Thursday, 31 December 2009

Psychic Predictions: 2010

On Mount Sinai, Moses heard disembodied commandments while on Mount Hira, Muhammad spoke to the Archangel and in his front room, Craig Hamilton-Parker of the Psychics & Mediums Network has been hearing voices telling him of what will unfold in 2010.
As Mr Hamilton-Parker and his wife, Jane, have appeared on numerous television programmes, have written 15 books on the subject and charge £1.50 per minute (credit cards accepted) per telephone call to contact your dead relatives, they also describe themselves as 'the most accurate and sincere mediums working in Britain today' so we should expect good things from their 2010 predictions.

So after staring into the swirling mists of the next twelve months, the Hamilton-Parker team offer us these predictions:

1. Bin Laden dies.
2. MP caught in indecent act in public toilet.
3. Secret human cloning experiment attempts to clone famous person.
4. X factor (UK) in 2010 will be won by a group of friends who were choir boys together.
5. Iran gives up its quest for a nuclear bomb.
6. Celebrity is kidnapped and a ransom demand made.
7. Barack Obama expresses an interest in holistic healing and ‘world healing’ becomes a dominant theme and key phrase to his 2010 speeches.
8. Higher than normal tremors on San Andreas fault line.
9. The last Big Brother series (UK) ends with tragedy as someone on set is seriously hurt.
10.Japanese bullet train terrorist attack attempt is foiled.

So avoid the Bullet train, South California and any public toilets if a Member of Parliament is in there. I shall return later in the year to see how many the Hamilton-Parkers have got right.

Psychic Predictions 2009: The Review

Almost the end of the year so time to look back and see how the mediums of One World Psychics got on with their predictions for 2009.

1. There will be an assassination attempt on Barack Obama. Nope
2. Gordon Brown will be forced out of office and an early election will be called. Wrong again, the big lump is still there.
3. A dam will burst in the Far East – maybe China. Not as far as i know
4. Victoria Beckham will become pregnant with a daughter. The only baby she was seen with this year was her husband David.
5. There will be a knife attack on a top celebrity. Didn't hear of one.
6. Tsunami in Asia or perhaps an earthquake possibly in Malaysia. No big wave or houses shaken in either places.
7. Funerals for Bill Cosby and Robbie Williams and a close call for Nicole Kidman. Bill is still not being funny, Robbie is still making naff songs and the only call Nicole got was from the Church of Scientology asking for their books back.
8. A serious terrorist attack in the UK and less serious attacks in Germany. Although there are plenty of people wanting to blow us and the Germans up, none did it this year.
9. Obama's first year overshadowed by a scandal involving his wife's financial dealings. Overshadowed by not actually changing anything, but not by his wife's money dealings.

10. A large number of C of E bishops convert to Catholicism simultaneously. Close, the Pope made an offer to C of E members to cross over to Catholicism but no mass conversion as yet.

11. Kate Winslett to win an Oscar for best actress. She did. Well done.

One and a half out of 11 which is still a bit rubbish seeing as they are supposed to have a direct link to the future but better than the last few years when they bottomed out completely. Still rubbish though.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Noughties: Palestine & Israel

After the initial hope during the Camp David talks in 2000, Israelis and Palestinians descended yet again into murderous waves of violence with the suicide bombings of the second intifada following Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Mount Temple at the start of the decade to the horrific aerial bombardment of Gaza at the end.
Yasser Arafat died amidst many conspiracy theories of Israeli involvement while his nemesis, Ariel Sharon, fell into a coma and is now locked into a vegetative state.
Hamas democratically came to power and were instantly ostracised while Israel continued their settlements expansion on Palestinian land, conducted military incursions and assassinations inside Palestine and constructed a wall to pen the Palestinians, and the suicide bombers, inside.
While support for Israel stayed strong in America, its already poor reputation elsewhere plummeted following the Lebanon conflict and then the devastating bombing of Gaza in 2009 which was officially in response to the Hamas rockets landing in Israel but was widely believed to concern the then upcoming Israeli election which returned Benjamin Netanyahu to power.
The Goldstone report for the UN labelled both the Palestinian and Israel leadership guilty of war crimes and heavily criticised Israel for its violations of international law and crimes against humanity in its policies towards the Palestinian people before and during the conflict.
At the end of 2009 we don't seem any closer to a lasting peace then we did in 2000 despite the intervention of Barack Obama and Israels Ally America, to oversee a peace deal. Palestinians and Israelis are still dying, truces come and go and any criticism of Israel is still shouted down with cries of anti-semitism although the sting has been neutered by over use in trivial cases.
What has changed is that Israel is increasingly seen as the country with billions of aid given to it by the world largest military power bullying, bombing and shooting at the poverty stricken desert people barely able to feed themselves.
The noughties saw Israel trying hard, and failing, to justify the continuation of its policies of the past 60 years towards Palestine to the rest of an increasingly sceptical world.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

The Noughties: Climate Change

Back in 2000, climate change was down the list of concerns for the new century. Outside of Green and Environmentalist circles, it was one of those subjects that people acknowledged but as green as they got was to fill up their cars with unleaded petrol.
Something happened between the start and the end of the decade because now it's ringing alarm bells at the top of the International agenda.
One man who must take a bow is Al Gore and his 'An Inconvenient Truth' film. He gave some gravitas to the catastrophe that environmentalists warned we had been sleep walking into for years.
Suddenly, it seemed that people began taking notice of the science and the warnings of the crisis the planet faced if we continued on the current path.
The worldwide floods, hurricanes, heatwaves, fires and droughts began to come into focus and the drip drip of scientific data struck a chord, especially when the European heatwave claimed 30,000 lives and brought it much closer to home.
More studies linked weather extremes to man-made emissions although cynics claimed warming was natural or linked to sunspots but still the science continued to hammer away at the consciousness with the Met office announcing that 11 of the last 13 years had been the warmest on record and the 2,000 UN climate scientists of the IPCC announcing that climate change was man-made.
China officially overtook the US as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter in 2008 and the image of the polar bear on rapidly shrinking ice flows became the standard.
Recently we had Copenhagen where the Worlds biggest emitters came together to 'Save the Planet' before it was too late. Nothing came of it but at least it raised awareness of the problem even further.
The sceptics and those with an agenda continue to put out disinformation about the science behind climate change, some just flatly denying it is even happening, but the wheels are in motion and the momentum should see us limit the amount of damage we have wreaked upon our home.
It may not be enough and the force of nature will see more deaths and destruction as the planet reacts to our actions but we have made great strides in this past decade and at least we have the small comfort of knowing that it won't be as bad as it could have been although worse then it would have been if people had been paying attention a decade earlier.

Monday, 28 December 2009

The Noughties: Religion

Religion plays no part in my life or in the lives of the wide majority of Brits in general but God and his kin seemed to have a renaissance period during the 2000's.
It always seemed to hold sway with most of the Middle East and with large swathes of people in America but with the introduction of George W Bush to the Presidential seat in 2000, religion made a comeback.
To my ears it always sounds strange hearing a leader mentioning God in his addresses and Blair successfully managed to hide his faith from the public for a long time but when it was revealed, he was roundly mocked as a religious nutter.
The zenith seemed to be when George Bush told Mahmoud Abbas "God told me to strike at Al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East'.
With Al Qaida claiming the same God telling them to declare Holy War against the West, it became very confusing to work out whose team he was on as both claimed they were carrying out his wishes.
Islam was thrust into the spotlight after the World Trade Towers attack and the Koran was dissected by Westerners looking for proof of its evil intentions. Muslims, regardless of their beliefs, were all tarred with the same brush and widely vilified while attacks on Jews increased with Israels actions in Lebanon and Palestine throughout the decade.
Christians and Muslims seemed to be at loggerheads with both accusing the other of atrocities, the Iraq and Afghanistan war seen by the residents in those areas as a modern day crusade.
The idea of Intelligent Design was offered up as was Scientology with its idea that souls reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth.
Because of the brief resurgence of religion and the 150th Anniversary of Charles Darwin 'Origin of Species', high profile Atheists stepped up to proclaim the demise of God with increasing assertiveness. Best selling books from authors such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens stuck the boot in even harder as did the Atheist bus campaign that told us that there's probably no God now stop worrying and enjoy your life.
Religious intolerance from all sides raged throughout the 2000's and with fatal consequences in many cases which seems to keep it on the trajectory of religion being hijacked by fundamentalists and proving to be the problem and not the cure.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Noughties: 9/11

