Other


No Muslim, So No Terrorism updated

A tragedy in Austin, Texas where a man flew a light aeroplane into an office building. Reports – which may or may not be confirmed – indicate that the man set fire to his home first, and left a suicide note. The building included Federal government offices.

At least the apparent suicide is dead. But the White House’s immediate reaction that

“the crash did not appear to be an act of terrorism”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8522746.stm

bears a little bit more thought. If Joseph Andrew Stack, a deranged man with a grudge against the IRS, had been a deranged Muslim, would this apparent suicide attack have been “Not terrorism”?

UPDATE

I do not vouch for the authenticity of this, but this is alleged to be from his “suicide note”.

Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in.

http://www.legitgov.org/joseph_andrew_stack_manifesto_180210.html

That is the CLG site; I subscribe to the newsfeed, as can you at the bottom of that page. I recommend the feed as an excellent source of leads to alternative stories for the intellectually curious.

View with comments

Copenhagen and Common Sense

I have no expertise in environmental science, and have never made an intensive study. I realise that what I write here is so simple as to be taught to a six year old. But there is a reason I write it.

I am however trained as a historian. That mankind has changed the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indubitable from a moment’s consideration of the evidence.

Early man lived in an earth covered by vast forest. Cultivation brought a cutting down of forest for clearings. Industrial development brought a cutting down of forests for fuel and raw material. We know this for certain because the process continued into historic times, and has never stopped but simply spread into lesser developed parts of the world, and because of the unlimited numbers of tree throws discovered by archaeologists in areas of prehistoric settlement.

The burning of the trees released carbon dioxide, but this process was greatly accelerated by the industrial revolution, where the start of intensive use of fossil fuels released the stored carbon dioxide of millennia. At the same time, of course, the destruction of the forests reduced the capacity to absorb carbon dioxide and replenish oxygen.

The Earth is big, but not that big. I’ve been round it a few times. The incredible scale is of human activity. It is impossible for an honest rational man to believe that the destruction of the forests and burning of fossile fuels on an ever accelerating scale has not had an effect on the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is of course not the only pollutant involved.

Now I do not claim to understand the complex science of the interaction between man made atmospheric change and the natural processes of climate change. But plainly, as we change the atmosphere it is going to have some effect on the movement of gases and vapours within the atmosphere, which we call weather, and might perfectly well affect the extent to which the atmosphere absorbs or reflects energy from the sun.

I doubt that the processes are fully understood. But the argument seems to me unanswerable that mankind should seek to minimise its effect on the environment that bred us, for obvious reasons of self preservation.

We should also seek to reduce the astonishing rate at which we squander non-renewable resources. I view most of the opposition to the Copenhagen process as missing the point entirely – be it from the ultra-rich fossil fuels lobbies, scientific dissidents [I don’t despise them; all accepted science was once dissidence, including global warming], those who think anything agreed by governments must be a plot against us, or those who just want to keep on personally enjoying the fruits of untramelled consumption. The point they miss entirely is that we should stop polluting anyway.

I can’t say I fully support the Copenhagen process because it is too timid, the “cuts” offered by the US are derisory, and the oil producers should also be paying much more to the developing world. Carbon trading and its derivatives show we have still, despite the banking collapse. not learnt that inventive greed is not the best motivator.

But thirty years ago I never thought we would have this much agreement by governments to an environmental agenda. The broad direction is better, and Copenhagen must succeed to keep the dynamic going.

View with comments

Hillary Clinton Speaks Sense

I see Hillary Clinton is coming under attack for more remarks made on her Africa tour.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/12/hillary-clinton-2000-election-recount

I am not a great fan of La Clinton, but I agree 100% with her pointing out that electoral fraud happens in the US too. The UK as well – anybody who thinks we don’t have electoral fraud should try standing against Jack Straw in Blackburn.

View with comments

Comments Policy

I am in a quandary what to do about comments policy. This blog has become quite a popular internet forum. It has a very liberal attitude to free speech. But yesterday we had a car crash. It started with someone making some highly personal comments about me, to which I replied but which I was content to leave. It then got much worse as somebody started posting foolish threats of violence, allegedly in my support. I know the thtreats were not meant literally, but that was extremely stupid and hardly contributed to debate.. We then had a racist epithet thrown.

