Saturday, November 25, 2006 

Those little Wikipedia monkeys...

For anyone else still smarting from having watched Esther Rantzen's witless appearance on Thursday's Question Time, where she made Denis MacShane look like Noam Chomsky by comparison, someone saw the red mist long enough to edit her Wikipedia entry:

On 23rd November 2006 Rantzen appeared on Question Time, where she abused the memory of World War Two and the Holocaust by attempting to draw a parallel between Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler. She made the ludicrous assertion that in both the Second World War and the Iraq War, the consequences of inaction were likely to have been worse than action, a statement refuted utterly by the carnage that has ensued in Iraq. It has been speculated that the moustache shared by both of the aforementioned men may have caused her the confusion.

She also justified the utterly disproportionate Israel-Hizbullah-Lebanon war, saying the fault lay entirely with Hizbullah, and that
Israel was surrounded by nations that wanted to destroy it. Maybe she should tell that to the 24 civilians who have now died since the war from setting off unexploded cluster bombs. A British man helping an international team clear them also today had to have his leg amputated after stepping on one.

Update: It's since been removed. Boo. Discussion page here.

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Blair's "socialist" contracts.

One of Blair's other current feats of logic.

After 9 years of Labour, you would have thought that they'd got the crackpot headline grabbing schemes out of their system. In the past we've suffered from the possibility of the police marching "yobs" to ATMs in order to pay on the spot fines; it never materialised. Neither, thankfully, has "Sarah's law", as demanded by the News of the Screws, which was almost certain to lead to suspected paedophiles being strung up by their testicles from the nearest lamp-post.

Well, if you did believe that, then here's Mr Blair's so-called policy review to prove you wrong. Apparently convinced the public is lapping up their continued devotion to the idea behind "rights 'n' responsibilities", Labour's great new big idea appears to be the "social contract". The notion behind it, as explained by the Grauniad article is thus:

Examples include an expectation that a local health authority will only offer a hip replacement if the patient undertakes to keep their weight down. Parents might also be asked to sign individually tailored contracts with a school setting out what the parents must do at home to advance their child's publicly-funded education.

The review is likely to examine fundamentally the future relationship between citizen and state. The public service commission has been asked to consider "whether it is possible to move from an implicit one-way contract based on outputs, to one based on explicit mutually agreed outcomes". It asks "should we be aiming for a more explicit statement of the contract that covers both the service offered by the public sector (what is in and what is not) and what is expected from citizens (beyond paying taxes and obeying the law)". It also asks "whether these explicit and binding contracts could work not just for individuals and communities".

Filter out all the jargon, and what this essentially comes down to is that the government doesn't trust you to keep your end of the bargain. Apparently, instead of simply being expected not to break the law and pay your taxes, we have to do more. The state is doing all these wonderful things for us, and are we grateful? No, we're still as petulant and incalcitrant as ever. As we've already discovered this week, Labour especially doesn't like the way those either critical or indifferent towards it are going.

It seems to be the sure sign that Labour has completely run out of ideas. Thrashing about, trying desperately to come up with something both noteworthy and radical, it's instead a bizarre hybrid, something almost entirely meaningless but which also has sinister overtones. What could be more vacuous than a useless piece of paper agreement that you'll do something to make yourself a better citizen? At the same time, it signals a change in the relationship between the individual and the state. No longer does it seem can you just aimlessly but merrily work your way through life, going to school, getting a job, paying taxes, starting a family, etc, oh no. Now you have to sign on the dotted line and say that you solemnly promise that you won't let your children grow up to hang around on street corners, frightening the old folk. Want to use the maternity ward at the hospital? Fine, but first you have to say you won't smoke or get pissed while little Johnny is growing inside you. Want to protest outside parliament? Sure, but before you do, you have to ask that nice Commissioner Blair for his permission.

We had to sign something very similar to this at school. We had to promise that we wouldn't be late, that we'd wear the correct uniform, that we wouldn't swear at the teachers and that we'd do all our homework like good little girls and boys. Everyone signed it. Did anyone stick to it? Did they hell. It was a pointless exercise because there was no comeback on it. Even if there hadn't been the contract you still would have been punished for doing all the things you promised you wouldn't.

