Thursday, August 07, 2008

Swampy Don't Surf ....

Nightjack - an environmental protester in his youth - on the Kingsnorth Climate Camp protesters :

Swampy is basically Middle Class with a smattering of intellectuals and minor gentry trying to p*** off mater and pater ... Swampy and his mates have more cameras per head than the paparazzi pack following Amy Winehouse ... Never, ever engage Swampy in debate. It’s like dealing with a troll. Swampy has a world view that only family, age and a job has a chance of moving. Swampy or someone near him is likely recording whatever you say. The 50 reasonable words used as warning will never come to public light but when after 2 minutes of trying nicely you say “Look just **** Off”, Swampy has his jackpot recording of personal police oppression.

The Guardian :

Other equipment seized since the camp began on Thursday included bolt croppers, climbing ropes and padded suits, which police said suggested that protesters were intending to break into the power station.

Isabelle Michel, another camper, said demonstrators had not made any secret of the fact that they intended to take direct action at the power plant. "This in no way justifies the way the police are treating the camp," she said. "It is disgraceful to suggest that the campers have criminal intent.

Well, call me naive, but it sounds like criminal intent to me. I suppose they'd say it was for the Greater Good :

On Saturday August 9th, the climate camp will go beyond talk and culminate in a spectacular mass action to shut down Kingsnorth. Permanently!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Labour 'descending into chaos" ?

I don't know. Maybe.

Stephen Byers, a former minister, said Mr Brown's policies were more appropriate for "a Sunday afternoon stroll" than for scaling the mountain facing Labour before the next general election, expected in 2010. Mr Byers, a close ally of Tony Blair, former prime minister, said: "We must come forward with bold and ambitious policies." They could include giving cash to tenants in social housing to buy private homes in an effort to revive Britain's moribund housing market, he said.

I think they'll have a job to dig up many bold and ambitious policies. Because their idea of a bold and ambitious policy is to spend lots of money on something, and then stand up in Parliament and reel off the sums of money. Whether the money has done any good or not doesn't seem to matter. The spend is the deed.

"A billion pounds to prevent truancy, which hasn't prevented it !"

And they've run out of money. Now they're frantically trying to think of something that sound good and costs nowt. But they've never had to think like that before. I'm not sure they can do it.

A Russian Patriot

(Bernhard Frye/The Associated Press. Pinched from the International Herald Tribune site)

"Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts"

The great man is gone. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has died aged 89.

I wrote about my favourite book of his, "August 1914", here.

"At a time like this, ensign, party political differences are just ripples on the water."

"Then what differences mean anything at all ?"

"The difference between decency and swinishness, ensign !".

I would have been interested to know what he thought of Putin's Russia. We know he detested Yeltsin's kleptocracy - but while Putin is undoubtedly a Russian patriot, would he have approved of his brand of gangster crony capitalism, where you can be as great a villain as you like as long as you don't interfere with what are seen as State interests ?

According to the massive IHT obituary (and what a good news site that is - I find I'm using it more and more these days) :

Solzhenitsyn was heir to a morally focused and often prophetic Russian literary tradition, and he looked the part. With his stern visage, lofty brow and full, Old Testament beard, he recalled Tolstoy while suggesting a modern-day Jeremiah, denouncing the evils of the Kremlin and later the mores of the West. He returned to Russia and deplored what he considered its spiritual decline, but in the last years of his life he embraced President Vladimir Putin as a restorer of Russia's greatness.
I can understand that. "Our" capitalists - if indeed any British capitalists can be said to be "ours" any more - would mostly sell their grandmothers for a few million more. Judging by the kicking BP are getting - predicted two years ago here - and I don't approve, btw - "their" capitalists have a different agenda.

His rare public appearances could turn into hectoring jeremiads. Delivering the commencement address at Harvard in 1978, he called the country of his sanctuary spiritually weak and mired in vulgar materialism. Americans, he said, speaking in Russian through a translator, were cowardly. Few were willing to die for their ideals, he said. He condemned both the United States government and American society for its "hasty" capitulation in Vietnam. And he criticized the country's music as intolerable and attacked its unfettered press, accusing it of violations of privacy.

Many in the West did not know what to make of the man. He was perceived as a great writer and hero who had defied the Russian authorities. Yet he seemed willing to lash out at everyone else as well — democrats, secularists, capitalists, liberals and consumers.

That's true (the lashing out - not the references to America) .

In October 1994, Solzhenitsyn addressed Russia's Parliament. His complaints and condemnations had not abated. "This is not a democracy, but an oligarchy," he declared. "Rule by the few." He spoke for an hour, and when he finished, there was only a smattering of applause.
Well that was true too. But he was a marginal figure in his own country - his TV show flopped. Like a heroic-scale Peter Hitchens, his words, steeped as they were in the past, meant little to a generation unaware of their heritage. Ah - here we are :

In 2007, he accepted a State Prize from then-President Putin — after refusing, on principle, similar prizes from Gorbachev and from Yeltsin. Putin, he said in the Der Spiegel interview, "inherited a ransacked and bewildered country, with a poor and demoralized people. And he started to do what was possible — a slow and gradual restoration."
To do what was possible. I see what he meant.

