Wednesday, 29 April 2015

As Economies Sink, Why Not Try Something Else?

I have never really understood how the USA can have a A++ rating when it is over $17 trillion in debt but then i am not an economist but you don't to be to know that if you lend money someone already massively in debt, you can wave goodbye to it.
Now the world’s biggest economy has come to a virtual standstill with the Federal Reserve announcing growth had slowed to an annual rate of just 0.2% in the first quarter and the UK economy isn't doing much better with 0.3% growth which isn't what the Conservative Party want to hear a week away from the election.
At the same time, we also hear that the gap between the rich and the poor has grown even wider with the the combined wealth of Britain's 1,000 richest people more than doubling over the past decade.
That would be the past decade when the rest of us have been suffering under austerity which we was promised was needed to revive the economy and make everything better again after the bankers screwed us all over royally.
Obviously, if those at the top have more money but us at the bottom have less, then the famous trickle-down effect isn't working, it has just led to increasing levels of inequality, stagnating wages and a flat lining economy.
So if the trickle down isn't doing as promised by pandering to the rich with tax cuts and sweetheart deals, why not try the opposite and squeeze them with higher rates of tax on the rich and corporations, close every tax loophole and force them to pay their fair share.
We gave their idea a go and it stinks so let's have more financial incentives for the poor at the bottom and more punitive taxation for the rich at the top and let's see what happens.
As the figures show we are heading in the direction of yet another recession, so what is there to lose?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Conservative Pledges

Just under two weeks to go and all the parties are promising us the moon to 'bribe' us to vote for them but we know what happens, they get into power and suddenly the promises are kicked into the long grass or forgotten altogether.
At the last election David Cameron made some very clear promises so maybe we can get a view on how well the Conservatives kept their promises to the electorate last time to get an idea of what we can expect from them this time.

1. No cuts to front-line services
David Cameron told Andrew Marr the weekend before the general election that a Conservative government would not cut any front-line services.
'What I can tell you is, any cabinet minister, if I win the election, who comes to me and says: "Here are my plans," and they involve front-line reductions, they'll be sent straight back to their department to go away and think again'.
Since then, 5,870 NHS nurses, 7,968 hospital beds, a third of ambulance stations, 5,362 firefighters and 6,800 front-line police officers have been cut.

2. No plans to raise VAT
In an interview with Jeremy Paxman on 23 April 2010, Cameron said: 'We have absolutely no plans to raise VAT'. 
VAT was subsequently raised from 17.5% to 20% in George Osborne's emergency Budget.

3. I wouldn't means test child benefit

At a pre-election Cameron Direct event, the Tory leader pledged: 'I'm not going to flannel you, I'm going to give it to you straight. I like the child benefit, I wouldn't change child benefit, I wouldn't means-test it, I don't think that is a good idea'.
The coalition went on to abolish the benefit for higher earners in the Spending Review and froze it for three years.

4. No reorganisation of NHS
The Conservatives repeatedly promised before the general election that there would be no more 'top-down reorganisations of the NHS. In a speech at the Royal College of Pathologists on 2 November 2009, Cameron said: 'With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS'.
In his Conservative conference speech, he said: 'I make this commitment to the NHS and all who work in it. No more pointless reorganisations'.
The coalition went on to launch the biggest top-down reorganisation of the NHS in its history.

5. No plans to get rid of Education Maintenance Allowances.
At a Cameron Direct event in January 2010, Cameron said: 'We've looked at educational maintenance allowances and we haven't announced any plan to get rid of them'. Challenged to firm up his pledge, he added: 'I said we don't have any plans to get rid of them,. it's one of those things the Labour Party keep putting out that we are but we're not."
Nine months later, the coalition announced the abolition of EMA.

