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26 January 2009

2008 painting of Glenn Gould by Gould's lover Cornelia Foss / la vie des Bohemes du Toronto / algebra on Sunday

Click for larger.

Glenn Gould, 2008
oil on canvas by Cornelia Foss

I'm indebted to a list member of f_minor for bringing this painting to my attention.


In 2007, Cornelia Foss, wife of composer and conductor Lukas Foss, publicly revealed in an article in the Toronto Star (August 25, 2007) that she and Gould had had a love affair lasting several years. She and her husband had met Gould in Los Angeles in 1956.

Cornelia was an art instructor who had studied sculpture at the American Academy in Rome; Lukas was a pianist and composer who conducted both the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Brooklyn Philharmonic.

After several years, Glenn and Cornelia became lovers. Cornelia left Lukas in 1967 for Gould, taking her two children with her to Toronto, where she purchased a house near Gould's apartment at 110 St. Clair Avenue West.

According to Cornelia, "There were a lot of misconceptions about Glenn and it was partly because he was so very private. But I assure you, he was an extremely heterosexual man. Our relationship was, among other things, quite sexual."
Their affair lasted until 1972, when she returned to Lukas. As early as two weeks after leaving her husband, she had noticed disturbing signs in Gould. She describes a serious paranoid episode:
"It lasted several hours and then I knew he was not just neurotic — there was more to it.

I thought to myself, `Good grief, am I going to bring up my children in this environment?' But I stayed four and a half years." Foss did not discuss details, but others close to Gould said he was convinced someone was trying to poison him and that others were spying on him.


Her representatives have taken technical pains to prevent Hristo in Kafe Internet Sofia from seeing this or Klaas in Rotterdam (or Bob in Massachusetts), or rather from spreading it around to too much riff-raff. I'm not sure if I'm among the targeted riff-raff or not.

I don't know exactly how to feel about this. This is a beautiful and deeply moving visual image, and having been created, should its distribution to all who would love and appreciate it be filtered and blocked and made difficult?

Or would you like $12.50 a pop to see it, like a Pay-Per-View Wrestling Match? I could make a reasonable deal to see this in Hi-Def or Blu-Ray.

I imagine the Real Deal would fetch at first sale about U$250,000, even in these sucky times. A painting like this, with such skill and such intimate meaning and insight -- not entirely unlike a Vulcan Mind Meld -- does not hit the galleries every Munishdig and Dunishdig (sp?).

Gould died in 1982, so Cornelia Foss painted this 26 years after his death, and 36 years after they stopped being lovers. (
En famille, Gould would tutor Foss's young son and daughter in algebra.) This is how I remember my lover 36 years later.

The only thing better than this is living it, which two intense, passionate, brilliant people, one with a couple of kids, did as well as they could for 5 years.

La vie des Bohemes, or however I'm supposed to spell that. The creative life. Life With Fewer Rules. Life By My Rules, to the fullest extent that I can get away with it. Quid obstat? (Cornelia and children returned to her husband Lukas.)

[Danke to Mensch-on-the-Ground CH for correcting momentary brain malfunction.]

Once in my truck I was driving with Lefty Nanna, who was lengthily complaining about the Bad Things and Poor Choices various close members of her family had been doing and making lately.

"But C**** -- I do ALL those things. ALL the time. You know that."

Her brow furrowed and she went deeply, though briefly, into thought.

"You're a creative person," she said. "The rules are different for you."

I've tried on more than a few occasions to pull that card out of my wallet and present it to various members of the Suspicious, Naive and Unwilling. Sometimes it flies, sometimes it crashes, all passengers killed.

Does this qualify as an Art Review, or a bona-fide contribution to the literature about this painting? I personally have expressed loud and often that it should be a federal felony -- 5 years mandatory minimum -- to use words to describe music or to use words to attempt to describe visual art. What is the point? All that the image has to give, and all that the music has to sing, is in the Thing Itself. Likewise spectacularly beautiful mathematical equations. Who benefits, and how, from my Feelings about Maxwell's Equations?

But this is just an exquisite human moment. With an excellent chance of surviving, in near-perfect condition, for 500 years, perhaps (a la the Bayeux Tapestry) 1000 years. As long as the world still has small, quiet rooms with precise temperature, humidity and light control systems, Glenn Gould, 2008 will be well protected from time, and time's promise to corrupt all but gold.

If you don't like it, if it fails to jolt you, there are 62 museum curators all over the planet who would cut off a finger to have it in their collection. This is not unlike the paintings I've posted of Francesca and Paulo, and of the Tree of Forgiveness -- an inseperable and radiating superglue of romantic and sexual passion and love. Desire. Lust and love, the physical and spiritual entwined, neither caring which got top billing.

"Closer, closer, come closer!" the gorgeous vamp moans to Groucho in a passionate embrace.

"If I come any closer, I'll be in back of you," Groucho complains.

Foss recalled there was an enormous flow of humor and laughter from Gould, and Foss must have been a fine reflector of that herself. Nick and Nora Charles, with easel, piano and two kids, Toronto Sequel, 1967-72.

25 January 2009

Obama suspends trials at and orders Guantanamo prison closed within a year / Ottawa Citizen cartoon

Click image, gets larger.

Cam Cardow, cartoonist for The Ottawa Citizen, has said it all, rather sadly.

The newspaper cartoonist worked a few doors down from me a few times. Often they start as photographers, something visual, everybody notices that they're always doodling, and nine years later they try their hand as editorial cartoonist. Like all visual artists, they either don't use words, don't trust words, or don't know many words -- they have little use for words as a way to express ideas or feelings.

Ottawa is the capital of Canada. The United States and Canada have the world's longest "cool" border -- a dotted line between sovereign nations on which nothing officially hostile ever happens. No bullets are ever fired, and if our military planes or helicopters should stray over their side a mile or two, they don't make a public squawk about it, no official protest, and contrariwise. Nobody masses troops along this border. Actual war operations, official hostilities, haven't happened since the War of 1812. All subsequent organized violence has involved non-state actors poorly contained or controlled by one or both of the sovereign governments.

It is understood that the USA should not meddle in domestic political matters of Canada, and contrariwise. This is not always an easy trick.

One of the very first executive orders signed by President Barack Obama was to halt / suspend all trials, tribunals, quasi-judicial, pseudo-judicial, crypto-judicial activities at the US detention facility -- prison, concentration camp -- at Guantanamo, and to close down the prison at Guantanamo within one year.

Since semi-colonial times -- the USA captured Cuba from Spain in 1898 -- the US has held a lease on a small spit of land with a Navy harbor at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. By a 1903 treaty with Spain, the lease is perpetual. The Socialist government of Cuba disagrees, and believes the lease is an unlawful land grab at gunpoint from an imperialist superpower.

But until perpetuity ends, it's ours, and on it, after 9-11-01, we established a detention facility, a military prison, a concentration camp.


Since 7 October 2001, when the current war in Afghanistan began, 775 detainees have been brought to Guantánamo. Of these, approximately 420 have been released without charge. As of May 2008, approximately 270 detainees remain.[10] More than a fifth are cleared for release but must nevertheless remain indefinitely because countries are reluctant to accept them.

[Did someone say Switzerland is accepting a few of these human beings? Details, please. Numbers, conditions, political controversy, gossip.]

Guantanamo and the US-run prison at Abu Ghraib near Baghdad tie as the institutions established or operated by our government which Americans came to loathe, regret, feel shame and disgust about. Abu Ghraib has been transferred to the control of the new Iraq government -- if in anything it can be considered a distinct sovereignty from the US occupying power -- but we still have Guantanamo.

