Turkey threatens to invade Iraq!

October 22, 2007

A vote in the Turkish parliament has given the government the “legal” power to attack PKK “terrorist” bases in Northern Iraq.  This has come as a response to the PKK attacks on Turkish soldiers in the past few weeks.

Turkey claims that an attack on Iraqi territory would not be an invasion of Iraq.  But the Kurds who live in Northern Iraq have dismissed these claims as mere semantics, and have sworn to meet Turkish force with Kurd force – an escalation of tension in the region that the US government does not want.

The Turkish goverment says that it would rather find a diplomatic solution to the problem, but insists that it will “do everything necessary to stop the PKK attacks”.  Everything necessary”.  Hmmm…

What I want to know is this:  if Turkey really is prepared to do everything necessary, why don’t they meet the PKK’s demands?  If Turkey provided the Kurds with an independent colony, the bloodshed would end.

But of course the Turks won’t do this.  They’re of the school that refuses to negotiate with “terrorists”.  They believe that they are righteous, and that their opponents are evil incarnate.  In short, they are blind, stubborn idiots.

The British government says that it never negotiates with terrorists.  But history has shown that this claim is bullshit.  The Brits entered into secret talks with the IRA.  And that has ended happily, with power sharing proceeding nicely in Northern Ireland.

Turkey should try negotiation instead of its usual strategy of confrontation.  Otherwise the killing will go on and on and on and…


Chief Constable says: “Legalize Drugs!!”

October 15, 2007

Richard Brunstrom, the Chief Constable of North Wales, delivers a report today to his Police Authority, describing the current UK drug laws as “immoral” and recommending that all drugs be legalized.

His report says that illegal drugs are cheaper and more plentiful than ever, and that drug-related crime is also at an all-time high. It goes on: “If policy on drugs is in future to be pragmatic not moralistic, driven by ethics not dogma, then the current prohibitionist stance will have to be swept away as both unworkable and immoral, to be replaced with an evidence-based unified system (specifically including tobacco and alcohol) aimed at minimisation of harms to society.” He finds it especially hypocritical that tobacco and alcohol are not classified as “dangerous drugs”.

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Prime Minister Gordon Brown – ready to announce the legalization of all drugs?

Of course, the Police Authority isn’t going to take up his recommendations. And it won’t find sympathy in the government either. At this year’s Labour Party Conference, prime minister Gordon Brown announced that the “war on drugs” was going to step up a gear, and declared: “We will send out a clear message that drugs are never going to be decriminalised.”

But there is sympathy for Brunstrom’s position in the Labour Party. Former Home Secretary John Reid has admitted that prohibition of drugs doesn’t work, and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell agrees, saying that “it drives the activity underground.”

The Chief Constable is to urge the Police Authority to raise these issues with Westminster and the Welsh Assembly. And, although the authority are extremely unlikely to seriously consider his recommendations, such a high-ranking police officer lending his voice to these arguments gives them a prominence that’s hard to ignore.

He can’t be dismissed as eccentric or a “kook”. John Reid and Tessa Jowell, both government ministers, have voiced similar opinions. And the former Chief Inspector of Prisons, Lord Rambotham – and Scotland’s drug czar, Tom Wood – are also more or less on his side. And these are people who can’t just be ignored. Legalization of drugs has been dismissed for years as a crazy idea. Now, the powers that be have to admit that it isn’t such a mad idea after all.


Labour Deputy Leader wants MPs to decide when to hold elections

October 12, 2007

harriet_harman128.jpg Interesting bit of news here – Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour Party thinks the UK Parliament should decide when general elections are held – a decision that has been made by British prime ministers for a hundred years.

Harman made this suggestion last night on the BBC TV show Question Time… and it’s bound to make her boss, prime minister Gordon Brown, very pissed off.

Gordon Brown has caught a lot of crap over the last week because he decided to put off the next general election until 2009, after his minions in the government had told the press that a snap poll would happen very soon.

