Moving on
Towards Better Times...?

Monday, November 28, 2005

Met chief faces probe on killing of Jean Charles de Menezes

Met chief faces Menezes probe
Reuters: Monday November 28, 04:43 PM

LONDON (Reuters) - An independent watchdog said on Monday it would investigate claims that London's police chief lied to the public after the fatal shooting of an innocent Brazilian man suspected of being a would-be suicide bomber.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair, who is Britain's most senior officer, is to be investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) after an official complaint from the family of Jean Charles de Menezes.
See the rest of this article here: yahoonewsuk
Lest we forget:
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posted by summersun70 at 11:43 AM


Sunday, November 27, 2005

No Surprises

Most Britons unhappy with Blair and govt -poll
Reuters: Saturday November 26, 11:27 PM

From: yahoouknews

LONDON (Reuters) - Most Britons are dissatisfied with the way the government is running the country and with Tony Blair's own performance as prime minister, an opinion poll published on Sunday showed.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled were unhappy with the government's performance while only 33 percent were satisfied, according to the poll conducted by Ipsos-MORI and published in The Observer newspaper.

Blair's own performance was little better, with 55 percent saying they were dissatisfied with him against only 37 percent who were satisfied.

In contrast, nearly half of those polled said they were happy with the performance of Chancellor Gordon Brown, widely tipped to replace Blair in the run-up to the next general election.

Forty-nine percent said they were satisfied with the way Brown was doing his job against 35 percent who were not.

Despite Blair's poor showing, Labour still enjoyed a healthy lead over the Conservatives, according to the poll of nearly 2,000 people conducted between November 17-22.

Labour were on 42 percent -- up from the 36 percent of the vote it took in the last election in May -- while the Tories were barely changed from the 33 percent they polled then.

Blair has said he will not stand for a fourth term in office after leading Labour as prime minister since 1997, while the Tories are locked in a leadership battle between David Cameron and David Davies to see who will replace Michael Howard.

My Comments:

All I can say abut these figures is that I am surprised that they show Blair still has 37% of those poled who are actually satisfied with his performance.

And as to Gordon Brown having more favourable results – well 49% is not even half.  Not really good enough for the man who expects to take over from Blair.  And even then, the questions asked were to do with the job Brown is doing now – Chancellor – nothing to show that people would be happy with him becoming our next Prime Minister.

As to the Tories, well, as they are in the middle of a leadership fight at the moment, it is obvious that they cannot achieve much public confidence until their new leader has settled into place.  They obviously have a long way to go though.

Of course as (I think it was Henry Ford ?) said, “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

The British people are left very much in limbo from both main parties at the moment, with a Prime Minister who has covered his back by saying he will not stand for a fourth term and the main opposition party in disarray. And what about Charles Kennedy?  Have the pollsters forgotten him completely?

No surprises there then either.

posted by summersun70 at 11:45 AM


Saturday, November 26, 2005

Human Rights and Opposition to the War in Iraq

It seems to be a bit of a slow day for news today. There is the upcoming summit in Malta for Commonwealth leaders, at which there will be discussions on a possible make-or-break deal at world trade negotiations to be held in Hong Kong next month. But we just know that Tony Blair’s original call to end World poverty will be cast aside (probably by Blair too) in the light of whatever happens to be a good excuse for a ‘detour’ on that occasion. I could be wrong, but I won’t be holding my breath to see if I am.

No, there is nothing which has captured my imagination today, apart from the comment to my previous post – on Doug Ireland’s ‘outing’ of George Galloway’s ‘Respect’ party as being homophobic, and my suspicions as to Ireland’s ulterior motives behind his article.

The comment was made by Brett Lock. He said:

Why would Tatchell be using gay rights as an excuse for attacking Galloway's opposition the the Iraq war when tatchell himself is an opponent of the Iraq war?It seems to me that there is a low-level homophobia that holds that gay rights concerns can never be the central issue in and of itself and when expressed must always be a part of another "agenda".
I was going to answer in the comments section, but I thought this deserved a longer reply.

Well, first of all, my point was not to that Tatchell was attacking Galloway’s opposition to the Iraq war and I don’t think that anything I said could have been taken this way. I know that Tatchell is opposed to the Iraq war, just as most other thinking people are.

I actually have a great deal of respect for Peter Tatchell. He has strong views. He is committed to the cause of gay rights and he lets nothing or no one stand in the way of his arguments. I do not agree with everything Tatchell says or does, and I particularly did not agree with his aggressive ideas on ‘outing’ ‘closet homosexuals’, because this made no allowance for individual reasons for people to hide their sexuality, and of course there are many reasons for this. But I admire anyone who sticks by their political guns, so to speak.

