect. It happens to me very often, and is single-handedly responsible for my abandonment of the elsewhere discussed "n-word".

    As a member of the reputedly most ironically-challenged 'race', I have sought far and wide for a good definition, and once found the simple, "Wry Scottish wit", which explained a lot, especially some of the indefinable reason I found myself so at-home in Scotland.

    I remain very wary of attempting to deploy irony, perhaps because it is least expected from Americans, but also because, although poker players can read me like a book, English folk can't, and Scots can out-irony me so well I might as well be from Kent.


  61. At 12:30 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Brightonram (50):
    Hey, a Brighton person! (it looks like...). Good to have you aboard.

    Took my parents to Gay Pride last year ... my mother's eyes nearly popped out of her head. I'm not sure she even realised it was going to be anything more than an inconvenient traffic interruption.... hee hee!

    Re 'a phenomena' ... strictly speaking, and it grinds my teeth to say this, phenomena can be used as the singular OR the plural. Something to do with it being a Greek word I think.

    We get used to '-a' plurals because so many of our words have Latin roots.

    There now. That's my serious thought for today.

    ...Did someone just say 'common as ***t' on You & Yours?????

  62. At 12:37 PM on 15 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Drinks (59), I actually mailed Lissa and recommended that all of your comments be sent to the pixies for this exact reason - how infuriating! - I will now be spending the whole day trying to work out if I've ever met, or even heard of, a woman called Terry.

  63. At 12:41 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Ed (61):

    The best way to do irony face-to-face is probably either to smile or wink at the end. (Careful typing required here...!)

    Frogging, and emailing, requires a heavy hand with exclamation marks and the dreaded smileys.

    But ('common as ***t' again.... blimey!) ...er ... what was I saying?

    Oh yes, irony.

    Ed, you can do irony. You can. You just need to flag it up for us aboriginals, because it's an unexpected talent in your case. When we/they get to know you better, and learn to expect it, you'll be able to lay off the signals again.

    Scots in particular will LOVE you for it. Although I fear Appy's experiences indicate that there's no pleasing some of the English...

    No offence intended to any froggers here present or absent either. Use of the three dots is another sign I was being 'ironic'!!

  64. At 12:54 PM on 15 Nov 2006, anne wrote:

    Fifi, re your question anout You and Yours.

    You still listen? Wow!

    Are you sure about the phenomenon thing? I did greek at school - of the ancient variety, and my memory is that singular -on words have an -a plural and are greek. The example fixed in my memory is rhododendron, rhododendra, dendron being greek for tree. Conversely, arena, which is a latin word but ends in a in the singular has a plural of arenas.

    However my greek was a shockingly long time ago and I am happy to be corrected by anyone with more up to date knowledge than me.

  65. At 01:01 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    But perhaps I'm being ironic when I signal irony?
    P.S. I'm reminded of an anecdotal observation on the Chinese language; apparently when asked "Is he not coming, then?" a Chinese will reply, "Yes," meaning, "Yes, he's not coming."

    You can imagine the consequences in interrogation situations, and I've heard that in San Francisco the police have specially trained staff to help out .

    Nowt as queer as folk, eh?

  66. At 01:09 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    My friends,

    Please forgive me getting all serious again, and if you don't want to follow these links, then don't.

    The first will take you to a Palestinian exile in Vienna, and shouldn't trouble anyone unduly.

    The second will trouble anyone with any vestige of conscience or decency, so "do an ostrich" if you wish.

    In sadness

  67. At 01:46 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Ed (67) you should have put an indication in this post about the content of the second website which you linked to.

    Be advised everybody, it is NOT for the weak-hearted and contains explicitly graphic images of death and mutilation. It turned my stomach. Frankly I could not stand to see this page again. The pictorial content was enough to prevent me from reading the text and finding out what it was all about.


  68. At 01:53 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Whisht wrote:

    hi - not much time as at work so apologies in advance for rushed thinking.

    Interesting that there have been so few comments about the muslim/ HT story. I didn't catch it and only know about it through this blog.

    Interesting that noone commented "ooh isn't it awful about those muslim kids...", "I believe the story and it just goes to show..."....

    instead the first mention on the blog was the annoyed gentleman who believes (perhaps rightly) that it was a terrible report peddling harmful misinformation.

    All the 'regulars' (meself included) either missed it, didn't feel strongly enough to comment, or didn't feel like they had a perspective to comment.

    If any lurkers out there fancy adding a link here, pointing people in the 'right' direction or whatever, then they should.

    Although there are a lot of comments along the "I've let my dog off its leash on the Beach" lines (or other perhaps impenetrable stuff) everyone here likes to keep informed, and its good to be reminded that some reporting (even on the BBC) is either weak, ill-informed or dangerous.

