Wednesday, 27 July 2011

0.2% is pathetic

I thought we were told that the Royal Wedding was going to boost our economy. See, thought i remembered that correctly and didn't dream it.
Turns out that was a load of tosh and it actually dragged down our growth figures according to the Chancellor as he tried to put a good spin on the pathetic 0.2% growth.
Not just the Royal nuptials cost us but also the extra Bank holiday, the Japanese tsunami, a spate of unseasonably warm weather and Olympic ticket sales all meant growth was sluggish to say the least and put us bottom of the international economic growth table.
Moving to one side the large elephant with 'tens of millions of pounds bombing Libya' written on the side of it, shouldn't we be worried that despite pulling everything apart from the police to the NHS, it has all been for nothing?
The low growth figures from the previous quarter was put down to bad weather so is our growth all down to the weather or a Royal deciding to tie the knot? The money saved by sacking 500,000 public servants can all be pissed away by a few days of sunshine? How daft do the Tories think we are?
You would have to be blind to not see they are destroying our NHS, the welfare state, education, transport systems and police forces as well as making a complete hash of the economy, but because George Osbourne says 'there's positive news today, the economy is growing' we are supposed to pat him on the back and tell him to carry on?
Anyone who remembers the hell of their last stint in power, returning the Tories to power was going to be a disaster and it is becoming clearer with each passing day just why they are known as the nasty party.
Most frightening is that we have to sit back and allow this bunch of Eton toffs with no knowledge of life outside their cossetted existence to destroy our lives while telling us everything is great and can do absolutely nothing about it.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Using science to end droughts

While there is no good time to have a famine, probably the worst time is when everybody is looking the other way which is why the famine in Eastern Africa is not dominating the news agenda.
Up to 13 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia are at risk from the worst drought for 60 years but the succession of the Greek crisis, News International's implosion, Amy Winehouse's death and the Norway massacre has kept the famine down the list of news stories which must impact on the donations received.
The latest famine is blamed on drought, war and corruption. The second and third reasons can only be dealt with at Government level but why are we not doing anything about drought when we have the technology to bring rain when the rains fail?
China, United States, Russia, India, Germany, Australia, Canada, Niger, France, Spain, Mali and Austria all use cloud seeding to turn on or off the rain, even to relieve drought hit areas of their own countries, so why can't the number of commercial companies who offer weather modification services produce the required results over East Africa?
Billions have been spent over decades researching the matter worldwide and it has been confirmed that a person is more at danger of contamination from the fillings in their teeth than from the silver iodine used to seed the clouds so why is it not an option?
The American and Australian Meteorology boffins are joining forces and spending £8 million to ease the drought in Queensland by using cloud seeding so the science is there to bring rain where it is most needed.
With global warming set to make inhospitable areas all the more barren, the ability to make it rain where we need it could become one of the most important life saving inventions mankind has ever dreamt of but for whatever reason, we seem unwilling to even try to relieve the almost annual famines in Africa by removing one of the major contributing factors.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Why not radical Christian terrorist?

I cannot say with any degree of confidence that i completely understand the right wing/left wing thing. What i do understand is that extremes from both sides have been responsible for far too much killing. For Hitler on the right side, there is Stalin on the left so people to nod knowingly once Anders Behring Breivik's right wing religious credentials were known as if to go some way towards explaining his reasons behind his atrocity is a bit rich.
If his actions can be put down to religious dogma and political extremism then he is in the same camp as Al Quaida which puts the right wing extremists such as the EDL who have been most vocal against Muslim extremism in a predicament now that one of their own has done exactly what Al Quaida might have chosen to do, to exactly the same people. There are strong parallels to the Al Quaidi murder spree in Mumbai.
After 9/11 and 7/7, the Muslims came under fire for not speaking out against jihadist, so will the the Christians and far right groups be called upon to examine itself, its core doctrines and beliefs and do more to combat terrorism and extremism from within its ranks?
The media's first port of call to blame for Fridays massacre was Radical Islamic Terrorists but i have yet to hear Behring Brevik be called a Radical Christian Terrorist, the labels most used are lone gunman, murderer and killer.
The implication being that his Christian beliefs could absolutely not have anything to do with his actions.
Terrorism is the same even if the killers are far right religious conservatives, Al-Qaida, Basque Separatives, the IRA or Timothy McVeigh.
So, if he killed because he was driven by extreme Christian and political dogma, then he is a Radical Christian Terrorist and should be named as so however uncomfortable that makes the right wing and Christians feel that one of theirs was capable of such an atrocious act.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Winehouse joins forever 27 club

