Sunday, 31 December 2006

Saddam Hussein

So Saddam Hussein was executed yesterday. I have my reservations about the trial itself and the fairness of it, although I wouldn't expect him to be found innocent of course. Whatever the outcome of the trial though, no society that wishes to consider itself civilised has any business condemning people to death. We are responsible for this really - the government hasn't been very vocal in its criticism of course, but apart from that, we generally have a policy of not turning prisoners over to countries where they may face execution. I believe that he was being held by the Americans, but in an ideal world we may have at least tried to influence them.

Objections to the death penalty aside, no good can come from this. A life in prison would have been a 'worse' punishment for him and wouldn't have turned him into a martyr. Also, there's bound to be knowledge that he had which has gone with him to his grave that we've lost - locations of graves, who helped him in certain crimes, and so on. Killing him is an act of vengeance rather than justice, just like every other execution.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Church and State

Hello, and sorry for the lack of posts recently. Normal service has been resumed.

The separation of church and state should be one of the fundamental objectives of anyone who supports democracy, so we should all take note when something happens that works against this goal. I noticed this story today about a couple of Christians campaining against homosexuals who have just received an out of court settlement from the police after getting into trouble for calling 'homosexual practice' morally wrong.

The article does not give a few key details, such as where the couple wanted the leaflets displayed. We can assume that it was a council property though, hence them asking Wyre Borough Council permission. It is therefore completely correct that the council refused, since it is not their place to help any church distribute its propaganda. The leaflets that the couples were objecting to were simply informing gay people of their rights, and were therefore exactly the sort of thing that the council should be distributing.

Let's leave aside for a moment the fact that the views of these people is bigoted, unpleasant, and down to some deeply objectionable beliefs. What we should be concerned with is the fact that they felt that they had to 'counter' a leaflet explaining someones rights with one containing their bigotry, which doesn't help anyone at all. Even worse, they expected facilities run by the council (and therefore at the tax payers expense) to aid them and their religion. This is fundamentally wrong, and the council were correct to refuse. I would argue that the police involvement went too far since free speech is important, and this ended-up being counter-productive. However unfair this may have been though, the state has no business distributing religious propaganda. I would encourage anyone living in Fleetwood to remind the council of this.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

For a while now the public have seemed strangely happy with the fact that 'suspected terrorists' can be held without charge for an increasing amount of time. The government would like us to think that three months is reasonable. This has resulted in the somewhat scary ability of the government to lock anyone up as they feel like it without even having to say why. That's a power I can't see being abused, oh no.

This is all bad of course, but consider the poor Americans for a minute. The government there can lock you up on a whim indefinitely of course, thanks to their handy secret CIA prisons and popular Cuban bases. That was bad enough, but now they're about to pass a law that will allow them to torture you too. Granted, they won't be chopping off your hands, but they'll do pretty much everything else that doesn't leave a mark. Reading the linked article might well make you angry with the disgusting things some of their politicians are saying, but the scary thing is that they say them at all. Yeah, Democrats voting against this are 'helping the terrorists' by saying the government shouldn't torture people are they? Well, good on them. Not that the Democrats are much better of course, but at least they're not quite so obviously keen as fascism as the Republicans.

The fact that a 'cilivilsed' society is changing the law (and the Geneva Convention) to allow torture is appalling. Torture obviously doesn't work - you'd admit to anything if you were subjected to enough pain. Not only that, but if the US do it, there's the green light to all of their enemies to do it too. They've lost any high ground they may have had. As someone on Digg has said: "The provisions are intended to protect CIA interrogators from being prosecuted for war crimes." If you remember nothing else from that article, remember this.. And one more wise comment: When you allow your government to take away the rights of one group, you are destroying your own rights. If you believe this is a good thing then you do not deserve those rights.

Meanwhile, if you're a Christian and a terrorist, hey, it's ok, no torture or secret prisons for you!. Nice to see the same standards apply to everyone, isn't it?

Thursday, 10 August 2006


Nobody can have escaped the news this morning about the 'disrupted terror plot'. Apparently 21 people have been arrested over a plot to destroy 10 planes bound for the US with explosives hidden in drinks containers. The immediate result is that lots of flights have been cancelled, and security on those that have flown as been tightened (no hand luggage, etc).

Of course nobody has actually been charged yet, so please forgive me if I'm slightly cynical of todays events. It's a good thing they've put our brand-new 'alert level' up to 'critical' isn't it? That's the highest it can go of course - I'm not sure what they'd do during an actual attack. Also, I don't know about you, but I'm so glad that those alert levels are there. I mean, I was thinking of going to the shops later, but at 'critical' alert level I think I'll just cower in my bed under the duvet. What a load of nonsense! These alert levels are simply a tool for scaring the public and keeping them under control.

