NoW that’s what I call outrage

The News of the World has been shown to have been phone hacking on an industrial scale. Last year, the Guardian had a spreadsheet with a list of over 30 celebs who have been hacked, and that didn’t even scratch the celeb surface, let alone begin to count the lesser mortals – like the families of murdered teenagers – who have apparently also had the full attention of the NoW turned towards their personal messages.

Rebekah Wade Brooks- now News International’s British Chief Exec – has made a statement containing a phrase which I must assume she meant literally – what with her being a newspaper editor and all.

“It is inconceivable that I knew or worse, sanctioned these appalling allegations.”(from the Guardian)

I agree it is inconceivable that the sanctioned the allegations of phone hacking. The phone hacking is, of course, another matter. She’s been the editor of the biggest selling “newspapers” in the UK. Surely she should know how to string a sentence together. Otherwise, I can only conclude that was an accidental, if rare, incidence of a News International employee telling the truth.

Some of us have long memories. And luckily, so does tinternet, so that I can throw this news item from 2005 into the fray.

The ethically-unimpeachable Ms Wade was arrested for beating up her then-husband, Ross Kemp.

Ironically, as editor of the Sun, she had masterminded a domestic violence campaign, according to the BBC. (The word “mastermind” was theirs), Also ironically, her career seems to have been based entirely on carrying out search and destroy missions against other people, largely on the basis of misbehaviours that don’t even begin to rival the heinousness of her own private actions.

Health Ministry of Truth

Combining theThe War against Terror with The War Against the National Health Service, the UK Home Secretary is about to propose that doctors be co-opted into the TWAT, by reporting on potential terrorists amongst their patients.

Doctors and other health professionals will be asked to identify people who are “vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism” as part of the government’s redrawn counter-terrorism programme to be detailed on Tuesday. (from The Guardian)

In a departure from recent government style, it seems that, for once, the Lib-Dems aren’t even being used as a human shield for this particular mad idea. Theresa May is putting it forward herself.

Theresa May and her advisers didn’t grow up in Fairyland, so they may have had occasion to visit a doctor. In which case, they should have noticed that, although doctors ask patients some very personal questions indeed, they don’t normally ask about plans to carry out suicide bomb attacks.

Doctors are indeed often too busy to ask where we stand on the single transferable vote or the extension of the eurozone. How wonderfully relaxed must some surgeries be, if doctors can take the time to engage their patients on a wide range of political topics and rank their answers on an extremism scale?

Temporarily ignore the monstrousness of treating medical confidentiality as a disposable luxury. This plan doesn’t even make sense in pragmatic terms. Potential terrorists can avoid getting caught by it by the simple expedient of not discussing their views with doctors. Can this be beyond the wit of even the stupidest terrorist?

Do we really have an Oxford-educated Home Secretary who believes that a terrorist will walk into his local surgery and says “I’ve got a bit of a sore throat but I’m planning an explosive attack on a plane this week and I’d hate to miss it”?

On message

The UK Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones has resigned her job.
Why so, you say?

“She will take up a new role working with businesses to boost their cyber security.” (a/c to the BBC)

…straight from government into a related private sector role.. how charmingly secure is that?…. (And, don’t worry, serfs, another Baroness is taking over.)

The BBC story implies that government ministers are engaged in some sort of SEO exercise to own the key phrase “essential rebalancing of security and liberty” on Google. (No, I don’t know why anyone would want to either, but the evidence is overwhelming.)

“I have also been able to contribute to the essential rebalancing of security and liberty in the review of counter-terrorism powers, the replacement of mistaken multiculturalism by an integration strategy which I hope will embed itself as a central feature of the ‘Big Society’, and to the redirection of the Prevent strategy which is nearing completion.”

Home Secretary Theresa May thanked Baroness Neville-Jones “for her hard work, both in opposition and in government, contributing to the rebalancing of security and liberty as well as participating in the work of the National Security Council”.

Cameron’s response is a paraphrase that manages to avoid the ugly “rebalancing” word while still hitting the jackpot.:

“You have helped to ensure that security and liberty are more appropriately balanced and dramatically strengthened the government’s strategy to prevent young minds being poisoned and radicalised,”

Credible as the others’ efforts are, however, the Baroness has achieved a full Tory key phrase home run :

“the replacement of mistaken multiculturalism by an integration strategy which I hope will embed itself as a central feature of the ‘Big Society‘”

You will have already spotted that none of these phrases have any meaning. they are the verbal equivalent of fog.

