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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Thanks to Making Light again...

The Ideal Scientific Equipment company sounds wonderful, and I'm going to be sending off my order for a dozen magnetic monopoles tonight to work in this perfect dynamo I am creating!


Discuss Ideal Science Equipment



Monday, September 29, 2003

Well, it is the start of Conference and I hope everyone enjoys it. It would be nice if there was a change of heart and direction by the cabinet into being more activist friendly - losing PFI and PPP, trying to deliver more for our core constituency.

Friday, September 26, 2003

"Return to your constituencies", he said, "and prepare for Government!". Ahh, dear, dear, dear old small David who I will always remember as the small puppet on Spitting Image. He was wrong then. And Kennedy is wrong now - there won't be a Lib Dem breakthrough because they haven't convinced any Conservatives of their policies. If they want to position themselves as a new party of the right, then they will have to do difficult things like stop being all things to all men and start making difficult political and economic decisions.

That will alienate about half their activists, to start with. Mostly Lib Dems are happy when they don't have to stand *for* anything. But to live, as they say, is to take sides. The Liberals natural base is well meaning middle class people who don't like socialism ("too grubby"). We will always be able to outflank them on the left, and Conservative support is melting away slowly as they die out. Will the Lib-Dems be able to turn the pro-European Tories onto themselves, or is their current support just a blip caused by an unpopular decision made by a popular government? Time will tell. I think Brent East was a bloody nose for the Blairites, and a warning that you can only drag Labour supporters so far to the right. We have reached that point now, and a new balance needs to be made.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Here's a nice extract from a new book by an ex-member of the Clinton Administration - here

Just a taster to whet your appetite:

"...The heralded transition of ex-communist countries to a market economy, which was supposed to bring unprecedented prosperity, brought unprecedented poverty.

The transition turned out to be such a disaster that by the summer of 1999, the New York Times was asking, "Who lost Russia?" And even if Russia was not ours to lose, the statistics were sobering: with efficient capitalism replacing moribund and decadent communism, output was supposed to soar.

In fact, output declined 40% and poverty increased tenfold. The results were similar in the other economies making the transition who followed the advice of the US treasury and the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile, China showed there was an alternative path of transition which could succeed in bringing the growth that markets promised and reducing poverty.

Clearly, something had gone wrong in the way we were leading the world into the new international order. At the very least, we had not addressed the fundamental problems of instability. There was enormous talk of reforming the global financial architecture but no real action."

Extracted from The Roaring Nineties: Seeds of Destruction, Joseph Stiglitz; published by Allen Lane, October 2; £18.99 Copyright Joseph Stiglitz 2003

It looks like an interesting book, and probably deserves to be more widely read than it probably will be.

Discuss US foreign policy - justified or wrong?

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Well, I've had a few thoughts since my recent blog break but one of the most recent is: where do the right wing get off on criticising political correctness? They have been doing it for years, and are still doing it now. It isn't killing your allies it is "friendly fire". You aren't sacked you are "downsized" or "let go" or "reorganised". Killing unarmed civilians is "collateral damage". Killing people is "termination". Rich people getting richer and poor people getting shafted is called "capitalism" or "free trade".

To call a black person a person of colour doesn't seem such a stretch really, does it?

Friday, September 19, 2003

I bet there are a lot of shocked people in Brent East today. Obviously the Lib Dems, shocked to have won and wondering what the heck to do next. The voters, who just wanted to register a protest vote but never expected a different party to get elected. The Conservatives, who must be gutted they didn't at least get second and finally the Labour party. Wondering why a Blairite right-winger from Surrey didn't take off in socialist Brent East. Crikey, I would have been a better candidate - at least I used to live in Brent and have an idea of the area.

Anyway, among all the lies that were told in the election broadcast last night some of the most creative came from the Lib Dems, as usual. They were brought to power on a wave of anti-war sentiment, which has always been strong in Brent ever since the 80's and CND. By cynically claiming they were anti-war, they were giving themselves a status they do not deserve. They will come unstuck when they have to sell that policy all over the country (and especially in Aldershot!)

