Gaza and Israel – my opinion

Well, specifically, my opinion on the so-called celebrities who think they know enough to pontificate on the subject.

My best friend is a Muslim and we have finally, after 17 years, discovered something we disagree on. She defaults to favour Gaza, presumably because they are Muslims. I am supposed to default to Israel, because I’m Jewish. But I have been taking a look at both sides and I’m sick and tired of everyone involved, on both sides.

Hamas fire between 50 and 100 bombs into Israel EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR. They just don’t hit people very often because Israel spends billions on defence systems, air raid shelters and sirens. It’s called the 15 SECOND WARNING. These people RUN FOR THEIR LIVES SEVERAL TIMES A DAY.

Every six months or so, the Israeli Government decides they’ve had enough of this and fires back. And the whole world immediately comes down on them like a tonne of bricks, calling them all sorts of names and alleging all sorts of horrors.

Well, if you think it’s okay having bombs rained down on you and your children daily, you go and live there, and then I’ll be interested in your opinion. In the meantime, the world needs to grow up and stop judging this conflict by who is the better shot. When the British bombed Dresden they killed more people in one raid than the entire Blitz put together. But no one decided that made them the bad guys. It’s pathetic, as is every trumped up celebrity who thinks they know enough to comment.


D-day: the 70th anniversary

20 years ago I was in Normandy. Cherbourg to be precise. I had worked at the local radio station the previous year, and they had invited me back to help with the preparations for the 50th anniversary of D-day. This was the first time it was really taken seriously by anyone other than those who were there, and it created the idea of an internationally-recognised event, with royals and presidents attending, and the whole shebang.  Since then, we have become accustomed to seeing our venerable old men saluting their fallen comrades, but prior to then, it wasn’t really considered newsworthy.

So, the 50th anniversary was a big deal. The 70th is also a big deal, because this year, the Survivors’ Association will disband afterwards. There are so few left now, and fewer still who can make the trip, that it isn’t worthwhile continuing to run it. But we must not forget.

My own experience of the actual day is limited. I stayed at the radio station, assisting with broadcasts, whilst others went out to the sites themselves. But I do recall something that happened a day or so before.

I was tasked with listening to some old radio transmissions in English and translating them into French. I was sat in a little booth with an old reel to reel tape player and a notepad and was left completely undisturbed to allow me to concentrate.

At first, I had no problems. No matter how bad the quality of the recording, the well-spoken vowels of 1940s English were easy to capture.

After a while, the tape went silent, and a new voice cut in. This voice was male and he was shouting and I wasn’t listening to clipped Queen’s English, I was listening to German. The voice of an actual Nazi broadcast from 1944. 

I was so shaken, I had to stop.  I was physically shaking and I had to get out of that booth as fast as possible. I never went back in.

It was a year before I could face even putting on headphones again, and I have never forgotten how chilling it was to have that voice in my ears and in my head. 

D-Day changed the world, and we must all play our part in making sure that, as the number of actual witnesses dwindles with time, we do not forget what was done then.  

Halal meat – the lies you have been told

In late April/ early May 2014, a hoo-ha erupted in the British media, when someone at a red-top newspaper found out that halal meat was being sold to consumers without being labelled as such.  Basically, the chicken on your pizza was killed, but they disapproved of how and by whom.

This is not outrage at slaughter methods, it’s racism, pure and simple. Islamophobia, to be precise. And shame on everyone who perpetuated this drivel.

The arguments were summarised by Russell Brand in a video which can be watched here:  You’ll need to select from the PLAYLIST dropdown menu and go to video 23, episode 51. I can’t make it go direct to that one. It just defaults to the latest video, no matter what I do. Watch from around 1m20.

Bear with me. I wouldn’t normally agree with Russell Brand, but this time he is spot on.

Essentially, the Sun was up in arms about the use of halal chicken in pizza.

As Mr Brand points out, you’re eating a dead animal. You didn’t care (a) how it lived (b) THAT it died, so why would you care HOW it died? If it bothers you that something has died, don’t eat it. Don’t bitch about how.

The Sun states that the animals must be alive before they are killed by halal methods.  This is stupid. Of course it’s alive before you kill it. If it was dead before you killed it, you wouldn’t be killing it.

And just when you thought that the racist hypocrisy was confined to the red tops, up pops the RSPCA, to put it’s oar in.

Their pile of foetid, racist, hypocritical bile can be read here. For the more even-minded of you, you’ll be pleased to note that Jews get a dig as well in this piece. Enjoy.

Now, you may read that article and wonder what is “foetid, racist and hypocritical” about it. It says how much religious slaughter is done in the UK and by what methods. And then why they think this is bad.

Consumers should have a choice about how their food died. By all means. If you want it to die a certain way, DO IT YOURSELF. If you’re delegating to someone else, that’s your decision. But they can choose whatever methods they please.

