# If they come as warriors, we will fight them. If they come trading cheese, we will buy cheese. Gaddafi invites the Jews he expelled in 1971 to return to Libya and invest
# We do not love conflicts. You love conflicts. You have bullfights. Capitalists have changed eggs and honey into shampoo. You use cocoa fat as cream for your hair. That is misuse of God's blessings. An eloquent speech against the West at a Cairo summit for African and European leaders in 1998
# American soldiers must be turned into lambs and eating them is tolerated. Response to the American bombing raid on Tripoli in April 1986
# If Abu Nidal is a terrorist, then so is George Washington.
# If the United States wants seriously to eradicate terrorism, the first capital that should be pounded with cruise missiles is London. Gaddafi says Britain's asylum laws make it the shelter of terrorism
The Character of Rock Rock, represented by a closed fist, is commonly perceived as the most aggressive throw. It taps into memories of fist fights, tall and unmoving mountains, rugged boulders and the stone ax of the caveman. Without realizing it, most players think of Rock as a weapon and will fall back on it for protection when other strategies appear to be failing.....
From: BushCheney04@GeorgeWBush.com Subject: Please Consider My Experience When Voting in 2004 Date: March 26, 2004 1:40:09 AM CST To: undisclosed-recipients:; Reply-To: BushCheney04@GeorgeWBush.com
Resume of George W. Bush February 26, 2004, 05:15 PM
Past Work Experience: I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I produced a Hollywood slasher B movie. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas; the company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock. I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. With my father's help and name, I was elected Governor of Texas.
Accomplishments as Governor: I changed pollution laws in favor of the power and oil companies and made Texas the most polluted state in the Union. I replaced Los Angeles with Houston as the most smog-ridden city in America. I cut taxes and bankrupted Texas government to the tune of billions in borrowed money. I set the record for the most executions by any Governor in American history. I became U.S. President after losing the popular vote by over 500,000 votes with the help of major Enron money and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court.
Accomplishments as President: I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I entered my office with the strongest economy in U.S. history and have turned every single economic category downward -- all in less than two years. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history. I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most resented country in the world, possibly the largest failure of diplomacy in World history. I am the first president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record. I set the the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one year period. I am supporting development of a "Tactical Bunker Buster" nuke, a WMD. I am getting our troops killed, under the lie of Saddam's procurement of Yellow Cake Nuke WMD components, then blaming the lie on our British friends. I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. president. In my first year in office over 2-million Americans l
Records and References: I have at least one conviction for drunk driving in Maine. My Texas driving record has been erased and is not available. I was AWOL from the National Guard. I refuse to take a drug test or even answer any questions about drug use. All records of my tenure as Governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed, and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into insider trading or bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.
Please consider my experience when voting in 2004.
Show you care about our country's future and forward this to every voter you know. Protest is patriotism.
International law prohibits the use of the death penalty for those under 18. The United States is the only country in the world which actively executes minors(this seems slightly OOD)- 23 states permit such executions and there are currently over 70 on death row. There are six nations which still defend the right to execute juveniles, the others being Iran, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Pakistan and the Yemen. However, none of those countries has actually executed a child since 1997. The USA has executed nearly 20 since 1990, three of them in the first few weeks of this century. The Supreme Court refuses to apply international standards in death penalty appeals.
When I was a kid, I used to mock my leftist acquaintances (hi Anne!) for their devotion to the Soviet Union despite the Soviet Union's abysmal record on human rights and liberties as detailed, among many other places, in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago
[britannica.com]. While I also derided Joe McCarthy and his ilk, little did I guess that a Republican administration would start off the twenty-first century with a scramble to enact laws as threatening to liberty as the Soviets'.
How about protecting the Bill of Rights and the Twin Towers first, and worry about denying gays their pursuit of happiness as part of a cheap political appeal to your Fundamentalist base after you've explained where those WMDs got to?
Mr. President, there are more than 500 young American service men and servicewomen who fought and died in Iraq who won't ever be able to laugh at any jokes again. They went to Iraq because they believed your word about the WMDs, Mr. President. And to you safely back in Washington, it's all a joke, Mr. President.
