Thursday, September 27, 2007

Local lad still doing well

I wonder if he knows it, but Iain Dale and his contributing baying Tory commenters have put our Skuds in the top 100 'left of centre blogs' for the second year in a row.

More from Burma

Unfortunately, my fears of violence in Burma have been well founded. Every day the Guardian has been providing updates and links to more information about the events there. The official death toll is nine, which is likely to be a massive understatement. A Japanese reporter has apparently been killed, which may well bring more opprobrium from the international community. More importantly, hundreds of monks have been arrested, with many being beaten.

Tues 25 Sept GU newsblog
Weds 26 Sept GU newsblog
Thur 27 Sept GU newsblog

One glimmer of hope is that it appears that there is a group within the Burmese army who are sympathetic to the monks and people.

There's not much that we can do as individuals, and sanctions are unlikely to have an immediate impact. As it is, I don't use Total petrol stations, so I can't even hurt them (the French oil company is a heavy investor in Burma, laying a new pipeline there). If by chance anyone who reads this ever thinks about filling up their car with Total, please don't, while they help provide financial backing for this odious regime.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Talking about suppression...

Here's a place where they do it properly - Burma (or as the military junta would have it, 'Myanmar').

I've been keeping a little eye out on the growing opposition demonstrations there in the last few weeks, starting with protests over escalating fuel costs, and this week seeing the Buddhist monks marching through Rangoon ('Yangon') and other cities.

Yesterday there was the bizarre sight of a military chappy kneeling in a temple, imploring the senior monks not to go out again today. It would seem that the Burmese hold monks in very high esteem, but this display was sinister because the leaders were really saying "Please don't do it because we might have to send the army in".

The monks went out again today, and as the Guardian newsblog updates showed, there are a lot of rumours and whispers about hospitals being cleared and riot police moving in. However, no actual reports of a crackdown, although apparently Aung San Suu Kyi was moved from house arrest to prison this afternoon.

The odious regime really ought to fall, to be replaced with democracy, but they have largely been allowed to get away with oppressing their own people for decades, with China helping them out and no-one else wanting to intervene in a liberal-humanitarian stylee in case it causes ructions.

President Bush has announced extended sanctions (good move, but years late) and the rest of the world is trying to convince the Burmese government not to use violence to restore 'order'.

However, a curfew has been declared, and gatherings of more than 5 people have been banned. I have a bad feeling about tomorrow.

Hey look! A bandwagon!

But one that I have no shame whatsoever in jumping on to.

As mentioned in my previous post, Alisher Usmanov has been accused of using his influence to get Fasthost to suppress criticism of him, resulting in the taking down of not only Craig Murray' and Tim Ireland's blogs, but also those of Boris Johnson, Bob Piper and other innocent bystanders.

This exertion of corporate financial muscle to try to stifle people's opinions has had the effect of bringing far more interest in the activities of Mister Usmanov, who has a shady past and (perhaps more worryingly) a large stake in Arsenal FC.

And this is (as of the time of this post) the list of 251 blogs which have spoken out against the heavy-handed use of lawyers to shut down free speech:

Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, B3TA board, Naqniq, Yorkshire Ranter, The Home Of Football, UFO Breakfast Recipients, Moninski , Kerching, e-clectig, Mediocracy, Sicily Scene, Samizdata, I blog, they blog, weblog, Colcam, Some Random Thoughts, Bel is thinking, Vino S, Simply Jews, Atlantic Free Press, Registan, Filasteen, Britblog Roundup #136, Scientific Misconduct Blog, Adam Bowie, Duncan at Abcol, Camera Anguish, A Very British Dude, Whatever, Central News, Green Gathering, Leighton Cooke (224), , Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Contrast News, Poliblog Perspective, Parish Pump, El Gales, Noodle, Curly’s Corner Shop, Freunde der offenen Gesellschaft, otromundoesposible, Richard Stacy, Looking For A Voice, News Dissector, Kateshomeblog, Writes Like She Talks, Extra! Extra!, Committee To Protect Bloggers, Liberty’s Requiem, American Samizdat, The Thunder Dragon, Cybersoc, Achievable Life, Paperholic, Creative-i, Raedwald, Nobody’s Friend, Lobster Blogster, Panchromatica (251).

