Sunday, 30 November 2008

Our Role In The Mumbai Attacks

The inquest into the Mumbai attacks is going ahead with the finger of blame seemingly turning to point at Pakistan, a situation that has the potential to ignite a catastrophic war between two nuclear armed countries who do not so much have relations as resentfully tolerate each other.
Many reasons have been put forward as to why a group of Pakistanis with so much hate in their hearts would want to brutally slay 172 in the Indian city of Mumbai, all of them seen as a continuation of the long running feud between India and Pakistan, but nobody here seems to want to think that we may have had a hand in it with our policy in the area.
The Kashmir conflict provides the focus and the fact that the terrorists targeted an Indian hospital reeks of revenge for the Kashmiri Hospital the Indian security forces shot up in August this year but i can see other reasons why young Pakistani men are drawn towards extremist groups and that's where we and our ill thought out Afghan tactics come in.
Using unmanned drones, NATO has been dropping bombs on the North West area of Pakistan and a glance through any newspaper over the past few months has seen a steady flow of stories telling of civilian deaths from these tactics. Anger at the West in Pakistan has understandably bloomed, and in have stepped the extremists who haven't had the hardest job of convincing many of them of the hostility of the West towards Muslims.
With the Northwest tribal areas of the country slipping out of control, political and religious extremists have been exploiting the Wests policy of taking it onto itself to attack parts of Pakistan and with its ranks swelled with angry young men, we see the results in Mumbai this week.
This, coupled with India's continued ill-treatment of the people of Kashmir, we have managed to hand to the jihadis an entire generation of angry Muslims and not those from poor families easily brainwashed by extremists but the designer clad educated class who this week went about the killing business in expensive jeans and trainers and incensed at Israel's ill-treatment of the Palestinians, the Wests strategy in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and India's treatment of the people of Kashmir.
What is needed now is some cool heads in India and Pakistan to ease the situation that has the potential to explode horribly in all sorts of directions. Pakistan has to clamp down on its extremists but India and the West have to stop making it easy for the jihadists by stoking up the hatred with its actions or we are going to see more of these tragic events unfolding and the circle of death and destruction continuing. As uncomfortable as it may be, it isn't enough to treat the symptom and let the disease merrily carry on.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

US Out Of Iraq By 2011

The Iraqi parliament has voted to accept a deal on the future presence of US troops in their country, and the result is they want the last one out by year end 2011.
The grandly titled 'Agreement on the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organisation of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq' sets out the disentanglement of the invading US forces from the devastated Iraq and though it is not the embarrassment of previous military adventures that have turned sour and resulted in airlifts off the top of US Embassy's, it is a end of the Bush regimes plans for a friendly middle east country moulded in its image.
Concessions handed over by the US include allowing Iraqi courts jurisdiction over crimes committed by American troops, veto over all US military operations, with a nod towards the recent incursion into Syria, a clause says that Iraqi land, sea and air may not be used by the US as a launch pad for attacks on other countries.
No Iraqi can be arrested by US forces except with permission from Iraqi authorities and the thousands of detainees in US custody must either be released or turned over to the Iraqis immediately. US troops may not enter or search any Iraqi house without an Iraqi judge's warrant, US contractors to lose their immunity and be subject to Iraqi law, US troops who commit any crime while off duty and off base will have to stand trial in Iraqi courts.
The death toll from the illegal, unnecessary disaster is a scandal which will be debated for years to come and people from both the pro and anti war camps are declaring this as a victory but it seems neither Iraq or the United States come out of this well. Iraq has a shattered and war scarred country to rebuild while America's reputation in the eyes of the majority of the World is in the gutter.
Of course what America does come out of it with, is its back pocket full of contracts for Iraqi oil and is there anyone still gullible enough to think that it was about WMD's or installing Democracy?
Seems that the neo-cons got there victory after all, 115bn barrels of crude oil's worth. Mission accomplished.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Poet Laureate Job Is Mine

It seems that reality Television can be depended upon to choose anything from the next star of a musical to Alan Sugars assistant but finally plans are afoot to choose something that i feel i would excel at, the next Poet Laureate and as since the position has been held by men since it's creation in the mid 17th Century, the feeling is that it is time for a woman to get the gig.
The present Laureate, Andrew Motion, is coming to the end of his decade long tenure and the search is on for the next person with a poetic mind and a sharp pencil so i declare my interest in the post to compose poems for state occasions and put forward this blog post as my application.