That right there is Blair's plan. It looks earnest and polite, yet like everything about New Labour, underneath the surface it stinks of old-fashioned authoritarianism. What do they honestly think such contracts will achieve? Will anybody take any notice of them? Of course not. If there was anything behind it, it would need to be backed up by real consequences, but if such consequences were there, it would mean the government removing services from perfectly law-abiding hard-working citizens. I may be taking this too seriously, but it almost seems to be designed to nip in the bud the difference between people, to root out individuality. It's society OK, but with Blairism stamped all over it. What a great potential legacy for the Dear Leader.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006 

David Cameron: Yeah, he's still an idiot...

Kids, David Cameron likes you. He wants to be friends with you. He knows where you hang out. He wants to be like you. A little like that strange old guy in the duffel coat who hangs around by the swings. Smells like old wet newspaper, probably has a drink problem. Like that guy, Cameron just wants to be loved; that he comes across to everyone else as being a strange man that you should never ever go off with doesn't occur to him.

Hence his fatuous, hilarious attempt on Comment is Free to get down with kids. As part of the launching of, he's come up with the biggest load of stringed together nonsense you may ever read in your life. It quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't have the slightest clue what he's talking about.

Right now, our political culture is undergoing unprecedented transformation. The old answers will not work in a new age, and political parties need to understand the forces that are stirring within society if they are to keep being relevant.

Yes, you've figured it out. We don't like being lied to. Congratulations.

There are two fundamental and mutually dependent factors that are contributing to this shift. First, we are in the early stages of the internet revolution, and evolving with it is a whole new age of political communication and engagement. A generation of people is rejecting more traditional mediums and forms of interaction in favour of an environment where they are in control.

Before, politicians and the mainstream media believed that when we talked people listened. Now, there are 57m blogs - that means 57m new newspaper editors. Every minute, 15 new user-generated videos are uploaded on to YouTube - that means 450 new news items during the time of an evening news bulletin.

Have you ever actually read a blog Dave, other than perhaps Iain Dale's or ConservativeHome? Why don't you click the next blog button up there at the top of this page and see where it takes you? I just clicked it about 20 times and not a single one of the blogs was about politics. Millions of those blogs may have been started, then probably never updated again. The amount who write about politics and update daily or even every other day is miniscule. The vast majority are full of personal vanity crap, the stuff that only their friends would ever be interested in. And yes, I realise that I'm a horrible hypocrite.

As for YouTube, well, just go to the home page. The top featured video currently is:
Yea im double jointed in alot parts of my body and idk i found out some of the weird stuff i can do decided to record it and not really proud of it so i wore some weird mask i found in my room....enjoy

99% of the videos are pure crap. Surely your advisers told you this, right Dave? You might want to hug these people uploading their cat falling into a pond, but they don't want to embrace you in return.

People are talking back, and as much as this is exciting and liberating, it is also a challenge. Politicians need to find new ways to communicate with this ever-expanding political class, and work with them to find the best solutions to the problems in our country.

Second, and linked to this, we need to understand that young people are not disengaging themselves from the political arena. In fact, the reality is that they are getting more involved than ever before. Social networks such as MySpace and Bebo bring together people not through common geography, but through common interest.

Again Dave, have you ever looked at MySpace or Bebo? They're the equivalent of a new layer of hell. Every single fucking person thinks it's a brilliant idea to have a song on their page which blasts out at you, making you both jump a mile and want to strangle them at the same time. Animated GIFs also seem a brilliant idea; it's like we've gone back to the days of Geocities. Plus, they don't bring people together through common interest; they're purely there for those who know each other in real life or at school to share their photographs, where they're going out, etc.

Right, so we've established that you don't know what you're talking about, can we get to the point now?

This week, we will be launching "sort-it", an innovative and provocative internet-based campaign designed to encourage young people to think about their own social responsibilities. The first issue we have chosen is personal debt, but many more will be addressed in the months ahead, such as racism and homelessness.

Well innovative and provocative it certainly is. Cameron and his old buddies in PR have got some poor perma-tanned guy to wear an outlandish suit to represent how he's the "tosser" inside young people, the instinct to splash the cash and worry about it later. Presumably tosser is used as "wanker" is just that bit too rude. As with everything that comes out of Cameron's mouth, he and they haven't thought this through. Their thinking seems to be thus:

Hey kids, we want you to engage and listen with us, but first you've got to prove just how responsible you are! Do you spend money like water? Do you snort cocaine, a drug that impoverishes and makes the lives of people in other countries miserable? Do you need some help? Well, we can provide that, but first we've got to point out just what a tosser you are! Sort yourself out! We may be old, not know anything about anything and all have directorships with the companies that give you the credit, but that doesn't mean we can't offer you hopeless advice when you'd be better off going to the Citizens Advice Bureaux!

