Friday, 30 January 2015

Churchill Wasn't Great

Today is the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's funeral and the politicians of today are queueing up to heap praise upon him but is the British former Prime Minister really worthy of the high praise he is currently receiving? 
Previously voted 'Greatest Britain', Churchill has a great reputation, mainly because as he said 'History will be kind to me as i intend to write it' but he obviously did not foresee a time when his own words would come back to show that far from being a 'Great Brit', he was actually an abhorrent human being.
His drunkenness is legendary, his quip to a female critic who questioned his insobriety with the reply that 'Madam, in the morning i will be sober but you will still be ugly' shows his prickly side while comments such as describing the many wars fought in the name of empire as: 'a lot of jolly little wars against barbarous peoples' that he was little better than the people he urged to never surrender to.  
When concentration camps were built in South Africa, for white Boers, he said they produced "the minimum of suffering". The death toll was almost 28,000, and when at least 115,000 black Africans were likewise swept into British camps, where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his 'irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men' and demanded a programme of further invasions based on his belief that 'the Aryan stock is bound to triumph'.
Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was warned by Cabinet colleagues not to appoint him because his views were so outdated and 'Winston thinks only of the colour of their skin' which was clear in his attitude to India.
When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that: 'he ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant. Gandhi-ism and everything it stands for will have to be grappled with and crushed'.
To make sure no doubt remained, he added: 'I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion'.
This hatred was confirmed during the 1943 famine in Bengal where 3 million people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He bluntly refused, raging that it was 'their own fault for breeding like rabbits' and by their actions they were: 'merrily culling the population'.
'On the subject of India' said the British Secretary of State to India at the time: 'Winston is not quite sane. I didn’t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s'.
Churchill believed that Kenya's most fertile lands should be the preserve of the white settlers, and approved the clearing out of the local "blackamoors". He saw the local Kikuyu as "brutish children". When they rebelled under Churchill's post-war premiership, some 150,000 of them were forced at gunpoint into detention camps where torture was administered through electric shocks, whippings, shootings and mutilations.
In reply to the torture regime where 14,000 died, he wrote only of his 'irritation that Kaffirs should be allowed to fire on white men'.
The view that the white man was superior was bought to the fore again when he denied any wrongdoing in handing over the Palestinian land to Israel, 'I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place'.
He was also a very keen advocate of using chemical weapons, urging a chemical strike on German cities using poison gas and anthrax in a memo to bomber command that: 'I may certainly have to ask you to support me in using poison gas. We could drench the cities of the Ruhr and many other cities in Germany, and if we do it, let us do it one hundred per cent' he wrote and when it was rejected as it would 'seriously impair our relations with the civilian population when it became generally known that chemical warfare was first employed by us', he responded: 'I am not at all convinced by this negative report. The matter should be kept under review'.
This wasn't the first time he argued for using poisonous gas, during the 1919 Iraqi uprising he argued that: 'I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes'.
Previously to ordering the saturation bombing of Dresden in 1945, where more than 500,000 German civilians and refugees, mostly women and children, were slaughtered in one day by the dropping of over 700,000 phosphorus bombs on the city, Churchill said of his military advisers: 'I do not want suggestions as to how we can disable the economy and the machinery of war, what I want are suggestions as to how we can roast the German refugees on their escape from Breslau'.
The evidence suggests that far from being a great, Churchill was a murderous racist who saw killing those who opposed the marauding British Empire as worthy of death or incarceration and held civilians with as little regard as the Nazis. A death camp run by the Nazi's in Poland killing Jews or one in Kenya run by the Brits is still a death camp.
It appears that far from fighting the Nazi's out of any ideal against fascism, he was a fan of Mussolini after all, he was merely trying to defend the British Empire from a rival who was copying his methods but you won't hear any of this mentioned over the next few days while the plaudits reign down.
All in all, it makes a charade of the MP's repeating the line parrot fashion that he was a great leader, he wasn't, he was a brutal man who has airbrushed his own history and whose whitewashed story has been swallowed by gullible Brits ever since.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

