Saturday, June 06, 2009

Britain, France, America AND Canada?

Just a note.

Much of the British press has been upset about a perceived snub to the Queen by either Gordon Brown and/or Nicolas Sarkozy over the 65th anniversary commemorations in Normandy.

A key statistic has been that, taken together, the number of troops from the UK and Canada was greater than the number of troops from the US. While not intended to be anti-American in this case, this particular statistic is significant as the Queen is head of state of both the UK and Canada.

However, I have noted in the broadcast reports of the events, although mention has been made of "a Canadian leader" being present, none has actually had the grace to name Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister.

Mayor vows to cut Gay Pride funds

BBC NEWS | England | South Yorkshire | Mayor vows to cut Gay Pride funds

The newly-elected mayor of Doncaster has threatened to cut funding to the town's Gay Pride event as part of his pledge to fight political correctness.

Peter Davies, of the English Democrats, said: 'My policy on gays and lesbians is very simple.

'I don't think councils should be spending money on them parading through town advertising their sexuality.'

Just another kind of Tory. Expect to see more of this type of thing as local blustering rightists take control in town halls across England.

Major Slip of the Tongue at Normandy Landings Commemorations

The Prime Minster called "Omaha Beach" Obama Beach at a D-Day ceremony.

Poking Holes in a Theory on Markets -

Talking Business - Poking Holes in a Theory on Markets -

You know what the efficient market hypothesis is, don’t you? It’s a theory that grew out of the University of Chicago’s finance department, and long held sway in academic circles, that the stock market can’t be beaten on any consistent basis because all available information is already built into stock prices. The stock market, in other words, is rational.

In the last decade, the efficient market hypothesis, which had been near dogma since the early 1970s, has taken some serious body blows.

Good article.

Obama at Buchenwald - And Gays

President Obama was at Buchenwald yesterday. Quite rightly he attacked Holocaust deniers.

But I was interested because, although gay people (mostly men) were not sent (as gay people) to extermination camps (e.g. Auschwitz), they were sent to concentration camps such as Dachau and Buchenwald.

This is acknowledge at Buchenwald as the picture above shows.


Wikipedia Article (Good in this Case): Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

Heinz Heger: Men with the Pink Triangle, Alyson Publishing: 1994

James Steakley: Homosexuals and the Third Reich, The Body Politic 11, January/February 1974,

Sex in Saudi Arabia

The Saturday Profile - Challenging Sex Taboos, With Help From the Koran - Biography -

In Saudi Arabia and other countries where the genders are rigorously separated, many men have their first sexual experiences with other men, which affects their attitudes toward sex in marriage, Ms. Lootah said.

“Many men who had anal sex with men before marriage want the same thing with their wives, because they don’t know anything else,” Ms. Lootah said. “This is one reason we need sex education in our schools.”

Vaseline salespeople take note.

[PS: I have no idea what the picture says in Arabic]

UPDATE: I am clearly getting a lot of hits for this post. If you are looking on how to get sex in Saudi, I cannot help you. (Perhaps cruise a supermarket?) But I have posted a long post on Homosexuality and Islam in History on this blog at:

A more general site is here:

If you are Muslim and gay there is a Gay Mulsim website based in the UK that contains lots of information:

Friday, June 05, 2009

Bad News for British Universities

Mandelson takes charge of universities | Education |

The prime minister today scrapped the two-year-old Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and awarded all of its responsibilities to a new Department for Business, Innovation and Skills designed to help the UK out of recession.

The new department, which will be headed by Lord Mandelson, puts universities at the heart of the government's business policies, and will be opposed by some academics who believe higher education should be in a department dedicated to education and not commerce.

At lease these kinds of massive new UK government departments don't often last long.

Could we be the generation that runs out of fish?

Johann Hari: Could we be the generation that runs out of fish? - Johann Hari, Commentators - The Independent

In the age of limits, we are hitting up against the capacity of the planet to provide for us – yet we are reacting with blank denial. This story is unfolding, in one form or another, in the rainforests, the air, and in the planet's climate itself.

