Saturday, 30 May 2009

Boring Atheists

'I can't stand atheists – but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores' so says author Charlotte Allen in an interview about her book The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus.
It doesn't seem a very Christian thing for her to say and i do wonder if she has ever actually sat through a laugh a minute Church service but as God is my witness, us Atheists are anything but boring and to prove it here is my life story.
Actually, i was going to make something up about my mother still being a virgin when i was born and after being murdered in my early 30s, how i came back to life after 3 days and how my father hears the prayers of every one of the 7 billion people on the planet but i thought nah, nobody would believe a story like that.
Instead i will rise above the taunts and return to my giant book of Knitting Patterns of the World 1750 - 1900. Boring indeed. Pah.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

An Exclusive Club

North Korea and their latest nuclear weapons test has shook a few feathers at the United Nations with the major countries lining up to condemn Kim Jong Ill and his desire to build himself a nuclear arsenal.

America (Nuclear arsenal approx. 10,500 weapons) was there stating that 'North Korea is directly and recklessly challenging the international community."
Then came Great Britain (Nuclear arsenal approx. 200 weapons) describing the tests as "erroneous, misguided and a danger to the world."
Russia (Nuclear arsenal approx. 14,000 weapons) said it was a 'serious blow to efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons."
France (Nuclear arsenal approx. 300 weapons) said "this behavior must have a cost and a price to pay."
China, (Nuclear arsenal approx. 241 weapons) called on Pyongyang "not to make the situation worse."

Pots and kettles come to mind but at least North Korea tested their nuclear weapon beneath their own country. Just over half a century ago one of the above nations tested theirs on Japan.

Who Is This Visionary?

Arrived back in England this morning, handed passport to stern faced woman who looked at it, looked at me, then handed it to a man at adjacent desk. He looked at it, looked at me, then looked at her. Both laughed. *******!
I spent the bank holiday weekend in Paris touring the sights of the French Revolution. The financial crisis, the overindulgence and arrogant attitude of the rulers to the peasants struggling to survive, how the right side of the Assembly wanted to keep the status quo and supported the ruling class and the left side of the chamber who supported change and the revolutionaries (incidentally how the left and right wing got their names) and the public beheading of the monarchy.
Considering the mess and ineptitude of the British political system at present, i did wonder where was our Jean-Jacques Rousseau, ready to inspire a generation to rise up as one and dispose of the elite running our nation. Then i picked up a national newspaper and read the words of a party leader calling for a massive redistribution of power in Britain towards the public.
He wanted fixed-term parliaments to end Downing Street's ability to control the timing of general elections, end the outrageous practise of whips who threaten, coerce and lean upon MP's to vote with the Prime Minister, allowing MPs to choose the chairs and members of Commons select committees so to remove the friends investigating friends which Tony Blair exploited with such success, giving local councils the power to reverse Whitehall decisions to close services in that area and run them for the benefit of the community, reverse the decisions that have led to an increasingly Orwellian surveillance state including scrapping the government's ID card scheme, introduce referendums on the big issues and follow a green agenda to combat climate change.
Who is this young visionary i wondered, whose ideas i found myself so in tune with and whose words chimed so successfully with me?
David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party.
Oh Bugger.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Angry At The Wrong Scandal

The British people are angry over the MP expenses scandal so we keep being told and so we should be.
Journalists are doorstepping voters and they are told in no uncertain terms that we are as mad as hell and we ain't gonna take it no more.
Strange how it has taken a large group of MP's dipping their sticky fingers into our money to collectively rile us when there was something happening right in front of our eyes a few years ago that was much worse than Hazel Blears not paying her Capital Gains tax.
Half the country were against the Iraq War and we were very vocal in our condemnation of Blair and his Governments willingness to follow George W Bush into waging a wrong and indefensible war against Saddam Hussein.
A few MPs resigned but nobody was investigated by the Crown Prosecution Service or threatened with legal action over the Governments blatant lies. What Tony Blair did has to be infinitely worse than Peter Viggers taking £1600 out of the public purse to pay for a Duck house.
Rising up as one and demanding MPs are sacked for fiddling their expenses seems small fry compared to the consequences of what our MPs allowed to happen in Iraq.
We seem to have our priorities wrong here or maybe we are just more angry about illegal expenses claims then we are about illegal wars.
Not to suggest that what our MPs have been up to is not arrogant, contemptible and worthy of us rising up in anger, i just think that we should have been collectively demanding the removal of MPs, the lynching of the Prime Minister and calling for the Government to overhaul how it does its business during an even more serious scandal in 2003.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Avoiding The Top Job

