Many of you will have noticed the absence of posts on the Osterley Times. It is with regret that I have to tell you that Kel, the man behind the Osterley Times, died suddenly on 28 October 2010. Kel was many things. A Labour man. A working-class hero. A ...
Many of you will have noticed the absence of posts on the Osterley Times. It is with regret that I have to tell you that Kel, the man behind the Osterley Times, died suddenly on 28 October 2010.
Kel was many things. A Labour man. A working-class hero. A socialist. All labels that could be applied to him, yet none that defined him. Kel's loyalty to the Labour party, or rather what the Labour party had stood for, did not preclude him from critiquing the failures of Tony Blair and others in New Labour. His socialism was not romantic, but pragmatic. He argued for equality and fairness for all, and pointed out where socialist experiments of the past had failed to deliver these very things. A modest man, he was proud of his working-class roots, but I think would have been embarrassed to wear the epithet of hero. He was just a boy from Cranhill who had made it, and he wished to see a world where his successes and expectations could be the norm, not the exception.
Kel had a biting wit and could cut down the mighty with a pithy rejoinder, amply demonstrated across years of blogging. I was perpetually amazed that by the time I had eaten breakfast, Kel could produce three or four compelling blog posts, fully researched, and often updated. He was incredibly aware of what was happening in politics globally, one minute talking about the Middle East peace process, the next keeping an eye on the progress of legislation through the American Congress, before returning to the UK to examine corruption in Parliament.
No political topic escaped his understanding, and nobody was above criticism.
Although a man of the left, Kel was inherently fair-minded. As scathing as he was when he felt people were plainly wrong, he was as quick to praise when he saw people doing right, even if politically they were on the other side of the spectrum from him.
In the month since his passing we have seen direct action on the streets of Britain by students, campaigning against the increase in tuition fees. The US mid-term elections have finished, and President Obama faces the run up to re-election with a Congress no longer fully controlled by Democrats. Wikileaks has taken on the might of the US Government, its founder Julian Assange is facing deportation to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault, and the US have indicated they want him extradited to America.
All these topics were the bread and butter of the Osterley Times, and I feel strangely out of touch with them now. I feel behind the times, as many news stories were brought to my attention, not by the mainstream media, but by Kel.
We who knew him will miss his compassion, his strong desire to see the right thing done, his warmth and humour, and above all his humanity. All these things were Kel, and all these things shone through on this website.
I can think of no better tribute to his memory than this site, where his words speak for him far better than I can.
Michael Steele makes the pathetic claim that the Republicans - The Party of No - did not attempt to obstruct the Obama administration, and that they really, really, wanted to co-operate with the regime.
Yeah, sure Micheal. That's why the GOP decided they liked the health care bill when it was Bob Dole's idea, or something akin to Romney-care, but once a Democrat put it out there for a vote, suddenly it was "Socialism" and the Republicans all voted against it. Spare me.
They have spent the last two years obstructing Obama at every turn. To attempt to argue the opposite now is simply pathetic.
On November 30, 2009, Beck claimed: "I just gave an interview just the other day, where people said 'so you're going to be endorsing candidates?' I said not over -- not on -- over my dead body will I be endorsing candidates." Since then, Beck has claimed: "I don't ever endorse anybody. Nor do I want to. I'll tell you what I think about individuals, but I don't endorse them. I don't lend my credibility to anybody. I struggle to keep my credibility with myself."
Beck: "I don't want to tell who to vote for." From the September 20 edition of his Fox News show (emphasis added):
BECK: Well, what's the solution? Well, the immediate thing you can do is vote. You are the last line of defense -- and our founders knew. Our founders that, in the end, our branches of government would fail and the last line of defense would be you.
But here's the problem. Our turn-out is pathetic. Now, I don't want to tell who to vote for. I don't even know the candidates. Sean covers the candidates. I don't.
Listen to the above recording and ask yourself if you can divine any hint of who Beck would like you to vote for.
He is clearly pushing candidates like Christine O'Donnell. It's beyond doubt who he wants you to vote for.
For this man to claim that he will not endorse any candidate is simply a joke.
