31 December 2007

FFS It's Monday: New Years

Barely 12 hours to go before another new year rolls around, predictably enough coming almost 366 days after the last one. Another year of floods in the summer, partisan punch-ups in Parliament and Ant and fucking Dec to look forward to.

Doubtless there will be something new to make the year seem less monotonous than it actually is, I've got my money on Simon Cowell finally disappearing up his own arsehole and the discovery that in an ironic twist of fate Richard Dawkins is actually God and Christopher Hitchins his son, Our Lord and Saviour. In my later years (I'll be 23 this June), every annum blurs in to another and the same resolutions are rehashed and promptly forgotten by 2nd January: keep (or more recently, start getting) fit, eat less white chocolate and study harder. My nan has given me a bit of help with that second one by buying me a giant bar of White Toblerone for Christmas. By the time I'd cleared the tenth summit (and what an unnatural bloody shape for a chocolate bar. At what point did its creators decide a giant triangle could fit inside an oval shaped mouth?), my shaking hands and heart palpitations were telling me something in my life had to change. It was either going to be false teeth and a personal crash cart on standby round the clock, or a cocoa-free diet. I'm sure I'll be writing about how I made the wrong decision and we have to make sacrifices for chocolate in February (probably from a hospital bed), but for now, I'm giving it a go.

The actual event of new years, watching the clock strike twelve, have always been a bit of a damp squib for me (although not as much as it has been for poor Mike Rouse). The only time I've ever honestly enjoyed it was (and this, rarely for the FFS It's Monday column, is true) Millennium Eve, when I stood in Trafalgar Square, aged just 14, surrounded by drunks and City chinless wonders off their face on cocaine, screaming "Happy New Year", before turning to watch the Thames River fireworks. I haven't lost hope since then that I could have another new years as magical as that one and so there I'll be at 11.59 tonight, stuck in a room with fifty people I either despise or care so little about I wouldn't weep for if they crashed in a Paris underpass, crossing my arms and hoping my hands are infected with a highly contagious form of foot and mouth, singing Auld Lang Syne and wondering why I'm missing Jools Holland's Hootenanny for this.

Hope you have a great new year.

2007: A Year in Posts

Continuing a long tradition (is it a tradition if I've only done it once?), here are my favourite posts of 2007

I've taken to posting videos more frequently this year, here are some of the best:

2007 was a bumper year for this blog, as I posted a full 108 times (including the new FFS It's Monday later today) more than any other year since it started. Whether this shows greater boredom or engagement I'll leave you to decide.

30 December 2007

Dumbest Legal Arguments of the Year

Slate, one of those online magazines that we can't seem to do over here (possible exception: The First Post), has compiled a top ten list of legal howlers from the Bush White House for 2007. Here are the headings:

10. The NSA's eavesdropping was limited in scope.
9. Scooter Libby's sentence was commuted because it was excessive.
8. The vice president's office is not a part of the executive branch.
7. Guantanamo Bay detainees enjoy more legal rights than any POW's in history.
6. Water-boarding may not be torture.
5. Everyone who has ever spoken to the president about anything is barred from congressional testimony by executive privilege.
4. Nine U.S. attorneys were fired by nobody, but for good reason.
3. Alberto Gonzales.
2. State secrets.
1. The United States does not torture.

(Opino Juris originally presented the list in this way)

27 December 2007

Patronising the little women - the Gender Balance Blog Awards

Will Howells has meme tagged me to come up with some nominations for the Gender Balance Awards. This, I was shocked to discover, isn't about honouring hermaphrodites that blog (Gender Balance... they've got it as they have both male and female genitals. No? Fine, you try writing something witty after gaining three stone in four days) but rather honouring these wee little ladies that have both the ability to type and are doing so online... Presumably after their men have set up their internet connection and installed the necessary software that their women's tiny brains simply can't comprehend. I'm happy to patronise women, it is, after all, so bloody easy to do.

