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

Lucas Gonze lgonze at panix.com
Sun Feb 29 21:10:08 PST 2004

You did, which is why you did not receive a copy of FoRK Digest, Vol  
11, Issue 24, nor of this message.

On Sunday, Feb 29, 2004, at 15:31 America/New_York, Julie H. wrote:

> I thought I unsubscribed a couple of weeks ago.
>> From: fork-request at xent.com
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>> To: fork at xent.com
>> 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 Mel-man...
>> 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
>> underdevelopment.
>> 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
>> Hollywood.
>> Pankaj Mishra is the author of "The Romantics," a novel.
>> http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/28/opinion/ 
>> 28MISH.html?ex=1079018030&ei=1&en=1379836cbf8ed510
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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".
>> ----
>> http://www.guardian.co.uk/analysis/story/0,3604,1155399,00.html
>> 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
>> shredders".
>>   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
>> war".
>> - Brendan O'Neill is the assistant editor of spiked. A longer version
>> of this article appears in this week's Spectator
>> ------------------------------
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>> End of FoRK Digest, Vol 11, Issue 24
>> ************************************
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