This administration may be laughable, but it's not funny anymore.
On Libya-IRA solidarity [Having supplied assault rifles and Semtex explosive to the IRA in the 80s, Gadafy was was asked if he had increased IRA aid because Britain helped the 1986 US air raids on Libya]: Yes, of course ... The Americans are acting with the mentality of cowboys and a civilised country like Britain should not be in the same policy with the Americans. But Thatcher played with the cowboys and therefore it did a lot of harm to Britain. Yes, she is a cowgirl.
· Observer, 1987
On Libya-IRA non-solidarity This act [the bombing of Manchester] should not be supported. Should it be confirmed that the IRA was behind the bombing, it would mean that the IRA deviated a great deal from liberating Ireland.
· Libyan state news agency Jana, June 1996
On getting fed up with a nuclear programme We got rid of it. It was a waste of time. It cost too much money.
· Speech to a Libyan audience and a visiting US congressional delegation, Jan 2004
On controlling WMD Using double standards will create unpredictable upheavals beyond control.
On New Year's The people of the Earth, and even the angels of heaven have despaired of the meaningless exchange over hundreds of years of the greeting, Happy New Year! Every ruler repeats this greeting, and yet goes on striving to make the year one of misfortune, rather than happiness.
· New Year Message to World Rulers, 1975
On bad luck No one has imposed sanctions on us or punished us. We have punished ourselves. [The unfortunate paradox of Libya's previous policies was] all these things were done for the sake of others.
· Speech to a Libyan audience and a visiting US congressional delegation, Jan 2004
Clotho by Hilary Thomas, Clarksville Middle School Cite, rate, or print article Send comment Used sources
Clotho, a goddess from Greek mythology, is the youngest of the three Fates, but one of the oldest goddesses in Greek mythology. She is a daughter of Zeus and Themis. Each fate has a certain job, whether it be measuring thread, spinning it on a spinning wheel, or cutting the thread at the right length. Clotho is the spinner, and she spins the thread of human life with her distaff. The length of the string will determine how long a certain person's life will be. She is also known to be the daughter of Night, to indicate the darkness and obscurity of human destiny. No one knows for sure how much power Clotho and her sisters have, however, they often disobey the ruler, Zeus, and other gods. For some reason, the gods seem to obey them, whether because the fates do possess greater power, or as some sources suggest, their existence is part of the order of the Universe, and this the gods cannot disturb.
A slide showed Mr Bush in the Oval office, leaning to look under a piece of furniture. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere," he told the audience, drawing applause.
Another slide showed him peering into another part of the office, "Nope, no weapons over there," he said, laughing. "Maybe under here," he said, as a third slide was shown.
So stupid, Mr Politically-Sensitive 'couldn't find his arse with both hands'.
...a comment from an Iraqi war veteran, Brad Owens. "War is the single most serious event that a president or government can carry its people into," he said. "This cheapens the sacrifice that American soldiers and their families are dealing with every single day."
Not to mention the more than 10,000 Iraqi civilian deaths either, Brad.
Welcome to Planet Gaddafi By Hugo Rifkind In 1976, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi published his Green Book, a collection of his thoughts on the world. Our correspondent sees it updated in 2004
ON HIGH STREET PIZZA CHAINS
Some things remain inescapable truths. The sun shall rise and set, the tides shall flow, the cockerel shall wake with the dawn, and the pizza served in high-street pizzeria chains shall continue to get smaller and smaller. Truly, it is a metaphor for the declining human soul. Yet where does this pizza go? Where are these mozzarella fields, these mountains of anchovy? Is it not obvious that we pizza-eaters are the victims of an international US-backed Zionist conspiracy? Just as the Jew has chipped away at the West Bank and Gaza, so he has also diminished the outer-rim of the pizza pie. Except for the ones with ham in, of which he is not fond.