The is the core problem. See Jared Diamond's book Collapse for much more on this. The world is not cornucopian - we can reach absolute limits and we are almost there.

We Still Believe in Labour

Via LabourList

Simon Armitage: Sir Gawain and the Green Night

Available (within UK ) on I-player

After Michael Wood's marvellous Beowulf programme, the BBC has topped itself with this programme in which Simon Armitage, a modern translator of the "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" poem, follows Gewain's journey across Wales, the Wirral, and the Pennines.

I am sure all British medievalists will watch this (or catch it on I-player). As a Byzantine specialist who just happens to be living withing 50 miles of all the areas he visits, I have some autumn weekends figured out. Americans/and others should try to get hold of this.

Oh, and Simon Armitage has an quite wonderful educated West Peninne accent.

[To me it's incredible that any sane people over here want to get rid of the BBC.]

See Sir Gawain Page

UPDATE: There has been some discussion on the Mediev-l list about how I characterised Simon Armitage's accent. See a clip on YouTube of his poem on a Ten Pence Peice.

Labour Win in Radcliffe West by 9 Votes

Close victory for Labour in council by-election (From Bury Times)

It's not often that one's personal vote makes as much difference as in my local ward council byelection last night. Rishi Shori, Labour, won by just nine votes. Phew!

Here is the Bury Times story
Close victory for Labour in council by-election
1:54am Friday 5th June 2009
By Gaynor Clarke

LABOUR held on to their Radcliffe West seat last night by a margin of just nine votes.

Rishi Shori was elected into the seat after receiving 879 votes from people living in the ward.

Councillor Shori said: “I think it is a good result in what is a difficult time and we have learned a lot of lessons from the national situation. I am delighted that we have done so well.”

In a close second was Conservative candidate Samantha Davies with 870 votes, closing the 460 vote majority gained by Labour in the ward last year.

The other results were: Jean Purdy (BNP) with 459, Mike Halsall (Liberal Democrats) with 429, and Stephen Morris (English Democrats) with 228 votes.

The by-election was triggered by the resignation of long-standing Labour councillor Wayne Campbell, who left to take a job as maintenance manager for Six Town Housing.

Turnout in the by-election was 35.1 per cent.

This gives the following figures:

Turnout 2865 (35.1%)

Labour 30.7%
Conservative 30.4%
BNP 16%
Lib Dem 15%
Eng Dem 8%

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Why I still Love Obama

Obama in Cairo: Obama's tough talk | Michael Tomasky | Comment is free |

Think of the risks involved in even giving this speech from the perspective of, say, a typical political consultant. Any modern-day political advisor, in America or Britain or anywhere in the west, would say that going to the Muslim world and delivering a speech including the tough sentences this speech did about Palestinian violence was evidence of a political death-wish ('It is a sign of neither courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus. That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered').

Obama is my age. If we both live long enough that I can celebrate his 90th birthday, the world will be happy.

Fat is Good

Love your fat child, don't shame them | Marianne Kirby | Comment is free |

My parents are great people. They have loved me very much and I have loved them the same. And so it is with most parents of fat children. They love their children and, in the manner of parents everywhere, just want what's best for them. Unfortunately, even with all the loving intention in the world, there are some things parents do that just make life harder for fat kids. I can't cross space and time (curse these limitations) to pass these things on to my own parents, but hopefully these three basic messages might help some fat kids now.

Actually, I am not sure Fat is Good, but it is the kind of thing that might be true, and should be said by someone.

At the very least, FAT does not look as bad as SKINNY.

Sex Ed: A Guardian Reader Tells it Like it Is

Aids: will our children die of ignorance? | Rowenna Davis | Comment is free |

A Commentator:

Absolute bollocks. I've been involved in social ed. programmes with secondary school pupils, for 30 odd years. We've been running sex education classes for all that time and AIDS prevention has been a key topic since the disease first made itself felt back in the late 80s/early 90s.

