Thursday, 30 August 2007

Cheering For Clinton

As previously mentioned, i am backing Hillary Clinton for the top job next year. Not that i know any of her policies or what she plans to do once she replaces the loopy Texan there at the moment, my support is entirely based on the fact that she has mammaries.
Where i was once a lone voice whistling in the European wind, my fight to get the other half of the Clinton family in the White House has been taken up by others this side of the Atlantic.
The poll conducted in Britain, France, Germany and Italy by Angus Reid Global, shows that Europeans overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton's attempt to become the next US president.
Of course, support for Mrs Clinton in Marseille or Stuttgart means diddly squat but it is nice that we are being asked our opinion.
It is also nice to know that if Clinton gains the Presidency, whacks up tax and generally makes things a whole lot worse for the average American, we are over 5,000 miles away and can be held in now way accountable.
You go girl, you have the support of everyone here which doesn't actually count for anything but we like ya.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?

Guess who -
The founder of an armed political wing who coordinated guerrilla and paramilitary training for the campaign against government targets.
Admitted to violating human rights, he was found guilty of 'recruiting persons for training in the preparation and use of explosives and in guerrilla warfare for the purpose of violent revolution and committing acts of sabotage'.
After living on the run for seventeen months, he's arrest was allegedly made possible because the CIA tipped off the police as to our mans whereabouts and disguise.
Offered his freedom after 18 years incarceration in return for renouncing violence, the man refused, spending a further 9 in a jail cell.

Interesting choice of statue being unveiled in London tomorrow. If ever there was a man who epitomised the words 'One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter', it is Nelson Mandela.
The British Government had him and his party labelled as terrorists, even refusing to partake in the sanctions against the South African ruling party as did the USA and the French, with the 3 of them even continuing to sell the South African regime arms at the time.
So apart from being old and spending a long time in prison, just how does someone make the transition from a named terrorist to worldwide hero and Nobel Peace Prize winner?
The ANC may not of been in the same class as the Provisional IRA or Al Queada but they took part in an armed insurrection against the government of their country.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Where Are The Drugged Up Athletes?

The World Athletic Championships from Japan have been dominating the Television Schedules and as the Asian country is 8 hours ahead of the UK, it is a late night or an early morning to catch the best action.
As much as i enjoy watching super-fit men and women run, jump and throw things, two things taint the experience for me.
Firstly, as a Brit, i know we are going to suck and not bother the Airport maximum luggage weight rule with bags weighed down by medals.
Secondly, and maybe this is just me being cynical, but there is always a niggling doubt at the back of my mind that the fastest or strongest has been chemically enhanced.
At the time of writing, there has not been any positive drugs tests from Osaka but there has been some debate over athletes who have been previously banned being allowed to complete.
The current rule is to ban them for two years and then allow them back into competition but surely the best deterrent would be to ban them for life or at the very least increase the length of the ban as to make it virtually impossible for any athlete to come back.
Maybe we will go through this World Athletics Championship clean and we can all then debate whether the Athletes have finally cleaned up their act or maybe it has just been that the dirty ones have managed to mask their drugs more effectively.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Fires & Frying Pans

While the fault for making the World a more dangerous place falls directly on the doormats marked Blair and Bush, there has been an even deadlier threat of our imminent demise coming from the eastern side of Europe.
Not quite so quietly, Russia have been tearing up arms agreement with Nato, denouncing the US, grabbing chunks of the Arctic, and buzzing Britain and the USA with heavy bombers which had the RAF and USAF scrambling fighters.
As promised, Putin had said he would resume long-range combat missions by bomber aircraft capable of hitting the US with nuclear weapons. Patrols over the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic began last week for the first time since 1992.
The revival of Russian military prowess comes after rapidly deteriorating relations with the west following the US's missile defence plans in Europe. A recent show of strength saw a new supersonic cruise missile unveiled alongside new and improved jets and Migs that had industry observers cooing in admiration.
Should we be worried about Putin restarting an arms race and filling our skies with nuclear armed bombers? Not really, the problems will come after 2008 when Sergei Ivanov, Russia's answer to Donald Rumsfeld and the leading candidate to succeed Putin, gets his hands on the Presidential Office.
Out of the frying pan and straight back into another one.

Bobo Experiment

The famous Bobo doll experiment was conducted by Albert Bandura and studied patterns of behaviour associated with aggression.
Bandura found that the children exposed to the aggressive model were more likely to act in physically aggressive ways than those who were not exposed to the aggressive model.
Bandura proves that specific behaviors, such as aggression, can be learned through observing and imitating others.
They came to the conclusion that children observing adult behavior are influenced to think that this type of behavior is acceptable.
The result of reduced aggressive inhibitions in children means that they are more likely to respond to future situations in a more aggressive manner.

