Canada to legalize cannabis by 2017!

24/04/2016

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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The BBC is dying… and nobody cares?

21/04/2016

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.

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So are the terrorists coming to get us or not?

10/07/2014

On Monday the Guardian reported the former head of MI6, Richard Dearlove saying that the risk to the West of Islamist terrorism is overblown and the activity is now centred in the Middle East – “Muslim on Muslim” as he put it. And as he recently ran MI6 he probably knows more about this stuff than most of us. Dearlove was addressing the Royal United Services Institute from a pre-prepared speech just hours after broadcast an interview with a Briton who had appeared in an Isis video. Abdul Raqib Amin, from Aberdeen, said:

“I left the UK to fight for the sake of Allah, to give everything I have for the sake of Allah. One of the happiest moments in my life was when the plane took off from Gatwick airport. I was so happy, as a Muslim you cannot live in the country of kuffars [non-believers].”

This means that he is not going to come back to Britain to put his new military skills to use. It’s far more likely that Amin and his comrades will remain in Islamic regions to “fight the fight”.

So, if the domestic terror threat has receded, why is the British government using emergency powers to pass communications surveillance law that has just been ruled as illegal by a judicial review claim in the high court?

Cameron and his lapdog Clegg is carrying on with blowing the “threat” out of all proportion by using emergency powers to fast-track this legislation through parliament when there is no actual emergency. And Labour leader Ed Miliband is supporting it too! Labour MP Tom Watson says there was a secret deal between party leaders and MPs knew nothing about it until today! It’s being called a “stitch-up”. British democracy in action.

On a related note, the government has announced that anyone carrying an electronic device onto an aeroplane would have to demonstrate it actually worked, because of “intelligence” that terrorists have learned a new method to replace a battery with explosives. But this is just “security theater” – the practice of investing in countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve it. Airport security is always playing catch-up with the “terrorist threat”. This week you’ll have to switch on your phone to prove it contains a real battery. Next week the terrorists will make batteries that work as batteries as well as containing explosives. And what if you’re like me and constantly forget to charge your phone? Dead battery, device can’t power up, and you’ll have a pretty stark choice: dump your expensive smartphone and go on the flight, or keep the device and go home. And it’s apparently going to be a random check! Okay, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic say they will send your device home for you if you can’t take it on the plane. But that’s just two airlines. And anyway, if the explosive in the phone can’t be detected by usual checks, what’s to stop the terrorist just putting it in his suitcase in the baggage hold?


Parliament still stinks of corruption and probably will forever

05/04/2014

The way culture minister Maria Miller has been let off charges of fiddling her expenses and threatening the parliamentary standards commissioner in an attempt to stop her investigation shows that the British Parliament is as corrupt as ever.  And the corruption goes right to the top: the prime minister is supporting Miller despite the evidence of her foulness.

When Kathryn Hudson, the standards commissioner, was investigating the complaint against Miller, the culture minister told her that her investigation was illegal, saying she was acting in a way that was “unwarranted, unfair and contrary to all standards of due process and legality”, and Miller threatened to report Hudson to a House of Commons committee that would punish her.  Miller’s threats didn’t stop Hudson from doing her job, and the commissioner reported that Miller had fraudulently claimed £45,000 expenses as well as threatening the commissioner and doing everything she could to pervert the course of the investigation.  But the House of Commons standards committee ruled that Miller should repay just £5,800 – the committee was going to order an even lower amount of money, and it was Miller herself who suggested the sum of £5,800! ; It also said Miller should apologize to the parliamentary standards commissioner for her conduct – an “apology” that Miller made in a Commons statement that took 30 seconds to read and which she clearly didn’t mean.

Labour MP John Mann, whose complaint caused the inquiry into Miller, said on Friday night that politicians should no longer act in judgement over themselves.  But that’s not going to happen, is it?  The prime minister David Cameron has repeatedly supported Miller, and it has emerged that he lied during the investigation, stating that independent members of the Commons standards committee had the “casting vote” in deciding whether to censure Miller.  The committee consists of three lay members and 10 MPs.  The prime minister’s office is now saying that Cameron “made a mistake”; they’re hardly going to admit that he lied  to parliament!

Thomas Docherty, the Dunfermline and West Fife MP, has written to the Metropolitan police calling for an investigation into Miller’s expenses. Docherty wrote: “Given the widely differing conclusions of the commission and the committee regarding the serious allegations made about Mrs Miller and the fact that both the commission and committee feel that Mrs Miller did not co-operate with the inquiry, I believe this matter warrants further investigation and I believe the Metropolitan police are the appropriate body to carry out such an investigation.”  So will the police investigate Miller?  Hah!  Of course they won’t.  The Metropolitan Police Commissioner wants the government to give him water cannons, and he won’t get them if he investigates Cameron’s new girlfriend will he?

Even if the growing pressure does force Cameron to sack her, Miller won’t face any more disciplinary action.  It’s disgusting how these politicians are able to set themselves above the law.  And just as disgusting how they feel entitled to claim such large amounts of expenses while simultaneously cutting benefits, forcing disabled people to work when their doctors say they shouldn’t, and imposing a bedroom tax that has driven people to suicide.  Governments are often greedy and cruel, Conservative governments especially: but the current government is openly evil.  And the system that allows it to be evil will never change as it is the evil ones who run the system!  Unless, of course, we change the system for them.  Not that I would ever advocate violent revolution!  😉

 
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If it walks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi, smells like a Nazi… it must be David Cameron

30/07/2013

Ol’ Cameron’s so desperate to win the next election, he’s trying to steal back Ukip supporters with his “Immigrants go home” mobile billboards. But it looks like he’s shot himself in the foot: Nigel Farage, leader of Ukip, has described the campaign as Big Brother-like and “nasty”. The BBC report says:

Speaking on Daybreak, Mr Farage – whose party campaigns for the UK’s exit from the European Union and includes curbing immigration in its wider policies, said the campaign was really a reaction to his party’s success in English local elections.

