Clowns & Jokers

Stuck in the middle.... Left, right, centre. It's a mess out there.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Leave Well Alone

Honestly I really think that there are some battles worth fighting but that this isn’t one of them. The existing legislation doesn’t need tinkering with – access is already adequate, one or two doctors signatures on a form makes little bureacratic difference in surgeries staffed by several and the involvement of a doctor should surely remain paramount as a duty of care (it is ridiculous to suggest a nurse be in charge). Additionally rattling cages gives rise to this sort of nonsense.

The call, at a time of concern about teenage pregnancy, will increase concerns that women will turn to abortion instead of contraception.

Will we? Thanks for telling me. What an absolutely appauling and ludicrous generalisation. To suggest that most women would seek abortions rather than contraception is a sensational press tactic aimed at ramping up the abortion debate for all the wrong reasons. The regulations on abortion ‘bureaucracy’ don’t need messing with, and even less so when they are seized upon to present all women as heartless thoughtless morons or conflate the issue with failing attempts to reduce teen pregnancy, another scaremongering tactic – and all in one fully loaded alarmist sentence!

If an objective is to lower the numbers of teen pregnancies then start by looking at the ‘incentives’ to leave it to chance in the first place. A pregnancy represents a shoe-in to a council property, the socialist legacy of rewarding you for being ‘poor’.

An abortion remains a last resort for most women and more worryingly now in the UK is becoming an increasingly contentious 'right' (if you can call it that). The arguments in favour of attacking legislation use statistics to present their case. This one from Canada where completely relaxed legislation is argued as the factor for 90% of abortions being undertaken early on in a pregnancy. But compare that with the UK where the stats are the same under existing tighter legislation. (89% of abortions were carried out at 13 weeks; 67% were at under 10 weeks).

If anything amending the law will send out an unnecessary and confused message on such a sensitive issue. I think The British Pregnancy and Advisory Service should leave the more than adequate UK legislation as it is and refocus their efforts on the teen pregnancy debate, eg prevention.

At the same time today the same issue is viewed from the other end of the spectrum by The Washington Post reporting on the effects of Nicaragua’s absolutist abortion laws. An estimated 32,500 women get illegal and potentially unsafe (‘backstreet’) abortions in Nicaragua every year and account for 16 percent of the more than 100 maternal deaths there annually. Worldwide - 70,000 women die each year from the same.

For the UK pre-the 1967 Abortion Act it was estimated by a parliamentary committee that the treatment of abortion accounted for as many as 20% of gynaelogical admissions. An estimated 100,000 to 150,000 abortions were carried out illegally in 1966 ~ this compares with 185,000 legal abortions carried out in 2005.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A young Afghan girl, looks on as the Provisional Reconstruction team (PRT) patrol to the south of Lashkar Gar, in order to discuss various matters with members of a village. This image was taken during Operation Herrick IV, the UK's deployment into Helmand Province of Southern Afghanistan. Operation Herrick IV saw the development of the Helmand Task Force in the province, which saw the cross Governmental Provincial Reconstruction Team set up in Lashkar Gar, to help the Afghan Government build strong governmental institutions, security and create jobs. The Task Force was made up of 3300 troops from the British Military, with the majority being taken from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion the Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters in the Aybak caves in northern Afghanistan, which date back over a thousand years.

It is in this area where the troops are operating as members of the Afghan Provincial Reconstruction Teams.

An officer from HQ 16 Air Assault Brigade, shows the very eager children of a small village pictures he had just taken of them. Provisional Reconstruction team (PRT) patrol to the south of Lashkar Gar in order to discuss various matters with members of the village.

This image was taken during Operation Herrick IV, the UK's deployment into Helmand Province of Southern Afghanistan.

Operation Herrick IV saw the development of the Helmand Task Force in the province, which saw the cross Governmental Provincial Reconstruction Team set up in Lashkar Gar, to help the Afghan Government build strong governmental institutions, security and create jobs. The Task Force was made up of 3300 troops from the British Military, with the majority being taken from 16 Air Assault Brigade.

A judo coaching session for girls in Kabul, Afghanistan, conducted by a female Flt Lt serving in the RAF. After seeing an article in "The World of Judo" magazine, about the state of judo in Afghanistan, a female Flt Lt decided she could help. As a former GB international, a qualified coach and the captain of the RAF ladies judo team she contacted the President of the Afghan Judo Federation, Zakaria Assadi, to ascertain what could be done.

