tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-144224352015-03-03T16:16:46.190+00:00ObsoleteSomehow still going leftism from who knows where. || "We live in a world ruled by fictions of every kind - mass-merchandizing, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer's task is to invent the reality." -- JG Ballard.septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.comBlogger3714125tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-52596544553019506412015-03-02T22:16:00.001+00:002015-03-02T22:16:32.418+00:00Of Savile and Emwazi: the "monsters" in our midst.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">There are times when it's difficult to judge how flippant, snarky and blase to be about the everyday horrors of the news.&nbsp; Comments which to a friend are made in the context of a shared antipathy to the routine stupidity of the media look awful when shorn of it, as they can on a blog to someone unfamiliar with its general style.&nbsp; Ripping on coverage or the often self-appointed voices of the voiceless can easily fall into being criticism of those who are seeking justice, or most certainly ends up looking that way.<br /><br />With that in mind, I honestly can't think of a few days of media coverage so utterly lacking in apparent wider awareness as the ones we've just been through.&nbsp; It's a toss-up as to the most evil person to have ever lived: is it Jimmy Savile, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/feb/26/jimmy-savile-abuse-stoke-mandeville-hospital-inquiry">apparently the most prolific and depraved</a> <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31637937">sex offender of all time</a>, and whom despite his proclivities being so widely known, whether by hospital staff, journalists who couldn't get their exposes past lawyers or just through rumours, managed to escape justice? Or is it "Jihadi John" (the last time I am ever going to refer to him as such), <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/mar/02/who-is-mohammed-emwazi-from-lovely-boy-to-islamic-state-executioner">aka Mohammed Emwazi</a>, Islamic State's propaganda executioner de jour, at last unmasked so we can know every last detail of his utterly banal life and attempt to pinpoint just when it was he decided he wanted to behead aid workers for a living as <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/01/mohammed-emwazi-best-employee-we-ever-had-former-boss-kuwaiti-it-firm">opposed to continue his career in IT</a>?<br /><br />The weight of evidence against Savile being an abuser at places <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31640318">where he was in a position of authority</a> is overwhelming, as proved by the report into his activities at Stoke Mandeville hospital.&nbsp; What has most certainly not been proved is that he acted the same way wherever he went, <a href="http://annaraccoon.com/2015/02/27/wheres-the-beef-mum-more-savile-revelations/">as documented by Anna Raccoon bothering to read</a> <a href="http://annaraccoon.com/2014/06/26/eyeball-eyewash-the-yewtree-allegations/">all the other reports produced</a> <a href="http://annaraccoon.com/2014/06/27/mortuary-mendacity-the-yewtree-allegations-continued/">by various NHS trusts</a>, <a href="http://annaraccoon.com/2014/07/07/truly-awful-dreadful-the-yewtree-allegations-continued/">and which the media</a> <a href="http://annaraccoon.com/2014/07/08/abuse-of-nhs-resources-the-yewtree-allegations-continued/">have bunched togethe</a>r as being similarly damning.&nbsp; Even taking into consideration how faulty memory is, not least when the events under investigation took place anything up to 50 years ago, the lack of almost anything turned up by the various people behind the reports suggests Savile was a very ordinary sex offender, just one given extraordinary opportunities by his fame, charity work and patronage by politicians and royals among other powerful figures.&nbsp; He attacked the vulnerable when he was certain of not being caught, or when he knew others would cover for him, in the exact same way as the vast majority of sex offenders have and always will.<br /><br />Clearly though such findings aren't what's required when Savile has been worked up to be the monster to end all monsters.&nbsp; The Stoke Mandeville report shamefully reproduces the rumours about Savile not just being content with the living but also going after the dead, as obviously such a man with access to the mortuary couldn't have a simple fascination with death as opposed to wanting something else.&nbsp; His reported <a href="http://www.channel4.com/news/how-jimmy-savile-revealed-all-in-the-psychiatrists-chair">time spent with his mother's corpse</a> could similarly only be about one thing.&nbsp; The Guardian, in what has to be<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/26/guardian-view-jimmy-savile-oblivion-too-good-for-him"> one of the most ridiculous editorials</a> the paper has ever published, reflects it is "difficult to comprehend the existence of such a completely unrestrained id".&nbsp; Well yes, it might be if half of what has been written or claimed is true, as opposed to the febrile imaginations of journalists taking the already shocking and deciding the ante has to be upped.<br /><br />And so the editorial goes on, in what can be taken as being the general tenor of much of the coverage.&nbsp; The writer manages to weave in the exhumation of the judges who condemned Charles the II's father to death, obviously primitive behaviour to us now "but the savage, theatrical desecration captures and discharges something of the rage that Savile’s wickedness inspires today", before moving on to mention Pol Pot, who oblivion is also too good for.&nbsp; One way of addressing the need for closure or something like it robbed of us by Savile's death could be a "public ceremony of what used to be called commination, a ritual expression of public condemnation and disgust".&nbsp; Or we could just let the nation's hacks carry on as they have been and leave it at that.<br /><br />From a larger than life monster we move to one previously identifiable only by his gravelly London accent.&nbsp; If making Savile out to be evil incarnate is daft or rather distraction, when no one seems to really want to inquire into how it was Margaret Thatcher and Prince Charles were taken in by his charms, especially curious when <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/11/there-isnt-whitewash-at-home-office.html">the likes of Leon Brittan are cast to the dogs without a scintilla</a> of evidence being presented against them, then the frotting of Emwazi, as that's what it's been, has been jaw dropping in its stupidity.&nbsp; In the space of four days nearly every aspect of Emwazi's life prior to his joining Islamic State has been set out, no detail being too slight to be ignored.&nbsp; He went to school with Tulisa, didn't have any social media accounts, worked in Kuwait where he was a model employee, was a "beautiful man", had a collision with a goal post, played Duke Nukem, joined a gang, was bullied, had bad breath, "borderline stalked" a girl he was supposedly infatuated with, used both drink and drugs, was "painfully shy", has a Chelsea tattoo on the back of his neck, was allegedly choked by an MI5 officer, played five-a-side football, got a second from the University of Westminster, and took anger management courses as a teenager.<br /><br />That I've only made one of the above things up is testament to how unrestrained by any notion of well, sanity the detailing of Emwazi's past has been.&nbsp; Some of it has no doubt been prompted by how up till now he has been the face of Islamic State, and the obvious shock that comes from someone who grew up in Britain killing on camera out of political-cum-religious motivation, but all the same.&nbsp; Emwazi is not the Islamic State; he most probably is not even above a middle ranking position in the organisation; he's a propaganda prop, utterly disposable, and that's it.&nbsp; He's a tool (in more ways that one), just as the cadres of extremist organisations in the past have carried out the orders of their leaders.&nbsp; Making him out to be something more is to fall completely into the gaping trap of turning him into a hero for bedroom jihadis and other fellow travellers, which is of course precisely what IS wants.&nbsp; It's why he was <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/islamic-state-and-glamour-of-war.html">the centrepoint of the mass beheading of Syrian officers</a>, with other foreign fighters at his side, why the camera zoomed on his face as he carried out the act.&nbsp; What the media hasn't reported is the fear in those eyes, instead of the defiance and belligerence they were meant to convey.<br /><br />There is next to no need to understand how he came to be Islamic State's chief prop.&nbsp; Perhaps there's something in <a href="http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jihadi-john-jilted-high-school-5251392">the stories of his time at school</a>, but equally perhaps there's not.&nbsp; The important facts are the all too familiar ones: <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/27/emwazi-and-the-london-schoolmates-who-became-militant-jihadis">he was part of a wider group of extremists</a> who no doubt reinforced each other's beliefs; they were known to the security services; <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2973823/I-m-dead-man-walking-Jihadi-John-tells-paranoia-shadowed-MI5-went-Syria-bombshell-email-Mail-Sunday.html">they had some contact with him</a>; he ended up going to Syria.&nbsp; Exactly how he came to be radicalised is of slight interest, but only slight.&nbsp; Maybe it somewhat happened at university, perhaps he was already going down that path.&nbsp; Perhaps the bull in a china shop actions of MI5 had some influence on his decisions, perhaps they didn't.&nbsp; I<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/26/mi5-mohammed-emwazi-serious-questions">f there are questions deserving answers</a>, it's on just how serious MI5 is when it suggests to those it encounters they become informants, as it does seem to have been offered to almost every individual who has subsequently launched an attack.&nbsp; Does it ever work?&nbsp; How does MI5 know it isn't being played?&nbsp; Has it really, honestly, prevented attacks?<br /><br />All too predictably with the election coming, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/01/government-row-over-limiting-free-speech-on-university-campuses">much hay is being made by all parties</a> over just who can best protect the nation from such people.&nbsp; The Tories say they know better than universities who should and shouldn't be allowed to speak on campus, the Lib Dems say no, they do, and Labour says control orders should be brought back, as they were just as big a success as TPIMs.&nbsp; The reality is no one has the first fucking idea on how we can stop more Emwazis, only they're a massive threat and something ought to be done.&nbsp; Instead it's easier to detail Emwazi's life up to now in much the same vein as a MTV "behind the music" docu would, only in this instance everyone's looking "behind the terror".&nbsp; Because it couldn't be there just isn't anything to find, could it?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-2392451624283450982015-02-27T13:41:00.002+00:002015-02-27T13:41:53.713+00:00They rave us.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/CEwIubGGHEU" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/x_lUKm0DZBE" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-62295313668232402512015-02-26T22:35:00.000+00:002015-02-26T22:35:08.857+00:00The immigration monster strikes again.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">You can't help but admire the Tories' hugely successful efforts to increase net migration.&nbsp; There was the campaign <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/01/britain-its-shit.html">abroad stressing just how wonderful the United Kingdom is</a>, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-28537663">the repeated loosening of the rules on claiming benefits</a>, despite there not being the slightest evidence <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/14/benefit-tourism-facts-european-commission-report">a country's welfare system was a pull factor</a>, and, not unrelated, we've also seen the rise in the polls of the single issue EU-OK! party.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/26/net-migration-to-uk-higher-than-when-coalition-took-office">The government hasn't quite reached its ultimate target of 300,000</a>, no ifs, no buts, it must be noted.&nbsp; Still, 298,000 couldn't be much closer.&nbsp; Considering the miserable failure to double the deficit in a single term, to all but achieve his aim on immigration is a major fillip going into the election for David Cameron.<br /><br />Yep, we are once again in bizarro world.&nbsp; There was never the slightest chance of getting net migration down to the tens of thousands as Cameron so foolishly promised, but it looked for a time at least as though the numbers would come down enough for some sort of progress to be claimed.&nbsp; For the figure going into the election to be 50,000 above the number which prompted Cameron to make his pledge is little short of fantastic.&nbsp; Indeed, you'd need a heart of stone not to laugh, if it wasn't for how immigration has long since just become another issue to beat politicians as a whole over, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/12/jolly-old-saint-nige-is-laughing-yet.html">transforming unpopular populist bores into salt of the earth sages</a> who can be trusted to mean what they say.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2015/feb/26/nick-cleggs-call-clegg-phone-in-politics-live-blog#block-54eef722e4b0c60f7be311ba">As plenty of Tory sympathisers have been quick to say</a>, what the increase really shows is that compared to much of Europe the UK economy has recovered faster, except they naturally included the words long, term and plan, when there has never been any such thing.&nbsp; And had the main parties and most commentators not decided <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/12/thing-of-year-immigration-monster.html">that it was better to indulge the tabloids and public opinion</a> by saying it was no longer enough to make the case for continued immigration on economic grounds, instead of doing so while promising to deal more effectively with the pressures on local services in the areas most affected, <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/the-coalition-governments-record-on-immigration/">with the impact of the cuts naturally having the exact opposite effect</a>, they might now not be in a mess entirely of their own making.<br /><br />Those with memories longer than your proverbial goldfish might recall <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/11/the-cycle-continues.html">much of the immigration panic of 2013 </a>was centred around our Romanian and Bulgarian friends, whom on 1st of January 2014 would have unfettered access to our glorious shores.&nbsp; Estimates varied from every single person currently in the two countries emigrating to Britain to slightly more sensible guesses.&nbsp; To give the doommongers some credit, <a href="http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/migration1/migration-statistics-quarterly-report/february-2015/stb-msqr-feb-2015.html">the numbers from the two countries have indeed gone up on the 2013 figures</a>, after the first estimate suggested there might have been a fall.&nbsp; 37,000 came, which isn't a number to be sniffed at considering the 298,000 overall net figure.&nbsp; This is however an increase of only 13,000 on the previous year, when those wishing to work here had to apply for work permits.&nbsp; A statistically significant one, as the ONS says, but hardly the end of the UK as we know it.&nbsp; Nigel Farage can rest assured he's unlikely to be getting any new and unwelcome neighbours.<br /><br />Let's not kid ourselves here, though.&nbsp; There's just the one stat that will be seen and it's the headline figure.&nbsp; How much it really matters is open to question, considering poll after poll suggests people tend to see things in their local area as having not been majorly affected, if at all, as most haven't, while by contrast elsewhere no one speaks English and something has to be done.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/politics/5331413/sun-yougov-poll-reveals-brits-want-halt-to-immigration-from-eu.html">Draw a line in the sand, the Sun says</a>, and the fact the Tories didn't have immigration in their 6 key election themes was proof Cameron didn't want to win the election.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/26/tories-immigration-headache-david-cameron-ukip">If we're to believe Matthew d'Ancona</a> the reason the prime minister's so frit of the debates is he doesn't want to give Farage a platform.&nbsp; Someone with just a bit more courage ought to take it upon themselves to inform Dave that the very moment he came up with his ridiculous pledge he gave UKIP the kind of platform they had dreamed of for years.&nbsp; You can't control immigration while you're in the EU, Nige repeats, and it's true, you can't put a cap on the numbers.<br /><br />What you can do is make a case for exactly why a cap isn't necessary provided the resources are in place to deal with any problems unexpected surges will have temporarily.&nbsp; What you can do is try and provide enough housing for everyone, enough jobs, introduce regulations that stop the unscrupulous from exploiting casual labour and enforce the payment of a living, as opposed to poverty wage.&nbsp; You can make the point that a real sign of strength, both economically and culturally is the number of people from outside who want to live in a particular country.&nbsp; What you don't is encourage the belief that it's all about an over generous welfare system when it's not, that despite previous waves of migrants being welcomed and celebrated for their achievements it's now time to say sorry, we're full when you can't, and then, finally facing that reality, decide it's time to make immigration <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/when-presenting-failure-as-success-works.html">the key factor in the debate about the EU when that's precisely what the headbangers in your party</a> and the antediluvians in UKIP want to make it.<br /><br />Considering the number of mistakes Cameron and the Tories have made, and when you factor in Andy Coulson, Libya, Syria, the bedroom tax and continuing to humour Iain Duncan Smith amongst others there's plenty to go round, the immigration target has to be the biggest.&nbsp; It's not as though it's his only broken promise, that little one about eliminating the structural deficit in a single parliament also jutting out.&nbsp; As a major cause of cynicism and anger it must be right up there, and yet rather than even at this late moment decide it's time to put a stop to such idiocy and level with a public that could still respect them for doing so, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/26/the-failure-of-david-camerons-migration-policy-has-been-spectacular">politicians look set to put in place further targets</a> making them a hostage to fortune.&nbsp; It seems they'd rather see the rise of blowhards and buffoons than make a case for the national interest, something they're more than prepared to fall back on when it comes to taking part in crazy foreign adventures.&nbsp; Politics at times just doesn't make any damn sense.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-65105723576498571362015-02-25T23:52:00.000+00:002015-02-25T23:54:58.656+00:00Yes, Islamic State is Islamic. No, it isn't representative, and here's one way to counteract its propaganda.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://flyingrodent.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/them-darned-pesky-interfering-nazis.html">This has been the daft and besides the point debate</a> of the past week: <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/">is the Islamic State like, Islamic?</a> The clue is there in the name people, and if you needed a fatuous piece in the Atlantic which quotes Anjem Choudary as though he's an authority on such matters to bring that home then you might not have been paying attention.