Friday, June 30, 2006

Middle-class blacks, hiding behind reparation movements

The issue of reparation for descendants of slaves is only really a serious matter for Americans, for now. It's not absolutely clear as to why Americans, in the here and now, should pay monies to today's black Americans for a system that was abolished long before any of us were even born.

Some black reparation groups have calculated how much is due to today's black Americans, the results are nothing but a complete and utter joke. The African American Reparation Action Network calculates with inflation that every single afro-American is owed 40 acres and $100,000, or $200,000 without the land. Other organisations think the sum owed maybe 40 acres and a mule, but, does anyone know what the going rate of a mule is?

More enlightened commentators have rightfully highlighted the fact that the issue of 'slavery is a messy and complex story - in the real world, trying to identify the beneficiaries and victims of slavery would be an impossible task'. So, knelling down before a crowd of Africans and 'begging for forgiveness' can serve no real purpose, other than attempting to absolve the individual of their own self-loathing.

Time magazine's columnist Jack White, thinks black Americans are owed a whopping $24 trillion on the basis of unpaid wages not paid to some 10 million slaves. Others have calculated that between 1620 and 1865 unpaid slave labour at today's prices should total some $9.7trillion. Some of these calculations have been doubled to take account of 'pain and suffering'. But hey... why double it? Why don't they just quadruple it?

In the past reparation was demanded by black separatists movement in order to fund an independent black republic. Today, the call for reparation is about national unification and social healing. To date, at least 10 US city councils have endorsed the idea of federal 'impact statement' on slavery. Indeed, top American lawyers have lunched lawsuits against big businesses that have profited from slavery.

None of this could happen were it not for the favourable climate of self-loathing and compensation culture in the West. Apparently, America is so sick and divided, and in need of healing, the only antidote is to shell out tonnes of hard cold cash to all and sundry. America is said to be in denial, and reconciliation is the answer. If you ask me, black Americans are being treated like child abuse victims, who just can't get over the trauma of being... well... black. The idea that the imaginary chains of slavery still shackle the feet of today's black Americans is in the first case a diabolical insult. Secondly, the irony of all this is that millionaire black American lawyers are the driving force behind all this nonsense.

Spurred on by legal and financial success against the tobacco industry, black lawyers are running to the courts in order to claim reparation. If these lawyers win their case it will lead to an avalanche of even bigger and stranger cases in the near future.

Britain should take note of these cases, because if they succeed, Britain can expect decendents of Chinese opium dealers banging on the doors of British courts demanding tonnes of cash for compensation. Followed by South African Boer farmers, and why not the Boston tea merchants? The list goes on and on.

In reality it will take more than the wealth of the entire economy of America to 'heal' it's divisions. Besides, multi-million dollar payouts to blacks will not heal America - it can only succeed in incensing a whole generation of white Americans who can rightfully argue that 'it's not fair'.

Picture: African Merchant Selling Slaves to a European, no date

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Say 'NO' to state funding for political parties

How can it be that major political parties are debating whether the public should chip in and prop up their organisations bank accounts? That's the sickest idea I've heard this year. What? Us pay for the up-keep of the New Labour Party? What? Voluntarily? Well... that sounds sick to me - because, no political party has the right to exist, indefinitely. Talk about dependancy culture.

The state, under no circumstances, should be financing any political party - if supporters of New Labour, the Tories, or the Lib-Dems cannot cough up monies in support of their own parties, then why should we?

New Labour is said to be in debt to the tune of some £20 million, there's a really good reason for that - it's because they have no support from it's core constituency anymore - Tony Blair runs a mass political party, that has no mass of people in it. He has been forced to look elsewhere for funding the parties electioneering bureaucracy.

The truth is, New Labour, and the Tories are financally bankrupt - for the state to step in and bankroll the two parties would be suicidal for our democracy. Firsly, it would complete the parties transformation from a mass based people's party, into the new political oligarchy, devoid of any genuine popular support.

This crucial point was not lost on Clare Short, when she spoke of the isolation of New Labour elites, in the wake of the 'loans for peerage' scandal. The scandal exposed the nature of the 'bubble' that the New Labour elites now find themselves in.

Bankrolling bankrupt parties will solve nothing, but make matters far, far worse for us all.

Picture: Rene Magritte The Month of the Grape Harvest. 1959. Oil on canvas.

Pro-science blog: stand up for science!

The Oxford based pro-vivisection group Pro-Test, also has a very interesting blog called Standing Up For Science attached to it. It's run by Kristina Cook, a PhD student at Oxford University. I wish Cook, and her blog the very best of luck in the future.

