How do you solve a problem like Iraq?

I sacrificed an hour of sleep last night to watch, with rapt fascination, Question Time (the panel, Have Your Say). I wasn’t exactly surprised to see John Bolton refuse to answer Tony Benn’s charges and SMIRK at him like a demented lemur.

Tony Benn was right to say the UN charter has been all but torn up by unilateral actions by the US and its ‘allies’. The audience member was right to say other members such as China were undermining the power of the UN by looking out for their own interests (as EVERY country clearly is, evidenced by the US in this case as well). Benazir Bhutto was very right to say the decision to go to war and what’s happened is in the PAST, and now what the world has to do now is help Iraq decide on its future.

Since I have no concept of what it’s like to fear for yourself and your family every single day, all I can do is rabbit on about ideas. Perhaps it’s time for the ‘allies’ to alter their role in Iraq, instead of clearing insurgents from villages (which reminds me of trying to remove community cats in Singapore and finding that new ones have moved in soon after) with guns to training villagers in civil defence. You know, fire service, emergency medical help, teacher training, additional training for doctors and nurses, counselling, that sort of thing. If a village collectively decides NO MORE to violence and is given the tools to help themselves, they will be able to help themselves.

From what I can gather, the reason insurgents and their ilk are allowed to hide in the village is (aside from fear) the attitude that the occupying forces are NOT their friends. Shooting innocent people (or your presence apparently causing innocent people to get blown up) wouldn’t really make you many friends. How about doing it one village at a time, motivating other villages to get started on their own civil defence preparedness?

This is not to say that it won’t still be a dangerous and not very nice place to live for a long time to come, but wouldn’t it set Iraqis on the right road? Maybe the individuals feel powerless, but if a village could be protected while they learn these civil defence skills, things could slowly start to improve on a permanent basis.

PC-crazy

The convicted armed robber who lodged a Legal Aid ‘human rights’ case about telephone calls (i.e. that a recorded message identifying the origin of the calls was a breach of his human rights) WON.

Judge Lord Glennie said this policy was not made with the authority of parliament.

He said: “In some societies, it might be regarded as obvious that a person convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to a period of imprisonment should, for the duration of his imprisonment, be deprived of his civil rights.

“Such a notion has no place in our society.” said the judge.

Because, you know, convicted armed robbers showed due respect to other people’s civil rights and private property when they held a knife to their throats.

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: “Back in February when we first heard about this, I warned that we would be a laughing stock if this man won his case.

“There is a clear issue here – are the rights of the law-abiding majority being served ahead of the rights of a minority who happen to be in jail? It appears not.

“Prisoners forfeit a number of rights when they go to jail for their crimes, which should include the ability to dictate on what terms they make a phone call.”

Yup. I’m laughing.

Jail phone case appeal considered

Sir, the public house has no place in polite society

Is it bad that I find this funny?

Seriously, I adore the smoking ban that has meant our clothes do not require hardcore laundering after a night out (assuming we don’t spend too much time stuck in the doorways with the smokers).

(However, as I have said before, there is a hardcore smoker in the house so our cleaned clothes need laundering anyway. Almost makes me want to live in the pub like an alkie.)

The placement of the articles sure seem like a subconscious (or perhaps conscious) effort to KILL THE PUB. What are people gonna do without the cheap beer from JD Wetherspoons? Everyone’s gonna get hyped on their 99p (69p if you’ve got SnapFax) coffees and caffeine will be classed as a dangerous drug (it should, with how sick it can make a person).

Pub trade ‘has gone up in smoke’

Alcohol nearly as harmful as heroin, warn top scientists

Neil thinks it’s time for Scotland to go independent

Prisoner demands ‘right to vote’:

Aidan O’Neill QC, representing Birrell, criticised the authorities for failing to act in time to prevent such a situation arising.

“This is not a try-on or some kind of clever lawyers’ attempt to get somebody out of jail free,” he said.