<br />&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Yes, the Islamic State is Islamic.&nbsp; It's Islamic in a similar way to how <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pat_Robertson">Pat Robertson</a>, <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/meet-stephen-green-the-rightwing-christian-voice-leader-who-went-on-a-homophobic-tirade-against-stephen-fry-and-benedict-cumberbatch-10039270.html">Stephen Green</a> and Jehovah's Witnesses are Christians, only with less door knocking in the case of the latter and a slightly more intense hatred of gays.&nbsp; The people saying IS are not Muslims are nonetheless right in the sense they couldn't be more removed from your average Sunni Muslim, let alone from the Shia or Sufi traditions.&nbsp; IS frankly take all the fun out of fundamentalism, as it's difficult to laugh at them in the same way as the cretins in Northern Ireland <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31596699">desperately trying to cling on to discrimination</a>, when they're enslaving women and so insistent on slicing off the heads of anyone looking at them askance.<br /><br />You can understand the reticence: if we accept Islamic State is Islamic, doesn't that make this a war on Islam?&nbsp; Won't it encourage idiots to see Muslims in general as the problem rather than the 0.01% who adhere to this particular brand of Islam, the violently intolerant and hateful variety of the Salafi Wahhabi strand?&nbsp; And doesn't this make a mockery of the whole Islam is peace stuff we hear so often?&nbsp; Well, no; they were anyway; and no, not really.&nbsp; The first two questions sort of meld into one, as jihadists depict everything as a war against Islam, everyone against them as crusaders and so on, the same way as people who just hate Muslims because they're brown and not white and over here are delighted by the likes of Choudary doing their work for them.&nbsp; As for Islam being the religion of peace, every religion has its violent past, its extremists and fundamentalists, its martyrs and heretics.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18395788">Even a Buddhist sect in Burma is currently doing its level best</a> to persecute the tiny number of Muslims there.&nbsp; Yes, an extreme minority of Muslims with the veneer of theological backing would really quite like to bring about the apocalypse and they currently control a fair swath of Iraq and Syria.&nbsp; This is though to give the fighters rather than the ideologues more credit than they deserve; they're just there for the killing, to imagine themselves as historical warriors and treat the people they're living among like dirt.<br /><br />How then do we react <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/02/dont-pity-them-i-cant-even-begin-to.html">when three London school girls decide they want to join up with such people</a>?&nbsp; To call some of the reaction shallow is to do injustice to paddling pools, and not just from those <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11429775/Schoolgirls-joining-Islamic-State-are-not-victims.-Stop-pitying-them.html">who instantly wrote the girls off</a>.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/24/muslim-girls-isis-teenage-east-london">Humaira Patel in the Graun suggests</a> "something beyond religion is also playing a part" and she's undoubtedly right.&nbsp; Almost certainly not right is her claim of it being down to everything being against these girls, being female, being Muslim, being victims of Islamophobia, living in the east end, and so on and so forth.&nbsp; There's being alienated, getting angry about discrimination and then deciding joining up with an essentially supremacist group in a war-torn country provides the answers to those problems.<br /><br />Nikita Malik from the Quill.i.am Foundation (as only I call it) <a href="http://leftfootforward.org/2015/02/gone-girls-why-british-teenagers-are-attracted-to-islamic-state/">meanwhile takes to Left Foot Forward</a> and refers to push and pull factors.&nbsp; More convincing are the push factors, the belief of not fitting in, of an interpretation of religion not shared by parents or friends.&nbsp; Far less are the pull factors, when Islamic State's propaganda is relatively clear about what is expected of women: hardly any will be fighters, and they instead are to be wives to fighter husbands.&nbsp; Aqsa Mohammed and others alleged to have played a role in recruiting other women have made no bones about their lives in Syria <a href="http://fa-tubalilghuraba.tumblr.com/post/87676810144/diary-of-a-muhajirah-2">and the mundane, behold to men reality</a>.&nbsp; If this can really be considered a pull factor, as pointed out on Monday, there are serious questions to be asked concerning just what sort of expectations of life these girls had to begin with.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/24/syria-bound-schoolgirls-arent-jihadi-devil-women-theyre-vulnerable-children">Nosheen Iqbal for her part makes a worthy intervention</a> somewhat undermined by making it all about sex.&nbsp; The comparison with grooming is legitimate up to a point, only it falls down again on the whole propaganda hiding the reality front.&nbsp; There's not many 16-year-old girls who in their heart of hearts are yearning to get married for a start, let alone to someone they've never met and might find they have nothing in common with other than a world view.&nbsp; This said, the emphasis she places on their age and the stupidity that so often goes hand in hand with being a teenager deserves repeating, and it's also the case they are undoubtedly being judged more harshly precisely because of their sex.&nbsp; We expect teenage boys to get into trouble, and Islamic State is nothing if not teenage in so many ways: the belief of everything being against you, the ridiculous level of self-importance, the absurd claims of the next stop being Europe that only those both amazingly ignorant and arrogant could make with a straight face.&nbsp; Girls though should be more sensible, regardless of being susceptible to the exact same pressures and influences.&nbsp; They could well be already regretting their decision, we just have no way of knowing.<br /><br />Which brings us finally to Shiraz Maher, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/25/britons-isis-tower-hamlets-teenagers-terrorism">who makes an important point</a> but probably not in the way he intended.&nbsp; Repeating an argument he's made previously <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/the-security-industrial-continues-to.html">about the callousness of allowing jihadis to go out to Syria</a>, without explaining how we're meant to stop the most determined when as we've seen three schoolgirls can manage it, he refers to recently imprisoned Imran Khawaja, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/06/british-jihadi-fled-syria-training-camp-jailed-12-years-imran-khawaja">who faked his own death in Syria in an effort </a>to return home without being picked up.&nbsp; Khawaja it seems "couldn't hack it" in Syria any longer, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/the-biggest-scam-of-modern-era.html">just as Mashudur Choudary couldn't</a>.&nbsp; The policy of prosecuting <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/project-mayhem-urges-you-to-stay-safe.html">some of those who return and not others</a>, which has to be a policy considering the numbers we're told have been and since returned without facing court, doesn't make a lot of sense.&nbsp; If there's one point of the Atlantic piece worth dwelling on, it's that those who have returned are considered "dropouts", and the vast majority are not likely to pose any sort of threat.&nbsp; Prosecution then achieves precisely nothing. It certainly doesn't act as a deterrent when it will just encourage those who do go to stay if they know a prison sentence awaits should they decide they've made a mistake.&nbsp; At the same time, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/islamic-state-and-glamour-of-war.html">as argued before</a>, not letting those who want to go amplifies the risk at home.<br /><br />If anything, those who do return could play the exact role needed to discourage others from making the trip: as much as Islamic State doesn't hide the reality of life under it, there's nothing like the testimony of someone who believed they were acting out of their duty as a Muslim to dispel the wider fantasies those disposed to such thinking may have.&nbsp; Little can be done for Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum now, but it may well take a change in thinking on the part of us "kuffar" to prevent others from following their path.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-85774205884527735922015-02-24T21:13:00.002+00:002015-02-24T21:13:56.797+00:00The politicians we deserve.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">You know, part of me really wants to <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/investigations/11411007/Jack-Straw-and-Sir-Malcolm-Rifkind-in-latest-cash-for-access-scandal.html">look at the latest cash for access scandal</a>, or whatever it is you want to call it, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/23/big-beasts-who-could-be-brought-down-by-new-cash-for-access-scandal">see the MPs ensnared</a>, indulge in a bit of schadenfreude and leave it at that.&nbsp; Couldn't have happened to a nicer couple of politicians, barring Nadine Dorries, John Hemming or a whole load of others you could name.&nbsp; Good old "Rockets" Rifkind, who made a career out confusing people into thinking his innate pomposity was gravitas, and had never seemed happier <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/11/the-illusion-of-oversight.html">than as chairman of the government's committee</a> <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/11/project-mayhem-urges-you-to-stay-safe.html">for whitewashing the intelligence agencies</a>.&nbsp; As for Jack Straw, what more is there to be said for <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/12/look-past-horror.html">the torture authorising (allegedly)</a>, prison building, dictator fawning war criminal?&nbsp; Well plenty, but let's not extend ourselves too much.<br /><br />Except the whole thing's a bit well, underwhelming, isn't it?&nbsp; If you thought the previous sting by the same people was lacking in evidence of any wrongdoing as opposed to the suggestion there could be in the future, which memorably <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2010/03/intensely-relaxed-about-getting-filthy.html">saw Stephen Byers describe himself as a "cab for hire"</a>, this one's even less convincing.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/on-demand/60450-001?intcmp=video_link:bip_ondemand:carousel">Dispatches could barely fill its half-hour time slo</a>t with the secret recordings of Rifkind n' Straw, and instead went to the expense of showing what both look like in cartoon form, presumably to eat up some time.&nbsp; As previously, it was more they looked dodgy as filmed by hidden cameras, as most people will shot at an angle, something Newsnight dared to suggest, than anything else.&nbsp; Then we heard the familiar boasts and exaggerations, which an awful lot of people will make if there's the possibility of some lucrative work in the offing.&nbsp; Straw had "gone under the radar" to a former Ukrainian prime minister for a client, using a mixture of "charm and menace", neither of which are qualities you'd normally associate with the Blackburn MP.<br /><br />Rifkind was even more effusive.&nbsp; You'd be surprised how "much free time" he has, despite his parliamentary commitments, and in any case, he considers himself self-employed rather than, err, a public servant.&nbsp; Not apparently realising the seriousness of having seen pound signs before his eyes, he then went <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/investigations/11429070/MPs-cant-live-on-60k-a-year-says-Sir-Malcolm-Rifkind.html">on the Today programme and informed the listeners of BBC Radio Middle Class</a> you can't expect people of his calibre to get by on a piffling £67,000 a year.&nbsp; Most probably nodded sagely and then switched over to Grimmy.<br /><br />"Rockets" has since <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/24/sir-malcolm-rifkinds-resignation-statements-full-text">claimed he's been terribly stitched up</a>, and that he wouldn't for a moment have dreamed of lobbying on behalf of a Chinese firm in his capacity as an MP.&nbsp; Instead his suggestion of contacting ministers without revealing his motives was to be done in a private capacity, one would have to assume, or at least would have been his explanation to the standards commission, s<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/24/sir-malcolm-rifkind-sealed-fate-shortly-after-cash-for-access-allegations-made">ince rendered fairly academic by his decision to stand down at the election</a>.&nbsp; Straw has long since announced his "retirement", although he clearly believed he was due to receive a peerage, as he would be able to help "even more" as a Lord.&nbsp; There is perhaps a more prima facie case of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/23/cash-for-access-allegations-jack-straw-malcolm-rifkind">breaking the rules for Straw in that he hosted the meetings in his parliamentary office</a>, but hardly the most serious when compared to, ooh, signing off on the rendition of people back to Gaddafi's torture dungeons.<br /><br />It's never so much the details in these exposes though as it is the sheer fact MPs have been caught looking comprised at all.&nbsp; It just invites the "snouts in the trough" and "all the same" lines we've heard beyond the point of tedium.&nbsp; It's also distinctly odd that we have such double standards over individual MPs' interests as opposed to those of their parties: conferences barring the Lib Dems' long since ceased being about policy and instead became an opportunity for a week of lobbying.&nbsp; The Conservatives for their part advertise how they can be influenced, as pointed out before: <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544318/Revealed-The-43m-paid-elite-group-donors-access-Tories-including-David-Cameron.html">just the £50,000 "donation" gets you access to the Leader's Group</a>, where you can schmooze with Cameron and Osborne of an evening a couple of times a year.&nbsp; Just the other week they were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/10/tory-donors-bid-shoe-shopping-theresa-may-10km-run-ids">auctioning off "prizes" such as going for a run with Iain Duncan Smith</a>, shoe-shopping with Theresa May, or a back-scuttle in a bus stop with Boris, as though such activities would be the only subject up for discussion.&nbsp; Everyone points and laughs for a day or so, a few say how corrupt it all is, and then it's back to normal.<br /><br />Only as we're so close to the election Labour's seized on the idea of trying to get an advantage where there almost certainly isn't one.&nbsp; Miliband's suggestion of imposing a cap on earnings <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/23/labour-plan-to-curb-mps-outside-work-could-affect-90-parliamentarians">from outside interests to 10 or 15% of an MP's salary</a> seems to be neither one thing or the other: it won't put an end to the claims of MPs' being bought, while it could have the perverse effect of stopping MPs from being able to work as barristers, GPs, or carrying on running a family business as some currently do.&nbsp; As suspect and self-serving as the yelps from those extremely well renumerated for directorships and "advice" to businesses are, the last thing we want is a further professionalising of politics when that other cry is MPs don't have a clue as they've never had an ordinary job.<br /><br />It's easy to be cynical about politics, as this blog proves on a daily basis.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.parliament.uk/about/mps-and-lords/members/pay-mps/">£67,000 a year for working a number of hours broadly</a> comparable to that of a teacher is more than a decent wage, not far off 3 times the national average.&nbsp; Or at least it seems that way on the surface.&nbsp; Factor in constituency work though, the arcane Commons practices <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05234h3/inside-the-commons-1-lifting-the-lid">currently being spotlighted in the BBC2 series</a>, the way so many seem to think the absolute worst of their representatives, not always wrongly, and how in the current media environment you are essentially never off duty as it were, your every move and comment there to be scrutinised, filmed and tweeted, and you'd have to be either a masochist or a true believer in the idea of public service to want to be an MP.<br /><br />This isn't of course to excuse Rifkind or Straw, god forbid, who proved to be just as gullible and potentially grasping as plenty of other mortals, but the last thing needed is further restrictions on individuals when the entire system of political funding is so open to abuse. Hence why it's possible something akin to Miliband's proposal could yet become law while all sides will continue to prevent the reform of party funding.&nbsp; Frankly, we often get the politicians we deserve.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-28051946467685372682015-02-23T23:43:00.001+00:002015-02-23T23:43:46.120+00:00Don't pity them? I can't even begin to understand them.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Too much can at times be drawn from something depicting the ordinary which subsequently becomes extraordinary in the light of subsequent events.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/schools-reaction-syria-bound-schoolgirls-amira-abase-shamina-begum-kadiza-sultana">The CCTV grabs of Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/police-interviewed-missing-teenagers-december-london-school">at Gatwick airport on their way to board a flight</a> to Turkey show three young and fashionable women.&nbsp; The clothes they're wearing give absolutely nothing away, or perhaps they do; maybe the entire point was not to look overtly religious.&nbsp; Sultana is not so much as wearing the hijab, and yet she's apparently on her way to a place where she'll be <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/17/isis-orders-women-iraq-syria-veils-gloves">required to wear the full veil most</a>, if not all of the time.&nbsp; To judge entirely by the two grainy images given to the media, only Begum looks even vaguely anxious, pensive at the journey they're setting out on.<br /><br />There is, all but needless to say, little to add to what's been reported so far on the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/22/uk-counter-terror-officials-criticised-syria-bound-london-schoolgirls">apparent decision by the three teenagers to go to Syria, seemingly to join Islamic State</a>, other than speculation.&nbsp; Everyone is assuming they've gone to become "jihadi brides", as the Mail tastelessly but at the same time probably accurately has put it.&nbsp; It certainly seems doubtful in the extreme they really would have gone in an attempt to persuade their friend who left back in December to return home, not least because of everything that could go wrong.&nbsp; At the same time, I at least cannot even begin to understand what possible attraction there could be for a 16-year-old girl to want to go and live in Syria at all, let alone in Raqqa, Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital and their most likely destination.<br /><br />You can at least begin to fathom why a young man of about that age might want to do so, radicalised or not.&nbsp; Islamic State has done its utmost to mostly presently the conflict as one not just of religious duty where the rewards outweigh the sacrifices, some of whom are travelling with the exact intention of making the biggest one possible, but of fun and excitement, with spiritual discovery thrown in.&nbsp; Brought up on a diet of braindead action flicks, superhero movies and vacuous yet satisfying video games, <a href="http://pando.com/2014/10/24/the-war-nerd-how-do-you-deal-with-wannabe-jihadis-an-upgrade-to-business-class/">why not go where the real action is and live your life, away from the kuffar</a>?