No, my point was that Ireland, not Tatchell, had a hidden agenda for his post and also to attack his use of what he considered to be ‘evidence’ for his arguments. I am always suspicious when someone says “I am opposed to ….. but…”, because one knows that the person is then going to provide (what they think to be) a strong case in opposition to that first statement. But Ireland never even got that far. His argument was based upon hearsay and un-researched ‘facts’. It also provoked my suspicions that it was a ‘set-up’ post, designed to invalidate the arguments of those opposed to the Iraq war and particularly those from what Ireland saw as ‘the political left’.

My comments on gaynews and their concentration on the homophobia and anti-feminism within Islamic teachings, when other religions, including Christianity, also hold these views within their religious texts, were about my thoughts that this concentration on Islam as ‘the bad guy’ was too singular and, I think, discriminatory in its own right. And this is from a group that has my respect for their campaigns on behalf of human rights. In this time when Muslims in the Western World are being stereotyped and stigmatized as ‘fanatics’, I find it disappointing that gaynews finds it necessary to outline these very singular views.

However, I can understand how Brett Lock feels that homophobia is being sidelined yet again by a party that was supposed to be on the side of those suffering oppression. I can understand his anger. As a feminist I have felt anger many times when women’s rights have been cast aside on behalf of ‘the greater good’. I also share concerns about the oppressive nature of some interpretations of Islam. But I see these as being interpreted by those living in a world dominated by straight men (as were early writings on Christianity) and blame the interpreters, not the religion, and certainly not its followers.

As to homophobia (or women’s rights) being sidelined, well, yes, it seems that this is exactly what is happening here. But that doesn’t make me like Ireland’s argument any better for that fact. It is still a poor, suspiciously slanted piece of work. But I take the point that in sidelining certain human rights issues, we run the risk that further attacks on human rights can, and will, be made. The worst example of this was probably when the plights of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Communists, Socialists and the so-called ‘feeble-minded’ in Nazi Germany were largely ignored until after the war against German was won. Because the biggest threat to the World was seen as Nazi Germany as a country and a power. Its human rights crimes, which were almost endless, were punished (in some, but not in all cases) after the war had been won.

Some would say that this simply was not good enough and, considering the millions tortured and murdered, this argument rings true. But what was the alternative until German was beaten? This does not make it right, but it does consider the wider implications.

The same could be said to be true today. In the USA there is a cowboy holding power, aided and abetted by those who are (most probably) much cleverer than him, and whose agenda is World domination for the USA, nothing more, nothing less. Whatever the cost. The war in Iraq, and the threat that moves will soon be made on Iran and Syria are symptoms of this. These men and their plans are putting the freedom and safety of the whole World at stake. They have to be stopped before it’s too late. And the way to do this is to make people aware of what these men are about and hope that they can take political action to stop them.

And if some human rights issues take a back seat while this is happening, it is regrettable. I hope it doesn’t have to come to that. But I have a suspicion that it will.

posted by summersun70 at 11:34 AM


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

All may not be as it seems

I came across this article on alternetpeek :

Galloway panders to homophobes
Posted by Evan Derkacz on November 23, 2005 at 10:57 AM.

“This week is unwittingly shaping up to be "so you thought so-and-so was different" week.

First there was Tony Blair, then John McCain. Now it's George Galloway's turn to become a reglar old fashioned politician. Which is not to say that because a. politicians pander then: b. all politicians are equal. It's just in service of clarifying the process and making us less emotional and more strategic in our support. As I've said before, politicians are not fully human, they're partly the assembled interests of voters and funders……. “

My Comments:

So what exactly had Galloway done?

Well, it appears that Galloway’s Respect Party recently expunged its platform of reference to gay rights, because, it was attested, “Respect is in alliance with the right-wing, anti-gay Islamist group, the Muslim Association of Britain.”

Now I am no fervent supporter of George Galloway.  He is, after all, a politician, and I happen to go by a principal first stated by Billy Connolly: “Anyone whose sole ambition in life is to be a politician should be seriously prevented from being one.”   But I have followed the attempts to scapegoat Galloway, because of his strong anti-Iraq War stance, with interest.  And I must admit that it has been good to see him putting his US critics soundly in their place when others have failed miserably.

I do not know whether Galloway committed the crimes he is accused of, although I would hazard a guess that, should his attackers wish to look at other figures, from across the political spectrum (and not just from ‘the left’ – as the US see Galloway ….), they would find similar ‘indiscretions’.  Because let’s be realistic here.  It is not Galloway’s political dealings his attackers are really interested in; their campaign is purely and simply to bring him down for having the audacity to stand up against the US Government and to have gained support for doing so.

So I was intrigued to follow the link to dougirelandssite  given in Evan Derkacz ‘s article.  Here I found the following:

November 23, 2005

“The leaders of the British anti-war party Respect -- which managed to elect its only George_galloway_2_1 member of parliament, George Galloway (left), earlier this year -- have demonstrated their lack of principle in a blatant act of electoralist pandering to homophobia.  U.K. Gay News reports that, at the Respect party's conference on Sunday, November 20, a grassroots revolt by party members passed a resolution denouncing the party's leadership for vetoing the inclusion of gay and lesbian rights in the party platform. George Galloway MP is a crucial member of the Respect party leadership -- which is dominated by the Trotskyists of the Socialist Workers Party, who created Respect……. “

And so on and so on…..

