Saturday, March 20, 2004

The Gulag Gets Closer .....

From the Guardian.

David Winnick, a member of the Commons home affairs select committee, said only somebody who was "psychotic" would question anti-discrimination laws.

Whether or not you support the UKs race relations legislation, it's worrying when MPs consider that dissent equates to mental illness. Perhaps we shall see a Serbsky Institute of Forensic Psychiatry (which routinely found Soviet dissidents to be insane) established in the UK. All for our own good, you understand.

After all, it's already well known that the more you deny racism, the more likely you are to be an 'unconscious or unwitting' racist. As the Labour leader in the Lords, Williams of Mostyn, said on April 15, 1999, after the publication of the Lawrence report :

"I have often said--I do not apologise for repeating it--that very often the most dangerous person in our society is the person who says, "I haven't a racist bone in my body". Such people are dangerous because they believe it; they are dangerous because they are extremely nice people; and they are dangerous because they do not know what they do not know."

Thoughtcrime, anyone ?

Friday, March 19, 2004

Pakistan v India

Pakistan levelled the series on Tuesday in another thriller. India 244-9 today - looks good for Pakistan. Live coverage - BBC Asian Network.

Mo wonder MW reception is poor though. It's only on MW in these areas, otherwise you'll need Digital Radio or satellite.

East Midlands: 837 24 Hours
West Midlands: 1458 and 828 24 Hours
Derbyshire: 1116 7pm-12.30am Mon-Thurs,
9pm-12.30am Fri,
6pm-12.00am Sat-Sun
Peterborough/North Cambridgeshire: 1449 24 hours
West Yorkshire (Leeds/Bradford): 774 4pm-12.30am Mon-Fri,
7pm-12.00am Saturday
Lancashire (Blackburn and Preston): 855 6pm-12.30am Mon-Fri,
6pm-8pm Saturday
Beds Bucks and Herts: 630 and 1161 9pm Mon/Tue/Wed and 7.00pm Thurs-Fri
Sheffield: 1035 4pm-5am Mon-Fri

Tour Schedule

One Day Internationals
13 March - 1st ODI, Karachi
India beat Pakistan by 5 runs.

16 March - 2nd ODI Rawalpindi
Pakistan beat India by 12 runs.

19 March - 3rd ODI, Peshawar
Pakistan beat India by 4 wickets.

21 March - 4th ODI, Lahore

24 March 5th ODI, Lahore

Test Matches
28 March-1 April 1st Test, Multan
5-9 April 2nd Test, Lahore
13-17 April 3rd Test, Rawalpindi

UPDATE - another Pakistan win despite fine bowling by the magnificently named Irfan Pathan.
Waiter ? Could I Change This Knife Please ?

From BBC News:

More than 100 Islamists have invaded a restaurant in Bahrain and threatened diners with knives, say witnesses. The youths stormed La Terrasse restaurant near the capital, Manama, on Wednesday night because it was serving alcohol, the owner said.

Customers said one diner managed to grab hold of a knife and he stabbed one of the youths with it.

The youth is critically ill.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bernard Cantat, the standard bearer for a generation of French idealists, awaits a verdict on charges of killing his girlfriend, admired for her moving portrayals of sensual, highly strung and often vulnerable women, in a jealous rage after she received an affectionate text message from her former husband and father of two of her children.

Ah, those free-spirited idealists ! Those unconventional rebels against bourgeois values ! The trouble is that the ideas of the Sixties are now the values of most of us. The great Dalrymple speaks thus :

Take but their elevated status as celebrities away, and Trintignant and Cantat were the typical underclass couple of whom I encounter at least one daily in my medical practice, year in, year out. Since the sexual revolution of the sixties, in fact, insensate jealousy of the kind that leads to death in Vilnius hotel rooms has become not morbid or pathological, but perfectly normal, at least in the statistical sense. There has—in Britain at least—been an upsurge in violence between the sexes, by no means all of it committed by men against women.