&nbsp; Hell, <a href="http://www.rferl.org/content/matchmaking-marriage-islamic-state-style/26774719.html">IS will even do their best to get you a wife</a>, and if there aren't fellow Western girls available, you can have your pick from any number of Syrian or Iraqi women, so long as you can get over how they're probably just making themselves available to keep their family alive, <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/isis-release-questions-and-answers-pamphlet-how-treat-female-slaves-290511">if they're not an outright slave</a>.&nbsp; Then again, such recruits might not even be shaving yet, so such thoughts are probably not high on their list.<br /><br />All of which just brings us back to what possible kind of mindset these very young women are in.&nbsp; It's not as though Islamic State hides <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/05/jihadist-girl-marry-liberation-failed-islamic-state">what it expects of women under their yoke</a>: if they must be seen, it's concealed by the veil, and a male guardian has to be present should they want to go much further than beyond their doorstep.&nbsp; Western recruits are to be wives to their fighting husbands, do everyday household chores, look after children, make themselves available to their husband should he be home and not away fighting, and that's about it.&nbsp; To most 16-year-old girls, even pious, dare it be said slightly repressed ones, bearing in mind most 16-year-old girls tend to be 20x more mature than their male counterparts, it would come across as a vision of hell.&nbsp; And yet not only are some deciding this is the life for them, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/09/02/the-british-jihadi-janes-who-have-left-to-fight-with-islamic-state_n_5752804.html">they go out of their way to encourage others to come</a> and join them.<br /><br />Reading the words of Aqsa Mahmood, aka Umm Layth, fingered by some as being potentially responsible for convincing the girls to make the journey is to be transported into her fantasy world.&nbsp; To join Islamic State <a href="http://fa-tubalilghuraba.tumblr.com/post/97208872879/diary-of-a-muhajirah-3">is comparable to the journey made by Muhammad</a> and his followers from Mecca to Medina, and indeed, those who have gone call themselves hijrah in the same fashion.&nbsp; Her last post on her Tumblr blog, from the 22nd of last month, explicitly counsels women to know <a href="http://fa-tubalilghuraba.tumblr.com/post/108838886229/diary-of-a-muhajirah-4">their rights in the event of their husband being killed</a>, or "martyred".&nbsp; She reassures anyone reading that parents of some of the women have despite <a href="http://fa-tubalilghuraba.tumblr.com/post/87676810144/diary-of-a-muhajirah-2">everything come to accept what they've done</a>, have even visited themselves, and not to take any notice of those calling it a "sexual jihad".<br /><br />Making assumptions is a mug's game, and yet it's all we have in cases like this.&nbsp; You can explain it as brainwashing, as some have, as though you can take a 16-year-old from London and in the space of two months convince them to go and live in a war zone.&nbsp; You can blame the security services, as if they're meant to put every single person who contacts a known Islamic State propagandist on a no fly list.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/police-interviewed-missing-teenagers-december-london-school">You can point at the airport authorities</a>, for not looking down the flight lists and treating young women flying to Turkey with suspicion.&nbsp; You can wonder exactly what their home lives were like, and how the idea of becoming wives at 16 could possibly appeal unless their aspirations were that low, or the alternative so apparently bleak, achievements at school aside.&nbsp; You can try and imagine the brand of Islam they ascribed to and were brought up in, and how it could have influenced them.&nbsp; You look at the words of Abase's father, who said "she [wouldn't] dare discuss something like this with us, she knows what the answer would be", the kind of statement you could easily read too much into.<br /><br />The Mail on Saturday described the girls as "naive", complete with scare quotes, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11429775/Schoolgirls-joining-Islamic-State-are-not-victims.-Stop-pitying-them.html">while the Torygraph's women's editor says they shouldn't be pitied</a>.&nbsp; In a way, again, you can't really object: no one can say they don't know what Islamic State does or stands for when they set it out for all in their videos, when their atrocities and idiosyncrasies have been so well documented and reported.&nbsp; To decide to go and join them is to abandon your life to that point, to make yourself complicit in the actions of a movement that has an ideology without a single positive aspect, completely incomparable with those few who've previously gone to live in the Soviet Union or even Nazi Germany, being far more akin to those who've been won over by cults.<br /><br />All the same, you also can't for a moment imagine they know what they've let themselves in for.&nbsp; Something has blinded them to the reality of their decision, whether it be religion, contact with their friend or others, a belief they're doing something for the greater good, however absurd or ridiculous that looks to us on the outside looking in.&nbsp; Having made that decision, it's now going to be next to impossible to reverse it, whether unable to escape if they so wanted to or treated as potential terrorists on their return, regardless of what the police currently say.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/23/if-britons-want-to-join-isis-let-them-go-london-schoolgirls">Letting immature morons go and blow themselves up on their gap year</a> is one thing; knowing how to stop those you would have thought had more sense, should have more sense, whom apparently defy everything we think we know about young people, is quite another.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-67377018071002585302015-02-20T13:55:00.000+00:002015-02-20T13:55:25.073+00:00A new wave.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Kc1htX3q-F0" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/aZXXOv2gA-c" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-53818423093853267102015-02-19T23:13:00.005+00:002015-02-19T23:48:22.971+00:00Bloody football.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">"Bloody football," my nan always used to say when it was on TV.&nbsp; Considering her idea of an evening's viewing was to watch any and all of the soaps that were on, whether it was Scousers living in a cul de sac, farmer drama, former Carry On actors screaming GET OUTTA MY PUB or Mancunians in their local, it was a subject we agreed to disagree on.<br><br>That if you weren't a fan of the very occasionally beautiful game there were all those other things you could be doing was at least something.&nbsp; Now you can't so much as watch the news and switch it off before the sport comes on.&nbsp; As the ever wonderful <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/jan/06/ched-evans-law-marina-hyde">Marina Hyde has been at the forefront of identifying</a>, it seems every major societal issue must be refracted through the prism of our national game.&nbsp; <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/11/ched-evans-is-unashamed-rapist-that.html">We've had the great</a> <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2015/01/2015-like-2014-never-ended.html">Ched Evans debate</a>, from which I think it can be said not a single person came out well, the victim herself all but forgotten.&nbsp; Nor was foreign policy immune, as it was claimed <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/feb/04/footballer-jihadist-fantasy-marina-hyde">Islamic State had a former Arsenal trainee in their ranks</a>.&nbsp; It was complete bollocks, just like the very old tale of <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/may/03/osama-bin-laden-10-myths-cia-arsenal">Osama bin Laden being an Arsenal fan and turning up for a game at Highbury</a> in the mid-90s was, but hey, it makes for a good story doesn't it?<br><br>And so we must sadly come to a combination of this plague with another: <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/feb/18/chelsea-football-club-calls-fans-help-find-racists-paris-metro-footage">the blurry filming of an unpleasant public incident</a> which tells us something very uncomfortable about life as we know it.&nbsp; Paul Nolan happened to be present at a Paris underground station as a horde of quite probably half-pissed Chelsea fans were on their way to the Champions League game against Paris St. Germain.&nbsp; We hear them chanting "where you were you in World War 2?" (answer for the vast majority: waiting to be born) before views are apparently exchanged between a black man trying to get on the train and the fans inside.&nbsp; He is grabbed and pushed off, and then pushed off again.&nbsp; Next the chant "we're racist we're racist and we like it" is heard, and we at last see a shot of the people who may or may not have been involved.&nbsp; And that's it.<br><br>This has been <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-31528498">enough to be front page news for the past two days</a>.&nbsp; Some have argued, a Chelsea fan amongst them, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/19/chelsea-fan-in-paris-metro-video-posed-in-picture-with-nigel-farage">that it's all been taken out of context</a> and the man wasn't being pushed off because he was black but as he was a PSG fan and there wasn't enough room anyway.&nbsp; That quite clearly, considering the chanting and the available evidence, isn't the case.&nbsp; All the same, it's not exactly the hooliganism of the past either, is it?&nbsp; All things considered, there's likely to be far, far worse happening in cities and town across the country at the weekend, only they won't be filmed and they won't involve football supporters, at least not identifiably.<br><br>The search has duly commenced for the perpetrators of this crime, although it isn't exactly clear if one has been committed.&nbsp; Assault, presumably?&nbsp; Use of discriminatory language, if it can be proved, as none can be heard on the recording itself?&nbsp; Acting like a bunch of cretins in a train station?&nbsp; The Met has nonetheless said it will consider issuing banning orders, while Chelsea has since announced <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31543951">it has suspended three people from being able</a> to attend Stamford Bridge.&nbsp; One of the men it was soon discovered has even had a photograph taken with Nigel Farage, while the aforementioned Chelsea fan allegedly tweeted the chant about being racist at the time.<br><br>A <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/feb/17/racism-football-uefa-fifa-blatter-chelsea-marina-hyde">few sensible people have pointed out that abhorrent and disgraceful</a> as this incident was, it's a bit rum to concentrate on the actions of a tiny minority of idiots and suggest they are in any way representative of either Chelsea fans, football supporters in general or Brits abroad, however embarrassing and ugly such things are.&nbsp; Not least when the "we're racist and we like it" chant is without doubt in part a reference to Chelsea captain John Terry, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/19723020">who was suspended by the FA</a> after charmingly referring to Anton Ferdinand as a "fucking black cunt".&nbsp; Terry received the wholehearted support of his club, unlike those who help to pay Terry's wages.&nbsp; We also really don't need to bring up the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/01/liverpool-suarez-and-football-bubble.html">whole Luiz Suarez debacle again</a>, nor is there any reason to draw wider conclusions about the comments of former Italy manager Arrigo Sacchi, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/feb/17/arrigo-sacchi-no-racist-too-many-blacks-youth-teams">who said his country "had no pride, no dignity"</a> after seeing the number of black players involved in a youth tournament.<br><br>You could also, if you wanted, point out the remarkable discrepancy between a profession which more than any other is a model of diversity, proof talent and skill have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with skin colour, and how this obvious truism hasn't filtered down to some of the people watching the game.&nbsp; This again though would only result in the conclusion some people are complete boneheads, and very little is going to get them to change their ways.&nbsp; On their own they most likely wouldn't dream of acting in such a way, but in a group the pack mentality comes into play.&nbsp; It ought to be a equal shame then that the response of so many to such videos is similar, with calls for those responsible to lose their jobs as well as face criminal penalties, the kind of additional punishment that wouldn't be counter-productive in the slightest.&nbsp; The opprobrium that has already descended upon them is surely enough, isn't it?<br><br>Or maybe we should really get to the bottom of the prejudice, discrimination and boorishness at the heart of our country by sending out tens of thousands of pairs of Google glasses to whoever wants them and then compiling the footage into the most wrist-slittingly terrible document of our times yet seen.&nbsp; The camera after all can never lie, mislead or give a false picture, just as bad behaviour can never be outbalanced by the good, the random acts of kindness that aren't rewarded or come to wider attention.&nbsp; And just think we'd have bloody football to thank for putting an end to stupidity and the entire darker side of human nature; my nan would turn in her grave.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-88670242872778595372015-02-18T23:01:00.002+00:002015-02-19T01:31:38.397+00:00Can I vote for the Church of England party, please?<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">(Exposition: The BBC has for some unknown reason seen fit to reunite the cast of Blackadder II.&nbsp; All the surviving original actors have returned except for Stephen Fry, as he no longer wanted to portray the Archbishop of Canterbury.&nbsp; Something about bone cancer.&nbsp; The actual Archbishop of Canterbury takes up his role.&nbsp; Russell Brand takes over from the late Rik Mayall as Lord Flashheart, only he insists on playing Flash as himself.&nbsp; Olivia Colman plays Nursie as she's in fucking everything, but at least does so in tribute to Patsy Byrne.)<br /><br />(The final scene in the 'Bells' episode.&nbsp; Lord Flashheart has just made his late, extravagant entrance.)<br /><br />Lord Flashheart: Brand by name, brand by nature!<br /><br />... (Skipping to the relevant part)<br /><br />Lord Flashheart: And Melchy! Still worshipping God? Last thing I heard he started worshipping me! Ahaha aha!<br /><br />Audience and cast: (Silence)<br /><br />(At this point Justin Welby decides he can take no more. He grabs Brand by the lapels and headbutts him.&nbsp; Everyone cheers.)<br /><br />Yeah, that worked better in my head than written out.&nbsp; Still, the general point's there.<br /><br />As indeed the general point is expressed by the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/17/church-of-england-calls-for-fresh-moral-vision-in-british-politics">Church of England's 56-page pre-election epistle to the</a> <a href="https://churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2015/02/house-of-bishops%27-pastoral-letter-on-the-2015-general-election.aspx">few who'll bother to read the entire thing</a>.&nbsp; It deserves to be read for two reasons: firstly because it's shorter than any of the actual manifestos soon to be published by the various political parties will be, and second as it's almost certain to be far more coherent and radical than their efforts into the bargain.<br /><br />It's this very fact an organisation once known as the Conservative party at prayer finds itself in such a position that causes the Bishops such disquiet.&nbsp; At the one extreme they see the main parties denouncing each other in no uncertain terms over what are often the slightest of policy differences, while at the other they look at preening cocks like the aforementioned Brand calling for a revolution, right, but not the sort achieved through the ballot box, because like nothing ever changes so it's a waste of time, yeah?&nbsp; Little wonder the Bishops suggest there's a, err, third way.<br /><br />If there's a criticism to be made of the House of Bishops' efforts, and there are plenty if you so wish, it's that often they seem to be echoing the now all but forgotten mantras of New Labour.&nbsp; An entire section is devoted to setting out how post-war the administrations of Attlee and Thatcher changed the political settlement, heralding a consensus around first social democracy and then neoliberalism, although neither are defined as such.&nbsp;&nbsp;</span><br /><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">The answer, the Bishops appear to suggest, is taking the best parts of each and using them to dilute the excesses of the other, so Beveridge's welfare state is preserved but the voluntarism and other responsibilities he called for are emphasised, while the cohesion and security provided by the state help to tone down the individualism and consumption encouraged by the markets.&nbsp; If this sounds familiar, that's because it's almost exactly what both Labour pre-97 and David Cameron were talking about and promoting before they came to power.&nbsp; The Bishops go so far as to name check the Big Society, an idea from "thoughtful Conservatives", and say it should not be "consigned to the political dustbin" rather, "it could still be the foundation for the new approach to politics, economics and community we seek".<br /><br />This is to give Cameron and the Tories a little too much credit.&nbsp; The Big Society was never truly about a new political ethos or way of going about things as the Bishops would like it to be, but rather a ploy to make cuts while claiming it a way of fixing the broken society, another subject the Conservatives quickly dropped.&nbsp; It's also just a little naive - the Big Society was partly dropped not only because it was believed confusing, but as most people either didn't have the time or inclination to do the work the state had previously.&nbsp; The Bishops would no doubt argue this is precisely because of how we have become a "society of strangers", as they set out, rather than a "community of communities", where consumption, individualism and competition, to the point almost of social Darwinism, now define who we are, yet it wouldn't entirely be convincing.&nbsp; The past sense of community didn't instantly also extend to charity and helping out, as the CoE surely ought to know better than others.<br /><br />What impresses more than any of the suggestions as to how politics might be fixed is the strength of the analysis and the decision not to mince words.&nbsp; Yes, we all know how elections have been reduced to a battle over the marginals, but rarely are mainstream commentators so blunt about what politics has become.&nbsp; As the Bishops write about the lack of vision offered, <b>"</b>We are subjected to sterile arguments about who might manage the existing system best. There is no idealism in this prospectus." They note how "There is a deep contradiction in the attitudes of a society which celebrates equality in principle yet treats some people, especially the poor and vulnerable, as unwanted, unvalued and unnoticed."&nbsp; They go on "when those who rely on social security payments are all described in terms that imply they are undeserving, dependent, and ought to be self-sufficient, it deters others from offering the informal, neighbourly support which could ease some of the burden of welfare on the state." And on that other theme of the parliament they say "The way we talk about migration, with ethnically identifiable communities being treated as “the problem” has, deliberately or inadvertently, created an ugly undercurrent of racism in every debate about immigration."