30 December 2006

Saddam Hanged

Well, I suppose I don't need to link to it. You probably know about it already.

I oppose the death penalty and would have preferred it if Saddam had spent the rest of his life in an Iraqi prison. But I won't be mourning his death.

I hope this makes things better. But sadly, we've had too many false dawns...

24 December 2006

Merry Christmas

Just to wish all of my readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

15 December 2006

Ross's evidence

After hearing about the fact that Carne Ross's evidence to the Butler Inquiry being published and seeing the Independent at a a newsagents I bought it and had a look.

The case against the government is still not proven. All that Ross has said is that until mid-2002, officials (i.e. not the relevant ministers) did not believe that Iraq was a threat to the UK or its interest (and that's not saying he wasn't a threat to other people's interest). He also is only saying officials opposed regime change, which we know. As for the statement about selling 1441, it could be true or it could not be.

We still do not know what the wisdom at March 2003 was, but all the committees have agreed that the intel was not misrepresented. Butler considered this and ruled the way he did. This is not a smoking gun.

Comments are welcome.

The full document can be found on the Indie website.

Edited for punctuation.

02 December 2006

Trident

For those of you who haven't been following UK political news, Ming Campbell has proposed halving the number of nuclear warheads that Britain possesses to 100.

This might be the second best solution. Personally, I don't think we should renew Trident. I'm not saying to get rid of it overnight, just that we shouldn't spend £25 billion on renewing. We'll still have it for 15 more years- plenty of time for further arms control negotiations to succeed.

The main reason is that it serves no useful purpose. The Russians aren't going to attack. The Chinese don't have the range and probably aren't that interested in us. The people who want to attack us aren't going to be deterred anyway by it. We couldn't really use it against terrorists anyway. And using it against a terrorist training camp would reek of disproportionality.

Comments are welcome.

24 November 2006

Casino Royale

Saw Casino Royale on Sunday, so I may as well say a few words about it. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you.

So 7 points (since it's 007, geddit?):
  1. Daniel Craig is a good Bond. He can do the action scenes brilliantly and his less "Bondian" moments can be explained by the fact that this is a more human Bond.
  2. Eva Green- great as Vesper Lynd.
  3. Mads Mikkelsen was good as Le Chiffre.
  4. Good plot, if slightly unclear at times.
  5. Q and Moneypenny's absence was a good thing.
  6. Great lines and jokes.
  7. Stunts were great.

All in all a good Bond film.

By the way, I've put comment moderation back on. Much as I don't like the idea of censorship in advance, the spam must stop. Only spam will be blocked.

EDIT- To make the second sentence more gramatically correct.

12 November 2006

Remembrance Sunday

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.

We will remember them.

11 November 2006

USA 2006- The Analysis

It became rather obvious that Allen had conceded when at 8.23 pm GMT on Thursday, the US Election Atlas forum gave me the “Connection Problems” page.

I think we’re all aware of the saying that “Oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them”. And the Republicans certainly lost this one.

So now the reasons.

Why the Republicans lost:
Iraq. This is the primary reason why they lost. Little has gone right in Iraq over the last two years, in fact the last three and people were highly frustrated. Thus they voted against the party they deemed responsible. Bush’s “stay the course” rhetoric ultimately didn’t help.
Corruption- both moral and financial. Foleygate was really the moment when the House became unsalvageable for the GOP. Ney cost the GOP OH-18, Foley FL-16.
The evangelicals didn’t turn out. Mostly for reason 2.
Hurricane Katrina. If the federal government hadn’t been so incompetent when it came to dealing with this disaster, George W. Bush wouldn’t have lost a great deal of popularity.
The Latino vote. There was a 15% swing against the Republicans among this group and it probably cost them some close races. Appeasing the base by a tough stance on immigration meant that this group was annoyed.
The economy got wildly misinterpreted. Despite the DOW going over 12,000 and the lowest unemployment rate for 5 years, 50% of the CNN exit poll sample thought the economy was not very good or poor.
Virginia. I think it’s safe to say that if Allen hadn’t made the comment he did, the Republicans would have retained the Senate on Cheney’s casting vote.

Why the Democrats won:
Managed to avoid any major gaffes. Kerry’s botched joke was the worst, which is saying something.
Didn’t define their Iraq policy. If they’d specified an Iraq policy, they’d have been attacked on it. All they needed to do was say “we need to change course”. I’d have preferred an alternative policy, but you can’t have everything.
I’d have to agree with what someone said at US Election Atlas- they effectively portrayed the entire Congressional GOP as uncritical Bush followers.

So, Congress has changed, for better or worse.

Now onto 2008…

Edited to make the last Democrat point clearer.

10 November 2006

32 out of 33

That's how many Senate races I called correctly. I was wrong in Virginia. Because I was wrong in Virginia, I called the balance of power incorrectly. Oh, well, you can't win them all.

I'm glad the Democrats won. While I supported (and continue to support) the Iraq war, it's become monumentarily clear that a) this thing was very poorly handled and b) that it's a mess. Rumsfeld should have gone after Abu Ghraib.

I just hope there really is bi-partisanship in Washington this time...

Expect a fuller analysis over the next few days.

06 November 2006

Hilary Benn, you rock

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6117924.stm

Hopefully this will get adopted as government policy, but I sadly doubt it.

Keep this up, Hilary and you'll be my new favourite Cabinet Minister.

21 October 2006

Ramble 5- Robin Hood and Clare Short

Two people who you seriously wouldn't imagine together. Imagine Clare Short as one of the Merry Men- sorry they're the Outlaws now.

Which brings us nicely onto Robin Hood. After two death-free episodes, we get eight in 45 minutes, which makes Taggart look positively peaceful. They're milking the war on terror analogy for all it's worth. The series is still reasonable, but Jonas Armstrong seems a bit young to be Robin Hood.

Clare Short has resigned from the Parliamentary Labour Party. I wasn't surprised and in fact am quite pleased. The woman should have been thrown out for blatant disloyalty. It should be remembered that this woman has always been on the left of the party (resigning from the front bench over the first Gulf War and supporting Irish reunification) and is not representative of most of it.

Due to a dodgy Internet connection, I'm a bit behind on The Zone, my NS news column. It's bi-weekly ATM for personal reasons.

I've only seen one episode of The Unit, but it's reasonably good. Dennis Haysbert's a great actor.

Edited to remove the word "still" from the Jonas Armstrong sentence.

14 October 2006

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding to renewal!

Saw the second episode of Robin Hood this evening. Not quite as good as the first episode, which made me think the Beeb had a hit on their hands. They may still do.

Some points here. I'm not sure about Jonas Armstrong's Robin. He's not what I expected of Robin Hood (but then again, the only Robin Hood I saw prior to this was Prince of Thieves).

The 'war on terror' analogy is very noticeable here.

Oh, and no-one's died yet.

13 October 2006

What on earth?

I saw General Dannatt's interview with BBC Breakfast this morning. He mentioned that Des Browne had authorised his statement. He also sounded like he was backpedalling furiously.

Now the government is saying that he was reflecting policy.

This can mean a number of things:
  1. Some serious wires have got crossed in the Ministry of Defence press office.
  2. Dannatt is just stating the government's view in a way that can be misinterpreted.
  3. We're preparing for a major U-turn on Iraq.

By the way, I believe things will be even worse if we pull out prematurely.

11 October 2006

North Korea

So North Korea has officially joined the nuclear club, by setting off a nuclear bomb in an underground mineshaft. It's not a good thing that a dictator like Kim Jong-Il has nuclear weapons.

This development, while alarming, was not exactly surprising. It's been suspected for a while that the DPRK has nuclear weapons.

However, there are a couple of signs that we shouldn't panic just yet. Firstly, we have no idea whether the test was successful. It seems that the explosion was smaller than that of the Hiroshima bomb (which seems to the standard by which nuclear weapons are measured. That's not particulary successful. Secondly, the North is still years away from being able to put a bomb on a missile. Thirdly, their missiles aren't the most effective things.