As i have previously said, i believe that people, especially the younger and more impressionable minds, are influenced by what they see and hear.
Could one of the reasons that our youngsters think it cool to carry knives and guns, to take drugs and to have violent tendencies be films, television programmes, music and video games available to them today?
Mr Bandura's findings would lead us to think so, and i would have to agree that it is one of the main reasons among others.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Bush & Vietnam

“It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.”
So said Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman who it would be fair to say heard his fair share of shrieks and groans in his time.
Equally fair to mention would be that the Veterans of Foreign Wars had fired a few shots and probably heard a few whistle past far to close for comfort.
So how can a group of bona fide war veterans listen and even applaud a person who, despite doing everything possible to keep his own arse out of the Vietnam war, then goes on to say that it should of gone on longer? I am sure their 60,000 dead buddies wouldn't mind hearing about what he was doing while they got killed in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It is well known that Bush family pulled the strings to get him a cushy berth in the Texas Air National Guard where his greatest worry was getting caught driving whilst drunk.
Bush invoked the memory of Vietnam, comparing his ongoing War in Iraq to several wars and conflicts involving America over the past 70 odd years to justify his actions.
His shaky grip on History has been roundly condemned on most media outlets but the best quote came from one talking head on CNN who asked of Bush, 'If you learned so much from history, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire?"'

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

1987

Twas a cold, drizzly and overcast August morning and suddenly, out of the radio speakers, came a song to send my mind spinning back to the 1987. 'Live It Up' by Mental as Anything was the soundtrack to Crocodile Dundee and will be forever a defining song of the era.
So inspired was i to relive my bygone years, i dug out my 'Now That's What I
call Music' 1980s box set and reminisced to the sound of 1987.

Faith - George Michael, Here I Go Again - Whitesnake, Heaven Is a Place on Earth - Belinda Carlisle, (I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight - Cutting Crew, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For - U2, I Think We're Alone Now - Tiffany, I Wanna Dance with Somebody - Whitney, La Isla Bonita - Madonna, Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi, Luka - Suzanne Vega, Mony Mony - Billy Idol, Need You Tonight - INXS, The Final Countdown - Europe, Lady in Red - Chris DeBurgh, Walk Like An Egyptian - The Bangles, Beds Are Burning - Midnight Oil, You Can Call Me Al - Paul Simon.

Then it suddenly dawned on me. 1987 was 20 years ago. How depressing is that thought!

Portugal Squares Up To Texas

I don't know who died and left Portugal in charge but as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union, they have decided to use the position to wag a sunburned finger at places that carry out executions.
Hence the reprimand to Texas calling on the State Governor to halt executions. Hence the reply telling Portugal exactly where it can stick it's wagging finger.
Denouncing judicial killings as cruel and inhumane, the Euro representative carried on to say that 'The EU expressed great regret at Texas preparations to carry out its 400th death penalty' and renewed its call to the US to halt executions.
Now it is none of our business if America chooses to fry it's criminals as it is none of Americas business that we don't choose to plug our prisoners into the electric grid.
Personally, i agree with the EU but that is for the leaders of the States to decide and not some European from the Iberian Peninsula.
One of the biggest complaints we throw at the yanks is that they try and tell everyone else what to do, so pull your head in Portugal because as much as we may not like it, it is none of our business.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Another Anti-War Nutter

Don't those anti-war supporters ever give up. Here is yet another one of those
pacifist weirdo's putting in his pennyworth.
So who is it this time saying that an American invasion of Iraq would lead to a quagmire and saying "That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you
take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off. It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq,""

Yes, yes, that's what we said before the Invasion and if only the Brits & American leaders had listened to you when you said removing Saddam was not worth many more American lives than the 146 lost in repelling him from Kuwait.
So who is this level headed man spouting such truths 9 years before the Iraq debacle?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BEsZMvrq-I

Oops, this could prove quite embarrassing Mr Cheney. I wonder if Fox News want me to email them the link.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Denmark Saying Bedrøvelig

You wouldn't think it to look at them now, but Scandinavians have not always been the laid back, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly collection of nations at the geographical top of Europe.
Go back to around 800AD and parts of the British Isles were in the midst of getting their bagdel kicked by rampaging Danes who had little interest in admiring our elegantly decorated monasteries and were far more inclined to raze them to the ground. And then pillage, rape and generally slaughter us.
Firm believers in letting bygones be bygones, we now see Denmark as that place we get our beer and bacon from and concentrate on berating Germans for their ancestors starting 2 World Wars but those dashingly nice Danes have not forgotten us.
Arriving in Ireland on a replica Viking longboat, the Danish culture minister, Brian Mikkelson, apologised for the Norse invasions and destruction inflicted.
Apology accepted Brian, now say sorry for the god-awful 'Barbie Girl' by your fellow countrymen, Aqua.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Protesters Are Not Terrorists