The fact that quite a lot of 'err yoof' appear not to have a clue about what's going on and act in an unsafe way is not due to lack of information or good sex ed. courses but to many of 'err yoof's' unwillingness to pay any attention to what's going on round about them or to control their own behaviour.

As the old saying goes, 'You can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.'

I have to say I agree. Educators and government, and countless Third Sector employees, have done their best. But still teenagers fuck around without condoms.

We need a better approach.

1. Decrease stigma. (Hi. I'm Paul. I Have HIV. I can't infect you unless you really take no care about yourself.)

2. Increase medication. Every indication is that HIV+ people are less infective (in fact almost non-infective) if stable on medications, with no viral load, and no other STI's.

3. Stop getting too upset that young people think they will live forever. That's just one of those things we have to deal with.

Sheer Racism from Israeli Settlers

Israel praises Obama speech, but says its security paramount - Haaretz - Israel News

'Today, the State of Israel is paying the price of its leaders' defeatism,' Yesha Council said in a statement. 'Hussein Obama gave priority to Arab lies, which have always been told with determination and daring, at the expense of the Jewish truth, which has been said in a weak and unconfident voice.'

Obama put Arabs and Israel on an equal footing

ANALYSIS / Obama put Arabs and Israel on an equal footing - Haaretz - Israel News

On June 4, 2009 a new chapter began in the trilateral relations between the United States, the Arab world and Israel. One day before Israel marks the 42nd anniversary of the Six-Day War, U.S. President Barack Obama declared before the entire world, upon an Arab-Muslim stage, that the time has come to end the era of Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories. Moreover, Obama announced that he was taking responsibility for doing so. The imbalance in the unequal U.S.-Israel-Arab triangle was replaced Thursday by an Isosceles triangle.

The Joy of Labour: Comapre to the US where people cannot afford prescription drugs

Slump Pushing Cost of Drugs Out of Reach -

Even with the Medicare drug benefit, even with the prevalence of low-cost generics, even with loss-leader discounting by big chains, many Americans still find themselves unable to afford the prescription medications that manage their life-threatening conditions.

For my American readers let me make this as clear as I can. Although in the UK, a single prescription (for any drug) will cost around $10, any Briton can buy a "season pass" which entitles them to all prescribed drugs for £100 ($164) per year. Doctor's never ask or need to argue with you about what you can afford.

Get Out and Vote!

If you are in the UK, Get Out and Vote today.

No matter how bad our politicians, no matter how bad our parties, this right to vote is a valuable thing. It's why the entire political class is shivering in Westminster. It's the only ultimate power we have.

I had the honor of voting twice today (local and EP elections), for Labour and against the SAME woman (Jean Purdy) running as a BNP local councillor and MEP in the NW. Get out, and vote for ANY non-BNP Party.

I don't really care how people vote today as regards mainstream parties. I too want to see massive change in the Labour Party and the government in general. I too want open debate over Europe. I too think a General election in the next few months is needed.

But I also do not want to be shamed by my fellow Britons sending any fascists to the European Parliament.

Andrew Sullivan on Obama's Great "America and Islam" Speech

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Frankly, I think the last decade or so has shown the extreme limits of hard power and the desperate need for more public diplomacy, national re-branding and some shrewd maneuvering to advance the interests of the West and to help avoid what could be a catastrophic era in global politics. I still believe in the prudent use of military force, and the need to keep a threat of such force in diplomacy. But the great challenge of the war against Jihadist terror is shifting the psyches of countless young Muslims, from Pakistan to Morocco. That we have chance to do that with this president is itself testimony to democracy's capacity for correcting mistakes and the strength of its ethnic and cultural diversity in appealing to the wider world.

Great post, apart from the idiocy of using "branding" jargon. Something that has got almost as much out of hand as dramaturgical metaphors. (I for example am a gay man. I am not "branded" as gay, nor do a I play a "gay" role. In fact I am, at least temporarily a fat guy living in a council house who spends too much time on the internet. What makes me gay is not branding, or roles, but that I have a strong preference for other men in sexual and romantic relationships.)

