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Young people to be banned from working

Greetings Samizdatistas, greetings Commentariat. Long time no see. I expect Brian would have blogged about this were his education blog still going (I for one would love to see it back) but instead the task has roused me from the sweet repose of my “resting contributor” coffin. Here goes.

On the face of it, the idea of raising the school leaving age to eighteen might seem reasonable, especially given that the British government still plans to permit either schooling or “vocational training” when it bans young people from full-time work. After all, the idea apparently works fine in Canada. They simply enforce the law by taking away young people’s driving licenses if they attempt to work for a living. Clearly it is the working teenagers we need to worry about when it comes to youth crime, truancy and so on. Work is bad for you, and encourages bad behaviour! Young people should be writing essays, not mending cars!

But underneath the face of it, I have a few questions:

  1. Does “approved training scheme” mean “what the government likes” or does it mean something more sensible and informed?
  2. How much will it cost to approve all post-16 on-the-job training schemes?
  3. Since when did working for a living exclude learning useful things? Why is it assumed that jobs and learning are mutually exclusive? Is this because all entry-level work is exploitative labour nowadays?
  4. If this is the case, why does it not apply to graduates with arts degrees working in burger bars and so on? Is it acceptable to be exploited as long as you have wasted five years of your life acquiring thousands of pounds worth of debt, for some reason? Why?
  5. What will 16 year olds without private financial support be expected to live on if they are banned from honest work? Will they be expected to acquire early student loans? Join a homeless shelter? Or merely become heroin salespeople?

Just wondering.

The greater victory

Despite that CNN keeps insisting the election was incredibly close, Bush now has exactly the cosy sofa of a mandate I have been predicting for months: good majority in the senate, four million more popular votes than his opponent, above litigation-level majorities in the electoral colleges, plus the endorsement of millions of people who do not usually vote at all, despite that nearly everyone expected increased turnout to be good for the Democrats.

The polls were, of course, wrong in a leftwards direction, as polls have been for years (see Natalie Solent), because the sound and fury of the media and liberal extremists does not make people change their minds, only encourages them to keep quiet about their allegiances so as to avoid having their tyres slashed.

But more important than all these things is the great battle against terrorism that has just been resoundingly won. Every Islamist from Arafat to Bin Laden wanted America to reject its president and vote for the relatively antiwar John Kerry. Anti-Americans everywhere were hoping that the U.S. people would either retreat in fear from the Middle East, or pretend that the “nuisance” did not exist. As the anti-Bush candidate, Kerry would have been the anti-American-values president, standing for ambivalence, appeasement and, in the eyes of Islamism, weakness.

It did not happen. Americans recognised the threat, and voted to continue fighting it. They stood by the Afghan and Iraqi people, waiting for hours in queues in the rain to register their support for George W. Bush and the moral imperative he has vowed to enact. The biggest voter turnout in American history has refused to be cowed by terrorism. And when terrorism fails to terrorise, it has lost.

Perhaps now, for the first time since 9/11, we can begin to hope that an end to this war may be within our distant sights. In any case, the world is safer now than it has been since Al Qaeda launched war on America a little over three years ago. And for that we can afford a few extra sighs of relief between our conservative/ anti-liberal victory toasts.

Oh brave new world, that hath such people in it!

The September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States spurred calls for the Saudi royal family to modernize the country’s political landscape. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in September 11 were Saudis.

Which is obviously why the Saudi political landscape has changed so radically that women… um, still are not allowed to vote. Or drive. Or talk to men in public. Or go out of doors without a big black cloak on.

They would be voting though, if it weren’t for a few major administrative problems that the government can not possibly be expected to solve. Oh yes.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said there are not enough women to run women’s-only registration centers and polling stations, and that only a fraction of the country’s women have the photo identity cards that would have been needed to vote.

Well, obviously. Not to mention that:

Many women in Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, have balked at getting the ID cards — introduced three years ago — because the photographs would show their faces unveiled.

