January 2009

Praise where praise is due

But it's getting to be a habit

You' re wonderful You' re wonderful
The sad case of Home Secretary Jacqui Smith's husband working as her praise singer should now be judged against another case of a similar nature.That report of Home Secretary Smith's husband was put into this post to show off how fiddling is the rule rather than the exception in Nulabour. Smith's husband did it to help his wife and she did some fiddling with the statistics related to the Home Office's statement on knife crime.

From an article in the Independent we see that writing in to your local newspaper to talk up oneself and Nulabour is not as rare as it should be. Bournemouth man and Councillor Ben Grower did a bit of praise singing to help himself. The whole affair raises more questions than appear to be answered. Like many of his type, this includes Gordon Brown, Grower cannot admit to mistakes because he cannot see them.

Reality Czech for the EU

Czech sculptureCzech sculpture

Today, the Czech Republic unveiled a modern art installation called 'Entropa' in the atrium of the Justus Lipsius building of the EU Council in Brussels.The installation will remain in its stand-by mode until Thursday 15 January when it will 'start to live' in the full regime. See here.

Alexandr Vondra, the Czech Deputy Prime Minister, said, in a statement: "Sculpture, and art more generally, can speak where words fail. In line with the Czech Presidency motto a 'Europe without Barriers', we gave the 27 artists the same opportunity to express themselves freely, as a proof that in today's Europe there is no place for censorship. In return we got an uncommon, yet common piece of art. I am confident in Europe's open mind and capacity to appreciate such a project."

Bruno Waterfield describes the exhibit here.
pink tankpink tank
Conservative Roman Catholic Poland is depicted by a sculpture of priests raising the rainbow flag of the gay movement, subverting the iconic image of the American soldiers planting the Stars and Stripes on Iwo Jima.

Talking about gas.

 aid before 
propaganda? aid before propaganda?

The EU should step in and pay for the 140 million cubic meters of gas Gazprom accuses Ukraine of having diverted, said Jonathan Stern, director of gas research at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

“Southeast Europe is facing a humanitarian crisis. We have got to get gas to them so they can keep warm, cook food and generate power. The EU should give Russia that money.”
See here.

Bennies

Not Bennies

Real Harry Real Harry
It is hard to see a reason for some things, then suddenly it all becomes clear. For most of my life I have had a relaxed attitude to the monarchy; for most of yesterday the news media has been far from relaxed about the comments of Prince Harry (see right). Frankly I could not give a damn about what he said but it is important he said it because the whole point of the monarchy, I've just worked this out, is to inflame passions and it does not matter which way, just so long as somewhere someone is annoyed. But this can cause confusion. To illustrate my point the Evening Standard said in a headline - Gordon Brown backs 'racist' Prince Harry while the Telegraph had the headline - Prince Harry's 'Paki' comment unacceptable, says Gordon Brown.

Demonstrably wrong

Peace for Gaza?
Peace for Gaza?

Richard McEwan, Branch Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) Poplar, proudly writes in the Socialist Worker how lecturers helped organise for the London Gaza Demonstration.


Lecturers at Tower Hamlets college, east London, organised a protest on Thursday to make a splash in east London and big up Saturday's national demonstration.

We leafleted lecturers on Wednesday. People were particularly outraged as we'd just heard that another school had been bombed.

On Thursday morning we gave out flyers to students with a list of schools that the Israelis had bombed. This generated a real buzz was around the college. Classes were taken over with discussions about the siege of Gaza and what life is like for Palestinians.

Up to 400 workers and students turned out to protest at the break time in between exams. Speakers from the Stop the War Coalition, the Islamic Forum of Europe and the UCU lecturers union spoke to the protesters.

It was brilliant. Everyone took away flyers for Saturday’s march determined to send a message into the estates, to friends through text messages and to the mosques to get as many people out on Saturday as possible.

Cost no object

Archived Stop Press article

Warhol's colaWarhol's cola

Open Europe has published new research which shows that the European Union is spending billions of euros a year promoting itself and its central aim of 'ever closer union'. In 2008 alone, it spent more than 2.4 billion euros. That is more than Coca Cola spends on advertising each year, worldwide.

