Sunday, 30 June 2019

Don't Panic Yet

In memory of the largest Asteroid to break through the Earth's atmosphere in modern times over Tunguska in Russia in 1908, today is National Asteroid Day and the United Nations celebrated it by naming four Asteroids careening towards Earth because nothing allays fears of the human race being extinguished like giving us the dates when it might happen.
First up is 1979 XB, almost five times larger than the 190 metre wide Tunguska Asteroid, currently hurtling through the solar system at nearly 70,000kph and current projections have it approaching close to Earth in 2024.
If 1979 XB misses us we only have to wait another five years for the next apocalypse because the 370 meter Apophis is blazing past our planet in 2029 less than a tenth of the distance to the Moon.
The 50 meter 2000 SG344 is predicted to turn up in our skies between 2039 and 2049 and next up is 2010 RF12 which is top of the ESA danger list travelling at a speed of 117,935kph but luckily is only 7 meters across and although it will have devastating consequences if it hits a major city when it comes in 2090, it is expected to be crushed by the Earth's atmosphere before it reaches the ground,
they hope anyway.
Of course any change in the trajectory of any of the Asteroids will send them pinging off away from us but a big part of the danger with hazardous space objects is that we are not yet very good at detecting them and usually don't even know they are there until they are barrelling towards us.
Still, the United Nations and people in white with telescopes are on it so nothing to worry about.

Boris And His Deep Sense Of Anguish Isn't Enough

Boris Johnson has said that he feels a 'deep sense of anguish' for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian mother jailed in Tehran on spying charges, but he has rejected any responsibility for her continuing plight.
The Conservative leadership contender faced criticism when, as foreign secretary, he incorrectly stated to a select committee that she was 'teaching people journalism' in Iran despite her claim that she was just visiting family.
Mr Johnson's comments were then seized on by the Tehran regime, as they had jailed her for "teaching a BBC Persian online journalism course which was aimed at training people to spread propaganda against Iran", retried her with Boris Johnson's comments as evidence against her and increased her sentence.
Although Johnson denies responsibility, former Tory Party chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin said Johnson 'has not helped the case' while her employer, Thomson Reuters Foundation, called on Johnson to 'correct the serious mistake he made' and her husband said that Johnson's comments had 'very traumatic consequences for her as they were used to discredit her and justify a further trial'.
At best he hadn't even bothered to read his brief when he was appearing in front of the select committee and left the woman languishing in an Iranian jail or at worst he was careless but either way, a deep sense of anguish is the absolute minimum he should be feeling as he is directly responsible for her increased sentence.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Becoming The US President

According to the US Constitution, a Presidential candidate must be a natural born citizen of the United States, a resident for 14 years, and 35 years of age or older although being male and white also seems to help but where the UK Elections is all done and dusted within 10 weeks, the run for the 2020 American Election has begun already with 20 Democratic candidates holding the first debates and Donald Trump has launched his (hopefully unsuccessful) re-election bid.
Most candidates running for office usually have a background in politics and have held an elected position, like senator, governor, vice-president, or member of Congress and most modern candidates hold university degrees and over half the former US Presidents graduated in law.
The US has never elected a non-Christian or a woman and only one President, Barack Obama, has not been white.
Becoming President - or even trying to be - can be eye-wateringly expensive. The ability to raise funds from your supporters, or spend your own cash, is of the utmost importance as the 2016 election cost a combined £1.8bn according to campaign finance watchdog OpenSecrets.org.
You need to be in one of the main two parties of either the Democrats or the Republicans but even winning the most votes might not ensure you get to place yourself in Donald Trump's reinforced chairs butt groove because Al Gore in 2000 and Hillary Clinton in 2016 gained the most votes but found themselves watching someone else go by in the Presidential Limo.
There are far too many Democrats to even consider looking at them just yet so we will let them be whittled down and anyway we have our own Government to worry about and if, as expected its Boris Johnson, we could well be America's 51st State by then so we will get a vote anyway.