With this track record maybe instead of giving the Conservatives and David Cameron the keys to 10 Downing Street,it might be better to change the locks.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Charity Doesn't Begin At Home

I do find it hard to believe that some people are complaining about the foreign aid we donate to people around the world, a miserly 0.7% of GDP to help people who have nothing.
Seems they have no problem with spending 2% of GDP on defence spending to blow people up but then i have never understood the thinking of those people who tend to be firmly on the right hand side of the political argument.
As the sixth richest nation, we should be helping out others and not shaking our heads as another disaster strikes and then ignoring it as if it isn't our problem.
Nepal's vulnerable are now at most in need of our help, as they look upon their shattered towns and villages and Britain has donated £5 million which will go towards humanitarian assistance for those who have lost everything.
Shamefully the 2% will continue to be spent on weapons and missiles so we can reduce towns and cities to rubble and inflict a death toll as high as any earthquake while some will continue to moan about the 0.7% to rebuild lives and shame on them because Charity doesn't begin at home, it begins where it is most needed, wherever that is.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Own Goal For Cameron

My team, Arsenal, are playing Aston Villa in the FA Cup Final at the end of May and i assumed that
everyone that isn't an Aston Villa fan or a Conservative will be hoping that the Gunners turn them
over and give them a good shellacking but the Prime Minister has gone and done a sneaky one and changed teams.
In an interview he was talking about muli-culturalism and said that people cab support any team they like but 'I'd rather you supported West Ham'.
Tackled by journalists over his previous football allegiance to the Villains, Cameron explained: 'I'm a Villa fan. I must have been overcome by something this morning'. 
Some may say that he's got so used to telling lies that he is no longer capable of telling the truth but i prefer to be more charitable and say that Dave is one of us, we're all in this together and he's just an ordinary bloke feeling the pressure and it is how he runs the country that he should be judged on.
Hang on...

Friday, 24 April 2015

Feeling Flushed

Times are hard and up and down the USA people are sitting there on the floor staring at the ceiling as they sold their tv and furniture to pay the rent this month and wondering where they are going to get the money to pay the next instalment of the payday loan.
It is a worry but you can stop worrying because as the old saying goes, where's there's muck there's brass and now you can earn brass for your muck because an organisation called OpenBiome is literally paying to get their hands on your poop.    
Since 2013, OpenBiome has been processing and shipping loads of it all over the USA. The frozen stool is introduced into the gut of patients who suffer from C. difficile but a shortage of donors has led them to advertise their business and appeal for donations.
A healthy poop is worth $40 a sample but you have to pass a test and medical questionnaire but if you pass them it's ker-ching so get off your butt and put it down again at one of the nationwide banks just waiting for your deposit.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Libyan Migrants Are Our Fault

The people who engineered it may dismiss the idea that they are in some way responsible for the death of hundreds in the Mediterranean as 'distasteful' but it is undeniable that the 2011 military intervention against Libya is linked directly to the thousands taking their lives in their hands to flee North Africa.
Despite plenty of warnings that we were leaving Libya in the hands of the same terrorists who we had been fighting in Iraq and Syria, we raised the 'Mission Accomplished' banner and left them to their own devices which was to fight each other for power and resources.
Libya was the third in line this century after Afghanistan and Iraq to bear the brunt of unwise western military intervention in the name of democracy, freedom or to avoid a humanitarian crisis (delete as applicable) only for us to make everything a damn sight worse for the poor citizens who lived there and then see us cut and run.
It isn't just a Conservative Party thing either, what Tony Blair and his Labour Party did in Iraq and Afghanistan would see almost any other leader in a cell at the Hague awaiting trial so it seems left wing or right wing, we have to go in guns blazing and not give a worry about the consequences.
Syria and Iran would be in very same place if it was not for the unfavourable conditions and the sleight of hand over the Libyan resolution.
The deaths of people fleeing Libya after ISIS has moved in is our fault so we should take the moral responsibility for not only cleaning up our mess but ensuring that Libya is run by a stable government and free of terrorists. 
Every death of a migrant in the Mediterranean sea is directly linked to David Cameron's decision in 2011 and he can try to shrug it off as much as he wants but the link is undeniable as is the chaos resulting from Tony Blair's in 2001 and 2003.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Pyatt Caught Out Again