"Police were called to an address in Camden Square shortly before 16.05hrs. On arrival, officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene...I can confirm that the deceased is Amy Winehouse."

While it is always sad when a young person loses their life, it hardly comes as a surprise to hear that Amy Winehouse has become the latest member of the Forever 27 club.
Considering her heavy drink and drug lifestyle, the surprise is that she made it to 27 at all to join Kurt Cobain, Brian Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison in the exclusive club.
One common theme through all of the above mentioned musicians who burnt bright rather than fade away as Cobain put it, was the self destructive heavy use of drugs.
The stories of Amy Whinehouse's drug problems always eclipsed her music which had dried up recently as she battled her demons, unsuccessfully as it turned out.
The question is would Winehouse and the rest have been the musical forces that they were if they were not out of their heads on heroin for the majority of their careers? Would they even be remembered today if they had faded away.
It seems the best way to be remembered is to die tragically young and leave a promise that much more was yet to come. Hendrix and Morrison definitely, Cobain possibly but for Johnson, Winehouse and Joplin it's doubtful.
While we all love our music stars to live up to the Rock n Roll image of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll, it's exciting and what we think we would like to do if given the opportunity, it is always sad when it is taken to its extreme.
A whole industry will now spring up around Winehouse, yet another fatally flawed talent who lived fast and died tragically young to stamp her place in musical history.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Anders Behring Breivik

Like most people, the moment the Norwegian mass killer was named as Anders Behring Breivik, the first thing i did was look him up on facebook.
A Director of Breivik Geofarm with qualifications in micro and macro finance and holding Conservative political views, he lists political analysis as one of his interests and his favourite books are 1984, On Liberty and The Trial. He also lists hunting as a pastime.
The reports are that the attacks were politically motivated and judging by his facebook profile, he does seem a political person.
Anders also had a twitter page here with just one tweet on the 17 July stating 'One person with a belief is equal to the force of 100 000 who have only interests.'
The Facebook and Twitter account were only recently set up which could mean that in a piece of grim pre-planning, he created his social media pages knowing that these would be scoured when he perfomed the atrocities and his name became known.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Someone is missing George

In the 230 odd years that America has run its own affairs, it has always been a controversial country. Anyone with a leaning towards claiming it as a force for good or not has just as many arguments as the other side and since the Berlin Wall came down (thank you David Hasselhoff) it has been the only World superpower for the past 20 years.
Throughout the 90's i was unaware of any particular dislike for the United States above the usual sniping but it's global reputation fell through the floor in the 00's with its Middle East adventures.
With a couple of invasions and being best friends with the country seen as the enemy, it is hardly surprising that America was widely disliked in the Middle East when George W Bush had his face in the White House window.
Then along came Obama, promising to end the wars, repair Americas reputation in the area and generally be the opposite of Bush and Americas reputation climbed slightly, then slumped to a level below where Bush had left it.
Seems amazing that under Obama, America is even more unpopular now than under Bush considering what Bush got up to. Poll here.
The reason seems to be that it was the initial raising of hopes by Obama and the dashing lack of results with regards to removing American troops from the area, the extending of conflicts with Pakistan and Libya and the steadfast backing of Israel. The way America seemed ponderously slow in getting behind the Arab Spring and then picking and choosing who should go and who should remain hasn't helped matters either.
There was a poster somewhere in America not long ago that posed the question 'Missing me yet?' with a photograph of a beaming George W Bush. Amazingly, it seems the people of the Middle East are.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The new way: 1st draft

