Saturday, July 02, 2005

Stand By ...

For a week-long festival of hypocrisy, ignorance and breast-beating, as the backpacking classes head for the Land O'Cakes to protest against global warming ('Macchu Picchu is so last decade - did you see that Guardian flight offer ? Angkor Wat from only £149'), world trade ('it's outrageous that we are deliberately starving millions of children to death') and the Redneck Cowboy's Evil Empire ('Bush and Blair are the real terrorists').

David Farrer at Freedom and Whisky will be photoblogging the week in Edinburgh.

Meanwhile this New Statesman item on the new power in Africa may be of interest. The same power that's sending troops and weapons to Sudan and controls Sudanese oil. The attractions of Chinese involvement for a African ruling elite is that their investment isn't dependent upon a project meeting those awkward rules about transparency or corruption which you have to address for an IMF loan or World Bank project. No one will ask about social impacts or demand an environmental assessment. As Zimbabwean site Sokwanele says :

Quietly, without fanfare, China has been moving into Africa. Africa is the one continent which still has relatively untapped reserves, particularly of fossil fuels and minerals. Her main targets have been Sudan, Nigeria, and Angola. China needs oil, and has been getting it. She has been developing oilfields in Sudan and now Sudan supplies 5% of her oil consumption.

UPDATE - glancing at the Live 8 crowd on the BBC, I notice a shortage of African faces - indeed, of black and brown faces generally. Surprising when you consider London's large African population. I suppose African poverty isn't their fault. I'll bet the demographic in Edinburgh over the next week will be the same.

Hideously pink - the crowd at Live8, reflecting Britain's multicultural society.

African Princess ? Irish Colleen ?

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Religion of Peace, Religion of Appeasement (and incompetence)

Imagine the fuss if English Christians had beaten a Muslim, Hindu or Sikh to death because his son was seeing a Christian girl. It would be all over the Guardian and Indie like a rash. The Today programme would run daily reports on the trial.

Then imagine the fuss if it turned out they'd killed the 'wrong' man.

Strangely, this story seems to have slipped under the radar.

Prosecutor Anthony Barker, QC said Mr Gill was the victim of a deliberate and planned killing.
"Some men had clubs, iron bars and hockey sticks and inside the shopkeeper was clubbed to death," he said.

Shimraz Kahn, 35, got a minimum of 18 years for the murder of Major Singh Gill at his West Midlands shop. Waheed Akhtar, 22, was given 15 years.

The men believed Mr Gill's Sikh son was in a relationship with a young Muslim woman, Stafford Crown Court was told.

Two others were found not guilty. Two further suspects are believed to have fled to Pakistan.

UPDATE - The Dumb One highlights the BBC's view of this murder as 'a dispute between Sikhs and Muslims’.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales makes the Church of England look like Dumb Jon. They produce piles of verbiage on Islam, Fair Trade, Chinese cockle-pickers, asylum seekers, refugees, Abu Ghraib - you name it.

Unfortunately they appear to be so far up their own liberal backsides that they don't notice when their own people are up someone else's.

A man who was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest has been awarded damages of more than £600,000 at the High Court.

The man, known as A, was abused by Father Christopher Clonan over a 10-year period from the age of eight when the priest worked in Coventry

An amount of £635,684 was awarded by the High Court in Manchester against the defendants, the Archbishop of Birmingham and the trustees of the Birmingham Archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

I have an interest to declare - a son who's an altar-boy and the Direct Debit which sends several hundred pounds a year into the coffers of Holy Church. I'm not terribly taken with the idea that it's going straight out again in payments to lawyers and victims.

I'm even less taken with the fact that this isn't an isolated case. The Bishops and Cardinals are taking repentance and forgiveness too far when they let paedophile priests loose on unsuspecting congregations.

Archbishop Nichols said on Wednesday that no priest convicted of offences against children would have a "role of trust" in the diocese.

Role of trust ? He shouldn't have any role of any kind in anything. Forgiveness on an individual level - fine. At a corporate level - no way. And the Cardinal is worse.

PS - you may notice the BBC have got the story wrong when they say the poor man was abused from the age of eight 'over a 10 year period'. Of course it should have read 'over an eight year period, after which, on the boy's sixteenth birthday, the relationship became one between two consenting 'gay men'. And anyone objecting is a bigot.'

More Doctors Say "Choose Death"

In a magnificent one-two, the British Morbidity Association have decided not to call for a decrease in the 24-week abortion limit. They also decided, in the BBCs tasteful euphemism, "to drop their opposition to changes to the law which would allow terminally ill patients to be helped to die."

