A Matter of Sovereignty

Let me say up front that I agree with David Cameron: Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi should not have been released from prison. I think he was a fall guy for what was a Libyan government planned and executed operation, but he was convicted and barring a successful appeal, he should have stayed in prison.  However, I think the U.S. Senate is way out of line in investigating his release.

This goes back to my most recent post: it is consistently the view of the US government – at least of the Executive and Legislative branches – that the sovereignty of other countries is always secondary to American interests. The Senate has invited Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, Scottish prison health director Andrew Fraser, former UK Justice Secretary Jack Straw, and former Prime Minister Tony Blair to appear before it to answer questions as to how and why Megrahi was released from prison on compassionate ground. (This despite the fact that Blair had been out of office for nearly two years at the time of the release.)

Though I have no political affinity to any of the Brits invited, I have to agree with the assessment of Jack Straw:

“It is, in my experience, highly unusual for the legislature of one sovereign state to conduct an inquiry into decisions of another sovereign state, including, as in this case, decisions by a devolved administration on the release of a prisoner. There are therefore important issues of principle here which could affect UK governments of any party, and which will need carefully to be considered before I come to a final view.”

In other words, it is none of their business. The crime occurred over Scottish airspace. Even if the bomb was put on the plane somewhere else, at no time in question was the plane in the United States or its airspace. Neither was it even in international airspace, as the death of 11 Scots killed on the ground in Lockerbie made clear. Scotland had jurisdiction then and it has jurisdiction now. It may come as a shock to a lot of Americans, but killing Americans somewhere in the world does not give the government of the United States jurisdiction over that place or the power to investigate their killing. If Americans leave the sovereign territory of the United States, they assume the risk that they may come to harm without the US Government having the right to vindicate their cause.

Perhaps it is David Cameron’s admission that the UK is the junior partner in the Special Relationship both now and for at least the past 70 years that has emboldened the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to think its senior status carries some sort of weight.

Even if, as has been strongly insinuated by New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, BP lobbied – or even, as has been suggested – bribed UK or Scottish officials or ministers, it is not the business of the US Senate. That is true even though BP is responsible for that terrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and apparently needs to be punished further, whatever excuse can be found. If there has been impropriety, it is for the UK government to investigate.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, since 67 British people died as a result of the 9/11 attacks. Mohammed al-Qahtani, the alleged 20th hijacker, has been tortured and charges against him have been dropped, re-instated, and dropped again.  Should the British Government open an inquiry and invite US officials to appear before it to answer for how they have dealt with it? Should British parliamentarians and ministers be demanding explanantions? If the American public learned of such an inquiry – that is, if the American press even took it seriously enough to report it – the public would be everything from bemused to outraged that another country would think it had jurisdiction to demand American officials explain themselves.

Sovereignty is sovereignty. It’s time the US respected the sovereignty of other nations to the extent it demands respect for its own.

It’s Still the British Government

As the euphoria of Labour’s ejection from Government recedes and the novelty of the new coalition Government wears off, it’s time to realise that the more things change the more they stay the same.  Here’s what to expect:

There wasn’t much conservative left about the Conservative Party before the General Election. David Cameron was already on the left side of his party with the Thatcherites severely marginalised. Now that he in in coalition with the LibDems, he has sold off the rest of the family silver. That was the price of the deal.

There is no question about the UK becoming less socialist. In this country it is not a matter of whether socialism but whose socialism. The new Government promises to spend more on the NHS year-on-year, but it will be spending less than was being spent. All the other money went to the banks. There will still be rationing. After promising that everyone will have access to the health care they need, the new Health Secretary admitted that there will never be enough to meet the demand, but that by shuffling around the nurses into various roles everything will be gloriously better.

Having poured the public purse into the bankers’ bonuses, new money to run the Welfare State will have to come from somewhere. They aren’t talking about the tax increases. It’s all about the spending cuts. However the reality is that the Conservatives have dropped the marriage (and civil partnership) tax break they promised during the campaign. That’s £150 per year per couple. They have dropped plans to raise the inheritance tax limit. (Inheritance tax is the tax penalty for dying after saving any of the money that has already been taxed.) There will be a very significant rise in capital gains tax (this means that everyone will dump whatever shares they can before it comes into effect and will drive down the market). VAT (that’s sales tax) will rise to at least 20%, though it could very conceivably go higher. The Tory promise of not implementing the Labour Government’s rise in National Insurance tax is being kept in part. Employers will not have a rise in their NI contribution, but employees will pay more.

The new Conservatives are every bit as liberal on social issues as Labour. They partners the LibDems are even more so. The man who would have been expected to take over as Home Secretary has been left out of the Government because he unwisely sided with a family who would not let gay couples share a double bed in their Bed and Breakfast. Since David Cameron took over from Iain Duncan Smith (an actual conservative Conservative), the Tories have tried to be pinker and greener than any other party. Abortion is not even a political issue in this country, despite the 200,000 that are performed every year.

What remains to be seen is just how the new Government will deal with Labour’s surveillance society. Both the Tories and the LibDems have promised to get rid of ID cards. How far they will go in otherwise getting out of the lives of individuals and families has yet to be seen.

There will be no conserving of the British constitution. The House of Lords, already nearly bereft of the hereditary peers who populated it for 800 years, will be turned into an elected Senate, elected by the LibDem’s preferred method of proportional representation. Like the Lords it will be an upper chamber in name only, with the centre of power still firmly in the Commons, even if it will no longer have the claim to the greater legitimacy of being democratically elected.

As a trade off for the Conservatives taking on the LibDem tax increases, the LibDems only lose one significant one significant policy, which is the only one for which I had any sympathy. The Tories are opposed to amnesty for long-term illegal immigrants, so there will be no amnesty for at least the length of this fixed-term five-year Parliament.