I'm going to write more about this until it is out of my system. I'll publish the results later when I regain my temper.

Discuss Brent East - hope for Old Labour or Lib Dems unstoppable

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Here is an extract of a great piece by someone who should never have been driven out of the Labour Party - Ken Livingstone.

Voters must beware of Lib Dem lies - full article

"...After the Lib Dems won power in Sheffield, services were slashed and privatisation accelerated, despite promising the electorate they were opposed to such measures. In Kirklees, the Lib Dem council was widely condemned last year for a costly private finance initiative deal for schools with the rail maintenance company Jarvis. Since controlling Milton Keynes, the Lib Dems have raised charges for meals on wheels and home care for the elderly by 11%.

In London, the new Lib Dem regime in Islington has closed community centres, pensioner clubs and summer playschemes, accompanied by attacks on the workforce, describing residential caretakers threatened with redundancy as "skivers". Southwark Lib Dems have shut eight day-care centres for the elderly, slashed £1.5m from adult day-care provision and cut early years and nursery provision.

Far from being a safe place for Labour supporters to cast a protest vote, the Liberal Democrats in power do not reflect their cuddly national image. Their electoral campaigns in the inner cities have evolved into a systematic assault on Labour's values in order to hoover up Tory votes.

The Lib Dems could root themselves in the radical and progressive centre, based on firmly anti-Tory principles. Instead, they seem to be moving in a different direction. Voters should beware - in many local authorities up and down Britain, the Liberal Democrats have fought Labour with the gloves off in order to govern from the right, not the centre-left."

The beginning of the article is also full of good advice. Well worth a read, if you wonder (like me) why the Lib Dems are popular.




Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Supermarket pasta sauce in health scare

Americans can look away now as it doesn't concern them. They have enough to worry about with poisonous levels of selenium in the soil and arsenic in their water. Not to mention GM in their food!

Here's the story - link

Why I'm posting this story is because food was adulterated with an illegal colouring agent in India. This is the place where we (or rather the company I work for) is outsourcing its support. The same high standards that you get in the US and Europe simply do not apply in India. I'm sure the people are friendly and very well educated, and it's great that multinationals are finally waking up to the potential of the poorer Southern half of the world (I know India is above the equator but you know what I mean) - but my concern is that the infrastructure of India will not be able to cope with the new strains placed upon it by multinationals.

It could be power cuts, water shortages, transport and logistics problems, banking difficulties - but I feel that without huge investment the problems of the multinationals and indeed of India herself will only become enhanced. It's not as though a multinational will go to India and think "Why, yes, of course I will co-operate with the local unions to ensure fair pay and conditions for all my staff" is it? More likely the traditional pattern of exploitation will take over. I can't blame India for wanting more investment but at what cost?
Now, here is something amazing and fascinating from Pen-Elayne

"The "jumbled letters meme" has spread all over the blogosphere like wildfire. [Pen-Elayne] got it from Julia H. It goes like this:

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe. ceehiro.

Julia has "Cmabrigde" substituted for "Elingsh" but it's essentially the same meme. I was fascinated because English and linguistics were my two majors in college and because Robin and I have discussed the phenomenon of people reading words as essentially shapes, so it seemed to make sense-- only, curiously, a Google search fails to pinpoint the actual source of this particular bit of research. Language Hat points to Uncle Jazzbeau who thinks he might have found the source. I'd still love to see Snopes nail it, though."

I think this is amazing, and makes you think about how you read. I realised a long time ago that I don't look at every single letter in a word, and I seem to be able to read words at a gestalt, but I didn't realise the shape of the word was so important, rather than the letter order. Fascinating research.

What do you think about jumbled letters?

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Just for Cleophas and others who requested it, at the bottom of this page I have added somewhere to put your comments. Originally I withdrew it because of lack of interest but if I get more than one comment every month or two I will consider keeping comments.

So, dear visitors, use it or lose it!

Discuss this blog - is Larry trying too hard?

Monday, September 15, 2003

Lovely weekend, lots of sunshine and I've nearly finished my wall now too - which is a shame in a way because I've sort of enjoyed bashing the bricks and cleaning away the mortar, even though it plays havoc with my manicure.

