Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lockerbie's Dirty Secrets Ignored

Misplaced outrage over the release of the Lockerbie Libyan and the wave of political posturing are hiding the shameful dealings in the aftermath of the atrocity. The casualty is justice and the truth about the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 which now will never be known.

US relatives of victims of the 1988 bombing were quick to express their anger and disgust after Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill released the 57-year-old Libyan, who is dying of cancer, on compassionate grounds.

But that is in sharp contrast to some of the victims’ families here in the UK, who believe there has been a miscarriage of justice and an appeal would have been the only way to find out the truth.

Al-Megrahi’s release has been on the cards for some time in a carefully orchestrated plot to stop his appeal, hide the truth over the bombing and to get hold of Libya's oil and gas.

That appeal would have laid bare failings in the original verdict and the manipulation of evidence.

Blair's slimy 'deal in the desert' with Libyan dictator, colonel Gaddafi, started the ball rolling. The deal was sealed when Libya formally admitted responsibility paving the way for al-Megrahi’s release.

Justice minister Jack Straw rushed through the prisoner transfer deal. Brown and Obama rushed to be Libya's new best friend in a rush to grab the oil. Mandelson was caught out in cahoots with Gaddafi's son who also has ties with Prince Andrew.

Everything hinged on cosying up to Libya to secure trade, oil and gas deals. Al-Magrahi told Libyan TV his release was tied to those deals according to The Times.

But an appeal would open up old wounds. Halting the appeal in its tracks would prevent a major embarrassment to both the UK and US governments and Scottish justices who returned the original guilty verdict.

Any hopes that an al-Megrahi appeal would go ahead in his absence was never going to be allowed to happen. Dutifully he dropped his appeal in return for safe passage to Libya to die with his family.

Theories over the motives and perpetrators centre on who was behind the bombing and which country was pulling the strings. A CIA intelligence report from December 1988 makes no mention of Libya. Instead it points to a pro-Iranian group (opposite, click to enlarge).

One of the most widely held theories is Iranian revenge using Syrian-based terrorists in retaliation for the shooting down of the Iran Air Airbus by USS Vincennes in 1988. Libya was only later brought in the frame when both Iran and Syria needed to be kept on-side for the US-led Iraq-Kuwait war.

Al-Megrahi’s trial and conviction was a travesty of justice based on spurious circumstantial evidence.

Doubt on the conviction has been cast by some families of the bereaved and some journalists, most notably by investigative journalist Paul Foot. Attempts have been made to re-open the case amid allegations that Libya was framed.

Key testimonies of two witnesses in the pay of the CIA were crucial. But one was a notorious liar and paid informer, the other a dodgy Maltese shopkeeper who allegedly identified al-Megrahi as the man who bought clothes said to have been packed round the bomb.

Some forensic evidence appeared to have been tampered with and evidence withheld, including a serious breach in security in Heathrow at the Pan Am baggage area on the day of the bombing.

None of these disturbing issues have been aired in the media frenzy and political outpourings of outrage following al-Megrahi's release and jubilant welcome home. Tory leader, David Cameron is demanding to know why Macavity Brown is keeping his head down and hiding away from the diplomatic fall-out.

The deep outrage, anger and disgust would be better directed towards the UK and US governments and the justice systems that have conspired with years of hypocrisy and deceit to deny the full facts over the Lockerbie bombing.

Eleven Lockerbie residents were killed along with 259 air passengers when the Pan Am flight exploded in mid-air, at the time the worst mass murder in UK history. Without a full public inquiry demanded by the bereaved families of some of the victims, that truth will never be known.

Picture: Al-Megrahi in Libya with Col Gaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bursting The Inflated A-Level Bubble

Mickey Mouse A-levels and dumbed down exams. Too many fresh faces chasing too few places. Thousands of anxious pupils await the fickle finger of fate with yet more record results and record straight As. The inflated A-level results bubble lets everyone down.

After jumping through hoops it's time to jump up and down before the smile is wiped away and harsh reality kicks in.

The goal posts have been moved. The rules of the game have been changed. Dumbed-down exams do no-one any favours. Hard-working students know it's all a con but are forced to go along with the ride.

There are plenty of students who've studied their socks off to win a place at a proper university. The Orange Party takes its mortarboard off to them. But for most it's a reward for failure. Youngsters are left demoralised and fearful of a future with nothing to look forward to than a life on the dole and mountain of student debt.

The system breeds failure. Those at the bottom are given false hope and unrealistic expectations with a dodgy course at scum-bag poly. Those at the top are not being stretched and steered away from 'hard' subjects to 'soft 'studies' so schools and politicians look good.

No doubt Ed "Didn't I Do Well" Balls or one of his minions will be shouting the results from the rooftop. Never mind the quality feel the quantity. Another record pass rate from the most hard-working, cleverest pupils in the world. But there's nothing "progressive" about cheating deprived children out of a proper education.

Balls' cock-eyed schoolboy experiment in social engineering has been a miserable failure. The pipe-dream to improve social mobility has had the opposite effect.

Far from closing class divisions, New Labour policy is widening the gap with a system bending over backwards to be so 'equal' it fails almost everyone.

