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Tom Hurndall

Against the odds, an Israeli soldier has been convicted of the murder of Tom Hurndall. I covered this story a couple of times for the LSE SU's newspaper.



Political Compass

My results from

Economic left/right: -4.38
Social libertarian/authoritarian: -6.36

So I'm a left-wing liberal of sorts


My results from, an American version of the political compass


Based on your answers to the questionnaire, you most closely resemble survey respondents within the Liberal typology group. This does not mean that you necessarily fit every group characteristic or agree with the group on all issues.
Liberals represent 17 percent of the American public, and 19 percent of registered voters.

Basic Description
This group has nearly doubled in proportion since 1999, Liberals now comprise the largest share of Democrats and is the single largest of the nine Typology groups. They are the most opposed to an assertive foreign policy, the most secular, and take the most liberal views on social issues such as homosexuality, abortion, and censorship. They differ from other Democratic groups in that they are strongly pro-environment and pro-immigration, issues which are more controversial among Conservative and Disadvantaged Democrats.

Defining Values
Strongest preference for diplomacy over use of military force. Pro-choice, supportive of gay marriage and strongly favor environmental protection. Low participation in religious activities. Most sympathetic of any group to immigrants as well as labor unions, and most opposed to the anti-terrorism Patriot Act.

Who They Are
Most (62%) identify themselves as liberal. Predominantly white (83%), most highly educated group (49% have a college degree or more), and youngest group after Bystanders. Least religious group in typology: 43% report they seldom or never attend religious services; nearly a quarter (22%) are seculars. More than one-third never married (36%). Largest group residing in urban areas (42%) and in the western half the country (34%). Wealthiest Democratic group (41% earn at least $75,000).

Lifestyle Notes
Largest group to have been born (or whose parents were born) outside of the U.S. or Canada (20%). Least likely to report having a gun at home (23%) or attending bible study or prayer group meetings (13%).

2004 Election
Bush 2%, Kerry 81%

Party ID
59% Democrat; 40% Independent/No Preference, 1% Republican (92% Dem/Lean Dem)

Media Use
Liberals are second only to Enterprisers in following news about government and public affairs most of the time (60%). Liberals' use of the internet to get news is the highest among all groups (37%).

Note: All descriptions and percentages are based on the national sample of adults surveyed by telephone in December. Based on your answers to the survey questions, you most closely resemble survey respondents within this group, even though you may differ significantly on one or more issues or traits.
In the overall typology there is a ninth group called "Bystanders" who are defined as adults who are not registered, who do not follow news about government and public affairs, and who say they rarely or never vote.


and finally: political survey Click on the link to see my answers and all sorts of funky graphics.

My results



The Rebate Debate

There is part of me that wants to say that we should scrap the rebate because it was brought in by Mrs. Thatcher, and is therefore evil. It remains a crude solution to the problem of, essentially, the CAP, a problem that can only worsen with the joining of the accession countries.

So I find myself agreeing with the government's line (or what I perceive it to be): the rebate is negotiable so long as the CAP is on the table as well. Market distortions aside, the CAP dumps vast quantities of cheap food onto the scene, shafting (principally) the African countries that then cannot sell their produce at a fair price.

It is worth remembering why the rebate was brought in to begin with - Britain has a comparatively small agricultural sector (thus not receiving much net benefit) and was joining in a much weaker financial situation, not long after having been bailed out by the IMF.

I wonder why the government has taken its position. Most likely, it is a combination of political opportunism (it plays in Peoria), belief that the rebate is justified and, I hope, holding out to use it as a negotiating tool to scrap or at least heavily reform the CAP.

Talking of helping out poorer countries, I've been looking at the debt cancellation announcement a little bit. I am no economist, nor will I pretend to be, but some things jump out at me. The US$40bn gesture was only being paid back at about US$1.5bn per year. I have no idea what it costs to service forty billion dollars' worth of debt, but it suggests that we weren't getting that money back any time soon.