Is it a massive coincidence that John Reid talked about 'imminent' attacks yesterday, and how we may be 'forced to give up our freedoms? This seems like a good way to make people accept it doesn't it? Of course, Reid knew what would happen today when he gave that interview, which is handy. It's good that these things crop up when public disquiet over real events and our governments complicitness in them, such as Lebanon and Iraq, start getting tricky for the government to ignore. It's almost like it's deliberate isn't it?

Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Galloway on SkyNews

I have mixed feelings about George Galloway. He doesn't spend enough time in parliament (last time I checked, only one MP had a worse voting record - Tony Blair) so I would feel slightly robbed if he was my MP. His Big Brother appearance was also ill-advised. However, his position as an MP does get him a platform, and his views really do need to be heard in these days when public figures shy away from having opinions, especially if they are the truth.

Have a look at this interview he did on Sky News. All credit to Sky for letting it play out I suppose, but nearly every point he makes is excellent. The last few seconds are especially good and are an excellent point.

Thursday, 27 July 2006

Turning up the heat

Things in the Middle East are still insane. Our government have yet again made me ashamed to be British. Even though I didn't vote for them we'll all still be considered collectively responsible for their actions. Anyone who thinks that supporting Israel isn't going to make us more likely to suffer from terrorist attacks is a fool. Israel are currently generating plenty of future terrorists all over the world by their actions, and while we could have avoided a lot of ill-will by trying to stop their war, we're now part of it. To rub salt into the wound, the Americans are even using our airbases as stop-off points for the weapons their are providing the Israelis with. If that doesn't make us complicit, I don't know what does...

Thursday, 20 July 2006


Israel is still intent on starting wars with all of its neighbours. It's a sketchy situation there, so I'm not massively surprised to see us doing nothing about it. Of all the polarising issues, Israel seems to be the one that is the most clear cut. When anything to do with the middle east and Israel crops up, people here roll their eyes, make a tutting noise and complain about how Israel should get back to its borders and stop causing trouble. Speak to most Americans though and they say that of course Israel should 'defend itself' by attacking pretty much anyone and blaming everyone else. If it was fair to attack countries that 'funded terrorism' then surely the US funding of the IRA for God knows how long makes them a legitimate target? Of course, funding terrorists is ok when we like them, much as we did the Taliban in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan. I'm not sure why quite so many people on the right have a problem spotting hypocrisy. I tend to think that a combination of gullibility and Rupert Murdoch are probably to blame...

Friday, 14 July 2006

Pandering to idiots

At the risk of sounding like someone much older... what is the world coming to? Anyone in the UK can't have escaped this story about a vicar who kissed a schoolgirl on the cheek when giving her an award and found himself in the centre of a criminal investigation. He was found not to have committed any crime of course, but he still ended-up having to give-up his post as a school governor.

So the school loses one of the few people who are willing to give up their time to help out purely to satisfy some insane mother who seems hell bent on someone hanging for innocently kissing her daughter. The quote from her at the end of the article about sums it all up really:

But the girl's mother said she was not satisfied with the investigationor the findings and continued to allege that Mr Barrett's kiss was an assault. "I am so disappointed with the way it has been handled and Iwould like him to be removed from his position," she said.

There are too many idiots in the world and we need to do something about it. To this end I think I will start to 'name and shame' them, so this woman (who sadly remains nameless for now) will be the first person on the list when I get it onto my web site this evening. It might be a very small and probably completely ineffective thing, but I'd get some small satisfaction if these people or their friends Googled their names in future and found themselves on a list of idiots.

Tuesday, 4 April 2006

Labours plan to turn Britain into something like Nazi Germany are picking up pace quite quickly now. In my post earlier today I mentioned their intention to avoid having to use parliament to pass any laws, just like Hitler's Enabling Act. Now the Defence Secretary John Reid is calling for international law to be rewritten so that we can lock people up indefinitely, Guantanamo-style. His proposals would also allow us to invade other countries pretty much on a whim.

Changing the law to make it 'alright' to lock people up for any reason we feel like and torturing them is one way around the pesky Guantanamo issue of course. These proposals would also make it easy to do pretty much whatever we liked to anyone. And this 'protects' us from terrorism how? Every day we slide into fascism and the population sit there and take it like blind sheep. It's easy to conclude that they don't deserve their liberty and the people who do should just up sticks and go and live somewhere that doesn't have a government that seems to have the goal of creating Orwell's 1984 in real life?

Help to save Parliament

Further to my last post, there *is* something we can do to try to save democracy in this country. Go to and read about the problem, then follow their handy hints for actions you can take. I would argue that we all have a moral duty to do this - I think most rational people would agree.

Thursday, 23 March 2006

Our Loss of Democracy, Again

In the years leading up to WWII Hitler passed very similar laws to this one that our government is passing now. Why haven't we heard more of this? For all of the complaining that the Tory/Murdoch press do about the BBC being left-wing, they're pretty complicit in not making a big deal about this sort of story.

