Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2009 Predictions

As the UK Psychics were so disappointing last year, i have expanded the search to Psychics all over the world with this years predictions coming from One World Psychics, a network of Psychics from all corners of the globe.
The majority of these psychics are predicting financial doom and gloom but you don't need a crystal ball to see that one coming so we can leave those to one side and look at the no nonsense, this-is-what-is-going-to-happen ones instead.

1. There will be an assassination attempt on Barack Obama
2. Gordon Brown will be forced out of office and an early election will be called.
3. A large number of C of E bishops convert to Catholicism simultaneously.
5. A dam will burst in the Far East – maybe China.
6. Victoria Beckham will become pregnant with a daughter.
7. There will be a knife attack on a top celebrity
8. Tsunami in Asia or perhaps an earthquake possibly in Malaysia.
9. Funerals for Bill Cosby and Robbie Williams and a close call for Nicole Kidman.
10. Kate Winslett to win an Oscar for best actress
11. A serious terrorist attack in the UK and less serious attacks in Germany.
12. Obama's first year overshadowed by a scandal involving his wifes financial dealings.

Bill Cosby and Robbie Williams had better not start reading any long books then and Kate Winslett should make an Oscar shaped space on her mantelpiece if these turn out to be correct. I shall return later in the year to see how many they have got right.

Futile Israeli PR Exercise

Day 4 of the Israel action in Gaza and as the outcry rightly grows, Israel are forced into a PR exercise to counteract the images of dead Palestinian children being dragged from the rubble of their former homes. Apart from the expected softball questions from US TV News anchors conscious that America is probably the only country in the world that much cares for Israel during this period, the Israeli spokesmen have been struggling to justify their actions and repeat the mantra that Hamas is to blame and they broke the ceasefire and they are killing Israelis with their rockets and Israel is just doing what it must to defend itself and it regrets any loss of innocent life in Palestine.

I suppose that if it is repeated enough times the people will believe it but as i mentioned here back in June, Israel never actually stopped incursions into Palestine or the killing and kidnapping of Hamas members including lasts months murdering of six civilians as it launched missiles at Hamas leaders. Of course it never lifted its siege of the territory either and continued adding to the 240,000 settlers illegally living on Palestine's West Bank.

Any loss of life on either side, be it Palestinian or Israeli, is horrific and before this weekends activities, 14 Israelis have been killed by Palestinian rockets since 2000. In return, 5000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli weapons in the same time with 310 people killed and more than a thousand reported injured this weekend alone. How would the Government, and Hamas is the legally elected Government of Palestine, of any other nation reply to being illegally occupied for over 40 years with the occupier blocking essential supplies of food, medicine and moving its own people to live on your land. I am pretty certain that no country on earth would sit quietly and let the occupier go merrily about its way. If Israel can justify the use of excessive force for 14 dead Israelis while continuing its occupation of another land, what would we call what the Government of Palestine is doing for over 5000 dead Palestinians while under an apartheid system of occupation.

Israel may regret any loss of innocent life but it doesn't seem to be going out of its way to prevent it, the list of places it has bombed over the past four days include a University, a school, mosques, police stations, refugee camps and private homes. Eight students were killed while standing at a bus stop and four young children killed in one home as they lay in their beds.

Of course the main mantra repeated is that if Hamas stopped firing rockets into Israel, peace would prevail but while no rockets have been fired from the West Bank, this year 45 Palestinians have died there by Israeli hands.
During the six month truce, the West Bank saw the continuation of settler programs, incursions and kidnappings despite Mahmoud Abbas acceding to all Israel's demands.

What Israel really want is for the Palestinians to meekly remain quiet while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonise their land so it doesn't matter what weak justifications Israeli spokesmen wheel out to try and calm the tide of angry criticisms aimed at them, there is no justification. Israel and its backers are complicit in one of the greatest atrocities since the 2nd World War.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

2008 Predictions Revisited

With only a few days left of the year, i think we can revisit the psychic predictions made for 2008 and see how accurate the crystal balls and tarot cards of the folks at UK Psychics were when it came to foretelling the events of the past 12 months.
The predictions were:

Beijing Olympics cancelled.
Earthquakes in California and Greece.
A hurricane greater than Katrina striking the US.
Scientists discover something long held to be healthy is not.
India to be engaged in conflict.
Small nuclear detonation in the Middle East.
Major terrorist attack involving a missile.
Assassination of a major American politician.
Major volcanic eruption.
Riots in the UK.
Poignant space news.
White boat/ship with the name ELLE in the name making major news.

