30 December 2005

Albums of the Year

Instead of a political rant, I thought I’d give my views on the albums I’ve bought this year (only counting those which were released this year, not stuff on special offer), and try to come up with some sort of ranking:

Arcade Fire – Funeral (ltd. ed)
Dramatic, noisy, quiet, Canadian. What else needs to be said?

Best track: Neighborhood (damn Yank-lish) #3 (Power Out)

Autolux – Future Perfect (ltd. ed)
Shoegazing! Because of this it automatically gets a good rating!

Best track: Turnstile Blues.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl (ltd. ed)
They’ve stopping being a Jesus & Mary Chain rip-off (not that that’s a bad thing) and decided to become a blues band. They still sound like they’re on the smack though…

Best track: Weight of the World.

Beck – Guero (ltd. ed)
Linking up again with the Dust Brothers to make Odelay II (minus the commercial success) – yay!

Best track: Girl.

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm (non-ltd ed)
I was a bit disappointed with this album, especially after seeing how great they are live – the singles are top, but there’s a bit too much filler material. Hopefully, they’ll get into the swing of things next time round.

Best track: Helicopter (it would be She’s Hearing Voices, but they re-recorded it, instead of using the original version which came out in February 2004)

British Sea Power – Open Season (ltd. ed)
I’d actually forgotten how good this album is – they should play it more on the radio. Are you listening XFM and 6 Music?

Saying that, it needs an obvious radio-friendly (unit-shifting) track, like their debut The Decline of BSP that had Remember Me.

Best track: Oh Larsen B

The Chemical Brothers – Push the Button
After the letdown of Come With Us, comes this, which is possibly their best work, or at the very least equal to Dig Your Own Hole, even if it doesn’t quite reach the level of Surrender.

Best track: Galvanize – what a way to mark your comeback!

DJ Format – If you can’t join ‘em, beat ‘em
Old-skool daisy-age hip-hop (mo’fo!).

Best track: Ugly Brothers – true to life…

Doves – Some Cities (ltd. ed)
I was really looking forward to this one, as their first two (Lost Souls and The Last Broadcast) are fantastic. Unfortunately, like with Bloc Party, I felt a bit let down – they didn’t seem to push on like they have done before. It’s a bit more laid back, but lacks the shoe-gazing aspects of their previous work. Just hope it’s a temporary blip.

Best track: Black and White Town: living in a satellite-town it rings true.

Editors – The Back Room
Part-Joy Division, part-Doves – yay!

Best track: Munich.

Elbow – Leaders of the Free World (non-ltd ed)
More misery from the only good thing to come out of Bury (No, the Neville brothers DO NOT count)!

Best track: Leaders of the Free World.

The Fiery Furnaces – Rehearsing my Choir
Typically weird stuff from the Furnaces: a concept album about their grandma!

It takes a few listens to get into (even more than their previous one: Blueberry Boat), but, like Blueberry Boat, it’s definitely worth the effort.

Best track: it’s hard to pick one stand-out track, as they all link together so you really need to listen to the whole album.

Franz Ferdinand – You Could have it so much Better (non-ltd ed)
Expanding on their debut – I think I prefer this. I guess we do have it so much better…

Best track: You’re the Reason I’m Leaving.

Goldfrapp – Supernature (non-ltd ed)
More electro from Ms. Goldfrapp & t’other guy. Not as in your face as Black Cherry – it’s more sensual (?) – but still worth listening to.

Best track: Fly me Away.

Gorillaz – Demon Days (non-ltd ed)
Ten years ago, who would have thought that mockney-stereotype Damon Albarn would be able to successfully re-invent himself as a B-boy, not once, but twice?

Best track: Dare – it’s got Shaun Ryder sounding even more rambling than normal, which is always a good sign!

I am Kloot – Gods and Monsters
Pity they’ve been dropped – shame on you Echo.

Best track: Over my Shoulder.

Joy Zipper – The Heartlight Set
Part-shoegazing, part-Beach Boys-esque sunny-ness.

Best track: 1.

The Kills – No Wow (non-ltd ed)
Part-dance, part-smack-filled rock. Similar to their debut, but slightly more dance-y.