Mr Usmanov, how very dare you!


I know I've been a bit quiet lately. August was not a good month, basically because not much happens to comment upon anyway, but primarily because my grandfather passed away after a brief illness.

This month I just haven't had the energy to think much about posting, and I also spent a week on holiday (piling up the carbon tonnage by flying off to San Francisco - you can tell I'm not a member of the Green Party).

So, I didn't post anything about the new Crawley Borough Council logo when it was unveiled a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, Skuds has already posted as much as one needs to know about it - it's eerily similar to a draft for the Conservative logo from last year and even more like an MBNA image that is used. But then all multi-coloured trees are going to look alike, and it's not so much the thing itself that I have a problem with, but the manner in which it has come about and the needless cost of going about the change.

Of more concern to me recently is that the BNP are putting a candidate up in a by-election in the Horsham District ward of Holbrook West (an area including part of the north of the town and a patch of semi-rural and rural land between Warnham and Rusper).

I missed the whole furore about Alisher Usmanov getting some blogs shut down after they criticised him (and in the process bringing down other, unrelated blogs). Not being a fully paid up member of the blogerati, it passed me by completely, but I have to add my disgust to that of the many bloggers who have protested about this abuse of corporate power. Chicken Yoghurt has the full skinny and Sunny Hundal at Pickled Politics has more here, here and here.

Live Blogging the Crawley Game

Ebbsfleet Utd 1(0) v Crawley Town 0(0)
(Ebbsfleet used to be call Gravesend & Northfleet)
Kickoff - 7:45pm

Crawley are currently in 7th place (although this is before the decision on whether to deduct 6 points has been finally settled). Ebbsfleet are 14th.

Thanks to the deal between Virgin and Setanta, I can watch this on the telly, so I thought I'd provide a live update. Updates will appear at the top, so anyone visiting won't have to scroll down much to see the latest. The game will appear in reverse order though. Ho hum.

The local press also give the same service - I'm not trying to compete, just complement their coverage :-)

Crawley Lineup
4-4-2: Bayes; Wilson, Mills, Stevens, Bull; Bulman, Thompson, Pinault, Cook; Madjo, Pittman.
(Subs: Vieira, Evans, Clapham, Joseph-Dubois, Krause)

For those watching in black-and-white, Crawley are in their away strip of yellow shirts and blue shorts

9:40 Full time.
Ebbsfleet win, and Crawley Town are frustrated. With by far the most opportunities to score, the away side also felt that they should have been a man up after McCarthy handled early on. Sasha Opinel played very well against his old side, and he was the decisive factor in this game.

The keeper fists away the delivery, only for a deflected cross to go for another Crawley corner. That results in a fray in the box, with the keeper agian punching the ball down, but no Crawley player can connect before a foul is given against them.

3 minutes of extra play indicated, and Crawley will really have to pick things up to get a point. However, a corner presents the opportunity

Madjo judged to have pushed, and he isn't happy with the ref. Free kick from Hawkins so poor it hits the corner flag for a throw to Crawley.

I can hear the announcer give Sasha Opinel the man of the match, which is more than fair, given that he kept Madjo out at a vital time.

Crawley start to recover, pressing upfield a bit more, but there isn't much time left to save the game.

Double substitution for Crawley, as Viera and Joseph-Dubois come on for Cook and Pittman.

Bull booked for a foul on Moore, and Ebbsfleet get a cross about 25 yards out. Nade gets the head again, but it goes across the face of goal. After such a good game, Crawley have lost their edge after conceding.

Lucky escape for Crawley as Ebbsfleet try to break and Wilson kicks the ball hard into Bayes' knee. If the keeper had missed that, it could have been an own goal to put Town two goals down.