Best Blog by a Woman Lib Dem nominations

Lynne Featherstone. As far as I'm aware she was one of the first MPs to start blogging (in 2005, continuing the site she started in 2003 whilst a London Assembly member, please correct me if I'm utterly wrong). It shows immense courage on her part to keep this site running when other MPs were not putting themselves out there in quite the same way. I hope she keeps it up for a long time yet.

Apparently, according to the Graham's rules, I must nominate two others - Lib Dem Jo deserves a mention for being so prolific so quickly and Lindylooz Muze is also worth a read every now and then.

Best Blog post by a Woman Lib Dem nominations

Um.... When I read blog post, I generally don't note the gender. Anyone else have this "problem"?

Best Blog by a Woman Non-Lib Dem nominations

Caroline Hunt... Maybe she just has the same geeky tendancies as I do. Maggie Bob, because she's a friend, a bit camp and it's a good way to keep up to date without actually talking to her. I look in on Rebecca Cottrell's blog for the same reason.

Three living women who should blog

Well, first up it has to be Benizar Bhutto Princess Diana JK Rowling. She's got a kind of demi-blog on her website, but it would be good to see a fully fledged diary section. Margaret Thatcher in her declining years would probably be worth a laugh. And finally... Lizzie Cook. Ok, nobody knows who she is, I realise that, but my second year Land Law teacher rocks and deserves her own regular space on the web.

I tag... No-one! The Gender Balance Awards is a bunch of patronising bollocks designed to cure a problem that doesn't exist. There are no historical or actual roadblocks stopping women from blogging and to launch a whole awards for them reveals the deeply offensive and chauvinistic attitude of those running the scheme.

24 December 2007

Britblog Roundup

Thanks to Mr Eugenides for linking to my post on our glorious new leader (subtitle: sticking the knife in early) in this week's Britblog Roundup. The Realpolitik podcast also got a mention.

This is probably my last post before tomorrow, so Merry Christmas one and all!

21 December 2007

Betting on the Democratic primaries

As promised on the podcast, I've placed a bet on the US Democratic primaries:

Richard's gone for Hilary Clinton at odds of 2/5.

20 December 2007

Blogger Desktops

Shane Greer has asked me to reveal my desktop to the world, so here goes (click to enlarge):

I tag:

The Oldest Monarch

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (or "Madge" to her friends, in homage to her favourite character from a popular daytime soap), today becomes the oldest monarch the UK has ever had. The Onion takes a look at one of her greatest achievements:

Realpolitik 8: Not the Christmas Special

This week's Realpolitik podcast is now available here. In the show:

The show was recorded on Wednesday 19th December 2007. If you want to contact us our email address is realpolitikpodcast@gmail.com. We’ll be back in three weeks on 8th January 2008. Have a great Christmas and a happy new year.

19 December 2007

6th May 2005: What You Didn't Read

After today's press coverage of Nick Clegg's win, criticising his 50.6% win on a 64% turnout:

"Labour today squeezed back to victory in yesterday's general election by the narrowest of margins, taking just 35.3% of the vote, with the opposition grabbing 64.7% on a turnout of just 61.4%. Serious questions are being raised about Labour's mandate to govern, with many calling for a reform of the electoral system to ensure the public's will is better reflected in Parliament's make up."

My rather ill-communicated point? Nick Clegg's mandate is stronger than that of the government that runs this country. Chris Huhne has accepted the result, and many in the party would have been happy with either candidate. Of all the questions hanging over Nick Clegg right now, his mandate from the party is not one of them.

18 December 2007

FFS It's Tuesday: Our Glorious New Leader

Sticking the knife in good and early...

Proving that white, middle class men can finally go far in our society, after decades of discrimination and underachievement, Nick Clegg has been elected leader of the Liberal Democrats by a margin so thin as to be insignificant - 511 votes. On the bright side, under the Florida system of counting, Chris Huhne would have won.

Last month, I wrote about Crybaby Clegg, although thankfully he didn't gush during his acceptance speech. He even found time to thank a man who not so long ago was accusing him of being a calamity. Whether he'll have space to keep Huhne on the frontbench is probably another question, although without him he won't be able to get into a 12A movie.

