29 April 2006

27 April 2006

Chimps Take Over Nintendo

In final proof that monkeys really can run companies, Nintendo has renamed its upcoming console* Wii.
In case readers are unsure how to pronouce this odd name, try "Wee".


It's as though needed has taken a massive dump on all my childhood memories.
Why Nintendo, why?

See also:
* Previously titled Revolution

The Lion Gets Stuck

The Lion, and his Home Office department, has lost track of over 1,000 convicted criminals that should have been considered for deportation before being released.
According to Nick Robinson of the BBC and subsequently his Permanent Secretary, Sir David Normington, he has even lost track of 288 individuals since finding out about the situation and so public safety is being put at risk. Quite simply, if this sort of mistake is not worth of a ministerial resignation, what is? Whilst it is now generally accepted that Ministers should not resign for failings in their department that are not their fault, this clearly is, at least from August of last year.



So please come and sign the LibDem petition calling for Charles Clarke to go (even if you're not a LibDem, this fiasco clearly transcends party politics and calls for direct responsibility to be carried by the individuals concerned).
And if Charles Clarke is reading this, he might do well to take a look at this possible resignation letter.

26 April 2006

The Lion, the Baboon and the Elephant

The many names of Charles Clarke, Secretary of State for the Home Office:
  • The Safety Elephant: Presumbly on account of his big ears and his obsessive need to restrict rights in the name of "safety", read this for more.
  • Sweaty Baboon: Now that's just a mean Googlebomb... Funny though!
  • The Lion: I'm the only one that uses this. It's meant to indicate he has an inferiority complex, like a school bully, and therefore needs to lash out at others, like a school bully.
  • The former Home Secretary: This is a newie, hasn't "officially" launched yet, but fingers crossed.

25 April 2006

The Lion's Roar is Deafening

The Lion (aka Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary) has been roaring again, defending his stance on civil liberties* and generally throwing his toys out of the pram.

He has argued that the media (and in particular The Guardian, Independent and Observer) have published articles which:
"Are in my opinion symptomatic of a more general intellectual laziness which seeks to slip on to the shoulders of modern democratic states the mantle of dictatorial power."

Spot the ear

Hold on a tick Mr Clarke. Lord Hailsham, a two-time Conservative Lord Chancellor, has described our system as an "elective dictatorship"... and this was back in the 1970's! His much quoted phrase appears in many of the constitutional law textbooks, so is this a form of media distortion too?

"Elective dictatorship" underlines the fallacy in Mr Clarke's argument. The Government he serves in has no direct democratic mandate, it instead derives its mandate from the fact it is the largest party in one chamber of the legislature, the members of which are elected by a flawed First Past the Post system (one which means Labour has a 66 seat majority on 37% of the vote).

Mr Clarke himself was only elected to serve as MP for Norwich South, not as Home Secretary, and as such his position at the Home Office needs to be checked by both Parliament and the media in order to ensure he doesn't abuse the powers graciously given to him by the Queen/PM. He would do well to remember that the next time he wants to bleat on about "the media" distorting his message. Anyway, how is it possible to distort detention without trial, curbs on the right to protest and anti-crime measures which would make the BNP blush (the oft-proposed abolition of jury trial is one example)?

And in this topsy turvey world, it is the Tories who have been defending civil liberties (alongside the traditional LibDem defence), not Labour, who after all were the ones that pushed through the Human Rights Act 1998.

PS. Things might be getting sticky for the Lion. He has said that the Home Office might have taken their "eye off the ball" by letting over 1,000 foreign criminals walk free in Britain. "Cocked it up" is the expression I think he is looking for.
PPS. Jenni Russell of the Guardian has written a good piece on Tony Blair's email exchange with Henry Porter, reported in the Observer.