Goal! Ebbsfleet make a chance from nowhere pay off, as a cross beats both central defenders for Nade to head the ball past a hapless Bayes. 1-0 to the home side.
Madjo comes back to help the defence, and leads in with his dodgy ankle to take the challenge. Brave, but perhaps foolhardy. Seems to be ok though

Opinel forced to give away a corner, but Ebbsfleet win the ball back

Pittman and Madjo team up again in the attack, keeping the ball on the pitch to pressure United in their own area.


A free kick for Ebbsfleet results in a shot over, but the Devils' defence should have closed that down.

Madjo comes so close!! A break up the left wing sees Madjo beat three defenders to squeeze a shot in, to see it go inches wide.

A scare for Crawley as Ebbsfleet nearly get behind the defence. Mills clears from the 6 yard box.

More pressure from Crawley, as Ebbsfleet are forced to pack the defence on the edge of the area. Wilson goes down with an ankle twist after trying to get a cross in. We can only hope he'll be able to run it off

Deft touch from Pittman on the left beats the defence, and Pinault was fouled (not according to the ref). Crawley are starting to put some good moves together in the midfield.

Of course, as I say that, Pittman almost gets past Hawkins before the United defender flicks the ball away.

Ebbsfleet have tightened up in the back, and Madjo has just been caught offside.

Madjo puts another shot wide, but the build up play was good, with Bulman putting a short ball in to the striker.


Crawley get a free kick on the edge of the area, with a yellow card for Bostwick. The shot bounces off the wall, and loops over Pittman before going wide

So close!! A break for Crawley puts Pittman on, and he passes to Madjo. A dummy strands the defender and Madjo shoots, beating the keeper, but Opinel gets across to head the ball away. That was going into the bottom corner.

A long shot (which looked like a mis-hit cross) lands on the top of the Crawley goal. Bayes had it covered, but that could have been a flukey goal for United.

Wilson makes a vital tackle on the edge of the box to keep Ebbsfleet from getting a shot in.

Ebbsfleet have an opportunity on the right wing, but the move breaks down. The ball is quickly sent back up the pitch for Cook, but the cross back is intercepted.

Ebbsfleet kick off the second half

The teams are back out, and Setanta have stopped the adverts. Steve Evans not happy with the ref, I agree that the handball was blatant enough to deserve a red card, but the ref (apparently soon to get a Premiership gig) has, as they say, the final decsion

Half time
Town have looked fairly good so far, although their confident start gave way to a few jitters as Ebbsfleet settled down about half way through. Crawley have had more chances, and better ones, with Madjo looking very flash - perhaps a bit too flash at times. Ebbsfleet have threatened, but I can't recall a shot on target or more than one really clear chance. The Crawley central defence of Mills and Stevens are having a really good game so far.

Time for another beer.

Another cross from Crawley following a good move from Pinault, but the keeper beats Madjo to the ball. And that's half time.

Pittman makes a good run down the right wing, but the shot goes out before reaching the post

A Wilson ball in is fumbled by Cronin, but Pittman can't get the rebound. Another chance for Crawley there.

Thompson comes through midfield to win the ball for Madjo to weave through. A shot is blocked, Pittman gets the ball back but Madjo takes it from him. Pittman not too happy, especially as the resulting weak shot goes wide.

Setanta are a bit odd - they interview the managers during play. Imagine Sky approaching Ferguson during an Old Trafford game for a quick word...

Ball goes into the Ebbsfleet net from a Cook header, but the whistle had already gone - a push gives the free kick to the home side

The ball has been pinging across the pitch for a while, both keepers are having to punt it back in a few times.

A close shave, as Ebbsfleet's Boswick puts the ball over after a great ball in.

Crawley are starting to reassert themselves in midfield, but Ebbsfleet are definitely upping their game off the ball.

Another good cross in from Ebbsfleet requires Bayes to clear.

