Whoopsie!

The senior lawyer for the National Security Agency stated unequivocally on Wednesday that US technology companies were fully aware of the surveillance agency’s widespread collection of data, contradicting months of angry denials from the firms.

Slightly cat among the pigeons there, eh?

Quite so

A tolerant society does not mean an approving one:

Traditional attitudes to issues such as sexuality are being shut out of debate by a new form of liberal “censoriousness” which only allows “inoffensive” opinions to be heard in public, Britain’s most senior judge has warned.

Lord Neuberger, President of the Supreme Court, said that Britain could be becoming less diverse rather than more because once common opinions are now deemed “unacceptable”.

He likened the new form of “moral reaction” to the opposite but equally restrictive attitudes of previous generations.

The problem seems to be that so few people actually understand what a liberal society is. Which is, for those who still don’t get it, one where consenting adults get to do whatever without breaching the Mills’ Nose principle. But it’s also one in which people are allowed to say anything they damn like and think and feel whatever about those who do so.

It is indeed necessary that you get to be a shirtlifter if that’s the way your tastes run, just as I am allowed to prefer redheads to blondes. But I no more need to celebrate, respect or approve of your desires or lifestyle than you have to of mine.

And we do indeed have a society which is intolerant of tolerance, demanding instead respect and approval. That’s, as Neuberger is indicating, just as intolerant as the earlier society in which behaviour was outlawed.

Another way to put this is that a liberal society is entirely open to prejudice, opinion and even hatred: it demands only tolerance and that tolerance has to work both and all ways.

Umm, no Boris, just no

Muslim children who are radicalised by their parents should be considered abused and taken into care, Boris Johnson has said.

The Mayor of London warned that hundreds of children were at risk of radicalisation but that authorities were not taking them into care because of “absurd” political correctness.

He warned that young people were increasingly being “radicalised at their home” and “taught crazy stuff” like the views espoused by the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby.

He said a lack of clarity about the law was making police and social services reluctant to intervene even if the children were being brought up with a “nihilistic view of the world” that could turn them into murderers.

Seriously, where the hell did this Stalinist shit come from? Or Fascist if you prefer? The Junta in Argentina did this: the children of lefties were taken from them and put out for adoption by those with the correct political views. The religious in Stalin’s Russia were sent off to the camps for this very thing, trying to bring their children up in the faith.

Freedom is indeed a messy thing and a free society will inevitably have in it those who hold views derided by the majority. But rather the point and aim of that free society thing is that rather than persecuting those with the odd views we protect the ability of people to have said odd views.

Seriously, this idea is appalling.

All is not entirely lost

So The Guardian runs the usual tendentious piece about how allowing people to “vape” will renormalise smoking cigarettes. Have a look at the comments section. Quite restores my faith in the good sense of humanity.

The basic point being made by 90% or more of the commenters being that the writer is peddling appalling untruths and really ought to get of that horse she rode in on.

It might not be the death sentence which is the crime, but Death Row

Corrections officers patrolling the tough death row prison in Texas are pleading the state to make conditions more humane for inmates and prevent “daily” threats to staff safety.

Staff leaders say years of solitary confinement and sensory deprivation literally drive inmates mad and make them more likely to wound the guards, riot or attempt escape.

The guards want inmates to be able to share two to a cell and use an iPad or similar computer tablet to watch television on a secure internal network as incentives for good behaviour.

There are almost 300 prisoners at the male death row prison in Livingston 80 miles north of Houston, Texas, who spend an average of 15 years there between sentencing and their execution.

They spend 23 hours a day alone in a concrete, featureless cell measuring six feet by 10 feet with a small, sealed window and a solid steel door, where food is delivered through a slot. They are allowed out to exercise alone in a cage for one hour and may have books, writing material and a radio.

I’m inclined to the belief (and realise that many here will disagree with me) that 15 years of that sort of treatment is a crime against the human rights of said condemned.

From what I’ve read about the UK system before abolition the condemned were treated markedly better than those in the general prison population while waiting for that retribution that was to come.

Plus ca change c’est la meme chose

Natalya Gorbanevskaya, the Russian journalist, translator and poet who has died aged 77, was one of the most visible women in the Soviet human rights movement and came to the notice of the West in 1968 when she led a demonstration in Moscow in protest at the crushing of the Prague Spring.