We seem to be living in a time where humanities ability to overcome it's problems through the consistant application of reason and scientific inquiry, is taking quite a serious hammering these days. So, it's good to know that there are some people out there, that are prepared to put their necks on the line in order to defend and promote scientific research, in the face of threats from animal rights activists and thugs. As a student at Oxford, Cook is currently searching for potential new ways of treating cancer, I support her work wholeheartedly - so should you.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Forget the Queen's 80th, what about our liberty, sovereignty and democracy?

The arch ruler Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, or, the Queen for short, has turned into an octigenarian. We will all be expected to show our deep felt respect for the Queen, and for all of her past 'achievements' on her 80th birthday. We'll also be expected to sing a long to that old tired anthem 'God Save the Queen' as well.

It's said that Her Majesty is 'universally respected' the world over. But, it's not entirely self-evident as to what exactly is it about the Queen we are supposed to respect. Is it for bringing up a family of no-marks with an army of nannies and servants?

The only reason I can see for why we should even bother to endow the Queen with our respects, is soley by the 'Grace of God', she was born with the name Mountbatten-Windsor, or, alternatively, it could be for the fact the Queen has never had to use the loo during any of her public engagements. Either way, to me, this is one of the most ojectionable features of Her Majesty - the culture of deference.

Forget about all that idol political chit-chat about British 'citizens', or who remembers John Major, and his nonsense about making Britain a 'classless' society? But, all it takes is one quick look at the Queen for me to know that Britain can't be 'classless', if anything, Britain is nothing but a class ridden society, through and through.

Whatever happened to the project of constructing a meritocratic, classless society? Ring-kissing, brown-nosed, bending of the knee subservience to the Queen, and the wider hierarchical social order must of killed it off.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cameron, stop picking on black music! You get me?

Here we go again, yet another white man having-a-go at black music, and, this seems to be the obvious main problem with David Camerons latest utterings. Cameron went out of his way to single out Radio 1's hip-hop dj Tim Westwood, and accused him of playing the kind of music that 'encourages people to carry guns and knives'

Reggae artist Doctah X, the co-founder of the Black Music Council, put it best while defending reggae music against Peter Tachell censorious interference "We've had enough, you get me?", I agree. For years I've been told that reggae dancehall music, jungle music, hip-hop music (black music in general) has some imaginary power that turns it's audience into some sort of pogrom. Apparently, no sooner than we hear the lyrics of Beenie Man, or the Wu-Tang Clan, we have this unstoppable urge to put a knife in our pockets and cause the most amount of trouble.

The underlying assumption of Cameron's notion seems to be that the people who do listen to dancehall reggae, or hard core hip-hop are so ignorant that just might go out and get themselves a gun or a knife. Firstly, I'd like to know what business is it of Cameron to dictate to Radio 1 about what they should or shouldn't play - and, secondly, why is he picking on black music alone? Would he prefer if black music artists dressed up in monster outfits and sang about Satanism instead? Cameron would like to be percieved as some sort of 'radical', but he reminds me more of the Mary Whitehouse blue-rinse school of politics - just like that the old-fashioned censor, who tried to get Frankie Goes to Hollywood banned all because she thought the lyrical content could turn nice striaght boys into raving queers.

Cameron doesn't seem to care very much about the notion of freedom either - he needs reminding that real freedom is supposed to means putting up with music that we don't even particularly like.

Friday, June 02, 2006

An 'ethical' American militarism?

The US military have just anounced that troops based in Iraq are to receive 30 days of 'ethical training'. Apparently, troops are to be given lessons in 'core warrior values', (whatever that is), in what seems like a desperate, knee-jerk reaction to the alleged slaughter of 24 civilians in Haditha, Iraq.

The US military have been put on the defensive, top brass like Lt-Gen Peter Chiarelli, commander of multinational forces in Iraq admitted that 'it is important that we take time to reflect on the values that separate us from our enemies'. It looks as though American forces have fallen foul of their own propaganda. US forces have constantly made an emphasis of avoiding unnecessary civilian casualties, so when they do occur, they become a cause of an international outcry. Instead of pointing out that 'collateral damage', as it is euphemistically known as, is an inevitable consequence of war - the US military tries to play the victim, by accusing the insurgents of 'war crimes'. Accusing others of war crimes, only leaves the US military open to the very same accusation.

Picture: US military checkpoint in Bagdad. May 2006. (AFP/US ARMY/File/Staff Sgt Russel Lee Klika)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

OBE's, the award for 'toilet cleaners'

When I first read that the millionaire film-maker Michael Winner, turned down an OBE, I first thought, hello, never had Winner down as a republican, what's all that about? Only, later to discover the real reason he'd snubbed his nose up at an OBE was because he really did considered himself to be a real toff, and that OBE's were only fit for the likes of 'toilet cleaners'. It seemed for a minute that we were both on the same side, but we're not.