It's Tricky

QI once included an astonishing fact that the entire supply of gold ever mined, 190,040 tonnes, would fit into 3.27 Olympic sized swimming pools but seen we may all be dripping in the stuff like over-enthusiastic rappers because above out heads is £550 quintrillion of the shiny metal.
That it is embedded in an 140 mile wide asteroid, Psyche 16, 460 million miles from Earth between Jupiter and Mars may present a problem but NASA are on it, planning to find a way to grab themselves a piece of the action although their timescale of 25 years to get 'proof of concept', and the same again to 50 years to start building the machines capable of mining it means that i may have to postpone my Run DMC impression for a while.
As well as NASA, China have their eyes firmly on the Asteroid Belt and have been planning to experiment on Near-Earth asteroids, which pass close to Earth and could be nudged into our orbit to make it easier to extract vital elements.
The moon has been mentioned often as being ripe for mining and Europe is developing missions there with a view to mining it as is Japan and even tiny Luxembourg is targeting space ventures to the Moon, and eyeing near-Earth asteroids for mining.
There's a new Gold Rush only in very slow motion and will be going ahead just past Mars, if you see Jupiter then you have gone too far.

Supplanting Capitalism With Democratic Economy

Something which the 2008 crash and the right wing ideology of austerity and cuts has underlined is that Capitalism is a failed economic strategy producing wage stagnation, in-work poverty, inequality, banking crises, the rise of populism and an ever impending economic catastrophe.
At last year’s Conservative conference, the chancellor, Philip Hammond, admitted that in the west: 'Too many people feel that the system is not working for them' but the left have only been advocating Socialism for decades and we had a taste of it under Tony Blair's New Labour until he imploded on the Iraq War issue which sucked the air out of all the genuine, and successful, achievements he
imposed on improving inequality on Society.
Despite Capitalism’s cruelties being ruthlessly exposed, the left has not been able to fundamentally change how wealth functions in society, leaving Capitalism with it's privatisation, deregulation, drip down, lower taxes for business and the rich, more power for employers and shareholders to shut down any argument with the shout that there is not an alternative.
They mischievously managed to merge Socialism with Communism which they linked to Soviet Union policies and shut down any debate and anyone arguing that Capitalism should be reined in.
As those most profiting from Capitalism are the same people who back it, it is hardly surprising that the left have been unable to break through but with a dawning recognition that a new kind of fairer, more inclusive, less exploitative, less destructive of society and the planet economy is needed, the left have seized the opportunity to put forward 'The Democratic Economy'.
The new left wing economics, a branch from the ideals of Socialism, put forward by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) and the New Economics Foundation (NEF) wants to see 'an economy that makes society, rather than a society that is made by the economy' and in short 'shift decision making power to workers, customers, suppliers, neighbours and the broader public to ensure a more equal model that puts society and it's people before profit, growth and shareholders'.
The idea is to dismantle and displace corporate and financial power in Britain in favour of the less privileged by requiring companies to give their employees shares and to create an 'inclusive ownership' policy which would see inserting into a company’s ownership structure a group of employees with a say in how profits are distributed and wages, hours and employment and working conditions are implemented, workers managing themselves, rather than submit to employers or shareholders.
With Capitalism less effective and more unpopular than it has ever been and many voters unwilling, or unable, to pay much more tax, with living standards squeezed under Capitalism and society in one of the worst, and most unequal, states in several lifetimes, the idea that an economic idea that puts social before commercial goals is a worthy one.
The push should now be to explain that profit and growth are not the economic outcomes that matter, that other values should matter more from now on and Capitalism has failed, just look around you at the ashamedly busy food banks and the homeless sheltering in the town centres to see that, and there is a new economic idea in town.

Generation Snowflake

Students are by nature generally left wing, they care about the environment, equality, fairness, society and human rights and are on the whole more clued up on all of them then previous generations and who can blame them because what they are seeing is society run by the older generation in a bloody mess.      
They are labelled Generation Snowflake by older Generations who like to repeat the mantra that 'they never had it so good' but that is false because even to the most blinkered, what they have is a lot worse then the generation who were only to happy to pull up the ladder behind them.
The world that the young are inheriting from us is far worse off then the one that we inherited from our parents with tuition fees, rising prices, wage stagnation, competition for jobs, austerity cuts and extortionate house and rent prices.
Quite rightly, they look at society, Capitalism and the Conservative Government and ask how we are the fifth richest nation but have abundant food banks, in work poverty and the homeless filling our town centres and ask how did it get like this?
Despite Brexit ruining things and severe austerity measures still in full flow, the Government are promising further tax cuts for the richest so is it any surprise that voting patterns and political opinion show a sharp swing amongst the younger voters towards the left and away from the ideology which has caused them so much pain and will continue to do so for decades.
The Socialism doctrine appears to be chiming with them, the idea of a more equal society as proposed by the likes of Jeremy Corbyn which would rein in rampant Capitalism and rebalance power away from the wealthy who have an unfair advantage in today's Society.
It is to our shame that the planet we are leaving them is filthy and polluted and the opportunities, debt and inequality that we are handing to them is far worse then when it was passed down to us.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Vaping Ban On Health Grounds