For several days after Red Army tanks rolled into Prague on August 21 1968 there were no outward signs in Moscow of unrest. Workers in Soviet factories were made to gather at meetings to show their “support” for the invasion. The first sign the Soviet authorities had that not all their citizens were prepared to endorse the invasion came on August 25 when eight protesters unfurled banners in Red Square. Leading the way was Natalya Gorbanevskaya, pushing her three-month-old son in a pram. At noon precisely she reached into the pram and pulled out a Czechoslovak flag and banners reading “For Your Freedom and Ours” and “Hands Off Czechoslovakia”.

The demonstration ended in a matter of minutes when plainclothes KGB agents closed in. “As they ran up to us they shouted, ‘These are all dirty Jews!’ and ‘Beat the anti-Soviets!’” she recalled. “We sat quietly and offered no resistance.” The KGB men tore the banners out of their hands and beat up the men in the group before bundling them into cars. As they drove off towards a police station, another convoy of cars sped out of the Kremlin’s Spassky Gate. Among the passengers was Alexander Dubcek, the deposed Czechoslovak leader who had been flown to Moscow in handcuffs on the night of the invasion.

A very brave woman indeed.

On August 25 last year Natalya Gorbanevskaya returned to Red Square with nine other demonstrators to mark the 45th anniversary of her famous protest. They were arrested on charges of holding an unlicensed rally.

Sigh.

Dear God Theresa May’s an obnoxious little shit

And Clegg goes along with this?

Nick Clegg has signed up to a plan drawn up by Theresa May to strip foreign-born terror suspects of British citizenship – a move that would render them stateless – if they are judged to present a threat to national security.
..
Clegg said he supported the home secretary’s proposal to strip naturalised British citizens of their citizenship if they are judged to present a threat to national security. It would even apply to those who have no other citizenship, rendering them stateless.

He said the current laws had become a “passport for endless games in the courts to prevent people being deported that should be.

“We are tightening up the way the courts can interpret article 8, the right to a family life, so it cannot became an excuse for unjustified legal procrastination.”

Speaking on LBC’s Call Clegg, he added he knew the plan to make some naturalised British citizens stateless was controversial, but justifiable in a very small number of cases. He said the revocation of British citizenship “would apply in cases where individuals pose a real threat to the security of this country”.

Condemning these twats to a life of weasel felching would be much too kind.

You can’t go around stripping people of their citizenship: not unless you manage to convict them, in court, with a jury, evidence given and examined, of having lied or fiddled to get their citizenship. Fraud in gaining it is indeed a valid reason for revocation. But nowt else is.

Because, once you’re a British citizen then you’re a British citizen. And you have all the same protections from arbitrary justice (or should I say obnoxious little shits posing as Home Secretary) as any and every other British citizen. That’s what it means: Abu Hookhand has, if he is a British citizen, exactly the same rights before the law as I do. This does not depend upon my lack of melanin, my native born status, my lack of desire to impose Islam on the cattle nor anything else. It’s the definition of being a fucking citizen.

Equality before the law.

Capisce?

Convict someone of trying to be a terrorist? Great, jail them. They’ve served their sentence? Then let them out. If they’re a British citizen then they’ve done their time and that’s that. If they’re not then fuck ‘em out of the country. But as long as that citizenship was legally obtained then we all get treated the same way, as those citizens.

Now, how do we get that lifetime sentence of weasel felching onto the books for the ghastly little shits who would propose an abomination of a law like this?

The Guardian hires yet another fascist

As we prepare to fire up the BBQ, hit the beach and (for some) don the flag Superman-style in preparation for Australia Day, it seems a good time to reflect on what ties all us Aussies together.

Is it simply a series of rituals like the family camping trip? A national mythology built around “mateship”? Knowledge of Don Bradman’s batting average? Nope. I reckon that social cohesion in Australia should derive from a set of shared experiences that bind us with our fellow countrymen and women. And with social capital, the relational bonds which tie us together, at their weakest in decades, I believe that compulsory national service is the way to reinvigorate our sense of common purpose.

It’s slavery, slavery to the State you dimwit.

And the EHRC can bugger off ‘n’ all

Official guidelines which endorse sex segregation at British universities have been declared potentially unlawful by Britain’s equality watchdog, The Telegraph can disclose.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced it will help re-write guidance, published by Universities UK (UUK) last month, which said Muslim societies and other groups were entitled to practice gender segregation at public meetings on campus.

Mark Hammond, the EHRC’s chief executive, said gender segregation was “not permissible” under equalities laws, adding that UUK’s guidance required clarification.

