Friday, 31 December 2010

Psychic Predictions 2010: Results

New Years Eve so time to cast our minds back to fonder times when people still liked Nick Clegg, nobody even knew there was a volcano in Iceland and the only black things bobbing around in the Gulf of Mexico came courtesy of the KKK.
We also had Craig Hamilton-Parker of the Psychics & Mediums Network telling us what would unfold in 2010 and i had high hopes for the man television programmes turn to whenever they want a bit of psychic seeing.
He also charges £1.50 per minute (credit cards accepted) for a telephone call to contact your dead relatives so you would think he would be good otherwise you are wasting your money. So let's have a look at how Craig did:

1. Bin Laden dies. Bit unfair to put a cross next to this one as nobody knows if he is dead, alive or starring as an extra in Les Miserables.
2. MP caught in indecent act in public toilet. A lot of MPs were caught being indecent but none in public toilets.
3. Secret human cloning experiment attempts to clone famous person. Unless it is still a secret, this one missed.
4. X factor (UK) in 2010 will be won by a group of friends who were choir boys together. X Factor 2010 won by singer Matt Cardle.
5. Iran gives up its quest for a nuclear bomb. Iran's nuclear ambitions are still full steam ahead.
6. Celebrity is kidnapped and a ransom demand made. As much as i wished Susan Boyle or a few other celebrities would be kidnapped, all remained safe and sound.
7. Barack Obama expresses an interest in holistic healing and ‘world healing’ becomes a dominant theme and key phrase to his 2010 speeches. Amount of times Obama used the words holistic healing - 0
8. Higher than normal tremors on San Andreas fault line. The U.S. Geological Survey advise that 2009 was a busier tremor year.
9. The last Big Brother series (UK) ends with tragedy as someone on set is seriously hurt. A charitable tick here as one of the contestants broke her ankle
10.Japanese bullet train terrorist attack attempt is foiled. The only attack google showed was an attack by graffiti artists.

For someone who describes himself as 'the most accurate and sincere mediums working in Britain today', Hamilton-Parker scored a miserable 1 out of 10 which doesn't say much for the rest of the mediums.
My advice would be if you are approached by a psychic with a double barrelled name, keep the £1.50 in your pocket and consult your tea-pot instead. You won't learn anything about the future but you won't hear Craig Hamilton-Parker laughing all the way to the bank with your one and a half quid while learning nothing about the future either.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Obama Just As Bad As Bush

I remember the time when George W Bush moved out of the White House and Barack Obama was feted as the one who would backtrack on the carnage that Bush inflicted on the world and Americas reputation.
Guantanamo Bay would close, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end, the increasingly downtrodden Palestinians would be treated fairly and extraordinary rendition would cease. America would no longer be run by cowboys riding roughshod over smaller, weaker nations.
He was even the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize largely in anticipation of the peace that he will be bringing but as we reach the halfway mark in his administration, he seems to have not only picked up where George W Bush left off, but taken it a few steps further.
Guantanamo is still operating, he has backed down on his demands for Israel to stop building on occupied Palestinian land and American boots are still on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan while the torture and rendition policy has been continued.
So far, so his predecessors policies but in one area he has gone far beyond what even George W Bush achieved with his escalation of drone attacks inside Pakistan.
A damning statistic is that the current President authorized more drone strikes inside Pakistan in his first 9 months in office than George Bush did in his final 3 years in the White House.
If Bush had authorized this scale of attacks inside Pakistan, the human rights section of the population would rightly be screaming about the bombing of a sovereign country and the number of civilians killed.
A February 2010 report by the New America Foundation found that a third of the 1200 Afghans killed so far in drone attacks have been civilians. That's a horrendous amount of innocent deaths in a country counted as an ally and who has protested about the use of drones but it is hard to find a mention of Obama being a murderer or wanting him dragged before the Hague on crimes against humanity as was regularly on the protest banners directed at Bush.
America is not at war with Pakistan but Obama has not only picked up where George Bush left off, he has escalated it and is directly responsible for the decisions that have left over 400 innocent civilians dead in yet another country that has the misfortune to have terrorists hiding in it.
We hated Bush and rightly berated him for all his disastrous foreign policies and although Obama did not create the problems, he is continuing the same policies and adding his own murderous twist to them.
Obama promised change and hope but he has turned out to be George Bush mk 2 albeit with a better public image and we should be giving him as hard a time over his murderous foreign policy in Pakistan and his failure to adhere to human rights as we gave Bush.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Right Wing Madness Explained By Science

Of course we all know those on the right wing are a bunch of odd-balls with crackpot ideas who, left to their own devices, would probably end up stapling their own hands to their heads.
Us on the left look at them with a mix of sympathy, pity and exasperation as they go about their nutty way and we just thought it was because they were a bit dim. Turns out having right wing views is a medical condition.
Neuroscientist researchers at University College London have discovered that those who hold right wing views have a more pronounced amygdala which is the part of the brain associated with social interaction and emotion stability.
Wikipedia states that research on primates shows those with an enlarged amygalda were observed to have significant social and emotional deficits.
So it took a team of neuroscientists all this time to deduce that people holding right wing views are socially inept and emotionally unstable? We could have told them that ages ago and they could have spent the time on how best to treat them.
Until they come up with a cure for right wing madness, i suggest a simple test where you hand the expected social cripple a plastic bottle and ask them to place it in the recycle bin. If they stand there looking confused then lock them in a room with no sharp objects and do not allow them anywhere near a Government.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

2011: End Of The World

What would you do if you knew the world was going to end? Definitely end, that is, there being nothing that could be done by governments, science or superheroes to avert the end of human life on earth.
Personally my last day would feature a few rolls of industrial strength parcel tape and Johnny Depp so i have pencilled in a trip to the Post Office on the 20th October next year because according to the EBible Fellowship, the 21st October is Judgement Day.
These helpful chaps have deciphered the Biblical calendar found in the book of Genesis, (chapters 5 and 11) which, as they explain 'can be trusted entirely because they come right out of the Bible'.
So on the 21st May, Judgment Day will begin and the rapture will occur and on the 21st October 2011, the world will be destroyed by fire.
If that date is not good for you, how about the 24th December 2011 which is when the sacred Aztec calendar advises us that the fifth epoch, which began in 3113 BC, will end on Christmas Eve and destroy all human life on Earth.
The Aztec's and the Biblical calendars may be helpful with the exact dates of our demise but there is also a warning of our impending doom next year from the Sci-fi community.
Not alien invasions or massive comets hurtling towards us, but the Photon Belt which apparently is a band of intense photon energy on a collision course with the Earth.
Electricity won't function and there will be three days and three nights of retina scorching blinding light and radiation.
Although we are not given an exact date except next year some time, i'm sure we will notice it when it starts. You might want to stay indoors when it does.
The final proof that 2011 will be our last comes from St. Malachy, an Irish Priest from the 12th Century who prophesied the end of time with the election of the 112th pope from that day in 1143.
Worryingly, Herr Ratzinger is Pope number 111 from when St Malachy made his utterances and is 83 years old so we could be watching the white smoke coming from the Vatican chimney to welcome number 112 in 2011.
I know it is a long shot but if we do all make it through 2011 unscathed, i know where there will be some rolls of industrial strength parcel tape going cheap.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Blame Drinkers, Not Smokers

In an effort to reduce the amount of people smoking, the Government are offering free nicotine patches to smokers at a cost of £250M.
Obviously this is a good thing as smoking is not a healthy habit and i have to grudgingly give Dave C some credit for this initiative although i doubt i will be taking them up on their offer. I try to give up annually and have worn patches and found that they didn't work for me but i do know people who have given up whilst wearing them.
What i would like to do is dispel the often repeated misinformation that smokers drain costs on the NHS for treating smoking related illnesses because according to the Centre for Health Economics, the cost to the NHS for treating smokers is between £1.4bn and £1.7bn.
Granted that is expensive but tax from cigarettes raises £9bn annually for the Government so that argument is a non-starter because the NHS bill is safely covered 6 times over by smokers.
If you want to point fingers for self inflicted illness, Alcohol Concern state that alcohol misuse costs the NHS up to £3bn a year and is implicated in 33,000 deaths every year and one in six people attending accident and emergency units has alcohol-associated injuries.
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) claims that tax receipts from alcohol in 2008-09 raised £730m which means that it is drinkers and not smokers who should be accused of draining the NHS.
Maybe the Government should be aiming its schemes at drinkers, also not a healthy habit and much more costly in terms of treating and the resulting social consequences.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day

Who said we learn nothing from these late night phone-in shows. Last night on Talk Sport Radio there was a live 3-way link up with the presenters of an American and Canadian radio station whose names i never caught.
After the initial Barack Obama bashing where all 3 agreed he had turned out to be a bit of a dud, talk turned to Boxing Day.
I wasn't aware that only the Australians, Canadians and us celebrated Boxing Day (or St Stephens Day for the pedantic among us) although i'm not really sure what it is or what we are supposed to do with it.
We use it mainly to return Christmas gifts to the shops and exchange them for the correct size, an alternative to the same value or make up stories about how it was broken when we got it and can we have the money back please.
So you Americans are not missing out on much, a national holiday to get over Christmas Day after all those mince pies and anyway you get July 4th off which is kinda ironic.
If you hadn't have thrown all that tea into Boston Harbour all those years ago, you wouldn't have had to get up so early this morning and you could have exchanged that Sarah Palin autobiography for something of equal value at the 99c store. Thank your ancestors for that.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign

Possibly taking a leaf from the Atheist bus campaign last year, buses in Seattle are to carry this advertisement bringing attention to Israeli war crimes.
Paid for by the the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, their mission is to break through the silence over Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians. The SMAC website states that they are a number of national and international groups using mainstream advertising media to increase public awareness of U.S. taxpayer complicity in Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.
Stop30billion is a reference to the $30 billion in military aid that the United States has pledged to Israel over the next decade and the campaign is timed to coincide with the second anniversary of Israel's horrific assault on Gaza.
"The ads are to raise awareness that our tax dollars are being spent in one-sided support of the state of Israel and particularly of those policies of Israel that violate human rights and maintain the bad situation" said a SMAC spokesman.
Asked in the Seattle Times about if the ad could incite violence against Jews, the spokesman explained, 'My experience is that those who want to defend Israel right or wrong want also to stop dialogue, stop discussion, stop education, stop public awareness, and will use a wide range of tactics, and this is one.'