“What the billboard should say is: Please don’t vote UKIP, we are doing something. That’s what it’s all about.

“I think the actual tone of the billboards, it really is Big Brother, nasty, it’s unpleasant. I don’t think using messaging like this makes any difference, what would make a difference is enforcing our borders properly.”

The BBC also quoted Former Children’s Minister Ms Teather, MP for Brent Central, one of the boroughs targeted by the campaign as saying the “cost” would be community relations.

“It’s really unpleasant and we don’t need it here,” she said.

“If the Home Office want to deal with problems, frankly they should be looking at themselves and their own practice.”

And it seems pretty clear that this campaign is a Tory initiative rather than something dreamt up by the Coalition. The Guardian reports that Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg “launched a strong attack on the government’s ‘go home” campaign against illegal immigrants, suggesting it was out of step with the ‘decent’ centre-ground tradition in British politics.

In a phone-in on Radio 5 Live on Tuesday, the deputy prime minister said he did not condone people breaking immigration laws but that he objected to the tone of the campaign launched by the Home Office.

He also said it would be hard for his ministerial colleagues in the coalition to persuade him that the campaign should be extended.

Problem is, Clegg and his buddies have already revealed how low they can go in order to keep their illusion in power. Also, I have no links, but I seem to remember the LibDems using racist language in local authority elections in the past.

It’s kinda funny: Ukip’s Farage accusing the Tories of racism. What next? The BNP gonna promise more lax immigration policies to win marginal Tory seats?

Hitler was a charismatic guy operating in a time of economic crisis to gain power. Similar circumstances to now: except Cameron’s got the charisma of a cauliflower. And don’t forget: Cameron has some despicable ideas in the pipeline. Why should sick and disabled people totally unfit to work get benefits? Why should low-paid central London workers like cleaners be able to live close to work when they can commute and spend their paltry wages on travel? Why shouldn’t MPs (public servants paid by us, the taxpayers) have free central London homes as well as constituency homes, all paid for by us, the saps who are suffering austerity pay cuts when the MPs vote themselves massive pay rises?

Foreigners, poor people, the sick and disabled, unemployed people who can’t get a job with a living wage cos none exist: they are the enemy. You want more of the same? Of course you do, you’re the British electorate who are only happy when you’re being butt-fucked by deformed Tory penises. So Vote Conservative As Often As You Can. FFS.

Oh, and before you think voting Labour might save us: don’t be so stupid. Miliband bad-mouths Cameron in public, but in private they’re probably very good friends. Think about it: what kind of person wants a career that allows them to control us? Apart from crazy power freaks that is.  And even crazy power freaks have an off-duty switch, otherwise they’d go round disembowelling everyone who disobeyed them (ie everyone).

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Bullingdon Boys burn £50 note in front of the poor… what nice fellas, eh?

24/02/2013

Bullingdon emblem

I saw this story on the Guardian website about “uproar” concerning the Oxford University Students Union debating whether to boycott Israel. Ho hum. But what really got my goat was a little comment near the end of the story:

Not all students have immersed themselves in this debate. The Oxford Student newspaper reported that a member of the Bullingdon Club was fined for setting off a firework at a nightclub earlier this month. According to the paper, the student was accepted into the club after an initiation ceremony which included burning a £50 note in front of a tramp.

I know that the Bullingdon Club is an exclusive, expensive, ostentatious group who lord it around because of some twisted sense of humour. But burning a fifty pound note in the face of a “tramp” (I expect they mean a poor homeless person)… really? Being in the Bullingdon Club is a route to the top later in life: Bullies include prime minister David Cameron, chancellor George Osborne, London Mayor Boris Johnson… this is how political figures – especially Tories – get into positions of power. By sneering down at the poor. Is it any wonder they’re known as the Nasty Party?

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UK police privatisation in 5 years… and we don’t care???

20/06/2012

According to David Taylor-Smith, the UK head of G4S, the world’s largest security company, within 5 years most of Britain’s police forces will be privatized.  And what’s more, he thinks no one will be bothered by this!  Taylor-Smith  said he expected police forces across the country to sign up to similar deals to those on the table in the West Midlands and Surrey.

Taylor-Smith, whose company is in the running for the £1.5bn contract with West Midlands and Surrey police,and is also providing security to the London Olympics, said he expected forces across the country to have taken similar steps within five years . “For most members of the public what they will see is the same or better policing and they really don’t care who is running the fleet, the payroll or the firearms licensing – they don’t really care,” he said.

Well hold it right there, Taylor-Smith!  And come on people – don’t any of you remember Robocop?  At the moment we have police services who do the job because they believe in it.  But private corps like G4S are in the business because they want to make money out of it.  Their primary motivation is profit.  Which means less properly-trained officers and more Mickey-Mouse “Community Support Officers” who have next to no police powers at all – it means less patrols, less police visibility, more “policing” by telephone.  And the profit motivation means officers will be paid less, which in turn means decent officers will have less motivation to sign up.  Do we really want to be “protected and served” by the kind of security bozos who currently spend their days chasing kids around shopping malls?

The fact that G4S are in the running for all this privatised-police work, and also have the Olympics security gig, says to me that they probably paid to have “face time” with government ministers and other such officials.   You know, the “cash for access” deals that bit David Cameron in the ass not long ago?  You wanna be policed by these corrupt shady corporations?  Cos I tell you what – I don’t!

 
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