With the British Government being about as popular as a low calorie snack in Beth Dittos cupboard, i do wonder why, when everything is collapsing around our ears, would anyone want to pick up the mantle for the next 5 years.
The ferocious battle not to land the job is hotting up as Labour, Conservative and the Liberal Party try to avoid winning the next election.
Despite seeing his side lodged firmly in the hot seat, Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, says he is confident that his party has what it takes to avoid trouble.
"Obviously at this stage of the election cycle we have more support than we'd like but i genuinely believe that my party is capable of losing every debate between now and the election. There's no reason why we can't finish behind UKIP".
Conservative leader David Cameron admits that he is now almost resigned to taking over the leadership for the next term.
"Clearly its not ideal, but we have got ourselves into this Governing mess but as we have proved before, we are capable of getting ourselves out of it".
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg aired the view concerning his party that they are really having to lower their game in order to avoid the dreaded keys to number 10.
"The record of my party speaks for itself" he said before adding, "Lucky for us".

Human Rights In The Military

Sometime things happen and decisions are made that i think everyone would be behind and am astonished to discover that people are up in arms against them.
The British courts ruled today that 'British soldiers sent abroad have the same human rights as any other British citizens'. Now how can anyone possible protest against that?
The judgement comes after Officers in Iraq continued to send Jason Smith out in 50C heat despite him telling medical staff for four days previously that he was feeling seriously unwell. Smith later died of heatstroke while out on patrol. The inquest also heard that 35 soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of faulty equipment or lack of body armour which the judges ruled breaches their Human Rights.
The Ministry of Defence are appealing against the decision stating that 'To apply the Human Rights Act in a war zone flies in the face of common sense'.
Now maybe i have missed something here but do the Government and all these people shaking their fists at the Human Rights Act want the right to be able to send out troops without adequate protection and to literally work them to death in hostile environments? Laughably, they say they are doing it to protect the troops which is where i begin to think that someone has turned over two pages at once and i am missing something.
It should not take a court ruling for the Government to realise that it has a responsibility and a moral obligation to the troops it sends out to fight but hopefully the thought of ending up in a courtroom may focus Army officers and Government officials minds on looking after their servicemen a bit better.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Susan Boyle Overload

When it comes to our celebrities, we are a very fickle bunch us Brits. All the time Catherine Zeta Jones was making ITV programmes, she was loved and adored but the second she hopped across to Hollywood, the knives came out and rather than celebrate her success, we all began violently tearing her down.
It seems that we have a distinct dislike for anyone who 'gets above their station' or stops being the underdog and turns into the star turn as i fear Susan Boyle is soon to discover.
Building them up and then tearing them down is a uniquely British past-time and since her appearance on Britain's Got Talent, Susan Boyle has certainly made the most of her 15 minutes of fame with appearance on US Television, regular updates of her movements in the tabloids and even a particularly ugly doll made of her. I almost guarantee that the tide is over-ripe for turning.
She has a pleasant enough voice and seems a very nice person from the clips that i have seen of the woman from West Lothian but her unique selling point, her battle against the odds to be accepted for her talent rather than her appearance, has been surpassed. Now she is the favourite to win the show and to go on to bigger and better things and if she does then i wish her all the best, but the normally savvy Simon Cowell has slipped up with this one by allowing almost blanket coverage of everything she does.
After the second audition stage where the judges pick the contestants that progress, the public get to choose and that's where the fickle nature of the British may decide that they have had enough of Susan Boyle and kick her out.
Anyone who has paid enough attention to these type of shows where the British public is concerned, will know that it is extremely rare for the one making the biggest headlines to walk off with the prize.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

I Love...