Steps on the Way to a Police State

Police target 'innocent' youths for arrest in bid to increase DNA samples on database | Mail Online

Youths with no criminal record are being targeted for arrest so their DNA can be logged on a database in the event they commit crimes.

A total of 386 under-18s had their DNA taken and stored by police last year in one north London borough - more than one a day.

An experience officer working for the Metropolitan Police admitted the DNA was being stored as part of a 'long-term crime prevention strategy'.

The officer said: 'We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it then that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future.'

He added: 'Have we got targets for young people who have not been arrested yet? The answer is yes.

'But we are not just waiting outside schools to pick them up, we are acting on intelligence.

'If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living. Already this year some 169 under-18s have had their profiles uploaded.'

The officer, who asked not to be named, made the astonishing admission after a Freedom of Information request reveal the startling figures in Camden in London.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tatchell on Labour

Protest against Brown – vote Green | Peter Tatchell | Comment is free |

Under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Labour lost its heart and soul. It has become the party of war, privatisation and attacks on civil liberties. The Labour government promoted the financial deregulation that led to the banking crisis, resulting in bankruptcies and mass unemployment. It refuses to take legal action against the corporate criminals who have pushed Britain to the precipice of a full-blown economic depression.

Agreed, Peter. But the only viable base for a rebirth of left-wing progressive politics will be in the 155-190 seats Labour would probably still end up with.

Is the Anti-Brown Letter in the Telegraph a Hoax?

Gordon Brown fights for his political life - Telegraph

Anyone else think that a letter to MPs with an address of might in fact be a hoax? Just asking.

It looks odd to me.

It's a Rainbow World

Harvard establishes chair in gay and lesbian studies | World news |

Harvard University has taken a step towards shrugging off its image as a fusty straight-laced academic institution by endowing America's first named professorship of sexuality.

The chair in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies introduces a discipline still in its infancy into the heart of the country's academic establishment. Its supporters claim that the move by one of the world's most august universities will send a message to other institutions globally that 'queer studies', as some call it, has finally arrived.

I wonder if I should apply?

For those interested I once edited (and still intend to re-edit a very extensive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History site.

People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans* History.

Hiding Tory MP's Expense Problems

This day has been frenetic with virtually continuous coverage of the Prime Minister's problems. Fair enough.

But this meant it was a good day for the Daily Telegraph to have hidden Boris Johnson's £16 claim for a memorial wreath. And, incredibly, that Douglas Carswell - the Tory MP who most campaigned against the Speaker, was both house flipper and claimed things just as embarrassing and trivial as anybody else - see the Daily Mail on this.

Betty Bowers Explains Biblical Marriage

Via Andrew Sullivan. Joe.My.God and everyone else!

Hazel Blears resignation triggered by capital gains tax on another property: MPs' expenses - Telegraph

Hazel Blears resignation triggered by capital gains tax on another property: MPs' expenses - Telegraph

"Hazel Blears’ resignation as Communities Secretary was partly triggered by the discovery that she had allegedly avoided paying capital gains tax on the sale of another property.

The property allegedly involved had previously been declared as her second home for the purpose of claiming parliamentary expenses.

It is understood that the Communities Secretary was concerned that it might be disclosed that there was another property deal from which she gained. "

So Hazel Blear's resigns at 10:30am, then the Daily Telegraph publishes a "reply" on behalf of Brown by 12:32pm. The DT's use of the phrase "it is understood" implies sources around the Prime Minister. The BBC is reporting the same.

This looks as is Ed Balls has been having a chat with Will Lewis, his friend and editor of the DT. After all the Daily Telegraph already has a disk with all MP's receipts, and has covered Blears before - so this new "understanding" must mean something coming from the bunker.

Lot's of phones being used at the moment I expect.