My Comments/Continued:

Now, apart from a rather incorrect lambasting of the UK Socialist Workers Party, which Ireland seems to have confused with a US copy (and accused them of being homophobic – which couldn’t be further from the truth, as many gay members of the UK SWP would attest), I found that some very suspect ‘journalist investigation’ had been carried out by Mr Ireland.

The articles he linked to as ‘evidence’ for his attack on Galloway were as follows:

gaynews – an organisation which can claim a great deal of ‘respect’ for its tireless campaigns for human rights.  However, of late Gay News has been concentrating its fervour on Islamic teachings and practices regarding women and gays (as if the Christian faith was itself blameless on these issues ….), and, which, with the help of Peter Tatchell (the UK militant gay rights activist known for his belief in ‘outing’ all those he thinks are gay, whether they like it or not),  can be said to have polarised opinions on Islam and the Muslim faith, without regard for differences of opinion within that faith or for the human rights of the millions of Muslim men and women left open to victimisation by often unwarranted attacks on Islam.

But I can understand why Gay News would take the stance it did.  It is, after all, interested in a particular agenda – gay rights – fair enough.

Which leads me on to the other articles quoted:

The article about the ‘Respect’ Conference published in the socialistworkeruk is quoted by Ireland only for its lack of mention of the rebellion in support of gay rights.  Not the greatest piece of evidence there…. Just an unwarranted attack on a left wing party – I wonder why?

Following on from this, in his ‘Update’, Ireland  says:

“A bit of research unearhed some interesting facts about the funding of the Respect party. Eric Lee -- who runs the excellent trade union-funded, London-Dr_mohammed_naseem based  labor news website labourstart (which mobilizes support for striking workers around the world) -- checked out Respect's required financial filings this year with the U.K Electoral Commission. It turns out that half of Respect's money comes from one man, Dr Mohammed Naseem  ….”

Ireland then goes on to attack Dr Nassem for quotes he has made on his personal website, which include:

“Naseem's IBP also put out  a statement claiming that the London bombings of buses and subways last July weren't carried out by Islamic fundmentalists but (as Lee summarizes the IPB document he links to on his personal  blog [and here Ireland is relying on Eric Lee’s version of Naseem’s words without bothering to check their accuracy] )  "the attacks were a provocation, staged by the police, the Blair government, or the Mossad -- or all of them together." Naseem repeated his claim that no Islamic fundamentalists were involved in the bomings even after the arrest of Yasin Hassan Omar, an Islamist who helped plan the bombings….” [typos are his, not mine]

Well, I’m sorry Mr Ireland, but if you bother to look, you will find that an awful lot of ordinary UK citizens (atheist, agnostic, Christian, Hindu, as well as Muslim) tend to think the same thing.  One does not have to be a radical follower of Islam to question the nature of the London Bombings – there are far too many inconsistencies in the evidence to take Government’s word that these were carried out by Al Qaeda – or whatever they wish to call them ….

There is little more to the article than this, just a reference to a bbcprofile of Naseem, simply to allow the quote that Naseem is “ Chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque, "one of the largest Islamic instutions in Britain."  Failing to mention of course that this ‘institution’ holds a great deal of respect in Britain {I was much more interested in Naseem’s other ‘quote’ at this link – liking Blair’s political approach to Hitler’s – something many UK citizens are beginning to fear could be true.

So Ireland has gathered all his ‘evidence’ together and he has tried to make a case which seems to be biased not only against Galloway, but against Islam itself.  But he has produced a far from perfect ‘assessment of the facts’.  More important to me, however, is the question as to why Ireland wrote this article in the first place.  What was his real agenda?  

To me, it seems to be deliberately easing the way for an imperialist stance on Islam. And yet it is written by a man who claims to be “a lifelong opponent of American imperialism”.  

I don’t think so.  

posted by summersun70 at 1:53 PM


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Call Centre Irony

If anyone has, like me, discovered the ‘joys’ of calling your UK bank to discuss a problem with your account, only to find you are talking to a call-centre employee in India, speaking from a prepared script (which always ends with “Is there anything else I can help you with, insurance, financial advice…?”), will appreciate the irony of the following article:

Britons! Rush east to India, land of opportunity!

From: beyondthebeyond

Young Britons flock east to answer India's call-centre crisis

By Stephen Khan
Published in The Independent 13 November 2005

In a remarkable reversal, the subcontinent's telesales firms are eagerly recruiting British labour to fill a skills shortage

An army of British workers is being recruited to staff India's vast network of call centres because of a shortage of suitable candidates on the subcontinent.