The most obvious state occasion is the recession so i title this one, 'I'm Broke'.

My job was in the building sector
My redundancy pay is in Alliance & Leicester
My business loan in Northern Rock
My shares tied up in Woolworth's stock
My pension's in an Icelandic vault
My mortgage just moved into default
My possessions tucked in my daughters rucksack
My note pinned on the fridge says i won't be back
From the rat race i have withdrew
And i earn ten pence from each copy of Big Issue.

In honour of Prince Charles 60th Birthday celebrations, i call this one 'Why?'

IF you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can wait for your mum to die and not be tired by waiting,
And yet don't look too good, nor seem too wise,
If you can't think - and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And be too ignorant to know the difference just the same,
If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk other peoples money on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about their loss,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute,
Talking to plants about your distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be the next King, my son!

Plenty more where they came from so cancel the programme and email me on the address above to discuss terms and i will hand in my notice tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

1 in 3 Australian Males

The White Ribbon Foundation has published a disturbing survey on the attitudes of the Australian teenage male's attitude to women.
The study, which reviewed data of 12-20 year olds from the past seven years, found up to 350,000 girls aged between 12 and 20 had experienced sexual assault or rape, one third of boys believe "it's not a big deal to hit a girl" and one in seven thought "it's OK to make a girl have sex with you if she was flirting".
So where do these Australian teenagers get these horrific ideas from? Let's take a peek at an Australian News message board to see what the average Australian male is saying about the dismal revelation that they are raising a generation of wife beaters and twisted sexual deviants.

'Male bashing is more prevalent than any suggested female bashing. Men suffer more physical violence but also non-physical violence such as this stupid article written by another feminist male bashing misandrothist'

'More male bashing'

'We are always putting Women up on soap boxes, why? Cant they stand on their own two feet, or do they always need men to cling too and bolster their egos'

'more women commit sexual assaults against men than men do against women'

'It's well past time women realised that they are NOT a protected species. Any woman who hits a man DESERVES to be sat on her a$$. And feminist man-haters should be executed'

'The 1st thing any man should do when he gets home from work is kick the dog and back hand the missus'

'how about in blue velvet when Isabella Rosselini actually asks the guy to hit her while they're rooting? just goes to show that often they enjoy it'

'the mark of a true man has always been to never hit a woman.' since when?'

'Can imagine when women are on the frontline then the women can shoot at the guys yet the guys aren't allowed to fireback due to some unwritten ethical rule imposed by another bunch of eunichs'

'women that hit men are scumbuckets. Don't put up with them'

'You can slap your little daughter around, give her "a good smack", but can't slap your wife around'

'Have you seen some of these smart-ass little misses around aged from about 16-21...they need a good 'slapping' by someone!'

Makes a person wonder why the figure is only a third when they have role models like these to guide them.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Keeping Our Peckers Up

How crazy would the World have to be before it began taking advice from any of the Jackson clan but it was Janet Jackson who told us that the best things in life are free just before her right nipple put in an appearance and her career joined her brother Michael's in the doldrums. Luckily Luther Vandross also sang us the advice but as yet he has kept his man-boobs under wraps but regardless of who said it, they were certainly right and nothing comes less expensive than a spot of bedroom gymnastics.
According to two reports released today, we are fighting the recession with a smile on our face and an argument over who is going to sleep in the wet patch.
Online grocer Ocado have reported that condom sales are up by 60%, and sales of pregnancy tests have doubled which leads me to think that a few condom manufacturers could be receiving some strongly worded letters of complaint in the very near future.
Also up are sales of aphrodisiac foods and candles but when we are not panting down the phone to Ocado, the report from the UK's largest directory inquiry service shows that while many businesses are going to the wall and requests for credit card companies and house clearance services are on the up, the industry with the sharpest increase is numbers for sex shops, lap dancing clubs and escort agencies.
The figures from January to June show an increase of 1,312% for sex shops, 469% for pole dancing establishments and a rise of 40% for escort agencies.
Good to see that the British upper lip is not the only thing being kept stiff.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The Kids Aren't Alright

While many of the friends that i banged heads with in my earlier years have grown up and grown sensible, some of us refuse to wield to the pull of music that isn't likely to damage your brain cells and prematurely destroy your hearing. In another joint posting, my fellow blogger Cody and i disagree on the merits of the music of today.