Dave leaves us with some of his favourite mysticism:

There is an old Chinese proverb: "Tell me and I will forget. Show me, and I will remember."

Or there's that other one: Go to bed with itchy bum. Wake up with sticky finger.

You know Dave, instead of trying to get into bed with all the young people you so obviously adore, you could perhaps do your job as leader of the opposition. Such as challenging Blair to bring the troops home from Iraq instead of just holing them up in a barracks where every passing jihadi or Ba'athist can come and plant IEDs and mortar the base. What we actually had was Hague doing his Churchillian "we shall not be moved" act, wondering whether even this pathetic half-measure withdrawal might encourage those opposed to the British presence to up their attacks. You could demand that there be a free vote on Trident renewal, as Jack Straw tonight said that the vote would be whipped. Oh, I forgot, your line is that it must be renewed, even if it costs £75 billion, so we can expect that free will won't reign on your side either. You could go against the instincts of your party and pledge to introduce proportional representation, which really would give the power back to the people, giving them the opportunity for their voice to actually be heard and their vote counted. What we have now is a government elected with a large majority, when only 22% of the electorate voted for them. We deserve better than this.

Get the picture Dave? No one's going to vote for you based on how much you want to shag their leg, like a too friendly Jack Russell. They care about policies, how you're going to be different to Labour. Your speech last night about Brown and Reid playing politics with terrorism was a lot better than this woe-begotten shambles. In your own words, sort it out.

Related (and better) posts:
Ministry of Truth - Bunch of Tossers
Guido - Who is the real inner tosser?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006 

Scum-watch: Various bits and bobs.

Warning: Hardly any of the links on this post are safe for work, or in some cases, life itself.

Looks like Murdoch forgot to tell Wade that the deal with OJ Simpson was off. Despite two puff-pieces about the show and book appearing in the Scum, one of which has a lot of what looks highly like exclusive material, there's been no report of Murdoch's statement on Monday, cancelling both.

More stupidity occurred when the Sun, splashing on the setting up of a website naming those who are being sought for failing to comply with notification requirements under the 2003 Sexual Offences act, used the headline "PERVHUNT.COM". It never crossed their minds to actually buy that domain and link it to the actual page, so one of the wags on did instead. They then directed it to, where 3 barely legal 18-year-old ladies profile themselves. Says Danni:

Do you have a tattoo?
Yes, I have the Chinese symbol for angel on my lower back

Aww! How sweet! does now actually point to the proper page, and with listing 4 changes to its history since the 17th, it seems likely that some hard cash was exchanged in order for Wade's blushes to be spared, although they quickly changed the rookies page URL.

Keeping with the theme of sickening exploitation, the Sun currently has an advert for its pervtastic page 3 idol competition alongside the "news" that Rose West has been err, eating some food in prison.

On the page itself:
GIRLS! Don't forget to enter our Page 3 Idol contest.

The winner nets a Sun modelling deal, exotic photoshoot and £5,000.

To enter, post a pic of yourself topless or in bikini to Page 3 Idol, The Sun, 1 Virginia St, London E98 1SN. Or email to

Give your name, age and daytime number. You must be 18 or over and silicone-free. Every usable entry will be posted on our website.

To see our new contestants visit

Welcome then to the sleaziest and cheapest leering lads competition in Britain. And they can't only view pages and pages (I count 40, with more yet to come) of young women undressing for a national newspaper with the distant prospect of winning a paltry £5,000, you can also go and see them do it live, in a Miss World type competition where the swimsuit contest turns into one involving wet t-shirts instead:

In addition to this, far be it from me to suggest that some of the girls might lie about their age, but there doesn't seem to be much of a safeguard against under-age teenagers sending in photographs of themselves in a state of undress. That would be awful, wouldn't it, the self-proclaimed scourge of paedophiles everywhere hosting photographs of under-age girls on her newspaper's website. Let's hope to God that doesn't happen.