Because you see, Clegg looks very young. Where before our leader needed a Stannah stairlift to get on to the conference stage, this one is asking the Speaker to reschedule Prime Minister's Questions so he doesn't have to skip PE. Some might perceive that because of his youthful looks, he is inexperienced, but his two and a half years in Parliament will put paid to that fallacy.

In the run up to the election result, David Cameron, who happens to be in the same toddler group as Clegg, has offered to form "a progressive alliance to decentralise Britain" with the Liberal Democrats. One of the first tasks of the new leader should be to take a shit all over this proposal before we find ourselves roughly violated from behind in the similar way we were after 1997 - remember that Proportional Representation commitment and the Jenkins Report? If you can't, don't worry, you're joined in your ignorance by Tony Blair and the Labour Party.

The problem for Clegg is that the Lib Dems are coming up against a Tory party that's finally stopped self-abusing, got a grip on something other than its undersized dick and is resurgent in the Poles polls. Whether this means we'll be subject to a third party squeeze from a thoroughly over-exercised Tory wrist is largely up to how we tactically play the next general election - do we lay down a broad, inspiring policy message that reaches out to those who think liberal but don't vote it or do we retreat to our age-old "only we can win here", play it local, play it safe mentality (in other words, it's "play to win" versus Chris Rennard).

I wish Nick Clegg well on what will of course we an immense challenge, but I think he must just be up to the task, if he plays to the party's strengths, genuinely tries to connect with voters, tackles head on the inadequacies, corruption and incompetence of the present Government and HM Opposition and rediscovers the bright-orange liberal pair dangling between this party's firm thighs. I have got, however, one final request: please, don't mention the environment, you're boring us all to tears.

Postscript: Want a serious analysis? The cerebral James Graham can give you one.

The New Lib Dem Front Page

A welcome change, but is it permanent? Because I certainly hope that this design for the Lib Dem party front page, which has only gone up in the last hour and a half, sticks around:

Very Web 2.0 and certainly more attention grabbing than the previous offering, which can still be viewed here.

PS. Free punch in the face to the first person who cracks the joke "A welcome change, but is it permanent? Nick Clegg".

Nick Clegg is the new leader of the Liberal Democrats

And writing as someone who voted for him (final mention of the Duncan Borrowman monitor, I promise), well done to the chap. Lib Dem Voice has the results breakdown, the young one squeaking in with 50.6% of the vote, just 511 ahead of the Huhney monster.

He kicked off his leadership with a sturdy, but not exactly inspired (unlike Ann Treneman's coining of the phrase "Winter of Disc Content" in today's Times), first speech. Hopefully there will be some sort of Clegg "relaunch" in the new year, to let the general public know he has arrived (as they will no doubt forget, or more likely not have noticed, over the festive period).

Now, is it just me, or did Charles Kennedy seem absolutely sloshed as he was talking to Jon Sopel on BBC News 24 just now? I thought I was about to hear a declaration of love from the ginger one before he was politely ushered off camera... probably to undertake the hunt for more gin.

17 December 2007

Israel on Google Maps

Google avoiding controversy anyone:

With the main roads and towns in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia showing up on Google Maps, the company has taken the decision merely to mark out the Green Line in Israel - Palestine, probably in an attempt to avoid endless emails from the two sides disputing the details.

14 December 2007

Tony Blair on Barneycam now on Youtube

Meaning rather than just putting up a transcript, I can actually post it here, hooray!

13 December 2007

Realpolitik 7: Wiiii!

In this week’s Realpolitik podcast, spot the obvious technical flaw as myself, Richard and an old friend of ours, Alex Baker, discuss:

The show was recorded on Tuesday 11th December.

PS. Seriously, very sorry that my voice is a few seconds ahead of the other two’s - this is due to a fault with the application we use to record the programme and won’t happen next week (as I’ll be recording separate “streams” of audio, so if there is a problem, it can be fixed in post-production). Hope this doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of the show too much.

Atheist World History

Via, once again, the Daily Irrelevant:

Click to enlarge, four-eyes.