A recent phenomenon in the college is that my students have began wearing T-shirts of bands that, when they were in their pomp, the students themselves were still just learning to walk.
Nirvana and Ramones seem the most popular but there is a fair sprinkling of the likes of Pearl Jam, Guns 'N Roses, Sex Pistols, Soundgarden and Carter USM which only confirms two of my beliefs.
One is that music peaked in the late 80's and early 90's with the likes of Nirvana and Guns N Roses and secondly that if the music being churned out today was a dog, it would be kinder to put it out of its whimpering misery.
Bland could not begin to describe the state of music today and it is telling that the most eagerly anticipated album of not only this year but of the past few years, is a band that last charted in 1994 with a cover of a Rolling Stones song.
In the UK, boy band Take That split up in 1996 and came back 9 years later to top the charts with their first two singles as if they had never been away but in truth they had very little competition from the groups that had stepped into the void they left in that decade. The charts are dominated by bands following the Simon Cowell formulae of good looking singers belting out saccharine covered ballads who are tucked up in bed by 10pm.
Gone are the days when you would have to lock up your daughters when a rock band came to town, far from an evening of whiskey and debauchery in the back of the bands trailer, it would be an evening of chaperoned scrabble and a friendly hug.
Despite the best efforts of bands like Green Day who put out arguably their best album a few years ago and the constantly excellent Kaiser Chiefs and Fratellis, the charts are just full of similar acts singing similar songs and bands like REM and the Stones that are just going through the paces to keep their bank balance topped up.
Music has a history of bursting out from a mind numbing dip with new, rebellious music to inspire the youth and get the blood flowing. Punk in the 70s, alternative rock and grunge of the late 80s and early 90s so we must be due a doozy of a new musical genre to belatedly shake us out of the slumber that has fallen across the ears of non-pubescent music lovers everywhere who can only repeat the wise lyrics of King Kurt when he said 'Here we are now, Entertain us'.

Cody at It is What It Is blog is putting forward the opposite view that when it comes to music, we have never had it so good.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

The G20 Are On It

Nice to see that the 20 richest countries are meeting up to try and guide us all through the economic gloom, i am especially looking forward to the delegates food menu that will invariably be leaked to the media and will include hand raised albino swan fillets or something obscenely extravagant.
I couldn't help but notice that list of countries that are making the economic decisions include Italy, the same Italy that has recessions like other countries have Bank Holidays. The South European nation has racked up four in the past seven years, and remember this was during a boom time, so i can only assume Mr Berlusconi has been invited along to hand out the biscuits or something because that would be like asking Donald Trump for hair styling advice.
Our very own Gordon Brown will be there, no doubt buoyed by the latest opinion polls that seem to show that he is no longer detested by most of the British public but has managed to raise himself to just being widely loathed instead which is an improvement.
He seems to have found a groove for himself as the World economic genius, handing out advice and telling other countries how they should be running there economies as if the £2 trillion debt he has piled up during his reign as Chancellor and Prime Minister never happened.
Of course, what usually happens at these high level meetings is lots of photographic opportunities and then they all sit around a big table, decide nothing and agree to meet up again in six months time.
If you are living in fear of your life collapsing around your ears don't worry, the G20 boys are on it and they will do everything they can to get us out of the mess they got us into. Just as soon as they have finished there swordfish soup and lavender honey and caramelised nuts desert.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Happy 60th Birthday Prince Charles

Many happy returns Prince Charles but i have to be honest and admit that i don't much care for any of the dysfunctional Royal family. I would shrug my shoulders nonchalantly at the news if they they had got turfed out of Buckingham Palace and were now shoehorned into a 3 bedroomed maisonette on a housing estate in Islington but until the Revolution, they live in luxury at our expense.
Prince Charles is in the unenviable position of having to wait for his mother to die before he can step up to the job that he has spent the last 60 years training for although there are persistent mutterings that he should step aside for his rapidly balding son William.
Whether Charlie, William or Hewitt's boy ends up polishing the Throne with their Royal posterior the time has probably come for the Windsors to be scaled down. Not in the French sense with guillotines and whatever passes for a Bastille in England being stormed, but a more refined British way by slashing them from the civil list.
The Queen gets handed £8m annually as well as a £25m pot available for the upkeep of her many residences but apart from waving and handing down knighthoods to undeserving celebrities every New Year, the Royals do not provide value for money.
The old argument is that they bring in the Tourists and raise more for the country than they cost but i argue that we have more than enough attractions in this country for Johnny Foreigner to throw their Euros at and if they want an old queen to stand and gawp at, we have always got Elton John, and we could pay him in mini rolls.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Father, Son & The Holy Punch Up