Israel will continue to treat Palestinians with impunity until America and others stop funding its military and have to pay its own way which will force it to the negotiating table so this is a small start in bringing to attention what the American media doesn't tell, Israel is using your money to kill civilians, steal land, destabilise the Middle East and run an apartheid system worthy of South Africa.
Maybe you are happy with your money going to support all that or hopefully you will go off and find out a bit more about it and realise what has been going on.
Well done the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, i wish you luck because i guarantee the anti-semitism chorus will be in full voice.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Europe Rises Up

It seems almost an everyday occurrence now that a riot breaks out somewhere in Europe.
Greece, Italy, France and Britain have all seen rioting in the past week and this year has also seen riots in Turkey, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece, Iceland and Austria.
That's a lot of angry people on our continent and their rage is at the politicians for their economic mismanagement and their resulting austerity measures.
Banks have been the main target, petrol bombs were thrown through the windows of some Turkish banks and in France over 3 million people protested in a day of action against President Sarkozy's economic recovery plan.
In Moscow, over 2000 demonstrators gathered by a statue of Karl Marx calling for a return of communism.
These are not minor incidents by an angry few, this is an unprecedented outpouring of anger by the masses at the people who caused the spending cuts, rising unemployment, delayed retirement, wage cuts and fear of the future.
Protests, demonstrations and riots do change government thinking and have bought down Governments before although as yet none except Iceland have succumbed but a few are looking unsteady.
I have heard the demonstrations being called 'anti-capitalist' which to a degree is true, this economic crisis has exposed the frailties of the Capitalist system and the greed that drives it but most importantly, it has exposed abhorrent financial mismanagement by our Governments, financial markets and big business.
The political fallout is going to be long, messy and violent and we can expect to see a few ministerial scalps before we emerge on the other side hopefully wiser and with a better system which doesn't punish those who can least afford it.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Nazareth To Bethlehem 2010

Little donkey, little donkey
On the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards
With your precious load.

It is a 90 mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem so how different would the trip the donkey made on that dusty road over 2000 years ago be today?
The Bible is unhelpful about the exact route so let's take the direct route and the donkey has a relatively straightforward plod until it reaches the first of numerous Israeli military checkpoints, this one at Jalame where the wall separates the occupied West Bank from Israel.
Once past the heavily armed soldiers, lookout towers, razor wire and gun turrets we come to Jenin, stronghold of Islamist militant groups and regular recipient of Israeli military incursions.
On the other side of Jenin lies another four Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks, then the Palestinian city of Nablus surrounded on 3 sides by refugee camps.
Israel soldiers control the entrance and exit from the city and then it's onto route 433.
Being Jews, Mary, Joseph and the plodding donkey would have no problem using this 12 mile stretch of road through the West Bank as it was only closed to Palestinians until this summer.
We get off the tarmac at Ramallah and through another set of Israeli military checkpoints who control who comes in and who goes out of the City.
South again and Jerusalem appears in the distance, entry and exit to the city through 4 military checkpoints and finally, after negotiating the way through the refugee camps of Aida and Azza, we reach the city of Bethlehem flanked by 30ft high concrete walls and military roadblocks and checkpoints.
The donkey can have a rest and Mary and Joseph can find a nice stable and hope that the 3 wise men have all the right permits and make it through unscathed.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Kosovo: Another Western Intervention Failure

When the United Nations refused to sanction the 1999 Kosovo War, it became a NATO campaign although critics pointed out that the NATO charter specifies that NATO was created for defence of its members, and the bombing of Serbia was an attack on a non-NATO country which was not directly threatening any NATO member.
With the KLA painted as the good guys and the Serb forces as the baddies when in reality they were both as bad as each other when it came to killing civilians, NATO stepped into a civil war regardless of the lack of legitimacy and three months of bombing later, the Serbian Army was in retreat and Kosovo became an interim civilian administration under the authority of the United Nations.
Ten years on an a report from the Council of Europe tells us that it is now ruled by gangster thugs involved in murder and selling body parts.
The report alleges that the newly re-elected Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, was the head of an organised crime ring involved in organ trafficking, assassinations and other crimes.
It seems that all NATO achieved was to foist a gang of gangsters into power who have been exerting what the EC called 'violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics.'
Part of the report suggests that after the 1999 war the KLA took revenge on the
Serb civilians who stayed behind by dragging them off to a network of KLA run detention centres in northern Albania where they were 'subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, before ultimately disappearing, murdered for their kidneys.'
It concludes 'Tha├ži’s Drenica Group 'bear the greatest responsibility'.
The first commander of U.N. troops in Bosnia, Canadian Gen. Lewis MacKenzie said 'We bombed the wrong side. The Kosovo-Albanians have played us like a Stradivarius.'
They certainly did and once again Western intervention has made a horrific situation a whole lot worse.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Is Santa Real?

Listen up children everywhere, i am an adult and as all children know, adults are always right. You children also know that lying is wrong and adults never lie, especially to children, so if you asked me 'Is Santa real?', i state absolutely YES.
Still don't believe me?
Well how about believing the United States and Canadian Governments who protect their national air space with a department called the North American Aerospace Defence Command, NORAD for short.
NORAD have high-tech systems such as radar, satellites, detection systems and even fighter jets and they know if anyone or anything comes into the sky above North America. They even have a system named the North Warning System which are satellites orbiting the earth at 22,300 miles especially for Santa Claus so they know it is him.
Would the United States and Canadian Governments, run by very important and serious people, use all this technology for someone that isn't real?
Then there is the Postal Services all around the World who deliver millions of letters to Santa Claus each year. Try sending a letter to James Bond or Spiderman, the postal services would either return your letter as undeliverable or throw it into the dead letter office because the law states that are not allowed to deliver letters to people that don't exist.
Santa Claus not only exists, he has 4 offices you can write to, 'Father Christmas, North Pole, SAN TA1', 'Santa Claus, Santa Claus Village, FIN-96930 Arctic Circle, Finland', 'North Pole, Alaska, H0 H0 H0' and the UK Post Office asks you to send letters to 'Santa’s Grotto, Reindeerland, SAN TA1'.
Finally, have you wondered how Santa manages to get around the World so fast? It is a secret but i have a special Press Release that only the newspaper, radio and television stations are suppossed to read but i want to prove Santa Claus is real so i will tell you. He uses the NGA TOY DELIVERY SYSTEM X-100 developed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) which is like a super version of the sat nav your parents probably have in their car. The NGA make digital navigation systems for the American military.
The Press release says: 'This holiday season, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) again offered its expertise to a very special customer - Santa Claus'.
So the United States and Canadian Governments, all the worlds postal services, the millions who send Santa letters every year and the Intelligence Agency company that have said that they give Santa the equipment to guide him around the World all believe in Father Christmas, so why should you not think he is real as well?
Don't tell everyone about Santa's special sat nav though will you, it's a secret.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Real Santa Claus

We all know Santa Claus, fat jolly man who brings presents to good kids and and lumps of coal to the bad ones.
Over the years he has gone through a few different guises and we can trace him back to a very surprising historical character.
The main characteristics of Santa Claus today are the long white beard, mode of transport and his present giving.
The Santa Claus we know is based on the Sinterklaas who was a traditional Winter holiday figure predominantly in the Netherlands. The Dutch colonials, following the American War of Independence, revived their Sinterklaas tradition as a symbol of their non-British past and Sinterklass was merged with the religious overtones of the Christian Saint Nicholas.
The legend of Sinterklass who rode around on a white horse, wore a long white beard, carried a staff and had children leaving their boots full of carrots and straw near the chimney for his horse to eat was taken directly from the Norse God Odin who was worshipped in North and Western Europe prior to Christianisation.
Odin rode the sky with his grey horse, a long white beard, carried a spear and rewarded children with gifts who placed their boots near the chimney for his flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat.
It is from these pagan 'Yule times' that many of the Christmas traditions began, incorporated into the Christmas we have today such as Christmas trees and the date 25th December which was originally Yule when the pagans celebrated the shortest day during the winter solstice and willed the sun to return.
Odin himself was the Germanic adoption of the Celtic deity Lugus, introduced to the Germanic tribes by the Celtic tribes of central Europe.
Lugus, patron of trade and commerce, was just the updated Celtic version of the Roman God Mercury and the Romans messenger Mercury was the Greeks Hermes, the wing sandal wearing messenger of the gods, guide to the Underworld and patron of shepherds, literature, poets and commerce.
So there we have the story of Santa Claus who began life as the messenger of the Ancient Greek Gods circa 750 BC and went through Mercury, Lugus, Odin, and Sinterklaas to the guy due to pop down the chimney in a few days time.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Welcome Sweden

