Wednesday, 30 April 2014

My First Gun

If it's good enough for Somali warlords then it's good enough for Americans, arming their children. 
As every responsible parent should know, handing your young child a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill is the height of good parenting but not just one of those big, cumbersome things, they need something that that their chubby little fingers can grip when they accidentally shoot Daddy in the butt, so luckily they can now get 'My First Rifle' which comes in blue, pink and rainbow colours with cute names like Cricket and Chipmunk.
In a country already awash with guns and horrific gun crime, it makes sense to every gun loving American that the answer is to bring even more guns into the equation and put them in the hands of children and make them look like toys.
It's the second amendment, the right to give your child the tools to not only blow their own brains out but the brains of anyone else within sight.
Don't listen to those soft limeys whose kids are playing with Barbies and Lego, real American kids play with guns in their bedrooms and what use will a car made out of bright yellow lego bricks be when the Government turn up to oppress you.
Be part of the well regulated militia, give your kid a gun TODAY and in a one time special offer sign up for Obamacare and receive a discount on accidental gunshot wounds and a helpful leaflet called 'SO YOU STUPIDLY HANDED YOUR KID A GUN AND THEY SHOT SOMEONE'. Essential reading for the deprived of brain cell parents the Cricket and Chipmunk guns are aimed at, and aimed at.

Eurovision 2014

The BBC does get some stick for what it spends the licence fee payers money on but how you can moan about Eurovision when it continues to pay Bruce Forsyth is beyond me but its almost time to dust off the Union Flag, give it a wave and then quickly hide it away again when our singer comes bottom because it's almost Eurovision time again!
Our singer this year is called Molly and the song is, being charitable, not the best tune we have entered so its United Kingdom null points again this year and a moan about Johnny Foreigner hating us and overlooking the song, being charitable again, isn't a classic.
How we can turn out musicians that have influenced the world of music for decades but can't find a tune to win a contest against the powerhouses of Latvia and Azerbaijan has always been a mystery and this year, staying with the charitable theme, we once again won't be troubling the left hand side of the score board.  
Not having heard all the entries yet i can't predict who will win it but one of the favourites is Austria's Thomas Neuwirth or Conchita Wurst if you prefer his stage name.
A pretty man dressed as a woman singing in Austrian about a phoenix, what's not to like!!
Got to love the Eurovision Song Contest.

Nothing To See Here In Brunei

'Today i place my faith in and am grateful to Allah the almighty to announce that tomorrow, Thursday May 1, 2014, will see the enforcement of Sharia law phase one, to be followed by the other phases' so said Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in a speech today.
The implementation of Sharia law would mean that residents will face conviction by Islamic courts for their crimes with the first phase giving offenders large fines or jail time for pregnancy outside marriage, supporting other religions and failure to perform Friday prayers.
A second phase will go into effect in a years time include punishing those who steal or consume alcohol with whipping and amputations and the third and final stage will take effect in two years, and will use the death penalty for crimes like adultery, sodomy, or insulting the Koran or the Prophet Mohammed.
Funny how we decide which countries should be sanctioned and those that we just ignore while they stone homosexuals to death isn't it.

Hope You Lose Mourinho

European Cup Semi-Finals and one team from Madrid are already in the Final in Lisbon and it seems that everyone else in England who isn't a Chelsea is hoping the other Madrid team make it there also.
Since Arsenal went out to the Germans i lost interest in it to be fair and it isn't because i particularly dislike Chelsea that i want them to get bowled out tonight, it's just that i don't want to see John Terry or Ashley Cole celebrating. 
First time around i like Jose Mourinho but he seems to have come back to England from his trip around Italy and Spain as a right misery guts with a constant moaning and grumpy face so i will be clacking castanets and saying 'Ole' tonight hoping that Atletico Madrid dump Chelsea out and then go on to win the thing and give Mourinho something proper to look glum about.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Is Israel An Apartheid State?

John Kerry may well have apologised for his Israeli 'apartheid' remarks after the rather predictable Israeli response which comes whenever anybody says anything unfavourable about them but it is not the first time someone has made the link between Israel in 2014 to the South Africa of the last century.  
In 1973 the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (ICSPCA) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and defined the crime of apartheid as 'inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one group over another group and systematically oppressing them'.
So is Israeli an apartheid country oppressing and maintaining domination over the Palestinians?

In January 2004 Colin Powell beat John Kerry to labelling Israel as an apartheid state by saying about the West Bank barrier: 'I don't believe that we can accept a situation that results in anything that one might characterise as apartheid' and the then-President of the United Nations General Assembly, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, likened Israel's policies toward the Palestinians to South Africa's treatment of blacks under apartheid.
According to a 2004 U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practises for Israel and the Occupied Territories, it reported that 'the Israeli government had done little to reduce institutional, legal, and societal discrimination against the country's Arab citizens' so John Kerry isn't the first American in a position to accuse Israel of being anything other than hostile to its non-Jewish citizens.
In a 2007 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine John Dugard stated 'elements of the Israeli occupation constitute forms of colonialism and of apartheid' and the same year the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination reported that Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the occupied territories are subject to different criminal laws, leading to longer detention and harsher punishments for Palestinians than for Israelis for the same offences.
Amnesty International also reported that in the West Bank, Israeli settlers and soldiers who engage in abuses against Palestinians, including unlawful killings, enjoy impunity from punishment and are rarely prosecuted. However Palestinians detained by Israeli security forces may be imprisoned for prolonged periods of time and face torture and other ill-treatment.
Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, has stated that the network of settlements in the West Bank has created an 'irreversible colonial project aimed to foreclose the possibility of a viable Palestinian state' and in accomplishing this Israel has 'crossed the threshold from the only
democracy in the Middle East to the only apartheid regime in the Western world'.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel concluded in 2008 that a segregated road network in the West Bank, expansion of Jewish settlements, restriction of the growth of Palestinian towns and discriminatory granting of services, budgets and access to natural resources 'are in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa'.
In 2009 the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) published a report stating, 'the State of Israel exercises control in the Occupied Palestinian Territories with the purpose of maintaining a system of domination by Jews over Palestinians and that this system constitutes a breach of the prohibition of apartheid'.
In 2010 United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestine Richard A. Falk reported that criminal apartheid features of the Israeli occupation had been entrenched in the three years since the report of his predecessor and in March 2011, Falk said 'The continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians is creating an intolerable situation and can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing. Israeli policy in the West Bank clearly constitutes a form of apartheid with an effect on the Palestinian people much the same as apartheid had on the non-White population in South Africa'.
In January 2012, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French parliament published a report describing Israel's water policies in the West Bank as 'a weapon serving the new apartheid' on their findings that Palestinians are not allowed to use the underground aquifers, and that Israel was deliberately destroying wells, reservoirs and water purification plants.
Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, Camp David Accords negotiator and Nobel Peace Prize winner, wrote a book titled 'Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid' and stated that Israel's options included a 'system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotations of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians'.

When the UN, Human and Civil Right Groups, previous American Presidents and the current US secretary of state label you as an apartheid state, it doesn't matter how much you scream that you aren't because the weight of evidence shows that you most certainly are.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

A Crap App

You know how it is when you spend ages looking through the appstore looking for a certain app and you just can't find the one you need.
Luckily, something you can now do is take a picture of your poop and share it with other users thanks to Pooplog which, as the app author explains, is 'a free application that allows you to track your bowel movements using the Bristol Stool Scale on your Android powered device'.
Brilliant, and the Bristol Stool Scale to boot, just what i wanted but how does Pooplog work i hear you ask.
'Once you record the type of bowel movement, volume, and time, PoopLog allows you to attach a note, attach a photo, and even allows you to share any part of your entry with other installed applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, SMS, Email, etc.'.
The next update will include support for more logging options such as colour, blood, mucus, etc., charts, and trends but it is only currently available to users running Android OS 1.6 or higher. 
As a Blackberry owner, that's me out then. Back to using the laminated Bristol Stool Scale chart i guess. 