The way British Politics works is that i get to vote for a local MP who then goes off to Westminster to represent me and the people of my city. The party that achieves the most number of MPs then goes on to form the Government and they make the decisions for the country.
Five years later i get to vote again and either the same guy or another guy toddles off to Westminster again and if he or she is part of the largest party, they make the Government.
Never in my life has my local MP asked me or anyone else in the city what we thought of the big decisions. He is supposed to be representing us and our city but he never ask us for our thoughts on anything.
The same goes for the Government, they are there for us but we are never consulted, the decisions are imposed on us and come with fines and penalties if we don't observe them.
The Political Parties have people called Whips who 'lean' on the MP's on ways to vote. A free vote is very rare, what happens is the MP's are guided on how to vote by 3 line whips and on some occasions when the subject matter is very important to the Government, a 5 line whip. This is where the Prime Minister or party leader sends the Whips around with a letter saying he suggests that the MP should vote in a certain way with the direction underlined 3 or 5 times making the suggestion pretty clear what the person who can make or break careers wants.
With this going on a Government not winning the vote is a rarity, they are the Government by virtue of having the most MPs who have been informed how to vote regardless of their own personal feelings.
I don't know why this is tolerated because it makes a mockery of Democracy because what it comes down to is a small group making all the decisions.
With all the 3 main parties being such a shambles, it is time someone offered something else, some sort of referendum party.
All the big decisions from Europe to tax rates to deficit reduction are voted on by the public in referendums. We already have a large amount of polls from the likes of Gallup and Mori so combining all their findings along with telephone, postal and voting booths would give a very clear answer to what the country thinks.
Pre-vote debates, expert opinion and a fair representation of the pros and cons of any decisions would mean an informed decision made.
There would be no ideological bias, pandering to big business or media moguls and most importantly, the majority decision and will of the people would be actioned and that would be true Democracy and not something that just pretends to be.
The largest advantage would be the ruling party, if it operated things properly, would be as good as unmovable from power because if things go wrong, the voters will be unable to blame it as it is just there to facilitate their wishes.
Of course this is a work in progress and i will come back to it after some more thought but i can only see advantages to anyone brave enough to take it on. That said, there may be a reason that i have yet to stumble upon why nobody has because it seems so obvious.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Murdoch's revenge

There are some people, the owner of this blog for example, who are immensely enjoying the complete implosion and total disintegration of Rupert Murdoch's Empire.
It is true that Murdoch aimed his UK newspapers titles at the lowest common denominator but there must be a market for them because the News of the World and the Sun were Britain's best selling newspapers. I'm not convinced it was because they were right wing newspapers, it was because they were just easy to read if in a somewhat basic format. What you would not get from a Murdoch newspaper is any in depth analysis of current affairs and that appealed to millions because the titles sold in their millions. The 'proper' newspapers like the Guardian, Independent and even the Murdoch owned Times are all among the bottom few in any circulation table and all 3 of those newspapers only sold a third of the Sun's daily figures.
So as a businessman, Murdoch obviously got things spot on even if his methods were not as the recent furor has shown.
Now it has moved onto America where his empire is heading the same way as it has in the UK with news that his reporters may have been hacking the mobile phones of 9/11 victim families and bribing police officers.
If the accusations are found to be true, News Corporation will very well collapse and take Fox News with it which would not be a bad thing, it's almost a comedy show, but it isn't going to go quietly and that's where i think the real fireworks will be.
However this plays out, if there is a News Corporation at the end of it or not, Murdoch is going to unleash a whirlwind of revenge on the people who are sticking the boot in while he is down.
He knows where the bodies are and if he goes down, he will take some major figures with him so the only option is to make sure he is killed metaphorically before he gets his retaliation in.
Anyway, something else will slither into its place because the market for mindless pap and trash-culture is demand led, and the demand seems pretty big although what i am really hoping for is the collapse of Sky and its Sport Channels so we can have the football, boxing and cricket back on terrestrial television without having to pay through the nose for it.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Build better statues