George W Bush once famously mangled the phrase 'Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on you' so no idea what it means when you get caught out a third time as US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt has been.
He has claimed that Russia’s military is continuing to expand its presence in eastern Ukraine and for proof he posted a picture of an air defence system.
If only it hadn't been that the picture was over two years old and taken from an air show in Moscow he might have got away with it, damn those people and their need for reliable information when they are trying to stoke up up another conflict.
Last September, he was showing off the ongoing US-Kiev military exercises in Ukraine with pictures he provided from that morning which turned out to be months old and widely published elsewhere along with a YouTube video of a tank which had been uploaded a year previously.
Then there was the the time Pyatt posted on Twitter what he said were satellite photos proving there are Russian artillery systems stationed near the town of Lomuvatka, Ukraine, only for it to turn out to be pictures of the Russians in Georgia in 2008.
Geoffrey Pyatt was the man on the other end of the now infamous leaked Victoria Nuland call and the 'Fuck the EU' quote as the U.S. State Department got caught red handed discussing who they were going to install in the Ukrainian government after the fall of Yanukovich.
You have to keep an eye on these guys it seems because as GWB also said about his critics, 'They misunderestimated me' and we should never misunderestimate just how stupid some people really are.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Worrying For The Labour Party

Of course we all want to see the back of David Cameron and the Conservative Party, they have been awful, and for a moment back there it looked as though UKIP was going to split the right wing vote and it would be all sunshine and lollipops as Ed Miliband and his band of merry men and women strolled into Downing Street.
While we did worry about a rampant Green Party taking left-wing votes, what we didn't reckon on was the Scottish National Party doing it.
At present the Labour Party hold 41 of the 59 seats in Scotland but with the rise of the SNP, Labour could be facing a meltdown north of the border and for every seat they lose in Scotland they will have to gain in England, Wales or Northern Ireland as well as capture the extra 68 they need to reach 326 and hand the keys to Ed so if they lose 30 up there, they will have to add another 98 without losing any seats down here.  
Tough call and since Nigel Farage and his UKIPPERS seem to have imploded, the expected splicing off of the Conservative vote may not be as severe as first thought.
Worst case scenario, the Conservatives gain power as the largest party and get to carry on what they have been doing unscuppered by the pesky Lib Dems but the likely scenario appears to be a coalition but David Cameron retaining power as Prime Minister and Ed Miliband falling on his sword.
With three weeks to go it can still all change and Google Trends is still showing a healthy lead for the Labour Party but as they are starting 48 seats behind the Conservatives, it may not be enough if the Scots leave Labour en mass for the SNP.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Greatest Threat To Our Planet

It does amuse me, or rather it would if it wasn't so serious, that there are STILL some people out there who refuse to accept that the climate is changing and not for the better.
Predictably the hard of thinking were out in force today after President Obama's speech where he said that Climate Change was the greatest threat to our planet and that: 'The world is looking to the United States to lead'.
Actually Barack for the past few decades we have been looking at the United States and yelling 'OI YANKS, STOP POLLUTING THE PLANET' as you lot were the worst culprits but nice to see that you have caught up with us and are going to do something about it before we all disappear under the English Channel over here.
Amidst the replies on US websites condemning the 'conspiracy' and the 'myth' of climate change, my favourite response was from the Canadian who berated anyone who bought into the idea that we are committing suicide by ruining the atmosphere as ignorant of the facts and then ended his rant by claiming China was in Europe. Awkward.
Anyway, the facts are all out there if you want to go and have a look, i'm not going to link to them, i'm not your mother, go look yourself and educate yourself.      

The most reliable argument from climate change deniers is that the planet has gone through cycles of warming and cooling and this is just one of those times.
True, the planet has warmed and cooled previously but the last time it took 10,000 years for the CO2 levels to raise by 100 parts per million, we have raised it from 280 to 379 parts per million in the last 150 years.

Another common argument is changes in the Sun via Sun Spots or some other Solar activity but since 1978, a series of satellite instruments have measured the energy output of the sun directly. The satellite data show a very slight drop in the amount of energy the Sun has given off over this time period so the sun doesn't appear to be responsible for the warming trend observed over the past 30 years. Want another try?

How about the Global sea level rising? In the last century the sea level rose by 170mm, in the 15 years of this century so far it has raised by 47mm so we are in line for a 319mm rise this century.

Global temperature rise? The 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.