In 2004, a video message from Osama Bin Laden advised the American people that their country, along with Israel, was the cause of injustice in the Middle East and that was why he and his Al Queada cohorts would continue to strike out at them. He also name checked Sweden as a country they hadn't nor wouldn't attack. Nice lovable Sweden.
Fair enough you may think, apart from a spot of raping and pillaging over a millennium ago, Sweden has been quietly sat there churning out the odd Eurovision song contest winner and avoiding getting involved with much of the global arguing, even managing to stay neutral through the whole of World War II.
It was the quiet one of the class while the more boisterous countries shouted, hollered and fought among themselves.
Then something changed and little Sweden began hanging around the fringe of the bad boys. Then it got involved with a fight between America and Afghanistan and now, after the bombing on the streets of Stockholm, Sweden has been sucked into the sights of the terrorists.
Rather than stay safely on the sidelines, it was swayed by the worst of the gang, America and Great Britain, to join them in a war of dubious origins, that they can't possibly win and which they have been trying to find a way to get out of for years.
You are one of us now Sweden and you have a big hole in the middle of Stockholm shopping district to show for it.
Welcome to the World the boisterous countries made. Nice 'innit.

Climate Isn't Weather

'Still believe in this Climate Change nonsense?' asked my colleague as i stood shaking the snow off my boots last week. That's the problem with climate change deniers, they seem incapable, or unwilling, to understand the difference between climate and weather. It really isn't that difficult a concept to grasp but at the first fall of a snowflake, i see some grinning goon trying to urge everyone to throw some more coal on the fire so here, for the hard of thinking, is why the 18 inches of snow we experienced last week does not mean the climate change argument is defunct.

Weather describes the condition when you look out of your window. It might be sunny, hot, windy, cloudy, raining or even snowing.

Climate is the average weather conditions expected for a certain place. Climate is based on the average weather experienced over decades and refers to what is expected to happen rather than the actual conditions.

See, if isn't hard to understand so if you are one of those excitable people who scream 'It's climate change' when the thermometer hits 30C or scream 'climate change my aunt fanny' when a snowflake lands on your big empty head, remember that's the weather you are bawling about.
It's called Climate Change and there is a huge clue to what it refers to in the name.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The Most Shocking Wikileak Yet

Ref ID: A459
Created: 0000-25-12
Classification: Confidential
Origin: Bethelehem Embassy

C O N F I D E N T I A L Bethlehem 009127

E.O. 12957: DECL: 11/26/0001 AD
TAGS: PGOV PHUM VE SP
SUBJECT: Child Care in Bethelehem

REF: A. STATE 154674
¶B. BETHLEHEM 2123
¶C. JUDEA 2077

Classified By: BETHLEHEM OFFICIAL REASONS 1.4B AND D.

SUMMARY: Judea Child Care. Carpenter Held On Charges Involving Underage Mother

25/12/00 AD-- Bethlehem, Judea -

¶1 Child care in Judea is becoming a problem with a case in point the call to the Bethlehem Child Protection Unit when authorities were alerted to a family living in a barn and upon arrival an infant named 'Jesus' was found dressed in rags and placed in an animals feeding trough by his 14 year old mother Mary. The child was taken into protective care.

¶2 During the confrontation, a man identified as Joseph and accompanied by several shepherds, tried to interfere with efforts to remove the infant from the scene by claiming the child was 'God's' but was restrained by officers for his own safety.

¶3 Also being held for questioning are three foreigners who allege to be 'wise men' from an unidentified middle eastern country. The three are being held under the anti-terrorism act. Confiscated from their persons was a large quantity of gold and two other unidentified substances which are currently being tested. None of the three were able to produce passports.

¶4 The owner of the barn is being held for questioning for violating health and safety regulations by allowing people to stay in the stable when his inn was full.

¶5 The location of the minor is confidential and the prospect for a quick resolution to this case is doubtful as the father is middle-aged and the mother definitely underage.

¶6 Mary was taken to the Bethlehem General Hospital where she is being examined by doctors and will undergo psychiatric evaluation because of her claim that she is a virgin and that the child is from God.

¶7 We are of the opinion that this incident is just one of a number that point to a lack of child care in the Judea area and the porous borders that allow potential terrorists to transfer illegal substances and gold across the region.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Who To Blame For Petrol Prices

The price of a litre of unleaded petrol has hit a record high today of 121.76p and it is expected to rise even further in January as fuel duty increases and the higher VAT rate bite.
Usually this would lead to kicking out at the arrogant oil companies who make billions at the expense of the environment and human population and that is how the UK Government like it because by letting them take the blame, we don't look too closely at exactly where the £1.21 you pay for that litre of petrol actually goes.
A guide at petrolprices.com show that if a litre of unleaded cost 119.96, it would be split in the following way:

Fuel Duty - 57.21p
Product 39.85p
VAT 17.90p
Retailer 5p

With fuel duty and VAT, almost two thirds of your 119.96 goes to the Government with the actual petrol costing just under 40p.
With 34 million drivers in the UK, this is a massive money spinner for the Government, the RAC state that road users pay £46bn each year in fuel duty and road tax, but as our roads came 24th out of the top 27 countries considered by the World Economic Forum, the money isn't being handed to the highway agency.
This can only lead us to the conclusion that those of us who have to use the road network to go about our daily business are regarded as a soft touch who will pay the price for fuel whatever it might be.
Of course they know that for the majority the only other options are the overcrowded trains or buses and the prices of those have gone up as much as 13%.
Thirty-four million drivers? That's a lot of people with a lot of votes and a loud voice if we take a leaf from the students book and show the Government that we have had enough of them ripping us off.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Goodbye Lib Dems

Pictured left is Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats. In his hands is a pledge that if his party got into power, they would 'vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative system'.
Today, Nick Clegg, still leader of the Liberal Democrats and now also Deputy Prime Minister and a senior member of the coalition Government that voted to increase University tuition fees threefold to £9,000. Clegg was a vocal advocate of the controversial decision, urging his party members to support the hike.
Mr Clegg and his party targeted university campuses seeking student votes ahead of the General Election and students voted for them in large swathes to give them seats in University towns such as Cambridge, Norwich, Portsmouth, Manchester and Bath.
It was one of the cornerstones of their electoral campaign, a gold-plated, copper­bottomed promise and this is why students are protesting today.
Not only will they be saddled with tens of thousands of pounds debt before they even set foot on the career ladder, (and don't be fooled by the argument that graduates will pay less than at present, they will just be paying it over a longer period) but they were lied to.
A bold, plain old fashioned fib and that is why the Liberal Democrats face an almost certain wipe out at the next election.
You cannot tell such lies and not expect the electorate to swallow it quietly, especially when you treat so dishonestly the very same people who voted you in, as the 21 who voted against the raise know and the 28 who voted with the Government will soon find out.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Assange Rape Claim

The arrest of Julian Assange on charges of rape and sexual assault is an interesting case which centers around the use, or not, of condoms.
The case first came to light in August when an arrest warrant was issued for Mr Assange following two Swedish women making a statement to police that they had been sexually assaulted by the Wikileaks creator.
Special mention should be made here that the story was broken by the Swedish tabloid newspaper Expressen soon after the case was opened. Possibly just a coincidence that this was the newspaper that the first accuser interned at and that they had the scoop.
The case was then dismissed by Stockholm's chief prosecutor who said that there was no reason to suspect that Assange had committed rape and the warrant withdrawn.
Now the Director of public prosecution, a more senior position in the Swedish legal system, has reopened the case citing new information.
The story appears to proceed as follows. The first accuser suggested Assange stay in her flat the evening before a speaking engagement in Sweden. Both agree that they slept together on the night before the event, during which the condom split.
The following day, the second accuser met Assange at the event and afterwards the pair went to the cinema, where she told police she had performed oral sex on him.
What happened next is where the court case, if it happens, will concentrate.
The first and second woman, who did not know each other, contacted each other and some days later the two went to a Stockholm police station where they said they requested advice on making a complaint against Assange.
The first woman told police that he had ripped the condom on purpose, while the second woman said the unprotected sex act in the cinema had been without her consent.
They were reportedly advised by the police officer that these allegations amounted to rape against the first woman (the former Expressen intern) and sexual molestation against the second.
Laughably weak maybe, stinking of set up certainly, clumsy smear job without doubt but you can be sure that American pressure will be applied and this will be a severe test for the British legal system to dismiss the case which centers around how a condom split during consensual sex.

