Friday, 30 December 2011

2011 Predictions Results

2011 was all about the Arab Spring, Japans earthquake, Anders Breivik, the Libyan War, Amy Winehouse dying and the London Riots. Fair enough, all major events i agree but 2011 was so much more than overthrowing Arab leaders and teenagers stealing trainers from JJB so it's that time again, where we need to look back at what we were told to expect in 2011 and how the predictors fared.

I don't recall any bookies offering odds on Charlie Sheen losing the plot and locking a prostitute in a cupboard but the bookies did make a lot of predictions about other stuff.

The ones they got correct were New Zealand to win the rugby World Cup, Barcelona to win the Champions league, Manchester United to win the Premier League, Sebastian Vettel to take the Formula 1 Championship. They also got right that Beyonce would announce her pregnancy, Michael Higgins would win the Irish election, the Icelandic volcano Grimsvotn will erupt and The King's Speech would win the best picture oscar and Colin Firth would pick up the best actor gong.

What they got completely wrong was Manchester City to bring home the Europa League Cup, Wolves to be relegated, Ralph Nadal to win both the US Tennis Open and Wimbledon with the New England Patriots bringing home the Superbowl. They also incorrectly predicted the winners of the Bulgarian and Danish elections and the the UK Government didn't fold. They also got wrong the colour of the Queens hat
at Will & Kates wedding and Annette Bening did not pick up the best actress Oscar.

Call me picky but it seems they go the big ones right but i think we could have guessed the big prizes going to New Zealand, Barcelona, Manchester United and Kings Speech.

Not a great return , i was expecting a few more hits so it's back to the psychics for the 2012 predictions.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Don't Come Back Thierry

Everyone has a secret singer or band that they listen to when they think nobody else is around although would never admit to being a fan unless they were having their toenails removed with pliers.
I came out as a Billy Joel fan a while back, a legacy of having parents who would continually play the Piano Mans albums on a permanent loop in my formative years.
One of my favourite Billy Joel songs is 'Scenes from an Italian Restaurant', mainly because halfway through it changes to a completely different song and then ends up back where it started and the two in one songs always seem to appeal to me. A decent psychiatrist would probably be able to explain what that means but in this particular Billy Joel song about Brenda and Eddie in the summer of '75, there is a line about you never being able to go back again and if i could somehow get a song into Thierry Henry's head, it would be this one with that particular line repeated over and over again.
When Thierry left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007 he was a legend, the club's top goal-scorer of all time and top of the Arsenal greatest players poll.
Now 4 years later and aged 34 Thierry is considering a two month loan spell with Arsenal while on a end of season break with MLS side New York Red Bulls.
As much as i would love to see Thierry Henry in an Arsenal kit again, i really wish he would decline the offer and keep his legend status intact.
Some Arsenal fans may disagree with me but the Thierry Henry of 2011/12 is very much different to the prolific Thierry Henry that we remember marauding down the left wing before cutting inside and curling the ball beyond the reach of the goalie.
I want to remember the Theirry Henry running the length of the pitch before tiptoeing through the Tottenham defence and almost taking the net off the goal-frame or the Henry flicking up and volleying the ball into the Manchester United goal from the edge of the box.
What i don't want to see is the Thierry Henry spend January and February with half the pace he once had struggling in games that he would have dominated in his pomp which will taint his image amongst Arsenal fans who have already seem to have the Thierry Henry rose tinted glasses on.
It is a lose-lose situation for you Thierry, all you can do is diminish your perfect reputation amongst Arsenal fans so please take the hint from Billy Joel and don't go back as you belong with Bergkamp, Ljungberg, Petit and Viera in another era and that time is passed.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

NHS Disappearing Under Tories

Not for nothing are the Conservative Party known as the nasty party and as expected, they are living up to their reputation of hacking away at everything good and then selling it off to their friends.
Remember the pre-election pledge that the NHS was safe in their hands, Cameron even used his disabled son as proof that the NHS would be safe in his hands, well that was 19 months ago and their pledge immedialty fell by the wayside as the Government forced tens of billions of NHS cuts which closed hospitals, made nurses redundant and closed support facilities.
A recent Guardian poll shows that 79% of Health Professionals state that NHS cuts have had a detrimental affect on patient care and many see this as a taste of things to come as the NHS gets run down, sliced and diced and then the most financially profitable bits privatised just like the Prison Health Contract.
This was once supplied by the NHS, then its £53m contract was awarded to Care UK, a private health company who it later emerged had made a £200,000 donation to the Tories before the election, including £21,000 to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, the very man in charge of awarding the Prison Health contracts.
Now Mr Lansley's latest wheeze is to let the NHS raise up to 49% of their money from private work, meaning even longer waiting times as those who have paid for their operations take priority in the allocation of beds.
A two-tier system with those who can afford to pay being given priority over those less well off but nobody can pretend to be surprised that the Tories are back to their bad old ways of privatising everything and using the cover of austerity measures to achieve it. They even tried selling off the forests a while back until a public backlash forced them to rethink the strategy.
The National Health Service was always the big one and Cameron and his buddies were always going to find a way to cut off the good bits and sell it off to their pals and donors.
Just hope that public outrage forces the Conservatives on another U-Turn but that's unlikely as this is the holy grail of Tory ideology, an American style health system where your ability to pay decides the treatment, if any, that you receive.
Any ring-fencing has been around the banks and not the NHS, Cameron even jeopardised our future in Europe to avoid any regulation of them, which should be enough to go on for any sane voter at the next election.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Sanitising The Image Of The Military

The UK Christmas Number One this year was 'Wherever You Are' by the Military Wives, a feat that the brainchild Gareth Malone said showed that 'The support of the British military has been fantastic' but to me shows just another step in the unhealthy propaganda to normalise the view our military and their ill-advised adventures.
Recently there are soldiers everywhere in the media, on talent shows, being paraded before football matches, being squeezed and fawned over by celebrities in photo opportunities and rattling Help for Heroes collection buckets at us in town centres.
I have always felt a bit uneasy with the term 'Hero' when it comes to describing the military, victims always seemed more appropriate because there was nothing heroic about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan and the soldiers being killed and maimed are victims of the politicians decisions to send them into wars they had no place in being involved in.
When the Iraq War first began, there was an attempt by the more war hungry around us make anyone who criticised the war to appear somehow unpatriotic and paint all our brave boys as heroes.
It didn't work then but gradually the military has become part of our everyday life and as the duplicity and lies of the inception of the wars fade further into memory, an acceptance has evolved that what we did in Iraq and are still doing in Afghanistan is a good and decent thing.
The Afghanistan War has been going on for so long that i have teenagers who were mere toddlers at the time of the Wars outbreak asking me what it was all about. They are told to blindly support the troops but have no idea why.
The reasons behind the wars are no longer discussed, nor the reason why we continue to be there, just the propaganda that we must blindly support the troops who are there for our benefit defending our freedoms and protecting our way of life which is jingoistic nonsense.
The integration of the military into our everyday lives is a cynical ploy by the government and sectors of the media to sentimentalise the military, cast us as the good guys and stop us questioning the real issues of why we are there.
To read a newspaper today or watch a news broadcast, you wouldn't know that we were currently at war so maybe what we need are a few more reminders of the violence, death and destruction of War and to not allow a sanitised image of what the military do, and what our politicians did, to take hold in the public eye.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Joyeux Noel

Almost Christmas Eve and tomorrow i will be busy making sure bells are jingled and dongs dinged merrily so will be unable to get near the computer so i wish to echo glam rocker and professional sideburn wearer extraordinaire Noddy Holder in saying Merry Christmas Everybody!
Hope everyone has a great Christmas and see you all the other side of Boxing Day and remember fella's, KEEP THE RECEIPT!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Banning Suarez

The reaction from Liverpool to Luis Suarez's eight match ban for 'using insulting words about the colour of Manchester United's black defender Patrice Evra' is a confusion of mixed messages.
In a statement, they say that they are 'disappointed' with the 'extraordinary decision' to find Suarez guilty of aiming racist abuse at black player Patrice Evra. Manager Kenny Dalglish even tweeted that Suarez would get his full support while stating that Liverpool stand against any form of discrimination.
Suarez's defence was that he calle Evra 'negrito', Uruguayan for 'little black man' and that in Uruguay, it is not offensive.
Maybe if he had been in Uruguay when he said it he might have a defence but he was in England, where it is deeply offensive to call someone anything which may be interpreted in a racist way and it is never for the speaker to deem what is racist or not, that is dependent on the hearer and how they interpret it.
His claim that it was aimed at Evra in a friendly, amicable way further strains credibility as it came during the heat of battle between two fierce footballing rivals.
Facts are, despite what Kenny Dalglish and all the bone headed Liverpool fans are saying on the news boards, Suarez DID use insulting words about the colour of another player and admitted it himself so he is fully deserving of an eight match ban. To try and justify it or explain it away with cultural differences is nonsense and Dalglish is taking a risk in defending Suarez so vigorously and so frequently especially as he has now been found guilty of racist abuse.
If they, and Suarez, are serious about their claims they'll launch a civil case against Evra for defamation and slander and if not, then shut up, and stop backing someone who whispers racial slurs to black players on the football pitch. If he appeals, i hope it's extended.
Talking of which, I wonder how another premiership footballer is feeling on hearing this verdict. If Suarez got an eight match man when the only evidence you used racist language is one person's word, he must wonder what he is in for when the whole world has clearly seen you shouting it especially as 'I have many black friends so i can't be racist' is his latest defence.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Kim Jong Il now Kim Jong Dead