Best track: Good Ones.

LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (ltd. ed)
NYC punk-dance. Leaning more to the dancier-side, unlike Supersystem.

Best track: Daft Punk is Playing in my House (despite the poor grammar: it should be Daft Punk are Playing in my House)

M. I. A. – Arular (ltd. ed)
A mixture of hip-hop, bhangra and dance.

Best track: Amazon – more of a laid-back track, but somehow it appears more dramatic in context.

Maxïmo Park – A Certain Trigger (non-ltd ed)
Mates of the Futureheads (even though MP are Geordies, not Mackems) and sound similar to ‘em. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing.

Best track: Apply Some Pressure – spiky stop-start guitars and easy to sign along (but not to dance) to.

Out Hud – Let us Never Speak of it Again
More NYC punk-dance, this time sounding like !!! (possibly because it’s their spin-off band).

Best track: One Life to Lead.

Rilo Kiley – More Adventurous
Like the British Sea Power LP, I’d actually forgotten how good this album is. Indie-folky-country stuff.

Best track: Portions for Foxes.

Sigur Rós – Takk… (ltd. ed)
Glacial, Icelandic, weird (possibly a repetition).

Best track: As with the Fiery Furnaces, it’s hard to pick out a stand-out track, as they’re as good as ach other and mostly sung in Icelandic (I think).

Supersystem – Always Never Again
(Even) more NYC punk-dance. Leaning more to the (fast-paced) rockier-side, unlike LCD Soundsystem.

Best track: Born into the World.

The Warlocks – Surgery
Sounding like BRMC did on their first album, i.e. they sound like the Jesus & Mary Chain!

Best track: Just like Surgery.

26 albums (excluding stuff that I bought on special offer) – I buy too much music!

My Top 10 Albums of 2005:

  1. Arcade Fire – Funeral
  2. Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger
  3. LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem
  4. M. I. A. – Arular
  5. Fiery Furnaces – Rehearsing my Choir
  6. Sigur Rós – Takk…
  7. Chemical Brothers – Push the Button
  8. Gorillaz – Demon Days
  9. Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have it so Much Better
  10. Autolux – Future Perfect

UPDATE 2011: Here's a Spotify playlist of my selections.

29 December 2005

Law blogs

The Times has an article about legal blogs. I’m not listed in it, despite my legal knowledge (or probably due to the lack of it…).*

* Note to self: less politics, more law – report the scams people try and pull in order to get a quick £500.00…

UK allows CIA flights

It appears that we DID allow CIA flights to pass through the country, on the way to “interrogate people”, despite previous denials from our beloved government:

It is alleged some 210 flights operated by the CIA have passed through Britain since September 2001. Human rights groups say many of the flights were carrying prisoners to secret facilities abroad for interrogation using torture.

The prominent human rights group Liberty has said it will take the British government to court in 2006 if it continues to refuse to investigate the allegations, as is its obligation under international law.

Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti told UPI: "The comments from this well-placed source are of course completely worrying and highlight a contrasting approach between the government and the police, who have agreed to investigate further. Whatever the government hopes, Liberty is not going to go away, and neither will this issue."

D-Notice: Craig Murray

Over on D-Notice Specials, I’ve posted documents relating to torture in Uzbekistan which the government are trying to get removed from the public arena, as they show not only that we are complicit in it but they we are/were trying to get a legal justification for it. You have to admit, the Foreign Office has come a long way from praising Mr Murray over his outspoken-ness...

According to the Independent, the documents were published by Craig himself.

UPDATE: it's all over the place: Times, Guardian, Scotsman (and here), Mirror, Telegraph, but not in Pravda (shock-horror!)...

The Register has the best comments:

Web rings to cries of 'I'm Spartacus'...


As Spycatcher and numerous other ham-fisted attempts at suppression have shown, attempts to muzzle people who don't want to be muzzled simply make their allegations far more widely-known, and their book sales considerable greater. This isn't a lesson Governments seem to be terribly good at learning
[I have to say, I'm not sure whether the government not learning anything is a good or bad thing...], but one could perhaps hope that Murray's automation of the process will go some way towards driving the message home.