Libyan Freed For Oil Contracts

Did anyone actually believe that the Lockerbie bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrah, was released on compassionate grounds from the Scottish prison where he was serving a minimum of 27 years for murdering 270 people?
Today's release of wikileaks documents show that Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, warned of 'enormous repercussions' and made 'explicit and thuggish threats' to the British Government over Megrahi remaining in jail.
One specific threat was the immediate cessation of all UK commercial activity in Libya and there is the crux of the matter, the loss of the £15 billion oil exploration deal BP had with Libya.
Far from it being a 'decision taken by the Scottish Government', the cables show the then Justice Secretary Jack Straw and Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond had had conversations around Al-Megrah's release and Straw was confident that although 'The Libyans have not yet made a formal application for compassionate release … HMG believes that the Scottish may be inclined to grant the request, when it comes'.
So it wasn't Holyroods decision, Downing Street did apply pressure and it was about protecting British oil exploration. All three things the last Government forcibly deniedt.
The truth is those in power really never cared about the moral rights, it was all about making sure we continued making vast amounts of money from Libyan contracts. Shameful doesn't even begin to cover it.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Do We Want To Bring Back Buffy?

When i heard that there were plans afoot for a new Buffy film i was unsure exactly how to feel about the news.
Initially i was as happy as a pig in the brown stuff at the thought of the Scooby Gang once again picking up their stakes and freeing Sunnydale from hordes of vampires, demons and other things from various hell dimensions.
Then the thought, what if the new film is no good? It could destroy the whole Buffy experience if what lands at our cinema is anything like the awful original Buffy film.
Buffy the Vampire slayer spawned the likes of Twilight and True Blood but nothing vampire related that followed has caught the eye quite like Buffy. The characters were excellent although Buffy's whiny sister Dawn wouldn't have been missed if she had been squished by Olaf's hammer in the first episode she appeared in.
The magic ingredients seems to be creator Joss Whedon who also gave us the spin off Angel and another cast of fantastic characters and storylines although Whedon is not involved in the new film which cannot be a good thing.
A part of me wants Buffy to stay in the past, immortalised as one of the greatest TV shows ever to appear and not risk being sullied by a new adventure. What if Sarah Michelle Geller isn't casted, or it is a different Xander or Willow?
Then part of me wants to see the slayer again with her perfect hair and stylish clothes dusting vampires and hearing Spike taunt her about Angel.
It's a tough choice but as much as it surprises me to say it, i don't think i want a new Buffy because it will be different, or they will be older and it will be like bumping into the guy you had a crush on at school years later and realising that actually, he is not as handsome or cute as you remember him.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Keep 'em Coming Mr Chavez

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, humans and Fox News viewers, anyone who has read my bleatings for long enough know that Hugo Chavez is a hero of mine for what he has done for the poorest in Venezuela. The right wing and the lazy knock him just because he is a lefty without looking at his track record and because it scares them that he is proving that Socialism works and you don't need to swallow the Capitalist line.
Once again, the portly son of a schoolteacher is aiming a few well directed jabs at capitalism for the rains and flooding that have brought chaos to Venezuela, killing 32 people and leaving 70,000 homeless.
Mr Chavez has taken charge of rescue operations, inviting families to take refuge in his palace and ordering space made for others in ministries, barracks and shopping centres.
'The developed nations irresponsibly shatter the environmental order while the immense majority of the earth's people suffer the most terrible consequences' he said today.
'The environmental imbalance capitalism has caused is without doubt the fundamental cause of the alarming atmospheric phenomena. The world's powerful economies insist on a destructive way of life and then refuse to take any responsibility'.
He has you there polluters. Now i wonder if it will inspire the Queen to let a few commoners stay at Buckingham Palace the next time the snow brings everything to a standstill. I will have to turn up with my sleeping bag next time and ask.

Finding Wikileaks

American pressure to dissuade companies from supporting the Wikileaks website has resulted in it being impossible to reach WikiLeaks by typing wikileaks.org into a web browser. I don't know the technical reason behind it but if you go looking for it that way, you are greeted by the 'Page Load Error' screen and a message stating that 'wikileaks.org could not be found.'
Very unsporting but my IT guy, as ever helpful as always, tells me typing in http://88.80.13.160/ takes you to the exact same page the USA Government are trying to hide.
Here's the science bit.
At present, that location redirects users to a Wikleaks page at http://213.251.145.96/, which is run by a French company, but if pressure from the French government pushes Wikileaks off that host, it will always have the Swedish 88/80/13.160 location. Nope, i don't get it either but the simple explanation is bookmark that first number, ignore the number at the top that it changes to as that will change as Wikileaks gets shoved around, and stick two fingers up to Hillary Clinton and her crowd.
You can also find the Wikileaks Twitter page at http://twitter.com/wikileaks
Truth is Hillary, if you hadn't been so secretive and two faced in the first place, you wouldn't have to be running around trying to smooth things over and closing down websites that expose your duplicity now.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Weak-i-Leaks

The first week of leaks has shown us how the world actually is rather than how it is portrayed to us. China dislikes North Korea, Italian President Berlusconi is more interested in partying than governing and Saudi Arabia wants someone else to bomb Iran for it.
Colonel Gaddaffi is followed around by a blonde Ukranian nurse, the USA has been bombing Yemen and the Yemeni Government has been saying it is them doing it, the US have been spying on UN members and Prince Andrew is an obnoxious loudmouth.
The head of the Bank of England doesn't rate David Cameron, the USA bribed countries to take Guantanamo Bay prisoners, Nicolas Sarkozi is egotistical, David Milliband promised to not disclose anything that may harm interests during the Iraq War inquiry and Russia is a corrupt Mafia state.
British and US officials got together to circumvent the ban on cluster bombs, Canada doesn't trust America and Hamid Kharzai and the US commanders don't think the British army is up to the job.
The US thought Gordon Brown was hopeless, the UK Government misled parliament over Diego Garcia, Hugo Chavez had to be prevented from punching the Colombian President at a meeting, China hacked Google and the US are amused by the British-US special relationship.

I don't know why but i was expecting more from these leaks. I wanted to hear of protests and Governments falling but the majority seems to be things we already knew or strongly suspected anyway.
Possibly, with weeks of leaks to come, we will finally get to the juicy cables that implement governments in some of the worst acts of the last decade. The cables in the build up to the Iraq and Afghan Wars should be dynamite as will those sent between the US and Israel in their abysmal dealings with the Palestinians.
Hopefully the best are being saved for after the 7-11 day period that newspapers allow for a major story before readers lose interest. I hope so because as interesting as this weeks leaks have been, there hasn't been any revelations that has moved me into rant mode.
I did love the diatribe against Prince Andrew though.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Yee Haw Santa

There are some things that should just never meet. Susan Boyle and Lycra cycling shorts or anyone with the surname Blair and the keys to 10 Downing Street for example. Today i had the misfortune to stumble upon another abomination that should never have been. A country music Christmas album.
Songs about Santa being a redneck and driving his pick-up and drinking moonshine?? To the sound of a steel string guitar?? No, no, no no no American south. What do you think you are doing??
Country music is for men in dungarees called Billy Bob or Bobby Joe who say things like 'That's a pertty mouth on you, boy' to unsuspecting canoeists after engaging them in a banjo playing contest.
Christmas music is all about jingle bells, snow and reindeer's with shiny red noses and wishing it could be Christmas everyday. There is just no need for some stetson wearing escapee from the Dukes of Hazard to try and muscle in with songs about a redneck Santa.
Stick to singing your depressing songs about how your dog died and your wife left you and took your pick-up truck and let everyone else make decent Christmas songs.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

England Out Of 2018 World Cup Already

Even with the big guns of David Beckham, the heir to the throne and the Prime Minister, England could still not land the World Cup in 2018 which has been awarded to Russia and the 2022 Championship to Qatar.
Despite the very real chance that i could end up in the Tower, i was not in favour of us staging it so i am quite happy to see them excitedly jumping around in snowy Moscow after the announcement.
It seems to give it more of a special feeling if the games are at stupid o'clock and you find yourself watching England play Slovakia as you are eating your meusli and wiping the sleepy dust from your eyes.
The fact that our bid got knocked out at the first hurdle with only 2 votes out of 22 shows that we never had much of a chance anyway and the dissection of why we did so badly will now commence.
We have the stadiums already built and an England World Cup would have generated more income for FIFA than any of the other bids so they are not reasons we failed so completely.
The BBC programme showing 4 members of the voting panel were taking backhanders wouldn't have done much to endear them to the English and our badmouthing of the other bids made us look very arrogant and that seems to be our problem.
We do seem to have this attitude that we SHOULD get it just because we are English and if it wasn't for us inventing it, football wouldn't even exist. We based our whole 2006 bid last time on 'football coming home' but instead it went to Germany.
The Qatar decision seems very bizarre but congratulations to Russia and as Moscow is only 3 hours ahead of us, there won't be any early morning games so that gives me the while morning to work up a migraine to get off home to watch the games. Greatski.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Wanna Buy A Ship For Xmas?