Amused me no end that on the death of Kim Jong Il, all everyone wanted to do was talk about him being ronery and making jokes about Kim Jong il now being Kim Jong dead.
It almost seems fitting that one of Kim Jong Il's final rantings was to threaten to shoot at the South Korean tower that was shaped like a Christmas Tree.
He may well have left nuclear armed North Korea diplomatically isolated and economically broken but when it comes to evil masterminds, this guy was a gift that kept on giving.
A tyrant he may have been but the safari suit, huge geek glasses and platform shoes condemned him to never being taken seriously although he had the capability to wipe out most of the countries around him.
Now his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, has taken up the reins and the heavily militarised country has been left in the hands of what looks like a pudgy 12-year-old.
It is not known if Kim the younger has inherited his fathers golfing skills who once shot 11 holes-in-one in a single round on a North Korean golf course in 1994, a feat witnessed by his 17 security guards who verified the accomplishment so it must be true.
The World may have one less evil tyrant polluting it and some will concentrate on his human rights abuses while others will want to discuss the possible implications and uncertainties of a transfer of power to his son but most of us will just be humming the 'I'm So Ronery' song.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Bye Chris

There were many things to admire about Christopher Hitchens, his sharp mind and even sharper writing skills were as good as anything i have ever seen in journalism, but it was his mile wide maverick streak that i found most compelling.
To go from a hard left Trotskyist to a right wing George W Bush admirer is not an easy trip to make but if you could overlook the betrayal, he was always a great read and one of the most provocative, arrogant and entertaining intellectuals of his generation.
Whether you disliked his brash and smug personality, disagreed with his beliefs or found his fondness for attempting to obliterate his opponents vulgar, the loss of such a cerebral speaker is a loss for us all in today's dumbed down society.
I agreed with his views on religion and the Palestinians, cringed at the way he pandered to the Bush administration and bristled at his support for America's wars but never did i turn off a show that he was appearing on.
The right wing were right not to embrace him too firmly because he was always liable to turn on his own, his strong criticism of the rights darling Ronald Reagan and the onslaught against religion proved that.
Stephen Fry probably summed it up when he said 'Goodbye, Christopher Hitchens. You were envied, feared, adored, reviled and loved. Never ignored. Never bested. A great and marvellous man'.
A magnificent bastard indeed.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Time Got It Right

Time magazine has named The Protester as its person of the year for 2011 which is probably a decent choice considering the amount of protests there have been around the World this year.
The Arab Spring should be singled out as the most far reaching with a posthumous mention for Mohamed Bouazizi who was the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire for having his fruit cart confiscated by the authorities which acted as the catalyst for the Tunisian revolution and the wider Arab spring.
So if Time got it right and pretty much everyone i asked has agreed, and the protesters are a clear winner for the person the of the year, maybe we should be looking for a villain of the year and 2011 gave us a good choice of candidates.
Rupert Murdoch and his newspapers hacking of dead and missing children's phones was a particular low point but Colonel Gaddafi was much maligned and then much murdered this year so he must be in with a shout.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been shooting protesters since April and Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik took his right wing politics to a youth camp and then opened fire on the unarmed adolescents present, killing 69.
All bad guys but in keeping with the Time award of handing the award to a group rather than an individual, the villains of the year must go to the 1% for contributing so little to keeping this World ticking over so peacefully and fairly.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Obama Rewriting History

The Iraq war is over Barack Obama has declared with Americans troops leaving behind 'a solid, stable, representative Iraq. The greatest fighting force in the world was leaving Iraq with its head held high.'
The election campaign is swinging into action and this is exactly what is needed, a nice healthy dose of drivel to obscure the fact that the whole thing has been a disaster.
Maybe Obama didn't get to hear of the car bombs going off yesterday in Tal Afar or the shootings in Baghdad and Mosul or, more likely, he conveniently overlooked them. Democracy is messy as Donald Rumsfeld told us and so is this attempt to rewrite history.
The truth is to those of us who remember the events of 2003, the Iraq Invasion was folly from start to finish and how Obama can boast of success is insulting and shows just what little value the man who we foolishly thought was bringing change, puts on the lives of people in Iraq, that he can even think of claiming success in the wake of so many lives lost but then we have seen in Afghanistan just what Obama is about when it comes to the deaths of non-Americans.
This disastrous war may be over but the one in Afghanistan continues and there are others in the pipeline against Iran and possibly Syria.
Rather than holding it's head up high and attempting to whitewash history, the American military, just as the UK military did, is slinking off with it's tails between its legs after yet another calamitous military intervention under its belt and no amount of deluded cheer leading from the under-pressure Commander in Chief will disguise it.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Die Hard: Not An Xmas Film

Las Ketchup had a song out in the summer of 2002 which was forever on the music video stations and a few years later, in the best Christmas tradition, they threw a few jingle bells into it, reshot the video in winter and called it a Christmas song.
Now a few jingle bells does not a Christmas song make, especially not one that you last heard while sweltering in 32C heat with your face covered in after-sun and the same goes for Christmas films.
When i think of Christmas films, my mind turns to the like of A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life. Feel good films with a happy ending and the vital ingredient of being Christmassy and not people with machine guns throwing other people from the top floor of a building.
Possibly in the directors cut of Wonderful Life, a heavily armed George Bailey runs amok in Bedford Falls after international terrorists take over the Savings and Loan, but its unlikely so how does Die Hard qualify as a Christmas film in most Top Christmas Films Google searches?
I concede that it is set on Christmas Eve and at one point a dead terrorist turns up in an elevator wearing a Santa Hat but a Christmas film? Nah.
Most importantly, it came out in July and I don't need to check my Cagney & Lacey calendar from 1988 to know that even back then July was not generally associated with Christmas.
Adding a jingle bell to a song does not make a song a Christmas song as tagging Dean Martin warbling about letting it snow at the end of the film does not make it into a Christmas film. Yippie Ki Yay Mother Christmas.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ode To Poets Everywhere

For some strange reason, there seems to be an outbreak of poetry on blogs lately so not one to miss out on a fad, i have composed my own poem entitled 'Ode to Poets Everywhere'.

To poetry writers everywhere
You may find this post unfair
Your cloud may wander lonely in the air
But for your writing i just don't care

I don't want to be misunderstood
Just I don't think poetry is very good

This art form once had a romantic air
Elaborate men with passion and flare
If, The Raven, a wonderful pair
But now decent poems are very rare

I don't call all poets unexciting
Just your chosen form of writing

It's adolescents with floppy hair
With broken hearts they must repair
Their deepest thoughts that they must bare
With rhyming couplets laden with despair

I am not mocking lovers dismay
Just write things in a normal way

So to bloggers to make you aware
This recent outbreak of poetic fare
Is pretentious and a little bit square
And not a practise that i will share

We all get passionate about things some time
Just we don't make it into a bloody Rhyme!

As Poe once said from his reclining chair
His nerves all shredded and his whitening hair
It wasn't the Raven that gave him the scare
T'was the thought of a poet standing there

So take a lesson from the Raven on Poe's Door
And make words rhyme..'Nevermore'

Thank you

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mithra & Jesus Story Just A Coincidence

The mince pies are out and there is the smell of Christmas in the air.
That time of the year when we sing carols and give and receive presents in memory of the small child born on the 25th December to a virgin and wrapped in cloth and placed in a manger with only shepherds in attendance.
The young baby who grew up to perform miracles and lead 12 disciples before sacrificing his life for the benefit of mankind with Sunday being his sacred day.
Yes, good old Mithra who was one of the religions of the Roman Empire which was derived from the ancient Persian god of light and wisdom.
You thought i was talking about who? Oh, the virgin, manger, shepherds, 12 disciples and dying for the peace of mankind bit. I understand now.
No, this is Mithra who pre-dated Jesus by centuries.
Yes, all the similarities are a remarkable coincidence i suppose and Mithraism was around a long time before Christianity so that makes it all the more remarkable that the two stories are almost identical.
No, i'm sure the early Christians never and just embellished it. Just enjoy your mince pie and don't think about it.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Has Cameron Doomed Us?

