Ken Livingstone: antisemitic? just relating history? or just stupid?

April 29, 2016

Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party for making allegedly “antisemitic” statements.  But Livingstone claims that he was not saying anything antisemitic and was only relating historical events when he said Hitler supported Zionism when elected to the leadership of Germany in the 1930s.

So: what did he actually say?  According to the Independent, Livingstone said:

“[Naz Shah] is a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over-the-top but she’s not antisemitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic.

“It’s completely over the top but it’s not antisemitism. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. 

“The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians; and there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”

About the “Hitler supporting Zionism” point (which I have emphasized above):  that’s not an antisemitic statement, it’s about what Hitler said and did “before he went mad”.  Interestingly, in 2015 the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that Hitler wanted to deport German Jews to Palestine, and that the  Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, opposed this and told Hitler to kill them instead:

In a speech before the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem, Netanyahu described a meeting between Husseini and Hitler in November, 1941: “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jew. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here (to Palestine).’ According to Netanyahu, Hitler then asked: “What should I do with them?” and the mufti replied: “Burn them.” [link]

If we are to take Livingstone’s statement as antisemitic, we must also say that Benjamin Netanyahu is an antisemite.  I think it’s ridiculous to claim that the prime minister of Israel has antisemitic views.  The worst that can be said is that Netanyahu, and Livingstone, were incorrect in what they said.

Looking at Livingstone’s statement, he says “Israeli”, not “Jew”.  He is opposed to some of  Israel’s policies.  Why is it that anti-Israeli arguments are equated with antisemitism?  “Israeli” does not mean “Jew” or “Jewish”.  Israel is a nation, whose population consists of members of many (or no) religions.  There are Israeli Arabs, who are Muslim.  There are Israeli Christians.  There are Israeli atheists.  Are these people Jewish?  Of course not.  If you make statements against any of these people are you being antisemitic?  Of course not.

You can look at the Wikipedia article on the “Haavara Agreement”, which basically says the same as Livingstone.  Yes, I know Wikipedia is not the font of truth.  But it does tend to support the suggestion that Livingstone is not antisemitic.

However, it was not very politic to say these things at this time.  And as Livingstone is a politician, he really ought to have known better.


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Canada to legalize cannabis by 2017!

April 24, 2016

Another one bites the dust, eh?  Good on ya, Canada!  And not the namby-pamby “medical marijuana” excuse either – full-on legalisation of recreational use!  Interestingly – surely not coincidentally – the announcement was made on 20 April: an unofficial holiday among cannabis advocates.  Marajuana users celebrated with a spliff outside Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

But what about the UK?  When will Brits be able to relax with a cup of tea and a spliff without worrying about stormtroopers battering the door in and hauling them off to some concentration camp?  When will the UK government grasp the nettle, poo-poo the US federal government’s ridiculous stance on the issue and do what more and more Western-style democracies are doing: leaving users alone and concentrating on real criminals?  Are they worried that if the police delved too deeply into the issue of real crime, they’ll uncover more than a few culprits in the Houses of Parliament?

So: good on ya, Canada!  And Cameron, when are you going to wake up and sniff the roses (while your mates are sniffing something far worse than weed)?

 

Cannabis users celebrating the news with a joint outside Parliament Hill. Image stolen from the BBC.

Cannabis users celebrating the news with a joint outside Parliament Hill. Image stolen from the BBC.


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Paying to enter a poetry competition? A lottery… with rhyming couplets…

April 22, 2016

Going through some poetry sites that have recently been brought to my attention. I noticed an appalling beast: poetry competitions that require an “entry fee”.

No doubt other people have differing opinions, but here’s mine: competitions that require an “entry fee” are not dissimilar to lotteries.  If enough poets enter, the organizer gets a nice wad of cash.  He then pays one lucky guy the $100 (or whatever) prize, and pockets the rest.  If not enough poems are submitted to make the scam pay, he simply returns the poems (maybe with a percentage of the entry fee for “administrative costs”) – or, even better, he enters a poem with a fake name and awards himself the prize.

"Starving poet and publisher", stolen from allpostersimages.com

“Starving poet and publisher” by Thomas Rowlandson, stolen from allpostersimages.com

Call me a cynic if you like – but I tell it the way I see it.  When I was a youngster I used to write short stories.  I was going to enter some competitions, but a couple of older writers (my “mentors” I guess) warned me off.  Later, when I got into photography, I was told the same thing.  Do NOT enter competitions that require an “entry fee”.  Legit competitions don’t require a fee to enter.  And if you google “poetry competition” you will find many such competitions (you’ll also find plenty that do require an “entry fee” but that shows how widespread the scam has become).

Also, if a competition wants you to assign copyright to them – that’s a scam.  A genuine competition will want “first use” rights, and probably a right to use the poem solely for use in promotion for their competitions… but the copyright should remain with you.  Same thing with “selling” your poems: you’re not selling the poem itself, you’rte selling the right to print the poem in their magazine/book/whatever.  But at the end of the day, your poem and its copyright should remain as yours.

