Boris Johnson has become one of the first senior Conservative Party politicians to call for the legalisation of cannabis for medicinal use.
In an interview for Telegraph TV, the candidate for London mayor responded to a question from a reader about his personal views on the use of marijuana by sufferers of chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Mr Johnson said: "I have thought about this for a little bit, but I haven't looked at all the evidence and talked to the police about it in a way I would before giving more than an extempore answer.
Crikey - a politician admits he doesn't know something. That's a first.
"However, I do think there is a case when cannabis is being used to alleviate severe and chronic pain that the law should be flexible."
However, it was the topic of Ken Livingstone, and Mr Johnson's claim that the Labour Mayor has mismanaged the capital and squandered taxpayers' money while running a "corrupt" administration, that dominated the exchanges.
Asked how he would reduce the size of local government in London and cut red tape, Mr Johnson said: "I am going to make some sensible economies at City Hall by axing some of the current mayor's loony tunes expenditure - like the European fund for Marxists and anarchists.
"He has absolutely no concept of taxpayer value, which is why on day one, I am going to do the following - put every pound that I spend on behalf of the people of London on the web, so that the public can consult it, and we end the disgraceful cronyism and corruption of the current system."
Generations of schoolchildren have complained of the inaccessibility of Shakespeare's classic works.
However, with the help of a British satirist, the Ali G generation will have no trouble relating to Hamlet's woes when they read: "Dere was somefing minging in de State of Denmark."
In Martin Baum's updated version of 15 of Shakespeare's classic plays in "yoof speak", the Danish prince, who is re-named 'Amlet, asks: "To be or not to be, innit?", and Romeo pines for his "fit bitch Jools".
Mr Baum's chav-speak Shakespeare, which takes its title from 'Amlet's query, includes titles such as Macbeff, Much Ado About Sod All, De 'Appy Bitches of Windsor, De Taming of de Bitch, Two Geezas Of Verona and All's Sweet That Ends Sweet, Innit.
Following the well-trodden path of modern interpretations of the Bard's works, Mr Baum, 48, says his versions, while abridged, remain true to the original formats of Shakespeare's classics, retaining "the important sexist, duplicitous, cross-dressing and violent moments that made William Shakespeare well wicked."
Mr Baum's version of Romeo and Juliet sets the scene for the star-crossed lovers with: "Verona was de turf of de feuding Montagues and de Capulet families.
"And coz they was always brawling and stuff, de prince of Verona told them to cool it or else they was gonna get well mashed if they carried on larging it with each other."
If the Bard was living today, Mr Baum writes on his website, he would "still be writing in the Globe turf, getting loads of respect from the Stratford upon Avon massive and producing works of pure genius."
It would be easy to be outraged. Mr Baum's meddling with our national poet almost seems sacrilege. His defence is: "Anything that introduces children to Shakespeare is a good thing." That can't be true. Not anything.
Anyway, Mr Baum has the wrong end of the stick. His Ali G Shakespeare is funny, if it is funny, only to those familiar with Shakespeare. Many pupils are more aware of Shakespeare in the playground than they will ever be again. They already know that in the end Romeo and Jools "was both well dead". Grown-ups may deprecate such argot. Children may laugh. Shakespeare is big enough to take it.
Now we officially know the answer - the U.S. Government states that America is definitely not fighting "jihadists", based on new guidelines directing federal agencies not to even use the term "jihadist". So who is America fighting? Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells us: "the enemy is extremism".
The Inconvenient 9/11 Commission Report
What the "Extremist Messaging Branch" of the NCTC and the Muslim outreach division of the DHS have not addressed are the inconvenient writings in the 9/11 Commission Report, the closest thing that America has yet in terms of a "strategic" document on Jihad (in itself that speaks volumes as the 9/11 Commission Report is not a strategy document).
The 9/11 Commission Report uses the term "jihad" in referencing the enemy 79 times and specifically defines "jihad" as a "holy war" executed by Osama Bin Laden and his compatriots (Section 2.3, Paragraph #302 on page 55), as well as defining "mujahideen" as "holy warriors" (Paragraph #302, same page). The 9/11 Commission Report refers to such "mujahideen" 22 times.
