Sunday, 20 October 2019

The Democrat And The Missing Recycling Bin

Last time i checked Bernie Sanders still hadn't sorted out my missing recycling bin or broken garage light but considering he recently had a heart attack i am willing to give him a bit more time to get it sorted although the darker nights are coming and the walk from parking my car to the front door is not getting any easier. 
Despite his health scare, it hasn't stopped his campaign team from filling my inbox with repeated requests for a $2.67 donation and details of what the Vermont Senator is going to do for America which doesn't mean a jot to me as i'm on the South Coast of England and he can do what he likes over there.
Yesterday's email contained news that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the black females told to go back home by the Racist in Chief currently parking his rotund backside in the Oval Office, has endorsed him which his campaign team seemed pretty excited about but as it doesn't result in me gaining a light bulb or a recycling bin, is filed under 'i don't care'.
I will start to pay attention to either Trump's replacement in 2020 later, (or whoever steps in for him when he is impeached if he doesn't make it that far), but apart from Bernie the other serious contenders seem to be Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren with Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer making up the numbers and soon to be known as former contenders.
I don't know anything about any of them but as Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War and later said that he would vote that way again today, voted against same sex marriage, holds fundraisers hosted by fossil fuel companies and has called for cuts to social security benefits, i don't see him as fit for office.
That said, neither was George W Bush and Donald Trump but they got voted in so being a complete jerk might be seen as a distinct advantage with American voters.
Anyway Bernie, the clocks go back on Sunday, 27 October this year and then it will be proper dark when i get home so if you can find your way to sorting something out regarding the garage light with the Council by then it would be appreciated.

Royal's Eating All The Cake They Want

Anyone who has ever been to the Palace of Versailles in Paris cannot help have their flabber be gasted at the sheer opulence of the place where the French Royals lived while their countrymen died in squalor, disease and poverty.
You can also understand how the French Queens reply of 'then let them eat cake' when told that the peasants were starving to death and had no bread to eat led to a revolution and her head ending up in the guillotine's basket but the all over Royal families have been living the high life in palaces while their subjects suffer.
During the ongoing austerity measures forced upon the nation since 2010, our own Royal Family, headed by Elizabeth II, received no cut in their Government handout and actually saw it increase to £85 million which considering the British Royals have a personal fortune of £900 million, seems a bit wrong.
Even with almost a billion pounds sat in their piggy bank, the British Royals are still not in the top 10 of the Worlds richest Royal's according to a list by the Financial Times with number 10 being Bahrain's Royals with £4 billion.
The richest Royal Family in Europe with a fortune of £12 billion resides in Liechtenstein but they are only the 9th in the World, beaten by Dubai's royal family worth £19 billion, Morocco £20 billion, Brunei £30 billion, Thailand £60 billion, United Arab Emirates £150 billion, Qatar $335 billion and Kuwait £360 billion.
The place to send any begging letters to is Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Al-Yamama Palace, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia because when the Saudi Arabian royal family check their bank account, it says they have £1.7 trillion sat in it.
It seems that being a Royal almost anywhere means eating a lot of cake which might be worth remembering the next time your stomach is grumbling and all you have is a limp crust of Hovis with green bits on the edge in the bread bin.

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Manoeuvring To Become Next Global Power

Great debate on the radio today with a bunch of analysts all agreeing that under Donald Trump, rather than making America Great Again, he is finishing what the first George Bush started and has taken it far enough backwards on the global stage that it is giving way to a successor shaped by the emerging global powers.
With the recent Syria retreat being used as a watershed moment, the analysts gave three possible contenders for America’s crown as number one global superpower, the European Union, Russia and China.
If Trump was to win another term, they reasoned, then his hostility to International Organisations such as NATO and the United Nations along with his America First isolation and general unlikeability, will bring about the succession even quicker although Trump being replaced in 2020 by a more multilateral President who will not cede global leadership to others so easily could restore America’s reputation and delay the inevitable runner up role in the 21st century World.
Of the three competing wannabe's named, the problem i see with the European Union taking the top spot is that it is not integrated enough, old rivalries continue between the individual nations and rather than speaking as one voice as it does on issues such as Climate Change, it is divided on other issues with 28 leaders with different views, some left wing, some right wing, which leads for disagreements and arguments such as we see with the plan for an EU Army and sanctions on certain other countries.
If it can become a United States of Europe, rather than 28 nations trying to reach an agreement then it's chances would improve but closer integration is not likely anytime soon.
Russia is far too corrupt and authoritarian although under Putin it has moved into a position where it is in all the right places globally and mixing it with all the dominant powers but for its sheer size and power, it is too much of a loose cannon to command the respect of the other powers.
China is where i see the next seat of global power, it has been quietly expanding into other nations building infrastructure and pushing their own national interests and it is now confident, and economically strong enough, to assert itself against the other World powers.
The view that China is an authoritarian, undemocratic regime could prove a hindrance although that is softened by it's refusal to join in the West's devastating wars despite increasing its own military strength which so far has stayed in it's bases, relying on soft power instead to push its agenda along with a different type of working Governance.
The age of America may have began properly in 1989 with the demise of Communism but too many illegal wars and belligerent leaders along with an arrogance that the World is there for it to demand of what it will, has proved it's downfall and the manoeuvring for it's replacement has already begun with earnest.