Something that nobody tells you when you switch from cigarettes to e-cigarettes is that because you are inhaling nicotine, you actually get more from the e-cigarette than you do from smoking a cigarette because you don't know when you have had a cigarettes worth and you just keep inhaling and the result of the extra nicotine is some very funky dreams.
Usually quite fun, they can be very vivid, lucid and weird dreams especially if you have a good blast before you go to bed but the flip side is the nightmares are also much more terrifying as i found out which can be very, very scary.
Apart from the weird dreams, generally e-cigarettes are considered harmless and the NHS are even considering offering them for free which makes he ban by San Francisco on health grounds a bit of a strange one.
Inhaling nicotine is not dangerous in itself especially when compared to the many poisonous chemicals contained in tobacco smoke and nicotine does not cause cancer unlike tobacco in normal cigarettes and doctors, public health experts, cancer charities and governments in the UK all agree that, based on the current evidence, e-cigarettes carry a fraction of the risk of cigarettes but it is the 'based on current evidence' where San Francisco have got the jitters.
The ban is to stay in place until their health effects are clearer which echoes the ban in Australia which is reviewing all the available evidence of the health impacts of vaping and e-cigarette liquids.
As vaping is still very new and the effects are unknown then it is probably correct that a full review is conducted but i have always had two other fears over e-cigarettes which are hard to argue against.
The first is that the e-cigarette companies are aiming their wares at the under 18 market. Hard to argue when you see flavours such as ice cream, bubble gum and candy floss while the second is that the 'safe' aspect of vaping is tempting people to try smoking who would not have necessarily have and i've met people who have tried vaping, liked it and then tried a cigarette.
The best course of action is to not smoke at all and e-cigarettes are great for smokers who are addicted to nicotine already but there should be the concern that they do prove attractive to non-smokers and the under-age and i have seen myself them act as a gate-way to real cigarettes.
Inconvenient for vapers but until the evidence points conclusively one way or the other, i can't blame San Francisco for the ban.

Who Wants To Live Forever?

For the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in western Europe and doctors and experts believe that the impact of austerity is a major factor
Statisticians first noticed in 2013, just after the austerity cuts were introduced, that rises in life expectancy in the UK had begun to slow down and then gradually, the graph flattened out until a few years ago when it started to decline.
Obviously, as it was the Conservative Government who placed gave us austerity, they claim that 'Life expectancy cannot be expected to increase forever' but the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries said it now expects men aged 65 to die at 86.9 years, down from 87.4 years, while women are likely to die at 89.2 years, down from 89.7 years.
According to a study by New Scientist, one in five adults say, if possible, they would definitely want to live forever and companies are developing the means of merging the human brain with artificial intelligence to achieve so-called 'cybernetic immortality' which involves uploading their thoughts and consciousness into a machine and living forever as a type of computer hologram.
Another possibility of achieving immortality is through advances in genetic studies where the cells linked with the ageing process are effectively switched off.
The moral issue is that even if we could live forever, should we? Overpopulation is the obvious problem which lead to mass food poverty, and rapidly speed up the damaging environmental problems we already face today.
If achieved, it would be the biggest scientific breakthrough in the history of mankind but while nobody wants to die, or at the very least not die before they are due, would you want to live forever it is an intriguing question, despite the Governments best efforts to make sure we don't even reach our allotted time on the Earth at all.