The last refuge of the ignorant is a shrug and say a rise of 1 or 2C, big deal, means warmer summers which is quite right.
One or two extra degrees may sound like a small amount, but even the smallest changes in global temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment, the average temperatures were only 5-9C less than today during the last ice age so a few degrees can make a massive difference.

As i said up above, doesn't matter to me if you want to ignore the 98% of climate scientists and the mountains of evidence, most which you can see with your own eyes if you open them, but be prepared to be dismissed as ignorant cranks.
And for crying out loud buy an Atlas, it's embarrassing.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Zero Compassion For Zero Hours From Tories

Zero hour contracts have been quite rightly attacked in the election campaign with all parties attacking the practise that sees an employee receiving a text message the night before to tell them whether they have any work in the morning.
On last nights debate, Labour's Ed Miliband pledged to ban 'exploitative zero-hours contracts' and 'make sure people are given more secure contracts if they are working for an employer for three months'.
Much has been made that the number of zero-hours contracts has tripled since 2010 and as many as 2.3% of the population in employment are now subject to these contracts.
The Conservatives have received much of the flak for not cracking down on the employers but Ian Duncan Smith, the Conservative work and pensions secretary, is now on the case and he has a solution, change the name.
'Zero-hours contracts should be rebranded as flexible-hours contracts' was his suggestion before going on to explain that far from seeking to end the contracts that do not guarantee any hours of employment, 'people who do them are more satisfied with their work-life balance than those who are on fixed-hours contracts'.
Next week, IDS explains how Primark was not creating sweat shops in Asia but were merely creating the opportunity for 8-year-old Vietnamese children the opportunity to learn a new skill.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dan Price, A Nice Guy

We all know that most businesses would sell your grandmother (not their own) if they could make a few extra quid but once in a while we hear of bosses like Dan Price who is the CEO of payment processing company Gravity Payments.
Dan has taken a pay cut to give his lower-paid staff a raise to a minimum wage of $70,000 (£47,000)
by reducing his own by 90%.
Mr Price, 30, told staff in a weekly meeting that he would be cutting his $1million salary to $70,000 too explaining that: 'The market rate for me as a CEO compared to a regular person is ridiculous, it’s absurd, adding that it was absurd that he should earn up to 100 times more than most of the rest of his staff.
Great story, we need more Dan Price's and in higher seats of power where they could do real good for everyone and end the relentless trampling of the small guy by money hungry businesses.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mental Health Wristbands?

It is always nice when politicians make arses of themselves before we elect them so a big thank you must go to Chamali Fernando who is the Conservative Party candidate for Cambridge who has shown supreme arse-ery by coming up with the idea that mental health patients could wear colour-coded wristbands to identify their condition.
In what must be an unprecedented move, there is now a protest petition to get her to step down as a candidate even before the first vote has been cast.
Having made such a crass and stupid suggestion, the Conservative Party hopeful must be suffering from a great deal of anxiety now as she makes the headlines.
This anxiety could easily turn to depression so what colour wristband should she be wearing?
Maybe we could take it a step further and we could make politicians who are liable to be a danger to society wear a blue rosette on their clothes and carry a Conservative Party membership card just so we know who to avoid/shout at and avoid any confusion.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Losing Our Religion

When they were still decent, REM sang a song called 'Losing My Religion' which had an amazing video but nobody had a clue what the song was about but the title seemed to imply that somewhere had lost their religion.
Could have been us in the UK because we have just finished sixth in a survey of the least religious countries in the world.
53% of the UK population describe themselves as not religious but top of the list was China where 94% of people said they had no belief followed by Japan (87%), Sweden with (81%), Czech Republic (77%) and the Netherlands and Hong Kong with 74%.
The most religious countries were Thailand where only 6% dismissed the idea of a God and 7% of people in Armenia, Bangladesh, Georgia and Morocco who said they were not religious.
Luckily REM also had the 'Man On The Moon' Song which contained the lyrics 'Here's a little agit for the never-believer, Here's a little ghost for the offering, Here's a truck stop instead of Saint Peter's, Mister Andy Kaufman's gone wrestling'.
Nope, i have no idea either but then that pretty much sums up religion for me anyway, less St Peter's and more truck stops please.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Obama Shining His Legacy