What we do have to worry about is North Korea's conventional weaponry- most particularly the capacity of their artillery to devastate Seoul. Sadly, this makes a liberation of North Korea a non-starter.

A setback for world peace, yes. A rephrensible act, yes. A sign of imminent Armageddon, no.

06 October 2006

Jack Straw's comments

I am personally a bit of fan of the Leader of Commons. I think he generally says the right thing at the right time.

I do not believe he is infallible, as in this case. I do not think that Jack Straw is right that it would be better for community relations if they did not wear veils. If they want to wear veils, that is their choice. They should not be asked to do something that they do not wish to do because of what someone else wants, at least not in this case. I don't believe that it harms community relations at all. What harms community relations is this sort of thing.

Comments are welcome.

Edited to be more accurate.

30 September 2006

Coming up in October

The 1st sees three elections- Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brazil's first round. In Austria, it could be close, but the OVP will probably win. Bosnia is pretty important, according to some analysts, because of issues over secession. Lula will probably win again in Brazil.

The 7th has Latvia.

Belgian municipals on the 8th.

Ecuador on the 15th.

Bulgaria Presidency and a Panama Canal expansion referendum on the 22nd.

We finish on the 29th with a run-off in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Brazil's second round. Kabila will probably win in the DRC.

29 September 2006

"You can't play politics with people's jobs"

Caught the end of Kinnock's 1985 conference speech on BBC Parliament- you know the one where he attacked Militant. Good speech, very good speech. I don't understand all the context, but clearly some of the audience wasn't happy with the bit about Manchester City Council (I can't recall a walkout under Blair).

You'd never hear Blair using the word "Comrades" now. Or "socialism" for that matter.

The Political Map of Europe



Here you go.

Any errors, let me know in the comments.

'Coming up in October' will be up tomorrow.

26 September 2006

Blair's speech

Came in at about 56 minutes long in the end.

Some thoughts on it:
  • Not much Lib Dem bashing. Then again, they're no longer the main threat, Cameron's Tories are.
  • Section on foreign policy was good as always. Regardless of your views on Iraq to begin with, we cannot abandon them now.
  • Some great stuff on Cameron. Easily the highlight of the speech.
  • The 'Thank yous' were nice.
  • Good defence of some of our more controversial policies. It's our values that need to be implemented ultimately, not certain policies. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where the money comes from, provided its spent.
  • Great listing of Labour's achievements.
  • Brilliant line about wanting to be the first Labour leader to win three successive elections.
  • Didn't endorse anyone for the leadership, but that's not a surprise.

It wasn't the best of speeches, but it was good. Well done, Tony. And thank you.

22 September 2006

Thailand

As you've heard, there was a coup in Thailand earlier this week. Thaksin Sinawatra, the Thai PM was overthrown by the military while in New York for the UN General Assembly.

Regardless of what you think of Thaksin, his record and policies, a coup was not the right way to deal with him. The courts had already thrown out the last election and there was going to be another one. If the people wanted Thaksin out, they would have voted him out at that election. Now they won't get a chance to make their decision on him.

Instead, an illegitimate military regime will start the process that will lead to a new constitution and PM. That's not the way it should happen. Thaksin should be allowed back into power.

It's a good thing there were no shots fired in this. It's a bad thing this coup happened in the first place.

I hope Thailand returns to democracy in the near future.

18 September 2006

Sweden

As you may know, Sweden held its general election today and the left lost. Perrson has resigned as PM.

Naturally, as a social democrat, I'm unhappy when any PES party loses an election. At least it wasn't that bad a loss.

Sometime before the end of this month, I'll post my "Political Map of Europe". However, can someone tell me whether Yuschenko is a left-winger or a right-winger?

07 September 2006

"The next party conference in a couple of weeks will be my last party conference as party leader"

Well, no exact date (Blair will probably go when he feels like going- the big question is whether it's before the May elections), but Blair's made his committment now. I think it's fair to let the guy choose the date he goes- that's what he deserves after leading us to three consecutive victories.

I suppose the leadership race starts here, although it won't really kick until Blair sets a date.

Edit- When the ballot comes up, I'll probably vote for Brown and, if he runs, Straw for Deputy Leader.

06 September 2006

Tony Blair's future

As you're probably aware, seven junior ministers, including Defence Minister Tom Watson, resigned today because Tony Blair hasn't named a date for when he's going to go. They had all signed the letter calling for Blair to set a date.

I'm not sure what to think about this whole business. It's just that this endless speculation over the leadership stops us from doing the job of governing effectively. Blair will go in his own time (and probably when we least expect it). He's already said he won't fight another election and that his successor will have plenty of time to govern. Let him decide how he wants to go, or if you want him to go now, challenge him for the leadership. Just do something instead of making statements. I just want this speculation to stop- it's annoying.

Your opinions are welcome in the comments box.

05 September 2006

Podcasts and NationStates

The Labour Party now has a podcast (kudos to http://www.bloggers4labour.org for the tip). I haven't listened to it, but it just seems to be ministerial QandAs and speeches ATM. Perhaps Party HQ should get a prominent Labour celebrity (John O'Farrell anyone?) to do a weekly round of news and Tory-bashing. Don't forget the Tory bashing. Stick in some Liberal-bashing while you're at it. Maybe some competitions as well. We'll have to see.

I didn't get on the MAD Council, because it wasn't first come first served. I might challenge for a seat if a councillor does particularly little.

I'm still contributing to the Merit though, with a weekly article on NS news for InterMet. If you have any NS news, comment here.

If you want more info about the game, go to www.nationstates.net

31 August 2006

Coming up in "Don't Know Much About This" September

10- Montenegro has its first post-independence election. Wiki has next to nothing on it.
17- Sweden. Close race likely between the two blocs. I'll say narrow centre-right victory.
22- Gambia- Probable APRC victory, but I don't really know any of the candidates.
26- Yemen. Probably going to be a rigathon for Ali Abdullah Saleh.
28- Zambia. Was close last time between the Movement for Multiparty Democracy and the United Party for National Development. Have no idea what it'll be like this time.

Ramble 4- Insert Quip Here

Watched the three-parter Murphy's Law this week. Not much to write home about. There's Dalizel and Pascoe (I think I've spelt that right) starting on Sunday.

Still not a huge amount going on the world. Iran's 'President' challenged America's President to a debate. It would have been an interesting spectacle, but the White House was right to refuse. It would given Ahmadinejad more legitimacy than he deserves.

I've applied to be an MAD Councillor at The Meritocracy. Should get in.

Tomorrow, I make my return to the forum at US Election Atlas as I said I would. With mid-terms coming up, it should be an interesting place to be.

I still haven't done my House and Governor Predictions. I'll get going on those starting tomorrow.

25 August 2006

Ramble 3- Slow news week

It's a bit of a slow news week. Top story on the BBC is about the obesity report. That's not to say nothing is happening- Iraq is still plagued with problems, there's the usual crime stories- but there's nothing that's really got the news agenda buzzing. Everyone's on holiday and we can relax a little.

I've been busy this week having a go at a game I got in Smith's a while back- Lock On. As you may have guessed, it's a flight sim game. I've now spent several attempts trying to drop a bomb on a tank. It's not easy, especially when said bomb is not guided.

Stargate SG-1 has been cancelled. Having not yet seen any of Season 10 (it won't be on Sky for a while), I can't say whether it's got bad or not. It's been cancelled due to falling ratings (although Sci-Fi wouldn't admit that). Let's hope it gets picked up by another channel.

Tried and failed (thanks to a lot of abstentions) to get back into the Meritocratic Senate. I'll stick around, RP a bit, run for the City Council and apply again in a few months.

Back in the RRA and the ADN in NS as well. Not much going on there either.

Soon we'll be back into the maelstrom of the Conference season. But that can wait a couple of weeks.

Your thoughts?

22 August 2006

Immigration

I got a UKIP leaflet through my letterbox this morning. On it, it states that "UKIP would reduce net immigration to zero".