And a truly shocking breakdown of party discipline on the day before elections.

UPDATE: Guido Fawkes (Paul Staines), who I am sure has some sources comes to the same conclusion as me.

UPDATE 2: Dizzy, explains the true naffness of the DT story.

UPDATE 3: The Guardian agrees it's a smear.

Classical Music Critic Gives Hope for Susan Boyle's Career

Susan Boyle should cheer up: she could still become a true artist instead of a gauche novelty act :: Michael White

OK she didn't win - and I'm sorry she didn't. Whatever the reason Susan Boyle lost out to a rap dance troupe last night on Britain's Got Talent, it had little to do with talent and rather more with the socio-politics of 21st-century Britain, which is far too indulgent towards the vulgar, anti-feminist and homophobic subculture of rap.

But there it is: we're stuck with it. And losing won't do Boyle a lot of harm if the reports of her immediate £6 million earning potential are to be believed.

That said, the point I made a few weeks ago in this column holds good: and at the risk of being pilloried by the same people who misread what I wrote before, I'll make it again. Boyle is a stunning natural phenomenon. But as things stand, she's a novelty act - celebrated as much for her gauche, awkward self-presentation as for her voice. And novelty wears off , eventually.

It's precisely because that voice is so wonderful that she needs to develop it, with the right sort of coaching that won't turn her into something she isn't - I'm not expecting her to sing Brunnhilde (although somehow I can see her with a spear and breastplate) - but will enable her to grow into a real performing artist. And I'm sure she has that potential.

Her other recordings, available on YouTube, were good, and she could deliver on tune songs without musical accompaniment on a hole host of American TV appearances.

She should have some proper career after she overcomes stage nerves.

Conservative Home Fisks Hazel Blear's Resignation Statement

CentreRight: The Chipmunk, the living dead and Octoberfest

"Today I have told the prime minister that I am resigning from the Government. [And I cannot tell you just how relieved I am]

"My politics has always been rooted in the belief that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, given the right support and encouragement. [Gordon is horrible and undermined me all the time]

"The role of a progressive Government should be to pass power to the people [He's a complete control freak, isn't he?]. I've never sought high office for the sake of it, or for what I can gain, but for what I can achieve for the people I represent and serve [He just clings onto power for the sake of it, he has no purpose or direction, has forgotten what he's for. He is just in it for himself].

"In this next phase of my political life I am redoubling my efforts to speak up for the people of Salford as their Member of Parliament. I am returning to the grassroots (where I began), to political activism, to the cut and thrust of political debate. [I am so relieved to be out of this wretched Government and to be able to focus on the things that matter to me - including getting revenge on Gordon Brown]

"Most of all I want to help the Labour Party to reconnect with the British people, to remind them that our values are their values, that their hopes and dreams are ours too. [We have to dump Gordon and start over right away. No-one knows what we stand for anymore. We've really got our work cut out, haven't we? I want to be part of the Labour renewal.]

"I am glad to be going home to the people who matter the most to me: the people of Salford. [As far away from Gordon as I can get . . . Salford will do]

"Finally, there's an important set of elections tomorrow. My message is simple: get out and vote Labour. [I still believe in the Labour Party and I am loyal to the cause.]

I think ConHome got it right.

This is Blear's trying to get rid of Gordon Brown.

LabourList - Brown Cabinet Collapsing Today

Hazel Blears resigns from the cabinet - at least two more resignations to follow today |

Following Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's resignation from the cabinet yesterday, Hazel Blears will also resign her position as Communities Secretary and it's rumoured that two more ministers will step down by the end of the day, possibly including Europe Minister Caroline Flint.

Smith and Blears had both been tainted by the expenses scandal, but Hazel Blears' departure will add to the belief that cabinet ministers are taking Gordon Brown's authority into their own hands by voluntarily standing down on mass before the PM is allowed to impose a reshuffle.

LabourList is reporting two more ministers to resign today after Hazel Blears.

