Thursday, January 29, 2009

Common Sense

It seems timely that so soon after the inauguration of a new US president we have the anniversary of the birth of one of the fathers of the American Revolution. Thomas Paine, born 29th January 1737, left Britain, a country riven with the corruption of class and monarchy, to helped to inspire the American colonies to revolution. A hero of reason, democracy and individuality.

Over 200 years later and here in the UK we are not citizens, but still the subjects of a tribal chieftain class, stained by the perversion of an unelected upper house.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


For a government with a working majority of 63, winning tonight's vote, on the Tories' motion that the government should rethink the Heathrow plans, by only 19 votes is a thin margin indeed, and is another illustration how far out of touch with people this government is - and how close to BAA. Yet again, this Labour government has no doubt whored itself out to the sectarian fuckwits in the Democratic Unionists to win a close vote.

This isn't helped by some Labour MPs who claimed to be against the third runway but stayed away from the vote to avoid being seen supporting a Tory motion. Where's your principles you fucking cowardly hypocrites?

Whilst the Tories will claim a kind of moral victory, there are still some in Cameron's ranks who support the third runway.

Oh, and Geoff Hoon is a complete tool.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Oh Lord!

The really surprising thing about the crooked lords story is that everyone appears to be surprised. For some reason there seems to be a meme which says that all those who get into the top house do it through hard work and sacrifice and for purely altruistic reasons.

Not shy of grabbing an opportunity to bash the opposing teams, Blair clone Nick Clegg demands that peers caught with their trousers around their ankles should be kicked out. Not to be outdone, Tory toff leader David Cameron wants the peers behaving badly expelled. The lords must be shitting themselves. These guys call themselves leaders for change?

If these bozos really want change then let's bin the House of Lords. Being based on favour and reeking with priviledge, the concept of the lords is corrupt. Democratise the seats in the upper house and force it's members to be selected through trial by election instead of seats passed on by papa or given for favours and cash.

What more fitting way to start introducing proportional representation than by removing the least representative body in Parliament?

Monday, January 26, 2009

DEC for Gaza

These folks, an umbrella group of aid organisations, were instrumental in the recovery after the Asian Tsunami, and this is the video which the douchebags at the BBC and Sky refused to air.

The blame game

The Guardian presents a list of "25 people at the heart of the meltdown", listing those thought culpable in providing the environment for the economic tits up we're all enjoying.

One question, where's the prophet of profit Milton Friedman? Just because he's dead we shouldn't let the evil bastard off the hook.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Supermarket weep

Years ago I worked for ASDA, at the flagship store in Boldon, when it was still part of Associated Dairies. Staff were part of the organisation, sharing in its success with annual dividend bonus payments. The union recognised by ASDA, the GMB, was generally respected and staff felt safe in their jobs.

Shortly after I left ASDA however, things changed. There was a management cull, where all middle managers had to reapply for their jobs. Those who had a history of sick leave, were in disciplinary measures, or were considered to be difficult could say goodbye to their jobs. The atmosphere had changed and the feeling of family and mutual respect had gone.

Friday night I was with some ASDA employees from the current South Shields store who were worried that they weren't guaranteed a job at the new Coronation Street store opening in the summer; victims of the same technique used all those years ago.

South Tyneside Council has been very close to ASDA. The Boldon store has been permitted to expand to the point that it's the company's biggest store. The new store in Coronation Street is the Council's retail jewel in the crown, with a lot of hopes resting on the store's success. And political reputations.

Forcing employees to reapply for their jobs is unjust. Don't expect the Council to worry about this - as long as councillors can share in the glory and get their mugs in the Gazette they're unlikely to demand that ASDA respect their employees and guarantee each of them their jobs in the new store.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gazette photographer strikes again

The Gazette's photographers have an expert knack of getting pictures of people from unusual angles or timed to snap just at an inopportune moment for the subject. Some photographs or images have a habit of following people around for years. Remember Neil Kinnock's dash in to the sea?

Hopefully, Gazette reporter Angela Reed won't suffer too much gyp from tonight's feature photograph... but a few teas must have been spluttered in South Tyneside tonight.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Brrr, it's cold in the Antartic

But not as cold as it used to be. To many in the church of climate change denial ("climate scientologists" I think Curly calls them), Antarctic cooling has been the elephant in the room. To many deniers, a gap in scientific knowledge on the issue discredits anthropogenic global warming. Even climate scientists have acceded the point that there was a gap. Honestly reviewing the issue, the IPCC concluded in 2007 that:
"It is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic (human-induced) warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent - except Antarctica."
Whilst some parts of the Antarctic have been getting cooler, the average across the continent shows a warming trend over the last 50 years. But those pesky scientists at who prepared the work and have submitted their paper to Nature have been cautious in pointing out that:
"Our paper — by itself — does not address whether Antarctica’s recent warming is part of a longer term trend."
But it does address that gap in the IPCC's 2007 assessment.