A few weeks ago, for example, I had a medical student attached to me. The first patient whom we saw together was a young man brought to the hospital by the police with the blood of his girlfriend, whom he had just stabbed to death, still on his shoes. She had taunted him, he said, about his inferior performance as a lover compared with her last such, one of many, whom she had then telephoned to ask him to come and “sex her up” because he—the murderer—was not up to it. A man conditioned to believe by an over-sexualized culture that sexual performance was the only real measure of a human being, he resorted to the kitchen knife and stabbed her not once, not twice, but thrice. Thereafter, he had called the police and taken the pills, rather like Cantat. I looked at my medical student as the patient told his story: an intelligent, sheltered young man (as young men ought to be), he learned more about human nature in that ten minutes than in all the rest of his life put together. He aged, or perhaps I should say matured, visibly as he listened. And in the afternoon, we saw a man who had strangled his girlfriend in her parents’ house, also in an access of jealousy. Not for the student any longer the shallow pieties of the sexual revolution.

Jessica Harbour doesn't like Dalrymple's 'smarm posing as pity'. Emmanuelle Richard also comments.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Sometimes I Wonder

If I'm getting too wound up by the bad things I see on the streets, read of in my local paper, hear on the BBC. Am I becoming obsessive, consumed with bitterness and hatred ? Am I cracking up ?

Then I read A L Kennedy. There's always someone worse off than you.
Oh Dear ...

Driving home, listening to Eddie Mair (a Radio 5 person if ever there was, Nikki Campbell sans offensiveness), interviewing a Spanish liberal leftist, who spoke of the 'illegal war' in Iraq and how the best path was to address the injustices and grievances which were the root cause of terror, rather than taking up arms, which would only create more terrorists and make more people hate us.

Some Spanish Fisk-equivalent, I thought. They've been all over the BBC since last Sunday.

"And that was Jose-Angel Cantarememba, shortly to become the new Spanish Foreign Minister".

Ay Caramba !

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I Can't Believe This ....

BBC Today programme, 8.35.

"In the aftermath of the Madrid bombings, we discuss the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist."

"We" being Leila Khaled, Palestinian hijacker and hostage-taker, and Danny Morrison, Sinn Fein/IRA publicity head (and the man who has the last word on what happens to republican 'informers').

Words fail me. RealAudio link here.

If The Victim Hadn't Been White ....

Would this be a racist murder ?

UPDATE - It's certainly a mystery to the BBC.

UPDATE 18/3/04 - The Scotsman has more. And the Guardian has wise words from Labour MSP Gordon Jackson. "Every area, particularly in a city, has young men getting into bother from time to time." He's right of course. In Gloucester the council have a regular van runnng to collect the bodies of abducted schoolboys. Just a bit of 'bother' Kriss Donald got into. Nae worries. The Indie, like the Guardian and the BBC, is worried by the potential for damage to race relations rather than the hideous murder of a young boy, but a local resident doesn't agree.

James Boyd, a neighbour of the dead teenager, said: "Whenever a white guy hits an Asian kid, it's a racial incident. But when Asian kids attack us, it is passed off as a gang fight".

Got it in one.
A Triumph for Democracy ?

The Arab press give differing views, none of which are very comfortable, about the message of Madrid.

Jordan's semi-official al-Rai said in a commentary Tuesday that the fall of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar in elections was "a political and moral victory for the Iraqi people, and for all people who suffered and will suffer from to the American arsenal."

The United Arab Emirates' al-Khaleej Times said in its editorial that "it took a tragedy of unthinkable proportions for the people of Spain to awaken to the poor judgment of retiring Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar." The English-language pro-government daily said that by aligning itself with the American administration's policies, Aznar's conservative government distanced itself from its European neighbors and drew the "wrath of the masterminds of Thursday's synchronized bombings in Madrid."