I can honestly say, without a shadow of doubt, that I would have to be dead before I knelt down on one knee, and kissed the hand of Her Majesty. Winner would have done it for a knighthood, he would have got down on his knee faster than you could say 'brown-nose'. To me, the hounors system, the Monarchy, and the House of Lords represents everything that is wrong in British society. Together, they represent what the revolutionary Tom Paine once referred to as 'the remains of aristocratical tyranny'. Over 200 years later, that tyranny is still a forceful kick in the teeth to the idea of a popular and meritocratic democracy. I think Winner did do the right thing when he turned down the OBE, but I also believe he did it for all the wrong reasons too.

UK summer heatwave warning? Chill out

I think it's rather ironic that, 1) the British government has launched it's summer's 'Heatwave Plan 2006', at the tail end of, according to the Mirror newspaper, the wettest May we've seen in a decade - and, 2) that the government now describes the life giving properties of the sun, (aka sunshine), as though it were a severe mortal threat to us all.

The foreword of Heatwave plan for England: 'protecting health and reducing harm from extreme heat and heatwave' written by that well known climatologist, the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said, 'Climate change means heatwaves are likely to become more common in England' - the heatwave Sir Donaldson had in mind was the one that hit Europe in the summer of 2003. Donaldson reminds us that the 2003 heatwave saw some 15,000 excess deaths due to 'heat-related conditions'.

In the past, annual government health warnings about the sun meant scaring us witless about the dangers of sunbathing by raising the spectra of cancer, even though melanoma victims in the UK still, thankfully remain rare. Today, the authorities public health promotions are more to do with promoting awareness about what they deem to be the 'right' issue. So, out goes the simplistic medical link between too much sunlight and the risk of skin cancer, in comes environmentalist concerns about the dangers of a summer heatwave.

Sir Donaldson is adamant that the heatwave plan for England is needed, even though the risk of a severe heatwave in Britain is less than 0.1%. He points to the 15,000 excess deaths in France 2003, and talks about the hypothetical problem's relating to climate change as proof that we need this plan. If that's his proof then we don't need their heatwave plan. Indeed, it could be argued that it was French environmentalist policies of 2001 that led to some 15,000 deaths in the summer of 2003. The chain of causes and its effects might seem difficult to grasp. Difficult, but not impossible

The heatwave that hit Europe in the late summer of 2003 did in fact kill thousands of people (mainly the elderly), and livestock. It also caused huge forest fires. It was more severe in France, due to the fact that the temperature did not drop during the evening, according to experts.

However, the hot, baking sun cannot explain the mass deaths in a modern Western society. When at the same time, across the Atlantic, temperatures reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in 2003. But that did not lead to thousands of people being killed. Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels on American Fox News pointed out the 'temperature in Paris was the same as in Denver, Chicago and Detroit'. But there were no deaths due to the baking heat in American cities, so what is going on in France?

The truth is, air conditioning is commonplace in American homes, however, in the technological sophisticated country like France, air conditioning is rare. Why is that?

European environmentalists have put so much pressure on governments to reduce energy consumption, that governments in Europe, especially France, have imposed huge energy taxes in order to reduce energy consumption. French consumers now pay on average 25 percent more for their energy than they do in the United States, and the average income is also low, which make electricity even more expensive in France.

So, high-energy taxes have done exactly what the environmentalists wanted it to do, reduce energy consumption. Air conditioners use more energy than any other household appliance, so in order to cut down their electric bills, the poor and elderly simply gave up using their air conditioners because it became too expensive to use. What is universal in America is in fact, the indulgence of the well off in France. The director of the Saint-Antoine in Paris, Chantal de Singly noted in Le Monde (Aug 19, 2003) that the French had two types of citizens 'the France of the air conditioners versus the France of the overheated'.

So, there you have it - in order to address a hypothetical risk of global warming (of a few measly degrees), the French environmentalists high energy tax made it impossible for it's poorer citizens to protect themselves from what was, something that was foreseeable and preventable - a summer heatwave.

So, if the government are really so concerned about the elderly and vulnerable during a summer heatwave, why don't they just make air-conditioners universal in Britain? But that would contradict the governments newfound environmentalist concerns. The truth is, it's not the sun that is the threat to us all in the summer, it's taking warning advice from a government who mistakenly think they Know What's Best.

Picture: The Sun.