The state needs to take arming people seriously

April 26th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Why the buggery can’t the Independent Police Complaints Commission force officers who witness a fatal shooting by a colleague to be interviewed?

The in this country the state doesn’t officially kill people, not even after a trial. If the police, who are part of the state apparatus, kill someone there needs to be a proper investigation, to ensure that the death resulting from their actions was unavoidable to prevent even greater loss of life.

The police will, unfortunately inevitably, now and again kill people. It comes with the territory of dealing will the nasty, desperate and sometimes unhinged elements of our society.

Letting officers that witness a death caused by a colleague only having to submission a written statement is not good enough for a proper investigation.

An interview of a police witness is needed to clear up ambiguities, contradictions or even just to clarify a statement that is written particularly clearly.

This is needed to ensure the state, via the people it authorizes to use firearms on its behalf, uses its monopoly on force responsibility properly and at a minimum.

There is no excuse not to.

The Home Office has declined to comment on this issue because of the investigation into the death of Mark Duggan during the rioting last year.

This is a weak excuse as this issue isn’t just about the case of Mark Duggan. This investigation may have highlighted the problem and brought it some welcome publicity, but the problem is about officers not having to account for themselves in general, not in specific cases.

This needs to change to show the state takes its responsibility of arming people seriously and for accountability of the armed officers themselves.

On the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix

April 20th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Damon Hill, the ex-F1 driver, has written piece in the Guardian about F1’s decision to go ahead with the GP in Bahrain. I’m not sure what he’s trying to say, but I think it comes down to ‘things would’ve been worse if it had been cancelled’.

After a bit of preamble about how F1 is the ‘bad boy’ of sport for various reasons, including money, spying, cheating, Damon says this…

Formula One does not, cannot, and has never existed in total isolation from the general concerns of humanity. In this sense, the sport is always on the edge of politics. The moment something becomes an issue for all of us, it is a political issue. So the question is this; is the Bahrain Grand Prix now an issue for all of us? Or is it more accurate to ask; are Bahraini politics an issue for all of us?

Sport, is and it isn’t political. Sportsmen and women always say they don’t want to get involved, they just want to run around and win their medal or laurels or whatever shiny bits they get handed after going faster, higher, further than anyone else.

I think sport becomes political when it goes international, no matter how hard the team/event/governing body tries to keep out of it.

You can have domestic competitions and it’s just between yourselves. As soon as you have an international event, the competitors are approving you. They are saying ‘You’re ok, we don’t mind being associated with you.’

The bigger, more prestigious the event, the bigger the stamp of approval.

The Bahrain Grand Prix isn’t an issue for all of us. It makes no odds tome if the F1 circus goes to Bahrain. It should matter to the F1 people. Do you really want to be associated with that type of regime? Do you really want to lend your credibility as a respectable sport to such a regime as that?

Bahraini politics is an issue for all of us. Everyone that cares about their fellow man at least. The same applies to China, Syria, Burma and all the rest.

The critical question for F1 is whether it has made the right decision to insist on returning to Bahrain in these times. There are three main considerations for the FIA to make; security, politicisation, and the reputation of its blue riband event, F1.

On security, they insist that it is satisfactory, having consulted the people responsible and after taking advice at the highest level. But they do not deny that there is a risk.

Security should be the last question asked, not the first. If the answer to the other questions lead you to conclude that it is ok for F1 to go to Bahrain, then you ask ‘is it safe’.

On whether the FIA event is being conscripted into a political battle to support one side over the other, it is not clear. Many say that this is how it looks. The event is subtitled as UniF1ing Bahrain, so strictly speaking it is trying to appear to be good for the whole nation of Bahrain. The trouble is there are many Bahrainis who disagree about what is good for Bahrain, hence their calls for democracy.

F1 might not be conscripted, but in going ahead with the GP it is being a useful idiot. “uniF1ing Bahrain” may sound good, and it might work in a country that isn’t experiencing all the upheaval Bahrain is. In Bahrain though, it is a political message. The equivalent of ‘we can’t we all get along’. Even if the whole country loved Formula 1, a mutual love of the sport isn’t going to stop peaceful protest being dispersed with live ammunition. It’s a distraction.