Not content with giving over their page 3 site to all and sundry who wish to send in out of focus photographs of their sacks of fat, the page also encourages women everywhere to sign up to MySun, and get them out there too!

We want YOU to appear on MY Sun!

IF you're a Page 3 wannabe then you can post your profile online right now.

Publish your picture on our superb community site MY Sun and get other readers to read your blog, comment on you and spark debates about whatever you fancy.

To join in now, all you have to do is click here.

Ah yes, MySun. This is the Scum's attempt to build a MySpace style community around its newspaper. Like the newspaper (and, like MySpace) it's a collection of the banal, the bullshit and the bastards. Today's profile of the day is "Jennerotic", whose photograph seems to show the 23-year-old laying very close to her webcam. Naked. Her latest blog post, which will no doubt soon be a rival to Comment is Free for well-developed and involved political argument, is titled, Shall I have more cake........?

NOW.... After a nice long hot, soapy bath I've come to a decision of either having some cake or not? I know it (sic) late but it just tastes sooooooo great. So I'd thought I'll celerbrate (sic) ....

Faced with a photograph of Jennerotic coming out of the shower, her modesty protected by a towel, the salivating one-handed hordes on MySun get stuck in:

Hi Jennerotic, can I borrow that towel for a minute? ;)

You look well fit. Please, please, please post more piccies. Are you on Page 3 Idol?

Posted by: Badboy on November 22, 2006 at 11:35:48 AM

Ambassador, with this towel pic you are really teasing us! Can we have the pictures without the towel now?

Posted by: chucky on November 22, 2006 at 04:57:08 PM

Get back in the shower, I'll be there in 5 minutes :))

Posted by: MikeyMouse on November 22, 2006 at 07:50:50 PM

Away from the delights of Jennerotic, the current top discussion on MySun is the deeply thoughtful:
Who is the fittest soap babe on telly?

And as for the blog of the week:

Cornishcream is another of our Page 3 Idol contestants hoping to get a Sun modelling deal. Will she get your vote?

Maybe not, but she might get her fair share of wads, judging by her posted photographs. Badboy puts in another appearance, commenting on cornishcream's baps:

I am officially in love with you. You are so sexy and gorgeous! Where are the pics of your bum I asked for!? You've got to keep your public entertained, you know? ;) Very nice...

Posted by: Badboy on November 22, 2006 at 11:46:23 AM

Finally then, it's time for another of the Sun's favourite rituals, apart from the one alluded to above. Yes, it's BBC bashing time!

The bent BBC

THE BBC parades itself as a bastion of impartial news broadcasting.

Indeed this dubious claim forms part of its bid for a giant rise in funding.

Now we know better.

The Beeb is offering staff cash-for-questions to embarrass the government.

Staff can earn a £100 bounty for new angles on the honours saga.

What an insult. It’s not even enough to pay the new licence fee.

Well, err, yeah, they were, for oh, a whole couple of hours, before they withdrew the offer, realising that it was in their words, inappropriate. How completely unlike the Sun, which on its own website urges readers to text, phone and send in their own pictures of the day's news, with the illustrative mobile flashing the £ just to get the message across. We could also mention Rebekah Wade's confession to a parliamentary committee that she had paid police officers for information, but that would be unfair. Similarly, it would be entirely uncalled for to point out that the Sun was the newspaper which most echoed the government's line on the Iraq war. Or, for instance, how Fox News is about as fair and balanced as a banana. That the Sun still gets away with its shameless attacks on the BBC when BSkyB just cynically scuppered attempts by NTL to take control of ITV, further enhancing Murdoch's grip on the British media, shows just how much power we've already given away to this unelected, unaccountable Australian-American megalomaniac.

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What's the difference between the death of one Lebanese politician and the deaths of over 1000 Lebanese civilians?

The murder of Pierre Gemayel, Lebanese industry minister and a leading critic of Syria's role in the country, as well as being the son of the former president, is a shocking crime that has rightly been condemned by all sides, including by Syria.

What a sharp contrast it makes though with the reactions of both Tony Blair and Margaret Beckett to the events this summer, when Israel launched air strikes across Lebanon in response to the Hizbullah abduction of two Israeli soldiers, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,000 Lebanese civilians, the destruction of 74 bridges and 94 roads and an environmental disaster after the bombing of Jiyeh power station, which leaked 20,000 to 30,000 tonnes of oil into the Med. The UN has put just the initial clean-up bill at $64 million.