The Not Voting Question

A question i have been asked frequently and more so as the election looms is the one that Russell Brand received a bit of a bashing for, 'Is it okay not to vote?'
The first taste many 18 year old's got of voting at the last election was boosting the Liberal Democrat vote after they made a solemn promise not to increase the student fees and then finding the party did exactly that when they joined the coalition and supported the Conservatives tripling their tuition fees. Obviously that was duly noted and also by the generation of students that followed who now find themselves tens of thousands of pounds in debt at the end of their courses and the Lib Dem's can fully expect to be horribly decimated this time around.
That sort of experience is obviously going to sour a voters view, they rightly feel cheated and lied to and so look elsewhere to place their X on the ballot paper.
What if after taking a look around at the other parties and decide that you don't like what any of them are offering? Should you hold your nose and vote for the 'least worst' option, the one that you disagree with the least, or withhold your vote from all of them as a recognition that you would not be happy to endorse any of those on offer.
There is no option on the ballot to state 'none of the above' but you can spoil your ballot paper by writing it on there or crossing all the parties out but the party with the most votes is still going to get into power. 
My personal view is if you have looked into what all the parties offer and you do not find one that chimes with your beliefs then it is a perfectly legitimate strategy to not vote but it would be better to actively spoil your paper and write in 'None of the Above' as spoilt papers are counted and if significant numbers of people vote for nobody and state they feel unrepresented it will become a news story as it cannot be dismissed as voter apathy or people just not bothering to vote and hopefully would send a signal to the political parties that they are out of touch with a large number of voters.
The swing side of that of course is that you are not voting against the current ruling party so you are not registering your choice to remove them from power, therefore endorsing them in a backhanded way to carry on running the country so give it some thought before May and you find yourself (or not) in the polling booth as it's a tough choice.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Histories Biggest Killer

If the quiz question 'Who has killed the most people in history' came up you could be excused for running through the usual suspects such as Hitler or Stalin but there is one man who is responsible for multiple more deaths than all of them put together and whose influence continues to kill millions today and will for the foreseeable future.
That man would be Thomas Midgley Jnr, who was not content with shortening the life of us all once, doubled his efforts by thinking up a second way to do it.  
Thomas Midgley Jnr was the man at General Motors who decided that what petrol needed was a large dose of atmosphere polluting lead (tetraethyllead or TEL) in it and then came up with the whizz that refrigerators would work better if they contained ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).
Not the brightest spark, he suffered lead poisoning on several occasions and after numerous deaths at the factory that produced TEL, he poured the TEL over his hands and inhaled the substance for 60 seconds at a press conference to demonstrate the apparent safety of TEL before suffering yet another bout of lead poisoning and having to travel to Europe for treatment.
He was then on the team that developed CFC's for air conditioning and refrigeration systems before dying aged 55 by accidentally strangling himself in the ropes of a pulley that he had invented to lift himself out of bed.
After 70 years of every car in the world using lead petrol which threw thousands of millions tonnes of lead into the atmosphere and then depleting the ozone layer with CFC's, the argument could be made that Thomas Midgely, through environmental changing actions, has been responsible for more human deaths than any other single person in history.