A world-class Human Rights Horror Center which recognizeth not the Geneva Conventions which set standards for the civilized and humane treatment of all human beings, military or civilian. And it's as American as apple pie and Kraft Cheese Singles. I paid taxes to build and run it, and a president, and majorities in both houses of Congress, passed all the laws and granted all the authorities for torture, insult to Islam and its worshippers --

This is my America behaving, as closely as it knows how, like Nazi Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union, or Castro's Cuba, or any of the creepiest Soviet satellites during the Cold War. Guantanamo is the Barbed Wire and Machine Gun and Shackles Vision of America, and not only did our political system and leaders force us to swallow it, but these leaders have liberally prepared us to accept some morphs of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib as institutions America will always have in its future. Get used to it. Write the check and shut up about it. Don't ask where these facilities are, it suffices us to be told that they are Beyond Our Shores.

Specifically in an attempt to keep all detainees beyond the reach of the Habeas Corpus powers of America's federal courts. It's an old dodge. One of the English king's noble sycophants built a dungeon for the king's perceived enemies on a Channel island, beyond the reach of British courts and their Habeas Corpus powers. So no judge could demand that the government bring the detainee before the judge, and inquire about the detainee's detention.

Don't Ask, We're Not Telling.

The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights scream standards for the treatment and trial of everyone within the grasp of our government. Since 9-11, our federal leaders have chosen to suspend or ignore the most fundamentally important and necessary of these standards. They'll come back someday, or maybe they won't. Watch This Space.

But it is just possible that waterboarding, humiliation, psychiatric torment, physical abuse -- that all such practices may be significantly or severely diminished during (at least) the next four years, no matter which Devil's Island we have human beings locked up in.

And it seems almost a certainty that the prison at Guantanamo -- a miserable match for the botch job we did at Abu Ghraib -- will cease to exist or contain prisoners -- at least for three years after a year from now.

Already it's become substantially more pleasing to be an American. My sincere thanks to the new president for making the end of Guantanamo, and the end / diminishment of torture, priorities, his first signings, the first uses of his enormous state power.

animated .gifs of gears, clockwork (all filched) / hope they wiggle 4 u

24 January 2009

The offending paragraph / King Bhumibol incarnated as a swan / fuck lèse majesté / let the novelist out of prison

Click, probably gets bigger

“From King Rama to the Crown Prince, the nobility was renowned for their romantic entanglements and intrigues. The Crown Prince had many wives “major and minor “with a coterie of concubines for entertainment. One of his recent wives was exiled with her entire family, including a son they conceived together, for an undisclosed indiscretion. He subsequently remarried with another woman and fathered another child. It was rumoured that if the prince fell in love with one of his minor wives and she betrayed him, she and her family would disappear with their name, familial lineage and all vestiges of their existence expunged forever.”

-- from "Verisimilitude," 2005 novel by Harry Nicolaides, now a prisoner in the Bangkok Remand Prison, Thailand, after pleading guilty to the crime of lèse majesté, public disrespect of Thai royalty. The above paragraph is the offense for which he was charged, arrested and imprisoned.

Here is the
lèse majesté law:

Section 112: Whoever defames, insults or threatens the King, the Queen, the Heir-apparent or the Regent, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years.


The Age (daily broadsheet, Australia)
22 November 2008

The trouble with Harry

by Thornton McCamish

HARRY Nicolaides published his first book in 2002. Concierge Confidential is a series of lightly fictionalised tales Nicolaides had collected during the seven years he worked as chief concierge at Melbourne's Rydges Hotel.

On the book's back cover some of Nicolaides' VIP guests are quoted praising him for his service, and thanking him for his authorly discretion. Former prime minister Gough Whitlam took a different line. His telegram was read aloud at the book's launch party: "God save the Queen, because nothing will save Harry."

The message delighted Nicolaides, but it has a more sombre ring to it now. On August 31 this year, Nicolaides was at Bangkok airport waiting to board a flight to Melbourne when he was detained by Thai police on charges of lese majeste, the crime of insulting the monarchy. The arrest warrant alleged Nicolaides had insulted the Thai royal family in his second book, Verisimilitude, a novel Nicolaides self-published in Thailand in 2005.

For the past 82 days, Nicolaides has been held at the Bangkok Remand Prison, where he shares one toilet with up to 60 other prisoners, including men accused of violent and sexual crimes. He was only formally charged yesterday.

He has retracted the book and publicly apologised to the royal family and the Thai people for any offence caused by his "reckless choice of words", but bail has been denied three times.

Few novels as commercially unsuccessful as Verisimilitude — only seven copies were sold — can have caused so much strife for their authors. The alleged offence is believed to concern three sentences in the book in which the narrator refers to rumours concerning the romantic life of an unspecified crown prince.

"It is simply one of the most bizarre cases I've ever come across," says Arnold Zable, author and president of the Melbourne branch of International PEN, an organisation that campaigns on behalf of writers in detention around the world.

Lese majeste cases involving foreigners are not common in Thailand. The most recent involved 57-year-old Oliver Jufer, a Swiss man charged with lese majeste when he was caught on video last year drunkenly defacing posters of the king. After spending several months on remand, Jufer pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 10 years' jail. He had served a few weeks of the term when he was pardoned by the king and deported.

But Nicolaides' case is "more unusual than the average unusual case", says Dr David Streckfuss, a historian from the University of Wisconsin who lives in Thailand and specialises in the country's lèse majesté laws.

"It's not clear that any Thai ever read the book in the first place — and there has never before been a charge made on a novel."

The case represents another sobering first, too: Nicolaides' is the first International PEN case involving an Australian writer.

The 41-year-old East Doncaster boy seems an unlikely candidate for this grim honour. "We used to call him Pinstripe Harry," recalls Scott Newton, who got to know Nicolaides a decade ago when he too was working as a concierge. "That was his nickname among the concierges. He liked to be nattily dressed. But he was highly esteemed in the profession."

Former Democrats senator Natasha Stott Despoja met Nicolaides in 2001. They became friends. She remembers a "caring, compassionate, witty person" who inhabited the character of the grand-hotel concierge with endearing gusto. "He was a concierge out of a different era. Sort of Jeevesy, with slicked-down hair. He was a creative, clever soul."

Nicolaides left Rydges Hotel in 2002 and set off to see the world. He first visited Thailand in early 2003, where he met his partner, a lecturer at Mae Fah Luang University in the northern Thai town of Chiang Rai. In Thailand he taught English, wrote columns about expat life for an online magazine and published his novel. In 2006 Nicolaides came home to work for a while on Melbourne's Greek-community newspaper Neos Kosmos, then spent most of last year teaching in Saudi Arabia.

By late 2007 he was back in Thailand, teaching and writing some punchy journalism on the side, mostly on exotic topics. An article about arms smuggling in Saudi Arabia had appeared in London's New Statesman magazine last year; this July he wrote a story for Eureka magazine about the trafficking of pornography at the Thai-Burmese border.

Harry Nicolaides has never been accused of avoiding the spotlight. He has been accused — notably on expat blogs in Thailand, where his case has been a lively subject of discussion — of naivety.

Yet when he published Verisimilitude three years ago, Nicolaides took the precaution of sending his book to the National Library, the Thai Ministry of Culture, the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Bureau of the Royal Household to check that its contents were acceptable. He received no response. When his book was released no one reviewed it and hardly anyone read it. Only 50 copies were printed. There was nothing to suggest that the novel, which was only published in English, hadn't sunk directly into deep obscurity.

Scott Newton, who now lives in Thailand, says Nicolaides had never even mentioned the book to him. "I think he'd just forgotten about it. Everyone else had. It was three years ago."

Thai authorities issued a warrant for Nicolaides' arrest on March 17 this year. He was not told he was under investigation. Between March and August, Nicolaides left and re-entered Thailand five times with no sign of trouble. On one of these occasions he was issued with a new tourist visa. When he was pulled aside by police at passport control on the night of August 31 he was, his brother, Forde Nicolaides, says, alarmed. When Australian embassy staff arrived and explained the allegations, he was "absolutely astonished".