Throughout history, the British Navy has given Johnny Foreigner a damn good licking on a regular basis. Even with a one armed, one eyed Admiral who suffered with chronic seas-sickness, we ruled the waves and now you can own a piece of the British Navy with the purchase of HMS Invincible.
None of this high level negotiations between Governments, the aircraft carrier has been put up for sale on the military auction site here.
I didn't even know we had a military auction site to sell our ships on but there it is, amongst unwanted desert ops trousers and army issue folding shovels.
If you do fancy owning the flagship of the British Navy, be advised that you have to supply your own jets and helicopters but don't despair, the site also offers a Harrier Jump jet facsimile from the Royal Air Force. Also up for grabs are a range of armoured cars.
With only four weeks to Christmas and if you still haven't got that present for that special someone, nothing says Merry Christmas sweetheart more than a rusty and broken down cast off from the British Navy.
North Korea need not apply.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Cheryl Cole Off To USA

Cheryl Cole is off to the US of A to appear as a judge on the new X-Factor although that pesky ABH charge against her may prove to be a sticking point when it comes to filling out her work visa.
Cheryl was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in 2003 for pummelling toilet attendant Sophie Amogbokpa at a nightclub after Mrs Amogbokpa stopped her from taking some lollipops.
She was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay her victim £500 in compensation. The judge told her 'This was an unpleasant piece of drunken violence which caused Sophie Amogbokpa pain and suffering. You showed no remorse whatsoever'.
Mrs Amogbokpa told how the singer had racially abused her while punching her but the charge of racial assault was thrown out of court because the witness spoke to the press before court so it was discredited.
The US Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual states that a visa application will be turned down if the consular officer has reason to believe that the applicant has 'committed a crime involving moral turpitude' which includes assault and causing serious bodily harm.
I am sure that a little thing like an ABH conviction will not stop Cheryl from appearing on American television over the next few years and maybe even lip-syncing to her latest release as she did here while critiquing other peoples singing.
If she does, as expected, get through the visa application stage she still has that deep Geordie accent to scupper it for her.
Fellow Geordie's Ant & Dec were told by American network bigwigs that their speech was 'incomprehensible' when they tried to crack the US market in 2007 with game show Wanna Bet? and biffer Cole's accent is stronger than either of theirs.
Whatever happens to her, and i can't pretend that i particularly care, we can be sure that dear, fragile, brave Cheryl will always be a hit here in the UK. Here and in nightclub toilets.

Monday, 29 November 2010

North Korea And Prince Andrew

The Wikipedia leaks were supposed to be making the American leadership uncomfortable but it seems there may be a few backsides shuffling uneasy on seats in Beijing and Pyongyang tonight.
China seems to be distancing itself from its North Korean ally according to the latest leaked US embassy document that reveal senior Beijing figures regard their ally as a 'spoiled child'.
It also admits that a growing view within the Chinese Communist Party is that Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control which won't go down well in North Korea as it's bodyguard moves slowly to one side.
Another document from today's batch show that the senior Royal who acted inappropriately was Prince Andrew.
No, he didn't actually pay for something or do anything as drastic as work, at a dinner for business leaders, he was cocky and rude and labelled 'idiocy' the serious fraud squad investigation into the BAE bribery scandal.
So Prince Andrew is obnoxious, arrogant and a bit dim. Nothing we didn't already know there then.

Leslie Nielsen

There are lots of tributes to Leslie Nielsen all over the internet and he was undoubtedly a great comic actor.

There is not much i can add to what everyone else is saying but he had two scenes, both in Airplane, that make me laugh now although i have heard them both a thousand times and know exactly what is coming.



This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
A hospital? What is it?
It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

and

Surely you can't be serious.
I am serious...and don't call me Shirley

Just brilliant.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Let The Leaking Begin!

The great US Embassy cables leak has started to be distributed through 5 media outlets in the USA, UK, Spain, France and Germany. This much information will take a while to work through but the first revelations are that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the USA to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear programme and officials in Jordan and Bahrain have also openly called for Iran's nuclear programme to be stopped by any means, including military.

It has also been revealed that Washington is running a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the leadership of the United Nations, including the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon and the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK. The document signed by Hillary Clinton asked for credit card numbers, email addresses, phone, fax and pager numbers and biographic and biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives to be collected.

World leaders to be bad mouthed include:

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev who plays Robin to Putin's Batman.
Kim Jong-il of North Korea is called a flabby old chap who suffered from physical and psychological trauma.
Thin-skinned and with an authoritarian personal style is the description of French
President Nicholas Sarkozy.
Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader with a penchant for partying.
Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, is an extremely weak man who did not listen to facts and is easily swayed by even the most bizarre stories.
Yemen President, Ali Abdullah Saleh is dismissive, bored and impatient.
Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, is the crazy old man.
Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, is strange.
Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu never keeps his promises.
German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, is incompetent, vain and critical of America.

Spying and collecting personal information on senior UN Members, being urged to attack Iran and insulting World leaders and this is only the first day. It is going to be a long week for the American leadership.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

UK Government Issue DA-notice

A Defence Advisory Notice is something the Government hands down to the media and is essentially a request for the media to not report on something 'in the national interest'. Prince Harry being in Afghanistan is a recent example.
Today, the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) has made a request to newspaper editors, television and radio broadcasters concerning the soon to be published documents sent between the US State Department and its embassy's around the World.
The DA Notice (standings 01 Military operations & 05 UK Security) is not ordering a blackout of the story and any publication that ignore it is not going to end up in court, but it is a firm reminder that the print and broadcast media should be concerned for disclosing 'information which could damage national security'. It has asked that editors consult with the DPBAC before they publish any information.
The countries said to be the main beneficiaries of the most intensive US diplomatic briefings are the governments of Great Britain, Canada, Israel, Australia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, Denmark, Italy and Norway.
It seems that whatever is due to be released, it is going to be diplomatic dynamite and hugely embarrassing for the United States.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has closed the comments section on the story on its website.
I expect the British media to largely ignore the DA Notice because on the age of the internet, it is going to be all over blogs and websites before the newspapers hit the newstands.
Nothing stays secret for very long and this DA Notice has been rendered redundant already and the US State Department will be squirming for a long time to come over the exposure of its backroom dealings.

Friday, 26 November 2010

America Said What???

My Grandmother always told me not to say anything about somebody that you wouldn't say to their face as the truth will always come out. Shame the Americans never had a similar Granny to pass on pearls of wisdom because it is now forced to scuttle around the globe warning of the imminent release of millions of embarrassing and sensitive diplomatic documents sent between the State Department and it's embassy's.
The communications, said to include candid remarks about world leaders, ambassadors and foreign leaders, are expected to be published by Wikileaks and the US State Department has condemned the actions of the website as 'gratuitous and likely to harm relations and erode trust between countries'.
I love the idea that the State Department have been ferreting through their archives trying to discover exactly what derogatory remarks they have made about other leaders and then trying to convince them that what they actually meant when they said the Prime Minister was a toadying bootlicker was a great honour in their country. Honest Tony, the Bootlicking Toad is much revered for its bravery and erm, leadership qualities in Albuquerque.
The US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said about the impending leaks 'This is harmful to our national security. These revelations are going to create tension in our relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.' Not your emails slagging them off creating the tension then PJ?
UK Prime Minister David Cameron said 'Obviously, the Government has been briefed by US officials, by the US ambassador, as to the likely content of these leaks. We don't want to speculate about precisely what is going to be leaked before it is leaked'.
I would like to point out that before the citizens of the offended countries reach for their keyboards to lob brickbats back at Americans, the term 'burger eating invasion monkey' has already gone as i snapped that one up years ago.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Dealing With North Korea

It does seem that North Korea is spoiling for a fight. It sank a South Korean navy ship earlier in the year and this week fired over 200 artillery shells onto the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people.
Where it all gets a bit tense is that North Korea is an ally of China and South Korea an ally of the United States. Throw in the fact that North Korea has nuclear weapons and it has the potential to be highly dangerous.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's health has deteriorated rapidly after his recent strokes and the thinking is that this is the handiwork of his son and successor, Kim Jong Un, who is keen to show his southern neighbours and US protectors that he will not be an easy touch when it comes to the negotiating table.
China is aware that if military action is taken against North Korea, it faces an influx of millions of refugees crossing over its borders so it holds back from outright condemnation of North Korea's attack, only urging both sides to 'retain calm and restraint and engage in talks as quickly as possible in order to prevent similar incidents from happening again'.
The White House said that 'We stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally in South Korea and we're fully committed to their defense.' America, has now sent US aircraft carrier the USS George Washington to the Korean peninsula for four days of naval exercises with the South Korean Navy which North Korea has warned will drive the peninsula 'closer to the brink of war'.
All very tense and reminiscent of the sort of dances that took place with the US and Soviets during the Cold War, but with so many potential flash points that we can only hope that the Chinese can rein in their hot-headed ally. As a wannabe super-power, it has to take on a greater share of the responsibility and as America has found out, if you don't choose your friends carefully, you can bring down a whole load of trouble on your own head.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Not Loving The Tories So Far

The Conservative Party do have a bit of an image problem. They are widely considered to be a bunch of millionaires out of touch with the rest of the general public who run things for the benefit of their rich pals.
Of course they bend over backwards to portray another image, even quoting 'compassionate conservatism' whenever they get an opportunity but once in a while some Tory minister will pop his head up and remind us of all the reasons why the Conservatives were kept out of power for the last 13 years.
Up first was Lord Young the Conservative enterprise advisor who said many Britain's had 'never had it so good' despite the 'so-called recession'. He later apologised for any offence that his comments caused and added another one to the growing list of recently unemployed.
This weeks Conservative party numpty is Howard Flight a peerage nomination and former deputy chairman of the party who has apologised for saying changes to welfare payments would give people on benefits "every incentive" to "breed".
It's too late now for people to listen to the Tories and see the effect they are having on public services and suddenly remember that actually, i forgot just how much of a bunch of idiots they were last time because we are stuck with them.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Bailing Out Ireland

Being the thoroughly decent chaps that we are, we have dug deep to lend Ireland £7 billion.
Chancellor George Osborne said that it was 'overwhelmingly in Britain's national interest to contribute to a major bailout'.
Now i am all for spreading around the wealth but hasn't George Osborne just been telling us we are broke and he had no choice but to cut 500,000 public service jobs, slash benefits and shut down public services through lack of money?
So where did he suddenly spring the £7 billion from to hand to Ireland?

a>The Government are giving Ireland what they saved by the deficit reduction programme.
b>Britain wasn't as stoney broke as the Government made out.
c>We are borrowing £7 billion from somewhere to give to Ireland.