I don't know about you, but going by his record so far I don't want Blair to find it even easier to remove our freedoms by avoiding the whole 'parliament' thing. What next?

Monday, 13 March 2006

The western world continues its slide into a police state. The latest news from America is a bill going through the Senate that would make it illegal to tell people if the President is breaking the law. Great. I've been meaning to add re-reading '1984' to my to-do list for a while - I bet it's now scarily close to how the world is at the moment. I think one of the comments in the linked Slashdot article sums it up pretty well:

"Orwell is spinning in his grave. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. We are always at war. We live in constant fear of terror attacks.

The dystopian future I studied in high school is coming true. He erred only by two decades."

Friday, 24 February 2006

Work Your Proper Hours Day

Today is Work Your Proper Hours Day. In the UK we work longer hours than in the rest of Europe, yet productivity doesn't always follow. In lots of companies (and this is certainly true in my field of IT) there is a certain amount of pressure to work beyond contracted hours despite not being paid for doing so. Sometimes there is pressure from 'on high', but oddly it seems that in most cases the pressure comes from the fact that other people do it. This results in a sort of peer pressure in that people don't want to be seen as slackers, so they stay late too. The company gets used to this and reduces estimates for work based on this free overtime, thus making it impossible to reach targets unless everyone works late.

I don't think that it is reasonable to refuse to work long hours in a professional workplace, but these long hours should be the exception. Employers need reminding of this occassionally, so events like this Work Your Proper Hours Day are important. Make sure you take part! Note that there's also an 'anonymous email' generator on the site where you can send an email to your boss telling him about the day (it doesn't reveal your name!). Make sure you use it!

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Freedoms, and lack of them

It has been an interesting few days. Yesterday we learned that parliament has voted in favour of ID cards, despite it being one of the more obviously stupid ideas that the government has ever come up with. ID cards now look increasingly likely unless people actually do something about it.

Elections are the way we get rid of politicians with fascist aspirations of course, but what can we do at a more immediate level? Well I for one am a member of No2ID, and along with many thousands of other people I will refuse to carry an ID card whatever the law says. No2ID have started a fund to pay the legal costs for defending anyone who does this, but hopefully it won't come to that. The point is that if enough people refuse to carry the card the whole thing will become unworkable and the government will have to drop the plans. I won't say any more about it - check out the No2ID site to see for yourself.

In other news, smoking will be banned in enclosed public places from next summer. Smokers have tried to use 'civil liberties' and 'freedom' against this decision, but that is nonsense. I'm afraid that freedom of speech and movement are freedoms, not the ability to go and give other people lung cancer. Smokers are addicts who are too weak to give up and I don't have any sympathy for them - go and pollute your own homes. Hopefully I'll be able to go for a night out without choking on smoke and coming home stinking. All good things. If you want the 'freedom' to smoke near me, then I want to freedom to carry a canister of chlorine gas with me and empty it into every pub I go to. As I enjoy breathing poisonous fumes then it's my 'right' to inflict that on everyone else, according to smokers logic.

Freedom and civil liberties aren't words and phrases to band around willy-nilly. Smoking in public isn't a 'freedom' to defend - smoking itself is a relic of an age where science didn't know that it caused so many illnesses, and the sooner it stops completely the better. There are some real, important and critical freedoms which we're in the process of losing, and we must fight for these. If necessary we must break these laws if they are passed. It's the least we can do to defend freedoms that our ancestors died for.

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Current thoughts on the leadership contest

On Friday I went to a meeting with Menzies Campbell to hear what he had to say. He spoke for a bit about his objectives as leader and about the current situation with Hughes and Oaten, then answered some questions. I've not met him before or seen him speak in person and he seems like a nice guy, and he said all the right things about the leadership. However, I don't think any questions came up that I feel I would disagree with him on (there was limited time before he had to dash off to another event).

I think he'd do a good job and is clearly an intelligent and knowledgeable man, but is he what the party needs? Floating voters might be (wrongly) put-off by his age, and we have to take that into account. I also don't know as much as I'd like to about his attitudes to things like privatisation of the Post Office, and from what I've heard he's a bit too keen in private sector involvement in healthcare. Don (our MP) likes him and is backing him as are the majority of the MPs, and in a sense they should 'know best' seeing as they work with all of the candidates. My own straw poll of activists also revealed people being pretty split between the candidates, so there is no obvious front-runner at a local level.

I think I'm still going to vote for Simon Hughes. I would have liked to see the hustings in Plymouth the other day, but the media coverage was appalling - funny how someone being gay receives so much more press than why you should vote for them. Still, if you're liberally inclined (even with a small 'l') the media generally doesn't want to know. Thank God for The Independent!