The London-based al-Hayat daily also ran a commentary on the outcome of the Spanish elections, saying they constituted a "loss to President Bush's administration." The Saudi-owned paper, however, asked whether al-Qaida network, if proven that it was behind the Madrid train attacks, had any impact on the results of the Spanish polls. It asked if that would "encourage transferring the experiment to move the war to the streets of countries that are allied with the U.S. in occupying Iraq or the war on terror." The Arabic-language paper asked if that meant the results would encourage bringing down the British and Italian governments by adopting the same method of terror attacks.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Return Of The Domino Theory

In this Norwegian blog entry by Bjorn Staerk, quoting a document harvested from a trawl of Islamic websites.

"What we found was a 42 page strategy document, where an anonymous author discusses what strategy to use to force the coalition lead by the US out of Iraq, says researcher Thomas Hegghammer. .. It concludes that one should go for a domino effect, where one first pressures one country to pull out, so the others may follow. The author points to Spain as that country in the coalition which it would be most convenient to attack. "

"To make the Spanish government pull out of Iraq, the Muslim resistance forces must direct blows against the Spanish forces, and these must be joined by information about the situation in Iraq .. one must take maximum advantage of the approaching election in Spain in March next year .. we expect the Spanish government won't withstand more than two, maximum three, such attacks, because of pressure from public opinion. If they nevertheless should remain in Iraq, their continued presence will become an important issue for the Socialist Party."

Hat-tip to Anthony Cox.

I know nothing about ETAs modus operandi, but I can't get over the fact that the explosive used in the Madrid attacks appears to have been sourced in Spain, and has been used extensively in the past, though not in recent bombings, by ETA. How would AQ get hold of it ? Some dissident 'Real ETA' faction ?

There's more to this story than either/or, I'm sure. It was only a month ago that two ETA people were arrested heading for Madrid in a truck with 1,000 lbs of explosive. Has there been collaboration ?

Unthinkable, you may think. But the IRA collaborated with the Nazis during WWII (and de Valera, to Ireland's eternal shame, was still sending Hitler birthday greetings in April 1945).

Maybe 'Spain's difficulty is the Basques opportunity'.

PS - interesting analysis at this Irish libertarian blog.

UPDATE - Times commentary on the 'Al Quaeda election', giving a slightly chilling list of US allies with elections coming up. And Tim Hames considers the results 'a landslide win for Bin Laden'.

UPDATE2 - so, however unwillingly, does Natalie Solent. who also has an excellent post on the decline in physics teaching.

Perfectly Legal

Two morality tales about culture and the free market. Some libertarians believe that a free market and enforceable contracts are all that's needed for virtue to triumph. I have never agreed.

Peter Hitchens has spoken of police who enforce the letter of a beaureaucratic law rather than the spirit of an agreed moral code. Adam Smith believed that free markets were, and should be, underpinned by Christian morality. Let's have a look at these two business deals and see what you think.

It was the late 1980s, and Mrs Thatcher's government had passed legislation enabling council tenants to buy their homes at a hefty discount to the market price. The longer you'd been a tenant, the greater the discount. Our hero, a young Tory MP who had made a million from oil trading by the time he was thirty, was living in a block of Westminster flats, some of which were still council owned. Like his elderly and impecunious neighbour's. So a deal was struck. The MP would put up the money for his neighbour to buy the freehold at a huge discount to the open market price. The elderly man would live rent-free for the rest of his life, and on his death the Tory MP would become the owner of a very desirable bit of property.

At the time (I was then a Labour Party member) I considered the transaction despicable. I still do. Remember, he was an MP for a government who had passed the legislation with the express intention of enabling poorer people to become homeowners, not to further enrich millionaires. But, in a phrase we were destined to hear more and more in the ensuing years, he had 'done nothing illegal'. Today the MP is a Tory Front Bench spokesman.

Move forward fifteen years or so. The pension transfer scandal (where clients were mis-sold personal pensions or wrongly advised to leave company schemes) has been on the public radar for a long time now.

Some firms of Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) have closed or gone into liquidation, and so are unable to compensate the victims of mis-selling.

To help such people the Government regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), have set up a scheme called the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), funded by a levy on existing IFA firms, which will enable the investors to be compensated.

