Freethinkeruk’s Weblog

UK Political weblog

Archive for the month “February, 2009”

Israel’s White Phosphorous in Gaza

The last I heard from Israel was denying using white phosphorous bombs on Gaza. These disgusting weapons (aren’t they all) burn with great intensity and can only be put out by covering them and keeping them covered with sand. Should a piece of this substance strike a human being it will stick on and burn right through to the bones.  These bombs are intended to provide smoke screens on the battlefield and are illegal to use against civilians. A question was asked in the Commons yesterday about mine clearance in Gazaen schools and the Minister confirmed a report by MAG that white phosphorous bomb parts had been removed. Q.E.D.

Colin Breed (South East Cornwall, Liberal Democrat) | Hansard source

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent reports he has received from the Mines Advisory Group on the types of unexploded ordinance it has removed from schools in Gaza.

Douglas Alexander (Secretary of State, Department for International Development; Paisley & Renfrewshire South, Labour) | Hansard source

There are 157 UNICEF-supported schools in Gaza, and work with the Palestinian Ministry of Education identified 40 as high risk in terms of potential unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination. These schools have been visited by technicians from the Mines Advisory Group (MAG). During this clearance 40mm high explosive grenades, as well as 81mm and 120mm high explosive mortars, were removed. Remnants of exploded ordnance were also taken away, including parts of Hell Fire missiles and 155mm high explosive and white phosphorous artillery shells.

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Cash for Peers

Among all the news about the economy, rising unemployment and the ex HBOS,  head of the FSA furore, was slipped in that the police are not going to investigate the allegations of corruption in the House of Lords.

It has been alleged that four peers seemed willing to accept substantial sums of money by lobbyists in return for pushing amendments to bills that would favour the benefactors. Having spent millions on the ‘cash for honours’ scandal and got nowhere we can perhaps understand the reluctance of the police to venture into the political nightmare of the Lords.

This just leaves us with the unedifying spectacle of the Lords investigating themselves and I for one have little doubt as to the whitewash that will eventually emerge. The four accused may or may not be guilty but in the unlikely event that they were found to be so there are no sanctions that can be imposed upon them. They cannot be thrown out and no matter how the people of this nation feel, they cannot be voted out out either because they were never voted in.

We were promised before the 1997 election that there would be democratic reform of the second chamber and we are still waiting. Power belongs to the people and the people must have the right to remove power from who have been granted undemocratic positions.

What Does It All Mean?

Any comments welcomed. The only answer that springs to my mind is ‘disaster’ but I can’t get my head around why.

Worship at Schools

A head teacher at a primary school in Sheffield found herself in the middle of a protest when she wanted to introduce a single act of worship rather than the separate assemblies that were happening before her arrival two years ago. Parents complained about her intention to scrap separate assemblies for Muslim pupils and the head teacher, Julia Robinson, has now resigned.

Two issues emerge from this. Firstly, should there be separate acts of worship for various religious groups? I think not as this will engender feelings of difference rather community and this born out by the education act 1944 which states that a single act of worship be carried out each day and mainly of a Christian nature. Parents though have the right to opt out and keep their children away from this assembly and of course maintain a ‘difference’.

A more fundamental question would be; should our children be subjected to an act of worship at all? The job of our schools is to educate and so, yes, they should be informed about all the different religions and their practices. They should not though be indoctrinated into any religious practice.

I hope the time will soon come when our education system will make a fundamental change and become purely secular and teach only what is known to be true.

The Right to Die

The Italian senate is to debate the case of a woman who has been in a coma since 1992 and who’s father has arranged for he to be taken to a care home where they will withdraw life support from her and allow her to die.

Silvio Berlusconi with the conivance of the Vatican has tried to make this act of mercy impossible. Another case of the Church having undue influence on secular law as happens here too often. If some people wish to hold certain beliefs and choose to obey rules of the leaders of those beliefs well fine but those beliefs should not, must not, be allowed to affect the rest of us.

There should certainly be a right to die. If I, for example, should be unfortunate enough to contract terminal cancer what advantage is it to me or anyone else that I should linger on in a distressed state or in pain? It is no one’s business but mine. In the event that anyone ends up in a coma with no realistic chance of coming out of it then the relatives should be enabled to take the decision to allow that person to pass away.

