Sarah Palin, misogynist? Saturday, Sep 13 2008 

A quite unbelievable news story. Sarah Palin, the Republican nominee for Vice President in this year’s US elections likes to boast how she has ‘executive experience’, having been Mayor of a small town in Alaska, the Governor for 2 years. Lots of talk how she will pull female voters, and Hillary Clinton supporters from the Democrats.

How insulted must Hillary be? People think because she is a woman her politics wil be closer to Palin’s (anti-enviromnment, anti-science) than Obama’s? Somehow she is the champion for women?

It turns out that while mayor for Wasilla (a very small town- population 6,000) they enacted a law that made raped women pay $300-$1,200 for the rape evidence kit and proceedures used to gather the forensics. The Alaskan state legislature enacted a law to ban this practice specifically aimed at Wasilla, the only town in Alaska that did this.

In response her hand picked chief of police (brought in by her after she forced the previous incumbant out- and there are allegations she did so illegally and vindictively because he wouldn’t fire her former brother-in-law because of the family breakdown) said this law would now put a burden on the taxpayer of between $5,000 and $14,000 per year. Less that Palin was claiming in expenses to LIVE IN HER OWN HOME.

One obvious question is not just of all the things to charge for surely this really is the one thing a police force should provide out of it’s own budget ($2 per person annually) but exactly how such a small town was registering so many rapes each year- simple maths gives between 4 and 45 annually. Even if it is only 10 (at $500 gives the lower figure of $5k) in a population of only 6,000 this seems rather high- 1 in every 300 women (and that includes babies and 90 year olds). What next- charging for the cost of getting to the scene of crime?

Palin is not alone at such degrading treatment of women. Until recently North Carolina had such a law, but at least when it was called into question they had the good grace to be rather embarressed and repeal it, not rant about costs to the taxpayer.

The Left allowed Mugabee to win. Friday, Jul 4 2008 

Mugabee brutalised himself to be the winner of a sham election, and is now receiving the revulsion of the world.  But we act as though this was a surprise.  For years he has subjugated Zimbabwe- my wife long ago became annoyed with me complaining about the use of the phrase “War Veterans” to describe Zanu-PF’s private militia, many of whom were not born when Rhodesia existed.  But where was the opposition accross the world 10 years ago?

Not the Right and the Neo-Cons- no profit in caring about Zimbabwe.  What about those who support the oppressed, the left/liberal forces of the world? Not a peep.  Why?  Because Mugabee is black and fought against white minority rule.  To too many people in the world this made him fire-proof.  To criticise him implied racism.  No; to criticise him was to look beyond colour, and call a thug what he was.

In addition too many African leaders are guilty of racism.  South Africa- the power of southern Africa is quiet about Mugabee’s facist regime.  Why? Because he fought the Colonial power. 

Now we reach a point where he thinks he is invincible.  I can not see a future for Zimbabwe that does not include a bloody civil war, the usual sequal to a dictator- either as the people rise up, or amoung Zanu PF when Mugabee finally dies.

This should be a wake up call for those who claim to speak for the oppressed.  Past triumphs can never excuse present atrocities.

Unpaid Tax? Consult! Sunday, May 11 2008 

Apparently my former employers HM Revenue and Customs are confused about why the ‘Collectable Balance’ (the amount of tax owed/not paid on time) has gone up.

Over the past 3 years they have cut a total of 13,000 jobs, of which about 2-3000 will be Tax Collectors, centralised as much as they could and moved to call centres so they could close local offices.

Where they have centralised they have found that the people didn’t want to follow the job, so they have had to recruit people, while experienced staff are encouraged to leave.  The new people get just a minimal amount of training, and those in call centres basically just read from a script that the computer presents in response to the callers answers (a bit like those pick your own story books).  There is a concerted effort to stop people using their local tax office, and try to get them to do everything online.  The turnover in the call centres is thought to be 50% per year.

The call centres are only allowed to answer 3 questions maximum, and must not advise on anything they are not asked directly (This used to cause me all sorts of problems.  Because the call centre staff didn’t remind the member of the public- sorry ‘customer’- of things that we in the local offices would, the ‘customer’ would think every thing was fine. Until they got their Tax Credits stopped.  During the phone call to get them re-instated the ‘Advisor’ was not allowed to tell them exactly what the consequences were.  So I ended up with lots of people who didn’t understand how they owed back £000’s of pounds THEY WERE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO.).  Answers to questions from staff to the Boardnever actually said ‘Quantity not Quality’ but made it clear that what was expected.

So now tax receipts are down, just as the Union warned.  Senior management can’t understand it. Less staff, but less work gets done.  What is the solution? Hire top Accountants/consultants KPMG for a month to see if they can work it out.

The Board of HMRC- I hope this proves they are incompetent, because as far as I can see, the only other explanation is they are corrupt.

