Monday, December 17, 2007

Dangerous dirge

Forget the nuclear ambitions and meddling in Iraq. Forget the taking of hostages and the homophobic bigotry. The Iranian government is planning to commit a crime against humanity, against its own people, a crime so terrible that the others pale into insignificance.

Iran has announced that Irish bore-rock artist Chris De Burgh is to be first 'major' western artist to perform live in Iran since 1979. The singer, responsible for the horror of the dirge Lady in Red is planning to perform a concert in Tehran, backed by an Iranian band.

However, Ireland's own 'lyrical terrorist' may not be able to sing the lyrics of said song, as it includes phrases which may be considered as inappropriate by fundamentalist Muslim clerics, like 'cheek to cheek', and especially sinful words such as 'dance', 'red', 'lady' and 'the'.

Haven't the people of Iran suffered enough? Why give them another reason to hate the West? The world needs to act now to protect the Iranian people from the De Burgh terror.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unfortunate timing

Page 5 of tonight's Gazette featured an article about a road safety initiative - a safe crossing point for horses in Sunderland Road at Cleadon. It featured horse rider Toni Keighley who, after a road accident in which a horse had to be destroyed, petitioned for a reduction in road speed limits on roads frequented by horse riders. However, next to the article, in the 'Court Round-up' column, a small paragraph told us that:

Toni Keighley, 22, of Whitehall Street, South Shields, was fined £100, with £45 costs, for driving without insurance. Her licence was endorsed with six penalty points for driving without insurance.

It might be a different Toni Keighley of South Shields (or a misprint) but it leaves me to wonder if anyone proof-reads the pages after the mischievous newspaper elves have finished with the page-setting.

Petrol nazis

New fuel protest group Transaction 2007 is planning a series of protests across the country over the price of petrol and diesel fuel. Essentially it's a narrow self interest group which is demanding cheaper fuel, although the Road Hauliers Association has distanced itself from the protest and Transaction 2007.

Whilst the RHA has voiced concerns about protest methods, it still seems an odd position to take when you consider that on the face of it Transaction 2007 and the RHA have some similar objectives.

Although claiming not to be a militant organisation, some of Transaction 2007's vague demands have a slight whiff of the right wing about them, with foreigners coming in for a bit of heat.

The item in the Gazette on Tuesday featured the poster boy of the 2000 and 2005 protests Andrew Spence together with obligatory Union Jack poster, although unusually the Transaction 2007 website doesn't mention the publicity hungry Spence at all. What the Gazette failed to mention (and does so regularly) is that Spence has a past with right-wing groups. He stood in the 2001 general election for UKIP, and for the BNP contested the Leadgate ward in Derwentside in the local elections this year and also was parliamentary candidate in the recent Sedgefield parliamentary by-election.

He left the racist party after a minor fisticulation incident at the party's booze-fest in Derbyshire this summer. Afterwards, Spence stated he parted with the BNP because it's "not the party I thought it was", although he "was proud to be in the party".

The BNP itself has had links to the fuel protests since they began back in 2000. The BNP ran the website in support of the 2000 protests and party supporters were encouraged to get involved in both the 2000 and 2005 protests. BNP chums the National Front also got in on the act, intimidating tanker drivers by threatening to set alight bails of hay at blockades.

Why the Gazette fails to mention Spence's former affiliation with the BNP seems odd, as it certainly is newsworthy, especially since he's 'proud' to have been in a party of racists and bigots.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Believe what you are told

The state-appointed guardian of happy thoughts, Trevor Phillips, has issued a diktat from inside the walls of his Ministry of Harmony, which says that the Nativity should performed in schools.

Phillips accused schools not putting on nativity plays of "robbing their children of really being part of what it is to be British". Utter codswallop, and an arrogant presumption that he can dictate what he thinks are British values. Normally, as a Nu-Lab creature, Phillips is nailed to the right-wing cross of politically correctness for his views, but since this is traditional Telegraph reader territory he will be praised by the the Tory religious fundies (and probably the BNP too, 'cos he used the word 'British').

For most people, Christmas has become divorced from religion and has become a cultural rather than religious event. There's no harm in society or in education in recognising the origin of Christmas, and believe it or not, we can all enjoy Christmas without being forced to prostrate ourselves before the Christmas Taliban.