The 9/11 Commission Report refers to the term "jihadist" 31 times, including the references to the "worldwide jihadist community" (Section 5.1, Paragraph #691 on page 148), to "Islamist Jihadists" (Section 5.3, Paragraph #741 on page 158), to "Islamist and jihadist movements" (Section 6.3, Paragraph #887 on page 191), and multiple references to an NSC memo on "Jihadist Networks".
Most importantly, the 9/11 Commission Report provides the definition of "Islamist terrorism" as being based on the ideology of "Islamism" (Notes, Part 12, Note 3: "Islamism", page 562).
How do the NCTC and the DHS reports reconcile the 9/11 Commission Report with their guidelines on terminology? The 9/11 Commission Report has most of the "offensive" language on "jihadists", "jihad", "mujahideen", and even "Islamism" decried by the NCTC and DHS reports on terminology. What is the position of the NCTC and the DHS on this report containing such "offensive" language? Does the NCTC now claim that the 9/11 Commission Report "legitimizes" the actions of Jihadists?
In keeping with their guidelines, will the NCTC and the DHS call for the closing of the 9/11 Commission Report website, call for the end of sales of the 9/11 Commission Report by the GPO, and the removal of the 9/11 Commission Report in federally funded libraries? Will the 9/11 Commission Report become the next "Alms of Jihad" -- forbidden for sale and forbidden to be kept in libraries -- due to Islamist influence and petrodollars?
One of the key missions of the NCTC is to provide "Strategic Operational Planning". The NCTC should explain how they are performing that function if they seek to silence the same introspection on and analysis of Jihad and Islamism that was found in the 9/11 Commission Report....
Indeed, the NCTC, Defense Secretary Gates, Osama Bin Laden, and Islamists all agree on this point - they are all against "extremists".
Echoing Defense Secretary Gates' recent comments that in Iraq, "the enemy is extremism", Osama Bin Laden also shares this sentiment. In his October 22, 2007 message calling for Jihadists in Iraq to unite, Bin Laden warns of the "ta'assub" (fanatics, extremists), who would sow dissension among Jihadist mujahideen. CENTCOM head nominee General Petraeus' recent testimony also calls for fighting against "extremists". One would think that the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Osama Bin Laden would have different definitions of the enemy in Iraq, but in fact they all claim to be fighting against "extremists". This nonsensical state is where the "War On Extremists" takes us.
Moreover, in the documentary Islam versus Islamists, Tempe Wahhabist Imam Ahmad Al Shqeirat views anti-terror Muslims like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser as an "extremist". According to the NCTC, use of the term "extremist" is fine, but pointing out that Imam Ahmad Al Shqeirat is a "Wahhabist" - that's a problem.
The basic philosophy of the "War On Extremists" position is summarized by Defense Secretary Gates: "It's those who are not willing to participate in the political process and do so peacefully. Those are the enemy."...
Naming, catagorization and definition are all linked together and are intrinsic to language. As we have said here many times, using the word jihad defined as Muslims define it (the struggle to remove all obstacles, both internal and external, to Islam) would serve our purpose well. The word extremism is so vague as to be utterly useless. To name is to define. To name is human.
"Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name." - Genesis 2:19
Picking up on Mary's post about Boris Johnson's call to legalize medical marijuana in the U.K., here is an article from December 2006 about just how large the marijuana growing business is in the U.S. They don't mention that if marijuana were legalized that would permit it being grown for other purposes such as hemp and oil as well.
The report, "Marijuana Production in the United States," by marijuana policy researcher Jon Gettman, concludes that despite massive eradication efforts at the hands of the federal government, "marijuana has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of the national economy."
In the report, Gettman, a marijuana-reform activist and leader of the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, champions a system of legal regulation.
Contrasting government figures for traditional crops -- like corn and wheat -- against the study's projections for marijuana production, the report cites marijuana as the top cash crop in 12 states and among the top three cash crops in 30.
The study estimates that marijuana production, at a value of $35.8 billion, exceeds the combined value of corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.5 billion)...
"The fact that marijuana is America's No. 1 cash crop after more than three decades of governmental eradication efforts is the clearest illustration that our present marijuana laws are a complete failure," says Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C., a group that focuses on removing criminal penalties for marijuana use.