America has long been a country that when the choice is between a carrot or a stick, it ignores the vegetable and goes off to find a bigger stick but in the last week we have not only seen it make friends with Iran, but now it is also on the Christmas Card list of Cuba as well.
It has also distanced itself from Israel, the most divisive country in the Atlas so it may be very late into his administration but maybe Obama is finally getting to do some of that 'Change' which he bandied about years ago when he gained the Peace Prize.
With time running out on his opportunity to actually do something, Obama does seem to be on something of a mission to leave a legacy and undo the wars and conflicts that he has undertaken whilst holding the keys to the White House which have been many.
Palestine would be the big one, if he can sort things out for the unfortunate people who have to live next door to the most warmongering nation on Earth then he might be able to leave office with a bit more credence given to his legacy as a peace prize winner, or at least a legacy not quite as tarnished as present.
Whatever he does in the dog days of his presidency, it is nice to see an American President holding a carrot and not doing what they normally do and start shooting.

Why Francis Cobain Is Right

Hard to believe that it has been 21 years since Kurt Cobain committed suicide but with a new documentary on Kurt about to be released, his daughter Frances Bean Cobain has admitted that she doesn't actually like the music her dad performed back in the 90s.
This has got right up the nose of the people of my generation who seemed to have hoisted Kurt and his band onto a pedestal as some sort of musical genius.
Before i launch into it, i was a massive Nirvana fan also back then but it was never just about the music, it was the whole grunge thing at the time and Kurt had an incredibly 'cool' image.
What Nirvana also had was an amazing album in 'Nevermind', an album that stacks up as not only one of the best collection of songs of the 90's but arguably of all time, what they never had was a decent back catalogue.
The pre-Nevermind Album, Bleach, was less than average and i don't know what they tried to do with the post-Nevermind effort, In Utero, but it missed. Incesticide was full of demo's, b-sides and songs which were not considered good enough previously and stank of 'cashing in' on the Nirvana while they still could.
The Unplugged in New York CD was tepid at best so it all comes down to Nevermind and the singles from the album which were perfect for that time but that time was 1991 and everything wrapped up in that period.
To stand up for Francis Cobain, she's 22 so her liking music from the early 90s would be like us in the early 90s liking the stuff from the early 70's or to put it another way, the stuff our parents listened to.
Yes all you moaning Nirvana fans, you have turned into your parents!!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Nigel's Vote UKIP But It's Lib Dems For Tim's

Four weeks left and the political parties busy targeting potential supporters but according to the latest poll from YouGov, they be paying more attention to the first names of voters.
YouGov analysed the voting intentions of 50,000 individuals with the 130 most common first names and found that people called Nigel, Jill or Terry are approximately twice as likely to vote for UKIP as the general population.
The poll shows that the most likely Conservative voters where called Charlotte, Fiona, Pauline while Sharon, Samantha and Clare wouldn't touch David Cameron with somebody else's barge poll as these were least likely to put a cross next to David Cameron's team. 
Labour can depend upon anyone called Michelle, June and Andy while the Lib Dem's should be looking towards Tim, Kathryn and Samantha for support.
I will let people with pens in their top pockets argue other the role of nominative determinism in influencing human behaviour and political preferences but personally if your spouse is called Nigel, Jill or Terry i wouldn't send them to the Chinese takeaway anytime soon, hate to think what additional extra you would get with your sweet and sour chicken once they have finished their Benny Hill style 'Mr Chow Mein' performance while ordering it.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Climate Change Minister And The Climate Sceptic Group

It has been revealed that the Conservative energy and climate change minister, Matthew Hancock, has taken almost £20,000 in donations from from a key backer of the UK’s leading climate sceptic lobby group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation.
According to official records, Hancock has accepted five donations over the years from City currency manager Neil Record, who is on the board of the anti-climate change Foundation.
In all Neil Record has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservative party but the energy and climate change minister is the only individual MP that he has backed.
As our elected representative it is only fair that we don't jump to conclusions that man responsible for combating climate change isn't being influenced by the financial inducements being thrown his way.
Just because he was one of 100 Tory MPs who signed an open letter opposed subsides for onshore wind farms in England and has been a vocal critic of wind farms in his constituency and a supporter of fracking doesn't mean he has whored himself out to the highest bidder.
It may just be a huge coincidence that he hates wind farms, loves fracking while accepting large sums of cash from a climate sceptic group.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Happy New Tax Year 2015-16

