Category Archives: Uncategorized

Twitter Under Attack

A DoS (denial-of-service) attack more precisely:

Twitter’s site crashed on Thursday at about 3pm BST due to a “denial of service” attack – thousands of remote-controlled virus-infected PCs trying to contact the site.

Though the site came back up after an hour, the company said it was “continuing to defend against and recover from this attack”.

Facebook isn’t operating correctly either. Conspiracy theories time? Stupid kids? North Korea? Putin not liking being mocked by tweet?

Either way as I write (1735 BST) the site isn’t back up, even though Twitter says otherwise…How will we twitterati cope?

Alistair Meditation Mindblog – 2e

A definite case of preference today. Very difficult indeed to rest in the breath – sounds I didn’t like were bringing up strong feelings, generating a thought factory, and I noticed a very strong impulse to give in to the thoughts and feelings. But I did keep returning to the breath and was aware of how peaceful it felt, whilst not trusting it somehow.

It’s not surprising I suppose – it’s how I’ve coped with things I don’t like (or otherwise respond to strongly) my whole life. This period of meditation feels more real than others – I’m actually looking right at what I’m really like, trusting far more than before and idealising less. I allowed these thoughts and feelings not to be changed – this morning at least I wasn’t as hateful of myself as I know I can be!

Alistair Meditation Mindblog – 1e

I put all my weight onto my right foot, I overuse my calves to stand up, and I have a constant urge to rush or not do my morning meditation. I know this by continuing the practice of looking at the four fields of mindfulness whilst standing. I can now see thoughts too which take this very seriously indeed, and when I’m aware of them I find myself nearly laughing compassionately at myself – taking myself seriously is so ‘me’ and that’s fine. I didn’t meditate the last two days, once I regret – the other not (sex is pretty important in a relationship and the time was right), and I didn’t write up 1b, but the themes I’ve seen have been similar. The thoughts for example aren’t the same, but there are semi-invisible, subtle thoughts which are. They put huge pressure on my chest still, tied as they are to this self image I have still that this isn’t serious enough a thing to do. If I just think about my morning hard enough, if I just achieve, achieve, achieve, and do all the things listed in my head then I’ll be happy.

I also notice how much I control my breathing and how difficult it is to let my breath take care of itself. My breath responds to my emotions which are tied to my thoughts. Not thoughts of Michael Jackson’s death for example, those are the things which just pop into your head and go away – my breath responds to causal thoughts – thinking. It’s quite humbling watching the organism which is me from a distance, as an observer. There’s so much going on, so many conditions to accepting myself throughout my ‘big’mind, yet it’s clearly so simple when I see me for what I am.

I hadn’t noticed how thorough that self image was before Tuesday’s meditation.

He Can’t Hold On

At least I don’t think he can. Last night’s resignation by James Purnell seems to be the final nail in the coffin for Gordon Brown’s premiership. It appears to be a Blairite coup, which begs the question – if they try to move New Labour ever rightward and the failing of Brown’s time as PM has been not to move leftward enough, would doing so now decapitate them? Martin Kettle asks:

Dire though the current hysterical atmosphere is for Labour – and the local and European election results will surely make things worse – there must now be a leadership election. Experts say it can take place quickly. The new leader can be in place by the start of July, even under the cumbersome procedures which Labour has inflicted on itself. Everything points to Alan Johnson being the man of the hour, but there can still be a real debate of the sort that the massively shortsighted coronation of Brown two years ago precluded. My god, they were wrong to give Brown the leadership.

So Brown will be gone in hours, maybe days. He’s right to say that regardless of however much the rules of succession get truncated they must debate the future of the party and the future of the government, and do so publicly. Last time such issues were never discussed at the leadership level, only during the deputy’s race. And remember Harriet Harman, who talked the talk of an independent mind, but who as deputy has never truly changed New Labour for the better. Labour must realise that the reason why this is happening is only partly because of the expenses scandal, for which it is being blamed. Polly Toynbee notes:

The left of centre Compass group agonises over the dilemma: they think Brown a disaster, but a privatising, modernising, rightwing alternative could be worse still. Disappointed that he failed to turn the party progressive, this time they will demand an open debate if a new leader is to emerge. But these bleak calculations of least-worst options are devoid of the support a leader needs, too thin fuel to keep Gordon Brown flying long.