There was until recently a firm of IFAs called Berry Birch and Noble Financial Services, owned by a holding company called Berkeley Berry Birch (BBB). The directors of the holding company looked at the outstanding compensation liabilities of BBN, and obviously didn't like what they saw.

So a decision was taken to
a) transfer the IFA salesforce from Berry Birch and Noble Financial Services to the previously dormant company Berry Birch and Noble Financial Planning, also owned by BBB.
b) Put Berry Birch and Noble Financial Services into liquidation
c) At which point the outstanding pension transfer liabilities would fall onto the Financial Services Compensation Scheme rather then remaining within BBB.

All perfectly legal. But, as the firm's (retired) founder Derek Berry said, 'The stigma will make the firm's name stink'. And so it should. Would you trust these people with your money ?

BBB are publicly quoted. According to the trade paper Money Marketing (from which this story is taken), shareholders include Clerical Medical, Norwich Union, Friends Provident, Scottish Widows and Standard Life. Some of your money is probably invested with BBB. Should it be ?

Victory for Murder

Whether or not the Madrid bombings turn out to have been the work of Islamic terrorists, the results of the Spanish elections will undoubtedly be seen by Al Quaeda as a sign that Western democracies don't have the stomach for the fight. If 10 bombs produce a 10% change in voting, why not try this tactic elsewhere - say on a Coalition-supporting country with elections coming up in June ?

The BBC, Guardian and Mirror are salivating over the Socialist victory. Even were the Spanish Socialists the best possible government for Spain domestically, globally this result is bad news.

Harry, the Gangster and Cuthbertson are all perturbed.

I'm surprised - always thought of Spaniards as proverbially brave under fire.

Meanwhile back in Blighty the Tipton Taleban are given big air, and more is revealed about the non-existence of our immigration and asylum 'system'.

Interesting Guardian survey, showing that Muslim support for Labour has fallen from 75% to 38%. Of the lost 37%, 26% has gone to the Lib Dems and 11% to the Tories. And 13% ('a small minority') would support further terrorist attacks on the US. I'm assuming few of those will be Tories.

Let me see, 13% of 1.6 million - that makes 208,000 terrorism supporters living in the UK. Compared to, say, 400,000 Muslim Tory supporters. Thank heavens its only a small minority.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Mirror, Mirror

The Mirror is at it again. Never mind the 200 dead in Madrid - the first seven pages of the Sunday Mirror are given over to the Tipton Taleban's version of events in Guantanamo.

You'd think Tina Weaver would have learned from the Daily Mirror's sales plunge this time last year, when the paper remained anti-war while our troops were fighting. They obviously didn't teach Kipling at Piers Morgan's public school.

For it's 'Tommy this' and 'Tommy that' and 'Chuck 'im out, the brute !'
Yet it's 'Saviour Of 'Is Country' when the guns begin to shoot

You can see why Guantanamo revelations might add sales at the Observer or Indie - and indeed while the Sunday Indie has Madrid as the main story, the Observer gives its front page to the Tipton detainees. The story speaks to the core demographic of self-hating white liberals, a most numerous and influential class. Yet the average Mirror reader won't give a flying one about the Tipton Three, and those who do have a view are much more likely to think they should have stayed locked up. Mirror Group Newspapers are taking on the aspect of a gigantic vanity publisher.

The People have the headline Mirror readers would really rather see -


Letters To The Times

Dear Sir,

On Saturday 13th March I read the first Independent article suggesting that 'The pro-US policy has already appeared to place Spaniards in jeopardy' - with its unstated but implied corollary that it's safer not to annoy mass-murdering theocratic fascists in case they hate us even more.

Is this a record ?

Yours etc.
Speaking Truth To Power

Radio 5 on Friday morning.

'Nikki' Campbell - '... and of course, ETA have had links with the IRA'

Frank Gardner (BBC Security Correspondent) - 'That's right - in fact Gerry Adams said in a speech - not that Gerry Adams is IRA, but Sinn Fein do have contacts with them ...'

With a Security Correspondent like that, who needs enemy propaganda outlets ? If he can't tell the truth about Gerry Adams, can he tell the truth about anything ?