Morrissey Takes On Daft Canadian

It seems that Morrissey has been upsetting the Canadians with a rant against the nasty business of them smashing a nail into the heads of baby seals.
The singer called the annual slaughter 'greedy', 'dismaying', 'ignorant' and 'barbaric' and said that Canada has a sorry image due to its seal slaughter before finishing with 'only those of the thinnest intellect wear animal fur'.
Sadly, those with the thinnest intelligence also work in the Canadian Fisheries Department because the Fisheries Minister, Gail Shea, has hit back with a rant that Morrissey is 'looking for a popularity boost from attacking the livelihoods of people who live off the bounty of the land instead of living off record sales or TV ratings' and justified the hundreds of thousands of seals because there are over 7.4 million of them.
Morrissey then replied that 'simply because someone bears the badge of Minister does not insulate them from being a disreputable thug' and urged Canadians to 'speak up and stop this carnage in order to restore the global image of their country'.
Undeterred that she is never going to win the argument, Shea replied that the outlawing the seal fur industry would cost thousands of jobs to which Morrissey tripped the Godwins alarm by firing back that 'building and maintaining the Concentration Camps of Auschwitz also provided livelihoods, but this hardly made the Camps warranted'.
The EU and Russian ban on seal fur has reportedly shot a massive hole in the profits from seal pelts and the Canadian Fisheries justification for compelling a painful death on seal cubs is because there are a lot of them so i know who i am backing in this argument, and it isn't the Canadian with the Ministers badge and thin intelligence.

UKIP, Comedy Gold

Once upon a time i was concerned about how much airtime Nigel Farage and his UKIP party were getting but now i realise that they are being shoved front and centre because when they get the spotlight, they just damage themselves.
Farage on Have I Got News For You got ripped apart and just sat their laughing through the whole thing while Merton and Hislop laid into him and reporters and journalists pull his argument apart with little effort because they are comedy gold.
The 'big' advertising campaign has been suspended after the guy in the first poster sent a series of racist comments on Twitter. The builder in another UKIP poster accusing EU workers of taking UK jobs was discovered to be an Irish actor who migrated to this country, and a woman who appeared on the third posing as a voter from Devon turned out to be UKIP's events manager and an assistant to the party leader.  
After making much of British jobs for British workers, Farage's secretary is German and local election candidate, William Henwood, has said that comedian Lenny Henry should emigrate to a 'black country' while another has called Islam 'organised crime under religious camouflage" while likening the religion to Nazism, and suggesting that the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence has received a disproportionate level of attention. 
UKIP said the party was 'non-racist, non-sectarian and any comments made by members that fail to uphold these values will be duly investigated and acted upon'.
My greatest concern now is that after the racists and bigots are acted upon and removed, the party won't have anyone left to make an idiot of themselves on television anymore.
Keep putting them on TV i say, the Comedy Channel.

Primark Does America

UK based Primark is coming to America with the opening of a megastore in Boston next year and that is either good news or bad news depending on what side of the ethical shopping debate you are sat on.
If you are after cheap and cheerful clothes and you are not too concerned about how or why Primark can offer such cheap clothes, Primark is perfect.
If you find yourself wondering how can Primark offer such cheap clothes, then you may want to go elsewhere because Primark is one of the leaders in making sure there are plenty of well stocked sweat shops in Asia.
A recent BBC investigation revealed that children as young as 9 were working in squalid conditions, sewing tiny beads and sequins onto cheap t-shirts by candle-light and being paid 60p per day. Almost a year to the day 1400 workers died at an unsafe Bangladesh factory making Primark garments leading to Primark paying compensation to the families of their workers who were killed and injured in the accident when the building collapsed.
There have been protests outside British Primark stores which increased when a survey carried out by Populus saw Primark voted Britain’s least ethical clothing retailer.
Primark have announced that they no longer use sweat shop labour but when you are paying for that $2 t-shirt or $13 pair of jeans, you might want to consider if Primark can sell them so cheap and still make a profit (£1.1bn last year), how little must they be paying for the labour that goes into making them in the first place.
The low-cost clothes in Primark can come at a dangerously high price for some.

Friday, 25 April 2014

America Looking For A Fight

North Korea face the threat of sanctions with 'more bite', China has been told not to escalate territorial tensions in the Asia-Pacific region and Russia have been told that they face additional sanctions.
That's American issued threats to China, Russia and North Korea in the space of 48 hours, and we all thought George W Bush was the nutter, Obama and Lurch are going out of their way to pick an argument with countries that could do more than give America, and the rest of us, a black eye.
Luckily our own Prime Minister is not standing 'shoulder to shoulder' with this current administration and while John Kerry and his amazingly frozen face turn up in various hotspots acting like an embarrassing dad, China, Russia and North Korea cheerfully ignore him.
Seems they couldn't get their war in Syria or Iran but they will start one with someone at some point even if it kills them, or more likely, a million other people.
Who would have thought that back in 2008 when George W Bush shuffled off the World stage, the people that replaced him would be even more of a danger to World Peace.
Roll on 2017 when Obama and Lurch can't kill us all.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Patients Suffer Due To Pharmaceutical Companies Greed

After knowiongly selling us half a billion pounds worth of Tamilfu that was next to useless, Pharmaceutical company Roche are back in the news again this time they are trying to scam even more money from the taxpayers pot.
This week, the NHS drugs regulator Nice, said it could not approve a treatment for advanced breast cancer because Roche is asking £90,000 per patient. Nice says that even though the drug, Kadcyla, can extend the life of patients by six months, the cost is prohibitive.
After the Conservative Party's vicious onslaught on the countries public servises, the NHS has been especially hit hard with reduced spending and less staff and talk of a £30bn hole in the NHS that will somehow need to be plugged, it is hardly surprising that Nice has decided to turn down the Kadcyla drug.
Roche, who made a £12bn profit last year, has had the gall to criticise Nice for 'failing to safeguard the interests of patients' by refusing to pay the price they want, deflecting the blame onto the buyer not wanting to bankrupt an already tottering Health Service rather than them for holding the NHS to ransom.
It is unlikely that the money spinning pharmaceutical companies are going to set their prices lower and it has become obvious that the NHS cannot afford to be held to ransom by these companies so unless a cheaper alternative can be found, cancer patients will be the ones suffering and it won't be the fault of the NHS, it will be the companies that put profit before everything else, including peoples lives.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Luke 21:9-11

10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven

A magnitude 6.6 earthquake off the coast of Canada is the tenth significant quake in the Ring of Fire region in the last two weeks. 

A few days ago two quakes of magnitude 7.5 and 6.6 were recorded off Papua New Guinea and a 7.2 magnitude quake was recorded in Mexico City.

Before those, three quakes of 6.6, 7.4 and 7.6 magnitude were recorded off the Solomon Islands and 8.2 magnitude quake in Chile was preceded by a magnitude 6.7 tremor.