Right. And anyone who says this only illustrates the extent to which they have had the s*** scared out of them is just a Bush-loving Zionist neo-con. They should be glad that the ban on women voting, “[eases] fears among conservatives that the kingdom is moving too fast on reforms”. Because, moving too fast on reforms would be terrible, obviously. So, hang onto those abayas for a little while longer, girls. You will be needing them.

Overall, it is good to see how things are improving in the kingdom now. Islamism can seem a little off-putting from time to time, but Saudi hotels are super, and the government is surely well-intentioned. And the women are not in any way oppressed: they may have “limited freedoms,” but then again, don’t we all?

Thank gooodness CNN is there to tell it like it is. They even took the trouble to interview women against the idea of votes for women, just to provide a clear and balanced picture of events.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in September 11 were Saudis.

Did I mention that already? Please excuse me.

Beneath politics

Where do political ideas end and terrorist acts begin? Is every destructive behaviour in the name of any political ideology just dandy, fine and justified, or are some societies distinguishable from others precisely because they employ civilised means of political expression and government (voting, debate, free speech) as opposed to ruling and arguing by violent threat and patently, deliberately, terrorising violence?

Call me a pro-life extremist but in my view, organisations cease to be mere political debating circles as soon as they reject real opportunities for reasonable discussion in favour of blowing people’s heads off.

The United Nations does not agree. Peter Hansen, the UN relief agency chief in Gaza, says:

Hamas as a political organisation does not mean that every member is a militant and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another.

Israel begs to differ:

Israel’s ambassador to the UN criticised Mr Hansen’s comments. “The very idea that individuals with clear links to the Hamas terrorist network may be on the Unwra payroll is totally unacceptable and should be properly investigated,” Dan Gillerman said.

→ Continue reading: Beneath politics

Wrong, but accurate

I hardly know where to begin on this one (from Fox News).

While Bush has been campaigning as the best candidate to deter terrorists and protect the nation, Kerry portrayed him as out of touch with the situation in Iraq.

“With all due respect to the president, has he turned on the evening news lately? Does he read the newspapers?” Kerry said. “Does he really know what’s happening? Is he talking about the same war that the rest of us are talking about?”

This man thinks the Commander-in-chief should formulate war strategies according to what it says on CNN, and he is standing for president of the United States?

With all due respect to the Democratic candidate, has he never heard of military intelligence? Does he even know what the blogosphere is? Is he talking about the same universe that the rest of us are talking about?

Damn right, we are talking about different wars. This is the real one. And it’s not available in any newspapers.

The Moon landings conspiracy

By now of course, all right (read ‘left’) thinking people are fully conversant with the theory that the Moon landings were faked by the US government in a warehouse decorated with papier-mache and pieces of screwed-up tinfoil somewhere in the Nevada desert. This elaborate hoax was perpetrated as an underhand PR attack on the Soviets, who would never have indulged in any such below-the-belt behaviour, being too busy with stuff like this (hat tip: The Bleat).

I don’t know this for sure, but I am guessing that probably most of America’s nukes were fake as well, and possibly even some of their presidents. We already know that Star Wars was fraudulent (the strategic defense initiative, not the popular sci-fi movie series, which was, of course, entirely true to life) and it has been suggested in the past that Ronald Reagan himself was actually a puppet from ‘Spitting Image’. Although I suspect that particular theory may have arisen from some confusion about the difference between real life and what one sees on television. Clearly human evolution still has work to do.

Anyway, for those of you who have not seen this already (not new itself, but possibly new to others than just me) irrefutable proof of the faking of the moon-landings can be found right here. Those of British origin will particularly appreciate these pictures. Essential viewing for all human beings who still have brains.

(hat tip: Chicago Boyz)

“We were right to go into Iraq”

At last. George W. Bush starts telling it like it is, instead of issuing defensive justifications that only reinforce the petty slights and slanders that give rise to them.

We removed a declared enemy of America who had the capability of producing weapons of mass murder and could have passed that capability to terrorists bent on acquiring them. In the world after September 11th, that was a risk we could not afford to take.