A lot of people believe that Brown has put off the election because he’s scared he’d lose it this year. The Conservative Party has enjoyed a big surge in support after announcing some very popular policies, such as the abolition of inheritance tax for everyone except millionaires. And Brown announced that he plans to abolish inheritance tax too – blatantly stealing the idea from the competition! This hasn’t helped the government’s standing with the electorate!

There’s an online petition on the Downing Street website, calling for an election this year, which is attracting signatures in the thousands. There’s no doubt, Labour would lose a snap poll.

At the moment, in the UK the prime minister decides when to hold the general election. Well, theoretically that power rests with the Queen, but that’s a constitutional fiction. Gordon Brown picks the date. Lucky him.

So he’s bound to be pissed off with his deputy, Harriet Harman, suggesting that MPs should decide. She should back the boss, right?

No. Harman knows that the current situation is deplorable. Why the hell should Brown have this power? Parliament represents the will of the people; Brown is very unpopular right now; the will of the people says “Go to hell Gordon!

So Gordon Brown should go to hell!!


A plug for DrugSense – sounds like a bunch of nice people…

October 12, 2007

Because I have an interest in drugs (“interest”?  Hee hee!) I have subscribed to a news service that emails me articles that have been written on the subject.  A recent article was about a drugs education outfit called “DrugSense”.  They sound okay, so I’m going to give them a free plug here by reproducing their message:

Education vs. Indoctrination

Education: ed.u.ca.tion [ej-oo-key-shuhn] – noun. The act or process
of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of
reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others
intellectually for mature life.

Indoctrination: in.doc.tri.nate [in-dok-truh-neyt] – verb (used with
object), – nat.ed, -nat.ing. To instruct in a doctrine, principle,
ideology, etc., esp. to imbue with a specific partisan or biased
belief or point of view. [Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)]

===

As so many folks, young and old, prepare for another school year,
DrugSense feels that it would be useful to start the fall by reminding
people of the difference between education and indoctrination.  At
DrugSense, our main goal is to educate the press, public, and policy-
makers about the ravages, costs, and failures of drug prohibition, as
well to inform them of alternative policy approaches. The following
comes from the DrugSense Mission Statement (
http://www.drugsense.org/html/mission.htm):

“We exist to provide accurate information relevant to drug policy in
order to heighten awareness of the extreme damage being caused to our
nation and the world by our current flawed and failed ‘War on Drugs.’
We aim to inform the public of the existence of rational alternatives
to the drug war, and to help organize citizens to bring about needed
reforms.

To further these objectives, and in recognition of the critical role
played by the media and the public, we:

a. Call attention to factual errors and excesses of policy as reported
by the working press and broadcast news organizations.

b. Promote debate and discussion by encouraging citizens to
communicate their views directly to the media and the public.

c. Provide on-line and technical support for a wide range of reform
organizations, large and small, including but not limited to free
email chat lists, news information feeds, and web site creation and
support. Please see our site map for a list of the organizations we
support. (http://www.drugpolicycentral.com/)

d. Create and maintain a growing, easily searched, library of news and
opinion as a research and educational tool.

We believe that public policy has nothing to fear from the truth.
Effective policies require a clear understanding of their results.”

How does this “education” differ from “indoctrination”? To put it
simply, we are not ideologues, or radicals, or even legalizers.
Rather, we are pragmatists who believe “that a public well informed
about the death, disease and social blight produced by current U.S.
drug policy must inevitably seek to reform it”. And our opponents? A
quick look at the Dictionary.com definition for “indoctrination”
pretty much says it all.

So as the school year starts up, please help us move away from failed
drug policies stemming from fear and misinformation and towards
evidence-based approaches based on science, reason and compassion.

DONATE TODAY by clicking http://drugsense.org/support.php, it’s fast,
easy, and tax deductible!

I like the distinction DrugSense draw between education and indoctrination.  Maybe they’re worth checking out?