<br /><br />Hardly surprising then that despite their attempts to reject both labels of left and right, saying their approach could be "embraced by any of the mainstream parties without being untrue to their own histories", <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/17/guardian-view-on-the-church-and-election-talking-sense">that plenty of comment has referred back</a> to the 80s and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faith_in_the_City">Faith in the City</a>.&nbsp; While most of the suggestions are more instantly associated with the left than the right, the document was clearly intended as wounding criticism of politics in 2015 rather an exercise in Tory-bashing.&nbsp; It calls for an improvement in the standard of debate by involvement, instead of the Brand-like on the outside pissing in.&nbsp; It also deserves a far more serious response from the people it criticises than the idiotic one <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/17/cameron-rejects-bishops-warning-against-scapegoating-people-on-benefits">it received from David Cameron yesterday</a>, who repeated the exact argument about it not being kind or compassionate to leave someone idle on benefits that the letter so utterly rejects.<br /><br />It's not the most original sentiment, but if it wasn't for the whole God thing and the occasional forays into ill-advised comment on sex and science, I could grow to quite like Welby and friends.&nbsp; That on this evidence many people would also vote for a Church of England party given the opportunity, it ought to give the political class much pause for thought.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com4tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-63596604270055512992015-02-17T23:59:00.000+00:002015-02-18T00:37:48.201+00:00All in the name.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Ever pondered how different things might have been if Hitler's name had been something else?&nbsp; Would he still have electrified the beer halls in the same way as Adolf Schicklgruber, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alois_Hitler#Change_of_surname">as his father was originally known</a>?&nbsp; And what for that matter if rather than Churchill, the right man at the right time had been called Reginald Boggis? <br />&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">No, of course you haven't, because you're not an idiot.&nbsp; All the same, names are important, especially for terrorist groups.&nbsp; Boko Haram for instance, <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boko_Haram">which isn't the group's actual title</a> but is usually translated as western education is sinful/forbidden.&nbsp; More literally though, <a href="https://www.nsfwcorp.com/dispatch/war-nerd-boko-haram/">it's books are forbidden</a>.&nbsp; The only book Boko Haram wants to suggest is of any worth is the Qu'ran, with the hadiths alongside, which tells you more about them than anything else.&nbsp; Al-Qaida as you probably know translates as The Base, and in the beginning was a literal database of former mujahideen who had fought in Afghanistan.<br /><br />Now there's Islamic State, and the name itself is enough to cause journalists to go weak at the knees and governments with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/15/isis-post-video-allegedly-showing-mass-beheading-of-coptic-christian-hostages">ulterior motives to send in the bombers</a>.&nbsp; The group calling itself Islamic State in Libya has about as much connection with the self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria as I would if I started flying a black flag from my roof and shouted Allah akbar every time I did anything.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-establishes-stronghold-derna-libya-1721425">All they've done is declared allegiance</a> to everyone's favourite messianic loon Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but such is the fear the Islamic State name carries that it's the moniker itself which demands attention as much as their murder of 21 Coptic Christians.<br /><br />We haven't after all shown the slightest interest in the Libyan civil war, despite the fact that it was Nato's fabulous intervention against Gaddafi that precipitated today's insecurity.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlKAR9Cbk_w">David Cameron's visit to Benghazi </a>ought to be seen as his <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Accomplished_speech">"mission accomplished" moment</a>, except Cameron and Nato had sort of learned the lesson of Iraq: impose regime change, then get out as soon as.&nbsp; Just like in Iraq, where the Ba'ath party effectively was the state, in Libya Gaddafi played a similar role.&nbsp; And just like in Iraq, with the overthrow of a secular, vicious dictator, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/16/libyas-armed-politics-the-guardian-briefing">into the void have come various groups</a>, some nationalist, some of a more moderate Islamist tinge, others like <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ansar_al-Sharia_%28Libya%29">Ansar al-Sharia</a> and our pals IS of the takfiri Wahhabi bent, and they're all fighting for power and influence.&nbsp; The key difference is that unlike in Iraq, where the country has become riven due to the schism between Sunni and Shia, with the Kurds and smaller numbers of Yazidis and Christians thrown in for good measure, in Libya the vast majority of the population is Sunni.&nbsp; Where others see Iraq as a lost cause as a state ruled from Baghdad, this should, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/on-the-middle-east/2015/feb/16/uk-envoy-if-libya-fails-it-could-be-somalia-on-the-mediterranean">according to them</a>, make it easier to reach a political solution.<br /><br />Only compared to Syria, Libya doesn't exactly strike most as being of the greatest urgency.&nbsp; It's up there with Ukraine: it's not pleasant that cities are being made uninhabitable and thousands have died, but it rather palls in consideration with the however many hundreds of thousands killed in Syria and Islamic State declaring Sykes-Picot to be history.&nbsp; With Islamic State duly rearing their ugly heads on the coast of Libya, deciding this time to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/15/isis-21-egyptian-coptic-christians-beheading-libya">film their latest atrocity on a beach</a>, no surprises that both Italy and Egypt have decreed something must be done.<br /><br />Italy's unease and anger is more than understandable: they along with Greece and Malta have become the new frontline of this latest wave of migration from Africa, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31481792">with the rest of the European Union refusing to stump up the cash</a> necessary to fund the operation to both save lives and turn boats around.&nbsp; As for Egypt, beyond the anger and grief over the slaughter of Copts themselves looking for a better life, bombing an Islamic State grouplet is the kind of action designed to calm any remaining nerves the West might have over the military coup and subsequent massacres of Muslim Brotherhood supporters.&nbsp; <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinai_insurgency">Facing an insurgency in the Sinai</a>, the last thing Egypt wants is the another hostile force operating in a safe haven next door.&nbsp; And even if it doesn't become anything more than a militia with a negligible amount of fighters seeking infamy by proxy through Islamic State, the very name and its professed allegiance means Egypt is hardly going to be criticised for striking against it.<br /><br />Unfortunately for both Egypt and Italy, although whether the latter <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2015/02/avenging-christians-campaign.html">truly favours a reintervention in Libya isn't as yet clear</a>, getting the team back together which did so much to cause this mess in the first place isn't going to happen.&nbsp; Only France might be so inclined, and considering the French attitude to arming the rebels in Libya <a href="http://www.aefjn.org/index.php/364/articles/spread-of-libyan-weapons-in-the-sahel.html">was to drop them from a great height</a> and worry about the groups picking them up later, they have more to answer for than most.&nbsp; Ourselves and the Americans however aren't interested, as we're both far too busy in Iraq and Syria, and for David Cameron there's the whole election thing to worry about.&nbsp; Not even blood-curdling warnings from the Egyptians of Islamic State jihadis masquerading as refugees turning up on the shores of the Mediterranean ready to strike will change minds, <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1428517/egypt-is-threat-coming-closer-to-europe">although they do make for great quotes and clips in news reports</a>.<br /><br />Much as it feels a little churlish to criticise the media for the unbelievably one-dimensional and often plain ignorant coverage of Islamic State popping up in Libya, considering no one has expressed the slightest interest in the country since the death of Gaddafi, to give the impression IS is metastasing across the wider Arab world is simply wrong.&nbsp; Nor is it just the usual suspects failing to provide context or make clear worrying about IS in Libya is even less a good use of time than panicking about Ebola was; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-31113659">the BBC have been at the forefront</a>, and the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/on-the-middle-east/2015/feb/16/uk-envoy-if-libya-fails-it-could-be-somalia-on-the-mediterranean">Graun hasn't been much better</a>.&nbsp; Egypt is relying on just such a lack of knowledge for its own purposes, and its conflation of all varieties of Islamism as posing the same threat is being used to stifle the last remaining voices of dissent in the country.&nbsp; The last thing Libya needs is further outside intervention; instead, <a href="http://www.libyaherald.com/2015/02/17/the-un-political-dialogue-process-is-essential-uk-ambassador-michael-aron/#axzz3S0k6Atpw">a summit of the kind</a> that could have worked in Syria if all sides had wanted it to is what ought to happen next.&nbsp; Such things are boring sadly, especially when compared to a death cult's latest reprehensible crime.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-26706258266335231602015-02-16T23:48:00.002+00:002015-02-16T23:48:57.830+00:00Still an aberration, not a pattern.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/15/copenhagen-shootings-how-the-attacks-unfolded">The weekend's attacks in Copenhagen</a> bear the hallmarks not of a fresh assault by jihadis trained overseas so much as those of copycats.&nbsp; The distinction is important, regardless of the end result being the murder of two people, with the attacker, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/16/copenhagen-shooting-suspect-omar-el-hussein-a-past-full-of-contradictions">unofficially named as Omar El-Hussein</a>, clearly wanting to kill as many as possible at the cafe hosting the free speech event, including Lars Vilks, the Swedish cartoonist responsible for one of the caricatures of Muhammad printed by Jyllands-Posten in 2005.<br /><br />From <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-31489264">what has so far been written about El-Hussein</a>, a 22-year-old born in Denmark with Palestinian heritage, he appears to have been a petty criminal likely to have been radicalised, or perhaps merely preyed upon in prison.&nbsp; Released just two weeks ago, he doesn't seem to have travelled outside of Europe, nor does he appear to have attempted to contact the media as the Charlie Hebdo attackers and Amédy Coulibaly did.&nbsp; The Kouachi brothers were calm and resolute in the way they carried out their massacre, whereas El-Hussein seems to have "sprayed and prayed".&nbsp; There has also so far been no claim of responsibility, nor was there a claim from El-Hussein himself to anyone who might have been listening that he was attacking on behalf of any particular group.<br /><br />This doesn't of course mean that El-Hussein wasn't by proxy acting for either say, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, <a href="http://www.juancole.com/2015/02/qaedas-with-denmark.html">which has particular reasons for attacking Denmark</a>, or Islamic State, but it would surprise massively if he wasn't first and foremost carrying out deeds suggested by those he developed links with in prison.&nbsp; That he apparently became known to the Danish intelligence services due to his spell of incarceration is a further indication of this.&nbsp; It's not an impossibility he was acting of his own volition, perhaps on just the suggestion of carrying out an attack and he improvised, influenced by the attacks in France, but the slight period of time between his release and his actions would seem to rule out his being a true "lone wolf".&nbsp; All the same, if this was a planned attack, in the sense of targeting Vilks, it wasn't planned to anywhere near the extent the Charlie Hebdo massacre was, nor was it implemented with the same ruthlessness.&nbsp; The real constant is the targeting after the "main" assault of Jews, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/15/copenhagen-police-investigate-whether-gunman-acted-alone">the singling out of a visible community purely down to religious and racial hatred</a>, as well as to incite further terror.<br /><br />Most of the comment has then concentrated on this continued threat to Jewish communities, rather than on freedom of expression once again coming under attack.&nbsp; Some of this reticence could also, you have to suspect, be due to the release of audio from the cafe, with Inna Shevchenko, a representative of the Femen protest group <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/15/how-long-will-this-nightmare-last-first-hand-account-of-copenhagen-gun-attack">making a point rendered all the more powerful by what follows</a>.&nbsp; “It’s about freedom of speech<i>, </i>but. The key word here is 'but’.&nbsp; Why do we still continue to say but when we...”&nbsp; Then gunshots ring out.<br /><br />There were more <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/01/tout-est-pardonne.html">than a few people saying but</a> <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/01/comedy-satire-and-subjectivity-oh-and.html">just over a month ago</a>, or words to that effect.&nbsp;&nbsp; Just this weekend Will Self was repeating how in his view satire is meant to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31442441">"comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"</a>.&nbsp; Self doesn't need any lectures on how the likes of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hogarth">Hogarth</a> were equally at home targeting the powerful as they were the drinkers of Gin Lane, just as so many other satirists and writers have turned their pencils and inks against those both worthy and in the view of the Selfs, unworthy of mockery.&nbsp; My own view of satire has always been the best sort is uncomfortable to everyone, both the target and those viewing it, precisely because as much as satire needs at times to be obvious, wounding to the pompous, it also needs to challenge those who think themselves different.<br /><br />Another way to do the equivalent of saying but is to bring in false comparisons and other equivocations.&nbsp; Not since the murder last week of <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-31421363">three young students, all Muslims, in North Carolina</a> has there been the slightest piece of evidence produced to suggest they were killed because of their faith, rather than being yet more victims of a violent man with easy access to firearms.&nbsp; This hasn't stopped those with axes to grind from ignoring the actual people who lived alongside the victims and their killer, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-31395467">who said they were all scared of him</a> and that he complained habitually about his neighbours, especially when his Facebook page was filled with a screed against religion.&nbsp; You don't however expect <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/15/guardian-view-week-of-terror-threat-freedom-north-carolina-copenhagen">the Guardian editorial to draw a link</a>, as much as you do the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/16/stamp-out-hatred-killings-copenhagen-chapel-hill">secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain</a>.&nbsp; Claiming the North Carolina murders were an attack on freedom is completely absurd, yet such it seems is the continued nervousness of admitting a tiny minority of those calling themselves Muslims are prepared to kill in "defence" of their religion without wringing hands and saying yes, but you know, a lot of people are equally hate-filled.<br /><br />Just as absurd is <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/16/leaders-criticise-netanyahu-calls-jewish-mass-migration-israel">Binyamin Netanayhu once again in the wake of the attack</a> on the Copenhagen synagogue doing the equivalent of saying "Israel is so bracing".&nbsp; I thought for a moment about then adding something about wiping the blood off his hands, but (yes, that word) to so much as include blood and an Israeli leader in the same sentence is to be antisemitic in the view of some.&nbsp; You could if you so wished calculate the number of Jews killed across Europe in acts of racial hatred over the past few years with the number of Jews killed in attacks in Israel, it's just there is no comparison so there's not much point.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/16/if-british-jews-attacked-respect-our-dignity-antisemitism">As Keith Kahn-Harris exceptionally puts it</a>, those who would murder Jews do not make distinctions between them, and the calls from Israeli politicians, designed as they are to appeal to a domestic audience with elections in the offing do precisely that, intended to or otherwise.<br /><br />All the same, it's worth asking exactly <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/15/copenhagen-police-investigate-whether-gunman-acted-alone">what else EU leaders should have done to further protect Jewish citizens</a>, after Rabbi Menachem Margolin said not enough had been.&nbsp; Two attacks, despite Netanayhu's comments, is still an aberration rather than a pattern.&nbsp; When you have so many claiming it's only a matter of time before something happens along the same lines in other European capitals, the obvious danger is of self-fulfilling prophecy, of inspiring further copyists, of overreaction and diluting other freedoms taken for granted, more so than we already have that of expression.&nbsp; Seeing patterns where there isn't one yet is to fall into their trap, just as it is to condemn while saying but.&nbsp; </span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-23831848324976145102015-02-13T14:14:00.001+00:002015-02-13T14:14:56.925+00:00Head for home.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/J38rwJzAIrM" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/HxIr6KvKXcA" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-58024537576260871442015-02-12T22:57:00.002+00:002015-02-13T13:41:30.296+00:00Fink for the man.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31438865">Poor old Stanley Fink</a>.&nbsp; When you consider just how much potential there was for endless puns on his name, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-31432747">that not one of the tabloids splashed on Ed Miliband</a> naming him in the Commons <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31412434">in his "dodgy" attack on the prime minister</a>, you couldn't have asked for a better indication of just how quickly his say that again and I'll <s>hit</s> sue you theatrics would be dropped.&nbsp; Sure enough, Conservative Central Office most likely bothered last night to ask Lord Fink if there was perhaps the possibility he may have indulged in the odd bit of "vanilla" tax avoidance regardless, and so quietly this morning his put your dukes up Ed routine <a href="http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/everyone-avoids-tax-says-lord-fink-after-he-was-named-by-ed-miliband-in-commons-row-10041040.html">was scaled down in the Evening Standard</a>.