ON SPACE TRAVEL TO MARS
What can we bring to Mars? Are there not already trees on Mars? Are there not lakes, rivers, seas and fish? Are there not fields on Mars, of crops and livestock? Are there not oil wells, hypermarkets, satellite TV stations, saunas, boxing rings, museums, whelks? Are there not? No? Well. I must be thinking of somewhere else, then.
Shit! Chomsky has blog; plain text of course and perfect:
We have several choices to make. The first is whether we want to pay attention to the real world, or prefer to keep to abstract discussions suitable to some seminar. Suppose we adopt the first alternative. Then there is another choice: electing Bush or seeking to prevent his election. Naturally, Bush has an overwhelming funding advantage, thanks to the extraordinary gifts he lavishes on the super-rich and the corporate sector generally and his stellar record in demolishing the progressive legislation that has resulted from intense popular struggle over many years. Since US elections are pretty much bought, he will therefore win, unless there is a very powerful popular mobilization to overcome these enormous and usually decisive advantages. That leaves us with a choice: help elect Bush, or do something to try to prevent it.
It's a matter of judgment, of course, but mine is that those who favor electing Bush are making a very serious error. [...]
Marriage should have nothing to do with the state. "Gay Marriage" was completely extralegal, and now, they are begging to bring their relationships under control of the law.
They are TOTALY insane.
If they want to have a commitment to each other, in terms of property, they can form corporations and then sign all of thier property over to that entity. When the couple dissolves, you dissolve the corporation, and split the assets. Bringing the state into your life, deliberately, is probably the most stupid thing you can do, because you allow someone elses morality and ideas control you, instead of your own sense of decency and fairness being your guide.
The state cannot confer legitimacy to anything, and if you believe that it does, then you dont really believe in yourself, and shouldnt be married at all.
Gay parents who make children can name their children anything they want, so there is no problem about whose name children will bear, also, the idea of a child being "illigitimate" is out of the window in society and the law, so that is not a problem. Custody of children is sufficiently catered for by current law, especially if one of the parents is the biological father or mother. Adoption is another thing; some jurisdictions do not allow Gay couples to adopt. Take the state to court, by all means to fix that, but this has nothing to do with marriage.
Keep the state O.U.T. of your business, and you can live by your own rules with the tools and structures that already exist to bind people together contractually. Bring the state in, and you chain yourself, and your decendents to the whim of legislators and the thick-as-shit electorate, who elect film actors to rule over you.
...and the US has not apologised to Muammar. All the people they killed in bombing Tripoli were innocents. Where is their 2.7 billion pound ccompensation package? It was a state-sponsored terrorist assassination attempt. Which is yet another reason why the US cannot condemn Israel's action this week, whilst all sane peoples have.
Both those countries also share massive energy resources. Both will be bled dry (literally and figuratively) to feed Western consumption, from which only the rich (on both sides) will benefit. Libya will be free to spend it's oil dollars... on US and British weapons. Iraq already did that some time ago.... Western intervention in either country will not reduce terrorism, as Bush/Blair suggest. It's Western interventionism that is/has been the problem. Libya will be a target, as Iraq now is, and as Saudi Arabia was until the US withdrawal.
The blue touch-paper has been lit. Stand at least 50 yards upwind.
There is no way Britain is stupid enough to vote these guys in again
This would suggest half of us won't but as a symptom of TBD not for the right reasons, and not to achieve anything. The majority of the others will play the politician's party political game and vote ineffectively. They may not vote them in but they won't have the stomach to vote them out. The biggest bastards have the safest seats as well, although the reaction to Portillo gives us hope...
BBC political correspondent Guto Harri says it is one of Mr Blair's boldest ever diplomatic manoeuvres, including the handshake "with a man who was seen for decades as a personal incarnation of that terrorist threat". Mr Blair has defended his move, saying he was offering "our hand in partnership" to states giving up terror and banned weapons. As well as an offer of help training military personnel, which could involve Libyan officers coming to the prestigious British academy at Sandhurst, Libya will also be hoping for key UK backing to ease international restrictions.