In a remarkable reversal of the outsourcing that has seen thousands of jobs lost in the UK, telesales operations are looking to fill a skills gap in the east with young Britons willing to work on Indian wages.

And they are eagerly taking up the challenge. Both recent graduates and those with experience of working in British call centres are flocking to sign up for jobs in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore that pay just ¿350 a month.

It might not sound like much, but many are finding that they can earn enough to live on for six months or a year before heading off travelling. Indeed, a stint in the call centres followed by a period mellowing out on Goa's beaches or touring the palaces of Rajasthan is becoming the fashionable way for single young Britons to spend a gap year.

However, with surveys suggesting that India's telesales industry will be short of more than 120,000 employees over the next two years, many of the newcomers are expected to stay on.

The clamour for jobs in India has reached such a level that agencies have been set up to place them with Indian firms.

One is Launch Offshore, founded by Tim Bond. "People are desperate to sample a slice of another way of life," Mr Bond said. His firm has close to 100 workers in India and expects to place more than 200 next year. Those who sign up are given flights out and accommodation as well as Indian wages.

Among the first to land in the subcontinent was Kenny Rooney, a 28-year-old from Livingston in Scotland. He had worked in a call centre at home, but after nine months in India says he does not want to return. "This is an incredible country," he said, speaking from Bombay. "I have had a brilliant time and met people from all over the world."

Young Britons of Indian origin are also finding the jobs offer them a chance to rediscover their roots. Among them is Hasmita Patel, who is also working in Pune. "This has been the best thing I've ever done," said Ms Patel, from Leicester. "It has really allowed me to see the country and get to know people. I've learned so much about myself."

My Comments:

Don’t get me wrong. I have no complaint against people from any nation talking to me about my bank account – after all, most of us have to work somewhere. I actually feel sorry more than anything else for call-centre employees; they are working on the ‘production lines’ of the 21st Century.

But I do object to UK banks using call centre staff, who they know to be grossly underpaid and over-stressed, to ‘cover their backs’ and ‘prove’ that they are ‘communicating with their customers’. Because what these banks are really doing is providing these poor workers with a script which varies not one jot from call to call, and is therefore completely unsuitable for the vast majority of customer enquiries. Thus the banks are placing the call centre workers in a situation where they are bound to receive abuse from the bank’s understandably annoyed customers, while they themselves are benefiting from saving money and hassle.

The irony now is that ‘Brits’ themselves are joining the ‘production line class’ in India as part of their travels, and many of these Brits are graduates from middle class families, not the usual permanently underpaid call centre staff you find in most cities in the UK. They are all fleeing the constraints of the UK while they can. While on the other hand, Indian young men and women are, quite rightly, fleeing the constraints of call centre life while they can.

I’m not sure where this is going to lead us all, or if it really matters in the grand scheme of things, but the whole situation just strikes me as farcical in the extreme.

posted by summersun70 at 12:07 PM


Monday, November 21, 2005

Women and Rape in the UK

A third of Britons blame flirty women for rape

From:  msnnewsbox-uk

LONDON (Reuters) - One in three Britons believes a woman who flirts is partly or totally responsible if she is raped, a "shocking" opinion poll showed on Monday.

Between a third and a quarter of respondents also put part or all of the blame on the woman if she fails to say "no" clearly to the man, wears sexy clothes, drinks too much, has many sexual partners and walks alone in a deserted area.

"It is shocking that so many people will lay the blame for being raped at the feet of women themselves," said Kate Allen, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International UK which commissioned the research.

"These findings should act as a wake-up call to the government to urgently tackle the triple problem of the high incidence of rape, low conviction rates and a sexist blame culture," she added.

Only four percent of those asked thought the number of women raped exceeded 10,000 per year when there were 12,867 female rape victims in England and Wales in 2004-05 financial year, according to the Home Office.

More than a quarter of people didn't know how many reported rapes resulted in a conviction and only 14 percent of respondents put the conviction rate within the correct range of one to nine percent.

Home Office figures show that rapists were convicted in 5.8 percent of reported cases in 2004.

The ICM research body interviewed nearly 1,100 adults across the UK for the poll and weighted the results to the profiles of the respondents, which took account of their sex, age and social and economic status.

My comments:

I’m afraid this comes as no surprise to me.  The UK culture is still a very sexist one.  And you only have to look at the headline about ‘flirty women’ to see whose side of the argument the publisher of this piece was on.

And the worst thing is that the figures quoted for rape victims is much, much lower than the real number of women who are raped each year – many by men they know and trust.  Most women who are raped still decide either not to report the rape, or, after discussing their options, decide not to pursue the matter to court.  Not surprising, considering that a woman reporting a rape knows that, in court, it is her character that will be put on trial, and that the jury will be made up of several people who will prefer to see her as the guilty one rather than her rapist.