Nativity plays themselves have little moral meaning other than 'believe in this fairy tale' and most parents only enjoy them just because their own little cherub is playing a shepherd or an angel. Personally, I don't think the Nativity is very entertaining either (unless they make a version with Samuel L Jackson and a cool soundtrack).

Religion shouldn't be shoved down children's throats, particularly by state decree, and especially not at the expense of the taxpayer. If parents specifically want their children to participate in the Nativity, then church, not school, should be the place to do it.

God knows the church could do with the bums on seats.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sick racist filth

...or why you can't roll over and ignore the BNP.

Over on the Lancaster UAF (Unite Against Fascism) blog I read this post. It discusses a thread on a web forum called 'Stormfront'. Essentially Stormfront is a discussion board for white supremecists to get their racist rocks off with each other. It's frequented by many BNP members, including goose-steppers from South Tyneside BNP.

Essentially, the scumfront thread was hung on a story of a Luxembourg woman who had immolated herself, allegedly in protest at receiving what she saw as racist treatment at the hands of government. The woman in question was not white, and later died from her injuries. Whatever the circumstances surrounding her death, it was undeniably tragic.

The scumfront posts in response to the story were disgustingly racist and revelled in the woman's death.

The Lancaster UAF blog repeated several of the posts from the scumfront thread, including a post from someone with the nickname "caer urfa". As anyone from South Shields will know, Caer Urfa was an ancient name given to the settlement that eventually became South Shields. This is caer urfa's comment:

"I think that sort of protest should be encouraged" [followed by a “big grin” emoticon]

This creep, obviously delighted with the grisly death of a non-white person, is without a grain of humanity. caer urfa is apparently from South Shields and linked with South Tyneside BNP. Presumably this is how your average South Tyneside BNP member thinks and it illustrates that there's nothing moderate about these fanatics, and that they still think in the same terms as their Nazi forebears.

It sickens me to think that people vote for these scumbags.

Fascist appeasement

There was a post a while back on The Northern Herald blog, where the blogger discussed South Tyneside BNP posting their lie rag in the Primrose ward. The blogger quite rightly asks - what are the local councillors saying about it? And the answer is - nothing.

A poster called Billy Boy (who also seems to be web stalking Peter Shaw) said "Don't you think that by posting about them, you give thm [sic] more publicity than they deserve?" This argument is like saying 'ignore the BNP and they'll go away'.

Well this brand of appeasement obviously hasn't and doesn't work. They don't go away. The BNP are targeting South Tyneside and are evidently buoyed by the last local election results at Primrose.

If local councillors don't publicly challenge these freaks then the BNP could get even more publicity - by winning a seat.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Carbon copy Tories

In an interesting about turn, the Tories are now pilfering Labour's policies - plans for nuke power and stripping the planning system to allow nuke builds to go ahead without the tiresome interruption of citizens.

Also aping Gordon Brown, David 'Gordon' Cameron made his announcement to the CBI at their annual conference. Dave made the remarkable claim that nuke is needed to combat climate change (erm, like Gordon).

However, the unanswered question is that if nuclear is such a good prospect, why aren't the energy companies getting out their chequebooks to build new ones? There's been no new nuke build for 12 years, and nothing has been stopping anyone from building them. What are they waiting for, if it isn't for some kind of promise of Government bail out?

The real Gordon Brown must be a bit miffed. No matter how hard he's been licking the CBI's boots over the years, Martin Broughton, president of the CBI, clearly nailed his colours to the Tory mast.

It's obvious the CBI is watching the polls and have now decided to back who they think is going to be the winner.

Poor Gordon. I suppose that's a risk of getting into bed with the CBI - sooner or later they're going roll you over.

Free voice

Sometimes courts do make the right decision, and in kicking out religious fundies Christian Voice's action against the BBC for blasphemy the courts have said that at least on stage and broadcast, religion is fair game. And so it should be.

What is ludicrous is that we have blasphemy laws at all. Such laws belong in the middle ages, or the middle east.

There is some irony in the ruling. Although Christian Voice are spitting fury at the decision, it's freedom speech that lets them air their loony values in public, even when they are being intentionally offensive and hateful towards people they don't like.