By agreeing to go back to the drawing board with the EHRC’s help, the vice-chancellors’ organisation appeared to have headed off the prospect of a legal challenge from the official watchdog.

Its controversial guidance to universities across Britain said segregation could be acceptable as long as men and women were seated side by side rather than with women at the back.

It also said that any event where some segregation took place for religious reasons should also provide a separate, non-segregated area.

Mr Hammond said: “Equality law permits gender segregation in premises that are permanently or temporarily being used for the purposes of an organised religion where its doctrines require it.

“However, in an academic meeting or in a lecture open to the public it is not, in the commission’s view, permissible to segregate by gender.”

They really don’t seem to get this freedom and liberty thing, do they?

Which is that it’s none of your (or my to that matter) damn fucking business how people voluntarily decide to organise themselves in public.

It is the business of government not to enforce such organisation or segregation. And also not to either insist upon or allow it in things that they are providing such as classes or lectures. But a public meeting is just that, a public meeting. And those going to it are entirely at liberty to accept or not whatever constraints the organisers of the meeting wish to put upon them.

We do, for example, insist upon the freedom of speech in this country. But no one at all would insist that the organisers of a meeting cannot ask a persistent heckler to leave. Nor “aid him” in leaving if he refuses.

So there’s some nutter who insists that he will only give his speech if the women are separate from the men. It’s entirely up to those who wish or do not wish to attend under said circimstances to make their own decision about that.

And not to a bureaucracy.

You’re not talking about democracy here matey

The final historical aspect of this election may only be realised during the coalition negotiations. If there is a grand coalition, we will have a parliamentary opposition without any rights. With only 127 out of 630 seats, the current parliamentary laws mean that Die Linke and the Greens wouldn’t be able to challenge the government’s legislation, either with a complaint of unconstitutionally, a commission of inquiry or a parliamentary hearing.

The only comparable instance in the history of Germany’s federal republic was when the Free Liberal party was alone in opposition against a grand coalition in 1966 and 1969.

If such a scenario becomes reality, Europe will be watching with interest how serious Germany is about democratic principles, especially since my country enjoys lecturing other nations when they ignore the needs of minorities. Europe’s largest country can’t afford to have democracy without serious debate.


Democracy
is that tyranny of the majority that you’re complaining about.

The protections against it are the rule of law and civil liberties.

Perhaps they shouldn’t but they’ve every right to

Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP for Reigate, has been told to reapply for his parliamentary seat amid claims that local Tories want to oust him because he came out as a homosexual after the last election.

It’s not a bigotry I share, the one against Teh Gayers. I wouldn’t vote for or against someone for which flavour of consenting adult they liked to play hide the salami with (nor vote for a Tory, obviously).

However, the people in that constituency have every right to vote for whoever the damn want and for any reason that crosses their synapses, assuming a local Tory party has a cumulatively positive number of those of course. Because this is what democracy means: the peeps get to have their say.

They can vote for or against someone because they are or are not a shirtlifter, black/white, commie, fascist or even, if they’re truly lunatic, One Nation Labour.

Democracy does not get limited to either people one approves of nor to votes being cast only for reasons one approves of. This is rather the point of it actually, to find out what it is that the people, rather than the rulers, do in fact approve of or not. And if it turns out that the voters are indeed bigots then sorry, but you don’t get to go elect another people.

On banning smoking in prisons

A letter was reportedly sent to prison staff and reported in The Times. It said: “You will no doubt be aware that the decision has been made that the time is right for the prison service to adopt a tobacco and smoke free policy to provide a smokefree workplace and environment for our staff and prisoners.”

Prisons in the South West will be the first to implement the ban in early March or April next year, with Exeter and Eastwood Park Women’s Prison thought to be the first to trial the new regime.

Sigh.

The majority of prisoners currently smoke. And it ain’t gonna be easy getting them to stop doing so.

But here’s the thing. I vaguely recall that they decided some time ago that they couldn’t stop prisoners smoking. Something to do with a cell being a “home” and thus there was not the power to stop smoking in it?

Wait, they’re banning a political party in Greece now?

The Greek government has hinted that it will seek to ban Golden Dawn after the far-right party was linked to the murder of a leading leftwing musician in Athens.

As violence erupted on the streets and demonstrators protested after the fatal stabbing of Pavlos Fyssas, a prominent anti-fascist, the public order minister, Nikos Dendias, cancelled a trip abroad saying the government would table emergency legislation that would seek to outlaw the group.

Amid renewed political tensions between the extreme left and right, the new law would re-evaluate what constituted a criminal gang, he said.

