The signal-to-noise rationale

The Boston Globe – Sending shameful signals: “No question Guantanamo sends, you know, a signal,” President Bush said last week. “It provides an excuse, for example, to say the United States is not upholding the values that they’re trying to encourage other countries to adhere to.” This frank admission is anomalous, of course, because President Bush intends to maintain the prison complex in Cuba indefinitely. And every day that he does so, the signal sent grows louder.

You may recall Bush’s recent press conference with Tony Blair where he ‘admitted’ a ‘mistake’. In context, his primary concern was not about what he had done, but what he had said… and that; “in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted” (his further nod to the mistake of Abu Ghraib blatantly ignored the mistakes behind it, and included a false claim that the people responsible had been brought to justice).

This is more of the same; an assertion that Guantanamo Bay is not a mistake… but in certain parts of the world it’s misinterpreted.

So what we’re hearing here is nothing but noise deliberately designed to ease minds and pass blame as the true signal becomes harder and harder to ignore.








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Stoppers!

Independent – The ugly truth about everyday life in Baghdad (by the US ambassador)

Juan Cole – US Embassy Document (full text)

BSSC – Our Man In Iraq








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Labour Home: “It was only a beta-test….”

LabourHome.org – the ‘home of grass roots Labour opinion’ – is due to launch soon. The opening post that mistakenly credits me with building Conservativehome.com has been described by the creator as a ‘cunning marketing plan’.

(Don’t feel too bad, Alex; Last week I mistook Labour for Labour because I was scanning documents when I really should have been paying attention to what I was blogging.)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | Comments Off

Labour is ‘listening’ again

Go on, have a go. Make a note of what they delete.

UPDATE – Labour have a new wheeze that saves them all that deletion hassle… they only display a certain number of comments (roughly 15 or so). Older comments disappear into an invisible and impenetrable archive… so only the most recent form of mild dissent is visible to the public.

UPDATE – BSSC – “Let’s ask leading questions”








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John Reid is a gutless thug

The Friday Thing – Paedomania, And Other Distractions: On the steps of the court, megaphone in hand stands John Reid. ‘What do we want?’ he shouts. ‘Longer sentences to placate over-inflated public fears!’ roars the crowd. ‘When do we want them?’ ‘Before the Tories get any further ahead in the opinion polls!’ A group of bereaved parents are then ushered in to have their unbearable grief mawkishly exploited before being despatched back to their obscurity.

NOTW – Sarah’s Law victory: The News of the World has scored a massive victory in its historic crusade to protect Britain’s children from paedophile monsters. Sarah’s Law – which would give parents the right to information about dangerous paedophiles – is on the brink of being introduced in Britain. After a six year battle by the News of the World Home Secretary John Reid ORDERED a review of our campaign and CLOSED 11 bail hostels to child sex offenders. The U-turn follows our relentless campaign to expose the dangers of child sex fiends secretly housed in bail hostels close to schools… In a huge sea change of government attitude, Dr Reid sent shock waves through the police, probation and prison system by declaring bluntly: “I start from the position that information should no longer remain the exclusive preserve of officialdom. I have also asked the minister to study specifically the News of the World’s Sarah’s Law proposals on controlled access to information. I believe the public have the right to protection and they have the right to information.”

Chicken Yoghurt – Did things just get better or worse?: As there’s no details given, no street name or rough location, I don’t even know where to take my petrol bombs and poorly spelt placard.

The Herald – Naming paedophiles: Dr Reid is right to order the closure of hostels near schools (though this creates a new problem of finding suitable accommodation). But he is taking a gamble flagging up disclosure as a possible panacea. As Ms Jamieson’s correspondence makes clear, it is itself fraught with risk. Disclosure could drive sex offenders into hiding. The police and child protection agencies would lose contact, and supervision would cease. As is known, naming names leads to witch-hunts, causes public disorder and hounds people from their homes. Most child abuse occurs within the family, and victims might be discouraged from coming forward (or encouraged to withdraw allegations) because of the potential repercussions from disclosure for the wellbeing of the closely related offender. It is surely no coincidence that 80% of paedophiles comply with registration requirements in the US, compared with 97% in Britain.