THE Clegg Facebook Picture

Those of us who signed up to the Clegg campaign on Facebook received a message Monday imploring us to change our profile picture to show we've voted for the dark-haired handsome one.

Responding to this diktat, James Graham has had the bright idea of putting one erect middle digit in the air and changed his picture to this:

Serves them right for ordering us around I suppose.

Kenya slum dweller gets UK degree

Maybe I'm just in a Christmas mood, but this story from BBC News has got such a real, heartwarming tone to it that everyone should take five minutes to read it and consider the power of persistence, hard-work and education to change a life:

A Kenyan slum child inspired by finding a Manchester University prospectus on a rubbish tip says he is overjoyed to realise his dream of getting a degree.

Sammy Gitau was initially refused a visa to attend the UK university as he had only two years of formal education.

He grew up in crime-ridden Mathare slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where from the age of 13 he was the family breadwinner after his father's murder. He sold drugs and battled addiction before turning his life around.

The University of Manchester describes his achievement in winning a master's degree as "a miraculous journey".

"It feels wonderful; it feels wonderful," Mr Gitau told the BBC's Network Africa about receiving his MSc degree in international development project management.

12 Days of Christmas

Via the Daily Irrelevant, stick with it, it gets very good:

Now, is today (13th) the 12th day (13 + 12 = 25), or was it yesterday, as some of my friends maintain?

12 December 2007

Oops - Brown Misleads the House of Commons Again

Today's PMQs, aside from a cutting remark by Vince Cable (well done that man), also featured yet another misleading statement from our Right Honourable Prime Minister:

The Prime Minister:... On pensions, this Government have brought in the winter allowance, and that is why millions of pensioners are getting the winter allowance this Christmas.

The Winter Fuel Payments were introduced in 1998 (I believe), so the PM has made the same snafu as he did last week, Mr Brown is claiming that his Government is the same as Mr Blair's. To reiterate what I said then, when Tony Blair stood down as Prime Minister and Gordon Brown accepted an invitation from the Queen to replace him, a new Government was formed.

Response from a British Tory MP supporting Guantanamo Bay

My local MP, James Clappison, has responded to my recent fax regarding Guantanamo Bay (long story short, I asked him to support Amnesty's campaign to close the facility, he didn't want to, I told him why he should).

I disagree vastly with him, of course, but fair play to him for taking the time to respond, and very quickly in the case of this letter:

Click to enlarge.

The classic liberty / security argument it would seem and one which completely fails to stand up to scrutiny. People like me who are against Guantanamo Bay aren't proposing that those held there be released if it can be proved they have committed a crime, but rather that they should face clear, transparent and fair due process, as opposed to detainment purely on the basis of a "feeling" some intelligence officer has about them (or, put another way, who is deciding that those held them are a security risk?). Those against whom sufficient evidence is not available, but the authorities still have concerns about, should be subject to rigorous surveillance in accordance with the law. Question is, should I bother responding to this letter, or just let this issue lie?

It would be interesting to know how many other MPs hold a similar position to my local parliamentarian. Amnesty has put up a list of those who have signed the petition if you're interested where your MP stands on this issue (although a failure to sign obviously doesn't mean support per se).

Tony Blair on Barneycam

The Christmas card video from the White House this year features Bush's poodle meeting um... Bush's poodle*. Transcript:

FORMER PRIME MINISTER TONY BLAIR: Congratulations Barney and Miss Beazley on becoming Junior Park Rangers. Well done.

As someone born in Edinburgh, Scotland, it's always good to see the Scots doing well.

(Barney looks at the camera, tilts his head and a "boing" sound effect is heard. Barney's daydream ends and he's sitting with Miss Beazley on Mrs. Bush's lap in front of the Christmas tree in the Blue Room.)

If the White House videos aren't working (they weren't for me), the BBC also have a copy.

* Copyright Ministry of Obvious Jokes, 1936.