It's coming, Jesus said so.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Moyes Sacked

As a fan of one of Manchester United rivals, i'm gutted that David Moyes has been sacked.
I was hoping that as he was doing such an awful job there that they would keep him until the summer and then sack him which by then they would have been out of the European places and the club would wither away and we would never have to be bothered by them again.
As it is i'm glad they waited until they werer out of contention for everything before realising how bad he was.
As they have sacked him with four games remaining, they will now have the new manager bounce and   probably end up in a UEFA Cup place which is pleasing as Arsenal qualify for the Big European Cup and play Bracelona and AC Milan while Robin Van Persie will be sitting on the bench injured at places like FC Shakhter Karagandy and HNK Rijeka.
Still Ryan Giggs may be just as bad as managing as he was at keeping secrets when he was bedding his brothers wife so Manchester United may well flop again next year. Here's hoping.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Demonising Public Sector Workers

Since they have got into power the Conservatives has been effective in blaming two groups for spending all our tax pounds, anyone on benefits and those in the public sector. 
The National Audit Office published a report into the costs of the bail-out and concluded: 'The amount of cash currently borrowed by the government to support banks has risen by £7bn to a total of £124bn since December 2009'.
Before the crash in 2008 the public sector was not the enemy but suddenly times are tight and rather than blame the bankers (private companies back then) for taking the cash, the Conservatives are targeting the people who receive money from the Government instead.
The Conservatives transformed a crisis of the banks into a crisis of public spending so as the bankers who paid themselves £14bn in bonuses last year are forgotten and the blame is on the public sector workers leeching off the taxpayer.
So which of the cushy jobs in the public service can be slashed with no effect? Shall we do with a few less nurses, teachers, firefighters, librarians, police officers, bin-collectors? Can we do without so many military personnel or less collectors bringing in tax or how about we lop a few off the number stopping the asylum seekers sneaking through our sea-ports? 
It's classic divide and rule politics that some are stupidly falling for, make low-paid supermarket workers and those sitting in call centres resent teachers and nurses and so when the inevitable strikes come as announced by the Teachers Union this weekend, support from anyone outside the public sector goes missing.
The Conservatives have been successful in demonising anyone on benefit, even pensioners, and is working on demonising the people who work in hospitals and schools or put out fires and empty our bins.
The groups who should be demonised are the bankers taking our money and continuing to whoop it up, the private sector companies that pays their employees such low wages that the Government has to top up their income with Tax Credits, the tax evaders depriving the coffers of billions and the Conservative party and their supporters who portray the public service as dispensable because it isn't.
Remember that next time you telephone HMRC and are on hold for 30 minutes or you are in pain in a hospital waiting room for an hour or that pothole at your end of your road shreds your tires because nobody has been around to fill it, the Conservatives has shrunk the Civil Service so there are just less of them to do all these important things and if the Conservatives get their way, there will even less of them in the future.

Great Firewall Of China

Because the Internet is full of drunk Australians and Americans discussing guns, China sensibly blocks most of the web from the sensitive eyes of it's Chinese citizens.
Sensible because who wants to see a bunch of English people discussing the Queen and tea non-stop but that also means that the Chinese people can't read this blog which is a real shame as i think they would enjoy it.
It is unlikely that China will relax its internet access laws anytime soon so they have created their own sites to replace Facebook, Twitter and Youtube which we can access.
In China they get on Renren, send Weibo's through Sina Weibo and access clips of cats doing cute things in Youku and as every fifth person is Chinese, that's a lot of people Weiboing and Renrening each other. 
Alas Australians will always be drunk, Americans will always be obsessed with guns and the British will drink tea by the bucket so China will not experience this bloggers views on things but just in case there is an internet cafe somewhere in Beijing offering access to Western sites for a few renminbi, 你好中国 不要担心 您不丢失.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Cameron Stung

A Jellyfish is a spineless creature that causes pain and misery and people go out of their way to avoid while David Cameron is a spineless creature that causes pain and misery and people go out of their way to avoid.
It is reported that David Cameron has been stung by a jellyfish while holidaying in Lanzarote after wading into the sea and emerging shouting in pain seconds later.
'I tried to warn him that the poisonous creature was close by but he ignored me' said another Jellyfish. 
Cameron's condition is being described as bloody hilarious.

Game Of Thrones

For such a televisual phenomenon, it was hard work to find anyone who had watched Games of Thrones and when i did the reaction was underwhelming. Not perturbed by the lack of appreciation for something that seems to have gripped the World, i watched the first series this weekend and thought that was 10 hours i won't be getting back.
It is beautifully shot with gorgeous scenery and wonderful costumes but as the credits rolled on the final scene i was left wondering just what everyone had seen it it that i was missing.
Set in a medieval fantasy land, it is full of overacting actors who are either kings, queens or knights saying things like 'my liege' and 'honour for my family' and hugging each other.
It can only be the multiple scenes of bums and boobs and soft porn sex that people find so exciting and then it struck me.
If you liked Lords of the Rings or you are a horny 14 year old boy then you will probably enjoy it but i thought it was so overrated and just plodded along with the occasional shot of a woman's boob to keep the young men interested but it has all the hallmarks of classic nerd television to watch as a break from playing World of Warcraft.
Maybe it gets better in following series but i won't bother to find out, Game of Thrones isn't for me thank you.

US Screwing Over EU?

Russia and the EU each have a concern in the Ukraine as the country is on the very doorstep of both their boundaries but America is thousands of miles away so why it is holding talks and making threats is not easily obvious apart from the well worn fact that where there is a war, America is usually involved somewhere.
John Kerry is over here making threats of sanctions against the Russians if they don't keep to their side of the deal brokered over the last few days which isn't going down very well with the EU who is having a hard enough time with the faltering economy as it is without tinkering with their relationship of Russia largest export partner worth £292 billion annually to the EU.
Easy to see why the Europeans are wary of American led sanctions threatening their largest source of income, especially while America has less to lose as Russia are 15th in the list of countries the USA export to and here is where the murmurings from EU representatives are whispered, the USA is screwing the EU over.
The US is keen to see more sanctions on Moscow because the US has very little interest directly in Russia and are eager for the EU to pull back on its interests in Russia which would allow America to have a better chance to get in subsequently when relations improve and step in with replacement of what the Russian's provide to the EU and what the EU provide to Russia.
So while it seems that American involvement is just because America is always up for a bit of conflict, war and mayhem, it may also be to guide the EU away from Russia so it can replace it for its own economic benefit.
As the EU is not playing ball with America and talking down any idea of sanctions on Russia maybe the murmurings of the Americans using the conflict as an excuse to urge the EU to step back so it can step in have reached the ears of the decision makers who are now wise to it.

Vinyl v CD

There is a shop in town that sells vinyl records and only vinyl records and as it has been there for as long as i can remember, it must be doing some business but i don't think i have ever seen a customer go in or come out of it.
There are some people who will wax lyrical about vinyl records but i think of them as romantic fools because i have been there in my teenage years and vinyl records are not a patch on CDs. Allow me to explain.

Firstly, vinyl records scratch easily and once scratched you are forever consigned to your song jumping at the same part forever or more annoying, it will keep repeating the same line over and over and over until you nudge the needle.  
Secondly, because the needle staying in the groove of the vinyl depends on gravity and gravity being a bit rubbish, you have to tiptoe around your room while playing the record or else the record player arm will jump and you will go from track 1 to track 4 in an instant, risking a dirty great scratch.
Thirdly, i have heard the argument that vinyl records are of a better playback quality which i have never understood as i remember constant crackling and hissing in the quiet bits of songs.
Fourthly, cardboard sleeves would rip and tear and the sharp edge of the record as you dropped it into the sleeve would tear and the record would poke out the other end of the sleeve.
Fifthly, vinyl records warp and you are treated to a display of Mariah Carey style up and down the range singing even on non-Mariah Carey songs.
Sixthly, CD's take up less room and you don't need to set aside half a room for your collection of Ska albums from the 70s.
Seventhly, downloads and CD's are portable so you can hear your music anywhere you go, try that with a record player and see how far you get.
Eightly, CD's turn into MP3's easily and MP3 players are cheap while your choice of record player is your parents one in the attic from 1980 or a new one which would set you back over the cost of 50 MP3 downloads.
    