[Rumsfeld's] December 1983 tour of regional capitals included Baghdad, where he was to establish "direct contact between an envoy of President Reagan and President Saddam Hussein," while emphasizing "his close relationship" with the president [Document 28]. Rumsfeld met with Saddam, and the two discussed regional issues of mutual interest, shared enmity toward Iran and Syria, and the U.S.'s efforts to find alternative routes to transport Iraq's oil...
Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive! Sir Walter Scott (1771 - 1832)
I see the tower like a small vertical town for about seven thousand people to work in and enjoy, and for hundreds of thousands more to visit. This is why we have included shops, museums, offices, restaurants and residential spaces. The shape of the tower is generous at the bottom without arrogantly touching the ground, and narrow at the top, disappearing in the air like a 16th century pinnacle or the mast top of a very tall ship.
I don’t believe it is possible to build a tall building in London by extruding the same shape from bottom to top. It would be too small at the bottom and too big at the top.
Likewise, symbols are dangerous. Often tall buildings are aggressive and arrogant symbols of power and ego, selfish and hermetic. The tower is designed to be a sharp and light presence in the London skyline. Architecture is about telling stories and expressing visions, and memory is part of it.
The New York Times reported in February on a Washington, D.C., man whose love of music led him, in the 1960s, to meticulously hand-make and hand-paint facsimile record album covers of his fantasized music, complete with imagined lyric sheets and liner notes (with some "albums" even shrink-wrapped), and, even more incredibly, to hand-make cardboard facsimiles of actual grooved discs to put inside them. "Mingering Mike," whom a reporter and two hobbyists tracked down (but who declined to be identified in print), also made real music, on tapes, using his and friends' voices to simulate instruments. His 38 imagined "albums" were discovered at a flea market after Mike defaulted on storage-locker fees, and the hobbyists who found them said they were so exactingly done that a major museum would soon feature them.
Maybe, that's because punk (I really hate using that word, it's become so washed out and stigmatised) started as a rebellion against capitalism... nah-aa, even in the very begining punk was sponsored by Vivian Westwood...
Portsmouth's Tricorn is being demolished today. Not sure whether I totally agree, it was in a terrible state, and as far back as I can remember has stank of piss and been a very dodgy place to shop, but if it had been renovated I'm sure something could have been done. Most people think it's an eyesore, but it's far more interesting and attractive than the shapeless out of town monstrosities that are being built all the time.
Punks will tell me, 'Punk and capitalism don't go together'. I don't understand where they're coming from. The biggest punk scenes are in capitalist countries like the US, Canada and Japan.
I haven't heard of any new North Korean punk bands coming out. There's no scene in Iran.
Maybe, that's because punk (I really hate using that word, it's become so washed out and stigmatised) started as a rebellion against capitalism, in England it was a reaction to the feeling of a lack of purpose in modern life, surprising this was under a Labour government. Either the Tories gave people a purpose or just took away their room for expression.
Of course, these days 'punk' is a very capitalist ideal. Punk is big business, not just music but clothing, merchandising, huge arena tours, big punk / extreme sports shows. It's all about branding and sponsorship.