Let’s hope that the Government listens to Kate Allen’s calls for their urgent attention on this matter.  But, considering the sexist nature of a substantial number of the UK electorate, will they actually be that keen to do this?

posted by summersun70 at 1:10 PM


Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Strange Idea of Justice

School Shooting: A Chilling Reminder of Ten Years Ago
Posted: 11/18/2005 10:16:35 PM


It was the site of one of the nation's first school shootings, and now, exactly ten years later, a BB gun fired at a student is raising new questions about weapons on campus.

A mother in Giles County says the Richland School, hasn't learned its lesson.

“My son was shot with a BB gun at school,” said Kimberly Ables, the parent of the student shot with the BB gun.

Ables says her 12 year-old son came home from school this week with a lump on his head, that gave her a lump in her throat.

“He was hit in the back of the head and had a goose egg,” said Ables.

She says her son, Max, was shot with a plastic BB gun. Ables says there was a gun at school and no one contacted her. So she contacted the sheriff's office, to take out a warrant against Zachary Langford,18.

That apparently didn't sit well with the school principal.

“She told me she wished I wouldn't do that because the last thing she wanted that day was it going across the scanner that another gun was found at Richland School,” said Ables.

It had been ten years to the day, since a student went on a shooting rampage at Richland School, killing a student and a teacher.

“We didn't live there at the time. I'm sorry for the families and I'm sorry that it happened. But if you don't handle it correctly at the time the same thing's gonna happen,” said Ables.

Zachary Langford's mother said he did not know about the anniversary, but she didn't want to comment further. The principal and schools director said they can't comment because the matter is still under investigation.

The principal called Kimberly Ables and told her Max is suspended until the investigation is finished.

My Comments:

I’m a little late catching up with this one, but it seems strange to me that the victim of the shooting was suspended, rather than his alleged attacker.

Of course the school needs to investigate the incident, but it seems that, as so often happens in cases of school bullying, it is the victim who ends up victimised some more.
Seems that this case is all about the headmaster trying to maintain the façade that ‘everything is okay now’, rather than concentrating on more relevant issues.

But there again, that just sounds like the way most organisations work nowadays….

posted by summersun70 at 1:25 PM


Saturday, November 19, 2005

At Last Some Good News

After an unacceptable delay by Western Nations in providing aid, it appears that Pakistan’s appeals for more help following the dreadful earthquake in and surrounding Kashmir have finally been acknowledged.

The following news was reported today:

Quake-hit Pakistan exceeds aid target

By Zeeshan Haider

From: newsboxmsnuk  19.11.05

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The world boosted aid pledges for quake-devastated Pakistan to $5.8 billion (3.4 billion pounds) on Saturday after the United Nations warned there could be a second disaster as survivors face the bitter Himalayan winter.

The sum exceeds Pakistan's target of $5.2 billion for recovery and reconstruction after the earthquake which killed more than 73,000 and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

"The results were better than expected ... we have received pledges worth $5.827 billion," Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told a news conference after an international donors meeting in Islamabad.

Pakistan had been about $3 billion short of what it needed to rebuild houses, schools, hospitals, water and energy supplies, roads and civic administration.

Aziz said $3.9 billion of the aid pledged was soft loans and $1.9 billion was grants.

The new pledges came after UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned that survivors would die unless relief funds came soon.

"The pitiless Himalayan winter is almost upon us and growing more and more severe every week," Annan told the conference which opened with harrowing video of quake damage and survivors.

"We must sustain our efforts to keep people as healthy and as strong as possible until we can rebuild," he told representatives from about 50 donor countries.

Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf praised old rival India for its help and appealed to it to seize the opportunity the quake had given the two countries to resolve their dispute over Kashmir, the region hit hardest by the quake.

"Let us together solve the Kashmir dispute once and for all," Musharraf said.

The neighbours have agreed to open five points on their heavily militarised, disputed border in Kashmir to help relief efforts and allow divided families to meet.

Two dozen Kashmiris from the Indian side walked across the heavily militarised frontier on Saturday - the first time in nearly 60 years people had been allowed to cross on foot.

The October 8 quake left 500,000 homeless and affected 3.3 million in Pakistani Kashmir and North West Frontier Province. About 1,300 people were killed on the Indian side of Kashmir.


Rich nations and multilateral lenders pledged the lion's share of the extra aid, but even impoverished countries such as Afghanistan and Bangladesh made contributions.

Thanking donors, Musharraf said it was now the turn of Pakistanis, at home and abroad, to ensure aid needs were fulfilled.

"I know that we are going to spend about $6 billion," he said. "Now that is a shortfall which we will make through government efforts and this is where I feel the people of Pakistan ... need to come forward.

Musharraf told the conference of a "lost generation", referring to how the quake destroyed schools, entombing classrooms. The quake killed an estimated 35,000 children. A total of 400,000 homes and over 10,000 schools need to be rebuilt, he said.

Aid agencies say the relief effort is more daunting than for Asia's tsunami. Helicopters are the only way to reach many survivors living high in the mountains.