11 December 2007

Creative Use of the Term "Only"

From today's Times:

Officials admitted yesterday that, following a risk assessment, there was only an 80 per cent chance that the Games would be delivered within the £8 billion ODA budget

In other news, the world is "only" 70 per cent water and that canoeist was "only" 99 per cent lying.

Response to a British Tory MP supporting Guantanamo Bay

Here's the fax I've sent off, via the invaluable WriteToThem, in response to the letter earlier this month from my MP in which he supported Guantanamo Bay:

Dear James Clappison,

Thank you for your letter dated 26th November 2007 regarding your decision not to support Amnesty International’s campaign to close Guantanamo Bay. I can appreciate that, as your constituent, I should not expect you to do exactly as I tell you and it is fully within your rights as an MP to refuse my request. However, I am disappointed, and rather upset that you offered no reason for your refusal to support the closure of Guantanamo Bay and hope that you could expand on your support for the facility.

Rather than discuss the myriad number of reasons why Guantanamo Bay should be shut down, I would like to focus on just one: The detainees are being held in clear breach of the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, 1949, relating to the treatment of civilians and Prisoners of War. It is worth emphasising in this discussion, however, that a number of human rights objections exist relating to the practice of officially sanctioned torture (modelled on our very own Northern Ireland practices) and the conditions in which detainees are held, as well as problems relating to judicial due process.

The United States Government has argued that the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions, 1949, relating to the treatment of civilians and Prisoners and War respectively, do not apply to their current ‘war on terror’, believing them to be “quaint”. They believe that those they capture in their war without end do not fit in to either categories covered by the Conventions and instead are part of a class which the rest of the world abandoned long ago – that of “enemy combatants” – and so are not deserving of the protections contained therein. Denied habeas corpus and subject to the whim of those that hold them without fear of transparency and accountability, these people exist, as Lord Steyn has put it, in a “legal black hole” (although thankfully the US Military Commissions Act 2006 has at least put their detention on some legal footing, however feeble it might be).

The arguments in favour of this obfuscation of the internationally accepted rules of the game are not without merit – those who commit certain criminal acts on a worldwide stage do not meet the criteria set out in the fourth Geneva Convention, nor can many find it right to call them “civilians” for the purposes of the third Convention. However, the approach used by the US is in the end, unconvincing. A more sensible practice, and one which would not have effected a major unilateral change in international law (and thus obtain wider acceptance of the world community), would have been to admit that those they have detained do not fit into the POW / Civilian paradigm, however, given the new circumstances those who met certain criteria (i.e. They identify themselves as Islamic Extremists, or as part of an armed group opposing the US) they will be determined to be POWs for the purposes of the fourth Geneva Convention.

Of course, living in a fantasy world as I clearly do, I also believe the US should not kidnap people (those detained in Guantanamo Bay are often not from Iraq nor Afghanistan, but from other countries), call them “enemy combatants” and hold them indefinitely. Alas, my views do not hold sway in amongst US Republicans and I am left with the knowledge that the former colonies may, at any time of their choosing, pluck me off the street, declare me a terrorist and hold me against my will.

Yours sincerely,

Gavin Whenman

10 December 2007

FFS It's Monday: Religion

Ten years ago we didn't worry too much about religion, well, unless we lived in Northern Ireland and wanted to know which bunch of Christians to lock up (the Catholics, for those playing the home game). Today however, the news is full of religion, whether it be a teacher imprisoned for calling a teddy bear Mohammed, the annual "war on Christmas" or just the general religious nuts kicking the shit out of each other because their interpretation of the Torah/Qur'an/Bible/the ending of Harry Potter is slightly more correct than the other sides'.

It would be facetious of me to claim that all the world's problems could be solved if only religion was abolished, preferably down the barrel of a gun and with the forcible swallowing of all holy books by the believers. But it would also be largely correct, observe:

  • Israel - Palestine: Aside from a belief that a couple of miles of desert were given to you by some bloke with a beard and a deep voice, what actually divides you? Ok, apart from superior military strength and a wish to take Fridays off. Workshy layabouts... I say as a student with the next month off - way hey!
  • India - Pakistan: No need to have partitioned in the first place and you would have deprived the BNP Neanderthals of their favourite racist term, "pakis". Win - win all round I think.
  • USA - Rest of the World: Shorn of a belief in their god-awful-righteousness, this international bully could have settled down and started to treat the rest of us atheist scum with a bit of respect. Unless of course they just continued to be a bully. Bugger, I didn't think this one through.