No law, ever, should be drawn up with the assistance of or diluted by, a church or any other religious body. The right to die includes by default the right to live so if someone did not wish to claim their right to die they do not have to.

Support This Mother & Her Daughters

A Nigerian mother, Pamela Izevbekhai, who escaped from Nigeria with her two young daughters to Eire is fighting deportation. Although her husband who is still in Nigeria, supports her, his family want to seize the girls and perform ritual female genital mutilation (FGM). In other words the girl is held down and her clitoris and probably her labia cut off with a razor blade. Her first daughter had this barbaric act done to her and bled to death. No wonder then that this mother took her other daughters and fled seeking sanctuary. The following video says more than I ever can.


If you would like to support Pamela Izevbekhai then this link will show you how. Although FGM is illegal in the UK and other ‘civilised’ countries it’s worth pointing out that mutilating boys through circumcision is STILL lawful in the UK!

Here We Go Again

Another BBC presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, has been recorded in Australia referring to the Prime Minister as a “One eyed, Scottish Idiot.” Off they go, the pc army, those largely self appointed representatives of the disabled joining forces with the Scots.

imagesAll right what he said doesn’t sound very friendly does it but let’s take it apart a bit. ‘One eyed’ is a fact although I can never quite decide which is which. ‘Scottish,’ well he is Scottish; ‘idiot’ well that’s a bit iffy and depends on your point of view but Clarkson obviously thinks so.

We must accept that people whether in the public eye or not must be allowed to say what they think or we will end up in a sanitised, controlled, boring world.

Wind Turbines

It seems that it doesn’t matter in which part of the country you live, as soon as a proposal is put in for planning consent to build wind turbines there is immediately a local campaign set up to oppose them.

In some cases of course there are indeed good reasons for opposition and a perfect example would be the plan (now scrapped thankfully) to build a 420ft turbine at the Eden Project in Cornwall. This turbine at twice the height of Nelson’s Column would be seen for miles in one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. By the way, the Eden Project is a registered charity and has gobbled up huge grants from the Lottery and other sources but is in fact a massive tourist attraction which is probably why they wanted to erect a record breaking turbine.

As a nation we need energy and we need to reduce our carbon emissions and wind generated energy does both. Yes, the wind does not always blow but it usually blows somewhere in the UK so electricity production can be almost continuous. Wave and tidal movement is continuous although conditions obviously pose problems to be solved and ‘clean’ coal fired power stations may also contribute to our needs.

One thing is certain though, if wind powered generation is opposed and rejected at the rate that it is then the Government will have a perfect excuse to say that nuclear power is essential. Now what would you rather have near you, a windmill or a nuclear power station? These in fact create carbon emissions in the mining and extraction of uranium along with huge health problems for those involved who are mostly in the developing world. The risks of a nuclear accident are real, remember Three Mile Island, Windscale, Chernobyl. The radioactive waste must be managed for upwards of 5,000 years and so committing hundreds of generations to vast cost and risk.

When a wind farm proposal comes up near us let’s stop and think for a moment before jumping on the anti campaign. After all, they are really quite beautiful in a modern sculpture sort of way.

Political Correctness

Political Correctness, it drives me mad sometimes, well, often actually. Many decades ago when freethinker was just a toddler my prized possession was a Golliwog. I took it everywhere and still remember it fondly when all other toys are forgotten, apart that is from Rupert the Bear.

Carol Thatcher has lost her job on The One Show for a casual remark that the hair of a tennis player looked like a Golliwog. The tennis player was originally said to be Andy Murray but there seem to be differences of opinion arising as time passes. The remark wasn’t even on air. Good grief what is the BBC coming to? Scared of every PC shadow.

I suspect that most of you reading this wont even know what a Golliwog was and so here is a picture of one An Australian firm still make them, Not so bothered about PC there then!

Censorship and perhaps particularly self censorship as a response to pressure, is a destroyer of freedom. It has been suggested that the complaint arose because of a loathing of the actions of Carol’s mother which makes the situation even worse. No one, I suspect, could loathe Margaret Thatcher’s reign more than me but to take it out on her daughter is even more loathsome.

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