Saturday, 31 March 2007

Any 2007 Wrongs?

Some agree with me that our countries should say sorry for our past misdemeanours, some disagree and say it would be pointless and we should just move on.Whatever your view on that particular debate, is there anything we in the West are doing today that will bring this debate back to the fore in a couple of hundred years time?
The most obvious is our present adventure in the Middle East, i think we will be apologising to Iraq for what we have done there at some point in the future. I fail to see how History can make anything good from that particular episode.
The 2207 Catholic Church could be issuing a grovelling sorry note to the millions of Catholics it has compelled to death by AIDS by refusing to sanction the use of condoms.
Hopefully we have finally decided to do something about Climate Change and maybe between now and then we will have developed a fairer way of sharing the wealth around the World in place of the system we have now.
Mostly, i hope we will be apologising for inflicting boy bands on the World. For that we should be truly sorry.

Personal Details Not Included.

Every now and then the subject of Blog regulation pops its ugly head above the parapet and this very subject has been mooted on a few blogs recently.
Personally, i hate regulation of any kind when it comes to expressing a view and although there are some blogs that are obviously run by the sort of person who evolution has bypassed,their view is as valid as anybody else's, however deluded or badly thought out their arguments may seem to me. What does alarm me is the amount of personal information some people put on their blog. I never post anything personal and keep any personal details well away from the Internet. Knowing the City i live, where i work or my real name would add nothing to my views (as deluded or badly thought out they may seem to some) but could leave myself open to anything from a nutter armed with Google and a desire to express their views personally.
My rule is to not give out information that i would not be happy to pass out to a total stranger at a bus stop. As the Internet is global, whatever you write is capable of being viewed by billions so if you are happy having your personal details available to that many people than good for you, i am very uneasy about it.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Sorry Or Not?

There is a bit of a debate raging over whether we should say sorry or not for our part in the slave trade. Before us Brits get carried away with all the back slapping and choruses of what jolly good fellows we are over the abolition of slavery 200 years ago, maybe we should stand down off the moral high ground that we seem to of clambered upon and revisit our behaviour 200 years ago.

52% Percentage of slaves our ships carried taken from Africa.
204 Ships that left England to carry slaves from Africa to the Americas, four ships a week on average.
11m Enslaved people loaded onto transatlantic ships in Africa.
9.6m Enslaved people who survived the voyage to the Americas.
8,300 Voyages made by British ships.
2.2m Slaves taken to the British West Indies.
670,000 Slaves surviving in the region at the time of emancipation in 1838.
34% Slaves that died within three years of arriving in the Caribbean.
1772 Year slavery was banned in Britain itself.
1838 Year Britain banned Slavery in it's empire. 66 years later.
800,000 Slaves throughout the British empire who received their freedom.
£20m Amount plantation owners received as compensation for the loss of their slaves.
£0.00 Amount former slaves received.

So should we say sorry? Hell Yeah!

Monday, 26 March 2007

Fate of 15 depends on the 5

What a great twist of irony that the 15 British sailors currently being held by our suppossed enemy Iran are safer than the rest of the armed forces inside our friend Iraq.
The rhetoric coming from the Government is more subdued than i imagined it would be which leads me to one of two conclusions. The first is Blair has finally got it through his thick skull that military action fans the flames rather than douses them and plans to keep his diplomatic hat on this time .
The second is the UK do not want to 'shoot the starting pistol' before all the players are in place. He has bigger plans for Iran but this has come too early.
Hopefully, it is the first conclusion but while the arguments continue about whether the sailors were in Iraqi or Iranian waters at the time, the captured are going to be used as bargaining chips to force the release of the five Iranian Revolutionary Guards the US captured a few weeks back.
With our side's treatment of prisoners these last few years, these 15 better hope that no more Abu Ghraib-esque pictures turn up in the media.

Offensive?