Avoid Tax Refund Companies

As we slip and slide our way to the end of another academic year, Student thoughts will be turning to employment through the summer and every year i have this conversation about paying tax and the companies who will try and get you to sign up so they can claim it back for you for a hefty fee.
Companies such as TaxReturned.co.uk, RIFT and taxrebates.co.uk‎ who will try and tell you that they can get you back any tax you paid but not tell you the extortionate fee they charge. Read about them here.
Some have a minimum charge (i have seen £90), and some take a percentage of the tax repayment obtained (i have seen 40% fees) and you will need to sign a deed of assignment which means that your refund will be paid to the tax refund organisation in the first instance, so they can take their fee before paying you the remainder.
How it works is that the refund organisation will request you send the P60 or P45 and then will literally, take the information out of the envelope you sent it in and place it in another and forward to HM Revenue & Customs earning a 40% or £90 fee for as much work as opening an envelope and closing another one with your details in it.
You may be happy to receive £600 tax back but not so much when you find out that the tax you paid was £1000 and you could have got it all back for the price of a stamp or a phone call.
HM Revenue & Customs even have a Personal Tax Account that you can set up to make it even easier and i have a link which gives a guide to how to do it here, but please, don't hand out easy money to the likes of RIFT or TaxReturned because it's yours, you earned it and don't let the shysters deprive you of it.  



Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Scorchio

Most countries know how to appreciate the sun because though the sun never set on the British empire, it rarely shines in the motherland but today on the south coast of the UK it was 25C and the weather forecasters are warning it could go as much as 10 degrees higher by the weekend.
While colleagues stuck their heads in the sink and hogged the fans, our thoughts must go to the nations across Europe who have been driven to taking extraordinary measures as a heatwave bringing record-breaking June temperatures surpassing 40C (104F) lands in some areas in the coming days.
In Germany, authorities have placed speed restrictions on stretches of the motorway due to concerns that scorching temperatures could damage road surfaces and in France schools have been closed and national exams postponed after education minister, Jean-Michel Blanquer, deemed it would be too hot.
France has also installed temporary fountains and have been roaming the streets, handing water to the homeless while French officials decided that in Paris and Lyon only the least polluting vehicles would be allowed on the roads from today due to pollution level.
Switzerland's national weather service Meteo Swiss has issued a red heat alert, the highest level, and Meteorologists expect previous highs to be approached and possibly exceeded in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands.
The last European heatwave even close to being comparable to this one was in 2003, which led to the deaths of 20,000 people but the most disturbing thing about it is that national highest-ever temperature records are typically set in late July or August so grab that sun cream with a factor of a hundred and one because summers here now and it's going to be nasty.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Trump The Sexual Predator

E. Jean Carroll claims Donald Trump raped her in the 1990s but he says it 'never happened because she is 'not my type'.
The columnist said she was raped by Trump in the dressing room of a New York department store although Trump claims he never met her despite a picture of them both together but this now makes over a dozen women who have now accused Trump of sexual misconduct and this comes with the memory of him boasting how he groped and kissed women uninvited.
Accusing him of forcibly kissing them is Temple Taggart, Jennifer Murphy, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Drake while Jessica Leeds said he groped grabbed her breasts and the same accusation is made by Jill Harth, Karena Virginia, and Summer Zervos.
Arse groping accusations are made by Melinda McGillivray, Ninni Laaksonen, Cassandra Searles but Kristen Anderson, Jill Harth and now E Jean Carroll say he grabbed their genitals.
In her book, his then wife, Ivana Trump accused, him of raping her although this was softened after an out of court settlement and many women at the beauty pageants that Trump held complained that he would barge his way in to the dressing room unannounced while contestants were naked.
We know about his affairs with Playboy models and porn stars, also firmly denied at the time, and many of his supporters will say that the many women are just trying to cash in or trying to sell a book, is politically motivated or just peddling fake news but in the background, as the accusations mount, is the proud boast he made about kissing and groping women without their consent.
Suggesting that she may take it to New York police department, she has kept the clothes that she was wearing during the alleged assault in her closet, where they remain unlaundered to this day which is an echo of the blue cocktail dress worn by Monica Lewinsky, which carried Bill Clinton's DNA evidence
Asked why she has waited until now to come forward, E. Jean Carroll said that she had watched a pattern developing with women coming forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct only for Trump to get away with it.
His confession of being a sexual predator along with any DNA evidence on the latest accusers clothes should see him hopefully not getting away with it any longer.

