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22 May 2005

Sunday Times on Gorgeous George

Focus: Zero to hero in today's Sunday Times attempts to put George Galloway into context and answer the question is he a friend or a foe of Saddam Hussein? The answer they come up with is a little bit of both, and is best summed up by GG's own statement during an earlier phase of his besiegement by press and less radical lefties: “My opposition to American imperialism is greater than my opposition to this or that tinpot dictator with whom American imperialism from time to time falls out.”
While it is true that Galloway visited Saddam in 1994 and again in 1998, and that he made a sycophantic speech to him in 1994 and that he refused to condemn him in the harsh tones demanded by the establishment, but instead praised him with faint damns, it also true that he marched, demonstrated and spoke out harshly against Saddam from 1980 to 1993 (even though he also opposed the 1991 Gulf War.) In fact, in his own ultra-leftist way, Galloway has been quite consistent. The one thing the American people (including especially the Senate) will never understand is that there other standards of ethical public behaviour than their own, and there is a long and not yet defeated (despite what all the uber-patriots may wish) tradition of international anti-imperialist socialism which stands unashamedly in opposition to them. The British Labour party knows all about this tendency, but has no truck with it; but New Labour has no consistency or principles at all. If Galloway's actions in 1994 were so repellent, why did they wait until 2003 to expel him? I think we all know why: he has a following and he wins elections.

19 May 2005

More Wal-Mart news than you can shake a big stick at

LabourStart, the excellent online news source and organising tool, has a dedicated Wal-Mart page. Get all the hottest late-breaking news about those corporate buzzards that bring you Asda supermarkets. Along with scofflaw child labour practices, political ads comparing their opponents to Nazis, and health-care benefits for their workers that are so lacking that in most states Wal-Mart workers get their only health-care from state benefits (if they exist in their state that is, otherwise, nada.)

16 May 2005

Stress at work costs economy £100bn a year, says Mind

A story in the Guardian cites the charity Mind in saying that one in five people in Britain are too stressed to go to work. I can readily believe it. I think three of the remaining four are nearly as stressed, but can't face the hassle of trying to sign off work, or the added stress of losing their job and having a reduced income. The one in five remaining is simply too stupid to be stressed, and he is usually made the manager of the other four, which is why they are so stressed. So it's really stupidity that's costing the economy £100bn a year, but just try getting funding to prove that.

11 May 2005

Permanent power to the non-elected

A Guardian comment piece, The rise of Tony Zoffis, shows just what an appallingly un-democratic thing is going on, has been going on since 1997, with New Labour's education policy. Now the naked power play is in the open, with ennobling of Andrew Adonis to be supposedly a junior minister in education, but obviously he is still calling the shots, "ensuring total obedience from his nominal boss, Ruth Kelly", as Francis Beckett says in the Guardian. Unlike in America, where the legislative and executive branches are completely separate and the President appoints the entire cabinet from non-elected citizens, in Britain all cabinet members must be members of one of the houses of Parliament. This means that non-MPs must be brought in through the Lords. The really sick thing about this, is that even if Tony B. is ousted soon from power, and Adonis's moment of cabinet glory is decently brief, he will always be Lord Adonis, and always eligible to sit in the House of Lords, exerting some power however limited over the people who never elected him and never would have done.

08 May 2005

Nuclear energy battle looming

Margaret Beckett is accused of blocking the government from considering building new nuclear power plants as part of its strategy for achieving carbon emission reductions. On one side of the argument, some government policy wonks think solar and wind energy are "unproven" and too expensive, and say nuclear power has the "potential" to be green. But committed environmentalists will never buy that. How can a technology be called "green" if it produces deadly wastes? I myself would have to come down on the no-nukes-ever (what part of "no" don't they understand?) side of the argument.

05 May 2005

The best news always comes from Minnesota

Another rural Minnesota high school in the news, not for a mass shooting this time, but for a good old-fashioned pro-American free speech protest. In the best tradition of Minnesota liberals and feminists, two high school girls were sent home from school for wearing "offensive" T-shirts from the "Vagina Monologues". This came after a rally was held outside the school with numerous students wearing similar T-shirts in support of one of the girls, who had been threatened with expulsion for wearing a button purchased at the show that read simply "I [heart] my vagina". At the rally, girls wore T-shirts with the same slogan and boys wore T-shirts proclaiming "I support your vagina". Most of the students turned their T-shirts inside out to hide the slogans before returning to school, but two girls who wore theirs the right way were sent home for a day. "We consider public education to be the backbone of America. And we have to draw the line. If you let this in, what's next?" said the principal of the school.

Those wacky MIT guys

From the Guardian:

One of the strongest arguments against time travel is that we are not overrun with curious tourists from the future. A university student in Boston plans to change that, by inviting budding Doctor Whos to the world's first time traveller convention this weekend.
The organiser, Amal Dorai - a masters student in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - aims to test the theory of time travel by inviting people from the future to the event.

Dorai says: "Of course, no time travellers doesn't rule out the possibility of time travel, they could have just decided not to come to our convention." Hmm - yeah. But it gets better.
Physicists believe some kind of time travel is theoretically possible, but it will take hundreds or even thousands of years to work out the technical details.
Concerned that people will have forgotten his convention by then, Mr Dorai is urging volunteers to publicise the event to future generations by carving the details into clay tablets and burying notices in time capsules. He has slipped invitations on long-lasting paper inside dozens of obscure books in the MIT and Harvard University libraries.

02 May 2005


I have just added a couple of new recipe-finding links at Deborama's Kitchen. One of the many things I love about the internet is the recipe swapping community. Where would I be without it? And where would all these chatty housewives with the great recipes be without it?
Over at Deborama's Book Reviews there is finally some action. Besides the Labour History sale on (see previous post), I have reviewed not one but three books today. Two are in a double-header (Hey, Nostradamus and Vernon God Little) and one stands alone: Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, by Amanda Foreman. You will find that the book reviews/store has a new look, with new "high tech" links on all today's books. I am not all that crazy about it, but blame Amazon.co.uk. (You can still do the old style links, with a lot of faffing, but then they penalise you for it on the commish.) Sorry about that.

Buy a book for International Labour Day

I have set up a tribute to May Day on my book review and bookstore blog. A personally selected list of 21 excellent books on labour, philosophy and labour history are posted for your perusal, in the new improved Amazon associates format. I added a few of them to my wish list, too, I must confess.

01 May 2005

Defrocked lesbian minister wins appeal

Elizabeth Stroud, the lesbian Methodist minister defrocked by a close verdict in a church trial, has won an appeal on the grounds that the Methodist Book of Discipline had failed to define "open and practicing homosexual".

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