In the words of the Sun, David Cameron has told Europe to shove it and walked out of any plans to save the Euro and it seems nobody knows what to think of that.
The anti-European right wing press are lauding him for his actions while the left wing press are scolding him for isolating us and turning our backs on our Europe brothers and sisters.
My own sympathies are somewhere in the middle and i'm uncertain what Cameron has done is a good thing or not.
If we had signed up to what the French and Germans are demanding, then it would have cost us tens of billions for countries that are not going to be able to claw there way back from the brink they are balanced precariously on.
Harsh to say but the PIIGS are doomed and further bail outs are futile, not that we could afford to dig out Spain or Italy without bankrupting us all anyway so i'm with Cameron on that score.
Where i think Cameron fell down was setting his face against Europe and going in with a list of demands and threatening to walk out if he didn't get them. No negotiation, this is what we want and we will take our ball home with us if we don't get them.
Now he has done that, we are on the outside with no input into how the European system evolves, a European system that we are heavily reliant upon for our own survival. France and Germany now get to make all the calls and mould it into the system they want and we have to just go with the flow.
I have always maintained that what we have is a halfway Europe, with everyone looking out for their own interests and that is never going to work. It needs to be all or nothing along the lines of the US model, an United States of Europe with one person calling the shots rather than 27 separate leaders squabbling.
Now we are outside and in the immediate term, you could argue that Cameron has saved us a fortune but in the long term, we have managed to remove ourselves from the decision making process of a system that we are eventually going to have to join with if we are ever going to have an influence on the World Stage.
The future is China, USA and the EU, Britain on it's own will be sidelined and ignored so it's a case of Cameron saving us a few pound today but we will sure be paying dearly for it tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Anarchy, The Only Way To Be

If you travel up from France and take a right at Calais, you end up in Belgium or to give the country it's full name, 'that place that nobody can name 3 famous people that hail from it without resorting to Google'.
Belgium has always been a bit of a strange country, known as boring and flat, it gained it's independence from the Dutch after an uprising followed an opera which is not the most obvious of sparks but it literally was over for the Dutch when the fat lady sung.
Thanks to stubborn politicians refusing to agree on how to form a coalition, Belgium had been without a government since June 2010 and in a state of anarchy in the original meaning of no government.
No government!? Well then there has obviously been massive riots, chaos, lawlessness, buildings on fire, or any of the other apocalyptic scare scenarios of a state of anarchy, only there hasn't been.
Daily life continued almost the same as before with everything still functioning except with one notable exception.
Without a government, none of the stuff all the other governments around the World have been doing could go on so no cuts, redundancies or austerity packages. In the absence of anyone with a mandate to slash and burn, Belgian public sector spending is tootling along much as it always has and much to everyones surprise, the Belgian economy is experiencing slightly healthier growth than most of it's European neighbours.
In the second quarter of 2011, Belgium grew at a meagre 0.7% but that beats the 0.1% growth for Germany, 0.2% for Britain and the disastrous 0.0% for France.
The country appears to be benefiting from its accidental immunity to the austerity fever that’s sweeping Europe so from the economic point of view, a country with no government is doing better than those with a government.
Alas, the heady times of Anarchy have now come to an end as the Belgian politicians have finally sorted out their difference and from today a Belgian Prime Minister has his hands back on the rudder again but boring little Belgium has left us with an interesting thought that won't be promoted by any Government anytime soon.
During hard times, could the best form of Government be no Government at all? Johnny Rotten may have been onto something all those years ago.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Cheer Up, It's Nearly Christmas

It seems that every year the amount of people complaining about Christmas being an excuse to pump consumers into buying a lot of crap grows.
Miserable buggers are only one step short of the Scrooge refrain of boiling in their own pudding and burying them with a stake of holly through his heart anyone who has the words Merry Christmas' on their lips.
Bah Humbug to the lot of them because I'm with Andy Williams in declaring It's the most wonderful time of the year.
To a Christian it is about the birth of Jesus, to an atheist which to be honest is the vast majority of us, then Christmas is whatever you want it to be.
If you don't like the commercial side of it then no-one is forcing you to spend a fortune in the shops and if all you are going to do is moan throughout the whole period then you only going to be grumpy and a pain to be around anyway.
Christmas, to me anyway, is about the decorations, the carol singers, advent calendars, Christmas films, the school nativity play, holiday from work, Christmas pop records and the general feeling of goodwill that builds as the days in December get crossed off the calendar.
If you are one of those people who use Scrooge as a template for celebrating Christmas then as the nephew said to his uncle Ebeneezer, 'Christmas is as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.'
Now shove a mince pie in your miserable face and get some Christmas spirit

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Career Change

I have been considering a career change for some time now and after some thought, i have decided to apply for the position of manager at Sunderland AFC.
Not that i am particularly a Sunderland fan but a couple of seasons playing football manager 2011 has shown i have a natural talent for running a football team as steering Reading from a mid-table Championship side to second place in the Premier League and successful negotiation of the group stages in the Champions League has shown. Flushed with this recent success, i have emailed Sunderland with my application as follows:

--
re: The Sunderland manager vacancy

Please can i be considered for the current managerial vacancy at your football club.

I have successfully steered Reading from the Championship to 2nd in the Premier League and to the group stages of the European Champions League on Football Manager 11 and feel i could repeat this feat with Sunderland. Admittedly i did use the editor to move Messi and Xavi to my team but they were both injured a lot and did not really contribute.

Thank you for your consideration

Lucy
--

I know i face stiff competition from Mark Hughes and Martin O'Neil and the fact that i cheated by making use of the Editor beforehand which may go against me but Hughes going mad and paying £20m for the hapless Brazilian striker Jo should discount him and Martin O'Neil's £120 million spending spree during his time at Aston Villa should suitably put the willies up the club owners in these austere times.
Up the Black Cats and while they are considering my application, i will be in training for my second choice career move as God with some Civilization 4.

Reply from Sunderland AFC

--
Dear Lucy

Thank you for your recent letter regarding the vacant managerial role at Sunderland.

I’m sure you will understand that the calibre of candidates for the role has been very high and we will therefore unfortunately be unable to progress your application further.

Thank you for your interest in Sunderland AFC and may we take this opportunity to wish you every success in your career in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Sunderland AFC
--

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Public Servants Are Not The Bad Guys

Approximately 2 million public servants didn't turn up for work today and the Government has been attempting to turn the private sector against them in a divide and rule movement.
They tried this before with some success when they moved the argument away from bankers bonuses and got the public condemning those on benefits and disability benefit instead.
Now they are attempting to pit the private sector against the public sector with the cry of 'Look, they have better pensions then you, the bastards!'
The Governments argument is that the public servants strike to resist the 20% reduction in their pensions is unjustified because those people who don't work in the public sector have even worse ones.
Rather than work to drag up the worst pensions to the level of the decent public servants ones, they are looking to bust the decent ones down to the worst level.
Things are really bad but what they would really like is things to be bad for everyone, yes everyone suffering equally, that's the ticket and logical if you are a Conservative Prime Minister.
The nurses, policemen, firemen and teachers are not the bad guys here, it's a right wing Government using the excuse of a a weak economy to fulfil their political ideological dreams.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

British Embassy Ransacked

Hundreds of Iranians have stormed the UK embassy in Tehran, chanting 'down with England' and 'down with America' and 'down with Israel' which is outrageous. America and Israel are much more evil than us, they should be down with first.
My two personal highlights were the protester who was filmed running away with a picture of Queen Elizabeth II freshly nicked from our Embassy and the looter who was spotted scampering away clutching a large picture of Pulp Fiction.
Now i can see how a picture of the Queen might be hung in the British Embassy, but Vince and Jules?
The British government has confirmed a serious incursion at the UK embassy in Tehran and asked the Iranian government to make every effort to end the crisis immediately. Surprisingly the Iranian Foreign Ministry didn't tell us to go do one over our tightening of economic sanctions, but replied that it regrets the attack on the British embassy and is committed to ensuring diplomats safety.
There were the usual scenes of men dancing around Union Flag's that had been set on fire and even a man sat on the wall waving a satellite dish which is either a protest against western media pumping anti-government propaganda into Iran from outside the country, or he had just nicked it off the side wall. Either way they won't be watching The Simpsons in the Embassy tonight.
Just as a pointer to the Iranians for future ransackings of our property, it is the British Embassy, not the English Embassy. I'd hate to think that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are getting away with the hatred and i would like to repeat my earlier point that in any order of evilness and countries that should be downed, Israel is first, then America and then us. We are just America's poodle so leave us and our Pulp Fiction pictures alone.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

