The Lockerbie Release

August 24, 2009

Dear Americans suggesting “boycott Scotland” and Robert Mueller,
Before rabbiting on about the rule of law being violated in places in which you have no say why not: a) be aware of the facts at hand and b)sort out your own twisted wreckage of a legal system.

a)The release of a prisoner on campassionate grounds is considered “due process” under scots law. Meaning that it is legal process which is followed in the event of a prisoner being diagnosed with a terminal illness. Bearing this in mind the decision of the Scottish Government reflects THE LAW as it stands. In this sense Mr Mueller’s comment on the rule of law being violated can be viewed as irrelevant as any other action would have been a violation of Scots law.
The decision of the Scotish Government to engage all prisoners equally further highlights the moral superiority of the legal system. Unlike Westminster and Washington the Scotish Government does not harm the battle against terrorism by creating a seperate system in which terrorists must be tried. A double standard which debases the whole concept of justice and no doubt agravates the entire situation regarding extremist anger at the west and social alienation amonst Islamic communities in the USA and Britain.

b)For a FBI official to begin to talk about the rule of law is laughable. Especially in the context of terrorism. While it maybe Mr Mueller’s opinion that the rule of law has been shamed by this release does he hold similar views on Extraordinary rendition ? Torture ? The legality of the Iraq War ? The Rule Of Law is not Mr Mueller’s concern, he is has used the phrase as a front to hide the callous view that infects many top offcials in Washington and London- that the law does not apply equally to terrorists. A view I find abhorrent.

-O

Snowpocalypse!

February 6, 2009

I’m in an odd situation being British living in Belgium. But by virtue of this fact I do get to look at the British news and press with a slight outsider status.
The British media have been embroiled in many a scandal of late , from the inability of people to answer phones in an honest way to the Russell Brand and Johnathan Ross “bullying” a man who made his career through casual racism.  Yet this week the actions of the media truly reached the fever pitch as print and press alike competed to see who could spasticate themselves into a coma over some frozen water.

For those who have chosen to live under a rock or for non Brits who may read this , Britain has experienced in the last few days what most reasonable people would describe as a snowy spell or at their most inflammatory “a bloody nuisance”. Freak snow fall , the most to have fallen on the British Isles in 18 years , forced much of the country to slow and some parts to stop completely for large sections of this week. London was perhaps the worst hit with public transport grinding to a halt on Monday costing our economy an estimated 3 billion pounds on its titanic like sink into the deep oceans of financial peril. So far so freak unpredictable weather event.

However if you were to say turn on the news at anytime this week you may have confused the snow fall for a particularly dastardly plot by Islamic extremists to slow your passage to work. Words like anger, shock , fear became common place. The word most often used to describe inconveniences to travel was chaos , a word I personally would refrain for using unless either a state of emergency has been declared or fire is raining from the sky.  The nightly news became a hideous collage of short films of children playing in the snow interspersed with a million interviews with the functionally illiterate.

“Its like a third world country” was the phrase uttered in one of these countless interview by some halfwit dressed head to toe in his Arctic garb ,harpoon slung across his shoulder.  To put the phrase in context he was discussing the lack of a bus service and he is correct. Third World countries probably also do not have bus services running today, or any day for that matter. In between all the serious poverty and political and social divisions in the third world I’m surprised they didn’t send a memo to number 10 expressing their deepest condolences for the lack of buses to ferry the ungrateful swine of  London between heated buildings and hot meals.

I’ve spoken to one-eyed people with a better sense of perspective than the British media and while the snow is concerning and will cause some unpleasantness it’s worth reminding yourself that it will pass and that at the end you’ll have a roof over your head and hot meal and the chance to receive a decent education and personal freedoms enshrined by law and on and on the list goes.

-Oliver

P.S Not all the news coverage of this event was terrible. BBC London set up a camera by a frozen zebra crossing and played images of Londoners falling on there arses for about 3 minutes. Quality.