It's not only the end of the year but as the year ends in a 9, it's also the end of the decade so we can expect to read lots of lists about the best and worst of things over the last 10 years.
The first thing that comes to mind when i look back at the decade just gone is the 2001 World Trade Centre attack. The fallout from that day shaped the rest of the decade in almost every conceivable way.
Such was it's impact that it wouldn't do it justice to include it in a post with other events from the last ten years. It defined and overwhelmed the decade entirely.
It spawned the 'War on Terror', distanced the United States under the administration of George W Bush from a large portion of the rest of the World, fatally wounded the premiership of Tony Blair and left so many people dead and dying that the number is counted in the hundreds of thousands.
Within less than a month of the atrocity, the bombs were falling on Afghanistan although the White House focus had always been on an even more controversial target, Saddam Hussein and Iraq.
With the Afghanistan War underway, Bush and Blair embarked upon on a massive effort using spin and deception to persuade the public that the trail of guilt for 9/11 somehow led to Baghdad, an argument that fractured long held global alliances.
Despite Bush standing beneath a banner declaring 'Mission Accomplished' in 2003, the continuation of the Iraq and Afghan wars cast a long shadow over the entire decade. Bush won a second term much to our surprise but the depth of feeling against the war in the UK, along with confirmation that Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction as warned, broke public trust in Blair and saw him bounced out of power by his own party with the lowest ever ratings for a Labour Prime Minister.
All the while, 9/11 instigator Osama Bin Laden remained, and remains, at large and terrorists have attacked and killed in Madrid, Bali, Mumbai and London.
American troops are still in Iraq whose citizens face suicide missions and truck bombs on an increasing scale while Afghanistan is a killing field and the decade of war there has achieved nothing and only transplanted the disease to Pakistan.
At the end of the decade, terrorism is more of a threat than ever, Iraqis are being massacred by an enemy that was not there prior to our intervention and as the western troops death count rises, we are making plans to cut and run from Afghanistan and leave it to it's horrendous fate as we did in Iraq.
Hopes were high that the new American President would bring some sense to proceedings but with his decision to expand the war in Afghanistan by sending in a further 30,000 troops, the events of 2001 look as though they will continue long into the next decade.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

So Here It Is, Merry Christmas

I have no problem wishing a Merry Christmas to anyone whether they are Christian, Atheist, Jehovah Witness or Muslim.

Never has anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas said to me that they were offended or explained that they won't actually be celebrating it. Every time they have replied back in kind or said something about enjoying the break from work.

Not that i am being deliberately belligerent, just handing them a kind, warm sentiment because i do hope that regardless of what you believe, or don't believe, i hope you have an enjoyable time over the Christmas period so Merry Christmas to everyone, i hope you all have a great time.

Except for the bankers. I hope they have a rotten Christmas.

Everyone else, have a good one and see you the other side of Boxing Day.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas Number 1

Welcome back to Christmas Hits of the past.
This next piece comes in 6 movements, 5 verses and 2 choruses and a middle 8 and its fascinating to note how the composer, Mr Zack de la Rocha, blends the electronic bass with the lyrics as they begin, 'Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me'.

Once again we have seen the power of the internet to stick two fingers up to the establishment, in this case Simon Cowell and his annual hijacking of the Christmas number one.
Rage Against the Machine would not be my first choice of song to stiff Cowell with at Christmas, personally i would have chosen something that at least had a few jingle bells in it or one of the classic guitar anthems like Teenage Kicks or Holiday in Cambodia if that was the direction i had to go.
This also has the added bonus of stopping the instantly dislikeable Miley Cyrus, whose song it was originally, from any reflected glory. Double bubble as the young people say.
Rage Against the Machine have pledged to give all profits of the single to the homelessness charity Shelter, and will perform a free victory gig in the UK to thank those who bought their single.
The defeated Joe McElderry is taking some time off to ponder his next move which is widely expected to include a South Shields job Employment Office.
Well done Britain, and that's the second time in a week i've said that. Where's my medication?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Climate No Change

After 2 weeks of climate change negotiations, we end with a deal where our leaders will look at doing something at some point in the future. What a crock.
Blame, as usual, has to be apportioned and as the USA is the second highest polluter, it is that particular country that is having fists waved at it in anger. The cult of Obama has suffered another blow.
I feel that the blame should be sprinkled liberally around because everyone seemed more concerned with looking after their own vested interests than actually achieving anything for the benefit of everyone but i point the finger primarily at China.
It is the number one polluter in the world and yet it wants to be treated as a 'developing' country and even demands the right to not have its promises monitored by an independent party.
All the major players at the conference waited nervously for each other to budge but when nobody did they were able to come away, shrug and say they tried and give the nod to their countrymen to carry on churning out the Carbon Dioxide and making some lovely money.
Regrettably, these guys will be safely in their graves when the results of their actions begin to hurt their children, and then devastate their grandchildren.
Now i guess it will be down to Mother Nature to take care of herself over the next few decades and that isn't going to be pretty and a lot more uglier if you are a resident in one of the many places on the globe prone to flooding or drought.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Another Headache Mary?

I always felt a bit sorry for Joseph. He was an older man with a teenage girlfriend who had just told him that while he was out, God had came down from heaven and impregnated her with man's Saviour.
Luckily for Mary, she was shacked up with probably the only man in the history of mankind who went "I'm okay with that' and then went about hiring a donkey to take his wife to Bethlehem. The donkey salesman probably told him it was a baby stallion. If he was around today he would probably be excitedly replying to emails from Nigerian Colonels requesting his bank details.
Now he is suffering again at the hands of the New Zealand church with the poster depicting him in bed with his wife Mary while his wife dreamily thinks back to her former lover.
Not one to have a sense of humour over these things, the Catholics are having a moan.
"Our Christian tradition of 2,000 years is that Mary remains a virgin and that Jesus is the son of God, not Joseph," she told the New Zealand Herald. Rub it in the poor blokes face why don't you.
It does make you wonder why God chose a teenage girl, unmarried, a virgin and in a relationship to aim his holy ejaculation at. There must have been plenty of other women he could of got in the family way and not caused a rumpus. Did he get her permission first?
God moves in mysterious ways and judging by that look in Josephs eyes, he knows that a half bottle of wine and the Roman soldiers uniform just wasn't going to cut it anymore.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

2009 Person Of The Year

Time magazine have handed the 2009 crown for Person of the year to Ben Bernanke for the job he did preventing an economic catastrophe. I guess they mean the economic catastrophe that we did get as opposed to the economic catastrophe we could have had.
It isn't that easy to pick out anyone who really deserves it from 2009 although there has been some men and women who have made us sit up a bit this year and not all for good reasons.
2009 was probably kindest to Susan Boyle who began the year as a strange looking Scottish woman and ended it as a strange looking Scottish woman with a number one album.
The sudden exposure put her under as much strain as her waistline put on her ankles but after a trip to the Priory, hairdressers and beauticians, Simon Cowell knocked out a SuBo karaoke album of ballads and show tunes and tried to make her into the new Elaine Page.
Not that i begrudge Boyle her 6 months of fame, good for her and i hope she makes enough money to keep her cat in tuna for the rest of its life but enough already.
As much as Cowell and Piers Morgan may tell us, our own ears prove that she is nothing more than an average singer who would be embarrassed up against the likes of Katherine Jenkins or Leona Lewis who are this country's best warblers.
Well done SuBo, now retire gracefully please.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Come Back Soon Tzipi

When the Goldstone report recommended that signatories to the Geneva Convention arrest and prosecute individuals who set foot in their country and were responsible for human rights and war crimes violations during the Gaza conflict last January, i was hopeful that someone, somewhere, would feel the collar of those involved.
What i didn't expect was Britain to be the one to make an attempt to nab them but the British courts it was who issued an arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister and member of the war cabinet during the Gaza offensive earlier this year, Tzipi Livni, over war crimes when she was expected to turn up on our shores at the weekend.
As it was she got wind of it and cancelled but i am immensely proud that it was my country that made a grab for her.
We do have recent history here of attempting to bag the Israeli's accused of war crimes with an attempt to arrest Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak, only foiled because he is a serving minister and was afforded diplomatic immunity while he was here.
In 2005, a retired Israeli general, Doron Almog, returned to Israel after landing in London and refusing to leave his aeroplane because he was tipped off that police were on the tarmac waiting to arrest him.
Other Israeli leaders, including former military chief Moshe Yaalon and ex-Shin Bet security chief Avi Dichter, have cancelled trips to Britain in recent years for the same reason.
Israel hit back over the Livni arrest warrant warning that until the matter was resolved senior officials would not be visiting the UK.
Israelis prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, called the warrant absurd and there has been calls for the the recall of Israel's ambassador to Britain.
The Goldstone report concluded that it found Israels actions during the the war to be 'a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population and could lead a competent court to find that crimes against humanity, had been committed'.
Let us hope that Israel has received an uncomfortable reminder of international anger over the excessive Gaza war and i am proud that Britain has sent out a strong message that it will stand up for international law and justice. Well done us.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Evil Chavez At It Again

Since mostly all liberals are weed smoking hippies who pine for Communist Russia and want to see Israel wiped off the face of the Earth, it is no surprise that the lefties love Hugo Chavez.
Now they are getting all excited again because the chubby dictator is screwing the West once again with his Socialist toy fair.
In a deliberate snub to every decent American, he has taken food from the mouths of millions of Venezuelans to spend government money importing 124,000 toys from China and is selling them at 20% of their price to hard up parents for their children's Christmas presents. The evil bastard.
Toys include dolls, puzzles, prams and remote control cars with Barbies being the most sought after present.
The industry minister, Simon Daoud El Saden, said the merchandise was being sold at cost, stripped of speculative retail mark-ups. 'It is a way to control and lower prices.'
Chavez called the event 'a victory over rip-off capitalist toys' and even Chavez's political opposition lauded the bargain toys.
"It's positive, many people will benefit," said Antonio Ledezma, the mayor of Caracas.
The man is a threat to everything us right wing maniacs stand for and must be stopped. Today it's handing out dolls and tomorrow it's copies of Das Kapital and attempting to instill a fairer, more just system on the World.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Bliar

