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October 04, 2006

You know, we weren't really serious about the American theocracy

Writing about web page http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901055.html

We were just exaggerating for effect, mostly… And then we see something like this

The Public Expression of Religion Act – H.R. 2679 – provides that attorneys who successfully challenge government actions as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment shall not be entitled to recover attorneys fees. The bill has only one purpose: to prevent suits challenging unconstitutional government actions advancing religion.

What the bill means is that in the US, the government will be able to spam breaches of the constitution’s Establishment Clause, (The clause stating that the government can’t mess with people’s religion) and, uniquely out of all other possible issues, they will not have to pay if they lose and their action is declared constitutional. If the government breaks the law, their accuser will have to pay the legal costs!

Naturally, groups like CWA are ecstatic.

The passage of this legislation brings us one step closer to preventing legal groups, like the ACLU, from collecting attorney’s fees from the defendants they sue in establishment clause cases. Eliminating these monetary awards will free citizens to stand up for their constitutional freedoms and not face crippling judgments for attorney’s fees.

Check out the concentration of pure antitruth in that statement. The establishment act is about protecting citizens from the government. The cases affected are those of the ACLU vs the government and its employees, where the actions of the government infere with the free religion rights of the citizen. The only cases affected are those that groups such as the ACLU win – cases where the complained about action is not a ‘constitutional freedom’ of the government, but an act of unconstitutional oppression. Under the bill, government will be freed from ‘crippling’ judgements for fees, and those fees will be placed upon groups of private citizens and their representatives like the ACLU.

These people belong in a frigging mental institution. How can any sane person consider government interference in private beliefs as a freedom, and enforcement of constitutional restrictions on government power as persecution of the Christian majority? Are their Mary statues laced with heroin or something?


September 21, 2006

Time for Kyoto 2.0?

Writing about web page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that the Kyoto Protocols just don’t work. Not just by denial lists, but by groups across the spectrum up to and including Greenpeace itself. The reasons given as to why it doesn’t work varies of course. Green groups think that it doesn’t go far enough. Denialists think that it’s based on a non-existent problem. Business groups think that it’s trying to stop and unstoppable juggernaut instead of trying to simply adapt to things.
Global Warming
Really, though, I think the reason that it doesn’t work appeals to a flawed psychology in its invention.

The real reason why Kyoto fails

Think about it – it’s a scheme where a number of states commit their resources in a way that benefits the rest of humanity. (possibly)

Analysing this using game theory throws up a simple fact – the best strategy in this game is not to join into Kyoto! Instead, it is far better to continue to pollute – in this case, you benefit from your industrialisation, whilst the suckers in the agreement do the real hard work so that you don’t suffer the consequences. The incentive in this scheme is to lie, to astroturf, to make up excuses and pretend that you don’t believe in the problems, because no matter if GW turns out to be real, you win from it. In the worst case scenario, you have breathing space from your accumulated wealth, poor nations are happily screwed over, and the agreement nations have to pay again when their actions fail.

The only motivation to join Kyoto is out of a sense of moral responsibility, and we all know how politicians are with moral responsibility.

It’s obvious by this stage that the world is not going to get its act together. It is inevitable due to simple human nature that all current political actions will be in vain. Either the projections will occur to some extent, or some random miracle will save us. We’re simple not going to do anything that changes the core of this reality.

What we need is an agreement that takes account of this fact.

My Kyoto 2.0

The central principle of my proposed Kyoto 2.0 is that if nothing we do today will affect whether or not we’ll be screwed tomorrow, we can at least make sure that we will be screwed proportionally to the amount of blame we have for it. Specifically, the proposal declares that:

Future adaptation efforts will be paid out of an international fund, with payments into the fund proportional to what the science of the time determines to be the responsibility of that nation to the problem.

What will this mean?

Firstly, it means honesty. Skeptics at this point in time generally believe that either nothing will happen, or that if something does happen, ‘better’ science will show that it was not their responsibility. K2 calls them on that belief. If they genuinely believe in this, then they have nothing to fear from the new agreement. If however they were lying to excuse their own greedy actions, then the new agreement stops them from taking advantage.

It also means fairness. It means the costs of adaptation will probably be paid by those morally at fault. This also happens to be the richest countries, so in general this means that no one should have to suffer too much due to lack of money. Because, I think, this agreement is so clearly just, it should be very hard for dodgy states to squeeze their way out of it.