For some reason unbeknown to me people don’t celebrate the new tax year in the same way they do the new calendar year. Much to my disappointment there are no parties, fireworks or singing of Auld Lang Syne but thanks to Easter being early this year, we do get a bank holiday this 6th April.
The other thing that I think should happen is the making of New Tax Year’s resolutions so this year i plan to ring some changes regarding paying my contribution to HM Revenue & Customs.
Firstly, i intend to do my Tax Return early so to avoid the usual scene in mid-January when i turn up at my Agents office and throw on his desk a shoebox full of receipts and scraps of paper with numbers written on them half hidden by coffee stains and expect him to make sense of it enough to fill out my Tax Return by the 31st January.
Secondly, i will look into a pension just in case my first choice plan of winning the lottery and retiring to a remote island in the Pacific doesn't come to fruition.
Thirdly, i resolve to go through my bank statement and work out just what some of the direct debits are for because i am sure that i am still paying out for phones that have long been recycled into other things.
Fourthly, i must stop thinking of ways to change the subject whenever anyone who knows about tax tries to give me advice on tax matters.
This things i resolve and i promise to...oh what the hell, where's that shoe box? 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Hands Up Who Wants A Toxic Waste Dump

The problem with nuclear technology has always been its waste which stays radioactive and dangerous to humans for hundreds of thousands of years so it has to be stored somewhere safe away from humans.
At the moment the  4.5m cubic metres of accumulated radioactive waste kept in secure containers at sites across Britain but successive governments have been desperate to find somewhere to dump the lot and they have tried bribing the councils to take it but unsurprisingly the local population have refused and the Government return to square one and the problem of what to do with all this growing mountain of toxic waste. 
Finally they have come up with the solution, change the law so Nuclear waste dumps can be imposed on local communities without their support.      
Rushed through in the dying hours of the final Parliament before it was dissolved, the Secretary of State for Energy can now bypass any local planning considerations and designate anywhere it fancies a 'nationally significant infrastructure project' and dump the radioactive waste on it.
Last year the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published a white paper which said ministers would prefer to work with public support, but reserved the right to take more aggressive action on planning if 'at some point in the future such an approach does not look likely to work'.
Zac Goldsmith, one of the few government MPs who broke ranks to vote against the move, criticised the lack of public debate about such a big change, saying: 'Effectively it strips local authorities of the ability to stop waste being dumped in their communities. If there had been a debate, there could have been a different outcome. Most of the MPs who voted probably didn’t know what they were voting for'.
It is almost guaranteed that none of these dumps will be in any of the areas controlled by the cabinet so most will end up in the backyard of poorer areas where there will be little resistance and the promise of new jobs in the communities.
Democracy at work, if you don't get the result you want, change the law to just do it anyway.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Answering Why People Join ISIS

As yet more of our young people are turned back to the UK after trying to get into Syria to help ISIS, the question being asked is 'why are people willing to go help such a horrific killing machine'?  
There have been a few answers but nobody has been willing to give the real answer which is because of religion.
ISIS is doing the things they are doing in the name of their twisted ideological view of religion.
It isn't atheists turning up at Turkish airports with a map of Syria, it is Muslims who have been indoctrinated into the ISIS philosophy by recruiters who take what is already there and ramp it up further.
It isn't just a Muslim problem either, throughout history religionists of all flavours have used the same tactic that they are fighting for their 'God' and this is just the latest.
I am not sure what the solution is or how you can stop young people who are being told since childhood that their God is great from being driven into a fervour by people with bad intentions but that is the reason.
Our only hope is that religion gradually dies out by itself as we evolve and that does seem to be slowly happening but until the World wakes up and realises religion has always just been a man-made construct to control us, there will always be people keen to exploit those who have yet to make that leap.
Less religion is the only answer.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Good Friday Thriller

I wasn't around 2015 years ago but i am pretty certain why didn't happen today in history was the son of God was nailed to a cross and died for us but as it is Good Friday and as the religious only have this holiday left after Christmas was stolen by a fat Laplander in a red suit with flying reindeer, we should let them have this one so i propose we revisit that day and we can thanks to the Bible.
The first bit is well known, long haired gent gets nailed to a cross between two criminals and sings a song about always looking on the Bright Side of Life but there was something else going on that day and we can look at Matthew 27:51-54 to see what that was.

Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 

Yes, graves opened and reanimated dead bodies left the ground to appear to the residents of the Holy City although it doesn't say how many there was or what they did once they got there.
They may have eaten the residents brains like normal zombies or they may have just wandered around taking in the sights and reminiscing about times before they died but i'd like to think they got together and performed a Thriller style dance act in the main street.
The 'grizzly ghouls from every tomb are closing in to seal your doom' is certainly more entertaining then the 'They not know what they do' speech which is usually associated with this time of year but they have yet to write this bit into the Jesus films that the vast majority of us will ignore this weekend while we stuff chocolate into our faces and watch the Wizard of Oz instead.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

First Past The Post Explained

There are not many countries that use the same 'First Past The Post' system of voting in the Government as the United Kingdom, but it does seem there is some confusion over who exactly we vote for.
There are 650 constituencies in the United Kingdom and on May 7th it is not David Cameron, Ed Milliband or Nick Clegg that we vote for but whoever is representing their party in that area.
For example, in the constituency of Newtown there is Mr Red (Labour), Mr Blue (Conservative) and Mr Yellow (Lib Dems) and you vote for one of these and the person who receives the most votes, Mr Yellow for example, is therefore elected and become the Member of Parliament to represent the people of Newtown in the House of Commons.  
Because Mr Yellow won, that counts as 1 MP for the Lib Dems.
In the neighbouring constituency of Oldtown, the Conservative representative wins and the score is now Lib Dems 1, Conservatives 1 and Labour 0.
This goes on all around the UK and at the end of the night, when all the winners of the constituencies is counted up, the party that has the most MP's is the winner and the new Government.
The First Past The Post name comes from the way that if one party reaches 326 MPs (out of the 650), they cannot be beaten so the post is the magic number of 326 MPs.
If the Conservatives win then they become the Government and because David Cameron is the leader of the Conservatives, he becomes Prime Minister, if Labour win Ed Miliband is the PM and if the Lib Dems triumph then Nick Clegg.
What it all means is that when you vote you are not directly voting for who you want to be Prime Minister but who you want to represent you in the House of Commons and by consequence of that, deciding who become the Prime Minister.
If, as happened in 2010, nobody reaches the 326 then some of the parties can join together and pool their members of Parliament into a coalition party to reach the 326 figure and looking at the latest polls, that could happen again this time around also.
The problem arises when you have a good representative who is great for where you live but happens to be from one Party (eg Lib Dems) but you would prefer the Prime Minister to be from another (eg Conservatives) but that is up to your conscience and the ballot paper what you consider is more important, who runs the country or who is making the decisions in your local area.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Things Getting Hot For Israel

Finally, after 60 years of uninterrupted oppression, Israel is about to be squeezed as the Palestinians secure the long-awaited membership of the International Criminal Court at the United Nations and the chance to see Tel Aviv in the dock for it's actions in the West Bank and Gaza.
ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah said that Palestine now gets all the same rights as well as obligations that member countries have and ICC prosecutors have already started a preliminary examination to decide whether or not the legal criteria are met to open investigation into Israels actions and settlement building on occupied land.
A Palestinian spokesman explained that it has: 'decided to pursue an internationalisation approach to achieve the long-overdue inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and to put an end to decades of colonisation, dispossession, forced displacement and massacres, including the 2014 aggression against the Palestinian people in the occupied Gaza Strip'.
Israel are predictably angry that the Palestinians refuse to lay down and take it and Netanyahu has already said that he would not allow Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and officers be dragged to the International Criminal Court in The Hague but while the ICC have no authority to arrest suspects in Israel, it can issue arrest warrants for the arrest of IDF soldiers and officers when they step outside of Israel making it difficult for Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, to travel abroad where they would face arrest.
Israel officials could not face a possible worst time to lose its most ardent backer in the United States with relations between the Obama administration and Israel appear to have cooled down after Netanyahu addressed the US Congress with a speech criticising Washington and his pre-election comment that there would not be a two-state solution while he is Prime Minister which angered the Obama administration further.
It has been a long time coming but Israel is finally being squeezed and things could become, quite rightly, very uncomfortable indeed.