in a very little but lovely village in Austria (Europe) with only 160 inhabitants there lives a just fourteen years old boy, a composer, named Gregor Hanke. He was born at the 8th of march 1990 in Frankfurt/Main in Germany and because he is a highly gifted boy, he could skip two classes at school. In Germany as he was seven years old he had instruction on the piano at the Frankfurter Conservatorium by Wolfgang Hess and theory of composition by Gerhard Schedl and some workshops for young composer and he won also the 1st price at “Jugend musiziert”. Then he came with his mother (the composer and pianist Dorrit Maria Hanke) to Austria and studied again there by Professor Imola Joo (Musikuniversität Vienna), Professor Dr, Kropfitsch (Konservatorium Vienna), Professor Labra-Makk (Musikuniversität Graz) and also by his mother Dorrit Maria Hanke. In the year 2003 he won the youth-culture-price from Burgenland (an Austrian state). His musical works approximate contains 100 peaces of piano music, choral music and vocal music and music for different ensembles only in the last two years! He started composing as he was five years old and his mother put into her archives all his music works since his fifth year. Some of his latest piano music you can hear on the website I have made for him. If you are interested to help the young composer with a report or to publish his music-work (music publisher) or even to release a record, please write to
and I will give you more information about this great musical talent and also his address and telephone number to contact him. On the website you can see some pictures of Gregor Hanke, hear his music and read his curriculum vitae, some reports (one even from the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” on the occasion of Mozart’s opera “Bastien and Bastienne” from 1998 where Gregor Hanke is compared with the young Mozart) and a letter to the editor from Andrea Brackmann, German psychologist and author for highly gifting (all in German language). The address of the website is:
I’m full of hope to find some helping hand, which carefully leads Gregor Hanke to other serious and benevolent composer and begin a composer career. It is impossible to do this in a small country like Austria but I’m sure that it is even possible to make some money with Gregor. I think there has never been such a young composer who became public (except Mozart naturally).
To hear the music in a quality as good as possible, please notice the directions for use on the website.
Thank you for your interest and please send me a mail.
The information they want to rape from you Don't forget that they want for you to pay for this raping. There is no way Britain is stupid enough to vote these guys in again. This is insane. Less privacy means less democracy, or something.
I was just thinking about how difficult the 2004 US election is going to be, mainly due to the amazing Diebold voting machine, which we have talked about before (can't... use... search function...). I wonder what is going to happen, what people are going to do.
In other news, POCLAD. And ID cards have everything to do with corporations.
And this is for you, Alison. Aw heck, this is for everyone!
This is not my garden, but it inspires me so. A perfect solution for the nobly ground that doesn't welcome grass! I love how the crocus burst forth, all smiles. One day, its just tender green leaves, the next, trumpeting aubergine and sassy saffron. Ssssppppprrrrinnnngggggg!
THE introduction of identity cards to help the fight against terrorism is moving up the Government's agenda after the Madrid bombings and with anxiety rising in the approach to this summer's European elections.
"I sincerely hope that the Government will not proceed to a full identity-card system," Roger Smith, director of Justice, told an audience of politicians and lawyers in a debate on identity cards, crime, terrorism and civil liberties at the Law Society yesterday. "The current technology is flawed; the benefits speculative; practical hurdles huge; cost high; and the culture of English-speaking, common-law countries uniformly hostile to such an imposition on the privacy of citizens..."
Checks on ID want not be limited to the simple holding of an ID card; they would include time, date, location, non-reason for request of ID. This information is intended to be cross-referenced.
The governemnt wishes to check your ID everyday
use we make of our identity cards, known as the audit trail, will be logged and kept on a central computer
The number of times an ID is requested is planned to be logged, presumably in their from-a-cause-,-the-supply mentality this would provide indication of someone's guilt/threat. QED: ID cards will be 'institutionally racist'.
to allow abuses
Not by the police of course
to be investigated
The information they want to rape from you would be stored whether or not you 'have-nothing-to-hide', and you will have no choice in the matter (unless you vote these bastards out).
once the scheme is introduced, a senior Home Office official indicated yesterday.
"They kill our leaders, it is a war against Islam. There is war in Iraq and Palestine. I say to the Muslim nation they have to wake up from their sleep and they have to shake the ground of these Zionists and Americans who stand behind them," he said. "Yassin is a man in a nation, and a nation in a man. And the retaliation of this nation will be of the size of this man." [...]
In other words, small, withered, old and parapalegic.
File this tough talk under:
"The Mother of all Battles"
"We killed them, we made them drink poison and taught them a lesson that history will never forget."
Alan Travis, home affairs editor Tuesday March 23, 2004 The Guardian
The pattern of everyday use we make of our identity cards, known as the audit trail, will be logged and kept on a central computer to allow abuses to be investigated once the scheme is introduced, a senior Home Office official indicated yesterday. Stephen Harrison, the head of the Home Office's identity card policy unit, said yesterday there were also plans to introduce mobile electronic fingerprint and eyescan units to allow elderly and infirm people in rural areas to register for identity cards without travelling long distances [...]