Lese majeste is a serious crime in Thailand, where the royal family is all but universally revered and the current monarch, 81-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, is revered. The crime carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

The laws have never been invoked by the royal family. In fact, in his 2005 birthday address to the nation, the world's longest-serving monarch indicated that the law was troubling to him and that he disapproved of its use.

But that has not dampened a marked increase in enthusiasm for lese majeste accusations in recent years. "Many Thais," David Streckfuss says, "have become trigger-happy in making the charge." There are currently 32 new cases of lese majeste under investigation.

This surge of such cases has coincided with the period of political instability Thailand has experienced since the 2006 coup. "(Lèse majesté) is the ultimate weapon in Thai society," a former government minister told The Wall Street Journal last week. "If you can accuse somebody of insulting the king, then you've gone a long way toward eliminating them."

This increase in lese majeste cases, argues Dr Andrew Walker, an anthropologist at ANU's Asia-Pacific program, has to be seen in terms of the "political polarisation" in Thailand today. "The authorities are very concerned to keep the royal family out of politics, and to clamp down on any discussion which might reflect negatively on the royal family. There's a strong campaign to pursue lèse majesté charges. I think Harry Nicolaides is a very small fish who's been caught in the crossfire."

Responding to a complaint made to the United Nations Human Rights Council by Reporters Without Borders, the Thai Government released a statement in October rejecting claims that Nicolaides had been arbitrarily detained, and emphasised the Government regards lèse majesté as a "grave threat to national security".

"The proposition that Harry is a threat to Thai national security," says his Australian lawyer, Mark Dean, SC, "is simply untenable."

Dean became involved in the case through a family connection. In mid-September he flew to Bangkok to help Nicolaides' Thai legal team prepare a second application for bail. The first had been denied on the grounds that Nicolaides was a flight risk. Nicolaides volunteered the cancellation of his passport and supplied character references, including one from Kim Beazley, former federal Labor leader, but the second application for provisional release failed anyway. So did the third. "We were told by police that they wouldn't oppose bail," Dean says, "and then they did."

Initially optimistic, Dean now believes that an acceptable legal solution to the case is unlikely. "The terrible position that Harry's in is, in my view, inextricably connected to the political situation in Thailand," he says. "He is not being treated equally before the law. All Thais charged with the offence get bail.

"If the new Australian Government is serious about the role of international law and protecting the human rights of its citizens, then this is a case where Harry Nicolaides' human rights must come before the sensitivities of the relationship between Australia and Thailand."

The fact that Nicolaides is still in jail after nearly three months baffles many of those following the case. "This case should be a no-brainer for government," says Stott Despoja. "It is possible to respect the monarchy and people of Thailand but at the same time defend the human rights of an Australian citizen."

FORDE Nicolaides says his brother has been receiving excellent welfare support from Australian embassy staff in Bangkok. But he is critical of what he sees as the Australian Government's refusal to consider that Harry's detention may be illegal or discriminatory. "If the Government's looking seriously into that, or doing anything at all to help secure his immediate release then we're not hearing about it. The worst thing about all this has been the not knowing, being kept in the dark."

A spokesman from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade told The Age this week that the Government was doing all it could. "Consular staff have communicated with the Nicolaides family and their lawyer more than 70 times about the case," the spokesman said, "and while the Government sympathises with Mr Nicolaides' family in their distress over his detention, Mr Nicolaides is subject to the Thai judicial process. The Government cannot control or intervene in that process."

Since his brother's arrest, Forde has been de facto co-ordinator of the campaign to highlight Harry's case, spending hours each day writing letters and co-ordinating support. But he's also very concerned for the welfare of his elderly parents, Socrates, 83, and Despina, 74, who have described the past few months as a "living death". Poor health prevents them from travelling to Bangkok, and since prison officials have denied Harry access to a phone, they haven't been able to speak to their son since his arrest.

Yesterday, the police prosecutor formally proceeded with the charges; Nicolaides is expected to face several more months' jail before his case reaches court.

"A real tone of desperation is creeping into his letters," Forde says. "I've never seen that from Harry before. He has this sense that he's caged up and he just desperately needs to get out. And he feels this mental anguish that what he's alleged to have done wrong seems so disproportionate to the way he's been treated."

Harry Nicolaides' only contact with the world outside his crowded cell is the 20-minute visit he is permitted each day. Scott Newton has been visiting him regularly in a "tiny, stinking hot" room where four prisoners and their visitors have to shout through a glass grille just to be heard over "all the fighting and wailing".

Nicolaides has broken down several times during these visits, Newton says. "He's just desperate now. He's afraid of just becoming another number, of being forgotten and being left there to rot."

Thornton McCamish is a Melbourne writer.

- 30 -

22 January 2009

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand in his favorite hat / fuck the lèse majesté law / let the English teacher out of prison

Click on image of King and Head of State
Bhumibol Adulyadej Rama IX
(ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช) of Thailand.

That crazy lèse majesté law totally drives me nuts. The above image shows King Bhumibol Adulyadej in his favorite hat. If they don't let this English teacher out of prison real quick, I have another photo of King Bhumibol dancing in his ballerina outfit.

Check this out. Cancel my holiday plans for Thailand. Cancel YOUR holiday plans for Thailand.


International Herald-Tribune
(Paris, owned by New York Times)
Monday 19 January 2009

Thailand sentences
writer for insults

by Seth Mydans and Mark McDonald

BANGKOK: An Australian writer was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for insulting the Thai monarchy in a self-published novel.

Harry Nicolaides, 41, originally received a six-year sentence, which the court said it reduced because he had pleaded guilty. The book, "Verisimilitude," was published in 2005 and reportedly sold fewer than a dozen copies.

The case was brought under the country's strict lèse-majesté laws, which call for a jail term of up to 15 years for anyone who "defames, insults or threatens the king, the queen, the heir to the throne or the Regent."

The presiding judge said Monday that parts of the book "suggested that there was abuse of royal power."

The boundaries of the law are unclear, and cases can be brought by any citizen, involving a variety of alleged offenses. Dozens of cases are now pending. In addition, the government has closed down more than 2,000 Web sites that it says include material insulting to the monarchy.

Speaking to reporters before the verdict was announced, Nicolaides said he had endured "unspeakable suffering" during five months of detention. "I would like to apologize," he added. "This can't be real. It feels like a bad dream."

Nicolaides, who had been an English teacher in Thailand, was detained Aug. 31 as he was about to board a plane home, apparently unaware that an arrest warrant had been issued against him.

"At nighttime he's in a cell with at least 50 other people," Nicolaides's attorney, Mark Dean, said in an interview last month with the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "The sanitary conditions, to put it mildly, are basic. People suffer from TB and HIV. There is violence within the cell."

A news release about the novel, posted on a blog called Costa del Gangster, called the book "an uncompromising assault on the patrician values of the monarchy." It said the book was "savage, ruthless and unforgiving" in revealing a society "obsessed with Western affluence and materialism."

Nicolaides reportedly printed only 50 copies of the book - a paperback, with a bright blue butterfly on the cover - and sold just 10. Long out of print, it is not listed on or other booksellers' Web sites.

"I think it's reasonable to say that just writing a simple paragraph in a novel, to expect that would land you in such serious legal trouble, must have come as a surprise for Harry," Andrew Walker, a fellow in the Asia-Pacific Program at Australian National University, said on ABC.

"I think Thailand is trying to send a message to international media, to writers, to bloggers, to people who are putting material on the Internet that the royal family is out of bounds."

The lèse-majesté cases come at a time of growing concern about the eventual succession of the highly revered king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, who is 81. He has no official political role but is a unifying force and peacemaker in a nation that has become increasingly factionalized and acrimonious.

Last week the new prime minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, said that the monarchy must be protected because it offers "immense benefits to the country as a stabilizing force." But he said he would try to ensure that the law was not abused.