I’m glad to see Labour gone. I’m hoping that the new Government will not be as arrogant as the last, though the British Government is typically quite arrogant, regardless of who is in power.

The Power of Unforgiveness

It is the story that just won’t go away. Jon Venables, one of the killers of Jamie Bulger, was returned to prison for violating the terms of his license. Venables was 10 years old 17 years ago when he committed this crime. He was allowed out of prison after eight years, after appealing to the European Court of Human Rights, which said you can’t lock up 10 year olds forever.

Other than the media, the person who comes out looking the the worst in all of this is Denise Fergus, the mother of Jamie Bulger. She is constantly demanding that she has a right to know the details of what Jon Venables has done to get his parole revoked. Now she has demanded that Maggie Atkinson, the Children’s Commissioner for England be sacked. Fergus didn’t like the way Atkinson referred to Jamie’s murder, and worst of all Atkinson opined that the age of criminal responsibility be raised from 10 to at least 12 and that Jamie’s killers should not have been tried in adult court.

I don’t make it a habit of agreeing with the Government or their appointees. There are arguments to be made for and against Atkinson’s views. But who is Denise Fergus to demand that someone agree with her or be sacked? She honestly seems to believe that she should hold the fate of her sons killers in her own hands and that she should decide the fate of anyone who dares disagree with her.

She has demanded that the Justice Secretary reveal why Venables has been recalled to prison. Under unrelenting pressure from the media, Jack Straw agreed to meet with her, but wouldn’t tell her why Venables was back in prison. First of all, it is none of her business, and second, once he were to tell her, she would tell the world and jeopardise the course of justice.

Fergus will want to make a statement to the parole board when Venables is referred to them. What’s the point? Whatever Venables has done to have his parole revoked is entirely unrelated to the murder of Jamie Bulger 17 years ago. It is as if she believes she can reduce her pain by puting a little more of it onto Venables. Sadly for her, it just doesn’t work that way.

Denise Fergus is an example of the power of unforgiveness. She is the one who has been eaten alive by it all these years. Her knowledge of what Jon Venables may have done recently will not bring Jamie back. Her opinion regarding any new offence he may have committed will not bring Jamie back. Her participation in the process will not protect anyone in the future.

The same is true of the British media and the public. Just leave it all alone. It was sad. It was tragic. It was 17  years ago. Move along, people. There’s nothing to see here.

Christians Charged for Knowing Too Much Islamic History

Here we go again. Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were sharing their faith with one of the guests in the hotel they run, the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool. The guest was a Muslim woman. Seems they didn’t agree about Jesus or Muhammad. The guest was offended that they insisted Jesus is the Son of God and not a prophet of Islam.

In the course of the conversation, Ben Vogelenzang said that Muhammad was a warload. I teach about Islam for a living – been doing for six years – and I’d have to say that’s a reasonable observation based on the historical facts. It has nothing to do with whether or not he was a prophet. The story of Islam from the time of the Hijra until at least the conquest of Makkah (Mecca) by Muhammad’s army is one of battles fought and tribal groups subdued and the Arabian peninsula Islamified at the point of the sword. It is a legacy that Muhammad bequeathed to his successors as the spent the next 120 years doing the same thing through Northern Africa and the Middle East.

Clearly the Vogelenzangs’ guest was not well versed in Islamic history. Either that or the word “warlord” was not reverential enough for the false Prophet.

It didn’t help that Sharon Vogelenzang said that traditional Muslims dress for women is a form of bondage. This was just too much for their guest. Neither the guest nor the Merseyside Police think Sharon is entitled to express this opinion. It constitutes either harassment, alarm or distress in the wording of the statute. So does Ben’s enlightening the guest regarding her ignorance of history.

The Vogelenzangs were interrogated twice by police before being charged. They have appeared in court and are now awaiting trial.

Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog

Our puppies are now six weeks old. They have been interesting to watch over the last few weeks, as they have found their feet and cut their teeth. Without any sort of instruction or training, they began to fight each other. They will spar until one yields, usually in some sort of pain. They other thing is that they like meat. Again, no one had to tell them to like dead flesh. They will eat other things, but they like meat.

Dogs are predators. They like to kill things. That’s the way they are made. I marvel at the so-called animal rights activists and supporters who do not support the right of dogs to kill. In this country they have ineffectually banned fox hunting and hare coursing. (The hunts continued despite protestors causing criminal damage and sending videos to the police. The police have openly stated they will not enforce the ban of foxhunting, though they still chase hare coursers occasionally.) In the case of fox hunting, fox can be killed after being chased by hounds, but they must be killed by humans. Likewise it is legal to shoot a hare; you just can’t send a dog after it.

This is because there are people who enjoy watching the dogs do what dogs do. It is not the prey that is banned – only the predator. We are supposed to feel that there is something wrong with watching the natural course of predator vs. prey – unless we are watching wild animals on a David Attenborough documentary, of course. So it’s okay to watch an alligator kill a kangaroo or an orca chomp down on a seal, but not a hound chase down a fox.

I also think it is hypocritical to spay or neuter a dog. So many of those who support animal rights also support human reproductive rights (both causes being favourites of the Left). It seems unnecessarily cruel to an animal to take away their reproductive organs merely as a human convenience. If you don’t want puppies, keep the bitch away from a dog.

We breed and sell sighthounds. Many people breed them as show dogs. They try to develop certain qualities in them that appeal to the poncy prima donnas at Crufts and other dog shows, with just the right colour, height, and grooming. We don’t breed show dogs. We breed dogs that can do what dogs do best. We only sell them to people who let them use their natural ability and instinct. They see (with a peripheral range of about 270°), they run really fast (up to about 45 mph), and they kill. And they love it. That’s the way God made them.