Kampia, whose comments were included in the study's press release, adds, "Our nation's laws guarantee that 100 percent of the proceeds from marijuana sales go to unregulated criminals rather than to legitimate businesses that pay taxes to support schools, police and roads."
A 2005 analysis by Harvard visiting professor Jeffrey Miron estimates that if the United States legalized marijuana, the country would save $7.7 billion in law enforcement costs and could generated as much as $6.2 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like alcohol or tobacco.
Miron's report on the costs of marijuana prohibition was signed by more than 500 leading economists, most notably the late Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, who served as an economist in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations.
Though I like Sol Stern a lot, I think there's a lot wrong with his analysis.
Of course it's an enormous problem that Ayers has so much influence. But Stern writes: "If [Mayor Richard] Daley fils can forgive Ayers for his past violence, why should Obama’s less consequential contacts with Ayers be a political disqualification? It’s hard to disagree." It's not at all hard to disagree. Daley is a hack, while Obama — who claims to be a transcendent unifying figure — wants to be president. Ayers hasn't merely engaged in "past violence"; he is saying in the here and now that he's sorry only that he didn't carry out more terrorist attacks — and it's in the here and now that Obama (who aspires to be commander-in-chief during a global war against terrorists) has cultivated him.
Stern further writes:
Unfortunately, neither Obama nor his critics in the media seem to have a clue about Ayers’s current work and his widespread influence in the education schools. In his last debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama referred to Ayers as a “professor of English,” an error that the media then repeated.
Baloney! Obama is pretending to be clueless and Stern is falling for it.
As I recounted in this piece, Obama not only served for years on the Woods board with Ayers; he also appeared with him on a panel arranged by Associate Dean Michelle Obama at U-Chicago in connection with which (a) Ayers' "social justice" work to fight against the incarceration of juvenile criminals — which had utterly nothing to do with teaching English — was elaborately described, and (b) Obama was joined with Ayers precisely because his (Obama's) work as a state legislator to fight jail sentences for juvenile criminals dovetailed perfectly with Ayers' conception of "social justice."
Obama did not call Ayers an English teacher because he was confused or misinformed. He called Ayers an English teacher because he was lying. That is, he was intentionally minimizing his relationship with an anti-American revolutionary with whom Obama has been friendly, collaborative and entirely comfortable.
In an NBC interview aired on Friday, the Arizona senator said he has done all he can to persuade the state party to cancel the television ad that criticizes Obama as "too extreme" because of controversial remarks made by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
"They're not listening to me because they're out of touch with reality and the Republican Party. We are the party of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan and this kind of campaigning is unacceptable," McCain told NBC's "Today" Show.
"I've done everything that I can to repudiate and to see that this kind of campaigning does not continue," he added.
Here is the video. Judge for yourselves:
It may be that McCain is being devilishly clever by drawing attention to it. The YouTube was going around the web yesterday, but today, it's everywhere.
New Duranty: PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The Pakistani government is close to an agreement to end hostilities with the most militant tribes in its turbulent border area, whose main leader is accused of orchestrating most of the suicide bombings of recent months and the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
A 15-point draft of the accord, which was shown to The New York Times, called for an end to militant activity and an exchange of prisoners in return for the gradual withdrawal of the Pakistani military from part of the tribal region of South Waziristan.
Even as the accord, a far-reaching draft that essentially forbids the tribes from engaging in nearly all illegal actions, was being negotiated by the government through tribal elders, the militant leader, Baitullah Mehsud, ordered his fighters to cease their activities in the tribal regions as well as the adjoining North-West Frontier Province, warning of strict punishment of any violators.
American and Afghan officials were immediately skeptical of a deal with Mr. Mehsud, one of Pakistan’s most hard-line militants. They have blamed past accords for allowing the Taliban and Al Qaeda to regroup, fortify their ties and use Pakistan as a base to plot attacks here and abroad. Previously, members of Pakistan’s new coalition government had said they considered Mr. Mehsud irretrievably hostile.
“We have seen the agreements they have made before, and they do not work,” said one American official, referring to an agreement in North Waziristan in September 2006, which was blamed for strengthening the militants and a surge in cross-border attacks against American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
In Washington, the White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, was also wary. “We are concerned about it,” she said, referring to the possibility of an accord, “and what we encourage them to do is to continue to fight against the terrorists and to not disrupt any security or military operations that are ongoing in order to help prevent a safe haven for terrorists there.”
