What's in Paisley's Pants? Political ramblings about things that catch my attention... (rather than some smutty double entendre...)

Monday, January 31, 2005

UN idiocy ragarding Darfur

I largely support the UN. While it may be ineffective at some things it does (such as stopping illegal invasions of other countries), it largely does good - UNICEF caring for the most vulnerable people in the world, another department providing AIDS education in the 3rd world, another providing some sort of infrastructure and organsisation to the massive movements of refugees. These are just some of the good things that it does. And with regards to its main aim - to promote dialogue between countries and to avert war, I think it's the best hope we have.

However, it is a little saddening when they release idiotic reports such as the one which was leaked to the press. The Independent carries the story here. To make a distinction between genocide and 'crimes against humanity with ethnic dimensions' is sickening. It downgrades the suffering of millions of black Africans in Sudan, and the consequences of that could be disastrous. It is an excuse for the world to turn its back once more, to ignore the vile actions carried out by the government and the Janjaweed militia.

Meanwhile, while all that is going on, a multi-national political struggle is taking place over the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The court was set up to judge on these international cases, but the Bush administration has declared it un-American, and fears that it will just become a stage for politically motivated trials of American officers and troops. Bush proposes a court be set up specifically for the Darfur crisis, similar to the Rwandan court in 1994. Lining up on the side of the ICC is Europe, China, Africa and Russia. A stand-off is developing, which only delays any action taking place.

While America should be applauded for taking notice of the Sudan crisis (not too much applause, it has failed in so much else, and it is quite hard to miss the Sudan crisis), it is wrong to waste time with this political wrangling over the court. Action needs to be taken, and quickly. Bush is worried that if the ICC is used for this case, and America supports it, then it will be seen that the US endorses the ICC's authority. Bush is questioning the impartiality of the court: he considers it to be too impartial - what is the point of an international court if you can't swing its decisions in favour of your country?

And meanwhile, people keep dying...

Saturday, January 29, 2005

I'm not going to brag about things, but...

You know, sometimes I think my influence stretches farther than I realise... This seemingly good news follows onnicely from what I posted yesterday. It is far too soon for celebration, and probably will be for many years to come, but as is too often said 'a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step'. However much of a disgusting cliche that has become, it's true: this could well be the first step along the road to peace. Or maybe I'm being far too optimistic.

It also seems the Americans truly brought democracy to Iraq: the Iraqi elections are being 'undermined' by influxes of soft money to political parties. I'm sure they're well short of the $1.7 billion spent in last years American Presidential Election, but I think George Bush would be proud that he's managed to bring a pure capitalist democracy to the Middle East. It seems strange that someone is prepared to spend money to become a puppet, but then a lot of things seem strange to me.

Like the fact that in a supposedly free, democratic soicety like the one we live in, we have home secretaries who want to place people under house arrest. I'm quite uneducated on the subject, but 'house arrest' does have quite nasty connotations: Galileo was placed under house arrest by the church for his beliefs about the earth going round the sun (crazy guy). 'House arrest' in fact has all the hallmarks of a government trying to control and oppress it's people. Thankfully, there could be a storm brewing over this in the Commons, with MPs planning a revolt. Robert Marshall-Andrews, Labour MP for Medway, said:
"I think there will be a narrow majority in the Commons if the Government
attempt to push it through and it will fail in the Lords. If they do, there will
be one of the most sizeable rebellions in Labour ranks, not least because it
will be electoral suicide."
Goddamit we need Labour to commit electoral suicide, purely so we can have some form of check on the government. However, Charles Clarke did come out with a very strange statement this week:
"There are serious people and serious organisations trying to destroy our
society. We are in a state of emergency. Protecting national security must come
first. Just because somebody's wife wants to chat with her friends about going
shopping, that's not therefore a reason to let somebody cause a bomb explosion
at Bluewater."

Forgive me for being stupid, but does this even make sense? I may be missing some background facts, and if so, could somebody please fill me in? And talk about using terror to try and push through controversial legislation. It's very worrying that this may even get passed, and which subsequent government will want to repeal a luaw which allows them such powers? We could be living as suspects for many years to come.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Have just found this blog, and it is well worth a read...

He also talks about a religious group in America, whose website is found at www DOT godhatesfags DOT com (I think you can probably guess the content), but unfortunatley, the filter thing on the computer system won't let it through, citing "hate/discrimination"... I could now go off on one about my rights to look at whatever I like, how it's an infringement of my liberties, but I really can't be arsed.

