Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2001-12-11 Entry: "Snippets (Political)"

Feeling strangely prolific today. I've managed to cover two of the topics I most often rant about (film and computers) already today, so a pair of political snippets from last night should round it out.

Firstly was a quote from some American who really annoyed me. Basically, they were discussing Afghanistan (there's a surprise), and how Colin Powell was visiting Russia / Europe to discuss peacekeeping. This random American said something along the lines of "America is in the business of fighting wars. Peacekeeping is something the American military don't do." Okay, so you guys go in there and make a complete mess of the place, leave thousands without food or shelter just before winter sets in, and with a government that has barely been set up (not to mention the bands of troops no doubt roving the countryside looking for places to loot), and then you wash your hands of it. You expect us to do the peacekeeping duties, and obviously you're not going to give any concessions for this... it's our fault for supporting your petty little war.

Secondly, the anti-terror bill currently trying to go through parliament. Now, I've previously commented (I think) on the problems I have with it - the Incitement to Religious Hatred bits have nothing to do with terrorism and are completely impractical, and the bits that allow us to temporarily ignore the European Convention on Human Rights is almost certain to make us look like hypocrites in the short term. Fortunately, the House Of Lords (which, at present at least, isn't packed with Labour cronies) has decided they're going to get rid of these clauses before returning it to the government. Now, the government have given a concession (that the whole thing would be reviewed by a committee within the first two years of it becoming law and would advise on changes - Huh? Aren't you supposed to get the law right before you pass it?), but it's a moot point, because of the way this'll work.

They want it in law by Christmas (which I believe they stop for on Friday). On Wednesday, the Lords return it to the Commons, where the government (who have a huge majority, and an ineffectual opposition) will ignore the Lords and return it with all the amendments removed. The Lords will then get it back and have to go through the whole process again - on Thursday night. They don't stop for Christmas until this is passed, and this process can repeat indefinitely (basically, they'll be there until one side gives in). Lets hope the Lords have still got some teeth!

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