Saturday, 25 August 2012

Neil Armstrong

Understandably tomorrow's papers will be full of the death of the first man on the moon, and no doubt also will be much tedious discussions on whether it was all faked. Meanwhile I was intrigued by this from the Telegragh:

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Breaching International Law?

I've commented on the case of Assange before, here and here. And the case still rumbles on. Currently Assange is trying to claim asylum in Ecuador via their embassy in London, and in a rather unusual and controversial move, the UK Government is threaten to revoke the status of the Ecuadorean Embassy in order to arrest him - using a little known law passed in 1987 in response to the shooting of Yvonne Fletcher.
Carl Gardner, a former government lawyer, said the law was specifically designed to stop acts of terrorism of other breaches of international law within a foreign embassy, which Ecuador was not guilty of. 
The fallout to Britain's diplomatic reputation should such actions be taken would be enormous and hugely damaging:
Sir Tony Brenton, who served as the United Kingdom's ambassador to Russia between 2004 and 2008, said "arbitrarily" overturning the status of the building where Mr Assange has taken shelter to avoid extradition, would make life 'impossible' for British diplomats overseas.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme: "I think the Foreign Office have slightly overreached themselves here, for both practical and legal reasons.
"The Government itself has no interest in creating a situation where it is possible for governments everywhere to arbitrarily cut off diplomatic immunity. It would be very bad."
So why would they even contemplate creating such a situation? Well a clue can be found in the document presented to Ecuador by British diplomats in Quito (my emphasis):
We are aware, and surprised by media reports in the last 24 hours, that Ecuador is about to take a decision and proposes to grant asylum to Mr. Assange. The reports quote official sources. We note that the (Ecuadorean) President (Rafael Correa) has stated that no decision has yet been made.

We are concerned, if true, that this might undermine our efforts to agree a joint text setting out the positions of both countries, allowing Mr. Assange to leave the Embassy.

As we have previously set out, we must meet our legal obligations under the European Arrest Warrant Framework Decision and the Extradition Act 2003, to arrest Mr. Assange and extradite him to Sweden. We remain committed to working with you amicably to resolve this matter. But we must be absolutely clear this means that should we receive a request for safe passage for Mr. Assange, after granting asylum, this would be refused, in line with our legal obligations.
Thus the priority is we must meet our EU obligations above and beyond our own country's interests even if it means international ridicule, condemnation and isolation. Happy days.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

You Really Do Despair...

It speaks for itself:

People Power?

One story that, sadly yet unsurprisingly, has been deemed to be less important to the papers than a load of people running around a track, is the tragic situation of Tia Sharp.

Understandably it raises much emotion, to the extent that there have been reports of copious cars full of young armed men roaming the estate looking for the missing step-grandfather until he was arrested. Also has been much criticism of the Police taking so long to find a body. Now I'm no fan of plod but it's worth noting that, at the time of writing, the facts appear to be as follows:
  • A body has been found, but has not yet been identified.

  • No cause for the death has yet been established,

  • How long the body resided where it was found has not yet been confirmed

  • Some family members have been arrested, which is not the same as being charged nor indeed being guilty.
  • Murder cases of this type normally involve complicated family dynamics which are likely to play a part, rushing in like the Sweeney is counter-productive to say the least.
Yet people power have already made their judgement. Imagine a referendum as part of Direct Democracy under these circumstances. Rather than an informed debate about the pros and cons on what is a very emotive subject - where there are powerful arguments on both sides, instead those opposed on legitimate grounds will be drowned out by a chorus of 'hang the bastard' - in essence policy by the Daily Mail. I would argue that does not make for a healthy democracy.

Thus simply transferring power from Government to the people results in precisely the same outcome we're complaining about now. If referisim is to achieve anything it is to establish a situation where the power of the people and their government cancels each other out. In short we need a balance of power between ourselves and our government.

Monday, 6 August 2012


Apologises for the temporary radio silence here at TBF towers...I've been distracted on a personal level which has prevented me from contributing to the Harrogate debate and other matters.

In the meantime I just thought I'd menschion that one of the most talented Tory MPs ever has called it a day - bored after 2 years - citing that old chestnut family reasons for her resignation:
Louise Mensch, the outspoken Conservative who has gained a huge following on social media, has unexpectedly resigned as MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire. 
I'd also like to point out that it's just not us that has noticed what's gone wrong in this country:

Bolt, who declared his intention to achieve legendary status by winning a third successive Olympic 100 metres final in Rio in 2016, said his normal routine had been disrupted by the myriad rules imposed by organisers of the Games in London.

He said: “There are a lot of rules, oh my God. You can’t do anything. I was coming and wanted to bring my tablets in and they said I couldn’t. I asked why. It is just a rule.

“I had my skipping rope in my bag and they said I can’t bring it in. Why? It is just a rule. What if I need to take a rubber band inside to stretch? I can’t take it inside because it is a rule.

"It is just very small rules that don’t make any sense to me. [Before the 100m final] the guy was telling us to line up. We were about to race and we were being told to stand in a straight line. It is kind of weird.”
And in addition Curiosity has landed safely on Mars:
A £1.6 billion one-ton robot rover the size of a small car landed safely on Mars today after one of the most daring and difficult interplanetary operations attempted. The six-wheeled rover Curiosity was lowered to the Martian surface on three nylon tethers suspended from a hovering "sky crane" kept airborne with retro rockets.
An expected signal confirming that the robot had landed was received on Earth at 6.31am UK time.
A marvel of human ingenuity - at a fraction of the cost of the London Olympics. Make of that what you will...

I'll be right back...