Meanwhile, Conference season is upon us soon. This, while being of absolutely no interest to the majority of non-political people in this country is of all-consuming interest to us politicos. It is the equivalent of our Cup Final but with more fouls and worse feeling between the teams. The manager is lionised if it has been a good season, and jeered if it has not.

At the moment, the Labour party is in poor shape. Yes, the Government is riding high and sweeping all before it but unless they want a hollowed out party which will die within a few years, they need to re-engage the activists. How? Throw them some socialist red meat. Reverse the privatisations and PPP's and PFI's. Take back the railways and run them properly. Institute a new property tax based on sound socialist principles. Announce a referendum on the future of the monarchy - that should keep people talking while we win the next election.

Friday, September 12, 2003

Life is so ridiculous. I know that I'm being given the push, but I'm still working as hard as I normally do at work. Perhaps even harder! So I really should kick back and relax more. I mean, it isn't as though anyone else is working hard - the new members of our team seem to regard work as a nasty disease and don't want to catch it, and the members being made redundant are understandably not keen to get sweaty.

Still, I had a phone call from an agency today which asked me if I wanted a permanent position in the company I work for. You have to laugh.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Well, not good news on a lot of fronts really. Not happy with what the Government is doing or the direction in which it is headed (though I could be wrong) and the company I work for has decided that I and many of my colleagues' services are no longer required.

Pity. Their shares were doing well.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Overall, a pretty satisfying weekend. I knocked more of my wall down, and fitted a latch to the gate. Another few weekends and the hard landscaping in that area will look fine. I also noticed today that the Labour party's poll ratings were still high - even after the setbacks and the bad press we have received. Mostly I think it is down to the silence of the Tories, but really who can blame them? The whole raison d'etre of the Tories is naked power - and there's no point in being in the Tories if you aren't in power. Also, if they did speak up, people would realise what dreadful policies they have - so they are trying to keep their policies secret so they can run a dirty campaign against the Labour party in 2005/6. If I were a Labour press correspondent, I'd already be stacking up the rapid responses against Tory slurs, and briefing my Labour MP's accordingly.

Next year will be the Euro elections. With any luck the fact that the Tories are not only sceptical about Europe but positively hate it will mean their supporters don't bother turning out for the Euros. Good. We need people who are committed to the idea of Europe to run the European Parliament for the good of all the people of the UK. As a loyal Labour supporter for nearly 20 years, I've always supported Europe and PR, even when the rest of the party didn't - and it galls me that the Lib Dems think they have the monopoly of the idea - even though they have gone off the boil on PR, if you ask me - certainly none of their councillors have resigned to ensure proportionality on any of their councils. And this, of course, is the crux of the matter. The Lib Dems of any persuasion have never resigned over a matter of principle, as far as I know. This fact alone speaks volumes.

Friday, September 05, 2003

"US battles for Iraq resolution - full story

Some at the UN want to accelerate the handover of power to Iraqis
The US is facing stiff opposition at the UN Security Council to its plans for a multinational force in Iraq."

But surely, with all the friends around the world the US has at the moment, she won't have any trouble at all getting agreement? There's Germany and France. No, the US has annoyed them with threats of sanctions. There's India - but no, the US has supported Pakistan. Turkey - again, she was annoyed at the prospect of US bases and won't be in a hurry to help the US.

And finally, the UK. Obviously since the invasion PM Tony Blair has had nothing but praise heaped upon him - but at least with a UN resolution it might mean we get some British troops back home. So we'll probably go along supporting the US resolution, no matter how damaging it might be to long term British interests, so long as it gets our armed forces out of the role of an occupying army.
Well, there is already doubt being cast on the Karl Rove/traitor story so I guess I'll issue a warning about it: the story did not come from my usual reliable news sources but is largely a matter of conjecture - please note that the facts have not yet been checked. But when it breaks in the mainstream media, you read it here first ok?

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

This is so fantastic, I don't know where to start. Many thanks to Blue Bus from where I have shamelessly ripped this off.


EXPLOSIVE - The Ambassador Wilson Affair
The End of Karl Rove – And George Bush?


This is the hottest and most explosive story behind the scenes in Washington in terms of how it could affect the Bush administration.

Ambassador Joseph Wilson has been turning up the heat in this situation. He revealed on Friday August 29 in a symposium in Washington the person in the Bush administration, who had leaked it out to the Washington Post that Wilson’s wife is a CIA agent of 26 years. As a consequence of this leak, her entire team of overseas assets were liquidated.

The leaker, it turns out, was none other than the notorious Karl H. Rove, Bush’s so-called White House advisor. Ambassador Wilson identified him as Karl Roverer, with the umlaut over the “o.”

According to reliable sources, as well as our own Al Martin Raw.com investigation, Karl Rove is, in fact, the grandson of Karl Heinz Roverer, the gauleiter of Mecklenburg, who was also a partner and senior engineer of Roverer Sud-Deutche Ingenieurbüro AG. They built Birchenau, the concentration camp in Nazi Germany.

So Karl Rove has been identified as the leaker responsible for the deaths of more than 70 CIA assets overseas (See previous story “Will the Real Chemical Ali Please Stand Up? The Curious Case of Ambassador Joseph Wilson)

When Ambassador Wilson was asked how he knew it was Rove, he had documents in his possession identifying Rove as the leaker from a secret investigation of the State Department’s Internal; Security Unit. It was a from a small clique, four Clinton holdovers in that department of the State Department that were sympathetic to what had happened to Wilson.

These investigations could not have possibly been made without at least the tacit acquiescence of Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Wilson has announced that he will have his private attorneys petition the Department of Justice demanding that Roverer a/k/a Karl Rove be prosecuted under the 1982 Intelligence Identity Protection Act . This law specifically supposed to prevent what has happened in this case and that is the Bush administration attempting to retaliate against a senior government official who tells the truth about that administration by revealing the identities of intelligence members within their own families.

This is a law that was specifically designed to prevent this from happening. It is a law that was proffered by the Democrats in 1982 that the Republicans fought and could not defeat. The law carries an automatic mandatory 10 years to life imprisonment as punishment.

And where would Rove go? Karl Rove, it should be noted, is a dual citizen of the United States and Germany. Because of his position he has special diplomatic status. The idea is that if its absolutely necessary he could go to Switzerland where he couldn’t be extradited.

The law specifically states in this case (and this depends on how much Secretary of State Colin Powell is prepared to get involved, if he signs a formal complaint from the State Department, then the Attorney General has no choice but to prosecute. He is required to prosecute, even if he doesn’t want to do so.

This is very explosive and what makes it so explosive is that this Intelligence Identity Act, if it can be proved, and Rove can be successfully prosecuted and if Rove reveals that the president George Bush told him to institute this leak, then the President's automatic shield of immunity is removed and the president himself can be prosecuted for murder if any deaths of any US intelligence agents or assets resulted from the leak. This is the only legal statute that has this provision.

The Bush Administration is exerting enormous pressure on Colin Powell because he is the real linchpin. They are exerting pressure on him NOT to proceed to file a formal complaint with the Department of Justice.

Wilson’s problem is that he has no greater legal standing than that of a private citizen. The Department of Justice, unbeknownst to anybody, has had a lot of communications with Wilson’s attorney and they’re claiming that Wilson has no special status, that he's just an everyday citizen, so that any demand he would make for prosecution would carry no more weight than a private citizen or OFU.

(OFU is George Bush Senior’s term to describe the average American citizen. It stands for “One Fodder Unit.”)

Wilson is saying, however, that when Rove leaked this out, he was still formally employed by the State Department. Wilson, it should be remembered, was the former ambassador during the Clinton Regime, was formally rehired, and he received a paycheck from the Department of State. When these leaks took place he still had another three weeks left on his contract. Therefore he was still a United States Ambassador and that apparently is also a key legal point.

When this goes before the US Court of Appeals in Washington and if the court agrees that Wilson was a formal ambassador at the time, then Colin Powell can not refuse to formally petition the Department of Justice for the prosecution of Karl Rove and to open an investigation into the president’s and vice president’s role in the affair.