This has a potential problem. As Britain's population ages, there are less people able to contribute to society through work. Reducing immigration would only worsen the dependency problem we are soon going to have.

Some other points. It's often claimed that immigrants are taking British jobs. In fact, they tend to do the jobs that British people don't want to do. And all of them contribute to a society in some way.

People come to Britain because we speak English as a national language. It's not like German or French is taught in schools in Romania, par exemple.

There's a nasty racist undertone to the whole anti-immigration business. UKIP, consciously or not, are playing on people's fears of their jobs being taken by foreign workers, who will (they claim) drive down wages. That's not an argument for reducing immigration, that's an argument for increasing the minimum wage.

As regards to multicultralism, what's wrong with it? We should celebrate diversity, not force people to give up their culture. If their practices are too far off mainstream or violate human rights, then there's an argument for banning them, but not for the sake of it. By the way, I do think that some anti-offensive measures are a bit silly.

Just out of curiousity, how would all those planning to retire to Spain react if Spain banned immigration from Britain?

I'll disable comments on this one.

15 August 2006

Ramble 2

The ninth (or is it tenth?) series of Silent Witness concluded last night. It's been a decidingly mixed season and definitely not one of the show's best. Best episode was probably the downright weird "Supernova", with a very clever solution. None of the main characters (Leo, Harry and Nikki) really stand out.

After reading about it on UkGameshows.com, I watched the French version of Fort Boyard on TV5 Monde (I don't get France 2). It's a slightly different format from the UK one- being longer for a start (1 hour 50 minutes, with no ad-breaks). The most noticeable thing in this version was, unlike the UK version, Boyard is a nice guy. According to Wikipedia, he's only nasty in the UK versions. My French is only at GCSE Level though and it's poor in the speech department, so I can't say much else on what's said.

Watched March of the Penguins the other night. Good documentary, but I can't say it deserved an Oscar. I rarely agree with the Academy on pretty much anything (I throughly disliked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which won three Oscars).

What else have I been watching? CSI:Miami (the "most popular show on the planet") and The Bill, which has got distinctly better in recent months- it's also been ages since they killed any officers off, which has to be a good thing.

New Premiership season starts on Saturday. As a West Ham supporter, I'm hoping we do well (and we're predicted to do well, but predictions are just that- predictions). We've also got some UEFA Cup action to look forward to.

Middle East conflict is hopefully over. Both sides are claiming victory. It can't really honestly be said that either side have won on this. We all know who's lost- the Lebanese people.

10 August 2006

Ramble 1

It's time for the start of what will be a fairly regular (i.e. whenever I feel like doing it) feature on this blog.

I'm going to take you on a gentle meander through a variety of topics of current interest. Please take your litter home with you.

There's an oldish saying- "500 channels and nothing to watch". It's distinctly true. Have you seen how much junk there is on satellite TV? I'm not going to name the channels in question (that would just give them free advertising), but it says something when the only thing remotely worth watching is Basil Brush on the CBBC Channel. Boom Boom indeed.

Speaking of the CBBC Channel, I watched the first episode of Raven: The Island, spin-off from, er, Raven. I'm not going to spoil it for you (I understand people don't like having it spoilt for them), save to say that there was a little too much exposition in it.

This leads me onto two more topics: monarchy and CGI. I'll start with monarchy. As some of you may know, the central character, the host per se, in Raven: The Island is a princess. Which got me thinking about monarchy in general. I'm mixed on monarchy. I don't like the idea of someone having a political position solely by virtue of who their parents were. However, I don't want to abolish the monarchy in the UK (mainly because I like the Queen. Charles on the other hand...). So I was distinctly mixed about this Princess character. She probably is a decent person, who just happens to be a princess. Then again I thought: just ignore, it's a TV programme.

Now onto CGI. Is it me, or is CGI really obvious these days, especially on TV? It was the case with R:TI. It's the same with Stargate. It doesn't look 'real' and the illusion is lost. Then again, I know a bit about TV production. By the way, I think model work on spaceships is better than CGI.

Joe Lieberman, as you know, narrowly lost the CT primary on Tuesday, over the Iraq War. I've taken the decision on my US Election prediction table to label this seat as an Independent seat, because Lieberman has effectively resigned as a Democrat by announcing his intention to run as an independent. I'm currently projecting an Independent Hold for Connecticut. My overall prediction for the Senate is:

Republicans 51
Democrats 47
Independents 2 (Saunders and Lieberman)

I haven't done the House or Governors yet. They'll be done gradually.

News today has been dominated by the terror arrests and the alert today. I'm not going to comment further until after any possible trials, save to say: Good job.

03 August 2006

NEC Results

http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php?id=news2005&ux_news[id]=necresults&cHash=7e2b910037

So Walter Wolfgang is on the NEC. Not too surprising, I suppose. The Beeb are leading with that in their Politics section.

Perhaps we're moving to the left again. Let's hope we don't actually elect McDonnell as Leader.

15 July 2006

The Middle East

Since the Palestinians elected a Hamas government, little has been going right in the Middle East.

Now, Israel is bombing targets in Lebanon, while Hizbollah is firing rockets into Israel. It's still being called a crisis. It's almost, if not quite, a war.

Here are some general thoughts of my own on this situation:

  • Some of Israel's targetting does not seem to make logical sense- i.e. the international airport in Beirut.
  • The Lebanese haven't been particuarly vocal on this situation. Probably don't want to be seen as supporting the terrorists. Why don't they do something about it?
  • Just what do Hizbollah hope to achieve by randomly lobbing rockets at Israeli towns? It's just making the Israelis angrier.

I hope and pray we can find some solution to this before it's too late.

08 July 2006

NEC Elections

As a card-carrying member of the Labour Party, I get to vote in NEC elections (I'll also get to vote for the next leader and deputy leader).

The NEC, for those of you not in the know is Labour's main decision making body. It's made up of (and I quote):
  • The leader (Blair)
  • The deputy leader (Prescott for the time being...)
  • Treasurer
  • 12 TU members
  • 6 constituency party members (the ones I get to vote for)
  • 3 government ministers
  • 3 MPs or MEPs
  • 2 Councillors
  • 1 Young Labour Representative
  • 1 "representative of the socialist societies"
  • The leader of the European Parliament Labour Party (I don't know who that is).

So who's running for the NEC. Notable names are:

  • Lorna Fitzsimmons- former MP for Rochdale until the students there voted her out.
  • Helen Jackson: Former MP for Sheffield Hillsborough.
  • Walter Wolfgang- yes, that Walter Wolfgang. The one who got thrown out of the Labour Conference for heckling and got us accused of being fascists.

There seem to be two distinct blocs:

  • The Grassroots Alliance (Wolfgang and his crew- noticeably anti-Iraq war)
  • The leadership's preferred candidates. I voted for most of these.

You can vote until 31 July.

07 July 2006

A Year On

I don't need to remind everyone what today is the anniversary of.

A year ago, London had just won the Olympic Games. I was home for the day and nowhere near Central London. I had the day all planned out. Those plans were not to be.

I was making my way to a television to watch MacGyver, which was scheduled for 9am. The radio on and as I was walking, I heard that there had been an explosion at Liverpool Street station.

I switched over to the news channels and then cleared MacGyver off the planner. I wasn't in the mood to watch it.

It wasn't immediately clear these were actually explosions. The initial reports were saying power surges.

I spent much of the rest of the day reading the news sites and watching the news reports. I didn't feel in the mood to do much else. Al sent me an email checking whether I was OK. I really appreciated that.

Two weeks later, they tried to repeat their act of barbarism. Fortunately they failed.

On a couple of occasions afterwards, I had reason to travel through the section of the Tube where the Aldgate bombing took place. Whenever the train passed through that area, the lights flickered. It was not a pleasant reminder.

A year on and Sir Ian Blair says further attacks are 'almost inevitable'. I hope he's wrong. I fear he's right.

01 July 2006

Yet another four years of hurt...