The Decline and Fall of the English Language

I was going to blog last month about how a BBC2 documentary found that 80% of Britons cannot recite a single verse of poetry. This is not helped by the fact 58% pupils never study poetry in school. Not a line. The ones who do read Carol Ann Duffy, the Scottish lesbian who was just named the new Poet Laureate. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with Miss Duffy’s poetry, but reading a single living poet does not constitute a sufficient literary education.

Like I said, I was going to blog about it, but I’d just be whinging once again about the state of education in this country. Then yesterday I was having a conversation with a couple of 14-year-olds. It start with me telling off one of them for using a participle that is an inappropriate term derived from an innocuous noun. He had no idea what a participle is. Okay, that’s not a big surprise. I probably didn’t learn about participles until at least the 9th grade, maybe even the 10th.

The disturbing thing is that neither he nor his friend knew what a noun is. This is something I learned well before the 5th grade, because by then we were parsing sentences. Now with the average 14-year-old, I have trouble getting them to write in sentences. I had a 16-year-old who handed in an entire 1500-word coursework without using a single mark of punctuation. I’m not exaggerating. But back to the boys in Year 9. . .

They had heard the term “noun” before. They just couldn’t agree on what it was. One of them thought it was a “doing” word. The other thought it was a “describing” word. He contended it couldn’t be a “doing” word, because that was an adverb.  These were not pupils in the bottom English set. They were not pupils with special educational needs. Because I was teaching a mixed-ability group, there was a top-set girl who actually knew that a noun was a “naming” word.

No poetry, no grammar. Is it the end of the English language or the end of civilisation?

One thinks of Eliot. . .

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends

No, wait. That would be trite  to anyone who has seen this over-used reference to Eliot.  And on the other hand, clearly it would be lost upon anyone with a secondary education in Britain in the last decade. I believe the general response would be, “T. S. who?”

Almost Everybody Wants Justice for the Gurkhas

It was the first time a Government has lost an Opposition Day Debate since James Callaghan was Prime Minister in January 1978. It was the first time the Liberal Democrats had won one since their formation. The Opposition get twenty legislative days scattered though each parliamentary session (each year) during which they can discuss topics they choose. The topic today was the treatment of the Gurkhas.

Some non-British readers may be unfamiliar with the Gurkhas. They are Nepalese recruits to the British army, a tradition that goes back to the 19th century.  Until 1947, their officers were always subordinate to British officers. Until 1997, they received a smaller pension than other members of the British army. Actually, unless they joined up after July 1997, they still receive a smaller pension.

The worst bit is that even after fighting for the British, they have had no right to settle in the United Kingdom. This has caused great consternation not only for the Gurkhas, but also for fair-minded British people across the political spectrum. The Government decided that Gurkhas retiring after 1997 would have the right of residency, but it has been happy to deport those who fought in the Second World War or the Falklands War. The High Court ruled last September that Gurkhas that left the army before 1997 had a right to residency as well, but the Home Office did not feel particularly compelled to obey the court’s ruling and said it would review its policy.

A couple of days ago, the Home Secretary said that she would now allow a few more Gukhas to settle – those that had won one of the top four bravery medals or had health problems as a direct consequence of their service or had served at least 20 years. That meant less than 100 would be eligible, since Gurkhas are not allowed to serve more than 15 years unless they are officers. Everyone except the Government was outraged. After all, those in the armed forces from any other Commonwealth country are eligible to live in the UK after four years service.

That’s why the debate was about the Government’s treatment of the Gurkhas, and that’s why the Government lost. Of course the vote is not binding on the Government. That’s why it is commonly said that we have an elected dictatorship. But the Immigration Minister did read an emergency statement to the House of Commons tonight that this would be reviewed again before Parliament breaks up for the summer. It’s a step in the right direction.

If all the Gurkhas and their families that want to settle in the UK did so (estimates are about 6000) it could cost the Government as much as £230 million. That sounds like a lot of money the Home Office wants to save the taxpayer. It does until you put it into perspective. The Home Office spent £150 million last year just on outside consultants. Another £540 million was lost last year when it was wrongly paid to Income Support and Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants. Then there are the billions and billions spent bailing out the banks and paying bankers’ bonuses.

So let’s see. Should we spend the money on consultants? Dole overpayments? Bankers? Or should we spend it on veterans of the British Army? It’s a no-brainer for most people. Except those in the Government of course.

Children and Society: Cause and Effect

Some people on Facebook seemed surprised recently at my willingness to return to what has now become the Obamanation. Though this is not possible for a number of reasons, the newspapers continue to be filled with good reasons flee. I continue to marvel at the British Government’s lack of ability to discern the relationship between cause and effect, instead destroying the remnants of this society, completely baffled by both.

Side by side today in the Mail Online, were a stories about a 14-year-old and an 8-year-old. The older boy shot a teacher in the face with a pellet gun at Beal High School in Ilford, Essex. He got a 15-day suspension. His friends who helped conceal the gun after the incident got shorter suspensions. The teacher was lucky to have been hit between the eyes and not in one of them.

While I agree with the spokeman from the National Union of Teachers that children who use violence against teachers should be expelled rather than suspended, this is the same union that wants all faith schools in the country to be stripped of everything that makes them unique, better performing, and over-subscribed.

The 8-year-old refused to get ready for school on morning. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to go to school, but just because he got up late and was not doing as he was told. His mother smacked him with a hairbrush. A teacher found out. The mother was charged with assault and the boy taken into care by Somerset County Council. She now gets to see him for two hours a week. His long-term future will be determined when she is sentenced later this month.

