Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Another Crazed Cleric in Oz

Reports of yet another lunatic Muslim cleric resident "Down Under". I'm afraid there seems to be no shortage of the buggers. Remember Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali. He was the one who appeared to liken female rape victims to meat that attracts cats at a Ramadan sermon last month.
Now, Melbourne-based Sheik Mohammed Omran has said Muslims found guilty of gang- rape were dealt with more harshly than other sex offenders such as members of motorcycle gangs or “football stars” because they are Muslims. See Take a look here.

The sheik has labelled Osama Bin Laden a great man and said there was no emphatic proof he masterminded the September 11 attacks- it was an "inside job," in his words. Sheik Omran has also made headlines for being implicated in Spanish court documents as a contact of the suspected leader of al-Qaeda in Spain. He has plenty of “form” in the controversial stakes, needless to say. This is from 2005:
We choose to come to Australia as Australia welcomed us to come. You didn't choose to come to Australia anyhow. And we believe we have more rights than you because we choose Australia to be our country and you didn't. So don't come to me now because you are the majority or you are in the power now to say to me, "Well, this is only my way or the highway". I won't accept that. See Rational sort, isn't he?

According to a Herald Sun investigation (July 27 2005), Omran has a devoted group of followers aged 17 to 24 among his inner circle, who, according to a former member, are all "willing to strap themselves up" to become suicide bombers. "They’re getting brainwashed by him," said the source who went unnamed in the article for fear of retribution. According to the Melbourne man, Omran praised suicide bombers and adamantly criticised Australia as "rubbish because women walk down the street not wearing veils and the men drink." Well, if he doesn't like it, he can always return to whence he came.

I do hope the Australian police and security agencies are keeping their eye on this chap.If he keeps up the bellicose rhetoric, he should be deported...fast.

The EU’s wilful ignorance....

The EU’s ambassador to Ankara, Hans Jörg Kretschmer, who has been in the post for the last 4 years, really is a deluded fool. He blames the country’s slowness in implementing EU reforms on the military and the state bureaucracy. Wrong. These institutions are rightly obstructing the wishes of a pro-Islamist government that seeks to use EU-inspired reforms as a means to abolish the secular character of the Turkish state. He should be blaming the government itself which has been in office since November 2002 with a massive parliamentary majority and which has selectively chosen to put in place the reforms that meet its covert goals and ignore those which do not. For those who choose to see the blindingly obvious, go here

Support the Devil....and his kitchen.

If you enjoy a superior anti-Left rant, albeit one with a heavy dash of cursing, you could do worse than visit the Devil’s Kitchen. The Devil is an astute observer of the evils of NuLabour, that’s for sure. With a particular emphasis on the multitudinous sins of TB, Milipede and Patsy Hewitt.
I for one stand converted to the Devil and all his works.

Monday, October 30, 2006

John Prescott screws...

up. John Prescott screws up again, that is. Well, he's a bit of a serial offender, isn't he?
After five days of a tour of Asia, Prezza opened his mouth yesterday to say "It's very nice to be here in Malaya," using the country's old colonial name before correcting himself. In a piece for Malaysia's Star newspaper, he praised the country's religious harmony. "I'm keen to learn more about Malaysia's approach to being a successful, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural society in a rapidly changing world," he wrote.
"As I read it [the article] I was wondering what country he was talking about," said Sivarasa Rasiah, a board member of the human rights group Suaram. "Prescott has got it wrong." See The Daily Torygraph here
A cursory bit of research reveals the following as culled from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. The Malaysian government is currently holding more than 700 criminal suspects indefinitely without trial or charge under the 1969 Emergency Ordinance. In August 2005 Human Rights Watch revealed that in its persecution of the Sky Kingdom, the Malaysian government is now denying members of the religious community basic due process rights. see here

Thousands of Indonesian domestic workers in Malaysia are being abused because government policies in both countries fail to protect them, Human Rights Watch said in 2004. Amnesty International reported last year that the Malaysian prime minister had recognised there were serious problems with the Malaysian police, and in a significant step, set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to address these. A pattern of human rights abuses such as fatal shootings, torture and deaths in custody are to be addressed in the review. In the 2002 mass expulsion of migrants a 13-year-old girl was reported to have been deported to the Philippines after being raped in an immigration centre by three policemen. Further investigation showed she was a Malaysian citizen and should never have been detained in the first place.

Another “model society” as far as NuLabour is concerned. Spot on, John. However, it would be churlish not to acknowledge Prezza's role in the Conservative revival of recent months. I for one am grateful for JP's sterling work as Deputy Prime Minister.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

There’s something terribly wrong with social democracy…just look at Sweden

When, as Labour leader, Neil Kninnock was asked if socialism had been successful in any country. Yes, he exclaimed: Sweden.

The Social Democrats ruled Sweden alone or with other parties for 65 of the past 74 years. The consequences? Sweden has paid a high price for its extensive welfare state. Nearly £6 of every £10 in the country is spent by the government. About 10 per cent of the Swedish workforce are on sick leave at any one time. Many Swedes feel the true unemployment rate is closer to 20% than the official rate of 6% because people on long-term sick leave are counted as working. Youth unemployment is among the highest in Europe.

According to Johnny Munkhammar, Of Sweden's 50 largest companies, only one was started after 1970. That's no big surprise as by 1980, the average tax burden had reached 50 per cent (where it remains today) while the labour market became highly regulated and the size of the welfare state reached epic proportions.
Between 1980 and 1999, the gross income of Sweden's poorest households increased by just over 6 per cent, while the rise in the US was three times as fast.

What of crime in this socialist utopia? Generous welfare provision certainly does not prevent crime. The number of violent crimes reported in Sweden is steadily rising. The official number of rape charges in Sweden has more than tripled in 30 years. The number of reported cases of physical abuse/assault in Stockholm has also tripled in three decades. The number of people under the age of 18 who are serving sentences in juvenile detention centres has risen sharply over the last seven years. Threats against witnesses in Swedish court cases have quadrupled between 2000 and 2003. See here for more.
As for the environment, the World Wildlife Fund says Sweden is among the world's worst polluters.