Monday, 24 June 2019

1888 to 1988

In 1888, Victorian readers of Answer Magazine were asked what they thought England would be like in 1988 but although bizarrely none of them predicted Rick Astley or Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, they were not that far away.
There were predictions of no gas, vehicles and homes made of indestructible paper, magneto-petrolo (whatever that is) fires and inflatable clothes that allow a person to walk on water.
Other fanciful suggestions were and end to river pollution, heat taken from clouds and clothes made from vegetable fibres and a smaller population 'of about 6 million'.
The things which were correct were peoples jobs being taken by robots, more richer people, faster trains and military battles involving air traveling machines which could also be used to take people on holidays.
They expected us to have visited the moon by 1988 and to build a tunnel or bridge between England and continental Europe while there will be a female majority in parliament, the House of Lords will be abolished and electric trains will travel underground in tubes.
Every street will have electric lights and houses will all contain telephones so in all they were pretty much spot on, apart from the paper houses and not foreseeing Phil Collins but otherwise a good attempt. 

Have We Found Life On Mars?

NASA Mars Rover was sent to the red planet to try and discover if life exists, or once existed, on the planet and it may just have found it as it discovers high amounts of methane, on produced by living things, that suggests recent alien life as the gas breaks down within a few centuries.
The thinking is that any methane detected now must have been released recently as sunlight and chemical reactions would break up the molecules within a few centuries and they are entertaining the idea that if life ever did arise on Mars, its microbial descendants could have migrated underground and persisted.
Scientists are not confirming anything yet, stating that the findings are only preliminary and will face further investigation and even threw in the idea that geothermal reactions can also generate methane but let's pretend we never heard that last bit.

Our Right To Know What Happened In The Boris Flat

Friends and backers of Boris Johnson have come out to berate the media for harassing him after Police were called to his flat after a loud argument was heard between him and his girlfriend on Friday evening.
'I am totally stunned at the level of harassment they have had to endure' said one supporter and Jacob Rees-Mogg called the campaign against his favoured choice for leadership 'Corbynista curtain-twitchers'.
Of course they don't want the spotlight to fall on him for too long because it only enhances the fears many already have about his character but as he is wanting to lead the country, the media and the British citizens he may well soon be presiding over have a right to find out exactly what the shouting match was about which had to be attended by the police.
At a hustings over the weekend, Mr Johnson refused to answer questions about the row - saying people did not want to hear about it and he has today pulled put of a Sky News leadership debate.
His backers have been keeping him out of the front line, less chances for him to make a monumental mistake which will see him defeated but anyone with questions over his erratic behaviour can't help but wonder just what went on in the flat for his girlfriend screaming at him to get off and to leave her flat amidst the sound of breaking furniture.
Boris backers will try to move the story on but this shouldn't just go away because in six weeks time we could be run by a man whose girlfriend didn't even want him around her for a reason we don't yet know.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Oh Grow Up

About the only good thing to come out of Jeremy Hunt being in the final two of the Conservative leadership contest of the chance for broadcasters to get his name hilariously wrong.
For some reason many presenters keep replacing the first letter of Jeremy Hunt’s surname with a C with Victoria Derbyshire being the latest to drop the C-bomb live on air.
It seems not just broadcasters are prone to it as Hunt said rather sniffily that he has had it all his life and not always by accident although that is understandable because he isn't the most popular person in the UK.
Hunt has said that the media should 'grow up' and stop mistakenly saying the c-word when trying to pronounce his surname.
Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson are the sole survivors of the election process and one of them will therefore become our Prime Minister.
Victoria Derbyshire apparently apologised to him but i think she got it right first time, he really is and as Johnson is slang for a penis, that seems rather fitting also.

Red Christian Faces

You have to feel sorry for anyone of a religious bent. They spend their Sunday mornings sat on hard pews listening to a man in a frock bang on about a character who was plagiarised from other deities and then someone turns up and rattles a plate in their faces and expect them to make a donation for it all.
To top it all off they have to be intolerant towards anyone and anything that their made up God would have disapproved of which includes the new TV series Good Omens.
The Christian campaign group Return To Order, was so incensed that the show which has demons and angels teaming up to prevent an Apocalypse, presented devils and satanists as normal and good, that they sent a petition signed by 20,000 Christians told to be similarly angry about it to Netflix demanding that it be cancelled.
Possibly because they were so riled about it they sent it to the wrong studio as the show is made by Amazon Prime although Netflix was quick to poke fun at the petition, tweeting: 'Ok we promise not to make any more'.
Red Christian faces all around and they have said that they regret the mistake and the protests will be delivered to Amazon but they could always pray to stop it because praying always seems to work right guys?
Maybe they should stick to terrorising children outside a school to stop them learning about LBGT rights and hanging around outside abortion clinics singing hymns from now on.