I know because I am standing for election there are bound to be efforts to insult me or discredit me through posting or quoting other people’s comments on my blog. But I can live with that.

I closed comments, appealed for calm, and deleted the worst. But then overnight somebody has started to propound complete nonsense about zionist and illuminati plans, drawing on a long tradition of Eastern European hate forgery.

No comments on this blog represent my own views except my original articles and comments over my own name.

But from now on, comments off topic from the original link will be deleted. And off topic includes “ah, but this is all caused by such and such a dark force which is behind every development in the economy/foreign affairs/religion.”

View with comments

Britain’s Got Talent – Vote For Julia!

I was sitting in my study working on Alexander Burnes when suddenly shrieks came from the living room. I went to investigate and was really surprised to see Nadira’s belly dancing colleague and our friend Julia Naidenko on Britain’s Got Talent. What is more she got through!

Julia is a lovely person. A few years ago she asked me to edit her book on belly dancing, but I didn’t have time because I was finalising Murder in Samarkand. Probably a poor decision on my part! Nadira and Julia used to practice in our living room while I was writing, which may explain the odd bit of dodgy grammar. Julia is very modest, too, She was in touch with Nadira this week and didn’t mention she had been on the show.

Nadira and Julia are both very serious about their craft. I was very proud when the Observer published of Nadira’s show:

‘A subtle dancer who ripples like water under wind”.

Most of the belly dancers currently working in London (you learn some esoteric stuff on this site!) are Brazilian showgirls. While undoubtedly alluring, what they do is not really belly dancing.

Julia is a great belly dancer. There is both dedication and skill behind what you see as beauty and effortless grace.

And remember the idiots of UKIP and the BNP would have kept Julia out of the country!

Brilliant, Julia!

View with comments

Google Knows Guido

This won’t make any sense unless you first look at this rather good and amusing piece on Paul Staines’ blog, about the predictive suggestions Google gives you when you type “Gordon Brown is”.

http://www.order-order.com/2009/05/google-knows/

Then go to google.co.uk, and type in “Paul Staines”, and see what predictive text Google suggests.

FIRST PLACE GOOGLE SUGGESTION IS “PAUL STAINES BNP”.

As Paul says so wisely “GOOGLE KNOWS”.

Those google predictive text suggestions for Paul Staines:

google_ps_crop.gif

Did Paul not have the sense to try this on himself before putting out the results about Gordon Brown? Paul has not so much been hoist by his own petard. His petard has been doubled up, set on fire and rammed up his arse.

As you so acutely observed: Google knows, Paul, Google knows. Couldn’t agree with you more.

Feel free to try it for Craig Murray, incidentally. I don’t know how google order their suggestions – it’s not by most results. Most searches, perhaps?

View with comments

Neo-Cons Pretending To Be Libertarians II – Paul Staines

There is a lively debate in comments on my posting on neo-con bloggers pretending they are libertarians. Prominent among them, of course, is Paul Staines who blogs as Guido Fawkes. Paul has commented thus:

I have not ever flirted with racism. I have always been anti-racist. Nutter.

I would argue that proposing any kind of arrangement with the BNP is to flirt with racism. This is from The Guardian of 31 May 1986.

Tory student leader in ‘ racist ‘ party link / Paul Delarie-Staines of FCS attempts to form pact with British National Party in Hull

By David Rose

A leader of the Federation of Conservative Students wrote to an organiser of the British National Party proposing joint ‘direct action’ to disrupt the meetings of leftwing students. Secrecy, he emphasised, was essential: ‘The Reds would simply go wild if they got to hear of a BNP-FCS link. I would personally be in danger of being expelled from the Conservative Party.’

The author of the letter is Mr Paul Delarie-Staines, the chairman of the federation’s 50-strong branch at the Humberside college of Higher Education. Mr Delarie-Staines, who is in his first year of a degree course in business information studies, wrote on May 22 to Mr Ian Walker, a BNP organiser in Hull.