Thirty years ago Sweden was a largely homogeneous country. And the future? Today, out of a population of 9 million people, about 1 million were born outside Sweden. This constitutes 11% of the population, or nearly 20% if their children are included.

According to Fjordman Sweden is already a banana republic, perhaps on its way to becoming an Islamic republic. Swedish culture is disappearing with astonishing speed in front of our eyes. If the trend isn't stopped, the Swedish nation will simply cease to exist in any meaningful way during the first half of this century. The country that gave us Bergman, ABBA and Volvo could become known as the Bosnia of northern Europe. The "Swedish model" will no longer refer to a stable and peaceful state with an advanced economy, but an Eurabian horror story of utopian multiculturalism, Socialist mismanagement and runaway immigration.
Not unsurprisingly, a mere ten per cent of Swedes consider it important to nurture a long-term relationship with the United States, according to a survey carried out by the Nordic Council in september 2006.

As Johan Norberg has put it:
....the Swedish model is rotting from within. Ironically, the unique social and economic foundation that first allowed Sweden to construct its political edifice--and which makes it such a difficult model for other countries to emulate--has been critically weakened by the system it helped create. Far from a being a solution for the new sick men of Europe, Sweden must face serious and fundamental challenges at the heart of its social model...
See here.

As an economy and a society, Sweden seems to have gone off the rails as a result of punitive taxes, excessive regulation and radical multi-culturalism. One thing is clear Europes's social democrats would do well not to study Sweden's methods for inspiration. Not everyone seems to have noticed. Sweden is a "model country" for others to follow, Tony Blair said after talks with his then counterpart, now former PM Goran Persson in Downing Street in March 2006. "The situation in Sweden speaks for itself, with the good economy the country has. If you look at Sweden from a ten year perspective, the country is strong," Nu Labour certainly seem intent on replicating many of Sweden's mistakes.
The new government in Sweden has faced scandal after scandal in the three weeks since it has been in power. On the plus side, it has announced that the government would sell state holdings worth 50 billion kronor (6.8 billion dollars, 5.4 billion euros) a year over the next three years. From January 1 next year the government proposed "a reduction in tax for those on low and medium incomes making it more attractive to return to work rather than remain on benefits." Taxes would be cut more substantially for older individuals to encourage them to stay in the labour market longer.Also from the beginning of next year employers would no longer be required to pay charges for taking on the unemployed, those on sick-leave or in early retirement.Employers hiring people between the ages of 19 and 25 would also see a reduction in such charges.

Norberg suggests that ...just like the step-by-step construction of the welfare state that slowly but steadily reduced the willingness to work and the sense self-reliance, incremental reforms to expand freedom of choice and reduce the incentives to live off fellow-citizens might rejuvenate these fundamental values and increase the appetite for reform.

For Sweden's sake I hope he is right but I am personally inclined to take a more pessimistic view.

EU backs Hamas

EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana is apparently quoted as saying, “What Hamas seeks is freedom for Palestinians, not the destruction of Israel.”
In a statement he made to the Jerusalem Post, Solana noted that a change in approach by Hamas, and its recognition of Israel was “not impossible.”

Yet, the Council on Foreign Relations has described Hamas in the following terms:
Hamas combines Palestinian nationalism with Islamic fundamentalism. Its founding charter commits the group to the destruction of Israel, the replacement of the PA with an Islamist state on the West Bank and Gaza, and to raising "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." Its leaders have called suicide attacks the "F-16" of the Palestinian people. Hamas believes "peace talks will do no good," former Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantisi said in April 2004. "We do not believe we can live with the enemy." See here.

Israel’s Institute for Counter Terrorism notes the following of Hamas:
The central goal of Hamas is the establishment of an Islamic state in all of Palestine. The immediate means to achieve this goal is the escalation of the armed struggle, and ultimately all-out Jihad, with the participation not only of Palestinian Muslims but of the entire Islamic world.
See here.

According to Solana, Hamas just wants freedom.....

Brown is in, Bush is back (?)

Andrew Rawnsley believes (as do I) that Gordo is safely on his way to becoming PM. There will be no contest from within the Cabinet. A coronation is certain. Speculation to the contrary is merely...speculation. Potential leadership candidates have seen the writing on the wall and that’s why there is an ever crowded field jostling for the Deputy Leadership (perhaps these wannabe Deputy leaders sense that GB won’t last too long in No10 and they are positioning themselves for another leadership contest in 2009 or 2010)

As Rawnsley points out: After all those years of planning and plotting, striving and straining, all those years of waiting for the prize and worrying that someone might steal up on him from behind, the long distance runner of British politics looks over his shoulder to find that there is no one there at all. That’s good news for the Tories- we can bleed Gordo dry at the ballot box. See

In the US of A, the latest polls suggest it is premature to predict a huge change in the Congress on November 7: the race is tightening and an all-out Democrat victory is not inevitable. That’s despite the fact that conservative intellectuals and more importantly, rural evangelicals are beginning to question Bush and the war. The Democrats may simply have peaked too early. And W is fighting back - the Republicans after all have plenty of campaign cash to hand. My own prediction, however, is that the Dems will gain 18 seats in the House of Representatives, three more than they need for a majority, but the Republicans will just about retain control of the US Senate...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Shock, horror… Mr. Tony up to no good again!!

TB has been accused of abusing his position by asking the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to stop Turkey’s courts imposing fines of $500 million,on a British company. In a “Dear Tayip” letter, dated June 26 of this year, Blair had the temerity to complain to the Turkish prime minister about the possibility of the fines being imposed. See here and here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Muslim cleric likens uncovered women to exposed meat

Egyptian-born Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, the leader of Australia’s Muslim community since 1989 and a former adviser to the Australian government on Muslim issues has been widely condemned by mainstream politicians and Muslim leaders over a Ramadan sermon in which he likened immodestly dressed women to meat and suggested rape victims were as much to blame as their attackers.
He said there were women who "sway suggestively" and wore make-up and inappropriate clothes, "and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years," The Australian reported yesterday.
"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat," the sheik asked.
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (Muslim headscarf), no problem would have occurred." See here for more:

And here

Or here

Australian PM John Howard described the comments as "appalling and reprehensible".
You’ll never guess....but the Sheik says he “has been misunderstood”. Where have we heard that before????