If the answer is a, then we should all be turning up at Millbank armed with flaming torches because we have been decimated to bail out another countries banks.
If it's b then we should still turn up at Millbank because the Government has cut us to the bones for no reason.
If the answer turns out to be c then we now need to find £176 billion from somewhere rather than just £170 billion.
Whatever the reason, Ireland is up the swanee because it spent outside of its means and has borrowed too much money...and the solution is to lend them tens of billions more.
Brilliant.

Bloggers

There is a famous quote that states given enough time, a thousand monkeys typing at random would, produce all of Shakespeare's plays. A hundred monkeys given a few weeks would turn out an episode of Seinfeld and one monkey, given 20 minutes and a bottle of extra strong Russian vodka would produce one of the right wing milblogs polluting the internet.
That's the great thing about blogging, anyone and everyone can do it so we end up with blogs about cats, sports, politics and just about anything you can think of as well as some you don't really want to think about. Sometimes it is better to just let people think you are a racist bigot rather than create a blog and remove all doubt.
Considering that bloggers come from a wide arena of backgrounds and opinions, Technorati have conducted a survey of bloggers and used the data collected to create a profile of the people sat behind the keyboards.
The survey showed that 49% of bloggers are American and 29% European with the majority of bloggers being male and aged between 18 and 44.
1 out of 3 have worked in the media in some capacity and 80% have a higher education qualification and run three or more blogs and have been blogging for two or more years.
They spend an average of 10 hours a week blogging and the biggest influence for topics to post about are from conversations with friends and from reading other blogs.
53% conceal their identity with the greatest reason being there employer might disapprove of their views and 1% wishing they had concealed it better as they had been fired for their blogging.
The most blogged about topics are technology, politics and current affairs and 87% have a Facebook account and 36% make money from their blog.
So there we have it, the person at the other end of the blog is probably male, American, educated and almost certainly has a Facebook account.
Alternatively, they could be a sozzled monkey writing about what the World needs is more guns.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

What's The Point Of Susan Boyle?

Throughout the history of music, there has been a few notable cover versions but generally the original is the best version.
Whitney improved 'I will always love you' by Dolly, The Clash took the Crickets 'I fought the law' and made it a 100 times better and Tom Waits must refuse to listen to his own version of 'I don't want to grow up' after The Ramones picked it up and made a magnificent silk purse out of it.
There have been a few more notable exceptions but covers are mostly rubbish and have always appeared amazingly lazy to me.
Shows like Pop Idol and X-Factor are a particular sore point because the victor will push out a cover version as a single followed by an album of standard ballads and then disappear until the next year when it happens all over again with a new winner.
Although she didn't find fame through X-Factor but via another of Simon Cowell's money spinning vehicles, Susan Boyle is treading the same well worn path and has released another album with not an original song in sight. As it presently sits top of the UK and US album charts, there are obviously many people who don't share my view and actually like a very average singer belting out songs that they have heard many times, and by better artists, before.
If i was a songwriter i would be banging my head against a nearby table in frustration that someone can come along, sing somebody else's tunes and make millions from it. Not change it or make any alterations at all, just reproduce it verbatim and with the help of a world-wide public relations team, clean up.
I have nothing against Susan Boyle, she has done very well to stretch the little talent she has so far, but it is a sad day for music that she is the most popular artist at this time.
A triumph for the power of advertising and hype but water boarding for the ears to music lovers and if that is all she is ever going to do, and it seems likely, you have to wonder what is the point of her.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Prince WIlliam, Katie & Howard Donald

Great news that Prince William and Kate Middleton have announced their engagement and are planning the wedding for next year. Not that i care about any Royal wedding, i was bored of it before the announcement had even finished being read out, the great part is we get a day off. Just hope they get married on a Friday, long weekend woo hoo.
As the UK news media go wall to wall with the Kate and William engagement, it's worth remembering that politicians love nothing better than a major news story to release unfavourable news while everyone is looking the other way.
Labour special adviser Jo Moore was caught red handed sending out an email on 11 September 2001 suggesting 'It's now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury' to the Labour Press Office as both the World Trade Center towers burned.
Leaked emails also showed the Press Office being chastised by the Minister of Transport for wanting to use the day of Princess Margaret's funeral in 2002 to release disappointing railway statistics.
A quick scan through the news headlines this evening show that nothing unfavourable has been released so far. David Cameron has dropped plans to put his photographer on the public payroll and former Guantanamo Bay inmates will receive governments payouts for the Government complicity in their torture although that story came out yesterday.
The biggest winner so far is Take That's Howard Donald who picked the perfect day for the courts to lift his super-injunction naming him in a kiss and tell story a former girlfriend was hiking around to the highest bidder.
As any gossip magazine will tell you, you don't go to all the trouble of gaining a super-injunction unless you are facing some severely embarrassing, relationship wrecking or image damaging revelations if they were made public and reported in the media.
With news that the ex-girlfriend, Adakini Ntuli, had been in negotiations with the News of the World newspaper, Donald will be having his fingers crossed that his story is buried amid Royal stories this weekend.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Cheers James

Only 3 people know how close we came to a third World War and instant evaporation in 1999.
Two of them are generals and the third is a peddler of songs so sugary that his records come with a health warning from the British Diabetic Society.
The Kosovo conflict was in full cry when a regiment of British soldiers were ordered to occupy Pristina Airport but were beaten to it by a contingent of 200 Russian troops who had entered Kosovo ahead of them and took control of the airfield.
The lead officer was none other than James Blunt and he was given the order over the radio by NATO commander General Wesley Clarke to 'destroy' the Russians.
Blunt refused and was backed by British General Sir Mike Jackson, who told Clarke that he was "not going to have my soldiers be responsible for starting World War 3 for you".
Blunt went on to become a singer and professional toff while Clarke was removed from his NATO position before his term was due to expire and went on to contest the 2004 US election.
Two things come out of this story. The first is who would have thought that the man who sang 'You're beautiful' is who we give our thanks to for not attacking the Russians which would have resulted in me not being here to type this and you not being sat there reading it.
Secondly, General Wesley Clarke sounds like a nutter who attempted a run at the Presidency where he would have been in charge of a nuclear armed military with no General Jackson's around to tell him to pull his head in.
Luckily, John Kerry beat him to the Democrat nomination but we had a lucky escape there. We almost had a trigger happy madman sitting in the White House from 2004 until 2008 instead of...oh yeah.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Doing The Maths

The words 'national debt' does tend to confuse me. Who are we actually in debt to and why are most countries so bad at living within their means? Like us, they must know how much comes in and how much goes out, so why can't they budget it properly?
Of course the reason is complex because it isn't physical money that is lent, it is forecasted that we will get this much from here, here and here so we can pay out this much to there, there and there. If one of the here's fall shorts it all unravels.
The US treasury puts the US debt at $14 trillion. The US Census Bureau puts the US population at 307,006,550. My calculator shows that if the debt was divided equally by the population, each American would owe $45,601.63.
The measure of the physical money supply, known as M0, shows how much physical cash there is in the economy, the sum total of every note and coin. The Federal reserve puts Americas M0 at $908 billion.
Back on the calculator and we see that $908 billion divided by the population means that if it was divided up equally, each American would own $3000 in cash.
So America, and i only use America as an example because it has the easiest M0 to find, has a debt of $14 trillion but only has $908 billion in cash. That means that even if every American gave his $3000 to the American Treasury to pay off the debt, they would still owe over $13 trillion to someone. But they only have $908 billion in actual money.
Did nobody, at any time, point out that they owe over 14 times more money than they actually have?
As this wilful dismissal of living within their means seems to have gone on in almost every country on the planet, is it any wonder the whole thing has collapsed? And why are we trusting the same people to get us out of the mess?

Friday, 12 November 2010

Another Tory Policy

Guess which of these brilliant wheezes the coalition have come up with this time are true.

