31 May 2006

Dear Friend, Part 1

We all get them, often on a weekly basis, the e-mails from the "accountant" or "lawyer" or even "widow" of a deceased Nigerian/ Zimbabwean/ Sierra Leonian* businessman/ government minister/ general rich bloke asking for your bank account details so they can siphon money through it (with the obligatory "reward" for your help).
Now, I want to know, has anyone actually ever fallen for one of these blatant scams to get your bank account details? I know people can become guillible when it comes to get rich quick schemes but surely not? And if these emails are so ineffective, why send them?
So, starting from today I'm going to publish on this site every single bloody one of these emails that I receive, feel free to contact the senders.
"Attn/ Please

Good day to you and your lovely family. I am Mr. Yassan Ali-Fayadh, the son of Late Dhari Ali al-Fayadh (Prominent Iraq's House of Assembly Member) who was killed along with three of his bodyguards and my Bother in a suicide bomb attack in the neighborhood of Rashdiya Northern Baghdad. Please view the news website below for detail Story of how I lost my Father and My Bother. [Bother? Shurely shome mistake?]
[we get it, Dhari Ali al-Fayadh died, that doesn't mean he is your father]

My late Father deposited a huge amount with Company here in Dakar Senegal. I got your contact detail from a friend in the neighbor and have so much in trust in you. All I need from you is an assistance to transfer the fund my late Father deposited to your country for investment until I regain my freedom. I will give you 32% of the total sum but most of all is that I solicit your trust in this transaction and will not want you to betray me, and I also want you to know that is a legitimate transaction and which is total risk free and we both will benefit from it. Please all correspondence should be directed to my private email: yassan1@myway.com as await your reply soon.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Yassan Al-Fayadh."
* I'm fairly sure that's not right.

Big Brother

Spotted in today's Independent TV listings:
"9.00 Big Brother. Edited shouting from the past 24 hours"

30 May 2006

Guy Goma

Remember Guy Goma? The man who went to the BBC for a job as a data cleanser and ended up appearing on BBC News 24 talking about the Apple v Apple case.

Well, he now has his own website.

29 May 2006


Amnesty International have launched a new website, Irrepressible, to fight internet censorship.

As regular readers (if there are any) know, I'm a huge fan of freedom of speech as the best way to fight totalitarian and authoritarian governments, so I have signed up to their pledge:
"I believe the Internet should be a force for political freedom, not repression. People have the right to seek and receive information and to express their peaceful beliefs online without fear or interference.
I call on governments to stop the unwarranted restriction of freedom of expression on the Internet – and on companies to stop helping them do it."
See Also:

24 May 2006

Party Loyalty

Who needs party loyalty when you've got the Conservatives and their shield of justice. I hear David Cameron's about to drown in his own smug two-goodiness.

David Cameron

... And completely unrelated and just for the geeks, Pure Pwnage, possibly the most successful internet TV show to date. It's left me giggling for the past 24 hours.

23 May 2006

Had Enough?

Part II:

Why? Because the exams are over and I'm a bit bored.

21 May 2006

Had Enough?

Letter From My MP

I won't publish the full text here, but I received this response from Rob Wilson, to my earlier letter regarding the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. Read it if you dare, etc.

20 May 2006

Chris Huhne MP

Attended a post election party in Reading last night, guest speaker was Chris Huhne MP, runner up to Ming the less than Merciless* in the Lib Dem leadership contest earlier this year.

There he is

The man is an excellent speaker, with some interesting ideas and understands the need for the Lib Dems to be regarded as "credible" as well as having solid policies.
He even quoted this poem (which I cited last week) to explain why we should stand up for civil liberties:
They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.
* I'm sorry, but the guy's an advocate, his whole profession is speaking, how can he possibly be screwing up week in week out in the House of Commons.


New on Radio 4, Heresy:
David Baddiel presents the programme which dares to commit heresy. Panellists including Vicky Coren, Armando Ianucci, Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw argue that some of our most deeply held received opinions are plain wrong.

David Baddiel
In front of a studio audience, who will join in the debate, the panel will use their wit and wisdom to dispute some of the following assumptions, that tv is dumbing down, New Labour is all spin, that we are on the brink of environmental catastrophe, that Christmas has nothing to do with Christ anymore, that most food is bad for you (unless its organic), that pop culture promotes violence and that we should never negotiate with terrorists.
Don't let "David Baddiel" (without Frank Skinner) put you off, it's an interesting programme.