Maybe we can put it down to cloudy crystal balls but that is hopeless and a pretty disappointing return for a group of people who reckon they have a hot line to the other side. Hopefully they can give their crystal balls another wipe and do rather better with the 2009 predictions.


I seem to be having a few problems commenting on other blogs over the last few days. I get a message saying: Sorry, you are not a member of the blog at

No idea what it means or how i am not a member of my own blog or even why it stops me leaving comments elsewhere while being able to still post but hopefully it is a glitch that will soon be righted and i will be able to rejoin the debates on others sites.

Still Disliking Israel

I was going to write a diatribe against Israels actions in Gaza that has left over 280 dead and injured over 1000 but then realised, what's the point?
There are 3 countries that can stomp around blowing fellow humans to pieces and avoid censure that befalls everyone else, the USA, the UK and Israel.
It seems an endless task to berate these three for their actions and disregard for human life but no matter how many bombs they drop on civilians in Iraq, Pakistan, Lebanon or Palestine, they are just allowed to carry on with impunity and wheel out weak and pathetic justifications for their actions.
Over 5000 Palestinians have now been killed by Israel since Ariel Sharon's thoughtless actions reignited the latest infatida in 2000 and bloggers like David and I have been fierce opponents of what Israel have done since but bizarrely, the likes of the USA and UK give tacit approval to the continued slaughter going on in the West Bank and Gaza.
What other country could callously kill 280 people and not be hauled over the coals with calls of boycotts and the removal of funding? Israel it seems, and that stinks and with the pro-Israel Obama and Hillary taking over the reigns of the White House, the lot of the Palestinians is not going to get any better.
It is to our eternal shame that our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, puts out the usual pathetic message mumbling something about restraint and cool heads and not leading the calls to suspend Israel from the UN or put economic sanctions in place as he did against Russia earlier in the year.
I am the last person to want to send troops anywhere but maybe it is time for the United Nations to deploy a few thousand troops to the area to stop Hamas firing missiles over the wall into Israel and to stop Israel from continuing its genocide against the citizens of Palestine.
I have said it before and still it holds true that I find it really hard to find any likable quality about Israel.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Dinging & Donging Merrily

Christmas is a time for goodwill to all men, presents beneath the Christmas tree and bright eyed children bouncing off the walls in anticipation of what the jolly fat man will bring them this year.
In all the excitement there are many pitfalls to navigate such as the office party. If you make it through that without being sacked or finding multiple copies of your photocopied derriere plastered on the notice board you have the secret santa where someone will take the chance to anonymously get back at the person who has spent the year annoying them. A can of anti-perspirant for that woman with the personal hygiene problem or a comb for the balding colleague.
The next test is to go about your shopping and to withstand the pushchairs being flung into the back of the legs, sharp elbowed shoppers attempting to nudge in front in queues and my new favourite, elderly woman who wait until their purchase has been rung up and bagged before beginning the drawn out process of looking for her purse in her handbag.
I hope that you all get what you want this Christmas and have a gay old time as the Flintstones say but don't forget about those that are not so well off this festive period, people like the bankers, Estate Agents and city workers god bless'em who are suffering more than most.
May all your dongs ding merrily.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Burke Versus Buckley