McDonalds and KFC to advise on healthy eating policy
BA Tobacco to advise on anti-smoking campaign
The wine & spirit trade association to advise on sensible drinking policy

Crazy you say. You must be making them all up because no credible Government would do something so unbelievably stupid as invite any of them to make decisions on Government policy. Well you are wrong because two of them are true and have been invited to help Cameron and Clegg write Government policy. We will not be loving it but McDoanlds, KFC and the Wine & Spirit Association will be.
Not for the Tories doctors or dieticians, they have dragged in the people who's business it is to get us to drink as much alcohol and eat as much junk food as possible to advise us on what to eat and drink.
Maybe i am being cynical and KFC and McDonalds will turn out a policy which tells us to eat more fruit and vegetables and the Wine and Spirit people will suggest reducing our alcohol intake.
We are all in this together remember. Now i wonder how the talks with the cremation and cemetery committee to take over the NHS is getting on.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

1968 And All That

Five months in and already the coalition Government have faced strikes, demonstrations and now a riot that resulted in the Conservative headquarters being trashed. Not a bad start.
The group up in arms this time was the student body who will see fees treble and debts of almost £30,000 at the end of their three year degree courses while the higher education budget is slashed. As the decision was made by a coalition who include the Liberal Democrats who vowed to oppose any increase in student fees before the election, maybe they had better man the barricades at wherever there seat of power is, if they have one.
The Conservatives you expect to be evil, but the Liberal Democrats were the supposed nice party.
While violence and criminal damage can never be condoned, watching Millbank be torn apart has proved surprisingly popular with large swathes of the general public.
Even the police seemed surprisingly lacklustre in putting a stop to the rioting. Possibly because of the bad job they made of policing recent demonstrations or possibly because 40,000 of them face losing their jobs thanks to the people inside the building being ripped apart.
It does seem that finally Britain has woken up to what the Conservatives are doing and have decided to protest. The Fireman and BBC have already staged strikes while the students have now raised up and the public service is coordinating widespread strikes which will paralyse the country like we have seen in Greece.
Some historians are already making reference to the 1968 French protests which saw millions of workers and students revolt and occupy buildings while Charles de Gaulle bolted to Germany for his own safety.
It is hard to see how the coalition Government can make it to the end of their term if they have succeeded in upsetting so many people in such a short amount of time. The next four and a bit years should be fun. Dave Cameron may want to extend his trip to China because he is quickly running out of people here who he can expect a Christmas card from. Viva la revolution pet as they will be saying in Newcastle soon.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Now Lemmy Sells Out!!

Before he sold up and took his squillions of dollars to go live on a Pacific island with Richard Branson and Bill Gates, Cody and I posted a series of blogs where he would put across the right wings view and i would put the lefts.
Unfortunately for me, i picked one of the few right wingers who could string together an intelligent argument and we had some excellent exchanges on American gun laws, hunting and men v women amongst others.
One of our dual posts concerned musicians selling out and this came to my mind when i saw the pitiful sight of Lemmy not only using the magnificent 'Ace of Spades' to flog beer, but starring in the advert while doing it!
Ace of Spades is the ultimate heavy metal song, impossible to listen to without having the urge to turn the radio up as loud as it will go and play air guitar. It's a song about not playing it safe and having a gamble, taking a risk and stuff the consequences.
It also could just be about Lemmy not being very good at card games but what it isn't is a slow, mellow tune with harmonica accompaniment.
I will never be able to hear the song again without picturing Lemmy sat there surrounded by what looks like retired folk singers tapping his foot and singing the line 'The only card I need is the ace of spades' like some sort of hairy faced James Blunt.
I'm sure Lemmy doesn't need the money or the publicity, i could excuse a band fighting there way up taking Kronenbourg's money but Lemmy is a legend and this particular song an absolute classic.
Lemmy joins Johnny Rotten and Iggy Pop on my television as former icons now condemned to forever be linked less with performing iconic anthems of a generation and cranking out adverts for flat beer, margarine and car insurance. Forshame.
'see it in your eyes, take one look and die'. Pfft, your'e not wrong Mr Kilmister.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Bush's Book

In an attempt to change the perception of him as a war mongering torturer, George Bush has written a book. And sets out his defence of his wars and the use of torture. Doh!
The Bush book, 'Decision Point' has been released and has been serialised in one of the UK newspapers and what an insightful glimpse it gives us into the thinking behind the controversial decisions the former President took. It also shows us one or two other things about the man.
He has no qualms about defending the use of torture in his own book, even claiming that Guantanamo Bay and what went on there, wasn't torture at all and that it saved British lives to which the Commons Intelligence and Security Committee responded today with a doubtful 'We are not convinced'.
The most highlighted section of the book in the media is how George Bush ordered the Pentagon to plan an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities and considered a covert attack on Syria on behalf of Israel.
Taking this in context with Blair's recent literary offering on how he would deal with the more troublesome countries in the Middle East, it shows that if anything, they wanted to bring even more war and destruction to the Middle East.
Bush confirms that planning for an invasion of Iraq began within two months of 9/11 and states that 'Iraq was the right thing to do' although the lowest point of his presidency was when Kanye West said he did not care about black people with regards to the slow response to Hurricane Katrina.
Not 3000 dead on 9/11, the debacle in Iraq and Afghanistan or the largest demonstration in British history when he came over here, it was a verbal attack on his reputation by a pop star.
These types of books are always written to try and put across the authors point of view, an attempt to salvage their damaged reputations.
Outside of the American bible thumping communities, George W Bush's reputation was as low as it could possibly go so he had the simple task of just not making himself sound any more like a war mongering torturer than he already had, and failed.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Bankrolling India And China

David Cameron is cosying up to the Chinese to try and get them to buy British and Obama is in India making the right noises to get them to stock their shelves with things stamped with 'Made in America' on the bottom.
China has just overtaken Japan as the World's second largest economy and Human Rights always takes a back seat when we are in salesman mode. China executing more people each year than the rest of the world combined is conveniently forgotten if we can flog them a few million barrels of whiskey which is one of the biggest exports Cameron is trying to push on them.
Just like the British leader, Obama is obliged to say all the right things to get the Indians signing on the dotted line.
Today, he stated that India should be awarded a place on the permanent members bench in the United Nations. Not sure how that will go down in Pakistan but Pakistan isn't rich so nobody much cares. Come back when you have a few Pakistan rupee's spare.
I'm not convinced about India taking its position as a superpower anytime soon, for one it is one of the largest recipients of aid of anywhere around the world.
The 2009 IMF list of the globes largest economies has India in 11th place, China in 3rd, and the Governments official development aid document shows India was handed $2.1 billion in aid and China $1.5 billion.
The UK alone donated £402 million in 2008 and since 1998, it has donated more aid to India than any other country.
Now i don't pretend to be an economist and i am all for sharing around the wealth but why are we giving money to a country in the top 3 economies and even more to a country in 11th place?
We are cutting half a million fireman, teachers and police officers jobs to save money but we are shovelling money towards India and China?
Both countries spend billions on space programmes, nuclear missiles and shiny new military toys but they still hold their hand out for aid? And we give it to them!!
If we have to tighten our belts i know exactly where the first cuts should be.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Santa's Address

It's that time of year where Santa is making his list and has began checking it twice ready to dish out lumps of coal or toys to boys and girls.
Something that has always bothered me is where does Santa live? It is important because if some jolly fat man is going to be dropping treats under my Christmas tree, i want to know what nationality he is.
I have always considered him to be from Lapland but that region takes in Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia so he could be a Swede, Finn, Norwegian or even a Russian.
Not wanting to be left out by their Nordic neighbours, the Danes have thrown their hat into the already cramped ring with Santa's grotto being somewhere in Greenland.
Another popular choice for the jolly mans residence is the North Pole and as no countries ownership stretches to the centre of the North Pole region, that makes Santa a stateless person with no citizenship or nationality.
The Americans are trying to stake a claim for the bearded one with noises that he lives in Alaska while traditionalists point out that in his original guise he is from Turkey.
So where do i post my pressie list to because i want to make Santa gets it so we don't have a repeat of last year where i asked for a long wool blend coat and got a Trivial Pursuit board game instead.
It was a very nice board game mind but knowing who won the derby in 1968 doesn't keep my rapidly creaking body warm on a January morning.
As usual the Internet is the answer to all our problems and the UK Royal Mail hold Santa's address as 'Father Christmas, North Pole, SAN TA1'.
The Finnish postal service deliver Santa's letter to 'Santa Claus, Santa Claus Village, FIN-96930 Arctic Circle, Finland'.
The American postal service route all Santa's letter to 'North Pole, Alaska, H0 H0 H0'.
I have been reassured that a letter posted to any of these address will reach him so if you have been good and have a request or would like to make your case that hideously scratching your husbands 'Best of The Eagles CD' with a nail file so he can't play it incessantly was an accident and shouldn't put you on the bad list, you had better get writing. The Royal Mail can only guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve if posted by the 8th December.