So CD's don't scratch as easily, you can move while they are playing, the playback is better quality, plastic sleeves don't rip, they don't warp, easily stored, portable and cheaper equipment are just 8 reasons why CD's are not only far superior to vinyl but a good reason why it's replacement was such a success and vinyl was ditched in the first place.
   

Thursday, 17 April 2014

What The Future Holds

It seems unbelievable that the first Back to the Future film was made in 1985 and showed a future of 2015 where people zipped around on hoverboards and there were parking zones for flying cars so unless science has been holding back on unleashing these inventions, they got this very wrong.
That's the problem with the future, we can only guess what its going to be like until we get there and i'm guessing it's not going to be DeLorean cars and flux capacitors.
The Pew Research Centre has been conducting a survey concerning what we want from our future science and our concerns about what the men in white coats and pens in the top pocket may bring.
65% said they'd be concerned about future robots, quite right to i say, while 53% said it would be a change for the worse if most people wore devices that constantly showed them information about the world around them.
What we do want is driverless cars (48%) brain implants to improve mental capacity (26%), lab-grown meat (20%) while 19% wanted flying cars or bikes, 9% wanted the ability to travel through time and 9% mentioned health improvements that extend human longevity or cure major diseases.
2% wanted Hoverboards, 2% immortality, 1% inventions to make household tasks easier, 1% new energy sources and 1% wanted science to bring world peace. 
11% of respondents said that they are not interested in futuristic inventions, or that there's nothing futuristic they would like to have but then i did warn them not to ask at the Luddite Fellowship. 
Quite rightly the advance of artificial intelligence is the publics greatest concern but i'm not quite sure how having Google on your t-shirt stacks up against being enslaved by super-intelligent robots hell bent on taking over the World but that's probably why i wasn't asked.

Men And Books

On the 10th September 2001 the book 'My Pet Goat' was an unknown tale about a goat that eats everything but on 11th September it became one of the most famous books in the World as George W Bush heard about the attacks while having it read to him by a child.
After being told, Bush continued to sit there listening for a further seven minutes before deciding he had better do something, the time between being told and doing something explained by his supporters as 'The President projecting strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening' but we all know he wanted to know how that bad boy ended.
Bush is not alone in not being big on reading books himself, a Reading Agency says that 30% of men have not read a book since school with 'not really wanting to' the main justification.
Now if you are a man, or know one, i'm about to make a list of books that i recommend for them which may suit their more limited abilities.

1. Colouring books. Lots of pictures and you get to play with crayons and no difficult words to read.   
2. Pop up books. As these are aimed at children no tricky words of over two syllables to struggle over.
3. Audio Books. Have an actor read out all those difficult sentences for you.
4. My Pet Goat. Find out what enthralled GWB so much that he couldn't tear himself away. 

If all else fails, follow the George W Bush method and get a child to read a book to you. What i don't recommend is for men to run before they can walk so if you own a pair of testicles and you are tempted to read a book, start off at your intelligence level, approx aged 5, and then slowly build up from the likes of 'The Hungry Caterpillar' to something a bit more complex like 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' before you even consider tackling more grown up literature like Harry Potter.
You never know, one day you may become confident enough to REACH THE BLOODY INSTRUCTIONS ON THINGS!!

Celebrating Easter

Easter has always been the second to the more showy holiday of Christmas but Christians will argue that Easter and the death of Jesus is more important than Christmas which celebrates his birth.
How true that is i don't know and don't particularly care but i won't let a lack of religion get in the way of eating my own body weight in chocolate over the weekend.   
The story of Easter is less well known than Christmas, something to do with the Easter Bunny coming back to life is my understanding of it all, but while we always hear about the war against Christmas, why is there no war against Easter?  
We also have a wide range of Christmas songs foisted upon us every year but off the top of my head i can't  think of any songs with a Crucifixion or Easter egg theme. If Easter is more 'important' than Christmas then you would have thought Slade or The Pogues would have put out a 'Merry Easter Everybody' single about hanging up a crucifix on your wall, It's the time that every Judas has a ball.
At Christmas even the religious songs get an airing but there seems to be a large gap in the market for songs celebrating Easter which is a question i posed to the Reverend who lives opposite who mulled it over for a few seconds and replied that deaths are not usually celebrated but births are so it would make sense that the we celebrate the birth of our Lord but...i glazed over at that point but it seems the dirth of Easter songs is down to Easter not being a time of celebration.  
While the Easter Bunny died for our sins remember that too much chocolate can be bad for you as chocolate contains something called Theobromine which is a poison and while i can't find an exact figure how much chocolate you would have to scoff before calling an ambulance, a fatal dose for a 44lb (3 stone) dog is 20kg so rounding that up, you can safely eat 6.6kg of chocolate for every stone of weight so this Easter put on a hat made of thorns, slam some Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the CD player and eat that 40lb solid chocolate bunny and let's reclaim Easter.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Petards Hoisted For Evans

It's amazing just how many Members of Parliament, the people who actually make the laws and regulations for the country, don't realise the implications of what their decision make to the public.
As the vast majority of the cabinet are millionaires living in leafy suburbs in huge houses and have never suffered hardship in their opulent lives, how can they possible know what a single mother living on benefits goes through but they still make the laws.
Such a case is Nigel Evans, the former Commons Deputy Speaker, who was an advocate for cutting legal aid and even chaired a meeting of one of the Committees that scrutinised the abolition of defence costs but then after facing a legal bill of £130,000 after his successful acquittal of sexual assault charges last week, has now expressed his regret for supporting legal aid cuts.
Evans said he was shocked to realise that he would not get the legal fees back following his acquittal and is saying that he now regrets his previous support for the cuts.
A glaring admission that the people who run the country have no idea of the turmoil and problems they cause because they do not have to live by the laws that they create and when something goes wrong and they do have to step outside their closeted World, they realise just what an almighty balls-up they have created for the rest of us.
Remember that when David Cameron and George Osborne are next on the TV telling us how their spiteful, ideological driven welfare cuts and the 81% rise in Food Banks are not related. Cameron has a £30m fortune and has never had a job outside of politics and Osborne worked as a towel folder for two weeks and stands to inherit a fortune from his parents wallpaper firm, as if they can possibly understand the choice between buying food or turning on the heating.
As for Evans, your made the bed, you lay in it.  