The debate on abortion showed the caring profession at its best.

Keith Brent, a paediatrician, told the Manchester conference a reduction in the legal limit would compel him to attempt the resuscitation of premature babies with extremely poor prospects of leading a normal life.

"There is no point in forcing me, my staff, mothers and babies to go through that."

Instead the babies will go through ....

"I don't want the BMA to be allied to the violent pro-life groups and their shameful persecution of women who have reached really difficult moral decisions," said junior doctor Jenny Blackwell.

In contrast to the violence of groups like Life and SPUC, abortion is such a peaceful procedure. It hardly hurts the mother at all.

While I find this all very depressing, it's inevitable in a post-Christian society. Where once the Church was the final arbiter of morality (and the Church was extremely pro-life, to the point where attempted suicide was an imprisonable offence), the decline of Christianity has left a power vacuum.

Who is capable of taking such decisions, on life and death ? You would need great self-confidence, and a conviction of your own righteousness which is almost like arrogance. Where can such qualities be found ?

Step forward the lawyers and the doctors.

We're in the middle stages of a long and slippery descent here. We've been killing babies since 1967 - six million so far. We've only started starving people to death in the last 20 years - and not just people with brain injuries like Tony Bland. A little bit of starvation can help clear a ward of those bed-blocking dementia cases.

It's now the view of the Department of Health that doctors should be able to withhold food and water from perfectly conscious, articulate patients.

Should be some interesting scenes in the next twenty or thirty years as the baby-boomers, the Sixties children, approach senility. This last cohort of hideously white Britons will discover for themselves that ideas have consequences.

The Worse, The Better

Tim Garton Ash gets all excited at the thought that things might be going badly for America in Iraq.

It would be suicidally dumb for any European to think, in relation to Iraq, "the worse the better".

followed by

But it is a fair and justified historical observation that American policy has got better - more sober, more realistic - at least partly because things in Iraq have gone so badly. This is the cunning of history.

So cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel. He'll be telling us next that defeat for America (and the UK) would be 'character-building'.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Local Democracy

If you've never been to the beautiful Isle of Lewis, go this summer. White beaches, standing stones, flowers on the machair, Gaelic psalm-singing (which sounds like no other church music in Europe - a Chinese or Mongolian feel to it) and monstrous alcohol consumption on a Saturday night (an Englishman is best advised to avoid Stornoway dockside bars) followed by a real Sabbath - no shops, taxis, bars - you go for a walk or go to church.

Before the 366 wind turbines get built.

Scotland is rapidly getting covered in the things. Last year on Arran we could look across to Ardrossan and see ten or a dozen on the hills above, while over on the other side the spine of Kintyre is covered with them.

The consultation process seems to have worked well. You can clearly see its usefulness.

The Executive received 4,200 representations on the LWP plan (133 turbines), with just nine in favour, while all but two of the 1,450 representations on the BMP scheme (234 turbines)were against.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Syringia Blossoms From The Curate's Garden

Poverty Causes Crime

A 22-year-old man who won £9.7m on the lottery in 2002 has been given an anti- social behaviour order (Asbo) after admitting criminal damage.

Economic Benefits of Migration

Police said he moved to the UK in 2001 and had been dealing in crack cocaine.

More Low Intensity Warfare

Mugilan Sutherman, 43, was assaulted in Failsworth, Oldham, after apparently refusing to give a group of teenagers a light for a cigarette.
He was found collapsed on Oldham Road and was taken to The Royal Oldham Hospital where he later died.
Two boys, aged 18 and 15, and two girls, aged 14 and 15, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Elsewhere ...

Trevor Phillips thinks reality TV is a force for good race relations. Great timing - the Guardian and Assistant Blog raise the awkward possibility that the Big Brother house may be splitting on racial lines.

A wonderful rant by the Gray Monk on how it's all going down the tubes ... James Hamilton's been getting tanked up ... and the saintly Rev Peter Mullen on (inter alia) the new Archbishop of York.

"The Church of England has spent the last forty years dismantling the English Christian tradition."

Zimbabwe And Asylum

Andrew at Non-Trivial Solutions says it all on Zimbabwe. Mugabe seems to be turning into Pol Pot - the last dictator who emptied the cities. Sending people back there only makes sense if they're armed and accompanied by tanks and aircraft.

The Pub Philosopher and A Tangled Web ask why Zimbabweans don't head over the Limpopo to the rainbow paradise next door, where thousands of Zimbabweans have found jobs. Until the South African Government deports them.