The result was a two-day training package in Kabul and the donation of 30 mats from the UK's Royal Air Force (RAF) Judo Association and £2,000 worth of judo suits from Fighting Films, a UK-based martial arts equipment supplier. The Flt Lt is an RAF officer serving with the British detachment at Kandahar in Southern Afghanistan. The British presence leading NATO's International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) in the region is tasked with stabilising life south of the capital Kabul as well as regenerating society within Kandahar and neighbouring Helmand Province.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jon B. Woods, a medical officer, examines an Afghan girl's loose tooth during a village medical outreach in Andarh village, Daychopan district, Afghanistan, June 12, 2006. DoD photo by Sgt. Andre Reynolds, U.S. Army.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


I have full access to an internet connection again and a better chance of blogging properly again...finally, after a busy few months. I'm no longer on the Jack Idema blogroll. For updates see Rottweiler Puppy on Wednesday. Am also contributing to A Tangled Web....hopefully more often than not now.

Monday, November 20, 2006


...normal service will resume shortly. I dont have proper access to an internet connection at the moment....Hopefully this will be resolved mid week....

Unusually Im going to recommend you watch a BBC current affairs programme called THIS WEEK which isnt half bad...pretty English eccentric in style and commentary...but alright considering. Includes an interesting point of view and discussion on the terror threat with French philosopher Henri Levy. He's excellent. You can also watch 'the big clunking fist' debate in the Commons. And you might catch a funny remark from one of the MPs before the Queen arrives to open Parliament - in which he asks Black Rod (who announces the Queen is running late).... whether or not 'Helen Mirren is on standby'. Very funny....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Women - Know Your Place!

Following on from a previous post about Malalai Joya & stressing the importance of success for our forces in Afghanistan, I was pleased to find she also has a website,...together with an interesting piece dated October 27th posted here.

Malalai is an outspoken MP working in that mysoginist rathole, & risking her life daily. She warns:-

"Warlords who have now learned how to talk about democracy and women and how to wear a suit and a tie" - are no better than the Taliban:

"Every country that wants to prove itself as real and honest friends of the Afghan people must stop following the policy of the U.S., because this is not a real democracy and this is not a real war on terror. At one hand they are saying 'we fight the Taliban' and on the other we have members of parliament who are Taliban. The only way is to stop this policy. If they don't stop this policy, I am sure that one day there will be another September 11. Another September 11 will happen — because they are like the Taliban [and] they will act like the Taliban."

She goes on to explain....

"Look, they want again an office of 'vice and virtue,' just like the Taliban had, and which they used as a pretext for their crimes. This is the reason we want a secular government. With a secular government, they cannot commit their crimes in the name of Islam. Or in the name of Jihad. Until these warlords, these drug lords, who right now have the support of the U.S. and its allies in our country, until they become powerless, our people can never hope for democracy, women rights, human rights, and especially security in Afghanistan."

As one example of the approach that Joya objects to, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., while visiting Afghanistan two weeks ago, voiced his support for efforts to bring "people who call themselves Taliban into a larger, more representative government." (Remind you of anything?) She says these are the same "warlords and drug lords [who] committed lots of crimes when they were in power under the name of jihad and even now are committing lots of crimes under the name of jihad and Islam."

"I'd like to remind you how easy it was," she adds, "for the U.S. to destroy the government of the Taliban. It was very easy when they wanted it, right after 9/11. And I would like to tell you, and especially those countries around the world that support these criminals who are now in the government, that they have the same ideals as the Taliban. One day, they will do another September 11. They are more dangerous than the Taliban right now because they are in power."

OK so I'm in danger of becoming a femininst. But not the bra burning see just how much testosterone fuelled mysoginist religious influence affects us all (men and religion ..or man-made religion, however you care to view it - oh the joys!) ~ read

"Nobody will ever win the Battle of the Sexes. There's just too much fraternizing with the enemy" ~ Henry Kissinger - and without doubt thats what scares the crap out of the jihadists.


I agree with him though he might not always agree with me.