Monday, 26 January 2015

All Or Nothing

Although you may not believe it, i really don't like to keep knocking people of a religious persuasion because on the general, everyday level, it's fine and brings comfort to many but it keeps shooting itself in the foot and making itself look even more stupid and outdated and outright dangerous in the wrong hands.
The consecration of the Church of England's first woman bishop was met with a protester today at York Minister, the proceedings were held up by a man shouting that it was wrong because 'it's not in the Bible' and 'The lord Jesus Christ made a very deliberate choice of those who were to carry on his work'.
The word of the Bible, it seems, is the last line in what Christians can and can't do and the Bible is set in stone, not to be amended or changed and must be obeyed.
I am assuming that because this man and those who hold this view, and apparently that is a large number of Christians,  the rest of the Bible is the final word and not to be cherry picked or edited so when the Bible says: 'If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads'.
So if the Bible says its fine to kill gays, and it's in the Bible, who else does the Bible say we can kill with God's blessings?
The list includes - People Who Don't Listen to Priests' (Deuteronomy 17:12), Witches (Exodus 22:17), Fortunetellers (Leviticus 20:27), anyone who hits their parents (Exodus 21:15), anyone who curses their parents (Leviticus 20:9), adulterers (Leviticus 20:10), anyone who follows another religion (Exodus 22:19), non-believers (2 Chronicles 15:12-13), Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night (Deuteronomy 22:20-21), Blasphemers (Leviticus 24:10-16), and Sunday workers (Exodus 31:12-15).
I guess as women Bishops are a no-no as it doesn't say it in the Bible, what it DOES say should be obeyed and God said it is okay to machine gun the cashiers on the tills in the supermarket next Sunday.      
Absurd you say? Well they started it and they should decide whether the Church can cherry pick and quietly drop the less socially acceptable bits or take the Bible text as the final word and defend your view that should see you spend the rest of your life removed from society as a danger.

Think I Will Skip American Sniper

I always go out of my way to avoid war films, with the exception of Full Metal Jacket which was an anti-war war film, so there was never any danger of my backside warming a cinema seat to watch American Sniper so i have managed to avoid the hype surrounding it until Michael Moore piped up with his 'snipers are cowards' comment.
I don't have much time for those sniping from roof tops, firing missiles from a ship 20 miles off the coast, dropping bombs from 35,000 feet up or controlling a drone from halfway around the world and my sympathies lie with the innocent people caught up in the willy waving of the leaders of the countries at war.
So not that i would have gone and seen it anyway, but i did start to read about the soldier whose story the film is based on, Chris Kyle.
I got a few paragraphs in and learnt that he was obsessed with guns from an early age, was deeply religious and believed that he was in Iraq doing Gods work and turned the page.
I'm not interested but as it has set a new record for films that open in January, seems the gun nuts, those who saw  the Iraq War as 'just', those duped by the rhetoric of the War On Terror and anyone with a bible in the bedside cabinet are enjoying it but it's not for me thanks.

Happy Birthday Aussies

Today is Australia Day, marking the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships chock full of convicts landed at Port Jackson, New South Wales.
We Brits do have a lot of fun at the Aussie's expense but on their National Day it should be a time to reflect on just what this proud country has contributed to the World, it's great historical figures and it's place in the World.
As i say it should be a time, but what Australia is famous for is the tradition of having its town's and cities named by 5 year old schoolboys so here is the address some Australians have to put on their envelopes.

Banana QLD, Binnaway NSW, Boing Boing NT, Bong Bong NSW, Boyland QLD, Burrumbuttock NSW, Chinaman's Knob VIC, Chinkapook VIC, Cock Wash SA, Cockburn WA, Delicate Nobby NSW, Dismal Swamp TAS, Doo Town TAS, Gooloogong NSW, Grong Grong NSW, Humpty Doo NT, Humpybong QLD, Innaloo WA, Koolyanobbing WA, Mooball NSW, Mount Buggery VIC,
Pimpinbudgie QLD, Poowong VIC, Smiggin Holes NSW, Tittybong VIC, Wagga Wagga NSW, Watanobbi NSW, Wee Waa NSW, Wonglepong QLD, Woodie Woodie and Yorkeys Knob QLD.

With the obligatory mention of sheep, sticks you cant throw away and cork hats, Happy Birthday Australia.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

The Truth Is Out There

Although we should not condone hacking of Government Departments, it would be interesting if someone got into whatever department holds the UFO information.
The BBC has the story of John Greenewald who has spent the last two decades requesting declassified information from the US government regarding UFOs.
Although obscured with many redactions, he has amassed over 100,000 pages of documents from Project Blue Book, the files which show how the US Government investigated 12,618 UFO sightings until it was 'closed' in 1969. 
In 11,917 cases the following investigation by the Project Blue Book team were deemed caused by weather balloons, swamp gases, meteorological events, temperature inversions or hoaxes.
In 701 cases, the Unidentified Flying Object remained unidentified and could not be explained even after stringent analysis.
Of course it doesn't mean that it was little green men popping by to see what we are up to or a reconnaissance mission by creatures from Alpha Centuri sussing out whether we are ripe to be invaded but it also doesn't mean it wasn't.
Cue the X-Files theme tune.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Same King Abdullah?