Blunkett told to delay moves to make scheme compulsory
Alan Travis, home affairs editor Monday March 22, 2004 The Guardian
Four senior Labour ministers have warned the home secretary, David Blunkett, not to breach a cabinet agreement by accelerating the introduction of compulsory identity cards, it emerged yesterday. ....
The draft legislation to introduce the national identity card scheme will specify what personal details will be held on the card as well as outlining privacy safeguards when it is published in the next few weeks.
It is expected that the card will carry minimal details and not include information such as the holder's criminal record or religious affiliation after warnings from the information commissioner, Richard Thomas.
The draft legislation, to be published before Easter, is intended to allow a full debate to take place on the details of the scheme before the substantial bill is introduced at the beginning of the new parliamentary session in the autumn.
Mr Blunkett wants to get the cards on the statute book before the general election.
Last November, in the face of strong cabinet scepticism about the scheme, the home secretary agreed to "proceed by incremental steps to build a base for a compulsory national ID card scheme".
It was made clear that a decision to move to a compulsory scheme was several years off, and would need separate cabinet approval.
But it now appears that the draft bill, as it stands, allows a compulsory scheme to be introduced after a simple vote of MPs and peers without the need for fresh legislation.
Sooner or later it'll be chips under the skin, like the pet poodles and sheeple the government assumes we are. Assume the position! Respect mah authoritah!
Part of "The British Disease" is the reaction that he displayed in his branch of Lloyds TSB, as was the reaction of the people in the queue - sheep like applause. Complaining to the authorities is almost a british passtime, like complaining about the weather. Both are pointless; and if this man thinks that by writing an article in The Guardian he is going to change the policy of Lloyds he is insane.
There is a strength in solidarity, but yes, you do have to follow through with action. Writing in the Guardian may change the actions of people who haven't been exposed to this yet that is what will change the bank's policy, but "TBD" will probably mean that many won't. I completely missed that article.
Also in the P. Eye - apparently the Sun published that artist's child development pictures (blogdial passim) alongside some ch*d p*graphy thus making it's entire readership guilty of a criminal act. As they point out the editor should receive the full weight of the law in this regard.
Jack Straw has condemned the murder of Sheikh Ahmed Yassi as unlawful
Yes. But, as someone wise once said, what is he going to do about it?
Sharon has been butchering innocents for 50 years under the cover of, firstly, being a General, and now being the most psycopathic head of state since... er... Saddam Hussein.
More than 45 UN resolutions against Israel vetoed by the US. No consequences. One US resolution against Iraq vetoed (actually, not even voted on, it was so laughable). BOOM!
It's time for a Coalition Of The Sane to go in and sort this shit out.
Israeli officials have described the killing as a "life-saving mission" as he was directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. Start counting the body-bags piling up as a consequence of this attack. 7 killed directly....
Imagine how bad it would be if they didn't have their scripture of tolerance, understanding and love-thy-neighbour to keep them in check.
Ariel Sharon has completely blown it (that's an observation not a judgement) - I can't imagine peace in israel for at least a couple of generations. Whenever israel gets discussed the words that come to mind are 'Gift horse' and 'mouth'.
Jack Straw has condemned the murder of Sheikh Ahmed Yassi as unlawful, believe him, he should know abut unlawful killing given his Iraqi experience. Talking of the weak-kneed capitulating, double-standardised (luke)warm-malt-beverage drinker, he wants a second bill before ID cards are foisted upon us any further, as if he'd respect a second resolution (sorry, bill) anyway. Well even if he fails in his 'vociferous' stance he can always be wheeled onto the Today programme to blunder his way through his new moral stance. Thanks Jack.
This fortnight's Private Eye seems essential reading, excellent funny bits, a Paul Foot special on PFI failures:
Dumb Britain: The Weakest Link, BBC2 Anne Robinson: William Burroughs’ novel, first published in 1959, was “The Naked...” what? Contestant: Chef.