Finally, it means flexibility. New inventions that eliminate the problem will not mean wasted money. But on the flip side, practical mitigation efforts will be rewarded if they turn out to have an effect, by reducing the degree of responsibility for the state involved. If a state believes that the consequences will be worse than others predict, green measures will be a wise investment.

Of course, as an adaptation based measure, there will be a danger that short sighted politicians will choose to bankrupt their future for short term gain. But hey, that’s going to happen anyway. At least with this, there will be some political pressure against screwing over one’s children.

Any thoughts?


March 23, 2006

Coming Soon: The Abolition of Parliament Bill

Writing about web page http://www.saveparliament.org.uk/

Yay for inflammatory and sensationalist titles.

Grah for this actually being rather appropiate.

Searching Warwick Blogs for the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill brings up two hits. Not very surprising, because for some reason this thing has had a very low profile in the media. A more paranoid writer might suggest this is by design, since the title of the bill itself is carefully crafted so that a casual reader would instantly zone out and ignore it.

Which is a shame, because this bill is

FUCKING SCARY

(wonder if this is going to get past the censors….)

Ok. Let me explain.

The Details

A boot stamping on a human face
What this bill does is allow, in the name of cutting red tape, any member of the cabinet to pass a change in primary legislation by a single vote. That's instead of the ages and ages of debating and discussion and back-and-forth that goes on currently.

What does this mean? It means that your MPs will have very little time to read and understand the content of what they are deciding on. And so, if they were to squeeze something dangerous into an innocent looking bill, there is a good chance of getting it through. Who would oppose the 'Bill to provide sick children with cuddly toys', which just happens to conceal a payload of ID cards?

But this is scratching the surface. Most commentators seem to have a failure of imagination here. Maybe they are scared of contemplating the true horror of what's going on. The opposition have been trying to curtail the power of this bill, by asking the government to make exemptions – rules that cannot be changed without the proper, traditional debate. The government has rejected all of these. What rules do the government want to reserve the right to change without debate? Here's a list: (Highlights are boldened)

Act of Settlement 1700
Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
Bail Act 1976
Bill of Rights 1688
Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919
Church of Scotland Act 1921
Civil Contingencies Act 2004
Claim of Right 1689
Constitutional Reform Act 2005
Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994
European Communities Act 1972
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Government of Ireland Act 1920
Government of Wales Act 2006
Government of Wales Act 1998
Habeas Corpus Acts 1679 to 1862
House of Lords Act 1999
Human Rights Act 1998
Identity Cards Act 2006
Immigration Act 1971
Local Government Act 1972
Magna Carta 1215
Ministerial and Other Salaries Act 1975
Ministers of the Crown Act 1975
Northern Ireland Act 1947
Northern Ireland Act 1998
Official Secrets Acts 1911 to 1989
Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949
Parliamentary Constituencies Act 1986
Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005
Protestant Religion and Presbyterian Church Act 1706
Public Order Acts 1936 to 1986
Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
Representation of the People Acts 1981 to 2002
Scotland Act 1998
Security Service Act 1989
Statute of Westminster 1931
Succession to the Crown Act 1707
Terrorism Act 2000
Terrorism Act 2006
Union with England Act 1707
Union with Scotland Act 1706
Welsh Church Disestablishment Act 1914.

So the government wants the right to create, without debate or discussion, a Britain where you can't vote, where you have no rights to legal representation, where there is a boot stamping on a human face forever.

And what's more, also open for amendment is this bill itself – it would be possible to extend this act to a true Enabling Act, removing Parliament from the process altogether. It would just take our MPs to slip up just once…. And BAM, democracy is abolished.

Let's consider safeguards… What safeguards? All it requires is for the minister drafting the proposal to have adequately considered the dangers. The minister sneaking in the dangerous regulation is given the duty of policing himself. What the government is doing here is asking for what is essentially a blank check, and saying, 'Trust us, we won't do anything bad with it.'

But why, we must ask. Why do you want these powers? Why do you want to have a loaded pistol pointed at our heads, as you claim to continue to protect and serve us?

How not to die

This bill is very close to being passed. The commons have done their first and second sittings already, and it needs only a 1 hour third reading before it's on to the Lords. And if it gets blocked there, then there's the Parliament act to force it through.

Better wake up people, because otherwise, there's no tomorrow.

Also, maybe the Student Union should be doing something about this. I know there's an anti-political mood in the air, but I do think we can have a broad and non-alienating consensus on this issue.


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