Article 1 of the FIA statutes says: “The FIA shall refrain from manifesting racial, political or religious discrimination in the course of its activities and from taking any action in this respect.” So far it has not manifested anything other than a desire for the race to take place. However, could holding a race that is becoming a divisive issue for a country, if not for the sport also, constitute “taking action in this respect”?

Well, seeing as this race cannot take place without the sanction of the government, I don’t see how it cannot be political. F1 will be bringing money and cedibility to a brutal regime.

A problem in the lead-up to this event was the apparent collusion of Formula One with the promoters in promulgating the view that Bahrain only had a small issue with a few unruly youths. This I regarded as a very clear case of understatement. It was the view of Bahrain that Bahrain would like the world to buy. And it was going to use F1 to help it. This was the point at which I expressed my concerns about this situation. For me, the FIA was dangerously close to appearing totally naive, misinformed or, worse, taking the side that would like to underplay the humanitarian, social and security situation in Bahrain. Sure enough, the international community has had quite a lot to say about what is going on in Bahrain since. This was so inevitable that I am still trying to understand why the FIA did not take the initiative by making at least some comment that indicated it understood the difficulty of the situation.


Jean Todt, the president of the FIA, has been consistent in taking the stance of not saying anything that could be construed as political. So he has said next to nothing.

This I find baffling. Surely it is possible to condemn acts of inhumanity without taking a side?

No, is the simple answer. If you condemn the act, you are implicitly, if not explicitly condemning the actor. That is why Jean Todt has said nothing. If he condemn acts of inhumanity by the rulers of Bahrain, that is millions of lost dollars for F1. Everything has a price.

The Khalifas asked for the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) themselves. Is it political to avoid religious, political and racial discrimination? Surely these are universal human values?

Cherif Bassiouni, the chairman of the BICI, managed to do the report and advocate the GP went ahead for the overarching good of the people. He wrote to Todt in February saying: “Aside from the economic, publicity and public relations advantages that the grand prix brings to Bahrain, it is, on this one-year anniversary of the February-March events of last year, an important point of departure for the people of Bahrain to forge ahead in their national efforts towards reconciliation.”

The people of Bahrain would find it a lot easier to reconciliate with the government if the latter weren’t so, erm, oppressive. Because if this continued oppression, the Bahrain government sees the arrival of the GP as A Good Thing for the reasons Bassiouni gives above, especially the PR value the GP gives them.

At the centre is this extraordinary man, Bernie Ecclestone, who few dare to publicly disagree with. Perhaps we should, instead of just muttering under our breath, scared of losing our passes.

Yes, Damon. Yes you should.

But the problem is also, quite often, he is absolutely right, despite his pithy way of communicating. Take this quote: “Do you think that if we cancel the Formula One that all the problems will just disappear?” The answer to that is clearly: “No. They wouldn’t.” They would just be starting.

The problems are there whether F1 is there or not. If Formula One does go though, the Bahrain regime wouldn’t benefit from the credibility of being able to say “How bad can we be? Everything is fine. Look, we’re even hosting major sporting events.”

The problems wouldn’t disappear, but F1 wouldn’t be part of the problem.

Frank Gardner, security correspondent for the BBC, has said some in Bahrain feel that “if the grand prix were to be called off then the Sunni community would be so enraged it would be harder than ever to bridge the gap between government and opposition.” I think that rather confirms the view of Bahrain as more than a little tense and that the issue is not so simple as it looks.

Doesn’t what Frank Gardener say concern you, Damon? Some people think that if the GP doesn’t go ahead, life could get very difficult for a section of the population. Doesn’t that tell something about the regime? Isn’t that enough of a reason to say “y’know what? i don’t what to be associated with these bullies.”

How does that make you feel, knowing that if you don’t race, teh proverbial kitteh gets it?

Above all, it’s the FIA/F1’s choice. At best hosting F1 will do no harm. At worst, the F1 will be giving respectability to a regime that doesn’t deserve it. If they can live with that, then fine.

The real reason F1 is going to Bahrain, and let’s not be shy about this, is money. As i said earlier, everything and everyone has a price.

100 days to go

April 17th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Wow! Only 101 days to go until the greatest show on earth kicks off.

Why not celebrate with a ‘100 days to go’ Olympic pin badge?