As with every single man and his faithful canine companion I am going to throw out my top 5 lists this year. And I’m going to throw out the only lists that really matter to me. My top 5 Books and Songs of 2008.
These aren’t books or songs released this year per say but rather books or songs I have heard this year and fallen in love with.

Books.

5.Freakonomics (Steve Levitt) – A book everyman and his dog has read that I finally got to this year. I loved it not only is it thought provoking , it introduces complex topics to the layman. It is also written in an incredibly hilarious and accessible way.

4.Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail ’72 (Hunter S Thompson) – I love Hunter S Thompson and this is probably his best piece of work as a journalist. It’s not the best introduction to his work but if your interested in Gonzo, Thompson,Nixon era politics or just the American political system in general then this is a hilarious easy to read book with a definitly non academic approach 

3.Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) – It was in her novels that Rand gave birth to one of the great philosophical schools of thought in the 20th Centuary. And while I am by no means an objectivist this novel is by far the best summary of its basic beliefs.

2.Women (Charles Bukowski)- A frank honest book about Bukowski interactions with women. It’s not pretty but then again life isn’t always pretty.

1.A tie at first place.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Hunter S Thompson) – A phenomenal book on which Hunter places himself as the outsider rejecting in both traditional american culture and the 60′ counter culture which he found himself a member of. In my opinion one of the greatest books of the 20th Centuary.

Atonement (Ian Mc Iwan) – The movie came out and nobody would shut up about the book so I read it. I loved it from start to finish and while it does explore some deeper themes of the human condition , most notably forgiveness and atonement as the title makes rather explicit, it is for the most part simply a great story with an interesting narrative structure.

Songs.

5.Mountains (Biffy Clyro) – Great piano driven rock. Thats about it.

4.Get-Well-Cards (Conor Oberst) – I love Bright Eyes , in my opinion the greatest band of the 21st centuary. So when Conor Oberst released an album of solo material I bought it. I loved it but I understand it was otherwise a tepid album of Americana. This is just a happy song on a good not great album.

3.Untrust Us (Crystal Castles) – Electronica made a huge comeback this year and Crystal Castles are definatly at the head of the pack. Their debut album is worth checking out.

2.Walcott (Vampire Weekend)- Fun light indie/pop from a band heavily influenced by African pop music. Great live. They make a great break from the depressed distorted guitar driven indie which has dominated the charts for the last 5 years.

1. Boneyards (Parkway Drive)- Brutal hardcore with amazing breakdowns. Lyrics aren’t complex but better than the stupidly mundane lyrics of typical hardcore bands. It is the interesting guitar work that makes this track a classic of the hardcore genre.

And so there are my top 5’s for 2008.Enjoy.

A New Year a New Focus

January 2, 2009

This blog has , up until this point , simply a place to post the articles I wrote for my schools 6th form paper the Nittelub.
But with a new year comes new priorities and I will endeavour to write one article a week for this blog on a range of issues.

Their are a few of you reading this blog and I’d like to say thanks to you for that.

A new year a new focus

-O

Following on from Alam Frommer’s thought prevoking presentation to year 12 and 13 in PSHCE , I have decided to do as he has suggested and question the question.
Is Britian A True Democracy ?
Looking beyond the question at its heart lies the a familiar assumption. That it matters.
So to the question I’ve decided to ask some of my own. Does democracy matter ? Is Democracy always an aim worth striving for ?

The cynic’s view of democracy is that at best it serves as a talking shop and at worst it is simply a convinient distraction from those who really run things. And while this view is over simplified it may hold some merit.Parliament could blow up tomorow and in reality very little would change ,because it is the civil servants and people of Britain, from the highest levels of the FCO to the teacher in Colchester, that keep the country running.

Britain is a democracy , but realistically what does it being a democracy change ? Some would argue that governments pay little or no attention to the will of the people anyway . Add to this the classic arguement of society as a whole being nothing but a flock of sheep racing one another to the slaughterhouse. Is rule by the people or even from the people desirable ?