* Against, very definitely against

Previous Lion Roarings:

Dave the Chameleon Part II

Following on from last week's Dave the Chameleon party political broadcast, Backing Blair have put up their version of that "hilarious and satirical" advert (stick around for their message at the end, definitely hits the nail on the head)

22 April 2006

Vivisection

I admit it, I'm a fan of vivisection.
There's nothing I like more than to hear about cute animals being cut open or fed drugs that make them grow extra ears, all in the name of helping humankind and ensuring I live for an extra 5 minutes.


Gladys Hammond, whose remains were
stolen by animal rights protestors


Ok, that's not quite the whole truth, but I do support animal research and if you do too, sign up to The People's Petition, launched this week by the Coalition for Medical Progress.

21 April 2006

Hope Still Survives

The protest for democracy in Nepal brings hope that the will of the people will always prevail in the end, when in the West we have grown complacent about our democratic rights, to the point that they are being taken away.

20 April 2006

What a load of Bullcrap

Via Ain't It Cool News, Comedy Central's response to one viewer's letter about last week's South Park:
Dear Viewer,

Thank you for your correspondence regarding the "South Park" episodes entitled "Cartoon Wars." We appreciate your concerns about censorship and the destructive influence of outside groups on the media, entertainment industry and particularly Comedy Central.

To reiterate, as satirists, we believe that it is our First Amendment right to poke fun at any and all people, groups, organizations and religions and we will continue to defend that right. Our goal is to make people laugh and perhaps, if we're lucky, even make them think in the process.

Comedy Central's belief in the First Amendment has not wavered, despite our decision not to air an image of Muhammad. Our decision was made not to mute the voices of Trey and Matt or because we value one religion over any other. This decision was based solely on concern for public safety in light of recent world events.
With the power of freedom of speech and expression also comes the obligation to use that power in a responsible way. Much as we wish it weren't the case, times have changed and, as witnessed by the intense and deadly reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons, decisions cannot be made in a vacuum without considering what impact they may have on innocent individuals around the globe.

It was with this in mind we decided not to air the image of Muhammad, a decision similar to that made by virtually every single media outlet across the country earlier this year when they each determined that it was not prudent or in the interest of safety to reproduce the controversial Danish cartoons. Injuries occurred and lives were lost in the riots set off by the original publication of these cartoons. The American media made a decision then, as we did now, not to put the safety and well being of the public at risk, here or abroad.

As a viewer of "South Park," you know that over the course of ten seasons and almost 150 episodes the series has addressed all types of sensitive, hot-button issues, religious and political, and has done so with Comedy Central's full support in every instance, including this one. "Cartoon Wars" contained a very important message, one that Trey and Matt felt strongly about, as did we at the network, which is why we gave them carte blanche in every facet but one: we would not broadcast a portrayal of Muhammad.

In that regard, did we censor the show? Yes, we did. But if you hold Comedy Central's 15-year track record up against any other network out there, you'll find that we afford our talent the most creative freedom and provide a nurturing atmosphere that challenges them to be bold and daring and places them in a position to constantly break barriers and push the envelope. The result has been some of the most provocative television ever produced.

We would like nothing more than to be able to look back at this in a few years and think that perhaps we overreacted. Unfortunately, to have made a different decision and to look back and see that we completely underestimated the damage that resulted was a risk we were not willing to take.

Our pledge to you, our loyal viewers, is that Comedy Central will continue to produce and provide the best comedy available and we will continue to push it right to the edge, using and defending the First Amendment in the most responsible way we know how.

Sincerely,

Comedy Central Viewer Services
So it seems fear wins once more.

18 April 2006

Dave the Chameleon

Surely not?

The Labour Party have accused David Cameron* of 'flip-flopping', a popular accusation in the USA, used to undermine opponents by making them appear indecisive on issues, but surely we are more mature over here and can see through this weak attack.

From the BBC:
Asked why the party had decided to make a personal attack on Mr Cameron, Local Government Minister Phil Woolas said: "Well, it is funny."
Obviously realising what a stupid thing he has just said, Mr Woolas goes on:
"Of course there is a positive message**. But it is also true that we are not prepared to allow David Cameron to get away with the strategy that he is pursuing, which is to say one thing to one audience and another thing to another."
'New' Labour accusing the Tories of changing what they say, depending on which audience they are speaking to! Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

PS. The LibDems do the same (change their message depending on the audience) and I don't like it either.