The Asian Development Bank and World Bank each pledged about $1 billion in financial aid, mostly in soft loans, and the Islamic Development Bank doubled its financial aid to about $500 million for rebuilding infrastructure.

"The scale of the catastrophe is stunning," Asian Development Bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda told the conference.

The World Bank said Pakistan's poverty-reduction plan would be at risk without more aid. China and Saudi Arabia together announced soft loans and grants worth more than $600 million.

The United States added another $200 million in cash, a targeted $100 million in private donations and said the value of its military relief support had climbed to $110 million.

Britain gave another 70 million pounds, and the European Union pledged $110 million in addition to about $200 million pledged individually by its member nations.

Japan said several hundred million dollar yen-loans would be made available for projects and China offered to help set up a national network of seismic centres to warn of future quakes.

Musharraf proposed naming new villages after the donors that paid for their construction, and called on cities round the world to adopt a district in the earthquake zone.

(Additional reporting by Simon Cameron-Moore)

My Comments:

Now let’s just hope that the aid is on time to help the thousands of earthquake victims in Kashmir, Pakistan and India, are that the pledges are kept to, with no ‘extra conditions’ attached to them by certain Western Nations.

We can only hope.

posted by summersun70 at 9:48 AM


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More 'control tactics'?

Top Cop Wants Terror Talks
Updated: 09:16, Wednesday November 16, 2005


The public must decide what kind of policing it wants after the London terrorist attacks, Britain's most senior officer has said.

Sir Ian Blair is calling for a wide-ranging debate on the service's future.

He said views of policing had changed since the July 7 bombings and the mistaken shooting of a Brazilian man by his officers.

Speaking to The Guardian newspaper ahead of a television lecture, Sir Ian said issues like arming the police used only to be discussed in private within the service.

"We need to come into a place where we can discuss these issues in reasonable, compassionate debate," he said. "They can't go on being private."

He did not comment on the Government's failure to pass a Bill allowing police to hold terrorist suspects without charge for 90 days.

The proposal had been put forward by police and was strongly supported by the Prime Minister.

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner said his address would focus on how policing should adapt to the challenges of the modern world, particularly in response to terrorism.

He told the paper: "The police service is a very silent and separate organisation that doesn't have the kind of institutions that other services, like health and education, have.

"As a result, it has moved from silence to political controversy, but without an intervening phase of public debate."

Fifty-six people, including four apparent suicide bombers, died in the July 7 attacks on London's public transport system, while around 700 people were injured.

On July 22, armed police shot dead 27-year-old Jean Charles de Menezes on a Tube station platform after mistaking him for a suicide bomber.

My Comments:

This is the same Sir Ian Blair who backed up Tony Blair’s insistence on the ’90 day rule’ for detaining terror suspects without charge, who published his thoughts on the subject under the title ‘Thethreatischilling ‘ just 24 hours before the crucial debate in Parliament which Tony Blair subsequently lost. A measure fully intended to influence MP’s voting in Tony Blair’s favour.

Now the Commissioner is calling for a ‘public debate’.

I just wonder how he thinks this ‘public debate’ will go, and what he thinks the outcome will be.

Could this be another attempt at furthering police powers couched in ‘democratic’ dialogue?

Call me a cynic but ……..

posted by summersun70 at 4:53 AM


The Debate on ID Cards

Yesterday (15th November 2005), the debate about UK National ID Cards began in the House of Lords.  The Government’s proposal for ID Cards is still in the debate stage. But Blair and most of his ministers are determined that legislation for ID Cards will be carried through and they want to start issuing them in 2008.

Feelings in the UK run very high over this matter.  The concept of ‘Civil Liberties’ is held dear by many of us (despite the fact that we have very few real civil liberties anyhow).  In the present climate of lies, intrigue and blatant mistrust of government, ID cards are seen as another step forward for Blair’s dreams of running a totalitarian state.

I looked at a debate instigated by Jeremy Thompson on his weblog:

This is well worth a look to get an idea of the views and strong feelings behind this whole issue.

Opinion was quite sharply divided between those who said “If you have nothing to hide, why not?” and “It’s the EU that’s wants these cards anyway, not our Government”, to those who completely opposed the whole concept.

One quote I found particularly interesting.  It was from a gentleman from Northumberland.  I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him here, because his thoughts on this matter echo my own:

“The card itself is a mere McGuffin; the real issue here is the National Identity Register, which will be so all-pervading and all-encompassing that it will dwarf anything dreamt up by Soviet Russia, though if companies like EDS and/or Capita get the contracts if the legislation is pushed forward it will be even less efficient. Whatever the case, the concept is a monstrous thing to have in a western democracy. Even the USA won't consider such a vast centralised database.Nothing to hide?  Neither had Anne Frank.”


posted by summersun70 at 4:23 AM


Saturday, November 12, 2005

What Should We Be Telling our children?