The Scum – Reid is right: John Reid is to be congratulated on a bold move which looks certain to give Britain a Sarah’s Law. The Home Secretary has conceded that parents have a right to know the whereabouts of convicted paedophiles. And he has ordered a study of how the law works in the USA. It is six years since demands for the new law began – prompted by the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne by convicted child snatcher Roy Whiting. A campaign was launched by the News of the World – vigorously supported by The Sun and its readers. Sarah’s mother Sara bravely set aside her grief to lead the battle. Mr Reid’s moves are a just reward for Sara’s untiring efforts. The Home Secretary has also ordered 60 perverts to be moved from 11 bail hostels near schools and nurseries. These are commonsense measures, but they represent a huge change in attitude at the Home Office. In the past Mr Reid’s department has failed the country on many fronts, and he has a formidable task to put things right. But the step toward a Sarah’s Law is a brilliant start.

Meanwhile… PA – Schools ignore child abusers scheme

*sigh*

1. Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we learned anything?

2. This is the same government that will dismiss a pressing issue with substance as a media invention at the drop of a hat. But the “We refuse to be dictated to by the newspapers!” get-out is more than a little undermined when they allow a tabloid newspaper to take the lead on the next round of knee-jerk legislation… and actually accept their draft as a starting point!

3. Monsters! Fiends! Think of the children! Support the troops! (Sorry. Got a bit mixed up there. Can’t imagine why.)

4. Remember: If you voice any objections to these very sensible proposals, it is a clear sign that you support paedophiles and/or that you are a paedophile yourself. (See #3)

A slow hand clap to John ‘Ride-Along‘ Reid for boldly tackling perception ahead of problems, and creating new problems in the process…. one of which is letting these tabloid bastards take the initiative that he rather hopefully claims as his own.

Reid may as well hand Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Wade the keys to his office and be done with it. FFS, just take a look at how much space The Sun and the News Of The World reserve for self-aggrandisement when they have the perfect opportunity to instead rant further about one of their favourite targets. This speaks volumes about their true priorities.

Guardian – Reid warned of ‘lynch mob law’ over parental access to paedophile details: Mr Reid’s promise to consider a British-version of the controversial American Megan’s law, under which local parents are given full details of child sex offenders released into their neighbourhood, follows a six-year News of the World campaign to name and shame paedophiles and publish the addresses of all 101 probation hostels that house offenders. The campaign raised fears of vigilante attacks and warnings that paedophiles were going underground.

Sunday Herald – Home Secretary focuses on headlines and loses sight of justice and decency: When a government resorts to populism you can be sure it’s getting desperate. As if things were not bad enough in Blair World, the Home Secretary has revealed how morally bankrupt his government is becoming with his naked perusal of tabloid values… Reid’s behaviour is sickening. What next for the man in this position of power, who when Murdoch says “jump” he replies: “How high?”

UPDATE (19 June) – Yet another must-read from Justin… Chicken Yoghurt – Paedogeddon Redux

UPDATE (20 June) – BBC – Paedophile policy ‘not media-led’: Education Secretary Alan Johnson has rejected claims by a top police officer that policy on paedophiles is being driven by a tabloid newspaper campaign. Dyfed-Powys Chief Constable Terry Grange said he was extremely concerned the Home Office had “surrendered” power over policy to the News of the World.

Well, I’m sure we can all trust that nice Mr Johnson…

UPDATE (21 June) – Guardian – Murdoch, ministers, and the red-top agenda

It’s hard to tell what’s going on at the moment; either the tabloids are lying, the government has performed an almighty flip-flop, or John Reid has been cut off at the legs by Downing St. No matter. At the very least, this whole sorry episode has led to the following delicious editorial from Rebekah Wade, and for that alone we should be thankful…

The Scum – Cop’s mistake: Loudmouth police chief Terry Grange blames newspapers for dictating government policy on crime and punishment. Would that it were true! There would certainly be fewer violent thugs and perverts on the loose. But it is not true. The News of the World, supported by The Sun, has campaigned for six years for Sarah’s Law, so parents can keep track of paedophiles. It is only now – after the hideous deaths and living nightmares of too many kiddies – that Home Secretary John Reid is considering action. We will believe it when we see it. But he is responding to public outrage over barmy sentences dished out by dozy judges to criminals who threaten our safety. We didn’t invent these revolting crimes. Nobody could. It is the travesty of justice which lets the guilty off so lightly that has galvanised public fury. In a country where property crime is rated above sex attacks on children, there is a powerful case for Sarah’s Law. Newspapers are entitled to reflect and respond to such outrage… since nobody in power seemed to be doing so. It is up to this government – after nine years in power – to respond in a mature and appropriate way. Campaigning newspapers are a vital component of democracy. They are a major force for good. The Sun, for instance, did the nation a service by campaigning against the euro – and for a referendum on the EU Constitution. That’s our job. And it is the job of policemen such as Terry Grange to stop playing politics… and fight crime. If they were doing it better, we would not need Sarah’s Law in the first place.