I'm not much of a lover of statues. Not the sculptures themselves but the people who they choose to make statues of. Wherever you go, whichever country to choose, the majority of their statues are of some old, long dead military personnel.
We were over in Cherbourg this week and as you get off the ferry you are greeted by a huge statue of Napoleon sitting on his horse. I may be wrong but wasn't Napoleon just an earlier version of Hitler invading much of Europe and hacking his way around the globe? So what is there for the French to be proud of there?
The Americans put a statue of Ronald Reagan outside the American Embassy a few weeks ago but they paid for it and it is their embassy so they can put anyone they want there, to me Ronald Reagan just makes me think of spitting image and 'the President's brain is missing' sketches. His crime sheet is anything but spotless and nor will his head and shoulders be when the pigeons have their say on what they think.
The problem with having statues of war people is that the country involved is celebrating the slaughter of another people because you can't have a war without another participant and by it's very nature, the victor is the one who inflicts the most damage on the other.
That's why i am glad to hear that we have unveiled a statue of Yuri Gagarin because if we are going to celebrate anyone, it should be people who are genuine heroes who helped mankind, not killed as many as possible of them.
Gagarin, Darwin, Armstrong, Newton, Watt, Fleming, Aristotle, Edison, Shakespeare, Nightingale, Bell and Einstein where all people who made who made enduring contributions to our existence and they should be celebrated front and centre on 40ft high columns, not some Admiral who mowed down Johnny Foreigner a few centuries ago.
And if we have to have some American stood in bronze in our capital, why not someone who did some good like Martin Luther King? Ronald Reagan just makes me think of the 80s and especially that Frankie Goes to Hollywood Two Tribes video.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Sheer greed

All in this together i think the phrase was when the Conservatives were being savaged for their unfair austerity measures and now British Gas have whacked up the price of gas by 18%, and electricity by 16%.
Due to the rising cost of what they have to pay said the company, the same company that made a profit £742m in 2010, up 24%.
What about the elderly, poor and the vulnerable was the cry but of course they're commercial enterprises and their job is to make money for their shareholders, not provide cheap energy for their customers. Think that the reason the price increases start in September just in time for Winter is a coincidence?
We could look towards the Government for help as they are the only people who can do anything about it as the utility companies have us over a barrel, the choice is pay it or freeze to death.
Alas the Government cut the Winter fuel payments which helped the elderly pay for their heating in the last Budget so looks like we are on our own.
All we can do is switch supplier, but they all follow each other and all quickly raise their prices in line so no matter where you go, you will be facing a huge price hike.
So the utility companies will not be re-nationalised, or the Government passing legislation to limit the profits they're allowed to make so all we can do is make a concerted effort to hit their profits by boycotting one of the 5 energy companies then watch them panic when their share price drops. That would concentrate the mind of the other suppliers who would be afraid of them being next.
Of course we won't do that, we will moan about it and then sit back and take it and the suppliers know that which is why they can take us for such mugs.
Yet another example of why capitalism doesn't work. Sheer greed at the top but all the time we have Governments running things who are prepared to protect the unjust and unfair system that we have, the rich will always get richer and the poorest will always be stuffed.

Friday, 8 July 2011

News of The World Hacking Victims

The revelation that murder victim Milly Dowler's phone was hacked by the News of The World is perhaps the most shocking of the list of victims so far but Scotland Yard have revealed that there were up to 4000 people targeted.
So far only 130 names have been revealed but now Rebekah Brooks is warning of worse examples to come, even worse than that of hacking Milly Dowler's phone.
The mind boggles what could possibly be worse than hacking into the phone of a teenage murder victim and deleting messages and the only person I can think of that would drive the public into even more of a frenzy is Princes Diana but I’m not even sure this was going on then.