Another short spell of pressure from Ebbsfleet, a dangerous ball into the box is cleared, and then Opinel sends a speculative shot wide.

Ebbsfleet win the ball with a dodgy challenge, but a long ball goes over the line before their forward can reach it.

Wilson, and then Madjo, play well to keep the ball on the pitch, earning a throw in near the line.

Steve Evans says he's satisfied so far, but that we should have scored by now.

Madjo works superbly through midfield, Bulman's cross just ahead of Pittman. A really good chance for Crawley!

Madjo shoots! just squeaks over the bar. This game is looking pretty good considering the level that these teams are at (he says, patronisingly..._

Crawley under a bit of pressure as Bayes forced to clear, and shortly after a shot goes over the bar.

Opinel (an ex-Crawley player) gives away a free kick. There's a bit of tussle in the Ebbsfleet box but the keeper eventually gets the ball.

Good ball in to Pittman from the free kick (taken by Cook?), but it goes about a foot over

Handball by Ebbsfleet! about 25 yards out, trying to stop the ball going over him to Madjo. The lad gets a yellow, which is lenient

Madjo takes the ball up the left wing, past the defence, but no-one there to receive his cross.

Second corner played to the penalty area but easily cleared. Crawley win the ball back, but break down, giving away a free kick.

First corner of the game awarded to Crawley. Played short, but goes out for another.

Crawley tighten up at the back, catching their opponents in the offside trap.

A bit of a worry as Madjo and an another player clash, but the super-striker is ok. Free kick but nothing comes from it.

Both sides are working hard, and much of the play is in midfield. That's why the commentary isn't really sparkling. That, and my total lack of wit.

Crawley throw in to the box, but a foul is given against them.

Ebbsfleet shoot from outside the box - miles wide.

Crawley defend at first, giving away a foul by the corner flag.


Before the Game
Pint of London Pride poured, sofa cushioned plumped and the crisps in a bowl, it's time to settle down to a first for me - watching Crawley Town on the telly.

NonLeague Today's pools predictions have a home win, and Ebbsfleet have won three games in a row. Crawley had some great winds recently though, scoring 13 goals in the process. The betting has Ebbsfleet as favourites, but Madjo to score first.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A prison with a Mote in it

What's worse, an MEP who is elected to stand for one party and now sits alongside neo-nazis instead, or an MEP who can't represent his constituents because he's in prison for benefit fraud?

The answer is, of course, Ashley Mote, who has managed to combine both.

Today the MEP for the South East was sentenced to nine months in gaol for defrauding us the taxpayers out of £65,506 over more than six years. Seems that he was claiming benefits after his business failed in 1992, and 'forgot' to let the relevant authorities know that he'd got work in 1996, and was receiving money until late in 2002.

When he stood for UKIP in the Euro elections of 2004, he 'forgot' to mention the charges against him to his colleagues, and it became apparent soon after he obtained his seat. UKIP chucked him out, but due to the bizarre rules of the EU, even though he was elected on a party slate, they can't replace him on their own, he has to resign, die or become ineligible somehow.

As an independent MEP, Ashley joined the same bloc as populated by the French Front National and the Italian Alternativa Sociale (represented by Mussolini's granddaughter, who has inherited all of the old boy's charm and many of his views). The BNP are also allied to these parties.

You'd think, however, that several convictions (guilty on 21 charges) would be enough for Mote to lose his seat. Especially for fraud. Then UKIP would be able to put a replacement in his place and we'd have a full complement of MEPs working for the South East. However, because his sentence was less than a year, he gets to keep his seat, again, thanks to those 'wacky' EU rules (and a lenient judge). Which, as one of his constituents, really gets my goat.

What does a closet-fascist fraudster MEP have to do to lose his seat?

[edit: turns out that the rule about only losing your seat if imprisoned for one year is the same as for the UK parliament, so it's not just a wacky EU thing. Also, Skuds blogged on this one too]