One of the problems with dealing with racists is their tendency to talk in code. All too aware of the reaction theyd get if they openly aired their views in public, they will instead use coded language, which will fly over the head of most people, but their fellow bigots will hear and understand (hence why its often referred to as dog-whistle politics in the US). For example, Inner city youths means the N word while immigrant means no darkies. And of course all that birther crap was code for “bring back the Jim Crow laws“.
Needless to say, UKIP have become masters at these tactics, but last night the mask slipped and Rochester UKIP candidate Mark Reckless :crazy: made the classic rookie mistake for a bigot politician and forgot for a minute his code words, suggesting (to the shock of many of his audience) that he thought all EU migrants should be deported.
Of course he was quick to backtrack, claiming he would be sympathetic towards those who work or have mortgages to pay. However he didnt withdraw his original comment and furthermore his sympathy hints at a UKIP policy wedded to arbitrary law whereby some bureaucrat makes arbitrary decisions about this person being allowed to stay and another person not allowed. Keep in mind that many long term immigrants may have put down roots making it difficult to define who is British and who is not.
e.g. My granny never got a British passport, despite having lived in the UK longer than Farage has been here, worked all her life, paid taxes and Reckless would put her on a ship back to Ireland .in violation I might add of numerous Anglo-Irish treaties going back to the 1960s (i.e. before the UK joined the EU). Conversely I have friends who came from Africa or Asia to the UK and do have British passports, or have married British citizens and kept their home passport. Obviously any sane person would realise that such a policy would be unenforceable and stupid.
Farage was of course forced to undertake damage control, claiming that this is contrary to UKIP policy on immigration…which was a surprise to me as I was unaware UKIP actually had a policy on immigration, other than a lot of lies and polemics about Britain under threat.
Indeed in a further development, another UKIPs member (apparently their immigration spokesman) has suggested they want British only queues introduced (again for those who dont speak bigot that translates as why should I be forced to rub shoulders with a smelly dark skinned person).
However, can you imagine if a politician from Labour, Lib Dems, the Tories or even the Greens made a statement this far from the partys policy on a core issue? Clearly they would be expected to resign at once. Of course in UKIP, a party which doesnt even have a proper ballot system for picking candidates (like North Korea!), this does not happen. A UKIP government would therefore be government by chaos and mayhem.
Unfortunately its likely Mr Reckless will soon be the MP for Rochester, making them the laughing stock of the rest of the UK. It reminds me of the time California made the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger governor, much to the cringing embarrassment of Californians forced to steer all conversations away from politics for several years.
Top of the Terror pops
Theres a report out by an anti-Terrorist think tank which reveals some rather ghoulish statistics. It would seem that 80% of terrorist related deaths can be traced to just 4 groups ISIS, the Taliban, Al-Queda and Boko Haram. Somewhere in hell no doubt Jimmy Savile is doing a sort of perverted top of the pops for the the damned moving up swiftly to number four its Boko Haram and their hit single Papa dont teach .or well blow up his school! :no:
That said the report does make a few good points, notably that most of the situations where terrorism kicks off involved three main factors:
– High social hostilities between different ethnic, religious and linguistic groups
– The presence of state-sponsored violence such as extrajudicial killings and human rights abuses
– High levels of overall violence, such as deaths from organised conflict or high levels of violent crime
Eliminating these conditions is a far more effective way of defeating terrorism than through the use of smart bombs. Of course this probably falls into the category of no s&it Sherlock for most people. But its worth remembering that it might not be so obvious to many in the US or the present UK government. After all the UK, tried for several decades to defeat the IRA in battle. It was only the peace process initiated by Tony Blair that finally brought about peace however.
That said, these Wahhabist groups are of a different breed of terrorism. The IRA, like most terrorist group, had some genuine grievances that allowed room for negotiation. ISIS, whose party tricks include beheading aid workers, blowing up Mosques and banning colours arent exactly the sort of group you can negotiate with.
Water and dust
One of the big stories over the last week however was of course the Phillae lander bouncing down to a landing on a comet. This was a daring mission and the fact they got any data back at all is little short of a miracle. However the results do hint at the presence of organic material. This is to say the least, a significant development, as it does give some credibility to many long held theories about the origins of life.
Of course one cant avoid the rather obvious fact that this mission was only made possible by EU wide co-operation, of the sort that UKIP would rather see less of. The probe, along with its Rosetta mothership were assembled in the UK, based on a European design, using European research funding. An EU exit would leave the UK out of the loop as far as future missions like this.