Blaming Each Other For Ukraine Crisis

As they say 'Truth is always the First causality of War' and there has been much spinning from all sides in the Ukranian crisis.
Russia doesn't want a countries whose sympathies lay with the West right on its doorstep while America sees the opportunity to get just that in Ukraine.
Russia has embarrassed America recently by spoiling its plans in Georgia, Syria and Iran and America seems to maintain a cold war mentality regarding Russia.
The European Union seems to not know what it wants, afraid of pushing Russia too hard as it supplies a good portion of the gas to Europe, but not particularly wanting to embrace Ukraine too much because its economy is a basketcase and the EU is having problems with the PIIGS nations dragging its currency down. Russia have been accused by the UN of exaggerating the assaults against ethnic Russians in Crimea to justify the integration of Crimea into the Russian Federation. The Russia Today news channel is reporting 11 deaths when Ukrainian government forces recaptured control of an airfield which had been controlled by pro-Russian protesters. International news organisations such as Reuters revealed warning shots had been fired and an officer had his hat knocked off in scuffles but no deaths.       
America has strongly denied any 'stirring of the pot' to bring about the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich in the early days but while it is saying that it is up to the Ukrainian people to decide their future, the leak telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should, and shouldn't, go into the new Government proves that they have been stirring it from the start.
Now with the Ukraine military making movements towards the eastern side of the country, Russian troops massed on the border of Ukraine and NATO talking about bolstering their presence in the area, we seem to be moving towards a place that could spin quickly out of control. 
As for foreign governments meddling in the affairs of another, the Russian, American and EU countries will always deny any involvement but when you are caught with your hand in the sweet jar, it is hard to deny but the rhetoric will continue and Russia will tell everyone it is all America's doing, America will say to all that it's Russia meddling and the EU will sit quietly hoping that it all just goes away.

Who We Are Suporting This Week

For those not paying close enough attention, it can be very confusing when it comes to who we are supporting in some of the trouble spots around the World.
Take the latest one in Ukraine for example, we supported the people in the first uprising against the elected Government but we are against the second one where the people are rising up against the ones who make up the self-elected Government. We have even turned a blind eye to them shooting their own citizens this time in the east of the country, we couldn't shout loud enough when the same military did it in Kiev. 
Before that was Egypt where we didn't support the people looking to boot out Mubarak, then we did, then we did. In Kosovo we called the KLF terrorists, then forgot about that when the Yugoslav Army retaliated to their slaughter and helped them into Government where they have been merrily ethnically cleaning Kosovo and are now described as 'gangsters' by the UN. Oops, hush that up. 
In Afghanistan, we went to war to remove the Government and then after over a decade of war, we ask them if they would like to be part of a new Government.
Then there was Libya where the nasty people we forced out of Afghanistan went to and who we then gave arms to and helped in removing Colonel Gaddafi. With the use of our weapons, the same people then went to other parts of Africa, Algeria and Mali, and caused them problems which we then had to go and remove with our military.
Syria has been boiling for a while and while we support the removal of Assad, we are unsure of the people that want to replace him but armed and supported them anyway.
Of course the ultimate we like you, now we don't was the Mujaheddin in the 80s who we armed and bankrolled to fight the Soviets who then changed name to Al Queada and promised to destroy us and have been trying ever since.
In Israel, we give unqualified support to the country that has been subjugating and oppressing the Palestinians for over 60 years while they steal their land, and then throw sanctions at Russia for taking over the Crimea after a referendum. We also backed elections in Palestine until they elected a party we didn't like and then went cold on them.
Of course while we are supporting uprisings in other countries, peaceful Occupy protests against the 1% in America were brutally put down by police wielding guns and chemical spray and any demonstrations in the UK have to gain the police stamp of approval otherwise demonstrators are kettled for the day.
Yes it is confusing but listen to the politicians and they will set you straight on exactly who we are supporting this week and why we are not the bad guys for stoking up protests in the first place and stomping around deciding who can, and can't, run their own countries.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A Case For The Mythbusters

With the mess cars have made of the environment, if only someone could invent a way to get more mileage from our petrol tanks, an invention like some sort of engine that vapourised the petrol to an extremely small size so it lasted longer and we could travel further on smaller amounts.
Of course the oil companies would not like it, they like us paying lots for the fuel we get which is why the Tom Ogle is interesting.
It was 1977 and while men were being photographed embarrassingly at weddings with moustaches, flares and ruffled shirts, Tom Ogle was inventing a system that could be fixed to any existing car engine, and enable the car to travel 100 miles on one gallon of petrol.
He claimed that the emissions were so clean that the exhaust pipe could be used as a hair dryer and in 1978 he was approached in by Shell who offered him $20 million for the patent and the blueprints to his invention. 
He refused, stating that Shell would simply shelve the idea and it would never see the light of day and patented the system himself.
Within 3 years Toms working partner on the system had died in a freak accident when a car fell off the jack and killed him and Tom himself had been shot at and then found dead of an apparent drugs and drink overdose.
Three months after his death, his original schematics and blueprints went missing from the Patent Office in Washington, DC. 
A case for the Mythbusters i reckon to see if the system works although i would hate to see Adam Savage or the Hyneman end up sleeping with the fishes courtesy of a Shell assassin but with that moustache, Jamie already has the 70's look down.

Blood Moon

'The moon has turned red in the skies above North and South America at the start of a rare series of lunar eclipses'. Sky News

'The Sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord comes'. Joel 2:31

'Raining blood, From a lacerated sky, Bleeding it's horror, Creating my structure, Now I shall reign in blood!' Slayer

'It's the End of the World as we know it'. REM

Reeva Forgotten In Pistorius Trial

I had my reservations about the televising of the Oscar Pistorius trial at first but i was enthralled as the defence and prosecution put their cases.
As the trial continues and we hear more and more details of the case, how the events unfolded and how Reeva died in his bathroom, i'm not so sure showing it live on the television before a Worldwide audience is such a good idea. 
We may well still have got the theatrics and the passing of the bucket but i can't help that feel everyone involved is well aware they are being watched, and judged, but an audience of millions.
Above all that, it was the description of how Reeva died, the clinical explanation of 'how her head exploded' that made me feel that this really isn't the sort of thing that we should be enthralled by.
A young woman was killed, whether he meant it or not, and that seems to be secondary amidst the showmanship and drama which seems to have become the Oscar and prosecutor Gerrie Nel show.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Black Ring Explained

A video of a mysterious black ring hovering in the sky over Leamington Spa has caused a bit of a commotion, especially as an army of experts cannot explain it.
The ring was captured on a phone video camera and appears to hang around Warwick Castle for around three minutes before vanishing.
Obviously a fake everyone said but Iain McArthur, an expert at Audio Video Forensics said: "It doesn't look like it's faked. It's not like other video of unexplained sightings in particular the hazy edges to the black circle'.
Not a fake so obviously some sort of weather phenomenon everyone then said. 'There's no meteorological reason why it's happened' said the MET Office, 'and there was nothing unusual happening in Leamington Spa that day, we've checked'.
Some sort of insect swarm everyone then suggested hopefully but Frederic Tripet, an entomologist at Keele University explained that: 'Although insects do swarm when mating, mating is not done as high or in ring formation'.
Birds then, it has to be birds everyone then said looking towards Richard James, wildlife adviser at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds who shook his head and explained 'Birds won't form a shape like this. It's certainly not birds'.
So it isn't faked and isn't insects or birds or some sort of bizarre weather event and because it hung around for three minutes it certainly isn't someone chucking a hula hoop in the air and videoing it which was my first thought.  
Of course we shouldn't jump to any crazy conclusions and we keep our senses about us and not read more into what probably has a sensible explanation which is this is a reconnaissance mission sent ahead before the main alien invasion party. Seems obvious to me.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