    And I honestly mean add a link, or say something (like Mazad did) with 'facts' or viewpoints, rather than ranting which generally turns people off the message, even when you're right.

    gotta go - sorry for splurge.

  69. At 02:13 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Sorry Si,

    I should perhaps have given an even stronger warning than I did. The images are indeed disgusting, but everyday stuff in real living, dying life for folk in Gaza.

    Sorry to bring the pachyderm into the frogpond, but this thread is titled Afghanistan, and it's no picnic there either, nor in Iraq.

    And we're ALL complicit.

  70. At 02:13 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    67 (Ed) & 68 (Simon):

    Well maybe it's just as well that I couldn't get the 2nd link to work.

    Found the page, couldn't open more than the headline.

    Ed, perhaps you could summarise it in frogproof language? Or if it's too grim even to do that, perhaps email it me direct via the website link?

    Cheers mate.

  71. At 02:28 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Regarding Hizb-ut-Tahrir

    They have a website:
    and perhaps an example of how to organise a response to libellous or inaccurate media coverage:

    There is plenty of material, and I haven't done more than a cursory examination, but the trouble me less than some of 'our' lot, PNAC, for example:
    Salaam, etc

  72. At 02:37 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I'm afraid I missed it as well (and forgot to do a listen again when I got home), so I don't feel I can comment on the report as such.

    Regarding Bills' post (43), I can certainly see his point regarding what can sometimes be little more than extended trails for later programmes. When this takes place during a news bulletin, then I agree. However, PM as a programme isn't a news programme. Rather, it is a current affairs magazine type of programme (at least that's how I've always seen it). This means it can legitimately be used occasionally to have a short section about a subject that will be gone into in much greater depth elsewhere. The format of the programme doesn't really lend itself to 20 to 30 minute segments. Of course, if this happens a lot, then it should be looked into. However, I don't find it's the case on the radio...

  73. At 02:38 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Anne (65):

    I believe it was one of the unforgettable (no matter how one tries) gems bestowed upon me by Mrs Daisy Barnfather.

    'Barnie' was my primary school teacher from ages 9-11, and very 'old school'.

    She taught us parsing, grammar, syntax. We learned to recite the books of both Old and New Testaments (handy in pub quizzes).

    Or it could have been a piece of rubbish I read somewhere unreliable.

    Thing is, I've never liked it as a fact -- and I'd rather you were correct and I wrong!

    Valery -- we need your help here!!

  74. At 03:08 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    The second link is from the first and dated November 12th (scroll down). It contains pictures of some of the collateral damage from the recent 'error' in targetting Israeli artillery. The images include some pretty gory examples of the results of modern US-supplied weaponry. BE WARNED!

    As should be obvious by now, I am utter;ly distressed by the situation in Palestine and have studied the background to it in considerable depth.

    Apologies to any who may be offended.
    in sadness and exasperation,

  75. At 03:15 PM on 15 Nov 2006, John H. wrote:

    Whisht (69 - currently), interesting comments. It does still leave the problem of how to judge the accuracy of what is said though. I recognise that there are "legitimate" differences of opinion - Drinks and I were discussing this recently when everybody else seemed to have left the subject (and eventually led to my moan about moderation) - and it's right that people who see things very differently should have the right to express themselves. But when you consider the impact of what is essentially "mis-information", the issue seems more complex to me. Life rarely seems to run like a Columbo plot, or an Agatha Christie story where, when finally challenged with the "truth", the villain admits all. Or am I thinking of Scooby-doo? You know what I mean, though. Some people will knowingly do something that is one thing and claim that they are doing something else - and I don't just mean from a "point of view" perspective. This would seem to be a good opportunity for the sort of "investigative journalism" I was calling for previously where the outcome is potentially interesting whatever it is.

    Majad is apparently making claims about Hizb ut Tahrir that run counter to those made on PM and Newsnight. Whilst accepting that things are rarely so straightforward, it would appear to me from what has been said that these two sets of claims are incompatible and, thus, one or the other is closer to the truth. Although, as I write that, I can imagine a scenario where the party has indeed achieved a level of local peace by bringing people together under a more extreme political banner - with a more far-reaching agenda than "turf wars". But the truth is that I can do little to resolve the issue - surely this is where good journalism is needed? And if Hizb ut Tahrir are doing positive work, then it is potentially of as much interest as if they're not.

    I don't have enough history to draw appropriate parallels, or make meaningful comparisons, but it would seem that in a time of so much available "information", we are in real need of accurate and trusted reporting of what is going on in the country - both good and bad. Again: both good and bad.