It looks more than ever that the denial position is to climate science as the desperate "God of the gaps" philosophy is to physics and biology.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Shields Gazette: inaccurate and misleading

Part 1 of the Press Complaints Commission's Code of Practice states:
"The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures."
In this article in tonight's Gazette they've clearly broken this guideline with this statement:
"A CALL to expand Newcastle Airport has been given cross-party support by all South Tyneside's political groups"
Note "all South Tyneside's political groups". Well, that's quite a bold claim since only three local political groups, Labour, Tories and Alliance have been quoted in the article. Nowhere to be seen are the Lib Dems, Progressives or the Green Party. I don't know about the Lib Dems, they're schizo on matters environmental, the Progressives would probably love the idea but the Green Party definitely doesn't support the expansion of Newcastle Airport. Quite the opposite.

Plans to increase flights at Newcastle fail on both environmental and economic grounds.

The "sustainable jobs" and "more efficient and cleaner types of energy" claims from Coun Anglin are laughably nonsensical and stand up as well as used toilet paper. And smell as shitty too. David Potts may love the idea of flights to New York, but shouldn't expect many New Yorkers to come to the North East on lavish shopping trips. Ahmed Khan, as spokesman for the party that's not a party, is spouting the same development and trade bullshit that framed the arguments for concreting Fellgate. It's touching that all three councillors were so quick to jump together into the palm of professional lobbyist and Labour old boy Brian Wilson.

So much for opposition.

But given the Gazette's current editorial embargo on dissenting press releases, and careful news management for its chums, don't expect any real voices of opposition to appear in its pages any time soon.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

WOT a copout

South Shields MP David Miliband says that it was rather bad show to use the old 'War on Terror' brand. Anyone reading this blog in August 2007 will know that the brand was dumped some time ago.

Few Tories will be in a position to criticise Miliband's about-turn without a severe bout of hypocrititis. Most Tory MPs voted for the war in Iraq and even Conservative Home still uses the 'War on Terror' tag, so they've clearly bought in to the whole paradigm.

Yet the relentless erosion of our liberties with so-called anti-terror laws continues, with police officers down to litter enforcement officers given powers to harass ordinary folk whose only crime is going about their lawful business. Peaceful demonstrators, photographers and even an OAP at a Labour conference have all felt the cold hand of Labour's anti liberty laws.

But it's not just the brand that needs dropping, but the real harm caused by attaching our nation to this morally corrupt philosophy: the rendition flights, the torture, the killing of innocents, the anti-terror legislation, the breeding of hate.

But most of all, will Miliband call for a real reckoning for the architects of the War on Terror, Bush and Blair in front of a war crimes court?

Justice? That's too much for Labour.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oh Gaza, Oh Gaza

That's what local writer Lalon Amin wrote in his poem of the same name in yesterday's Shields Gazette. Amin's poem was used to publicise a 'gathering' outside the South Shields Town Hall tomorrow.

Next to his smug photo Amin grandly calls this a "remembrance day for all the children that die during wars, and specifically the Gaza conflict." All very commendable. However, the location of the event leaves me feeling a little disquieted about the real purpose behind it.

The Holocaust Memorial Garden at the Town Hall has been chosen for a reason. Mr Amin and his friends want to compare Israel's actions with the Nazi's methodical elimination of Jews and other people who didn't fit in with the Nazi ideology.

There is little doubt that some of Israel's actions are cruel and brutal, but both sides of this conflict have behaved barbarically. The world has not just failed to act to bring these events to a halt, but has been involved with supplying both sides with weapons.

But a holocaust it is not.

Using the holocaust to frame the demonstration at the Town Hall shows the real prejudices of Amin and his chums, and the message they want to send. This technique is nothing new - it's an attempt to dehumanise your opponents whilst at the same time turning them into bogey men.

It looks like, like some of the demonstrations across the UK that have been hijacked by radical and religious groups, the Holocaust Garden event will not cast light on the situation, but generate plenty of heat.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Gordon Brown Is a Murderous Two Faced Cunt

That's right. Freedom of speech meister Craig Murray has the measure of Gordon Brown.

Whilst the UK weapons industry is doing very well thank you supplying Israel in it's Palestinian school blasting campaign, PM Gordon Brown's diplomats on the UN Security Council help the US attempts to block hopes for a ceasefire.

Hat tip to punkscience.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome to 2009

Happy New Year! 2009 is a year to celebrate two key anniversaries in science history - Charles Darwin's birthday (200th) and the publication of his groundbreaking and meticulous On the Origin of Species (150th).

A major event in history with probably the most influential scientist ever, it would be a shame if our government and schools failed to take the opportunity to celebrate and educate, particularly at a time when science is under attack from the religious fundamentalism of creationist myths and paranoia of climate change denialism.

Science education also seems worryingly at risk from a generation of teachers who have a flexible approach to creation myths. Hopefully the polls overrate the problem.

A recognition of Darwin and his achievements and science in general would go a long way to challenge ignorance, and celebrate, not flying a painted piece of cloth or a mythical saint, but a real person who has provided such a valuable addition to our rich heritage that the British can be proud of.