US President's Speech: Mr Bush sought to present a united front in the war on terror. Differences with our allies over the Iraq war "belong to the past," the president said. "Any sign of weakness or retreat simply validates terrorist violence and invites more violence for all nations," Mr Bush told his audience.
He is the one who shows the weakness - of his inability to deal with a problem rather than trying to crush the 'opposition' he has created. Blaming his incompetence on those willing to see the world's problems in a less stark contrast. It's hardly any wonder microsoft pay the republicans so much - "they think the same way we do".
James Erlichman is in a rage after being told by Lloyds TSB to prove his identity or have both his accounts frozen
Saturday March 20, 2004 The Guardian
I admit it. I am a convicted criminal. Indeed I have been twice convicted for the same crime. Maybe, that's why Lloyds TSB bank thinks I may be an international terrorist involved in money laundering and has now threatened to freeze both my deposit and current account.
The bank has just sent me a letter warning that I must report to the nearest branch by March 22 2004 armed with my passport or similar identification. Otherwise, my fate is dire: "If you have not responded by then, we may have no choice but to stop you drawing money from your ac count." Excuse me, can a bank threaten to freeze anybody's bank account, just like that?
Let me confess to my criminal convictions. Twice, in 25 years, the police have caught me driving through red lights in London - on a bicycle, yes a push bike. Guilty, your honour. First offence trying to get home to cook dinner. Second, trying to arrive at the BBC to broadcast on time for a morning programme. Not exactly evidence of international terrorism. Otherwise, my criminal record is blank.
So why did Lloyds TSB make this demand? Allegedly, it has to with "an industry-wide initiative supported by the government and our regulators the Financial Services Authority" to defeat international terrorism and international money laundering.
Two prime questions arise. Who else has been fingered besides me, and why?
To start at the beginning, Lloyds TSB had actually sent me a similar demand a few weeks prior - warning that I must comply, but making no threat to freeze my account if I didn't. However, I was still annoyed enough to ring the bank to inquire and to complain. You will know the story: After numerous number-choices punched into the phone and 15 minutes later, I was put through to a human being - in the UK, I think. Nice woman. She listened to my story, reassured me that this was not a government requirement, just an "initiative" and suggested that I just drop the demand in the bin, which I did.
You can imagine my fury when I got the reminder letter threatening to freeze my account by March 22. So I marched down to my local branch in North London, waited in a queue for 30 minutes, before finally engaging with a member of staff.
She was less than pleasant. She invoked "government regulations on terrorism" and I volleyed with "I will not be bullied by my bank". The queue behind me erupted into applause and cheers of support on my behalf, which resulted in my being escorted into the manager's office. Don't blame him, he was from another branch, but yes, he did know about the demands for customer identification.
I put to him what I thought was a salient fact: Some money in my account had come from America in US dollars. The reason was my Dad had died and had left me some money, all of which was above board.
His financial life was modest and his will was cleared and signed off by the US Internal Revenue after 9-11 so money laundering was not an issue. "I am both a British and US citizen," I told the manager, "but did the dollar origins of the money instigate this inquiry?" No, he replied, the demand was random upon any British citizen with a bank account.
So, I asked: "Do you expect an old lady with arthritis to hobble to her bank, stand in a queue for 30 minutes to confirm her identify at random - clutching her passport if she has one - just to insure her life savings are not frozen and kept from her?" He was silent and it would have been too unkind to press him to answer.
So I left it there to pursue these crucial issues with the bosses at Lloyds TSB and with the Financial Standards Authority. These are the responses: The FSA said: "We do have tough rules against money laundering which all UK banks must adhere to. However, we encourage them to take a common sense approach. We certainly do not require them to reconfirm the identify of every customer."
Over to Lloyds TSB. But their answer was unclear - a classic obfuscation. "This is an industry-wide initiative to fight crime and terrorism. It involves the government, law enforcement agencies and financial services organisations. It is not our intention to cause people concern. We would like to reassure anybody that has been asked to supply ID that it is a formality and does not mean that we suspect them of criminal activity."