What Should We Be Teaching Our Children?

Do you want James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Beverly LaHaye controlling your children's classrooms?

There is little I can do as a citizen of the UK, other than pass on here the link to the DEFCON site, where there is a letter that US citizens can send to their Governor, stating their opposition to any plans by the religious right to influence the education of American children.

This is the link:

posted by summersun70 at 6:47 PM


Breach of Trust?

Ex-officials join attack on Meyers

From: msnnewsbox

LONDON (Reuters) - Two former top civil servants have joined the attack on Britain's former ambassador to Washington for publishing memoirs critical of the government's role in the lead-up to the Iraq war.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Christopher Meyer's revelations had undermined a key relationship between civil servants and ministers, branding his memoirs a "completely unacceptable" breach of trust.

Lord Butler, a former head of the civil service, said frank discussion in cabinet could be inhibited if ministers believed their opinions would be reported by officials later.

"I've always accepted that it's an obligation of the profession and it's in the interests of the profession that you maintain these confidences," he told BBC radio in comments broadcast on Saturday.

"I would like to see my colleagues and people within the civil service generally observe those conventions.

In his book "DC Confidential", Meyer says Prime Minister Tony Blair was "seduced by the glamour of U.S. power" and failed to use his influence in Washington to get the United States to draw up proper plans for the aftermath of the Iraq war.

Lord Armstrong, who led the civil service under Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher, said Meyer had made it more difficult for ministers to trust their officials.

"He has in my view breached the trust which should exist between civil servants and ministers and between ministers and civil servants, both ways," he told the BBC.

Straw questioned whether Meyer, ambassador to the United States from 1997 to 2003, could remain in his current job as head of the Press Complaints Commission.

My Comments:

I just wonder if there would have been a similar outcry about this ‘breach of trust’ if Meyer had published opinions that said the US and UK were justified in declaring war on Iraq?

But maybe I'm just a cynic ......?

posted by summersun70 at 10:36 AM


Friday, November 11, 2005

Blair Used Police For Politics - suggestion

Blair 'Used Police For Politics'
Sky News
From: yahoonews

The Prime Minister could face a Commons inquiry into claims of Government "politicisation" of police chiefs over new anti-terror laws. Tories are unhappy that chief constables lobbied and wrote to their MPs, urging them to support powers to hold terror suspects for up to 90 days without charge. Despite endorsement from the police, the proposal was rejected by MPs in Tony Blair's first Commons defeat on Wednesday.

Senior members of the Conservative Party have tabled a Parliamentary motion condemning ministers for "embroiling" the police in politics.
They are suggesting there may have been a link between the police support for the Government and worries over job cuts in forces across the country.
Peter Lilley, one of those behind the motion, said: "Every chief constable knows their job is up for re-selection in the next year or so. That puts great pressure on them."
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis added his voice to those expressing concern, saying: "I think the position of the chief constables looks a little political."
The Home Affairs Select Committee is to investigate chief constables' arguments for extending detention without trial.

My Comments:

Far be it from me to agree with the Tories, especially someone like Peter Lilley, but they do have a point here.

And the fact that not only MPs, but people on the street realise this should have stayed Blair’s hand over this. But, of course, it didn’t, as the man thinks he is infallible.
The police are supposed to be servants of the state, not state legislators, but it was the latter position that Blair’s statements such as “this is what the police told me they wanted” put them in.

On today’s’ News, police chief constables are coming out of the woodwork to deny that they had ever asked for a 90-day detention period. It could be that this is a hurried bit of back-tracking; after all, the police do seem to be doing a lot of that lately. But it could be true, at least, when you consider that Blair never said exactly which chief constables he had spoken to on this matter. Maybe he spoke to the odd one or two in obscure regions of the country and then used their words as representing chief constables on-masse. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Either way, an enquiry into the alleged "politicisation" of police chiefs” would be very interesting. That is, of course, if it ever makes it past the suggestion phrase.

Again, I won’t hold my breath.

posted by summersun70 at 3:53 AM


Thursday, November 10, 2005

It's not going to be easy ....

Blair heads for clashes on reforms

10/11/2005 3:38:55 PM
( Source: Reuters)

from: msnnewsbox

By Katherine Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Tony Blair set himself up on Thursday for high-risk clashes with his party, refusing to compromise on future reforms despite a first parliamentary defeat that raised doubts about his ability to govern.

Forty-nine Labour MPs rebelled on Wednesday against government plans to let police hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Commentators said the shock vote marked a turning point for a once-invincible leader who has seen his authority wane since the 2003 Iraq war, despite winning a third term in May.

Further defeats would increase calls for him to go. Blair has already said he will not stand for a fourth term although he intends to serve for a few more years yet.

Despite that, Blair said there would be no watering down of plans to reform schools, hospitals and the incapacity benefits system before crucial votes in the New Year.