He was, he said, against several of the aims of the BNP, which campaigns for the repatriation of black citizens. Several of its members have been convicted of offences under the Race Relations Act, and others for crimes of violence against ethnic minorities. Its leader, Mr John Tyndall, is a former chairman of the National Front.

Mr Delarie-Staines said he did not share the BNP view on immigration: as a member of the ‘libertarian’ faction of the FCS he advocated the free movement of labour, albeit with the caveat that ‘you come here to work – or starve. ‘

He went on: ‘I share a lot of your objectives.’ These included a return to leadership and statesmanship, the abolition of the welfare state, and ‘the elimination of Communism in Britain – the mass media, the trade unions, and the schoolroom. ‘

Mr Delaire-Staines continued: ‘Nevertheless, even though we have our differences, I know a lot of BNP people at college do support the FCS (some are members of the FCS). I can certainly envisage some degree of cooperation.

‘For instance, we are moving away from just the normal political debate and towards more direct action – anti-Communist slogans on bridges, disrupting the leftist meetings by posing as leftists and then causing trouble, and also convincing individual leftists of the error of their ways.

‘Perhaps members of the BNP would care to join us in our anti-leftist activities. We can arrange a meeting to discuss possible joint future activities. ‘

Other examples of Mr Delaire-Staines work reached the Guardian, including a number of songs. One, entitled FCS Bootboys, reads: ‘Gas them all, gas them all, the Tribune group trendies and all. Crush Wedgwood Benn and make glue from his bones, Burn the broad left in their middle class homes.

‘Yes we’re saying goodbye to the Left, as safe in their graveyards they rest. ‘Cos they’ll get no further, we’ll stop with murder, the bootboys of FCS. ‘

In a letter to a friend, Mr Delaire-Staines said that he had been on a ‘community arts course – well. not exactly community arts, more spraypainting a bridge at 3am. Quite good fun really, ducking out of sight of passing police cars’

Mr Delaire-Staines told the Guardian that he had not meant violence by direct action at leftist meetings, only ‘causing as much noise as possible’. He said that he had tried to forge links with the BNP because ‘we share their anti-Communist view’.

He added: ‘They’re not far-right. They’re just racists, they believe in one colour. ‘

Mr John Barrow, the national chairman of FCS and a Lambeth councillor, said that Mr Delaire-Staines was ‘a bit silly. I wouldn’t hold it against him. I’m sure he’ll grow out of it.’ After hearing extracts from the letter to the BNP he added. ‘He’s absolutely right that he’s in danger of being thrown out of the Conservative Party.’

Mr James Goodsman, the Conservative Central Office official responsible for the FCS, said: ‘If the evidence comes my way I will certainly look into it.

Readers may make up their own mind whether Paul Staines or I appears to be the nutter.

I was myself a student in the 1980’s and I rmember the FCS in their full glory. I remember watching almost the entire National leadership of FCS in St Andrews one day standing on chairs and singing “Tomorrow belongs to me” while giving Nazi salutes. I can certainly confirm that jokes about gas chambers were common in FCS circles, in exaclty the kind of vein referred to in the song quoted in The Guardian article, whether or not it is correctly attributed to Paul Staines.

The Federation of Conservative Students in the mid 1980s was not the sort of organisation which would be immediately attractive to an anti-racist activist. The Conservative Party eventually moved against it because of its embarassing excesses.

Paul Staines may be telling the truth, that he has never been a racist. But anybody who proposes an alliance with the BNP is certainly “Flirting with racism”.

As to his claim to have always been an anti-racist, that is to claim more than simply to claim not to be racist. To suggest any alliance with the BNP is certainly a rather eccentric thing for an anti-racist to do.

I would cllaim I have always been an anti-racist. In the early 1980s, for example, I was a member of the Anti Apartheid Movement and the Anti Nazi League. I have plenty of witnesses to that, and most reasonable people would take that as evidence tending to show I am an anti-racist. What evidence does Paul Staines have to offer us of his anti-racist activism?

View with comments

Neo-Cons are not Libertarians

There has been a fashion in the blogosphere which needs to be challenged. Blogs of an extreme right wing cast have started to call themselves “Libertarian”.