X-Factor Advert Breaks

While watching a two-hour special of Mythbusters, i noticed that the actual running time of the show, once it had the adverts taken out, was 1 hour 26 minutes meaning over a quarter of the show was advertisements.
I don't know who runs the television rules in America but here we have Ofcom and they have been getting bashed for the amount of advertisement breaks in the X-Factor programme.
For commercial television, which has seen a heavy reduction in advertising income recently, a blockbuster show like X-Factor offers mouthwatering opportunities. Aside from the traditional advertising spots, there is the chance to sell sponsorship bumpers which top and tail the commercial breaks.
Ofcom have denied that it has increased the amount of advertising time available for ITV from the standard 12 minutes per hour which is true, sort of.
The situation becomes complicated because the bumpers at the start and end of the break are counted as programming minuteage rather than as part of the ad break. Similarly, trailers for other ITV programmes are outside of the 12 minutes also.
So no, strictly there are not more advertisement breaks in X Factor, it still has the standard 12 minutes, but the advertisement breaks are longer because the Talk Talk adverts bookending the adverts and the ITV trailers mixed in with the adverts for toilet paper and margarine don't count so they can have 6 breaks 2 minutes long with all the trailers and bumpers slotted in to bloat the break time.
In the eyes of the Ofcom regulations, ITV and X-Factor are within the rules but to the viewing public, for whom the adverts start when Dermot O'Leary announces they will be right back and lasts until he welcomes us back, the adverts are actually more in number and last longer with the actual programme shaved a few minutes shorter.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

How To Solve The World Economic Crisis

UK owe to US 578 bn and UK due from US 834 bn
UK owe to France 209 bn and UK due from France 227 bn
UK owe to Spain 316 bn and UK due from Spain 74 bn
UK owe to Ireland 113 bn and UK due from Ireland 104 bn
UK owe to Japan 122 bn and UK due from Japan 101 bn
UK owe to Germany 379 bn and UK due from Germany 141 bn

Football teams have a tried and tested method of moving huge amounts of money between themselves in the transfer market. Put simply, Team A buys Smith from Team B for 10m paying 2m a year for 5 years. After 3 years, they sell Smith to Team C for 15m. Team A have already paid Team B 6m so they request Team C to pay them 11m and for Team C take over the 2m payments per year to team B, therefore paying off their remaining 4m. All three teams pay and receive what they are due and the books balance.

In the economic world, everybody owes, and is owed, money by each other. For example the UK owe France 209 bn, but then France owe us 227 bn. Why can't Cameron phone Sarkozy and suggest he take off the 209 bn we owe them from the 227 bn they owe us and then you just pay us the remaining 18 bn.

Then he can telephone Obama and say you owe us 834 bn, we owe you 578 bn, so let's just cancel out each others debt and you then just owe us 256 bn.

If all the countries of the World got on the phone to each other and worked out who owes who in this way then most of the countries deficits could be slashed. If we then juggled things around like in the football transfer scenario above so after cancelling each others debts, any outstanding balance is paid to another on behalf of someone else, we would clear up this whole mess or at the very least, drastically reduce the amount of debt held by each other.

Seems very simple to me which probably means there is a huge hole in my thinking but with a growing number of countries on the verge of going bankrupt, creditor nations are facing receiving next to nothing anyway so at least this way they will get what they are due.

It seems crazy that we are demanding someone like Japan pays us the 122 bn they owe us while Japan are demanding that we pay them the 101 bn we owe them with all the massive interest payment involved to both countries when we can just agree to them owing us the 21 bn difference instead.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Court Finds Bush & Blair Guilty

Since they both moved into political retirement, Bush has kept out of the limelight and stayed in Texas while Blair had a go at remaining in the spotlight before quickly realising amid a deluge of insults and shoes that he had better keep his head down also.
While there are relatively few places that the unpopular pair could go on holiday and not be abused, if they had any plans to soak up the rays in Malaysia they had better think again because a court in Kuala Lumpar has declared them war criminals.
Though the verdict of the court carries no legal weight, the court held a trial and the decision was that:
'The Tribunal came to the unanimous conclusion that a prima facie case exists that President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair committed a crime against peace by their decision to invade and conquer Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein'.
The judge continued that 'Nothing in the United Nations Charter permits the actions undertaken by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair. The idea that the United States or United Kingdom was threatened by Iraq is preposterous.
The invasion of Iraq was an unlawful act of aggression and is an international crime. They acted with deceit therefore they are guilty as charged'.
The Court then recommended filing reports with the International Criminal Court against the two accused and that they both be included in the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission’s register of war criminals.
Luckily for the unloved duo, the Court has no power to enforce their decision but it is proof that their crimes have not been forgotten or forgiven and the pressure on them is ongoing.
Next up for trial is Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defence during the Iraq War and the most smug faced person on the planet.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Whatever Happend To...

While moving around some of the right wing sites on the internet, you do tend see quite a bit of amusing rhetoric regarding the protests in America. I was reading one recently that urged it's readers to arm themselves and fill their pantries in preparation of the oncoming Anarchist Socialist revolution. Wonderfully insane and i mentioned recently how Communism, Socialism and Marxism are all jumbled together in the minds of the enlightened right wingers who warn of the coming Soviet take over.
Stalin and Lenin are the usual historical bogey men the brickbats are thrown out but for some reason, the third of the revolting trio seems to escaped unscathed.
Apart from a mention by The Stranglers in their song 'No More Heroes', poor old Leon Trotsky hardly ever gets a mention, it's always those other two hogging the hate which is even more stranger when you consider Trotsky was the one who advocated permanent revolution which would have spread Communism worldwide. The other two lightweights were content to hold what they had.
If it wasn't for the occasional joke about ice picks, Trotsky would just never be mentioned and he was as much part of the Russian Revolution as Joseph and Vladimir.
He got one of the main roles in George Orwell's Animal Farm as Snowball who was later forced out of the farm by Napoleon after overthrowing Farmer Jones and yet he is spared the wrath of nutty right wingers who warn that people protesting against banks will lead to a re-run of the Great Purges from Maine to that place down the bottom full of oranges, old people and voting machines that don't work properly.
I say Trotsky should be treated with as much laughingly bad hyperbole as Stalin and Lenin by right wingers who want to scare their readers and i'm sure Barack Obama would agree, and he's a card carry Communist. Apparently.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Brutal Oppression In America

As in the Arab Spring back in March, the Egyptian protesters today were holding up gas canisters with 'Made in USA' stamped on them. The cameras cut away to Egyptian riot police launching another brutal baton charge to disperse the crowd, dismantling their tents and tearing down their banners.
If you had left the room and came back a minute later, you would still be seeing riot police brutally assaulting protesters and you would assume this was the same story, but it wasn't, these uniformed thugs were American police.
Among the victims of what was charitably described as 'heavy handed policing', a pregnant 19-year-old girl was pepper-sprayed as was Dorli Rainey, an 84-year-old woman. The reaction from the Police Department was a dismissive statement that Pepper Spray is 'no more dangerous to someone who is 10 or someone who is 80.'
The most disturbing scene was the policeman, Lt John Pike, calmly pepper spraying a line of unarmed students who were taking part in a peaceful campaign in California. Not only did he spray them at point blank range once, but then he walked back along the line to dish out another dose.
The police are there to protect and serve, but who exactly are they protecting and serving? Not the protesters obviously, but to use pepper spray, baton charges, tear gas, rubber bullets and sound canon against unarmed civilians posing no threat is just wrong in every way.
Over 1500 citizens so far have been arrested with journalists being threatened, beaten and arrested, 26 at the last count, for reporting on the police action. If this was anywhere else we would rightly be condoning it and branding the leadership a brutal regime, but there are people defending this action.
It cannot be simply written off as an over reaction of the police to something non-life threatening, non-deadly or a few bad apples which is a useful cover-all in the UK when police are caught out.
This is showing that in America, those that seek to protest against what they disagree with, will be put down with brutal force. If the protesters take up arms, as they did in Egypt, Iran, Libya and now in Syria, the Obama reaction would be exactly the same as Mubarak, Ahmadinejad, Gadaffi and Assad. Widespread slaughter because if they do this to unarmed civilians, and heaven knows how there has not been any fatalities yet, they will hit harder with lethal force if the protesters come armed next time.
In America of all places, it seems that if citizens peacefully seek to voice their grievances with the government, they will be threatened, ridiculed, bullied, attacked, assaulted and then arrested.
If this is how America deals with it's own version of citizens protesting, brutal oppression, then it has even less right to lecture any other country on how they should be behaving.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Osborne The Techno-Prat

