Friday, 14 January 2011

The Gangs of New Somalia

The world’s original failed state Somalia has given us some crackpots over the years since it was “Game Over” in the virtual war between the USA and The USSR.
The front runner in the religious loony stakes at the moment is, without doubt, the Islamist al-Shabab. Hard on the heels of their prohibition of music and their idea that women who refuse to get married will be beheaded, is the banning of “mixed-sex handshakes”. Men and women who are not related are now also forbidden to walk together and talk to each other in public. A public flogging, at least, will result.

Your heart goes to the poor people that have to live under this reign of terror. Imposed on them by gangsters and carried out by murderous thugs who have found a niche in the ruins of Somalia’s societal collapse.

Am I the only one that thinks these guys spend their spare time, (when not terrorising the population and committing murder and rape that is), thinking up more and more ludicrous laws to give themselves, in their own deluded minds, a legitimised excuse to carry out their atrocities.

Just what is it that their afraid of?

Is it that the Somalian libido is such that a handshake between a man and woman within earshot of someone playing an Oud would bring down their world in an orgy of sexual permissiveness?
Well, it hasn’t up till now.

Is it that woman who don’t particularly wish to marry some gun-toting bampot who threatens to rape and behead them, are somehow a threat to Islam?
Of course not.

It’s about power. Power over the lives of ordinary people.
Its nothing knew. Throughout history, bully-boy regimes like that of al-Shabab have always attracted the socially inadequate misfits of the civilised culture that they aim to replace.

But al-Shabab has the backing of clerics. And that, one would have thought might be of concern to other Islamic countries and Muslims throughout the world. If the Organisation of the Islamic Conference really has concerns about the West’s perception of Islam’s associations with human rights violation then Somalia might be a good place to start.

If what radical Islamists such as these do is acceptable to other Muslims then, so be it. If other Islamic countries are fearful of criticising them, so be it. If it’s none of their business, so be it.
History suggests that al-Shabab and these demented clerics will be allowed to run riot because - if they’re doing so there, they’re not doing it elsewhere.

Not at the moment anyway.

Do As We Say – Not As We Do

The National Secular Society (NSS) has backed former referee’s chief Hugh Dallas who was sacked by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) for sending a joke email about the Pope and child abuse within the Catholic Church. And they are quite right to do so. No group of people who profess an irrational belief in a being for which there is no evidence has the right to call for anyone to be dismissed from their employment. And especially not this one.

In the days leading up to Mr Dallas’ disciplinary hearing the Catholic Church called for his dismissal if the allegations that he sent the email were proved.

Mouthpiece and apologist, Peter Kearney, the Director of the Catholic Media Office (CMO) said of the email that it was “gratuitously offensive to the Pope, deeply offensive to the Catholic community of Scotland and an incitement to anti-Catholic sectarianism,”
This is the guy, may I remind you, that demanded the banning of the “Hokey-Cokey” because he erroneously claimed, on behalf of the Church, that it was anti-Catholic. Non-Hokey-Cokey style knee-jerk reactions and Mr Kearney are not strangers. Neither are hypocrisy and this particular Christian sect.

The Catholic Church’s take on dismissing people who do wrong is matter of public record. Of the thousands of its own employees, who the church authorities knew had abused children, how many were dismissed?


They quite unbelievably kept in employment all of the known child abusers in their ranks. They did not report the matter to the prosecuting authorities. They moved them to new parishes where they continued to pray on innocent children.

Hugh Dallas sent a joke email.

I wonder which of these might be considered the more “deeply offensive to the Catholic community of Scotland and an incitement to anti-Catholic sectarianism.”

Still, on with age-old mantra - “Do As We Say – Not As We Do”.

L of a Long Way to Go

I see the Government are considering ways of giving learner drivers motorway experience.
One idea is to allow them onto these roads under the supervision of qualified instructors before they sit their test. The other is to have compulsory motorway training for newly licensed drivers.

Bit of a pain in the arse either way - if you live in the Shetlands.

London-centric or what?

The Woman Lawyer Who Threatened to Bring Down Iran.

In the forward thinking utopia of Iran, the Government is breathing a sigh of relief as the prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been imprisoned for 11 years, banned from practicing law for 20 years and from leaving the country.

Her crime?