Brian Mickelthwait has attempted to compile a list of British “Libertarian” blogs. In the vast majority of cases, libertarian here plainly means “right wing conservative” or “neo-con”.

http://www.brianmicklethwait.com/index.php/weblog/comments/uk_libertarian_bloggers_20/

The peculiar thing is, that these neo-con “Libertarians” have, by and large, little or no concern for civil liberties. Very few of these “Libertarians” blogged about the shooting of Jean Charles De Menezes, against detention without trial for 42 days, about police violence at the G20 summit. These “Libertarians” do not want to see Guantanamo closed, and are quite happy with extraordinary rendition and the use of torture. Not only will you search the large majority of them in vain for any condemnation of the use of torture in the “War on Terror”, but some of them – like Charles Crawford, for instance – have actively blogged in favour of the use of torture.

Libertarians in favour of detention without trial? Libertarians for Guantanamo?

Libertarians for Torture?

Plainly the word “Libertarian” is being misappropriated by these people, and stretched beyond any natural meaning in the English language. Some of the most prominent “libertarians”, like Paul Staines, have not only been completely silent on civil liiberties, but have flirted with racism in the past. Staines’ site is very often homophobic, and is not the only one on Mickelthwait’s list.

Libertarians against gay rights?

Libertarians against Immigration?

The explanation of the misuse of the word libertarian lies in the United States. A maxim that the only role for the state was national defence became popularised by disciples of the Hayek economic school. The “National defence” get-out allows for Guantanamo, torture and shooting Brazilian electricians, and became a fetish. The idea then appealed to those who favour no tax and no social safety net, or at least strong moves in that direction. It finally emerged as a fully fledged philosophical concept thus:

“I am strong, I am capable. I can survive in a highly competitive environment and pile up loads of money. And a strong State can ruthlessly suppress and keep down the less fortunate, both nationally and internationally, to defend me and my money.”

That is the empty core of “Libertarianism” in its modern US definition. It has moved on from the pamphlet by the great libertarian Piotr Kropotkin, “Is Prison Necessary?”, to a position that prisons are one of the very few things which are necessary to a state.

This is one of my favourite pieces of Kropotkin:

Legislators confounded in one code the two currents of custom of which we have just been speaking, the maxims which represent principles of morality and social union wrought out as a result of life in common, and the mandates which are meant to ensure external existence to inequality.

Customs, absolutely essential to the very being of society, are, in the code, cleverly intermingled with usages imposed by the ruling caste, and both claim equal respect from the crowd. “Do not kill,” says the code, and hastens to add, “And pay tithes to the priest.” “Do not steal,” says the code, and immediately after, “He who refuses to pay taxes, shall have his hand struck off.”

Such was law; and it has maintained its two-fold character to this day. Its origin is the desire of the ruling class to give permanence to customs imposed by themselves for their own advantage. Its character is the skillful commingling of customs useful to society, customs which have no need of law to insure respect, with other customs useful only to rulers, injurious to the mass of the people, and maintained only by the fear of punishment.

Kropotkin was jailed all over Europe for his beliefs, but remained a man of great courage. Back in Russia in 1920 he wrote to Lenin:

Vladimir Ilyich, your concrete actions are completely unworthy of the ideas you pretend to hold.

Is it possible that you do not know what a hostage really is ?” a man imprisoned not because of a crime he has committed, but only because it suits his enemies to exert blackmail on his companions? … If you admit such methods, one can foresee that one day you will use torture, as was done in the Middle Ages

You don’t have to agree with all Kropotkin’s ideas to be a libertarian. But Piotr Kropotkin and John Stuart Mill are great exemplars of libertarian thought, and their attitudes to people and to society are fundamentally different to those of Dick Cheney.

Economic liberalism plus social authoritarianism does not equal libertarianism. The idea is absurd.

The attempt of neo-cons to rebrand as libertarians must be continually challenged.

View with comments

Death in Ealing

I was trying to register to vote at our new address today, but Ealing Borough Council’s website was down. So I telephoned them and got a recorded message saying they had been “forced to evacuate the building.” Presumably more than just a fire drill if the webiste is down.