The court will have to hear from social services whether they think the mother has been re-educated sufficiently to know that even though the law allows for “reasonable chastisement”, social workers are ultimately the interpreters of this language. If they like you, you get your child back. If they don’t, they can (and will, from countless stories in the press) permanently sever the parental relationship. Once an appeals court finally says that bureaucrats have over-stepped the mark, they may also say that unfortunately it’s too late for parents to have their children back.

Parents can’t discipline their children and schools are faced with increasing numbers of children who cannot be controlled at home and no power to control them at school.

Privacy is Now a Thing of the Past

It’s the Biggest Brother instrusion into privacy in history. From tomorrow across the European Union every email will be stored, details of every website visited by every person will be stored, even information about every internet phone call will be stored, initially for a year.   But then all it takes is another directive to extend the storage indefinitely. These will be available to the Government, police and security services, as well as hundred of local government agencies and even what we call “quangos” in this country – quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations – of which there are no end.

Just like the anti-terrorism laws that have now allowed local councils to stalk people and invade their privacy in many different ways on suspicion of having the wrong rubbish bins or living across the street from a local school catchment area, the same jobsworths with now be able to know everything about you while they go on fishing expeditions to find anything else you might be doing wrong.

Britain has not be an unwilling participant in all of this. It has, in fact, led the way. It makes the Home Office’s Intercept Modernisation Programme much easier to implement. Under the European directive, internet service providers will have to store the information. Under the Home Office plan, the Government itself will have one giant database of their own, through which everything will be monitored and which will gather far more information.

Of course the Home Office won’t reveal the full extent of its plans, just like the European Union would not reveal what it was doing until it was in place. We certainly have no guarantee that either Brussells or Whitehall have told us anything near what they have actually done or what they actually intend to do with it. That what they have told us is so disturbing makes it all the more worrying.

As we have seen over and over and over, every bit of private information the Government has collected manages to go missing, whether it is the bank details of every family with children or top secret military data on laptops or the confidential details of every prisoner in the UK and of 5,000 employees of the justice system, and the list goes on and on.

All this electronic surveillance is on top of every bit of information held by any part of central or local government, and with socialised medicine this includes all medical records, being available to any bureaucrat at any level. Even I called that the end of privacy. That was in January and it was only the beginning of the end.

Only a few years ago, this would have been the stuff of science fiction – a paranoid all-controlling state actively engaged in monitoring every move, every conversation, every communication instantly and at every level. This would have been the fantasy of communist police states, but only realised in what for some silly reason we call the free world.

Success is Failure in British Education

For the first time ever, a grammar school has failed an inspection. For those unfamiliar with British education, grammar schools are selective schools. Prospective pupils have to pass an entrance exam known as the 11-plus. Where they use to be commonplace, there are now only 168 remaining in England. In most places in the state sector there are only non-selective comprehensive schools.

So how did Stretford Grammar School fail inspection? Was it the location in a highly disadvantaged area? The 30% of pupils for whom English is a second language? After all, if the national average of good GCSE grades  (A*- C) when English and maths are included is 47%, how poorly must Stretford Grammar have been doing to have failed and threatened with closure unless the turn things around? I’ll tell you how poorly: 92% at grades A*-C. Nearly twice the national average.

So what did Ofsted find wrong with Stretford Grammar?

“These include the good personal development and well-being of pupils, the positive attitudes found among students, good attendance and behaviour, the feeling of safety and security in the school, positive pupil/teacher relationships, high staff morale and the good teaching and learning in the sixth form.” Oh, wait, sorry. Those were more of the good points.

So what was wrong with Stretford Grammar?

Lacklustre teaching. The inspectors didn’t like the teaching styles. They couldn’t tick the right boxes concerning what makes a good lesson. Oh, and girls weren’t making enough progress. This is surprising, because everywhere else the problem is that boys are underachieving. In other words, Stretford managed what other schools don’t.

So in case you were wondering, this is what a failing school looks like.

Discriminating Against Christians Yet Again

Here we go again.

Peter and Hazelmary Bull are Christians. They own Chymorvah Private Hotel in Marazion, Cornwall. They aren’t liberal, Christianity-is-whatever-I-decide-it-is Christians. As a result, on the booking form page of their website they state:

Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage(being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others).

Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples – Thank you.

If you have been paying attention to UK equality legislation, you know what happened next. Someone in a same-sex relationship was looking for a hotel, came across the site and notified Stonewall, the anti-heterosexual rights organisation, who then took it upon themselves to warn the Bulls they were breaking the law by not positively facilitating fornication irrespective of gender coupling or bodily oriface.

After all, the hotel has refused double beds to plenty of unmarried heterosexual couples, including Mrs Bull’s own brother and his girlfriend.

Now I just don’t believe that Steven Preddy then happened to ring to book a room without having seen the website, or the complaint from Stonewall, for that matter. He and his partner Martyn Hall were not surprised when the hotel refused to honour their booking when they showed up. It was a set up to try to stick it to the Christians. They were only there to set up a case of “discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation”.

Mr Preddy and Mr Hall reported the incident to the police and have filed a civil case claiming £5,000 in damages for the alleged discrimination.

Preddy and Hall are right about one thing. This is a case involving discrimination. There is discrimination against those who have beliefs that particularly kinds of behaviour are wrong. These are not beliefs unique to the Bulls. This is the universal witness of Christianity, with the exception of a few people in the last few years who decided that they could find sexual immorality and Christianity compatible by simply calling evil “good” and good “evil”. For that matter, it is the universal witness of of Islam and Judaism and most of the world’s other religions.

It’s not like there are aren’t lots of other hotels of an equal or superior quality or price that could have accommodated Preddy and Hall or anyone else Stonewall wants to send around. So in fact Preddy and Hall weren’t been denied the chance to stay in a hotel. It is about an agenda to force everyone to accept a particular behaviour as equal and normative. The gay rights lobby have the Government on their side. The Bulls’ hope the European Convention on Human Rights will be interpreted to supercede this as it says that people are able to hold a religious belief and manifest it in the way they act. But will plain language prevail against the unholy spirit of the age?