&nbsp; After all, everyone does a bit of tax avoidance now and again, and when the opportunity arises to put down deposits on houses for your kids through a Swiss family trust scheme, to "help them make their way in the wider world", it'd be foolish not to do so.<br /><br />As much fun as it is see <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/11/cameron-in-gear-with-bus-gags-but-stalling-on-tax">Ed go in for the kill occasionally at PMQs</a>, which if not quite the equivalent of being <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/democracylive/hi/historic_moments/newsid_8185000/8185778.stm">savaged by a dead sheep</a> isn't that far away from <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSe38dzJYkY">being poked by soft cushions</a>, you fear he got away with his assault on Dave lightly.&nbsp; The whole Cameron is Flashman with questionable friends attack hasn't worked up to now, and failing something really cataclysmic befalling the Tory leader, isn't about to start to.&nbsp; For every barb about being BFFs with donors who used HSBC's "gone rogue" Swiss branch, the Tories can point back to all of Tony Blair's irrepressible pals, or as Cameron did, just repeat the ever infuriating line about the unions owning Labour.&nbsp; It doesn't matter that was in the past, that on Monday the Tories were auctioning off and presumably getting money for <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31354223">such horrors as going shoe-shopping with Theresa May</a> or spending an evening with the Goves over a chicken dinner, presumably not in the basket, or you know, the unions created Labour and their members voted for Ed.&nbsp; The way the public sees it, everyone who pours money into political parties is either questionable or doesn't have much in the way of sense. <br /><br />This isn't to say there aren't questions for the government to answer over Stephen Green.&nbsp; On Tuesday George Osborne's chief fluffer Matthew Hancock was on Newsnight saying it was unthinkable that HMRC would so much as tell ministers what they were up to, as it would be absolutely wrong for them to know the exact details of future prosecutions, only for <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/11/hsbc-files-hmrc-lin-homer-confident-civil-servants-told-ministers-data">Lin Homer to say yesterday she believed this was precisely</a> what civil servants had done.&nbsp; When you consider the ridiculous lengths the Tories went to try and tie <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/11/the-paul-flowers-pops.html">"crystal Methodist" Paul Flowers to Labour</a>, to ennoble Green and make him trade minister demands answers over just how much in the way of vetting was performed.&nbsp; Instead he was seemingly welcomed with open arms, described by the saintly Vince Cable as "one of the few to emerge with credit from the recent financial crisis".&nbsp; In more ways than one, the reality is hardly anyone has emerged from the crisis with credit.<br /><br />To solely go after Green or those who made use of the services rendered by HSBC's Swiss branch then is to miss the point.&nbsp; The real scandal is just how useless, if not outright complicit HMRC has been with those attempting to swindle the taxpayer.&nbsp; We already knew about the cosy deals <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16253205">reached by Dave Hartnett with Vodafone and Goldman Sachs</a>, where much larger sums in owed tax were bartered down to far smaller payments, and how within months of leaving the civil service he was in <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/may/27/deloitte-appoints-dave-hartnett-tax">the employ of, err, HSBC and then Deloitte</a>, one of the accountancy firms that designs the very tax structures used to dodge paying.&nbsp; These latest revelations prove how it wasn't the influence of that one individual, the very ethos of HMRC seems to have become to make <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/feb/09/hsbc-treasury-minister-tax-labour-david-guake-stephen-green">deals with those caught in the act rather than prosecute</a>.&nbsp; This wouldn't matter as much if the deals were suitably draconian, but as the amount retrieved so far from those named in the HSBC files shows, in comparison with the French and Spanish tax authorities less has been recouped from a far larger number of accounts.<br /><br />This friendly relationship with avoiders hasn't developed in a vacuum.&nbsp; For all the fine words from both Tories and Labour over cracking down, they <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/12/pricewaterhousecoopers-tax-structures-politics-influence">still rely on the big four accountancy firms behind so many of the loopholes for advice or research</a>.&nbsp; HMRC itself <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/12/coalition-radical-tax-avoidance-failed-uk">has suffered cuts that make precisely</a> the kind of investigations as those needed into the HSBC leaks all the more difficult and time consuming.&nbsp; As with so much of the rest of government, they are expected to do more with less, only in HMRC's case it's difficult not to think it's deliberate.&nbsp; The coalition has also joined in the race to the bottom on corporation tax, resulting in the need to make up the loss elsewhere, with more people <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2860009/Rise-40p-threshold-help-middle-class-172-saving-biggest-change-five-years.html">as a result going over the 40p threshold</a>.&nbsp; When Labour then suggests putting the corporation tax rate back up a couple of pence, the reaction from Cameron <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11402289/Politicians-address-the-British-Chambers-of-Commerce-live.html">is to cry about the opposition "demonising" business</a>.&nbsp; As opposed as to demanding the middle classes, the supposed people Cameron is meant to represent, stump up more instead.<br /><br />The relative silence from the likes of the Mail over the HSBC files after it made so much of attacking Labour after the Stefan Pessina interview suggests the vulnerability of the right over the issue.&nbsp; As the Tories and their friends in the media have belatedly realised, not talking about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/feb/11/political-campaigning-advertising-golden-rules">something is often the best way to try and shut it down</a>, hence why the NHS and immigration don't feature among the Conservatives' key themes for the election campaign.&nbsp; Expect now the Fink issue to be forgotten, and if Labour doesn't keep up the attacks over Green, side issue as he is, so too will any impact the mini furore will have.&nbsp; Labour instead should be promising they will be far more proactive in going after the avoiders and prosecuting the evaders, insisting they face the same opprobrium as the "skivers" targeted by the Conservatives.&nbsp; More likely is as business itself knows, should Labour gain a majority or form a coalition, the story is bound to stay the same.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-34652803512629124392015-02-11T22:18:00.002+00:002015-02-12T20:25:30.651+00:00One solution to Scudamore: piracy.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">The Premier League could not have a <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/feb/11/richard-scudamore-premier-league-responsibility-living-wage">better representative than Richard Scudamore</a>.&nbsp; He is the embodiment of absolutely everything that has gone wrong with football at the highest level over the past 20 years, or rather everything the not always right critics who often don't so much as like the game point towards.&nbsp; Do you for instance believe <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2015/feb/11/five-ways-premier-league-new-5bn-deal-goood">the Premier League should not exist in a vacuum</a>, that it ought to "redistribute" some of the money it receives from the broadcasters from your bank account down to the lower leagues, to sport at the grassroots, that clubs should be at the heart of their community, rather than in the hearts of the community?<br /><br />You do?&nbsp; Well, in Scudamore you have a man who believes in one thing and one thing only, which is getting as much dosh as he can from the likes of BT and Sky for the 20 clubs that make up the league, and then letting them do whatever they like with that money.&nbsp; It's not for him to say clubs should pay their staff the living wage for example, that's up to the government.&nbsp; Does he think it's completely obscene for a club to pay a congenital idiot like Wayne Rooney £300,000 a week for his on-off ability to kick a bag of wind around an enclosed grass field while the poor bastards who stand in the cold selling match programmes at £5 or however much a pop get only slightly more that that for an hour's work?&nbsp; Don't be silly, as just as in "any talent industry" the world market sets the rate, whereas cleaners, training staff and kit men are ten a penny, almost literally.&nbsp; If the government suggested introducing a maximum wage the screams would be banshee-like, but a minimum wage set barely above the poverty line is clearly there to be respected, not as precisely that, a minimum.<br /><br />Scudamore is just a figurehead.&nbsp; He can't tell clubs it looks really bad if they don't pay their staff the living wage despite <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/feb/10/premier-league-tv-rights-sky-bt">the new £5.14bn television deal</a> (fun fact: that's more than <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_licensing_in_the_United_Kingdom">the BBC's total income for 2013-14</a>, £3.72bn of which is from the licence fee), as the clubs themselves answer to no one.&nbsp; Only when the fans make it abundantly clear they want an owner to go, as Liverpool did the <a href="http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/tom-hicks-george-gillett-walk-3324671">non-dynamic duo of Tom Hicks and George Gillett</a>, is anything close to accountability encountered.&nbsp; Scudamore was also right to point out that despite the complete insanity of the latest deal, most Premier League clubs are not "staggeringly wealthy": <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/may/01/premier-league-accounts-club-by-club-david-conn">only 8 out of the 20 clubs made a profit in 2012-2013</a>, including Wigan and Norwich, both since relegated.&nbsp; It's no coincidence the current top 2, Chelsea and Manchester City, have owners where money is no object, considering in both cases said money was looted from the people of Russia and the UAE respectively.&nbsp; At the moment it's just the players, their agents and the broadcasters making anything out of the game, as the owners themselves hardly ever do.<br /><br />Except this might just be the deal to change that.&nbsp; Recently introduced <a href="http://www.financialfairplay.co.uk/financial-fair-play-explained.php">rules on financial fair play from both the Premier League and UEFA should</a>, in theory, mean an end to the apparently endless increases in wages and transfer fees.&nbsp; We've already seen this somewhat with Chelsea needing to sell Andre Schurrle <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2939709/Andre-Schurrle-insists-no-regrets-Chelsea-exit.html">before they could bring in Juan Cuadrado</a>.&nbsp; How the clubs spend their further largesse is of course up to them, and some of the mid-table clubs may well use it fund splurges of their own.&nbsp; Other proprietors however will undoubtedly pocket it, seeing it as being reward for having sunk their own money in down the years while taking little if anything out.&nbsp; As the difference between profit and loss outside of the mega-spending clubs is often relatively slight, West Ham for instance losing £4m before tax in 2012-2013, this latest increase will help them considerably.<br /><br />When you then add in the <a href="http://www.football365.com/f365-features/8914671/Parachute-Payments-Are-Crippling-Competition">recent increase in "parachute" payments to relegated sides</a>, the gap between the Premier League and the lower divisions is getting to be a chasm.&nbsp; It's always been a major challenge to win promotion and then stay in the top division, but with £99m as a minimum guaranteed to the club finishing bottom, the teams yo-yoing between Premier League and Championship look set to become a secondary elite.&nbsp; The story of this season has <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/football/2015/feb/09/bournemouth-derby-county-championship-eddie-howe">almost certainly been the rise of Bournemouth</a>, looking to repeat the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010%E2%80%9311_Blackpool_F.C._season">unlikely promotion of Blackpool</a> a few years back.&nbsp; They won't though want to <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/28194124">repeat Blackpool's subsequent fall</a>, or a couple of seasons from now to be propping up the table as the Lancashire side are, while the QPRs of the world continue to alternate between being there or thereabouts season in season out.<br /><br />For all the complaints and whinging today, as well as the cynicism over the likelihood of ticket prices dropping as a result of the influx of cash from television, hardly anyone is going to cancel their TV package or not renew their season ticket.&nbsp; Loyalty to your team trumps everything, and demand for more live games just continues to increase.&nbsp; Purists like me will snort and harrumph at the introduction of games on a Friday night, further reducing the number that will kick off at 3 on a Saturday afternoon, but we're just stick in the muds.&nbsp; Besides, I'd rather transfer my allegiance to Spurs than give Murdoch any money, and the same goes for BT, so I'm hardly your average punter.<br /><br />If there is something that might just bring change, it's the same thing as mentioned <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/11/the-real-victors-pirates.html">when BT won the Champions League rights</a>: illegal streaming of games is only going to increase and will fast become a viable alternative to a TV package, if it's not quite there yet.&nbsp; Moreover, such piracy is frankly less morally questionable than handing over your cash to such lovely people as Scudamore, Sheikh Mansour and the Glazers.&nbsp; Somehow though you can't see it having the same impact as it has on the film and music industries, and just as the real victims there have been the little guys rather than the behemoths, so too it will be your Swanseas and Burnleys that suffer rather than United and City.&nbsp; Sigh.<br /></span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-76504822496831656412015-02-10T22:04:00.001+00:002015-02-11T02:37:14.738+00:00The internet makes you stupid.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Back in those heady web 1.0 days, there was a site called Something Awful (and there still is, just the cool kids have long since moved on).&nbsp; Its tagline was and again, could still be, the internet makes you stupid.&nbsp; As this was back when the net was still mainly used only by nerds, gamers, autodidacts and bored office workers rather than your grandmother and her bridge group, it was a fairly cutting if not meant entirely seriously barb at the numbskulls who read the site and populated its forums.<br /><br />Jump forward all these years and a few people <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/feb/01/internet-is-not-the-answer-review-andrew-keen">seem to have noticed that hey</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/feb/09/andrew-keen-internet-not-answer-interview">this internet thing isn't all it's cracked up to be</a>.&nbsp; In fact, you could say that it's making people even stupider than was believed possible.&nbsp; There are now so many listicle articles online that a whole section of rainforest in Brazil has been cut down to make way for the world's biggest ever server hub to host just them.&nbsp; A scientific study has found that if a mouse so much as catches a glimpse of a screen displaying Buzzfeed, it causes a complete loss of spatial awareness that can last for up to 5 hours.&nbsp; Likewise, YouTube's most subscribed user PewDiePie has been identified as the common factor in a whole range of pet suicides, with goldfish jumping up out of their tanks rather than listen to him scream again, their incredibly short memory no apparent protection.<br /><br />Add in how Twitter is the Stasi for the Angry Birds generation (© Stewart Lee), Facebook is mostly used for talking to people you don't want to, with a sideline in slut-shaming and/or stalking your exs, as they often go hand in hand, while Instagram gives new meaning to the word narcissism, and you'd be hard-pushed to claim the net isn't a fresh hell we just like to pretend has enriched our lives.&nbsp; Unless of course you're Holly Baxter, in which case you more or less accept the above, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/10/andrew-keen-internet-answer-social-economic-inequality">then say actually the internet is a great leveller</a>, a meritocratic paradise as without it she wouldn't be able to pay the rent.<br /><br />To which the obvious response is Baxter is indeed the very epitome of meritocracy in action, as is Pewds.&nbsp; So long as you can do something reasonably competently in a specified niche, whether it be writing <a href="http://vagendamagazine.com/">click-bait with a vaguely feminist edge</a> or let's plays with the kind of commentary that entertains pre-teens and teens who've been held back a year at school, there's an extremely remote chance you can make it in this brave new media environment.&nbsp; For every Baxter however there are thousands of frustrated and bitter commentators who imagined their searing political insight might lead somewhere, only to come to realise they may as well be howling at the moon.&nbsp; And for every PewDiePie or Yogscast, never mind a <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-30438225">Zoella</a>, there are umpteen vloggers or let's players whose total views can be counted on the fingers of the participants in a Dominique Strauss-Kahn orgy.&nbsp; Much of their material will also be far superior in content to their erstwhile rivals, but hey, dem's the breaks.<br /><br />But, but, but I hear you spluttering, what about all the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-31091938">money raised thanks to the internets</a>, the very fact it provides somewhere for subcultures to thrive, how without it we'd never have discovered that band, seen that film, gotten that STI from the one night stand made possible by Tinder?&nbsp; Haven't you said before the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/05/it-gets-better-despite-scaremongering.html">web can be a sanctuary for those bullied and repressed</a>, as much as it can mean there's no escape from those same oppressors?&nbsp; Isn't the very idea of a life not lived online now completely alien to your average teenager, both for better and worse?&nbsp; And, moreover, isn't it a bit naive if not well, stupid, to complain about the hypercapitalism of the internet and its monopolistic tendencies when it had <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARPANET">its origins in the goddamn Department of Defense</a>?<br /><br />Duh.&nbsp; The problem is the only kind of shades of grey the internet likes are contained in those Twilight fan-fiction originating books.&nbsp; Everything is turned up to 11: a television journalist lies about coming under fire in Iraq, and soon <a href="http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/culture/la-et-cm-brian-williams-art-meme-20150205-htmlstory.html">he's getting photoshopped into being at the last supper</a>, because that's funny, right?&nbsp; The internet can't possibly be a bad thing, just as social networking can't possibly be a bad thing, because look it's not all trolling and celebrity inanity and identity politics and pointless arguing.&nbsp; Besides, it's the old media, and the old media is always wrong and biased and wrong.