It all seems a bit odd. As the Baroness is leaving the government, why does she feel so compelled to continue to kiss linguistic ass? What on earth does a knee-jerk-right-wing-pleasing swipe at “multiculturalism” have to do with national security, anyway? And, surely, even the PM must be finding the “Big Society” catchphrase something of an embarrassment by now?

Anyway, enough rebalancing of blog silence and blog production for me. I’m off to embed myself.

“Christian” conflict manufacture

A UK court has sensibly ruled that a couple of self-styled “traditional Christians” can’t be foster carers because of their views on gay people.
Has the High Court suddenly taken to ruling on foster carers’ acceptability on a case by case basis?

At the High Court, they asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and the law should protect their Christian values.(from the BBC)

Ah. So it was the couple who took the case to the High Court, then. Generally not the most cost-effective action. In fact, a High Court case usually costs thousands of pounds. You might think that, as “traditional Christians”, they maybe could have given all the money that this cost to the poor, instead. However, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount words, in the lost Gospel of Perrymason, clearly stated that “whosoever will take legal action in the name of prejudice shall inherit the earth”
The BBC reported that the

.. Christian Legal Centre reacted to the ruling with dismay and warned that “fostering by Christians is now in doubt”.

It’s our old friends, the Christian Legal Centre, who are – of course – neither the paralegal wing of the Anglican Church nor a crack tactical team of solicitors operating out of the Vatican.
I’d hate to be represented by them, given their cavalier treatment of the facts (so it’s a good job that I’m not a fundamentalist Christian with a legal problem.) The judges in the case explicitly said that this ruling didn’t imply that religious belief was a bar to adoption and fostering, only that laws protecting people from discrimination must take precedence.
So, “fostering by Christians is now in doubt” can best be put in the ever-expanding category of “lying for Jesus”.
The headline for this story on their site is:

“Breaking News: High Court Judgment suggests Christian beliefs harmful to children. Fostering by Christians now in doubt.”

I would refer them to the words of the judges in the case:

“No one is asserting that Christians – or, for that matter, Jews or Muslims – are not fit and proper persons to foster or adopt. No-one is contending for a blanket ban.”

Sorry, m’luds, that just wasn’t clear enough for the Christian Legal Centre’s lawyers to understand.
However, you have to assume that they did understand perfectly but don’t want anyone else to. The true purpose of the Christian Legal Centre seems to be to get free media exposure – witness their media page – by acting as rent-a-quotes always happy to misrepresent their strange ideas as the “Christian” view whenever media researchers are stuck for a soundbite.
(The couple with a bed and breakfast hotel who got prosecuted for refusing a room to a gay couple were their last major media success story a few weeks ago)
Ok, you have to take off your hat to the skillful marketing and you even have to feel a bit sorry for the low-level big*ts who are their cannon fodder.
But all the same, it seriously pisses me off that they are winning every skirmish in their campaign to convince the average Daily Mail/Express/Telegraph and Star reading idiot in the UK that “Christians” are under threat .

Teasmade or Toaster Britain

Spare a thought for the home workers and shift workers whose workday doesn’t require them to respond to an alarm clock (and for those chirpy “morning people” people who don’t need an alarm.) Nick Clegg clearly doesn’t see them as Heroes.

I quote (sneeringly):

HARD-WORKING Brits are the backbone of the country, the people who will drag us out of recession, says deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, writing in the Sun.

(https://i1.wp.com/planetsmilies.net/vomit-smiley-9529.gif?w=584)

Ordinary, willing folk – dubbed Alarm Clock Britain because they snub the benefits culture and get up early to go to work – will be given Government support.

Surely, waking up when your alarm clock goes off is is setting the “Hero” bar a bit low? But, I’m personally a bit relieved. I’d never get a “Hero” award in the traditional ways: saving my comrades’ lives under fire; diving into frozen rivers to rescue drowning dogs; dragging unconscious children from burning buildings…

But I sure as hell can wake up. (Eventually. Long after the infernal machine has been blaring out a radio station that I chose precisely because it’s too vile to sleep through)

So, you can call me a “Heroine”. I was really hoping for some sort of gallantry award, but I would always welcome some government help in getting up in the morning.

