Donald Rumsfeld

I agree, I\’m not as knowledgeable about the minutiae of American politics as some others, but thi really did surprise me:

The invitees included two young anti-draft Congressmen, Robert Kastenmeier (D-Wisconsin) and Donald Rumsfeld (R-Illinois), and one pro-draft Senator, Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Don Rumsfeld? That Don Rumsfeld? Unknown Unknowns Rumsfeld? Was anti-draft in the 1960s?

That Kennedy would have been pro-, hateful statist creep that he is, doesn\’t surprise me.

Blogging Away

You know you\’re a blogging geek when… … you had a dream last night which involved Rachel from North London and the Girl with a One Track Mind. At the same time.

Ermm, one of those once won an award as the most shaggable in the Britblogosphere…the other possibly the most shagged.

I have to admit that, blogging geek though I am, it\’s not a scenario that had occured to me….

More Olympic Madness

Well, what do you want to do now. Laugh or cry?

Britain faces a £1 billion black hole after the 2012 Olympics because of “ludicrous” property price projections backed by ministers, it emerged last night.

Today the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will, for the first time, vote against government plans to give the Olympics more money. Their move comes after a report for the London Development Agency (LDA) suggesting that the Government’s estimates for the amount it will recoup in land sales after the Games are unrealistic. The shortfall will hit heritage, sports and arts projects already suffering from tight squeezes on their budgets.

Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, and Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, signed a memorandum of understanding last year stating that at least £1.8 billion would be raised in land sales after the Games. The LDA now fears that this figure, based on a 16 per cent per annum increase in land prices in Stratford, East London, over the next 15 to 20 years, is too optmistic. It told the London Assembly last week that it now plans to raise £800 million, leaving a £1 billion shortfall. About £675 million of this had been due to go to the National Lottery to repay money lent to the Games. This money could now be lost.

16% per year over 15 years? Does no one understand compound interest? £100 now at that rate is £925 in 15 years time. They\’ve seriously based their budgets on the thought that land prices will be ten times higher then than they are now?

Is it too late to call Paris?

Argle, Argle, Argle

Damn this is supremely annoying.

Europe is Europe\’s last remaining realistic political utopia. But Europe remains to be understood and conceptualised. This historically unique form of international community cannot be explained in terms of the traditional concepts of politics and the state, which remain trapped in the straitjacket of methodological nationalism. If we are to understand cosmopolitan Europe, we must radically rethink the conventional categories of social and political analysis.

Wibble wibble, Nuremberg Trials, wibble, Churchill, wibble, New World Order, wibble….

Can we please get something transparently clear? Europe is a continent. It doesn\’t do anything, doesn\’t mean anything and is not a model for anything. It simply is. The European Union is a political construct. This might mean something, might do something and might be a model for something. I happen to think that it means bad things, does bad things and is a poster model for something that should be abolished.

But the European Union is not Europe and should not be confused with it.

 

Polly on Organ Donation

Of course, she\’s happy that the State gets that little bit more power over us. But the thing that rather gets me is that she completely ignores one other method of increasing organ donations. Having a market.

I\’m really rather conflicted over the whole subject myself, but I do have this feeling that I would, if people think that organ transplants are so important, think them more honest if they supported both presumed consent and compensated donations.

Explaining The Rape Conviction Rate.

Well, the G does have a go at it. Somewhat unconvincing though. Their rape victim used as a story was a escort raped by a client (tortured very badly as well). Yes, it is still rape but it\’s perhaps not the most representative of tales to use. The lawyer though is highly amusing.

Miranda Moore QC, barrister with wide experience of prosecuting and defending in rape cases

Rape as an offence is given far less importance than it used to be. I want it treated as the serious crime it is, with enough funding to attract the highest quality counsel, for both the prosecution and defence. Twenty years ago it was not unknown to have a QC prosecuting. These days it\’s exceptional. Rape cases need people who have been doing it longer and have a feel for how a case should be prosecuted. I can walk into a case and give the CPS a list of 20 things that should have been done. Experience shows that in many cases they will have not. The other thing is meeting the victim. As a prosecutor, 99.9% of the time you only meet on the day of the trial. Victims go on an orientation visit to court in advance with a police officer but there\’s no funding to meet the barrister. You couldn\’t discuss the case, but it would be reassuring for the victim during the trial to see somebody ask her questions she knew rather than a stranger.

High priced specialist lawyer says the solution is to spend more on high priced specialist lawyers. Surprise, eh?

Higher Food Prices

There\’s a very simple solution here you know?

Food prices are accelerating at their fastest rate since records began, fuelling a rise in the average family\’s shopping bill of £750 a year.

A very simple solution indeed.

The CAP costs an average family of four in Europe £16 a week in taxes and higher food prices.

£16 a week is £832 a year.

Thus, abolish CAP and you\’ll cancel out food price inflation. A good reason to do it, no?

Godders Speaks Out!

Brown\’s job loss claim "nonsense"

Claims by Gordon Brown that Britain needs to be part of the EU or 3.5 million people risk losing their jobs were dismissed today as "mind bogglingly dumb."

UKIP MEP and economist Godfrey Bloom said the claim was so daft he didn\’t know where to begin pointing out its nonsense.