<br /><br />As if to prove the point, Andrew Keen's book of course recognises there will always be your Holly Baxters and Dapper Laughs and <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/29452837">Sam Peppers</a>, but Baxter was responding to what she thought was his argument, just as I'm responding to what I think are their arguments.&nbsp; The reality is the internet reflects life in general, even if some of us use it to escape from that reality.&nbsp; The key difference is the web sees far more in the way of rebellions than we do offline, as it's a whole lot easier than manning the barricades.&nbsp; Just don't take that as an indication of there not being the same anger, disappointment or even apathy just below the surface at the state of the world.&nbsp; <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2013/08/the-epitome-of-modern-self-absorption.html">Such rebellions don't though discriminate</a>, and often shout things we don't want to hear.&nbsp; Life in general is a bit shit, and so too is the internet.&nbsp; And that's all there is.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-11516567623860991672015-02-09T20:46:00.000+00:002015-02-09T20:46:19.448+00:00Let's hope there's more happening tomorrow, eh?<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/08/prince-charles-radicalised-uk-muslims-failed-integrate">In a completely expected outburst</a>, the Prince of Wales has voiced his concern at how despite getting the benefits of a British education, some young people are still drawn towards extremism.<br /><br />"It baffles one really.&nbsp; I think it could have a certain amount to do with the way children are brought up these days to believe they can do absolutely anything, when in fact their life choices are nearly always defined by the circumstances of their birth.&nbsp; They are led to believe they will become all powerful once they reach adulthood, and then reality hits.&nbsp; Some will adjust to this by writing letters to all and sundry and generally being annoying, while others will grasp a black flag and start chopping off heads.<br /><br />"It's all quite appalling, which is exactly what I told my dear friends in Saudi Arabia when I visited recently to commiserate on the death of their ruling monarch, which as an aside is something others could take inspiration from.&nbsp; They nodded sagely, then asked if there was anything they could do to speed things along here.&nbsp; I turned down their suggestion, but it was a nice thought regardless."<br /><br />In other news:<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/sir-martin-sorrell-uncertainly-tory-policy-on-urope">World renowned marketing bell-end Martin Sorrell</a> has intervened in the continuing all-in mud wrestling showdown between Labour, the Conservatives and the business community, in what he modestly described as a Sorrell's choice.<br /><br />"It's a conundrum for business.&nbsp; On the one hand, you have the Conservatives, promising a referendum on EU membership, with all the uncertainty that entails.&nbsp; On the other, you have the Labour party, which is saying people like me should pay our fair share of tax, and expect to get criticised if we say they would be a catastrophe via interviews with right-wing hacks from our mansions in Monaco.<br /><br />"My solution, a Sorrell's choice if you will, is to fuck off to wherever will take me and then move back as soon as possible afterwards <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2012/aug/30/martin-sorrell-wpp-london-move">hoping no one will remember I did so for tax reasons</a>.&nbsp; Otherwise everyone might think I'm just the latest tax avoiding prick to say vote Conservative, only if not in so many words."<br /><br />In brief:<br />Tony Blair promises to "do what it takes" to help Labour win the election - "I'm going to Mars for the duration," says the slowly melting frotteur of dictators<br /><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-31300833">The rich in once again failing to pass through eye of a needle shock</a><br />Awards ceremonies give prizes to dull and predictable films and music - dull and predictable dullard Kanye West demands further recognition for dull and predictable music over other dull and predictable music<br />President Obama suggests arming Ukraine - "Nothing can possibly go wrong," insists veteran of Libyan and Syrian mass death fests <br />Monday in February in unbelievably slow news day drama</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-59517259143821682102015-02-06T15:09:00.000+00:002015-02-06T15:09:01.176+00:00Recall.<center><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/XvFIvWxLYBo" width="480"></iframe><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ujZGEqfhwJg" width="480"></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-58005346482495177792015-02-05T22:41:00.001+00:002015-02-05T22:41:20.350+00:00The numbers game and demanding something must be done.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Many of us have a problem with getting our heads round numbers.&nbsp; The chief point of protest from those in <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-of-inspection-of-rotherham-metropolitan-borough-council">Rotherham to Louise Casey's inspection team</a>, sent in after Alexis Jay's report into child sexual exploitation in the town, was the 1,400 victims figure.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/08/victims-today-undesirables-tomorrow.html">As I pointed out at the time</a>, Jay had reached this number by not so much as an estimate but an outright guess, as the documentation was so lacking.&nbsp; Her team had also read only 66 case files as part of random sample.<br /><br />Casey in her report writes "those denying the figures could not point to any more authoritative figure" (page 22), precisely because of the lack of documentation or the changing counting methods, or indeed different things being counted in the documentation.&nbsp; In other words, no one has the slightest idea just how many children have been sexually exploited in Rotherham, but it's a high one and Jay's figure is probably a conservative estimate, or rather guess.&nbsp; When you consider that again Casey is counting not just those definitively groomed by Pakistani heritage gangs, but who may have been abused by members of their own family, it puts further doubt on her own conclusion.<br /><br />This is not to deny the accuracy of Casey's other conclusion, that behind the questioning of the figure, by the councillors at least, was the denial of the very real problem of CSE.&nbsp; Alexis Jay's report otherwise was excellent, and if anything Casey's work distracts from it.&nbsp; When however you have a number that is focused on above everything else, as happened with <a href="https://fullfact.org/factchecks/francis_many_deaths_unnecessarily_at_mid_staffs-28805">the excess deaths figure leaked to the press</a> concerning the Mid-Staffs care scandal, a figure that didn't appear in the final report precisely because it was felt to be confusing, it does invite questioning and disbelief.<br /><br />Which brings us to another example of what happens when the very best of intentions, the demand something must be done, leads to poor decision making.&nbsp; Back in February last year <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/05/what-you-can-do-to-end-fgm-female-genital-mutilation-campaign">the Guardian and other newspapers</a> began a campaign against the continued practice of female genital mutilation.&nbsp; As worthy causes go, there isn't a much higher one: there is no reason whatsoever why so much as a single girl living in this country should be cut in such a way, nor should it ever be tolerated, regardless of any cultural sensitivity.&nbsp; It's a crime, and its chief aim is to prevent women from experiencing pleasure during sex for the purposes of "control".<br /><br />Alongside the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/06/female-genital-mutilation-facts">urgently needed awareness campaign</a> was however the bandied about <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/07/fgm-female-genital-mutilation-prosecutions-law-failed">figure of 65,000 girls being at risk</a>, and much emphasis was also placed on how there <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/10/france-tough-stance-female-genital-mutilation-fgm">had not been a single prosecution in the 29 years of legislation</a> being on the statute book.&nbsp; The reasons why there hadn't been any were fairly obvious: it's not something many victims are going to confess to until they start having serious relationships, or become pregnant. It's also nearly always organised by the victim's relatives, if not with the active permission of the parents, with all that entails for investigations if suspicions are reported to teachers or the police.&nbsp; Failing careful monitoring of those most at risk, which carries with it the potential for accusations of profiling, misunderstandings and racism, it's always going to be difficult in the extreme to bring charges.<br /><br />We can't then know exactly why the head of the CPS, Alison Saunders, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/21/fgm-female-genital-mutilation-men-charged">decided to go ahead with the prosecution of </a><span class="element-image__caption"><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/21/fgm-female-genital-mutilation-men-charged">Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena</a> for committing FGM.&nbsp; Was she under pressure to do something because of the campaign?&nbsp; We do know that the prosecution was announced three days before she was due to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee, where the failure to prosecute anyone over FGM would undoubtedly been questioned.</span><br /><br /><span class="element-image__caption">Nonetheless, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/04/first-female-genital-mutilation-prosecution-dhanuson-dharmasena-fgm">even on the basic facts of the case</a> it ought to have been clear that Dharmasena had acted in the interests of his patient, even if he erred in precisely the procedure he carried out.&nbsp; Dharmasena's patient, who did not want the doctor to be prosecuted, had undergone either type 1 or type 2 FGM as a child.&nbsp; Hospital policy was she should have been seen by the antenatal team earlier in her pregnancy when the damage caused by the FGM could have repaired.&nbsp; For whatever reason, this hadn't occurred.&nbsp; Dharmasena himself had not encountered FGM previously, nor undergone training on it.&nbsp; After making a number of cuts to the patient in order for the baby to be delivered, it was born safely.&nbsp; The bleeding however didn't stop, and on the spur of the moment he put in a single continuous suture in a figure of eight.&nbsp; Hospital policy was the damage should not have been repaired in such a way, and was considered to be in effect reinfibulation, or carrying out the FGM again.&nbsp; An investigation by the hospital after Dharmasena himself raised concerns over his actions recommended further training and a "period of a reflection".&nbsp; It was also, fatefully, referred to the Metropolitan police.</span><br /><span class="element-image__caption"><br /></span><span class="element-image__caption">Almost as soon as the prosecution was announced <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/27/fgm-charges-doctor-criticised-obstetricians-gynaecologist">doctors responded anxiousl</a>y, saying there was a world of difference between a repair being made during delivery of a baby and actual FGM.&nbsp; Calls for it to be dropped were however ignored, and the judge during the trial also rejected 3 separate attempts by the defence for the case to be thrown out.&nbsp; Even so, it took the jury little more than 30 minutes to decide Dharmasena was not guilty.</span><br /><span class="element-image__caption"><br /></span><span class="element-image__caption">On the face of it, as the campaigning midwife </span><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comfort_Momoh">Comfort Momoh</a> commented, what Dharmasena did was against the law on FGM.&nbsp; This was surely though a case with extenuating circumstances, which in itself shows how further training is needed for doctors, let alone other health workers and civil servants.&nbsp; In the end the jury reached the correct decision and Dharmasena seems likely to be able to carry on as a doctor.&nbsp; It should also though concentrate the minds of journalists over the power they have to affect policy, and just how easily it can lead to good people being made scapegoats.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-58787154524436739512015-02-04T23:39:00.003+00:002015-02-08T21:34:34.146+00:00By their works they shall be judged.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">The motives behind <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/feb/04/fox-news-shows-isis-video-jordan-pilot">Fox News's decision to embed on their website the full 22-minute Islamic State video</a> featuring the <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2015/02/the-islamic-state-will-fall.html">murder of Muadh al-Kasasbeh</a> are obvious.&nbsp; Not only will it drive traffic to a site which is read far less than its channel is watched, nothing more epitomises just how depraved and evil these Muslims are.&nbsp; Fox would of course never dream of showing the agonising death of an American citizen at the hands of terrorists, or probably anyone other than a fellow Muslim, a fellow brown-skinned Arab.&nbsp; It's also a safe bet that had it been an American or British pilot shot down, Piers Morgan wouldn't have written <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2938746/PIERS-MORGAN-Watching-ISIS-burn-man-alive-abominable-thing-seen-Muslim-won-t-stand-barbarians-watch-too.html">quite such an abominable piece for Mail Online</a> on watching it and how it means all Muslims MUST stand up against IS as this is THEIR war.&nbsp; It would have rather undermined that completely specious argument for a start.<br /><br />If there's one thing more distasteful than people watching the video and then boasting about doing so, it's those who say to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/04/isis-videos-complict-terrorism-death-hostage-killers">watch it is to be complicit</a>, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/04/there-is-nothing-heroic-about-watching-isiss-high-definition-porn">to play into Islamic State's hands</a>.&nbsp; It's the exact same point as was <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/09/of-walking-abortion.html">made after the hacking</a> <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/10/perpetuating-abuse.html">of celebrities' cloud accounts</a>, only slightly modified.&nbsp; Not only is the message delivered invariably in a sanctimonious, holier than thou style, it also jars precisely because they're talking about something they don't want you to see, which in psychology terms rather defeats the object.&nbsp; Suzanne Moore also wrote during last year's Gaza war that sharing graphic images of the conflict <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/21/sharing-pictures-corpses-social-media-ceasefire">"devalued the currency of shared humanity"</a>.&nbsp; Rather, it gave <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/07/its-so-fucking-funny.html">the lie to Israeli claims of only targeting Hamas</a>.&nbsp; The real hypocrisy is how sanitised the reporting of war is in the West, at least when our servicemen are involved.&nbsp; The same injuries from bombing have been inflicted by British and American pilots in Afghanistan and Iraq, but only when journalists are directly caught up in it, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z3AtgDRjHU">as John Simpson was</a>, do we see the true horror.<br /><br />The fact is the media has an increasingly bizarre and idiosyncratic attitude to just what the public can and can't handle on their front pages or news channels.&nbsp; The denouement of hostage crises, as we saw on a Friday last month, can be shown in real time and no one bats an eye-lid as long as there isn't any viscera in the frame.&nbsp; <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Muz6QvLWfQQ">Crazed killers who reacted badly to sensationalist media coverage</a> will have their last moments recorded and played back as soon as possible for your delectation, and hardly anyone will speak up and say this is a new low.&nbsp; Show the real, immediate aftermath of an airstrike though, and I don't mean the gray from the air footage released by the military, a raid carried out not by terrorists or murderers but a democratic state, and many will begin to squirm and come up with reasons as to why it shouldn't be viewed.<br /><br />There is a line to be drawn, obviously, and on the whole the right decisions are usually made.&nbsp; As yesterday's post likely made clear, I've watched a lot of jihadist video releases down the years, mostly from Iraq.&nbsp; I could say I did so in order to be better informed, to know your enemy, and that would certainly be part of the truth.&nbsp; Was part of it also curiosity though?&nbsp; Well, yes, and I defy anyone to say they haven't sought out material that challenged them in some way at some point, whatever it may have been.&nbsp; I'm not a gorehound by any means, and watching such things hasn't desensitised me in any way, shape or form.&nbsp; If anything, it's furthered my loathing of cruelty, my suspicion of getting involved in wars where the realities are cloaked behind a curtain.&nbsp; Often the attitude of dedicated researchers or experts, as voiced in the Graun's piece, appears to be only we are capable of analysing such videos and statements in a clinical manner, and to allow the hoi polloi to see them is unthinkable.&nbsp; Indeed, anyone in this country who watches videos by Islamic State is likely to be committing a criminal offence.&nbsp; To merely have in your possession <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-20629275">a digital copy of Inspire magazine is to risk jail</a>.<br /><br />Without doubt, some of the reaction is down to the very fact you're capable of making the choice to click, rather than it being in the control of those judged to know better.&nbsp; Whether such a video should be as easily available as Fox News has decided to make it is dubious, if only because the more clicks or searches needed to find something, the more likely those who in their heart of hearts don't want to see it will step back.&nbsp; There have been times when I've thought long and hard <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/10/not-statement-from-john-grisham.html">about describing certain things on this blog</a>, but often the decision I've reached is they need to be confronted and talked about, precisely because we all too often blanch from doing so.&nbsp; Many seem to prefer not to remain ignorant, but to just not know.&nbsp; My aim yesterday was to describe Muadh al-Kasasbeh's suffering as respectfully, accurately and calmly as I could, for anyone who did want to know but didn't want to see for themselves.&nbsp; The very last thing I would say is anyone should watch it; as others who have done said, including the likes of Jeremy Bowen, it is without exaggeration among the most horrific things I have ever seen, if not the most horrific.<br />&nbsp;</span><br /><span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">That's why it's not enough to just write Muadh al-Kasasbeh was burned alive and leave it at that.&nbsp; To view what Islamic State did (as an aside, calling groups what they call themselves, regardless of their delusions of grandeur, is not to confer legitimacy on them) is not to be complicit in it.&nbsp; I didn't feel rage, as I did watching the previous video of the mass beheading of Syrians, which was precisely what they wanted me to feel but was at their disgusting arrogance, how it distilled the sickening narcissism of all murderers.&nbsp; No, I rather felt horror, sorrow and pity for their victim and all their victims.&nbsp; This is why it is nonsensical to say videos of their crimes are "superfluous and risk distracting us".&nbsp; No, they are documenting their own downfall.&nbsp; By such chronicling they will be known and judged.