Well…nothing, other than doing her job in defending those arrested and jailed after they suggested that the elections of June 2009 might have been rigged.
However, she was found guilty of acting against national security, propaganda against the regime and for being a member of Human Rights Defender’s Centre.

It is reassuring to see that such a strong democracy and popular government can be so threatened by a lawyer.

But what about the judiciary. Those pusillanimous judges that are prepared to forego their conscience to uphold laws that are the political whim of despots holding on to power at any and all costs are as much to blame as the regime.
The judges of Nazi Germany were held to account for allowing their courts to become tools of oppression.

Unfortunately, methinks no matter the future of this particular regime, the judiciary will probably never be judged.

Sticking it to the Royals is Easy

The usual “lessons have been learned” statement has been issued over the attack by a hoard of republican revolutionaries on the car carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. Well it was really a bunch of students rioting over fees.
Its also worth pointing out here that a free university education failed miserably when it came to the Royal Family.  

Possibly the worst thing that has come out of this for the Royals is reminding future antagonists just how easy it is to have a go at them.  It’s always been so. And will probably remain so. Give them their due though, unlike our self-important politicians, they won’t be tempted to go into hiding or travel the streets ‘a la’ the US President. 

Part of their job is to be ‘seen’. Whether it’s down to hundreds of years of selective breeding or just the way that they are brought up that gives them this feeling of imperious invulnerability, I’m not sure. But I fear that they might come a cropper some day.  

But, at least Camilla can take comfort from the fact that someone did poke her with a stick, thereby quashing forever the idea that nobody would.

Ageism at the BBC.

Good to see that former Countryfile presenter, Miriam O’Reilly, has won her employment tribunal against the BBC on the grounds of ageism and victimisation. It is way past time that the BBC, and the rest, got pulled up for this sort of thing.

Former BBC1 controller Jay Hunt however claimed that O’Reilly’s claims were “entirely and categorically untrue” and “profoundly distressing and utterly offensive.” Must have stayed up all night working on that one.

The fact is that the tribunal agreed with O’Reilly, not the BBC. They were found guilty as charged.

But, let’s think back here.
Who was it that thought it a good idea to give a rural affairs programme a seven o’ clock evening slot at the weekend?
I suspect no one. But their hand was forced when the corporation decided to empty the coffers to show motor racing.

The BBC is pretty much obliged to show a programme like Countryside. But the ‘out of the way’ Sunday morning, amongst religion and politics, became problematic when they decided to splash out millions to broadcast Formula 1 racing. Southern hemisphere events require the Sunday morning. Something had to go. No one wants politics at primetime. And a religious affairs programme, hot on the heels of “Songs of Praise”, is unthinkable at anytime of the day.

However, there was no way that the programme, which dealt earnestly with rural affairs, could have been moved to a primetime slot in its old format. Primetime requires the lowest common denominator. It must be populist. It cannot be challenging. It needed presenters that primetime viewers recognised (even if I don’t).
Miriam O’Reilly along with the other female presenters, Juliet Morris and Michaela Strachan, didn’t fit the bill.

So, a new look sexed-up Countryfile was the order of the day. What we got was a bland magazine format designed for urban viewers more interested in the traditional countryside pursuits of off-road racing, paint-balling and leaving litter all over the place was the solution.
Out went the authority that comes with experienced presenters and in came the shallow ambition of youth. A perception that the attraction is more with what the primetime slot could mean for their careers than any interest countryside still lingers. 

The Beeb have much of the rise in viewing figures Countryfile does alright in the Beeb’s viewing list getting around six-plus million viewers and generally keeping its place in their top-ten list.
But, it should be remembered that viewing figures do not necessarily reflect programme quality. Rather, they show viewer choice. And that depends on what the other lot are showing. A quick look at ITV’s offerings for this time-slot show that Countryfile lacks serious competition. And let’s not forget that multi-channel broadcasters such as the BBC quite rightly manipulate their channel schedules to offer choice not competition.

Countryfile is not a story of a programme being moved to new tome-slot. It is about a programme being in the road of motor racing. It is about a programme being reinvented for a whole new audience. An audience that by and large has little interest in rural affairs.

And while I would recognise Miriam O’Reilly, Juliet Morris and Michaela Strachan if I met them in a busy city street, I can’t say the same of their replacements supposing I saw them hanging around a farm doing a piece on “Where Milk Comes From.”