From my point of view this is excellent. It will help push Gordon Brown out, let Johnson or Harman take over, and then state they will call an election within 100 days.

Heroes: Save the Labour Party, Save the World

Eric Hammond | Scab

Obituary: Eric Hammond | Media | The Guardian

It is as inevitable as it is unfortunate that the epitaph over the life and times of Eric Hammond, who has died aged 79, will identify him as the trade union leader who effectively paved the way for Rupert Murdoch's print and newspaper revolution. By Hammond's own admission, in his remarkably candid autobiography, Maverick (1992), the leader of the electricians' union negotiated secretly with Murdoch in the run-up to the opening of a new site for the production of the Times, the Sun and other News International titles in Wapping, east London, in 1986. Those discussions effectively gave the green light to Murdoch and destroyed any chance, however remote, the print unions had of salvaging something.


"Recession: 95pc of finance professionals expect downturn to continue" - So What?

Recession: 95pc of finance professionals expect downturn to continue - Telegraph

Such is the Daily Telegraph Headline. But when we read the story we get quite another reality. In fact, given the sample size for 602 professionalss, virtually none of these predictions (except possible a V shaped recovery) fall outside standard deviations.

The opinions of "professionals" quoted are almost equally scattered around the four possible options.

The truth? Professionals here cannot predict the future, and neither can anyone else.

When the investment bank asked experts what they expected the trajectory of the global economy to be this year and next, 37.5pc predicted a W-shape – temporary recovery, before renewed weakness – and 31.5pc a U-shape, representing weak growth for some time before gradual recovery. Another 26.5pc favoured the L-shape: growth remaining weak for a protracted period.

Just 4.5pc opted for a V-shape – weakness and then sharp recovery – according to the survey of 605 professionals, who worked for a broad range of foreign exchange investors including hedge funds, real money managers, proprietary trading desks and corporates.

The pessimism about the economy was reflected in experts' opinions about the recent rally in "risky assets" such as shares.

Thirty-seven per cent said they thought we were in a bear market rally close to ending, while 23.5pc said it was a bear market rally with further to go, a bearish total of over 60pc; 22pc thought it sustainable but that further gains were unlikely, and 17.5pc said risky assets had further to rally.

“The recent strong performance of risky assets is seen by investors as a ‘bear market rally’ that is close to ending,” the bank said. “This is consistent with the general view that any global economic recovery over the next year will be shallow or temporary – U or W-shaped.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Well It Might Happen for Me Yet

Via Andrew Sullivan.

When Governments Fall Apart

I've just noticed - living in Britain these days is like being in Petrograd in February 1917.

Private Eye got it wrong: Gordon Brown is not like Stalin, a real strong man who hung on until he died, but more like the Tsar Nicholas - a much weaker ruler man who kept rushing around thinking he was still in control as power simply ebbed away.

A Tulku Gives Up Buddhism to Study Film

Boy chosen by Dalai Lama as reincarnation of spiritual leader turns back on Buddhist order | World news | The Guardian

As a toddler, he was put on a throne and worshipped as by monks who treated him like a god. But the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation of a spiritual leader has caused consternation – and some embarrassment – for Tibetan Buddhists by turning his back on the order that had such high hopes for him.

Instead of leading a monastic life, Osel Hita Torres now sports baggy trousers and long hair, and is more likely to quote Jimi Hendrix than Buddha.

Yesterday he bemoaned the misery of a youth deprived of television, football and girls. Movies were also forbidden – except for a sanctioned screening of The Golden Child starring Eddie Murphy, about a kidnapped child lama with magical powers. 'I never felt like that boy,' he said.

Perhaps he will become a new Krishnamurthi?

Monday, June 01, 2009


BBC - Stephanomics: Count it, don't follow it

The idea is this: money is fungible. Put simply, that means one £50 note is the same as any other. They all have the same value and they will all buy the same amount of stuff.

This is the subject most voters (and admittedly most MP's who submitted minor receipts) were/are to stupid to understand.