It took 12 days for Tony Blair to even so much as say that he wanted the killing to stop. Before then, Beckett, when asked whether she thought Israel's response was disproportionate, said that she "didn't think it was helpful to get into that." Only when it became apparent that Israel was not achieving its objectives, and that the whole international community apart from the United States, the UK and Israel wanted an immediate unconditional ceasefire, was a UN resolution finally passed, on August the 11th, nearly exactly a month after the beginning of the conflict.

Blair said:

We condemn this murder utterly. It is completely without any justification at all. We need to do everything we can, particularly at this moment, to protect democracy in Lebanon and the premiership of Prime Minister Siniora.

How strange that it's only now that he wants to protect democracy and Siniora. The destruction of a large swath of southern Lebanon has been the catalyst for the current turmoil which Lebanon is experiencing. While Siniora appeared on TV screens daily, pleading for an end to the violence, questioning whether "an Israeli teardrop was worth more than a drop of Lebanese blood", Blair and Beckett refused to stand up for Lebanese democracy.

Whether Syria carried out the assassination needs to be urgently investigated. It's worth wondering however just how Syria would benefit from a renewed surge of finger-pointing at them, just as the country appears to be regaining its stature within the region. The Iraq Study Group seems likely to recommend that the US at least starts talks with both Syria and Iran in an attempt to find a way out of the impasse in Iraq. Syria has just re-established diplomatic ties with Iraq after 24 years. Iran's president has invited his counterparts from Iraq and Syria to a conference this weekend. At the same time, two weeks ago the US suggested that Iran and Syria were plotting a coup in Lebanon, and Hizbullah has almost succeeded in bringing down the Sinioria government, after leaving the cabinet and taking other Shia representatives with them.

As Juan Cole notes, Lebanon has in a sense become the new Middle East experiment for the neo-cons and interventionists led by Bush and Blair. The assassination of Hariri, whether it was carried out by Syria or not, led to the Syrians' withdrawal. Ever since, the nascent democracy in Lebanon has been supported to the hilt by the West, as part of the strategy to isolate both Iran and Syria. Where the real sympathies lie though was exposed by the Israel-Lebanon-Hizbullah war. While the US expected that Israel would destroy Hizbullah in double-quick time, humiliating the Shias and further diminishing Iran and Syria's influence, the opposite happened. While Lebanon itself took the damage of the war, Hizbullah were strengthened immeasurably, winning the support of the Arab street and leading Nasrallah to demand more power for his previously unpopular terrorist organisation.

Gemayel's assassination is only the latest salvo in what is an increasingly bloody situation which is engulfing the Middle East. Whether his assassination turns out to be another Hariri moment remains to be seen. Either way, it shows how the Iraq war has rather than made the region safer and more secure as promised, has instead had the effect of pouring petrol onto an already lit bonfire.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006 

Hi, we're going to bomb your house in 15 minutes....

Palestinians outside a house which the residents were warned was going to be bombed.

It's 10:30pm, and you're about to go to sleep. Suddenly, the telephone rings. Not expecting anyone to be calling you, you nevertheless answer it, after 4 rings.

It's a man who says that he's a representative of France's military intelligence. He asks you to listen very carefully, because this is the only warning you're going to get. He explains that within 15 minutes, your home is going to be destroyed. His justification for this is like a multiple choice question. Either you're a terrorist, or a terrorist sympathiser, or whether you're aware or not, there's a tunnel beneath your house which is being used to smuggle weapons, or to store them. He says that this phone call is designed to make sure that everyone gets out before the missiles strike your home, to avoid unnecessary casualties. He says once again that you have 15 minutes, then he hangs up.

Understandably, your mind is reeling. You know you have to take the warning of the French man deadly seriously. That doesn't stop you from being rooted to the spot, however. It occurs to you that every second you're standing here, frozen, is another second lost. Your synapses are working overtime. Within moments, your house, that you might have saved for years for, that you're so close to finishing paying the mortgage off on, is going to be nothing more than a pile of rubble. Then there's your possessions. What can you possibly save within 15 minutes? Your photographs of your children, your parents, those ornaments that contain numerous memories, all the sentimental things that aren't worth anything but that make you who you are, are about to be destroyed. Then there's all your vanity items that you've collected over the years, all the things you don't really need but that you must have anyway, like that flat screen LCD TV, your brand new dual core PC, all your music, your DVDs. Your antique furniture you inherited.