Help such as a new toaster that didn’t set off the fire alarm on a regular basis. (Yes, the fire alarm is good as an alarm clock but you have to be awake to put toast in the machine first.)

What about the traditional Teasmade? It’s a machine that wakes you up with a pot of tea. I recently saw a 1950s catalogue offering an ancient model. Here’s a new one. It’s not as cute, in fact, it looks even more retro, than the original did but I’ll welcome one from the coalition as the most effective way it could help me as representative of Alarm Clock Britain.

Ironically, toasters and alarm clocks are all made in China, now. Like pretty well everything.

Huge numbers of people in the UK are out of work or under threat of losing their jobs. This situation is about to get much worse, thanks to the cut of about a third of public sector jobs.

So, to be honest, Nick, the best way you could help British “alarm clock heroes” would be to make sure that they had jobs to get up for or at least not throw millions more out of work.

Catch a Fire

It’s a shock to find out how batshit the god of abraham is, in the minds of some of his believers. A Pharyngula post pointed me to the catch the fire ministries site.

I’ll temporarily ignore the callous insult to suffering Australians. (I’m also ignoring my mental image of an old Bob Marley “Catch a fire” album packaged in an openable cardboard zippo lighter shape.)

This catch-the-fire site thinks believes that their god is ravaging Australia in order to send a message to the USA (!) Even stranger, the message is that what has offended their god to the point of major smiting was the mere suggestion of sending nuclear weapons inspectors into Israel.

No, really, I m not making this up. From their very web page:

“.. I was reminded of Kevin Rudd speaking against Israel in Israel on 14th December 2010. It is very interesting that Kevin Rudd is from QLD. Is God trying to get our attention? Yes, I believe so.
……..
Mr Rudd not only called on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but said it should open all its nuclear facilities to UN inspectors.

God is apparently enraged at the mere suggestion that his chosen people might have some limits placed on their possession of WMD? At the same time, the creator of the universe is so lacking in his vaunted omnipotence that he can’t even express that apparently simple message in any other way than by visiting mass destruction on a continent half a world away from Israel or the USA.

Lucky that some prophetic wingnuts were on hand to pick up and transmit his message in human speech. And, pray for forgiveness on behalf of the Australians, who have accidentally fostered the very man who forced god to carry out this devastating action.

Around 8pm on Friday night the 7th of January we had a strong prompting by the Holy Spirit to repent on behalf of Australia. As we started doing so, I was reminded that every time America went against Israel, there was disaster in the land and this has been documented over the years.

(Given the US’s track record in standing against Israel, it looks as if the US should be close to totally disaster-free by now.) It must be a great comfort to the Australians to know that random Americans are apologising for them.)

Who would ever dream up a god who was certifiably insane? And then decide to worship them?

Turning away

Last night’s UK Channel 4 Dispatches was entitled Iraq’s Secret War Files.

I tried to watch it. A few minutes in, I had to switch off. There’s only so much harrowing you can take on a work night. And the few minutes I saw were too harrowing….. A crying child drenched in the blood of the two adults who had been shot in the front seat of a car with 5 children in the back.

The Dispatches web page for this programme starts with:

…exposes the full and unreported horror of the Iraqi conflict and its aftermath, revealing the true scale of civilian casualties; and allegations that after the scandal of Abu Ghraib, American soldiers continued to abuse prisoners; and that US forces did not systematically intervene in the torture and murder of detainees by the Iraqi security services. The programme also features previously unreported material of insurgents being killed while trying to surrender.

I can’t even begin to list the catalogue of horrors that follow on the rest of the page, let alone in the programme.

As I said, I had to turn away from the programme. (And watch the more relaxing repeat of Jim Al-Khalili’s Atom on BBC4.)

So, total respect to those people who don’t just turn away. Who don’t feel it’s like knocking your head repeatedly against concrete to keep speaking up about outrages. Because someone has to have the courage to keep on doing it

Like wikileaks. If ever there would be a well-earned Nobel prize, that would be one given to wikileaks and – even more so – to those people who put the good of humanity before their own fear of arrest and provided the information.

Bonfire night

Today’s strong contender for the coveted WhyDontYou Cup for Extraordinary Governmental Effort in the Service of Irony* has been spotted by the Guardian

Government’s ‘bonfire of the quangos’ plan will cost as much as it saves
Exclusive: Private papers reveal multi-billion pound bill to close up to 180 quangos – and savings might not be felt for 10 year
….. private papers reveal that in several cases the liabilities from pensions, redundancies and rental contracts could outweigh any of the savings being claimed for up to 10 years.