  76. At 03:40 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    I agree with you John H (74). There is more to this sort of story than meets the casually passing media microphone.

    And neither a one-size-fits-all magazine show like PM, nor a freethinking blog like the frog, can provide the means to get to the bottom of things.

    I welcome Majad's contribution, and hope he'll feel able to add a bit more, in the light of what's been said here.

    The more people who discuss and explain these things...
    The more it's discussed generally...
    The sooner we might start to make some progress, as a planet, towards understanding and then accommodation.

    There are those who think that's a naive point of view.

    But if I give up THAT aspect of naivety, I will give up everything. Including breathing.

  77. At 03:54 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Fifi (71);
    with regard to Ed's second link in (67), see the following Wikipedia link;


    in particular the item, and the link, about the November 8th incident. The page Ed refers to contains explicit photographic imagery of dead and maimed people, supposedly from this incident, where Israeli forces fired upon civilian houses. 19/20 dead & 40 injured. This is the incident the Israelis blamed on a technical failure in their artillery last week.

    There is nothing held back. Grotesque injuries, internal organs hanging out, traumatic amputations are the order of the day. There is a claim on the page that the USA is responsible for this, although that must be considered to be by proxy because the US ambassador to the UN exercised the veto on a resolution condemning Israel after the event.

    The imagery is genuinely revolting, even at a quick glance, which was all I could stomach. I could not ascertain the veracity of the pictures having been taken at the time and place claimed. Nor did I hang around to read any text, due to the grossly unpleasant nature of the imagery.

    I would not commend anyone to view this page unless they were in full possession of the facts about its contents. It's like a real-life slasher movie.

    If it is intended as pro-Palestinian propaganda then it didn't convince me. I don't need to see this kind of stuff to know that each side commits atrocities on the other, nor to know what artillery does to the human body. No doubt it will be very popular in certain sectors of the world, where it will serve to convince people of the barbarity of Israel, whilst overlooking the other side of the conflict. But those people have already made their minds up anyway.

    One has to remember that each side commit unspeakable acts on the other. Neither has a monopoly of right on their side. It is fair to point out that the reactions of Israel seem in every case to be massively disproportionate to the acts committed against them. That, in itself, is a breach of the Geneva conventions, which Israel ratified in 1951, and International Law. As is the suffering visited upon civilians.

    What a place. Two diametrically opposed forces, each convinced that they rightfully own some of the most worthless terrain on the face of the planet. One because they they were there in the first part of this century and previously, the other because a book says that they were given it a few thousand years ago. Let's wall them all in, stop any future shipments of anything in or out. They can bomb and shoot each other, the last one standing can have the place.


  78. At 04:03 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'll try again as the first seems to have gone into twilight. A simple link to Hizb-ut-Tahrir:
    and, evidence of a well-organised ability to respond to media slander, etc.

    For interest of those wishing to see what they have to say for themselves. On quick perusal they seem far less worrying than PNAC.

  79. At 04:07 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    And, there is a fairly frantic exchange of views on the Newsnight blog.


  80. At 04:20 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Al Jazeera English Launched:

  81. At 04:30 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Belinda wrote:

    John (currently 75). I personally have reached a point where I just do not trust anything which is being fed to me through the media - whether it is from an established journalist or a viewer who disagrees.
    I feel like I am being constantly lied to and I feel that there is no press out there which is 'better' than the government in terms of propaganda and speculation. I'm just sick and cynical of everything.
    There is noone (media or disgruntled viewer) who is truly unbias, who doesn't leave out convenient facts to further their own agenda, and as a result of this whenever I read anything, I simply sigh and click off.

    The exception to this is Lord Mair of course. I never click away from PM.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a downer message.

  82. At 04:31 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Thanks Si (77). I shall avoid looking at the link ... upsetting me with the violence isn't going to help matters.

    I'm grateful for your description and insight.

    I agree with you, too, on most of what you say.

    Although it's the non combatant human beings and animals I feel sorriest for. It's not 'everyone' who goes to war, any war.

    It's politicians, and then generals, who start it and keep it going.

    Rarely do they suffer as the ordinary people do.

    What a world.

  83. At 04:41 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed (70),

    This And we're ALL complicit is an example of your famous American irony, right?...

  84. At 04:42 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Anne (65) re 'phenomena' ... it seems, from Mrs Trellis, that you were right and I was wrong:--

    "Phenomenon is the only singular form of this noun; phenomena is the usual plural. Phenomenons may also be used as the plural in nonscientific writing when the meaning is “extraordinary things, occurrences, or persons”: They were phenomenons in the history of music."

    By the way, 'listening' is a bit strong for it. I don't bother turning off the radio during You & Yours but I don't really listen, as such.