UK law change: now you gotta be 18 to buy cigarettes

October 1, 2007

For quite a long time, here in the UK, you’ve had to be at least 16 years old to buy cigarettes.  But from today, you have to be 18 or older.

The government have blandly commented that this just “harmonizes” the laws about alcohol and tobacco.  But that isn’t the point at all.  This Labour government, first under Tony Blair and now George Brown, has been consistently eroding our rights on what we can do to ourselves.  Anti-smoking legislation has been progressively more authoritarian – first of all, places that sold food had to provide “non-smoking” areas; then smoking was banned in all rtestaurants, cafes, and pubs that served food; next all places owned by the government or local authorities became no-smoking zones; and that was followed by a ban on smoking in all premises that were “open to the public”… including, I believe, private, members-only clubs!  Pubs can’t even offer a seperate room for smokers.  If you want to have a ciggie, you have to leave the pub and light up outside.  Many publicans realize that when the cold winter weather comes, a lot of smokers are not going to bother going out for a drink.  Having a cigarette with your pint is very pleasurable to smokers – indeed, when I have a drink, I really want a ciggie too.  I really really want a ciggie.

Pub landlords are talking of providing a “sheltered area” with porch heaters for smokers in the winter – but they have to be very careful what they provide, as the law is very strict: any “enclosed” area is by law a no-smoking zone. So anything set up outside the pub must be unenclosed – open and exposed to the elements… the rain, the cold…

So this latest move must be viewed in this light.  There are many teenagers who have legally been smoking from the age of 16, who are suddenly barred from buying cigarettes!  The government will cite “health reasons”, will say it’s for the youngsters’ “own good” – the kind of patronizing cant that often accompanies this kind of authoritarianism.  And these teenagers aren’t going to quit smoking just because of this law change.  Youths are rebellious by nature.  This legislation is going to criminalize thousands of 16 and 17 year olds, who will either try to buy cigarettes anyway, or who will loiter outside shops asking older customers to get them.

The UK government is getting more and more authoritarian… even totalitarian.  In the 10 years that they’ve ruled, we have lost countless rights.  And if we vote them out at the next general election… well, the Tories are dictatorial too.

I won’t vote for either party.  But my single vote isn’t going to make any difference anyway…

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David Cameron says: “Get out of your sick beds and look for work!”

October 1, 2007

Addressing the Conservative Party’s annual conference, Tory leader David Cameron pledged that if he became prime minister, he would make people on long-term incapacity benefit find work – even if doctors have judged that they are too ill to work!

Cameron said that his promised tax cuts “would be funded in part by removing incapacity benefit from those refusing an offer of a job“.  This is patently absurd: to qualify for incapacity benefit, a claimant must be declared incapapable of working due to illness by the claimant’s personal physician and by a doctor working for the Department of Work and Pensions.  So, Cameron is basically saying that doctors are not able to make competent diagnoses!

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The Labour Party began the assault on the long-term ill when they introduced “advisors” to “help incapacity benefit claimants to find work if they wanted it”.  But at least Labour had not made any of this compulsary – they recognize that people claiming incapacity benefit are doing so bacause they can’t work, not because they won’t.  But the Conservatives have taken that final, horrid step.  They are calling chronically sick people benefit scroungers – just as they did in the early 1980s when, under Margaret Thatcher, they took away unemployment benefit from people who were unemployed because they couldn’t find work in an era of economic depression and widescale industrial closure.

In the past, the Tories financed their tax cuts partially by creating the myth of “dole scroungers” and at a stroke making legitimately unemployed workers no longer entitled to welfare.  And now, they want to do the same – except this time their victims will be even more vulnerable and defenseless.  Let’s face it, if a doctor in the pay of the DWP says that you’re too sick to work, you must be pretty damn ill.  DWP medical examinations have justly gained a reputation for being harsh and unfair.  But the Tories are now saying: “Tough shit! If you can’t work, you and your children must starve!”

David Cameron pretends that the Conservatives are now “compassionate”.  If that’s compassion, I’d hate to see their cruelty!


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