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Giving birth on a tram has its advantages.

A Sudanese woman, Sulafa Ismail, today successfully gave birth to her sixth child (a daughter) in a tram in the centre of Warsaw. It was rush-hour and everyone pitched in....

European Commission threatens Sweden

EU monetary affairs commissar Joaquin Almunia has said that Brussels could in theory take Sweden to Europe's top court for not joining the euro despite meeting all the economic criteria although he said that such action "is not necessary or desirable" for now. "This is why, although it is theoretically possible in the future to initiate infringement procedures against states which are not preparing themselves, at the moment we are not considering this necessary, not even desirable," he said. Sweden, which entered the EU in 1995, is legally obliged to enter the Eurozone, an obligation enshrined in its EU accession treaty as in the case of ten member states that joined the union in 2004 as it had not negotiated an opt-out from the single currency. According to German centre-right MEP, Bernd Posselt who raised the issue in a special Q&A session with the monetary commissioner, Sweden's attitude sets a bad example for other countries gearing up to join the euro.
"They have ratified the accession treaty so how come they can organise a referendum and refer to it for not fulfilling the rules in this treaty?" Posselt commented "This is a union of laws and rules. And member states can't just pick up one rule that they don't like and just ignore it. If they said - we need five or ten years to prepare, it is ok with me - but just to be quiet about the issue and do nothing is unacceptable." But the Swedes said No in a referendum on entering the Eurozone. Their position is clear. Why should a democratically expressed view be abolished at the behest of the EC or the EP?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Turks dislike the EU, the EU debates vodka and the Greeks have gone mad....

According to a survey published in the Turkish Milliyet newspaper on 24 October, 32.2 percent of Turks believe Turkey "must certainly enter the EU," as compared to 57.4 percent figure last year and 67.5 percent in 2004. Turkish passion for the EU is dissolving at the speed of light....

For its part, the EU Commission has more important matters to attend to (obviously)....

And the Greeks have reached the brink of insanity with claims that Greek and Greek Cypriots missing since 1974 ended up as guinea pigs in secret Turkish biochemical experiments between 1984 and 1988. Very credible info,clearly. Possibly the daftest story of the year. Press the news link and scroll down a bit.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Which European Commisioner is up a certain creek without a paddle?

Career politician, professional dullard, loved by women and envied by men, the EU Commission supremo for industry, Herr. Günter Verheugen, finds himself in a spot of difficulty. Rumours are swirling in Brussels. A scandal is brewing. It involves the exact nature of Verheugen’s “relationship” with Petra Erler, a close associate of Verheugen's since 1999. The excellent news magazine Spiegel notes, among other things, that This spring Erler was promoted to director of Verheugen's cabinet, a career move that comes with a raise from salary group A 12 (€9,045 a month) to A 14 (€11,579 a month). For more:

The European Commission is standing by Günter... for now.

Benefit Claimants get free porn….

I thought that title might grab your attention. Visitors to the Swedish Social Insurance Administration’s web site got more than they beckoned for on Monday. They found that they instead of dull information about social insurance they were offered a choice of paying to see ‘Fetish’, ‘Hardcore’, ‘Ethnic’ or ‘Amateur’ movies. It could never happen in Blighty. See here:

Corporate criminals.....of different stripes.

Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, was last night sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. Skilling, who has said he will appeal his conviction on 19 criminal charges, was also ordered to pay £24 million in compensation to Enron investors. He was given an electronic ankle tag and told he could remain free otherwise until ordered to report to a jail to begin 24 years and four months behind bars.Monday afternoon, Jeff told reporters that he had suffered over the past five years. My heart bleeds.....
The fact is Skilling will probably die of old age awaiting appeal.
Skilling and his ilk, though, are the kind of criminals who should get the harshest possible sentence; they are infinitely more harmful to society than the criminals we might see being reported on the TV news every night.
But what of the EU's false accounting practices. See here.

Troops out, the road to partition and Gordon Brown...

According to a Guardian/ICM poll published today, 61% of voters say they want British troops to leave Iraq this year, even if they have not completed their mission and Washington wants them to stay. A survey for The Independent finds 62 per cent favour an immediate pull-out.
Iraq could break up into different parts eventually, Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday as she acknowledged the limitations to what could be achieved by coalition forces:
"That (partition)is very much a matter for the Iraqis. They have had enough of people from outside handing down arbitrary boundaries and arbitrary decisions," she told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.
Asked if historians may judge that Iraq had been a foreign policy disaster for Britain, she said: "Yes, they may. Then again, they may not."
I rather imagine they’ll view Iraq as the former, Mags. Gordon Brown will pull the troops out of Iraq or at least offer an accelerated plan for withdrawal early on in his looming administration. Gordo’s heart has never been with the Iraq adventure (to his credit). He has invested little or no support or political capital in this bloody enterprise. And it will be a great pleasure for him to administer a sharp slap to the Bliarite tendency. With 119 British servicemen dead so far and 4.4 billion of UK taxpayers money spent on Iraq so far, Brown will be on to a political winner....

Monday, October 23, 2006

American exiled to Canada.....

An American has been 'exiled' from the US to Canada for three years after having sex with a 15-year-old girl. Malcolm Watson, 35, a former teacher at Buffalo Seminary, an all-girl private school was arrested in April after mall security noticed him and the girl in a parked car. “He can only come in the U.S. for the purpose of reporting to his probation officer,” Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark said.
Perhaps we could exile English deviants to say......Belgium or Scotland?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Al-Qaeda are f***ed now...

Patience Wheatcroft has penned a good piece at the Torygraph on how Tony and NuLabour plan to deal with Islamists: podcasts of video extracts of roadshows starring mainstream Islamic scholars. Pretty impressive stuff, obviously.
The podcasts are apparently entitled the Radical Middle Way (!?!) podcasts. One of the leading figures behind the Preventing Extremism Together initiative is Sir Richard Mottram. He will best be remembered for his previous work at the Department of Transport where when Railtrack went off the rails, Sir Richard memorably summed up the situation as "We're all f---ed".