18 May 2006

The Roses of Success

From the people that bought you London Underground and the Dave the Chameleon piss take, The Roses of Success!

17 May 2006

The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill Third Reading

In a sign that news outlets care piss all about democracy, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons yesterday without any stories yet appearing on the BBC, Guardian or Times websites.
To be fair, the bill hasn't been published in it's new form yet, although it looks like all the opposition amendments were unsuccessful, but the Government amendments were.
And staying in is this clause:
"(1) A Minister of the Crown may by order under this section make any provision which he considers would serve the purpose in subsection (2).
(2) That purpose is the implementation of recommendations of any one or more of the United Kingdom Law Commissions, with or without changes."
So, the Law Commission recommends a change to the law of murder (long overdue), and the government amends this to include a provision that anyone suspected of murder can be held for 90 days, because after all, if that's what the police ask for, that's what they should get.

See Also:

16 May 2006

What if God Smoked Cannabis?

Or even a government minister?
Vernon Coaker, the new Under Secretary for Police and Security, has admitted he has smoked cannabis, following a line of ministers responsible for drugs policy who have also had a bit of the weed, including:


The BBC asks whether we need more armed police.

And I believe that yes, yes we do.

See Also:

14 May 2006

A Sign of Things to Come

Via BBC News:
... a Labour spokesman insisted: "The people of Britain will pick the next prime minister based on his ability to deliver a strong and stable economy and a secure future."
Does this mean the person that succeeds Tony Blair will call an immediate election?

Phone Tapping in America

Via Yahoo!:

13 May 2006

Our Rights

The Sun has launched a campaign to scrap the Human Rights Act which, in their words:
"... has become a travesty under which the interests of killers, rapists and paedophiles are placed above those of their victims. Law abiding citizens must walk in fear while “human rights” give their assailants the freedom of the streets."
This follows on from David Cameron's pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act should he become Prime Minister and the Lord Chancellor's suggestion that the Act might be amended.
Their calls come after a ruling by the High Court earlier this week that 9 Afghans who hijacked a plane in order to escape the Taliban in 2000 should be given leave to remain in the UK subject to review every 6 months.

Not true, but funny

Reading through a summary of the judgment, it seems to be based more on the fact the Home Secretary was acting outside the law than any human rights considerations. The last paragraph by Sullivan J makes it clear:
"The issue in this case is not whether the executive should take action to discourage hijacking, but whether the executive should be required to take such action within the law as laid down by Parliament and applied by the Courts"
The judge also criticised the Home Department's
"complete failure... to comply with the relevant provisions of the Civil Procedure Rules at every stage in the proceedings"
The Sun and David Cameron's call is a classic example of the "I'm alright, Jack" attitude of the right-wing. If the Government came after them, and there was some Human Right they could invoke to defend themselves, they would do it without even blinking. As long as someone else is under attack, they do not care.
They would do well to read this poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

PS. I do like that The Sun has shown more sense than Tony Blair did:
"Stupid as the rulings may be, judges are simply doing what they are told."

Spring Tidy

I've had a bit of a spring tidy with the blog (well, I am supposed to be revising).
There's a nice spangly banner at the top*, the google search box has gone - seeing as there's now an option to search within this site at the top of the page - and the sidebar has been generally tidied up.

* Thanks to this tutorial.

11 May 2006

The Balls?

Peter Pigeon asks whether LibDems have "the balls" to create:
"policies to attract well educated urban people (a key part of our emerging constituency)... people who used to work in industry (or perhaps still do) and vote Labour."
And I don't think we do - not without a serious change in culture.
I didn't spend much of this year's election campaigning, ditto with pretty much every other campaign since I joined*, but from what I saw, our main message was:
"we aren't Labour, and we're not the Tories either"**
Whilst we did gain the seat I was campaigning in (after some seriously hard work by Daisy, the candidate, and her partner Gareth) there will come a time when simply pointing to the other two parties and saying "we're not them" will no longer work. Eventually, one of the main two parties will develop policies which truly capture the public's imagination and we will find that old friend "The Third Party Squeeze" back to haunt us - and I don't want to see that.
We seem to be scared of who we are, when we should be standing up, refusing to define ourselves with reference to the other two parties and instead saying
"We are Liberal Democrats, and this is what we stand for."
* Seriously, why are the elections always May/June, when a large amount of the politically active population - students - are indoors revising.
** The other main message was "No to the Inner Distribution Road" - a fairly unpopular Reading Council policy which is about as sensible as stilts on a sinking house.