UK Politicians Saving UK From Becoming Like America

If i had my way over the whole Brexit debacle i would cancel the whole thing and carry on as we are which has taken another step closer today as the politicians voted to delay Brexit until it has been agreed to stop Boris Johnson and his cohorts from crashing the UK out of the EU without a deal which is dangerous nonsense and does make me wonder exactly why they are quite so keen to do just that.
In an ideal world when the deal is attempted to be passed again, it gets turned down, we have a second referendum which reverses the decision and leaving is put down to a brief moment of madness and we stay in the European Union and it's all rainbows and lollipops forever.
Something which did crop up during the five hours of debates before the Commons decided that to leave the decision which will have profound effects for generations to Boris Johnson was like trusting him with your girlfriend, was how the Johnson deal would shift us disastrously towards America, particularly the American Health Care system, workers rights and food standards.
The American Health Care system we know all about, it's awful unless you are rich enough and we have had some knowledge of the food standards and how currently it is not up to the minimum standards for the EU and Britain would have to lower its standards to accept American chlorinated chicken, hormone fed beef, genetically modified fruit and vegetables and probably the most horrifying, the allowed 30 insect fragments per 100g of food products against the current zero EU regulation which make you wonder how more Americans are not dying of food poisoning.
The Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) estimates that each year 3,000 Americans die from food poisoning against the 225 deaths in the EU reported by The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) so actually, they are dying more from it unsurprisingly.
The workers rights i was not aware of but the Foothold America website explains that American employers don't pay workers for their lunch break so an eight hour day would become an eight and a half hour day if you take a 30m lunch, while we have 20 total working days of annual leave and eight public/bank holidays, there is no minimum paid vacation or paid public holidays for American workers with paid leave being at the discretion of the employers but the average number is 10 days after 1 year of service, 14 days after 5 years, 17 days after 10 years, and 20 days after 20 years.
While in the USA there are 12 weeks of maternity pay, there is no paternity leave which is set against 52 weeks for mothers over here and 2 weeks paid paternity pay for fathers.
Minimum wage in USA is £5.58 ($7.25) while in the UK it is £8.21 ($10.66) but the biggest difference between US employment law and UK employment law is that the US has something called 'at will employment' which means employers can terminate an employment relationship without notice, for any reason, so long as doing so is not a violation of a protected class such as on grounds of pregnancy, race, religion, sex or age.
Taken altogether, you can see why we have a lot to thank our politicians for today if the American health, food and especially employment laws is where this Conservative Government want to take us.

Friday, 18 October 2019

No Rush To Get Brexit Done

All the talk from the Pro-Brexit section of Society is to get Brexit Done, to just get it through so we can concentrate on other things.
The truth is that before Brexit sucked all the oxygen out of everything, the Conservative Government were awful under David Cameron and Theresa May and Boris Johnson is further right than either of those two so it will be the same old same old with brass knobs on if he is left to make the decisions.
Austerity was the gift the Conservatives gave us, starting in 2010 and still with us in 2019, along with cutting 6,000 NHS nurses, 8,000 hospital beds, a third of ambulance stations, 6,000 firefighters, 20,000 police officers, 350 youth centres, 2,000 youth workers, 200,000 civil servants, 4 prisons, 57 hospitals, 66 Accident & Emergency wards, 100 swimming pools and 5,000 teachers.
The Conservatives increased VAT to 20%, stopped child benefit for higher earners, cut £90m from children’s centres, ceased Education Maintenance Allowance for students and cut disability allowance and closed over 500 libraries.
Half a million more children are in poverty year on year, a decade of pay freezes for civil and public servants, the largest fall in wages in the EU since the 2008 recession, 2 million on zero hours contracts, six million families in fuel poverty, 400,000 more working people claiming housing benefit every year, the lowest health care spending of the G7 nations and record breaking number of food banks and food bank customers.
If more of that is what they mean by concentrating on other things, then let's hope the Tories continue to get bogged down in Brexit for a long time yet.

Butterfly Effect

In 1933, a Texas Councilman named Charles Hazard was preparing for re-election but was getting distracted by his neighbor’s dog keep peeing on his flowers so he killed the dog by mixing glass into the dog’s food bowl.
That dog belonged to 13-year-old Charlie Wilson who vowed revenge on his neighbour which he took by going around his neighbourhood during the election campaign, telling everyone what the Councilman had done which resulted in Hazard losing his seat.
Inspired by his result, Wilson went into politics and became a Congressional Representative and when the Soviet-Afghan War broke out, campaigned to get America arming and funding the Afghans Mujaheddin who went on to win the war.
After the war the Mujaheddin changed their name to The Taliban and teamed up with Osama Bin Laden's Al-Queada who then went on to launch a terror attack in New York which killed 3,000 Americans who launched the Afghan and Iraq Wars in retaliation.
These wars led to Al-Queada becoming Islamic State who in turn invaded Syria which bought the Kurd's and America into alliance much to the annoyance of Turkey who recently invaded the Kurdish held area's of Syria with Americas tacit approval.
So much death and destruction and all because one cranky councilman was distracted by a dog peeing on his plants.