The MPs who made out, but have caught no crap did this:

1. They designated one home as a second home and stuck with it.
2. They carried the largest possible mortgage on that home.
3. The walked away with with "only" mortgage payments.


4. They got into no trouble with the Daily Telegraph

Danny La Rue, RIP

Danny La Rue, probably the most famous Drag Queen in Britain in the 2oth century, died today.

Wikipedia: Danny La Rue

Official Website: Danny La Rue

A great star. R.I.P.

The Death of Labour?

Beyond Westminster's bankrupted practices, a new idealism is emerging | Madeleine Bunting | Comment is free | The Guardian

Apart from a few diehards, it will be hard to mourn the defeat in 2010 of a political party that lost its moral bearings in its bid to woo middle England, slavishly reflecting back what it believed this narrow constituency wanted to hear. It won ballots by flattering and indulging a mythology of the good life as individualistic aspiration and material enrichment, and never challenged the multiple erroneous assumptions on which this was based. On the two vital progressive issues of its age – inequality and the environment – it wasted a crucial decade and squandered parliamentary majorities on contradictory and inadequate gestures.

What it palpably failed to grasp was how crucial political reform was to regenerate progressive politics. A party that had been professionalised and managerialised in the 80s, not surprisingly, did not understand how to respond to people's appetite to participate, and author their own lives. It only knew how to manipulate and manage public engagement, and earned deep resentment for doing both. Only out of the rubble of defeat in 2010 will a new progressive politics begin painfully to emerge well beyond the bankrupted conventions of Westminster politics.

Other Guardian writers such as Jackie Ashley today also seem to have given up on Labour.

Let me be clear. I think Bunting's criticism is right. But I still think the Labour Party will be the vital core of a renewed Left.

Apart from anything else it will still have probably 150-180 seats in Parliament.

The key issue from now on is how that rump interacts with the much broader center-left in Britain.

There is now no significant Militant/Trostkyist faction to be scared of. The center-left's main split now is between those who believe everlasting economic growth is possible and desirable and those who realise that the planet we live on is an exhaustible resource.

Turks and Neighbours

Study: 64% of Turks don't want Jewish neighbors - Haaretz - Israel News

A new study published in a Turkish newspaper Sunday said 64 percent of Turks would not want Jewish neighbors.

The study also suggested Turks had a low tolerance for diverse lifestyles in general, as three in four respondents said they would not want to live next to an atheist or anyone drinking alcohol.

The study by Istanbul's Bahcesehir University was meant to gauge radicalism and extremism in Turkey.

Results published in Sunday's Milliyet also stated that 52 percent would not want Christian neighbors, 67 would not want to live next to an unmarried couple and 43 percent would not want American neighbors.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Last Survivor Died Today at 97

Titanic Society Says Last Survivor Dies at 97 -

The Titanic International Society says Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the sinking of the Titanic, has died.

The society's president, Charles Haas, tells The Associated Press that Dean died Sunday at age 97. He said she was suffering from pneumonia and her companion, Bruno Nordmanis, had called the Swiss branch of the society to say she had passed away.

Dean was just over two months old when the Titanic hit an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912, sinking less than three hours later.

Stunning Video of An Older Man Abused under the Care of Irish Orders

This should be watched.

[Text from YouTube]
THE MAN who told Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey that the Government did not have the foggiest understanding of the pain felt by the victims of child abuse is a former Fianna Fáil local representative and Army member.

Michael OBrien, from Clonmel, Co Tipperary, told Mr Dempsey during RTÉs Questions and Answers that the Constitution should be changed to freeze the funds of the religious orders.

Mr OBrien was a resident of St Josephs Industrial School in Clonmel, which was run by the Rosminian order, during the 1940s and he said he was sexually and physically abused there.

He said that he and seven other members of his family were removed from their house before being sent to industrial schools. He was reunited with his brother on the Late Late Show some 40 years later. Mr OBrien said he had voted for Fianna Fáil since he was 18, but that the partys behaviour around the issue of child abuse was turning him away from it. He served as a councillor for the party in Tipperary and was elected mayor of Clonmel in 1993.