"The Cabinet was absolutely united in their view that they are determined to carry through their (election) manifesto commitments," Blair's spokesman said after a government meeting.

Ministers would "explain" to parliament and the public the rationale behind the plans but would not compromise, he added.

Such tough talk risks enraging Labour MPs who are uneasy at best about Blair's flagship public service reforms.

But defeat may force the government to change its style.

Earlier, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said doubts about future reforms needed to be "properly addressed".


Blair had sought new police powers after Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people in London on July 7.

Police said they needed more time to hold suspects to allow them to collect evidence in complicated terrorism cases.

Civil rights groups argued the change from the current 14 days would erode long-held freedoms and drive people towards extremist groups.

Parliament rejected the plan by a net 31 votes, despite Labour's majority of 66.

The defeat was a climax to a tough run for Blair.

The resignation last week of Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett after breaking a ministerial code stripped him of one of his staunchest allies.

That followed open rows in government on education policy and a ban on smoking, previously unthinkable for a leader renowned for his tight grip on ministers.

Outside parliament, Blair could come under fire if Labour does badly in local elections next May.

Internationally, Blair also faces testing times.

As current European Union president, he must try and secure an EU budget deal by year-end without wounding himself politically at home by giving in to demands from EU leaders to relinquish part of Britain's rebate from Brussels' coffers.

And his hopes for a plan to alleviate poverty in Africa could be sunk if ministers fail to agree a deal at trade talks in Hong Kong in December.

(Additional reporting by Peter Griffiths)


Is this the beginning of the end for Blair?

It seems that his defeat in the Commons yesterday has not weakened his determination to railroad through his dubious policies.  Neither has it led him to question his disdainful approach  to MPs and the general public – hence the patronising statement that: “Ministers would "explain" to parliament and the public the rationale behind the plans but would not compromise”.

Seems like a few more parliamentary defeats are in order.

Let’s hope they happen.  Sooner, rather than later.

posted by summersun70 at 10:45 AM


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

At Last!

Parliament defeats Blair over terrorism law

LONDON (Reuters) –  9th November 2005

Tony Blair suffered his first major parliamentary defeat as prime minister on Wednesday, over plans to let police hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

The House of Commons voted by 322 to 291 against the proposal as about 40 Labour MPs refused to support him, raising new questions about his authority.

For the whole article see: msnnewsbox

Note from me:
They passed the 28-day proposal about an hour ago (time is now 18.43)


The day has arrived that free-thinking people in the UK had feared would never be allowed to happen.

Tony Blair has suffered his first defeat in Parliament.  And this could be the first of several.

This was about more than the ’90-day proposal’.  It was about Blair’s style of politics – the assumption that he could steamroller through Parliament anything he wished and that no-one would have the power, or the guts, to defeat him.  It was about him taking us into a war which the vast majority of the British people thought was ill-advised and morally wrong, ignoring our objections, ignoring the fact that young men and women from Britain and countless numbers of men, women and children in Iraq would die as a consequence.  It was about siding with a man who most of the British people see as a dumb-ass and the front-man for those in the US who are hell-bent on establishing and maintaining a US-ruled World.

It was about lies: lies to convince us; lies to cover up the facts; lies to obscure the facts when they finally emerged.  

It was about the real threat to our (albeit already limited) civil liberties, from legislation supported by suspect information and media-enforced propaganda.

It was about our fears that this country could quite easily be turned into a police state, when the murder of Jean Charles de Menezes in July of this year had demonstrated police ineptitude in their ‘abilities’ to ‘keep our country safe’, and had demonstrated the incredible lack of esteem which our state-funded ‘guardians’ held for innocent civilians.   It was about Blair’s openness about siding with the police on this matter and with all police attitudes to ‘public order’, demonstrating his lack of regard for the judiciary and an already well-established rule of law.

It was about presenting 90 days to parliament without supplying facts as to why 90 was this magic figure (apart from saying “this is what the police want”) and expecting MPs to back him without this information, thus paying no heed to their right to be given the facts of the matter before making decisions of national importance.  

It was about a flagrant disregard for anyone’s opinions except his own (and, of course, Bush’s).

But most of all it was about a lack of trust in a man who has lied again and again, made numerous claims and counter claims to ‘hold the truth’ despite clear evidence that he was at least misinformed and, at worst, downright dishonest, and still seemed convinced of his own infallibility as a political leader.

Today Tony you have been reminded that you are not infallible; that you cannot railroad through legislation any more without question; and that you can be defeated.

Your reaction so far has been to attest that you were still doing the right thing; that you had the backing of the British people.  I don’t think you counted anyone in that group who had a brain; who could see you for what you really are.

I hope you take note.  And I hope your reaction in the coming weeks is not more subterfuge, lies and propaganda.

But I won’t hold my breath.

posted by summersun70 at 11:23 AM


Tuesday, November 01, 2005


This is a test post from

posted by summersun70 at 5:48 PM


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