Democracy has been held up throughout the world as the saviour of the poor and the opressed but evidence suggests this isn’t the case. Taking as an example Malawi we see a democracy facing economic collapse. HIV/AIDS is present in approaching 50 percent of the population. This is a fine exaple of a nation where some economists and political scientists would argue democracy is not appropriate.
Democracy is all well and good but it relies on a number of things to operate effectivly.
These are stability , infrastucture and a base level of education in the general population. Those critics of democracy in instances where one or more of these things aren’t present argue that european democracies developed under top down systems of government and it was these top down systems which lay the bedrock for a democracy.
They argue democracy was imported to these nations before they were ready and that a central strong leader found in a dictatorship or monarchy would be preferable to a democracy riddled with corruption and destined to fail. They argue that the development of a middle class is essential in the development of a democracy. Afterall clean water is a more pressing issue than representation.

However, Democracy does matter. Without it people wouldn’t have a voice and its with your voice you defend your interests. But is it always worth striving for ? I believe so yes , but that doesn’t mean it’s true. To suggest democracy could be flawed is seen by some to be a heresy. But its worth remembering that democracy can defend itself. It’s time people took of the kid gloves and embraced openly a debate on if democracy is appropriate in all cases.cases.
If supporters of democracy win the debate good. If not then we will have to accept that.  Develoment and quality of life should be our main aim. Democracy is a route to that aim but perhaps not the shortest.

This years American Presidential election was already set to be a hugely important not to mention hugely entertaining affair from the very start of the primaries. From the near delusional messages of Huckabee storming the country in his Huckabeast to the colossal rifts displayed in the Democrats primaries which nearly ended the career of their two biggest candidates.

But it was the decision of John McCain in the selection of his running mate which sent the media and the public into a frenzy.

Sarah Palin , Governor of Alaska, was certainly not the obvious choice for a Vice Presidential Candidate. An inexperienced governor from a state whose population doesn’t match that of some of America’s major cities. So why choose her?

The answer in my view is a cynical one. Palin was chosen not for her political acumen but for her sex , in both senses of the word.

Her gender is almost defiantly a factor in the choice. The failure of Hilary Clinton’s campaign isolated many of her die hard supporters, some of whose main goal was not the implementation of any of her policies but the placing of a woman in the highest seat of power in American politics. To capitalise on this already dubious view McCain decided to select a women candidate to capitalise on these alienated “democrats”. This is politics of the most despicable kind , playing to the desires of ill informed “feminists”. What many of these feminists are not aware of is Palin own position on many issues surrounding the rights of women. Most notably her belief in fundamentalist doctrine of Christianity, the biggest oppressors of women for centuries. Anti Abortion even in cases of incest or rape.  The election of a ticket with Palin on it isn’t even a step back for women’s rights. It’s a passage back to the dark ages.

The second and equally despicable reason for her choice is the images of sexuality and vitality she brings to the campaign of the sexless and near death John McCain. Her image is that of an attractive family women, with many children. A mother battling the world. A woman battling congress and big business. The essence of the American Dream. She is some of these things but none of these qualify her for this position that has fallen into her lap. Her photogenic face hopefully does not conceal her past to the American voters. Her past is that of selling the land of Alaska to big oil. Her past is that of supporting schemes that waste the money of the tax payer she swears she wants to ease the burden on. Her past is filled with contradictions and the religious fundamentalism that will drive personal freedoms into the ground.

So my advice should she win , should McCain pass away and she becomes the most powerful leader in the world. My advice to those who believe in the basic principles of Human Rights, Liberty, the separation of church and state and of course in the important role of women in modern politics is to flee and never stop running.

The End Times are coming

Repent.

-Oliver

An Introduction

October 3, 2008

Poison From A Pen is designed to be just a place for me to publish things I have written. These will range from my own comment pieces on political affairs , band interviews to, should I one day become mentally ill, fiction.

This is not intended to have any value for anyone other than myself. If you read it and enjoy it , let me know. If you don’t, feel free to leave constructive critisism .

If you happen stumble across this I hope you enjoy it.

Now lets get on with the show.

-Oliver