Most cases involve Thai citizens, although foreigners are sometimes also accused.

In 2006 a Swiss man was sentenced to 10 years in prison for spray-painting over images of the king. He was pardoned by the king and released after serving about a month.

A reporter for the BBC, Jonathan Head, was accused of lèse-majesté late last year in a complaint that cited reports he and others had written for the company. The company denies the allegations and says it is cooperating with the authorities.

One of the most prominent current cases involves a leading Thai academic and writer, Ji Ungpakorn, who has been called to a hearing Tuesday. He said the charge involves a book he wrote about the military coup in September 2006 that ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

At a news conference last week, he said the law "restricts freedom of speech and expression and does not allow for public accountability and transparency of the institution of the monarchy."

In November, a prominent social critic and Buddhist intellectual, Sulak Sivaraksa, was charged with lèse-majesté for questioning the need for lavish celebrations of the king's reign.

Last April, an activist named Chotisak Onsoong, was summoned by the police after refusing to stand up during the playing of the royal anthem before a movie. And a former government minister under Thaksin, Jakrapob Penkair, has been charged in connection with remarks he made at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand.

The police are obliged to investigate any charge of lèse-majesté, and Jakrapob said an accusation could be used as a political weapon. Accusations of disrespect for the monarchy were stated as one reason for the coup that removed Thaksin.

Mark McDonald reported from Hong Kong.

- 30 -


ABC / Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Tuesday 20 January 2009

Lawyers to seek
Royal Pardon
over Australian
author's sentence

Lawyers for Australian author, Harry Nicolaides, will lodge an application for a Royal Pardon this week after the Melbourne man was sentenced to three years' jail for insulting the Royal family.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speaker: Mark Dean, Senior Counsel for Harry Nicolaides

DEAN: Well, he's found the experience of imprisonment in Thailand extremely challenging and it's taken its toll on his health, both physically and psychological the conditions in which he was held in Thailand were basic to say the least, held in very overcrowded conditions, with poor sanitation and so. And so the situation for him has been extremely difficult.

LAM: Do we know what kind of prison facilities there are? For instance, is he being held in jail that's for white collar crime, rather than say drug traffickers in a rougher part of the jail?

DEAN: He's held in remand in Thailand and there are convicted prisoners and prisoners on remand of a wide range of age, ages between say 13 and 80 I'm told convicted of all sorts of crimes and charged with all sorts of crimes.

LAM: What kind of support does Harry have in the Thai jail apart from the lawyers whom presumably might see him once a day?

DEAN: Well the lawyers see him probably on a weekly basis and the Australian Government has provided consular support on a regular basis for consular staff from Bangkok, visit him on a regular basis.

LAM: Well, the court imposed a three year sentence as you said, rather than the maximum 15 years. The fact that the courts imposed the minimum, what does that tell you? Do you think that means that perhaps the court recognises that Harry Nicolaides meant no harm?

DEAN: Well, whether or not the court believes he meant no harm, the court obviously took the view that the offence itself fell at the very low end of seriousness of offences of this nature by imposing a penalty of three years which was the absolute minimum available to the court. The court was obviously of the view that the offence was not a serious one.

LAM: Are you free to talk about the offending part of that book, because many people are not clear about what exactly was so offensive in that part of the book that got Mr Nicolaides into trouble?

DEAN: Well, the book itself is a work of fiction. The narrator recounts a rumour that he has heard regarding the King and the Crown Prince. It's not put in any temporal setting, that is it's not said to be a rumour circulating now or currently. The name of the King is not identified and nor is the name of the Crown Prince identified.

The rumour does not concern the King, in terms and it does concern the Crown Prince, his personal life.

LAM: I understand that the book only sold a few copies, so presumably not many people in Thailand have read it. What do you know about Thai attitudes towards this case?

DEAN: Well, the Thai population generally have a high degree of reverence to the monarchy and I would imagine that any intended criticism of the monarchy would be taken very seriously by the Thai population.

LAM: But I understand that the book is still on the shelf of Thailand's National Library is that right?

DEAN: Yes it is, it is, that's correct and we're now focusing on resolving the case as quickly as possible from Harry's point of view to achieve his release from prison.

LAM: Is there any possibility at all that he will not serve the full three years, that he might be let off early or indeed not be sent to jail at all?

DEAN: Well, if the Royal Pardon is successful, Harry will be released from prison and deported from Thailand within 24 hours of the pardon being granted.


Lèse majesté

Scope of the law

Although Bhumibol is held in great respect by many Thais, he is also protected by lèse majesté laws which allow critics to be jailed for three to fifteen years.[102] The laws were toughened during the dictatorship of royalist Premier Tanin Kraivixien, such that criticism of any member of the royal family, the royal development projects, the royal institution, the Chakri Dynasty, or any previous Thai King was also banned.[103] Jail terms for Thai citizens committing lèse majesté are usually harsher than for foreigners. Social critic Sulak Sivaraksa has been charged several times with lèse majesté, but has always been acquitted. Politician Veera Musikapong was jailed and banned from politics for lèse majesté, despite the palace's opinion that the remarks were harmless. Frenchman Lech Tomacz Kisielwicz refused to switch off a reading light on a Thai Airways flight he shared with two Thai princesses and was jailed under lèse majesté for two weeks after his flight landed in Bangkok.[104] He was acquitted after apologizing to the King.

There is controversy over whether criticism of members of Bhumibol's Privy Council also qualifies as criticism of Bhumibol.[105] Police Special Branch Commander Lt-General Theeradech Rodpho-thong refused to file charges of lèse majesté against activists who launched a petition to oust Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanonda, claiming that the law only applied to members of the royal family.[106] Two days later, he was demoted by Police Commander Seripisut Temivavej.[107]

There was also controversy following the death of Princess Galyani Vadhana. The website of Same Sky Books, publishers of Fah Diao Kan magazine, was shut down by the government after comments on its bulletin board questioned claims made by the Thai media that the entire country was in mourning over the death. Comments were also made criticizing official calls for the public to wear black as a sign of mourning.[108]

Bhumibol himself stated that he was not above criticism in his 2005 birthday speech. "Actually, I must also be criticised. I am not afraid if the criticism concerns what I do wrong, because then I know. Because if you say the king cannot be criticised, it means that the king is not human," he said. "If the King can do no wrong, it is akin to looking down upon him because the King is not being treated as a human being. But the King can do wrong."[109] Despite this, few have dared to call for the repeal of the law. Any doing so have been accused of disloyalty and could also be charged with lèse majesté.[110] Political scientist Giles Ungpakorn noted that "the lèse majesté laws are not really designed to protect the institution of the monarchy. In the past the laws have been used to protect governments, to protect military coups. This whole [royal] image is created to bolster a conservative elite well beyond the walls of the palace."[111]

Political use of the lèse majesté law

Accusations of lèse majesté are often politically motivated. Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and his political opponent Sondhi Limthongkul both filed charges of lèse majesté against each other during the 2005–2006 political crisis. Thaksin's alleged lèse majesté was one of the stated reasons for the Thai military's 2006 coup.[112][113][114][115]

In 2005, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) issued arrest warrants for two Swedish citizens, Abdulrosa Jehngoh and Chipley Putra Jehngoh, claiming that their website contained content insulting to Bhumibol.[116][117] Chipley Putra Jehngoh also held Malaysian and Thai citizenship and at the time lived in the Middle East. Abdulrosa Jehngoh was granted Swedish citizenship and lives in Sweden. The website was hosted in Canada and was linked to separatist organisation in southern Thailand or more specifically the website '' which incited separatist movement.[118]

Sondhi, a vocal opposition of Prime Minister Thaksin, often accused Thaksin and his affiliates of lèse majesté. In April 2007, A Bangkok criminal court sentenced Sondhi for defamation for claiming on his Muang Thai Rai Sapda talk show that Thaksin's Deputy Transport Minister, Phumtham Vejjayachai, was linked to the anti-royal website.[119]

Academics have been investigated for lèse majesté for even questioning the role of the monarchy in Thai society. In 2007, Assistant Professor Boonsong Chaisingkananon of Silpakorn University was investigated for lèse majesté for asking students in an exam if the institution of the monarchy was necessary for Thai society and how it may be reformed to be consistent with the democratic system. The University cooperated with the police investigation, and even turned over students' answer sheets and the marks the professor gave them.[120]

Another case of an academic is that of Australian Harry Nicolaides who in 2005 he published a book titled: 'Verisimilitude'. Even though the book apparently sold less than a dozen copies, a warrant for his arrest was issued. In the summer of 2008 Nicolaides was visiting the country and in August 2008 when he was about to leave he was arrested and incarcerated until his trial, which took place in January 2009. On January 19th, Nicolaides was given a 3 year jail term, reduced from the initial 6 year jail term becuase of his guilty plea. Nicolaides is still behind bars today.

