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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Cablegate
    to the church of A New Politics has strongly condemned Wikileaks for their hand in Cablegate We condemn the unauthorised release of classified information his spokesman said on Monday Governments need to be able to operate on a confidential basis when dealing with this kind of information Yet it was only 10 months ago in February that Cameron stood before an audience and proclaimed his commitment to open government and transparency Sunlight is the best disinfectant he said at the time In February though Cameron was not Prime Minister He was still masquerading as a fresh faced candidate for change a new alternative to the ugly political past He could afford to pontificate about wild things like open government and transparency because there was no way to test him on it He could tell the public what they wanted to hear and then backtrack from his position once in government the oldest trick in the book His Cablegate position confirms this is indeed what he has done quite blatantly on the principle of transparency So far Cameron s strategy on Cablegate has been one of avoidance and denial We are not going to get drawn into the detail of the documents said his spokesman The Prime Minister was instead in Zurich yesterday alongside David Beckham and Prince William making a failed bid to host the World Cup in 2018 But he cannot evade the encroaching reality of this exposé for much longer According to the cables released so far British officials not only promised to protect US interests during the Iraq inquiry but also made a deal with the US to allow the country to keep cluster bombs in the UK despite the ban on the munitions signed by Gordon Brown The cluster bombs issue it is said was deliberately concealed from parliament and was approved by then Foreign Secretary David Miliband Clearly this raises serious questions about what appears to be a festering culture of backroom democracy across the western world in which Britain is complicit Diplomatic secrecy as critics of Wikileaks argue may well be in some cases entirely justified and necessary however not if it means nurturing what Assange himself describes as the corruption of governance The central problem it seems is that this corruption of governance runs so deep It is embedded within the very DNA of the political class and has been for generations hence the high level across the board political resistance and opposition to the brand of total transparency advocated by Wikileaks Yet as politicians and other powerful figures call for the head of Assange in their haste they have forgotten he is merely the figurehead of the organisation The human face of Wikileaks he is bold brave and deeply principled His commitment and dedication to truth and justice should be applauded But they could hang draw and quarter Assange and Wikileaks would still survive thrive even You can kill a man but you can t kill an idea as the civil rights

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/12/cablegate.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Press Freedom in Kazakhstan
    authorities Banned from the printing presses and faced with a 400 000 fine in 2009 for publishing an opinion piece critical of the government owned bank BTA the paper is now self published by dedicated staff using office equipment maintaining a circulation of 19 000 They have also adopted social media such as Facebook and Twitter to get their stories out But their website which once reached approximately 33 000 people per week a substantial figure given that approximately only 34 3 of Kazakhstanis have access to the internet has been blocked internally by the government We had a high readership and people were discussing things sharing ideas and trying to take action that was the reason they blocked us said Respublika reporter Yevgeniya Plakhina If our government doesn t like the content they just block it Despite continuing to employ such draconian censorship measures Kazakhstan has over the course of 2010 chaired the Organisation for Security and Co operation in Europe OSCE a 56 member intergovernmental organisation whose mandate includes a major commitment to addressing and providing early warning on violations of freedom of expression It s beyond ironic said Rachel Denber acting Executive Director of Human Rights Watch s Europe and Central Asia Division I think that there were real questions about Kazakhstan s suitability as the chair of the organisation because of its deeply flawed human rights record No country is perfect but Kazakhstan really needed to do more before it had the chairmanship It was felt by some though that giving Kazakhstan the opportunity to chair the OSCE would force the government to push through reforms This was undoubtedly based upon a willingness to give the country s leadership the benefit of the doubt After all when Kazakhstan made its initial bid for the chairmanship in 2007 then Foreign Minister Marat Tazhin had pledged at the OSCE Ministerial Council in Madrid that Kazakhstan would bring its media laws up to international standards We are going to incorporate various proposals into a consolidated bill to amend the Media Law he said at the time Yet three years on the pledge rings hollow Tazhin promised in Madrid that we would stick to democratic laws said Plakhina But when Kazakhstan was chosen to chair the OSCE nothing actually changed It got even worse several newspapers were closed as a result of defamation lawsuits Part of the problem Plakhina believes is Kazakhstan s geographical location The country is a corridor to Afghanistan and a key ally of coalition forces in the War on Terror It is also home to the Caspian Sea which contains oil estimated to be worth in the region of 12 trillion We have oil we have gas we have other resources Plakhina says I think our rights and freedoms are traded for resources traded for other political advantages that OSCE member countries are taking from us Few of the OSCE members criticise Kazakhstan That s what really disappoints me Later this week Kazakhstan will end its