But this is not the hypocritical bit. The hypocritical bit is that they say, “We believe that animals should only be slaughtered under the most humane conditions”.  This is hypocrisy for two reasons:

1. Who made them the arbiter of what is humane and what is not? The halal and shechita methods are used because they are believed to BE the most humane method, as they cut off blood supply to the brain instantly. Stunning does not.  There are no statistics in the RSPCA or Sun articles about how many animals subjected to stunning are still conscious when the next bit happens.

2. And this is the important one. THE RSPCA KILLS ANIMALS EVERY DAY.

At least if you are killing an animal for food, there’s a reason, a justification.

This does not apply to the RSPCA.

They put down perfectly healthy animals every day, because they can’t afford to feed them and they haven’t been rehomed. They freely admit it. In fact on their website it states:

“Because there are too many animals and too few good homes available, sometimes we just cannot rehome animals that should be given another chance. Although we hate having to do it, we have no option but to put them to sleep.”

This is why the Dog’s Trust was founded, by the way. Their pledge is that they NEVER put a healthy dog down. Why would they need to exist if it wasn’t for the random slaughter by the RSPCA of its own house guests?

The RSPCA freely admits to killing over 1000 animals a year, just to save money!

The overall trend in the euthanasia of rehomeable cats and dogs has gone down over the past 20 years.In 2012 the number of rehomeable dogs euthanased dropped to 182 animals.The number of rehomeable cats euthanased rose to 812 after a drop in 2011.The number of rehomable rabbits euthanased increased to 234.

Oh, they were euthanased, not murdered for no apparent reason. That’s alright then.

If that’s not the definition of hypocrisy, telling off other people for the way they kill their food, whilst killing animals for NO REASON WHATSOEVER, other than cost and space, I don’t know what is.

So, as Baz Luhrman said, “Beware whose advice you buy”. The RSPCA is not an appropriate arbiter on the killing of animals, and should shut up and put its own house in order before condemning others.



Global warming and why it isn’t your fault

Dear Climate Change people (and your leaders, the IPCC), you don’t know even know WHETHER the Earth is warming, let alone by how much. You are frequently having to adjust and readjust your scaremongering, sorry, figures, because they rarely fits the facts (eradication of glaciers in 50 years, anyone?). I fail to comprehend why we allow you to publish anything at all in the mainstream media, because it will only have to be amended, retracted or rewritten in a bit. Here’s a couple of thoughts that may assist with your clearly pitiful research.

We are in an interglacial period of an ice age. Of COURSE we’re getting warmer. An ice age is when we have polar ice caps. We often DON’T. We will get warmer and cooler and warmer again until they are gone. GET OVER IT.

Humans have existed a while, but not long in the grand scheme of things. Homo erectus has been plodding about for around 1.3 million years,give or take. Our current ice age started about 2.5 million years ago and we have been having interglacials (where the planet warms up considerably) every 40,000 – 100,000 years or so ever since.

I recycle. I do my best to leave as little behind of me as possible that is not biodegradable. But, frankly, the planet’s core and the sun really don’t give a tinker’s cuss what i do. They may think me thoughtful, but the chances are, they don’t think of me at all.

The issue at hand is the stupidity of modern humans to build on and live on flood plains. THAT’s what needs solving. And that’s probably the only preventative measure we can realistically take. After all, approximately speaking, if the entire UK became zero emitting overnight, it would take China less than a day to compensate for our entire annual spewings. So stop ranting at us for over using our cars too much, and make some real suggestions that might make a meaningful difference. Like asking the world to come together to pay for the people of Carteret to be moved to somewhere less damp. THAT would make a difference. Me paying to use a plastic bag won’t make the slightest difference.

Syria – my two pen’orth

Diane Abbott said it best. It’s not about what we throw at Syria over the next week or so. It’s “what next”? What happens AFTER we shell the Syrian government?

The apparent hyperbole and paranoia in Parliament, talking of a World War III may not be as fantastic as it sounds. Syria has nasty friends, especially Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. And if any of them decide that Israel was involved in the information gathering that led to the attack, and turn on Israel, then we really are in trouble. Because EVERY COUNTRY ON EARTH has a policy either for or against Israel. Not just the big ones or the scary ones, ALL of them. And they all have weapons of some kind and transport. And an opinion they want to express and back up.

At home, we have a slightly different issue to deal with. Britain’s place on the world stage has been damaged significantly by the no vote. The USA intends to plough ahead without us, although what help they think they’re going to get from the French, I have no clue. But we are on the Security Council because our abilities and capacity far outweigh our physical size. We are world leaders. Well, we were. Where we stand now is anyone’s guess. If we are not leading, then we are, by definition following, and that is an uncomfortable place for us to be. We need to regain our reputation before we are dismissed permanently from consideration.

If and when the USA decides to spank Assad, they will be on morally dubious ground, but the consequences may affect us all, whether or not we join in.

Snowden, Greenwald, Miranda – rights, what rights?