Listen To The 80s Children

When i was a teenager in the 80s Climate Change was very much the second fear behind nuclear war so talking about the catastrophe happening in 40 or 50 years into the future was not at the forefront of peoples minds when the Soviet Union and the USA could wipe us all out within 4 minutes.
The nuclear annihilation is still there but Climate Change is now the clearest and present danger especially as the dangers of rising sea levels, desertification and killer heatwaves are with us as per previously advertised by a bunch of spotty 14 year old's with Duran Duran and WHAM! stickers on their book covers.
Extinction Rebellion may be, to some, annoying as they lay in the roads and sit on top of trains and make people late for meetings but they are do it on our behalf and as everybody is talking about them, they are doing it right and most importantly not letting the looming global catastrophe slip back down the agenda.
My personal terror over nuclear war dissipated as i grew older and reasoned that MAD, or Mutually Assured Destruction, would keep the nukes in their silo's but there is no reasoning with Climate Change and the destruction that will bring and which is already having an effect.
The idea we were pushing back in the days between Michael Jackson's Thriller and the first Back to the Future Film is here today and Mother Nature is not as reasonable when it comes to wiping us all out as Leonid Brezhnev and Ronald Reagan.
It is the greatest threat to mankind and moaning about being a little bit late because some Extinction Rebellion protester glued his hand to a train sounds kinda pathetic when you think that they did that to draw attention to the fact that without immediate action, being a bit late for something will be the least of your concerns as the sea laps around your ankles and you bake in your own sweat.

Thursday, 17 October 2019

HG Wells: War Of The Worlds

There are some books which are just so famous that you just accept that they are classics and HG Wells 'War of The Worlds' is one of them.
With a background of invading Martians killing the puny humans with heat rays, it ticks all the boxes and it kicks off right from the first page with the invading aliens landing in a field.
The book can be broken up into three parts with the first part, the initial invasion, then a middle section where the narrator who is never actually named runs around hiding from them and then the final chapters where the Martians succumb to the Earthly viruses, bacteria and microscopic organisms that humans have grown immune to.
Parts 1 and 3 with the aliens generally stomping around and destroying everything are great, the middle section not quite so much and though it may seem out of place say such a thing about a classic book, the middle section is quite boring and adds nothing to the story as the unnamed narrator moves around from house to house hiding.
As happens over time, i read this book in my teenage years and forgot the forgettable middle 100 pages or so and you could literally skip over the middle pages and not lose anything from the story as the most memorable bits are at the start and the end.
Quite rightly a classic and written in the very late 19th Century before human Space Exploration so you can see why Victorians would believe that there were aliens up there looking to take over our lush, blue planet and i would say read it just because it is that famous but if you 'accidentally' skip the middle 100 pages, nobody would notice.

Counting The Cost Of Retirement

The Pension and Lifetime Savings Association have created a guide of what kind of lifetsyle people can expect on different levels of income and have pegged a 'comfortable' retirement at an income of £33,000.
The £33,000 would allow £56 per week for shopping, allow a 3 week annual holiday in Europe and you could be the best dressed pensioner at the Post Office with an annual clothing allowance of £1,250.
A moderate income is £20,200 which would allow for a £46 per week food budget, a 2 week holiday in Europe and £750 clothes budget to spend on your favourite slippers, cardigans and hats.
The full state pension is £8,767 which means that you will need to find another £1,433 to reach the minimum level of £10,200 which will allow for a £38 per week food shop, 1 week holiday somewhere in the UK and £460 to spend on clothes.
If the Government has it's way and increases the pension age to 75 then having enough to retire on won't be a problem for many as they would have been worked to death by then saving the Government tens of billions but we can always live in hope that a heady mix of Brexit and a right wing government will make sure we are all okay, i'm sure i saw that on a bus somewhere.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

America Confusing For Brits

In the previous post the American Hayley Bloomingdale gave her tips on things in Britain which confused her, in the comments section the Brits hit back with things they find weird about America.

Apparently a Beefburger is called a Hamburger despite Ham and Beef coming from two totally different animals.

What they call Football is a game where you use your hands.

Electric sockets can't be switched off.

They look at the month first, as in mm/dd/yy instead of dd/mm/yy.

Baseball teams play in a World Series which only American teams play in.

42% of Americans still believe in creationism.

They chose a bald animal as their national animal.
  
The don't know how to queue properly.

American cheese, chocolate, cakes and alcohol tastes awful.

They have no grasp of sarcasm, irony or self-deprecating humour.

They will boast and brag about themselves at the very earliest opportunity after meeting them.

The American accent, especially the further south you go in the country.

You are expected to tip everybody for everything.

The price on the shelf is not the price you pay at the till as the shelf price doesn't include sales tax.

American note money is all the same colour and same size

The really large gap beneath doors and walls in public toilet stalls.

Personally i would add they decided 5 vowels is one too many and dropped the letter 'U' from most of their words and they drink cold tea.