Before this competition started, I was predicting that England would go out in the quarter finals. Events have proved me right.

Rooney joins Southgate and Beckham in the "We went out thanks to you" club. I'm not sure if the stamp was intentional (only Wayne knows that), but it sure looked painful. Then again, he really shouldn't have shoved that Portugese player. May not have deserved a red, though, but that doesn't excuse it.

However much we've been practising penalties, it clearly hasn't been enough...

Sven's reign is over. Roll on McLaren.

30 June 2006

Ind Hold Blaenau Gwent, Con Hold Bromley and Chislehurst

By-elections are ultimately that- by-elections. They have their own special circumstances and their own issues. People have a tendency to vote differently than they would if the Government is at stake.

So, I'm not drawing too many conclusions from the narrow Conservative victory in Bromley and the Labour defeat in Blaenau Gwent (apologies for the mispelling earlier, BTW).

Labour got the majority down, but lost votes. It's more a case of people deserting the Indie candidate.

As for Bromley, Cameron can't call this a victory, but the Lib Dems can't either. It's at the end of the day, a by-election.

Labour's majority stays at 64/70 (if you count the SDLP).

29 June 2006

Jack Straw gets it

This didn't really get the coverage it deserved, so in case anyone missed it, Straw has recently argued that the best way to solve the whole political funding crisis is to impose a strict cap on the amount of money parties can spend, which would (as in practice the parties would have little choice but to do this) result in the parties having to, in his words;

"...recruit, retain and involve more members and supporters..."

To say that that would be a great thing for democracy is something of an understatement. Better still it would, finally, give Labour the incentive that it needs to build up a strong organisation across the country, rather than just in our ancient strongholds and the old recent hotspot.

Straw also claims (correctly IMO) that;

"...the more local and personal our politics becomes, the more that trust and confidence in the system will be built up..."

All of this would be a simple change. A very simple one indeed. It would also be one of the most radical shake-up's of British political culture for a very long time. And it's something that the Labour Party as a whole should come out strongly in favour of; unless we want politics to become a vapid wasteland populated by vicious negative advertising and extremists, then what choice to do we really have?

26 June 2006

Futurama is coming back

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/newswire.aspx?id=7177

Well, that was a surprise.

Blaneau Gwent and Bromley and Chislehurst

Two by-elections are coming up this Thursday.

Blaneau Gwent- sensationally won by Independent Peter Law in 2005 off Labour, this will probably be a close race. My prediction- Lab GAIN.

Bromley and Chislehurst- Conservative held seat until Eric Forth's recent death. Important test for the Tories. My prediction- Con HOLD.

25 June 2006

England 1-0 Ecuador

Well, we won, due to a brilliant Beckham free kick and Ashley Cole's sprinting ability.

I'm no expert on football- I can't explain the offside rule for a start, but I do know when things are going right (i.e. we've got the ball and it's in their half).

By the way, have you noticed the stars on some of the countries' shirts? England has one, Germany three, Argentina two. Since Brazil seem to have five, I'm guessing its the number of times they've won.

I'm back

For personal reasons, I haven't posted here for a while. Now I'm back and should carry on as normal (whatever that is), if God wills it.

I watched the latest Doctor Who episode last night and have to say it was the best of the second series. I won't spoil it for you.

England are playing Ecuador in half an hour's time. I hope we don't get beaten (we haven't been playing too well).

24 is nearing the end of Season 5, which has been an all round better one than Season 4. Still can't make one plot last for 24 hours though...

Al, you will always remain welcome to post here.

(Edit- Fear Her is my favourite of Series Two, not the whole new series, so I've changed the post to reflect that)

16 April 2006

Happy Easter

May I wish all my readers a very happy Easter.

He is risen indeed, Alleluia!

Dalek

My 9 Points:
1. CE made an all-round good performance. Showed genuine emotion about Rose's apparent demise (we all knew she'd survived anyway) and genuine anger that I haven't seen for ages in the Doctor.
2. BP did what she did very well indeed, which was make quips (the slap one was good) and feel sorry for the Dalek. I was thinking "No, Rose, it's going to kill you".
3. I've never felt sorry for a Dalek before, but I have now. A brilliant vocal performance by Nicholas Briggs, conveying genuine sadness and tenderness. The Kaled creature was actually slightly cute.
4. Henry van Statten was brilliantly slimy at the beginning, but you had to fell sorry for him at the end when he got carted off on the orders of the character I'm nicknaming Michelle.
5. So that's what the sinkplunger does. Ouch.
6. There could have been a bit more action in this episode. What there was, however, was done very well.
7. 'Five Rounds Rapid' never works, does it.
8. "The woman you love" was the funniest line of the episode.
9. Adam was a nice enough character. I can see why Rose took a shine to him.


I voted 4, but it should be actually 5. The most emotional episodes of this series. A bit slow at the beginning, but a touching ending. In a choice between World War Three and this for best episode so far, this is it.

World War Three

1. CE was quite simply brilliant. He had brilliant lines throughout and was acting to the hilt. Also very funny as well.
2. BP again suffered from having little to do except get chased by the Slitheen. Did a half-Victoria (that's my name for a companion scream), but acceptable in the circumstances.
3. 'Mickey the idiot' actually pulled off a rather good performance here. It was nice to see him saving the day. Jackie on the other hand is rapidly becoming the weakest of the group.
4. The curse is broken! Harriet Jones didn't die, gave a lot of helpful hints and generally acted very well.
5. I'm assuming the Doctor was reading Mickey's mind down the phone when he gave him all those detailed instructions. That, or he's got one brilliant memory.
6. Nice to see the super mobile phone back. It has great potential here.
7. A very well-written plot, with some good twists.
8. The Slitheen were great and repulsive already. Good on the CGI- monsters that can run!
9. Where were the flags in the shot of the UN?
The word I used to describe 'Aliens of London' was competent. This episode is worthy of the word brilliant. What flaws there were in this episode were insignificant. Best episode of the season so far and in my opinion, up there with episodes like 'Caves' and 'Talons'.Well done Russell T Davies!

Aliens of London

1. Not one of CE's best in my opinion. His flying over to take a look at the alien was interesting, he had some good lines, I liked his resumption of command. No real gems of brilliance though.
2. Billie Piper didn't really have much to do in this episode. What she had she did well, but this was really CE's episode. Nice to see a portrayal of the effects of time travel on those who are left behind.
3. A joy to see the return in some form of UNIT. Pity we didn't have a distinct UNIT character like the "old days", but nice to hear them mentioned. My thoughts about their whole involvement will probably go elsewhere.
4. The Slitheen- who thought City of Death here? I did. They looked almost cute in the pictures, but they're pretty evil and quite effective. The wind gags weren't as bad as they could have been.
5. The pig was done surpisingly well, considering it's a walking pig. You did feel sorry when one of the soldiers went "Five Rounds Rapid" on it.
6. "Harriet Jones, MP Flydale North". Somewhat of a cardboard character here.
7. I've got to say that the plot was pretty well written. Using the crash landing to lure UNIT's top people into a trap- simple but effective.
8. Jackie Tyler is starting to irritate me.
9. There was a good cliffhanger here. They then had to go and ruin it with "The next time". There shouldn't be one for these sort of endings.

The word I would use to describe this episode is 'competent'. I have no strong feelings either way on this episode. Nothing brilliant, but nothing awful. Hopefully, the second part will do better.

11 April 2006

The people of Italy have spoken...

We're just not entirely sure what they've said.

Italy is probably going to have a recount, since Berlusconi wants one and this thing is very close anyway. There's also the ex-pats vote still to be counted.

Prodi will probably win the Chamber of Deputies, but he could still lose the Senate. Without the Senate... we play the contest again.