The Independent ran an excellent feature today about whether the world is better off now that Iraq has been 'liberated'... Well, I suppose it's only excellent because it provides some basis for my belief that the war was wrong. After all, before I read that I was against the war simply because I was a pinko limey asshole, probably with french relatives - at least now I can give evidence as to why it was such a fucking stupid thing to do...

Ariel Sharon and Mahmoud Abbas seem to be coming together slightly in the vague direction of some sort of agreement. However, even as the leaders come together, however slightly, people are still fighting, and people are still dying
There has been frequent combat in recent weeks in the southern town of Khan Yunis after mortar and rocket attacks, and a three-year-old girl was killed by Israeli fire to the north of it on Wednesday after two rockets were launched from the area.
that's from the Independent... Can any agreement last while that sort of thing still takes place? Of course not. The tit-for-tat attitude of both sides needs to be replaced by an agreement to give concessions on both sides. The Palestinians need to stop the campaign of bombing and firing mortars at the Israeli troops, and the Israeli troops need to stop shooting Palestinian children and bulldozing Palestinian homes. The pessimist in me can see no real end to this...

DO you ever get the feeling that you're just writing absolute bollocks? In a kind of vain effort just to write something...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

That goddamned frog (yeah, he's a crazy little guy)

The BBC appears to have tracked down the guy responsible for that annoying/compelling 'Crazy Frog' ringtone... Apparently, he's a Swede named Daniel Malmedahl, who recorded it when he was 17. It's an impression of his friends two-cylinder moped, and according to Daniel, when they made it, they were 'in tears' with laughter. It was another Swede, Erik Wernquist, who drew the actual cartoon, and is therefore responsible for the frog's excedingly strange genitalia...

I can't stand the thing to be honest, but fairplay to them both. They'll both get a cut of the £10 million that it has made Jamster, the ringtone company who launched it.

Auschwitz: It'll never happen again (all irony intended)

I heard someone talking about Auschwitz today. That's probably not really a surprise, as it is Holocaust Memorial Day, but what they said troubled me a little. They were saying that we should learn form these horrors, and never let it happen again. We should be shaken out of our apathy and start getting involved in stopping these hideous crimes. This was the lesson that was learnt from Auschwitz.

What a load of hypocritical bullshit.

Since 1945, and the dicovery of the Nazi death camps, there have been numerous instances of genocide. In Rwanda in 1994, 800,000 Tutsi tribesmen were murdered in the space of 100 days. In Bosnia, Serbs systematically tried to eradicate the Muslim community, resulting in 200,000 deaths. In Cambodia, 2 million people were killed. In all these cases, people have stood by and just let the murder take place.

Genocide is not only in the past. Right now, up to 600,000 black Sudanese people are in danger from the Arabic janjaweed millitia, who are supported by the Sudanese government. Estimates as to how many have died, with some saying 70,000, others saying 300,000: either way, the situation is sickening. And, the world is ignoring the situation. Government's sit back and watch it unfold. Because the west isn't directly affected, it isn't seen as a problem - hell, none of the guys involved is even white.

It is clear that something must be done, but no government has been bold enough to do anything, and the UN was scared off by threats of violence. And meanwhile, Bush plans to invade Iran. Does he not realise that in 2002, Sudan made $805 million from oil? And that revenue is soaring?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

However...

Just a thought about my previous post. British politics does not have to be boring. While the party/Parliamentary system may be uninspiring, there are still pressure groups out there who actively participate in the political process. That is what democratic politics should be about - it is people getting out and getting stuck in. Whatever you believe in, you should stand up for the cause and make your voice heard. There is a massive swell of political feeling in Britain at the moment - the Anti-War march and continued protest voting in by-elections showed this, and it spreads right through down to the Countryside Alliance and the Fox Hunting debate. I don't beleive such feeling has been present since the 70's - the intervening decades stifled participation politics with Thatcherite capitalism. It is a shame that the party system cannot tap into this (the Lib-Dems seem to be the only party making any real progress with this, picking up most of the anti-war vote). Pressure groups are going to become increasingly important in political life in Britain, and active protest will become more commonplace. And all that can only be a good thing.

Will add some links to various pressure group sites...