This is exactly what some of us have been saying for a long time. Finding WMDs was never the point. We knew Saddam had the capability, otherwise he could not have done this. We knew he could not be trusted on WMDs because he kept doing this. We knew he sensed no moral obligation to stay on his own ground because he did this. And we knew Bin Laden had declared war on the West, and we knew Saddam was sympathetic to that cause because… well,

Bin Laden: Any chance you could help out with this next big attack on the States I was thinking about, Mr Saddam?
Saddam: Certainly not! What you are suggesting is immoral! Live and let live, that’s my philosophy!

As if.

So I had a choice to make: either take the word of a madman or defend America. Given that choice I will defend America.

The only reason the game of Hunt-the-WMDs got so much publicity was that America used it in their attempt to appease the United Nations; Saddam’s non-compliance with weapons inspections was supposed to be the legitimate (ie UN-friendly) reason for launching war, therefore, finding WMDs after the event would have “justified” the invasion with hard evidence.

Bad idea. The UN is evil too. It issues terrorism-encouraging statements that inspire people to blow up public-transport users. The UN would not have approved war on Iraq if Saddam had invited the UN and Bin Laden round together for chicken a-la-king, raspberry pavlova and an after-dinner game of launch-the-nuke. It would have suggested waiting a bit longer in case the decimation of California was a mistake rather than a precedent.

No more Mr Nice Guy, please, Mr Bush. The UN is not our friend.

Israel insufficiently welcoming of terrorists

So the UN says that Israel’s wall is illegal, and demands they take it down.

That would be the same UN that Jacques Chirac is so fond of- the same Jacques Chirac who lately told off President Bush for having opinions about how other parts of the world should run themselves. That would be the President Bush who led the invasion of Iraq which the UN apparently did not approve of very much.

Oh well. Evidently they regard wall-building as a more serious humanitarian issue than Kurd-gassing, children’s prisons or helping out organisations that openly state their ambition to be the total destruction of civilisation and all who sail in it.

The court ruling said the barrier could become tantamount to an annexation of Palestinian land, and impeded the Palestinian right to self-rule.

Oh, the horror. Not to mention that-

…some of it juts into the West Bank, cutting Palestinians off from their farmland and dividing some villages.

Whereas, removing the barrier would only redouble terrorist attacks nine times over, thereby impeding the right of four year olds not to have their arms and legs blown off, etc. Which is irrelevant, because it’s just a vain claim unsupported by factual evidence;

[Israeli officials] argued it has already saved hundreds of lives since building work began.

Well, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs invents statistics for bombings that never really happened, obviously. No doubt they pay actors to lie around in the road covered with blood so there are pictures for the TV screens, too.

Still, could be worse.

At least nobody who works at The Hague has to live in Israel, right?

John and John-er

So the loathesome (second post down) John “interesting” Kerry has chosen John “even less interesting” Edwards as his running mate. This is obviously a bad move as people will confuse them, and maybe even vote for someone else called John Nondescriptname instead, but on the other hand, their policies seem to be mostly about saying whatever crowd-pleaser pops into their heads at the time, so perhaps it is a deliberate ploy to make people so confused they can’t keep up with all the turnarounds, and surrender their powers of reasoning altogether (unless that happened already).

Here are some of the things they said about each other in the past. Notice the recurrence of the word “different”. Now see if you can spot which statement belongs to which John. Answers on Fox News.

[John's policies would run the country] deeper and deeper into deficit.

This is the same old Washington talk that people have been listening to for decades.

I think he’s said some different things at different points in time … So I think there’s been some inconsistency.

[John] and I have very different positions on the issue of trade

This one is easy:

No. No. Final. I don’t want to be vice president. I’m running for president.

And my personal favourite (remember, John is criticising John here)…

I think that the world is looking for leadership that is tested and sure. And I think that George Bush has proven that this is not a time for inexperience in the White House.

How very unintentionally right he is.