This would be funny if it wasn’t also tragic. Don’t they teach Remedial Maths at Eton?

The quango bonfire is just the overture before the main cuts action.

The statement came as more details of the job cuts within Whitehall emerged, with departments told to make up to a third of their employees redundant. The education department is understood to be looking for a 30% reduction in staff.

The same mathematics will apply. Massive cuts and no net savings.

There is a little ironic satisfaction in that the Tories’ natural supporters are going to get hammered. And not only in a “we’re all in this together so we’ve got to accept a few minor inconveniences like the loss of our child benefit” way.

What is closer to Middle England’s heart than the belief there is somehow a natural right to get ever richer through the ever-increasing value of houses?

But even the threat of public sector is already having an impact on the housing market. The headlines are:

Housing market crash feared after average house prices take record plunge
Halifax tries to allay fears that prices are poised to nosedive amid impending cuts to public sector jobs

Reality check for Mail readers: The more people are unemployed – whether ex-nurses or ex-teachers or even ex-estate agents – the more tax anyone who still has a wage will have to pay. Where is the money going to come from for the next round of big bank bailouts?

“And so it begins….”, as they used to say on Babylon 5.
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* A new award that we’re working on.
It’s going to be hard to choose a winner, in such a strong field. The smart money would normally be on Boris except that he’s only in local government. A tough act to follow but his crowning ironic achievement** seems amateurish in comparison to the efforts of his Bullingdon Club chums.

** (Londoners elected a man on the basis that they recognised him from his appearances as a rightwing buffoon on a Have I got News for You,)

Fail (epic, even)

“ineptness.” I don’t know if it’s a real word but – if it is – look up its meaning in a Picture Dictionary and you should see a photo of George Osborne.*

The welfare “reforms” that he presented today don’t make sense in any terms. But, specifically, as far as I can see, they make no sense in the “saving money” terms in which they are presented.

The Chancellor has announced a few unthought out welfare policies: cutting child benefit benefit to higher earners and capping welfare benefits paid to the sick and unemployed.

The child benefit cut is likely to be a smokescreen to distract attention from the latter and to present an image of us all being “in this together” – both rich and poor apparently having to put their hands in their pockets to pay for rescuing the banks. So far, so predictable.

But it’s the consequences of these half-arsed plans that are the most bizarre.

The media has already identified the clearest ones. A Channel 4 news blog points out that a couple each earning £40k will still get child benefit while a single earner on £45k will lose it. At the margin, a few pounds wage increase might cost someone thousands a year. On a BBC blog, it was pointed out that poor families with several children could be much harder hit by the benefit cap than those with few children.

But no one seems to have yet spotted that the whole reform nonsense runs directly against its supposed main purpose of saving money.

Universal benefits, such as family allowance, are actually much better at reaching the poorest people than are means-tested benefits. (Take up is close to 100%. Small sums are worth proportionately more to the poorest recipients so are of more benefit to them than to the better off. ) The fact that the very richest people also got child benefit was a small price to pay for this. It is dishonest for the defenders of this plan to spin it as making money available for the poor by taking it from the greedy middle classes.**

Alongside this, the admin costs of a universal benefit are minimal for both recipients and the state. To process a child benefit claim involved looking at a birth certificate and setting up 16 or so years of payments. That’s pretty well all the admin that a universal benefit needs.

Imagine what enormous admin costs will be involved in the projected scheme. Everybody who gets child benefit or lives with a child benefit recipient will also have to provide proofs of income for each of the 16 or so years.

People whose incomes vary dramatically from one month to the next or one year to the next will have to keep constantly updating the child benefit office with evidence. In particular, the self-employed and employees who change jobs frequently will spend lots of time collecting and submitting evidence and appealing decisions. Couples who separate or form new partnerships will have to keep updating the authorities.

This will require a bureaucratic army.

There are currently no mechanisms to collate income information with child benefits. A whole new adminstrative structure will need to be set up and maintained permanently.

(Civil servants facing job losses because of the coming cuts might find this quite cheering.)

Is it remotely likely that enough savings can be made by cutting the child benefit of a few parents to cover the costs of setting up a whole new bureaucratic infrastructure that serves no other purpose?