We have heard the term 'technocrats' quite a bit recently with the news that the Italian Government has been cleared of all politicians and replaced by people with an economic background.
The theory is that people with experience of high finance are the best people to get the Italian economy back on its feet and it is a theory that i have some sympathy with even if i have misgivings with the Democracy side of things being swept to one side.
Whether this works or not we shall have to wait and see but it is obvious that in the UK, we do not have Technocrats so much as, well, idiots like George Osborne as the latest news from Northern Rock demonstrates.
The bank cost the Government £1.4 bn who then priced it at £1.12 bn but have now sold it to Virgin for £747m who had an original bid of £1.25 bn turned down a few years ago.
The Chancellor described the sale as 'The best deal for the British taxpayer' while his fellow Tory colleagues said it had been 'sold for a song'.
How the man in charge of our finances can call selling something for £400m less than the asking price a good deal is baffling, especially when you hear that what Virgin has paid for is only the profitable parts of the bank, we have helpfully broke off and keep hold of the parts of the bank that holds the £20 bn of toxic assets.
The idea of having people in charge who have an idea of what they are doing is sounding attractive so expect to hear how the Conservative Christmas Party at the local brewery has been cancelled this year. George Osborne is organising it. Smug faced moron.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Star Spangled Banner Rewrite

Oh, say! can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed as the riot police came steaming;
With drawn guns under the stars, fought the perilous fight,
O'er Zuccotti Park we watched protesters start screaming,
In the pepper sprays red glare, nightsticks fly through the air,
By daylight the proof that no protesters left there:
Oh, say! does that first amendment banner still wave
In the land of the free o'er the tents of the brave?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Katie Get Your Gun

A few years ago the Queen was on the end of much praise for putting a badly injured pheasant out of it's misery by wringing it's neck. What wasn't mentioned was that the injury was caused by Her Majesty blasting the bird out of the sky in the first place.
Our Royal family do like a bit of bloodsport, it if isn't taking pot-shots at harmless creatures for a bit of a lark, they are leading packs of dogs to rip apart foxes or rather they were until those bally commoners ruined their fun.
Now the Royal firing squad has another member to add to their team, Princess Kate, who has been having some private tuition in the art of bravely standing a hundred feet away and shooting at living things in preparation for the Boxing Day pheasant shoot at Sandringham.
Kate will spend her first Christmas with the Royal Family and is having the extra tuition because 'she is not the best shot'.
My first thought was to suggest a novel idea to her that she graciously decline the invitation to shoot at things but then on reflection, a loaded shotgun in the hands of somebody with lousy aim and a field full of Royals.
I say give her a gun, actually, give her two and get her some intensive training from that Cheney fellow.
I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's Prince Andrew gingerly picking buckshot out of his backside Boxing Day Eve but i will be happy with any of them being unable to sit comfortably at the News Years celebrations.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Another Leader Bites The Dust

If i were being charitable, i would describe the now former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Burlosconi as a colourful character. In a less charitable mood, i would say he was an imbecile of massive proportions.
Although Italians should be celebrating the end of Burlosconi, the way he has gone leaves a bitter taste in the mouth because it wasn't the Italian people that booted him out, he was forced out by the markets and the leaders of France & Germany, the second leader they have removed in a fortnight.
Greece neared default and the elected Prime Minister was shunted aside and replaced with the unelected Lucas Papademos, a former Governor of the Bank of Greece and Vice President of the European Central Bank. Now Italy are heading towards a Greek style meltdown and Burlosconi is eased out and the unelected former European Commissioner, Mario Monti, foisted upon the Italian public.
The proper thing to do would have been for Greece and Italy to hold snap elections but it appears the EU doesn't do democracy, you know that thing we invade other countries for not having, but it certainly likes putting it's 'friends' in power.
I am amazed that the Italians & Greeks have just allowed someone else to decide who can and can't run their country, regardless of how bad a job they are doing. There have been protests calling for Burlosconi to go for the past few years but he managed to stay and then last week the banks and brokers got worried and he is gone in a week.
Without doubt Burlosconi has been an awful Prime Minister and racked up a wide range of scandals including being found guilty of lying in court, bribing tax inspectors, false accounting, consorting with minors and is currently under trial for paying a juvenile prostitute.
Certainly he was a liability and yes he was a moron who shouldn't have been within a mile of power but that should be up to the Italians to decide, not those sitting in bank managers chairs and the leaders of France and Germany.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

FIFA Wrong In Poppy Backtrack

I feel a bit disappointed that FIFA has backed down in the great Poppy row that has blown up over the England football team wanting to wear a poppy on their kits in the match against Spain this weekend.
I'm not sure why the English FA decided this year in particular to make such a fuss over it, the FIFA rules regarding the non wearing of symbols on countries shirts has been respected since the World Governing bodies creation but this year the Prime Minster and Royal Princes have not just asked but arrogantly demanded that England are treated as an exception to the rule despite it being a long established rule that has failed to perturb the FA in decades of previous Novembers matches.
Fifa's reasoning for turning down the FA's request to have the poppies on the kit was that it would 'open the door to similar initiatives across the world, while jeopardising the neutrality of football'.
I wanted to hear FIFA say no and keep with it but now a precedent has been set for any of FIFA's 208 members to use their footballers for political or religious reason.
This does seem to be a part of the hysterical furore that has grown around the wearing, or non-wearing, of poppies over the last few years.
For some, not wearing the symbol is an act of betrayal, spitting in the eye of all those who have died in wars and conflicts through the ages and the whole thing seems to have been hijacked by vocal people insisting that it is a patriotic display of support for 'our heroes'.
The English FA, Prime Minister and Prince William were wrong to make any demands of FIFA to treat us differently to every other country in the world and FIFA were equally as wrong to give in to our childlike demands.
Will the same people screaming for the inclusion of a poppy be quite so vocal if the Indians wanted to wear a symbol to commemorate the millions killed in the reign of the British Raj or the Afghanistan team wanting do something for all those who have died under the recent Western occupation?

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

White House Say No ET

Barack Obama's administration has said it has no evidence that extraterrestrial creatures exist in response to a White House petition signed by over 5000 people demanding that the White House disclose the government's knowledge of extraterrestrial beings. More than 12,000 signed another petition seeking answers to the question of an extraterrestrial presence engaging with us humans.
In response, Phil Larson of the White House office of science and technology policy, said that the US government has no evidence that life exists outside Earth, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted any member of the human race.
As someone who strongly believes that out of the trillions and trillions of stars, it would be improbable that there isn't life evolving on one of the rocks circling them although many disagree. The main reason being why have we not seen them?
I answer simply because if they did take a look at us, they would keep their distance because to an outsider we must look like the last race in the Universe anyone would want to to make contact with.
Taken as a whole, we are not a peace fearing people by any stretch of the imagination. Our whole history is one of war and oppression and developing bigger and better weapons to kill each other with. We have wiped out entire species and been daft enough to seriously pollute our own environment.
If we came across another species and it was setting about doing the same thing as us, we would back off and avoid it and if the aliens have any sense at all, they have done the same thing and scarpered back to whence they came with the message of giving that blue planet a miss, they are crazy.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Socialism In A Nutshell

Rather predictable that the right wing is against the Occupy Wall Street protests that are currently sweeping not only America, but the Western World, but the Fox News team really outdid themselves this weekend.
Not only did they manage to accuse the protesters of being anti-Semitic because they are in support of the 99%, which leaves 1% which is roughly the percentage of Jews in the population, but wheeled out the usual insults of the protesters being anti-Americans, Marxists, Anarchists and Communists.
The Communists and Socialists insults crop up quite a bit in right wing rhetoric and Fox News had a helpful analogy to explain to it's viewers just what a Communist regime would mean for Americans.

Under Capitalism:
10 workers get paid £10 an hour and it takes them 10 hours to make a car. The car gets sold for £10,000. They all get paid £100 each and the remaining £9000 goes to the boss.

Under Communism:
10 workers get paid £10 an hour and it takes them 10 hours to make a car. The car gets sold for £10,000. They all get paid £100 each and the remaining £9000 go to the Authorities.

And now the part Fox failed to mention - Under Socialism:
10 workers get paid £10 an hour and it takes them 10 hours to make a car. The car gets sold for £10,000, They all get paid £100 each and the remaining £9000 is shared amongst them.

So Fox is correct that under Communism, all profits do go to the State as the State owns everything but they neglected to mention that under Socialism, the workers own everything so the profits are shared amongst them. The only difference between Socialism and Capitalism is who is the boss, a board of shareholders who take the profits or the workers who take the profits.