    However, I'm ashamed to say that a presenter cheerfully saying '***t' a coupld of times caused my ears to prick up!

    A bit like one's Granny suddenly declaring an informed interest in rap, if you catch my drift.

  85. At 04:44 PM on 15 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I don't disagree with anything Simon writes above (77), except to note that the Palestinians didn't ask to be crowded onto some of the most useless land (Gaza) and kept like prisoners.

    For some sense of proportionality, see Bt'alem, the Israeli Human Rights organisation.

    It's a very real elephant, ain't it?

  86. At 10:59 PM on 15 Nov 2006, whisht wrote:

    ah - apologies all. I should read all blogs before commenting... I said on the next blog how nice it would be for us to talk about stuff prompted by a wider audience and here you all are...


    That's chagrin that is. cha-cha cha....

    Yep - as ever, this is why I like coming here (even when my eyelids are quite this heavy and I've been staring at a monitor for about 12 hours). I like the conversation. John W et al - I agree and I think my rush in posting initially this afternoon made the ill-thunk thoughts a bit... ugh, y'know what i mean.

    (btw when will et al post again.... he's a great correspondent for al Jezeera donchyaknow...)

    No, I don't 'trust' every viewpoint or thing anyone says. Well, actually maybe I do - I pretty much do give people the benefit of the doubt... but without some 'evidence' that I trust I won't necessarily sign the petition (as it were).

    "trust" - now there's 4 paragraphs of gibber I've just deleted for being too unthunked enough...


    cha-cha ciao

  87. At 12:08 AM on 16 Nov 2006, Valery P wrote:

    Good night Whisht dear, go to sleep now ;o)

  88. At 11:33 AM on 16 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Aperitif (84)

    Are you being ironic?

  89. At 12:12 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    Aperitif & Ed: I think irony, like humour and the insides of clocks, doesn't stand too much close scrutiny before they stop working.

    Give it up!

    What a horrible dreich day it is here. Think I'll hie me to the beach. Anyone else coming?



  90. At 12:38 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Is it ironic that we can't post to Dayone, but we can apparently still complain. Probably that's an initiative of Ivor's.

  91. At 03:03 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Big Scary Numbers and a Stark Blood Libel

  92. At 03:33 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    That should've been
    Blood Libel

    Was supposed to take you to the last thread for today (thursday), but what I posted there went twilight...

    Last two paragraphs if you can't read the whole piece.

  93. At 04:53 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Barry Cross wrote:

    This poll is as much worth our attention as any other such event, far too few people were asked and it can only represent the opinions of those asked.
    To extrapolate from this to the whole of Afghanistan and say the majority of the people there think this that or the other is highly speculative and is an entirely specious argument.

  94. At 06:03 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Fifi wrote:

    I don't like polls.

    And I say that as a marketing graduate with market research experience.

    It's soooooo easy to skew the result any way you like.

    And it's even easier to cherry-pick what you decide to report from the results.

    * shakes head slowly *

  95. At 10:00 PM on 16 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed (89),

    Well I'll be ironic before I'll be complicit, thank you very much...

  96. At 03:17 PM on 17 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Is it not ironic that, even though we would wish to disown the actions of our Great Leaders, they are done on our behalf, and thus we are complicit?

    I left America because of the bombing of non-combatant Cambodia (among other reasons).
    Is it not ironic that the country of my refuge/exile has become the chief supporter of even more vicious behaviour?

    Yours in irony

  97. At 04:25 PM on 17 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed, yeh. But no. But yeh. No irony intended.

    A, x.

  98. At 04:30 PM on 17 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    I suppose what I mean is, you can say that you shot that rabbit in my name but, unless I agree with you, or help you or even do nothing to stop you, I am not complicit, no matter what you say. Ironic or otherwise.

    Surely the thousands who went on the Stop the War march, for instance, cannot be called complicit in the current behaviour in Iraq.

    But my first response was much pithier.

  99. At 05:09 PM on 17 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    We are complicit if we consume the oil secured by Our Leaders' actions. We are complicit when we enjoy the lifestyle in which one fifth of the world's folk consume four fifths of the annual and unsustainable 'harvest' (rape) of natural resources.

    We are complicit when we shop, when we eat air-transported beans or asparagus or decorate our weddings, barmitzvahs, or funerals with the genitals of plants grown in Africa and flown in....

    God, am I suffering middle-class guilt!

  100. At 05:26 PM on 17 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    We are complicit when we buy anything originating in Israel.

  101. At 12:34 AM on 18 Nov 2006, Aperitif wrote:

    And if we are careful to do none of those things?

  102. At 09:28 AM on 22 Nov 2006, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Then consider the first sentence in, this.

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