(Rhetorical question. The answer is “obviously not”)

The other plan – cutting back welfare benefits to the level of “average family income of 26k” – is equally ludicrous, although it will play better with the condem’s core constituency, whose newspapers tell them every day that people on benefits are better off than the average worker.

I am already confused. Is this £26k before or after tax? What is the “average” “family”? What is a “family” on benefits?

There must be a tiny number of people who get more than £26k a year in benefits. To achieve this £500 a week, benefit recipients would have to be mentally or physically disabled, have a fair few disabled children and maybe a seriously ill elderly relative or two – and probably live in a rented home in the south east. (If you doubt this, try looking at normal benefit rates.)

Could this money be saved by making disabled people or people with disabled kids homeless – refusing to pay for their housing? Hardly. Then the state really would have to kick in, assuming that we still have some claim to be a first world country. Which would be very much more expensive.

Laughing in the face of all the Tories’ “broken society”/”family” rhetoric, what would the adults in any 2 parent home that gets more than £26K a year in benefits do, when they face a cut back in their joint family benefits? Split up their household, obviously. One parent would move out, take a property and collect their own income. Which would be capped at 26k. Another £26K

So, it would be much better financially for reasonably well-paid parents to cut the amount of work they do, so that they don’t risk their earnings going over the cut-off point. It would be much better for the handful of people who get more-than-derisory welfare benefits to keep two homes at the taxpayer’s expense than one.

The Tories claim that they are going to cut public money, discourage idleness and strengthen the “family.”

The likely outcomes seem to be the exact opposite. Aren’t these “welfare reforms” going to involve paying out public money to reward idleness in the rich and to split up poor families?

————————————————————
* There are many other words that could be defined by a picture of George Osborne’s face. I am feeling too polite to list them. Plus, several of them might stop you being able to read this blog in work.
**If that was the real objective, surprisingly, it turns out that there is already a mechanism for redistribution. It’s called direct taxation.

Who benefits?

The UK government plans to “overhaul” the benefits system. A scheme to cut the enormous deficit caused by the misbehaviour of the very rich (the banking crisis) by taking from the very poor.

“Some unemployed people say they are better off on benefits than working – leading to accusations that the current system encourages long-term welfare dependency.” (from the BBC

The words “some..people say” are like a big red flag to indicate “we made this up on the spot.

However, I’m going to take this at face value and pretend – purely for the sake of argument – that there are a fair number of people who are better off on benefits and who aren’t too physically or mentally ill to work. (These must be people who can magically pay for food, heat, light, water, fares, cleaning products, household goods and clothes from less money than the average City worker spends on an evening out and a few lattes.)

There are however many millions more people who are desperate to stay in work or to find work. Any alleged “recovery” will be sustained only until the full force of the threatened October cuts. The cuts will mean that workers from both the public and private sectors will massively increase the numbers of the unemployed.

Precisely the time when you’d think that a government stick to force the unwilling into work was least necessary. Not to mention, reducing the number of taxpayers by converting them to benefit recipients seems to be exactly opposite to the actions of a government that plans to cut its debt.

So, who would benefit by forcing the unemployed to seek work – thus making sure that there are EVEN more people fighting for every job?

I can’t see any sane answer to this. The immediate answer would seem to be “employers,” who will be able to force down wages. But, at the moment, even this doesn’t make sense. We barely produce anything in the UK. All goods and services that can be produced by cheap labour are already produced by cheap labour abroad.

UK business generally now expects to make its profits, not by producing and selling goods but by brokering foreign-made goods and services to the UK population. Which depends on there being a critical mass of the UK population with disposable income.

Despite the bullshit emanating from the government and the media, welfare benefits barely cover frugal heat, light and food. Replacing a winter coat constitutes a major drama. There’s precious little left to put toward a Bang and Olufsen home cinema or an i-Pod.

In fact, there’s bugger all left for any retail spending. Which must be a major issue for a country which has long been acting as if building massive new retail outlets constitutes a sustainable development strategy.

Even the financial sector – pandered to for twenty-odd years – will be hard pushed to get blood from a few million stones. Although the appearance of tv ads offering loans of derisory sums at rates of interest so high that you assume they’ve got the decimal point wrong (2,265% APR, ffs) suggests it’s going to have a bloody good try.

So English capital as a whole isn’t going to benefit by massive job cuts. It goes without saying that workers aren’t going to benefit. And, no matter how much I try to bend my head round this, I can’t see any rational way to see hammering the longterm unemployed as anything but a true anti-solution.