Woof! What a scorcher!








Posted in Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch | 3 Comments

Embarrassment is not sufficient cause for exemption

The Raw Story – Newly released emails suggest Army Corps lied about Cheney role in Halliburton contract








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Picky mix

Bit of a grab-bag today. I do apologise…

Pandora: When David Miliband became the first Cabinet minister to launch an online diary a few months back, he boldly declared that he intended to “bridge the gap between politicians and the public”. What Miliband failed to mention was just how much the “blog” would be costing the British taxpayer. According to research by the Liberal Democrats’ urbane front bencher, Chris Huhne, the amount is somewhere approaching 40,000 pounds a year. Huhne has come to this whopping figure after tabling a written question to the recently promoted Environment Secretary’s office earlier this month to ask what sort of manpower was involved in maintaining the site. He was told that two members of staff employed by Defra had recently dedicated as much as 40 per cent of their office time working on it. So far, claims Huhne, this also means the blog has cost around 1 pound a word to upkeep. “How can it cost 40,000 pounds a year of taxpayers’ money for staff to capture David Miliband’s hot air on climate change?” he says. Ever since the blog was launched to great fanfare back in March, it’s been heavily criticised. Some politicos complained that the content was too boring, while others claimed it was failing to attract intelligent debate on its message postings. A spokesman for Miliband said yesterday: “I don’t quite know how Chris Huhne worked out that figure. At the moment, we think it’s going to be a small percentage of one existing member of staff’s time.”

I think that’s more than a bit unfair… David Miliband may be a total moron (or a devious little bugger) for spending taxpayers’ money on the blog, thereby eliminating the possibility of any meaningful debate, but if we know the exercise is a total waste of money, does it really matter exactly how much money is being wasted?

No… wait… before you answer that, consider that David has made the shortlist for the New Statesman New Media Awards 2006. Surely that alone…? No? OK, let’s move on, then….

Backing Blair has made the shortlist for the New Statesman New Media Awards 2006. But PledgeBank deserves to win in the Advocacy category, and probably will.

Now, onto a true work of genius…

The Surrey branch of Conservative Future has a website that’s firmly stuck in the 20th century. Oh, and they appear to have a small problem with server security. If you’re quick, you’ll spot some special changes to the ‘About Us’ page. (Note – the use of this particular holding image could be intentional… but that would be even sadder still.)

Yes, that’s our Mike Chambers who appears on this website… but while Mike may be a gifted web designer, he doesn’t appear to have built this wonderful corner of the interwebs; this looks to be the work of Tom Stoddart and Ranil Jayawardena. How do I know that? View source.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 1 Comment

Aegis cleared over shooting video

BBC – Security firm cleared by US army: A British security firm has welcomed the outcome of a US army investigation clearing it of criminal offences. The US military launched an inquiry after a video showing an Aegis Defence Services contractor firing at civilian cars in Iraq was shown on the internet. Aegis, which has a Pentagon contract in Iraq said to be worth 157m, said the film had been edited to mislead. It said the man responsible for the film is now the subject of legal action… An Aegis spokesman said: “There was no evidence of any civilian casualties as a result of the incidents and the images published were all taken out of context.”

The release of this video was covered here at Bloggerheads last year:

Buy British! (another victory for privatisation)

Since then, the ‘offending’ website has been removed. This report on that removal at the Channel 4 website also includes links to unedited clips from that video.

Check out the first video especially for use of a flare that contains “no evidence of any civilian casualties”.

Irish Echo – Botched investigation? U.S. clears Iraq shooters but were key witnesses ignored?: U.S. military investigators have cleared a private security company linked to the apparent shooting of Iraqi civilians. But according to a leading Irish human rights group, the investigators ignored a central witness and a number of additional key witnesses in the case… The Pentagon’s deal with Spicer was recently raised with the Bush administration’s special envoy to Northern Ireland, Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, by the Derry-based Pat Finucane Center… In recent days, Reiss has been informed in an email letter by the PFC that it was contacted by an individual “who wishes to provide vital information to the trophy video investigation” being carried out by the Pentagon. “This man has informed us that he is a former Aegis employee, Mr. Rod Stoner. He has informed us that he was present in the vehicle when the shooting occurred and that he was responsible for posting it on the website. He has also informed us that Aegis showed no interest in interviewing him during their internal investigation which apparently ended earlier this year. Most disturbing of all is his allegation that Aegis have refused his repeated requests to be put in contact with those within the Pentagon responsible for the investigation into the video. Mr. Stoner has also informed us that it is his understanding that none of those present in the vehicle have been contacted by the Pentagon, or indeed by any official investigating the video. If true this would suggest that a cover-up has taken place of matters concerning serious criminal wrong doing, including murder,” the letter to Reiss added.