PS. If you are reading this Santa, a long wool coat please and my husband is requesting a new 'Best of The Eagles CD' as his doesn't seem to be working for some unknown reason.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Can he do it? Erm, nope

President Obama said that he took a shellacking at the mid terms this week but he must have expected it because America seems to be sinking further into the mire on his watch.
A much used comment was the china shop analogy where "if you break it, you own it" was much bandied around although i recall a Texan with an aversion to pretzels being the one breaking it.
Obama seems to be a victim of his own popularity. All the speeches previous to his landing in the White House seemed to give Americans false hope that he could steer the country out of the choppy waters but if anything, the waters have got a bit rougher while he has his hand on the rudder.
One threat has been the Tea Party who include a woman who may or may not be a witch but frowns upon masturbation. I don't know much about the Tea Party but they seem to have came out of the blue and in very little time, have become the third party in US politics.
If i was part of Team Obama, i would be thanking my lucky stars and hoping that they continue to grow in support because the emergence of the Tea Party could see him back in the big chair for another 4 years.
Linked to the Republicans, the Tea mob will either integrate into the Republicans or split the Republican vote.
Imagine the fun the Democrats will have when faced with dozens of candidates of the calibre of Sarah Palin when it comes to election time.
Alternatively, they will become a third party and those who would have voted Republican will now have two right wing parties to put their x alongside shaving priceless votes from the stronger Republican Party.
That said Obama is considering another round of quantitative easing to the tune of $600 billion which won't go down well while there is almost 10% unemployment and the country is already over a trillion debt. Especially with news that bankers already sky high salary and bonuses have increased 4% this year. Living in your car while looking for a job while the cause of your downfall are filling their boots isn't the best incentive for voters to give the man in charge another go.
Even with a bunch of Tea Partyers lined up against him, Obama may well be shellacked out of the door in 2 years.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Saints v Sinners

As usual, the Church leaders are complaining about Halloween and are making a push to 'reclaim it for the Church'. One suggestion from the dog collar wearing fraternity has been to get children dressing up as Saints and not vampires or devils but you are not going to get many sweets turning up at my door looking like St Francis of Assisi. And what if i refuse, I mean, a saint can hardly threaten to egg my car, can he.
The Devil not only has the best tunes, he also has the best characters which is why the Church have as much chance of taking back Halloween as St. Bernadette of Lourdes had of getting a job at Hooters.
Anyway, given the revelations about the Catholic church recently, what could be scarier than having your kids open the front door to see a bloke dressed up as a Roman Catholic priest standing there?
Vampires are the most popular choice from the creatures of the night list but they have always been the more cooler of the dead types. We don't seem to see many Mummies or Zombies around these parts anymore. There are quite a few children wearing a sheet with holes cut out for the eyes and girls who go for the dead schoolgirl look. There are some who don't really get it and have rang the doorbell wearing fairy or sheriff costumes so they get the sweets nobody else takes. It's a way of saying i appreciate the effort but it has fallen short of my expectations and only worthy of a sour gobstopper which next doors cat licked and has a hair stuck to it. Try again next year.
We have a few Halloween events going on around here this year. Trips around the local haunted buildings, costume competitions and the cinema is holding a Halloween marathon with 12 hours of scary films.
If the Church is wanting to reclaim Halloween for all that is good and saintly, maybe it can resurrect that old Christian ritual of tying old ladies to a chair and seeing if they drown. Amen.

Monday, 25 October 2010

London firefighters risky strike

I don't have a problem with people going on strike if they think their employer is not being fair. That's why unions are so important, they are the only thing that stops employers from really taking advantage and as we see time after time, employers will take advantage if they can get away with it.
The drawback with strikes is it is the general public that suffers and support quickly turns into criticism if it drags on too long.
The London fire brigade is going on strike over new contracts they are being forced to sign and they have chosen the busiest time of the year, Guy Fawkes night, to walk out.
Now that the Government has announced such swathing cuts, we shall be seeing much more of this kind of action but if the only tool workers have is to withdraw their labour, then they have very little choice to do anything else. Negotiations were not working and employers will always be happy to drag their feet 'negotiating' while you continue doing the work.
Being the fickle fellows we are, the British are always very supportive of strikers initially but quickly lose our patience when it affects us. The main post office i drive past was receiving many honks of support by passing cars for the first few days then when they went on strike a month ago but by the end of the week they were getting shouted at as people were not getting their letters.
Without public support, industrial action tends to fizzle out but the worst possible outcome for the London firefighters will be the public bonfires that have to be cancelled now.
Missing out on our annual big firework events could be where they lose support before they even get going to build any.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Smells Like Losing My Religion Jeremy

1991 is probably best remembered for the Gulf War, the collapse of the USSR, Mike Tyson's rape arrest and Arsenal winning the League title.
What 1991 should also be remembered for is probably the year music peaked.
I'm not one for placing my CD collection in order, they usually end up in a jumble beside the CD player, but a comment about how 90s dominated my side of the CD cabinet had me commandeering the dining table and sorting through them.
While it is true my collection is very much 90s heavy, the greatest number of CDs were from 1991 and what a stonkingly great year that was for music.
REM were in that brief period when they great with 'Out of time', Tom Petty's 'Into the great wide open', 'Ten' by Pearl Jam, the magnificent Guns N Roses double bill 'Use your illusion 1 and 2, Nirvana 'Nevermind', the Red Hot Chilli Peppers had not yet cleaned up their act and turned bland with 'Blood sugar sex magik', Prince was at his pervy best 'Diamonds and Pearls' and Metallica had yet to annoy all their fans with views on MP3 downloading with 'The Black Album'.
The singles that came from those albums to fill the 1991 charts were classics as well as songs such as 'summertime' by the Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, 'Two Princes' Spin Doctors, 'Weather with you' Crowded House, The Waterboys 'Whole of the moon' and 'Sit Down' by James.
Green Day were cutting their pop punk teeth with 1039 Smoothed out slappy hours and the very underrated Carter USM were just moving on to the radar with '30 Something'.
When you throw in re-releases of the Clash's 'Should i stay or should i go' and 'Bohemian Rhapsody' i declare that 1991 was the best year for music. Ever.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Fair?

Outlining the planned cuts, Chancellor George Osborne said "We are all in this together and all must make a contribution."

From the Government official review paper.

B.36 The following charts present the impact across the income distribution of Budget measures (including measures that were announced in the March 2010 Budget or earlier on which the Coalition Government will be introducing legislation) along with Spending Review announcements. To do this, households are ordered by their income and then divided into 10 equally sized groups called deciles. As households with more adults and children require higher levels of household income and expenditure to achieve the same standard of living, an internationally standard adjustment called equivalisation is used to ensure households are compared on an equal basis.




To explain, 1 is the higher income households and 10 is the lower income households. The figures down the left is how much each group stand to lose due to the deficit reduction programme.

We will obviously have to Tipex-out the definition of fair we currently have in our dictionaries.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Be gentle George

Tomorrow afternoon, just after lunch, George Osbourne is going to stand up and screw us all.
490,000 jobs going in the public service we heard today but as we are all in this together, anyone earning over £44,000 a year is losing their £15 child benefit. Ha, who's laughing now fat cats!
Yes we may be losing our libraries, bus services, jobs, police protection, hospitals and have to work longer for less pension but you lose your £15 a week benefit. It's only fair.
Maybe it's just me but there does feel something rather wrong about a bunch of millionaires telling us plebs what we can do without.
I don't know how the families of the 490,000 public service personnel will feel after tomorrow when they find out one or both parents are now unemployed but i don't think they will be thinking its very fair.
Yes we do have a big hole in our finances which needs to be filled somehow but it just feels even more worse when it comes from the Conservatives. The stinking rich, smug Conservatives with their expensive suits and shiny black patent leather shoes.
I just hope that we are not British about the whole thing and just take it. I want us to take a leaf out of the Frenchies book and bring the country to a standstill with strikes. Let's see how long the coalition stands up when the petrol stations run dry and we clog up the streets with the soon to be hundreds and thousands of unemployed waving placards and demonstrating.
Luckily i won't be within sight of a television or radio so i won't be able to see the smug face or hear the smug voice of George Osborne handing out the medicine.
We are all in it together but i don't need a crystal ball to know that some of us are going to be more in it than others.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Religion: A Force For Good In The World?

Tony Blair was many things but as much as i dislike him, he was a great debater. Another man who is of dubious character but can argue with the best of them is Christopher Hitchens which is why when they clash in Toronto at the end of November, it should be titanic.
Blair, god botherer extraordinaire, is going head to head with chief atheist Hitchens in a debate titled 'Religion is a force for good in the world.'
Why the two Englishmen have to go to Canada and can't argue it out in their own country is a mystery unless Blair has had enough of being harangued whenever he sets foot outside of his front door here and hopes the Canadians won't come armed with eggs like the Irish did.
So is Religion a force for good in the World?
The best answer i can come up with is that it should be, but it isn't.
It is hard to fathom how something which is predominantly about caring and loving your fellows could be responsible for so many wars, conflicts and hatred throughout history but we have been killing each other in the name of religion ever since the idea of a creator was first floated.
The test would be how would the world look if religion had never been devised?
You could argue that there would still be just as many deaths, just they would have a different justification and you would have a valid point but this page attributes 890 million deaths to religious conflicts. That's almost a billion people dying in the name of one God or another.
I can't think of conflicts over any other beliefs that can get even close to that figure.
So if religion has been such a driving force for us to kill each other throughout history, is it making things better in our modern world today?
The Vatican recently repeated it's claim that Catholics should not use condoms despite AID's claiming 20 million lives and affecting another 42 million.
The Middle East is a firestorm of Jews versus Muslims and Muslims of one flavour against another.
Northern Ireland is simmering with religious tension and atrocities in the name of religion are going on in Sudan, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Nigeria, Iraq, Cyprus, East Timor and the Ivory Coast.
Al Queada are out to kill as many infidels as possible and the Chechen's have targeted all Christians as enemies.
It is hard to make a case for what the World gains by having religion in it against this damning list but maybe Tony Blair will have better luck.