Can't complain about Alexander Burke winning X Factor as she was head and shoulders above anyone else in the competition, but her version of Leonard Cohen's beautiful and haunting 'Hallelujah' is what they call in polite circles, a pigs ear.
Seems that i am not the only one to think that Simon Cowell has turned it into a car crash of a song because a campaign has been set up to try and get the the excellent Jeff Buckley version to eclipse Alexandra Burke's warbling for the coveted Christmas number 1 position.
Burke is almost guaranteed to get the top spot due to radio play and the publicity that X Factor gave her, but on downloads alone, last weekend the Buckley version stood at number 30 and the midweek chart has it at number 3 raising the very real prospect of the same song being at number 1 and 2 on Sunday.
As Cohen is stony broke after his former manager lost his millions on iffy business ventures, Cohen is set to make a much needed penny from the Royalties although personally i thought that his own version of the song is weak and i would have much preferred the superior and beautifully sung Kate Voegele version that quietly crept into the top 50 earlier in the year but Buckley's version has gained cult status and is widely thought of as the definitive version.
I hope that Alexander Burke goes on to have a successful career, she does have a great voice, but i would give anything to see Buckley win this battle on Sunday and for Simon Cowell to stop meddling with the classics and stick to the usual guff he hands his acts to perform.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Hypocrisy Of O Little Town Of Bethlehem

A Church of England clergyman has banned the hymn O Little Town of Bethlehem from his Christmas services after he visited Bethlehem and decided that he can't stand the hypocrisy of singing about a sweet little village in "a deep and dreamless sleep" when what he witnessed to his horror was a depressing place under a harsh Israeli occupation.
The Rev Stephen Coulter of Dorset said he can no longer bring himself to sing the lyrics of the hymn as he believes they are too far removed from the reality of one of Christianity's holiest sites.
The Rev. has re-written the orders of service for the rest of his December services so that he and his congregation don’t have to sing it. He said he can no longer bring himself to sing the hymn because it feels wrong and he would be a hypocrite.
He said: “Bethlehem today is indeed a place of dark streets and of hopes and fears. How can the Jews who were treated so badly in World War Two now inflict the same treatment on others?”
How indeed Rev and the perfect irony is that the carol was written in the 19th Century by Rector Phillip Brooks after he was inspired after a trip to the Town.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

The Real Meaning Of Christmas

Apparently nobody bothered to tell the hordes of shoppers in the local city centre that there is a recession on, it has been just as busy as any other Christmas around here and i thought that i might be spared the jostling this year as everyone else stayed at home and explained to their children that Santa is feeling the pinch and their stocking may feel a bit lighter this year.
What i do notice as i walk around the town centres is the Santa's, snowmen and red nosed reindeer's and the lack of the very reason we do all this every year.
Now i have never bought into the whole religion thing, i place it in the make believe box alongside the Tooth Fairy, but it does seem strange that we celebrate the birth of Jesus without actually bringing any attention to Jesus himself.
We may spot the odd hastily thrown together nativity scene in a few shop windows but generally it is snow scenes with snowmen, Santa and elves in workshops making toys.
The truth is that Christmas is all about the presents and decorations and any ideals that we do it all to celebrate the birth of Jesus is ludicrous. Maybe that is the reason but it has been lost into the midst of time and it is just a give and receive present fest, i am sure that what supposedly happened 2008 years ago doesn't enter the mind of any of the ques snaking around the City Centre.
I am certain that the Church know that without the present giving ceremony and cute plastic snowmen, Christmas would be a dud and hardly anyone would care about it so they keep a low profile about what it is really all about and kid themselves that we all do it because we want to participate in the birth of the baby Jesus and celebrate the biggest day in the Christian calendar.
We know otherwise and they know otherwise so we both keep to our side of the line and play along nicely. We don't mention it is just an excuse to get presents and they don't ruin it all by bringing religion into it.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

US v GB Xmas Song Battle

Cody has been hitting the eggnog early this festive season and believes that when it comes to Christmas pop songs, us Brits can't hold a candle to the jingle bell stuff that America puts out. I say he is talking Christmas Baubles so the gloves are laced up and the gumshield is in so let's get it on.

Let's get ready to rumble. In the red, white and blue Corner, reigning champion of the Christmas song World, Great Britain. In the stars and stripes corner, the challenger, the United States of America.
Ok King Wenceslas, what are we expecting from these two?
I expect the Yankee fighter to start strongly but quickly tire and be completely overpowered by the steady stream of British Christmas hits Lucy.