Happy Summer Solstice Day

If you are reading this in the Northern Hemisphere then Happy Summer Solstice day but if you are in the Hemisphere which has bent sticks that come back to you and animals with pouches then Happy Winter Solstice cobber.
The UK will enjoy 16 hours and 38 minutes of daylight today as it is officially mid-summer but to some it is the start of summer and the Sun has obliged today by being particularly shiny but today won't be the hottest day for us Northern Hemispherers where the sweltering weather is still to come.
This summer so far has been a big disappointment for many, the 21st June and it just hasn't really got going this year but i was more miffed that the thunderstorms in the week seemed to swerve around us and that's the only bit of summer i really like, the massive electric storms.
With the warmest part of summer still to land, there is still plenty of time for picnics in the park, a dip in the sea and sunburn but after today we are on the downward slope to the best time of the year, Christmas which my phones countdown app shows is just 186 days away!.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Not Backing America's Iran War

Iran said the drone they shot down was in their territory while the US say it was in International waters and as both are as untrustworthy as each other, it is hard to know who to believe but it doesn't ease the feeling that something very, very bad is going to happen soon.
We know how the story goes because we have been here before with the decision for war being made and the 'evidence' is piled up to achieve the ends with a sprinkling of detailed human rights abuses, saving a humanitarian crisis and a risk to national security with weapons of mass destruction thrown in to sweeten the deal.
It happened in Kosovo, it happened in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya too and now Iran is the nation with the case for the latest war being built against it. 
Trump himself suggested that 'Barack Obama will attack Iran in the not too distant future because it will help him win the election" but now, as he begins his own campaign to secure re-election, it's Trump's own administration that has been ramping up tensions with Iran.
After ripping up the Iranian nuclear deal and pressuring the Middle Eastern nation with threats and parking warships off its coast, it seems Trump is desperate to get his war and already the useful idiots are breathing in his administrations propaganda that Iran is an imminent threat as once Iraq was claimed to be.
If threats to national security or human rights abuses were a genuine basis for military adventures then Saudia Arabia would have been reduced to rubble years ago for supporting terrorism or dropping bombs on Yemeni hospitals.
The direction of travel is clear and the smell of war hangs thickly in the air while the cheerleaders of the Kosovo, Afghan, Iraqi and Libyan wars up the rhetoric and while we may not be able to stop it, the UK needs to shout loud and clear that we will not be involved in another debacle in another Middle eastern country which will see hundreds of thousands killed on a false premise yet again.
Two million of us marched against the Bush/Blair wars and never stopped them and we could muster the same number again and Iran would still be pummelled in a war that need not have happened except for the idiots running the White House but no Brexit deal or Special Relationship should be worth the weight of all those dead Iranians on our conscience.

Celebrities Who Almost Didn't Make It

James Dean career lasted a year, making 3 movies two of which came out after his death while Philip K Dick died months before Blade Runner was released, Van Gogh only sold 1 painting and that was to his brother while Franz Kafka, Herman Melville and Jane Austin were relatively unknown in their lifetimes but there are stars today who found themselves face to face with the Grim Reaper before finding fame.
George Clooney had a scooter accident in Italy that saw him fly 20 feet in the air above the car while
Owen Wilson came close to dying of a pill overdose and was saved by his brother and Leonardo DiCaprio survived a shark attack when a Great White managed to get into the feeding cage he was stood in. 
No surprise that Ozzy Osbourne has come close to death a few times but the closest was when he overturned his quad bike and suffered a broken collarbone, eight fractured ribs and damaged vertebrae in his neck and Gary Busey suffered a cracked skull following a motorbike accident.
Jane Seymour suffered an allergic reaction to a penicillin injection which almost proved fatal and Sylvester Stallone was punched so hard in his chest while making a Rocky film that his heart swelled and he spent several weeks in intensive care but Orlando Bloom was almost paralysed when he fell three stories attempting to climb a drain pipe.
Donald Sutherland said that Doctors said that he had actually died for a short time when he was struck down by meningitis, Johnny Depp nearly met his maker when fell off a horse and underneath the hooves of the horse he was riding, 50 Cent was shot nine times in his hand, hip, both legs, chest and his face but all his vital organs were miraculously missed, Sharon Stone tore an artery at the base of her skull and suffered a  brain hemorrhage and George Lucas was in a car crash which left him hung between life and death for a week.
Probably the two most fortunate to still be with us celebrities are Travis Barker of Blink 182 and Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe.
Sixx overdosed on heroin and was declared dead after medics initially failed to resuscitate him while Barker was in a Learjet which crashed and killed four of the six people on board and suffering burns, he required 16 surgeries and skin grafts.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Problem Of Getting What We Wished For