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/11/press-freedom-in-kazakhstan.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Psychic TV
    touch with the spirit world Our job is to prove to you beyond all doubt without making it fit that what we are doing is real one psychic named Hazel Lee announces We change lives and the next person we help could be you Not one psychic on Psychic TV presents him or herself as a novelty act offering a service solely for the purposes of entertainment In fact the psychics spend much of their time trying to convince the audience of their legitimacy citing a range of credentials as proof Some of them went to the College of Psychic Studies we are told an establishment that says it is a beacon of light and learning for those seeking to explore a consciousness beyond matter while others were apparently visited by spirits as children or had their gift passed down hereditarily Whether it be pinpointing the cause of medical and physical problems or tuning into your animal s deepest thoughts Psychic TV can offer it all But at what cost According to Ofcom while psychic services may give rise to concerns about moral harm no evidence of such harm is known to Ofcom Research commissioned by the regulator even goes as far as to use adjectives like informative uplifting inspiring and insightful to describe Psychic TV Female viewers in particular the research notes often perceive the show as trustworthy and supportive But not everybody would agree During consultations in 2007 for instance The Advertising Standards Authority ASA adopted a far more critical position Psychic reading channels raise significant harm and offence concerns they said The problem is that Ofcom unlike the ASA has been far too willing to overlook the huge moral and ethical questions raised by the existence of Psychic TV shows It is part of their mission they

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/11/psychic-tv.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Letter from Ofcom on Psychic TV
    feeling most people were of the opinion that the product has a right to exist arguing in favour of freedom of choice and expressing concerns about nanny state type restrictions Under the Communications Act 2003 the responsibility for Ofcom is to balance these broadcaster and viewer freedoms against the very important need to give appropriate protection to children and the vulnerable The BCAP Code contains clear and strict rules that aim to protect viewers from potentially harmful advertisements However it is important to note that advertisements for psychic and occult practices have been permitted on radio for the last ten years provided they do not make efficacy claims are compliant with the rules on harm and misleading advertising and are centrally cleared by the Radio Advertising Clearance Centre RACC Where Ofcom finds evidence that psychic television has broadcast harmful advice we take firm and swift enforcement action For example please see Ofcom s recently published finding relating to the broadcast of harmful advice on a programme of this nature in broadcast bulletin 162 In addition to our regulatory duties in this area PhonepayPlus also regulate the content of premium rate telephone services4 Psychic television and its current regulation under the BCAP Code is an area that will continue to be closely monitored by Ofcom The BCAP Code The BACP Code has specific rules relating to the promotion of psychic practices aimed at ensuring that viewers are not misled and that there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect the vulnerable In particular Section 15 of the BCAP Code faith religion and equivalent systems of belief includes rules that specifically relate to the broadcast of psychic practices In particular Rule 15 4 of the BCAP Code states Television advertisements must not promote psychic practices or practices related to the occult except those permitted by rule 15 55 Radio advertisements may promote psychic and occult practices but must not make efficacy claims Psychic and occult related practices include ouija satanism casting of spells palmistry attempts to contact the dead divination clairvoyance clairaudience the invocation of spirits or demons and exorcism This rule prohibits the promotion of psychic practices or practices related to the occult in television advertisements which includes any suggestion of contacting the dead whether broadcast live or pre recorded Rule 15 5 2 states Advertisements for personalised and live services that rely on belief in astrology horoscopes tarot and derivative practices are acceptable only on channels that are licensed for the purpose of the promotion of such services and are appropriately labelled both the advertisement and the product or service itself must state that the product or service is for entertainment purposes only Rule 15 5 2 clearly requires both the advertisements and the product or service to state that the product or service is for entertainment purposes only As set out above Ofcom has found that viewers tend to consider psychic services to be a relatively harmless form of entertainment and therefore these services should be appropriately labelled as