All this still did not reveal the legal requirements of bank customers to give their banks proof of identity. No laws are cited, just "initiatives", whatever they are. Nor can I tell you how many other British citizens are being harassed in a similar and "random" way.
For my money, the FSA should have been clearer in its instructions to the banks in the ways they should co-operate against money laundering. Lloyds TSB, in its turn, should now learn how to treat customers with courtesy - if it wishes to keep them.
Our bank has recently brought in a rule saying that you need to show ID to withdraw money from your account. They say that there has been an increased level of fraud, and that showing ID will help reduce it. If the amount is over £1000 you have to show two forms of ID. Obviously thinking that two forms of ID are "more powerful" than one is completely absurd. If you show ID like a passport, it should be good enough for one pound or 1000. Its clear that they do not understand how ID works. Having said this, this is a private entitity that is trying to stop a very specific problem. They are asking us to do this to protect our money, and so it is a reasonable request. They should however, ask you to bring in your switch card and swipe it in front of the teller and then put in your pin; if its good enough for a cash machine it should be good enough for a live human transaction. But this is not what I want to talk about.
The above story from The Guardian is an example of a completely unreasonable request, that should ideally trigger the following response: The author should have gone to another bank, described what happened to him, and opened a new account. He should have immediately transfered all of his money to this new account, and then he should have written a letter to his old bank saying precisely why he moved his money. They would then be free to freeze his account. In Hell.
Part of "The British Disease" is the reaction that he displayed in his branch of Lloyds TSB, as was the reaction of the people in the queue - sheep like applause. Complaining to the authorities is almost a british passtime, like complaining about the weather. Both are pointless; and if this man thinks that by writing an article in The Guardian he is going to change the policy of Lloyds he is insane. The banks are in the business of Money. Removing your money from your bank is like denying Dracula access to blood. Anyone who gets one of these letters should instantly move their money out of their Lloyds TSB account; I guarantee you that after the 100th account closure these letters would not only be stopped, but Lloyds would send out letters countermanding the order and apologising to stop the hemmoraging.
By keeping his account open and merely complaining to a powerless functionary the author is sending the wrong signal; he is saying, "I will make noise, but you are the boss and you will get what you want, no matter how unreasonable", which is totally incorrect. The author is the client, who is paying for a service. Anyone can open a bank account anywhere in the world; you can order a form online that will be sent to you. No one needs to put up with this hysterical nonsense, randomly sweeping accounts is a violation, the threat to freeze an account is commercial suicide - or it shold be, "The British Disease" being the only thing stopping reality from slapping Lloyds TSB in the face.
If you think that this sort of thing is an isolated incedent that will go away you are wrong. This is just the begininng. Many serivces are going to start to ask you to identify yourself, for no good reason, just as they do in France when you want to buy a SIM card. The only way that this will be stopped is if the consumers refuse to hand over their money AND their ID. The rule should be "dont ask for ID and you can have my money, or ask for my ID and you dont get my money". This is the ultimate sanction that everyone has, and perhaps, when people start to feel the power that non compliance confers to the consumer, they will make make the leap and understand that they dont have to put up with any service they dont like, no matter who provides it, when they refuse to pay.
The horror of the Madrid bombing earlier this month brought into sharp focus Britain's domestic defenses against terrorism. For too long there had been an airy assumption that because Britain's security services had been practiced in fighting domestic terrorism, this country was more secure. Yet the magnitude of the Madrid bombings was far larger than anything experienced here in recent years - the tragic events at Atocha station could easily be repeated at Paddington, King's Cross or Waterloo...
The greatest danger in Britain is that policymakers and politicians will grasp for easy answers - and the easiest and most obvious of all is the imposition of identity cards. Home secretary David Blunkett is due to publish a draft bill on identity cards, and the concern is that the events of Madrid could be used as an argument to include emergency powers for the government to introduce a compulsory card scheme. This would be a case of using the wrong reason to introduce a bad policy. The fact that Spain has compulsory national identity cards made no difference on March 11. [...]