Round 1 - Ok, there's the bell. Straightaway Britain lands 'A Wonderful Christmastime' and 'Pipes Of Peace' by Paul McCartney and America counters with a 'Santa Claus is coming to Town' by the Jackson 5. Sizing each other up in this opening round and a Greg Lake 'i Believe in Father Christmas' followed by Chris De Burgh 'A Spaceman Came Travelling' forces America onto the back foot just as the bell goes for the end of the first round.
What do you make of it Wenceslas?
A cautious opening round but i expect America to come out strong in the next round as it will know that the longer it goes on Britain will begin to dominate.

Round 2 - Here we go king Wenceslas and as Britain threw an Aled Jones 'Walking In The Air' it walked straight onto a 'Blue Christmas' by Elvis which sent it covering up. Britain looks shaken and is holding on as it attempts to clear its head. America on top here but Britain seems to have recovered and the American advance is halted by a Cliff Richard 'Saviours Day' and 'Mistletoe and Wine' combination. A brief flurry of 'Little Saint Nick' ends the round with America taking that one on my scorecard.

Round 3 - The third begins with Britain warming Americas jaw with a 'Lonely This Christmas' by Mud and then moving inside to jab a 'Power of Love' by Frankie Goes To Hollywood into the Americas unprotected ribs. Dean Martins 'Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow' temporarily forces Britain back but here they come again with America forced back onto the ropes by Band Aids 'Do They Know It's Christmas' and the crowd are on their feet. America trying desperately to survive the onslaught but a slamming 'Last Christmas' by Wham drops it to its knees. Dazed and bleeding, the referee gives it the mandatory 8 count and allows it to continue. Britain steams in and lands a 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' Tom Jones and Cerys Hughes before the bell ends the round. Exciting stuff Wenceslas.
The seconds are working furiously on America in that corner Lucy as the fourth round begins.

Round 4 - Looking to build on that last round Britain look to finish it with a roundhouse 'Merry Christmas Everyone' by Slade but America reply with a crisp Bing Crosby "White Christmas" and Britain looks hurt and manages to reply with a Jona Lewie 'Stop The Cavalry' before America throws a 'Please come home for Christmas' by Bon Jovi to send Britain reeling back towards the ropes.
Covering up frantically as America looks to capitalise, Britain stuns America with a 'Step Into Christmas' by Elton John and 'Christmas Time, Don't Let The Bells End' by the Darkness.
A ferocious exchange of 'All I Want For Christmas is You' by Mariah Carey is met with a 'Happy Xmas (War is Over)' by John Lennon. All America have left is a tired 'The Christmas Song' by Nat King Cole and Britain sends America to the canvas for a final time with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everday' by Wizzard and The Pogues 'Fairytale of New York'.
7...8...9...10 and it's all over, Britain is still the undisputed Christmas Song Champion of the World.
America was game but it's songs were just too old Lucy.
Thank you Good King Wenceslas, so it's Britain victorious and America off to lick its wounds. From King Wencelas and myself, Ding Dong Merrily on High and goodnight.

Cody explains why America rules when it comes to Christmas music here.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

No Sympathy For Evicted Jewish Settlers

Usually, nobody wants to see people being tear-gassed and forcibly dragged away by riot police but the scenes of the Jewish settlers being evicted from the Palestinian city of Hebron in the West Bank today has not garnished much sympathy for the evictees.
The treatment of the Palestinians is a real hot button topic and the continued building of settlements on Palestinian land and the wall that cuts deep into Palestinian land, always negates the Israeli claim that they are not involved in a land grab.
The 200 extreme right wing Israelis evicted from the building they called the Peace House, believe that the West Bank is Jewish by divine right and were prepared to use violence in their twisted quest to take further land from the Palestinians.
The previous evening, Palestinian homes and trees in the City had been attacked by settlers and set on fire, a Palestinian graveyard was vandalised and a settler opened fire on Palestinians civilians.
Inside the building, authorities found rocks piled to be thrown at security forces, including Palestinian gravestones taken from a nearby cemetery and acid Molotov cocktails.
I have no sympathy for the settlers who were described as 'Jewish Terrorists' by the Ha'aretz newspaper and while i wish that they would give up their illegally built homes peacefully, if they won't then let them be dragged out kicking and screaming because even that is a lot gentler than the underhand and violent tactics that the Israeli soldiers used, and continue to use, to grab the land in the first place.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

And Finally...