Despite the cries of the Right Wing, Socialism is not the Soviets under Stalin or North Korea, it is simply a system where the financial rewards are more evenly distributed and who wouldn't want that?
Think it wouldn't work in the real world? Department Store John Lewis’s is owned by it's staff, all 70,000 of them, and last year they shared just over £100 million profit between them, each receiving a bonus of nearly seven weeks’ pay. Last year each worker received the equivalent of 10 weeks pay.
Because John Lewis is owned by its staff from the boardroom to the shop floor, each receive the same percentage payout. This year it is equal to 13% of basic salary and that is Socialism in action and this proves that it works.
Now imagine if the banks did this with their tens of billions of pounds of profit, profit that at the moment go to the shareholders. What the Occupy protesters want are the profits of Capitalism to not go to the handful of companies shareholders but to be shared out amongst the people so Society as a whole benfits.
Don't let those who try to discredit the Occupy Protests with their talk of anarchists and Communists wanting to turn the West into North Korea, they are out to protect themselves and their bank balances and they will try to convert as many useful idiots to their cause as possible. Don't be a useful idiot for the right wing.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Same Old Faces Threatening Yet Another War

Western intelligence officials are saying that it will take Iran two or three years to get the bomb but we have been told that Iran was two or three years away from building the bomb for the last three decades.
Not that we have ever let a small thing like evidence get in the way of a bout of anti-Iran propaganda, we are again being warned that Iran gaining nuclear weapons capability is imminent and such a possibility would spell disaster for America and Israel with only there 5500 nuclear warheads to defend themselves with.
Reports are being circulated that the UK is examining contingency plans which involve aerial attacks on Iran's nuclear enrichment plants, in dealing with Iran and it's nuclear ambitions. The same people that bought us the Iraq, Afghanistan and Libyan wars are openly talking about attacking yet another country.
These same countries are saying to Iran 'We may have thousands of nukes, have invaded more countries than you under false pretences but you can't have nuclear power stations because you might try and develop weapons at some undetermined point in the future like we've had for years'.
As anyone who has been paying attention for the past ten years will know, it is obvious why Iran might want a bomb of its own. If the fate of Saddam and Gadaffi showed us anything, it's that the Wests enemies should not give up their nuclear weapon programmes. If you've got oil, we are coming for it and we won't be diverted by heavy civilian casualties (although the death of our own military personnel might cause a few wobbles), nor the potential that the war would quickly escalate from Iran to bring in Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah to reap havoc.
The irony is that if Iran did comes out and say they had developed the bomb, it would probably save millions of them from being slaughtered by the West and Israel who seem to have carte blanche to commit any atrocity it likes with unreserved support from America.
Unlike the Labour Party under Tony Blair in 2003, we can only hope there are enough voices in Government to tell the Prime Minister, and in Washington to tell the President 'Stop listening to the dangerous rubbish from Netanyahu, who is legendarily untrustworthy, and don't get involved in yet another stupid war'.
If the Americans are dumb enough to continue the gunboat diplomacy on behalf of Israel, the very least Britain should do is take a leaf from Harold Wilson's book when LBJ was asking for Britain to join the fight in Vietnam and tell them to take a hike.
Of course we won't and the trio led by a compulsively lying warmonger, an out of touch rich kid and the Nobel Peace Prize winner will be merrily killing in another avoidable war.
Isn't it obvious yet that the biggest threats to peace are in Washington, Tel Aviv and London, not Tehran.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Beiber Baby Bruhaha

Teenage pop star Justin Bieber has said that claims he fathered a child with a woman he met at one of his shows are 'demonstrably false' and he will 'vigorously pursue all available legal remedies' in response to the claim.
The 20 year old woman, Mariah Yeater, claims she had sex with Bieber after a concert in October 2010 and said she is sure that he is the father because 'there were no other men she had had sex with at the time' and is demanding a paternity test.
Someone, is obviously lying and whoever it turns out to be, they are obviously being badly advised because after the paternity test the truth will come out.
Unless he has never had sex with this women, then he should not be making any claims that he is not the father as if it turns out that he is this will only come back to slap him in face twice as hard.
If this woman is making false claims then she will be forever branded a gold digging harlot and face a counter claim for trying to extort money.
Her lawyers claim 'There is credible evidence that Justin Bieber is the father of her baby' and pointed out that Bieber has not denied he had unprotected sex with Ms Yeater following the concert.
Bieber tweeted that he was going to ignore the rumours and asked he be judged on his music instead which is a strange thing to ask because to anyone who isn't a 12 year old girl, if he is the father his music is rubbish and if he isn't the father, his music is still rubbish.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

UNESCO Vote

Heaven knows the Palestinians haven't had much to cheer about. Oppressed, downtrodden and bullied by their stronger, aggressive neighbour, it will take any victory and the UNESCO vote was a small victory.
The big UN vote for membership as a full member state is pencilled in for November 11th and the US has veto power at the Security council and has threatened to use it but it had no such power at UNESCO so instead lobbied hard to try and force the Palestinians to back down.
It threatened to cut all US funding for UNESCO, 22% of its annual budget, but UNESCO members have put politics before money, voting by 107 to 14 for the Palestinian bid.
This was not only a welcome failure of US power, but shows just how isolated America and Israel has become.
In the No column were Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sweden, United States of America and Vanuatu. When all the support you can muster is a handful of island nations and a few 'proper' countries, you must realise that you are backing a loser and Israel is hemorrhaging worldwide support.
It's response to the UNESCO vote was to suspend the transfer of tax money which it collects for the Palestinian Authority and to accelerate the construction of 2000 settlements on land where the Palestinians aim to found an independent state.
A small victory for Palestine maybe but a massive loss for the American and Israeli policy of keeping Palestine down with never ending talks which only achieve more Palestinian land illegally grabbed by Israel.
Now onto November 11th and the anticipated American veto in support of an increasingly isolated, and rightly maligned, Israel and the vitriol that will bring.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Prohibitive Thinking

It may be a truly horrendous cliché muttered by management types, but I have been attempting some 'blue sky thinking' and i have come up with a way to save us billions of pounds and thousands of lives. Surprisingly with those benefits, it might be a bit controversial.

This thing costs the overstretched NHS £2.7 billion annually and is implicated in 33,000 deaths a year in the UK. 3.2 % of all deaths worldwide

The British Crime Survey shows 53% of all violent acts are caused by this and 44% of acts of domestic violence

It is second only to tobacco as the major cause of premature death.

It kills 778 UK drivers annually (1 in 6 deaths on the road) and injures almost 20,000.

Crime related incidents directly from this costs police over £7bn a year.

It is attributable to 47% acts of criminal damage, 17% of muggings, 13% of sexual offences, 17% of burglaries and 12% of robbery's.

It costs the economy £1.8 billion annually in lost Working days.

It doesn't have any tangible benefits except raising approx £8 billion in revenue per year.

So with all this against it, why isn't alcohol banned? Apart from the drinks industry, who would lose out from a bout of prohibition? The £8 billion we lose from tax revenue would be dwarfed by the £2.7 billion savings to the NHS, £7 billion to the police and £1.8 billion to the economy lost through drink related absenteeism. That's a net saving of £3.5 billion not to mention the 33,000 lives saved.

The Government has long tried to restrict the ability of people to drink to excess by controlling the cost and availability of alcohol so why not just go the whole hog and slap a ban on it? If someone came up with the idea now it wouldn't make it past the planning stage so why persevere with something that costs so much socially and financially, something that if it was removed would not be missed and could only benefit society and the country's coffers?

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Oetzi's Revenge

All Hallows Eve. The night when the veil that separates our world from the Other world is at its thinnest and the one time in the year when we glimpse for a moment the dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension where shadow and superstition lies, the dimension of imagination. Don't be afraid, take my hand and follow me through the veil into that other place.

It's 1991 and two German tourists, Helmut and Erika Simon, discover a 5300 year old mummified corpse and direct a team of archaeologists to the site in the Alps between Austria and Italy.
The body is encased in ice and the evidence shows that the man, nicknamed Oetzi after the area in which he was discovered, met with a violent death, having been shot with an arrow before having his skull smashed.
Then, the people associated with his discovery begin meeting with mysterious ends.
The first death occurred when the man who had who put the caveman's body into the body bag was killed in a car crash on the way to a presentation that he was due to give on the discovery of the dead man.
Then the mountain guide who lead the team to the frozen body died in an avalanche. On recoevery of the body, it was discovered that among his many fatal injuries, his skull was smashed.
Next was the cameraman who had filmed the recovery of Oetzi, collapsing and dying of an undetected brain tumor.
Helmut, the man who had actually found the Iceman, was then found dead, laying face down in a stream, where he had landed after falling off a 300 foot cliff. Was it a coincedence that when death came for him, he was face down in water with his skull smashed just like Oetzi?
In another macabre twist, the man that found Helmut in the river, then dropped dead himself, suffering a heart attack on the way home from Helmut's funeral.
The sixth person who had been there on that fateful day when the iceman was discovered died from complications with a medical condition and the final death (so far) was when the scientist who first examined the corpse, died of a blood disease.