Youngsters deserve more than dumbed down exams and moving the goalposts to massage pseudo-educational credentials and ministers' egos.

State schools are shunning traditional academic subjects, as the government encourages bog standard schools to take ‘soft options’ with 'studies' in the title. More state school pupils should be going to proper universities to read proper subjects. But the system drives down standards.

A-levels are becoming 'Mickey Mouse' qualifications, according to the think tank Civitas, failing to stretch the brightest youngsters and the government is in the thick of it.

Teachers said better marks were not due to improved lesson standards or more talented candidates. The rise in A grades is because exams are easier to pass and students are granted multiple re-sits blamed in part on the 'modular' system, with courses broken up into bite-sized bits to boost scores.

The system is a shambles. The standard now so low it’s a national disgrace. No-one trusts A-levels not least students, parents, employers and universities.

Times are tough. Universities have been forced to cap places and forced to entice over overseas students to make ends meet. This year some 60,000 will find no place and no job to fall back on.

Ministers should have thought of that before setting off to cloud cuckoo land to get 50 per cent of teenagers into university.

Tories are determined to do something about dumbed-down exams promising to toughen up the examinations system, with a focus on harder questions and more credit for youngsters studying 'hard' subjects rather than the 'soft' options.

That's a welcome start but for years politicians of all colours have dabbled in the education game and A-levels have been reduced to a numbers game.

Today that's to be expected from a stalinesque government department of education, schools, dinner ladies and whatever which has built its fortunes on a lie.

The rot trickled down from Whitehall to Town Hall, as an ideological battle was fought between the do-ers and do-gooders. Rigourous study of an academic subject gave way to idealistic babble about the rounded individual.

Exams have no place in that School of Life. Teachers have been turned into learning support workers. Inspiring teachers imparting a body of knowledge to young, eager minds willing to learn are becoming a thing of the past.

A whole generation is being lost in a sea of confidence tricks, false hopes and unrealistic expectations. Just what is the point of giving everyone a worthless piece of paper? Call it a day and dole out a school leaving certificate.

Reward students with success in proper exams by scrapping crippling student fees and loans. Put more money into funding more places at proper universities for proper subjects.

Leave the universities to set their own entrance exams with their own exam boards. Isn't that where A-levels first started?


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barmy Obama Loses His Marbles-Shock

Americans have woken up to the shocking news their beloved president Obarmy is just that. Nutty as a fruitcake. Where's the smiley salesman who the US took to its heart and took voters for a ride? The Messiah has lost his marbles.

A side-ways snipe at beloved Barry? Hey man, the Orange Party read it in the Daily News:

"Where have you gone, Barack Obama? Where is the sunny-side-up young man who promised to inspire and unite an unhappy nation? Let's find him quick because the whole nation is paying the price for this impostor's irrational exuberance. Or hubris."

More and more Americans are feeling fed-up with the ever expanding big government, mountain of debt, a crazy civil war over health care and a more crazy war in Afghanistan.

Yet Barry is bouncing back the only way a slick snake-oil salesman can, by going back to grassroots fans to win over hearts and minds on a born again healthcare campaign trail.

But the public's not buying it. Recent Gallup Polls show the superstar's star is starting to fade.

The backlash over the health reform plan is spreading like a rash. Even pseudo-liberal media commentators who sold their soul to hitch a ride on the Obama bandwagon have started some serious soul-searching.

The Manic Messiah has turned into a Desperate Depressive throwing everything at the campaign expect the White House puppy.

Whatever happened to that smooth-talking rock-star superstar and the carefully stage-managed teleprompter president?

The Onion has an explanation for the two-faced fakir's demented demise - the guy's gone nuts:


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Young Jobless Left With Legacy Of Despair

A legacy of despair is being left behind by a fag-end government with a lost generation of youngsters sinking in a sea of despondency and destined for a life on the dole. After a decade of dire jobs drivel, shocking figures reveal the true extent of a government paying lip-service to any pretence of working 'Labour' credentials.

A Policy Exchange think tank report based on official DWP figures over the last ten years makes grim reading. The true extent of the jobs figures sham highlights a shocking 6 million poor souls on out-of-work benefits.

And that comes as embarrassing official figures reveal record numbers of Neets - the 18-24-year-olds not in school, college or work so beloved of jobs figures manipulators.

According to quarterly figures, there are now more than 100,000 more 18-24-year-olds Neets - not in education, employment or training - than there were a year ago. That's now a disgraceful 835,000.

Given half a chance very few people would choose to live on state handouts. But when you are being screwed for a job left right and centre there's little choice.

Pride gives way to despair as hope is abandoned for all those who try to enter a dwindling jobs market. And with forced unemployment comes crime and punishment from a society of the fortunate few.

Hiding his head in the sand for the last ten years, chancellor Darling spins the government pre-election line that the government will do "all it can" to avoid the "lost generation" of young people.

But manufacturing has been deliberately decimated, putting all the eggs in a financial services and media/creative basket now on its last legs. Cheap slave labour has been imported to do the dirty jobs to give the country a false sense of economic security. Billions of pounds have been squandered on useless non-job creation schemes.