Some of my earliest memories are of being dropped off at relatives while my parents went off to protest about something or other. Both parents, but my mother especially, have an overwhelming desire to stomp off and wave a home-made banner in someones face if they feel there has been an injustice.
As far as i am aware, they were never labelled as terrorists which seems to be the term used today to describe anyone who disagrees with the wisdom of the Government and decides to make a stand against there decisions.
At present there are almost 200 protesters on a strip of scrub land beside Heathrow Airport protesting against plans to add an extra runway to the airport. For the couple of hundred demonstrators, there are almost 2000 police officers.
This isn't your usual congregation of hippies and anarchists, quite a large number of them are locals from the area who don't want their homes concreted over.
The peaceful protests have so far been subject to police intimidation with officers dressed in riot gear patrolling the fence and cars approaching the site being searched under the Terrorism Act which Tony Blair knee-jerked into existence as if blowing people up on the underground was somehow legal before he brought out more laws.
For a Democracy and a supposed supporter of free speech, our countries law enforcers and politicians sure do make it known that while we have the right to protest, they will do all they can to make it as difficult as possible to go about it.
Disagreeing with the decision makers does not make you an enemy of society, neither does erecting a few tents and waving a few banners against climate change. Heavy handed policing, intimidation and labelling innocent people terrorists will do though.

Wiki Vanity

Wikipedia has come in for some stick ever since its creation. The ability for anyone to pop along and edit an entry is, to me, it's greatest strength. If any misinformation appears in a book it is preserved forever until the last edition drops into someones bath while any misinformation on Wikipedia is altered in seconds.
Embarrassingly for some, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology, has created a software program that traces IP addresses of those who make Wikipedia changes.
So who has been caught vainly adding positive paragraphs or deleting whole swaths of less than complimentary remarks?
Step forward our very own Labour Party, the CIA and even the Vatican.
The Republican party apparently replaced the term "occupying forces" with "liberating" in an article referring to the Iraq war while someone using a computer inside Democrat HQ edited a page on conservative American radio host Rush Limbaugh, calling him "idiotic", "ridiculous" and labelling his listeners as "legally retarded".
Fox News have edited a number of pages about its presenters but the biggest culprit uncovered is Diebold, a supplier of voting machines, which made a huge amount of alterations to entries about its involvement in the controversial 2000 US election.
Amusingly, the New York Times were found guilty of adding the word “jerk” 12 times to George W. Bush’s listing.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Inglorious Twelfth

From the same people who brought you the sport of chasing a fox across the countryside until it is exhausted and then condemning it to death by being ripped to pieces to dogs, we present 'The Glorious Twelfth'.
Of course the event is not quite so glorious if you are grouse, but for some sections of the community, the opportunity to prove themselves by blasting a defenceless bird with a double barrelled shotgun is far too attractive.
Part of these chinless wonders who have to kill the wildlife to get their kicks, is our very own Royal Family with Elizabeth and the Greek git regulars on the shooting circuit. Her Maj was even congratulated on her kindness to the victims of the shotgun pellets a few years ago when she wrung the neck of one poor bird that dropped out of the sky and landed at her feet. Of course, the fact that it was the Queen who had blasted the damn thing in the first place was skimmed over.
So if you big brave gunmen want to run around blasting at things, why not pack your bags and pop off over to Iraq or Afghanistan and see just how brave you are with your guns when the target is not quite so defenceless.
You actually prefer to shoot at defenceless things is that? Thought so. Cowards.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Watch Your Backs Vampires

Every now and then a television programme comes along that has you so enthralled you end up designing your whole evening around the screening of the show.
That was how i used to spend Tuesday evenings in 1997/98, making sure that everything that has to be done was done prior to 9'o clock and the haunting sight of the full moon on my television set that meant it was time for Buffy.
I was in on Buffy from the very start which is unusual for me because i generally meet programmes a few series in and watched it religiously right up to it's demise in 2003 quickly followed by its spin off show Angel.
I have flirted with other series to try and plug the Buffy shaped hole but Lost, Heroes and Tru Calling just never cut it, although the brilliant 'Dead Like Me' did come close.
There has been rumours of a Joss Whedon inspired sequel to Buffy pinging about for years but finally, the rumours may have some substance.
Joss Whedon has let slip that the much anticipated programme called 'Ripper' is close and will star Anthony Stewart Head in his role of Rupert Giles the Watcher.
Maybe David Boreanaz and I will be reunited on Tuesday evenings. Me with my tea balanced on my lap, him ripping out somebodies jugular and drinking their blood.
It doesn't get much better than that.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Madeleine’s Parents Face New Slurs