Anyway, I was googling local news to see if I could find out why, and perhaps get a clue when they might reopen. I was saddened to come across this item

http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2009/05/15/horror-as-man-dies-in-fire-64767-23633555/

It seems someone was killed on this street – indeed very close to us – on the same day Cameron was born, which is a sad thought.

But like the neighbours quoted in the article, I had myself genuinely been puzzled by the higgledy-piggeldy conversions into flats of several houses on this street. Are there national standards on provision of fire escapes, or is it up to the local authority?

View with comments

The Derek Walcott Scandal

I remember sitting under Caribbean skies at the Preparatory Committee for the UN Law of the Sea Convention. As we discussed thorny compromises over the regime to govern extraction of minerals from the bed of the deep sea, my friend Dolliver Nelson would break into flights of poetry. As many Jamaican weeks were passed, Dolliver introduced me to the extraordinary passion for the English language of Caribbean intellectuals of his generation. It was through Dolliver that I started avid reading of CLR James and Derek Walcott.

Walcott is a great poet. It is appalling that the politically correct brigade have drummed him out of the election for Oxford Professor of Poetry.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/5336559/Ruth-Padels-win-poisoned-by-smear-campaign.html

We live in a society in which any expression of male heterosexuality seems to be anathematised. It appears sex is supposed to happen nowadays without the male ever suggesting it, either verbally or by caress.

Nothing has ever been proven against Walcott. The accusations, even if true, do not amount to anything near rape or forced physical abuse. It is alleged that he came on rather strongly, decades ago, and was rebuffed. It is alleged he was petulant after being rebuffed.

It would be difficult to find, for example, great visual artists who did not sleep with their models. Should we empty the National Gallery? Pretty well all the Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists would have to go, for a start.

Burne Jones and Rosetti. Picasso, Degas, Gauguin? All appalling sexual harassers! Burn their paintings!

Ruth Padel comes out of this very badly. If she had any honour, she should resign. It is plain by her website she is a desperate self-promoter. Her latest poem centres on a fantasy of dominating the male:

He brandishes

his pair of ring-ridged horns, arcing back

like sabres. But mine are one metre fifty.

I force him down, rough him up

and suddenly as he came he is gone

http://www.ruthpadel.com/pages/mother_of_pearl.htm

If Padel’s talent only matched her ambition, she truly would be great. She is already Chair of the Poetry Society, and very much at the centre of the London clique of man-haters who were spreading the word against Walcott. Her protests now against the hate campaign are late and unconvincing.

View with comments

Eurovision

I enjoyed the Eurovision song contest last night. I have more or less always watched it; great fun! Like many of my generation, I remember vividly watching live when ABBA first burst into our consciousness. In those days your musical director conducted the orchestra, and ABBA’s strode to the podium dressed as a silken Napoleon. Then the band appeared, and there can never have been a more definable, single moment rise to lasting stardom.

Last night I voted for Azerbaijan because I thought the girl was seriously hot. I was going to vote for one of the Baltic states as well on the same criterion, but couldn’t remember which Baltic state was which, as usual.

Despite the appearance of Dita von Teese, who apparently is Art, which might explain why I don’t fancy her, there was slightly less exuberant sexuality on display than last year. The pole dancer singing for Ukraine seemed rather past her sell by date, though the aerial splits were still remarkable. The Norwegian winner was like a throwback, with its ponderous tum tum tum opening beat, but all good fun.

I am not a fan of the music of Lloyd Webber, and his song sounded like a parody. It reminded me of “The Song That Goes Like This” from Spamalot. But it was still the first UK entry for ages that didn’t make my toes curl in shame, and Jade surprised me by shooting up my fanciability scale.

The staging was appalling. The British “Team” apparently had a choreographer. Presumably the wooden, unattractive and positively scowling male violinists positioned awkwardly on the stage were her idea. Jade actually contrived at one stage to hit her microphoone hand on a fiddler’s elbow. There were loads of other fiddlers on stage on the night. The others were all drop dead gorgeous girls in flimsy clothes, or hunky men with sparkling eyes. We had grouchy middle aged graceless second violins looking like they had just left a Moss Bros oddments sale. And as for having Lloyd Webber actually on view!

