[FoRK] RE: FoRK Digest, Vol 11, Issue 24

Julie H. juha5000 at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 29 12:31:38 PST 2004

I thought I unsubscribed a couple of weeks ago.

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>Subject: FoRK Digest, Vol 11, Issue 24
>Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 12:00:03 -0800 (PST)
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>Today's Topics:
>    1. NYTimes.com Article: Op-Ed Contributor: Hurray for Bollywood
>       (khare at alumni.caltech.edu)
>    2. Was Saddam's Purple Plastic People Shredder a Myth?
>       (Bill Humphries)
>Message: 1
>Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 20:27:10 -0500 (EST)
>From: khare at alumni.caltech.edu
>Subject: [FoRK] NYTimes.com Article: Op-Ed Contributor: Hurray for
>	Bollywood
>To: fork at xent.com
>Message-ID: <20040229012710.644B984BA at web39t.prvt.nytimes.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII
>This article from NYTimes.com
>has been sent to you by khare at alumni.caltech.edu.
>Yeah, and *none* of the four awards shows are as useful as the Oscars -- 
>they're all people's-choice or sponsor-related shows, not votes by other 
>artists. There isn't, AFAIK, anything like AMPAS over there... which shows, 
>since I actually had the luck of attending one of them last month ("the 
>sansui/sony awards").
>Let's just say that I never appreciated how many things have to go right to 
>make even the most banal of 'awards shows' function smoothly. I never got 
>to catch the final telecast, but there was at least a week of 
>postproduction in there...
>   Rohit
>PS. Go see Club Dread!! Jay Chandrasekhar deserves our box-office-opening 
>numbers to fight off the only-slightly-bloodier, but definitely-less-funny 
>khare at alumni.caltech.edu
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>Op-Ed Contributor: Hurray for Bollywood
>February 28, 2004
>BOMBAY &mdash; Last week this city's film industry, called
>Bollywood, held its own version of the Oscars. There were
>well-rehearsed jokes and solemn speeches, and somewhat more
>spontaneous hugs and tears. Soon after it ended, most of
>the prize winners left for Dubai to attend yet another
>awards ceremony, their fourth in less than a month.
>Bollywood tends to congratulate itself even more frequently
>and fulsomely than Hollywood. And, perhaps, it has good
>reasons for doing so: India makes around 800 films each
>year, more than any country in the world. Bollywood
>produces up to 200 films in Hindi and Urdu alone.
>Little of what comes out of this $1.3 billion-a-year
>industry is of much quality, and few films make a profit.
>Yet India, where approximately 12 million people go to the
>movies every day, remains culturally a world unto itself,
>immune to the films emerging from Hollywood, which have
>captured only 6 percent of the largest domestic movie
>market in the world.
>Moreover, Bollywood's films reach up to 3.6 billion people
>around the world - a billion more than the audience for
>Hollywood. Egyptians, South Africans and Fijians joined
>Indians in electing Amitabh Bachchan - a name unknown to
>most people in Europe and America - as the "actor of the
>millennium" in a BBC online poll.
>Mr. Bachchan gained his reputation by repeatedly playing
>the role of the poor, resentful young man who makes it in
>the big city - often through crime and violence. But
>Bollywood films do more than sell garish dreams of a better
>life to the poor. To people struggling for emotional and
>material security within their increasingly modern and
>fragmented societies, they offer the consolations of
>tradition, especially of family values. Mr. Bachchan's
>angry young man usually dies in the arms of his mother or
>father, having realized the folly of his ways.
>In this sense, an absurdly melodramatic extravaganza from
>Bollywood may speak more directly to a third-world audience
>than even the most politically sensitive Hollywood film.
>Bollywood films are popular even in countries like Egypt
>and Indonesia that have strong cultures that resist the
>American barrage. It is not uncommon for Iraqis and Afghans
>to greet the Indian aid workers and technical consultants
>helping rebuild their nations with snatches of
>half-remembered Hindi songs and names of Bollywood stars
>from the 1970's.
>And now, after decades of recycling the same melodramatic
>plots and extravagant dance numbers, Bollywood is having a
>youth movement. A new generation of filmmakers is appealing
>not just to the traditional lower-middle class and poor
>audience. It is also reaching members of the educated urban
>elite who had looked down on Bollywood films, and also to
>the millions of Indians living in Britain and America.
>The highest-profile effort is "Kal Ho Na Ho" ("Tomorrow May
>Never Come") by Karan Johar. The movie is set entirely in
>New York, yet it doesn't stray far from Bollywood's usual
>version of the romantic triangle. It does bring a new
>slickness to Bollywood dreams of affluence and style -
>while singing, the characters combine Hindi lyrics with the
>rhythms of disco, rap and gospel - but it simultaneously
>reaffirms family through a gregarious cast of brothers,
>sisters, parents, grandmothers and grandfathers. Mr.
>Johar's films, along with more realistic and sober movies
>by young directors like Ram Gopal Varma, are becoming the
>echo chamber of middle-class India as it tries to bend -
>without breaking - its old, austere culture of
>Some Bollywood directors see a great opportunity to score
>over Hollywood. Certainly, the global village seems to need
>a more complex moral code than that offered by Rambo and
>the Terminator, and Bollywood, even with all its apparently
>absurd sentimentality, may be better placed to provide it
>than the cynically, if slickly, retailed violence of
>Pankaj Mishra is the author of "The Romantics," a novel.
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>Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
>Message: 2
>Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 21:42:01 -0800
>From: Bill Humphries <bill at whump.com>
>Subject: [FoRK] Was Saddam's Purple Plastic People Shredder a Myth?
>To: fork List <fork at xent.com>
>Message-ID: <FF40CC0E-6A79-11D8-BE10-000A95EB01C6 at whump.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed
>Since several people referred to the shedder as a bloody rag to shove
>in the face of Iraq War opponents, note that some research finds that