The famous victims so far identified are:

George Michael (musician)
Eric Clapton (musician)
Mick Jagger (musician)
Gary Lineker (TV Presenter)
Wayne Rooney (Footballer)
Linford Christie (Athlete)
Andy Gray (TV Presenter)
Kieren Fallon (Jockey)
Paul Gascoigne (Footballer)
Leslie Chapman (Footballer)
Ryan Giggs (Footballer)
Judy Finnigan (TV Presenter)
Richard Madeley (TV Presenter)
Chris Tarrant (TV Presenter)
Elle MacPherson (Model)
Heather Mills (Former Mrs MaCartney)
Hugh Grant (Actor)
James Hewitt
Jude Law (Actor)
Leslie Ash (Actress)
Max Clifford
Sienna Miller (Actress)
Steve Coogan (Actor)
Ulrika Jonsson (TV Presenter)
Prince William (Royal)
Prince Harry (Royal)
Tessa Jowell (Politician)
Boris Johnson (Politician)
David Blunkett (Politician)
George Galloway (Politician)
George Osborne (Politician)
John Prescott (Politician)
Family of the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.
Families of 7/7 bombing victims
Family of Soham murder victim Jessica Chapman
Milly Dowler (Murder victim)
Danielle Jones (Murder victim)

Moving on from NASA

I don't know why i like watching space shuttle launches, seen one seen them all, but i made sure that i was at home today by 4.30pm to watch the launch of Atlantis to bring down the curtain on Nasa's space programme.
As expected, nothing different to every other launch i have watched on television although there was a bit of excitement when the clock stopped with 31 seconds to go.
So there it with the magnificent pictures of the earth rapidly falling away as the rocket accelerated out of the atmosphere but i can't help thinking that our Space exploration seemed to fall away after 1969.
We have the Hubble telescope and we have satellites beaming back pictures from other planets but considering the amazing leaps we made between Sputnik in 1957 and Apollo 11 in 1969, it is a bit disappointing that we haven't really kicked on.
It has been over 40 years since Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moons surface but that is still the highest pinnacle of manned space flight and our technology and understanding of space flight has improved immensely since then but still the moon is as far as we have gone.
We had a decade of collecting moon samples and then we seem to have given up on and the last time a human walked on the moon was 1972.
Of course the Cold War was the greatest driver of the Space Race and with the Soviet Union ceasing to be, the impetus to push the boundaries reduced and NASA seemed content to hang about in low earth orbit doing experiments which while very useful, never really caught the imagination.
Expense is another reason and why NASA have pulled the plug on their space programme so maybe their is an opportunity for the leading Space exploration countries America and Russia to join forces with the up and coming space programmes of China, India and the UK to join forces and have a global space exploration programme with everyone sharing the financial burden rather than individual countries.
A Moon base, manned flights to Mars and a chain of International Space Stations spreading out across our Solar System should be our aims and it shouldn't take another struggle between competing power blocks trying to prove a point before we take the next step.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Getting what America owes us

Times are tough and the Americans are tightening their belts along with the rest of us especially as their
Government owe out £13,562 billion. That's some serious money and the US Treasury Department helpfully tell us who America owe the money to.
The largest group waiting for their money back are the US Individuals and Institutions who account for over 40% of the debt.
China and Japan are the 4th and 5th in line but surprisingly there we sit in 9th place with America owing us 1.4% of the $13,5621 billion which roughly turns into a tad over £177 million.
Iceland owe us £2.3 billion and offered to pay its debt by providing us a steady stream of green electricity instead of cash but we said we wanted the cold hard cash instead.
Maybe this is a deal we could set up with America but instead of electricity, it could give us something else of the same value.
I have always quite liked the Statue of Liberty so can you wrap it in some of that bubble wrap so it doesn't get damaged and have it here by the weekend. And if you can give it a bit of a scrub first, much appreciated.