The daily outrage

Aside

On Panorama now. The Baha Musa enquiry.

If you have the stomach for it……..

Sunday morning tv

Only a person who forgot to do anything appropriately debauched on a Saturday night would be awake and watching tv at 10 o’clock on a Sunday morning. Bah, that would be me then.

Lo and behold, a show that cost about 50p to make, focussing on the topics that are guaranteed to bring froth to the mouth of a Daily mail reader. Is Sunday Morning Live the future of public service religious broadcasting under financial heavy manners?

The format: A studio discussion of ethical/religious issues. Webcam contributions from the public. A bottom of the screen rolling feed of quotes from viewers’ emails. Meaningless text message yes/no polls. Etc.

The wisdom of crowds. On the cheap.

As it says on the show’s page, today’s issues were:

This Sunday we’re back on air and we’ll be asking:
Should prostitution be socially acceptable?
Are we soft on Islam?
Should we allow gay marriage in church?
You can debate live with Susanna, our studio guests, and other callers

Are we soft on Islam” turned out to be a photo-opportunity for Stephen Green of “Christian Voice.” A chance to reel out a load of untruths about how Christians are persecuted in the UK – sacked for waeraing crosses) and Muslims get all manner of advantages. (I think he mentioned providing a few women-only swimming sessions at some public baths as the evidence for this.)

Yes, it’s that Stephen Green unwilling star of a Channel 4 Dispatches exposé that I can’t find on tinterwebs or there’d be a link here.

His organisation is wonderful at getting the media to misrepresent its extremist views as a mainstream Christian viewpoint, despite the fact that he represents a tiny minority of Christians. He was described as a “disgrace” by the moderator of the United Reform Church.

He complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about the atheist bus ads. He failed to make this complaint stick but, by the grace of the all-powerful god Irony, the ASA banned his advert that claimed that the cervical cancer vaccine caused infertility.

He’s a chap with an appetite for the law but a distinct unwillingness to pay the costs involved in using it. He prosecuted the BBC for showing Gerry Springer the Opera, then demanded that the BBC pay his costs when he lost :-D.

And now, here he is popping up on the BBC – even getting an appearance fee, I fear – presenting his noxious views. Truly the man is an Irony bishop.

Viz comic gave him a well deserved award in 2006.

New outrage scale needed

Turn the dial to 11. These news items show the inadequacy of any existing conceptual scale to the task of measuring your daily justified-outrage level.

(1) The pastor and congregation of the Dove World Outreach Center have engaged in an Al Qaeda recruitment campaign. I doubt that they know enough French to translate the phrase agent provacateur but they seem to understand the concept well enough to to play this role. Albeit, well out of reach of the actions they plan to provoke.

Charitably, I will assume it is just a bid to put Dove World Outreach Center in every standard dictionary, whenever there’s a need for an instant definition of “unbelievable stupidity”, “religious bigotry”, or “armchair warrior”. (Plus a few other words and phrases that wouldn’t make it into a school dictionary. )

Maybe they think their god is too slow in hastening Armageddon and needs a helping hand.

The guardian had a ludicrous anti-Dawkins piece the other day, with the writer claiming that:

He has become the mirror image of the theological dogmatists he despises.

There’s nothing like the Dave World Outreach Center to show that – if anything – Dawkins has been pulling his punches.

(You don’t need a link from me. This story is everywhere as they clearly planned.)

(2) And this story that seems equally designed to boost the membership of fundamentalist armies by a factor of several thousand. The Guardian headlines:

US soldiers ‘killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies’
Soldiers face charges over secret ‘kill team’ which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

Dare I hope there’s a holdall somewhere with the names of these soldiers and the Gainesville pastor on it?

They never learn

The Team directly responsible for the Iraq War / selling off UK public services to private companies / destroying civil liberties / turning at least a blind eye to torture losing the last election really haven’t got the message have they?

Mandelson and Blair are telling Labour party members – through the privileged medium of the public press – who to vote for in the upcoming election. Well, who not to vote for, anyway. And that is a category that seems to include everyone except David Miliband….. They both regard a potential win by Ed Miliband as a potential electoral disaster.

But then they are such popular chaps, these two – Blair and Mandelson….