28 December 2005

Greece/MI5

A Greek newspaper Proto Thema (can’t find a website for it) has named the head of MI6 in Greece, who’s supposed to be involved in the abduction and mistreatment of 28 Pakistani immigrants (or as the Secret Service would probably call ‘em “Fuckin’ Paki’s”). Our beloved government has banned the media from naming him, but has sent him back home.

If anyone has his name, send it to the address linked to on the top right of the screen. I'd also accept any English-language articles which name him (original or translated from Greek).

UPDATE: According to Cryptome, the guy's name is Nicholas Langman and is on the Foreign Office's Diplomatic list. Why try to stop his name being published then, if you've already released it? They also have a scan of the actual Greek paper article. The Greek version of MI5 are complaining about it.

UPDATE: Private Eye have also published his name in their latest issue (dead-tree version only).

Censorship

Following on from the cowardice shown by Woolies & Sainsbury's, Asda & Tesco have now decided to ban Jerry Springer: The Opera from their shelves, but Virgin Megastore, HMV, Amazon, WHSmith & GNER are still selling it.

Guess that's two more supermarkets to add to my boycott list... Just hope Aldi, Iceland & Netto doen't ban it, else I'll starve!

UPDATE: it turns out that the Christian Institute (who claimed ASDA & Tesco had banned it) were wrong. They're also partly wrong about Woolies who list it on their t'internet site. This means I can still shop at ASDA and Tesco; however, as ASDA are owned by WalMart it's unlikely, and I only use Tesco as it's the nearest one to the bus station...

26 December 2005

Enjoyed the Silence

... as Depeche Mode once said.

You may have noticed that I've not posted on this thing for almost 2 weeks.

There's nothing important to blame: part-Xmas-related work/family things, part-buying a Gamecube & spending my time playing on that, and part needing time to replenish the bile. A down-sde of this is that I'm a bit out-of-touch with current world events: I didn't know the following:

My next planned post, i.e. I may have unplanned posts on here depending on whether I find any itneresting articles, (which I've been working on for a while) won't be a political rant (!), but will be about the different albums I've bought during this year, giving my views & recommendations on them and then coming up with (or at least trying to) a list of what I think has been the best of the past 12 months (some you will have heard of, some you may have heard of, some you probably won't!).

15 December 2005

Who is this aimed at?

A quote from an official at the Israeli Foreign Ministry over the Iranian President’s Holocaust comments:

"The combination of extremist ideology, a warped understanding of reality and nuclear weapons is a combination that no one in the international community can accept."

As I wrote on Whatever it is I’m Against it: This could apply to so many countries.

So long First Amendment

The USA is the sixth worst country in the world when it comes to jailing journalists, equal with Burma (both countries have five) and just behind Uzbekistan, which has six in jail.

Guess the Al-Jazeera bombing memo must be true…

14 December 2005

No inquiry into bombs

Bliar’s not going to have an inquiry into the London bombs, on the grounds that "we would end up diverting a massive amount of police and security service time and I don't think it would be sensible", instead we’ll have a “definitive account” of what happened, i.e. what they want us to think happened. Relatives of the victims are opposed to the idea and will keep on campaigning for one.

Move along, nothing to see here…

13 December 2005

UK does help US torture

According to the Independent:

The British Government has been accused of adopting a "hear no evil, see no evil" approach over CIA flights carrying terrorist suspects for possible torture, after Jack Straw said a Whitehall search revealed no evidence of US requests for such flights into UK airspace.

The Foreign Secretary admitted for the first time that he had agreed to two rendition requests made by the US authorities under the Clinton administration while he was Home Secretary. Both were for landings in the UK related to rendition - or delivery of prisoner - flights to the United States. "This could be regarded as rendition," he said.

This would explain why the goverment went to the House of Lords to try & get "evidence" from torture to be allowed in the courts.

12 December 2005

11 December 2005

Site Update

If you've been on here throughout the day, you may have noticed that thigns keep moving around in the links section. Nothing important, I've just been adding to (Al-jazeera don't Bomb us, Gag watch, Cryptome) and sorting out my links into different categories.

Israel plans Iran attack for March

Ariel “Little Mermaid” Sharon wants an attack on Iran by March.

