Someone tried to buy the UK government

It came up in Hansard (the minutes of the House of Lords) on Monday. Or is trying to buy the UK government. I swear to God I am not making this up.

Here’s the transcript.

Essentially, Lord James said that he had been approached by “Foundation X”:

“For the past 20 weeks I have been engaged in a very strange dialogue with the two noble Lords, in the course of which I have been trying to bring to their attention the willing availability of a strange organisation which wishes to make a great deal of money available to assist the recovery of the economy in this country. For want of a better name, I shall call it foundation X. That is not its real name, but it will do for the moment.”

Lord James is an expert on terrorist and mob money. He is the man the bankers talk to when they want to know if a business is on the level or completely evil. It is manifestly clear that he isn’t the goodie here; he even says as much. He knows people. So when someone goes, I have a lot of money, they go to him.

Here’s the thing. He says:

“The City firm came to me and asked whether I could get a reference and a clearance on foundation X. For 20 weeks, I have been endeavouring to do that. I have come to the absolute conclusion that foundation X is completely genuine and sincere and that it directly wishes to make the United Kingdom one of the principal points that it will use to disseminate its extraordinarily great wealth into the world at this present moment, as part of an attempt to seek the recovery of the global economy.”

Wait, what?

“I found myself between a rock and a hard place that were totally paranoid about each other, because the foundation X people have an amazing obsession with their own security. They expect to be contacted only by someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world. This is a strange situation.”

Messed-up metaphors aside, why would they do this?

” My point on all of this is that we have not proven any of this. Foundation X is saying at this moment that it is prepared to put up the entire £5 billion for the funding of the three Is recreation; the British Government can have the entire independent management and control of it-foundation X does not want anything to do with it; there will be no interest charged; and, by the way, if the British Government would like it as well, if it will help, it will be prepared to put up money for funding hospitals, schools, the building of Crossrail immediately with £17 billion transfer by Christmas, if requested, and all these other things. These things can be done, if wished, but a senior member of the Government has to accept the invitation to a phone call to the chairman of foundation X-and then we can get into business. This is too big an issue. I am just an ageing, obsessive old Peer and I am easily dispensable, but getting to the truth is not. We need to know what really is happening here. We must find out the truth of this situation.”

No one gives up 17 billion pounds (nearly 30 billion dollars) for altruistic reasons.

Do they?

Do they?

Fair-weather socialist

Suddenly you face
The possibility of me
Getting a place
Next to yours, of me
Coming to dinner
Without learning manners
Without losing the cap
Still using these vowels
Not caring how much
Jane Austen and Tolkien
And the oeuvre of Mike Leigh
And Romantic poetry
Mean to you
With my lack
Of gratitude
That you descended
To my state
That you befriended
Me, for your efforts to
Educate me
Improve me
Fix me
Elevate me
With my disinterest in
The time you invest in
Making me want to be you;

You shudder.
In a flash of inspiration you see
The necessity
Of embracing all that is
Accept a commission
On the basis of a
Fearsome reputation
For a column in the Daily Mail
Bearing the advice:
The project has failed
Give it up, think again
Poor people just aren’t adequately nice.

The age-old story: a privileged liberal type is all fervent and leftie, and then when he or she realises that poor people can’t actually be “civilised,” loses all interest in social action. It happens again and again. A lot of them end up writing for the Daily Mail.

You know what poor people actually need? Money. So they won’t be poor anymore. So what if they’re still not “our sort of people”? That’s irrelevant. Poverty is an evil in itself.

(Wood lives in Wales and blogs at The John Heron Project, where this was first posted.)

Umberto Eco on fascism

It’s an old article, but it’s more appropriate today than ever.

Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, “I want to reopen Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares.” Life is not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances â┚¬â€ every day, in every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt’s words of November 4, 1938, are worth recalling: “If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” Freedom and liberation are an unending task.

US Immigrants May Be Held Indefinitely

This can’t be true, can it?

Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday, opening a new legal front in the fight over the rights of detainees.

In court documents filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., the Justice Department said a new anti-terrorism law being used to hold detainees in Guantanamo Bay also applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States.