Month: March 2013

No explanation but Sorry – THX

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Suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation – Lord Ahmed has apologized for his comments regarding the Jewish community, the press and courts. He said he had “the greatest respect” for the Jewish community and could not “believe [the video] when I saw it”. He went on to say his comments were “completely wrong”, “unacceptable” and the product of a “twisted mind” (his own that is) – but took “full responsibility” for them.

I applaud him on this matter.

He has said previously he is not anti-Semitic pointing to his work with the World Jewish Congress, One Voice, the Maimonides Foundation and the Joseph Interfaith Foundation.  He goes so far as to explain at length that he visits synagogues her in the UK and been to Israel.  This last point is stretching it a bit though, he goes in support of the Palestinian cause so if I were him I don’t think I’d stress this last point so much.

When asked why he had made such offensive and conspiratorial remarks, Lord Ahmed replied: “I don’t really have any explanation or excuse.”  This might be an honest reply but I’m not so grateful for the apology that this is good enough, far from it in fact.  But I suppose he was in Pakistan when being filmed making the apology so he could be playing to a local audience.  Whatever the case as a British citizen to my mind this should be foremost when making an apology, perhaps making it in Israel (and no I don’t mean on the West Bank or in Gaza) might focus the mind a little?

Lord Ahmed also said that some Muslims confuse the line between ‘Israeli government’ policies and ‘Jewish’ policies but pointed out that he himself had, on several occasions, “interrupted people and said: ‘This is not a Jewish issue.’ As far as I am concerned, Muslims don’t have any problem with the Jewish faith.”  His comments have been backed by Gerald Kaufman MP (he’s Jewish if you hadn’t guessed) who confirms Lord Ahmed’s claims about challenging people who make anti-Semitic remarks.  Mr. Kaufman goes so far as to say he’s pro-Jewish, I don’t think so actually.

Lord Ahmed also made a point of apologizing to the Labour Part Leader Ed Milliband, his boss and Jewish!  He added: “I’m particularly sorry to all my colleagues in the House of Lords and in the House of Commons because one thing many of them know is that I’m not anti-Semitic or a conspiracy theorist.”

But not everyone is convinced.  The Jewish Community Trust which was set-up to monitor anti-Semitic crimes are suspicious of the televised apology as it was made to a journalist and not directly to those he offended, and not voluntarily.

For me he’s made an apology and we should be happy that he has.  He cant explain why he did and say what he did but his actions seem to bear out what he says.  I would be happy to give him the benefit of doubt on this matter.

Thank you for the apology Lord Ahmed.

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(Not) Welcome Here

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The British PM David Cameron has offered up solace to the Tory right and others of similar odious opinion.  In a speech recently The PM said the NHS was a “free National Health Service, not a free International Health Service”.  The implication? Foreigners not welcome here, unless of course you’re willing to do those jobs that the British unemployed don’t want to do, and get paid a sight less than they would accept!

Not only the PM holds this view though, Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat who tries to tell the British public his party puts the breaks on the worst excesses of the Tories, that Nick Clegg and (I have to admit to being astonished at this one) Ed Milliband Leader of the Labour Party hold similar views.  Or so they would have us believe anyway.

But here’s the kicker; DC’s speech is being praised by the French far right as smashing the taboo of immigration.  Front National congratulated his speech made on Monday where DC announced that immigrants will be stripped of social payments if unemployed for more than 6-months unless they can prove categorically they have been looking for work and stand a genuine chance of finding one.

FN vice-president Louis Aliot said in a statement, translated by English news site France 24: “The Front National hails the speech by the British prime minister which has smashed the taboo surrounding the unsustainable cost of immigration for European nations.  At a time of mounting unemployment and widening deficits, it has become urgent to start giving priority to our own nationals in jobs, housing, social benefits and health.”

Well done Dave!

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Just a bit more practice and you’ll have the salute off to a tee!

I’ve posted many time before regarding FN Leader Marine Le-Pen, she’s concerned that France will be over-run by migrants from the remnants of Libyan and Tunisian Arab Spring. DC on the other hand is concerned about the UK (he means London and the South East really) being over-run by Rumanians and Gypsies.  Needless to say, but if either or both countries actually apply the laws they already have and properly police the borders then there wont be a problem.

Migration happens, so get over it!  The problem is stopping the thugs, gangsters, trafficers, drug dealers and the like, not those people seeking gainful employment.

It is probably fair to say the British welfare system is relatively speaking generous.  But there are rules for claimants which if applied guarantee that the needy get what they need to survive in the UK.  The issue for the Brits is getting those on benefit back into work.  Inward migration generally speaking generates jobs, not displaces jobs.