Once again I refer you to the start up time of the Euro-denominated Iranian oil bourse (see this article for more), after all: money talks.

Grass back up to Class B

From the Independent:

Tony Blair is planning a controversial U-turn on cannabis laws and the reintroduction of tough penalties after an official government review found a definitive link between use of the drug and mental illness.

Hmm... making a substance illegal as it harms health... guess that this means he'll be banning fags & booze...

Despite reports that cannabis use is rising, official figures show that use among 16- to 24-year-olds has gradually fallen over the past seven years.

So having a spliff is going back up to a Grade B drugs crime, despite the fact that the police have better things to do with their time than arresting people for smoking a plant, like preventing terrorism, murders, rapes and muggings.

He really should read his own department's report on the complete ineffectiveness of prohibition, as well as ignoring the statements of the government's own drugs advisory board (second article).

Guess he's trying to show how he's different to David Cameron: one guy's in favour of ending the War on Drugs as it's a complete failure, the other's in favour of continuing it and reversing one of the few rational decisions that have been made.

Not completly related, but here's how different Bliar & Cameron are (according to Private Eye):


David Cameron is a Smiths & Radiohead fan (Real Media video)! Wonder which bands Bliar'll claim to like in response to distance himself (apart from Oasis)?

Opinion Polls

According to the Observer, 3 opinion polls give the Tories a lead over Labour.

One has 37-35; one has 37-36; and the other (with Gordon Brown for Labour) gives 40-37.

Using that Electoral Calculus thingy (ignoring tactical voting) we get the following:

37-35 gives a Labour majorty of 2

37-36 gives a Labour majority of 26 (?!)

40-37 gives a Labour majory of 10 (?!) (if the Lib Dems get 19%; if they get 19.9% Labour are 1 short of a majority)

So, Labour still have a majority for all these polls...

If we end up with a Tory government, Labour only have themselves to blame for being a bunch of lying, war-mongering, civil rights-abusing, authoritarian bastards.

9 December 2005

Torture quotes

I was reading yesterday's House of Lords judgement on torture and thought I'd quote some enlightening parts:

One of the first acts of the Long Parliament in 1640 was... to abolish the Court of Star Chamber, where torture evidence had been received, and in that year the last torture warrant in our history was issued. (p. 6)

"Once torture has become acclimatized in a legal system it spreads like an infectious disease. It saves the labour of investigation. It hardens and brutalizes those who have become accustomed to use it." Sir William Holdsworth (quoted on p. 7)

The prinicple agsint using forced evdience has spread to other legal systems (although the ones listed are based on English law):

"Rochin v California: “States in their prosecutions respect certain decencies of civilized conduct”

The People (Attorney General) v O’Brien, the Supreme Court of Ireland held... that "to countenance the use of evidence extracted or discovered by gross personal violence would... involve the State in moral defilement.” (p. 10)

There can be few issues on which international legal opinion is more clear than on the condemnation of torture. Offenders have been recognised as the “common enemies of mankind” (Demjanjuk v Petrovsky) Lord Cooke of Thorndon has described the right not to be subjected to inhuman treatment as a “right inherent in the concept of civilisation” (Higgs v Minister of National Security), the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has described the right to be free from torture as “fundamental and universal” (Siderman de Blake v Argentina) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (Mr Peter Koojimans) has said that “If ever a phenomenon was outlawed unreservedly and unequivocally it is torture” (p. 28)

Article 12 of the 1975 Declaration on Torture: “Any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment may not be invoked as evidence against the person concerned or against any other person in any proceedings.” (p. 30)

Article 15 repeats the substance of this provision, subject to a qualification: “Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.”

The additional qualification makes plain the blanket nature of this exclusionary rule. It cannot possibly be read, as counsel for the Secretary of State submits, as intended to apply only in criminal proceedings. Nor can it be understood to differentiate between confessions and accusatory statements, or to apply only where the state in whose jurisdiction the proceedings are held has inflicted or been complicit in the torture. It would indeed be remarkable if national courts, exercising universal jurisdiction, could try a foreign torturer for acts of torture committed abroad, but could nonetheless receive evidence obtained by such torture. (p. 30-1)

In the United States.. it had been said to be “unthinkable that a statement obtained by torture or by other conduct belonging only in a police state should be admitted at the government’s behest in order to bolster its case”: LaFrance v Bohlinger.