&nbsp; No one who doesn't want to see it has to, and no one should be judged for doing so.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com2tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-34232263269923679212015-02-03T23:59:00.000+00:002015-02-04T00:37:14.245+00:00The Islamic State will fall.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">(Please take your trigger warnings and do one.&nbsp; That said, this post discusses and describes some fairly distressing stuff, so you probably shouldn't read it.) <br /><br />When the news came through <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/24/islamic-state-shot-down-coalition-warplane-syria">Islamic State had captured a Jordanian pilot</a>, my immediate thought was he was going to suffer.&nbsp; Whatever indignities or torture both mental and physical IS's western prisoners have undergone, and if they were beaten, the group was careful not to leave injuries that would be seen on video, they have been nothing as to how the group treats other Muslims or groups deemed heretical.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30573385">The Yazidi women taken as slaves</a>; <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/11052984/Inside-an-Isil-town-Raqqa-is-being-slaughtered-silently.html">the men crucified in the centre of Raqqa</a>; the relatives of an Iraqi army commander made to dig their own graves before they were beheaded; Islamic State's brutality, much as it often appears an end in itself, is also meted out as a warning, just as other regimes have prospered in the short term through establishing a monopoly on violence.<br /><br />For all the words expelled on why beheading and decapitation especially horrify, the most immediate reasons being our heads make us who we are, and to separate the head from the body is to dehumanise someone utterly, with the entire history of decapitation as a form of execution playing in the background as atavism, the main reason it became the favoured method of execution for jihadis is more prosaic.&nbsp; Other than a bullet in the back of the head, it's relatively simple to carry out, and done "properly" it kills quickly, in a matter of seconds.&nbsp; It also obviously provides an instant "trophy" that can be held aloft and displayed.&nbsp; How soon <a href="http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1172/does-the-head-remain-briefly-conscious-after-decapitation">brain death occurs is a matter of scientific debate</a>, and how much pain the victim experiences can only be speculated upon, further depending on specific circumstances.&nbsp; If the executioner isn't a sadist, or doesn't intend to make it as painful an end as imaginable, whether through using a blunt knife, not fully severing the windpipe or wrenching at the head when the neck has only been half cut, all things jihadis have done in executions they have filmed, there are worse ways to die.&nbsp; Not many, but there are.<br /><br />One such way is to be burned.&nbsp; If beheading reminds of the guillotine, of masked executioners wielding axes, of seppuku, burning alive is even more primeval, archaic.&nbsp; You think witches, Joan of Arc, women convicted of treason.&nbsp; It's also more instantly associated with Christianity than Islam.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/03/isis-video-jordanian-hostage-burdning-death-muadh-al-kasabeh">The murder of Muadh al-Kasasbeh</a> has, all but needless to say, nothing whatsoever in common with Islam and instead everything to do with politics.&nbsp; The cynicism of Islamic State is not so much over the method of execution, and instead the emotional torture of his relatives.&nbsp; If the Jordanian government is correct, al-Kasasbeh was put to death exactly a month ago, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/28/jordan-agrees-swap-death-row-terrorist-isis-pilot">yet his murderers spent the past week raising hopes</a> in both Jordan and Japan that men they may well have already killed could be released in a prisoner swap.&nbsp; It also means that IS has had the best part of a month to put together their most despicable and elaborate murder set piece yet, which is exactly what their 22-minute release is.<br /><br />Back in December <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/2014/dec/23/-sp-passive-consumers-pornography-violence">Will Self was correct in pointing out</a> none of the videos of the western hostages the media said depicted their execution actually did, in as much as showing the act itself.&nbsp; They all faded to black as the knife was put to their neck and the cutting motion appeared to begin; when the image came back in, the now severed head of the victim had been placed upright on the back of their now prone body.&nbsp; This raised the question of whether the British jihadi who addressed the camera in each video was the person carrying out the murder, or whether someone else did once the camera stopped filming.&nbsp; If there were any doubts, these were answered by the release of a video<a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/11/islamic-state-and-glamour-of-war.html"> showing the execution of a group of Syrian officers</a> which gloried in showing the act in full, the British man staring at the camera as he sliced open his victim's throat.<br /><br />There is no cutting away either from al-Kasabeh's terrible ordeal.&nbsp; Before the accelerant which trails from the cage he has been placed in is lit, and such is the ferocity of the fire it could well be jet fuel rather than mere petrol, he's led through bombed buildings.&nbsp; Indeed, destruction surrounds the place chosen for the execution.&nbsp; It's presented as pure revenge, as being eminently justifiable to IS's supporters, as well as for maximum impact.&nbsp; Boris Johnson was rightly criticised for his <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/boris-johnson-claims-pornobsessed-islamic-jihadists-are-literally-ws-10012525.html">idiotic remarks about jihadis all being porn obsessed wankers</a>, but there are jihadis who do fit that description, only they have a bloodlust equal to that others have for naked flesh.&nbsp; IS more than any previous jihadist group caters to this market, and it does so in the style of the most vacuous and disposable Hollywood action flick, al-Kasabeh's pained, terrified expressions as he awaits his fate sliced together in a montage over in less than 5 seconds.<br /><br />What happens to al-Kasabeh isn't only as the broadcasters will say, too graphic to show, it's almost too horrific to describe.&nbsp; If we have any knowledge of images of death by burning, it's probably of <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Quang_Duc">Thích Quảng Đức</a>, or <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBFIFehr7NA">Buddhists in Tibet</a>, either filmed at a distance or in poor quality.&nbsp; Al-Kasabeh dies in agony, up close, and in high definition.&nbsp; His screams seem to go on long after he stops moving, after his body has reached the stage at which it constricts, only ending not long before it topples backwards.&nbsp; Almost immediately, but probably cleverly edited to look that way, a digger moves in and dumps rubble on to the cage, crushing it, al-Kasabeh's blackened hand left visible through the debris.&nbsp; This is what you've done to us; if we capture you, it's what you can expect in return.<br /><br />Some on previous occasions claimed Islamic State's releases have been meant to distract from their problems on the ground, not always with much credibility.&nbsp; This time, it's far more apposite.&nbsp; To be crude, and not entirely accurate, the butch men of Islamic State have <a href="http://pando.com/2015/01/19/the-war-nerd-getting-women-warriors-wrong/">just had their arses handed to them by a militia led by a woman</a>.&nbsp; Yes, they were <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-31088684">helped massively by the airstrikes and backed up by other Syrian rebels</a> and Iraqi Kurds, but let's not ignore that symbolism.&nbsp; Islamic State seemed at one point unstoppable, or overexcitable media gave that impression.&nbsp; They are now being pushed back in both Syria and Iraq, <a href="https://medium.com/war-is-boring/the-kurds-are-close-to-mosul-but-not-in-a-hurry-to-get-there-c6cefa2f71d5">and the battle to retake Mosul is being planned</a>. <br /><br />The ever more elaborate and gruesome Islamic State's base propaganda becomes, the more it becomes clear it's fighting a battle for survival in its current form.&nbsp; Exactly what shouldn't happen now is for Jordan to engage in tat for tat executions, rather to rise above such instant acts of vengeance.&nbsp; Justice will be achieved for al-Kasabeh in other ways, just as it will for the western and Japanese hostages murdered, and the ordinary citizens of Iraq and Syria currently under their vicious yoke.&nbsp; The real challenge, though, will be in ensuring the same mistakes that led to the rise of IS aren't repeated once they have been defeated.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-55826903071322444732015-02-02T22:08:00.000+00:002015-02-02T22:08:04.513+00:00Who's winning the campaign before the campaign?<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Most of you are probably familiar with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge%27s_law_of_headlines">Betteridge's law of headlines</a>, popularised by John Rentoul <a href="http://blogs.independent.co.uk/tag/headline/">as questions to which the answer is no</a>.&nbsp; Today's Graun front page for instance asks "Are insects the new sushi?"&nbsp; This not only follows Betteridge's law, it asks whether something is the new something, which again, can nearly always be responded to with no.&nbsp; To cap it all, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/01/eating-insects-britain-foodies-wahaca">if you bother to look at the piece</a>, something I wouldn't advise, you'll find it's one of the Graun's sponsored articles, or in another words an advertorial.&nbsp; Marvellous.<br /><br />Every so often though you get a headline which doesn't adhere to the rule.&nbsp; These I humbly suggest can nearly always be categorised as questions to which the answer is who gives a fuck.&nbsp; The BBC, bless them, ask <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31093035">"Who won the social media Super Bowl?"</a>&nbsp; Is this, as a species, what we have become?&nbsp; Where it's not enough to not care about the result of the most overblown and wretched sports event of the entire calendar, you also have to not care about who won the battle on Twitter and Facebook?&nbsp; The Graun for some reason sent out a push notification about the Super Bowl getting under way; unless the mind's playing tricks, I can't remember them doing the same for the World Cup final.<br /><br />Perhaps it's not surprising when one of the bigger news stories of last week was girlfriend of tennis player swears.&nbsp; And then, ho ho, she responded to it yesterday by <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-31092019">wearing a sweatshirt with the old parental advisory logo</a> you sometimes got on CDs on it.&nbsp; Everyone laughed.&nbsp; Then cried.<br /><br />Much the same ought to have gone for the comments <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/11382303/Boots-boss-Ed-Miliband-would-be-a-catastrophe-for-Britain.html">of a certain Stefano Pessina</a>, who until yesterday 99.9% of the country had never heard of.&nbsp; He is of course CEO of everyone's favourite crap shop, Boots, a chain that mystifyingly continues to exist in spite of it how it does precisely nothing better than its rivals.&nbsp; Its continued existence <a href="http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/tax-justice-now/18010-boots-billion-pound-tax-dodge-report">is no doubt helped by its tax arrangements</a>, for which it has been hammered in the past.&nbsp; You might then have thought Pessina, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/01/labour-boots-stefano-pessina-chuka-umunna-tax-uk">who naturally resides in Monaco</a>, would have considered the potential consequences of launching the first attributable salvo from a business leader against Labour of the election campaign.&nbsp; Not that Pessina could so much as put his finger on <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/11382145/Labour-government-will-be-catastrophic-for-Britain-warns-Boots-boss.html">which Labour policies would be a "catastrophe"</a>, as he put it, probably because they're so benign they wouldn't make a scrap of difference, it was the mere intervention of such a titan of industry that really had an impact.<br /><br />Stupidly wealthy man in not wanting to potentially hand over more tax shocker!&nbsp; Except, such is the incredible bias against Labour, much as there was an incredible bias against Scottish independence, the merest utterance of an entrepreneur or chief executive of a fairly large company demands that anyone so much as thinking of voting for Red Ed or Yes should mull it over again.&nbsp; Labour fighting back against such idiocy, which anyone even remotely fairly minded would consider to be par for the course, becomes <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2935060/A-Labour-government-Ed-Miliband-catastrophe-Britain-warns-Boots-chief.html">"LABOUR'S WAR ON BOOTS THE CHEMIST"</a>.&nbsp; Yes, because Pessina is Boots, isn't he?&nbsp; There's always a danger in a mass employer commenting on politics, not least when most of those employees are likely to be young, female and low paid, and look favourably on Labour's catastrophic utterances.&nbsp; Still, George Osborne clearly thought it was a great idea, so we can no doubt expect this to be just the first in a stream of wannabe John Galts denouncing the opposition's socialism. <br /><br />The whole bash Labour as if they were an unstoppable political juggernaut and not an incredibly pusillanimous wee beastie campaign has undoubtedly commenced.&nbsp; This is completely expected, yet still instructive for what it's distracting attention from.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/27/miliband-nhs-plans-risk-losing-election-blair-supporters-warn">Labour's re-running the 1992 campaign</a>, sighs a man who ran a disastrous campaign of his own, and might just have a conflict of interest<a href="http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/jan/29/alan-milburn-labour-health-secretary-am-strategy-private-healthcare"> due to his private health interests</a>, a message taken up not just by the right-wing press, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0512k85/newsnight-29012015">but also by Newsnight</a>.&nbsp; Matthew d'Anconservative in the Graun <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/02/ed-miliband-decide-labour-austerity-lite-syriza-lite">says Miliband is ever more solitary</a>, and it's true in the past the Conservatives have tended to make up lost ground in the last few months before an election.&nbsp; Only, for everything supposedly in Labour's favour, little things like a growing economy, low unemployment (relatively, with the figures hiding a multitude of sins) and now also low inflation would normally signal a victory for the incumbents.<br /><br />Instead they're still neck and neck, reduced to cringeworthy stunts like promising <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-31079515">a return to learning by rote for the kiddies</a>, presumably alongside compulsory semolina pudding at lunchtime.&nbsp; Cameron can't even work out if the education budget <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/news/reality-check/2015/feb/02/david-cameron-education-speech-schools-budget">will remain protected if they win</a>, unsurprising considering <a href="http://septicisle1.blogspot.com/2014/12/youre-talking-hyperbollocks.html">the "colossal" cuts</a> needing to be made to be able to reach a surplus and reduce taxes as promised.&nbsp; There was almost no comment on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGWfcyZIWQo&amp;feature=youtu.be">George Osborne's refusal to spell out</a> anything in his interview with Evan Davis, while <a href="http://labourlist.org/2015/01/burnham-v-wark-who-won-the-battle-of-newsnight/">Andy Burnham's frankly superior altercation with Kirsty Wark</a> received far more attention.&nbsp; The focus isn't however on a party that hasn't won an election for 23 years, and which at the moment shows no signs of breaking that record, it's on the one fighting to return to office after a single term out of power.<br /><br />Only another three months to go.&nbsp; Where's that social media Super Bowl article when you need it?</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-10694260768704106262015-01-30T13:31:00.000+00:002015-01-30T13:31:18.211+00:00Future now.<center><iframe width="480" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_psOM7Q2bKc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe><iframe width="480" height="360" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kyanOxQdZu8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></center>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-87326576821377935332015-01-29T21:49:00.001+00:002015-01-30T20:48:33.226+00:00You mean these ridiculously subjective rules apply to us as well?<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">It's hard not to feel at least a smidgen of sympathy for <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/28/schools-watchdog-chief-denies-ofsted-anti-christian-agenda">the good burghers behind the Durham free school and the Grindon Hall Christian school</a> in Sunderland.&nbsp; After all, what's the point of allowing any Tom, Dick or Toby Young to open up a new place of learning if they can't then attempt to instil whichever belief system they adhere to into their young charges?&nbsp; If the parents want it, clearly they will come.&nbsp; Who quite frankly is the government or Ofsted to stick their noses in and say a school in an overwhelmingly "White British" area is failing to <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2922591/Is-school-gay-inappropriate-Ofsted-questions-children-aged-just-11-school-children-branded-bigots.html">"prepare its students for life in modern Britain"?</a>&nbsp; <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2924236/Girls-11-quizzed-lesbians-Whitehall-zealots-waging-war-Christian-schools-Special-report-Tom-Rawstorne.html">What is this outrageous political correctness</a> being foisted on Christian and Jewish establishments when everyone knows the problem is with the Muslims?&nbsp; Why is Durham free school having its funding pulled while the "Trojan Horse" schools remain open, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/08/trojan-horse-school-teacher-shortage-birmingham">albeit unable to recruit new teachers</a>?<br /><br />A weaker man would at the same time as feeling a twinge of sympathy also have a jolly good laugh.&nbsp; From the very moment <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/michael-gove-proves-his-worth-yet-again.html">the panic over the schools in Birmingham erupted</a> you could see this was going to happen.&nbsp; There can't be one rule for schools in areas mostly populated by parents who, like it or not, might prefer education with an Islamic influence for their children, and another for those whom for whatever reason feel the need to bring God into it at every turn.&nbsp; The fact the schools at the centre of the Trojan Horse affair did not specifically have a Islamic ethos and were rather academies is by the by: start insisting every child must know what British values are, <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/06/our-true-shared-values.html">despite the vast majority of adults not having the first clue</a>, and you get the kind of results the Daily Mail has been wailing about.&nbsp; Kids asked if they know anyone who's gay!&nbsp; Girl possibly asked if she was a virgin!&nbsp; Child who says "terrorism" when questioned about Islam branded a bigot!&nbsp; Schools failed on the grounds of being Christian!<br /><br />Except, typically, if you bother to <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/140005">read the reports</a> <a href="http://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/inspection-reports/find-inspection-report/provider/ELS/140005">on either school</a> the whole "not preparing students for life in modern Britain" angle, while there, is rather secondary to the schools just not being any good in general.