Al-Qaeda must be quaking in their boots/sandals etc.

We are all Paedophobes now?

According to research by the IPPR think tank, "last year more than 1.5 million Britons thought about moving away from their local area due to young people hanging around and 1.7 million avoided going out after dark as a direct result". Only just over a third of Britons would ask young people to stop spray-painting a building in their street, or to stop being rowdy outside. Would you intervene?

O.J Simpson could inspire Blair

I'm not implying that TB should bump off the lovely Cherie. O.J Simpson is being paid $3.5m for an autobiography in which he describes how he “hypothetically” might have murdered his ex-wife and her male friend. This could start something of a trend in the publishing world. Something for Blair or Prescott to think about as their political ends beckon. Lots of potential hypotheticals to mull over for that particular pair....suggestions?

Tony's unwinnable war....

Henry Porter calls for Blair’s impeachment at The Observer.
Quite right too. Tony Blair made 28 statements about Iraq's weapons of “mass destruction” that were unsupported by the intelligence assessments available to him and failed to disclose available counter evidence, or failed to ensure that claims were verified on 12 occasions. Blair failed to withdraw material later found to be false and entered into an agreement with the US without the consent of the Cabinet, Parliament or the people of the UK.

The Iraq Study Group, chaired by the former Secretary of State James Baker, made it abundantly clear last week that he does not believe the present Iraq policy is working. Following the results of the American mid-term elections, US politicians will probably opt for an early exit. General Sir Richard Dannatt's comments about the need for a swift pull-out of UK troops seem to have forced Blair into a sobering reassessments of the conflict and he has now started talking about a UK military withdrawal in the next 10-16 months. Contrary to what Blair has been saying since the invasion, it is one hundred percent certain that the US/UK forces will be out of Iraq before a sustainable peace has been achieved there.Mission unaccomplished. For Blair, the political writing was on the wall long ago. As Denis Healey, a former Labour defence secretary and a notable Atlanticist in his time, warned in September 2002: “I don't think he [Blair] would survive overwhelming public and party opposition to British support for an American attack.” Blair hasn’t survived. It is largely because of Iraq that he will not complete a third term in Downing St.
But, more importantly, what of Iraq and its benighted people?

As Colbert King put it in yesterday’s Washington Post :
There is a new Iraq emerging before our eyes. It is an Iraq that torments Christians, that indulges in unrelenting sectarian bloodbaths, that cheers for Hizbollah, that is no more a friend to Israel than is Iran, all despite the lies sold to the White House and Pentagon by self-serving, power-hungry Iraqi expatriates.

Iraq is now close to anarchy. The war is lost.

It’s amazing how much Tony has got away with but on the positive side, Iraq will continue to trouble Blair’s attempts at building a ‘legacy’, if not necessarily his conscience.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Blair doesn't get it....

In 1961, at the height of the long post-war boom, there were 31,500 people in prison in Britain. A quarter of a century later that number had risen to 51,000. The prison population has now reached 80, 000, exactly double what it was 12 months ago. There are currently 137 prisons holding men, women and children in England and Wales. But they are too few it would seem. Two rather unappetising options present themselves: sending convicts to police cells-a waste of police time and manpower- or releasing prisoners early. Neither are acceptable measures. Indeed, the government is to consider using prison ships as a way of tackling the growing crisis of overcrowding in jails, according to media reports today.Yet, even The Guardian was discussing the issue 4 and a half years ago. The dangers of prison overcrowding were much debated back then. And long before then. This is not a new problem.Media reports claim that 47 prisoners were now being held in police cells to deal with the shortage of prison places after police forces made 240 places available.

Clearly, the government has failed to act on prisons because it has had more important issues to spend tax-payers money on.In August 2006, we learnt that developing the controversial ID cards scheme has cost the government £46.4 million over the past three years. To put that figure in perspective, Kilmarnock Prison which opened in 1999 and is able to hold up to 700 prisoners was built at a cost of £33 million. This week, it was revealed that the fees paid to experts from PA Consulting to work on the ID card scheme equate to an average weekly wage of £6,360, assuming a 40-hour week. Phil Booth of the No2ID campaign against the scheme described the consultants' pay rate as "absolutely appalling". He said: "The Home Office is shovelling money into a black hole at an ever-increasing rate. Management consultants must be lining up at the trough to get a share of all this spending."The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have said the money for ID cards - £8 billion, according to the government, but up to £20 billion according to independent estimates - would be better spent on conventional policing and security measures.

Blair still disagrees.

This is a classic instance of NuLabour having squandered the public's money on marginal obsessions while pressing issues remain totally unaddressed. A very strange sense of priorities...

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jews For Islam

A trawl through the internet produced the following gem. Statistics submitted by the Israeli Interior Ministry’s Population Registry for 2006 revealed that the number of Jews who convert to Islam in Israel will reach record numbers. Over the past few years, some 35 people a year have converted to Islam, but this year the number is expected to climb to 70 people. For example, this chap.

Weird, eh??
Statistics reveal, however, that Jewish women who converted to Islam after marrying Muslim men represent the majority of conversions. But it's not just Jews in Israel who are converting: See here

And try this as well.

The question is why they should wish to convert. Frankly, I’m confused. Perhaps I should seek the counsel of His Grace But I suspect even the venerable Cranmer would struggle with the complexity of the theological questions involved.

BigPharma and Labour- a sickly relationship

The Labour MP Dr. Ian Gibson who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on cancer admitted last night that he had been "naive" to get involved with Cancer United, a controversial, pan-European campaign. Roche, the world's biggest manufacturer of cancer drugs is the only funder of the Campaign.Ian Gibson had been invited to be filmed for the launch of the campaign during the Labour conference in Manchester. Alastair Campbell, the prime minister's former spokesman, said he was "upset" he had become involved in the campaign as well.