10 April 2006

2.46-3.46pm

1459: No real change in the second exit poll, but I'll try and get more details.
1501: I'm going to look for a faster Italian website.
1503: And I've found it with Italy's other network, MediaSet.
1507: Turnout's up 2.4% from last time at 86.9%
1524: I've got coverage from La Repubblica TV.
1526: In the Chamber of Deputies, it's expected to be 340 seats for the Union, 270 for CdL. There's been no change for the Senate from my earlier report, still 139-150 for CdL, 159-170 for the Union.
1530: No actual results yet. Things could still change dramatically.
I think the guy's saying this was a referendum on Berlusconi. Well, he's probably lost it then.
1532: We've gone to the ads. The first results are in.
1534: Those results are only for the Senate, however.
1538: Early results match the exit poll pretty closely, but very little has been counted.
1539: I'm looking at the regional breakdowns. Noticeable variations in support among individual parties and some alarming levels of support for the AN.
1541: First Chamber results and within exit poll bounds.

Right, that's it. I'll make the rest of my comments tomorrow.

The following is blogged between 2.12pm and 2.50pm...

(This is a change to my usual policy of not making comments until 90% is counted. I decided to LiveBlog this- it is a big election. I did Live journals for USA 2004, UK 2005 and Germany 2005 as well. I should have said "I won't make comments" rather than "I don't" earlier post. Sorry for misleading people)

1413: I'm trying to get Rai's election site up, but it's going really slowly at the moment. I think I'll try and look elsewhere).
1417: Reuters are reporting that the exit poll is for both houses and that there'll be a bigger exit poll at 1445. Points out that these polls can be wrong dramatically.
1424: I'm going to try and find a regional breakdown of this poll if possible, but it'll probably be junk in 20 minutes time.
1425: Prediction is that the Union will win 167 out of 315 seats in the Senate. Rai still going slow.
1427: Correction- Senate seat breakdown is:
Union 159-170
House 139-150
1429: Sound the alarm bells- Alleanza Nationale have come third in the Chamber elections, with at least 10% of the vote. I've got a party break down of the exit poll.
1432: It appears Forza Italia are the lead party in the Senate, but it's the coalition scores that count.
1437: I'm trying to get a regional breakdown of the exit poll.
1438: CdL (as I'll call House of Liberties from here on in) have won Sicily, Venice and Lombardy, but nowhere else. Union has won Emilio-Romagno and Tuscany very handily (60% in each).
1440: Five minutes until exit poll 2.
1441: No results for Valle d'Aosta or Trentino. Lazio looks like it could the one to watch.
1445: EP2 should be up any moment.
1448: It's not loading. Off to the Beeb.

Italy Exit Poll

Polls have just closed in Italy and the exit poll says:

Union (Prodi) 50-54%
House of Liberties 45-49%

(The post time has been edited, because I posted a blank post too early).

Six minutes to go...

Until we get the Italian exit polls.

I'm going to liveblog this election for the next two hours.

Hungary and Peru

Hungary's going to go to a runoff, because no-one won a majority. I can't find a result map, but it seems to have been close nationwide.

Peru's also going to a runoff.

07 April 2006

Election in the Eternal City

((This was drafted in a hotel room in Rome and edited slightly afterwards to avoid obvious errors)).

It's not every day that you get to see a head of state.

The foreign head of state I saw was President Ciampi of Italy. He was entering a building with the headquarters of the Sovereign Order of Malta at 68 via Condotti.

As he got out, he was met with applause and cries of 'Bravo'.

I got a photo of him- as you can see here:
















This was taken on our way to the Vatican but what I saw there can be discussed another time if you want.

Italy as you may know has its election on Sunday and Monday. Since I happened to be in the city a few days beforehand, I decided to report back to you, my readers.

So here are a few of the posters that I saw as I toured the city. My Italian is practically non-existent so I apologise in advance for any errors in translation.

Parties in Europe seem far more willing to use pictures of their leaders and candidates in election poster. I don't know why. Can you imagine Tony Blair appearing on a Labour poster?



This one's for the Socialist Liberal Radicals 'laici'. I notice that in Italy that a cross through something means vote for it- it has a different meaning in Britain.

I think this means they oppose state funding of private schools.



Here's the incumbents- Forza Italia. It's announcing that Berlusconi is speaking in Rome on the 5th (this was taken on the 4th).



Here's Ulivo. This one's a 'meet the candidates' poster- who want to innovate Italy in the future.



The Communists are still pretty big in Italy (partly because they completely disassociated themselves from the Soviet Union early after the war). I don't know why 'Sinistra' is a registered trademark (I assume that's what it means- it does so in Britain)- could someone enlighten me?

From 'meet the candidates' to 'party with the candidates'. These guys look just a little too happy.


I've never heard of these people- can someone enlighten me?



If you don't like any of the parties, you can vote with your fingers and watch TV (there was one of the Fonz from Happy Days as well).

30 March 2006

Coming up in April

Not many elections in April, but all interesting nonetheless.

We start off with Thailand on the 2nd. With many parties boycotting this, expect a clear Thais Love Thais victory.

On the 5th we have the Solomon Islands, which I know nothing about.

The 9th sees three big elections- Peru, Italy and Hungary.

Peru has Presidential and Parliamentary. There's no clear favourite for President or Parliament- it's too close to call in my opinion.

Berlusconi should get thrown out in Italy and replaced by Prodi, but it'll be close.

Hungary looks too close to call as well.

Israel and Ukraine

Kadima's victory in Israel was to be expected. What I didn't expect was Likud coming fifth (although these are not official results yet). Clearly Ariel Sharon was their main attraction.

Can't find a regional breakdown, but if I do I'll post a link.

Low turnout though somewhat mars things.

With regards to Ukraine, Yuschenko's lot did best in Ivano-Frankivisk (near the Romanian border) and worst in Dontesk (near Russia coming 6th there). Party of Regions did best in Luhansk- getting 74% of the vote.

I'm not sure about this, but it appears that Yuschenko did better in the West (as he did in 2004).

Here's a map to help you find the regions:

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/europe/ukraine_adm93.jpg

28 March 2006

Israel Exit Polls...

Kadima win, but not by as much as expected, Labour second (better than expected)... Likud... third! Worst result for the mainstream Right since the '50's!
Pensioners Party (another Socialist party) did very well (to everyone's shock) as did the (very) rightwing Russian party (who seem to have come third).

Real results will come through soon.

27 March 2006

The End of the World

1. CE is continuing to be excellent as the Doctor. He cracked a number of good lines (not as many as Rose in this episode) and bluffed his way in all over the place. The Doctor can walk through a rotating blade now. Interesting power. I'll leave the debate about the morality of his actions regarding Cassandra to another thread. I'll comment on the pump-action TARDIS elsewhere.
2. Rose had some of the funniest lines of the episode. Good argument with Lady Cassandra She then proceeded to get knocked out by the droids and almost fried by solar radiation (twice!). At least she hasn't screamed yet.
3. I did not expect the Moxx to sound like Sil, or to have such a small part.
4. Jade the Tree Lady was a very good character, nobly sacrifing herself to try and save the station.
5. The old show never had this many pop-culture references. But Rose hasn't mentioned Eastenders...
6. I know an action scene is starting to drag when I start thinking "Get on with it". It was good that Rose wasn't released straight away though.
7. Lady Cassandra was somewhat annoying. Did anyone feel reminded of Lynda Bellingham (who, if you remember, was in Trial of a Time Lord)?
8. They certainly didn't skimp on the special effects did they? This was somewhat restricted by being entirely studio-based.
9. Faction Paradox (or something similar) is now canon. I don't believe it. That probably confused a few of those who watched the old series.

Overall, this was a reasonable episode. Some very good lines, but lacked a certain something. Not quite as good as Rose, in my opinion. There were some good twists (Rose wasn't let out of the room and Jade couldn't stop the blades).