'I have got no doubt Saddam is very bad for Iraq, but on the other hand I have got no doubt either that the purpose of our challenge from the United Nations is disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, it is not regime change.' Tony Blair 2002

It was with much amusement that during the Iraq War build-up, anti-war protesters had the good fortune to have someone to rage against whose name changed from Blair to Bliar with such little effort.
The main charge against Blair was that he lied to take us to war. Some of his justifications came unravelled almost immediately such as the yellow cake and links with Al-Queada and others were being rubbished as time went on such as Saddam's WMD's and the 45 minute claim.
Speaking on BBC One's Fern Britton Meets programme, Tony Blair was asked whether he would still have gone on with plans to join the US-led invasion had he known at the time that there were no WMD.
He said: 'I would still have thought it right to remove him. I mean obviously you would have had to use and deploy different arguments, about the nature of the threat.'
At least we now know from his own mouth that even if he had been aware there were no weapons of mass destruction he would still have felt justified in launching the Iraq war and used other reasons to justify it.
Firstly it makes a mockery of when Blair stood up and told Saddam that he could stay in power if he handed over those elusive WMD's, that was never going to happen because he and George Dubya had already planned in advance Saddam was being removed however they had to justify it.
Secondly, regime change is illegal under International law and this proves that it was what the whole debacle was about. Bush and Blair arrogantly declared themselves World Policemen, flouting world opinion and the United Nations to become Saddam's judge, jury and executioner.
The self righteous, sanctimonious arrogance is sickening but listening to the ongoing Chilcott enquiry, i have very faith that Blair will be sufficiently grilled by the committee that seems increasingly unwilling to ask the pointed questions.
Blair has admitted that he blatantly lied as a cover for regime change in Iraq. How much more evidence do the people in the Hague who draw up the list of leaders to be charged with War Crimes need?
It must only be a matter of time before Blair gets the tap on the shoulder and a policeman tells him 'Mr Blair, You do not have to say anything, however it may harm your defence if you do not mention when questioned something you may later rely on in court...'.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Rage Against The Cowell

I often wonder just exactly what Simon Cowell asks for when he goes for a haircut. His hair is sort of square with an attempt at a centre parting that fails miserably.
A bad haircut isn't all Mr Cowell has to worry about because his usual march to the Christmas number one is under threat by an Internet campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to the Chrimbo top spot instead of the atrocious Hannah Montana song Simon has chosen for the X Factor winner to sing this year.
I'm all for it, i hate the way the whole show is geared towards claiming the Christmas top slot when it should be songs about snowmen and reindeer.
Not that 'Killing in the name of' is particularly festive, I've just read the lyrics and i have no idea what the songs about but it has a killer riff and the singer gets all shouty and that's always a winning combination at any time of the year.
Cowell is hitching his trousers even higher and hitting back. With an apparently straight face he branded the campaign stupid, cynical and dismissive of the shows viewers.
'It's incredibly dismissive of the people who watch and enjoy the show" he said, 'to treat our audiences as if they're stupid and I don't like that.' Indeed, he likes to treat the audience as if they are stupid. We all remember the Jedward incident when he went from hating them to loving over the length of an ad-break.
The Facebook group currently has 548,000 members and the page says to start buying the song as a download from this Sunday, the day the X Factor winner is announced.
Mind you, there is a certain irony to buying a song all about not being told what to do because someone told you to.
I think i'll just buy Merry Xmas Everybody by Slade instead.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Meanwhile In Iraq...

As the Chilcot inquiry rolls on we should not forget to look in on how things are panning out for the people of Iraq.

2 March 2004: Suicide bombers strike Shia shrines in Karbala and in Baghdad, killing at least 181 people.
14 September 2005: Co-ordinated bombings in Baghdad kill 178 people.
23 November 2006: Car bombs kill 215 people in Baghdad's Sadr City.
3 February 2007: Truck bomber at Baghdad market kills 137.
18 April 2007: 183 killed in attack on Shia locations of Baghdad.
7 July 2007: Suicide truck bomb kills 160 in south of Kirkuk.
14 August 2007: Truck bombs kill over 500 Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking religious minority.
19 August 2009: Suicide bombers hit the finance and foreign ministries, killing more than 100 people.
25 October 2009: Car bombs kill at least 155 people in attacks on government offices.
8 December 2009: Baghdad bombs kill at least 112 and wounded more than 190

Tony Blair and George W Bush must be very proud of the Iraq that they created.

Monday, 7 December 2009

The Lost Copenhagen Post

Day 1 of the Copenhagen climate Change Summit and i had prepared a sparkling witty, thought provoking and altogether smashing post. Then didn't save it and lost it when my computer froze whilst trying to download AVG updates.
It's too much to try and remember what i said but i know i began by stating that people who said the World wasn't flat and that the Earth went around the sun were probably disbelieved at first and even after they were proved right, there were some who still refused to believe them.
The term 'useful idiot' was thrown in here because it just seemed to sum up exactly what i think of people who blindly follow the likes of Richard Lindzen who get well remunerated by those with an interest in denying climate change. He gets a back pocket full of dead presidents, you get wet feet and asthma for all your misguided simpering.
I then linked these strange folks to climate change deniers who, despite all the evidence, continue to shake their heads and think it's all some convoluted Government scam.
Next up was the science bit as L'Oreal say with 800,000 year old ice cores that show that at no point in the past 800,000 years did levels approach today's carbon dioxide concentrations of around 387 parts per million (ppm) and that the fastest increase seen was 30 ppm over a period of approximately 1,000 years which we have seen in just under two decades.
Then i went through the proof of what we are seeing now with desertification, changing weather patterns, the rise in sea temperature, polar ice melts, warmer summers, spread of disease, crop failure, raising sea levels and the loss of eco systems.
It was starting to get a bit long by now so i ended with a short and snappy sentence that went along the lines of if you can look at all this evidence and still say that the climate is not changing, then you are either Richard Lindzen, an employee of Exxon Mobil or just painfully ignorant.
Shame i lost it all, it was quite a good post so i suppose i will have to write about something else instead.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Amanda Knox Guilty

Much said about the conviction of Amanda Knox for her part in the murder of British student Meredith Kercher in Italy. I watched the announcement of her guilty verdict and the 26 year sentence and the analysis afterwards on the BBC where the summing up seemed to go along the lines of going by the evidence, she was as guilty as hell and got what she deserved, echoing my own feelings of the case.
Around 1am, as usual, the channel flicks over to the American news channel CBS for an hour or so.
Interestingly, the Knox conviction was being discussed on there also but they had a very different view of events and the question was posed, was Knox a victim of anti-Americanism?
Searching around the Internet, i found American sites that posed this question and it reminded me of the 1997 conviction of the British nanny Louise Woodward who was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter when an eight month old baby died whilst in her care.
The British media was incredulous that a British girl had been convicted of murdering a baby by an American Court. Woodward's sentence was reduced to time served (279 days) and she was freed to return back to Britain where she now works as a dance teacher.
Now it seems that Italian justice is being questioned by some people in America although in this case, the imprisonment of Amanda Knox and her ex-boyfriend seem a safe conviction.
The change of alibi halfway through the case was the most damning evidence. From being in the other room to 'remembering' that actually she stayed at her boyfriends house that night was probably what sealed it along with the DNA evidence on the knife and Meredith's bra, the confession later withdrawn and the bloody footprint.
Knox always came across as an arrogant woman, a view supported by the Police testimony that she was performing cartwheels, doing the splits and giggling with her ex-boyfriend when she was first brought in for interview.
Being arrogant doesn't make her a cold hearted killer, and being American doesn't make her any more or less guilty but refusing to accept the verdict of a court just because of the murderers nationality is wrong on every level whether they are a British nanny or a pretty American student.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Tiger Woods Is Fair Game

It's an old debate but it's one that crops up all the time in the world of journalism and here it is again with the news that Tiger Woods has been up to no good.
The debate splits down the lines of whether the media should be reporting the twists and turns of Tigers marital affairs or the counter argument that his private life should be kept out of the newspapers.
To me there is a very simplistic answer. If a person chooses to put themselves in the spotlight, then they are fair game. You can't only play the publicity game when it suits so that means the whole package of good, bad and ugly.
Tiger makes millions out his 'nice guy' persona through advertising. For years he has been handsomely paid to get his picture taken wearing a certain make of clothes or appearing on television selling razors so he has actively gone out of his way to make himself visible.
Now that he has been caught out playing around on another ladies fairway, he wants to pull down the shutters and asks for privacy.
For me, Tiger Woods is a completely legitimate target and journalists have every right to report the who, when, how and why of the reasons behind his late night fire hydrant crash.
Woods is the villain of this particular piece, not the people reporting it.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Where's The Change Obama?