"Amazing thing democracy. What are Guardian CIF commentators going to do if a Democrat is elected President and all the ills of the world don't disappear when Bush goes back to his ranch?Will their heads implode? Can I watch?"

(Can't wait)

Oh and the accompanying comment:

"Pseudo-leftists will be exposed as the fascist-accomodating runts that they are. It's time to play more hard core, not less. Not that the Dems are that great, even from a British "Blairite" perspective (we'll need to find a new word for that position), but that it will no longer be able to talk of "Amerikkka". What a fucking relief. Finally. Let's shit them up. Should be fairly easy"

Ill resist the temptation to refer to the US as the 'United States of Arabia' in spite of the vitriol the US conservatives have chucked Europe's way for lesser offences (hat tip JOnz):

Hizbollah judge elected in Michigan.

Then there's that dodgy sounding Nation of Islam guy elected as first US muslim congressman ~ Keith Ellison. I don't feel quite so bad about Galloway now.

I see LGF managed to miss the reasonable Figaro article i posted about anti americanism (what, they dont read MH?! lol) and focus on France 'rejoicing'. Presumably to give them somebody else to direct their doom mongering at in an hour of need. Who better than the French after all...(or the UK..or Europe...). Its like saying 'OK, these Democrats - maybe..dey natsogood - but hey look're burning!'

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dove Evolution Commercial

The exacting western standards of beauty.

We Have No Value

Cross posted at ATW

It is crucial we succeed in Afghanistan. NATO's reputation is on the line and failure to tackle the re-emergence of Taliban forces there will embolden terrorists and strengthen their worldwide agenda. Without success there it will become a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda. Added to which we cannot abandon the people of Afghanistan themselves. Whilst it is important to succeed in Iraq I am concerned that our failure to support the fragile democracy in Afghanistan has allowed resurgent forces to regain control and in particular to threaten women’s rights. This is absolutely essential if the balance of power in a testosterone fuelled culture is to change.

Although the Taliban has been driven from power, Afghan women still suffer under fundamentalist persecution. Yes, some of the most notable achievements in ousting the Taliban included a small step forward in women’s rights. Afghan girls have been permitted to go to school and women have been allowed to rejoin the work force. But recent events indicate that fundamentalist restrictions on women are taking hold in Afghanistan again. And the Northern Alliance still includes a collection of Mujahadeen warlords of whom women, especially, were frequent targets.

It is these warlords who, as reported in The Times today (alongside other harrowing accounts), are threatening incredibly brave women in volatile but important positions - MPs such as 27 year old Malalai Joya, physically attacked in the Afghan parliament, survivor of 4 assassination attempts ~ but solid in her commitment to stay put and shout down the warlords. She is revered as a heroine amongst the people of Afghanistan.

We have no value.” “When I speak, they pelt me with water bottles,” (referring to her fellow male MPs). “One shouted, ‘Take and rape her!’ “The West talks of Afghan women having freedom and going outside without a burqa but I tell you the burqa was not the main problem for women. Look at the high rate of suicide among our women. The real problem is security and more and more are returning to the burqa (for protection).”

As recently as last month Safia Ama Jan the director of Womens Affiars was murdered for standing up to the mysoginist forces tightening their grip again. And whilst President Kharzai was quick to condemn her death I think much more pressure ought to brought to bear on him. Its imperative our forces establish security for the reason I mentioned above but equally crucial that womens status is improved in a country where there is a chance to achieve this. Our government and the US government can no longer afford to cite advances in women’s rights in wistful historical terms. It should be up their on the list above opium cultivation!

I also can’t help but feel hugely disappointed that muslim women in the west, who should champion their ‘muslim sisters’ in Afghanistan are failing them. They have so much in comparison and yet take it for granted. It’s incredibly sad and an inditement on the cultural strategies of the government that they feel more inclined to ignore women who have shown such enormous courage to get the little they have.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Some effagies for today's bonfire. I believe they are from the Battle bonfire celebrations in previous years. Guy Fawkes and Saddam Hussein. Kind of fitting that Saddam Hussein is found guilty and sentenced on November 5th.

1605 - Guy Fawkes and several of his co-conspirators are arrested in London whilst attempting to blow-up the Houses of Parliament. Guards discovered them planting 30 barrels of gun powder in the cellar beneath the building. All are later executed for treason.