Since Labour came to power, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI)has secured guarantees and assurances that member companies could work with government in the lucrative assured market of vaccines production. The close involvement of pharmaceutical companies with government agencies has allowed the industry to develop a unique system of protection for its products. Furthermore, BigPharma has consistently pressured the government to strengthen its monopoly market position in Britain and Europe and to help wipe out competition from nutritional supplements and herbal medicines. We all should be gravely concerned that non -elected industry representatives, whose companies stand to earn billions in sales to the government, now seem to be setting the agenda on policies for health. The web of relationships between manufacturers, regulators and sellers has become very, very entangled. And the stakes for consumers couldn't be higher.

Gibson and Campbell should have known better. They, and their party, are clearly part of the problem not part of the cure. My diagnosis is that the rot at the core of NuLabour is untreatable.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

David Cameron and the Rapper...

Violent rap music "encourages people to carry guns and knives", David Cameron told Radio 1 earlier this year, suggesting it should be banned from the airwaves. A US rapper , Rhymefest - real name Che Smith- is due to meet the Tory leader for a "summit" to discuss the effect of the genre's lyrics on young people. They will probably meet in the Tory leader's office in the House of Commons today. Is such a meeting really necessary? Especially after "hug-a-hoodie". Actually, I don't think it will be a bad thing. Rhymefest, a former teacher, opposes pimp fantasy and thug glory and wants "a social music.” Less bling and more thought. Vast numbers of the yuff listen to rap and find something of value in it. to each his own. Tories should not avoid or systematically denigrate things that we might not appreciate. But as for what the tabloids will say...

The European Commission faces both ways...

The EU commission is currently working on the agenda for the unofficial meeting of EU heads of state and government to be held in Lahti, Finland on Oct. 20. The agenda apparently suggests that Turkey could become an extremely important energy terminal and a zone of strategic importance for energy security. It is believed that the Commission will suggest that Turkey should sign up to the EU’s energy Acquis Communitaire even before being an EU member and that Turkey should be accepted to the Treaty Establishing the EU/SEE (South East Europe) Energy Community which entered into force last October. An interesting development given that the European Commission is expected to publish a highly negative report on Turkey's progress towards membership on 8th November....
Yesterday, the EU's enlargement commissioner, Olli Rehn met the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, in Luxembourg as the countdown began to a year-end deadline for Turkey to end its embargo on vessels from Cyprus which joined the EU in 2004. As I have posted before, the Cyprus issue could be the breaking point in Turkey's membership talks which began in October 2005. Or perhaps energy security goals will win out. Will the European Commission favour pipelines or principles in Turkey's quest to join the EU?

Bliar dumps Iraq....

"We intend to stay with you for as long as you need us and as long as you want us," Blair said at a joint news conference with visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in October 2005. Blair said it was important to "stay the course" to help give the Iraqis "the democracy they so self-evidently want." Talabani said an early withdrawal of US and British troops would be a "catastrophe".

Last week, General Sir Richard Dannatt said troops should come home within two years - flatly contradicting the Prime Minister's policy that the military will stay "as long as it takes". Bliar's oft repeated position since 2003 was that British troops must stay until the Iraqi security forces are able to take charge - a rather forlorn hope as the country has slithered to the brink of civil war.

Tony Blair yesterday signalled a major shift in his position over Iraq by saying it was government policy for British troops to leave Iraq within 10 to 16 months - so long as the security situation allowed. This is not a view shared by many senior Iraqi leaders, who still believe a sudden withdrawal would increase the already high levels of violence. Indeed, The Times newspaper reports today that US soldiers have had to return to towns handed over to the control of Iraqi forces just a month ago.

The alleged reason for occupying Iraq was to build security and democracy. The occupying powers have dismantled the first and failed to construct the second. Blair has been indelibly stained by Iraq. He realises that his prime ministerial reign is now ending and does not, of course,wish for his political legacy to be forever overshadowed by the Iraq debacle. Blair has u-turned (at last) but for all the wrong reasons....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


The Kazakhstan central bank has misspelled the word "bank" on its new notes, officials said on Wednesday. The bank plans to put the misprinted notes into circulation in November and then gradually withdraw them to correct the spelling. It seems the spirit of Borat Sagdiyev is alive and well in Kazakhstan.

George Soros and George W.

Finacier and rich chap, George Soros has said that if George W. Bush left his post, he would renounce all his wealth. As if.... Though I could manfully shoulder the burden of extreme wealth if Soros were to transfer his fortune over to me. Alas, George W. is there for the duration.

Brotherly love....

The Gay Police Association (GPA) has been reprimanded for an advert which implied Christians were responsible for a huge rise in violent attacks on homosexuals. The advert, showing a Bible next to a pool of blood under the heading "in the name of the father", appeared in a national newspaper's supplement. The advert appeared in the Diversity supplement of the Independent newspaper on 29 June, two days ahead of the Europride gay and lesbian parade in London.

The ad was a one-off, used to back up the GPA's claim that the association had recorded a 74 percent increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator. The association said the accompanying text made clear Christians were not the only group accused, in fact a quarter of the alleged incidents were provoked by Muslims, it said.

After three months of deliberation and over 50,000 complaints from individuals and organizations, the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Metropolitan Police announced at the end of September that there was “insufficient evidence” to lay charges of discrimination against the Gay Police Association for its June ads depicting Christianity as violent. Andrea Minichiello Williams, Public Policy Officer of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship (LCF), said of the CPS decision, decrying the “appearance of discrimination against Christians by the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).” Williams accused the CPS of a double standard, pointing to other decisions the CPS has prosecuted in favour of the gay community’s complaints of discrimination. In 2003, Williams points out, the CPS decided there was sufficient evidence to prosecute an elderly Christian preacher who displayed a sign saying, “Stop homosexuality, Stop immorality. Jesus is Lord” after a “small number” of complaints.

Today, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has agreed with the complainants, who included Christian Watch, the Trinitarian Bible Society and The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches, saying it could cause offence. The GPA's advert was also found to have been untruthful in its claim that calls about homophobic incidents had increased by 74 percent, and it was criticised for not being able to back up its statement with evidence.The ASA said in its ruling that "by featuring spilt blood prominently, the ad suggested that all the reported incidents involved physical injury"."On this point, the advert breached the truthfulness code," it added. It told the GPA to "ensure future campaigns were not presented in a way that could cause undue offence and also reminded them that they should ensure the use of imagery did not send misleading messages to consumers".