More Terrorism in London

I was going to blog about the Christians that beat up an imam, stole his copy of the Qur’an and laptop, and threatened to break his legs if he ever went back into the studio after the imam had an argument with Christians who called into his live TV show. Except of course that it didn’t happen. The only thing is that not surprisingly it happened the other way around, and it wasn’t in Pakistan or Afghanistan or Egypt or Turkey, it was in west London.

Rev. Noble Samuel of Asian Gospel Ministries International hosts the Asian Gospel Show on a satellite channel broadcast from Wembley. Several Muslim callers rang into the show in recent weeks trying to argue with him. He wouldn’t take the bait and said, “Those are your views and these are my views.” The callers got very aggressive.

It seems verbal aggression wasn’t enough for them. A car pulled in front of him and a man got out to ask directions in Urdu.  Rev. Samuel described what happened when he rolled down his window, “He put his hand into my window, which was half open, and grabbed my hair and opened the door. He started slapping my face and punching my neck. He was trying to smash my head on the steering wheel. Then he grabbed my cross and pulled it off and it fell on the floor. He was swearing. The other two men came from the car and took my laptop and Bible.” Then they warned him, “If you go back to the studio, we’ll break your legs.”

Rev. Samuel and his family are now in fear for their safety. The thugs that attacked him may not have blown up buildings or killed any one (that we know of) they are still terrorists.

Ted Kennedy Knighted For Being Anti-British

I never thought I’d see the day that the Her Majesty’s Government would knight someone for supporting terrorism. That’s how important the special relationship between the US and UK is to the British. Gordon Brown went to Washington to buddy up with Barack. If there is any part of the Constitution for which most Americans have no use, it is the Emolument Clause and the British know this. So Gordon came bearing gifts.

The only redeeming fact is that the recipient cannot be known as Sir Edward Kennedy. Perhaps this is a bit of quid pro quo for support during the election. Ted supported Barack and Barack couldn’t swing getting Ted’s niece appointed to the Senate from New York. But he still got him the gift that money can’t buy – an honorary knighthood.

Every knighthood is given for an official reason. In this case it was for “services to the British-American relationship and to Northern Ireland”. How does that work, exactly? Kennedy is an Irish-American who consistently supported the Nationalist cause in Northern Ireland. He does seem to have pulled up short of open support for the IRA in their campaign of terrorism, though he did compare the British military presence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles to the American military in Vietnam. He said Irish Protestants should go back to Great Britain.

I know Americans are fascinated by, and covetous of, British honours. You would think, however, that one person who would not want to be an honorary knight of the realm would be someone who with such a high profile so openly opposed it. And while there is no evidence that he was personally involved, it is Ted Kennedy’s Irish Catholic electoral base in Boston that funnelled huge amounts of money to the IRA  so they could blow up innocent Brits in pubs and shopping centers around the UK.

So this is the dynamic of the “special relationship”. Britain’s socialist Prime Minister honouring America’s premier champagne socialist for supporting the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Money for Nothing Becomes Nothing for Money

Regular readers may have noticed that whilst I am very conservative about many things, I am somewhat progressive on the issue of digital intellectual property rights. And I practice what I preach.

For example, there are television programmes that have been scattered electromagnetically into the atmosphere for everyone with a television to enjoy for free. While the technology is there for those waves of son et lumière to go anywhere in the world, they have been limited to certain geographical regions, so they can be sold and resold and resold in different markets to make already obscenely rich people even more obscenely rich. I only use the word “obscenely” twice in the same sentence because my megre vocabulary is insufficient to appropriately modify the word rich.

The Internet has created a giant ocean of ones and zeros drifting in and out of the millions of connections within it. It has eliminated the borders and the broadcast restrictions, even if there are companies out there trying as hard as they can to claim part of these high seas as their own. Or you might say they are trying to dam the ones and zeros within their territorial waters. You might say they are trying to limit fishing in their territorial waters by trying to keep hold of the fish. But that’s the problem: you can keep boats out, but you can’t keep fish in.

The fact of the Internet Ocean is that 90% of the music fish are swimming freely. In other words, even given all of the “legal” download sites and services, 90% of music is downloaded without the express written consent of the music industry.

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) is the face of the record industry cartel in the UK, the British equivalent of the RIAA.  They claim that file sharing has cost the industry £1.1 billion a year. What they mean is that they have identified £1.1 billion that they could have accrued and didn’t. It didn’t actually cost them anything. It didn’t cost anyone another yacht in the Med or a twelfth sprawling estate in another exotic and exclusive location. It didn’t take any money out of a tax-protected off-shore account.

The BPI have bullied the British Government and the major ISPs in this country into forcing the ISPs into sending letters to customers based on the BPIs spying. If the BPI thinks a particular IP address is uploading an illegal file, they contact the ISP, which is then obliged to send a letter to the account belonging to the IP address giving details of the alleged file-sharing incident. I got such a letter the other day.

Was it about television programmes or films or even various albums (most of which don’t even get copied to CD and end up in the recycle bin)? No, it was about a single Britney Spears track that no one in our household has ever uploaded, downloaded, or otherwise loaded. You would think with all of the billions of pounds the BPI’s member labels have made, they could afford to get the information even somewhere near correct.

Legal threats aside, in reality what has happened is that the revenue stream is concentrating more and more on live music. That is the one thing that is not copyable. But this means that musicians have to work harder and maybe make less money. Perhaps some of you will pity them for this. I don’t.

