Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 15/05/05

Nothing Has Changed...

A general, end-of-week whinge round-up for you, chums:

Item: The unrest in Uzbekistan has stirred Jack Straw, the UK's Foreign Secretary and War-Criminal-In-Waiting to a hand-wringing response in which he states that it is clear that the Uzbeks want freedom and democracy.

Well, maybe they do, but if so then it has been obvious for quite some time. Like, during the time when the UK's ambassador to Tashkent, Craig Murray, was reporting back to London on the vicious abuses of the Karimov régime, the torture and killing of dissidents, and the fact that 'evidence' obtained by the régime's goon squads was being used by 'Her Majesty''s Government as reasons for keeping a whole load of Muslim men in indefinite imprisonment without trial (or even charge) in maximum-security prisons and psychiatric hospitals in England.

Craig Murray's reward for speaking out was to be the victim of a campaign of smear and innuendo by Straw and his department which eventually forced Mr Murray out of the diplomatic service.

(See his website for further details).

Furthermore, the US régime has expressed its 'concern' over events in Andijan. Not 'concern' over the shooting down of unarmed men and women in the streets, however; just 'concern' that some alleged 'Islamic terrorists' had been sprung from jail during the unrest. Karimov is, of course, a trusted ally of the Bush-shites; the US taxpayer subsidises his terror to the tune of millions of dollars, much of which goes in to 'training' the security services. The US claims that they are teaching the thugs 'less repressive security techniques', but that's just code for 'types of torture which don't leave so much of a visible mark'. The US now have a military base in Uzbekistan, so they are eminently grateful to Karimov. So much so, in fact, that they will ignore brutality which, in more convenient circumstances, would lead to threats of invasion or bombing from the chickenshit White House.

Item: We expect hypocrisy from politicians. That seems to be the only thing they're capable of producing successfully nowadays. Here we have the sight of Hazel Blears, the curiously-named 'Minister For Antisocial Behaviour' (I would have hoped that she would be against antisocial behaviour but, quite frankly, nothing surprises me anymore), wanting young people (specifically young people, note) who are undertaking community-based sentences to be forced to wear special uniforms to mark them out to the gawpers who might see them.

Well, that's a great way to reintegrate minor young offenders into the community, isn't it? And that'll really reduce the likelihood of them becoming further alienated and reoffending! Way to go, Hazey baby! After all, they do it in the good ole' Yoo-Ess-Of-Ay, so it must be worth copying heedlessly over here, mustn't it?

Oh, Dreary Bleary does admit that it's 'very hard' to generalise about why parents are failing to control their children - and then goes on to generalise. "Partly, it's time...we have all got less of it".

Tell it like it is, sweetie.

In particular, tell it to those parents who both have to work to ensure that the family can get by, because this government has overseen the widening of the gap between the hyper-rich and the rest of us in the last eight years, and doesn't intend doing a thing to reverse it - after all, "You can't tax the rich: if you do, they'll leave the country." (A. Blair, 2001). Those same parents are often the ones who also have to work long hours because their employers insist upon it, probably having the condition written in to their contract of employment. They can do this because the 'business-friendly' Blairistas are fighting tooth-and-nail to keep the UK's absurd exemption from the European Union's limitation on working hours, claiming that such a limit would 'hurt business'. Any business or enterprise which can only survive because its workforce are working 50 to 60-hour weeks is almost certainly run by people who can't run a business. But, then again, this is what they do in America, so it has to be the way forward, hasn't it?

If parents weren't forced into a long-hours work culture, then they'd be at home longer (and more effectively) to supervise their children, wouldn't they? Case, as they say, solved.

Item: Far from 'listening' as he claimed to be doing when he stood, shell-shocked, before the media the day after his little empire started to come apart earlier this month, it is quite clear that Anthony Charles Lynton Blair QC MP, has no intention of doing so. If he had, he would surely have thought again about reintroducing the ID Cards Bill to Parliament so soon afterwards. Yet it seems that, even with a sharply-reduced majority, he is determined to press on with a scheme which has already more than surpassed the original estimates as to its cost, will be a severe threat to our basic liberties and, moreover, simply won't do the things the government claims it will.

(Go to No2ID's website for the full background).

This comes a couple of days or so after a shopping mall in Kent stated its intention to ban all people of a certain age (i.e. under 25) from entering their premises if wearing a 'hoodie' or a baseball cap.

Now, I don't have any problem with the principle of such a ban. But only on the grounds that such garments tend to make their wearer (especially at that age) look a proper prick. Using people's clothing as the sole determinant of their likely character or morals, however, is petty and piddling. What's more, nothing seems be put in place to stop the shops in that mall from selling those very same items. Presumably you can buy them, but if you attempt to try them on in the shop, some hired thug in a uniform the wrong size for him will sling you out.

But who cares if you can make it seem as if you're doing something? Yes! Let's have CCTV on every street! Let's all be scanned! Let's all have bar-codes, without which we are liable to prosecution and imprisonment! Let's allow half-cock shopping centre managers to make sweeping judgements on the basis of total ignorance! After all, it'll make us all feel safer, won't it?

Won't it?

Item: And finally, Esther...For years I've been buying Green & Black's organic chocolate. OK, as I'm diabetic, you might say that this is a foolhardy course of action. But I need an emergency supply of carbohydrate around the place, and why not enjoy myself at the same time as staving off hypoglycaemic coma? Besides which, it has a far greater proportion of cocoa fat in it than that sickly, over-sugared, vegetable-fat-laden mess that the Brits insist is 'real chocolate'.

So it came as very sad news to me to read that Green & Black's have sold out. Worse still, they have sold out to Cadbury Schweppes, one of the prime purveyors of that corrupted abortion which is known by our European neighbours, euphemistically, as 'English chocolate'.

Not only do I deprecate the very idea of yet another product being bought up by a huge, multi-national monster (especially one with close links to the Coca Cola Corporation. Why? See here for why), but it's also worrying to consider the possibility of Green & Black's ethical trade policy becoming, sooner or later, the victim of 'rationalisation', 'vertical integration', or whatever the 'in' phrase of management-speak might be at the time.

The Chief Executive of CS, one Todd Stitzer (an American - can you see a theme here, boys and girls?), claims that the agreements G&B has with cocoa farmers in Belize are perfectly safe because, "Our businesses share a passion for ... ethical values".

These, presumably, are the same ethical values outlined in a letter Cadbury Schweppes sent to fair-trade campaigners just one year ago, when it refused to accept the principle of fixing the prices it pays to cocoa farmers, claiming that, "the best way forward is to liberalise the market".

Yeah, in the same way that raw material producers in Latin America, Africa and Asia have all been screwed by the same 'liberalisation' in recent years, at the behest of such unaccountable bunches of the terminally corrupt as the World Bank and the IMF.

So, no more Maya Gold for me, alas. I will not contribute to the profits of such a stupid and selfish company.

Anyone know of any other ethical chocolate producer?

Item: Actually, there's something else as well, but it relates to an ongoing situation at work. Referring to it even obliquely here may well lead me in to the same problems as faced a few months ago by Joe Gordon (see here). Unlike Joe, however, I lack the contacts to be able to walk into a new job within a few weeks. So, I must remain silent - if only for the time being.