Oh Emm Gee !1!

OMG! Have you heard? The president of AMERICA has an opinion…. ZOMG!!!!!!111

Seriously. It must be the slowest news day ever. Obviously the media has hit saturation point with war, famine, plague and pestilence so now we have a headline news bulletin which revolves around the President of the USA expressing an opinion about someone.

What the fuck has the world come to for this to be news? Even the BBC has shamed itself by covering it. To death.

In a nutshell, Kanye West was a jack ass and interrupted an award winners speech.  Yeah, big deal. I could just about see that being the news item but the reality is people act like self-centred idiots day in, day out. The fact that some one famous is self-centred is hardly news. Following this frankly uninteresting incident, President Obabma was holding a conversation about it off air, but some ABC staff recorded it and felt the need to post twitter messages about it. Following it becoming “news” ABC have apologised to CNBC and the POTUS and have removed the twitter posts. Obviously this has done nothing to reduce the global spread and the wonders of the interweb mean we can all listen to the President of the USA calling Kanye West a “jack ass.”

Is this really how low our society has sunk? Is the President’s personal opinion about someone’s behaviour genuinely newsworthy? What impact does this have on anyone’s life?

If pushed, I am sure you could easily find in excess of 50% of the worlds population who would call Kanye West a “jack ass” even prior to his MTV awards behaviour. Is that news worthy? If not, why not?

The only thing I can think of is that the worlds news agencies are so overwhelmed by the onslaught from Web 2.0 crap applications that anything which has even a passing reference to them becomes news based solely on its perceived ability to appeal to the yoof market. It is shameful, and certainly goes a long way to explaining why “old media” feels it is under threat from the new media…

Shame on every news outlet that carried this story. Even a cat up the tree would have been more newsworthy.

Justice, mercy or revenge

Today’s news has been pretty much filled with items about the decision to allow Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the man jailed for blowing up a US airliner over Lockerbie in 1988, to go home to die. al-Megrahi is suffering from terminal cancer and, according to some reports at least, has about three months to live. It is probably unsurprising that this release has generated a lot of vox pop about what an “outrage” it is that he be allowed home to die. One of the terms of his release is that al-Megrahi dropped his series of appeals against his conviction, saving the UK taxpayer a large amount of money; however I can only assume that he still thinks he is innocent (or at least has a chance of being found innocent) but no longer had the will to fight this.

In the UK a life sentence doesn’t actually mean you are expected to die in jail. The criminal justice system is, in theory at least, based upon the principles of removing an offender from society as long as they present a danger to society, while providing correctional education to allow them to reintegrate to society upon release.

Equally, in the UK (and the US I am fairly sure) there are frequent cases where a prisoner is released from jail on compassionate grounds. There is nothing specifically unusual about this case.

The biggest difference here is that this is a person who has killed Americans. As a result, President Obama felt the urge to pressurise the “Scottish Government” (hmm) to change its mind about al-Megrahi’s release. President Obamba is not alone in this, almost every US politician has tried to convince the Scottish Justice Minister to change his mind. The UK radio and TV news is running headlines about how this has “all been ignored” – as if the requests of US politicians should carry some weight in this matter. I notice that previously the US government fell over itself to listen to pleas from UK politicians about the treatment of Gary McKinnon… Or not.

All this is only mildly interesting. I notice with more interest, and a lot of amusement, that the same parts of the British media objecting to this were crying for the release of the convicted Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs. Obviously there are differences, Biggs is unrepentant, proud of his crime and white so the objections of Jack Mill‘s son went largely ignored.

Unusually for a missive from WhyDontYou Towers, I have no real opinion one way or another over the treatment and final disposal of al-Megrahi other than to wish there was some actual justice and consistency in the UK Criminal Justice system. Justice is not about revenge. Fair treatment includes compassion. Nothing that happens to al-Megrahi will bring back the dead or turn the clock back to before the murders. If justice is allowed to become revenge, then Al Qaeda can give up, we’ve destroyed western society ourselves. There can be no doubt that al-Megrahi showed his victims no compassion, but so what? Do two wrongs make a right? Does anyone honestly think al-Megrahi remains a danger to society? The news is showing traumatic footage of the night Pan Am Flight 103 went down – what can this do other than inflame people about the decision, which I think is at least consistent with the UK criminal justice policy.