Nine Thoughts on Who: Rose

Here they are:
1. Christopher Eccleston is one brilliant Doctor. Mad, sure, but in the right way. CE looked like he was enjoying every second of it. Clever, but also a bit daft (taking several attempts to spot the London Eye).
2. Rose isn't an Adric, that's for sure. She did demonstrate some Kim-like stupidity in the restaurant with Mickey. But she'll grow on me, I suppose. She must rank as one of the better companions if she keeps it up.
3. The climax with the Nestene Consciousness dragged a little, in my opinion. Nice to hear it say 'Time Lord' though. The Doctor's revelation that he'd fought in a war on the same side as the Nestene is an idea for a novel in itself. Rose's announcement about Under-7 gymnastics was a bit weird, she is supposed to be 19.
4. Mickey, with respect, was a bit annoying. The CGI with the bin looked too much like CGI
5. Mark Benton did an excellent turn as Clive the conspiracy theorist. Seems to have missed the other eight incarnations though. Had Mickey been on the site (the link was labelled '2 cached')?
6. The new TARDIS console room looks better when zoomed out rather than up close. Nice use of the plastic head though. Oh and the Doctor can control his TARDIS.
7. No, I did not hide behind the sofa. It was more funny and enjoyable than actually scary.
8. The opening time tunnel sequence was great, bounding along at a very fast speed. Pity it didn't go to CE's face rather than his name.
9. Some really, really great dialogue. The compensation line and Rose’s "students" comment stand out.

Overall, that was one of the best things I have seen on TV in ages. It wasn't perfect, but good to the point of excellence.

Roll on Episode 2 and ultimately Series 2!

Sao Tome and Principe + Israel

No results for Sao Tome and Principe yet.

Likely Kadima victory, with Labour second. Coalition likely.

Ukraine

Only 38% counted. I don't make full comments until 90% counted.

Here's the link to keep you updated:

http://www.cvk.gov.ua/vnd2006/w6p001e.html

25 March 2006

Battlefield 2142

Well, I didn't see that coming.

Trailer is on Gamespy. Post man's downfall gaming in the BF format? Could be interesting... I've got 1942 and 2. I'll decide when I read the reviews.

What do you think?

22 March 2006

The Budget

Nothing particularly spectacular in the Budget so far, but if something important happens, I'll add it tomorrow.

20 March 2006

Aussie State Elections

Tasmania and South Australia have recently held elections... and the ALP won another solid win in Tasmania and a suprising landslide in South Australia. This means that the ALP will continue to run every single Australian state, while the Coalition will continue to rule federally.
One of the most interesting results in SA has been Stuart (a huge rural district in the north of the state) where counting has yet to finish; right now the incumbent Liberal (who's been a member of the SA Parliament since 1970) trails the ALP candidate by just 84 votes.
And the most interesting result in Tasmania is in Bass, where the ALP have taken a seat off the Greens (meaning they hold three seats there to the Liberals two). Bass voted Liberal in the last federal election due to the logging row. The Greens may also have lost their only Lyons seat to the Liberals, although they *probably* haven't.

19 March 2006

Benin run-off

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4821844.stm

Things seem to be going more smoothly than in the first round.

If the new president wins fairly, I wish him all the best.

Iraq- Three Years On

I do not intend to revisit the arguments over the wisdom or otherwise of the invasion of Iraq. Entering the world Iraq returns 764,000,000 hits. I am of the firm opinion that more words have been written about this conflict than there are people on this planet.

Three years on, Iraq is still in serious difficulties. I'm not going to deny that. However, I think it is wise that we attribute the blame to those who are really responsible for it.

The insurgents.

Two thirds of the civilian casualities have been caused by them. They are the ones who are responsible for the fact that Baghdad does not have power 24 hours a day. They are responsible for the unjustified attacks on Shia mosques.

I just wish that for once the Stoppers would protest against them.

13 March 2006

Yet Another Sequel Announced

Cate Blanchett is going to star in a sequel to Elizabeth, this time about the Virgin Queen's relationship with the Queen of Scots.

Has Hollywood really run completely out of new ideas?

10 March 2006

Harry Potter gets defeated

Well only in local elections anyway. The Dutch left gained over 500 seats (I think they did, my connection's playing up).

Of course, they are only municipal elections and not too much should be read into that.

Finders Keepers

I was flicking through the channels just and found myself recognising a show on CITV. It was called "Finders Keepers" and it involves children rapidly searching 'rooms' for a clue.

I rememberered seeing something like that many years. I had a quick look on UK Gameshows and:

http://www.ukgameshows.com/index.php/Finders_Keepers_2

They've revived the show. Wow! I never even heard they were doing it- but then again, I don't follow children's television that much.

Does anyone here remember "Through The Dragon's Eye"? Great series.

09 March 2006

Britain forward not back

I was waiting for my dinner to cook yesterday and decided to have a read of the Labour manifesto, which I picked up while campaigning at the last General Election.

I found this interesting little bit on Page 48:

"Where a defendant fails to turn up for court without good cause, the presumption
should be that the trial and sentencing should go ahead anyway."

Obviously the government hasn't attempted to put this into law yet, but the civil liberties groups would probably complain when and if they did.

Obviously, the government is trying to save the money wasted on court appearances by non-appearers.

If you're summoned to court, it's your duty to appear. But should you be tried in abstentia? I'm assuming that the trial would still proceed without any defendant, but surely the defendant should be able to see the evidence against him/her. Although, if the defendant doesn't turn up, they probably don't need to see it anyway.

In my opinion, if you want to have your day in court, make sure you turn up.

I support this proposal. What do you think?

07 March 2006

The Oscars

Haven't seen any of the films that were nominated for Best Film, so I can't say whether the Academy made the right decision (they've made some wrong 'uns in the past).

However, since Wallace and Gromit won Best Animated Feature and I did like that, I'm satisfied.

Also no-one swept everything, which is a good thing too.

Doctor Who on Television Without Pity

http://forums.televisionwithoutpity.com/index.php?act=SF&s=&f=824

Woo hoo! Let's hope the show's as big over in the US as it is over here.

One old argument that refuses to die...

Is the one about the West arming Saddam, which gets raised at every opportunity by Stoppers.

Let's nail this thing once and for all.
  1. Ultimately, whatever the Thatcher and Reagan governments did or did not do is irrelevant since neither of them are in power anymore. The only continuity between now and then is Donald Rumsfeld- who most of us can agree probably ought to go from the Defense Department. The actions of Anthony Charles Lynton Blair and George Walker Bush should not be limited by what their predecessors did.
  2. It is not an argument for opposing the Iraq war. It is a statement of fact. Even then, it would only have increased our duty to act on the 'break it, you bought it principle'.
  3. The biggest supplier of weapons to arms to Saddam Hussein's was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Fact and a plainly observable one at that (what do Iraqi soldiers carry? the AK-47). If you don't believe me look here:http://www.sipri.org/contents/armstrad/atirq_data.html

Yes, the USA did supply Iraq with weapons. So did all of the Five Nukes. No, it shouldn't have happened. Ultimately, however, some of that anger should be reflected at the regime that used these weapons against its own people, because they are mostly to blame.

06 March 2006

Benin

Results aren't out until Wednesday, so we'll just have to sit and speculate...

05 March 2006

Benin and SA

Benin goes to the polls today. 26 candidates are running to replace the term-limited incumbent.

In fact the ANC got 66% in South Africa's municipals. I was looking at early results.

04 March 2006

SA Results

As I thought might happen (well I had my doubts), the ANC did stupidly well in the SA municipals (70.3% of the vote). Only thing of real interest was Cape Town, where there might be a coalition government.

Costa Rica and Haiti

Arias is back in power in Costa Rica after his opponent conceded.

Oh, and Haiti's parliamentary elections have been delayed again...

Man prays to God before taking difficult decisions

It seems that Al and I think alike. I don't see why the fact that Blair prayed about the Iraq war should even be news. I'd be more surprised if he hadn't.

I'm a practicing Christian and I pray before difficult decisions. So is Blair.

This isn't even news.

LibDems swing to the right?

BBC is reporting that the LibDems have agreed with Ming the Merciless and have voted to support part-privatising the Royal Mail. Coming but a few days after the crushing of Simon Hughes in the leadership election (and with two people clearly on the right of the party coming first and second) I think it's fair to say that this has *not* been a good week for the LibDem left... or the "new look" Tories for that matter. But the LibDems swinging rightwards is probably good news for Labour, especially in seats where the anti-Tory vote is divided (look at much of East Anglia for that).