In their work on The United Nations Convention against Torture (1988), p 148, Burgers and Danelius suggest that article 15 of the Torture Convention is based on two principles: “The rule laid down in article 15 would seem to be based on two different considerations. First of all, it is clear that a statement made under torture is often an unreliable statement, and it could therefore be contrary to the principle of ‘fair trial’ to invoke such a statement as evidence before a court... In the second place, it should be recalled that torture is often aimed at ensuring evidence in judicial proceedings. Consequently, if a statement made under torture cannot be invoked as evidence, an important reason for using torture is removed, and the prohibition against the use of such statements as evidence before a court can therefore have the indirect effect of preventing torture.”
(p. 32)

Lord Bingham also states "I am not impressed by the argument based on the practical undesirability of upsetting foreign regimes which may resort to torture. This is an exercise which could scarcely be carried out without investigating whether the evidence had been obtained by torture, and, if so, when, by whom, in what circumstances and for what purpose. Such an investigation would almost inevitably call for an approach to the regime which is said to have carried out the torture." (p. 39), as well as saying "But the English common law has regarded torture and its fruits with abhorrence for over 500 years, and that abhorrence is now shared by over 140 countries which have acceded to the Torture Convention. I am startled, even a little dismayed, at the suggestion (and the acceptance by the Court of Appeal majority) that this deeply-rooted tradition and an international obligation solemnly and explicitly undertaken can be overridden by a statute and a procedural rule which make no mention of torture at all." (p. 40)

As Lord Caswell says "[By not resorting to torture, a country] will uphold the values encapsulated in the judgment of the Supreme Court of Israel in Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v Israel: “Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand. Preserving the rule of law and recognition of an individual’s liberty constitutes an important component in its understanding of security. At the end of the day, they strengthen its spirit and its strength and allow it to overcome its difficulties.” (p. 80-1)

World Cup draw

In light of the fact that the World Cup draw takes place in the next hour, I'd like to print this rumour on Football 365's MediaWatch:

Forum Rumour Of The Day
'Of course you know it's all pre-recorded. They just do repeated draws until the easiest groups for Italy and Germany are drawn out, then they cut, and broadcast it as if it's live. I know this as a bloke in the pub who had his photo taken outside FIFA HQ whilst on holiday in Switzerland told me it was true.' - uksnowolf.


I think I should re-phrase the start of this post to "the officially approved draw is shown in the next hour"...

I'll update this post with my views on what FIFA decided to allow, once it's been on TV.

UPDATE: England appear to have a decent draw (Paraguay, Sweden & Trinadad/Tobago); France shouldn't have any problems (Switzerland, S. Korea & Togo), neither should Spain (Ukraine, Tunisia & Saudi Arabia), and Mexico/Portugal (Iran & Angola); we have a Group of Death: Argentina, Holland, Serbia/Montenegro, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

8 December 2005

D-Notice: Operation Mirrorball follow-up

A follow-up to a previous D-Notice about an arms dealer called Viktor Bout.

The Green Ribbon did an FoIA to the Ministry of Defence & their response seems to verify the original story.

Guess a D-Notice must've been served...

Civil liberties

Over the past two days there's been two important court decisions from a civil rights perspective:
  1. Yesterday, an anti-war protester was convicted for protesting within 1 km of Parliament without prior approval (Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005). What's worse is the Magistrate said the statute didn't violate the Human Right Act! She was given a conditional discharge. Let's hope it gets overturned on appeal... See also the other links in the Illegal Protest special report, as well as the always informative Parliament Protest blog. I've previously told Distillated that the reason we need jury trials is for laws like this - no jury is ever going to convict someone of protesting their government, especially when it's a peaceful protest, while a Magistrate will convict someone, as they just look at the law itself, not the wider aspects. This probably explains Labour's war on jury trials.