It’s a meaningless piece of tat with a meaningless date on it that’ll be out of date before it even gets through your letterbox.

Go on, you know you want to.

On having our door knocked

April 16th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

There was a knock on our front door yesterday. Mrs -O answered it and was asked if she wanted to talk about god. Being a nice person, Mrs -O politely told them we didn’t have time as we were going out for the day. Immediately.

I they were christians of somesort rather than jehovas’ witnesses as they didn’t try to stop the front door closing with their foot and accepted what Mrs -O said. If we had let them in it would’ve been a short conversation wanyway, as we already have Jesus in our life. In the cellar to be precise. Tied up. He’s ok though, we let him out once a month for some excercise. Well, i say excercise, he mows the lawn.

As we were getting in the car to drive round the block, we’d said we were going out they’d only moved onto next door, it occurred to me that not only are these door-knockers deluded, and a bit dim, they came round mid-morning when people are busy, but extremely rude.

These members of the god squad were hoping to enjoy our hospitality, it would be rude not to offer them a glass of red wine and a wafer, at a time of their choosing to talk about a subject of their choosing. For people that are supposed to be well, good people that’s appalling manners. There was two of them, so why they didn’t just talk to each other I don’t know.

Anyway, I thought i would repay them so I followed them home and tonight I’m going round to see if i can get them a life with my VHS collection of Old Testament Top Gear episodes (1977-2001) I recorded off the telly. They obviously need some help.

5 solid reasons why the resurrection happened. Sorry, did I say 5? I meant 3. And they’re pretty shakey

April 8th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

‘Christianity stands or falls on the claim that Jesus Christ rose from the dead’: So claimed Ludwig Kennedy in a radio debate with Lord Rees-Mogg. He was right. The Apostle Paul put it even more bluntly: ‘If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’. (1 Corinthians 15:14) The resurrection is of ‘first importance’ (1 Corinthians 15:3,4), and yet the difficulty of accepting it is a major barrier to faith for some people.

But although the resurrection appears incredible, we believe it happened on the basis of solid evidence.

So says Dr Peter Saunders. This Dr Peter Saunders. Shall we see what evidence there Dr Saunders is putting forward shall we?

First, no-one disputed the fact that Jesus died on the cross. He was seen to breathe his last by eye-witnesses, and was certified dead by Roman soldiers whose very business was killing. They decided not to break Jesus’ legs (customary practice to hasten death in crucifixion), because they were convinced he was dead already; and this was confirmed by the observation of ‘blood and water’ (separated cells and serum) coming from his pierced side. This only occurs as a post-mortem event.

No one disputed that a Jesus died on a cross. Apparently there was a Jesus about at the right time, and so it is entirely possible that a Jesus was crucified. As for contemporary witnesses, there is not a lot of that about at all. The bible, remember, was written a few centuries after Jesus’ time.

The so-called ‘swoon’ theory, that Jesus may have only fainted and revived in the cool of the tomb, does not hold water. It involves believing that a man beaten to within an inch of his life, impaled on a cross and then wrapped in 75 pounds of bandages and spices (rather like a plaster of Paris cast!) could somehow unwrap himself, push away a one ton boulder, single-handedly overcome an armed Roman guard; and then persuade over 500 others that he had conquered death. The foolishness of this position is evidenced by the fact that no-one dared suggest the possibility until centuries later.

Yeah, the ‘swoon theory’ does sound quite implausible. If someone achieved the above, then they might not be the Son of God, but they’d certainly pretty fucking awesome.

Would Christ, the model of integrity, really deceive his followers by claiming he had risen when he knew he hadn’t? Apart from the testimony of eye-witnesses, no non-Christian historian at the time (see Josephus, Pliny, Tacitus and Lucian) doubted that Jesus died.

If Jesus had claimed to have risen when he knew he hadn’t would indeed call in to question his integrity, but then at the time Jesus was considered the leader of a cult. What makes him different to any other cult leader – apart from fuck fooling fuck knows how many people over two millenia?

Dr Saunders first problem is this:

A man says he rose from the dead. His integrity can’t be questioned because he is the son of god. How do we know he is the son of god? Well, he rose from the dead, didn’t he?

hmmm, yes. I can see how this is going.