Any remarks by Blair will be a mixed blessing for David Miliband: Blair has not been forgiven by many Labour activists for the Iraq war and the involvement of the private sector in public services. From the Guardian

Indeed, all the candidates united in publicly expressing distaste for Mandelson only two months ago.

Former foreign secretary David Miliband, who is believed to be Mandelson’s preferred candidate for the party leadership, described the memoirs as “destructive and self-destructive”.
He compared Mandelson’s appearance in a TV advert for the book to that of Bond villain Enst Blofeld, saying all the former minister, nicknamed the Prince of Darkness, needed was a white cat to stroke.

And he’s Mandelson’s chosen candidate….

I can detect only minimal difference between Millidum and Millidee. A conspiracy theorist might even suggest that Blair & Mandelson’s support for Milliband_A was just a cunning ruse designed to leverage (;-) the mass force of Party members’ anti-Blair&Mandelson revulsion to ensure that Miliband_B was elected.

.. Mandelson said anyone who tried to take Labour back to the era before Blair’s election as leader in 1994 would wreck the party’s chances of a swift return to power. (from the Guardian)

(I didn’t even know that any of the candidates had a time machine. )

This implies that the Labour party that is just power-seeking machine. What is supposed to be the point of seeking power? Pre-Blair Labour supporters might have said something about social justice. The Blairite camp would just snigger at your naivete for even posing the question.
In a video on the Guardian’s website, Diane Abbott talked about the massive contrast in campaign funding between her campaign (a couple of volunteers and a £1000 in the bank) and Miliband_A’s. He, on the other hand, has received over £200,000. Plus the poisoned-chalice free support of the New Labour big guns, of course.

Spot the odd one out: Candidate’s voting records…..
Diane Abbott
David Milliband
Ed Milliband
Ed Balls
Andy Burnham

Mmm. Only one of these candidates hasn’t spent the past few years kissing leadership butt and supporting the sort of policies that have brought the Labour Party into such disrepute among its natural supporters.

There’s one candidate with clean hands. And (simulated surprise) she doesn’t have big money from big business.

As Andy Hamilton said on Have I Got News For You last year (from memory)…

“I can’t be doing with these new metric politicians like the Millibands. I much preferred the old imperial ones like Michael Foot..”

Product stop press

This blog having temporarily started acting like Which Magazine’s Provisional Wing, I have to draw your attention to another amazing wonder-product….:-) It costs more in a their real-world shops, but you can apparently make a saving if you buy Boots Hot Weather Cooling Spray online. Only £3.89 for 125ml (plus £2.90 delivery charge for delivery in 4 days, though free if you pick it up from your local shop.)

£31.11 per litre. (Not counting delivery costs.)

What’s the magic cooling ingredient?

Hmm, water. Well , “Aqua.” Not even bloody drinking water. Just water in a spray can.

As a random comparison of the cost of fluids, you can buy a 70cl bottle of 10 year-old Isle of Jura single malt whisky from Waitrose for £27.59.

OK, it wouldn’t cool you down much (indeed, it could make you smell pretty rough if you sprayed it on your face on a hot day) but it would be the product of centuries of brewing and distilling skills. It would have had to sit round using up caskspace for a decade. It’s lavishly bottled and packaged. And it manages to pay a huge cut to the revenue and still appear on Waitrose’s online shop for less than the cost of a litre of spray-on water.

Quite apart from the bottles of Evian and Highland Spring, Boots sells expensive water in many more forms. In the homeopathic department, anyway.

Water converted into pill form even. Or “pillules”, “pills” and “tablets.” (The distinction may be technical.)

Their homeopathic remedies actually contain water so expensive that it makes the cooling spray seem relatively cheap. Because they are pills (sorry, pillules) so they are dry, containing only the memory of the water that was used in making them. But that water itself only contains the memory of the active ingredient that was used to make it, many dilutions in its past

But, as the the water’s magical healing powers get stronger with each dilution, doesn’t it follow that you could increase its potency by another order of magnitude by dropping one of these dry pillules in a bath full of water.

The bathwater would then be imbued with the memory of the memory of the memories of the first water, but made even more memorable after conversion into and out of dry water-memory states in the middle stage. And so, these remedies could be strong enough to wipe out all disease on the planet….

New business plan – to take homeopathic remedies and sneakily intensify them by this method, then sell them as being EVEN more effective than the ones you can buy from a high street chemist, if that were indeed possible.

Genius, huh?