The BBCs announcement of the happy news re Saddam is here. Savour their mournful curiosity over his semi triumphant 'smile', hardly worth a mention but they cant help themselves, the drooling over how it won't resolve sectarian violence, the odd wistful note that it is 'a form of victors' justice, given the close attention the US has paid', the unsubtle nod to Human Rights Watch alluding to an 'injustice'...and if that's not enough you can read John Simpsons fawning tribute to the ex Iraqi leader here. I hate the BBC. If Hitler was alive today they would have mourned his suicide.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

France's Era of Self Doubt

The recent events in France and the events we saw unfold this time last year need to be put more in context. Ive often argued elsewhere (and here) that overall what is happening in les banlieues should be seen within the context of what is happening in France as a whole. Its too simplistic to chalk this all up to Islam though it is relevant in a post 9-11 world. When pressed, the trouble makers will refer to a (very palpable) lack of opportunity, a sense of rejection, no equality of opportunity before they start to mention religion. (France is secular after all)

The riots in France are really reminiscent of those that occurred in London or in Toxteth in the early 80s, there are parallels to the L.A riots. Race, densely populated urban areas, immigration, racism, rejection and tension plus a run in with the law. There are parallels between the accidental death of a woman at the hands of the police in Brixton that kicked off the riots in 1982 and the accidental death of 2 young men in France last year. We see young male French North Africans using various missiles in the riots, torching cars mostly,..and balk but then again the Brixton riots saw molotov cocktails being used on the mainland (for the first time ever outside Northern Ireland) and weeks of ensuing destruction. In London the riots ended with the violent death of a police officer (PC Blakelock – hacked to death with machetes) and in Marseilles a young woman - herself an immigrant, possibly even muslim – is seriously injured in an attack on a bus (aimed at the bus driver, perceived as racist for refusing to stop).

These parallels indicate the overwhelming social tensions of the time. Namely, immigration forced on to a society expected to somehow ‘cope’.

France, socially and economically, is going through its 1970s/early 80s. In the UK the 1970s was a decade of decline, social unrest, strikes, crippling union powers. Similarly France rides the same storm, unsure of its footing, with a lame duck President at the helm. ‘Dirigisme’ and ‘protectionism’, which have served France well, are now proving costly political strategies in a global economy.

The French have also resolutely rejected immigrants and done very little to integrate their north African immigrant population. Added to which there is extremely high youth unemployment in France, Thanks to the aforementioned strategies (used by both left and right) –the chances for a young French North African gaining employment after university, are significantly reduced.

There is a good piece that touches on all this, by Sophie Peddler, in the Economist

“Just as Britain battled through its winter of discontent in 1978-79, when rubbish went uncollected, school gates unopened and ambulances undriven, France has fought its way through a series of social upheavals in the past 18 months”

(Of which these riots are a part)

“SOMETHING seems very wrong with this country. Once the very model of a modern major power—stable, rich and smug—it appears beset now by political and economic instability and by civil unrest and disorder. One observer has even taken to calling it 'the sick man of Europe'. Hardly a month passes without the appearance of a new book or learned article on the decline and imminent demise of a once proud country..… written in 1979 by Isaac Kramnick, an American political scientist, and refers to Britain.

The 1970s were Britain's decade of self-doubt, not so unlike the first decade of the 21st century is turning out to be for France”

She goes on to argue the problems are not insurmountable, requiring political will. I agree. My views on anglo-saxon friendly Sarkozy’s chances (and reflecting on the French situation in the same way) remain unchanged from when I posted in Feb this year.T

They certainly have options and opportunities in terms of a new presidency in 2007. Royal or Sarkozy will have to tackle this upheaval...and move to tackle integration. Having studied the British formula on the latter, they have rejected it - to their credit.

My guess is nothing much will be done before 2007 but still, im envious of the opportunity they now have to shape their social structure, integration and future and think that when (not if) they are able to break with the past they will do it maintaining some admirable lifestyle elements. As I said previously, the French have gone all out to protect a way of life that is still largely to be envied. They have staved off cultural decline by fighting tooth and nail for it. This will morph to facilitate the necessary change needed to compete economically and tackle social upheaval. It won’t be easy though. As Peddler concludes “politicians have consistently failed to explain to the citizens why the country cannot afford to go on as before”.