There also remain forty countries that receive not a penny of relief and another dozen or so that will only do so if they achieve some goals that aren't easily achieved when you're a highly indebted poor country.



Michael Jackson - the verdict

As I type, the verdict is about to come out on Michael Jackson. Or rather, the verdicts plural, as he is indicted on various charges. Here's my predictions

Count 1
Conspiracy to commit child abduction - not guilty. There just isn't the evidence

Counts 2-5
Lewd act on a child - not guilty on 2, guilty on 2

Count 6
Attempt to commit a lewd act on a child - not guilty

Counts 7-10
Administering an intoxicant - guilty across the board... his air stewardess gave the game away a bit



Well done, M. Chirac

You have to admire Jacques Chirac. France has just voted no to the Constitution, so what are we going to talk about at the meeting of the worthies of Europe? The British rebate. I doubt that anything is going to change, as there isn't the external pressure to actually force movement on the rebate and its partner problem, the CAP and specifically subsidies to French farmers.

It is a shame that more isn't being said by Make Poverty History about the dumping of vast amounts of produce at very low prices because of subsidies. It does seem that there is only movement in Europe when there is an outside force that makes people willing to lose out on something like CAP.

In any case, instead of talking about the embarassment of the French referendum, Chirac has the opportunity to attack the evil Anglo-Saxons, defend the CAP and not talk about the Constitution.



The ten most dangerous books of all time

This came up in conversation today... what are the ten most dangerous books ever written? In no particular order

1. Capital/Das Kapital - 'Uncle' Karl Marx
Capital is a dry text on economics and yet it, and the books that go along with it in the Marxian canon, have, one way and another, inspired a political philosophy that for a long time vied with capitalism for global reach, brought, at one time and another, a sizeable portion of the world's population under its sway and is still the touchstone for insurgencies from Asia to the Americas.

2. The Satanic Verses - Salman Rushdie
Very dangerous from Salman Rushdie's point of view. Useless piece of trivia: it was Rushdie who invented the advertising slogan 'naughty ...but nice'

3. The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith
If Capital goes in for failing, Wealth of Nations must go in for winning. I must confess to not having read the Wealth of Nations, so my comments must be limited. We are living in, for good or for ill, a free market world and this is where it started.

4. Common Sense - Tom Paine
Inspired by the French Revolution, this pamphlet was instrumental in turning the desire for lighter taxes and greater autonomy from the English crown in the American Colonies into the movement for independence. The American Revolution and the modern USA that actually came to pass bear little resemblance to the universal republic that Paine wanted, but it provided the spark that led to some quite fantastic unintended consequences.

5. Jonny Got His Gun - Dalton Trumbo
If you read this blog, you will see that I am a great fan of this book. It is one of the best arguments for pacifism I have ever read and, rather than try to restate the argument, I will urge you, in the strongest possible terms, to find a copy and read it.

6. The Bible/The Qu'ran/The Torah/The Mahabharata/every other religious book
Just about every religion, if you read its core texts, basically comes down to eating or not eating certain things and being nice to each other. Just about every religious text has been, at one time or another, used to justify killing, expelling or generally being nasty to another group, often when a popular religion is being used to prop up a political authority.

7. Politics - Aristotle
Although it was important at its time, I include this not for its impact when written but its later impact on the Roman Catholic church. By way of Aquinas et al. it gave rise to the belief of (what is effectively) telos being spread throughout the world - that you have a given purpose in life and should bloody well stick to it.

8. A Theory of Justice - John Rawls
This book partially shows what could have become of Marx without shorter statements of position such as the Communist Manifesto: impenetrable and boring undergrads to tears. Nevertheless, this is the genesis, I would argue, to a lot of the Blairite/Third Way/New Europe thinking that carries considerable weight in Europe at the moment and, certainly in Britain, will do for some time to come.

9. & 10. I don't know, to be perfectly honest. Any ideas?



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