Before you realise it, you've been sitting on your bed with your head in your hands for five minutes. You've got 10 left, maybe 20, if what you've known of previous attacks on houses by the French is repeated again. Do you run, tell your wife, wake up your kids, grab as much as you can in the fast slipping away seconds, and get outside? Or is there a way to stop this? The French would probably get away with killing you and your family, if you decided to make the futile gesture of accepting your fate, even if you're not guilty. What if however, you ran up and down your street, telling all your neighbours what's about to happen? Would they be prepared to fill your house, or get on the roof and make it obvious that to attack your dwelling is an attack on all of their lives? Could they possibly cope with the backlash from the media photographs of all those bodies of innocent men and women, limbs strewn throughout the debris, with your 5-year-old daughter miraculously surviving, left without parents and siblings? Would they win the resulting argument over whether the actions of those on the ground constitute the use of innocent human shields by terrorists, even if they were defending the home of their neighbour with their bodies completely of their own accord?

Replace French with Israel in the above, and more or less, you have the situation faced by the Palestinians over the last few days in Jabaliya, although I've obviously westernised the reaction. Informed by "Abu Nimr" that their home is about to be obliterated with a burst of hellfire missiles, rather than just getting out and staying alive, residents have decided to fight back with civil disobedience involving the use of potential mass casualties if the Israelis carry through with their warning. Knowing full well that it'll result in yet more bad publicity for the collective punishment the Israelis are inflicting on the Gaza Strip, sometimes in response to the firing of Qassam rockets, sometimes to assassinate militant group leaders, the tactic has worked remarkably well so far.

The start of this new mass resistance was with the protest a couple of weeks ago by hundreds of Palestinian women in hijabs, who marched on a mosque surrounded by the IDF and containing alleged armed militants. The soldiers, uncertain of what to do when faced by a mass of unarmed women, mainly ceased fire. Two of the women were however later killed when the troops shot at the crowd, later justified on the basis that some in the group were armed, something not backed up by television pictures.

Enthused by the success of that march, the tactic has now been repeated to defend houses. While the Israelis use of a warning is meant, so they say, to avoid civilian casualties, it can just as much be a cynical act of warfare: meant to terrify the occupants of an area, knowing that there's nothing they can do to stop the army from destroying their homes. As Conal Uruquat has reported, those whose houses have been destroyed following such warnings have not always had the alleged tunnels beneath their homes.

Naturally, the Israeli response to this mass uprising of resistance has been to allege that the terrorists are using human shields to stop them from destroying the militants' capability to launch the rockets into Israeli territory, one of which last week killed an Israeli woman in Sderot. There is no evidence to suggest that this is the case. Rather, the residents of those around the doomed houses appear to be more than happy to take part in what could potentially be their untimely death. Reports have also suggested that there has been euphoria once it's been realised that the Israelis have called off the air strikes which they said were coming.

It's an incredibly welcome development. It's long been suggested that the Palestinians should drop their violent resistance and instead switch to non-violence, which in the past has been rejected because of the realisation that the IDF just can't be trusted not to attack such protests. After all, this is the same military which has fired hundreds of thousands of cluster bombs into southern Lebanon, purely to punish the residents whose houses were likely also damaged in the month long bombing campaign during the Israel-Hizbullah-Lebanon war, and which habitually fires hellfire missiles into the crowded streets of Gaza City, normally at the cars of suspected militants. One such attack was on the paralysed and half-blind Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin, which also killed his two bodyguards and 8 others.

For the moment at least, this new resistance tactic appears to be succeeding. It can only be hoped that both sides recognise that there is no military solution to the on-going crisis. The pitiful Qassam rockets only mute the outrage when Israeli operations go wrong, such as that which killed 18 Palestinians in a shelling. A return to the negotiation table, where it has to be recognised that for any two state solution to work, the vast vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank have to be removed, has to be encouraged. This could be brought forward by the forming of a coalition Palestinian government, and the announcement of a full, unilateral ceasefire by all the armed groups. That would put the onus on Israel to do the same. As usual, this dream scenario seems as far away as ever.

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Chris Bryant: Humourless ex-Blairite automaton.