Appears some people are offended by the above image from PETA. Good.
Working then isn't it.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Lingual Misunderstandings

It is said that the Americans and English speak the same language but there are times when
i have to sit and ponder what exactly is meant by some US terms used as i imagine some people sit and ponder the English blogs.
A posting at Jodie's Site got me thinking that apart from the obvious difference in spelling which can play havoc with spell check if you don't change the default US English setting, there are many words we use which have completely different meanings either side of the Atlantic.
I had a colleague from Virginia who used to get caught out all the time much to everyone's amusement. The first time he said he had to rest his fanny brought much mumbling behind hands until we found out it meant his backside. As a fanny is the female genitalia here, it was lucky we found out before he started on about his fanny pack (bum bag here).
It took a few attempts to make him understand what we wanted when we asked if he had a spare rubber (US eraser) and the behind the hand mumbling started up again when he mentioned wearing suspenders which is what we call the straps ladies wear to keep stockings in the right place. I would love to have seen the British shop-owners face if he rolled up asking to see what colour suspenders were available in his size.
Americans called Randolph should not introduce themselves in British circles by saying "Hi, I'm Randy", he would either get a slap face or a few phone-numbers.
There are lots more and i hope that i have at least cleared up some confusion as to avoid any embarrassment.
Right then, i'm off to enjoy this fag i have had hanging out of my mouth for the past ten minutes.
Oh, grow up.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

You Can Trust Me

There are some things in life that obviously should be avoided. The seat beside pee wee herman in a cinema for example or Russians carrying Polonium but one of the no-brainers should be emails from Nigerian ex-Government ministers with £80m burning a hole in their bank account.
Obviously, many people have wood pulp for brains because according to the Internet Crime Complaint Centre report that landed on my desk this morning, the Nigerian letter fraud is the highest grossing scam for fraudsters.
Internet auction fraud was the most reported offence, comprising 44.9% of referred complaints.
The majority of reported perpetrators were from the United States, the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Canada, Romania, and Italy.
Among complainants, 61.2% were male, nearly half were between the ages of 30 and 50.
There is a way to guarantee your safety online and for the one-time price of £49.99 ($98) i will reveal the secrets that the Internet Police don't want you to know, and i have some cheap Viagra for sale and if anyone can help me with this $80m Nigerian Dollar cheque that needs to be cashed. I will give you half, i promise.

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Iraq: 4 Years On And Counting

46 Months since George Bushs Missions Accomplished speech.
29,984
Chemical Munitions US Government said Saddam Hussein had.
10,000
Teaspoons" of anthrax US Government said Saddam Hussein had.
0
WMD's found
3218
US Deaths
134
UK Deaths
655,000
Iraqi deaths (Lancet)
95
Journalists killed
300
Non-Iraqi's Kidnapped
800
terrorist attacks per week avg (NY Times)
1.5m
Displaced Iraqis
$700b
Cost of War to US Government
£3.1b
Cost of War to UK Government
$9b
Lost & unaccounted for
9.6
Avg Hours homes have Electricity
$13b
Amount Halliburton and its divisions have have secured for contracts in Iraq
25%
Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition
32%
Population with access to clean drinking water
25%
under-fives malnourished.
70%
schools closed due to insecurity, bombings, kidnappings.
82%
Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Best Form Of Government?

Oh what the hey. As we are all bashing each other over the head about owning guns and the rights and wrongs of policemen beating up women, let's have a debate about something we can really get our teeth into.
What is the best form of Government?
All have their good and bad points.
Anarchist's believe the best form of Government is no Government at all while Communist's see a means of abolishing Societies inequalities.
The word Democracy is bandied about but there has only ever been one Democracy and that was in Ancient Greece and that was dumped as unworkable. Maybe Monarchy tickles your ideological fancy or you want what we presently have in an elected representative Government.
Personally, Communism's slightly weaker sibling Socialism would be my call but there are plenty of others to mull over including a combination of the best bits from each.

Democracy British Style

Oh look, it's British Prime Minister and World saviour Tony Blair! See how his tousled hair floats freely in the breeze! Marvel at his pretty daisy chains, his fair trade wine, his collection of Amazonian wood-carvings and his earnest expression as he reveals that - let's not mince our words - Nukes are good.
Such is Blair's weakness that even though 80 of his own party gave him a proverbial kick in the pants, the opposition Tory Party actually got the damn thing through for him.
In a success for Democracy, the members of the Labour and Tory Party were actually demanded to vote for the nukes by a three line whip*, so all the nonsense about people voting with their conscience and the 6 hour debate to help sway opinions was all rubbish. They were instructed to vote for the Prime Ministers idea or else.
Then, to cap the day it was leaked that the Government had actually began upgrading the Trident Nuclear missiles anyway.
British Democracy, you have just got to love it.