UKIP: Party Of Fruitcakes, Loonies And Closet Racists

Politicians lie, or spin, and the danger is that voters believe the lies which is why it is shocking that UKIP, who should be a fringe party, are picking up votes as Nigel Farage's anti-Europe party are now at an all-time high as a fifth of voters say they will back the United Kingdom Independence Party.
Much as the Lib Dems were previously, UKIP are becoming the protest party to vote for as voters become disillusioned with the three main parties.
Labour and the Lib Dems are happy to ignore the rise of the right wing UKIP as it is damaging the Tories who react to the threat by shifting further to the right to placate their own fringe members.
While all the main parties are widely pro-Europe, UKIP's leader is invited onto news programmes to provide a balance and the real danger is that UKIP have become a serious contender for coalition partnership in 2015. 
This is UKIP who are part of the group Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD), a collection of far right parties who had to ban BNP members from joining them which should raise eyebrows as what do the racists hear in the UKIP message that they find so attractive?
With his folksy way and 'one of the people' persona, i can see why some would be charmed by Nigel Farage when you look at the identikit leaders of the main parties but to vote for UKIP because you the leader likes to be photographed with a fa and a pint is a disaster waiting to happen.
Policies that include being anti-gay marriage, anti-burquas, anti-EU and seeking to abolish Working Tax Credits.
They want to end maternity and sick pay and abolish the right for workers to challenge unfair dismissal or discrimination.
They want an end to the higher rate of income tax, maintain Britain’s nuclear deterrent and introduce the American style 'three strikes' sentencing policy and build more nuclear power stations while closing wind farms and reduce the public service by another 2 million jobs.
In the UKIP barrel of policies you would be hard pressed to find one good apple amongst the rotten ones which is why UKIP being accepted as part of the British political furniture is not just frightening but downright dangerous.
They should stay on the fringe with the rest of the fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Electric Teapot??

Way back in the late 18th Century, demonstrators boarded British ships in Boston harbour and threw the cargo of 342 chests of tea into the sea. The British government responded by not allowing America to be part of our empire anymore and the Americans have been bitter about it ever since which has manifested itself in an aversion to drinking tea.
Therefore they deliberately drink tea cold and defile it with mint and lemon but even i was shocked when i found out today that electric kettles are rarer than a brain cell on the Fox News Channel over there.
In what must pass for a reasonable excuse to impose UN sanctions on them, Americans heat their tea when they do bother to heat it at all by putting the mug in the microwave.
Searching Google i found Americans not only asking 'what's a kettle' but even those who did have an inkling were referring to it as an 'electric tea pot!' 
It appears that Americans who are not radiating their beverage with microwaves are using the olde world style kettles on the hob. My kettle has a blue strobe light that flashes red when the water is hot enough, how can a kettle that whistles even begin to compare with that in the kitchen coolness stakes?
Electric kettles are yet another thing that Americans have missed out on when it split from Britain along with a Royal family, proper football, the letter 'u' in words and humorously named desserts. Shame.

Global Dimming

Who would have thought that two centuries of filling the atmosphere with pollutants would have a negative effect on us down here on the ground but it seems that as well as more extreme weather its also getting darker.
Scientists looking at five decades of sunlight measurements have concluded that air pollutants caused by burning fossil fuels are reflecting sunlight back into space, preventing it reaching the surface meaning the earth has been made slightly darker.
Comparing light records from all around the world, scientists and found that some places dimmed more than others but on average the amount of sunlight that bathed the Earth has dimmed by 1-2% globally per decade between the 1950s and the 1990s.
Named 'Global Dimming' it does come with the rather dulled silver lining that as the Earth warms up and weather becomes more extreme, we won't be able to see our houses being blown away or our furniture bobbing off along the flooded streets.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Tamiflu Scandal

Private companies very reason for existing is to make money and when the prime objective of making a profit comes into conflict with any other objective, there is no doubt as to the outcome as the breaking Tamiflu scandal is proving. 
Between 2004 and 2009, amidst a swine flu and bird flu scare, the UK government spent £500m stockpiling Tamiflu in the belief that it would help prevent serious side-effects from these flu infections.
In 2008, the UK Government asked the Cochrane Collaboration to review the drug that they were buying hundreds of millions of pounds worth but six years later Roche are still withholding vital information on how well its drug works as Roche demand Cochrane Collaboration sign a contract requiring secrecy about the methods and results of trials.
After half a decade of piecing together all the clinical information and Roche coming under pressure from the European Ombudsman and several British select committees, they handed over the review data which allowed the Cochrane Collaboration to finish their review and today announce that Tamiflu has little or no impact on flu infection and actually has significant side-effects such as vomiting, severe headaches and psychiatric problems.
Roche obviously took advantage of panic and fear and cashed in with no conscience of the the health of the patients or the half a billion from the British taxpayer.
One of the largest shareholders in Tamiflu is an American named Donald Rumsfeld who made over $1m from the Tamiflu sales but this wouldn't be the first time that he was part of a team that scammed the British public.

Time For Another Recession

So how was the recession for you? If you were on of the unlucky ones who lost their jobs and home then better luck next time because as we are barely out of this one, the IMF are warning that another one is on its way.
That's the problem with Capitalism, it falls over time and time again and it is the little guy who gets hit but as the people who run these things rely on Capitalism to maintain their large houses and even bigger bank accounts, it isn't going anywhere soon so keep that envelope for 'Sell Your Gold' handy because they haven't had the decency to wait a few years between economic collapses this time.
Head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has issued a warning to world leaders that a combination of risky investments in the US, difficulties in emerging economies, low inflation in the eurozone and low growth and declining wages are undermining the stability of the financial system.
Sounds like we are being buttered up for yet more austerity cuts to pay for yet another global economic crisis we never caused.
After decades of the Capitalism experiment there is precious little evidence of any 'trickle-down' anywhere but no shortage of the poorest handing money up to keep the faulty Capitalism system working at least long enough for one more hurrah so they can steal what little money remains with the poor.
Experts have put the figure hidden away in secretive offshore account by the super-rich at £21 trillion but the Governments continue to close a few libraries and cut disability benefits instead thinking that'll solve the problem instead of actually doing something about tax evasion.  
Tent shops around the St. Pauls area will be the only ones making any profit this summer.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Self-Defence Not Much Of A Case For Pistorius

Not sure whether the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp by Oscar Pistorius was tragic accident or murder and we won't find out for a few more months yet as the wheels of justice in South Africa seemingly turn very slowly.
From the parts of the proceedings that i have heard so far, the Pistorius case sounds extremely flimsy so i am fully expecting the prosecutor to unpick his chain of events. 
Already there are questions over why neighbours reporting the sound of shouting and screaming before hearing the gunfire, how the gun's holster was found under the side of the bed where Steenkamp was sleeping so Pistorius would have seen she wasn't there, how the angle of the shots fired through the door show that he fired down and was therefore wearing his artificial legs while Pistorius says he did not put on the prosthetics and why he told the guards at the gated estate that everything was 'all right' when they called to check after reports of gunfire at the house.
What i don't understand is the defence that he thought it was a burglar locked in the toilet which is why he shot four times into the bathroom.
If the 'burglar' was locked in the toilet and he was outside armed with a powerful weapon, why not phone the guard or the police? If Pistorius wanted a show of force' to show the 'burglar' that he really was out there with a gun, shoot into the floor or wall, not into the room where he or she was.
If it wasn't his girlfriend on the other side, if it was someone intent on ransacking the house, he still would have killed someone that he didn't need to kill.
Surely self-defence can't be a just cause for murder or manslaughter if the person you are supposedly defending yourself against has locked themselves inside a toilet and you are outside with a gun. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Treating Bee Stings