  2. Today the House of Lords ruled 7-0 (see here for judgement) that "evidence" gained from torture can't be used in UK courts (thank fuck!). It shows how much society's standards have dropped that this case ever had to get to the Lords.
UPDATE: Brian Haws has been arrested for looks like his protest (again), despite the fact the High Court have already said the law doesn't apply to him (which is the reason the law was created in the first place)

7 December 2005

Torture

I was going to comment on the Yanks flying people half-way around the world to "interrorgate them" (with - going by the complete lack out concern by our government - the support of Bliar & Co), but then I came across this cartoon, which says it best:

Ooohhh...

According to Brand Republic, Channel 4 are going to scrap the subcription for Film Four and put it on Freeview.

C4 haven't commented on the plans, which are also reported in the Guardian, and there is no start date (rumoured or official) as yet.

A film channel (a good one at that) on Freeview. Yay!

6 December 2005

World Cup

The seedings for the World Cup have been announced.

Top seeds (in order): Brazil (holders), England, Spain, Germany (hosts), Mexico, France, Argentina & Italy.

Second seed: USA, Holland, S. Korea, Japan, Sweden, Croatia, Paraguay & Czech Rep.

Third seed: Portugal, Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Iran, Tunisia, Ecuador & Serbia/Montenegro.

Fourth seed: Switzerland, Ukraine, Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), Australia, Trinidad/Tobago, Ghana, Angola & Togo.


Each group will have one team per seeding.

This is what I think is the best possible draw for England: S. Korea, Ecuador & Togo. While in my opinion, the worst possible draw we could have is: Holland, Portugal & Ukraine - i.e. the Group of Death

It is possible for us to be drawn with both the Yanks & Convicts, which would make for an interesting group...

David Cameron

So he's finally been eleected as leader of the Tories.

I've nothing so say as yet, apart from the fact it means they finally have a leader with a rational drugs policy, like the Lib Dems, but unlike Labour.

7/7 trains FoIA

I've previously said there is some dispute as to the exact times over the train times that were used by the alleged bombers on 7th July. A Freedom of Information request has been made over the exact times that the trains set off.

It was rejected as the Met Police claim the information is already in the public domain.

The blog has made previous efforts to obtain the information via the Home Office & Department of Transport, with some success, but not enough to complete their queries (which is why they asked the Met Police).

The Antagonist has more on the subject.

English Law vs Scottish law

You may or may not be aware that although the Parliament in London passes most laws in the UK, there are in fact 3 different legal systems in this country: one for England & Wales, one for Scotland, and one for Northern Ireland.

I am only qualified in English Law. So far, I have not come across any documents from the Northern Irish legal system, and, until yesterday, neither had I seen any from the Scottish one.

Yesterday, one of my colleagues was going through a file which turned out to be a Scottish, and she came across a document for the Sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland & Islands at Aberdeen, which contained the following paragraph:

XXX for the Pursuer and XXX for the Defenders concurred an hereby concur in advising the Court that this action has settled extra judicially and therefore craved and hereby crave the Court to interpone authority hereto, to pronounce Decree of Absolvitor in favour of the Defenders and to find no expenses due to or by either party.

100 points for anyone (not qualified in Scottish law) who is able to translate it into simple English, or is able to have a rough guess at what it means (like we did).

5 December 2005

Angry complaint letters

Both Sainsbury's & Wooloworths have decided to ban the DVD release of Jerry Springer: the Opera from their shops, due to pressure from religious groups (most likely to be Christian Voice). In response, I've sent the following letter to them:

Dear Sir,

I have noted from various media reports that you have decided not to sell the DVD version of Jerry Springer: The Opera, due to pressure from a fringe-religous group.

As a result of your actions I regret to inform you that I will no longer be using my local branch of your shop (Burnley), nor any other branch that you have. I will only consider purchasing products from your shops if you reverse your ban with immediate effect.

Yours faithfully


What's worst is the complete lack of backbone shown them: Sainsbury's admit they only had 10 complaints!

If I get a reply, I'm expecting one like (if not the same as) the one both MediaWatchWatch and Chicken Yoghurt had:

Thank you for your e-mail.

Woolworths is not a censor and does not wish to act as one. Like any other retailer, it is guided by government legislation with regard to film certification.