It has been a tough week for us pacifists and environmentalist. Hopes for an International agreement to save the planet in Copenhagen next week seem to be dwindling before it even starts and Obama, in his wisdom, seems intent on ramping up things in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I once had high hopes for Barack Obama. He isn't my President but after the devastating International effect of George W Bush's policies, i thought and hoped Obama would come in and right a few wrongs.
Almost a year on we still have prisoners locked up in Guantanamo Bay, troops continue to occupy Iraq, the Environment is put on the back burner, Israel continues to ride roughshod over the Palestinians, the threats to level Iran continue and he has just expanded Bush's war in Afghanistan.
Obama came to power promising change but i can't help looking at his record so far and thinking we are in exactly the same position as we were under Bush.
For all i know he may be doing wonders in America for his own people, although judging by his figures it seems his popularity is waning dangerously, but looking at him from the outside, he is proving to be yet another in a long list of big disappointments.
I should put it down to him being just another politician who talked the talk to get into office but altered his sights once he got there but that seems a bit harsh when he still has 75% of this presidency term still to go.
Hopefully he will up his game in his second year and show us that he isn't just rehashing the policies of George W Bush and wrapping them up in fancy speeches. I do have a growing sense that the gulf we thought existed between Bush and Obama, is not as wide or as deep as we first thought and the only change i can see is that Obama is more eloquent at explaining his disastrous policies.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Scottish Independence Not Happening

The story of William Wallace was based on a poem by a man named Blind Harry which may explain why he is depicted as having a blue face. Whether the line 'they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom' was added later by Deaf Billy is not known but i'm almost certain Mr Wallace would approve of the latest push by the Scots for their independence from England.
First Minister Alex Salmond has launched a White Paper for a vote on constitutional reform and declared: "It's time for the people to have their say on Scotland's future".
Damn straight i say, shame he didn't say that before Tony Blair and Gordon Brown got their hands on the seat of power, they could have messed up their own country rather than ours.
I don't particularly want to see the United Kingdom broken up but i wouldn't lose any sleep over it if it was. I do think that Mr Salmond has not run through his sums though because i don't think they would last long without all the money they get off England, £11bn a year at the last count, and a skint Scotland coming hand in cap to its wealthy neighbour is how the Union came about in the first place.
The general feeling is that the Scottish National Party doesn't have a snowballs chance of actually gaining the required number of votes to even kick start the referendum process and the whole thing will die a death until the next time some Scot hits upon the wheeze of breaking away from England.
You can still come and pick up Gordon Brown anytime you want though.

Another Dog Attack

It is with frightening regularity that the news has a story about a child being mauled by a dog.
A four year old boy was killed today by a 'pit-bull type' dog and the arguments start up again about it could have been any type of dog etc etc.
My argument is that whilst it is true that any breed of dog is capable of turning and i also agree to an extent that it is how a dog is raised that is a major factor, but the truth is that it is a certain breed of dog that seems to crop up as the killers.
Whilst a Chihuahua will obviously do less damage to a child than a German Shepherd if it attacked, it just emphasises the point that it is crazy to have a powerful dog around young children.
An American study conducted into dog attacks from 1982 to 2006 showed that pit bulls, Rottweilers, Presa Canarios and their mixes are responsible for 74% of all attacks in the States, 65% of the deaths, and 68% of the maimings. The conclusion they reached is: 'Pit bulls and Rottweilers are accordingly dogs who not only must be handled with special precautions, but also must be regulated with the risk they may pose to the public and other animals, if they are to be kept at all.'
A large, powerful dog bought to protect and guard property is one thing. A lovable, family dog is another but mixing the two is a tragedy waiting to happen. Why would anyone want to have an animal around their loved ones that 'poses a risk' and has to be 'handled with special precautions'.
I dare say that there are many owners of these breed of dogs who will argue the point that theirs would not attack and it is the fault of irresponsible owners and they may be right but how many times do we hear those exact words from the owners after the event and then it's too late.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Consequences Of Attacking Iran

Worrying developments over the Iran nuclear issue with today's UN resolution demanding Tehran heed UN Security Council resolutions calling on it to stop uranium enrichment.
Of course nobody wants to see a nuclear armed Iran but then the idea of anybody with nuclear weapons in their arsenal is a frightening thought.
Just as frightening is the track we seem to be on which ends with Iran being the recipient of a massive amount of Ordnance courtesy of our armed forces.
There was already a growing clamour for this from some countries showing that we have learnt nothing from Iraq.
I do expect the Nuclear armed Israel to strike at Iran's Nuclear installations at some point in 2010 and they will do it with the tacit approval of the West, very likely using Western supplied weaponry.
I have written previously on the blatant hypocrisy and of the lack of evidence of Iran building a nuclear arsenal which resonates with the Iraq WMD fiasco only this time the American intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency have stated loud and clear that they have no evidence.
What is also being overlooked by the foolhardy armchair generals and leaders of countries that seem hell bent on bombing yet another Middle Eastern country are the repercussions a campaign against Iran would bring.
Iran has a huge military capability and a strike would see massive rocketing of Israel's cities not only by the Iranians but without a shadow of a doubt, also from Lebanon and from Gaza. This would trigger Israeli fighting on 3 fronts with a catastrophic death count all around.
Internationally, terrorism by Iranian agents against Israeli and Western targets would spiral and oil prices would rise steeply. American troops in Iraq and the NATO forces in Afghanistan would face renewed hostilities against an even wider ranging and wilder uprising.
These are the facts, and they are not the whinings of a pacifist or an Ahmadinejad fanatic hyping up an imaginary threat, these are the stone cold certainties of how it will unfold.
So what are the alternatives? Maybe we should think about making peace with Iran rather than threatening it with war, or is such an obvious solution too far-fetched for those who see dropping bombs on people and to hell with the consequences as the only answer to our problems?

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The All New, New Model Army

Despite having one of the coolest names for an army ever, life under Oliver Cromwell was not a barrel of laughs. Not only did he close down inns, theaters and ban the majority of sports, but the Puritan nut job also banned Christmas because it was more about the eating, drinking, dancing and having fun rather than the birth of Jesus. He did inspire Elvis Costello to sing a cracking song about him though.
Cromwell said that he talked to God directly and discussed his plans for battles with the big man personally although we now find it hard to think that any country today could be ruled over by a warmongering leader who talked to God directly about his plans to send his troops into battle. Ahem.
Although Cromwell was a sandwich short of a picnic he did have a point about Christmas because despite its origins, it's all about Santa, snowmen and reindeer now. Try finding anything related to Christmas now with a picture of Jesus on it and you will be disappointed.
The problem is that Jesus is just not cool. When you have magicians nowadays who can make the Statue of Liberty disappear or catch a bullet in their teeth, then turning water into wine just seems a bit, well, crap.
What Jesus needs is a professional PR job done on him because the other fictional character, Santa, is what Christmas is all about and the Churchy types know it. As an atheist, i'm more than happy to see Jesus and all his disciples pushed aside and a jolly fat man hauled wheezing into his place but in an unexplainable twist, i dislike the way it has turned into a grubby, money spinning commercial exercise where it isn't the thought that counts but how much you spent.
Cromwell began putting together the New Model Army by firstly rounding up all his relatives to form the core of his own regiment to take on the King's army so Auntie Freda, Uncle George, cancel your bingo night next week because we got a revolution to perform. Better not mention it to Auntie Lesley though, you know what she's like around men in uniform. We'd never get her out of the barracks.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The Chilcot Inquiry

What normally happens with Government inquires is that a 'safe' senior Civil Servant is chosen and he dodders around a bit before coming back later to say that actually everything was fine and above board and the carpet is lifted and everything is swiftly brushed beneath it.
As shown by the Kelly inquiry into MP's expenses, sometimes they refuse to play the game and actually get the bit between their teeth and make things very uncomfortable for the people who appointed them.
As the Chilcot inquiry into Iraq launches tomorrow, there are already signs that Sir John Chilcot is prepared to lob a few hand grenades of his own to make the Government, and especially Tony Blair, very nervous.
He has already stated that Blair, Brown and the cabinet ministers at the time must speak in public when they were demanding they give evidence in private. Leaks have been circulating in the media this weekend including senior military commanders telling that preparations for the War were sabotaged by Tony Blair's government's attempts to mislead the public.
Other papers point to Blair promising George W Bush that he would join the US led invasion while denying to the country that preparations were being made for military action.
We already have facts from the Butler and Hutton inquires where the remit was so narrow and disjointed that it was impossible for them to join up all the dots. These need to be drawn together and placed alongside the new facts due to be unearthed to produce a time-line of what happened, when and why so an official stamp can be given to the truths, or untruths, that the we know already. The missing WMDs, the yellow cake, Dr Kelly's death, Saddam's Nuclear aspirations, the 45 minute claim, the changing legal advice, the missing United Nation Resolution, the dodgy dossier fiasco and the role of the intelligence departments.
Tony Blair seems to be keen to drift off into other spheres, leaving behind the mess of Iraq and the million Iraqi dead. Chilcot says he and his team would not shrink from making criticisms of individuals and he would provide a "full and insightful" account of the events leading up to, during and after the invasion but what the British public want to know is did Blair and his Government take us to war under false pretences and did we kill lots of people for no good reason.
If the answer is yes, then prosecutions have to follow. If Chilcot finds that despite all the evidence to the contrary that he is able to hand Blair, Brown, Straw and the rest of the Cabinet a clean bill of health then it could sound the starting bell of something volatile for a public already outraged by our political leaders self-interest.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