Somewhere in the back of the Armenian version of the Bible is a line that says 'And the Lord did look down upon his creation and ordered that all should love thy neighbour, not cover their neighbours asses and smack a few of those uppity Greeks if you get the chance'.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem resounded to the loud thunks of prayer books and candles being bounced off holy melons as Armenian monks found their path blocked by Greek Orthodox monks and decided to deal with it by asking what would Jesus do and deciding that he would have obviously started a mass brawl.
Fists and feet began flying and ceremonial candlesticks and banners were sent toppling to the ground as Israeli police tried to restore peace by dragging away holy men in headlocks.
It's the third time this year that police have broken up sparring monks in the church, on Palm Sunday dozens of Greek and Armenian clerics and worshippers exchanged blows and fighting broke out in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity when the monks started hitting each other with brooms.

The video is HERE and watch out for the flying monk in red at approx 11 seconds.
Blessed be the peacemakers indeed.

Lest We Forgot

November 11th is Armistice Day, the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918.
All across Europe at 11 minutes past 11, all will stop and bow their heads in silent contemplation of the 15 million who died in the 'Great War' and in every war and military conflict since.
'The War to End All Wars' it was labelled at the time, not knowing that far from it being the final war, it was merely a precursor to a century of conflict around the World, the majority of them initiated by the 'victors' of the 1914-18 massacre.
Sunday saw the sickening sight of the past and present leaders of our country laying wreaths and shedding tears for dead soldiers, brave young men and women that they had only been too willing to send into battle.
Lest we forget is the phrase we hear uttered as we pin on our poppies but very little has changed since the days when old men ordered young men to charge nests of German machine guns.
Old men still send other peoples children out to be slaughtered only now the leaders have learnt that the folks back home object to their children dying by the thousands, so they have adopted a new strategy. Now they send our boys and girls out to slaughter other people's children while remaining perfectly safe themselves.
Missiles are sent from hundred of miles away, warriors sit behind television screens and send armed drones to destroy villages and planes drop their payloads from high altitudes. All methods devastatingly unreliable so we have swapped large military deaths for large civilian deaths instead. That is the only lesson that has been learnt over the past 90 years.
If the leaders were faced with the prospect of carrying out their own policies,
we would find that these men, so gung-ho with the lives of others, would quickly find that they have other options than continuously waging war.

Newspapers Decline

Many businesses are taking a pounding in these harsh times but one area that seems to be ready to collapse is the media with the print media especially looking precarious.
Rumours are abound that at least two well known British national newspapers are fighting to stave off collapse and sweating hard over the circulation figures which makes grim reading for all of the dailies.
The weakest looking newspapers are the loss making Independent, Independent on Sunday, Daily Star and Daily Star Sunday who have all shed readers to a critically low level.
These two outfits are desperately trying to cling on using two very different methods, the Independent raising its cover price to compensate for falling sales and the Star going the opposite way and slashing its price in an attempt to prise away readers from other tabloids.
Although the Star & Independent are most at imminent risk, all the national newspapers are suffering, circulation dropping by over an average 6% in the past year and dwindling advertising revenues further compounding the misery. With this present trend, and if the whispers prove correct, 2009 could well see one or more well known titles go to the wall.
The finger of blame is being pointed at the Web, with all the major Newspapers having an online presence which is the cause of the problem according to the boss of local newspaper publisher Johnston Press who have just negotiated a £200m rescue package.
"The internet alternative is cheaper and people are using it in more recessive times. Online is increasing its share and will not necessarily give it up when things improve."
Things are not looking good for the print media and these could be interesting times for the future of newspapers.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