The GPA said it was designed to be thought-provoking and challenging, but that it was never intended to castigate or describe all religious followers as homophobic. Conservative commentator, Iain Dale wrote a while back, “Couldn't you reasonably think that the advert actually incites gay people to hate Christians?” Mr. Dale is right as is the ASA. The Crown Prosecution Service and the Police drew the politically correct conclusion and not an objective one. I also believe that it is not in the public interest for this case to be dropped – to do so gives the impression that Police officers are above the law....

Ankara feels the pressure and gets provocative....

Turkey anxiously awaits the release of the EU Commission’s critical progress report due November 8. Semi-placatory moves are afoot designed to appease the European Commission. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul has signaled that Turkey may amend article 301, which has been used to prosecute intellectuals and journalists for “insulting Turkishness.” He said so while attending the EU troika meeting in Luxembourg yesterday, but made no mention of a specific time frame to do so!
The Turkish Parliament Justice Sub-committee also decided yesterday that the Turkish History Society and the Foreign Ministry should conduct a detailed study on the Armenian genocide allegations. The study will explain the circumstances under which Turkey decided to deport Armenians in 1915. Countries that officially recognize an Armenian genocide will also be examined in this context to see whether cases of genocide have occurred in their own pasts.
EU leaders will outline decisions about Turkey on December 14-15 according to the upcoming progress report.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

To uncover...or not

Ekin Deligoz and Lale Akgun, two Turkish-origin members of the German Parliament, have called for Turkish citizens in Germany ‘to remove their headscarves’ and embrace the European way of life. Ali Kizilkaya, head of the Islamic Council, sharply criticized this call from the two German parliamentarians.
“Parliamentarians cannot interfere in the public way of life. It’s a violation of individual freedoms and rights to issue a call for Muslim women not to wear a headscarf when they are covered of their own accord. Statements about a removal of the headscarf in a bid to adopt to German life show that democracy has not yet been fully internalized.”
What interests me here is the attitude of the head of the Islamic Council, who appears to believe that:
1.members of parliament have no right to speak out on sensitive issues,
2.to criticise the wearing of the headscarf is itself a human rights violation,
3.all ‘covered’ women are covered out of their own free will,
4.any call to remove the veil is proof positive that Germany is not a democratic society.

Now, there's a chap fully integrated into the European way of life...

Labour's "War on Terror"????

Two terrorist suspects are on the run after breaking control orders which are supposed to monitor their every move, the Home Office has admitted. One man, a British national of Pakistani origin escaped from a a mental health unit in West London two weeks ago.
The second man, an Iraqi is known to have been at large for several months and was suspected with others from Iraq of links to al-Qaeda in Iraq. He absconded soon after successfully persuading a court to relax the conditions of his control order.
At Prime Ministers Questions on 9th March 2005 Bliar said: “…the police and the security services are advising us that they need these control orders and, what is more, need them to be applied in circumstances in which there is reasonable suspicion that people are engaged in planning or plotting terrorist acts…”
So why can’t this government make the control orders regime actually work? The control orders were rushed through parliament last March in the face of widespread opposition and were riddled with contradictions.

At the end of March 2005 The Grauniad reported how Mahmoud Abu Rideh, who had been detained without charge and trial in Belmarsh prison and Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, was being kept under house arrest at night, but was able to roam freely under tagging during the day. At the time, he said: "I go everywhere now - on the underground, buses, the mosque. But I must be home by 7pm. People think I am dangerous, but I am not dangerous. The government is playing games. If I am a risk to security, why are they letting me out to be with people? I wouldn't do anything silly. I am not a dangerous man." So the latest report of the two chaps who did a runner while under control orders should hardly come as much of a surprise to anyone...even Tone.

Tony can rest easy….according to some.

Police officers are still expected to interview Tony Blair on the cash for peerages allegations later this year, before passing their final report to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) before Christmas. Both the Metropolitan Police and the CPS yesterday made it clear the investigation was continuing and that no decision had yet been made about whether to bring any charges. Nigel Griffiths, deputy leader of the Commons and the MP for Edinburgh South, however, takes a somewhat different view. He claimed yesterday that the CPS had "decided there was no evidence to proceed" to formal charges of corruption against senior Labour figures. Surely a government minister wouldn’t be trying to interfere in a police inquiry? Perish the thought.

The end is nigh?

The Financial Times newspaper warned yesterday that the Cyprus problem could derail Turkey’s EU membership negotiations by the end of the year. That has long been my view. Turkey refuses to open its ports to Greek Cypriots before the isolation of Turkish Cyprus is removed, the article observed, adding that “if it does not do so, opponents of Turkish EU membership such as France and Austria (and, of course, Cyprus) could insist that the negotiations be ended - the "train crash" scenario - or suspended, which would be the equivalent of driving the train into a siding.” According to diplomats, the Turkish government, which will hold a general election next year, is trapped between refusing to make further compromises on Cyprus and keeping its EU negotiations on track. The result is an impasse that looks almost impossible to overcome.

Swedish Political Update

As widely expected, Cecilia Stegö Chilò has quit as Sweden's culture minister after just ten days in the job.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Farcical…The sorry state of Sweden's political class...

Sweden’s new centre-right government appears to be mired in political turmoil after less than a month in office. Trade minister, Maria Borelius resigned eight days after she was appointed (neither Peter Mandelson or David Blunkett can compete with her in "rapidity of resignation" terms). Borelius has also quit as a member of parliament for the Moderates. Ms Borelius admitted that she had not paid employer’s tax for a nanny and cleaners hired in the 1990s. She also avoided property tax in Sweden by officially registering ownership of her homes in Sweden with a company in the tax haven of Jersey. It has further emerged that she now risks being fined for irregularities in a share deal. Environment minister Andreas Carlgren has admitted that he supplied false income details after leaving parliament in 1998. Meanwhile, the Swedish Culture Minister, Cecilia Stego Chilo, also faces calls to resign after she admitted not having paid the TV licence fee for 16 years. Migration minister Tobias Billström is under investigation by the TV licensing authority as well. The departing leader of the Moderate Party's youth organisation, Johan Forsell, admitted last Thursday that he had not paid his TV licence fee either. It also appears that Carl Bildt was not exactly Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s preferred choice for the job of Foreign Minister. The other party leaders in Reinfeldt's four-party coalition weren't interested in the job apparently...