Insults to Bhumibol's image

Acts deemed insulting to Bhumibol's image are also criminal offenses in Thailand. Charges may be filed by anybody, except for Bhumibol himself. In 2007, Oliver Jufer, a Swiss man, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for daubing black paint on portraits of Bhumibol while drunk.[121] The Thai press was requested not to publish any information about the case. "This is a delicate issue and we don't want the public to know much about it," noted chief prosecutor Manoon Moongpanchon.[122] The man originally pleaded innocent, but eventually pleaded guilty to five acts of lèse majesté. Foreign reporters were barred from the hearing.[123] Saprang Kalayanamitr publicly suspected that Jufer was hired to perform the vandalism and ordered a military investigation.[124] Jufer was pardoned by the king less than a month after his conviction.

Other insults to Bhumibol's image that have resulted in criminal complaints of lèse majesté and arrests include placing photographs of anybody above photographs of the King on websites and refusing to stand while the Royal Anthem is played at cinemas.[125][126]

Internet-based insults

Another high-profile case was the banning of YouTube. On 04 April 2007, the Thai government blocked Thai access to YouTube as a result of a video clip which it deemed insulting to the king.[127][128] Various leaders of the military junta claimed that the clip was an attempt to undermine the monarchy, attack Thailand as a country, and threatened national security.[129] On October 28, 2008, The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) announced plans to spend about 100 million to 500 million baht to build a gateway to block websites with contents defaming the royal institution.[130]

20 January 2009

DDR stamp of the mathematician Richard Dedekind (1831-1916)

Click image, no promises.

The stamp is Real, not Faux. Dedekind lives Forever, the Equation is True, but alas the postal issuing authority, DDR,
Deutsche Demokratische Republik -- East Germany -- has vanished.

This was a very smart guy. He studied at Göttingen, Berlin, and taught at the Polytechnic in Zurich, and in his native Braunschweig / Brunswick.

Ev'rybody's in despair / Ev'ry girl and boy / But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here / Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy

Quinn The Eskimo

(The Mighty Quinn)
Bob Dylan

Ev'rybody's building the big ships and the boats
Some are building monuments
Others, jotting down notes
Ev'rybody's in despair
Ev'ry girl and boy
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Ev'rybody's gonna jump for joy

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

I like to do just like the rest
I like my sugar sweet
But guarding fumes and making haste
It ain't my cup of meat
Ev'rybody's 'neath the trees
Feeding pigeons on a limb
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
All the pigeons gonna run to him

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

A cat's meow and a cow's moo, I can recite 'em all
Just tell me where it hurts yuh, honey
And I'll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep
There's someone on ev'ryone's toes
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here
Ev'rybody's gonna wanna doze

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

Copyright © 1967 Bob Dylan

17 January 2009

test, hope they wiggle for you / No Child Left Without A Gyroscope

If you have a child, girl or boy, and the child does not own a gyroscope, I am dropping a dime on you with the Child Welfare authorities. They make gyroscopes with pretty designs -- sparkles -- for girls now, they're not all butch and austere anymore.

Gyroscopes precess.

postage stamp received from newly discovered Planet Björkguðmundsdóttir / Bob will be programming in PowerBasic soon

Click image, see what it gets you.

The Very Strange Array Near Thud
Bulletin No. 4

Discovery, Imaging and
Contact with Planet

Following the recent discovery of a new planet in the Vleeptron-Hoon-Yobbo-Mollyringwald solar system, and successful imaging of Planet Björkguðmundsdóttir, TVSANT has received a postage stamp from Planet B. No letter, no card, no package -- just one stamp. Here it is.

However, several TVSANT researchers believe the stamp depicts 3 satellites or moons of Björkguðmundsdóttir. If so, this is the first imaging of these moons.

But at the moment TVSANT is pretty clueless what this stamp is all about or trying to communicate. It could be an advertisement for deodorants.


What also may be going on here is a stamp composed of images generated by code in the language or dialect PowerBasic -- generated certainly not by me, but posted on the programmer's website as examples of what PowerBasic lets the programmer do, and what it does for the programmer.

Last night when all the creatures of the house were deeply sleeping I went clickety click and bought

Items to be shipped now
PBCW500: PowerBASIC Console Compiler 5
1 copy at $169.00 each = $169.00
Shipping by UPS Ground / USPS = $10.00
TOTAL: $179.00
Paying by: CCARD

Once your order has been paid and processed, an invoice will be mailed to your billing address with a complete list of all charges.

And I guess it will get here Monday. Then I guess I will stick a CD into PowerCow and it will guide me through the installation process. And immediately I can pick up programing in a familiar dialect of BASIC, which was invented at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire USA in 1964 by John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz and (if this entity exists) God, so that morons like me could make a computer figure out a Hohmann
Transfer Orbit, so I can send a rocket to Mars in the most efficient possible way.

Or churn out
Lottery Numbers which are Untouched By Human Influence -- pure Lucky Numbers that have nothing to do with your niece's birthday or how many gallons of gas you filled up with today, or the number of the last train car that didn't fall off the bridge and into the river.

In other words, since 1973,


has permitted me to blunder through a lot of very interesting Number Crap -- well, any goddam thing the computer could possibly do, BASIC was how I told the computer to do it, and the computer would then do it.

So after Monday or thenabouts, I'm back in business, with the tool I need to realize my modest ambition of Understanding Everything, and then Ruling Planet Earth Benevolently.

I just really didn't want to have to learn a different lingo. Screw Pascal. Screw C++. Who needs them when you have BASIC?

The buzz is that when Aliens from Beyond the Solar System pop the hood on our Voyager probes, they will find BASIC doing the thinking and navigating and decision-making. And conclude from that that Earthoids make their Machines Dance in BASIC, with some Machine/Assembly Modules tossed in for speed.

That conclusion would be simultaneously Wrong and Very Flattering. It would show us to other sentients as Wise, Straightforward, not afraid of Simplicity, Direct, Blunt, Sometimes Crude -- but always getting the Right Answer.

Lo-Tek Rules.

Kemeny and Kurtz envisioned a high-level programming language which any clever person could figure out, and begin programming and solving his/her problems after only one night's study. Art historians. Model ship makers. Traders in precious stones. Economists and Accountants. Choreographers and Chemists. Nurses, wine and cognac producers, hydroponic gardeners who only visit the rented house once a month.

Rats, okay, let me see if I can find the name of the artist/programmer who made the Three Satellites of Planet Björkguðmundsdóttir. Ah, okay, it is Copyright (c) 2008 by Perfect Sync, Inc. of Traverse City, Michigan USA, and apparently they cranked out these bright, shiny, colorful Platonic Objects using PowerBasic. That was good enough for me.