As is always the case, the BBC is an example of the odd responses. There is the frequently wrong idea that those who are emotionally entangled can give a just and reasoned opinion – the BBC website has an entire page devoted to “Reaction – Lockerbie Bomber Set Free.” Show the effects of emotional involvement, the sister of a victim understandably says:

I don’t know how you show compassion to someone who has shown no remorse for what he has done and as Mr MacAskill praised the justice system and the investigation and the trial, how do you then show this person compassion? It’s just utterly despicable. I think he should have died in prison. Why should he be returned to Libya? That’s not what we were promised. We were always told he would serve out his full sentence in Scotland.

It is understandable, but wrong. I cant begin to imagine the suffering this person has undergone, but that is not grounds for a policy decision. This is why in the Dark Ages we moved away from blood feuds and instituted a system of courts and laws.  While she may not, yet, see it, the only way to show compassion is in situations like this. There is no compassion in being nice to nice people you like. Compassion involves doing what is right even when you dont want to.

The inherently evil David Cameron gives us a sign of the Criminal Justice system we can look forward to if the Tories come to power:

This man was convicted of murdering 270 people, he showed no compassion to them, they weren’t allowed to go home and die with their relatives in their own bed and I think this is a very bad decision

Ah, an eye for an eye eh? Does the body count matter? If he had killed just one, would he be objecting? Is the only reason to keep him in jail the fact that 270 families were torn apart rather than one or two? I suspect that if you are a grieving family member, the pain is not reduced simply because no one else died.

The Scottish Labour Leader has shown a tendency towards fluid politics that is characteristic of the Labour Party in general:

While one can have sympathy for the family of a gravely ill prisoner, on balance, our duty is to honour and respect the victims of Lockerbie and have compassion for them. The SNP’s handling of this case has let down Scotland

Yes, have compassion for the victims. Making someone suffer because not doing so would upset the families is not compassionate. It is pretty much a cowardly response.

Annoyingly for a committed Atheist, the Reverend Ian Galloway (Church of Scotland) says what is, IMHO, the right thing:

We are defined as a nation by how we treat those who have chosen to hurt us. Do we choose mercy even when they did not chose mercy? This was not about whether one man was guilty or innocent. Nor is it about whether he had a right to mercy but whether we as a nation, despite the continuing pain of many, are willing to be merciful. I understand the deep anger and grief that still grips the souls of the victims’ families and I respect their views, but to them, I would say justice is not lost in acting in mercy. Instead our deepest humanity is expressed for the better. To choose mercy is the tough choice and today our nation met that challenge.

Infuriatingly I cant help but agree with everything he has said here.

If you want to read some genuinely insane arguments on this matter have a look at the BBC “Have Your Say” Pages. Here the hatred really flows. The whole of Europe is called “Cowardly” because the Scottish National Party stood up to American pressure. The irony is amusing, if the ranting is disturbing.

It saddens me that people are still suffering to such an extent about this. Their suffering will not be changed by this persons release, nor would their suffering end if he had died in jail. That political figures in both countries are making so much capital out of this is an example of how craven politics really is. When I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with a Church of Scotland Reverend, its time to lie down.

Orly Taitz’ birth certificate

This alleged birth certificate has come into my possession. I can’t possibly divulge the source, because it would endanger their life, but my lifelong devotion to the principles of truth obliges me to put this explosive document into the blogosphere.

Alleged orly Taitz birth certificate

Alleged orly Taitz birth certificate

By a truly remarkable coincidence, I have just spotted that Ms Taitz has herself today released a copy of Obama’s equally genuine “Kenyan birth certificate” on worldnet daily.
(I put _extracrap_ in that url. Take it out if you want to visit the site)

Unwelcome party

Yuk. Argh. etc. Riding on the back seat of the international interest in the atheist bus campaign, “christians” are trying to take some advantage. Here was the deeply unpleasant committed “christian” George Hargreaves in the Guardian.

(I put “christians” in quotes because I don’t recognise any of the positive aspects of the traditional christian denominations in these ranting zealots. I still cling to a wishful-thinking belief that christianity isn’t always just about being a twat. )

Hargreaves toned down his message for his audience, of course. So he only exposed Guardian readers to a criticism of the money spent on bus ads. He failed to spot that it was shooting himself in the foot to then say that the “christian party” were about to do the same. Plus, he got in a jibe at the BNP, knowing full well that any Guardian reader will be spitting blood at their very existence, so he tries to trade on the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” effect.