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/p/letter-from-ofcom-on-psychic-tv.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: The Woolas Judgement
    tough on immigration candidate who had courageously defied extremist death threats Opinion was divided across the political spectrum Many felt such tactics were simply part and parcel of electoral campaigning By election hand to hand electoral combat can throw up trenchant exchanges and tricky campaign behaviour said Charles Kennedy of a similarly close fought Saddleworth election in 1995 One should not be too precious about this sort of thing Sitting in Labour s Oldham office a week prior to the announcement of the Woolas verdict Racial Equality First Director and lifelong Labour supporter Mohammed Tufail OBE adopted a similar position Inflammatory leaflets were just playing the game he said Sometimes you put in nutty leaflets nobody takes seriously Others though strongly disagreed Among them were two High Court judges Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Teare Delivering a historic ruling in the Saddleworth Civic Hall they found Woolas guilty of an illegal practice for contravening section 106 of the RPA To say that a person has sought the electoral support of persons who advocate extreme violence clearly attacks his personal character or conduct they said It suggests that he is willing to condone threats of violence in pursuit of personal advantage The consequences the judges made immediately clear were serious Allegations of an illegal practice in elections they wrote in their full judgement have what are in effect penal consequences As such the May election Woolas won by 103 votes was declared void and he was barred from the House of Commons and any elective office for three years Some of us expected it but the verdict still came as a shock There was a collective gasp in the hall s makeshift press gallery when the announcement was made particularly when the words election and void echoed through the room It was a historic moment and all present were acutely aware of it Here was a former cabinet minister a front bench MP being found guilty of lying by two High Court judges in a Civic Hall in a serene Pennine town But the story has far from reached its conclusion Woolas said after hearing the verdict that he would apply for a judicial review of the case which could take months Though it remains to be seen whether he will stick to his guns after the Labour Party confirmed they would not support his appeal either financially or politically Ed Miliband who offered Woolas a position on the shadow cabinet just over a month ago told Channel 4 News Woolas had now been suspended from the party The right decision is to suspend him from the party and to say we re not going to fund his further legal action he said Beyond Woolas there is also a much bigger picture to be considered If the judgement stands which it most likely will then there are potentially massive implications for politics on a national level In the first instance there is a danger that freedom of expression could

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/11/woolas-judgement.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Groundhog Day in Metropolis
    side of the street I see a mother trailed by her three children two boys about eight years old and a girl about six marching like soldiers along the pavement They are all dressed in matching grey and navy school uniforms and the boys look mischievous as if they are plotting an escape the girl in contrast appears passive and obedient as she trots alongside her mother As I approach the main road I notice a woman standing smoking outside a grey concrete box like building Bits of broken glass surround her though she seems oblivious She is holding a mobile phone to her ear with one hand and has a cigarette in the other There is an agitated tone in her hoarse voice and as I pass her an unwelcome blast of pungent perfume rushes with force up my nostrils I feel awake now I cross the main road dodging rush hour traffic and with five minutes to spare arrive at the train station I purchase a ticket from a female attendant and climb the well worn stairs towards the platform A handful of others are mulling around waiting for the train I lean against a wall and close my eyes The morning sun shines on my face and for a few brief seconds I feel as relaxed and content as I ever have At 8 46am a freight train speeds past just as I notice two familiar looking women talking to a man on the far side of the platform They look awake and full of energy I wonder who they are where they are going and where they are from I make eye contact with one of the women but she immediately turns her glance elsewhere Seconds later like clockwork my train arrives on time I board and find a seat next to an overweight middle aged man wearing a black pinstripe suit He is reading a tabloid newspaper chewing gum and has a briefcase clutched between his feet I hope I don t end up like him I think to myself as I concentrate on the sound of the tracks and fall into a daydream about the future The carriage is hot and stuffy but thankfully the journey is only a short one After only fifteen minutes the train stops and everybody shuffles off entering into a clingy blanket of musty city air whilst neurotically avoiding physical contact of any kind with other passengers I step carefully over the gap between the train and the platform and watch the rat race begin People pour from the doors of the train with furious speed charging towards the exit the sound of the station tannoy bounces from the walls like a football and with my senses buzzing I catch bits of conversations taking place all around me The only words I can hear though are those of Jimmy Reid A rat race is for rats a rat race is for rats a rat race is for rats a