10 May 2006


Today in the Guardian was an advert for Teleshop, a fictional arms trade company which at first glance looks a bit like C&A. Their advert, shown in cinemas recently, can be found here.

It was so good, I've joined Amnesty (well, it was that and the free t-shirt)

Animal Rights and Injunctions: GSK Hit Back

Following a series of intimidating letters to shareholders, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have obtained a high court injunction* preventing animal rights activists sending more letters (like this one) to its small shareholders or publishing their names and addresses.
The Government has also announced changes to it's Company Law Reform Bill, currently making its way through Parliament. Currently, anyone can obtain a list of shareholders from Companies House (unless the shares are held by nominees), and so animal rights activists have used this information to target individuals. There are plans, therefore, to make it harder for people to obtain private shareholder's information in this way.

See also:
*unfortunately I can't find the case on here nor Westlaw

Thank You for Smoking

If you don't laugh along with this trailer, you must be dead inside*.

* Or just not have the same sense of humour as me of course.

09 May 2006

An Open Letter

An email I sent today to animal rights activists, following reports they have circulated this letter to shareholders in GlaxoSmithKline:
Dear Sir/Madam,

I read with interest your letter to shareholders of GSK, published in The Financial Times today, and I would like to ask, what do you hope to achieve from your actions? If it is the sale of GSK shares, leading to their devaluation, it will not work, the shares can simply be transferred to nominees and held on a bare trust. If is to publish the names and addresses of shareholders in GSK, then that also will not work, as this information is already available from Companies House.

Animal research saves lives. It is thanks to research on animals that we can control diabetes, fit artificial pacemakers and administer chemotherapy to cancer sufferers. Many more advances in medicine have also been made thanks to animal research, and you are truly saying the world would be a better place without it?

I look forward to your response,

Gavin Whenman
If you want to get in touch with them, their email is gskshareholder1860@hotmail.com
If you would like to support animal research in another way, you can sign up to the People's Petition.

05 May 2006

The Lion's Final Roar

There's no need to gloat, but it's fun anyway.
A look back at the Lion's Roars:
So, with Charles Clarke gone, I'm going to have to come up with new material for this blog.

04 May 2006

Enter the Blair Pool

Go on, you know you want to.
Steve Guy has started a pool on when Tony Blair will leave office here.

03 May 2006

With Apologies to Chris Rock

Gary Glitter has blamed the media for his child sex abuse conviction in Vietnam.

Right, because it was the media that put their hands down the little girls' pants.

02 May 2006

9 Years On...

9 years ago today Labour swept to power, taking 419 seats - their best result ever.
Let's take a look at some of their achievements:

There are of course many other achievements, too numerous to list here.

New Labour in facts and figures:

01 May 2006

No Man is an Island - The Exception

Via Recess Monkey:

Ahead of the Game

Following on from my thoughts on compulsory voting, the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) has advocated the move.

Reading through their summary, a lot of it seems to follow what I found in my own research on the subject (eerie, but unlike the Iraq War Dossier definitely not lifted from my work, as I haven't publicly published most of it) - most obviously that in Australia turnout hasn't fallen below 90% since the introduction of compulsory voting in 1924 and that public support for the move isn't as low as some people think.
This paragraph also fits with what I wrote in my essay:
ippr's analysis shows that other reforms – proportional representation, postal voting, weekend voting - only have a limited impact on increasing turnout and often the effects do not last during subsequent elections. ippr found that reforms like these often make it easier for people who already vote, rather than encouraging non voters to get the voting habit.
Nice to be ahead of the game for once!
Whilst I don't necessarily agree with compulsory voting, I do think the debate needs to take place and with participation levels at such a low level, now is the time to have it.

A Frog in the Lion's Throat

Oh come on, how many more revelations do there need to be before the Lion is given the boot?