Congratulations then to Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda. The Grauniad, in an attempt to liven up the coverage of the Labour party conference, commissioned Ros Taylor to write spoof diaries, full of the kind of vacuous babble that is identifiable only as New Labour rhetoric, which often drips from the "ex-Blairite's" mouth like saliva from one of Pavlov's dogs. The Sun and the Daily Mail however failed to get the joke (a good sign of an excellent spoof), and reprinted some of the contents as Bryant's actual thoughts. Bryant subsequently sent in his lawyers, resulting in a clarification in today's Corrections column.

The correction reads:
Chris Bryant MP: on September 25 to 28 2006 Guardian Unlimited published four articles entitled Chris Bryant's Manchester Diary. They were spoof diaries and were meant to be light-hearted and humorous. We had believed that the content and line at the end of the articles, "Chris Bryant was speaking to Ros Taylor", were sufficient indicators. However Chris Bryant has informed us that some people took them seriously, which we regret. Mr Bryant himself had no involvement at all in writing the diaries and we accept that the content of the diaries was not an accurate reflection of his views. We apologise to Mr Bryant.

Obsolete would therefore like to send its own message to Mr Bryant: Well done on your victory, you humourless, Dr David Kelly smearing, self-important, ex-Blair toadying little turd.

Oh, and how could we possibly forget:

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Davide from the Nether-World has set-up a petition on the Downing Street website calling for an inquiry into the 7/7 bombings, which is well worth signing for obvious reasons:

Oh, and if you decided not to bother signing the one asking Blair to resign, maybe you'd like him to stand on his head and juggle ice cream instead, as suggested by Bloggerheads.

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Monday, November 20, 2006 

90 daze.

Remember, remember the Scum of November (2005).

Just over a year ago, Blair was facing down the possibility of a huge rebellion, and even defeat, on his plans to introduce 90 days detention without charge for terrorist suspects. He would lose the vote emphatically, but before then he put up another one of his fights to the death. Among the arguments he used was the following:
"If we are forced to compromise, it will be a compromise with the nation's security."

"We do not want to compromise on the 90 days at all," he said. "It is not the right
thing for the country. Be under no doubt about that at all."

12 months on, and we're facing the possibility of 90 days being reintroduced. We're told again by "Sir" Ian Blair that 90 days is needed. The MI5 chief Eliza Manningham-Buller didn't actually call for it, but there's little doubt that her speech was part of a campaign, even if it's a covert one, for the legislation. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are both saying it's necessary. The Sun, the chief cheerleader for 90 days last year, which called the MPs' who last year voted against "traitors", said that it should be Blair's first action on returning from holiday in August.

Well, that's all academic now. Lord Goldsmith, speaking in a media briefing, said that he has seen no evidence to justify 90 days. His reasons for doing so ought to be examined. He has in the last few weeks come in heavily for criticism over his apparent refusal to stand aside from having a role as attorney general in the possible prosecution of those alleged to have broken the law over the loans for peerages scandal. The same people angered over this just also happen to be those who are opposed to the reintroduction of what amounts to internment.

There seems little other reason why he would have made his views perfectly clear over the matter. Goldsmith has to at least show signs of independence, even though he is directly appointed by the prime minister. His spinelessness showed through over the war in Iraq; his previously extended, nuanced arguments for why war would be illegal without a second resolution suddenly charged into a single page of why it would be legal under the previous resolutions when the army demanded that Blair make clear that the attack would be permissible under international law. Goldsmith's briefing seems to have been a strategy to buy off some of the opprobrium likely to head his way if he remains steadfast in his having the final say over what could be the prosecution of Blair himself, however unlikely that seems.

Unfortunately for Blair, it means that he's either a liar, a fool, a knave or all three. Blair made clear that he found the case made for 90 days last year "compelling", and his resolve doesn't appear to have changed. Either he's so desperately in bed with "Sir" Ian Blair that he'll listen to his most ridiculous ideas, and if he supports the banning of flag burning then he almost certainly is; or he's playing politics with the terrorist threat, attempting to make the opposition look indecisive and more interested in boring old habeas corpus than in protecting the public from suicide bombers, even if it means his government's defeat.