I know many poets want really bad to be published.  I understand that completely.  I even know poets who have gone down the dark, dank, slippery route to self-publishing.  Very expensive.  And (if you’re lucky) you end up with a stack of books you need to sell, with no distribution networks.  Basically unsellable.

Please believe me: if someone wants you to pay them, they are not legit.  Stick with the standard free-to-enter competitions.  Don’t help the dodgy sods make money – there are already enough mugs out there ready and willing to pay the “fees”.

 


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The Chosen One…?

April 21, 2016

The Chosen One?
A stupid lie
Nailed to a cross
And left to die
The Magdalene will tell her tale
And martyrs all, they’ll fail

saint-peter-inverted-crucifixion

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The BBC is dying… and nobody cares?

April 21, 2016

Surprise: the government doesn’t like the BBC (shock horror!).  Another surprise: the government is going to destroy the BBC – indeed, that’s what it’s doing right now – and no one is lifting a finger to oppose this.  Presumably because no one knows about it.

That’s hardly surprising: As the New Statesman said:

The problem for our public service broadcaster is not that it lacks public support. On the contrary, the British people are passionately supportive of the BBC. The problem is that there are no newspapers, radio stations or television channels exposing just what is at stake. The traditional media is not on the pitch.

BBC executives have pursued a strategy of self-censorship; we can assume favouring a path of diplomacy. The popular press – notably the Murdoch papers – has most to gain from a US style broadcast market favoured by Whittingdale. We can expect little in the way of government scrutiny on their pages.

In George Osborne and Michael Gove – regarded by some as the two sharpest political operators in the Tory party – we have two of the most influential cabinet ministers in cahoots with Murdoch. Neither of whom has made any efforts to hide their admiration for him.

It’s BBC charter-renewal time again, and the Tory government wants to make sure that our “national broadcaster” doesn’t keep criticising it.  And it’s not just the Tories: it seems all the political parties are into the idea of de-fanging our BBC. Even the BBC, and its media friends/competitors have had little to say about John Whittingdale has said – that “he plans to have the government directly appoint most members of a new body to run the corporation” – that “only two or three members of a 13-strong unitary board, which would replace the discredited BBC Trust model, would be BBC executives while the rest would be government appointees” – effectively taking away the the BBC’s independence.  The BBC would become just another mouthpiece for the government’s spin, lies and propaganda.

But the politicos have forgotten about an important factor in this: Us.  The People of Britain.  The people who keep the politicians and their lick-spittle civil servants in their jobs.  As The New Statesman has it:

Nearly 400,000 of us have signed the 38 Degrees petition to protect our BBC. 177,000 of us made individual submissions to the government’s consultation on the BBC’s future. We are on the pitch – albeit against an elite outfit with unfair advantages. It is a perverse setting for a fair contest which raises serious questions about the plurality of the political sphere in Britain today.

The New Statesman goes on to tell us what the stakes are in this “game”:

First, its independence to decide on its channels, its programming and its news reporting. Interviewed for a Sunday newspaper last month, Whittingdale set out plans for the new body that will oversee the BBC to have a majority-Downing Street appointed board. People would be outraged to think that the government could hold such influence over news, programmes and the future of TV and radio channels. The revelation sits behind an online paywall having failed to make the BBC news bulletins.

Second, the money available to the BBC. Independent media consultants Enders Analysis have reported on the scale of cuts that the BBC has already faced – “a fall in total public service broadcast funding of at least 20% since 2010/2011”. Let us be under no illusion that without sustained public pressure, this erosion will be set to continue for the decade-long agreement that the government will deliver by year’s end.

Basically, the government wants to tell the BBC what it can and can’t report; if the Beeb dares to disobey, it will be beaten with the stick of “no-money-for-you-bigmouth”.

But the BBC has its fans out here in the real world.  According to a Yougov poll carried out for 38 Degrees, says the Guardian:

The government is not trusted by a majority of voters to protect the BBC during the forthcoming renewal of its charter, according to a poll that shows most people view the corporation as the most impartial and reliable news broadcaster in the UK.

A YouGov survey for the campaigning organisation 38 Degrees found that distrust of the government about its BBC reform plans is strongest among those aged over 60, the group most likely to be Tory supporters.

The poll, the first of its kind to look at attitudes to the BBC among older voters, found that 62% of over-60s are suspicious of government intentions, more than double the 27% who say they have faith in ministers to make the right decisions. The findings will raise increasing doubts among many Tory MPs about the political wisdom of meddling with an organisation seen by many of the party’s voters as a cherished part of British life.

Of all those questioned, 61% said the quality of the British media would deteriorate if commercial advertising were introduced on the BBC, against just 8% who think it would bring improvements.

Interesting, this reflection of over-60s.  The New Statesman also says:

people over 60 – a key political target group – do not trust the government to protect the BBC during the Charter renewal, with more than twice as many saying that they do not trust the government (62%) compared to those reporting that they do (27%)

David Babbs, executive director at 38 Degrees, which is heading a campaign to protect the BBC, said: “The BBC is a national treasure. But its future is at risk. Any government that damages the BBC will be on the wrong side of the British public. John Whittingdale’s proposed reforms are going down like a lead balloon with key groups of target voters.”