“This is bringing to the court the legal consequences of a political decision to go ahead with an election which unlawfully stops prisoners from voting.”

Birrell, who was not present in court for the hearing, is also seeking £1,000 damages if the election goes ahead and he is not allowed to go to the polls.

The next legal challenge being brought by convicts will be, I wager, the authorities’ power to incarcerate them at all, as depriving them of their liberty must surely be a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.

(Note on the title: so that the Scottish courts will be able to ignore the European Convention on Human Rights and treat these ‘challenges’ with the contempt they deserve.)

Update: thank FUCK a judge dismissed it. But WTF is this possibly paying him damages — that’s conceding he was right?!!!!

In which I go on about a disease I’ve never had

TB and the test from Wikimedia

Shauna, in her epic journey to the UK, did not (at least I don’t remember it) mention the letter she got from the NHS asking her to go in for a TB pre-vaccination test. You know, the one where they stick you in the forearm and send you on your way, then check on you a week later and if you’ve got a nasty huge red rash larger than 10mm (or whatever) you’re okay? If you’re not you have to get the BCG vaccination, which takes forever to heal and almost assuredly leaves a less-than-inconspicuous scar?

my TB vaccination scars concealed under skin inkI received such a letter a couple of weeks ago. Someone in the house (okay, Neil’s mother) was dying to know why the NHS was sending me something when I hadn’t even registered with a doctor yet (and I still haven’t — yeah, I know, but I’m so used to just winging it and self-medicating), and she had to wait till I got home, a FULL DAY of not having her curiosity satisfied.

Upon calling the number and leaving a message and having them call me back, they learned that I’ve been vaccinated against TB more times than your average Brit (so I’m off the hook and don’t have to take time off work to present myself for invasive needle procedures) and according to them, all the information they get from the port authorities is a list of names and addresses.

When I first got to the UK, the health person at immigration wanted my chest x-ray. I told her I didn’t have one, and she said I “should”. I responded that the visa office in Singapore did not include that in the list of things I had to present, and surely if it was a requirement I would not have got my visa in the end?

I’m thinking that’s why I got the letter. Also, TB cases are on the rise in the UK. This has NOTHING to do with me, okay?

(The photo of my arm circa 2001 before the addition of Reverend Jesse Custer and Tulip is there to show you how my scars have now been… er… concealed.)

Gay adoption and forcing everyone to accept it

Since I’m a bleeding heart liberal on most days*, it might come as a surprise to some that I don’t support requiring religious adoption agencies to work with same-sex couples.

This is definitely not to say that I don’t think same-sex couples should raise children. As long as a relationship is healthy, respectful, and responsible, I think children raised in that environment have a better than average chance to be well-rounded, compared to children raised in dysfunctional families, homo or hetero.

Having covered my arse there, here’s what I think. Adoption agencies should be given the freedom to appeal to ‘niche markets’, as it were. I think there are enough non-denominational agencies that serve the majority of the adoption-seeking market, so what’s the harm in some religious agencies choosing to serve only heterosexual couples (I’ve always wondered if a woman who likes to wear strap-ons married to a man who likes to have his fudge packed would be considered a heterosexual couple)? IMHO, if a gay couple chooses to go to a religious adoption agency, knowing full well that that agency feels their union is wrong, they are deliberately seeking conflict. And people who seek unnecessary conflict are not going to be the best parents.

There appears to be a market niche that hasn’t been filled just yet. Since the UK now legalises gay unions, why can’t there be an adoption agency that has a specialty in placing children with these couples?

(Neil agrees that religious agencies should be allowed to discriminate, too, but for different reasons. He thinks adopted children are stigmatised enough, to then add ‘gay parents’ to the mix just makes things worse — but he thinks offspring of gay couples who used a surrogate or sperm donor would be more okay. To me, this begs the question of what is more stigmatising in the playground, being adopted or having same-sex parents?)

* I’m beginning to think I’m more of a libertarian now.