02 March 2006

It's Ming...

Sir Menzies Campbell has won the Lib Dem leadership contest by 8,069 votes.

The Silent Hunter wishes to issue the warmest congratulations to the new Lib Dem leader and wishes all the best in his new role (but only in Con-Lib marginals).

01 March 2006

British TV coming up

This is the start of an irregular feature here where I provide you with information on TV coming up in the United Kingdom.

Things to watch out for or avoid


  • Hustle Series 3- starting Friday 10 March. The gang have lost their money and are living in cheap accomodation. You'll know they'll be back on the gravy train eventually...
  • Doctor Who Series 2- No airdate for this yet (but it's probably going to be April). David Tennant does his first full series as the Doctor. Rose is back for the whole lot and Mickey will become a full companion.
  • Mayo- Alastair McGowan as a detective. Yes, you heard me correctly...
  • Torchwood- The Doctor Who spinoff series starring John Barrowman (who was excellent as Captain Jack).
  • The Unit- Not yet confirmed as coming to the UK, but I expect it will. Dennis Haysbert (President Palmer from 24) leads a Special Forces Unit.
  • Press Ganged: Reality TV show set on a sailing ship. People who get evicted walk the plank...

Ash Wednesday

Today's Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. I wish everyone trying to give things up success.

Let's not forget the reason for the season though- Jesus' fasting for 40 days.

28 February 2006

South Africa Municipal

South Africa has its municipal elections tomorrow. No info on the Wiki, but it wouldn't surprise if the ANC did *very* well...

25 February 2006

Doctor Who in America

Trailers are airing on Sci-Fi US for the new Doctor Who, starting 17 March with a double bill.

As part of our service to our many US visitors, I intend to post my "Nine Thoughts on Who" series (originally posted on Outpost Gallifrey) to match the US transmission.

To give you an idea of what they're like, here are my 9 Thoughts on Classic episode "The Horns of Nimon":

1. TB spends a lot of this episode wandering around, fiddling with electronic equipment, accidentally sending Romana to Crinoth etc. Not TB's best story.
2. Oh, but it's definitely one of Lalla Ward's. She pretty much steals the show here. Great costume (but lose the gloves), some great anger and some good lines.
3. There are times when K9 becomes a problem. This is one of them. He makes an unconvincing exit from the TARDIS and spends a lot of his time disassembled on a table. He has his uses, i.e. finding a way out of the complex, but 'extra blaster' should not be his role.
4. Soldeed is played with more ham than a butcher's shop. "Lord Nimon, Lord Nimon"... Amusing, yes, threatening, no.
5. The yellow suited teens from Aneth. Limp and unconvincing. I don't like them.
6. The constantly changing corridor layout was done very well considering the budget.
7. The Nimon. They do look a bit silly. It's awfully hard to shoot someone with those horns when you have to bend down to do so.
8. There were some good one liners in this. The last scene is particularly good.
9. Was that strange spring releasing noise when the TARDIS went wrong "Bloodnok's stomach"?All in all, an enjoyable episode. Not one of the best, but likeable if you approach it correctly.

Municipal March

Time to reveal what's coming up in the world elections for 03/06.

We kick off the month with South African municipals. Wiki has nowt on them.

At some point the Solomon Islands elect their Parliament.

It's Benin on the 5th. I wonder if we'll get any boycotts again.

More Municipals, this time in Netherlands. Could be a big test for Balkenende ahead of parliamentary elections next May.

The Latin American Year continues with Colombia and El Salvador electing their Parliaments on the same day (the 12th).

South Australia Municipals on the 18th.

Then watch the rig-a-thon of Belarus the day after.

Haiti goes for a second round on the same day, but the Presidency's already been settled- well done Perval. Seriously, I wish you all the best.

Sao Tome and Principe on the 26th. Should go pretty easily, but I know nothing about it.

Ukraine on the same day. Going to be a big test for Yuschenko, for whom the bloom has come the rose bush in a big way. Watch out for Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc as well- she wants her job back

Highlight of the month will be a crucial election in Israel. Probable Kadima victory, but it's going to a race between Likud and Labour for second place.

Museveni wins in Uganda

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4750040.stm

When the opposition complains, it's often a sign that something was dodgy somewhere. You just don't get this in fully democratic countries.

It wasn't a total sweep for Museveni- several leaders lost their seats in the Parliament (I can't access results for this though- the Uganda Electoral Commission site is down).

Stargate SG-1

I got the first season of SG-1 on DVD a while ago and finished it the other day. It's quite an enjoyable series (although its plots are a bit repetitive at times). Anyone know any good UK fansites for this show?

24 February 2006

Thailand to have a Snapper

A snap election that is. Out of the ultramarine, Thaksin's announced new elections. It probably won't be a repeat of last time (Where "Thais Love Thais" got 375 out of 500 seats), but he'll probably stay in power.

PS: 24 Thoughts on 24 will be up here by Monday.

18 February 2006

Uganda

Friday sees Uganda's first multiparty elections since 1986. The opposition leader got arrested on treason charges, which may or may not have been fabricated.

Let's hope it goes well.

16 February 2006

Hyperdrive

I see that Hyperdrive- a sci-fi comedy on BBC2- has been renewed for a second season. It probably deserves it, but it's not as good as Red Dwarf.

Haiti and Tokelau

I note with some dismay that Haiti's election results are being held until the whole mess regarding those burned ballots is sorted out. Very little in that election seems to be going right.

Tokelau's not going to be an independent country. Only 60% of the vote was in favour- short of the 2/3 majority needed.

10 February 2006

Lib Dem GAIN Dunfermline and West Fife

OK, I got it wrong. Willie Rennie is the new MP for this constituency, after getting a 16% swing from Labour.

Only good thing is that the Tories also went down.

Don't know precisely why we lost, but Mr. Rennie shouldn't get too comfortable.

08 February 2006

Dunfermline and West Fife

By-election is tomorrow.

My prediction is a narrow Labour HOLD.

07 February 2006

Costa Rica and Haiti

The Costa Rica presidency is too close to call- only 5,000 votes in it. I thought Arias was going to win. He still might, but it'll be a couple of weeks before we find out.

Haiti wasn't delayed after all, and is happening today. I wish the people of Haiti all the best in rebuilding their country.

02 February 2006

West Ham 3-2 Arsenal

Always funny when the ball goes between the goalie's legs...

What's that now, five wins in a row?

Oh, and Newcastle have sacked their manager...

State of the Union

Watched State of the Union yesterday (I was asleep when it was on).

Not much to write home back. A competent (which in my book means it does the job, that's all) speech, with some odd moments (animal-human hybrids?) and the always funny "Watch only the Republicans stand up" moments (brilliantly subverted when the Democrats did it on Social Security).

It's also fun seeing who you recognise in the shots. The Beeb showed Clinton a lot and Kerry (all Dems can dream and remember that this would have been his second such speech).

What did you think?

31 January 2006

Samuel Alito confirmed

58-42 in the end. Only 4 Democrats voted for him, Chafee voted against.

My personal prediction was 57 ayes, just for the record.

30 January 2006

An apology

I made a mistake on 'Advise and Consent'. Saunders will probably caucus with the Democrats, so they only need six gains.

Halonen won her second term yesterday, BTW.

28 January 2006

27 January 2006

Advise and Consent

The big electoral highlight of 2006 has to be the US mid-terms. Will the Democrats regain the House and the Senate? Not unless they get their act together...