(Update - the Times has the facsimile page of his 1976 speech "A Warning to the Western World")

Sunday, August 03, 2008

"It’s our home, but we feel like moving away"

"About 20 years ago, this tiny Caribbean twin island state was a nation where you could feel relatively safe"
Aye. And about 40 years ago you could say the same of this island.

"Regardless of the criminal's place of birth is, they should be punished severely. I long for the day when capital punishment would be put in place. The police force and the defence force are going to have to step it up. The good book says, “He who kills shall be killed.” Some of these bad men walking the streets of Antigua and Barbuda need to learn a lesson. They’re destroying our society"

Antiguans on the people deported by the US and UK :

Each year the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada deport thousands of people convicted of various crimes to their countries of citizenship in the Caribbean. There is a widely held belief in the Caribbean that recent crime troubles can be tied directly to the activities of deportees who have learnt criminal behaviour in the developed countries,” said a report issued last year by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Latin America and Caribbean region of the World Bank.

The Antiguan government says almost 300 have been returned to the island in the past 10 years. A few were from Britain, but the majority came from the United States. “They are sending back these violent guys. Some left here as babies; they come back as criminals after their graduation from American prison,” said Andy Liburd, editor of the Antigua Sun newspaper. “These people don’t know anyone; they don’t know our culture. Most don’t have family here or if they do, say, have an aunt here she doesn’t want to take them in because of their criminality. Crime is entirely out of control.”

It's one of my pet themes that, where immigration is associated with increased crime, it's not the first generation immigrants who turn out to be bad boys, unless they come from an already dodgy culture like that of Kosovo or Somalia. It's those (a minority, but a significant one in some cultures) who grow up in the new culture (or in our case, and probably in the case of the great American cities, in the lack of culture) who present a problem to the natives. Some of those people then cause a problem 'back a yard' when we kick them out.

She said that Antiguans did not know how to cope with the extreme violence of those who are essentially foreigners ..
The working class natives of London, Birmingham, Manchester face the same issues.

“We’d never seen such ‘bad-mindedness’. It’s beyond control. It’s our home, but we feel like moving away.”

Ain't it hell ...

... being attractive ?

I don't know why, but I'm reminded of the clever girl standing outside the school after the exams - "I'm sure I've failed - I didn't do any work ...", while someone who's really afraid they've failed bites down the ungracious words ...

A few obvious points. Perhaps tops that crowd the balcony when you lean forward aren't the best way to stop chaps looking. Your mother really should have explained that sort of thing to you a while back - and maybe papa too.

"I can't avoid presenting as sexual if I take any care over my appearance"

Perhaps you need to deconstruct that sentence - unpack it a little and tease out the meaning of 'taking care'.

"There is no freedom, for the young women of my generation, to define beauty in the way we want it, particularly not in the working world where a reasonable level of conventional dressing is expected."

Does conventional dressing equal Nell Gwynne ? And of course, you're as free as a bird to leave, start your own media organisation - or to dress as you wish. What are they going to do - sack you ? Not if you're any good they won't.

I guess Ms Red wants to have the cake and eat it - or, to put it another way, to be able to dress as if there are no other people in the world. Alas, dear reader, there are. And half of them are chaps. And unless they start putting something in the tap water, chaps will look - as they've been doing for the last several thousand years.

(And pretty girls will have advantages over their plainer sisters - as they've had for the last several thousand years. I predict a CiF column for Ms Red - all their young female columnists are fit (who chooses them ?), whereas some of the young chaps hit every branch in the ugly tree.)

I Merely Report ...

The British government faces a potential diplomatic row with Antigua over the shooting of the honeymoon couple Catherine and Benjamin Mullany after demanding that anyone convicted of the crime will not face the death penalty. Antiguan officials told The Daily Telegraph that the Foreign Office attempted to make such a pledge a condition of allowing Scotland Yard detectives to fly out to help in the investigation. One senior Antiguan source said British officials initially demanded a signed guarantee from the country’s Prime Minister, Baldwin Spencer.

The Antiguan interior minister told the Foreign Office that the government could not make any such pledge as the death penalty was decided by the Caribbean island’s judiciary, which is technically independent. The British demand to its former colony is understood to have annoyed Antigua’s leadership. Eight years ago, the two countries clashed diplomatically with its former colony after the UK tried to stop the execution of Steadroy McDougal for the murder of a Scottish woman and her boyfriend.

You almost have to admire a government that has such a dedication to the interests of everyone except their own citizens.

(en passant, our new DPP, Keir Starmer, was instrumental in getting mandatory death sentences abolished in Jamaica, and reprieving 100 death row prisoners in Trinidad.)