&nbsp; The Durham free school's governors, damningly, are said to "place too much emphasis on religious credentials when they are recruiting key staff and not enough on seeking candidates with excellent leadership and teaching skills."&nbsp; I mean, blimey, who could have predicted that might happen with free schools?&nbsp; Much the same is said of Grindon Hall, where "Many appointments are made without fair and open competition."<br /><br />This does not make Ofsted's approach, which seems to be to ask <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/nov/21/ofsted-muslim-schools-london-closure-threat">young children questions on things they might not have the first idea</a> about for perfectly innocent reasons, a good one.&nbsp; How can they possibly conclude an answer which indicates lack of preparation for life in modern Britain™ is a reflection of the school's citizenship efforts rather than that of their life outside of school?&nbsp; Why should the onus be on the school and not on the parents anyway, or would that be a government interference too far?&nbsp; Worth remembering is that for all the shock and horror over the schools in Birmingham, there was not the slightest evidence presented of active radicalisation or that extremism was being taught.&nbsp; Cohesion, folks, is a two-way street.&nbsp; If clinging on to religion in a country that's become secular is seen as marking you out as not wanting to be a part of modern Britain®, might I suggest it could be time to join forces rather than spit out the dummy and say it's not fair?<br /><br />Most amusing of all is the idea the ultimate architect behind this nonsense, one senor Michael Gove, was trying "to promote a politically correct diversity agenda".&nbsp; Yes, that's exactly what <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-27691901">Mr Drain the Swamp</a> was doing.&nbsp; Ofsted has been essentially recreated in Gove's image, even though he's now been replaced by Nicky Morgan, who coincidentally voted against gay marriage partly on the basis of, you guessed it, <a href="http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Loughborough-MP-Nicky-Morgan-explains-voted/story-18148357-detail/story.html">her religious views</a>, so clearly more evidence of bias there.&nbsp; The wiser heads might have seen the way this was going and spoke out at the time, before the education of more children was disrupted.&nbsp; Such though is the way of those determined to leave their mark, regardless of the consequences.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-22351353429804495452015-01-28T23:59:00.000+00:002015-01-29T00:49:42.924+00:00Trapped in the echo chamber.<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">At times, I wonder just how it was newspapers filled their pages when they couldn't dedicate multiple anguished pieces <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jan/27/benedict-cumberbatchs-coloured-gaffe-give-the-man-a-break">to either actors</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/27/benedict-cumberbatch-apology-coloured-people">making a poor</a> <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/27/cumberbatch-coloured-gaffe-white-film-industry-black-actors">choice of word</a>, or alleged <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/27/yes-kirstie-allsopp-litter-rubbish-twitter">celebrities Twitter-shaming litterers</a>.&nbsp; Then you remember there was never a halcyon period for newspapers, regardless of what anyone will tell you: the tabloids were always full of celebrity bilge, including Hugh Cudlipp's patrician Mirror.&nbsp; As for the broadsheets, they were in the main drier than downtown Jeddah on a Saturday night.&nbsp; Not for nothing was the ghastly but at least readable Express the world's biggest seller for a time.<br /><br />Apparently then I must defend <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/28/katie-price-benefits-disabled-son">Katie Price's right <s>to party</s> to claim disability benefits for her son</a>.&nbsp; First they came for one of the most loathsome personalities of recent times, and so forth.&nbsp; Alternatively, I could let her get on with it, as I'm sure dear old Jordan can look after herself, surely?&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2015/jan/26/benedict-cumberbatch-apologises-after-calling-black-actors-coloured">Much like Benedict Bandersnatch</a> (that is his name, isn't it?) no doubt instantly regretted saying coloured, without it being necessary for writers to assume he couldn't have much contact with black actors if he was going around doing so.&nbsp; As for Kirstie Allsopp, well, as the personification of just about everything that would quickly send me completely and utterly fucking doolally, if she wants to be so petty as to put a litterer's number plate online, does it really need further comment?<br /><br />Of course it does.&nbsp; And of course, it takes two or indeed dozens of sad acts for these mini-ripples to get anywhere in the first place.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.vice.com/en_uk/read/jon-ronson-interviews-adam-curtis-393">Reading Jon Ronson's interview with Adam Curtis</a>, which quickly digresses onto the topic of <a href="http://www.picador.com/books/so-youve-been-publicly-shamed">Ronson's upcoming book</a> on those who've found themselves at the centre of online storms, it's easy to forget these incidents would have felt that much less serious had the mainstream media decided not to join in the stupidity.<br /><br />Personally, despite everything that's come since, I reckon the apogee <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-coventry-warwickshire-11087061">was reached in the days</a> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw7hATDyrqY">after that woman put that cat in that bin</a>.&nbsp; Why put the CCTV online in the first place?&nbsp; I love animals as much as the next carnivore, but let's face it, far worse than spending a night in a bin is going to happen to most cats through their own ahem, curiosity.&nbsp; Why demand answers as to why she put it in the bin?&nbsp; Did it matter?&nbsp; Would any answer suffice?&nbsp; She quite possibly had a terrible day, but rather than stroke the cat as most of us would have and probably felt just that little better, she put it in the bin.&nbsp; Or perhaps she does just hate cats.&nbsp; Either way, the why was irrelevant.&nbsp; She will now and forever more be the cat bin lady.&nbsp; Which could be preferable to being known as a cat lady when you think about it, who knows.<br /><br /><a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/07/the-twitter-hate-machine.html">As you'll probably know by now</a>, my own views on social media are roughly akin to both Ronson and Curtis's.&nbsp; Yes, it can all too easily become an echo chamber, but then most of us don't like having our thoughts and opinions challenged in the first place.&nbsp; Hence we buy that paper, we read that website, we turn our noses up at their rivals and so on.&nbsp; Far more pernicious to me at least is not the vehemence with which a transgression against something might be pursued, so much as the effect it's had on activism.&nbsp; On the one hand it's turbo-charged many campaigns, had a major role in the Arab spring, etc.&nbsp; On the other, as Curtis points out, what is there to show for the vast majority of hashtag battles?&nbsp; Not just the obvious examples for mocking, such as #bringbackourgirls or #kony2012, but what about #occupy?&nbsp; Apart from giving us the 99%/1% identifiers, what did it really change, and is that perhaps not directly connected to the lack of real leadership there so often is behind such Twitter co-ordinated protests?<br /><br />Curtis doesn't get everything right.&nbsp; His remark on how in "ten years, sections of the internet will have become like the American inner cities of the 1980s" is just a little behind the times, considering how there have been subcultures online almost exactly as he describes s<a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2013/08/the-epitome-of-modern-self-absorption.html">ince the late 90s</a>, and you could probably identify similar groupings on BBSes if you so wished.&nbsp; It's also something of a stretch to point towards "consumer journalism" being a recent thing - Murdoch's Sun was precisely that, long before accusations of dumbing down were bandied about, while the painting of the world as black and white is old as newspapers themselves.<br /><br />What's so odd and defies explanation is just how quickly the "shaming" aspect of social media has become accepted.&nbsp; Why should anyone care what <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jan/27/stuart-broad-minimum-wage-england-humble">a cricketer thinks about people on minimum wage</a> for instance, and why does someone else known for their opinions on Twitter feel the need <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/28/stuart-broad-vindictive-rhetoric-feckless-poor-benefits">to dedicate an entire piece to it</a>?&nbsp; It tells us precisely nothing wider about ourselves, just as <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2012/03/aldous-huxley-was-right-sort-of.html">Emma West's rant about immigration didn't</a>.&nbsp; The answer maybe is that rather than giving everyone a voice, what social media has really done is inflate egos yet further and little else, empowering not individuals, but individualism.&nbsp; This hasn't just happened to the Stuart Broads, the Allsopps, or anyone else you might care to mention, but also those whose reaction to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/jan/22/the-sun-topless-women-page-3">the Sun trolling everyone last week over page 3 was to stamp their feet</a> rather than reflect they had been too quick to assume victory.&nbsp; More prosaically, another explanation is the encouragement if not active compulsion there now is to share, regardless of whether it's something that should be heard or deserves to be.&nbsp; When rubbed against not the right to freedom of speech but, hilariously, <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/28/pc-culture-freedom-of-speech-freedom-to-be-offended">the "freedom to be offended" as the headline writing sub</a> on Jessica Valenti's latest we're putting an end to every sort of ism through making everyone check their privilege piece put it, increasingly pointless battles are the inevitable result.<br /><br />As ever, most of the criticisms directed against others can be pointed directly back at myself.&nbsp; Why moan about people moaning about inconsequential things?&nbsp; Hasn't writing this crap for the last nigh-on 10 years been all about boosting your ego too?&nbsp; Who gives a fig what you think about anything?&nbsp; To which the only answer is: curses, foiled again.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-14422435.post-26384280256935073312015-01-27T23:04:00.000+00:002015-01-27T23:04:42.554+00:00Is it that time already?<span style="font-family: georgia; font-size: 130%;">Gosh, can it really only be 100 days until the election already?&nbsp; The last 1,727 days have just flown by, have they not?&nbsp; It seems only last week Dave n' Nick were consummating the coalition deal in the rose garden, except what if they didn't and it was all just boasting?&nbsp; Perhaps if we end up with much the same result as last time we'll have Tory leader Boris Johnson renouncing the coalition mid-term on the basis Clegg really did have relations with Dave despite his denials.&nbsp; Is that a convoluted enough non-gag that doesn't work <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catherine_of_Aragon#The_King.27s_great_matter">referencing Wolf Hall and Tudor history for you</a>?&nbsp; I sure hope so.<br /><br />We could do with a politician much like Hilary Mantel's depiction of Thomas Cromwell, that's for sure.&nbsp; Ruthless but compassionate, dedicated to his masters yet ferociously independent, against lunatic foreign adventures and depraved and corrupted religious scroungers, what's not to like?&nbsp; Well, you could factor in the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Cromwell">real Cromwell</a> almost certainly wasn't as enigmatic as Mantel paints him in her wonderful novels (I must thank a certain someone whose sort of recommendation finally persuaded me to stop my procrastinating and read them), more a brutal cove who introduced the first sort of intelligence service, enabling Henry to become a tyrant, but all the same.&nbsp; He rather puts Dave, Ed, Nick and Nige in a certain perspective, doesn't he?&nbsp; Son of a blacksmith, did a real job abroad before entering law, a man truly out of time.<br /><br />Anyway, enough wishful thinking and putting off discussing our rather sadder reality.&nbsp; In truth, no one except those paid to be have been remotely interested in the campaigning thus far.&nbsp; This might have something to do with how dismal it's all been.&nbsp; We've had the Tories release <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/02/tories-go-for-country-road-to-take-the-economic-message-home">their don't vote Labour and drive advert</a>, or whatever it was, which <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/27/liberal-democrat-election-poster-parodies-conservative-road-to-recovery?guni=Network%20front:network-front%20main-4%20Pixies:Pixies:Position24:anchor%20image">the Lib Dems have since parodied</a>.&nbsp; Without inserting a joke sadly, although some might say, ho ho, they are the joke.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.septicisle.info/index.php?q=/2014/12/oh-joy-of-next-5-months.html">Both Labour and</a> <a href="https://www.conservatives.com/">the Conservatives are hoping</a> to attract your attention with a set of themes, even though we all know it's going to be NHS, NHS, NHS from Miliband and pals and, economy, economy, economy from Dave and friends.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/26/labour-nhs-election-pledge-36000-more-staff">Ed was duly at the site of the first NHS hospital today</a>, while yesterday dearest Cameron was explaining how thanks to them every man, woman and child <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30980917">can look forward to tax cuts</a>, provided they're hard-working men, women and children, naturally.&nbsp; If they aren't, and they're naughty workshy layabouts, <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/11370910/David-Cameron-to-reduce-benefits-cap-to-23000-immediately-if-he-wins-the-election.html">the benefit cap will drop 3 grand almost immediately</a> after a Tory victory, while unemployed under-21s will also be denied housing benefit.<br /><br />The Conservatives are forewarning everyone at least.&nbsp; Any questioning of just what sort of jobs have been created under the coalition is jumped on as being dismissive of "aspiration".&nbsp; Heaven forfend for instance that a business leader of the future might have been able to launch their enterprise sooner if they hadn't been stuck on zero-hours work, saving the little they could, or indeed needed housing benefit to be able to escape a home life from hell.&nbsp; The message from here until May the 7th will be we've sort of stabilised the economy, so just put all the unpleasantness of the past few years at the back of your mind and try not to think of the cuts to come.&nbsp; Cuts which George Osborne in best infuriating fashion succeeded in not outlining in <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSNvIkRBJKs">last week's interview with Evan Davis</a>, falling back on the old no one thought we could achieve the cuts we have made argument, so obviously we can hack and slash without anyone suffering in the next 5 years also.<br /><br />Nor would Labour under Ed Miliband be the party we've come to shake our heads about sadly without <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/27/miliband-nhs-plans-risk-losing-election-blair-supporters-warn">an old Blairite figure turning up and dripping poison</a>.&nbsp; Labour is running a "pale imitation of the 1992 campaign", says Alan Milburn, which is just a bit rich considering it was a certain Alan Milburn behind <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/feb/04/uk.advertising">2005's phenomenal "forward not back" Labour election campaign</a>.&nbsp; His warning of the party being seen as not in favour of reform and just putting in more funding would carry more weight if Labour was promising increased spending, except they aren't.&nbsp; Only the Lib Dems say they'll find the minimum £8 billion NHS head Simon Stevens believes is needed, and they all but needless to say have not given the first indication of where they'll get it from.<br /><br />Speaking of which, have the <a href="http://www.libdemvoice.org/is-there-any-chance-you-might-have-noticed-that-theres-100-days-till-the-general-election-44404.html">Liberal Democrats started campaigning yet</a>?&nbsp; One might assume if they have they're keeping a low profile due to how utterly ashamed they are over the party's strategy:&nbsp; neither "reckless" borrowing or reckless cuts, you can rely on the Lib Dems to keep those wild crazies in Labour and the Conservatives on the straight and narrow.&nbsp; This presumes the public give the party credit for reining in the Tories worst excesses, except they don't, nor has the experience of coalition led many to want the same thing again.&nbsp; Or at least not with the involvement of the Lib Dems, who surely must be getting extremely worried they could end up with <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jan/21/poll-snp-labour-scottish-seats-election">fewer seats than the SNP</a> and back in the wilderness years of the 70s prior to the SDP-Liberal alliance.&nbsp; That would be quite the legacy for Nick Clegg, to go down not so much marching towards the sound of gunfire as leading his party off Beachy Head.<br /><br />One thing Cameron must be given credit for is just how successful <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30997410">his kill the debates gambit has been</a>.&nbsp; As soon as the broadcasters suggested including UKIP, as they simply couldn't resist the prospect of bar room bore Nige shaking things up, they ought to have known every other smaller party would say hang on.&nbsp; Rather than just invite the Greens as Cameron insisted, and say it's daft including the nationalist parties when they don't fricking stand candidates outside of their respective countries we now have the SNP and Plaid Cymru involved.&nbsp; Why not the DUP and Sinn Fein?&nbsp; Why indeed?&nbsp; While we're at it, why not also Mebyon Kernow, Britain First, the Monster Raving Loonies, the Natural Law party or any other gobshite?&nbsp; Does anyone honestly believe a 7-leader or more debate or debates is viable?&nbsp; Of course they don't, just as the "empty chair" threat is precisely that.&nbsp; Without Cameron there aren't going to be debates, and so his terms with minor concessions, probably a couple of debates, one between him and Miliband, one also with Clegg, one before April and one during, will probably win out.<br /><br />All in all, it's shaping up to be an extraordinarily tedious, long-winded and highly familiar campaign.&nbsp; Much like something something you might add.&nbsp; Except, I wondered, perhaps not.&nbsp; Looking at <a href="https://twitter.com/suttonnick/status/559836023904305152/photo/1">today's Sun front page</a>, could it be possible the paper had finally, genuinely opened up itself to the views of its readers as suggested?&nbsp; Err, no.&nbsp; <a href="http://zelo-street.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/murdoch-scared-of-twitter.html">Sun readers apparently want the BBC cut down to size</a>, and also think politicians should ignore the Twitter mob, among other priorities that just happen to also be the paper's long-term concerns.&nbsp; Interesting at least the Sun is so exercised about Twitter demanding attention; in the past of course it was the Sun politicians listened to.&nbsp; Not everything remains the same.</span>septicislehttp://www.blogger.com/profile/03369157723084834549noreply@blogger.com0