Not exactly a flying start for Sweden’s new government. But it’s still early days yet. Dare I say, “Things can only get better, can only get better…..”The government is due to present its first budget bill today.

And the now-opposition Social Democrats have plenty of difficulties of their own. At the end of September, The Social Democrats' party secretary Marita Ulvskog had to apologise for comparing Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg to a rapist. Anna Sjödin, head of the Social Democrat youth movement SSU, has been found guilty of using racial epithets and assaulting a bouncer at a bar in Stockholm in January 2006. She has decided to take time out from politics for a while. And EU Commissioner Margot Wallström, the favourite among party members and the public to be Sweden's next Social Democrat leader, said she isn’t interested in the job.

In a joint press conference in Downing Street with (now former) Swedish Prime Minister, Goran Persson in March 2006, our own PM and commander-in-chief, Mr. Bliar said, with his customary acumen that: ‘Sweden is a "model country" for others to follow’. According to the OECD, the country's per capita GDP ranking declined from fourth place in 1970 to 13th place today.Youth unemployment is about 23 per cent, the fifth highest in the EU. Since 1970 Sweden has increased taxes considerably -from 40 % of GDP in 1970 to 53 % in 1998 - and is today the only OECD-country with a total tax pressure including social security contributions above 50 %.

'Model country', indeed. Spot on, as ever Tony...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Man of His Word

Last week, Brigadier Ed Butler, the outgoing commander of the British force in the southern Helmand province, said that extra helicopters would enable them to press home the attack against the Taliban. “Helicopters have always been top of my priority,” he said. On the 7th October, a MoD spokesman said “The commanders have what they need to do the mission”. The commanders in fact have only an ageing fleet of 8 Chinook helicopters at their disposal. In an interview with BFBS, the armed forces’ broadcaster last weekend, Blair said: “If the commanders on the ground want more equipment, armoured vehicles for example, more helicopters, that will be provided. Whatever package they want we will do,” he said.

In the course of the last week, the government requested other Nato allies to provide additional capacity but without success. Now it appears that UK military chiefs are being forced to hire civilian aircraft and helicopters to support its troops after the US rejected a plea to help meet the shortfall. Yo Blair!, indeed. I know TB has got more important things on his mind, like his legacy, feuding with Gordo and Cabinet struggles over the precise detail of new gay rights legislation. But our military forces really do deserve better...

Gorgeous George backs Fidel ….and David Cameron!?!

The fabulously perma-tanned Respect MP and former Celebrity Big Brother contestant George Galloway has warmly praised Conservative leader David Cameron. In an interview with today’s Scotland on Sunday, Galloway says: "Looked at objectively, I would have to say I can see his appeal. It will play - it is playing right now." Gallows described the Tory leader as "pretty impressive" and lauded his attempts to renew the Conservatives. Gorgeous adds: "He is doing and saying the right things. His job is to slay the ghost of Margaret Thatcher. The more [Norman] Tebbit and Co attack him, the better. That just demonstrates to the public there's something new about the Tories..." George also plugged his new book the Fidel Castro Handbook, written in honour of one of his biggest political idols.

Personally, I am not necessarily sure if we need endorsements from the likes of Gorgeous George...but hang on, GG also added: “I don't myself think there is anything new, but Cameron is at least providing the illusion of change." So thankfully only a semi-endorsement then. I was getting worried there for a minute.On the basis that all publicity is good publicity, I suppose I can live with GG's musings but I am not sure what the Blessed Margaret would make of Galloway's intervention.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Honourable Croydonian…

Early days in my blogging existence…But already a word of appreciation to the noble Croydonian for his generous comments on my trifling endeavours. For those not in the know, Mr. Croydonian authors a blog of distinction notable for its diversity of themes and the wit and verve with which they are addressed. I will attempt to hold my ruminations and pontifications to the Croydonian standard.

Rising Tensions......

The Turkish Consumers Union has decided to boycott one French trademarked product every week in response to the Armenian genocide bill passed lat week in France. The boycott will start with the oil company Total and other French firms will be blacklisted each week on a rolling basis.

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said "The parliament will meet on Tuesday with a special agenda and no one should doubt we have measures to take in every field". Gul urged that no one should harbor the conviction that Turkey would take the French Parliament’s decision lightly.In a separate development, the website of the General Staff of the Turkish Military today reported that, “A group of soldiers from an Armenian border unit committed a violation by shooting twice toward Turkish soil with no casualties or loss of property.”
Where will it all end?

Royal turn-off

The leading contender for the French Socialist Party’s presidential nomination, Mme Ségolène Royal is maintaining a steely silence on a new sit-com Etat de Grace (State of Grace) which portrays a centre-left woman president at the Elysee. The programme is being broadcast prime-time on the public channel, France 2. But the French population have failed to see the funny side and the programme has apparently had viewers switching off in their droves. They appear to have a problem with the notion of a woman president. That must be giving Mme Royal’s likely opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy, something to laugh about.

The Impotence of the Turkish Diaspora

And I am not talking about erectile disfunction. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, the current number of Turkish expatriates is 4,782,348. That's a bit on the low side as anybody who has visited Berlin (Turkish population of 100,000)or any other German or Dutch city or town will know. Unofficially, the number is estimated to be around 6 million in total. Two and a half million Turks live in Germany according to official data.With a further 500,000 Turks in France, 351,000 in the Netherlands, 250,000 in the United States, 200,000 in Austria and 138,000 in Australia. If memory serves, there are about 100,000 in the UK.