However, we also listen to our customers and their feedback. On this occasion we have received numerous complaints and it is clear to us that our customers would prefer us not to stock this product.

As a result it has been removed from sale.

Regards

xxxxxxxx
Customer Support Advisor


The worst kind of censorship, is not official government censorship, but that done by people who try to stop other people being "offended". If it offends you so much, don't watch it!

PS. Before anyone says I'm only doing it becasue it's a Christian group, yes, I would say exactly the same thing if it was some other religous group.

UPDATE: I received the following reply from Woolies (no response so far from Sainsbury's)

Thank you for your e-mail.

Woolworths is not a censor and does not wish to act as one. Like any other retailer, it is guided by government legislation with regard to film certification.

However, we also listen to our customers and their feedback. On this occasion we have received numerous complaints and it is clear to us that our customers would prefer us not to stock this product.

As a result it has been removed from sale.

If you require any further assistance, with this query or any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact us either by e-mail at customer.relations@woolworths.co.uk or by telephone on 01706 862789.

Regards

As predicted, it's the exact same letter, to which I replied:

Dear XXX

I do not appreciate emails which are just a cut-and-paste job. If you are going to reply to my questions, which you have not, at least have the deceny not to use a standard form reply, as I have seen the exact same response on two different internet sites.

[I gave links to the Chicken Yoghurt & MediaWatchWatch articles].

UPDATE: Their response to my response:

Thank you for contacting Woolworths Customer Support.

If your query is related to a Woolworths Home Delivery, we will pass your email directly to our
Home Shopping Team, who will respond directly to you.

If your enquiry is related to Woolworths Stores, our aim is to respond to you within 48 hours.

Woolworths Customer Support Team

Even less of a response this time - totally unrelated to what I said (& still a form reply).

UPDATE: This post is listed on the BBC's weekly blog round-up.

4 December 2005

Iran preps to sell oil in Euros

In the past I’ve said that Iran plans on selling its oil in Euros (€), instead of the standard US$.

Well the ability to buy Iranian oil in is one step closer:

The Chairman of the Majlis Energy Commission, Kamal Daneshyar said here, on Friday, that preparatory measures have been taken to sell oil in euros instead of dollar, adding that such a measure is quite positive and should be taken as soon as possible.

As for the probable consequences of such a decision, Daneshyar said that when such a measure is taken, the United States would soon realize that it is not the one who can always inflict economic damages on the Islamic Republic and that Iran can also get even with it.

Daneshyar who also represents Mahshahr in the Majlis noted that prior to this the way was not paved for undertaking such a program, adding that fortunately the present government possesses the necessary management bravery to prepare the ground for taking such a measure.

Doesn’t say for certain when it’ll happen, just a case of when not if though (as long as the US/UK/Israel don’t bomb the shit out of it first…).

Remember, the USA officially is bankrupt (over $8 trillion in debt, as of 1st December). The only reason anyone buys US$ is because oil is demoninated in it (and so you have to have US$ in order to buy it). If the world changes to Petro-standard, then, according to the US Navy's Center for Contemporary Conflict, it would lose somewhere between 20-40% of its value (as countries would have to swap their US$ reserves for €s)!

3 December 2005

About time too!

Well it’s taken 8 years, but Bliar’s finally realised (one of) the main problem(s) with his administration:

But this morning he told the BBC that "if you govern according to the headlines that you get, what I've learned over time is that you don't govern very consistently or well."

Just unfortunate that he wasn’t referring to his policies, but over the media’s reaction to the UK giving back its EU-rebate…

Memo campaign in the Times

The Al-Jazeera memo campaign’s had a mention in today's Times, which has this comment:

The bloggers’ strategy could complicate the position of Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney- General, who warned the media not to publish the document. Being seen to send hundreds of ordinary people to prison over the matter could prove politically suicidal for the Government.

They’ve stumbled upon our motive!  However, this is the Labour “Let’s ban people from protesting within 1 km of Parliament & arrest people for shouting ‘Nonsense’ at Jack Straw” Party we’re talking about…

Jobs

I’ve put my name down for a training contract with the Crown Prosecution Service starting in September in London (but applications don’t open until January).  However, I’m in two minds about whether I really want it: if I do I’d be a bureaucratic tool of state oppression, which would be fun, though opposed to my beliefs; on the plus side, if I did get the job I’d be able to bring the bastards down from the inside via numerous “leaks”.