I'm particularly grateful to Professor Emeritus J.C. Sprott of the University of Wisconsin for also advising me to leap on PowerBasic. He and his work on chaos and complex systems are mentioned in the PowerBasic Wikipedia wiki. (PowerBasic seems previously to have been Borland TurboBasic.)

It's been a year since I could scream at my computer and get it to jump to my tune. But, like The Brain, or Dexter in his basement Laboratory, soon I will use PowerBasic to Rule Planet Earth, and make it straighten up and fly right. Expect lower fuel/petrol prices around late 2011, and KFC will sell gizzards in its restaurants in New England.

16 January 2009

Though the world is fast asleep / Though your pillow's soft and deep / You're not sleepy as you seem / Stay awake, don't nod and dream

"Stay Awake" is possibly the creepiest lullaby ever written -- like so much of the Disney movie product while Walt was still running things at the studio. Now it's all pretty ponies and halvah and Robin Williams voiceovers and cheap plastic action figures and doll crap. But the early Disney movies -- every one of them had something bizarrely, sometimes even artistically, unique, even if a lot of it systematically terrified millions of children.

The most frightening of all Sci-Fi monsters, The Monster From The Id, wasn't a Disney movie ("Forbidden Planet" was MGM), but The Monster itself was a contract job from the Disney animators. All you had to say to those guys and gals was "Make it real scary," and they started licking their chops and rolling up their sleeves and drawing sketches.

"Mary Poppins" had that weird Disney feel of a movie written by a committee that didn't meet in the same room very often. Sequences jump from one unconnected set of events and emotions to the next unrelated events and emotions with no effort whatsoever to guide the audience through the abrupt leap. The actors are not particularly encouraged to supply any extra comprehension.

In 1988, producer Hal Willner began contacting musicians to contribute to a compilation album, "Stay Awake," of new interpretations of classic Disney music and songs. Every artist said he or she was initially thrilled at the chance to sing a song etched in his or her memory since they were four years old.

And then reported how very emotionally difficult these seemingly simple songs were, the strange elements and convolutions the adults now encountered as they studied the songs again. All the artists said they had great difficulty doing justice to the Disney songs, figuring out how to arrange it and sing it.

Sun Ra and His Arkestra sang "Pink Elephants on Parade" from "Dumbo," one of many Disney films themed around murdering a child's mother or beloved pet as the child watches. As mom is chained awaiting her execution, she sings the lullaby "Baby Mine" to her unloved big-eared baby Dumbo. Bonnie Raitt sings "Baby Mine."

Every track on "Stay Awake" is magnificent -- in all the album is the most wonderfully unexpected re-visit to early childhood -- an hour of being simultaneously adult and five years old again, an intense experience I never imagined I could have. Tom Waits sings "Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho," the 7 Dwarfs' marching song. Yma Sumac, the 8-Octave Inca Pagan Love Priestess (I saw her and listened to her ultrasonics at a New York City night club), sings "I Wonder" from "Sleeping Beauty." This is the craziest collection of brilliant musicians, singing the weirdest, most troubling songs, ever to share a CD.

Sister Jane and brother Michael Banks have had a wonderful, thrilling, magic, amazing day in London, carefully attended to by the very strange nanny Mary Poppins. Night has fallen, and now washed and teeth brushed and plunked into their beds, they inform Mary Poppins that they absolutely refuse to fall asleep, then or ever.

Mary Poppins agrees this is a fine idea indeed, and sings a lullaby to help them achieve their hearts' desire.

Stay awake, don't rest your head
Don't lie down upon your bed
While the moon drifts in the skies
Stay awake, don't close your eyes

Though the world is fast asleep
Though your pillow's soft and deep
You're not sleepy as you seem
Stay awake, don't nod and dream
Stay awake, don't nod and dream

"Stay Awake" was composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. Julie Andrews sang the original, Suzanne Vega sings the 1988 cover.

Elmer Elevator the Maine Coon Cat

Click on the image, he gets bigger.

Elmer Elevator, the Maine Coon cat, died at the vet Tuesday. He was our wedding kitten to one another nine years ago. The "Bubba San's" was the registered name the breeder stuck him with.

"Elmer Elevator" was the name of the boy hero of my favorite kid book, "My Father's Dragon." He ran away to Wild Island to free a baby dragon the mean jungle animals had tied up, to force the baby dragon to fly them back and forth over the crocodile-infested river. An old alley cat Elmer Elevator had fed and let sleep by the kitchen fire had told him about the dragon, because she used to be a ship's cat and had sailed all over the world.

For the first few months, every night when we were asleep in the dark bedroom, Elmer the kitten would savagely attack our feet, and we'd wake up screaming. We thought he was wild and insane. Eventually we saw a documentary about a park ranger who took in an orphan bobcat. Wiggling feet under the bedclothes triggers their instinct to leap on prey crawling underneath snow. The ranger had to teach himself to sleep perfectly still, as we did. Eventually Elmer grew out of it.

An e-mail (slightly amended) to a friend:


Thanks, he was really sweet. Today was devoted to watching how the other three cats are figuring out that something's terribly wrong. The crazy old Siamese was in love with him, so we also called him Tyrone Purrer. And Benny (Benedict Spinoza Cat) and Elmer were just inseparable bestest friends, like Spongebob and Patrick; they hunted together (although Benny thinks the backyard squirrels are his fun playmates).

In Elmer's hunting prime he always brought us back the meatier half of full-grown rabbits -- disgusting, but actually quite tasty-looking, and we were always careful to praise him -- one of us would distract him with a loud show of congratulations while the other one quietly shoved the carcass into a sandwich bag and made it vanish.

He was about 2/3 bobcat. My guess is that a very long time ago there was an unfortunate romantic accident in the woods between some kind of housecat and a bobcat. A more familiar face and fur pattern makes them look raccoon-ish, but of course that's impossible, there wasn't a drop of raccoon in him. He had enormous paws, like catcher's mitts.

We worried about him and traffic, but I'm so glad we let him have his right to be an outdoor hunter. It was clearly the life he loved. We don't own them, they've chosen, they've agreed to live with us, and we have no right to make the house their prison, even if our motives are loving and pure. (Jailers always believe their motives are loving and pure. The prisoners may have a different opinion.)

He would attack and run off full-grown dogs (though we asked him not to). When Spring comes, a lot of neighbors are going to miss him, because we heard from them from 5 or 6 blocks away that he roamed and freeloaded that far away. He was a very memorable-looking cat. He used to lie in wait in the bushes and rush out to attack the mailman, who was probably just too ashamed to be known as the mailman who maced a cat. (Elmer was just playing with him.)

He liked me to spin him around in the office swivel chair, and never tired of it. I gave him a great spin just last week.


03 January 2009

Save the Clement Street Iron Bridge!

Click to enlarge.

Gonna grind out a few hundred of these fliers -- in the style of the colonial New England broadside -- and tape 'em up all over town. In the middle of the night, in the dark, furtively.

If somebody -- the dumb useless Mayor and her Flunky Comatose City Council -- doesn't get their ass in gear and fix and save this Bridge, it's just going to be allowed to rot until the state highway department says it's beyond repair and must be torn down.

And replaced with some undistinguished piece of modern shit.

Save the beautiful bridge now!

* * *

Repair and re-open the Clement Street Iron Bridge.

For 111 years, this beautiful one-lane wrought-iron bridge over the Mill River kept families and neighbors connected, and increased Northampton's commerce and prosperity.

Today the Bridge is a useless, rusting nuisance and eyesore.

Each day the Bridge is open, 15,000 neighbors quickly and conveniently reach their workplaces, schools, shops, homes and health providers.

In every season, each practical trip is a beautiful journey through forest, farm, mountains and villages.

The Bridge is a keystone of our infrastructure, and a treasure of nature and rare architecture.