But you can see where I'm coming from. And it's not just in the international arena - at home, MPs and political commentators are bandying around terms like Christianophobia and claiming they are being singled out for special ridicule with straight faces and not a hint of irony. So, let me make this clear - all religion is a load of codswallop, designed in more primitive times to scare the masses into submission (cf. terrorism) and fill the coffers and increase the power of those elites lucky enough to have a citizenship so moronically, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest brain dead that they'd fall for a story about a man that could walk on water and survive having a couple of dozen tetanus soaked nails shoved through his limbs. These same people then pissed themselves laughing when a few of them fell for the yarn that there was a new Prophet, and this one was so holy you couldn't even draw him. They were last seen in 2003 compiling intelligence assessments for the British Government and handing Dr David Kelly a knife. Oh, how fucking droll.

Bottom line, believing in any god is about as logical as having a "system" on Deal or No Deal or believing it's wrong for one bunch of nutbags to have nuclear weapons and not another lot, which is why George Bush is a god-fearing Christian and the rest of us should be ashamed of being the same species as him. But hey, if you want to do it, that's your right as a free-thinking, albeit misguided, human being. Just don't be shocked when I, or others like me, exercise our right to tell you how wrong you are and argue for a better, religion free, world.

Where you offended by this post? Then you probably shouldn't listen to these Marcus Brigstoke rantings, nor sign this pledge by James Graham.

08 December 2007

Petition Against Increasing Pre-Charge Detention

Amnesty International have put up a petition on the Prime Minister's website against Government plans to extend pre-charge detention for certain criminal suspects to the Adams-esque 42 days. Hat-tip to Liberal Conspiracy.

07 December 2007

Under This Government - Brown Misleads the House of Commons

At Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday, Gordon Brown made this rather astonishing claim:

"Crime is down by 30 per cent. under this Government. Burglary is down by 55 per cent.; violent crime is down by 31 per cent. and there are 4.5 million fewer victims of crime as a result of the changes. We have more police than ever before. We have built 20,000 prison places, and we are about to announce that we are building more. We can do it because we run a successful economy; it is not the failed economy that we inherited from the Conservatives."

Um.... Small problem there. When Tony Blair stood down as Prime Minister and Gordon Brown accepted an invitation from the Queen to replace him, a new Government was formed. So, unless Mr Brown is claiming that crime has gone down by 30% and 20,000 prison places have been built in the last six months, he's going to need to make an apology to the House of Commons fairly sharpish for misleading them, as well as a clarification as to why he thinks Tony Blair's administration was a Conservative one.

The Answer to Life, the Universe and Pre-Charge Detention

I'm mightly pissed off I missed the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy reference in the Government's latest plans for pre-charge detention of certain criminal suspects when I blogged about it yesterday. To make up for it, and courtesy of Beau Bo D'Or:

The first six minutes of last night's Newsnight also heavily parodied / paid homage to the original Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy television series.

06 December 2007

Forty Two Days

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has deemed that forty two days should be the new limit placed on the detention without charge of certain criminal suspects*.

After first arguing for 90 days, then 56, bumping that up to the much luckier 58 days, it's anybody's guess where 42 has come from, although a source inside Jacqui Smith informs me that her bra size is a whopping 42DD**, and so she could have been involved in a bizarre mix-up with her Permanent Secretary which she has yet to correct. Or they could be using the same dartboard they use to decide sentencing policy. Or they could be courting the religious vote and miscalculated the number of days and nights those folk like to use.

I've written before about this salami slicing of our freedoms and predicted that the Government would end up with a limit "somewhere in the 40s", so it's both nice to be right for once, and disheartening to think that by first raising expectations and then coming out with a lower limit, they are attempting to project themselves as moderate. It is, however, a fairly transparent and deceitful tactic, so here's hoping British MPs see right through it (except for this one of course, who supports torture, detention without trial and extraordinary rendition).