In support of elitism Sunday, Apr 13 2008 

I am sick of people whining ‘elitest’.  I want the best people in charge. Bush was incapabable of running an oil company.  If you can’t turn a profit with an oil company then should you really be in charge of anything outside of SimCity?

I am sick of a culture that says ‘too middle class’, ‘not accessable’, ‘too highbrow’.  Well some of us want something to think about, not soaps, ‘celebs’ and ‘gossip’.  I don’t care who’s sleeping with who, unless it actully affects me.

I want news from trained journalists, not from any idiot with a mobile phone with camera.  Jeremy Paxman was called elitest when he sneered at being toldto ask for viewers news stories on video clip.  I’m with him.

When boarding an aeroplane the pilot isn’t someone who the rest of the passengers like, its someone that has been trained.  Why do we assume that anyone can run a country?

Red Arrows Banned? No! Just more Right Wing Lies Thursday, Apr 3 2008 

There is a online petition complaining about the Red Arrows being banned from the 2012 Olympics.

 Its a lie.

Oh look its in that hate filled rag ‘The Sun’. What a surprise. “Sun tells Right Wing Lie”.  Not exactly news.

A Teddy called Mohammed Saturday, Dec 1 2007 

As every one in Britain is probably aware, Gillian Gibbons, a British teacher in Sudan, has been sentanced to 15 days for allowing her pupils to name the class Teddy Bear Mohammed.  This apparently was so anti-Islam, so hateful, so calculated to insult Muslims, she had to be punished. 15 days in a third world prison, with a crowd of a 1000 protesting, some demanding the death penalty. 

Radio 5 phone in this morning seemed to divide into two camps- the “punish the wogs” type, and the “it’s her own fault for not researching the culture” band.

This is nothing to do with religeon.  This is a classic case of people being used.  Yes there are a few nutters to whom this is such a great insult that they want her dead.  But they are a minority.  There are Christian fundies in the US who would be no better, a point to remember before listening to those who would shout about Muslim barbarians.  There are also too many so called “jihaddis” who seem to take offence at every little comment.

I do not believe that this has anything to do with religeon.  Saddam wrapped himself in Islam to defy the West, though he seemed really not to care that much- Tariq Aziz, his PM is Christian, changing his name to fit in. Baghdad also has a synagog.

 Likewise the Sudanese government is allowing its self the same luxury- using the religeous extremists to mask the position.  Western governments know what the message is- they understand exactly what the Sudanese dictator ship is saying.  “Stay out of Darfur”.

Sudan has been under sustained pressure over its actions in Darfur.  Gibbons is a handy patsy. The message is clear “Intervene, and we will manufacture religeous hatred”.  The Sudanese government are playing to the gallery, the same way as Saddam did- there will always people guillible enough to believe you are their hero, and an attack on you is an attack on them.  It is just possible those protesters are helping to continue their own repression.

The Spirit of Burma Thursday, Sep 27 2007 

I’ve been following the protests in Burma for the past couple of days.  There is something amazing about the human spirit in events such as these.    This time the people know that it is easier for the media worldwide to see what they see.  The site of the monk facing down soldiers shouting “I’m a Monk, beat me” was amazing.  The Dictatorship may be caught with nowhere to go.  The people who are leading the protest are the one section of society who will anger society if they are attacked.

It reminded me of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, bemused border guards realising they can not stop the popular feeling, or Yeltsin acting as the focal point against the Soviet Coup against Gorbachev.  The velvet and Orange revolutions in Eastern Europe.  Most of all it reminds me of the lone man who stood in front of a column of tanks at Tianamen Square- a sight of extreme bravery.  I hope the people of Burma are more successful than he ultimately was.

For and Against a DNA database on everyone Thursday, Sep 6 2007 

I am against ID cards- the digitised picture would allow the security forces to track you via CCTV coupled face recognition computers that could track anyone felt to be a bit ‘not us’.   However a senior judge has said everyone in the UK should be held on a DNA database.  What are your feelings (more after the fold)


I will not mourn Diana Saturday, Aug 25 2007 

This week sees the 10th anniversary of the death of Diana, self styled “People’s Princess”.  No doubt we will be expected to all shriek and indulge in self flagellation, emotionally if not physically, and all say how much we miss her, and how much she meant to us all personally.

 I do not miss her. (more…)

An American Patriot Wednesday, Jul 4 2007 

Kenneth Olberman, news broadcaster and commentator on MSNBC calling Bush out for lies and corruption.  Worth YouTubing his other stuff too. 

 Thanks to  Les for the orginal heads up.

Why the British constitution is fun… Sunday, Jul 1 2007 

Okay, not fun exactly, but I needed a title.

 What I like about Britain’s constitution are all the little quirks in it.  This entry is inspired by one in particular.

 Tony Blair resigned as PM on Wednesday.  People also know he resigned as an MP.

WRONG.  MPs are not allowed to resign- this is because back in the 19th century some were elected against their will.  So how does an MP step down in the middle of a parliament? They can choose not to stand for re-election, but Tone would have had to wait another two or three years for this.