Second, the body was gone. If the Jews had removed it (Mary’s immediate assumption) then they would simply have reproduced it at the first rumour of resurrection. If the disciples had removed it, they would not have subsequently been prepared to die for what they knew had not happened. In any case, the tomb was heavily guarded, and they had all run for their lives when Jesus was arrested. Pilgrims never flocked to Jesus’ tomb. It was empty.

Fair point, I suppose.

Third, the post-resurrection appearances were impressive. Despite Jesus’ repeated predictions that he would rise from the dead, all his followers first thought of other explanations for the missing corpse. What convinced them? Mary, the twelve disciples, the followers on the Emmaus Road, Paul and 500 others (1 Cor 15:6) became convinced when they saw him. Some have suggested hallucinations as an alternative explanation; but hallucinations do not occur with varied groups, on multiple occasions, in different places, over a period of several weeks. They don’t light beach fires or eat fish either!

Erm, ok. I’m showing my lack of biblical knowledge here, so I’ll let that one go too.

Fourth, one has to account for the rapid spread of Christianity after Christ’s death. Most of the twelve disciples later died for their belief that Jesus was God. Although dying for a belief does not make it true, the point is this: they came to believe in Christ’s divinity after being convinced that he really had risen from the dead. It was this conviction that transformed them from fearful cowards into the bold apostles who literally turned the world upside down. The survival and growth of the early church resulted from the unshakeable belief that Jesus was alive.

Sorry, let me read that again.

Yep. I thought that’s what I read. Saunders’ fourth piece of solid evidence that Jesus H. Christ rose from the dead is the twelve disciples’ unshakeable belief that Jesus was God, or the son of God, or whatever.

Although dying for a belief does not make it true, the point is this: dying for a belief does not make it true.

Fifth is the personal experience of Christians, generations of people who have come to know Jesus as a person, with whom they enjoy a genuine friendship. Christianity is not just a creed to be followed nor an ideology to be embraced; it is a dynamic relationship with a real living God – through Jesus Christ.

And that’s it? That’s it? For fucks sake. This is the last solid evidence for the resurrection and it’s another few lines of hippy, happy-clappy, tree-hugging twaddle? This reason shouldv’e been the killer, the one that makes you stop reading and think “oh, yeah!”

How the buggery can anyone really know someone that lived two thousand years ago? You can read all the shite that’s written about them. You can listen to all the stories told, but they’ll all have changed so much from when the stories were originally written and told. Especially a story such as this that has been co-opted by the rulers and people in power who have changed bits and bobs to suit themselves. The bible has been edited for local populations and mistranslated many times over.

To recap Peter Saunders’ proof of the resurrection:

  1. Some bloke died on a cross.
  2. Said blokes’ body disappears.
  3. Some unexplained appearances of said bloke
  4. Twelve people end up dying because they believe said bloke
  5. Billions of people read stories of said bloke and think he all right
    1. Hardly “solid evidence” of the resurrection.

      Evidence based Christianity doesn’t quite work.

Big Society Bank

April 5th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Something about this Big Society Capital or Bank (or what ever it’s called) doesn’t sit quite right with me. It’s not so much the idea itself, more of where the money is coming from.

The money to pay for all these social enterprises is going to come from dormant bank accounts. Accounts that have been seen no activity for 15 years. That’s the bit that feels a little wrong. Raiding bank accounts, albeit ones that haven’t been touched for a while.

It just feels, well, dirty.

The government can take money from dormant accounts after 15 years, but as banks can deem accounts dormant as soon as one year with no activity, how long is this 15 year threshold going to stay at that length?

Instead of dormant bank accounts what about Bona Vacantia?

“Bona Vacantia” literally means vacant goods and is the legal name for ownerless property that passes to the Crown. We administer the estates of persons who die intestate without known kin and collect the assets of dissolved companies and failed trusts.

The person leaving the assets is definately dead. There is a proliferation of companies tracking down possible inheritors (ata a price, obviously) and so the realistic timescale for putting those ownerless assets to good use could be dropped to ten years for a start.

Using unclaimed inheritence doesn’t feel like such a grab at private money. It seems a more civilised way to use money that has nowhere else to go.

Where am I?

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