On the whole migrants tend to be young and willing/wanting to work, they are just not the scroungers that DC and the FN would have us you believe.  These odious, horrible people would serve us better by concentrating on why the unemployed either don’t or cant work instead of scapegoating migrants.

I’m not suggesting a totally open door policy, far from it.  I do advocate control, policies and application of policies should (must I’d say) allow migration that brings a positive effect, and that offers protection to the vulnerable.  I don’t mean the sort of people like Abu Qatada, locked-up for years, unproductive hater of the west; his sort should be refused and sent back to Jordan in his case.  But if somebody has spent a large proportion of their wealth in getting to a place then in all likelihood they are going to want a better life and will work for it is my guess.

Never-the-less our (less than) glorious leaders want to make a point that migrants are not welcome here, they’re running scared of right wing (UKIP in the UK).  The reality thankfully will be somewhat different, I think.

New Model EU

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By the end of Monday this week, The UK FTSE 100 had closed down 0.2%, the German Dax down 0.5% & France’s Cac dropped 1.1%. later in the day New York, the Dow Jones closed 0.5% lower.

Why?

The agreement between Cyprus and EU Finance Ministers, that’s why!

Under the agreement finally made in the early hours of Monday morning, people who have more than €100,000 in Cypriot banks will have to contribute directly to the €10bn rescue package.  The Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem said later that the approach could form the basis of a new model for stopping the collapse of European banks, rather than asking taxpayers to bail them out.

The reality of what Mr. Dijsselbloem is saying is that there is apparently no conceivable reason why anybody would want to have more than €100,000 in savings in a European bank.  Not a single reason as far as I can see.  This wont be a problem for the vast majority of European Citizens and especially those in Cyprus because they soon wont have any money anyway if the EU carries out this plan (threat).

Naturally Germany (Ms Merkel) is happy with the deal in the Cyprus case.  They were less than impressed by Cypriot reliance on Tax Haven status, an over-reliance on the banking sector (I wonder what other EU country relies heavily on banking?  The UK perhaps?).

Its not that I disagree that EU countries should have balanced economies, not overly reliant on any one sector but, like all things Austerity speed is of the essence it would seem.  The Cypriot economy may only take 2 or 3 years to bounce back but living standards are likely to be affected for more than 10 years, and that’s a long time to be unhappy at treatment by those who you don’t know.

Balanced economies are a good thing and are a step (probably bigger than we realize) towards integration.  If all economies are acting in the same way then why not integrate?  No reason at all, in fact economies of scale will come into play and off we go.  Balanced economies with a centralized homogenized government will in all likelihood put the EU back into the game on the world stage, maybe.

So, do I think this will happen? No, of course not.

What I think will happen is that local, national priorities will take precedence.  10 years to recover, not improve, just recover living standards is not a winning pitch in my view.  Its a recipe for silo thinking, self pity (I have some sympathy here) and maybe even separatism so defeating what the EU is supposed to be all about.

The Germans are a bit like the Incredible Hulk, you wont like them if they get angry, but they really need to work on some chill-out therapies.  It seems for the time being they are getting their own way but I have fear that they’ll get used to it.  The Greeks and Italians are very unhappy bunnies and only just missed the boiling pot.  Who next I wonder?

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Well it doesn’t take a village idiot to work out that at some point the UK is going to come in for a bit of close financial inspection and when it does who knows how badly they will react.  After all the Brits can hardly be described as fully paid up members of the European project, skeptics at best!  No, I think that the EU should draw back a bit and see if there are any more localized workable alternatives.  They may take a bit longer to work through but will probably get much better buy-in from those directly affected.

Net result: local solutions to local problems and no tears in the European JV.

Gillard the Great II

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Well, well, well, JG has appointed a new cabinet and guess what?  Its all about loyalty.

Well I never, she emphasized loyalty over experience.  Actually, I think she’s just about got it right and she might (but I doubt it) pull off a shock in the September elections if she manages to keep her team on-message for the next few months.  Good luck JG, you’re gonna need it.

As for Rudd, his days must be all but over as a credible politician.  Him and his supporters mounted a campaign to oust JG and it wasn’t till 10 whole minutes before the election that he backed out.  Yes, 10 minutes!  What a prat, either don’t challenge or go through with it.  Yes the party would have split, it already is so no change there.  but 10 minutes! I ask you what did he think he was going to achieve?

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Naturally JG won the election unopposed, I think she would have any way.  JG called the leadership challenge mess “appalling” in remarks Monday to reporters.  “It was an unseemly display,” she said. “Today as a government we can be united and with a sense of purpose,” she added.