Graham Norton was OK, but seemed not quite confident enough to move into full mickey-taking mode. He creased me up when he suggested of Iceland that the entire nation had to chip in for the air fare. But his breathless excitement over forty minutes about whether the UK came 4th, 5th or 6th was dull.

If Cameron had not arrived, I would have been at the Globe with my sister Celia and daughter Emily instead. I haven’t really enjoyed a Globe production yet. Eurovision or Shakespeare? Life is full of strange choices.

View with comments

Sunday Morning Religion

Sorry if your recent comment disappeared. I had a massive Christian (!) spam attack overnight, and had to burn a few of the innocent along with the guilty. God will recognise his own, doubtless.

I am at a loss as to why even the most eager evangelical could think deluging a site with spam references to verses in John is going to convert anybody. Very strange.

View with comments

The Breathtaking Hypocrisy of Tory Bloggers

David Cameron has taken the sensible line and apologised for the tennis lawn greed of his taxpayer funded toffs.

Sadly, the Tory blogs are not on message, and are concentrating on explaining why it is OK for Tory MPs to do precisely the same things that it is wicked for Labour MPs to do. Particularly risible is their rallying around the obnoxious Michael Gove.

Gove is important to them because he is what passes for an intellectual in the modern Tory Party. He has written books. They are very slim books indeed, despite a large and well-spaced font, but nonetheless they are books. Gove is the Tories’ answer to the BNP, the respectable face of Islamophobia. His books are extended essays in well-turned prejudice.

Gove claims an expertise in Islamic radicalism despite the fact he does not know any Islamic radicals. He writes of conditions inside communities in Britain he has never met in towns he has never visited. He has never sat in a radical Madrassa in Pakistan or on a hillside in Afghanistan, but tells us what he has been told goes on there. He is a thin-faced recycler of the bigotry of others, a dupe for any apostate looking for new position, an engine to make racism respectable. Gove is a smooth-faced fascist.

Gove has “flipped” his second home. He has changed the designation of his second home between London and his constituency, and thus charged the taxpayer to furnish both. The Telegraph has exposed this.

The Tory blogs are outraged at the exposure of their idol. Iain Dale squeaks:

Fraser Nelson has the full story on Michael Gove. He is totally in the clear and if the Telegraph are suggesting otherwise then they had better have very good lawyers.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6214838&postID=1503082829110971606

I am suggesting otherwise, Iain and Michael. I don’t have a lawyer. I look forward to hearing from yours.

Tory bloggers would have us believe that Gove was “different” to the New Labour sleazebags because he was moving for genuine family reasons. Frazer Nelson has written this piece in the Spectator to explain that Gove told him the genuine reasons for his move, but unfortunately it got cut out of his piece at the time:

http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/3604396/gove-the-full-story.thtml

This is the exculpation on which Tory apologists are seizing to say Gove was in the clear. We have this from Dizzy Speaks:

“it may be difficult to prove that a fiddle was the intent of the switch. Especially if, like Gove, you’re on the record talking about it yonks ago because you really did move”.

http://dizzythinks.net/

Well, except he’s not on the record. It wasn’t published. We have the word of crazed ultra neo-con, and favourite Murdoch commentator, Frazer Nelson. I would take the word of Ronnie Biggs before I took the word of Frazer Nelson. On anything.

But let us look at this. Gove had an existing London residence as second home and claimed to have it furnished by the taxpayer. His family was in the constituency home in Surrey Heath. He then moved his family from Surrey Heath to his London home, and then claimed for furnishing his Surrey Heath home as his family home.

WHY?

If the family furniture came from Surrey Heath to London, why could the taxpayer purchased London furniture not just go in the other direction?

AND

If the move really was for family reasons, why should the taxpayer pick up the tab for family reasons?

AND

The news that the commute from Surrey Heath to London is too difficult, will come as news to over 10,000 of his constituents who do it every day, a great many of whom have jobs more stressed and less flexible than Gove.