It used to be that musical acts had to invest huge sums of money in studios and technology to produce records. Now top selling CDs have been produce in bedrooms with digital recording equipment. Making records has become easier and cheaper, thus increasing the profit margins. Now these recordings are going to have to be adverts for concerts where real music will have to be played in real time for real people.

I have been saying for a long time that the developments in technology mean concepts about intellectual property law will have to be dramatically reformulated. Those who are profiting the most, those piggybacking on the actual creators of ideas, are trying to formulate new revenue streams so they can continue to make money for nothing (sound anything like the bankers who have precipitated the world economic collapse?) but music cartels will eventualy have to realise that music is only worth what people are willing to pay for it and increasingly (if you can keep increasing from 90%) they aren’t.

Obama Throws Churchill Out of the White House

We are already learning what’s in and what’s out with the change of administration in Washington. Brits have noticed one thing: Winston Churchill is definitely out. The whole “special relationship” thing between the US and UK is on thin ice anyway, but Churchill has left the White House.

After 9/11, the British Government loaned President Bush a bronze bust of the former Prime Minister, a Jacob Epstein creation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It had pride of place in the Oval Office. After all, US Presidents like to quote Churchill, as noted in one of the most viewed stories on the Daily Telegraph website. Presidents, that is, other than Barack Obama.

Obama’s view of Churchill is coloured by his grandfather’s alleged torture by the British during the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in 1953 when Churchill was Prime Minister. So when the British Government offered to extend the loan of the Churchill bronze, Obama declined. He sent Winston packing.

The Brits didn’t exactly know what to do with him. They tried to avoid reporters questions until they found an suitable alternative location in residence of the British Ambassador to the US.

So Obama has moved the racist Churchill out of the Oval Office and replaced him with the racist Abraham Lincoln. Of course the difference is that only academics know Lincoln was a racist – since they are the only ones who bother to read what he actually wrote – and nobody would believe them. People who surely know better – like the well-educated Mr Obama – dare not bring it up.

But Mr Obama has a lot to look up to when it comes to following the example of Mr Lincoln. It was Mr Lincoln, after all, who took advantage of a very difficult time in history to aggrandize the power of the Presidency and the Executive branch. Mr Lincoln trampled over the power of the sovereign States.

Lincoln’s actions led to deaths of over 600,000 Americans. Yet such is the re-writing of Yankee hagiography that he is was recently ranked the best president in a survey of 65 historians. Mr Lincoln gets credit for freeing slaves, even though no action of his ever freed a single one. I’m sure Mr Obama will find things to take credit for that he’ll have never done either.  I just hope he isn’t responsible for as many deaths in the meantime.

So it’s out with Mr Churchill and in with Mr Lincoln. God help us all.

Government Advisor: “Save the Planet – Have More Abortions”

Jonathon Porritt thinks the best way to save the planet is to kill the people. And it probably wouldn’t matter what Jonathon Porritt thinks, except that he’s the chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, which advises the British Government on environmental issues.

Porritt thinks the Health Service is not spending its limited money in the right way. The environment would be better off if they put less money into curing illnesses and more into abortion services and contraception. “We still have one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancies in Europe and we still have relatively high levels of pregnancies going to birth, often among women who are not convinced they want to become mothers.”

We have a high level of pregnancies going to birth! Even with one of the highest abortion rates in the world, we aren’t doing enough. Too many pregnant women have the audacity to give birth.

He also says that families with more than two children are irresponsible. “I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate. I think we will work our way towards a position that says having more than two children is irresponsible.”

And what do you do with irresponsible people? You have to bring the power of the State to bear to force them into responsibility. That is the implication of what he is saying. We are asking now. We are working to public policy.

Nancy Pelosi wants to limit children so they aren’t a burden on the public purse. Jonathon Porritt wants to limit them so they won’t be a burden on the environment. The message of the Left is loud and clear. Children are a burden, not a blessing. If you won’t unburden the rest of us with fewer children, eventually the State will step in and do it for you.

The End of Privacy

Once again, just when you think the British Government could not get more intrusive, they prove you wrong.

I have often discussed the ever-increasing Big Brother approach of the Labour Government as each new plan is revealed. Now we learn that any bottom-rung local bureaucrat will be able to access every piece of information on any individual held by any Government or local department, agency, or council.

When you consider that this will include all medical records, every email and phone call made, and all of the biometric data to be stored for the mandatory ID cards, think about local council workers making £12,000 a year. Certainly most of them are completely honest (even if honesty is not a particular plentiful commodity in this country), but think of the profit that can be made from identity fraud. We are assured by the Ministry of Justice that anyone misusing the data could get a prison sentence of up to two years. Two years = one year with good behaviour. Prisons bursting at the seams mean very few people can be sent away for first, second or third offenses. Seems like a pretty light risk for very big gain.

Or to put it more bluntly, it is handing over the data to people who will do terribly things with it. Then after the bureaucrats are done, the criminals will get it.

Prioritised to Death

One of the nice things about socialised medicine is that it is reasonably easy to see a GP. You generally have to start calling at 8:00 am to get an appointment for that day, but they also run emergency appointments and will squeeze you in. However, when you need to see somebody other than a GP, your mileage, as they say, may vary.

I was fortunate in 2003 when I was rushed to the GP who decided that I needed to go to the hospital immediately. He called an ambulance and I was taken straight in, given morphine and stablised. They couldn’t figure out what was actually wrong with me, so after an overnight stay they scheduled me to come back in ten months to have a specialist look at me.

Stewart Fleming wasn’t so lucky. His GP gave him a note to take to the hospital saying he must be treated immediately. He was admitted after waiting six hours in A&E. By then it was too late. It took two weeks for him to die, but he could have been saved if the hospital had simple followed the GP’s instructions. He just wasn’t a high enough priority.