The worst of both worlds
It was refreshing to read the report from the Higher Education Commission on the consequences of fees and the defacto privatisation of the UKs universities. The report does not mince its words, declaring that student fees have resulted in the the worst of both worlds for both students and the tax payer. And with the majority of student loans likely to be written off, the report questioned the long term sustainability of this system.
The report makes clear what I and many in the profession have long argued that the result is a case of lose, lose for everyone. Students wind up paying more, not just in fees but in other costs too. As they assume theyre effectively paying for a degree they put pressure on lecturing staff to pass them and making various demands of universities (e.g. better facilities), sometimes getting litigious (or engaging in plagiarism) if they dont get their way. Of course the universities respond by spending more on facilities and staff, even though the money they get from the government in terms of teaching grants has fallen. And also arbitrary caps on student loan numbers have amounted to a defacto cut in the budgets of many universities. And again ultimately when everything goes pear shaped it will the government picking up the tab.
The report does lay out a number of options, ranging from a cut in tuition fees or a graduation tax, although both of these options (and various others discussed) would still leave a fairly large hole in the finances of many universities, which would have to be plugged with government cash.
You only live twice
In a worrying development, its been alleged that the Russians have been testing a Satellite Catcher military satellite. The Americans report an undeclared Russian launch of an object that then began manoeuvring in a way that most conventional satellites do not. This is no doubt is a case of Putin ratcheting up things.
Of course there is some hypocrisy here, given that the Americans have been testing their own space spy plane the X-37, which is believed to have similar capabilities. Even so it represents a worrying militarisation of space.
Speaking of space, another scam seems to be brewing in the Alt-space movement. As I mentioned in a prior post, there are quite a sizeable number who are fairly pro-space (possibly as a result of playing EVE Online for one too many hours or maybe too much Star Trek as a kid) and who inevitably have been targeted from time to time by those looking to cash in.
A few years ago the Mars One mission came up with the preposterous suggestion for a one way suicide mission to Mars, encouraging subscribers to submit an application to be one of the lucky people to go…for a small fee of course. Given that most of those applying would probably be physically incapable of undertaking the trip (quite apart from lacking in certain essential astronaut skills .piloting, astronavigation, ability to survive months in a tin can without an X-box, etc.) this led to accusations of the whole thing being a scam.
Anyway another group, Lunar One, are proposing to land a probe on the moon carrying essentially a memory stick. They hope to fund it using crowd source funding and for a fee allowing subscriber to upload data onto the probe. Again, this one had my spidery senses tingling straight away. I mean Im not against space exploration, but equally one has to question what the scientific value of launching a memory stick at the Moon would be?
And what guarantee to we have that this group will carry out their plan? Do they have a detailed engineering assessment we could see or even an engineering team? (Mars one had just one engineer! In its entire four person operation .Apollo redux I doubt!) How about a break down of their budget?…or even a simple Gantt Chart?
Climate of good will
One story you might have missed is that the US and China have struck a deal on climate change. Certainly the actual deal is something of a case of too little too late (it ignores the fact that the US is massively over it previously agreed Kyoto targets already and allows China to see rises in greenhouse gas emissions until 2030) and one has to question how Obama is going to get it passed by Congress.
And Im guessing the climate deniers in the Tea Party are as we speak, rolling around on the ground and chewing the carpet! :##
However it represents an important milestone as it sees the worlds two largest polluting nations now recognising the fact that they need to limit carbon dioxide levels. This will strengthen the position of the Europeans and greatly weaken the opponents of climate change action (such as the Indians, Canadians and Australians). So while its something of an empty gesture, at least its something.
A fine place to stay
A hotel in Blackpool has managed to discover the unfortunate consequences of being on the receiving end of the so-called Streisand effect. The proprietors of the Broadway Hotel, which by all accounts sounds like a typical grotty little Blackpool dive, disgruntled by the continuous bad reviews theyd gotten on sites like Trip Advisor decided to introduce a policy of fining guests £100 if they left a bad review.
Needless to say, a couple showed up, didnt like their stay, left a bad review and got fined. Of course this brought in trading standards, then the media and then the whole of the Internet. I noticed when this story broke yesterday the hotel had a mere ten reviews on Google, but now has accumulated some 126 reviews, nearly all of them negative, within a few hours.
Under threat of legal action and no doubt feeling the heat of media/internet pressure, the hotel management (which I uses in the loosest of ways possible) have now caved in, refunded the money and are presumably hoping the whole thing will just blow over. Incidentally, this mirrors a similar case in America.