Is neoliberalism working? No, Brown’s been busy trying to patch it back together. Has a limp, half-engagement with the EU been any help there? No. Was Jacqui Smith’s strategy in the Home Office anything other than a disaster? No. Should the party apologise for going to war in Iraq? Hell yes. If Alan Johnson is now to become Prime Minister he needs to realise that the argument has transcended Blair/Brown, left/right divides. The party has become a warmongering, corporate bully, owned entirely by transnational capital, which uses its army and police militia to do its bidding. This is not what New Labour was elected to do. Eradicating child poverty, closing the gap between rich and poor – not endless talk of marketising areas of public life where markets don’t belong and trying everything in its power to stifle the freedom the public should have over the information of government. ID cards must be sacrificed, trident, city academies, superdatabases, RIPA, SOCPA, you name it. Of course if Brown announced all this or Johnson (surely the party can’t be mad enough to appoint Purnell or Miliband, ahead of the now inevitable November General Election) they’d then just become the Greens. And that’s part of the tragedy playing itself out.

Govt Refuses to Abandon Precriminalisation

In December the government was told by the European Court of Human Rights that retaining innocent people’s DNA records on the national DNA database was illegal.  Today Jacqui Smith decided she didn’t care:

The genetic profiles of hundreds of ­thousands of innocent people are to be kept on the national DNA database for up to 12 years in a decision critics claim is designed to sidestep a European human rights ruling that the “blanket” retention of suspects’ data is unlawful.

The proposed new rules for the national DNA database to be put forward tomorrow by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, include plans to keep the DNA profiles of innocent people who are arrested but not convicted of minor offences for six years.

The proposal would also apply to children from age 10 who are arrested but never successfully prosecuted.

Splendid. So rather than comply with the court, she’s decided to defy the law, conventional wisdom and statistics. She says:

“It is crucial that we do everything we can to protect the public by preventing crime and bringing offenders to justice. The DNA database plays a vital role in helping us do that and will help ensure that a great many criminals are behind bars where they belong,” said Smith.

Yes it does Jacqui, but it’s also been proven that keeping everyone on the database has done nothing more to prevent crime or bring offenders to justice. Does she not understand the distinction, is she just stupid, or doesn’t she care? DNA profiling pioneer Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys says:

“I do not see this as balanced and proportionate. It still places England, Wales and Northern Ireland as the only jurisdictions in the world, to my knowledge, to retain such large amounts of innocent DNA information.”

Jeffreys dismissed a Home Office prediction that 4,500 fewer crimes will be detected if the proposals go ahead.

“There is an unspoken assumption in here that these thousands of crimes that will not be detected by not having the DNA will remain undetected and that simply isn’t the case. A significant number of these will be detectable through conventional police work, including the obtaining of fresh police DNA samples.”

He demanded that the government release further details of its concerns about poorer detection rates.

“We have been told some very cursory figures. One would like to know a great deal more. Are these serious crimes? Are they a relatively small number of individuals, for example serial burglars? We don’t have that information at all. And we need that information to be able to balance the improved ability to detect these crimes against the right to a private life.”

He makes entirely the right case. Not only is it entirely right that many of these thousands of crimes would indeed be detectable by conventional police work, but it’s entirely unclear where the Home Office feels its current advantage lies in keeping innocent people on the database. From the looks of it it’s represents a continuation of the government’s now near total adherence to precriminalisation in their obsession with ‘protection’. Mark Thomas points out:

Smith’s new regime leaves the innocent who have been cleared of charges of minor, non-violent crime on the database for six years, which erodes the principle of innocent until proven guilty and in classic New Labour fashion creates a third way, neither innocent or guilty but innocentish.

Then there is the very simple issue of privacy, something consecutive Labour home secretaries simply don’t understand. Why should the police have DNA information that could relate to a person’ s paternity or genetic prevalence to certain illness when the individuals concerned may well not hold that information themselves?