Maybe there is a practical explanation for why all these people died, maybe it was all a bizarre coincidence or maybe it's a warning that there's a place between light and shadow where the dead can reach out and touch us. A night like tonight perhaps when the curtain between the living and the dead is tantalisingly pulled aside for the briefest of moments.

Was that noise outside your window really the wind? Somewhere, the dead eyes of a 5300 year old corpse are looking for it's next victim. Stay safe tonight.

Friday, 28 October 2011

WWJD?

On the side of one of the 250 tents pitched in the grounds of St Paul's Cathedral is scrawled 'What would Jesus do?'
What we know of Jesus is that he was a socialist and as such was no fan of the money men, even going so far as to chasing them out of a temple and judging by this picture, handing out a sound thrashing to one of them.
This makes it even more ironic that officials from St Paul's want to force protesters to remove their impromptu camp site as it is costing them around £20,000 a day in lost visitor revenues.
The Church of England website funding page tells us that the CoE raises just over £1000 million a year and has assets of £4.4 billion.
My guess would be that what Jesus would do would be to ask the Church what part of the rich man/camel/eye of the needle analogy it didn't understand and then probably punch the Archbishop of Canterbury in the face and tell him to stop being such a dick. Just a guess.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

More Nonsense From The Tories

In these difficult times, the Government has been looking at ways to free up business and boost economic growth so commissioned businessman Adrian Beecroft to look into ways to achieve this.
His report to the Government has been leaked and his big idea is that if it were easier for businesses to fire employees, they would be more willing to hire so all rights to claim unfair dismissal should be removed, citing current employment protection laws and the inability for business to just be able to sack their staff hampering their ability to recover from the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.
His other conclusions suggest scrapping parental leave, scaling back flexitime working and reducing maternity pay to lift the burden on business.
Earlier this year Mr Beecroft recommended a delay in pensions reform, told No 10 that the NHS cuts should go even further and slash research support for medical charities.
So who was is Adrian Beecroft who wants to be able to sack anyone he doesn't like and wants the NHS slashed to the bone?
It should not be a surprise that he is a multi-millionaire businessman who has donated almost a million pounds to the Conservative Party over the last few years which immediately raises the question of cash for Government influence but if we dig a bit deeper we find something more interesting than a major donor being placed into a influential position by the Government.
Adrian Beecroft interests include wonga.com, an online company offering payday loans at huge rates of interest. A recent probe by the consumer watchdog Which? condemned the 4,394 per cent annual interest rate it charged.
Obviously, a business that lends money to those finding themselves short would only benefit from a constant round of employee hiring and firing but the real controversy is with his call to cut back further on the NHS.
Although he is no longer employed by them, Mr Beecroft retains interest in a firm named Apax where he worked as the senior investments officer. The company owns or manages healthcare companies such as General Healthcare which stand to benefit from the increased use of the private sector inside the NHS.
The Government can justify any move, no matter how absurd, as necessary for the economic recovery but to get their friends who are blatantly only in position because they donated large amounts of money to the Government and are using their influential position to further their own business interests is yet another reminder of why the Conservative Party should be removed before they do real damage.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Why Nobody Believes John Terry

Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas has launched a defence of his centre back John Terry over his 'alleged' racist slur against QPR defender Anton Ferdinand.
Terry, the England captain, has denied racially abusing Ferdinand, explaining that what he actually said was 'Oi, Anton, do you think I called you a black ****?’
Ferdinand has yet to come out in support of that chain of events and is actually pushing for is club to make a formal complaint but Chelsea boss, Villas-Boas, has already come out saying Terry has his full backing and pondering that he finds it strange that 'people don't trust the words of a representative from your country.'
Ah, the old he-plays-for-England-so-he-must-be-okay defence.
So where to start with why nobody trusts the word of the English representative.
For the benefit of the new Chelsea manager, allow me to present the case why the country collectively rolled it's eyes when Terry declared his innocence.
In 2001, on the 9th September, in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on New York, John Terry was fined for mocking American tourists at Heathrow Airport and in 2002, he was arrested for attacking a doorman in a nightclub and again in 2007 for damaging the scooter of a photographer.
His last appearance in a policeman's notebook was when he was fined and gained an extra 3 points on his licence for speeding.
Being a drunken lout off the pitch is not evidence that John Terry, England's captain, is a lying, cheating piece of pond life but having an affair with your best friends wife goes a long way towards it. Throw in the quotes about 'I've never cheated on Toni and I never would' before the news broke fulfills the lying, cheating part.
As does his taking £10k a time backhanders from a renown ticket tout for unofficial tours of the Chelsea training ground but being a womanising, lying cheating scumbag off the field is one thing but his on-field behaviour is not much better.
In the Champions League Final in 2008, John Terry was filmed having a word in Carlos Tevez's ear before filling it with a mouthful of spit.
My evidence ends in 2006 with the allegation that Mr Terry told Ledley King to 'Shut up you lippy black monkey' before getting sent off.
So did Terry call Anton Ferdinand a ‘black ****,’ on Sunday? Don't know, the TV evidence sure looks like he did and that is why Mr Villas-Boas, nobody trusts the word of this representative of our country but feel free to continue backing him and picking him for Chelsea because apart from being a Grade A sleazeball, he is also over the hill and it's my teams turn to run him ragged this weekend.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Wall Street Occupiers Make Their Move

Anybody watching coverage of the demonstrations against the banks and financial institutions must have noticed the moustache and pointy bearded masks of the protesters, a stylised depiction of our very own Guy Fawkes.
The same masks were used by hacking groups a few years ago and have now been adopted by the occupy movement. The masks are from the 2006 film V for Vendetta where one is worn by the films hero, a revolutionary who uses Fawkes as a role model in his quest to end the rule of the British Government where he destroys the Houses of Parliament by blowing it up, something Fawkes had planned and failed to do in the 17th Century.
If you were looking for a revolutionary, Guy Fawkes would be one of the best you could pick and to be honest the mask is damn cool so i am glad that the younger generation have got their own identity and not gone for the obvious revolutionaries like Che Guevara.
Because of the link with Guy Fawkes, the Occupy Wall Streeters have designated 5 November as 'Bank Transfer Day', an idea that i mooted last week although they have opted to do it all in one go rather than what i would have thought would be a better approach of doing it bank by bank over time to bring about maximum panic within the banks.
The plan is for bank customers to transfer their money out of large banks, close their accounts and move to smaller banks and credit unions who are not-for-profit financial cooperatives.
The Occupy facebook page here declares: 'Together we can ensure that these banking institutions will always remember the 5th of November!! If the 99 percent removes our funds from the major banking institutions on or by this date, we will send a clear message and give the 1 percent a taste of the fear that we experience every day when we aren’t able to pay for our rent, food, medication, utilities, student loans, etc.'
The website here gives a step by step guide on how to go about things that day.
We know that this way of sticking it to the man works so hopefully, this particular group of Guy Fawkers will be more successful then the original one who ended up being quartered and his body parts sent to different parts of the kingdom. Ouch.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Gaddafi Killed & Western Appetite Restored

Since 2006, the West have wiped Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden and now Gaddafi from the face of the Earth. Some are regretting that the former Libyan leader was not taken alive and put on trial but the instigators of the conflict, Britain, France and America, are just relieved that the job has been done without turning into the debacle that is Iraq and Afghanistan.
All three leaders, Sarkozy, Obama and Cameron, were quickly on the television congratulating themselves on a job well done and the worry is that this success will lay to rest the ghost of Iraq and Afghanistan and fuel the perception that such Western intervention operations are the way forward.
The temptation will be for success in Libya to be cited as justification for military interventions elsewhere. In the orgy of back slapping that will surely ensue, the dubious interpretation of the UN resolution on the use of air strikes to protect civilians should not be forgotten and will hamstring any other attempt by anyone to make the same argument in support of a similar UN resolution in future.
For the past eight months since the conflict began, the Western trio of leaders have been at pains to stress the thousands killed by Gaddafi but there is no talk of the thousands, 15,000 at the last count, who have been killed by them during this latest military adventure.
The impression has been created that this was a 'clean' war with no French, British or American fatalities and that this was a revolution to overthrow a brutal dictator who had been oppressing his people for 42 years although for a lot of that time the very countries that would remove him, were arming and supporting him.
Leaving aside, or just not mentioning, the Libyan death toll, the idea has now been sparked that intervention in other people's revolutions or civil wars has a future, to help 'the people' overthrow dictatorial leaders wherever they be or rather in countries where the leadership is not sympathetic to Western interests.
With the fall of Gaddafi, the leadership in Tehran and Damascus will move strongly into the Western eye line and the niggling thought amidst all the celebration is that the West has got its appetite back for invading weaker, mineral rich countries under the guise of humanitarian intervention and introducing Democracy although the reasonable question to be asked is can there ever be Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa unless the West pick those countries leaders?