Unless you live under a rock, you will know that David Miranda, a Brazilian national and partner to David Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who published what Edward Snowden nicked, was held at Heathrow Airport for nine hours, ostensibly under terrorism legislation and then released without charge but also without a large proportion of his possessions – laptop, phone, games console, all sorts.

Now, Louise Mensch popped up on Newsnight last night (yes, I know we all hoped that when she resigned as an Member of Parliament and moved to the USA, we’d be rid of her bleating self-publicity, but apparently not), alleging that Miranda was carrying confidential stolen documents.


So when all the news reports blathered on about the confiscation of his games console, et al., all the Border Agency would have had to have said was “Well, we also seized what appear to be stolen and/or confidential documents” and there would be absolutely no outcry whatsoever. It would have been a legitimate search. Unproductive, but legitimate. So we’ll assume you’re lying, Louise, if it’s all the same. Thanks for contributing, though. Give my love to Macy’s.

So, what we are left with is a man held, essentially, for being in a relationship with someone who has annoyed British and American intelligence services (I use the term intelligence in it’s broadest, most ironic sense, obviously) and for going to Germany to help his boyfriend’s colleague, Laura Poitras, make a film about Edward Snowden and what he revealed.

Here are a few basic facts, as I have gleaned them:

1. Nine hours is the maximum permissible under law to hold someone under Schedule 7 without charge.

2. The USA was told BEFORE he was stopped.

3. He was officially grabbed at exactly five past the hour.

4. He was released exactly on the hour, with five minutes left before the time allowed for holding him expired.

5. At no point during the nine hours did any of the six people questioning him use the word “terrorism”.

6. So it was all carefully timed and carefully arranged so that there would be no mistakes on the timing.

7. They found and learned nothing but kept lots of his stuff, which everyone is now in Court arguing they should not be allowed to look at.

Since when did our security services hold people without charge for the maximum time on the basis of absolutely no evidence whatsoever? If you hold someone on suspicion of something, you’d better be able to back it up.  I can’t be arrested on suspicion of anything unless you can show “cause”.  No one has mentioned any such thing.

So it would seem they exceeded their powers. This is not good.  We gave you those powers to protect us from people with bombs in their knickers.  Not to protect yourselves from people who try to tell us what you’re up to that you probably shouldn’t be. And certainly not to protect us from their spouses.  If we can’t trust you to wield those powers responsibly, we will have to take them away from you, just as we would take away a toy from a child that uses their new plaything to hit the other children.

The Home Office line is that it is about “stolen information that would help terrorism”.  Really? Okay, show us.

Until you can, the investigations and recriminations will continue, and quite rightly so.

It is bad enough that the UK frequently behaves as the lapdog of the US, without you actually infringing our laws to do so.

Currently, it seems that all someone has to do is be acquainted with Edward Snowden and you are so beholden to the US, that you would infringe every rule in the book to hold them.

I’m looking forward to what David Anderson, Q.C. comes up with. He is the UK independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. I didn’t even know we had one, but I’m glad we do. Let’s see how he does with his first foray into exercising his powers.

P.S. For those of you with a finely-developed sense of irony, don’t forget where you’ve heard the name Miranda before:

“The Miranda warning, also referred to as Miranda rights, is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings. The Miranda warning is part of a preventive criminal procedure rule that law enforcement is required to administer to protect an individual who is in custody and subject to direct questioning or its functional equivalent from a violation of his or her Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that the admission of an elicited incriminating statement by a suspect not informed of these rights violates the Fifth and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Thus, if law enforcement officials decline to offer a Miranda warning to an individual in their custody, they may interrogate that person and act upon the knowledge gained, but may not use that person’s statements to incriminate him or her in a criminal trial.  In Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Supreme Court held that unless a suspect expressly states that he or she is invoking this right, subsequent voluntary statements made to an officer can be used against him in court, and police can continue to interact with (or question) the suspect.”  Ain’t Wikipedia handy sometimes?

It’s been said before…

..but not necessarily by me.

I recently purchased this amazing new device for reading.  It requires no charger, no case, it doesn’t stop working or become unreadable if you drop it, you can get it wet, sand does no harm to it whatsoever, nor chlorine. You can read it in direct sunlight, in the shade, even in the dark. When you’ve read it, you can give it to someone else, or leave it on a park bench or on a train for someone else. Or sell it or recycle it. you can wrap it up and give it as a present, with all the ceremony and joy that unwrapping stuff gives, the battery will not run out just as you get to a good bit.  It has no built in obsolescence.  In fact, it will last 100 years without needing an upgrade, software change or replacement parts or new batteries.  It is portable, lightweight and smells amazing. If it breaks, it can usually be fixed with a bit of sellotape. You can fill a shelf with similar products and they look great and insulate the walls at the same time.  You can put them in any order you like. You can’t accidentally delete them either. It can even have secondhand or antique value and you can give it to a charity shop so that they can raise funds by selling it to someone else.

Beware technology for technology’s sake.  Remember, not all progress is forwards.