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‘Justice’

Guardian – Labour bows to ‘get tough’ prison lobby: The full extent of Labour’s more punitive approach to law and order was revealed yesterday as Tony Blair boasted that more than 1,000 offenders have been locked away in the last 12 months without a fixed release date under the new breed of “public protection sentences”.

And this would be the same Mr Blair who refuses to be hounded/led by the media over Prescott/Loans/Torture/Murder? Here’s Rebekah Wade giving a howl of victory that ends in a call for yet more blood…

The Sun – Blair: I’ll shake up judges: Sweeping changes to the judicial system will be rushed into law by the end of the year, following The Sun’s crusade against lenient judges. Home Secretary John Reid will publish a blueprint by the end of next month. And a Bill will be brought to the Commons by November. Sentencing guidelines will be changed so out-of-touch judges can get it right EVERY time. Killers, paedophiles and rapists will be freed only by a unanimous parole board decision. The prison overcrowding crisis will be addressed. And the shocking release of foreign inmates without deportation will also be dealt with. The moves were ordered by PM Tony Blair, who is under massive pressure to ensure that judges who persistently dish out soft punishments are sacked. But the changes are not a total victory for The Sun’s crusade. Our demands for failing judges to be named and shamed and ultimately dismissed remain in place.

Meanwhile…

Independent – Thai immigrant ‘is a soft target for Home Office’: Because of a minor offence he committed as a teenager four years ago, Mr Makao now faces being deported from the island he has called home for the past 10 years and forced to return to his native Thailand, despite the fact he no longer speaks the language and has no ties there.

Meanwhile…

The Times Saudi ‘torture’ victims lose their right to sue: Four Britons who claim that they were tortured by officials in Saudi Arabia into confessing to a bombing campaign have lost their right to sue through the British courts. The men, who say that their interrogators used rape, beatings, and suspended them from iron bars in order to force false statements, cannot seek compensation after a House of Lords ruling yesterday… Speaking after the ruling by the law lords, Mr Jones said that the Government had backed another nation’s right to torture British citizens.

And here’s a picture, boys and girls.

(Heads-up on the cartoon via Antony. Cheers, fella.)

Related ‘I told you so’ links:
Charles Clarke is an incompetent liar (Part One)
Clarke takes one last desperate gasp of your precious oxygen

UPDATE – A must-read: Chicken Yoghurt – It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.








Posted in Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The War on Stupid | 1 Comment

Fresh ideas

The UK Today – You were warned: With all the hulabaloo surrounding Prescott and the various travails of the Home Office, the Party Loans scandal has been pushed into the background. Which is a shame as the story that the Electoral Commission warned the parties about accepting loans hasn’t had the profile it deserves.

BBC – Poll watchdog warned about loans: Electoral Commission chief executive Peter Wardle meanwhile said they had only known about the scale of the loans after last year’s election. Mr Wardle said the commission had issued the parties with guidance on the subject in 2004. “I really do not think that the major parties were unaware of what the law provided or what our guidance said,” he said.

The Labour Party campaign return for 2004/2005 (still being processed, folks… hang in there) shows that the Labour Party employed the American fundraising consultancy OMP (see freshly-updated Sourcewatch profile here) from mid-December 2004 onwards, paying them a total of 35,581.23 in consultancy fees in the period spanning Dec 2004 – Feb 2005.

The Telegraph cites ‘Spring 2005′ as the time when; “Labour Party chairman Ian McCartney, gives Lord Levy and Matt Carter, Labour’s general secretary, permission to seek loans from individuals.”

So it would appear that Labour and OMP parted ways before Ian McCartney issued this instruction.

Now, it could be that the Labour Party became frustrated with itty-bitty donations (after finding that they simply didn’t have the genuine grass-roots support required) and then parted company with OMP because someone had come up with a better idea.

But it’s equally possible that this blue-sky thinking originated from across the pond.

(Point to ponder: Australian ‘guru’ Lynton Crosby is almost certainly the reason why we saw cinema ads for the Tories in the 2005 general election. Politicians in Australia do not have the same TV advertising restrictions we have in the UK, and common sense would suggest that the cinema ads were Crosby’s response to his somewhat limiting brief.)








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