John Kerry called it 'a sad day' and added 'the world has lost a revered leader' while David Cameron said 'He will be remembered for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths' so obviously they are referring to a different King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia because the one i knew was an evil son of a camel.
Whoever this other King Abdullah was, he must have been a lovely guy because even the EU’s commissioner for economic and financial affairs, described him as 'a personality of peace and strong leadership' and the French head of the IMF, went as far as praising Abdullah as a feminist, saying 'he was a strong advocate of women'.
Whoever this cross between Ghandi and Mother Theresa was, it certainly wasn't the King Abdullah who flogs bloggers, denies women even the basic human rights, beheads prisoners and bans any religion that isn't Wahhabism. 
So the evil King is dead and they have a new one, Salman bin Abdulaziz, so when all the Western leaders rush to the funeral i'm sure they will nicely ask if this new king chappie will bring in freedom of religion, female equality, less of the beheadings and lashings and generally drag his country into the 21st Century. Oh and if you can stop funding terrorists, that would be very much appreciated thank you very much.
Unfortunately, the new King has signalled 'continuity' and 'adhering to the policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment'.
The West will just have to continue looking the other way as far as human rights in Saudi Arabia are concerned then, at least until the oil runs out and the military contracts dry up anyway.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Four Minutes To Midnight

Probably the best song about the Doomsday Clock was Iron Maidens 'Two Minutes To Midnight' and at 4pm today the hands that threaten doom to kill the unborn in the womb tick another minute closer to the dreaded 12 o'clock.  
The Doomsday Clock have been fixed at 5 minutes to midnight for the past three years but The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists who control the clock have decided the Doomsday Clock needs an adjustment in the wrong direction towards a potentially civilisation-ending catastrophe.
In 1953, the clock was set at 11:58 p.m., the closest it's ever been to midnight, after both the United States and the Soviet Union conducted their first tests of the hydrogen bomb. The clock's hands retreated to 11:43p.m., 17 minutes to midnight, in December 1991, after the world's nuclear superpowers signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The decision has been made with climate change and nuclear warheads the two major threats with inadequate international action to cut greenhouse gas emissions during recent U.N. climate talks in Lima, Peru and a lack of progress in the United States and Russia to shrink nuclear arsenals.
Proof, if any was needed, that we ignore 1980's Heavy Metal at our peril.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Blaming Blair

Tony Blair says he is not to blame for delay in publication of the Chilcot report which has taken a long, hard look at the reasons Britain went to war against Iraq in 2003.
Tony Blair has rejected suggestions that he is to blame for the decision by the enquiry to wait until after the general election before publishing its findings but as the whole thing is about Tony Blair lying to take us to war, that denial should be taken with a whole salt mine, nevermind a pinchful.
The hold up seems to be due to people criticised in the report being advised they are about to be criticised publicly and having a right to respond before the publication or to 'get their excuses ready' as everyone else calls it.
Blair has never agreed that his actions in joining George W Bush in attacking Iraq was wrong, and today he again defended his actions by saying: 'I think many people in Iraq would agree, that Saddam Hussein wasn’t exactly a force for stability, peace and prosperity for his country, and was responsible for killing many, many hundreds of thousands of people'.
All very true but not the reason he gave for going to war in 2003, his reason then was that Saddam was armed to the teeth with weapons of mass destruction but that turned out to be wrong and he has been scratching around for a justification ever since.
While it may be true that Blair is not to blame for the delay in the Chilcot report publication, he is entirely to blame for the need for the Chilcot report in the first place with his eagerness to join in the butchering of Iraqis on an industrial scale to please the warmongering dimwit in the White House at the time.