China Take Another Step To New World Order

Despite the best efforts of the Americans, the world order will make shift at midnight as the Chinese launch and the 46 countries who have signed up, launch the rival to the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The US has long used the World Bank as an arm of its foreign policy but that strategy has been made a bit limper as nations looking for a bit to tide them over have a new place to lend from despite Barack Obama's diplomats doing all they can to persuade countries not to join up and kill it at birth and in turn stop doing what they themselves do with the World Bank and use it as an instrument of Chinese foreign policy allowing Beijing to exert more influence regionally.
Amongst those ignoring America and signing up are Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Brazil, India, Norway, South Korea, Russia, Spain, Turkey who have have all applied with only Japan are the only major economy along with America which has chosen not to be a founder member but it is still quite a coup for China who will know have greater regional and global influence.
America seems to think it's better to stay out of the club but most of the rest of the world takes a different view but China have the reserve currency in their sights and if that changes, and trading takes place in Yuan's and not US Dollar's, America will truly be on the slide and China the global major player.

Left v Right Explained

As the election gets closer we will hear more and more phrases such as 'left wing' and 'right wing' but as i seem to get asked more and more exactly what they mean, it is obvious that the terms are much bandied about but not so much understood.
The terms range back to the days of pre-revolutionary France when the Royal chamber was split into two with everyone who wanted to keep things as they were sat to the right of the King and everyone who sat to the left of him wanted to change it.
Of course some would think that if if they were within the vicinity of royalty they would choose the side which provided the best angle to throw rotten fruit at them but the Frenchies Royal Chamber is the basic premise of the 'Left' and the 'Right'.
Adapting it to today, the left basically want what is best for the whole of society while the right want what is best for the individual.
The left include environmentalists, pacifists and Guardian readers. The right have royalists, religionists and Daily Mail readers. Where the left put down the stick and wave around carrots, the right swing the stick and make juice from the carrots.
If you are still unsure about your orientation, science has tried to usher to one side or the other by profiling the typical characteristics of those on the left and right.
Psychologists at New York University conducted a review of 88 prior studies involving 22,000 participants and came up with the following traits regarding political orientation.
If your front room is messy, cluttered, colourful and contains maps or flags, then you are on the left side of the political fence.
If its neat, clean, organised, brightly lit and contains paintings or pictures of buildings you are on the opposite side.
Lefty's have more books, are impulsive, optimistic, more likely to listen to classical music or jazz, enjoy abstract art, like romantic comedies, write in a diary and play musical instruments. They are also more open, inquisitive, excitement-seeking, creative, and travel more.
The right are more likely to be religious, like country music, prefer radio chat shows, are orderly, decisive and more conscientiousness in their duty, and are strict rule followers. They consider the world to be a dangerous place and have a greater fear of death.
Researchers at the University of Nebraska have reported that right-wingers possess a strong 'negativity bias' meaning they are more defencive and reactionary than their left wing cousins.
They also discovered that right wing parents are stricter with their offspring, are more emotionally repressed and are less empathetic but on the flip side are also more polite and strangely own more cleaning supplies than the left so if you ever want a jar opened or your bathroom needs a good clean you would need to ask a right winger.
Finally, if you still unsure if you are left or right or find you have a foot in either camp, their is a quick test to work out your orientation.

Fill in the blanks of these incomplete words: coff__, sk_ll, and _oney.

If you are more likely to vote for the indecisive type with the map of the World on the wall and brightly coloured cushions, you see coffee, skill, and honey.
If you are more inclined to put your cross beside the god bothering candidate with the Dolly Parton CD and sparkling clean bathroom you see coffin, skull, and money.