The Australian Labor Party’s internal turmoil began in in the United States a year ago when Rudd quit as foreign minister while in Washington to challenge Gillard in a leadership showdown. He was trounced in that ballot by 91 votes to 31.

After last week’s fiasco, Rudd said he wouldn’t seek the Labor Party leadership again. Party leadership ballots are often seen as a solution to abysmal public polling, which suggest a Labor Party defeat at the national elections on Sept. 14.

The new Cabinet is Australia’s 6th in 3 years. JG expects the reshuffle will be her last before the elections.

Good Luck JG.

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Une Mauvaise Blague

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Twitter require local users to apply local laws.  Now that sounds simple enough to me, but how many people actually pay any attention to this rule?  Not so many I guess.

Normally I’d say that if a person is in the public eye and that’s where they want to be, a celebrity you could say then I think that they need to take the tittle tattle of Twitter with more than a large pinch of salt.  I’m not saying they are asking for it as such, but celebrity status will naturally generate its own detractors, its almost a scientific fact.  But, if a celebrity were to be offended, hurt and damaged I would still support their rights like anybody else.

Some matters are a private concern, this is my view.  But Twitter is a phenomenon that national laws are struggling to get to grips with and I’m quite sure that I’m not on my own with this opinion.  I’m also certain that those in charge at Twitter are aware of this state of affairs and by some of their actions (or lack thereof) they are happy to exploit this apparent loop hole.

So does Twitter have some level of responsibility for what gets posted or not?  The answer of course is not a simple one.  

As a medium of communication they cannot be held directly responsible for every post no matter how offensive.  But, if there are a series of posts or a general movement which has gained some sort of momentum, could be recognized as a group of similar postings around a single or small group of interests then I do think that Twitter has some level of responsibility.  I’m sure they have big enough computers to work it out.

So I have some deep misgivings about how Twitter plans to deal in the French courts regarding the hashtag #UnBonJuif (a good Jew).  I wont bore you with the details but those behind this hashtag are anti-Semtic mindless morons.  Comments and ‘jokes’ are posted which relate to Jews and the best kind of Jews.  One post shows a pile of ash with the title “the best kind of Jew”.  Twitter intends to run the defense that they are American and so are protected under the first amendment.  

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Fortunately the French court ruled on Jan 24 2013 that Twitter must identify the names of those behind the hashtag.  The case is being sought by French students who are suing Twitter for €35 million for failing to identify the people behind the hashtag.  The Union of Jewish French Students are suing the social network in a lawsuit filed with a Paris correctional tribunal, for failing to honour a court ruling to identify users who posted the anti-Semitic comments, according to AFP.

UEJF President Jonathan Hayoun told the French news agency: “Twitter is playing the indifference card and does not respect the ruling.  They have resolved to protect the anonymity of the authors of these tweets and have made themselves accomplices to racists and anti-Semites.”

The students say they will give any money won in the lawsuit to Holocaust charities.

So Twitter are these just bad jokes made about celebrities or harmful posts intended to offend and inspire hatred?

Worryingly however, the hashtag was the 3rd highest rating in France for parts of 2012, so the French have a wider problem than Twitter I think.  But for now outing the bigots would be a beginning.

Gillard the Great!

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The former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd recently astonished the Australian parliament by deciding to run against Julia Gillard the current PM in a vote of no-confidence.

I’ve long been a fan of JG, she’s my kinda lady, no messing and straight to the point.  So when I read that there’d been a challenge just 6 months before elections I’ve gotta say I was staggered.  The only reason for the Rudd shot at glory as far as I can see is that he’s way more popular at the opinion polls than JG, but still 6 months?

The Australian Labour Party must be in free-fall, senior minister Simon Crean, who brought the leadership crisis to a head by calling on his government colleagues to force a ballot, was sacked, and junior minister Richard Marles, a rising star who publicly backed Rudd, resigned late Thursday.  Add to this Joel Fitzgibbon, Ed Husic and Janelle Saffin all Rudd supporters who’ve resigned their positions recently and it looks a mess!

None of them has quit the government so they keep their majority so long as the support from minority parties doesn’t change.  The Labour Party ranks are split over whether by avoiding a showdown with Gillard, Rudd had let down his supporters who have worked behind the scenes to undermine Gillard’s leadership in the face of the government’s likely defeat at national elections on Sept. 14.

But Chris Bowen who quit his job earlier today said Rudd had done the decent thing.  What he also mentions is that the vote was probably too close to call, the outcome was by no means guaranteed.  So have we actually seen a victory for punch pulling I wonder?