*In the UK a three line whip is a written notice, underlined three times to indicate its importance, to politicians belonging to a particular party that they must attend a vote in parliament and vote in the way in which they are instructed.

Friday, 9 March 2007

To Serve & Protect Apparently

As the furore over the incident outside the Sheffield nightclub increases, the Chief of Yorkshire Police is pleading that the public do not condemn the officers involved and see things in context.
So what context exactly would that be? How many ways can we consider the fact that a slender 19 year old girl is shown on CCTV being held down by two policemen and a couple of nightclub staff while another policeman punches her repeatedly.
In the video, the limp unconscious girl is then dragged to a waiting police van with the teenager's trousers falling round her ankles.
The officer has admitted he hit her but claimed he acted in self-defence and only after extreme provocation.
When she kept resisting, he said, he hit her again. Trying to put her in handcuffs, he states that "I now struck her as hard as I was physically able in an attempt to deaden her arm ... In the end I had to use brute force."
Oh, i understand now what context that would be. The context that the officers involved are vicious thugs who deserve to be thrown out of the force and be dragged into a court for assault.
Heaven help us if the plan to arm these thugs ever comes to fruition.

All Drugs Are Harmful

The Government drugs policy is an obvious shambles hence the rethink but it is still blatantly missing the two biggest drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
While the minds are concentrating on new ways to punish the cannabis and heroin users of the nation, the legal drugs which do so much damage over the long term are conveniently brushed under the carpet.
A Royal Society of Arts commission has published a report that places tobacco and alcohol as more harmful than Ecstasy, LSD & Cannabis with only Class A drugs Cocaine & Heroin more dangerous.
Annually, the biggest killer is Tobacco that claims 86,500 lives, and alcohol which does for 6526 with illegal drugs claiming 2598.
The big clue as to why Cigarettes and alcohol is not a classified drug is the economics, with over £20bn being made from the booze and £3bn from the fags.
Sort out the drug problem by all means, the crime from illegal drugs costs the country over £19bn, but lets have the truth and allow us to make up our minds whether we want to damage our livers, blacken our lungs or turn ourselves into paranoid basket cases. Just because two are socially acceptable and make the Government a fortune, does not make them less dangerous.

Bush & Chavez On Tour

It is being billed as a battle between Bush & Chavez for the hearts and minds of Latin America as the President of the USA tours South America and tries to ignore the demonstrations against him, but then he should be used to people abusing him by now.
As Bush moves about in his heavily guarded entourage, my personal favourite World Leader Chavez is conducting his own tour although without the violent demonstrations such as those which greeted his opposite number in Brazil.
Hugo Chavez's brand of socialist ideals and stream of anti-Bush invective has a strong and understandable appeal beyond Venezuela's borders and he has gained staunch allies in the Bolivian, Argentinian, Nicaraguan and Cuban regimes.
Americas standing has plummeted as it stomped across the middle east while Chavez has stepped into the vacuum magnificently much to the chagrin of Bush who has been upstaged by a regime that puts people before profits.
Mr Bush is due to travel to Uruguay. He will also visit Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico during his six-day tour but the Chavez bandwagon is at full tilt while the Bush wagon is parked on the sidelines with a broken wheel.

The Truth Comes Out

Cast your minds back to last summer and the Lebanon Israeli conflict. While the World screamed for the killing to stop the reasoning from the pro-war lobby was, Lebanon started it. Lame of course but that was their reasoning.
Turns out that preparations for the war were actually drawn up at least four months before two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped by Hizbullah, Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, has admitted.
His submission to a commission of inquiry, leaked yesterday, contradicted the impression at the time that Israel was provoked into a battle for which it was ill-prepared. Mr Olmert told the Winograd commission, a panel of judges charged with investigating Israel's defeat in the 34-day war, that he first discussed the possibility of war in January and asked to see military plans in March.
The key was a reason to launch the offensive which Hizbullah provided when they kidnapped the soldiers with Mr Olmert saying at the time that Israel went to war to force their return. In the fighting 1,200 Lebanese and 158 Israelis were killed. Of the dead almost 1,000 Lebanese and 41 Israelis were civilians.
Not the first time a leader has lied to take his well armed country to war is it but it is becoming a bit of a nasty habit lately.

