ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for April 7th, 2011

An EDL Supporter In The Making?

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This is where anti-Muslim hatred leads, the Scotsman reports:

“A RACIST former soldier who threatened to bomb Glasgow Central Mosque and behead a Muslim every day has been jailed for 12 months.

Neil MacGregor, 38, made the threats in an e-mail and a series of telephone calls to Strathclyde Police, which led to an anti-terrorism operation being launched.

He claimed to be a member of the National Front and said he would execute Muslims on a daily basis unless every mosque in Scotland was closed down.

MacGregor, from Scrimgeour Court, Crieff, claimed he had been upset after watching video footage of someone being beheaded in Iraq on an internet clip.

Fiscal depute John Malpass told Perth Sheriff Court yesterday: “An e-mail was received in which he made numerous threats against Muslim people and demanded the closure of all mosques in Scotland.”

MacGregor told police: “As a wee extra, one of our members will donate a Semtex plastic explosive with a box of nails in it, sometime on Friday night at the Central Mosque.”

Mr Malpass said: “Because of the nature of the threat, anti-terrorist officers were notified. Enquiries were made in relation to the source of the emails.

“The IP address was identified and traced to the accused’s home address. Police attended the Central Mosque and carried out a search which proved negative.”

PS: If you feel the desire to comment then make an effort to read my comments policy, and remember I have a zero tolerance towards the EDL and their mates.

Written by modernityblog

07/04/2011 at 17:18

Her Majesty’s Government And Torture.

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British newspapers were rightly critical when the US government used rendition and carted people off to faraway countries to be tortured, but Britain’s own use of torture is often forgotten.

A new court case concerning HMG’s activities in 1950-60s Kenya should reveal more.

Dave Osler has details:

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office – which denies all liability – will tell the judge that the case should be thrown out, because legal responsibility for any abuses were transferred to the Kenyan government upon independence in 1963.

Mr Justice McCombe will listen to both sides over the next week or so and come to a decision in line with the applicable laws. Not being a lawyer myself, I have no worthwhile opinion on the strict legal aspects of this matter.

Yet the ethical issues surrounding this case seem to be absolutely clear. True, there were atrocities on both sides, to use the classic formula, and the exact death toll is a matter of debate between specialist historians.

But it is firmly established that the bulk of the atrocities were perpetrated by the colonialists, who of course had no business being in the country in the first place.

The lowest credible estimate of the number of Kenyans killed is around 11,500, although the claims go as high 70,000. The Mau Mau were responsible for around 2,000 of these deaths. The courts authorised 1,090 executions, and the use of torture and mass detention was widespread.

It must of course be established whether the plaintiffs were indeed the recipients of such treatment. But if this is demonstrably so, they have a moral right to recompense.

Of course, if Britain were to be held retrospectively liable for the slave trade, the Irish and Indian famines, the decimation of Australia’s indigenous population, the concentration camps of the Boer war, the Amritsar massacre and all too many other occurrences throughout its imperialist history, this country would be skint.

There is an argument to be had as to what cut off point – if any – should apply. But the suppression of what was known at the time as ‘the Kenya emergency’, with the first word pronounced ‘keen-yer’, was the work of my father’s generation.

The PA has more:

“The test case claimants, Ndiku Mutua, Paulo Nzili, Wambugu Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara, who are in their 70s and 80s, have flown 4,000 miles from their rural homes for the trial, which will also consider whether the claim was brought outside the legal time limit.

The judge heard that Mr Mutua and Mr Nzili had been castrated, Mr Nyingi was beaten unconscious in an incident in which 11 men were clubbed to death, and Mrs Mara had been subjected to appalling sexual abuse.

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The Lobby.

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There is often talk about “the Lobby”, and those words have a certain resonance and conjure up an unpleasant mental picture for most of us, however, I am going to argue that the real lobby in the world is hardly ever discussed, in any meaningful way.

That is the extent of its power.

Clearly, we hear bits about it, in a broad sense, yet it is rarely analysed for its component parts, wider geopolitical influence and negative effect on human rights.

It spans the globe.

Nevertheless, much of the discussion relating to it comes across in a rather crude materialistic fashion, lacking subtlety and depth

There is seldom any piercing critique of the countries involved, the powerful players, the governments, the vested interests, the paid lobbyists, the various parliamentarians on the payroll, etc and above all, the oil companies.

Yes, that is the Lobby I am talking about, the oil lobby.

Dan Froomkin at HuffPost has a good article, which touches upon some of the issues:

“With so much public opposition, why do subsidies remain? You might as well ask why there is no carbon tax, or why there was no significant reform legislation passed after the BP oil spill.

The answer is that one of the many things the industry can do with its fat pocketbook is hire a veritable army of sharp lobbyists and back them up with big wads of cash in the form of campaign donations and spending. The end result is that the industry has a remarkable ability to get its way on Capitol Hill.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ website, the oil and gas industry has spent more than $1 billion on lobbying since 1998, including a jaw-dropping $147 million just last year.

For comparison’s sake, $147 million is about equivalent to the total budget of 100 congressional offices. That’s more than the $103 million spent in 2010 by the financial service industry, another potent lobbying force — but considerably less than the $240 million spent by the pharmaceutical industry. Among major industries, Opensecrets.org ranked Big Oil fifth in terms of lobbying dollars spent, behind only Big Pharma, electric utilities, business associations and insurance.

The oil and gas industry used its $147 million to employ 788 individual lobbyists in 2010 — some 500 (or almost two thirds) of whom, according to Opensecrets.org, are former federal employees who came through the revolving door particularly well versed in the ways of government.

All told, that’s well more than one oil and gas lobbyist per member of Congress out there on the Hill arming allies with talking points and briefing books, spinning the undecided and pressuring the opposition.

And there’s more of them every year. Consider the trendlines. As recently as 2004, the oil and gas industry spent about $52 million a year in lobbying; by 2009, that figure was up to $175 million — or a 300 percent increase in just five years.

The industry backs up its extraordinary lobbying effort with lavish spending on political campaigns. Candidates associated with oil and gas companies made about $15 million in direct campaign donations during the 2010 mid-term election cycle ($26 million during the 2008 presidential cycle).

The industry was also responsible for more than $10 million in donations through its political action committees, or PACs, in the 2010 cycle. “

Written by modernityblog

07/04/2011 at 02:00