We need an opposition

Politics in the UK at the moment is boring. There is no real way of looking at it. And the reason must be because there is no effective opposition party. The Conservatives are dead ducks, and the Lib-Dems simply aren't there yet. This leaves us in a one-party system, and that party is so tightly controlled it is effectively a one-man system.

Whatever one thinks of Blair (war-mongering Thatcherite), one must admire his brilliance as a politician. While he did not mastermind the invention of 'New Labour' (that was Kinnock), he has grabbed the Labour party by the proverbial bollocks, and crushed any sign of rebellion - the tuition fees vote is a good example of his reigning in of any rogue memebers, although he did cut it a bit fine that time. Not only had he almost total control of his party, he had almost total control of Parliament. With the exception of IDS, the Conservatives have had capable politicians as their leaders. William Hague was too young and inexperienced, but he will almost certainly be back. Michael Howard even had Blair on the ropes when he first came to power. But each time, Blair has got the measure of the opposition leader.

The result is a system which has no spark. Everyone already knows that Labour will win the next election. Opinion polls say by about 120 seats, the bookies by about 80. This is going to lead to turnout which will be lower than 2001, where it was about 60%. This is bad for the democratic process, where the key element is voter participation.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no one in the Conservative party with any vision, or enough skill to lead the party in the right direction. 'The right direction' is difficult to define, but I think it breks down something like this:
a) They must prove that they can handle the economy - Black Wednesday and the ERM still weigh too heavily on the minds. Also, Labour have been too successful - the Conservatives need a downturn in the economy to help them.
b) They must move into the centre of the political spectrum again. All those lower middle class voters they lost to New Labour in 1997 aren't going to be tempted back by policies targetted at the traditional Tory voters (IDS stint as leader proves this - an entirely populist choice, and was a complete disaster). The Conservatives won't win using the Republican method of getting the core vote out. Instead, they must come more central, and wrestle back their policies from New Labour (Blair propsing a right-to-buy scheme? Of course he's a socialist...)
I don't want to see the Coservatives back in power, and I would never vote for them. All I want to see is an effective opposition party, which provides some sort of check on the Government.

In the meantime, we'll just have to see if the Labour party implodes over the Blair-Brown split (but somehow, I doubt it will).

Other brief news: the Government finally backed down over the Law Lord's ruling over the Belmarsh terror prisoners. A constitutional crisis averted, a victory for human rights, and one in the eye (unfortunate choice of words) for Nazi-Blunkett. Nice to know we can kick him when he's down... Independent article here...

Monday, January 24, 2005

So much to be cheerful about

The Independent's front page today picks up nicely on what I was writing about on Thursday (proof if ever it was needed that my influence stretches far beyond the four walls of this blog... and we're still all screwed.

The Iraqi elections will be held this Sunday (the 31st), and it's almost inevitable that they will end in violence, particularly after this declaration by Zarqawi. It feels like watching a train heading towards an inevitable crash: it cannot leave it's rails, the breaks are gone, and all we can do is sit back and watch the tragedy come to it's inevitable conclusion. The whole situation reads like a Classical tragedy - the (anti-) hero of the story (America) gets ideas far above its station, and believes itself to be almost Godlike (or at least God-chosen). It stretches too far, and now comes the inevitable destruction. The only variation, and the most tragic aspect of the situation, is that it is not America that suffers, but Iraq, and the Iraqi people.

And to further the misery that we should all really be feeling, Bush has absolutely no intention of stopping there. (There was an excellent comment by Gore Vidal in the Independent on Sunday, available here if one has subscribed.) Vidal thinks Iran is next; Hersh thinks Iran is next; Jack Straw has said Britain wants a negotiated solution to the Iran situation, so he clearly thinks Iran is next. I think its fairly safe to assume Iran will be invaded next. But out of all the 'outposts of tyranny' that Condoleeza Rice specified (details of which are available here), how do they decide which to invade first? What makes opression in Iran worse than the removal of human rights in Burma? Could it be the presence of the world's third highest oil reserves, or am I being a little too cynical there?

So, Monday 24th January really is the most miserable day of the year...