I'm going to go through each race and make my current predictions:

Arizona: GOP Hold
California: Only ever goes GOP in a landslide. DEM Hold.
Connecticut: Lieberman, unless he switches parties (and even then) is safe. DEM Hold
Delaware: DEM Hold
Florida: The Flowerpot Men (Bill and Ben) are up for election this year. It's going to be a close race in FL for Bill against Katherine Harris. I'm going to say DEM Hold.
Hawaii: DEM Hold.
Indiana: GOP Hold.
Maine: GOP Hold for the pro-choice Snowe (if she ever ran for President...)
Maryland: An open contest. I'll say DEM Hold.
Massachusetts: It's obvious, isn't it? DEM Hold.
Michigan: Tossup, but I'll say DEM Hold.
Minnesota: Dayton dropped out. This is a genuine tossup.
Mississipi: GOP Hold.
Missouri: DEM Gain
Montana: This state knows how to ticket-split. DEM Gain.
Nebraska: Ben is back. DEM Hold
Nevada: GOP Hold.
New Jersey: DEM Hold.
New Mexico: DEM Hold
New York: DEM Hold.
North Dakota: DEM Hold.
Ohio: DEM Gain.
Pennsylvania: DEM Gain.
Rhode Island: GOP Hold .
Tennessee: GOP Hold.
Texas: GOP Hold.
Utah: GOP Hold.
Vermont: IND Hold.
Virginia: GOP Hold.
Washington: DEM Hold.
West Virginia: DEM Hold.
Wisconsin: DEM Hold.
Wyoming: GOP Hold.

The Dems need to pick up 7 seats to control the Senate. My current prediction is for 4 gains.


Total Prediction:
Republican 50
Democrat 48
Independent 1
Tossup 1

Coming up in February

I'll let others comment on the Hamas victory in Palestine, save to say I hope that I hope something fundamentally changes in Hamas and soon.

February's a pretty sparse month in terms of elections:
  • The Big Latin American year continues with Costa Rica's Presidential and Parliamentary elections. Oscar Arias is the current front-runner.
  • Haiti's due to hold its first elections since Aristide skipped the country, unless they're delayed again.
  • Tokelau (the one with .tk as an Internet code) decides whether to become an associated state, i.e. slightly more independent from New Zealand.
  • Cape Verde has its Presidential Election. Last time, it ended up with only 12 votes in it.
  • Uganda. I don't know much about the race there.

25 January 2006

Canada

So Canada has a new Prime Minister- Stephen Harper.

Al informs me that this will lead to the Canadians being more supportive of the US.

Politics1 tells me that Harper supported the Iraq war.

Amazing as it seems to some people, Iraq has still directly to cost one politician his job. It may be a contributory factor, but it is not the factor number 1. Even more amazingly, in two countries, the more pro-war guy beat the less pro-war guy (the other being Poland).

West Ham 2-1 Fulham

Caught most of the second half of the game. Good job on the victory, but some of our defending was a bit sloppy.

I'm no football expert (or indeed, football player), but I can see sloppy play a mile off.

Still, 3 points is 3 points and I shouldn't moan.

23 January 2006

The West Wing to be axed

It's all over the blogosphere already:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/4638552.stm

I've watched the first six seasons on DVD and even after Sorkin left, it still remained good. It'll be sad to see it go. Most people preferred Bartlet to the real White House incumbent (simply stating a fact, GOP fans).

22 January 2006

Chelsea 1 Charlton 1

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_prem/4612228.stm

Woo hoo!

(I'm a West Ham supporter and I'll post on Tuesday morning with my views on Monday's game if I watch it).

Doctor Who

Anyone remember the interactive Doctor Who adventure that the Beeb did over Christmas?

It's now available online at www.bbc.co.uk/doctorwho, but only for UK viewers.

Canada and Portugal

The Canadian Parliamentary Elections are tomorrow and it looks like the Tories are going to be the largest party, possibly with an overall majority.

I think there's a very important lesson to learn here. Corruption doesn't pay. You get caught and not only do you lose your seat, but so do a number of your friends. While you may be the only one in jail, they're going to fade into obscurity. You've got notoriety.

So, before you take that bribe, think of your friends.

Portugal is taking place today. It looks like Silva will win without the need for a run-off. Another victory for Social Democrats!

20 January 2006

Iraq

Final results have been announced

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4630518.stm

My reaction:
* An increase in Sunni representation has got to be a good thing.
* A coalition is probably what Iraq needs right now.
* Iraq is now, by most standards, a democracy. Which it wasn't under Saddam.

19 January 2006

Ylling for Consul

In NationStates, I'm currently a Senator in The New Meritocracy, one of the games most well known regions.

I am currently conducting a campaign to become Consul, equivalent to the region's President.

Here's my platform:


Ylling for Consul

Friends and fellow Senators, I come here to ask for your votes for Consul.

The Merit is going well and we can all be pleased about this. However, there are still a few areas where we are having problems. We’re doing well, but we could be doing so much better.

Team Ylling’s policy for the Meritocracy can be summed up in one word: MERIT. MERIT stands for:

• Make the Meritocracy better known
• Ensure that our jobs are easier
• Reform of the Accords to protect Senators
• Implement more open government
• Treasure our past heritage

Make the Meritocracy better known

I have a goal for this Senate- to have 70 members by the end of the first term. It seems like a huge task. It is a huge task, but I believe that we can do it. We can do it by putting the word out there that this body exists. Therefore we need to advertise this body to players.
We will place adverts in the feeders to recruit the new players. We will send out telegrams to recruit the older players. If we send out enough advertising, we will get the 21 Senators we need.

The Curia Nuntii will also help to make the Senate better known. I intend to get us syndicated to the NS news services and the big forums. I would like us to get a blog up and running.

Ensure that our jobs are easier

We want to make sure that Senators can easily take decisions. There will be one voting forum where all scheduled votes will be found.

I would like the return of the automated voting system and will ask that Winnipeg make that his highest priority.

Each week we will post a summary of activities that are happening in each Curia and what is likely to come to a vote in the coming week. This will allow Senators to know what they will be asked to vote on and allow them to actively discuss it.

Reform of the Accords to protect Senators

This Consul will reform the accords and return power to the individual Senator where it belongs.

I intend to introduce an amendment requiring the Consul to explain the reason why he has dismissed an Executor and require a full Senate vote to allow the dismissal to take place.

I will not exercise the Consular override or veto except in the most extreme circumstances.

Implement more open government

One of the first things I would like to do is open the Senate Hall to unregistered members. People casually glancing in should be able to see our full range of activities.

Secondly, I intend to hold a live Cabinet meeting every week and release edited transcripts to the public and the Senate.

I’m not going to be cavalier about security. A full classification of information on foreign affairs distributed to Senators will be set up and enforced via a Meritocratic Secret Act. Information release will always err on the side of caution.

Treasure our past heritage

Some Senators may not agree with this, but I think that it is high time that we had a look through the secure archives of the old Senate and see what can be released. Nothing will be released without a full Senate vote, but I would like things to be released. In any case, the relevant older files will be transferred to a secure section of the Senate Library.

The Dead Merit’s Society will meet in the Library, i.e. the forum will move.

The Herodotus Project is a bit moribund at the moment. Action will be taken to ensure that it gets going.

This seems like a lot to do in ten weeks. It is a lot to do in ten weeks. However we can do it if we try.

I open the floor for questions.

15 January 2006

Elections coming up

I love elections. There is nothing more exciting in a democracy than hearing the people speak.

This year is going to be a treat for elections. Just this month alone we've got Canada (likely to be close), Portugal and the Palestinian Authority (one more to watch out of fear, sadly).

In February, we could have a new European country come into existence- Montenegro.

Finnish Presidency goes to runoff

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4614100.stm

Halonen should win the second round easily in my view.

Labour

A bit of bias may inevitable creep into my politics commentary.

This is because I am a member of the Labour Party.

We may not be perfect, but because of Labour, Britain has low unemployment and good public services.

NationStates

Another topic I'll be talking about some depth is this online game:

http://www.nationstates.net

I own the nations Serconea and Ylling in that game.

First post

Hello, I'm Silent Hunter and this is my blog.

This blog will be a place for my thoughts and feelings on the following issues:
* British Politics
* TV from both sides of the Atlantic
* Movies
* Sport
* And anything else that takes my fancy.