Monday, 17 October 2011

Replacing Obama: The Others

On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, America will elect it's 45th President and the smart money is on it being either Obama again or a Republican but America has some third party candidates and with the Republicans fielding a weak team (Rick Perry. Really?) and Obama more dope than hope, the others have a great chance of making a impact but just who are the other parties. Using our previous left wing criteria of Foreign Policy, the Environment and Israel, who is acceptable to the resurgent Left?

The Constitution Party was the largest party outside of the Reps and Dems and received 0.15% of the total popular vote in the 2008 election and their foreign policy of isolationism and not intervening in foreign countries affairs sounds acceptable but their refusal to accept man made climate change doesn't bode well for vote wielding lefties. 1 out of 3.

The Green Party took 0.12% of the vote last time out making them the 4th placed party but apart from a Green policy, what else do they offer? The Green Parties website states: 'Our government does not have the right to justify pre-emptive invasion of another country on the grounds that the other country harbors, trains, equips and funds a terrorist cell' which is a sound Foreign Policy but seems aimed at Afghanistan and America has invaded two other countries since then. It does, however, reject U.S. political support for Israel and demand that the U.S. government end its veto of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel. 2.5 out of 3

The Libertarian Party received 0.4% of the national vote in 2008 and the manifesto on their website includes a Foreign Policy of a non-interventionist position. Its Environmentally friendly, supporting a clean and healthy environment and sensible use of our natural resources and opposes American taxpayers' funding Israel, condemning its aggression and confiscatory policies. 3 out of 3

The Boston Tea Party received just 2,422 votes in 2008 and their website puts their only aim as reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose. They do have a great tagline of 'Time to party like its 1773' though. 0 out of 3 but kudos for the great slogan.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation should chime well with the Wall Street Occupiers and if the anger aimed at Capitalism remains high next November, they should improve on the 6808 votes they polled last time out. Being an anti-war party, it is no surprise that its Foreign policy includes the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, and an end to the war in Libya. It also wants all U.S. military bases in other countries to be shut down. Regarding the environment, it wants the implementation of environmental laws and to impose huge fines on those who defile the environment. It is also backing the immediate end to the occupation of Palestine. 3 out of 3.

The Socialist Party USA gained 6528 votes nationally and is anti-war and wants all U.S. military forces withdrawn from Iraq and Afghanistan. It would sign the Kyoto Protocol, limiting carbon emissions, and would accept a major role in worldwide efforts to control global warming. It's website states that: 'The United States bears direct responsibility for the Israeli aggression in the Occupied Territories. It was U.S. military and economic aid that made Israel into one of the most powerful military states in the world. The United States should terminate the five billion dollars a year it gives the Israeli government'. 3 out of 3

After a trip through the political field of American politics, the options so far of the lefts choice for the next Party to take the keys to the White House is out of The Libertarian Party, The Party for Socialism and Liberation or the Socialist Party USA. The Greens are in with a shout if they can nail down their foreign policy but we still have a year to go to narrow this field of 4 down to 1.

Out of the Republicans on offer, Ron Paul is the least worst although the CBS News Poll puts him way behind in 5th place for the Republican nomination.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Interesting Links

Although the resignation of Dr Liam Fox did not come as a surprise, you can't help wondering if further digging into his dealings would have thrown up some dirt on the bigger players in the British Government. The shadowy Atlantic Bridge Charity for example which Liam Fox chaired could have been a rich source of embarrassment, especially as it was swiftly wound up after the Charity Commission demanded that its "current activities must cease immediately" because "the activities of the charity have not furthered any of its other charitable purposes in any way".
A charity that was set up but was shut down 14 years later because it hadn't actually done any charity work?
Unfortunately the Atlantic Bridge website has been closed so we can't actually get to see what it was all about. At least we can't unless we have a trip through the websites archive.
The Our Aim page shows the Mission statement as: 'to preserve and promote the Special Relationship exemplified by the Reagan-Thatcher partnership of the 1980s. Its goal is to become the premier Anglo-American voice advocating free market principles to a broad range of common issues. To those ends, The Atlantic Bridge works to re-establish and foster a strong, well-positioned network of like-minded people in business, politics, academia, law and journalism on both sides of the Atlantic.'
So who was in this special club?
The UK Atlantic Bridge Board Members were headed by Honorary Patron Margaret Thatcher while ministers, George Osborne, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling and William Hague were all on its advisory council alongside Fox, its UK chairman .
In 2007, things get interesting. An apparently unconnected US-based lobby group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) set up a sister charity in the US - also known as Atlantic Bridge.
"Washington, DC-The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is pleased to announce the launch of The Atlantic Bridge Project as the latest component of its International Relations Program. The project aims to foster positive relationships between conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic, so that they may further the ideals exemplified by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.'
ALEC is supported by the likes of Exxon Mobil, tobacco manufacturer Philip Morris, pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer and Koch Industries Ltd. All interesting bedfellows but especially the Koch Industries, whose founders, the oil barons Charles G Koch and David H Koch, have funnelled tens of millions to climate-denial front groups.
On the Atlantic Bridge Executive committee we have Scott Syfert, a lawyer with Moore & Van Allen, which represents military, chemical and energy interests. Also on the executive board is Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association, which represents casino operators and Michael Hintze, who has donated more than £1m to the Tories and whose firm, CQS, deals with defence contracts.
Far from being a small, conservative talking shop, the Atlantic Bridge was a well connected networking club linking most of the UK cabinet to powerful business interests.
The man who bought down Fox, Adam Werrity, had links to a company called Pargav who financed his trips abroad. Pargav was partly funded by Tamares Real Estate, an investment company owned by Poju Zabludowicz, chairman of Bicom, the Britain Israel Communications & Research Centre, who are 'dedicated to creating a more supportive environment for Israel in Britain.'
Interesting connections indeed between our Government and those with very deep pockets and a vested interest in influencing UK policy.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Dr Fox Hunting

The British media has been through a torrid time recently but this week has shown what it is good at and why the powerful seek to limit it's powers.
Dr Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, has been forced from Government over revelations of his close friend gaining access to his Government department and accompanied him on foreign visits when he had no official role.
Waking up this morning with one less Tory right winger in a position of power should be regarded as a good day but nobody should be surprised that Fox is out of the cabinet, with his recent record he is lucky to still have a job at all.
Fox somehow survived the expenses scandal last year when he had to repay over £20,000 he had claimed in a dubious mortgage interest payments claim.
Immediately afterwards, he was caught up in another scandal for breaking parliamentary rules on two occasions by visiting Sri Lanka on a trip paid for by the Sri Lankan government without declaring it in the official register.
Now, at the third time of asking, he has fallen over taking his close friend into meetings with senior figures in the defence world, what he admitted was 'a mistake' but didn't stop him doing it anyway.
The British media is not perfect and the likes of Rupert Murdoch drag it through the gutter on occasions but it should be feeling quite proud of itself today.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Blueprint For The Wall Street Protesters

I expected the Wall Street protests to have fizzled out by now but they are still there making a noise and waving their banners but deep down inside they must know that nothing is going to change unless the few thousand turn into a few million and even then the Government and finance houses won't be overly concerned.
What will make them take notice is if the throng becomes organised because there is a way for them to change the system as we have seen recently.
Customers of the Dutch bank DSB forced it into bankruptcy by withdrawing £550m of their savings, Northern Rock in Britain was on the verge of collapse after customers withdrew their savings so how much more of a blueprint do the Wall Street protesters need?
Target one bank, and on mass, withdraw your savings. Panic ensues, share prices of that bank slump and you have landed one almighty black eye to the very people you are shouting and waving placards at.
After the first one, target another and the same tactic and that's another finance house with sharply reduced shares and directors facing a nervous board.
After the first few teeter on the brink, the rest will quickly take note and be desperate to avoid the same fate.
There are 320 million of you Americans, if even half of that many are angry at the banks living it up at your expense, that is the only way you have at giving them some of their own pain.
You can stand in Wall Street until this time next year and nothing will change, they can ignore you quite happily, but hit their profits by withdrawing your business, after all if they have less of your money to lend out, the less profit they will be able to make, and they will be forced to comply or face unprecedented upheaval.
As we have seen, it works and all it takes is one of the big name Wall Street supporters such as a Michael Moore to organise it, pick a bank, pick a day, and watch the banks scamper.
You are the 99%, you have all the power if you can focus it. The alternative is to stand around in the cold achieving very little.