“Neither the state will tolerate, nor society accept, acts and practices that undermine the legal system,” the minister told reporters, adding that the attack showed “in the clearest way the [party's] intentions”.

Are Golden Dawn fascists?

Pretty much from what I can see.

Does that mean that a party that is represented in Parliament should be banned? I’m afraid that I can’t see a useful version of democracy where such a thing can be done.

The background is that there was a murder by what appears to be a group of Golden Dawn thugs. This is certainly a justification for the prosecution and trial of those potentially responsible for that murder. And if it becomes apparent that officials of the political party planned or even turned a blind eye to such plans then yes, they should indeed be similarly tried.

But banning a political party because a member/some members murdered someone just doesn’t fly I’m afraid.

Yes, yes, I know about all the “no platform” stuff but everyone does indeed get the freedom of association no matter how vile their views. The various Stalinists, Maoists (there’s even a few Juche groups about) Trots and the rest get to form political parties if they so wish despite the vileness of the views expressed. Therefore so do fascists, racists and if there was a group that wanted to associate in order to promote the revival of chattel slavery then they too have the right to exist as a group and contest elections.

Another way to put this is that we don’t ban people for being fascists for the same reason that we don’t ban political parties for not being fascists. Because we’re not fucking fascists.

Once you control the courts you control everything

Viviane Reding, the European Commission’s vice-president, has set out a plan for the EU to become the highest judicial authority safeguarding independent courts and “fundamental rights”.

Her blueprint includes a vision of the European Commission as a “quasi-judicial authority” alongside a powerful EU “justice minister” and powers for Europe’s courts to impose rulings.

Fuck off.

This is an odd comment

\”David\’s detention was unlawful and inexcusable. He was detained under a law that violates any principle of fairness and his detention shows how the law can be abused for petty vindictive reasons.

How can being detained under a law be unlawful?

I could understand unfair, or that the law itself violates human rights, all that sort of stuff. But if a law expressly says that they can do this something (which it does) how can that be unlawful?

No prison for tealeafs!

This Marxist stuff has really dug itself into the establishment, hasn\’t it?

Professor Andrew Ashworth QC, who for three years chaired a body which helped formulate sentencing policy in England and Wales, said even persistent offenders should be fined or given a community sentence.

Prisoners suffer uncomfortable conditions, isolation from their family, loss of autonomy and loss of privacy, said the professor, and it is “disproportionate” to impose such a punishment on someone who committed a property crime.

“In principle … no person should ever be subjected to the pains of imprisonment for a ‘pure property offence’, even if they have done it many times before,” he said in a paper for the Howard League for Penal Reform.

“For an offence that amounts to no more than a deprivation of property, it is difficult to justify a deprivation of such a fundamental right as that to personal liberty.”

Y\’know, it\’s only a crime against property so why worry?

The problem with this is of course that it\’s not really just a crime against property. It\’s a crime against the owner of the property, their deprivation of it. It\’s a breach of the rights of someone else therefore: of to jail you go Scot Boy.

Quite

Farage said: \”Spot checks and being demanded to show your papers by officialdom are not the British way of doing things. Yes, of course we want to deal with illegal immigration, but what\’s the point of rounding people up at railway stations if at the same time they\’re still flooding in through Dover and the other nearly hundred ports in this country.

\”I\’m astonished that the Home Office has become so politicised that they\’re actually advertising \’another 10 arrested\’. Before long they\’ll be live video-streaming these arrests. I don\’t like it. It really is not the way we\’ve ever behaved or operated as a country. We don\’t have ID cards; we should not be stopped by officialdom and have to prove who we are.\”

We are, after all, free people in a free country.

So no one will force churches to perform same sex marriages then

Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, 44, said he and his partner Tony, 49, believe the “only way forward” for them may be to challenge the Church in court for denying them the right to marry.

The couple, who have been in a civil partnership for seven years and have five children through surrogacy, describe themselves as practising Christians who regularly attend their local parish in Danbury, Essex.

Mr Drewitt-Barlow said that while he welcomed the passing of legislation for same-sex marriage, provisions exempting churches from performing the weddings meant they still felt discriminated against.

He told the Essex Chronicle: “It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognise us.”

The Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act, which received royal assent last month, contains a so-called “quadruple lock” of legal provisions designed to protect churches which chose not to conduct same–sex weddings from being sued.

I\’ve no idea whether they will succeed in their suit: but they\’re certainly giving it a go, aren\’t they?