Needless to say really, but if the vote was to be close it in no way would have solved the party in-fighting and jockying for position post election loss.  I also think that JG would have sacked even more of her ministers if she’d have won, (I love her spirit and fight temperament, I’d vote for her just for that alone, forget the politics).

And what has Rudd got to say about the whole debacle?  

The former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s office said in a statement earlier today that “there are no circumstances under which he will return to the Labor Party leadership in the future.”  Many were stunned by the 11th-hour announcement that he wouldn’t challenge her. He explained that he had vowed when he lost a leadership ballot to JG a year ago that he wouldn’t challenge her again for the sake of party and government stability.  So why the recent shenanigans I ask?

I can only think that Australian politics is pretty much the same as UK politics.  A murky, messy business with undercurrents and deals aplenty.

Still doesn’t stop me thinking that if only they really got behind JG the Australians have got a fantastically strong leader that many would follow.

Its not my fault, its the fault of…

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When I was growing-up I learnt that telling the truth, coming clean was a good thing to do, especially if I’d done a wrong.  I’m not saying that I felt the benefit immediately, I often didn’t and was punished for my wrong doing.  Of course I thought this was an injustice, after all I’d fessed up, I should at least be praised for this.  Well I was young, immature and had a lot to learn of the way of life.

Needless to say I now recognize that being encouraged to tell the truth is a lesson learnt over years, decades even.  And I now understand that it has made me a better person, a more understanding person perhaps.  But I can recall many instances when I’d transgressed with the help of friends and they (often quite quickly) blamed somebody else for their actions as if they had no control over what they did.  Even as a child I found this very difficult to process but as an adult I find it incredulous that people take this route.

Right so you now know where I’m coming from on matters of truth.  Lady truth is a good thing.  She can hide her charms well when in the hands of some, but truth is generally speaking a good thing.  The consequences of truth can be difficult to deal with, but the lasting damage of denying lady truth will have disastrous effects later in life.

Those friends who were quick to blame somebody else are still often to be found at the lower end of the social ladder, with limited economic prospects, you get my drift I think.

I find the recent televised claims by Lord Ahmed to be firstly astonishing and secondly to be outrageous.  

Very shortly after sending a series of text messages whilst driving he was involved in a motor accident on the M1 which caused the death of 28 year old Martin Gombar.  Did Lord Ahmed apologize? Did he resign his position? Did he make a contribution to a motor accident charity?  Did he actually take responsibility?

No.

What he did do was go on television and blame somebody else.  Who would he blame? What would he blame? The road conditions? A passenger? A stray animal on the road? Another vehicle driver maybe?

No.

So who did he blame?… Well after 12 weeks in prison he blamed… yes that’s right the Jews!  Those well known nuisances of the open road the Jews!  This is for real by the way, I’m not joking he really did claim this.

His reasoning (yes that’s right he even reasoned his case) goes along the lines of; He’d been to Gaza, Palestine and his Jewish friends (I’m not sure he will have any Jewish friends now, if he even had any in the first place that is) who own newspapers and TV channels conspired to put him in prison.

Lord Ahmed has in the past done great things.  He was instrumental in the release of Gillian Gibbons who was held captive in Sudan by the Islamist regime.  He rightly deserves praise for his efforts in this case.  But he is symptomatic of many more mature British Muslims in that he leads an outwardly normal life, contributing to society and his community but deep down holding anti-Semitic views.

If my Muslim friends were honest they would agree, their fathers probably hold some quite odd views about who’s to blame for all manner of society’s ills.  The biggest claim (and this has been said to me with a straight face) is the twin towers terrorist attack, that’s right is was those damn Jews.  Come on now, where else would those pesky Jews bomb but New York home to about 4000 Jews, the largest Jewish population outside Israel?

So what about the truth?  Where do we find it?

Well I agonized about this posting.  I have many Muslim friends who I socialize with, do business with, have fun with.  The truth is most of my friends don’t care whether I am Muslim, Christian or Jewish, there isn’t a box that get’s ticked when new friends are made.  The fact that I happen to follow a Jewish inspired way of life makes no difference to most people of any faith.

The truth is that long term being open and truthful is a good way of life.  I follow the seven laws listed by the Talmud:

  1. Prohibition of idolotry

  2. Prohibition of murder

  3. Prohibition of theft

  4. Prohibition of sexual immorality

  5. Prohibition of blasphemy

  6. Prohibition of eating flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive

  7. Establishment of courts of law

I’m not saying I get it right all the time but I try, and that’s the thing; I try, I take responsibility for what I do (good and bad) and I don’t blame somebody else, especially not when the reasoning is on such a ridiculous basis.

Happy Pesah.