Ying and yang, right and wrong, war and peace, Seinfeld and being funny. Everything has an opposite and following on from the recent 'I Hate...' post, let's feel the love and find out who and what the Internet is adoring. Using the phrase ' I Love...' we find out that:

Most loved country: I am happy to say that Canada sits atop this tree with 131,000,000 hits with France close behind on 114,000,000, just ahead of China with 112,000,000. America is almost half as loved as its neighbour on 71,000,000 while England lags behind on 46,700,000.

Most loved nationality: Surprisingly, Italians are massively the most loved people with 248,000,000 hits.
Americans are second with 103,000,000 and then the bruce's and sheilas down under with 78,000,000. To rub salt into the wounds, the French (70,700,000) are also above the British (51,500,000). Unfortunately the love for Canada doesn't stretch to loving the Canadians who manage only 29,700,000.

Most loved person: Obama pulls off the neat trick of being the most hated and the most loved with 84,000,000, far and away more loved than the cowboy in the White House previously who still has 14,300,000 willing to say that they love him. Hitler (6,470,000) worryingly has quite a fan base and bragging rights go to Gordon Brown with 2,2560,000 hits to Tony Blair's 715,000 which is considerably less than Bin Ladens 1,500,000 and Stalin's 1,0890,000.

Most loved decade: Despite the flares, dodgy hairstyles and the Osmond's, the 70s are the most loved decade with 31,300,000. Then come the 80s (24,700,000), 60s (16,200,000), 90s (14,400,000) and the 60s (13,200,000). The present decade limped in with 674,000 but to be fair there are still 7 months to go and something might happen yet to make us look back on it fondly.

Most loved spouse: You soppy men. 62,400,000 are willing to go online and tell us that you love your wife while 49,400,000 wives do the same for their hubby's.

Just to finish with, easily the most loved thing is you with an amazing 924,000,000 hits. Gives me a nice warm glow inside to see the amount of love being shared. Come here Robert Mugabe you big lug and give us a cuddle.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Obama And Netanyahu

"The United States is going to deeply engage in this process to see if we can make progress" said Obama last month in a speech on the Israel/Palestine issue. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the White House for talks on Monday, we should get a good indication of how engaged they are willing to be, including making a welcome u-turn on its policy of not defending Israel when it oversteps the mark.
The comments coming from inside the Administration look good so far, National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones making assurances that Obama would be "forceful" with Israel and Joe Biden saying that "Israel has to work toward a two-state solution. You're not going to like my saying this, but not build more settlements, dismantle existing outposts and allow the Palestinians freedom of movement."
For too long we have seen the smiles and handshakes following peace talks only for it all to fizzle out with Israel blaming the Palestinians for not being reasonable as their land is gradually stolen and there land violated and citizens murdered by military raids.
If Obama reviews his history of the one sided conflict, he will see that whoever is in the Israeli seat of power Palestinian homes continue to be bulldozed, settlement construction presses ahead and military incursions claim the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians. These policies inevitably lead to fresh conflict with Israel claiming they have no partner in peace and the vicious circle starts all over again.
Obama has the opportunity to set the parameters in which Israel operates by withholding the five billion dollar handout his country annually shovels towards it if it doesn't begin to work towards a peace settlement.
Obama has to tell them if they do not make peace they will be on their own, no military or financial help, and that will focus minds within the Israeli government more than anything as it knows that the Israeli economy would collapse if it had to fund its own military misadventures.
The thinking is that the Obama master plan will be based upon the Arab peace initiative which has been on the table since 2002 and offers diplomatic recognition of Israel by all Muslim countries in return for an end to Israeli settlement activity and withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territories.
This offer has been shamefully overlooked by successive Israeli Governments and we have to hope that Obama can force Netanyahu and his Lukid Party members to take this opportunity and not just settle for the status quo which Israel seem happy to continue where they demonise, steal and kill with impunity the Palestinians and their land.
The Lukid manifesto states that 'The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river' and the extremist Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, lives on one of the settlements deemed illegal by International Law so Obama will have his work cut out to bring a halt to Israeli's deep rooted and inhumane mistreatment of their neighbour.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Eurovision Time Again