Whichever the answer, it's worth seeing what the Sun made of Goldsmith's comments. Last year, in their determination to support Blair they used the photograph of John Tulloch, the man horrifically burned by the 7/7 bombings to illustrate why 90 days should be supported. That Tulloch oppposed 90 days and that they hadn't bothered to actually ask his permission to use his image didn't matter; the complaints made to the toothless PCC were rejected.

To the Sun's search engine then:

Hmm, nothing for "Lord Goldsmith". That's odd. Let's try "attorney general":

Well, how very strange. I just can't imagine why the Sun wouldn't report the good news that 90 days detention without charge isn't needed after all.

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New Generation Network: a manifesto for our times.

Remember the Euston Manifesto? No, no one else does either. It was the Harry's Placers' and pro-war left's attempt to move on from the war they promoted and have since started to flee from like rats from a sinking ship, or those in Baghdad who've had to become refugees in order to escape the violence there which was helped along by their support. Unfortunately for them, it fell flatter than Tara-Palmer Tompkinson's breasts, and matters weren't helped when such renowned leftists as Michelle Malkin and Bill Kristol found common cause with their sentiments.

Let's hope then that the New Generation Network's manifesto doesn't go the same way. Calling for an entirely new discourse on race relations, ethnic minorities, religious intolerance and more or less everything in-between, the document is full to the brim with level-headed, simple and excellent analysis of where Britain currently is, and where it needs to go, urgently. Masterminded by Sunny Hurndal, who started the Pickled Politics blog and who is also one of the most refreshing and stimulating of those who have risen to a sort-of fame through political blogging, it's little short of excellent.

OK, I may be laying it on a little thickly. It does however echo many of the arguments which Obsolete has been trying to make for a number of months now, as have many other bloggers who have been watching the "debate" over Muslims descend into intolerant and inflammatory attacks from extremists on all sides. Without naming names, the manifesto makes clear that some of the media is playing a dangerous role in what is going on. Sunny, in his accompanying article, mentions the Sun front-page story about the home vandalised in Windsor, which was blamed on Muslim yobs, when the police came to the conclusion that it certainly wasn't, as the Ministry of Truth first exposed, (Obsolete also covered the story at the time with incredulity) and also should have mentioned the way the Express has been demanding a ban on the niqab, justifying its calls with horribly slanted reader-phone in polls. Editors and journalists need to recognise their role both in promoting inter-community relations and in making sure that inaccurate reports are corrected. There has yet to be any such correction to the Sun's story, and Unity didn't even receive a response when he attempted to put the record straight to the Sun journalist responsible for the story. Whether the toothless PCC will do anything about it, as it seems likely that complaints have been made, is another matter.

There is, and already has been some controversy, however. The manifesto makes clear its opposition to unrepresentative lobby groups which have sprung up only in the last decade or so, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, the Hindu Council UK and the Network of Sikh Organisations, to name but three. The Muslim representative groups in particular have come in for criticism of late; MCB and the Muslim Association of Britain were attacked by Martin Bright and some left-liberal commentators over their apparent support for and adherence to the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood. While some of this is to an extent true, it shouldn't be a reason on its own to ignore everything those groups say. The MCB especially in the last few months seems to have taken the concerns of some on board, and seems to have moved towards appearing more moderate, both when sought to comment and to appear on discussion panels. This could also be down to the new leadership at the top from Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari who took over from Iqbal Sacranie who had previously voiced his disgust as homosexuality in no uncertain terms. Such moves should be welcomed, while the organisations themselves should be increasingly encouraged to canvass actual opinion in their communities, both in order to make themselves more accountable and to gauge exactly the public thinks their role is or should be.

The six main principles of the New Generation Network are, in brief:

1) An end to communal politics, as dealt with above
2) Against prejudice, against all races and religions
3) For equality
4) We believe in freedom of speech, rightly, as incredibly close to being an absolute. This should not be in contradiction with our views on extremists of all kinds; the way forward is to expose such arguments for what they are: unrepresentative, unworkable, irresponsible and illogical.
5) We are for respecting people's multiple identities
6) A new national conversation about race

All those in mainstream politics should be able to support it. Now's the time to sign and then to build this network. You can add your support at the New Generation Network site, or by emailing with your name and title.

Related posts:
Ministry of Truth - Nice work, Sunny...
New Generation Network - Race and faith - a new agenda - the manifesto in full
Sunny Hurndal - This system of self-appointed leaders can hurt those it should be protecting

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