Once every few weeks a track comes along that blows your socks off. Roland Appel, whom you might know as a member of Voom Voom, really delivers on this one. Don’t start if you’re not going to finish though, because the brilliance is in the build-up. It’s as deep as deep house can be:
This is interesting, and somewhat reassuring, if it’s true. I continue to be amazed, by the way, at how structured, rational, and heroic the people and authorities of Japan are reacting to this crisis. Read this story, for instance, on the last 50 nuclear plant workers who are struggling to avert disaster at Fukushima. And anticipated on it. As high as it is, the death toll could be way, way higher, as could the scope of the destruction. Not to say it’s not disastrous as it is – for instance the plight for thousands without food, medicine and heat sources is starting just now – but it could, in the immediate, have been a lot worse.
- Edit: This, by the way, doesn’t speak in favour of the Japanese government’s anticipatory abilities. According to a WikiLeaks cable (yes, that’s right), they were warned two years ago about the inability of their older nuclear power plants to withstand large earthquakes.
A concern for the people not just of Japan but the Pan Pacific area is whether Fukushima will turn into the next Chernobyl with radiation spread over a big area. The answer is that this scenario is highly unlikely, because of the wildly different design of the two reactors.
The reason why radiation was disseminated so widely from Chernobyl with such devastating effects was a carbon fire. Some 1,200 tonnes of carbon were in the reactor at Chernobyl and this caused the fire which projected radioactive material up into the upper atmosphere causing it to be carried across most of Europe. There is no carbon in the reactors at Fukushima, and this means that even if a large amount of radioactive material were to leak from the plant, it would only affect the local area.
The Japanese authorities acted swiftly and decisively in evacuating people living within 20km of the plant, and ensuring people living within 30km of the plant remained in their homes, with windows and doors closed. The radiation measured so far at Fukushima is 100,000 times less than that at Chernobyl.
It’s gone a bit unnoticed because of the catastrophic events in Japan, but just a few days ago, Saudi Arabia actually invaded the tiny country of Bahrain. The Sunni Bahraini Al-Khalifa royal house called in the help of their religious brethren from across the border to suppress the Shiite majority in the country. In other words, the despots of one country are invited to squash the nascent democratization of another country. Iraq, Kuwait anyone?
And it’s not just symbolic: Saudi Arabian troops and tanks are sweeping the streets of Bahrain’s capital Manama, causing casualties and destruction. Isn’t this about as big an event as the civil war in Libya?
I am old enough to remember the days when the entire world stopped dead in its tracks as one Middle East autocracy invaded a tiny neighboring state, and the US corralled a massive coalition to repel it. From that moment on, because in part of the threat Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait posed to the Saudi oil fields, the US was far more deeply enmeshed in the Middle East’s military and political equation than ever before.
Now fast forward to a thousand troops with tanks streaming over the causeway that connects Saudi Arabia with Bahrain. Now, obviously this is different in as much as the Sunni Bahrainian royalty invited the troops to come in to protect them from the protests of the Shiite majority. But to my mind, that makes it just as bad. A military from one Sunni country has invaded another to suppress democracy, because it might reflect, for the first time, the wishes of the Shiite majority, rather than Sunni despots.
This strikes me as more significant regionally than Libya’s internal revolts. Since when does the international community stand by as one country’s military invades another and kills some of its citizens? The answer is a pretty simple one: when the invading country controls 25 percent of the world’s oil supply.
The New Statesman has done an interview with the Libyans who are squatting the London mansion of Moammar Gadhafi’s son Saif, a property which is worth over 10 million pounds. These are not “a bunch of anarchists” as some British tabloids have called them, but young men who are making a serious political statement by commandeering one of Gaddafi’s homes. They have renamed the house “Free Libyan Embassy”.
…We drink stewed tea from Saif’s best china and eat cheese sandwiches using his silver cutlery, while the young man, Abdulla, tells me about how his uncle was “disappeared” by Saif’s father. “In Libya, people disappear all the time. There was a prison massacre where 1,200 people died. They poured cement over the bodies.” Abdulla nervously adjusts his glasses. “It’s important that people know we’re not creating a civil war for no reason.”
Nearly every room in this enormous house boasts a large, flat-screen television. The occupiers have set each one to al-Jazeera, for rolling coverage of the people’s revolutions that are sweeping the Arab world. Televised gunfire echoes in the marble hallway as Jay, 25, explains how activists from the London squatter movement took over the Gaddafi mansion, moving in secretly and putting up notices declaring their intention to hold the empty house under English common law. “We wanted to show our solidarity the best way we know how,” he says.
“It’s a symbolic and practical reclamation of private property that belongs to the Libyan people. It’s about their struggle, which is why the place has been handed over to the Libyans as a place to organise and a safe space for refugees,” Jay says. “People have been arriving in support from all over the UK.” The tabloids have portrayed the occupiers as drunken anarchists but this is, in Jay’s words, “total bollocks”. “On the first night, people came down thinking there would be a squat party and we turned them away. They didn’t seem to realise how seriously we’re taking this,” he explains.
Fearing the spectacle of bailiffs dragging Libyans out of the private property of a Gaddafi, at a time when the UK government is desperately downplaying its erstwhile support for the dictator, the authorities have kept their distance. But that doesn’t mean that there have been no attempts to get the occupiers to leave.
“Last night, at about four in the morning, someone came to the door,” Jay says. According to Abdulla, “It was a well-dressed Arab person, [wearing] nice clothes and gold. When I asked him what he was doing here so late, he said, ‘I want to make you an offer.’ He told us: ‘I have £40,000 in cash. You can have it if you leave immediately.’ No amount of money could make us leave this house. It’s not a financial issue.”
“The resources that come out of Libya should belong to the people but that petrol money goes somewhere else,” says Abdulla. “All those close to Gaddafi have places like this to live. There are some who are heartless and will do anything for a comfortable life.”
An influx of neighbours bearing food terminates the interview. A young man wearing a Libyan flag like a cape takes the cups politely to the sink. He is a long way from home. “We all want to go home,” says Abdulla. “But not to Libya as it is now.”