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/09/groundhog-day-in-metropolis.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Labour Party Leadership
    Contest openDemocracy Politics Newer Post Older Post Home Search Loading Ryan Gallagher is a compelling new writer who will greatly add to the understanding and conscience of his generation Henry Porter Pages Home About Contact Reports Anonymous tip Notes Subscribe Posts Atom Posts Comments Atom Comments Archives 2016 1 January 1 2015 1 March 1 2014 1 September 1 2013 5 August 1 May 1 March 1 February 1 January

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/07/labour-party-leadership.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ryan Gallagher | RJGallagher.co.uk: Giles Thorley and the Great British Pubco: a Sordid Tale of Inequality and Subjugation
    a tied contract with a pubco earn less than 10 000 a year from the business A tied contract is like its name suggests a state of bondage It is a ball and chain around the ankles of pubco leaseholders that forces them to work twice as hard as their free counterparts for not even a fraction of the same reward Seduced by the prospect of affordable entry into the pub trade prospective tenants are lured into signing up with promises of reduced rent However obligated to purchase some or all of the beer sold on their premises at an inflated price from the landlord i e Punch as well as share with them profits from pool tables and fruit machines on top of meeting rent payments the reality is in fact that it is often a struggle to make ends meet for tied tenants The arrangement is almost feudal in character with leaseholders bound to a kind of contractual serfdom Told they are partners but treated like slaves they are subjugated regulated and observed from a distance by their lord and master Every pint they pull is monitored at all times by an electronic device to make sure they don t dare purchase beer from anyone else but the pubco Horror stories told by current and ex pubco leaseholders share the same narrative to the point that reading alternative accounts becomes like a case of déjà vu My niece and myself are Punch Taverns tenants and we have had a tortuous time wrote Graham Brown in a memorandum submitted to the Business and Enterprise Committee Pub Companies are using their purchasing power to increase profits rather than to benefit the tenants Another Punch leaseholder named Val Hogan echoed the same sentiment in a post made on the Times Online website This company has single handedly showcased to me what greed actually means she wrote They take your money your hard work treat you like you are an idiot 45k may not be a lot to them but it sure as hell meant a lot to me it was my house and I lost it Thanks Punch Aware of the severity of the problem the Business and Enterprise Committee now the Business Innovation and Skills Committee BISC began an investigation into pubco practice in 2004 with a follow up report published in 2009 Initially it was conservative in its recommendations stating it was not clear that removing the beer tie would make tenants better off but by 2009 the committee was fairly unequivocal Quoting an FSB poll the 2009 report noted that 94 of respondees wanted an end to the tie It added that the consistency of these themes suggests that something is seriously amiss The committee finally recognised that the beer tie results in a decrease in the lessee s income that is absolute There is now widespread political support for pubco reform Labour the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats as part of their policy proposals announced prior to

    Original URL path: http://www.rjgallagher.co.uk/2010/05/giles-thorley-and-great-british-pubco.html (2016-02-16)
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