The Orange Party's big concern is that away from all the worthy, worthless rhetoric, governments have a nasty habit of keeping a pool of workers on sedation on the dole.

Bosses too can keep a lid on a workforce scared stiff of losing their jobs, forcing pay cuts and forcing down working conditions, in return for fat profits and bonuses.

The usual lame excuse is trotted out blaming the rapid rise on the recession depression and a lack of jobs for school and college leavers. Ministers worth their salt should have seen it coming and made plans instead of sitting idly by and waiting for the jobless to be thrown on the scrapheap?

Hiding behind the spin of a global recession cuts no ice. The government is still trying to dig itself out of an economic hole of its own making.

What isn't needed is Sugar-coated apprenticeship gimmicks from a celebrity-obsessed government nor dumbed-down Mickey Mouse qualifications to push disillusioned youngsters into useless college courses to put off the dreaded day of a life on the dole.

Tories are driving home the point accusing ministers of making "empty promises" and driving home a message which chimes with the public.

Petty party politics apart, what is certain is that the country cannot and must not lose a whole generation of young people to unemployment and underachievement nor breed a culture where jobs are the exception and hand-outs are the rule.

Most Neet youngsters are likely to have low skills and a lack of real experience of real jobs in the real world.

Meaningful training, apprenticeships and work is the answer, not the current mishmash of half-baked uselessness 'courses' and non-jobs which just act as a stopgap before the dole queue beckons.

Time will tell whether the Tories will turn it around and whether the new People's 'Progressive' Party lives up to its name or lives down to the hype.

What is clear is that after more than a decade of deceit, whoever put the 'new' into New Labour should hang their heads in shame.


Monday, August 17, 2009

What Are We Fighting For?

The government's Afghan line is lurching from one sickening spinning lie to another, in the vain hope something will strike a chord with the public. Team Brown is now floundering around clutching at straws after the weekend grim milestone of 200 deaths from the Afghan killing fields. But don't expect any straight answers from a clueless Ainsworth and war-mongering Brown.

There will be no winners or losers. Only a lot of dead combatants from all sides to show for the sheer idiocy of this war. And a war-mongering government left with blood on its hands.

The Orange Party has long banged the drum for a pull-out in this hopeless, bloody, unwinnable war against an invisible enemy.

The tide is turning. Opinion polls show the public split down the middle over a troop pull-out but there still seems to be no great 'Stop The War' movement as with Iraq.

The media was quick and right to seize on the grim milestone of 200 deaths. But there's something sickening about waiting for a magical number to renew the debate over the government's clueless involvement in a chaotic conflict with no clear objectives and no coherent strategy.

The war has been reduced to death by numbers, as night after night the public and grieving families have to suffer the spectacle of their boys being brought home in a box.

Useless and clueless, Bungling Bob Ainsworth had the gall to put a positive spin on the killings, with 'wild predictions' that troops will be off the front line within a year, in stark contrast to recent predictions by military chiefs.

Deluded Brown swapped his holiday attire for a sombre suit to sing from the same hymn sheet.

Both refused to accept any blame. Both had the audacity to come perilously close to saying the deaths were 'a price worth paying'.

These politicians do not care about how many soldiers or civilians die. But the sheer numbers of dead and wounded has caused soul-searching among both bereaved families and the public.

Even deluded Brown's insistence that the operation is vital to tackle terrorism has a hollow ring about it when any fool can see the problem lies in Pakistan rather than Afghanistan.

With some neat footwork the justification is spun between tackling terrorism and the joke of 'fair' Afghan 'elections'. Anyone who thinks there can be "fair and free" elections with a corrupt government is living in fools paradise.

And what happens after those summer 'elections' when Brown had once pledged to reduce troop numbers? The death toll will continue to rise, claims of a lack of troops, kit and support will persist. What will be the next line of lies for a long-suffering public?

Tight Mod control over broadcast media coverage of the war doesn't help. The public can see through the sham.

A propaganda war fought in far off lands may be more palatable and relatively painless for the public to stomach but now troops are dropping like flies and the public wants to know why.

War should be the last resort of any foreign policy but has become the first port of call.

Throw pseudo-liberal progressive rhetoric into the mix and the con is complete. We are not out there for selfish economic interests, no siree. It's all about propping up a corrupt government and defending western-style women's rights, democracy and development, none of which is achievable or stands up to close scrutiny.

The public is being duped with the lame excuse of defending anything and everything. Everything except the oil and gas supplies with the big business backing of private mercenary armies and a huge powerful arms industry to call the shots.

There can be no straight answers from a dishonest government, fighting so-called terrorists at a safe distance instead of dealing with any direct threat on our doorstep.

We are there because the public was duped into hitching our fortunes to an arrogant and deluded US superpower intoxicated by its military power. Brown/Obama are propping up the Bush/Blair legacy of the original post 9/11 deal, driven home with every coffin that comes home from the killing fields.

This week is the 40th anniversary of Woodstock when weekend hippies and college kids descended on a muddy field in New York State. Then it was the Vietnam war - today it's Afghanistan.

But the questions remain the same: "What're we fighting for?/Don't ask me I don't give a damn/The next stop is Afghanistan."