It's Eurovision time again and this year we have had our finest and best musical minds working on it.
Unfortunately they gave up and the organisers asked Andrew Llyod Webber instead and he has squeezed out an okayish type of tune but it doesn't matter anyway because we won't win it no matter how good our song.
International neighbours vote for each other and we can always rely on Ireland to throw us a few pity points but otherwise we are the equivalent of the fat, wheezy kid nobody wants on their team.
The Scandinavians all stick together, as do the Balkan nations and the east Europeans which is nice in a way, a pain for us, but great for cross-border harmony.
I don't know why we are so unpopular with everyone, it's not like we ever did anything to them. Okay, so we spent the last few centuries at war with the vast majority of them and ridicule them at every opportunity but we have changed.
Tony Blair has gone, we haven't got our heads up Americas backside anymore and we haven't started any dodgy wars for almost 6 years now. Can't we just forgive and forget and all be friends? Failing that, can't we just all band together in one moment of International kinship and and make sure France doesn't win the thing?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

I Hate...

You know how it is, we have all been there. You are sitting there while the IT guy is warbling away about the New Windows 7 and how the updated Graphical User Interface and improved memory management will result in greater performance and you have two thoughts. The first thing to come to mind is would it be possible to beat him to death with the heel of my stiletto and make it look accidental. The second is who is the most hated person at the moment.

Luckily, we have google to find out the answer to the second one. Using the Words 'I Hate...', we can find out by looking at the number of hits to get a snapshot of who the Internet is hating at the moment and it is quite eye opening.

Most hated Person? Obama with 28,500,000 hits, 4 million in front of Bush who scored 24,100,000 hits. Of today's bogeymen, Saddam scored 997,000, Bin Laden 878,000 and Castro 712,000 while Ahmadinejad is relatively loved with a lowly 303,000. Special mention to the Pope who scored 2,000,000, just a few hundred thousand behind Hitler.

Most hated country? Sorry America, you came top with 45,500,000 and it's a North American double with Canada second hated with 30,700,000. England came in with 14,800,000 but we were still not as disliked as Australia who were hated by 16,100,000.

Most hated nationality? Americans had better start singing the 'nobody likes us song' because they are the most hated nationality with 37,500,000 haters on the Web which is more than double the next most hated who are Indians with 16,800,000 and then Australians on 16,300,000 who beat the English by 200,000.

Most hated religion? Easily the most hated with 16,600,000 was the Christians, then Jews with 3,200,00, 1,100,000 Muslims then Hindus 681,000 just sneak in front of the Buddhists 667,000.

Most hated musical style? Hip Hop's 7,370,000 beat Punks 4,160,000 to top spot. Country & Western scored a lowly 1,150,000.

Most hatred partner?
16,300,000 for i hate my wife, 8,660,000 for i hate my husband.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Majority But Nothing We Can Do