I'll Be Back LHC

As the Large Hadron Collider is back in action there was an amazing comment by a scientist on the BBC this morning who said that the whole idea went 'against nature and would be sabotaged by the future'.
The interviewer allowed this comment to pass but it sparked my imagination into considering a Terminator type situation where people come back in time to stop us making whatever catastrophe is about to befall us.
Albert Einstein said the 'separation between past, present and future is only an illusion' which shows which side of the time travel fence he sat upon and i never go against the advice of crazy haired Germans when it comes to all things scientific.
It is actually quite a simple thing to ponder that at some point in the future humans have the ability to be able to travel back in time. Think of the technology we had in 1909 compared to what we have in 2009 and us humans have advanced in amazing leaps and bounds. Imagine explaining Satellite Television to someone in 1909 and they would look at you as if you were crazy.
The usual argument from time travel sceptics is why are we not overrun by people from the future coming back to see us? One reason could be that there is nothing worth seeing at this moment in time.
If i had a chance to go back to the last century, the most obvious times to choose would be 1914-1919 and 1939-1945 for the wars and 1969 to see the Moon Landing with a stop off in 1991 to see Nirvana live when i had the chance but decided i'd give it a miss and see them next time. That gives 13 years out of a possible 100 so maybe there just hasn't been anything happening so far for them to want to come and see.
I love the idea that our future selves are able to come back and stop us doing stupid things although i may change my mind if there are reports of leather clad men wielding shotguns on motorbikes saying 'Hasta la vista, baby' riding around Switzerland anytime soon.

Blair Rejected Again

It was said that the first President of Europe should be someone who can go to other continents and stop the traffic. The only chance Herman van Rompuy has got of causing traffic jams in China is if his Renault Clio packs up on the Beijing ring road but an unknown Belgian is always preferable to the man who was very effective in stopping the traffic along with everything else like water, sanitation and electricity in Baghdad.
It would have been a travesty if Anthony Charles Lynton Blair was today sitting atop the throne of Europe but he was told to sling his hook and its the poetry writing Belgian Prime Minister instead.
Blair can now slink off back to not bringing peace to the Middle East and getting paid millions by Americans who pay to hear him tell them how awesome we all thought he was.
Come to think of it, i haven't heard a peep out of George W Bush since he left office. Has anyone checked that he isn't slumped in a armchair somewhere after another attempt at eating a Pretzel unsupervised?
Apart from now becoming the most famous Belgian ever, the only thing we know about Rompuy is that he is homosexual and likes to write poetry but most importantly, he isn't Blair.
For someone with an ego as big as his, the fact that he has not only been rejected by his party but also by his country and now his continent, has to hurt.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Henry Handball

Thierry Henry has a special place in the affections of all Arsenal Fans. Because of his connection with Arsenal, i have been asked several times over the few past days what i thought of his handball against the Irish. My simple answer is i'm not French or Irish so its no concern of mine what he did. England's through and that's all i'm worried about.
Why, what a Frenchman did against Ireland has become such big news here that it dominates the front pages of the tabloids is beyond me. I listened to the game on the radio and the commentators never mentioned handball until minutes later and the benefit of a few replays where they changed their mind and spent the remainder of the game saying how awful it was that the referee and linesman missed it.
If he did it against England then the Irish would be laughing their heads off so my view is tough luck Ireland. Get over it.
What is more of a concern is the even louder call for technology to play a part in football matches and that is something i am not much of a fan of.
I like the idea of such decisions coming down to what the referee or linesman's see. It makes it unpredictable and exciting. Many times my team and country have been the benefactor and the victim of some awful decisions by the referees. I have said 'phew, we got away with that one' just as many times as i have questioned the referees eyesight when a decision hasn't gone our way. It's part of the game and as much as i screamed at Wayne Rooney for his blatant dive to earn Manchester United a penalty against Arsenal earlier in the season, i was laughing like a drain when Michael Owen went down like he had been shot by a cannon when a bootlace breezed past his shin pad against Argentina in a previous World Cup.
What Thierry did was not nice if you are Irish, bloody great if you happen to be French and if Frank Lampard does the same thing in South Africa next summer we will be using words like cheeky and clever rather than labelling him a cheat or a shyster.
After all this support, we can now expect the Irish nation to be decking out their homes in the flag of St George and cheering on Capello's boys.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Bolon Yokte Is Coming Xmas 2012

There has been many end of the World prophecies. Most famous is probably Nostradamus who divided his time between growing rich inventing fake plague prevention pills and predicting the end of the World.
Ironically, his wife and children all died from the Plague later so although nobody would take his medicinal advice very seriously, many do take heed of his 'The End is Nigh' prophecies even if they have to rewrite them every time we wake up the morning after and find ourselves still here.
Now thanks to the film, 2012, we can prepare ourselves for the end because as the trailer's voice over solemnly instructs 'mankind's earliest civilisation warned us this day would come'.
The theory that we may as well cancel any plans for Christmas 2012 comes from the discovery that according to a partially deciphered, and half missing, hieroglyohic, Mayan calendars, things come to an abrupt end in 2012.
The bit of the inscription left foretells the descent to earth of the God Bolon Yokte on the Long Count date of 13.0.0.0.0 4 Ajaw 8 Kumk'u which is interpreted as December 21st or 23rd, 2012.
The next part which describes what this Yokte fellow will do when he gets here has been destroyed, but since this is a deity associated with war, who plays a key role in the ending of one world and the beginning of the next, most analysts have assumed it didn't outline a plan for the handing out of cuddly toys.
Coupling the story of Maya with its intriguing sudden collapse and strange prophecies written in an ancient language is guaranteed to catch our imagination but don't worry if the 2012 date for the end of the world by the headless poultry waving Deity pictured above isn't convenient for you because Pope Leo XI in 1514 predicted it will end in 2014 and he was a Pope so he must have had inside information so you still have plenty of time to buy up tins of beans, torch batteries and anti-plague pills for that underground shelter.

The Irish Or The French?

Being English, i of course want England to qualify for things like the World Cup and as deluded as it makes me, i want us to win them. Can't see it happening but it won't stop me cheering us on until we get knocked out the first time we meet a halfway decent team as usually happens.
Usual practise is to then half heartedly switch my allegiance to whatever European teams are left in it with the exception of any of the other British teams who i want to see not just beaten but sent home as early as possible broken and battered.
Luckily, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are what are technically known in footballing parlance as shite so they never bother the finals of many tournaments but this weekend the Republic of Ireland took on France in a World Cup Qualifier.
I'm not sure when Ireland became part of Britain but because of the high number of British based players in the Ireland team, we were urged to get behind 'our boys'.
Because of the high number of current and former Arsenal based players in the French team, us Gooners found ourselves cheering for Les Bleus.
Whether Ireland manage to still qualify or the French make it through on Wednesday, i'm not really all that bothered but i would prefer the French if i had to choose just because of the shallow reason i gave above.
The British have a strange sense of patriotism when it comes to the countries that make up the British Isles.
It's a weird 'if we can't win, we don't want our closest neighbours to win it either' which is the sentiment that got Andy Murray into problems a few years back when he claimed support for any team that were playing against England.
By a strange quirk of geography, France is actually closer to England than Ireland and the majority of French actually speak more understandable English than the Irish so trade in those pints of Guinness and grab yourself a Stella Artois and let's cheer on Thierry Henry's boys to South Africa.

Monday, 9 November 2009

David Haye Thrills The 1%

I never really took to Lennox Lewis as a Brit. One reason was the boxing gold medal he won for Canada at the 1988 Olympic Games but mainly it was the strange halfway across the Atlantic accent he had. Canadian at heart and a Brit for convenience was the much used term thrown at him.
Now, Britain has a proper Heavyweight Champion of the World in David Haye as he beat Nikolay Valuev at the weekend. How he won and if he deserved the verdict i have no idea because i, along with most of the country, didn't see it.
Haye is on a Sky TV contract and was on 5% of the sales from the £15 pay to view fee so he undoubtedly made a stack of money from it although only 700,000, or just over 1%, of the country saw him do it.
Good luck to him i say, if he wants to put money before the acclaim of the nation then that is up to him but i didn't meet anyone today who watched the fight and there was no excitement over his achievement.
This must be a consideration as the Government reviews the major sporting events which must be broadcast on free to air television.
The English Cricket Board have already commented that while they may be reaping a huge financial benefit from its deal with Sky, cricket has been deprived of a vast audience that potentially includes a future generation of players. Advertisers can't be best pleased either that the millions they spend is shown to such a tiny audience.
Every sport has the right to sell their 'product' to whomsoever they wish, but don't then complain that no-one watches and there pot of emerging talent dries up.
I expect David Haye to go on and make more money than he can count but to 99% of the country he will always be a poor second to boxers who may have a quarter of his talent and never win any belts but are household names whose fights people talk about the next day.