Glass act

Hilarious comment from the Council about the danger of glass milk bottles in Tuesday's Gazette article about school milk to be supplied in cartons instead of bottles.

The council, essentially backing down to a suppliers wish to be less sustainable (and foist disposal costs onto the council taxpayer), used this gem of spin:

"Cartons are safer and easier to handle, as there is no risk of chipping and breakage."

To prostitute yourself to a corporation's interests using the name of safety must be all in a day's work for a council spokesperson. No wonder the spokesperson didn't want to be named.

I suppose now the council will demand all South Tyneside schools to use only blunt pencils, pointless compasses and set squares without sharp corners.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Cancel Christmas says Ashby

The North East's own Ebenezer Scrooge, Robin Ashby, has branded the Christmas bonus and 4% wage rise awarded to Northern Rock staff as "disgraceful and entirely inappropriate".

It doesn't help that the Guardian describes the rise as 'hefty'. Footballers and corporate directors get 'hefty'. Whilst unexpected, two hundred quid is the least the bank should be giving it's loyal staff for what they're going through.

Ashby whinged that "a discredited management team is rewarding employees for their failure and I'm sure all customers and investors will be furious". So kind-hearted Robin thinks that all Northern Rock staff should be punished for the credit crunch, or for the failure of the board? Is this his Christmas message?

It seems he was quite happy with the management team when it was raking in millions on it's business model of high risk and low costs - and paying rich folk like Ashby healthy dividends.

"Why should employees, who have good pay packages anyway, be rewarded when we lose money?" What a nob, assuming that every employee of NR has a good pay package. The employees are hard working people, working for a company which keeps it's wage bill low and productivity high - performance which contributed to the success of the company.

It's obvious that Robin couldn't give a fuck about the staff who put up with rude and obnoxious customers during the September run. He couldn't care less that they are all worrying whether they will have a job next week, or be bothered if they were all made redundant, or that blow-hards like him are unfairly devaluing Northern Rock staff

Cockweasel. (thanks punkscience)


That's it. That's how much we need to reduce our CO2 emissions to avoid runaway global heating. But think about it - is the de-carbonisation of our economy such a bad idea?

You could question George Monbiot's figures, but in practice when Monbiot does the maths he's usually right, and eventually others follow. He came up with the 80% CO2 cut figure a year ago in his excellent book Heat, and this figure is now accepted as the current minimum cut the UK needs to aim for, and was even mentioned recently by Gordon Brown.

What's Gordon waiting for? Permission from the CBI?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Before the hockey stick...

...there was the curve. It's coincidental that this week sees both the 50th anniversary of the Keeling Curve and the meeting in Bali to discuss the successor to Kyoto. In terms of science meets policy, it represents a kind of long term cause and effect. It's where research into human impact on the atmosphere started, and led to the birth of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The Keeling Curve (actually more of a sawtooth upward slope than a curve) started in 1957 shows rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

Whereas Kyoto has failed to deliver a reduction in CO2 emissions, the Keeling Curve is still here and rising, as stark a reminder as ever.


Tory MP Mark Pritchard has come out against what he perceives as 'Christianophobia' in society and has called for a debate in Parliament tomorrow. What a waste of time.

He says he wants to "protect the Christian tradition" and "ensuring that the Christian tradition of our nation is recognised." Why?

He bemoans that "Some people seem to want to forget the Christian tradition going back to the first century and its contribution to arts, culture and science." Yep, it's their right to do so. Welcome to the 21st Century.

Over Nativity plays he says they "would be a positive contribution for children. This isn't criticising people of other faiths or of no faith." No, it's indoctrination. Give me the superior A Christmas Carol any day.

Like so many Tories, Pritchard relies on the "Politically Correct Brigade" cliché to hammer home his message. I'm not sure who this pc brigade is, but they're very busy. Do they have a special forces section? Do they give out medals for valour in the face of non-fairtrade coffee?

The subject has no place in Parliament. We're already overburdened by 26 bishops sitting in the House of Lords. If I was at the debate I would remind Pritchard of the recent events in Sudan and the dangers of a legislature under the influence of religion.