Tony Blair earned the nickname Teflon Tony because no matter what was thrown at him, he managed to wriggle out of it. He would come on TV, shrug and tell us that he really was a straight kind of guy and we'd collectively say okay then and he would go back to Downing Street and continue with his plans to illegally blow up Iraq.
His replacement, Gordon Brown, seems to be made more of something altogether more sticky as he continues to jump out of the frying pan, into the fire and then performs a double somersault into the furnace.
The latest scandal to hit him is MP's expenses which sees his cabinet and party colleagues fleecing the taxpayer for hundreds of thousands of pounds annually.
The Daily Telegraph has got their grubby mitts on the expenses claims of Parliament members and are drip feeding out the amounts our elected representatives are taking back from the public purse, and it's causing red faces and angry taxpayers all around.
Yes its outrageous and we can bounce off the walls in anger at what our Government gets up to but because of the way these things work, there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.
Once every five years we get to vote and if we don't like what the present lot are doing, we can boot them out but for the next five years we can only sit and watch them do what they like. So if in their allotted time they decide to have a war, hand out tens of billions to bankers, award themselves above inflation pay rises or bring in snooping techniques that would rival anything the Stasi had going, you have got to sit and take it.
A poll today put support for the Government at 23% which means that less than a quarter of the population think Labour is doing a good job but there is no mechanism for the overwhelming majority to call time on them.
I don't know of any other job where you can stay in charge when over three quarters of your customers think you are doing a lousy job so why should the Prime Minister's job be any different, especially when the importance and effect on all our lives is so important.
I will add it to the Lucy manifesto along with my other good ideas of paying everybody the same and choosing what departmental areas we want our tax to go on our tax returns.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Who's The Weiner Guy?

It is interesting to discover how back in the day, people got their given surnames. If your surname is Cooper it's because your ancestors were barrel makers. If you have the surname of Brewster, your forefathers were Brewers and if you are a Collier than you come from a long line of Coal Miners. Just what Michael Weiner's family were caught doing to earn that surname could be an interesting story but he saw sense to change it to Savage although reading through some of his comments, the first name was much more apt.
I had never heard of Michael Savage until this week when Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, decided one morning that she didn't want the American talk show host coming to this country and banned him. Not that he had any plans to come here, she was just randomly saying that if he did decide to make a trip to Blighty one day, he couldn't come.
He was named among 16 people who 'fomented hatred, of such extreme views and expressing them in such a way as to cause violence if they were allowed into the country, she said.
It seems America has a (what is the collective noun for brainless right-wing talk show hosts, a gag possibly) of these morons who thrive on controversy and notoriety and appeal to those Obama called religious, bitter, gun clingers. We have Terry Wogan.
In response to our Government telling him to stay over there, Savage is telling his listeners to boycott coming to England and as he purports to speak on behalf of the American public, we may be deprived of the sight and sound of yanks in psychodelic shirts mangling the names of our towns and talking loudly about resting their fanny.
I'm not personally against Weiner coming here, we have our own fair share of right wing imbeciles with nothing intelligent to say and who appeal to the equally brainless. We call them the Conservative Party.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Answering the Iraq Invasion Questions

During a debate on another site regarding the rights and wrongs of the Iraq War, Stan issued a challenge to rubbish his 22 REASONS WHY IT WAS RIGHT TO INVADE IRAQ. Yes i know that this has been thrown backwards and forwards relentlessly over the last 6 six years and nobody is going to change their minds about things now at this late time but i can't resist a challenge and who better to quote then the people there at the time. His main justifications run along the lines of:


Instead of over-throwing Saddam at that time, the allies gave way to liberal sentiment and left him in power on the basis that he would never be in a position to threaten neighbouring countries again.

Dick Cheney, why did you not remove Saddam in 1991? Was it to pacify us bleeding heart lefties? 'If we had gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone, we wouldn't of had anybody else with us. It would have been a US occupation of Iraq. Once you got to Iraq and took it over and took down Saddam Hussein's Government than what you going to put in it's place? That's a very volatile part of the World. It's a quagmire if you try and take over Iraq. The other thing was casualties, everyone was impressed with how we were able to do our job with so few casualties as we had but for the 146 Americans killed in action and their families it wasn't a cheap war. The question for the President as to whether we went on to Baghdad and took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth. Our judgement was not that many and i think we got it right.' American Enterprise Institute 1994

The intelligence was showing that Saddam still possessed WMD and was continuing with his WMD programme.