Government Legalises Robbery Against Debtors

In American English, a bailiff is the deputy sheriff or other law enforcement officer charged with enforcing order in a courtroom. In British English, it is the term for a debt collector. Not the kind who ring you up at inconvenient times to remind you of your outstanding obligation, but the kind that shows up at your door demanding payment or his choice of your personal possessions to pay off the debt.  That’s the way debts are collected in this country.

Until now, a bailiff could not force his way into your home. You have probably heard the phrase, “An Englishman’s house is his castle,” or as William Pitt the Elder, the 18th-century prime minister, said, “The poorest man may in his cottage bid defiance to all the forces of the crown.” But the current Labour Government having systematically taken away the rights of Englishmen (and Welshmen and Scotsmen and certain Irishmen) for the last 11½ years, it should come as no surprise that this is also consigned to the dustbin of historical rights.

Bailiffs, who I want to emphasise work for private companies just in case there was any lingering misunderstanding, will now be allow to break into homes. The only proviso is that they cannot break in when no one is home. In other words, they cannot burgle you, they can only rob you. And when I say “rob” I am not exaggerating. They will have the right to restrain you, pin you down, or otherwise use reasonable force to keep you from protecting your valuables.

They will have the right to break down your door. According to the new guidelines, reasonable grounds for breaking down the door include the “movement of a curtain”, a radio being heard or a figure being spotted inside which “may be the offender” . It is interesting to note that the Government is now calling a civil defendant an offender.

Yes, this is legalised thuggery. And not just legalised – it is encouraged, because the Government wants to crack down on people who evade debts. This apparently does not include banks, who have received £20 billion, mortaged against the future generations of Britons, to make sure all the executive bonuses get paid. No, it is the people who own credit card debts to the banks who will be on the receiving end of the newer stronger-arm tactics.

It brings to mind Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful debtor in Matthew 18:23-35.  You may remember there was a debtor who owed the king 10,000 talents and was forgiven but he found his own debtor who owed him 100 denarii but couldn’t pay. The debtor turned creditor basically treated his debtor to British-style bailiffs. To get an idea of how close this is to the financial situation in Britain, read the commentary on this passage I wrote back on March 9 of this year where I calculated the value of the two debts.

Of course the difference is that the King in this case is encouraging his servant to be abusive to his fellow servant. I don’t think we can accuse the Labour Government of pretensions to so-called Christian socialism.

A Film I’m Destined to See

I don’t know how this one slipped under my radar, but a book I read a number of years ago has been made into a film. Stone of Destiny is current showing in Scotland and will be released across England on Friday.

It is the true story of the Scottish students who stole – or perhaps re-appropriated – the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve, 1950. The Stone had been used for the coronation of every Scottish monarch  since at least Kenneth MacAlpin in the mid ninth century (it may have been used as early as 574 when Aedan was anointed and crowned King of Dalriada by St Columba) until it was stolen by Edward I in 1296. It had been fixed under the St Edward’s Chair (the coronation throne) since that time.

This incident prompted the only ever closing of the border between Scotland and England, as police searched for the 336 lb rock. The cops were unsuccessful and the Stone was only recovered in April 1951 after the students chose to leave it at Arbroath Abbey.

I’ve seen the Stone three times, twice in Westminster Abbey and once in Edinburgh Castle, where it sits since it was sent back to Scotland by the last Conservative Government in 1996. It stays there with the understanding that it will be returned to London for future coronations.

The film has received a number of favourable reviews. I doubt that I will get a chance to see it before we leave for Christmas. I hope it is still in cinemas when we get back. It is not often that I specifically want to see something on the big screen, but this is one of those times.

UPDATE: There is a good article in the Daily Telegraph about Ian Hamilton, QC, who was the ringleader of the students. It was his book that inspired the film.

They Call It Democracy

Before Wednesday’s election, the island of Sark in the English Channel was the last feudal outpost in the world. Power was held by chief tenants, who were by right members of the Chief Pleas, the legislative body on the island. The head of the government is the Seigneur who holds the whole island as a fief from the Queen. There is a judge known as the Seneschal.

Everything was going happily along until the owners of The Daily Telegraph, Dave and Fred Barclay, bought a number of businesses on the island, including hotels, restaurants, and shops. They became the employers of about one-sixth of the island’s population. Then they insisted on government reform. They didn’t like the feudal system and wanted to install democracy.

So under threat of personally destroying the Sark economy, they forced elections to be held. There would be a 28-member Chief Pleas elected by the island’s residents. They tried to get rid of the Seigneur and Seneschal. They filed a lawsuit in the High Court in London alleging that these offices were in contravention of European human rights legislation, but the judge ruled against them. But at least there would be an elected legislative body for the population of 600.

About one in eight residents of Sark stood in the election. When it was all said and done last night, only five pro-reform Conseillers were elected. In other words, most of the people want to keep things pretty much as they are.

So after causing the end of a happy fiefdom that has existed without any trouble since the Middle Ages, the Barclay brothers are now shutting down their Sark operations in retaliation against the democratic vote.  As their lawyer told the BBC:

“Today, via their agents in Sark, they [the Barclay brothers] have authorised and decided to close down their ongoing operations in Sark as a result of an election last night of a majority of the new assembly which is called Chief Pleas who are standing on very much an anti-Barclay platform”.

He added: “It was clear the Barclays were clear on their commitment to the island with support – they got no support at all.

“Sark doesn’t appear to want or appreciate the Barclays’ investment and so it doesn’t have it.”

That’s right. “We are going to take our ball – and your jobs – and go home. We wanted democracy so you could vote the way we told you to vote out of a sense of obligation because of our goodness to you.”

Sir David and Sir Frederick are bastards. Bullies and bastards.

Family Failure

Gareth Gilmore has turned being scum into a family business. He and his son Liam Gilmore and his brother-in-law Craig Marsden decided to rob a post office in Somerset. They travelled down from Manchester to Taunton and stole £2,200.