The EU pours hundreds of millions of euros a year into think-tanks and lobby groups which promote its policies and campaign for further EU integration, and many of its efforts are directed very deliberately at young people. It has its own polling arm - Eurobarometer - which it uses to manipulate public opinion, and even its own broadcast channels, and means for influencing the internet and the wider media, such as training and prizes for journalists.

Open Europe has a booklet called:
"The hard sell: EU communication policy and the campaign for hearts and minds", telling you all about EU propaganda.

Some hacking is OK

Archived Stop Press article

Gary McKinnonGary McKinnon
The Home Office has quietly adopted a new plan, which follows a decision by the European Union’s council of ministers in Brussels, to allow police across Britain routinely to hack into people’s personal computers without a warrant.Under the Brussels edict, police across the EU have been given the green light to expand the implementation of a rarely used power involving warrantless intrusive surveillance of private property. The strategy will allow French, German and other EU forces to ask British officers to hack into someone’s UK computer and pass over any material gleaned.

The move, has angered civil liberties groups and opposition MPs. They described it as a sinister extension of the surveillance state which drives “a coach and horses” through privacy laws.

British citizen Gary McKinnon is facing "fast track" extradition to the USA (after over six years since his initial arrest !). Gary was indicted by a US court in November 2002, accused of "hacking" into over 90 US Military computer systems from here in the UK. He was investigating UFOs! His extradition Judicial Review hearing is set for 20th January 2009. See the Free Gary website.

Jacqui Smith's numbers don't add up

Small lies big numbers, or the other way around?

Fibber and friend Fibber and friend

Like milestones on a journey the route taken by Nulabour's descent is fixed by certain events and remarks along the way. For example we have Gordon Brown's comment of 'saving the world'. A simple gaffe some say, 'anyone might have said that', really? But the problem here is that our Prime Minister said it and in public; had 'the man in the pub' made such a remark the whole bar would have collapsed laughing with the man himself joining in. But our PM and Nulabour are made of different stuff, there is something sinister, unpleasant and flawed about them. In the Guardian today the Editorial has the title, Who's counting? In this the charge is made that Nulabour cooked the books on knife crime.

Whistleblower not silenced.

Archived Stop Press article

Hans-Martin TillackHans-Martin Tillack

The case against the Stern journalist Hans-Martin Tillack, who helped expose the Eurostat scandal, has finally been closed. Eurostat used a double accounting system to transfer large amounts of money to secret bank accounts not monitored by auditors. Only some of the millions of euros that were siphoned off were ever found. The Financial Times called Eurostat:"A vast enterprise for looting community funds". The whole Eurostat directorate was subsequently dismissed. Six separate fraud investigations into Eurostat were required by OLAF, the EU anti-fraud body. Only one of these investigations seems to have been pursued.

OLAF suggested that Hans-Martin Tillack had bribed EU officials in order to gather documents for an article he published in 2002 on alleged irregularities in OLAF. Tillack exposed a number of other examples of fraud and corruption among EU officials. Little wonder that he was unpopular, arrested and hounded all these years. Remember that the whole Commission had to resign in 1999 albeit with lifelong pensions and, no doubt, generous settlements.

Surreal diplomacy

Emperor SarkozyEmperor Sarkozy

In 2002 Britain persuaded the EU to add Iran's main democratic opposition movement, the People's Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) to its own list of outlawed organisations. In 2006 the EU's Court of First Instance ruled this ban to be "unlawful". Several times subsequently both UK and EU courts have declared that this ban to be illegal and have been ignored. Subsequently and during the elastic six months of President Sarkozy's EU presidency, the ban remains in place. See Christopher Booker for the full story.

Hence, the EU can talk to Iran and the Republican Guard and appease a regime that, as our Foreign Office admits, has been responsible for killing British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a regime that arms Hezbollah and Hamas but can't talk to the opposition PMOI because Sarkozy and the Labour government have persuaded the EU to ignore its own courts and declare them illegal.