Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Troops come home

And they still haven't found WMD. No doubt more vote winners are on their way. I smell and election coming... unless Brown plans to just move them to Afghanistan.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Massaging the pain

And the figures. As part of their stormtrooper fest at the Kingsnorth power station demonstration, the police manipulated a pliant media to paint a picture of participants hell bent on violence and terrorism.

Lib Dem MP David Taylor unearthed a list of horrific injuries police received during the event, which tells a chilling story of ruthless hippy demonstrators and of real courage under fire by our brave boys in blue:

"stung on finger by possible wasp"

"officer injured sitting in car"

"officer succumbed to sun and heat"

"pain in lower back"


Absolute carnage.

The horror, the horror.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Klaatu barada nikto

Among the the many sci-fi films in my extensive collection, 1951's The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of my most treasured. Thought provoking, intelligent and civilised, they just don't make them like this any more. It was one of those movies that I had to get on DVD when the video format changed (plus I'd worn out the VHS tape).

So when I heard that The Day the Earth Stood Still had been remade my thoughts were mixed.

Remakes are often a mixed bag. The Coen brothers' remake of The Ladykillers was okay, but they shouldn't have touched such a classic which couldn't be bettered. Same with I am Legend (The Omega Man). Get Carter I couldn't bare to watch more than thirty minutes. The Italian Job was a mild diversion, but ultimately pointless.

But then there's Scarface, Eldorado and Ocean's Eleven which bettered their predecessors.

Charley and the Chocolate Factory, The Magnificent Seven and Fistful of Dollars (both remakes of Kurosawa classics) equalled their forbears.

The Day the Earth Stood Still comes under the best left alone category. It missed the original's anti war message and 1950s optimism out of adversity ethos that has survived the passage of time. Robert Wise's 1951 film is what the term 'classic' was invented for.

This new version won't be joining my dvd collection. Keanu Reeves as Klaatu just does his wooden thing, with none of the measured compassion and cold reason of Michael Rennie's Klaatu. Although it starts well as a re-imagining of the story, the new film tries too hard to be current, with climate change (although not mentioned) being the reason for our destruction. Klaatu comes to our planet to kill us off, to save the planet and all the other species living here from our excesses. Some great special effects as robot Gort starts taking apart the fabric of human civilisation, the manner of which is slightly remiscent of Spielberg's War of the Worlds.

Ultimately though, it's disappointing, the ending morally ambiguous with a preachy paternalism that bordered on dictatorial.

At least it's not as bad as Indiana Jones crystal skull whatever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Opening shots

After her letter in the Gazette last night, it looks like Tory Karen Allen is positioning herself as Tory candidate for South Shields (or elsewhere in Tyneside) for the next general election.

The letter is the usual Tory tosh - build more roads, Labour useless, yada yada yada. She earnestly even tries the jobs joker card while blissfully forgetting which party ruthlessly destroyed the region's industries.

It's interesting that in the letter she gives her address as The Kingsway. Although being Shields born, her blog gives her location as Stepney Green in London. A Lloyds broker presumably working in London, why would she mislead readers about her home address, if not to give the impression of being a local? Is she ashamed to use her London address? And why didn't she mention she is a Tory?

Pitifully, despite this looking like a first move to gain local exposure and garner notice from local Tories, she doesn't really say much different from Hepburn and Miliband; there is little ideological difference between the Labour and the Tories. In fact there is nothing of substance. Even the 'give a man a fish' proverb is just space filling, devoid of any context.

Looking at her blog, the Gazette letter was originally posted as a blog entry back in November. It looks like the blog is going to be used as a campaign tool, given that despite blogging since 2006, she only started blogging (ie giving a shit) about North East issues last month. Expect more.

Oddly, the South Shields Conservative website doesn't mention Karen Allen or her letter, and other bloggers haven't picked it up either.

Telling the truth is wrong

Fortunately, parents have subsequently managed to lie well enough to their children to convince them that Santa does exist.

That was close.


Unbelievable or what!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

In England, justice belongs to the establishment

The outrageous decision by the coroner at the inquest for Jean Charles de Menezes, Sir Michael Wright, to rule out a verdict of unlawful killing is

Police officers collaborated over their statements, which didn't match those of bystanders, CCTV footage went missing, de Menezes faced a smear campaign in the press and now a judge has moved the goalposts of justice.

Like Jailhouselawyer, I think there's little doubt that de Menezes killing was unlawful and that Wright's ruling is a blatant display of judicial prejudice.

Common sense prevails in Europe

The Telegraph, Daily Mail and their followers regularly criticise human rights legislation and it's arbiter the European court of human rights. Often it's portrayed as a lawyers' gravy train or an unacceptable interference in UK law.

But this is what it's for. Protecting individual rights from an authoritarian and illiberal state, policed by an increasingly powerful and militarised police force.

Our parliament (that's our MPs folks) couldn't/wouldn't stop this DNA farming, and the House of Lords refused to do anything about it.

The creeping authoritarianism we've seen in the UK since the 1970s shows a growing illiberal tendency among the British political elites. I suppose we're not alone, the USA has its Patriot Act, we have the Terrorism Act.

The DNA and fingerprinting rules adopted by the police are mostly for the investigation of the commission of crimes not yet committed. In effect, this means that the police consider everyone on the database as a potential criminal, which is contrary to the ethos of presumed innocence. The fact that our police are happy using this mandate gives rise to the argument that the police are already too far drunk on their power.

Tonight I'll be opening a bottle of malt to mark this, it's something worth celebrating. I hope those who normally slag off interfering European institutions as pc liberal lefty bureaucratic monsters are humble enough to accept that European intervention can work.

However, it's a tragedy that this should ever have gone to a European court. We should be able to defend our basic rights here in the UK. Even though the UK is signatory to European and UN conventions on human rights, unfortunately we don't have a specific bill of individual rights here in the UK. Given the growth of police powers, and the unwillingness of our MPs to protect our interests, we need an inalienable bill of rights to help protect us from the state.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

It's all gone quiet... the South Tyneside Alliance website. The website has been down for at least a week now with a 404 Not Found error. The whois lookup says the address is still registered until June 2009 so possibly it's a technical fault.

Although perhaps a cynic might say that given the coverage that the Gazette lavishes on the Alliance, and the proxy smear tactics of the monkey, they don't need a website.