Now That's Not What I Call Music

If America was to throw a concert for its 234th birthday next year, it could call upon a sparkling array of musicians and as long as they didn't invite any Country & Western singers, it would be well worth watching.
If the United Kingdom were to celebrate it's 303rd birthday next year, again, we could have a fine line up. Other places like Canada, Australia and Ireland could rummage around and find enough decent musicians to put on a decent Birthday bash but some places couldn't.
France for example. Great artists but god awful musicians but to be fair to them, they know that they suck so they don't even try which is what someone should have whispered into the ear of the Israeli who decided they would have a concert for Israels 60th Birthday celebrations last year. I saw bits of it on one of the Arts Channels tonight and even the musicians seemed embarrassed to be there.
This got me thinking, why are all the best musicians from only a handful of countries?
If you were to go back to the classical era, Austria and Germany ruled the musical roost but you would rather remove your ears with a butter knife than listen to a concert of the best Austria or Germany has to offer now.
One of the reasons would be that the places where the main group of bands and singers emerge from sing in the English language. Abba would have sunk without trace if they had sung all their songs in Swedish.
So today the top places for musicians would be America, Britain, Canada, Australia and Ireland and then it hit me. All these places are countries us Brits had turned over at some point as part of our Commonwealth land grab. It was the long lost silver lining that i had long sought for our brutal regime.
Okay, so being indirectly responsible for the emergence of Guns N Roses almost 250 years later doesn't make up for hacking our way through hundreds of thousands of the indigenous population globally, but its the silver lining that smarmy British bloggers can arrogantly point to in an attempt to say to seven eights of the globe that thanks to us and our colonies, musically, we are the best and you all suck. Phil Collins excepted of course.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Arsenal Fans And Colorado Rapids Fans

It seems that my team Arsenal are the next club to be hauling up the Star Spangled banner above their Stadium as Stan Kroenke positions himself to make a grab for power. As Kroenke is named as number 164 in the Forbes 400 list of richest people in the World, us Arsenal fans can only say a big Howdy to the yank and wonder if Fernando Torres would prefer to move to the Emirates in the January or summer transfer window.

What it does mean is that Arsenal and its fans will now move in with the rest of the Kroenke family so what other team fans will we be joining. Hello St Louis Rams supporters, we call your sport American Football here which may become confusing.
Is that you i see hiding over there fans of the baseball team Denver Nuggets. I see you have already met the Colorado Avalanche Hockey fans. I expect we will be seeing much more of each other in the near future Colorado Rapids Football team. Pre-season friendlies and i imagine we will find our way to lend you a few of our lesser players. What's that? Do we have a striker that's not really cutting it and wouldn't be missed by the team that we could lend you? Nicklas Bendtner, these guys want a word with you.

Another of the English teams that have already joined up with American owners is Aston Villa who have taken Randy Lerner's money and actually made quite a decent fist of things if you ignore Emile Heskey. Their fans are now linked with the American Football Team the Cleveland Browns.

Liverpool fans have been campaigning to oust the American duo of George Gillett and Tom Hicks ever since they took over and now with them out of the Premier League Title race, the League Cup and as good as out of the European Champions League before the first weekend of November, things will only get warmer for the Americans. For now though they are in with the supporters of the baseball team Texas Rangers, and ice hockey's Dallas Stars.

Finally Manchester United fans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers supporters shared common ground when Malcom Glazer strode into Old Trafford and plonked his amusingly ginger facial hair behind the owners desk. What with the Man Utds managers purple nose it can be quite a colour clash when these two get together.
Anyway, Manchester United fans are easily the most despised in the country so by association we are legally obliged to boo loudly at you Buccaneer fans also. Sorry, its the law.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Hard Things Made Easy #2

Do you remember sitting in French lessons at school reciting the days of the week and how to count from one to ten. Of course this would come in handy if you needed to meet someone at the Eiffel Tower at 6 on a Wednesday but otherwise it was pretty useless.
I would expect that, like me, you spent the best part of a year saying things in a weird accent and then forgot them. How about if i said to you that by the time it takes you to read this post, about 3 mins approximately, i could teach you to speak thousands of French words? Sacre Bleu as they say.
The thing to remember is that a good majority of the words that make up the English language are taken from the French, with the endings subtly changed.

How many words can you think of that end in -ible? Possible, incredible, visible. Knock off the -ible at the end and replace it with -ebe and you are speaking French. Possebe, incredebe, visebe.

Same with words ending in -able. Table, acceptable, debatable. Knock off the -able and say -arb instead so its becomes tarb, acceptarb, debatarb.

Easy isn't it, and here's some more. Words ending in -ent and -ant. Arrogant, assistant, independent, transparent all have the -ant or -ent knocked off and replaced with -unt so its pronounced arrogunt, assistunt, independunt and transparunt.

The way to pronounce words ending in -ary is -aire so stationary, necessary and secretary become stationaire, necessaire, secretaire.

Know many words ending in -tion and -sion? Pronounce it -seeon so position become posiseeon and condition becomes condiseeon.

To round off your thousands of words, find words ending in -ical and say -eek instead. So political is politeek and economical is economeek.

Remember, this is only a very rough guide and isn't the spelling and it only works with the spoken word. It is also important to get the emphasis in the right place which is generally where the change is made so it is independ-UNT, condi-SEEON, deba-TARB or econom-EEK.

There, as promised, you have just added thousands of words of a foreign language to your vocabulary (vocabul-AIRE) in less than 3 minutes.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Dr Nutt

I've always found it a quirk of the British political system that a Government has to pick its ministers for Government posts from the members that have been elected. What we end up with is the man controlling the Health Department for example, with no background in Health and was previously a lawyer.
Obviously the Prime Minister cannot find a perfect fit for each position from among his elected members so to this end, the Government bring in 'experts' to give advice to the Minister and to help steer policy and to stop any monumental mistakes.
The problem is that experts, with all their experience and background, sometimes say things that the Ministers don't want to hear and why Dr David Nutt today finds himself sacked as the Governments chief drug adviser.
The Scientist made the judgement in a research paper that "Alcohol ranks as the fifth most harmful drug after heroin, cocaine, barbiturates and methadone. Tobacco is ranked ninth. Cannabis, LSD and ecstasy, while harmful, are ranked lower at 11, 14 and 18 respectively."
As the Government are in the middle of an attempt to reclassify cannabis, LSD and ecstasy as Class B drugs, and as they make billions from the alcohol and tobacco industry, Dr Nutt's comments were always going to be deemed less than helpful.
Experts do sometimes get it wrong as was shown with last weeks 'we are coming out of recession, oops, no we're not' debacle by the economy experts but I'd still take the view of an expert over that of a minister every time.
What Dr Nutt was actually saying was that although cannabis, LSD and ecstasy are undoubtedly dangerous drugs, there are actually some legal ones that are even more dangerous and damaging that need to be addressed as well.
We can disagree with him but personally i would assume that he knows more about it than the man who sacked him, Home Secretary Alan Johnson, whose background is in banking.
He was sacked, and was not the first expert to have been, for telling the truth as he saw it and means that the government is prepared to dismiss expert advice on the drug issue.
These scientists and scholars are not politicians and not supposed to tow the government line but the ministers should not take on independent advisers and then whinge and remove them when the advice comes back and it isn't what they want to hear.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Hell Of A Band

"You know that scene at the very beginning of Nightmare Before Christmas" said The Dark Prince to me last month, "the one where Pumpkin Jack comes back to his Halloween World after a successful nights Halloweening and they have a concert". I replied that i was aware of it.
"That's what we need here" he stated, leaning forward from his throne and handing me an order to round up the best musicians presently residing in Hell for a Halloween Night Concert.
Never one to turn down a man armed with a pitchfork and horns, i set about getting together the best band from not so nice dead musicians.
Bass guitar was easy, girlfriend murderer Sid Vicious. Luckily he was on his way to Michael Jackson's house and the paedophile was more than happy to join the band as lead singer.
Finding a drummer was proving difficult, especially as hammer wielding mother killer Jim Gordon was still alive but there was only one man to hand the lead guitar to, Lead Belly. Never a man to talk to his relatives when he could shove a knife in them instead.
Still leaves me struggling to find a drummer so i guess i will have to fit a drum machine until a notorious drummer turns up down there.
First song up, Knocking on Heavens Door. Beelzebub will love that.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Experts Wrong Shocker

Not one to make wild claims, at the start of the recession Gordon Brown said that Britain was best placed both to withstand a global downturn and to lead the world out of its slump. Being the Chancellor for a decade and having a good idea what state the countries finances were, most of us had no reason to disbelieve him. Us fools.
The United States has become the fourth G7 country after Germany, Japan and France to emerge from recession while we enter an unprecedented six straight quarter of falling output.
The majority of economists, financial experts and the Chancellor all predicted a GDP rise last week only to see a -0.4% fall turning instead.
The economy is now almost six per cent smaller than it was before the start of the downturn, meaning Britain is creating £90bn less per year than 18 months ago.
The same economists, financial experts and Chancellor who were upbeat about everything days ago, were said to be amazed and shocked by these figures.
The simple translation must be that haven't had a clue what's been going on since the start and they don't have any idea how to fix it. And these guys are the experts!
They shouldn't be trusted with a weather forecast, let alone an economic one.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Why Karadzic But Not Blair?