"I will give Gordon Brown £1000 if he could point to any private sector job which would be lost as a consequence of Britain leaving political union with Brussels and joining EFTA" he said.

"Such a statement as his is on par with someone addressing the NASA conference and claiming that the moon was made of green cheese.

"Apart from the fact that we have a trade deficit with the EU, does he really think that companies such as Mercedes would stop trading with Britain if we governed ourselves?

"We have a trade surplus with America and yet we aren\’t in political union, and I\’m sure I\’ve seen people driving Japanese cars and yet we don\’t let them make our laws for us.

"Mr Brown really needs to go back to his book on \’economics for dummies\’ because the man does not have a clue."

"Given that the Commission have estimated that the cost of EU regulation on business is £405 billion a year, I would say that businesses would weather the storm better without that millstone around their neck."

The Marmalade Scandal!

There\’s more to this than meets the eye, you know?

As many of you will have been painfully aware, in Britain, sales of marmalade are in decline. While the attention of the nation has been focused on such diversionary chimeras as Iraq, the Iowa caucus and Britney Spears’s mentalness, marmalade has been going the way of the pikelet, piccalilli and Gentleman’s Relish. It is becoming an anachronism in the brash new world of the energy drink, the breakfast bar and Coca-Cola with vitamins in. It is facing gradual extinction.

Galvanised by this slow-moving preserve tragedy, David Atkinson, of Premier Foods – the manufacturer of Frank Cooper’s, Rose’s and Golden Shred – has announced an important change: marmalade is to be renamed “orange jam”.

“We’re looking at ways of making marmalade more accessible,” Atkinson said. “The challenge is to entice a new generation.”

The thing is though, you\’re not allowed to simply change the name like that. Ooooooh, no, there are laws about what is marmalade and what is jam. Very important ones too: it\’s a criminal offence (not a civil one) to breach them, with up to 6 months in jail and or a £5,000 fine to breach them.

Yes, it\’s our old friend, the jams, jellies, marmalades and sweet chestnut purees (including extra jams and extra jellies) where these are for human consumption but not in the preparation of fine bakery wares, pastries or biscuits. Here\’s the Welsh version. Yes, of course, it all comes from the European Union.

Our marmalade description:

A mixture, brought to a suitable gelled consistency, of water, sugars and fruit pulp, fruit purée, fruit juice, fruit peel or aqueous extract of fruit or any combination thereof, in every case obtained from citrus fruit, such that the quantity of citrus fruit used for every 1000 grams of the finished product is not less than 200 grams, of which not less than 75 grams is obtained from the endocarp.

Doesn\’t that make you feel better? That the governing body for 450 million people went to such lengths to protect you from marmalade which only uses 70 grams of citrus fruit endocarp? Further:

The following additional ingredients may be used, to the extent stated below:

essential oils of citrus fruits: only in marmalade and jelly marmalade;

So, orange jam may not contain essential oils of citrus. No, really, it is very important indeed. So much so that 27 national legislatures, any number of devolved ones and at least ten thousand politicians, with their assorted hangers on, secretaries, mistresses and toadies, should pass such a law. For what perils would accost us all if you were to spend £3 on a jar of orange jam which contained essential oils of citrus? As opposed to £3 on a jar of marmalade which did not?

Well, quite. People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough politicians stand ready to violence to the law on their behalf.

Rape is not Rape

One of the more pernicious ideas of modern times is that all rape is rape, that all and any sex (although rape is more properly thought of as a crime of violence, of power over someone, but that\’s another matter) against the will of a woman is the same and must be treated and punished equally. Finally, even The Guardian is getting the point that this isn\’t actually the way to deal with it:

A more fruitful approach might be a two-tier offence, with the highest penalties reserved for "aggravated" rapes, allowing juries to convict in more typical cases without fearing that this would lead to the maximum life term.

Currently, when tried, the possible sentence for a drunken misunderstanding over consent is the same as that for a violent stranger rape. No wonder juries are hesitant to convict. A gradation of offences will do much to remedy at least that part of the problem.

That is, an acknowledgement that not all rapes are equal.

Sigh

Clause 42 of the criminal justice and immigration bill, which comes before the House of Lords next week, provides that appeal court judges must not rule that a conviction is unsafe if they think "there is no reasonable doubt about the appellant\’s guilt". On the surface, that seems to be a reasonable law. But it is not. It is objectionable on three grounds: it is contrary to the rule of law, it could encourage unacceptable conduct by the police, and it is unnecessary.

There are good reasons why democratic countries lay down rules and safeguards governing the way criminal investigations and trials are conducted. The rule of law is about the principle of fair trials and due process. It includes the need to ensure, as far as possible, that the innocent are not convicted, that no one should be found guilty unless there is unpolluted evidence against him or her, and that there is an adequate system of appeal. Such principles distinguish democracies from totalitarian states. Diminishing the appeal court\’s powers to quash convictions is a breach of the rule of law.

The real problem is "no reasonable doubt about the appellant\’s guilt".

If we haven\’t followed to rules, rules which are there to enable us to make a decision with no reasonable doubt, then how can we have no reasonable doubt?