02 January 2009

Planet Björkguðmundsdóttir discovered & imaged!!! / PIZZAQ: What on Earth is exactly like it?

Click image for larger & more detailed

The announcement says it all. This is a Great Moment for Astronomy in the Dwingeloo-2 Galaxy. It's a particularly great moment for The Very Strange Array Near Thud!

It's an odd-looking sort of planet, n'est-ce pas?

Well, okay, here's some Pizza ...

Somewhere on Earth, there is a Thing that looks Exactly Like this stange Planet Björkguðmundsdóttir!!!

Find it, tell me what it is, where, who, etc. and win 9 Slices of White Spinach Pizza!

01 January 2009

INSERT COIN TO THROW SHOES AT PRESIDENT GEORGE W BUSH / "It is the farewell kiss, you dog!"

Click image, gets bigger.

Okay, I am Copyrighting and Patenting this Video Game

(C)(tm)(R) 2009 by Robert Merkin
All Rights Reserved

so now all I have to do is learn C++ and write the code. But this is going to make me rich. Particularly in the Arab and Muslim world, this sucker is going to be an Arcade Smash from Baghdad to Jakarta.

But don't sell the European and the North and South American market short -- throwing your shoes at George Bush's head is going to be a Big Hit all over Planet Earth.

If you hit his head with both your shoes, you get a Bonus Shoe, so if you're really good at throwing shoes, you can rack up a very big score.

If the new free sovereign democratic government of Iraq ever lets Muntazer al-Zaidi out of prison and the jail guards stop beating the crap out of him, I'll make him a partner in the Video Game -- I couldn't have done this without him, and I need him for the Voice Talent, so the game can scream, in Arabic, English, French, German, Turkish, Ladino, Yiddish, Italian, Suomi, etc.:

"It is the farewell kiss,
you dog!"


Reuters / Thomson Reuters
newswire UK
Tuesday 30 December 2008

Trial delayed for Iraqi
who threw shoes at Bush

by Ahmed Rasheed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -- The trial of an Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad has been postponed pending an appeal over whether the incident amounted to an assault, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

TV journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi is charged with assault against a foreign head of state, which could carry a 15-year prison term, after he hurled both his shoes at Bush during a joint news conference with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki this month and called him a dog.

Zaidi's lawyer Dhiaa al-Saadi told Reuters the defense was appealing to have the charge reduced to insulting a visiting head of state, which would carry a two-year maximum sentence, because throwing shoes could not have put Bush in actual danger.

"Have you ever heard of anyone being killed by a shoe?" al-Saadi said.

"In Europe, they throw eggs and rotten tomatoes to insult. In Iraq, throwing a shoe is a symbol of disrespect."

Iraqi High Judicial Council spokesman Abdul Satar Birqadr said Zaidi's appeal request would be examined, resulting in a delay in the trial which was to have begun on Wednesday.

"Due to a legal appeal presented by defendant Muntazer al-Zaidi's lawyers to the Federal Appeal Court, the case has been referred to this court for study," Birqadr said in a statement. "Therefore, the Central Criminal Court has adjourned the case pending (its) ruling."

U.S.-backed Maliki has condemned the outburst, which made Zaidi an icon in Iraq and the Middle East. Public sympathy for the shoe-thrower means Maliki may wish to avoid a tough punishment being imposed on Zaidi ahead of provincial elections next month.

The trial will be closely watched for signs of unfair treatment. The defendant's lawyer has said his client was severely beaten following the incident.

Two brothers who have visited Zaidi in prison in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone compound say he bears signs of having been abused, including a missing tooth, and bruises on his arms and legs.

His lawyer also says Zaidi was initially denied legal representation.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Sami Aboudi)

- 30 -

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.


Aljazeera (TV news, Qatar)
Wednesday 17 December 2008
16:31 Mecca time / 13:31 GMT

Bush shoe-thrower 'tortured'

[image:] The two shoes narrowly missed the US president as he gave a news conference in Baghdad.

An Iraqi journalist arrested after throwing his shoes at the US president has been tortured during his detention, his brother has said.

Muntazer al-Zaidi, who called George Bush "a dog" during his attack, was beaten by security guards after his arrest, Durgham al-Zaidi told Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

"We know that [Muntazer] has been tortured and his hand was broken. I asked them to go and check on him in the Green Zone [in Baghdad]," he said.

Al-Baghdadia television, Muntazer's employer, reported that al-Zaidi had been "seriously injured" while in custody.

The channel has urged the Iraqi government to allow lawyers and the Iraqi Red Crescent [Muslim affiliate of Red Cross] to visit him.

The Iraqi military has denied that al-Zaidi has been mistreated while in detention.

'Handed to judiciary'

Al-Zaidi has admitted "aggression against a president" during an appearance before a judge, a judicial spokesman said on Tuesday.

"Al-Zaidi was brought today before the investigating judge in the presence of a defence lawyer and a prosecutor," Abdul Satar Birqadr, a spokesman for Iraq's High Judicial Council, said.

"He admits the action he carried out."

The referral of the case to the Iraqi judiciary is usually the first stage of review proceedings that could lead to a criminal trial being held.

Al-Zaidi will remain in custody until the judge has completed his investigation, Birqadr said.

The court may send him for trial under a clause in the Iraqi penal code that makes it an offence to try to murder Iraqi or foreign presidents.

The sentence could be up to 15 years jail, Birqadr said.

Support for attack

Al-Zaidi's attack on Bush, who ordered the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, has been met with broad support across the Arab world.

Iraqis calling for al-Zaidi's release from custody held a second day of protests on Tuesday, with hundreds of students marching in Baghdad.

The demonstrations came a day after thousands of people turned out in Baghdad's Sadr City in a show of support for al-Zaidi.

But the Iraqi government on Monday called al-Zaidi's outburst against Bush a "barbaric and ignominious act".

The outgoing US leader, who was making a surprise visit to Baghdad, had just told reporters that while the war in Iraq was not over "it is decisively on its way to being won," when al-Zaidi hurled abuse - and his footwear - at Bush.

Bush, who had been giving a joint press statement with Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, ducked behind a podium as the shoes narrowly missed his head.

In Arab culture, showing the soles of the feet is a sign of contempt and the shoe-throwing incident is a reminder of the widespread opposition to the US-led invasion.

Bush's visit to the Iraqi capital came just 37 days before he hands the presidency over to Barack Obama, who has vowed to withdraw troops from Iraq.

- 30 -

Number of comments : 27

Australia 17/12/2008

Barbaric and ignominious act?

So if throwing a shoe is a barbaric and ignominious act that could incur in a 15 year jail term, then what should the continuous death of civilian by US forces be called? Get real Mr. Nuri al-Maliki. Stop being a puppet and do the right thing. Stand by your people!

Lawrence Muhammad
United States 17/12/2008

VOTE Al-Zaidi in 2009 Iraq Election - Test Democracy


Afghanistan 17/12/2008


cowards, Mr. Zadi is a hero.

United States 17/12/2008

Free al-Zaidi-he had no serious intent to injure

May this brave man be freed. He carried an important message to Bush and the world - you cannot carry out practices that kill or injure innocents, you cannot simply destroy - that the ends do not justify the means. Everyone knew there were no WMDs. Bush had his own reasons. If he had concern for Iraq, he would have first tried communication and diplomacy. Someone had to make this statement for Iraqis, when the thick wall of protection for Bush could be penetrated so Bush could face the truth

Canada 17/12/2008

[B]ush shoe-thrower tortured

"Al-Zaidi's attack on Bush, who ordered the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, has been met with broad support across the Arab world." This should say/read: Al-Zaidi's attack on Bush, who ordered the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which brought death and destruction to its innocent people has been met with broad support across the world.

hookin bull
Afghanistan 17/12/2008

Bush shoe-thrower tortured

It is way to bad this person is being held and charged. I wished the [Philadelphia USA baseball team] Phillies would hire him to pitch for them. The only thing he did wrong was miss hitting Bush's knucklehead.