Funny thing politics isn't it as the story of two recent leaders of small European countries is proving. While one is sat in the Hague facing charges of being responsible for the death of 7500 muslims while undertaking his role of Supreme Commander of the Bosnian Serb armed force, the other one, responsible for killing over a million Muslims while in his role of head of the British Armed forces, is being touted as a possible President of the continent.
Not to dismiss Karadzic's crimes, he deserves to be sat where he is and i hope he rots in a prison cell somewhere, but at least he can apply the twisted logic to his argument that his country was involved in a war at the time. Blair can make no such claim.
His own Attorney General, the top legal advisor the UK has, stated that there was only three possible legal justifications for launching a war. Self defence, humanitarian intervention or with UN Security Council Authorisation.
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, told Blair that "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran'.
When he tried, and failed, to get the Security Council Authorisation then any military action was outside of his own legal teams three justifications and therefore illegal.
So why is Tony Blair not sat beside Radovan Karadzic facing crimes against humanity or why is Karadzic's name not being put forward as a European Presidential nominee?
Blair certainly has a case to answer and he has said that he is prepared to be held to account by God for ‘those who have died or have been horribly maimed as a result of my decisions’.
The familes of those that have been killed or those who have been horribly maimed as a result of his decisions probably wish that they can get hold of him long before the big man upstairs does.
Despite all his crimes, Saddam Hussein was actually hanged after being found guilty of ordering the killing of 148 Muslims.
Karadzic rightly faces trial for overseeing the death of 7500 Muslims.
Tony Blair speaks falsehood after falsehood to launch an illegal war with kills over a million Muslims and pockets a multi-million pound book deal and launches himself for European President.
Yep, it's a funny thing politics but i'll be damned if i can see why Karadzic is on trial and Blair isn't.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

New England V Tampa Bay

American Football comes to the UK this evening with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New England Patriots buttonhooking and intefering with each other at Wembley Stadium.
This is the third successive year that the NFL have brought a regular season game to London and tonight's game will be in front of a capacity crowd which shows that the game does seem to be gaining popularity over here.
Usually the only person we see rolling around on the grass at Wembley is Emile Heskey after he has just shinned one wide from a few yards out but tonight its the likes of Tully Banta-Cain being jumped on by a large group of men.
The Patriots are favourites apparently and i'm sure that the fickle English will cheer for them just because they have the word 'England' in their name.
An added incentive for us wanting to see the New Englanders stuff Tampa Bay is because the Buccaneers are owned by the Glazer Family who also own England's most hated team, Manchester United.
Buccaneer fans have been suggesting that the Glazers are siphoning off funds from the American Football team to prop up Man Ure who are a reported £700m in debt.
England in their name and playing against the team who are part of the Manchester United stable, it's a no brainer.
Come on you Pats, we want to see you roughing the kicker and using the Wishbone Formation whatever that is. Failing that, if there is a purple nosed Scotsman sat next to the Glazers, maybe you Buccaneer players can punt one into his swingers as he's the one taking all your money and spending it on the likes of Owen Hargreaves.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

The BNP Bounce

Following Thursdays appearance of the extreme right wing British National Party on Question Time, the results are in and it seems that Nick Griffin's Party has got the bounce it was after.
The YouGov poll for today's Daily Telegraph puts them up to 3% support from 2% previously, with 22% of Britons prepared to consider voting for them in local and European elections.
Nobody with half a mind should be feeling great about that so where did it all go wrong. He was a sitting duck, waiting to be exposed and ridiculed in front of a national audience, and yet he seems to have emerged stronger for it.
Firstly the whole hour was dedicated to asking the BNP leaders his thoughts, and then shouting him down and kicking him around before he had chance to answer. We didn't need Jack Straw shouting out that Griffin was a bigot or a racist ten seconds after he opened his mouth, we could hear that ourselves or at least we could if they give him chance to speak his piece. At the end of the hour, Griffin came out of it looking like the bullied rather than the bully.
Secondly, i would suggest that although the vast majority of the BNP views are abhorrent, three big ones that chime with a large number of voters are his views on Iraq, Afghanistan and immigration.
Iraq was an illegal war and those who initiated it should be charged with crimes against humanity, we should pull out of Afghanistan and there are too many people coming to Britain. I would estimate that at least two of these three strike a chord with an overwhelming majority of Brits and the very reason why the BNP may see a lift in its recruitment numbers.
None of the big three parties want to stick their head above the parapet with any of these three issues despite them consistently cropping up as areas of concern for voters. The BNP poll boost simply reflects British contempt for mainstream politics.
This Government has been all about the sleaze, the wars, the expenses scandals, the disregard for voters, the economy, the bankers, the bailouts and rising crime. The Conservatives before them imploded on much the same issues and it is expected that the next Government will be much the same.
Until the Government, or the other big two, are willing to tackle immigration or foreign policy, the only party that are saying what most people want to hear is the British National Party and no amount of the Lib Dems, Tories or Labour party shouting at the BNP leader will help when his accusers are also held in such low esteem by the electorate.

Friday, 23 October 2009

25 Years On And Still They Die Of Hunger

There are not many television programmes that are so shocking and influential that they launch an international reaction and shame Governments into action but the first of two shown 25 years ago today did exactly that.
A couple of seven minute BBC news reports in 1984 revealed the full scale of the horror happening in drought hit Ethiopia and the pathetic sight of a population dying en-mass from hunger.
'A person dies from starvation ever 20 minutes' Michael Burke informed us along with the revelation that Governments won't help because Ethiopia is run by a Marxist regime and that Europe was sitting on a massive grain surplus as people died through lack of food.
The impact of Burke’s report left singer Bob Geldof so moved and angry with the world for standing by at such a time, he decided to do something about it.
Concerts, singles and a massive fundraising drive raised tens of millions in aid and Governments, embarrassed by their lack of action despite warnings over the previous 18 months, sent planes full of food and supplies.
The Government blamed the civil war and a corrupt Ethiopian Government but everyone else just saw people dying from hunger while our elected leaders stood idly by.
Shamefully, 25 years on and still people are dying of starvation in Ethiopia which begs the question, why, after a quarter of a century and hundreds of millions of pounds, is there still not enough food there to feed them?
Are we not giving enough? Is the food the money buys just treating the symptom but the cause of the almost annual famines remain untreated? Is the money not being wisely spent by the aid agencies?
I could point out that to see anyone starve to death while half the World are debating ways to combat over-eating is obscene and if we spent as much money on fighting hunger as we do on wars, then the world would be a better place but it seems that what we are doing, we are either not doing it enough or doing it the wrong way and have been since the beginning.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The Other Side Of The Aisle

'Come join us, we have no women or gays in our movement' isn't much of an advertising slogan but it is the carrot that the Pope is dangling in front of thousands of disaffected clergy of the Church of England.
It seems that after years of approaches to the Vatican from Anglicans unhappy with the way the Church of England fairly treats women and gays, the Pope has issued a decree that allows them to skip across to the Catholic side of the Christian faith. The top estimate is around 2000 priests defecting with as many of their women and gay hating congregations as they can persuade to come over with them.
So just why is the Catholic Church so full of misogynists and homophobes? It all comes down to to the fact that Jesus had no female disciples and because Eve ate that apple. That Eve, the one created from her husbands rib who himself was made from dust by someone nobody has ever seen or heard. When your whole faith is based on those origins you kinda expect them to be a bit loopy.
Gay people are not liked because they are just sinners and gay sex is an abomination against God who set down Adam and Eve and had no problem with incest as they went forth and multiplied.
To be honest i am totally underwhelmed whether some churchy types want to be Catholics or Church of England but at least now i, along with the 99% of the British population that don't attend Church of England services, can instead not attend Catholic masses as well.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Poor Whitney But An Even Poorer Cheryl

If there was ever a living advert for staying away from drugs it is Whitney Houston.
Arguably one of the greatest female talents of our generation, the years of drug taking has left her a pale imitation of the great vocalist she once was.
Her appearance on X Factor this weekend was shaky at best by her own high standards and the interview afterwards was painful to watch.
She looked confused, took an eternity to answer the questions the host, Dermot O'Leary, asked and shuffled uncomfortably while staring at the ground.
It could be excused as a sign of nerves, after all she is returning to the stage after almost a decade away but with her history you have to think that it goes much deeper than that.
I don't know if she needs the money or if she has other reasons behind her comeback, but if this is an example of what we can expect from her, she would be best advised to cancel it now before she turns into the Elvis of our generation and is remembered more for the humiliating struggle at the tail end of their careers rather than their heyday.
Something else this weekends X Factor showed was that you could see why Cheryl Cole was not so keen to sing live. And she has the nerve to criticise anyone else about their singing?

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Feck! Arse! Drink! Girls!