The christian party, huh? Who are these christian politicos? Followers of Martin Luther King, Philip Berryman, Pastor Niemoller, Paolo Freire, maybe?

I think you’ve maybe already guessed it, no.

It turns out that their politics is as subtly nuanced and intelligent as their concept of christianity (*heavy sarcasm alert*) Look at how they greeted Obama’s election for instance:

But the greatest black politician the world may YET see – or the greatest black scientist, greatest black artist or the greatest black sportsperson – could under Obama’s presidency never have the chance to be seen – because Barack Obama would have had them aborted before they ever had the chance to be born (from http://-insertedcrap- www.christianparty.org.uk/cmsparty/ website)

Wtf? There’s plenty more.

…Within days of the election, his welcome statements … are already making way for the vicious anti-life agenda of Washington’s abortionist elite.

I have the sensation of being in a room where everyone else present is living in an alternate reality, where the inconvenient real world never intrudes. But this maniac – who somehow thinks it’s totally reasonable to say that Obama plans to abort all future foetuses, at the behest of some secret elite annihilation cadre – was giving “an English perspective” on Obama’s election for CBS..

I have spent most of the past four weeks in the USA following and filming the historic US presidential election for my TV programme, The Politics Programme on Revelation TV. I was there on election day giving an English perspective on the election to the CBS Channel 7 News.

Wtf, again.

Revelation tv, lol. I bet the combined IQ of its all viewers wouldn’t reach triple figures. But CBS? Isn’t that supposed to be a real channel? Obviously not.

Revelation TV. Blimey it’s a Sky channel, apparently. (Another good reason for sticking with cable only.) They portray Obama as a threat to the unborn and to marriage.
(Doesn’t extending the boundaries of who can marry whom imply the exact opposite of a thretat to marriage. Outlawing marriage would be a “threat to marriage”. Maybe I’m just being too literal here. 😀 )

This is good to read …..

Will the Republican Party decide that conservative Christians are just too troublesome for the party and see the pro-life movement as a liability?

One can but hope.

Twice hail, Obama

I don’t want to turn this blog into a big Obama gush-a-thon, so I’ve been keeping my mouth pretty well clamped on the new leader of the world. I know he’s going to do some shit things that make me rage. It goes with the territory.

All the same, the man has been behaving like a demi-god in his first couple of days. Banning torture for a start. Who would have thought a few years ago that this would be a ground-breaking act? But then, the zeitgeist shifted and suddenly opposition to torture became somehow weird. Obama has just turned the clock back to sanity. He’s made it so that “extraordinary rendition” can become no longer “ordinary.”

That in itself is enough for me to let him get away with a hell of a lot. But, he has even stepped up to the plate (strange American phrase that is becoming ubiquitous in UK discourse, although none of us know what it means, so I’m using it ironically) again in terms of stopping that mad ban on funding for agencies that counsel women who want abortions.

I am a bit pissed off that European media seem to be so determinedly racist though. The inauguration day reports here were pretty well written all in terms of what it means to have a “black” president. As if being “black” and wearing a suit were the crucial factors in leading the world.

Well, yes, it’s great, but (1) Obama is – like everybody on the planet – “mixed race” and (2) he was elected by Americans of every supposed “race” – totally spurious concept – not because of his visible attributes but because he is the best human being for the job. Total respect to the US population for seeing that. He is the most truly intelligent man to be elected president in my lifetime.

So: USA 1 Europe 0, so far.

About time…

At long last the United States of America has started back on the road to decency.

US President Barack Obama has ordered the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp as well as all overseas CIA detention centres for terror suspects.
Signing the orders, Mr Obama said the US would continue to fight terror, but maintain “our values and our ideals”.
He also ordered a review of military trials for terror suspects and a ban on harsh interrogation methods. [source: the BBC]

It really is about time, but still, well done President Obama. Soon the US may once again be able to hold its head up high on the world stage.

Miliband says “sorry about that”

The UK Foreign Secretary has admitted The War Against Terror was a “mistake” in today’s Guardian and even accepts that it was counter-productive

(Well, d’uh.)

Much better late than never, as the saying goes. Still, I wonder why any UK ministers failed to notice this glaringly obvious fact until today?

Miliband didn’t say “I, for one, welcome our new saner overlords” but he could have.