It will also come as a shock to the million people working in London whose daily commute is harder than that.

I am glad that the Tory scandals have also been revealed by the Telegraph. But my main hope is that eyes on the internet will have been opened. Tory blogs have been enjoying great popularity as their party is opposing a rubbish government.

What the Gove affair demonstrates beyond doubt is that, should the Tories get in power, those trendy Tory blogs will be even more lickspittle yes-men, purveyors of excuses for the inexcusable, servile followers of uncaring leaders, than NuLab blogs are now.

View with comments

Don’t Shoot Samantha Orabator – But You Can Keep Her

In 2003, over 10% of female prisoners in the UK’s jails were foreign women with drugs convictions.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/4261934.stm

I can’t find a more recent number, but there has been no substantial change in the scale of the problem. A lot of them are from Nigeria, where Samantha Orabator was born.

In the case of another London Nigerian, Yatunde Diya, who was convicted two years ago in Ghana, I wrote:

“I am sick of the easy presumption by large sections of the media, whenever a British person is arrested abroad on drugs charges, that they are being unfairly dealt with by a tinpot state, and have been set up by evil foreigners.”

http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2007/07/i_am_aware_that.html

But there are important differences. Diya was in Ghana, which has a basically fair legal system. Orabator is indeed in a “Tinpot state” – Laos, which has a nutty communist regime. And she faces the death penalty, even more horrible as she is is pregnant. It is that possibility which gives the story sufficient frisson to headline the news.

I don’t know enough about Laos to know if they execute pregnant women, but killing pregnant women appears to be a universal cultural taboo. I do know enough about Laos to know that it is not a place to ordinarily expect a fair trial. All communist societies, including Uzbekistan, have almost a 100% conviction rate. The State is perfect, so the Prosecutor cannot make mistakes.

This poses an interesting conundrum. It would not be sensible to adopt the position that a Briton should be allowed to commit any crime at all in Laos – say murder – without any expectation of punishment, because it does not have a system of fair trial.

I hope that the lawyer Reprieve are finding her does a good job at trial, and perhaps through diplomatic pressure the death sentence could be commuted if she is convicted. But for us to try to insist the Laotian authorities release her immediately from imprisonment would be quite wrong. There is no particular reason to believe that they have invented the story that she is a drug smuggler.

If you are going to comment, please first read my earlier post linked to above for all the caveats on what leads to drug smuggling etc.

View with comments

Oprah Winfrey’s Heart Broke

Just heard on Sky News:

“Oprah Winfrey has revealed how her heart broke when she interviewed Kate and Gerry McCann.”

Great News! Oprah Winfrey’s dead! How did she reveal it though? In a seance? At the post mortem when her diaphragm was opened?

This disgusting McCann couple at the very most charitable interpretation, left tiny children all alone in a foreign hotel room while they were off having fun. More than once. I can think of much worse possibilities. When will the media stop promoting them?

View with comments

A Gentleman’s Diary of the Pig Plague Year

Mrs Murray and I continue very Well, with no need of Physick. Yesterday we took our Promenade down to Gunnersbury Park. We made a picque-nique with some Roast Fowl and a quart of claret, and watched the Gentlemen of Acton in a match at Cricket against some visiting Gentlemen.

Mrs Murray commented what a goodly Providence it was, that had assured that, even in these terrible times of Plague, each team had yet been able to find eleven players, and some of them very fine looking and Portly!

The talk was all of Baroness Udders who has been caught stealing from the public purse. Nobody could recall a single reason why a woman of such small Distinction might have been elevated to the Peerage. It is believed, however, that she commands prodigious many of the new postal ballots in a Rotten Borough very nigh upon the Tower, where the poor disgraced Mr Blair had been much beset by Liberals. Mrs Murray observed to me that Baroness Udders was a mere Harlot who should be Whipped around the Town. I cannot find it in my heart to disagree with her.

Returning home up Gunnersbury Road, we passed by an emporium for funerary services. We were very much surprised to see that all appeared quiet. Perchance the proprietor had collapsed from overwork, and become himself, in that sense, a Victim of the Great Pig Plague? That we should live to see such Melancholy times!

View with comments