Should I go for it?

I’ve also put my name down for a research job with the Law Commission (again based in London with a September start date & no applications until January).  This would be more fun as the Law Commission’s purpose is to research old laws & come up with recommendations about how to update them, also (in theory) I wouldn’t be a tool of state oppression, as I’m not intent on imprisoning people, but helping them by helping to modernise the UK, and (hopefully) having a positive impact on the government.

War, what is it good for?

Being the main reason behind a potentially all-conquering paralympic team, according to the Times

The unprecedented number of troops who are returning from Iraq with missing limbs has given the US Paralympic Team an unexpected recruitment boost and the chance to become “unbeatable” at the next Games in Beijing in 2008. More than 60 potential recruits have already been identified in sports as varied as power-lifting, archery and table tennis.

Which is more accurate?

This is a very good satire (AVI format)/more accurate version of the government’s official ID cards propaganda video (for which they spend £72,000 on 250 DVDs!) done by someone at my old university.

2 December 2005

How to pay off your debts...

From the Holy Moly mailout:

A mole was in Dubai last week and was introduced to Michael Jackson at a dinner.Jacko was described as being "unbelievably thin, clammy of hand, and extremely creepy"...

Bit of a Trufax for you - Remember throughout the court case much was made of Michael's crippling debt? Well, that geezer he's knocking around with in Bahrain (The saliva-drying-named Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa) has paid it all off.

All fucking $330million of it.

1 December 2005

Drug rant II

The government has decided to come up with even more pointless drug laws, which, going on previous experience, will be a complete failure.

The new regulations specify an amount above which a person is to be resumed to be dealing drugs, not possessing them for their own use:
  • 120g cannabis resin,
  • 500g cannabis leaf,
  • 10 Es,
  • 7g of heroin, coke, or crack cocaine, and
  • 14g speed
There doesn’t appear to be a specific limit for mushrooms or LSD; maybe they want us to see things… What about ketamine?

The fact that the drugs laws (along with most other policies based upon 1920s-USA style prohibition) are completely ineffective (as the government admits (see also my comments)), give criminals a licence to print money, cause high-levels of crime and poverty appears irrelevant (see this report for details).

This government always wants to appear to be “hard on drugs”, despite the fact that we are just past an election so even they don’t even have that use (unlike with the Drugs Act 2005, which criminalized the sale of magic mushrooms, even though they grow wild in the UK. How the fuck can you make a plant illegal?) and despite the fact that they (likely) new Tory leader David Cameron is on record as saying that the laws should be scrapped and replaced by a legal, regulated system for the production and supply of currently illegal drugs.

Depressingly, though it should be completely expected, both the Daily Mail and Daily Express (about half-way down the page) are opposed to the new laws, but not because they won’t work, but because they don’t go far enough! These are the types our Dear Leader panders to with these sort of laws…

They seem to think that by having more laws it'll make people go off 'em. Guess they're unaware of the concept of a forbidden fruit...

On a related topic, despite the government’s intention to re-classify grass as a Class B substance (a pre-election ploy to get their downgrading of it out of the headlines), according to the Sunday Times, the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (the body assigned with the task of deciding what to classify drugs as) as said that it will remain a Class C substance, for the following reason: although there was evidence linking cannabis and mental illness, it was not strong enough to justify raising its classification.

The police will be happy, as it means they don’t have to waste their time enforcing a failed policy and can get on with other, mote important tasks, e.g. murder, rape, terrorism, all of which are slightly more important to society than trying to stop someone inhale the fumes of a plant…

FYI. My first drugs rant, written in the run-up to the election is here.

UPDATE: been speaking to Distillated about this & he says they're very liberal amounts, compared to what's normally allowed! I said they'll be reduced once the Mail & Express have big campaigns against 'em & it's the fact they're enforcing an admitted failed policy is what pisses me off - you can't keep doing the same thing and expect to get different results.