In the excellent Father Ted, Father Jack was a foul-mouthed, alcoholic priest prone to frequent lapses of violence and spending most his time passed out in the Parochial House.
I often thought that if the Catholic Church did have priests like him then it would certainly make weddings and christenings more exciting. I could even be moved to go along to find a pew on Sunday mornings to hear the drunken ramblings. Rather than Jesus loves you it would be more i love you, your my best mate you are followed by him throwing candles at the choir as they sang all things bright and beautiful.
Of course there are no such priests in the Catholic Church, at least not now that Father Edward Pilarskiego has been forcibly removed from his church in Poland.
The parishioners had enough of the Father spending the collection plate money on booze and cigarettes and displaying his grip of the more saltier words in the Polish language during drunken sermons and they dragged him from his pulpit and threw him out of the church. They then changed the locks on the church to keep him out.
I don't know if they will now find him the equivalent of a Polish Craggy Island for errant clergy but i'd love to see him make a visit to my local Parish. We need more drunken priests.

Support For The Postal Workers

Imagine, if you will, working for a company that has just posted a doubling of it's annual profits. Now imagine your company saying sorry but no pay rise this year and we are introducing new work practises that will lead to wide scale redundancies. I don't think anyone could be surprised if you said you were a tad upset with the big bosses but what could you do?

The options are:
A) accept it and hope that you are not one of those who receive the dreaded call to the managers office.
B) stand up say hold on, you are making hundreds of millions in profit but you plan to introduce new working practises which will lead to thousands losing their jobs to make even more profit?

If you chose answer A then you can stop reading now and i wish you well and hope that you find alternative employment soon.

If you are still reading, which i would guess is the vast majority, then you chose option B.

So you pop along to the Union and say it's a bit unfair i may have to lose my job because the company want to make even larger profits and the Union say too right, i will go and have a chat with the big bosses. They come back and say sorry, but it seems the Politicians want to part privatise the company and obviously need to be seen to be making massive profits to entice in a buyer. The Union then go and spend 18 months in negotiations on your behalf to try and save jobs but to no avail, the cuts and changes are being imposed regardless.

The options now are:
A) accept it and hope that you are not one of those who receive the dreaded call to the managers office.
B) join in with strike action and hit the bosses in the pocket to force them to be reasonable and try to safeguard thousands of jobs, possibly your own.

If you chose answer A then you can stop reading now and i wish you well and hope that you find alternative employment soon.

Those who chose the second option would find themselves in exactly the same position as the UK postal workers find themselves today and why we may have to deal with our letters being a few days late.
If you are not a postal worker, or are married to a postal worker or depend upon the wages of a postal worker in anyway or have any sympathy with the little guy or people about to lose their jobs, then you can stop reading now.

Good, the selfish ones are gone and those left and have got this far down should be supporting the postal workers. Maybe send an email, i wouldn't bother with a letter, all the postal workers will be striking.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Corrupt Firms Can't Silence The Internet

I have always been against any regulation being imposed on the Internet to try and control it. Of course this approach also leaves untouched some abhorrent sites but that's unfortunately the cost to continue with the anarchic approach. Governments, celebrities and big business hate it because it's a source of media that they can't control which means bloggers and Tweeters are not held by the same rules as the mainstream media, as was shown with amazing effect during the Trafigura affair this week.
Lawyers, Carter-Ruck, acting for oil trading company, Trafigura, were forced to abandoned attempts to stop the British press running a story about the fatal dumping of toxic waste in west Africa by the company.
The case began with the dumping of 500 tons of the waste in a landfill site in the Ivory Coast in August 2006.
Official estimates said 15 people were killed and tens of thousands left ill as a result. Trafigura denied any deaths took place but offered £950 to each of 31,000 people affected, without accepting liability.
A report written soon after the initial incident found based on the "limited" information to which it had been given access - the waste was capable of causing severe damage to human health.
When Trafigura learned that The Guardian newspaper was about to publish an article based on the report, the firms lawyers issued a 'super-injunction' blocking it.
They then tried to stop the British media from revealing that an MP had tabled a question relating to the report.
Stopped in their tracks, the Guardian then cleverly wrote a front page piece on how they could not write what they had planned to, due to an injunction from an oil company concerning an MP's question due to be asked in Parliament that day.
A quick scan of the MP's questions that had been tabled and soon Bloggers and Tweeters were posting and tweeting about to such an extent that it made the injunction useless.
Users posted so many comments and posts about Trafigura and the parliamentary question that the issue soon became top of Twitters list of popular topics.
In a statement, the lawyers agreed to drop the injunction stating that "there is no longer any purpose in the injunction remaining in place".
Proof of the power for good of the Internet coupled with a strong sense of injustice from the Internet users in battling corrupt firms and morally corrupt lawyers.
Now that it is out in the open, I'd like to see the oil company closed down for such a flagrant case of toxic pollution, it's assets sold off to properly compensate the people of the Ivory Coast and those involved tried for murder.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Cheating Cheryl Cole

Cheryl Cole's career has recovered well since she was found guilty of assault in 2003. Luckily for her the charge of racist assault was dropped as the jury couldn't agree if Cole had called her victim a bitch or a black bitch as she pummelled her so it was just plain old assault on a toilet attendant or she would really have been in trouble. It's one thing to punch people but another thing if you are racist while doing it.
Since then she has managed to keep her fists to herself and has turned into a British icon and has landed herself a job as a judge on one of Simon Cowells karaoke programs, the same sort of show that started it all off for her.
While her husband was off having sex with hairdressers, we collectively hugged her to our bosom and gave her a cuddle but now the tide may be turning back against her again.
As one of the winners of Pop Idol, you would imagine she would be quite a good judge, having been there and done it all previously.
You would think but it seems that when the judge performs her debut solo single on The X-Factor this Saturday, her vocals will have been recorded earlier in the day, whereas the contestants are compelled to sing live leaving me to wonder how can they take her comments seriously when she mimes when its her turn to step up to the plate?
I've always felt a sense of dishonesty when pop singers lip sync. There was time when Milli Vanilla and Betty Boo were chased out of town for doing it but they don't seem to even try and hide it now. Britney was at it a while back and that's bad enough considering how much she charges for a concert ticket just to hear a recording of her singing.
As someone who basically makes a living from critiquing peoples' singing, that's a pretty bad move for Mrs Cole, it's admitting that the contestants are more talented than those judging them.
I can't wait for the first contestant she criticises to ask her if she would care to show them how it's done and hand her the mic. If only the toilet attendant had been so good at ducking things, she might not have ended up so badly beaten.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Gawd, Not Them Again

American comedies have a fairly decent record this side of the Atlantic. Friends was a phenomenon but we have also taken to Cheers, MASH, Happy Days and even Frasier. All very funny but once a dark cloud hung over the star spangled banner. A black, Seinfeld shaped cloud.
It was the early 90s and the BBC announced a hot new American comedy that had taken the states by storm.
Anticipation grew and here it was at the peak viewing time, the show the BBC had cleared the decks for, Seinfeld. Anticipation caved, the BBC moved it to a later time slot, then onto its second channel and before the end of the first series it was doing the graveyard shift, shunted to the time slot usually reserved for art shows.
I don't know why Seinfeld tanked so badly here, but for me it just wasn't funny. It was smarmy, pretentious and whiny and apart from Kramer (who always reminded me of the doc from the Back to the future films), i just wanted to bang their heads against that fake wall Seinfeld stood in front of not being funny.
Rumours are that there is talk of reviving the programme. Don't do it America. The World is just starting to like you again after George W Bush, don't go throwing it all away by bringing back the other George and his gang.
If you are going to remake anything from your television past, bring back Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Internet Football

There was an International football match on at the weekend, Ukraine v England.
Exclusively on the Internet as a pay-per-view event, the company selling it had an audience of 400,000 who were willing to pay the £11.99 to watch it.
An England game on Sky Sports draws a viewing figure of around 2m, while on the free ITV or BBC figures are around the 8m mark.
The Swiss company running it had billed it as a success and a glimpse of the future but the fans calling the radio stations i listened to today complained about the glitches in the feed and delays in the commentary.
Football could be facing the very same problem that Boxing had in the 90s and Cricket is facing today. It can either perform to a small audience but get well paid for it or a large audience but the financial benefits are not quite so good.
It doesn't take a genius to work out which way this will go, the pound signs are already spinning in the FA's eyes.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Giving The BNP Enough Rope

The BBC has provoked controversy by giving the British National Party a platform for the first time on its top political programme, Question Time.
Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, is due to appear in two weeks time although who he will be seated alongside is questionable as MP's from all the parties are still undecided if they will appear on the show with him.
I can understand this, the man is a vile racist and bigot, but my thinking would be to let him spout off in front of millions of viewers. Put him front and centre in the glare of the spotlight with all eyes and ears trained on him and let him say what he thinks. From what we have heard from him so far as he spouts forth from the sidelines, he will hang himself if we give him enough rope.
Not that i think for a minute that he will come on and begin ranting against blacks or Asians, he will be much to wise to fall for that, but it will be impossible for him to keep the true colours of his party hidden during the evening.
It is much to easy to dismiss him as the leader of an extreme party with limited appeal to a small but vocal bunch of ignorant morons. The current thinking is that if they ignore him long enough he will go away but there will always be a small band of like minded souls willing to entertain his ideas.
I say put him on prime time TV and question him about his policy on immigration (pay them to go home), his view on capital punishment (bring it back) and defence (compulsory national service).
Ridicule will damage him and his supporters much more than just pretending he isn't there ever will.