Saturday, January 22, 2005

Condoms and the Catholic church

Finally someone in the Catholic Church has taken a stand against the Pope's idiocy and declared that wearing condoms may actually be a good idea to prevent the pread of AIDS (Independent article here). To be honest though, it's been a long time coming, and in the mean time, people have been infected, and people have died because of the Church's position. The Independent reports that 150,000 Spanish people are infected with AIDS, but the figures are far worse for (predominantly Catholic) Latin America, where 1.7 million adults and children are infected with HIV or have AIDS. There is no doubt that the Catholic Church's refusal to accept condoms as a viable way of stopping the spread of AIDS. The Church's position is immoral and out of date, and I hope that when John Paul II finally pops his clogs, his replacement is someone with a bit more sense, and a little more in touch with the real world.

A little less Catholic perhaps?

Friday, January 21, 2005

We're all pretty screwed really

Just finished reading through 'The Independent' this morning, and there is a cheerful little article on the effects of global warming. I realise that this is just one in a series of reports about global warming, and how we'r all going to drown in a sea of melted ice caps, but that doesn't make it any less scary. I recently watched a documentary on Channel 4 about the effects of global warming, and it made for pretty worrying viewing, and drew the conclusion that the only thing that can really save us now is a conversion back to nuclear power.

The situation throws up a dilemma: on the one hand we can try to reverse global warming through less consumption and more renewable energy, which requires massive co-operation across the world, from big business and governments right down to the average SUV-driving Joe on the street; on the other, we can return to nuclear power, from which we have been running since Chernobyl in 1986, with good reason. The first option is, to be frank, unrealistic - greed and selfishness are too dominant a force in the mentality of too many people for this to be feasible. It would take a truly great leader to co-ordinate such an operation, and inevitably the US would have to lead the way (I'm not going to start on the quality of current American leadership). Unfortunately, the US has shown no inclination to ratify the Kyoto treaty, which is surely a demonstration of how self-serving they are (then again, I'm sure a country does not become a superpower by thinking about the welfare of others). Not only that, there is a widely held view that even if changes were made, it simply wouldn't be enough, especially with the massively expanding economies in India and China, who are expected to massively increase their CO2 consumption. So this leaves the second option of the dilemma: a return to nuclear power. Some of the most powerful images from the documentary were from a visit to Chernobyl. The place is truly a wasteland, with the town deserted, and the place overgrown with trees. It was described as a 'Soviet Pompeii', with everything preserved as the day it was left. The scale of the disaster was massive (an excellent site can be found here for a few statistics), and there it is almost inevitable that such a disaster will happen again at some point (in fact, it almost did), but the conclusion that the presenter came to, and I think I have to go along with him, is that it is the only real option we have to prevent the 'global Somalia' from becoming a reality.

The image of trees growing through concrete in the abandonned town near the power plant was a powerful one, as it threw the whole global warming issure into perspective. Global warming is simply nature trying to accomodate the pressures that humans are putting on it. In a series of checks and balances, global warming is simply the balance to our unsustainable society. And we must remember that long after we're gone, the earth will still be here: we are merely contingent beings with delusional ideas of grandeur and longevity. It is our short-sightedness and inability to see this that causes us to live in such an unsustainable way in the first place.

In other news, George W Bush was inaugurated as the President of the United States of America yesterday.

Fuck.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Righty ho... this blogging malarky...

You must forgive me if this post seems a little tetchy, nut it is infact the second time I've had to write this. Always a shame to get a new realtionship off on a bad foot, but these things can't be helped. Hopefully 'Blogspot' and I can iron out our differences and move on.

Anyway, I'll now try and regurgitate everything that I wrote the first time round...

What's wrong with jumping on a bandwaggon, eh? When in Rome, blog as the Romans do... If you can't beat 'em, blog 'em... and all that jazz...

I must confess to this blog being an entirely self glorifying project. I fully intend to build up a massive readership (probably pulling in the punters by slipping in the odd 'xxx pics hardcore' sort of phrase every now and then... oh what an anti-climax that would be for those surfers to find this instead) of devoted followers, who hang on my every post, and be able to watch as my powerful, contentious, cutting writing stirs up debate across the globe. Otherwise, I'll prbably abandon it after a week or so (like my ill-fated website, started when I was 12, traces of which can still be found if you search for the right things on Google) and it'll become just another abandonned blog, stuck in some lonely corner of the internet. There must be millions of those: lonely, unloved, out of date blogs, whose last post is dated July 2002, and reads 'can't be arsed to write tonight, will do it tomorrow'... There's probably a quick charity buck to be made there...

I must say, all that seemed much better the first time round... ah well...

Anyway, we'll see how this thing goes; you never know, this could be the start of something beautiful.