Shame of the hackers

The News of the World hacking story has been rumbling on for quite a while now but in general it never really connected with many people, mainly because the victims of the phone-hacking were celebrities and most of us are selective with our sympathy where the rich and famous are concerned.
Now that the scene has moved away from celebrities, and the victims of hacking have been teenage murder victims and their families the public mood has changed.
How the News of the World thought it was acceptable to hack into the mobile phone of 13 year old Milly Downer in search of some juicy titbit of gossip about her or her family is unfathomable. Worse than that, they then deleted some of the messages left by concerned relatives so that they could get new ones to listen to which had the effect of making the parents and police believe that she may be alive and checking her messages.
Now Officers have told the parents of the two 10 year old girls killed in Soham in 2002 by Ian Huntley that their mobiles had been hacked.
The Murdoch Press, especially the Sun and the News of The World were always known to be the gutter press but this is a new low and I hope that these newspapers and any others who have been found to have done the same thing are suitable punished with historically high fines and if they are put out of business then I won't mourn them.
The public are sure to turn on them but Murdoch has deep pockets so they could run at a loss for years as Sky TV did so the key to whether the newspapers continue or not could be down to the advertisers and already a handful of high profile names have withdrawn their adverts.
Ford, npower, Halifax, T-Mobile and Orange are all reviewing or withdrawing their advertising in the News of the World and that is a serious dent to the paper.
Before nobody was fussed about John Prescott's or Hugh Grant's phones, just a bit of celebrity gossip, but a line has been crossed and I hope the News of The World folds and the guilty journalists, editors and anyone involved in the sick plot are severely dealt with.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Why women should not run the World

Hillary Clinton was on the television this morning responding to Colonel Gadaffi's warning that unless we stop dropping bombs on his country, he would retaliate with attacks on civilians in Europe.
The brave Mrs Clinton dismissed it and said that we have to see this through before hopping onto a plane and flying back to America 5000 miles away.
I do have many problems with politicians and their wars. The safest people in any war is always the people who decide to have them. You have to go back to King George II to find the last British ruler who actually took part in a conflict he decided to be part of. It's like a bully punching my friend in the face until i hand over my dinner money and me saying that he can punch as hard as he likes he isn't having it.
Winston Churchill is often mentioned as the greatest Brit although he spent the vast majority of the war drunk in a fortified underground bunker just popping his bald head out occasionally to tell Hitler we will fight him on the beaches and then disappearing again.
I don't know what it is about Hillary Clinton but she comes across as instantly dislikable but then female American politicians seem to have an aura of being horrible people.
Condoleezza Rice had a smug look about her and as she stitched up Jack Straw over his relationship with Muslims in his Blackburn constituency while the Iraq War was going on, a nasty, backstabbing cow to boot.
Madeline Albright and her reply that "we think the price is worth it" to a question about half million Iraqi children dying confirmed just what a cold hearted bitch she was and then there is Sarah Palin who shouldn't be trusted with scissors without adult supervision and the latest female vying for the White House seat, Michele Bachmann, who is a paranoid basketcase.
Add to the list the evil that was our own Margaret Thatcher and that's a massive bra-shaped hole blown in the argument that women should be running the World.
I agree that men have not done much of a bang up job themselves but it seems that the woman who rise to the top in politics are the last women you want in positions of power.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Machine Girl or rioting Greeks

I have been incredibly busy this last week so this blog has been left hanging slightly. Actually, that's a big fat lie because i have been sitting around watching the tennis and the stash of Japanese horror/gore films that my brother sent me. If there is a better film full of Japanese people than Machine Girl then i haven't seen it.
Anyway, the Greece economic implosion, the public servants strike and the continuing folly of Libya all sailed by as RoboGeisha and Samurai Princess held my attention instead.
I did just watch Murray get kicked out of Wimbledon by Nadal and i can't say i'm that upset about it. Not that i have anything against Murray, i just find him incredibly miserable.
I was never going to overlook his depressing demeanour just because we happened to be born on the same island, I was rooting for Tsonga just because he seems to enjoy what he is doing.
The same goes for David Haye who is fighting the Ukranian Wladimir Klitschko this weekend. Just because he is English and I am English it doesn't mean i'm automatically cheering for a Haye win. Truth be told i think Haye makes himself look a jerk with some of the things he comes out with so if anything i will be in the Ukrainians corner or rather i would be if i was willing to pay the £15 to watch it on Sky TV, which i am not because i want pay per view to fail and sport go back to channels we can all watch.
Besides, i still have Tokyo Gore Police left to watch and how can it be anything other than excellent with a name like that!!