Yet another week flashes by. Oh, December 12th to December 18th! What news nuggets have you thrown up for me to digest?
The futility of the death penalty. Over in California, big Arnie, still somehow governor of California (well, they do say that the electorate get the officials they deserve) decided not to grant clemency to Stanley "Tookie" Williams who, having spent 24 years on death row, was executed by lethal injection. Stan, founder of the notorious "Crips" gang in Los Angeles. (not a very PC name is it? Is there another gang called the "Retards"? There should be.) was something of a reformed character, having written many books condemning the "gangsta" lifestyle and devoting his time to peace promotion. But to no avail - "Tookie" has instead joined the other 1,003 people killed by the death penalty in the USA since its reinstatement in 1976. The only other democracies still clinging to the death penalty are Taiwan, Japan and India; but in terms of total numbers executed, the USA falls only behind China, Iran and Vietnam. That's not very good company for a sophisticated democracy to find itself in.
Democracies don't torture. Speaking of democracies not behaving how they should, it was heartening this week to see the White House drop its opposition to the legislation proposed by Republican Senator John McCain that seeks to "prohibit the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading interrogation methods of US detainees in US custody around the world". Or, in layman's terms: the US government won't sanction torture. Now, there's a step forward. Depressing that this is even up for debate in the 21st century. Yes, there is a war going on. Yes, we are dealing with dangerous, murderous people. But one of the cornerstones of the war against Islamofascism has to be that we are not like those we are fighting. Ever. Full stop.
A steaming pile of CAP. Meanwhile, closer to home, Tony Blair has blown perhaps the best opportunity we have ever had of getting the hideous, murderous, common agricultural policy reformed. He should have absolutely refused to concede a single penny of our EU rebate without such assurance. Instead, we are committed to surrendering at least £1,000,000,000 a year on the premise that CAP reforms might be debated sometime. Maybe. In a few years. If there's time. Nice work, Tone. So who will be paying for this genorosity? Why, that would be us. Let me just get this straight: we have to pay yet more tax to prop up a vile and currupt protectionist monstrosity that rewards (mainly) French farmers for doing fuck all, while condemning millions of farmers in the developing world to extreme conditions of poverty? That's the "deal" is it? It makes me sick.
Doctor Who in anti-war shock. The Doctor Who Christmas special will contain a stark "anti-war" message this year. In the words of chief writer Russell T Davies: "It's Christmas Day, a day of peace. There is absolutely an anti-war message because that's what I think." Well, thanks for that. So glad we cleared that one up. Who isn't "anti-war"? What does it mean not to be "anti-war"? Who is out there thinking "Yes! War! Death! Mutilation"?
A glimmer of hope. Speaking of war, the turnout in the Iraqi elections this week was highly encouraging for those of us not routinely, manifestly opposed to the whole situation. When 70% of the electorate turn out to vote, it is an inarguable fact that there is a chance of progress in what is otherwise, for the most part, a complete quagmire. Iraq is a mess, the whole post-war operation was a shambles, and there is still a huge amount of work to be done to ensure political stability. Yet, for all this, the turnout percentage was better than the recent UK or USA elections and most people are embracing their new democratic freedoms, even risking death to cast their vote in some areas.
IslamoNazi. Elsewhere in the region, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be moved to Europe (what, literally? How would that work?) and, again, claimed that the Holocaust was a fallacy. I've devised a quick formula to establish how we should deal with Iran diplomatically: Holocaust denial + expressed intent to wipe Israel from the map = we should never, ever allow Iran to become a nuclear power. But it made me think of an article I read recently by socialist dinosaur Tony Benn, wherein he accused the US and the UK of "hypocrisy" for condemning Iranian nuclear ambition whilst furthering their own programme. Hmmm. It's a curious condition of the far left that they seem perfectly able to side with the most monstrous ideologies and dictators rather than ever be seen to side with their own governments: the Communist bloc, Mao Tse Tung, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Kosovo. . . the list goes on and on. The hard left were wrong on every single one of these issues and now they are wrong about Iran.
Right, got to go. Early Christmas lunch and fine wines await. . .