June 2009

FGM - how the records are kept...

under less serious wounding and poisoning

no to FGMno to FGM

Ever since reading 'Infidel' by Ayaan Hirsi Ali I have been occasionally haunted by the thought of hundreds or thousands of small girls having their genitals cut out, right here in the formerly Great Britain, by elderly women wielding razors (* FORWARD suggests 6,500 are at risk annually in the UK). Hence I have made periodic forays into the subject hoping to find out more.

I have written to the Department of Health who replied that they wished to reassure me that: the Government takes this issue seriously and has done so since 1985.. (when the first law outlawing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) was passed) and is continuing to take the issue even more seriously since passing the 2003 Act (which made it illegal to aid, abet, counsel or procure FGM abroad.) I am also amazingly told: the courts would take into account the circumstances of individual offences when sentencing and would no doubt treat FGM on an informed consenting adult as less serious than a child.

I wrote back saying how surprised I was that there were women informed and consenting to FGM and even more surprised that they were up in court as a result!

How others see us, then laugh

Politics adrift is not funny

Canada laughing Canada laughing
Long before Barack Obama became the President of the USA the UK news media was out in force. A full year before the election the BBC had several of their finest on the trail sending back reports from the US. I know many people who would usually admit to an interest in politics were bored by it all. There is a limit to the number of times a reporter can say that the voters of some distant State are “gearing up” for an election. The reader of such reports soon gets the message, nothing is happening yet, but the reporter lacks the courage to say so.

Here in the UK our politicians no doubt like to think that they, when abroad and on behalf of us, 'punch above their weight'. So we see umpteen pictures of our Prime Minister, Mr McEyebags, with his lantern jaw in profile his hands raised doing what he does best; bellowing about something dear to his heart on the assumption Johny Foreigner will be impressed and do as he is told. How could these people be bored watching our man at work? Very easily it seems.

Afghan inquiry first?

Afghan rugAfghan rug The good news is that, at vast time and expense, we are to have an investigation into the Iraq war. You and I know that politicians misled, lied, plagiarised and totally failed to plan the post-invasion strategy and provide adequate numbers of troops. You and I knew that a civil war would follow invasion but that our leaders did not. We read between the lines of the Hutton and Butler reports and we shall enjoy hearing Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Scarlett et al prevaricate and justify their actions. But we know that no-one will be charged or blamed and we shall just know in more detail what we already know.

Wouldn't it be more sensible to have an investigation into the war in Afghanistan? Our reasons for fighting this war change like the seasons and few can give a coherent game plan or exit strategy. Perhaps a few lives and injuries could be saved by exposing the total lack of direction in our 4th Afghan War.

ps we lost the first three.

Ban the burqa and niqab?

really?really?

President Sarkozi has proposed banning the burqa in all public places in France, claiming that it oppresses women. He states:

The burka is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience

Here in the UK that progressive organisation - The Muslim Council of Britain stated:

"It is patronising and offensive to suggest that those Muslim women who wear the burqa do so because of pressure or oppression by their male partners or guardians."

Fools cost us too much

A convenient smokescreen?

Sir Ian - too much? Sir Ian - too much? The latest development in the MP expenses' scandal is the involvement of the police. Does this, or will this, solve anything? Not at all. In fact it creates more problems that it solves.

The 'cash for honours' inquiry cost at least £1.5 million, took far too long and achieved nothing. But it did sow the seed in the mind of the public that the police tend to fail when the great and good are in the frame; it also showed their work is way over priced. Who can forget the not-so-veiled threats that Tony Blair would stand down if the police inquiries reached all the way to himself?

Mr Blair nails his whatsits to the mast?

It brings tears to the eyes

It might look odd now, 
you should see it in a bit It might look odd now, you should see it in a bit An article in the Spectator by James Forsyth refers to another article, this time in the Sun and by Trevor Kavanagh.

Kavanagh has a quote from Tony Blair - "I would rather nail my testicles to a speeding train than be President of the European Union."

Several people have spotted this and instantly linked it to the Peter, Paul and Mary song with the delightful title – 'If I had a hammer'

Mind you it's also worth quoting Kavanagh who writes - “Given the other likely candidates, I have little problem with Blair as President of Europe. He’s for free trade, the market and an Atlanticist which is not bad going. But if he does end up in the job after having said this, he will have set a new standard for a politician going back on his word”.

Well as it's Blair doing the talking and Kavanagh doing the thinking aloud that's something to remember, is it not?

The origins of this song, the first draft, pre-date the EU, it was written in 1949 by Pete Seeger and Lee Hays.

Number 157 takes a turn

All new but basically the same?

An improvement? An improvement?
The mixture of criticism, goodwill and hype that surrounded the election of the 44th President of the US, Barack Obama, who was also the first black holder of that office has now been seen again, well almost.

The election of the 157th Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, who is also the first Jew to hold this office, has been just a bit over the top.

With Obama we were told that he was going to do this and that and it would be better, much better. He even let slip that he might bomb Pakistan. If he does get around to that then no doubt it will be done much better than the Republicans would have.

Goodbye Kitty

Just when you thought it was all over!

Ussher out Ussher out

Kitty Ussher has resigned, first with the story was the Telegraph.

So those of you (Gordon Brown?) who thought the battle was over may wonder who the next casualty will be, and when the war will be over.

The last MP to go, Jane Kennedy, was so unknown she did not even have a Wikipedia entry! Ms Ussher is made of sterner stuff, she has been relentlessly parading herself on TV for long enough to have her own Wiki page, but no photo.

European Citizen Card

EU citizen cardEU citizen card

The shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, has today written to the five main companies involved in the national identity card project warning them that further contracts will be scrapped by an incoming Conservative government. See here.

He also claims that the government is bent on a \"poison pill strategy\" by building penalties into new contracts designed to prevent the cancellation of the projects.

But the most significant part of Grayling's letter discloses that the Conservatives will not cancel the two main contracts signed in March to upgrade the passport/identity card application system and set up a biometric database which form the main building blocks of the project. Perhaps he realises that he may have little control over this matter if/when the Lisbon Constitution Treaty comes into force.

Blow me down...

What a surprise?

Sir C KellySir C Kelly

Sir Christopher Kelly today accused MPs of exploiting their allowances for personal gain, as he opened his long-awaited inquiry into Commons expenses.

The chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life,( an advisory non-Departmental Public Body costing £660,000 a year), said that MPs appeared to lack principles, when they should have shown honesty and integrity:

"These values are timeless. If they had been followed more by more MPs over the past few years we would not be in the situation that we are."