The Portuguese media have once again been getting stuck into the parents of
Madeleine McCann. There have been claims that intercepted phone calls and emails have influenced the police’s new theory that Madeleine died in her apartment.
Ever since the four year olds disappearance there have been barely disguised whispers from some quarters that Madeleine's parents know more than they have let on.
The McCanns and seven friends who were dining together near the apartment where Madeleine was sleeping have come under suspicion following leaks from Portuguese police and the discovery of traces of blood in the girl’s bedroom. All have been interviewed by police about their movements during that evening although unconfirnmed reports have said that the parents and the group members have been kept under police surveillance.
The latest twist is that the police have all but dismissed the idea that she was kidnapped and are concentrating their efforts on the idea that she died in the apartment.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

My Side Of the Fence Smells Nicer

Yet another outbreak of Foot & Mouth disease and yet more scenes of burning animal funeral pyres fill our screens.
Over the last few years, the British meat industry has been rocked by BSE, Salmonella and regular outbreaks of Foot & Mouth disease which have all contributed to people coming over to my side of the meat eating fence. The nice side with celery and lots of carrots.
The Vegetarian Society estimates that the number of British vegetarians stands at around five million. However, the number of families turning to vegetarian meals has risen substantially.
The surge in popularity of vegetarian meals appears to be driven by people who want to cut down on meat consumption for a number of reasons.
Now i know vegetarians can be preachy and snobby about their cuisine choice, and god forbid anyone who mentions they fancy a burger in front of one but i have always taken the view that eating meat or not is a personal choice and apart from the animal who involuntarily provided your meal, it hurts nobody so i leave it up to the individual to decide.
That said, one statistic that always makes me almost drop my carrot stick in awe is provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.
The worldwide number of animals killed for food annually is 45 billion. This includes 306 million cattle, buffalo, and calves, 1.2 billion pigs, 795 million sheep and goats, and 42.7 billion chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese.
If that doesn't make you think, maybe this research that concludes that vegetarians smell better will.
Cheeseburger and a can of deodorant anyone?

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Hiroshima 62 Years On

As President Harry S. Truman ate lunch on the Augusta, returning home from his meeting at Potsdam with Churchill and Stalin, he was given the news of the bombing of Hiroshima.
Elated, he told the group of sailors around him, "This is the greatest thing in history."
If ever there is a discussion point with the potential to end in an unpredictable bloody mess, it is this one.
Ever since Aug 6th 1945, the dropping of the first Atomic bomb on Japan has been a hot topic, mostly around it's moral and ethical use and whether it was used primarily as a show of strength to the USSR.
So was the killing of over 200,000 Japanese, only 20,000 military personnel with the overwhelming majority civilians, indeed the greatest thing in history, a heavy hearted necessity to end the war or an unjustified slaughter?

Boom Boom Obama

Sometimes in politics, the best option is to just keep quiet and allow the other person to tie their own noose and slowly strangle themselves.
Hilary Clinton must be thinking her Christmas and Birthday have come together as Barack Obama takes his size 9 wing tip and plants it firmly in his mouth.
Boom Boom Obama said President Bush should have concentrated on Afghanistan and Pakistan and would not hesitate to use force to take out those who pose a threat to the US in Pakistan, with or without Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf's, permission.
One can only assume that Obama's logic is to try and appeal to the Fox News viewership to try and broaden his appeal and say to the right wing that he can be just as irresponsible as any Republican war-monger that has two conflicts on the go and is getting his arse handed to him on a plate.
Unless i am very much mistaken, it is naivety of the most spectacular kind that see's a Presidential hopeful run on a campaign of promising to send troops into yet another Asian country when you are still receiving home the body bags from the last two.
Mrs Clinton is watching her rivals drop off one by one and with the exception of Al Gore stepping in, she can be confident she will be measuring up the curtains for the White House in November 2008 if it continues.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Yabba Dabba Gone

The Irish are famed for their fondness of alcoholic beverages but even the most drink hardened Irishman might swear off the Guinness if they saw any of the 10 persons currently missing somewhere in Dublin.
Residents are urged to contact the authorities if there are any sightings of a former Soviet leader, a swastika clad fuhrer, an ex-President of the USA, a 7ft man made out of other's body parts, 4 brightly coloured characters with televisions in their stomachs, a turtle brandishing ninja weapons and a caveman carrying a bowling ball.
The weird and wonderful collection of personalities have gone AWOL from Ireland's National Wax Museum and have been missing for almost 2 months but the Museum have had no luck tracing them locally and have widened their net to round up the missing models.
I do have a theory why nobody has reported the missing waxworks yet though.
In a land that spends more money on alcohol per capita, than any other country in the world, trudging home from the pub after a night on the Murphy's and finding Teddy Roosevelt or Fred Flintstone sat at your kitchen table may not be such an unusual event in the Emerald Isles.