>there's not a lot of corroborating evidence.
>However, my friend Jack claims that there's a DVD for sale on the
>streets of Baghdad with footage of someone going through the shredder.
>But perhaps it's a mislabeled pirate copy of "Fargo".
>The missing people-shredder
>   The horror of one of Saddam's execution methods made a powerful
>pro-war rallying cry - but the evidence suggests it never existed
>    Brendan O'Neill
>Wednesday February 25, 2004
>The Guardian
>    Forget the no-show of Saddam Hussein's WMD. Ask instead what happened
>to Saddam's "people shredder", into which his son Qusay reportedly fed
>opponents of the Ba'athist regime.
>   Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who chairs Indict, a group that has been
>campaigning since 1996 for an international criminal tribunal to try
>the Ba'athists, wrote of the shredder in the Times on March 18 last
>year - the day of the Iraq debate in the House of Commons and three
>days before the start of the war. Clwyd described an Iraqi's claims
>that male prisoners were dropped into a machine "designed for shredding
>plastic", before their minced remains were "placed in plastic bags" so
>they could later be used as "fish food".
>   Not surprisingly, the story made a huge impact. When the Australian
>prime minister John Howard addressed his nation to explain why he was
>sending troops to support the coalition, he talked of the
>"human-shredding machine". Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence
>secretary, expressed admiration for Clwyd's work in an email and
>invited her to meet him.
>   Others, too, made good use of the story. Andrew Sullivan, who writes
>from Washington for the Sunday Times, said Clwyd's report showed that
>"leading theologians and moralists and politicians" ought to back the
>war. The Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips wrote of the shredder in
>which "bodies got chewed up from foot to head", and said: "This is the
>evil that the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican
>bishops refuse to fight." In his recent book, William Shawcross wrote
>of a regime that "fed people into huge shredders, feet first to prolong
>the agony". And earlier this month, Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun's
>political editor, claimed that "Public opinion swung behind Tony Blair
>as voters learned how Saddam fed dissidents feet first into industrial
>   Nobody doubts that Saddam was a cruel and ruthless tyrant who murdered
>many thousands of his own people and that most Iraqis are glad he's
>gone. But did his regime have a machine that made mincemeat of men? The
>evidence is far from compelling.
>   The shredding machine was first mentioned in public by James Mahon,
>then head of research at Indict, at a meeting in the House of Commons
>on March 12. Mahon had just returned from northern Iraq, where Indict
>researchers, along with Clwyd, interviewed Iraqis who had suffered
>under Saddam. One of them said Iraqis had been fed into a shredder.
>"Sometimes they were put in feet first and died screaming. It was
>horrible. I saw 30 die like this ..." In subsequent interviews and
>articles, Clwyd said this shredding machine was in Abu Ghraib prison,
>Saddam's most notorious jail. Indict refuses to tell me the names of
>the researchers who were in Iraq with Mahon and Clwyd; and, I am told,
>Mahon, who no longer works at Indict, "does not want to speak to
>journalists about his work with us". But Clwyd tells me: "We heard it
>from a victim; we heard it and we believed it."
>   This is all that Indict had to go on - uncorroborated and quite
>amazing claims made by a single person from northern Iraq. When I
>suggest that this does not constitute proof of the existence of a human
>shredder, Clwyd responds: "Who are you to say that chap is a liar?" Yet
>to call for witness statements to be corroborated before being turned
>into the subject of national newspaper articles is to follow good
>practice in the collection of evidence, particularly evidence with
>which Indict hopes to "seek indictments by national prosecutors"
>against former Ba'athists.
>   An Iraqi who worked as a doctor in the hospital attached to Abu Ghraib
>prison tells me there was no shredding machine in the prison. The
>Iraqi, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes the prison as
>"horrific". Part of his job was to attend to those who had been
>executed. Did he ever attend to, or hear of, prisoners who had been
>shredded? "No." Did any of the other doctors at Abu Ghraib speak of a
>shredding machine used to execute prisoners? "No, never. As far as I
>know [hanging] was the only form of execution used there."
>   Clwyd insists that corroboration of the shredder story came when she
>was shown a dossier by a reporter from Fox TV. On June 18, Clwyd wrote
>a second article for the Times, citing a "record book" from Abu Ghraib,
>which described one of the methods of execution as "mincing". Can she
>say who compiled this book? "No, I can't." Where is it now? "I don't
>know." What was the name of the Fox reporter who showed it to her? "I
>have no idea." Did Clwyd read the entire thing? "No, it was in Arabic!
>I only saw it briefly." Curiously, there is no mention of the book or
>of "mincing" as a method of execution on the Fox News website, nor does
>its foreign editor recall it.
>   Other groups have no recorded accounts of a human shredder. An Amnesty
>International spokesman tells me that his inquiries into the shredder
>"drew a blank". Widney Brown, the deputy programme director of Human
>Rights Watch, says: "We have not heard of that particular form of
>execution or torture."
>   It remains to be seen whether this uncorroborated story turns out to
>be nothing more than war propaganda - like the stories on the eve of
>the first Gulf war of Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait taking babies from
>incubators and leaving them to die on hospital floors. What can be
>said, however, is that the alleged shredder provided those in favour of
>the war with a useful propaganda tool. The headline on Clwyd's story of
>March 18 in the Times was: "See men shredded, then say you don't back
>- Brendan O'Neill is the assistant editor of spiked. A longer version
>of this article appears in this week's Spectator
>FoRK mailing list
>FoRK at xent.com
>End of FoRK Digest, Vol 11, Issue 24

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