Was the Intelligence at the time showing Saddam had WMD's and was building WMD Programmes? Let's listen to Pat Roberts in 2004 at a news conference on the Senate Intelligence Committee Report: 'One fact is now clear: Before the war, the U.S. intelligence community told the president, as well as the Congress and the public, that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and if left unchecked, would probably have a nuclear weapon during this decade. Well, today we know these assessments were wrong. And, as our inquiry will show, they were also unreasonable and largely unsupported by the available intelligence.- Most of the key judgments in the October 2002 national intelligence estimate on Iraq's WMD programs were either overstated or were not supported by the raw intelligence reporting'.

Whats the New York Times got to say about it - 'Another group of British memos, including the so-called Downing Street memo written in July 2002, showed that some senior British officials had been concerned that the United States was determined to invade Iraq, and that the "intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy" by the Bush administration to fit its desire to go to war'.

The UN inspectors, most governments, every intelligence agency in the world, and even Saddam's own generals were convinced that these weapons still existed.

Was everyone convinced about Saddam's intentions Robin Cook? - 'The reality is that Britain is being asked to embark on a war without agreement in any of the international bodies of which we are a leading partner - not NATO, not the European Union and, now, not the Security Council.' 2005

Hmm, that's a large swathe taken out of everyone. What about the US intelligence Agency then former CIA operative Tyler Drumheller, "The Central Intelligence Agency warned President Bush before the Iraq war that it had reliable information the government of Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, they simply brushed off the warning, saying they were no longer interested in intelligence and that the policy toward Iraq had been already set. CBS 60 Minutes

Even the Americans didn't think he had them then. Anything to add head of the Iraq Survey Group Charles Duelfer? 'There was no evidence that Iraq produced weapons of mass destruction after 1991'.
Throw us a bone former Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter 'As of December 1998 we had no evidence Iraq had retained biological weapons, nor that they were working on any. In fact, we had a lot of evidence to suggest Iraq was in compliance'. 2002

The feeling after 9/11 was why should a tyrant like Saddam be given the benefit of that doubt, particularly if it provided a legitimate reason for getting rid of him?

Saddam was a nasty piece of work so did you try and sneak in a bit of regime change without telling us Tony? 'I have got no doubt Saddam is very bad for Iraq, but on the other hand I have got no doubt either that the purpose of our challenge from the United Nations is disarmament of weapons of mass destruction, it is not regime change.' 2002

After being given every opportunity to comply with the UN resolutions Saddam rejected the final demand under resolution 1441 which called for "an accurate, full and final disclosure of Iraq's WMD's and of all aspects of its WMD programme".

Saddam set out a 12000 page dossier stating he had no WMD's. Blair & Bush were adamant that he did. Which of these of these 3 were telling the truth?

To argue that the war was DEFINITELY illegal is not therefore defensible whereas the Prime Minister's parliamentary answer putting the legal case for the war is legally defensible.

Was it legal deputy legal advisor to the Foreign Office Elizabeth Wilmshurst? Her resignation speech over the issue said 'I regret that I cannot agree that it is lawful to use force against Iraq without a second Security Council resolution to revive the authorisation given in SCR 678.' 2003

Iraq War architect, Richard Perle, is it worth asking you if it was legal? "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing. International law would have required us to leave Saddam alone, and this would have been morally unacceptable." 2003. Blimey, wasn't expecting that from him.

You agree with neo-con Richard Perle that it was illegal then Lord Bingham of Cornhill, former Lord Chief Justice and Senior Law Lord of the United Kingdom, 'the invasion was a serious violation of international law and of the rule of law." 2008. Take that as a yes then.

I know you had your doubts UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith because your leaked memo that turned up in the media initially advised that 'the war would be in breach of international law for six reasons, ranging from the lack of a second United Nations resolution to UN inspector Hans Blix's continuing search for weapons'. Yes, we know you went from that to everything's legal and above board days before the invasion.