The depressing trudge towards another round in the Conservative Leadership contest is upon us and the five remaining will soon be whittled down even further.
Generally i wouldn't give a flying hoot who the Tories picked, but as the victor will become Prime Minister we all have some skin in this race but looking at the remaining candidates, it's like the choice between a punch in the face or a kick in the shins because whoever makes it is still going to be a bloody awful Conservative.
Boris Johnson has been sacked from jobs twice for lying and has a history of racism, Jeremy Hunt was found guilty of fiddling his expenses and was such a disaster as Health Secretary that he topped a poll as the 'most disliked British politician'.
Sajid Javid has been threatened with court action for 'peddling lies' numerous times and has been on the end of several violation of international court judgements in his role of Home Secretary and Michael Gove was sacked as Justice Minister and was another one caught fiddling his expenses and recently admitted to taking hard drugs while taking a tough line against those who did the same.
Rory Stewart is the most likeable and most 'untory' like which means he won't still be there when the dust settles.
I fully expect Boris to win and we can only hope that a general election quickly follows his coronation because while Theresa May was bad, Boris will have us looking back and regretting that that we were not a bit more careful about what we wished for.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Gulf Of Oman Finger Pointing

A couple of oil tankers get attacked in the Gulf of Oman and America immediately blamed Iran, as they would, and Iran vehemently denies they were behind it, as they would.
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said that the US believes it was 'unmistakable' that Iran was responsible for the attacks and that 'President Trump has done everything he can to avoid war' conveniently overlooking pulling out of the treaty Iran was complying with, sending warships to sit off the Iranian coast and threatening to 'end' the country.
Predictably, the UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, agrees that he was 'almost certain that Iran was behind the oil tanker attacks' as he did not believe anyone else could have done it although the United Nations and Germany was not so quick to apportion blame, calling for an independent investigation.
Iran said the US was making allegations without 'a shred of factual or circumstantial evidence' and accused the Trump administration of 'sabotage diplomacy' although the US did release a video purporting to show an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine from the side of one of the tankers although the fly in that ointment is that the Japanese crew contradicted the 'evidence' by claiming that their ship was damaged by 'two flying objects'.
Following the recent Iraq debacle and either fabricating evidence or just being plain wrong, nations are rightly cautious of following American evidence and have no desire to enact the sequel to Bush/Blair and the current President is famous for falsehoods and has very little credibility.
Pompeo said that Iran had been responsible for previous attacks on tankers last month, but the official investigation into those incidents did not determine who had been responsible and with Iran being no less believable and as notoriously untrustworthy with their words as the current American administration, we are in danger of disappearing back down that rabbit hole once again.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Fairy Tales Disney Doesn't Want You To Know

Parents all over the World will be putting their young ones to sleep tonight with the help of tales designed to ease us them through the darkest hours into dreamland and we have the Brothers Grimm to thanks for most of them but maybe if we used the original stories our children's sleep not be quite so restful. 
The Pied Pier of Hamlin has him drowning the children of a German village when he doesn't receive payment for ridding the town of a rat infestation while in Pinocchio, Geppetto is jailed for child abuse, Pinocchio squishes the talking cricket with a hammer for preaching to him and after he runs away, he is kidnapped by bandits who, after several unsuccessful attempts to murder him, hang him from an oak tree and leave him until he dies.
Little Red Riding Hood never makes it to Grandma's House and is eaten by the wolf, Peter Pan murders any children in Neverland who break his rule of 'never growing up' and Rumpelstiltskin, so angry that the Millers daughter has guessed his name, grabs his own legs and rips himself in half.
The Princess's that Disney is so famous for do not fare any better in the original tales, Sleeping Beauty, while unconscious, is raped and impregnated by the Prince and she is awoken by the crying of the twins she gave birth to while asleep. The Prince returns, take them to the Palace where the Prince's wife tries to kill her and the twins but is banished by the King before she can do it and Sleeping Beauty marries the man who violated her while sleeping.
Cinderella kills her first stepmother, her ugly sisters cut off their toes and heels to try and make the glass slipper fit and at the wedding of Cinderella and the handsome Prince, two pigeons peck out their eyes while Snow White's evil stepmother, as punishment for trying to kill Snow White, is made to dance wearing a pair of red-hot iron shoes until she dies.
Another Disney favourite, The Little Mermaid, commits suicide after the man she left the sea to marry ran off with another woman and Rapunzel is made pregnant by the Prince who throws himself from the tower when he thinks Rapunzel is dead and lands on a bush whose branches poke out his eyes.
The original tale of Mulan sees her forced into prostitution by the Khan and taking her own life and Goldilocks, frightened by being awakened by the Three Bears, jumps out of a window and breaks her neck in the fall.
All not very pleasant but even Disney would take some doing to sanitise the Grimm Brother's 'Juniper Tree' which sees a step mother chop off her step sons head, put it back on by wrapping a handkerchief around his neck before her daughter knocks it off again while playing which results in the step mother chopping up the boys body to hide the evidence and and making him into pudding, which they feed to his poor father.
Not much singing, dancing or fairy dust in these tales but lots of murder, rape and suicide so sleep tight children and next time you have a meat pudding for tea, check where you father is first.