According to Refugees International, of 5,000 applications for political asylum, less than 20 have been granted.

But according to the Guardian's Andrew Meldrum, "More than 2 million Zimbabweans are currently sheltering in South Africa - about 15% of their country's population of 13 million."

So whether willingly or not, you can't say that SA's not doing its stuff.

UPDATE - Squander Two is even crosser than I.

"I believe that Tony Blair has done a considerable amount in the cause of freedom, and could be rightly proud of all he's done to combat tyranny — until this week. This one issue cancels all of that out. This is an evil act. I hope he dies."

Are you sure about that, S2 ? Post in haste, repent at leisure and all that ?

Anyway, your wish will be granted. We will all die one day. I hope he lives to a ripe old age ( shunned and despised by all right-thinking people).

Having no principles does make life confusing, though. Until a year or so back Blair's policy was to allow anyone who could get here to stay. People didn't like it, so he cut down the numbers - and now people don't like that either.

The problem, as usual, is numbers. If TB declares open house for Zimbabweans every African arriving will claim to be an MDC member. I'm surprised Mugabe hasn't started sending daily planeloads of opponents to Heathrow - that would present a tricky problem. He probably hasn't got the planes or the fuel - an aid-worker friend told me that Mugabe and entourage took over half the seats on her commercial flight from Harare to SA last year.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Flagellation News

The last time Aceh, Indonesia was in the news it was under several feet of water. Things are getting back to normal :

The 15 men were flogged with a rattan cane on a specially-constructed stage in front of the Grand Mosque following midday prayers on Friday.
Another 11 people are due to be caned at a later date.
According to reports from the scene, the event was more of a festival than a punishment exercise.
According to a BBC reporter in Bireuen, Maskur Abdullah, crowds of people, including children, watched the proceedings - cheering and booing as the culprits were brought onto the stage to receive their punishments.
One of the convicted men even faced the crowd afterwards and showed told them he had felt no pain, our reporter says.
On Thursday Bireuen's district chief Mustafa Geulanggang explained why the authorities had decided to implement caning as a punishment.
"It's not about pain," he told the BBC. "The aim is to shame people and deter them from doing the same criminal acts in the future."

In a story I have't heard on the Today programme, seventeen ex-Gitmo inmates have been freed after nine months in Pakistani jails.

Haifz Ehsan Saeed told AFP news agency that he had seen the Muslim holy book thrown "in a bucket full of urine and faeces".

Another freed Pakistani said he was tortured and his beard was shaved by US troops.

However, a third said the conditions at the American prison camp were better than those in many Pakistani prisons.

"It is certainly better than the jail at Faisalabad where there is no water, no electricity," Mohammed Arshad said.

Doctors 'find dead foetus in boy'


More Low Intensity Warfare

In Cornwall.

More Sexual Politics

I missed this when it came out, but it made me smile (but then I think Swarfega should market an aftershave). Kim du Toit on The Pussification of the Western Male.

Choice quotes -

"guns, self-defense, politics, beautiful women, sports, warfare, hunting, and power tools—all the things that being a man entails"

"Some women deserve to be single moms"

"Men are slobs, and that only changes when women try to civilize them by marriage. That’s the natural order of things."

"We Were Soldiers was a great movie, and you know why? Because you could have cut out all the female parts, and it still would have been a great movie, because it was about Real Men. Try cutting out all the female parts in a Woody Allen movie—you’d end up with the opening and closing credits."

"Men shouldn’t buy “self-help” books unless the subject matter is car maintenance, golf swing improvement or how to disassemble a Browning BAR."

Mr du Toit's work is best read in conjunction with femiluni academic Julie Bindel's Guardian lament. She's in Tallinn, Estonia, investigating "sex work". Tragically it turns out she's sharing a hotel with the punters.

Hmm ..

I missed this story from August 2001, about homosexual Muslims marching in San Francisco. I wonder if they've marched since then ?

"Reconciling sexual orientation with religion is something that gay men and women of other faiths have already had to grapple with.

Islam, traditionally a religion of tolerance, is now facing the same considerable challenge."

Let Not The Right Hand Know What The Left Hand Doeth

A State-owned company wishing to cut costs ? Why not restructure to avoid paying National Insurance ?

Then you won't need such a large subsidy from tha tax take. A good thing too, as the tax take has now gone down.

Shadow Scottish Secretary Eleanor Laing said it was illogical for the government to stop itself paying into the Treasury.