We learned yesterday of the US ignoring Iraqis torturing Iraqis, and today The Guardian have managed to unearth British army training methods which appear to be in direct breach of the Geneva Conventions.
Training materials drawn up secretly in recent years tell interrogators they should aim to provoke humiliation, insecurity, disorientation, exhaustion, anxiety and fear in the prisoners they are questioning, and suggest ways in which this can be achieved.
One PowerPoint training aid created in September 2005 tells trainee military interrogators that prisoners should be stripped before they are questioned. "Get them naked," it says. "Keep them naked if they do not follow commands." Another manual prepared around the same time advises the use of blindfolds to put prisoners under pressure.
A manual prepared in April 2008 suggests that "Cpers" – captured personnel – be kept in conditions of physical discomfort and intimidated. Sensory deprivation is lawful, it adds, if there are "valid operational reasons". It also urges enforced nakedness.
The images which emerged from Abu Ghraib were supposed to be the work of a few American bad apples, but it is becoming increasingly clear that both the American and the British interrogation methods had been changed and that nakedness and humiliation had become part and parcel of the way in which both country's interrogators chose to elicit the maximum information.
More recent training material says blindfolds, earmuffs and plastic handcuffs are essential equipment for military interrogators, and says that while prisoners should be allowed to sleep or rest for eight hours in each 24, they need be permitted only four hours unbroken sleep. It also suggests that interrogators tell prisoners they will be held incommunicado unless they answer questions.
These are clear breaches of the Geneva Conventions which state that no "physical or moral coercion" is permissible.
I used to believe that this was simply an American problem, but the Guardian's discovery of this British training manual must lead one to conclude that this became official coalition policy during the War on Terror.
Next month, at the high court in London, lawyers representing more than 100 Iraqis who were held and interrogated by British forces, between the March 2003 invasion and April 2007, will argue that there is compelling evidence that they were tortured in a systematic manner.
The abuse, documented by a team of lawyers led by a Birmingham solicitor, Phil Shiner, includes 59 allegations of detainees being hooded, 11 of electric shocks, 122 of sound deprivation through the use of earmuffs, 52 of sleep deprivation, 131 of sight deprivation using blackened goggles, 39 of enforced nakedness and 18 allegations that detainees were kept awake by pornographic DVDs played on laptops.
At a preliminary hearing, a high court judge said it appeared to be accepted by the MoD that there were "arguable cases of ill-treatment" and added: "It appears also to be accepted that there is an arguable case of something systemic."
I, long ago, came to the conclusion that American use of torture was systemic, simply based on the fact that what was happening (everywhere where torture was alleged) all followed a familiar pattern: enforced nakedness, use of noise and light to produce sleep deprivation, and a myriad of other things, were almost always without aberration. One never heard of nails being pulled out, of eyes gouged. It really was as if they were following a textbook.
The Guardian today reveal the British version of that textbook.
Someone, somewhere, gave permission for this. Someone authorised it.
David Brooks is going to great lengths to say that anonymous financing is not a big deal.
DAVID BROOKS: I think it’s tremendously corrupting in Washington. The question is does it affect the electorate? And I guess-- does it affect voters? A couple things. First, it’s important to remember the outside money is only ten percent of the total money. Most can-- most money is still candidate driven and it’s-- party driven. The second thing is the money is flowing in on both sides. Ask me, the public sector worker, $87 million. The NEA, $40 million. So, there’s a ton of money.
DAVID GREGORY: But you do know where they’re coming from?
DAVID BROOKS: Right. That’s-- that’s exactly right. The untransparent money is a genuine problem. But then this third thing, the final thing is does it affect voters? We’ve got $3.5 billion being spent on this election. Some of these outside funds like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, they’re spending $12 million. Do we really think that’s affecting? And then if you’ve got a race like in Colorado, where the Democrat and the Republican are each throwing 5,000 ads at each other. Do we really think if one candidate throws 7,000 as opposed to 5,000 it’s gonna make a big difference?
Erm, yes! Is he seriously arguing that these ads make no difference to the outcome of the election? If that was really the case then why would either party waste so much money advertising?
It does make a difference. And, I suspect, Brooks is making this very bad and ill thought out argument because he really doesn't want anyone spending too much time asking who is behind these adverts.