 What happens is the Chancellor of the Exchequer appoints an MP as “Steward and Bailliff of the Chiltern Hundreds”- a title stretching back 800 years to a time when the Chiltern Hills (a range of hills round the north/north-west of London) were so infested with bandits it required a crown appointee to keep the peace.  An MP is not allowed to hold another Crown position, as that would compromise the neutrality of that post, so he is no longer an MP.

 I realise this may seem very odd to Americans and Modernists- “This is the 21st century, we should do away with this”.  I disagree.  It is a harmless convention that adds a little colour to politics.  It’s nice to know that there is this link to our past.

Oxymoron- when you let Dubya breathe Wednesday, May 23 2007 

Following a contributor’s link from I came across Barry’s site, . On the 5 May he makes this clarification

Erratum: Bush vetos

It seems that I was in error the other day, when I linked Bush’s veto of the military spending bill to the inclusion therein of a timetable for troop withdrawal. The real reason for the veto appears here:

In a two-page letter sent to the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Mr. Bush said his veto threat would apply to any measures that “allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life.”

That would be a perfectly sane reason for vetoing a military spending bill, and I feel like a dope for having misunderstood, yes I do. So sorry.


Not been here Saturday, May 19 2007 

Been at the Union conference, which is why even less posts than usual.  Mostly a quiet week both in and out the conference hall.  The left of the Union are currently in majority on both the Group (Revenue and Customs) and National commitees, so not the bun fight of the old days (mid 90’s) when delegates and EC fell out regularly (Quote from Clive Brooke, then Gen Sec of the old IRSF “I don’t care how you vote, I’m going to ignore it”).  Instead lots of worries of how to oppose the 100,000 job cuts the government are trying to force, despite the evidence that public services are falling to pieces due to lack of investment and staff.

Quite outside, as well.  When we were the ‘Inland Revenue Staff Federation’ everyone worked for the same department, and Conference was small enough to have the social scene fairly compact, and in smaller towns (such as Inverness).  Now, Brighton is about the only place with the facilities to hold us, and we are spread out.  Plus of course, we are all aging and just can not do that ‘stay up all night’ stuff anymore.  Highlight of the week was Blond Bombshell’s story of how his ex-wife’s lesbian lover ruined his chance to meet Joan Collins- one of the funniest stories I have heard in a long-time.  It was also revealed by Fading Star, and Scary Female Activist how our equality monitoring forms had revealed that attendees included 6 wiccans, 2 witches and 4 Jedi, leading to musings if the Force could be used to influnce conference votes “This isn’t the motion you’re looking for”.

Job Cuts lead to Tax Evasion Friday, May 11 2007 

A news item today on AOL that Barclays is to cut 1,000 jobs.  1,000 job losses is newsworthy.  H.M. Revenue and Customs is aiming to cut 25,000 by 2011.

That’s 25,000 less people chasing smugglers,  stopping tax evasion and collecting money for the Treasury to spend.

 The PCS union estimates the ‘Tax Gap’ – tax that should be paid but isn’t – is £25 Billion pounds- roughly 6% of the Government’s budget.  The actual figure may be higher.  So what is the Whitehall response?  Try to save £300 million (approx 8% of HMRC budget) by cutting jobs and centralisation.  The trouble is figures are being published- many of them the Revenue’s own, that seem to show a fall in revenue of £200m minimumAND THAT’S JUST WHAT THEY KNOW ABOUT. What can not be predicted is how many more will start taking advantage of the loop-holes as they realise the chance of getting caught is dropping.

 Apparently we will have to work ‘smarter’ in an age of less staff.  Well, just to stay still it will take a 33% performance increase.  If we are capable of that, would it not be better to gather more tax, which will outweigh the savings not made?

Why I’m Striking tomorrow Monday, Apr 30 2007 

The UK civil service is on strike tomorrow.  I’m sure there are lots who will complain and sneer at all the stupid cliches.  I’m sure there will be a number of people who say why should Civil Servants have a better deal than the public.  Others will say we don’t need civil servants.  To those I would say

1) Why should you have a worse deal than me?  The way to solve inequality is not to reduce the condition of those higher up, but to raise those at the bottom.  Employers rarely do this except under duress.  They don’t care about you, only how you can make profit for them.  If you work for one of the large PLC’s look at the reports of the Boards Salaries, and the pay raises they vote themselves.  Then look at yours.  Then ask who would the business miss most if one of you didn’t go into work- The person providing the service, or the man wheeling and dealing cutting to the bone and damn the customers.

 2) Civil servants do many important jobs.  Unfortunately, politicians only concentrate on the so called ‘front line’ services- Doctors, teachers, nurses, firefighters etc.  Where do you think all the support comes from.  People want a)nobody employed on behind the scenes work- the paperwork, and b) Drs etc not to do the paperwork. Some one has to do it. (continues after the break)


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