Let's ask Jack Straw, when he was in his former role as Justice Minister, why the minutes of the cabinet meetings where the legality of the Iraq war was discussed was subjected to the first ever ministerial veto when a Freedom of Information request was entered, despite the Information Commissioner ordering the minutes to be disclosed in the public interest. Nothing to say on that Jack. The UN top banana, Kofi Anan will surely have an opinion on whether the Iraq war was legal or not. 'I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter from our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal.'

In coming down in favour of the war Blair probably saw this as the lesser of the evils and as the chance to act as a restraining influence on Bush in a way that those opposing the war were not able to do..


As luck would have it, here's a copy of the Chatham House report on Blair's influence on George Bush. 'Despite military, political and financial sacrifices by the UK, Mr Blair had been unable to influence the Bush administration in "any significant way". 2006
Surely the American State Department didn't think of him as little more than a poodle did they senior state department analyst Kendall Myers 'for all Britain’s attempts to influence US policy in recent years, we typically ignore them and take no notice — it’s a sad business'.
Far from the invasion being anti-Islamic, the (Islamic) Kurds, anti-Saddam Sunnis and the Shias rejoiced at being liberated from Saddam's tyranny (even now despite the post-war mayhem a recent poll has shown that over 60% of the population believe that overthrowing Saddam was worth the hardship entailed, 75% of the Shias and 81% of the Kurds).

Feeling the love in the streets of Umm Qasr are we lads?

2004 Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies - 92% of Iraqis perceive Coalition forces as occupiers, rather than as liberators or peacekeepers.
2005 Sunday Telegraph 45% of Iraqis believe attacks against British and American
troops are justified - rising to 65 per cent in the British-controlled Maysan province. 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;
2006 Washington Post 83% want the US-led Coalition forces to immediately withdraw from the country.
2006 (PIPA), 78% of Iraqis believe that the US military presence is provoking more conflict that it is preventing.
2006 Centre for Research and Strategic Studies-95% believe the security situation has deteriorated since the arrival of US forces.

That government wants our troops to stay as long as it takes to do the job. To cut and run now would be one of the most ignoble acts in our history.
I agree and have argued for this myself. We broke it, we fix it.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Stopping The Canadians

Upsetting Canadians is one of those things that just doesn't feel right. They sit up there above the United States with their maple syrup and not actually doing much. They occasionally throw out a Michael J Fox or an Alanis Morissette but generally they seem decent, law abiding and the complete opposite of their more boisterous southern neighbour.
That said, even the most welcoming of countries have deep, dark secrets and Canada's is that some of them do have a fondness for smashing in the skulls of baby seals and skinning them alive. Oh Canada, its always the quiet ones.
Great news then that Europe has began proceedings to halt the clubbing to death of hundreds of thousands of seals every year, when MEPs voted overwhelmingly to ban trading in seal products.
The decision to outlaw the seal fur trade will hit mainly Canada which will lose exports of several million pounds to the EU with the consequence being the overdue collapse of the seal fur market.
The taste for seal fur pelts has been rapidly dwindling over the past decade with the number of seals Canada kill reduced by almost two thirds. They slaughtered less than a quarter of the number of seals this year compared to last because trading bans in other countries were destroying the market for their ill-gotten seal products.
The vote was wonderfully timed as it coincided with the start of the EU-Canada summit in Prague and there must have been a loud gnashing of Ottawan teeth when the EU director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said today's vote 'hammered the final nail in the coffin of the sealing industry's market' and would mean 'a complete collapse of Canada's commercial seal hunt may now be inevitable.'
Let's hope so and Canada can stop being the target for our ire and go back to doing what it does best. Whatever that is.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Old Hampshire Calling New Hampshire