They could have had £58,000 except that stupidity also appears to be a family trait. They insisted that postmaster open the safe. They didn’t believe him when it told them it was a fridge. There wasn’t any money inside. It was, after all, a fridge.

It was easy for the cops to spot Liam Gilmore. He was running through people’s gardens. The older men parked their stolen car outside the house where they were hiding.

The 2½ years at taxpayer expense each of them will serve (out of their five-year sentences) is part of the cost of doing business, but perhaps when they get out they ought to find jobs a little more suited to their limited abilities.

Honest Hate

At least he’s honest. Anjem Choudary has been telling Muslims they shouldn’t be celebrating Christmas. “How can a Muslim possibly approve or participate in such a practice that bases itself on the notion Allah has an offspring? The very concept of Christmas contradicts and conflicts with the foundation of Islam.”

He sees that all this bunkum about worshipping the same God is as offensive to Islam as it is to Christianity. Either Jesus is the Son of God, the incarnation of Allah, or He is not. To say that the Babe in the manger is the Most Holy One is direct contradiction to the very essence of Islam.

So I don’t see why it is such big news that he is saying this. He’s just being a good Muslim.

Why didn’t it make bigger news when Choudary, who is the chairman of the Society of Muslim Lawyers, praised the Mumbai attacks? Nobody seemed to notice when he called for the assassination of the Pope.  It is almost forgotten that he organised the demonstrations over the Muhammad cartoons, which included incitement to murder.

And why it is only mentioned in passing that his family is not supported by his legal work and he apparently isn’t well paid as Principal Lecturer at the London School of Shari’ah.  Perhaps he doesn’t have time for that with all of his preaching since he has to fill in for his mentor Omar Bakri Mohammed, who has been exiled from the UK. I’m just guessing that’s why they receive  £25,000 a year in state benefits.

It’s like, sure he is bigging up the deaths of 163 people in the name of Islam, but now he hates Christmas, too? Good grief. Why not actually expose that we are supporting the work of a domestic terrorist who doesn’t just hate Christmas. He hates us.

The Outrage Continues

The Government must be loving the news out of Mumbi. Just like with 9/11, they are using it to bury bad news.

They haven’t buried it entirely. The Daily Mail has the arrest of Damien Green as the front cover. After all, MPs across the political spectrum are completely beside themselves. There have been waves of questions tabled about it, though ministers don’t have to deal with them until after Parliament comes back into session on Wednesday with the State Opening and the Queen’s Speech.  Tory MPs are threatening to disrupt the Queen’s Speech debate, which should be about the Government’s legislative agenda.

It has now emerged that the Speaker of the Commons, Michael Martin, knew of the plans to arrest Damien Green and authorised the search of his parliamentary office. This has not done the Speaker’s reputation for incompetence any good. The calls for his resignation have never been louder. Unlike like the Speaker of the House of Representatives in the US Congress, the Speaker of the Commons is supposed to be completely politically unbiased and defend the rights of MPs. Again, MPs across the political spectrum are horrified at the Speaker’s actions.

The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, used the same language that I used in the previous post, “This is something you might expect from a tin-pot dictatorship, not in a modern democracy.” Tony Benn said this indicates we are now in a police state.

Government Terrorising the Opposition

It’s all over the top of the news – the BBC, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Times. The Government of the United Kingdom has just upped the totalitarian stakes.

It’s the sort of thing that happens in tinpot dictatorships. The Opposition spokesman on immigration, Damian Green, MP, has been arrested on allegations that he leaked stories to the media that he received from a Home Office whistle-blower. The police raided his home, his parliamentary office, and his constituency office.

There were allegedly four leaks between November of last year and September of this year. Green let the press know about:

an illegal immigrant that had been employed as a Commons cleaner,

a letter from the Home Secretary to the Prime Minister warning that a recession could lead to a rise in crime,

that the Home Secretary was warned that thousands of illegal immigrants had been cleared to work in sensitive Whitehall security jobs but accepted advice from her officials for a news blackout on the affair, and

a list, prepared by Labour whips, of MPs’ likely voting intentions on legislation to extend to 42 days detention without charge.

The Tory Leader, David Cameron has rightly noted, “As Shadow Immigration Minister, Mr Green has, on a number of occasions, legitimately revealed information which the Home Office chose not to make public. Disclosure of this information was manifestly in the public interest. Mr Green denies any wrongdoing.” Instead, he was arrested by counter-terrorism officers.

Those officers came from the Metropolitan Police. It is no coincidence (and even the mainstream media are saying this) that today is the last day in the job for Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, forced out of office by the Conservative mayor of London Boris Johnson.

It is also no coincidence that it came as the House of Commons was in recess. The matter would have been immediately raised with ministers. As it is, they can operate without challenge for several days.

George Osborne said moments ago on BBC’s Question TIme, “It has long been the case in our democracy that members of Parliament have received information from civil servants. I think to hide information from the public is wrong.”  Labour MP Diane Abbott, not being very supportive of the Government, just said on This Week, “Civil servants have been leaking information to politicians since the dawn of the photocopier. The Metropolitan Police do some daft things. They would never arrest a Member of Parliament without getting some form of political cover.” In other words, as much of the media is saying, this has to have been cleared at a very high level, despite the statement by a Downing Street spokesman that the Prime Minister had no prior knowledge of the arrest.

Green is being questioned on allegations of the offence of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. This carries a possible life sentence.

There is terrorism involved here. The Government is terrorising the Opposition to keep it from raising questions about the Government’s competence and honesty at the highest levels. As one not surprisingly anonymous insider question has been quoted in the media, this is “Stalinesque . . . unprecedented in its high-handedness”.