* Much of the press coverage has used the phrase "terror suspects", but let's call them "criminals", as that is all that they are. To me, the phrase "terror suspects" pre-judges one aspect of the argument and is a useless, simplistic catch-all with negative connotations designed to browbeat opposition.

** That's an awful joke and I apologise deeply to the Home Secretary. The insinuation that there is a person living within her is both disgusting and incorrect and is certainly not backed up by any empirical evidence. A bit like Home Office policy in that respect.

05 December 2007

The Bugle Podcast

With the writer's strike in the USA now entering its umpteenth week, John Oliver presumably doesn't have much to do as The Daily Show enjoys an unexpected hiatus, so he's taken to producing The Bugle podcast with Andy Zaltzman for the Times Online. It's dedicated to bringing you the latest world news ... and some of it might even be true. Well worth a weekly listen (dammit, I couldn't think of a fourth "W").

PS. To the clever tart that's going to point out that The Bugle started before the strike begun, yes, I know, you're not impressing anybody.

Realpolitik 6: Nos Operor Non Postulo

The new Realpolitik podcast is now available here. In this week's show:

The show was recorded on Tuesday 4th December.

A Liberal, but Tough, Case to Stand Up For

As I've mentioned before, section 64 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill will make it an offence to possess an "extreme pornographic image" not just in the cases (rightly) where the persons in the photograph have not consented to the act, but also (wrongly) where they have consented.

Iain Roberts on LibDemVoice has been asking whether our MPs are going to be opposing this legislation and as David Heath MP writes in the comments (and I was already aware of), they, by and large (with probably at least one exception), are.

04 December 2007

03 December 2007

Doing Islam a Favour

Via The Daily Irrelevant:

Not insulted enough? Then shove this through your optical receivers, making its third appearance on this blog, because apparently this issue won't curl up and die:

FFS It's Monday: Rendition, the UK and the USA

The USA has been up to their old tricks again, this time claiming that they have the right to invade the UK and forcibly remove someone from our territory. Via Iain Dale comes this Sunday Times story:

"[The United States of] America has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.

A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it."

Somebody might want to tell this "senior lawyer" that kidnapping a British citizen and transporting him or her back to the USA is, and I don't wish to put too fine a point on this, an act of aggression. The UK could legitimately, if it had the sheer testicular willpower, launch a mission to recover the unfortunate person and bring them back to the Fatherland Motherland. The USA would be left crying into its bowl of porridge as it realises the UN Charter allows the UK to do this and, unless it wants to look like the playground bully it really is deep down inside, it can do bugger all about it.

Courtesy of Beau Bo D'Or

Of course, we can place this in the "cowboy" category of US activity, like torture, detention without trial, and general disregard of legal norms at the expense of their short-term national interest. Maybe so we can properly understand this we can ask all US-approved kidnappers to wear Stetson hats and boots, perhaps say "yee-hah" as they whisk our beleaguered citizens away to face a possible death sentence and a ban on gay marriage.

But then would we really launch an SAS mission to break out a rendered person and bring them back to the UK? Or would we bend over and experience the warm, burning sensation as the elongated love bone of the USA once again penetrates the soft anal tissue of the UK? Perhaps only time, and a jar of industrial strength lubricate, will tell.

Britblog Roundup

Thanks to Philobiblon for linking to this post on counter-terrorism in this week's Britblog Roundup.

02 December 2007

Top of the Blogs

On LibDemVoice for this post. Cheers!

British Tory MP supports Guantanamo Bay

I sent a fax via WriteToThem to my local MP, James Clappison, a couple of weeks ago asking him to support Amnesty's campaign to close down Guantanamo Bay. I received this rather disappointing response today:

So, by implication he supports torture, extraordinary rendition and the detention without trial of persons on severely questionable legal grounds waiting for a war with ill-defined goals to end.

A response, needless to say, is being drafted.