As usual, the rich and famous are making promises they don't intend to keep, this time they are threatening to move abroad because the Government would prefer to raise the tax on the 2% who earn above £150,000 annually than tax the 98% who don't.
Leading the exodus is Michael Caine who mumbled something about moving back to the United States, the scene of one of his career highlights, starring alongside Kermit in the Muppet Christmas Carol.
As i have yet to hear anyone complain about another of our washed up actors packing up and moving across the Ocean, i suspect that nobody much cares but it does make me wonder if i was a rich actress who didn't want to contribute to my own countries tax pot and preferred to hand it to the American Tax man instead, where in America would i head?
As i was born and raised in the English county of Hampshire, i would probably be drawn towards New Hampshire with the reasoning that its the same place, only newer and full of Americans.
A quick look at google maps shows that New Hampshire is in the top right hand corner of the USA and indeed there is my birthplace, Portsmouth, and it's a port so that's the same.
Looking a bit further a field there is also a place called Portchester, Newport and Milton, obviously all named by the founders after the places in Old Hampshire. Then it starts to go a bit strange.
Unless i am very much mistaken, Exeter, Plaistow, Londonderry, Alton, Manchester, Lancaster, Stratford, Plymouth, Bristol, Peterborough and Enfield are all way outside Old Hampshire but i guess maps were sketchy back then.
Don't know what the excuse could be for placing the likes of Berlin, Lisbon and Bethlehem in New Hampshire though, these places are not even in the same country as the place it took its name from.
I don't know if the inhabitants of New Hampshire, and Portsmouth in particular, ever actually wonder what things are like in the original Hampshire and Portsmouth but i would love to find out. I love the idea that people left here, went there and made a new and improved version of Portsmouth and Hampshire.
The website 'City Guide to Portsmouth, NH and the Seacoast' has some great information about the City and links to media sites in Portsmouth and New Hampshire so i'm going to see if they want to exchange information about similarities between the old place and the new place.
Meanwhile, if you stumble across some elderly British actors wondering around your American cities and looking lost, just ignore them.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Rewriting The Iraq War

Gordon Brown yesterday called it a 'success story' while John Hutton, the Defence Secretary, said that we should feel proud of the legacy we leave behind. Hilary Benn went onto Question Time last night to say that 'we leave Iraq a better place'.
In another glorious piece of rewriting history, The Sun newspaper stated that 'the fight to topple Saddam Hussein and defeat insurgent fanatics is over.'
With the British involvement lasting just over 6 years, there has been enough distance from the origins of the invasion for the truth to be warped and twisted by those who supported the war at the time and would rather paste over the unsavoury parts of which there have been many.
In 2003, Tony Blair was very much the junior partner in the decision making that is still being felt across the globe. He had to sell the invasion of Iraq to his Party, the House of Commons and the British Public and despite what The Sun claims, he never made it about removing the brutal Saddam. Bush and Blair actually offered to leave him in power if he handed over his Weapons of Mass Destruction so they were happy enough to leave him to carry on doing whatever it was he was doing. It was never about defeating terrorists, the simple truth is that Iraq was an Al-Queada free zone prior to the invasion. The country was filled by the suicide squads and mine layers afterwards.
The premise upon which Blair sold it with was WMD's. Despite the UN's Weapons Inspectors covering the country and coming up empty handed, Blair insisted Saddam had Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons and was in a position to use them with as little as 45 minutes notice. The lies unravelled and the truth came out that Saddam had no WMD's but by then the tanks and Tornadoes had gone in and we were committed.
Fast forward six years on from that false pretext and a roll call of achievements including a million dead Iraqis, 4 million refugees and 200 dead British soldiers. The country suffered an orgy of devastating ethnic cleansing, the destruction of its infrastructure that still remains inadequate today and an influx of terrorists to add to the murder and mayhem. The damage to our reputation through the massacres, use of torture and aligning ourselves with the most unpopular, right wing and war hungry US Government for generations has been immeasurable.
How we did it, why we did it and what we did during it, shouldn't be a cause for celebration. We leave it broken, scarred and devastated which nobody should be proud of as a legacy and as for the claim that we leave Iraq a better place, Hilary Benn should hang his head in shame and embarrassment.
No amount of whitewash, however liberally applied, will cover the rotten stench of what we did back then and how we are now going to leave the Iraq citizens to the whims and truck bombs of the terrorists.