* Posh bloke, no chin, won the Tory leadership race a while back.
** No there isn't, this is negative campaigning, loud and proud.

Today for You

I have an admission to make, one that may shock or astonish you, one that could rip apart the very fabric of your life... Unless you've spent more than 5 minutes in my company, in which case you'll be fine: I like musicals and I like the musical Rent.
It's one of those things, the product of a tortured upbringing, etc, but Rent has now been released, albeit not everywhere, as a film and so I toddled off to the Apollo West End (one of the few places showing it) to catch a glimpse.



Whilst the film isn't perfect (in fact one particular bit is absolutely dreadful) it's still an enjoyable experience and one I'd recommend to any fan of the stage show (or even anyone who likes musicals). Some bits, particularly the opening, will take your breath away.

15 April 2006

Liberal Review

These lovely chaps have had me on their front page twice this week, so as a thank you I've added them to my list o' links.
Thanks guys!

Fear

Fear is a potent force.
When we are afraid, we seek to protect ourselves and, unfortunately, we protect ourselves by giving up our liberties.
Because of fear, the US PATRIOT Act and the UK's Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and Terrorism Act 2006 were passed. In the face of terror, we have given up the very things that the terrorists are seeking to destroy, all because of fear, because we believe that by giving up some of our freedoms, our liberties, we will somehow be safer.


"The only thing we have
to fear is fear itself"


But, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
We must stand up to those that try to instil fear in us in order to take away our freedoms. The governments of today believe that by simply saying that special word, "terrorism", they can enact any number of measures designed to erode our liberties and create a draconian society where our every movement is monitored and our actions questioned in the name of "security".
We must stand up and say "we are not afraid and we are not changing".

14 April 2006

Muhammad

South Park's broadcaster, Comedy Central, last night refused to show a scene depicting Muhammad, the Islamic prophet, in an episode which satirised the controversy created by a Danish newspaper's publishing of caricatures of Muhammad. Comedy Central did, however, allow South Park to show "an image of Jesus Christ* defecating on President Bush and the American flag" in the same episode.
In other news, here's a picture of Muhammad on display at the United States Supreme Court building:



Update
And via RealPolitics:


* No, I don't know who is either. Sources close to the Christian community inform me that he was the faith's Messiah before they started worshipping money and young boys.

13 April 2006

That Damn Bill

Following on from my earlier post, the Government are re-considering the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill with a view to inserting more safeguards according to the Guardian.
An idea for them might be to look at an amendment put forward at the Committee stage, which proposed adding a list of statutes which couldn't be altered by an Order under the Bill. These amendments were rejected by the Government, but now they're looking again so as to "take the constitutional debate off the table."


Will this Lion ever stop roaring?

Couldn't they just take the Bill off the table instead? It's unnecessary and could lead to serious abuses of power. If the Government really wants to reduce the regulatory burden on business, they should introduce a Bill every year containing all of the necessary amendments. This could then be given proper Parliamentary scrutiny (such as it is) and there would be none of the fuss which the Government seems to thrive on.
Or maybe that's the nub of the problem, that the Government likes arguments/people against them (see ID Cards/Foxhunting), so they can stand up to them and appear a strong, decisive leader of the nation.
Or maybe that's just me being cynical.

10 April 2006

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill

The Abolition of Parliament Bill is currently winding its way through the House of Commons. Write to your MP (I already have) and help Save Parliament.

More on the Bill:


09 April 2006

Next on Lost

A fact of life:

After an awesome episode of Lost, there shall be a "Jack or Kate" episode.

05 April 2006

No City

There is no city on Earth that can do without one of these:

A Knob Shop

Other pretty pictures from Bath: