Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Note: This article is presented unfinished, but as the situation is fluid and fast-moving I thought I would publish it as an ongoing piece that will be added to and completed over the next few days. AS

#Syria #StopTheWar #ISIS

Nous sommes tous Humains. Nous sommes tous Parisienne!

The shocking and despicable acts that saw the deaths of 129 (now 130) innocent people in Paris should be condemned by all sane people throughout the world. Of course, sanity also demands that we should sit back, take stock, and formulate a rational and reasoned response.

The temptation for a knee-jerk reaction to events such paris-logoas these, whilst understandable, is never the right thing to do. I can understand, in part, the increased bombing of ISIS positions by Hollande – he needs to be seen to be doing something – yet it takes little analysis to understand that this war in Syria has been raging for four years now, with 250,000 dead and over six million displaced persons – men, women and children – precisely because this is a proxy war between multiple powerful agencies, arming, supplying and funding a large and ever changing alliance of groups on the ground. ISIS has been bombed for over a year now by a coalition of eleven countries – including France and led by the most powerful nation on earth – with little apparent degradation.

It does not appear to have made France any safer. Neither, with a large nod to the British media, has the fact that France has an independent nuclear deterrent. If the constant bombing of Syria has not increased the safety of France – or Britain – how would British involvement in furthering such bombing help? Further, if the recent addition to the bombing in Syria by Russia is increasing the refugee crisis – and by implication the power of the recruiting sergeants for terrorist groups, as has been claimed, how then would the addition of British air power not add yet more momentum to this?

There are at present simply too many unanswered questions. Would such an action be legal? What would it seek to achieve? How would it end? Can its goals be achieved without ground forces? What would participation do to Britain’s ability to project diplomacy with regards to Syria? The attack on Paris should not be used as a political or emotional lever to move for a further vote in the UK parliament to join in the bombing of Syria without first answering at least these questions.

Party-Political Claptrap

Unfortunately, this is exactly what was being repeatedly touted in Britain in the moments immediately following Monday’s international minutes silence in respect of the Paris victims. Cameron said as much at the G20 summit earlier that day in Antalya, Turkey, and was instantly supported by Liam Fox, conservative Member of Parliament for North Somerset and former Secretary of State for Defence, who reiterated that Cameron could take immediate action without the consent of parliament whilst remaining within the constitution. Cameron’s claim that we should step up to the plate and not allow other countries to provide for the safety of the UK is purely emotional nonsense and nothing more than an attempt to appeal to the masses, to appear heroic, even – party political claptrap at its very worse.

No doubt we can also expect the attack on Paris to be used as political leverage in pushing the disgraceful Draft Communications Bill or ‘Snoopers Charter’, and indeed, the replacement of Trident.

Act of War

Much has also been said regarding president Hollande’s declaration that the attack was an ‘act of war’. France has been a member of Nato since 2009 and could claim, under Article Five, that an attack on one member state is an attack on all. He neglected to mention this in his impassioned speech at Versailles, though did bring up an EU article with similar wording – presumably to avoid seeking legality from the United Nations in the face of the usual veto from permanent members of the Security Council such as Russia or China.

Still, the difficulty of getting a UN resolution may well change as, only hours before China is informed of the murder of the latest of its citizens held hostage by ISIS, Russia confirms that its Metrojet airliner in Sinai was in fact brought down by an explosive device. Indeed as we speak Hollande has tabled an intermediate resolution at the UN. One that falls far short of Chapter 7 whereby members can use force to enact the resolution.  Testing the water, perhaps. [UPDATE: This resolution was passed unanimously. Since the vote, various British commentators have suggested that this in itself would allow for military action.]

So what can be done?
The Military Option

First, let me state from the outset that I understand that something must be done. Whilst hardly a hawk, I am far from a pacifist and realise that Islamic State has to be defeated, militarily, on the ground: their Caliphate, or claim to one, unlike the political ideology of al Qaeda, is dependent on actual territory rather than political demands. Defeating Islamic State on the ground destroys the basis of that Caliphate, in effect destroying ISIS. This would not stop other groups, such as those in Libya and other African nations announcing a new Caliphate, but would dramatically reduce the currency of such claims as to be almost worthless, and, in consequence, remove a large ‘pull’ factor for foreign jihadis prepared to travel and fight.

Of course, defeating ISIS – if it could ever be achieved in isolation – does not end the war in Syria, or the refugee crisis that it has caused, nor would it end the threat of Islamist terrorism in western democracies and beyond. Yet it is hard to imagine its defeat without it being bound up in an end to hostilities generally, and this can only be achieved with political agreement and military cooperation between the forces involved.

Boots on the Ground

So who then would act as Cameron’s boots on the ground? Certainly not the US who, after fourteen years of War on Terror 1 are not so keen to see its soldiers embroiled in War on Terror 2. It is widely known that the Peshmerga Kurds – even with air support, will not want to fight beyond what it see’s as its lands. What remains are a few friendly militia’s, the ineffective Iraqi Army and al-Assad’s own forces.

Hardly inspiring, yet nobody in their right mind could envision an EU or Nato force on the ground without the agreement of Russia or Iran. Similarly, could the west envisage allowing Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah troops (with or without Syrian Government support) to confront ISIS? When would they leave? Why would they leave? Would they then move against the al Nusra Front or the FSA? What would a western response to that be? The potential for a rapid spiral into unintended consequences is both unthinkable and unimaginable.

Almost.

This leaves the regional powers such as Saudi Arabia (the source of the wahabi/salafist ideology of ISIS), Qatar (suspected of supporting ISIS), Jordan and possibly Egypt. All of whom seem as keen as the Americans to use ground forces.

The description of the situation as a quagmire seems hardly sufficient.

United Nations

There is no other workable option other than a political settlement on Syria conducted through the provision of a UN resolution with full Chapter 7 provision. This has its difficulties, of course: the removal of Bashar al-Assad for one; oil and gas supplies to Europe, another; a belligerent Putin another still. Then there is the necessary use of ground forces from Muslim nations. All this above and beyond a complex, but necessary, plan for the reconstruction of political and civil society in Syria.

Nevertheless, this is what we need to be urgently calling for as our political leaders blindly steer us toward a massive strike on Syria without a prior political – or even military, solution being put before parliament. That Cameron thinks he can go away and develop such before bringing it before parliament next week is quite frankly laughable. That he is doing so without a moment’s glance towards our nation’s recent and past foreign interventions leaves one incredulous.

Foreign Policy

It would be tedious, for the reader at least, to begin to retrace the errors of past adventures abroad in order to temper present haste – that would necessitate a less than brief diversion through Bush and Blair, to The Hague. Allow me, instead to present a segment of today’s (Thursday 20/11/2015) Georgetown University speech by one of America’s democratic presidential candidates, Bernie Sanders. Here he lays out the thought process that must occur before we begin to beat the drums of war. He does so with a concision that is sadly beyond me:

 “Our response must begin with an understanding of past mistakes and missteps in our previous approaches to foreign policy. It begins with the acknowledgment that unilateral military action should be a last resort, not a first resort, and that ill-conceived military decisions, such as the invasion of Iraq, can wreak far-reaching devastation and destabilize entire regions for decades. It begins with the reflection that the failed policy decisions of the past – rushing to war, regime change in Iraq, or toppling Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, or Guatemalan President Árbenz in 1954, Brazilian President Goulart in 1964, Chilean President Allende in 1973 (show us that) (t)hese are the sorts of policies (that) do not work, do not make us safer, and must not be repeated.”

Cameron and Co’ would do well to have the above tattooed on their knees for when they start jerking.

Nearer to Home

In conjunction with international cooperation on a military and diplomatic front, and mindful of the outcomes of past and present foreign policy, we are aware of the need to confront and combat the importing of terrorism from Syria to our own shores – and that we need to do so whilst retaining the freedoms, liberties and democratic values that we hold dear. Yet the attacks on Paris, like the attacks on the UK, have, for the most part, been conducted by citizens of these respective nations, who, for whatever reasons, seek to identify themselves with a fascist totalitarian ideology based on a religious book with its roots in the 7th century.

How should we respond to this failure to identify with the values of liberal democracy, of justice, of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, of freedom both of and from religion?

Why would Muslim citizens torn between these identities choose one over the other?

Perhaps we should start by initially reconfiguring the question and asking why is it that most Muslims do not involve themselves in terrorism? Why is it that most Muslims, in spite of a holy book that demands the fall of infidel rule and the imposition, through force if necessary, of a caliphate, do not pick up arms to achieve this. The reality, of course, is far more complex than the oft touted Sunni-Shia divide, or the division between conservative, jihadi, and takfiri Muslims. The reality is there are, as with Christianity, as many forms of Islam as there are Muslims. The reason that all Muslims do not slay the Infidel wherever they may find them, is the same reason that Christians do not take their insolent children to the City gates to stone them to death.

The truth is that most people of faith would think either of the above totally abhorrent and so far removed from their image of their religion as to be a falsehood. A damned lie. That the words invoking such actions can be pointed to in their holy texts merely nod to the various forms of cognitive dissonance displayed by all people of faith: science healing their life-threatening infection attributed not to the Enlightenment or the development of evolutionary biology, but to prayer or divine intervention.

What does this point to?

To Be Continued…

Note: This article is presented unfinished, but as the situation is fluid and fast-moving I thought I would publish it as an ongoing piece that will be added to and completed over the next few days. AS

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Lest We Forget…

Posted: November 11, 2015 in Current Affairs, Politics

I re-post this article from September 16th, 2015 for obvious reasons. I’ve also included (below) a video response to much of the British media from the wonderfully concise Owen Jones.

#JezWeCan #NationalAnthem #ProsperityThroughPoverty #BattleOfBritain

‘Miss Miss, Corbyn’s not singing!’

bob

Lest We Forget

On the day when Prime Ministers Questions may prove to be the most interesting in years, in a week when an opposition leadership election forced a sitting prime minister to rapidly shoot off, somewhat Madonna-like, to visit poor people in the Lebanon, (I’m surprised he didn’t bring a brown baby back for the obvious photo-opportunity exiting the plane at Heathrow) we have the Murdoch press screaming like small schoolchildren at a birthday party, “Miss, Miss, Corbyn’s not singing!”

Apparently Jeremy Corbyn has ‘snubbed’ our glorious monarch by ‘refusing’ to mouth the words of the national anthem during the Battle of Britain memorial service whilst the entire Tory party, nay, the entire nation were standing to attention in front of their television sets, saluting and bellowing for all they were worth.

No doubt young Liz will have been in tears at Jeremy’s ‘snubbing’ on this her special occasion.

Another day in her long reign ruined by that selfish boy at the front.

What nonsense.

Someone ought to remind Murdoch, Cameron, and Tory MP Sir Nicholas Soames (the grandson of Winston Churchill no less) that the national anthem – sung or respectfully listened to – is not about the Queen and hasn’t been for quite some time. It is not like singing ‘Happy Birthday to You’. We are no longer subjects of an omnipotent Monarch sent by a powerful god to rule over us.

If we do sing the national anthem – or merely choose to allow that thankfully short melody to wash over us – say on an Olympic podium or before representing our country in a World Cup – it is because we associate it with membership of a collective entity or endeavour, namely England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the United Kingdom, Great Britain, the North East, or what have you.

That the words, like the figurehead herself, are anachronistic are neither here nor there – it is what they represent.

Likewise yesterday’s remembrance ceremony was not there to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It was to remember the sacrifice that young men and women gave in the fight against fascism and corporatism during the Second World War. A sacrifice that allowed the survivors of this conflict to return home to a land ‘fit for heroes’.

A land which would enact legislation upon their return – promised legislation – that would bring about a National Health Service, build homes, and develop a Welfare State that would reflect this collective endeavour from ‘the cradle to the grave’.

A land which would act like a beacon to the civilised world in how it treated its citizens, its old, its ill and its poor.

These are the very collective endeavour and ideals that Murdoch and Cameron wish to consign to the dustbin of history. The very collective endeavour and ideals that Corbyn and his supporters seek to rekindle in a nation that has had the product of this endeavour taken from it and placed securely into the bank accounts of the rich and the few.

It is a sad day when those that seek the imposition of a neo-liberal corporatist ideology that is more akin to the fascism that this nation fought against in those dark days when she stood alone, are those very same people that demand we wave the flag and beat the drum of petty nationalism.

It is a disgrace both to the memory of those who fought in World War II, and to the ideals that many in our families were to pay the ultimate sacrifice for.

Anvil Springstien.

Link to: Source – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-the-papers-34265028

[image: © Battle of Britain Memorial Trust]

Link to: Original Article – ‘Miss, Miss, Corbyn’s not singing!’

Full Link to: Owen Jones’ Video: [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4nwf5eXD14]

#SnoopersCharter #Playboy #ToryTown

To Err is Human, To Forgive Divine

Sometimes you read the market right, sometimes wrong. Mostly the business decisions you make, for good or ill, will never go much beyond your immediate friends and family – destined to be told, retold and possibly chuckled at over the odd sherry at Christmas gatherings. Yes, we’ve all got a yarn about Uncle Jimmy’s costly attempts at claiming his Nigerian lottery win. Other times, though, you fuck up big style – and the sheer grandeur of the error ensures that you will be destined never to hear the last of it.

History is littered with such fuck ups: Decca Records turning down a small band called The Beatles; Western Electric saying ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to Alexander Graham Bell’s little ‘toy’; Gerald Ratner inadvertently telling the world his jewellery group products were ‘total crap’.

We all make mistakes, though. After all, to err is simply human. All the more reason, then, to employ a shred of divinity when judging even the Ratner’s of this world.

More forgivable still, when it’s the course of future events that slams a seemingly logical decision into the solid wall of misfortune. Let’s face it, how many of us have decided to buy a cheap steelworks, for example, only to be jiggered by an incompetent government and an influx of still cheaper Chinese imports.

Cigar Smoke & Poo

Yes, sometimes things happen which are simply beyond our control. Take your traditional analysis of the porn consumption habits of the Average Joe in the street: On a hunch based on raw business acumen and multiple focus groups, you conclude that grown men will buy pictures of naked women wearing bunny rabbit’s ears. A quick visit to the bank manager and you’ve got the market cornered. Your punters don’t even have to frequent the grubby sex shops in the seedier parts of town to purchase your product – it’s available in grocery stores, corner shops and petrol forecourts. It’s stylish. Classy. A top-shelf product in so many ways. You quickly become a multi-billionaire, grow old and surround yourself with hordes of very young and beautiful women even though you now smell of cigar smoke and poo.

Passé

Then, out of the blue, along come a few geeks who invent the internet and whammo – your whole business model goes down the pan.  Average Joe doesn’t need to purchase your top-shelf item anymore. Why should he? He doesn’t even have to pluck up the courage to don a raincoat before visiting Sven’s Adult Books for his under-the-counter (and mildly illegal) Swedish porno video. He simply clicks off safe-browsing, hits the incognito button, and types in the word ‘Disney’ – milliseconds later Joe’s whacking off to pigs having hard-core sex with Nuns in all its high definition glory. You might have the world biggest brand recognition this side of Coca-Cola, but you’ve become an anachronism, old hat. In the words of your own chief executive, you’re now “passé”.

Time to rethink the business model. Time to take a risk, Mr Hefner. Time to make a big decision.

A New Deal

Perhaps the Average Joe might buy interesting articles peppered with photo-shoots of young lingerie-clad Hollywood stars such as Emma Watson instead of those busty babes with the airbrushed Columbian? Great. Brilliant. Make it so. Market share saved, you announce to the world that as from March 2016 you will no longer publish images of naked women in Playboy magazine.

Phew. Disaster averted. Good call, Hugh.

Every Waking Moment

No sooner said then along comes British Home Secretary, Theresa May, replete with her Snooper’s Charter that will effectively command internet providers to keep the browsing history (and phone data) of Average Joe for a minimum of twelve months. Average Joe is assured that this history will be safe from the prying eyes of, say, teenagers in Northern Ireland, companies in Bradford, or Delhi, or criminals in Kabul or Langley, and will only be available to the Police, or the Security Services, or anyone else, as and when it is needed. Honestly.

Average Joe begins to sweat.

Still, Joe understands that the ability to peek under the digital bed of everyone in the UK is a necessary loss of freedom and privacy. This need to be digitally followed every waking moment, in the way that Catholics are followed by their God, Joe knows, is as big a weapon in the War on Terror as the ability to bomb people of other countries or to maintain an effective nuclear deterrent. Joe also knows that the War on Terror must be won in order to protect our freedom and privacy.

Joe sweats a little more.

Thankfully, terrorists, being the stupid foreign people that they are, will not have heard of Theresa May’s machinations on behalf of democracy, and shall henceforth be instantly dragged before the Beak to be confronted by their browser breadcrumbs of guilt: “Fair cop, Guv’nor, you got me bang to rights, there, an‘ no mistake!

Nothing to Hide – Nothing to Fear

Of course, this will demand a certain degree of browser willpower and self-censorship on behalf of the non-terrorist, but Joe knows that foregoing whacking off to pigs and Nuns is a small price to pay for the ongoing security of the realm.

It won’t stop at the UK, of course – good ideas never do – and with only terrorists (a rather paltry market share) confidently visiting internet porn sites, it may well demand an editorial volte-face by Playboy in order to sate the needs of the likes of sweaty Joe and avoid this once great magazine joining the ranks of Decca, Western Electric and Ratner’s.

Porn aficionados and lovers of freedom and democracy the world over may never forgive Theresa May. Nevertheless, methinks it may be time to rethink that centre-spread, Mr Hefner, lest you be destined to be remembered as the man who dumped the soft-porn mag just as it came back into fashion.

Anvil Springstien.

Sources:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/04/theresa-may-surveillance-measures-edward-snowden

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/business/media/nudes-are-old-news-at-playboy.html?_r=0

Useful Paraphrase:

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

Ben Franklin

NB:

In line with the above privacy issues, I’ve just noticed that more and more job applications are demanding a thorough police check.

In the UK, this used to be called a CRB check (Criminal Records Bureau) but as successive governments like to change the name of something as they strip it of funding, this is now referred to as a DBS check (Disclosure and Barring Service).

Searching through a selection of available employment on this mornings Job Boards, it would appear that a DBS check is required for just about anything that involves: children; people; money; food; clothing; breathing air; or using abrasive cleaning materials?

There also appears to be an inverse relationship between having to pay for the check yourself (low-pay, minimum wage, zero-hours) and the employer covering this cost (salaried, medium to high pay).

One job gives me the option of clicking Yes or No to my agreement to such an intrusive check. This is, of course, no option at all as when No is clicked (I’ve just clicked it) it takes you to a ‘Thanks, But No Thanks’ page.

Apparently, even in the world of Peripatetic Supermarket Floor Cleaning, the mere desire for privacy is seen as suspicious.

Sorry, I’m rambling. The reason my interest in police checks has been piqued is that I’m presently volunteering with an Adult Learning agency and it’s taking forever for my own DBS check to come through.

I’m beginning to worry that they have discovered I hold politically errant views and are waiting to be able to download my browser history?

I predict that future job applications will require browser history to be made available to prospective employers – I also predict that, like police checks, you will have to pay for this – unless, of course, you can afford to.

A.S.

#ToryTown #IanDuncanSmith #FoodBanks #TaxCredits

This just in…

[click to enlarge]

IDS-Child Snatchers

Anvil Springstien.

Original source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34658755

Related:

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newsgrab-this-just-in-collected-werks

Pinky & Perky’s Pals

Posted: October 27, 2015 in Comedy, Current Affairs, Politics
Tags:

#PinkyAndPerky #ToryTown

Number 1 in the Series

Collect the Set

Pinky-And-Perkys Pals - Al Saud1

The Bomber of Yemen. Accused of using cluster bombs to bomb civilians in Yemen. A hereditary monarch with a disgraceful record regarding human rights abuses. Exporter and promoter of a strict version of sharia promulgated by Islamist terrorist groups throughout the world. When his half brother – the last Saudi king – died, Buckingham Palace flew the Union Jack (the UK National flag) at half mast. Messages of condolence were sent by David Cameron:

‘He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.

‘My thoughts and prayers are with the Saudi Royal Family and the people of the Kingdom at this sad time.

‘I sincerely hope that the long and deep ties between our two Kingdoms will continue and that we can continue to work together to strengthen peace and prosperity in the world.’

An arse has never been so cleanly licked.

Number 2 in the Series

Collect the Set

Pinky-And-Perkys Pals1

As the Tories whinge about the constitutional rights of the second house, Cameron & Osborne will, later this week, be shaking hands with this murderer.

Anvil Springstien.

#ToryTown #TaxCreditCuts

This just in…

[Click to enlarge]

Lords-Tax-Credits1

Anvil Springstien.

Original source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34631156