So, very few people – including those whose narural political “home” is at the bosom of the Tories, don’t like the fast-and-loose game the government is playing with the BBC.  Not too clever.  The Tories rely on the older voter – but messing with the cherished Beeb, coupled with the complaints and confusion over when, if ever, pensions will pay out as advertised, is alienating its bedrock.  I can’t say I’m dismayed at the idea of Cameron and his fellow pig-lovers losing their jobs.  But I really do hope they don’t take the Beeb down with them.  The BBC churns out some awful material… but it is innovative too, sometimes.  That would be a real loss.

cameron-and-pig01

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How to get stoned on pineapple or grapefruit juice!

April 20, 2016

Note:  Be careful with this info.  I do not want people telling me how irresponsible I’ve been posting this info.  Though I would like to make clear: all this info is available elsewhere.  I’ve added links to those elsewheres. Also, this blog entry is for educative and informative purposes only.  I’m telling you a true thing.  What you decide to do with the info, but bear in mind: “drugs are bad, m’kay?”  Don’t blame me for reality.  Thanks.

Okay, you’re not going to get stoned by drinking pineapple juice (or grapefruit juice) alone.  If that were the case, pineapples and grapefruit would be illegal!  You need a benzo (eg “Valium”/diazepam) for this to work.  Maybe other benzos too.  Benzodiazepines are often difficult to get hold of (doctors don’t like to prescribe them as they are addictive and make you feel good: drugs that make you feel good are evil according the official standard) – but I read the leaflet that came with a pack of diazepam and it said not to drink much pineapple juice when on the drug.  I did some digging, and discovered that diazepam + pineapple juice > diazepam alone!  Here’s some of what I read online:

Grapefruit juice may increase the amount of diazepam in your blood. If you are elderly, suffer from cirrhosis or any of the conditions listed in section 2, this could possibly increase the sedative effects of Diazepam tablets and you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist. [http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/medicine/18061/XPIL/]

and:

When taking Valium, avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice, as it may increase the level of the drug in the blood, resulting in confusion or excessive drowsiness. [http://www.healthyfoodguide.com.au/articles/2010/july/food-and-drugs-dangerous-combinations]

Diazepam: do NOT take these with grapefruit/pineapple juice. Seriously! An overdose is most definitely Not A Good Thing!!

Diazepam: do NOT take these with grapefruit/pineapple juice. Seriously! An overdose is most definitely Not A Good Thing!!

According to http://www.health.harvard.edu/family_health_guide/grapefruit-and-medication-a-cautionary-note grapefruit (and therefore pineapple juice)have this effect on the following benzos:

Diazepam (Valium)

Triazolam (Halcion)

Midazolam (Versed)

Flurazepam (Dalmane)

Clonazepam (Klonopin)

And that holiest-of-holies, Wikipedia, claims:

Grapefruit juice has also been reported to increase both the bioavailability of some benzodiazepines, (such as diazepam) and greatly slow the rate of metabolization [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grapefruit_juice]

So, unlike the old aspirin-and coca-cola story, the grapefruit/pineapple juice mix does work.  Not that I’ve tried it myself (anyone who knows me IRL knows how anti-drugs I am) but this unlikely-sounding mix is true.  A very good friend has assured me so.

 

Incidentally, while doing research for this blog entry I came across this: (benzos) A new way to ingest diazepam (and most likely other benzos) – here.

The moral of this story: don’t take drugs…?

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So all you want is bloody poetry huh?

April 17, 2016

I try to blog as often as I can.  But I’m really depressed that only my poems get Likes.  My political, cultural and other entries get next to no interest.  I’m not going to stop posting stuph about politics, culture, privacy, security and the other subjects that get me riled.  And the poetry of course (bread and circuses FFS).  I’d just be happier if my “serious” posts got more attention.

Also, even the poems get next-to-no Comments.  I need Comments so I can hopefully improve. Please please, poetry Likers, could you also Comment?  I’d really appreciate it.  Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: as of 18 April (day after posting) I’ve received two Likes: from anthonymize and Juansen Dizon.  Just general, click-the-Like-button likes, and no comments.  Likes please me, as I have an ego that enjoys beeing stroked; but the whole point of this post is that I want Comments too.  If you’re too shy to make Comments readable by everyone who visits the blog post, there’s a Contact Form button at the top of the page.  You can put your Comments there, abd if you want anonymity that’s what I’ll give you – your name etc will not be kept on record if that’s what you want.

sad-face-sticker

Leave Comments, damn your eyes!

This blog isn’t an anthology of what I consider my best work.  I put works-in-progress here, meh stuph that I’d love to be reviewed and love to get Comments on.  So pleeeze! – if you have the time, write something in the Comments or Contact Form.  Comment on my blog, I’ll come look at your blog, if you have a blog of course, and if I can create a window in my already bursting bag of commitments.  That last bit is a joke of course.  But in all serious, Comment on me and I’ll Comment on yours.  Quid Pro Quo I think it’s called: washing each others’ backs.

Cheers, Martin X!


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