There is an unwritten rule for news programmes that they have to end the bulletin with a feel good story, something to make the viewers forget the 26 minutes of misery they had just sat through and go 'ahh, how sweet'. Here is a great 'And Finally...' type story.

A hunter took a potshot at a large deer in Missouri and after it had collapsed to the ground, he approached the prostrate figure thinking that he had killed the beast.
As he peered down at the seemingly lifeless body, the deer promptly got to its feet, knocked its attacker over and began mauling him with its antlers.
After suffering a good old fashioned goring, the hunter managed to squeeze off two shots to kill the deer but had to be taken to hospital to have his badly bruised and battered body treated and a dozen staples stuck into his head.

Ahhh. And now over to Georgie Palmer for the weather.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Every Little Helps

I had a conversation a while back on Nogs Blog regarding the expense of keeping the military and what would happen if the leaders of the US and UK woke up one morning and just scrapped our armed forces.
I half joked that America would be invaded by lunchtime that same day and Britain before dinner if we didn't keep the big stick but what with all the belt tightening going on and Gordon landing us £100bn in debt, there is one part of our military arsenal that could quite easily be scrapped and not only wipe out our debt but have no averse effect on our military at all.
Our Trident nuclear program is estimated to cost £75bn but in these days where the biggest threat comes from men armed with hand held weapons and backpacks full of explosives, doesn't it seem a very indulgent and expensive piece of weaponry? Fact is we don't need it and the chances of us ever using it is negligible so it seems the height of indulgence to keep bankrolling Trident while everything else goes spinning down the gurgler.
The only possible excuse anyone could making for remaining a nuclear power is the deterrent factor but that argument left the building a long time ago when the Soviet Union stopped being and terrorist cells, infuriatingly unbowed by our big, shiny nuclear missiles, became the focus. Nuclear America, Britain, Israel and now India have all been victims of these cells so being the owner of a handful of silo's holding weapons that could kill millions is meaningless so why keep them apart from to make ourselves feel big on the World stage.
My guess would be that if Gordon Brown went to the country and asked if we would prefer he spend £75bn on a patently useless weapon against today's threats or to spend £75bn building hospitals or schools he would be concreting over the silos by the weekend.
Of course he won't and will spend the money on retaining our nuclear status so we can all sleep safely in our cardboard boxes under the flyover knowing that the £75bn dust collector won't keep the bad men away but Gordon will still look good at summit meetings.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Don't Give Me A Leonard Cohen Afterworld

Kurt Cobain may have wished for a Leonard Cohen Afterworld on the Nirvana song Pennyroyal Tea, but i can think of plenty other singers i would prefer to share a cloud with when i pop my clogs. Cohen never really did it for me but he is responsible for one of my all time favourite songs, the magnificent biblical themed Hallelujah.
Cohen, with his monotonous style, joins a small club of singers whose songs have been improved by being covered by other singers. Who can argue that Whitney Houston didn't dance rings around Dolly Partons version of 'I Will Always Love You' and so it is with the late Jeff Buckley's take of Cohen's 'Hallelujah' and Kate Voegele's version which is about as good as it gets.
With news that this particular song has been chosen as the X-Factors winners single and considering that it is therefore guaranteed to be Christmas number 1, i am one happy camper.
A simple song with simple lyrics and arrangement, it is heavily tinged with biblical references to Samson having his hair cut and the Lord appreciating Davids secret chord but despite the religious overtures, or maybe because of them, it is a very beautiful and haunting song which seems to have become undeservedly known as that song from the Shrek movie.
Controversially, one of the favourites to win, Diana Vickers, sang the song in one of the earlier rounds which hasn't gone down particularly well with the other contestants but as none of the remaining four are going to have much of a career after this single, i want the person who can most do justice to this great song that Cohen wrote but couldn't sing, to win it and it isn't the gurning Irish lad with the strange hair or the identikit boy band that Louis Walsh is grooming into the next Westlife.
I am not really convinced that Diana or Alexandra could do it justice but at least Simon Cowell has finally picked an exceptional song to grace our Christmas top spot and not the usual dross he serves up.