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Keeping The Gun Ban

In 1996, Thomas Hamilton turned one of his four guns on himself after shooting dead 16 five and six year olds at Dunblane primary school in Scotland.
The resulting handgun ban imposed in the wake of the massacre is now being challenged by shooters with one eye on the 2012 Olympic Games.
While i have sympathy with professional sportsmen who are perfectly responsible and feel they have been penalised for the actions of one man, i would hate to see any relaxation of the ban on guns.
Hamilton learnt to shoot at a local gun club and while thousands of people pass through such clubs and act perfectly responsibly, if the wrong person has access to a gun it can be disastrous.
I expect the pressure from the gun lobby to increase and the argument that the legally held guns are not the problem is perfectly valid, but I would prefer a few sportsmen to miss out on winning medals to even the remote chance of another Dunblane.

Celebrity Tantrums

Whichever way you cut it, Naomi Campbell is a nasty piece of work. While sympathy has been extended for Britney's plight, Naomi has been accommodating five plump, steel-capped toes and a hairy ankle up her backside for her latest temper tantrum.
The World's most violent supermodelhas been sentenced to a week mopping the floor of a New York garage as punishment for throwing her mobile at her maid.
It seems that Naomi is forever being carted off by the police for attacking some member of her staff or whoever is within striking distance of the nearest blunt instrument.
Celebrities getting away with it always makes my blood boil so i raise a glass of cheap supermarket white wine (March is an expensive month, we have to make some sacrfices) to the judge who saw through the stars that usually form infront of judges eyes, and punished the horrible woman. It couldn't happen to a nicer girl.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Nurses V Army

What it comes down to is who is the more important? Those that can save your life or those that can protect your life? At first, that question sounds like one of those 'punch in the face or kick in the arse?' deals school bullies build their reputations on.
In the blue corner the Armed Forces, in the red the countries nursing staff, both vying for payrises and both getting them. The ones with the guns and tanks get an above inflation whopper while the nurses are not so much letdown, as pushed into a flailing plunge from a 40-storey window with a piddling below inflation rise.
"Things are tight for everyone" explained one Government minister trying to desperatly cover up the latest Government spending plans involving £3.3b for the Iraq War, £600m for a supercasino and over £650m for the 2012 Olympic stadium.
If the Chancellor Gordon Brown ever gets ill and finds himself in a Hospital his latest decision could turn out to be the most spectacular misjudgement of any Scot since Mary Queen of Scots decided to try her luck south of Hadrians Wall.
I envisage an industrial size hose and the words colonic irrigation.

Less Kicking & More Hugging

Since time immemorial there have been stars that have flown so high only to come crashing down to earth with all the grace of Roseanne Barr at a free buffet.
If anybody can tell Britney Spears about the importance of bouncing back when you're down, it's Satan. Once the brightest of all angels, God soon slam dunked his sorry arse to hell and it was a shock he never really recovered from and since then - apart from a few guest-star roles in the Book of Revelations, South Park and heavy metal albums played backwards - there's been very little.
Poor Britney is so low she could fit beneath a snakes belly but it hasn't stopped the British press from playing that all to familiar game of sticking the boot into the soft underbelly of anyone with the temerity of being a fallen celebrity.
I was no fan of the blonde singer but i can't help feel that after her suicide attempts, the head shaving episode and the completely fruity loops behaviour lately, the girl could do with less of a kick and more of a hug.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Caption Competition #4


For the latest Caption Competition, we have the Batman & Robin of the Socialist Revolution, Castro and Chavez.
My caption would read 'Even as he thanked the nurse who had just gave him his bed-bath, he couldn't help but think he recognised him from somewhere'.

10,000 Worried People

I had a very brief flirtation with the tabloid press and something must have stuck because i had great joy in the discomfort that is heading towards some big American names in the case of Deborah Palfrey.
The woman involved has a little black book that contains over 10,000 names from the last 13 years of the great and good of America who have 'made use of her services' or visited the prostitutes place of residence as it is known in less formal circles.
Rumour has placed Bruce Willis firmly in the firing line. Bring it on and let it all hang out is what i say, which by a strange coincedence, is exactly what Bruce might of said to her. Kimo Saby.