Most galling of all, though, is that Smith’s proposal still clings to the notion of creating a compulsory national DNA database by stealth. Instead of openly arguing and campaigning for this, Smith seeks to build one incrementally, slyly and on the quiet.

May this disgusting woman be taken to court again and lose again.

Richard Littlejohn: Gay Men Steal Children

Hard on the heels of his Daily HateMail columnist colleagues Amanda Platell and Melanie Phillips, now Richard Littlejohn wades in with his take on the gay adoption case in Edinburgh:

As for anonymity, does anyone really think that two gay men, living together in an Edinburgh suburb, who suddenly start playing Happy Families with a five-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl, are going to go unnoticed?

Coincidentally, this story emerged in the week in which details were revealed of the millions spent in the search for little Maddie McCann, who was abducted almost two years ago and is still missing.

On the face of it, the cases have nothing in common.

But stolen children are at the heart of both.

Does it matter whether your child or grandchild has been taken by a complete stranger or by social workers?

What’s worse: not knowing, or knowing — and being utterly unable to do anything to get them back, after being told that if you try, you will never, ever see them again?

In each case, the key question is the same: what kind of monsters could do something like this?

Is Littlejohn really suggesting that the placing by social services of the vulnerable children of a heroin addict with gay adoptive parents is the same as a child criminally stolen from her parents by a child trafficker/paedophile? I’d ask the question: what kind of monster would say something like that? Disgusting.

Bye Bye Sarah Palin

All the relevant statistical data is saying Barack Obama won the debate, whatever else the ‘experts’ and blogosphere say.

TPM has the internals of the CNN poll of debate-watchers, which had Obama winning overall by a margin of 51-38. The poll suggests that Obama is opening up a gap on connectedness, while closing a gap on readiness.

Specifically, by a 62-32 margin, voters thought that Obama was “more in touch with the needs and problems of people like you”. This is a gap that has no doubt grown because of the financial crisis of recent days. But it also grew because Obama was actually speaking to middle class voters. Per the transcript, McCain never once mentioned the phrase “middle class” (Obama did so three times). And Obama’s eye contact was directly with the camera, i.e. the voters at home. McCain seemed to be speaking literally to the people in the room in Mississippi, but figuratively to the punditry. It is no surprise that a small majority of pundits seemed to have thought that McCain won, even when the polls indicated otherwise; the pundits were his target audience.

Even a Fox News focus group of undecided voters plumped for Obama, citing the exact same reasons:

This suggests McCain’s in deep trouble. His decision to ‘suspend’ his campaign was a disaster, the growing financial crisis isn’t playing to his advantage in any way, his temper is flaring and Sarah Palin’s interviews with Katie Couric have been lambasted by friend and foe alike as worse than risible. Even conservative commentator Kathleen Parker said:

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

So the question has been that if McCain dumped the only selling point his campaign has ever had (or somehow pulled her back from the front line), how on earth could he win? What new stunt could his train wreck of a campaign try in order to regain media prominence? Today the hints began:

In an election campaign notable for its surprises, Sarah Palin, the Republican vice- presidential candidate, may be about to spring a new one — the wedding of her pregnant teenage daughter to her ice-hockey-playing fiancé before the November 4 election.

Inside John McCain’s campaign the expectation is growing that there will be a popularity boosting pre-election wedding in Alaska between Bristol Palin, 17, and Levi Johnston, 18, her schoolmate and father of her baby. “It would be fantastic,” said a McCain insider. “You would have every TV camera there. The entire country would be watching. It would shut down the race for a week.”

It’s about the last possible, underhanded, pointless charade of a stunt they can pull to try to take the country’s attention off the disaster that is the McCain/Palin ticket. Given that all their recent stunts have backfired, it makes you wonder how successful it really would be though. One of these videos is real, the other one is a fake. Can you tell which is which, and then tell me either way whether you think Sarah Palin is a remotely acceptable candidate for Vice President or potential President?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

My feeling is that short of a national or world disaster between now and November 4th, Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States.