We Need Axl Rose Back

Almost 15 years to the day since their last Album, Guns N' Roses are finally unveiling Chinese Democracy at the end of the month.
It is shamefully ironic that while all the cool kids were trying to work out who was singing the vocals on 'New Rose' after 'The Spaghetti Incident?' was released on 23rd November 1993, the latest in the type of performer that would fill the intervening years was celebrating her first birthday.
Now i have nothing against Miley Cyrus, (her dad on the other hand should have been cattle prodded into unconsciousness by the first person he played Achy Breaky Heart to) but she is synonymous of everything that is wrong with musicians today, they are just so boringly pleasant.
What Guns N' Roses and bands of that ilk gave us was wild, hard drinking and unpredictable musicians who would soak their cornflakes in Jack Daniels, knock seven bells out of each other while smoking 120 Benson & Hedges and still manage to knock out a guitar riff so sharp it threatened eyeballs when it came on the radio.
I want my rock stars drunk, unkempt and being photographed coming out of nightclubs at 4am, puking over the paparazzi and appearing in the morning newspapers waving two fingers and slurring rude things about Prince William. I want to read about Oasis front men having to have new front teeth fitted after their own are knocked out of their head by an irate German bouncer or John Lydon chasing his scared witless assistant around a hotel because his room didn't have a dividing door.
What we have got is a chart full of Simon Cowell's manufactured dross and the Jonas Brothers with their purity rings. Party on Dudes.
Axl may be the only remaining member of the original Guns N' Roses but we need him back ruffling feathers and inspiring a generation of musicians who rebel and smell faintly of their own vomit.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Watching The US Election

Some questions that I had milling around my brain as i watched the aftermath of the American elections.

Why were people queueing up for hours to vote? Why are there just not more polling stations?

I seem to remember pondering this last time, but why is it when viewing the map of how the individual states voted, the left and right flank of America is almost always blue with a thick red stripe of Republic voting states running straight down the middle? My initial thought is that the states in the centre have less population, therefore less social interaction outside of their own and therefore no rubbing along with other people and different cultures and perspectives that happens in the more densely populated side states. A version of the single child syndrome if you like. Only a guess, nobody seems to have a definitive answer.

Has it been noticed by anyone else that in the past few years the diabolical Saddam regime has been removed from Iraq, the oppressive Taliban has been removed from power in Afghanistan but it is the change of regime in America that has prompted the greatest celebrations globally out of the three?

Isn't it a bad idea to leave the outgoing men in power for 77 days after an election, knowing that their party is not in office for the next 4 years and therefore free to cause mischief and generally lay booby traps for the incoming administration?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Goodbye Mr Bush

What with all the attention on the two men waiting for the keys to the White House, it is easy to overlook the man who has been sat in the big chair for the past eight years, George Walker Bush.
The McCain team have sidelined the Republican President rather than risk him denting McCain's chances by dragging the Texan on stage with him but was he all that bad?
Actually yes, he was an unmitigated catastrophe for the entire World but if you put to one side the way the megalomaniac is leaving the Globe in a more dangerous state than it was when he came into the Presidency eight years ago, he was actually responsible for one of the greatest lines ever to tumble from a world leaders mouth.
There are plenty of examples to fill a Bush collections of gaffes including the declaration that "more and more of our imports come from overseas", and after being asked by a child in Britain what the White House was like, replied helpfully "It's White".
All great but there is one quote that sums up everything about the Texan and his time as the leader of the USA.
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful — and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people — and neither do we."
It just doesn't get better than that so as the celebrations for the newly elected President get under way tonight, spare a thought for the outgoing George W Bush who at long last is about to make the World a safer and better place by becoming the former-President George W Bush.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Pin Up President

The French are not renown for their sense of humour although Gérard Depardieu's acting skills always made me chuckle, so it is no surprise that the diminutive Français President, Nicolas Sarkozy, is stomping his tiny feet over a doll that has gone on sale in France.
A French court rejected President Nicolas Sarkozy's demand for a ban on a Sarkozy voodoo doll ruling that it was "within authorized boundaries of freedom of expression".
The Nicolas Sarkozy Voodoo doll comes with a set of 12 pins and a manual explaining how to put a curse on him and contains some of his best-known quotes such as the kind words he mumbled to a farmer who refused to shake his hands, telling him to "Get lost, you poor jerk."
Sarkozy is notoriously litigious when it comes to his image and this is the sixth time that he has taken a company to court over perceived slights against his name, recently being lifted down from his booster seat to go after two T-shirt producers who had made fun of his last name.
In Britain, with our highly developed sense of humour, we mock the 5'5" President for being an uppity short arse and being French and with the court ruling on these dolls bound to increase sales, he will now also be feeling a little prick. No change there then.