The Turkish Prime Minister has spoken of the need to mobilise the Turkish community in France to counter the country's powerful Armenian lobby. To date, Turkey has been singularly unable to wield its expats into a cohesive lobby. The problem is how?
For many Turkish immigrants in Europe, low educational achievement, a lack of career advancement in economic and social terms and a tendency to live in ethnic enclaves makes it impossible for them to influence the societies in which they live. In Germany alone, a study conducted by the Essen-based Center for Turkish Studies in 2005 found that a third of the Turks in Germany lives below the poverty level and that a further 35 percent lived just narrowly above the poverty level. Only about five percent of Turkish students studied at a high school that would lead to university.
Thus, one doubts that much of a Turkish lobby will emerge any time soon....but come the next crisis with Europe, we will hear again of the price for failing to create a Turkish lobby in Europe.

Fear and loathing in Ankara...

In Turkey, widespread fury over the French Parliament’s decision to crimminalise denial of the Armenian genocide of 1915 continues unabated. And is threatening to escalate.

In his first remarks on the bill following its adoption, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (pictured above) commented that "France has blackened freedoms". Erdogan also said that "There are over 500 thousand Turkish nationals living in France", he noted, "Those Turkish citizens must be as strong and effective as Armenians over there". Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul criticized the adoption of the bill. "This will be an unforgettable shame on France. From now on, France will never be able to describe itself as a country of freedoms". The opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Motherland Party (ANAP) have expressed similar views.In other words, the French Parliament's decision has united the bulk of Turkey's fractious political class in opposition to Europe. That, of course, was the intention of the French Bill all along.

Turkey is also hopping mad with the Netherlands where three Turkish election candidates have been expelled from their political parties for refusing to accept the Armenian genocide allegations, Dutch universities are also apparently pressuring Turkish students to accept the Armenian genocide. Overall, there is a growing sense in Turkey that Armenian genocide recognition has become an implicit precondition for EU membership. Turkey and Europe are, thus, heading towards a major crisis in their relations…...the future looks grim.

Straight Talk...

The head of the British army, General Sir Richard Dannatt has caused a perfect political storm by making remarks that were unprecedented for such a senior military figure. The general warned that British troops should come home from Iraq in two years and that Britain's presence in Iraq was harming Britain's security. He fears that British troops may no longer be the solution to the challenges in southern Iraq, but the problem. NuLabour Ministers say that the General was out of order and insist the army must "finish the job" however long it takes.

Michael Portillo, the former Conservative Defence Secretary has said that Sir Richard’s relationship with ministers was now “absolutely compromised”. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, says in interview to be broadcast on GMTV on Sunday that the general had made "an honest mistake" and it should be a case of "two strikes and you're out". He tells: "I think senior generals ... musn't cross over that line into expressing political views at variance with the government of the day. He did do that, I suspect not intentionally. He'll be sadder and wiser this weekend."

In normal circumstances, I would tend to agree with Rifkind. But these are far from normal circumstances. We are currently ruled by a government which launched an illegal invasion of Iraq under false pretences and is complicit in the death of countless thousands of Iraqis and the complete devastation of Iraq´s society and infrastructure.If politicians fail to act honestly, as they have demonstrably failed to do throughout the debacle in Iraq, surely it's the duty of a public servant to speak the truth. Although Blair has expressed his support for the head of the army, I fear that the high command of NuLabour are currently scheming feverishly to hatch a decapitation operation against the general. No doubt skeletons in Sir Richard’s closet are being actively searched out. The general’s stance may have infuriated Downing Street, but his candour has raised him to hero status among army personnel. And not just among army personnel...

Friday, October 13, 2006

Gordo bounces back....

In today's Grauniad (Sir) Michael White reckons that Gordon Brown has had a good week - “…While the prime minister stumbled at Commons question time, the chancellor delivered two fact-packed speeches which attracted respectful attention…”. Sir Michael also believes that “…What comforted Blair and Brown this week has been the rapid collapse of the Tory NHS campaign. Still lots to play for”
Yet a Guardian/ICM poll at the end of September showed that voters believe David Cameron would make a more effective prime minister than Gordo and that Britain will be better off if Labour loses the next election. Only 23% agreed with the phrase "continuity is important, stick with Labour".
Michael White is apparently none the wiser...

Armenian Bill won’t see the light of day…

On Thursday, the French parliament approved a bill making it a crime to deny the ‘genocide’of Armenians in Turkey during World War I. But for it to become an item on the agenda of the Senate, the bill must be approved by the government and President Jacques Chirac does not look favorably on the bill. Francois Holland, secretary-general of the opposition Socialist Party, has vowed to make the bill a law in 2007 if they are elected.

I rather suspect that this law is not going to find its way onto the statute books and will die a slow death in the the commitee rooms of the legislative process. In any case, the French bill has rather less to do with redressing a 90-year-old injustice and a lot to do with appealing to the large and influential Armenian community in France (400, 000 strong) prior to parliamentary and presidential elections next year. More generally, the bill is designed to sink Turkey’s chances at getting into the EU.

Perhaps most interestingly of all has been the appalling over-reaction of the EU institutions to the French parliament’s vote. One of the harshest criticisms came from Joost Lagendijk, chairman of European Union-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Commission, whose description of the bill was “foolish and far from belonging to Europe”. Lib. Dem MEP Andrew Duff said the European Court of Human Rights must be ready to intervene in the matter if it became law. Krisztina Nagy, the spokeswoman for EU Commissioner Olli Rehn, said, "In the case this bill becomes a law, it would prevent the dialogue and debate that are necessary for reconciliation," and highlighted that the recognition of “genocide” is not a Copenhagen criterion. The EU Commission emphasized the significance of leaving the matter to historians and researchers. By implication, the EU has become the supreme arbiter of what kind of laws should and shouldn’t be made in the Member States. Self-evidently, that is worrying in the extreme…..

It's been a long time coming...

But finally I am getting my blogging act together. I am a little deterred by the technology involved but I am determined to knock together a rollicking pastiche of anti-Bliar/NuLabour musings with a dash of informed commentary about goings on here in Darkest Istanbul. But my Conservative bent shall always be to the fore.
Onwards Christian soldiers...