Summers coming and so are the bitey, stingy things that find a bit of bare flesh irresistible but when the inevitable happens and we are reaching for the lotion, where is the most painful part of the body to receive the sting?
A student has bravely done the decent thing and allowed bees to sting him 190 times in all areas of his body to find out which part it hurts the most and found that the most painful area was the inside of the nostril.
'When you get stung there your whole body reacts. I would not recommend it' he said.
Unless you are going to spend June, July and August with cotton wool up your nose, the nostril is as good a place as any for an angry wasp to vent his spleen against humans but being stung is a price we pay for having a summer so we will be bitten or stung somewhere and the NHS have some handy tips how to deal with it.
The NHS website suggests pulling the stinger out, it is an old wives tale that it has to be removed with a credit card or tweezers, it is important to just get it out and fingers are fine.
Take ibuprofen or aspirin for the pain and apply ice wrapped in fabric to the bee sting for 20 minutes.
An alternative to ice is wet mud or even toothpaste which is also good for drying out zits but that's another students project.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bush Is Back

We have a saying here that particularly stupid people should act their age and not their shoe size but read a few right wing blogs and you will quickly realise that acting their show size would actually mean an increase in their IQ.
A man who knows all about shoes as he had enough thrown at him during his time as President is George W Bush who is back in the news with his artistic efforts of World leaders.
'I'm not very good' he said as a way to pre-empt the chorus of everyone saying that he was not very good but having the dumb Texan back in the papers is a fine excuse to reminisce over some of the greatest Bush quotes.  
Quotes such as: 'They misunderestimated me' and 'For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America and we're going to do something about it'.
Then there was classic Bushisms like: 'when we talk about war, we're really talking about peace', 'Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?' and on leaving the White House the brilliant 'My first speech since I was the president of the United States and I couldn't think of a better place to give it than Canada'.
My personal favourites are the gloriously inept 'Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we, they never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we' and 'The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur'.
Oh George, if we put aside the fact that you were such a dangerous, intellectually stunted, warmongering moron, you were quite entertaining. 

Happy New Tax Year!

I'm not sure why April 6th is the start of the new Tax year, it seems a bit of a strange date but for whatever reason today is the first day of the new tax year so enjoy that extra £600 personal allowances and remember to check your payslips that you are on code 1000L and HMRC are not skimping on you.
As many students mistakenly think every year and to their amazement find out every year, student status does not exempt you from paying tax and if the code is wrong and you don't pay enough tax at the end of the tax year, the employer is not liable to pay the shortfall, you are as you received the extra and therefore you need to repay it.
Tax Freedom Day is the first day of the year in which a nation as a whole has theoretically earned enough income to fund its annual tax burden and that date in the UK is September 3, 2014, which is 150 days from today.
The shortest is India with 74 days and the longest is Norway where they have to work for 210 days until their tax burden is paid and the country is no longer working to pay the government.
As the tax we pay goes to pay the salary of nurses, policemen, military, teachers and roads, hospitals, prisons, schools, the NHS and plenty of the essentials of life, it is understandable that we get angry when we hear about people cheating the benefit system to a cost of £16.9 million of our money.
Strangely, the amount of tax lost through avoidance schemes such as off shore accountants and schemes which minimise the amount of tax paid such as the ones Jimmy Carr, Chris Moyles, Gary Barlow and Mark Owen have been caught dealing in deprives the Government of £35bn, it seems the Government are targeting the wrong people as an extra £35bn would sure pay off a large chunk of the money the greedy bankers cost us.

You Still Support These People?

More than 1,500 Palestinian children have died at the hands of Israeli forces since 2000, the Palestinian Authority's minister of social affairs, Kamal Sharafi, said Saturday, on Palestinian Children's Day.
In addition to the 1,520 children that have been killed, another 6,000 have been injured and more than 10,000 arrested.
In March 2013, a United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) report concluded that Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military in the West Bank are “systematically” ill-treated, which is a violation of international law.
Each year, some 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17 – mainly boys – are arrested, interrogated, and detained by Israel's army, police, and security agents, UNICEF said in the 22-page document.
According to the report, the ill-treatment often begins at the point of arrest, when children are woken byheavily-armed soldiers and forcibly brought to an interrogation centre 'tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived and kept in a state of extreme fear'.
In June 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) issued a report stating that thousands of Palestinian children were systematically injured, tortured, and used as human shields by Israel.
During the 10-year period examined by UN human rights experts, up to 7,000 children aged 9 to 17 were arrested, interrogated and kept captive, CRC said in the report.   
There you go America, that's the people your Government and tax dollars support. Proud of that?

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ethics Of Genetic Engineering

It is a sad fact of life that parents can pass on genetic defaults such as cystic fibrosis, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's to their children.
Since science managed to map the human genome in 2000, the idea of genetic engineering has been raised numerous times but the ethics of tinkering with the make-up of a foetus is a minefield.
The ability to halt a child suffering from life threatening or life altering diseases should be a no-brainer and if we have the ability then yes, we should be doing it.
If a certain harmful genetic trait like a form of cancer or deafness can be switched off before birth then gene manipulation should be offered to the parents who undoubtedly would agree to it.
The pause for thought comes when you consider the reverse side of the argument that comes with gene manipulation, designer babies.
If it is just a case of simply 'turning off' certain genes to stop terible diseases and conditions developing, it is the same case for a scientist to turn on the gene that gives perfect hair, skin or choice of eye colour and if that was offered, not many parents would refuse.
Who would turn down the chance that their child could gain a gene upgrade and a small tweak could mean an advantage at school or playing sports or having acne free, perfectly smooth skin.
The ethics of genetic engineering are extraordinarily complex but it seems we can't open the door for one without also throwing it open for the other.
We could start down that road and it will then be impossible to stop and the future of humanity could be a split between those engineered to be healthier and smarter and those that aren't but then the flipside is, we also have the power to stop painful and fatal conditions and shouldn't that be the overriding factor, not how the knowledge could be abused?  
A moral dilemma that anyone with a debilitating disease would probably find easy to answer.

This Will Teach 'em

McDonalds, it has announced, is closing its outlets in Crimea.
This follows hot on the heels of news that Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake have had to cancel concerts in Finland as the venue where both singers were set to perform is owned by a Russian blacklisted by the White House. 
Silver linings and all that then, especially if you are a Finnish music lover or a Crimean with tastebuds.

Cobain 20th Anniversary

Just as we can't stop people stupidly killing themselves, we also can't stop the steady march of time and it is now 20 years since Kurt Cobain put a gun to his head and bought his pitifully young life to an end.
The late 80s and early nineties was a barren spell in music, Guns 'N' Roses being the only highlight and they had morphed into a stadium band and by then were turning out rock ballads with full orchestra accompaniment such as November Rain so Nirvana and the Grunge scene they introduced arrived just at the right time.
He wasn't the best guitarist and his voice could never be described as velvety but the Nevermind album was immense, 'Smells like Teen Spirit' was one of those songs that is always turned up when it comes on the radio.
By the time Cobain took his own life Nirvana were past their prime, the Unplugged album was a disappointment and the edge had gone and they had even added another guitarist as Cobain's drug ravaged brain was apparently forgetting the chords of his own songs.
Cobain's bands contribution only lasted seven years, the last few seemingly to go through the motions as Cobain spiralled downwards towards his demise, but their efforts in the history of music cannot be underestimated, Nevermind especially, Bleach and In Utero to a lesser extent and the Unplugged album is best forgotten.
Like all the best bands, Nirvana exploded out of nowhere and then just as quickly went away again but unfortunately Cobain is not around to see his legacy and teenagers who were not even born when he died, wearing t-shirts remembering the band that he fronted.

That's Hal?