Was Rove really the source of the leak? The investigation held thus far by the State Department’s Internal Security (ISD) has stated that Rove did indeed leak the information out about the Ambassador’s wife, CIA agent Valerie Wilson, to the Washington Post. Apparently they have an affidavit from the reporter he leaked it to.

The way the Bush Regime is trying to quash it is to slow it way down by exerting so much pressure against Pro-Bush Media. Please note that you have not heard one word about this on CNN or MSNBC or Fox News And not one word about this on ABC, CBS, or NBC.

If there is no public attention, there will be no steam behind it. Some of the congressmen are trying to push this into higher quarters. They’re trying to get Howard Dean to talk about it since he’s getting so much press coverage

It’s been said that Dean is himself frightened to start talking about it because it would diminish the press coverage he’s been getting. The Bush Administration has let it be known to the Democratic National Committee that any Democrat who tries to push this will find press coverage severely limited.

When the Democratic presidential selection process filters out (since there are now nine declared Democrats) and when there is one Democrat that everyone is behind, who’s going to be the contender, then they won’t be so frightened.

But this is a story, which should be more widely known, since the treatment of Ambassador Wilson and his family (not to mention the US intelligence assets who were liquidated overseas) is certainly one of the most egregious abuses of power yet perpetrated by the Bush administration.

Yet. However, who knows what they might do tomorrow?

It is the day after -- Happy McLabor Day in the Land of Bushonomics.

As reported by CNN --

* 9 million unemployed in the US, and increase of 6 million since election of Bush-Cheney

* 4 million high paying tech jobs permanently lost

* Another 3 million tech jobs to be exported overseas in next 15 years, but the good news is that 3 million new minimum-wage food-service jobs will be created in the US over the same time period. Happy McLabor Day!

Here's a thing. Soon, my wife will be able to call me Tonto. Why? Because she wants to become an independent financial advisor. A loan arranger.

I won't give up my day job, I promise.

Also, thanks to Theresa Nielsen-Hayden for this: LL YR VWL R BLNG T S

Laugh? I nearly cried.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Well, well, well. Eugenics is alive and well and being Government supported in America.

Selling sterilisation to addicts

By Clare Murphy
BBC News Online

To its critics, Project Prevention or Crack - an American organisation which pays drug addicts and alcoholics to be sterilised - is a terrifying throwback to the neutering of "defectives" during the 20th Century.

Full article
Eliza over at Fembat.net kindly consented to ask me five questions and here are her questions, followed by my evasive, shifty answers.

Questions:
1. You've been given the opportunity to implement your ideal political framework here in the UK. Describe how you would proceed in brief.
2. Stranded on a desert island a lone man approaches and claims to the the son of God. What is your response?
3. Still on the desert island theme, if you were allowed to take one thing with you what or who would it be and why?
4. Why do you blog?
5. Where do you see yourself ten years from now?

Answers:

1. Wow, so much to do, so few words to describe it. I think the only idea that makes any sense is to imagine Britain as she is now, then send everyone to sleep. Imagine making all the changes, then wake everyone (and this is the clever bit) so that they could end up as anyone else.

For instance, rich people would most likely end up poor, women could end up as men, and you could end up in prison, hospital or disabled. The trick is to maximise the happiness for everyone, regardless of who they wake up as. Then proceed from there. Any ideas that make people happier should be considered. Although I'm a socialist, I don't think you can be too prescriptive.

2. Hello, how are you? What do you eat around here? The way I look at it, most of us tell stories to ourselves most of the time and so long as it doesn’t interfere with his functioning, why not? After all, he could be.

3. A means of getting off the island or a ferry timetable. On a more serious note, it would have to be female company because I need someone to talk to, and I like sex.

4. Partly because I think everyone is entitled to my opinion, partly because I can but mostly because I like the idea of not forgetting everything all the time.

5. In Spain, living in an old farmhouse with my family around me and olive and orange trees in the garden, working hard enough to pay the bills but no more so. House paid for and a few creature comforts.

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