War on tea

This has been on Fox News for a few days now, but it made me laugh: the individual behind the first WTC bombing, now under lock and key, is going on health-strike:

Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who is currently serving a life sentence, has reportedly stopped taking his insulin medicine and started eating M&Ms to make his diabetes worse. The blind cleric has apparently been upset about not getting the specific brand of tea he likes in prison.

Abdel-Rahman is a highly regarded spiritual leader among his militant followers, and there is still concern that should his health decline, those followers would retaliate against the United States.

Still, things could be worse- at least the Sheik is not expecting retalliation about other, more significant wrongs. Being forced to drink Tetley’s rather than Twining’s is one thing, but not being able to leave the building in order to blow up places is another thing altogether. Really quite a serious constraint, when you think about it.

I suppose if he was angry about bigger things than tea, Abdel-Rahman would be beating himself up even worse than by eating M&Ms. A few dozen Krispy Kremes, perhaps? The ones with lemon-custard inside are especially good. Then again, so are the raspberry jam ones. Tough call.

Perhaps this sort of thing could become a trend as more major terrorists get arrested. On the one hand, we could be seeing suicide-bombers all over the place blasting people to smithereens because some mad old cleric wanted the central heating turned up a couple of degrees. On the other hand, there might be a drastic reduction in the costs of keeping said evil lunatics alive, if they all manage to kill themselves by refusing their blood-pressure medication and overdosing on tubs of lard.

Coming soon: Saddam gets angry about being tried for murdering all those people, and shaves off his beard to incite retaliation against the US. While eating M&Ms and refusing to take aspirin for his headaches.

“Britons have longer, nicer lives” disaster!

Alright, I wrote that quotation myself. But anyway, this is what I hate about the Guardian: it’s so damned gloomy (what I hate about the Telegraph of course, is the stair-lift adverts). Can anyone tell me exactly how the Guardian manages to publish this

Newly revised predictions from the Government’s Actuary Department (GAD) reveal that the life expectancy for men who will be born in 2031 has risen to 81 years, compared with 75.9 years for those born in 2002. For women the figure jumps to 84.9 years, compared with 80.5 years for those born last year.

And now the bad news. The figures are around one and a half years higher than the GAD had assumed as recently as its last report in 2001, and will fuel further fears about the ability of future governments to cope with the profound problems associated with an ageing population.

…on the same day as this

The full scale of the health timebomb caused by Britain’s descent into lazy lifestyles is to be exposed in a landmark report by the Government’s Chief Medical Officer.

Sir Liam Donaldson will spell out for the first time how two-thirds of Britons are now so inactive – with most people, particularly women, failing to do even the minimum recommended amount of ‘moderate’ exercise – that they are at risk of getting cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

I don’t know which is more shocking and dreadful, the fact that Brits are living longer or the fact that they take no notice of government fitness targets! Did you all get your fitness targets in the post? No? That’s strange, neither did I.
→ Continue reading: “Britons have longer, nicer lives” disaster!

Murder at the palace!

Well, not quite. The Royal family’s horrible little dogs have been fighting each other to the death, is all. Not for cash bets, which would be much more exciting, if less hilarious: just because that’s what animals sometimes do if you let them. Sometimes animals kill people too. We sentimentalise them at our peril.

We British folk, especially the upper classes, have long been renowned for our perverse attachments to four-legged creatures over normal human beings. Personally, I can’t see the point. They can’t think, they cost money, you have to clean them, take them for walks, pay vet’s fees, if you go away for a couple of months they destroy the house and/or die and make a mess, and all this for nothing other than the proximity of a creature that can’t do anything except perform basic bodily functions. Why? On second thoughts, don’t tell me: I don’t care.

What I do care about is people getting attacked by other people’s vicious animals in public places. Why this crime which Anne was found guilty of last time only merited a £500 fine, I have no idea. But there’s a definite poetic justice to this seasonal next chapter of the story, in my view.

Jokes about pets, life and Christmas, anyone…?