Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thai Rak Thai dissolved

The Constitutional Tribunal has banned Thaksin Shinawatra and 110 other Thai Rak Thai officials from political office for five years. They have also ordered the party to be dissolved after it was found guilty of violating electoral laws. Apparently thousands of troops are on the streets of Bangkok in case of unrest and one former Thai Rak Thai deputy had threatened to mobilise thousands of protesters.

The caretaker leader of Thai Rak Thai Chaturon Chaisang said last night that the verdict was "highly unexpected", and expressed his worry over "setbacks" towards the development of democracy in Thailand. He called upon the party's 14 million supporters to respect the verdicts, and not protest.

However, according to The Nation he then vowed to fight on and said that "the verdicts proved that he who controlled the state power could make anything right". He said "the public would not accept the verdicts". "This is not acceptable. The country is now ruled under dictatorship."

According to the report in The Nation he continued his verbal attacks before his speech was take over by a newscaster!!

State censorship will not solve this problem. Even if Thai Rak Thai is successfully and peacefully disbanded the ideas that were central to the philosophy of Thai Rak Thai will find a home in another (probably new) party and I suspect that this is the real problem which will not go away when and if further elections are held.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

B52 sabotagers acquitted

Fascinating that two men who broke into an RAF base to sabotage US B-52 bombers by clogging their engines with nuts and bolts were acquitted after arguing that they were acting to prevent war crimes in Iraq despite the judge instructing the jury to ignore the wider issues relating to Britain's decision to go to war.
According to The Guardian here the two men argued that they were attempting to disable the B52 bombers in order to prevent them from taking part in attacks on Iraq and in order to prevent war crimes and loss of life and property in Iraq. Specifically they argued that war crimes would be committed because the B52s carried cluster weapons which would scatter unexploded bomblets which would kill and injure civilians. They also argued that the aircraft were carrying bombs tipped with depleted uranium that would spread radioactivity.
This seems to be a fascinating precedent and I wonder where this will leave future legal actions against say protesters at Aldermaston or those who wish to clamber all over coal fired power stations to prevent global warming?

Monday, May 21, 2007

The death of a grand old lady

A sad day today as the Cutty Sark (one of the most famous landmarks in London) goes up in flames. I remember visiting the Cutty Sark as a small child and being totally in awe of this vast ship - it must have seemed a lot bigger to a small child I guess but it is a sad day to hear the BBC Radio commentator referring to a charred and burnt out hulk. I suspect the Heritage Lottery Fund (or whatever they are called this week) will be receiving an application for funds to restore this grand old lady.
  • She is the most famous ship in the world
  • She is the epitome of the great age of sail
  • She is the only surviving extreme clipper, and the only tea clipper still in existence.
  • Most of her hull fabric survives from her original construction and she is the best example of a merchant composite construction vessel.
  • She has captured the imagination of millions of people, 15 million of whom have come on board to learn the stories she has to tell.
  • She was preserved in Greenwich partly as a memorial to the men of the merchant navy, particularly those who lost their lives in the world wars.
  • She is one of the great sights of London.

Statement of Significance

  • She is the world’s sole surviving extreme clipper, a type of vessel that was the highest development of the fast commercial sailing ship, with the majority of her hull fabric surviving from her original construction.
  • She is internationally appreciated for her beauty and is one of the most famous ships in the world.
  • Her fine lines – a considerable part of her appeal – are defined by her frames which form part of the vessel’s composite construction; a construction technique of which she is the best surviving example and of which she is of exceptional quality.
  • She has captured the imagination of millions of people, 15 million of whom have come on board to learn the stories she has to tell.
  • She is a gateway to the World Heritage Site at Greenwich and is a key asset to both the World Heritage Site and the Borough of Greenwich.
  • As a tea clipper, she is tangible evidence of the importance of tea in 19th century trade and cultural life.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A bad week

On so many fronts the last week has not been good news.

The local election results were not good across the country although undoubtedly they varied a lot from area to area. Some areas posted good or steady results whilst other lost ground.

I have been helping in West Berkshire and Portsmouth. The results in West Berkshire were disappointing although we retained control of both Newbury and Thatcham Town Councils. Better news in Portsmouth where we gained one and lost one and where our leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson held his seat after a very strong and determined effort by the Tories to oust him.

If a week is a long time in politics then a week is a very long time in Football - particularly if you are a Leeds fan. Just over a week ago Leeds were 1-0 up against Ipswich and heading towards 48 points and the possibility of today's game against Derby being a meaningful encounter. Then Ipswich equalised and a pitch invasion and FA investigation followed.

In the immediate aftermath it became obvious that we were effectively relegated to league one baring some form of miracle today. Last Monday Ken Bates told Yorkshire Radio that support shown for Leeds over the last 48 hours was "beyond my wildest expectations". By Friday Leeds had called in the administrators, suffered a ten point reduction and been formally relegated to League One.

Meanwhile there is a rumour a minute as to what the future of the club will be in terms of new owners. Apparently Mr Bates wants to buy the club back from the administrators and has set up a new company called something like Leeds United 2007 for the express purpose of doing so! I am not sure where the fit and proper person test fits into all of this but perhaps it should!

Apparently Gary Kelly and an Irish consortium are interested in purchasing the club. So are some Russians. Oh and some Americans as well. And a consortium headed up by Duncan Revie the son of the former Leeds United manager Don Revie. Also according to the BBC The Leeds United's Supporters Trust says it is in a position to make a proposal to buy the club. These are just the rumours I have heard and doubtless there are many more to come

The only positive point to emerge from this whole debacle is the fact that at least the ten point deduction applied to the current season and not the next one.

I suspect that we are in for a long summer whilst the long suffering fans wait for a whole host of issues to be resolved. Even if we have new owners we have no clue as to who the manager will be and which players will be leaving and which players will be arriving. Either way I expect wholesale changes to the team before we begin life in League One