The approach to Mr. Mehsud followed pledges by the new government to make a break with the policies President Pervez Musharraf has embraced in recent years, to pursue dialogue with the militants and to restore calm to Pakistan, which has been jolted by suicide attacks. Diplomats and Afghan officials suggested that the government was trying to show good will, while playing for time to bring stability...
A similar agreement to the one with Mesud now being hatched in Pakistan was reached by the Musharraf regime previously and led, not to pacification of the northwest region, but to greater Taliban activity. Nothing was learned from this. The Pakistanis are intent on not fighting with the proper ferocity against the Taliban and other Muslims. They are intent, however, on stringing the American government along for as long as possible, and pocketing more tens of billions of dollars in Infidel aid. And the Americans, with their bottomless naiveté, and their inability to see Muslim Pakistan as an enemy, as part of the Camp of Islam that must be thought of as an enemy to be weakened, with its constituent parts turned against each other, and unwillingness to recognize that Pakistan's military has been misleading the Americans for decades, about Islam, and about Pakistan's own intentions. Without American naiveté, A. Q. Khan would not have been able to achieve, largely through theft of material he found in Western laboratories, that "Islamic bomb" -- and attempted proliferation in other Muslim countries -- that is now a permanent and major worry to the entire West.
Pakistan was, is, will be part of Dar al-Islam. As such it cannot be an "ally" of the West, or of the United States. Its cooperation, most limited, can be obtained here and there -- but that should not be mistaken for the possibility of a real alliance, or real friendship. That is not possible.
The Bank of Israel’s website was cracked Thursday. Readers of the English-language website noticed anti-Israeli and anti-American messages planted on the site by a Muslim hacker.
The hacker, who calls himself “The Moorish” after the medieval Muslim invaders, chose a defacement assault, whereby the web pages of the assaulted are sabotaged and their contents are altered. This sort of "invasion" is not considered deep or severe.
The hacker left a message on the site saying, “As an anti-colonial Muslim, I fully support the armed resistance of the Palestinians, Iraqis and Lebanese against the US and Israel. I am serious about the liberation! By any means rendered necessary!
"This is the only way by which oppressed people can emancipate themselves than from the Zionist and American oppressors…the oppressors have not conceded to non-violent measures; therefore, their victims
The hacker also left a link to a YouTube video featuring a uniformed movement armed with Kalashnikovs. The flags being waved in the video bear the Muslim declaration of belief, the Shahada (disambiguation), in ornate lettering. "The Moorish" is allegedly associated with a group of Algerian hackers called Team DZ, which has cracked US websites as well.
“The website was apparently cracked Thursday by hackers who inserted propaganda materials in Arabic,” said Bank of Israel’s Spokesman, Dr. Yossi Saadon, in response. Saadon added that the website has been blocked by the bank in order to fix the problem.
The logo, as it was meant to be seen, rather than at a 90 degree angle
It cost £14,000 to create, but clearly no-one at the smart London design outfit that came up with the new logo for HM Treasury thought to turn it on its side.
The logo, for the Office of Government Commerce, was intended to signify a bold commitment to the body’s aim of “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”.
Instead, it has generated howls of mirth and what is likely to be a barrage of teasing emails from mandarins in other departments.
Let's have a look, then:
According to insiders, the graphic was already proudly etched on mousemats and pens before it was unveiled for employees, who spotted the clanger within seconds.
Staff have apparently now stripped their office of souvenirs bearing the logo, which could appear on eBay within days.
A spokesman for OGC said: “It is true that it caused a few titters among some staff when viewed on its side, but on consideration we concluded that the effect was generic to the particular combination of the letters OGC - and it is not inappropriate to an organisation that’s looking to have a firm grip on Government spend.”
A rather unfortunate turn of phrase, all things considered. And it gets worse.
Brand expert Michael Hamilton said while the logo’s double-entendre was probably not deliberate, it could prove an added bonus for OGC.
“They’re going to get more column inches than they could ever have expected before. If I were them, I would be pretty pleased.”
It's not the column inches, it's what you do with them. This department needs taking in hand.