Canada 17/12/2008

Release al-Zaidi

C'mon!! Mr. al-Zaidi was a man obviously acting with legitimate outrage! Even the U.S. President, Mr. Bush had a sense of humour about it. It certainly was not ideal, but Mr. al-Zaidi had every right to his outburst! TORTURE!!! Habeus-corpus! Produce the body!!! He threw his shoes he did not fire a bullet! We want to see the condition of Mr. al-Zaidi! Let us see the man!

Sweden 17/12/2008

Al-Zaidi investigation

In the days of Saddam only those considerd enemys of the regime had to fear for there lives. Now everyone in Iraq is at risk being killd mutelated etc, at any moment...The man(Bush)who is responsible for this situation is indeed much lower than a pair of shoes ... Al-Zaidi should be freed and hounord. I just feel sorry for the dog being compered with Bush ... even dogs are better than a creature like Bush...

Richard, OIF Veteran
United States 17/12/2008

Muntazer al-Zaidi

If Durgham al-Zaidi says that his brother was tortured, does that make it true? My family and I are Middle Eastern-Americans and I have travelled throughout the region much of my life. I was in Iraq recently and spoke to Iraqi's throughout Al-Anbar. I don't recall too many Iraqis sharing Muntazar al-Zaidi's sentiments. Most Iraqi's ... yes, Sunnis too ... appear to be glad to have been shed of the yoke of Saddam Hussein, and happy to be rid of al-Qaeda leaders too.

United States 17/12/2008

Throwing the shoes at a world leader demonstrate that the Iraqi are still not ready for democracy. They think with their heart instead of their head.

Canada 17/12/2008

bush shoe thrower

Iraqis should be thankful for the billions of tax dollars that they got for free and help to get there democracy back.Trowing shoes is not a answer to there problem. Wish you luck guys and happy holidays.

United States 17/12/2008

This is a hero?

Why is this shoe throwing fool still called a journalist? A journalist job is to remain impartial and report, not act like a child. This moron just set Iraqi journalism back and perpetuated the Arab stereo type of an uncultured society. And about the torture, I'm sure this will be blamed on Bush too. Ironically, if it was Saddam he threw shoes at he would be dead now.

United States 17/12/2008

Shoe Thrower

There are many of us here in the United States who sincerely hope that Mr. al-Zaidi will be released without further harm. He is not only a hero in the Middle East but also here where we would like this shoe throwing thing to catch on. The main stream media in the United States have never displayed such courage and perhaps al-Zaidi will serve as a better role model. We thought President Bush looked pretty agile though, ducking to avoid the size 10's.

United States 18/12/2008

Muntazer al-Zaidi

Well, the Maliki puppet government ought to know very well what constitutes "barbaric and ignominious act[s]". I think that it is shameful for the Maliki puppet government to imprison and injure an Iraqi citizen for telling the truth. There are many here in the US who think Mr. al-Zaidi deserves a Pulitzer Prize for his actions. Tonight in San Francisco there will be a vigil in solidarity.

United States 18/12/2008

Shoe thrower - Release al-Zaidi!!!

Until al-Zaidi threw his shoes and said what he said, there hasn't been such a heroic and just display of liberty since the anonymous student stood faced down a tank in Tiananmen Square nearly 20 years ago! Bravo to al-Zaidi, and BOTH President-elect Obama and dumb-ass W.

Bush should immediately call for al-Zaidi to be released, unharmed.

And the opportunity to sincerely APOLOGIZE to the Iraqis for the tragedy that has been this occupation should not be missed. Man up, please!

Brazil 18/12/2008


8 Years ago this gentleman would have not been able to get away, in any way shape or form, with this semi-violent resistance. I'm sure Mr. Bush was glad, as am I, to see that the Iraqi people are able to live in a country where they're not afraid of the government coming after them. Let's all just calm down, be real people and we can work through our problems with our words, like big boys and girls. Seriously.

United States 18/12/2008

All we ask

Attacking a head of state is a crime. Attacking a head of state who liberated 26 million people in a country is a sign of thanklesness and ignorance! If the soldiers of the United States were in Iraq for oil then we would be spending $10 Billion Iraqi Dollars a month to stabilize the country, not $10 Billion U.S. Dollars! All we have ever asked for when liberating a country is a place to bury our dead. Pray for peace, for there is no one more against war than the ones ordered to fight.

United States 18/12/2008

shoe-throwing incident

in response to mano from the U.S. you suggest communication and diplomacy. what do you think the previous 10-15 years were about? And to all calling this gentleman a hero and forever condemning the U.S. ask yourselves if Iraq is better off now than with saddam and what would happen to Iraq if we left Iraq today. What do you think Iran would ultimately do?

Ethiopia 18/12/2008

Bravo Zaidi

Zaidi displays not only his own anger but also the Iraqi people as well. Bush left many iraqis homeless, widow(widower) and orphanto, least the few. Were I zaidi, I would throw not 2 shoes as many as I can. May one day US will suffer what an Iraqi people went through.

Insha Allah.

Korea (South) 18/12/2008

lets be fair

he has acted behalf of the world. If he is to sentenced to 15 years how about the murder who have ordered to invade Iraq and resulted in hundred thousands of casualties. Bush needs to be brought to the war court and get the penalty he deserves

Pablo Rojas
Costa Rica 18/12/2008

Costa Rica supported the war against Iraq ...

.... yes, my country appeared like one of the "American allies" to the war against Iraq, something that fills to us of shame, but I believe that this attack if it must of be supported! well done!

Mike and Lillie
United States 18/12/2008

Mr. al-Zaidi

We wish to ask for amnesty for Mr. al-Zaidi. To 80 percent of Americans, Mr. al-Zaidi's anger and frustration that led to his act is completely understandable and should be forgiven. We are equally angry and frustrated at all the damage that has been done to our country and to Iraq by Mr. Bush and cannot wait to see him out of office. We look forward to our new President-elect who we believe will be able to initiate a cooperative and respectful relationship with Iraq.

Afghanistan 20/12/2008

shoe thrower

this man should run for the president of Afghanistan. He is a hero in this country for sure. Mr Bush should have Mr Zaidi's shoe apprpriately placed where it belongs

Japan 21/12/2008

Shoe throwing

Come on, people! There are still those who think this whole endeavour was about freeing the oppressed by a country that financed and armed the oppressor! Bull! Had that journalist been on target, millions would be cheering even louder! I am sick of American arrogance. End this occupation now, Obama. I know you have yet to take office, but use your influence as soon as you can and end this monster's folly!

United Arab Emirates 18/12/2008

Throwing shoes

Come on people .... this is just a display of a barbaric act. Personally, I don't care for Bush, but the shoe throwing just doesn't wash in the western world. Most people will look at this as a cowardly display of an uncivilized person. I hope they throw the coward in jail!

United States 18/12/2008

Bush Shoe Thrower

I am proud to be American .... that being said I am NOT proud of the IDIOT and his cabinet that has "Lead" this country for the past 8 years, our country is in turmoil in almost every aspect. I only wish this brave man would have hit Bush in his Arrogant Head. As for being tortured ... I totally believe it. It would have a scene if Bush was forced to come back with a black eye or a big knot on his head! Too Hilarious .... Respect for a president should be automatic though I have none for G.W.Bush

Iraq 21/12/2008

The real reason why

Talking to the Iraqis in the Green Zone they said he was tortured, but not because he threw a show at George Bush. He disrespected a guest to Iraq which they told me was a cultural thing (similar to the shoe throwing). Iraqis will be Iraqis and the U.S. can not force them to be westerners. Again for all of you who believe the U.S. forces are going around killing civilians read the counter insurgency manual free online. It is our main mission to protect Iraqi citizens with our lives.