In September 2004, repeated interruptions from Mr OBrien and other past residents of St Josephs resulted in a hearing of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse being adjourned twice.


Mr Chairman, I am surprised at the Minister now. First of all Minister you made a bags of it in the beginning by changing the judges. You made a complete bags of it at that time because I went to the Laffoy Commission and ye had seven barristers there questioning me, telling me that I was telling lies when I told them that I got raped of a Saturday, got an merciful beating after it and he then came along the following morning and put Holy Communion in my mouth. You dont know what happened there . You havent the foggiest. Youre talking through your hat there, and you are talking to a Fianna Fáil man, and a former councillor and a former mayor that worked tooth and nail for the party that you are talking about now. You didnt do it right. You got it wrong. Admit it and apologise for doing that because you dont know what I feel inside me. You dont know the hurt I have.

You said it was non-adversarial. My God, seven barristers throwing questions at us non-stop. I attempted to commit suicide, [turning to his wife] theres the woman who saved me from committing suicide on my way down from Dublin after spending five days at the commission . They brought a man over from Rome 90 odd years of age to tell me I was telling lies and that I wasnt beaten for an hour non-stop by two of them from head to toe without a shred of cloth on my body. My God, Minister.

[Turning to Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar] Can I speak to you and ask your leader to stop making a political football out of this. You hurt us when you do that. You tear the shreds from inside our body. For Gods sake, try and give us some peace, try and give us some peace, and not continue hurting us.

[Turning to his wife]

That woman will tell you how many times I jump out of bed at night with the sweat pumping out of me because I see these fellows at the end of the bed with their fingers pulling me into the room to rape me, to bugger me and to beat the shite out of me. Thats the way it is, and sometime, you know what, I listen to the leader of Fianna Fáil. I even listened to the apology. It was mealy-mouthed but at least it was an apology. The Rosminians said in the report that they were easy on us. The first day I went there, the first day I went to the Rosminians in my home which is Ferryhouse in Clonmel, the only home I know, he said youre in it for the money. We didnt want money. We wanted someone to stand up and say yes these fellows were buggered, these people were robbed.

Little girls, my sister, a month old when she was put into an institution, eight of us from the one family were dragged by the ISPCC cruelty man, put into two cars and brought to the court in Clonmel. We were left standing there without food or anything and the fellow in the long black frock and white collar came along and he put us into a scut-truck and landed us below with 200 other boys. Two nights later I was raped.

How can anyone, youre talking about the Constitution, these people would gladly say yes to a Constitution to freeze the funds of the religious orders. This State, this country of ours will say yes to that Constitution if you have to change it.

Dont say you cant change it. You are the Government of this State. You run this State. So, for Gods sake, stop mealy-mouthing because I am sick of it. You are turning me away from voting Fianna Fáil, which I have done from the day I could vote.

You know me Minister and you have met me on several occasions, so you know what I am like. Remember Wexford?

[Via Ruth Gledhill]

Atheists: No God, just whining | Charlotte Allen

Atheists: No God, just whining | Charlotte Allen | Comment is free |

What primarily seems to motivate atheists isn't rationalism but anger – anger that the world isn't perfect, that someone forced them to go to church as children, that the Bible contains apparent contradictions, that human beings can be hypocrites and commit crimes in the name of faith. The vitriol is extraordinary. Hitchens thinks that 'religion spoils everything'. Dawkins contends that raising one's offspring in one's religion constitutes child abuse. Harris argues that it 'may be ethical to kill people' on the basis of their beliefs. The perennial atheist litigant Michael Newdow sued (unsuccessfully) to bar President Obama from uttering the words 'so help me God' when he took his oath of office.

This is clearly not true about philosophical atheists, but Ms. Allen is quite right about Dawkins, Hitchens and co. And almost all blog-comment atheists.