A few weeks ago I had one of those discussions with colleagues about decent actors that we don't see around anymore, such as David Hyde Pierce (Niles) from Frasier and Paul Gross ( Benton) from Due South. I was always disappointed that Alan Alda of MASH fame didn't do more and how some actors seem to go on a do well even though they never really shone when they were in the spotlight, Cliff and Norm from Cheers for example.
One guy that was mentioned was the man who played Hal in 'Malcom in the Middle' who i thought played the part of the loopy husband brilliantly and who, i was told, was now playing the main character in Breaking Bad.
I looked at his picture and just assumed that the person who said it had been sniffing the Tipp-ex again and ignored them.
Turns out it IS him, Bryan Cranston, so kudos to the make-up team on that show because it certainly fooled me. I have always maintained that all four actors from The Seinfeld show should have been banned from ever appearing on TV ever again and hey presto, i haven't seen any of them in anything else since or as i have proved here, i may have but just didn't know it was them.        
    

Friday, 4 April 2014

Shut Up Anne

Some people will take any and every chance they can get to bash the Royals for daring to have an opinion and to express it. Royals are immediately jumped on and branded idiots and the fact that they are not even British will be used maliciously against them. 
With that in mind, Princess Anne has called for the lifting of the ban on gassing badgers and repeated her previous claim that horses should be farmed for their meat.
On first reading i agreed that they should be culled and their numbers cut as they are vermin and there are just far too many of them but then i realised that it was the badgers she was referring to and not her family.
While i do not advocate gassing the royals, they should certainly stay at home and keep quiet. Home for them being Athens and Berlin obviously.

65 Years Of NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) celebrates its 65th birthday today, an organisation that spent the first 42 years keeping its armies at home but since the implosion of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in 1991, found a renewed willingness to send them in to battle for the next 23.
Iraq, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Libya have all been on the receiving end of NATO weaponry since 1991 as well as the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
With the rapidly changing nature of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) into a military alliance between China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, maybe an opposing alliance with just as much firepower is when is needed to cool NATO heels and send it back to being the kind of non-warmongering alliance that it was for the first 42 years.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Ring Of Fire



As Johnny Cash once warned, the Ring of Fire is not to be messed with and he should know as he fell into it, possibly whilst stoned and drunk, and as he said it burned, burned, burned.  
Fifty years after Cash warned about it, burns units around the countries of the Pacific basin could be getting busy as the real Ring of Fire is waking up following a string of earthquakes in the region.
About 90% of the world's earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire and a rash of earthquakes within the last week along a section of the Earth infamous for seismic activity is causing concern that more tremors will occur soon.
Seismologists say that recent activity within this region doesn't necessarily mean that other tectonic plates will now adjust their position but warned that Tuesday’s 8.2 magnitude quake in Chile was preceded by a magnitude 6.7 tremor two weeks earlier.
'One of the possible scenarios that we're monitoring right now is that it is still possible that this earthquake is actually a foreshock to a much bigger earthquake. For the sake of our Chilean friends, we hope that it doesn't happen'.
And we all thought that country music was just men in cowboy hats singing miserable songs about their wives leaving them and their dogs dying.

Another Blow For America's Credibility

When Raul Castro took over the reins of Cuba, he relaxed the laws on the use of mobile technology and soon Cuban youngsters were signing up for ZunZuneo, a network along the lines of Twitter, unbeknown to them that it was actually a United States engineered text messaging service to try and spread unrest in the Communist country.
The project was financed by the US Agency for international development (USAID), best known for overseeing billions of dollars in US humanitarian aid, and the plan was to gain users by allowing access to light news stories, such as baseball results, music and weather updates and then introduce political stories aimed at pushing them toward dissent and causing unrest with the result being a 'Cuban Spring'.
Interest was being lost in the project with every month that passed, and, by the summer of 2012, Cubans began to complain that the service was inconsistent, and then one day it just disappeared.
A White House spokesman has said that he was not aware of individuals in the White House who were aware of the program and that President Obama does support efforts to expand communications in Cuba.
Apart from being exposed attempting to cause an uprising in another country, the USAID will now be suspected of conducting covert actions under the3 guise of delivering aid to the world's poor and vulnerable, a point made by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security Subcommittee who said: 'USAID is flying the American flag and should be recognised around the globe as an honest broker of doing good. If they start participating in covert, subversive activities, the credibility of the United States is diminished'.
Diminished further i think he meant as America has long ceased being viewed as an honest broker.

Another Corrupt MP: Maria Miller

Another day and another member of Parliament apologising for having her nose in the trough and claiming thousands of pounds in expenses for which she was not entitled to.
Today it was the turn of the MP for Basingstoke, Maria Miller, to announce how sorry she was for any misunderstanding as an investigation into her expenses ordered her to and pay back £5,800 she wrongly claimed.
The Culture Secretary gave a brief apology for her approach to the inquiry in the House of Commons following a report by the sleaze watchdog, taking just 30 seconds to say: 'I fully accept the recommendations of the committee and thank them for bringing this matter to an end'.
David Cameron said: 'Mrs Miller will keep her job and she is doing an excellent job as Culture Secretary and will continue to do that'.
The line 'approach to the inquiry' is interesting and the report shows that over the length of the two years inquiry, Mrs Miller had not only dragged her heels in providing the information the investigation requested, but plain didn't provide it or provided only parts of it.
'Much of the delay and difficulty in this case has arisen from incomplete documentation and fragmentary information. Mrs Miller has to carry significant responsibility for that' states the reports conclusion and notes that Mrs Miller responses to the inquires questions were 'vague or imprecise'.
The watchdog found that she had claimed repayments on a mortgage of £525,000 in 2008-09 but had claimed the mortgage was £425,000 in previous years.
After two years of the inquiry in which the investigation officer said 'Mrs Miller attempted to discredit both the Memorandum and myself' including her claim that she was 'unable to obtain' the mortgage payment information before 2008-09 but which the investigation found available online, she is now apologising for an error.
An error she refused to accept she made for two years and dragged her feet trying to clear up and did her best to make as difficult as possible to investigate.
That's why voters have lost interest in politics, even when the sleazy MP's are caught with their hands in the till cheating the taxpayer, they just need to say sorry and repay what they swindled from us and all is peachy.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sanction On Russia But None on Israel

The Russian bashing continues unabated as NASA announce they are severing ties with Russia because of its actions in Ukraine.
Considering just last week a Russian rocket delivered three astronauts, including American Steve Swanson to the International Space Station, Putin has not said 'good luck getting Mr Swanson back Obama' so yet another ill-considered rant at Russia which is starting to look like a spot of Russia bashing.
Maybe because Putin embarrassed Obama over his plans to attack Syria after John Kerry's gaff but the attempts to portray Russia as some sort of 19th-century aggressor invading its neighbours falls apart when you consider the actions of the US supporting Israel to the hilt over what it has been doing to its neighbour for the past 60 years.    
Israel has not only annexed the Golan Heights and the Shebaa Farms from Syria but has colonised the West Bank and Gaza from the Palestinians with plans to integrate them fully into Israel. Yesterday they announced to build another 700 apartments on Palestinian land in East Jerusalem so the West's political leaders are making big noises about Putin making a land grab for Russia in Crimea while the Israeli land grab continues without a squeak apart from the Palestinians who are roundly ignored.
From here it seems that what Israel and Russia are doing is pretty much the same thing but one country gets sanctions and ostracised, the other is handed $3.1 billion in aid.
Someone should ask Obama and Kerry and the other Washington hypocrites if they are imposing sanctions and boycotts on Russia over its military intervention in Crimea, why not the same on Israel over its long standing, brutal military occupation of Palestine?