Friday, 14 June 2019

Sanctions Are The New War

America has the biggest military in the World but rather than use it in the way of previous Presidents, Trump has another weapon of choice, it's economy.
In order to fight international disputes without dropping bombs on people of another nation, sanctions is now the thing to be deployed against the people it doesn't like.
Sanctions have the benefits of causing misery to entire populations without firing a single shot while collapsing their economies then blaming the victim of aggression in places such as Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and Russia, aka the bad guys.
The only problem is you can’t use sanctions against your allies which is extremely inconvenient, or at least it was, until Trump simply renamed sanctions and started calling them tariffs instead and targeted his friends in Europe, Canada, Mexico and China.
Although avoiding the complication of having to explain why hospitals, wedding parties and schools have been blown to smithereens in error, sanctions do still result in resentment and changes nothing but when you have a five times bankrupt running things and someone who lost over a billion dollars in the 90's including losing money on a casino of all places, it is hardly a surprise.
Nations are imposing tariffs of their own on American and it’s farmers have already received a $12 billion bailout program and are in line to be handed an additional $15 billion as sales of their fruit and vegetables flop.
Ford, America’s second-largest car company, said that Trump’s tariffs cost the company $1 billion, and the company now expects to make massive layoffs with GM making a similar announcement.
While it is always better than hot wars, trade wars seem to be not as easy to win as Trump once boasted.

China's Naughty And Nice List

In the brilliant Black Mirror there is an episode where citizens earn or lose credits depending on their behaviour and i guess China liked the idea because they are setting up a ranking system system that will monitor the behaviour of its population, and rank them all.
The mandatory program is due to be fully operational by 2020 and infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games, avoiding military service, loitering in public areas, paying bills late and posting fake news online.
A low rating will see you banned from flying or getting the train, your internet speed throttled, your children banned from the best schools, barred from higher education, banned from jobs such as state-owned firms and big banks and see you banned from the top hotels and named and shamed publicly with potential employers urged to check the list of names.
A good rating will see travel applications dealt with quicker, get you more matches on dating websites, discounts on energy bills, rent things without deposits, and get better interest rates at banks.
Amazingly, citizens say it's making them better people but then i guess they would, you don't want to appear on the bad list but rather chillingly, i can see this being rolled out in other countries.
Only a fat man dressed in red and living in Lapland with reindeer should be the owner of such lists. 

Global Peace Improving Slightly

If you watch the news  or read a newspaper you will get the impression that the world isn't always a very peaceful place with terror attacks, violent protests and wars but while many countries are experiencing some sort of conflict, others have found ways to keep peace and the Global Peace Index Report is out and lists the most to least peaceful places on our planet.
Using 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators, whatever Iceland is doing we should be following because it is rated the most peaceful once again for the 10th year followed by New Zealand, Portugal, and Austria.
As for the least peaceful countries, Afghanistan was ranked the lowest, with Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and Iraq close behind.
The United Kingdom ranked 45th most peaceful, up 5 places, with the United States down 4 places to a lowly 128th and Russia an even lower 153 out of 163.
The Middle East and North Africa region are the world’s least peaceful region with Europe again the most peaceful region with 22 of the top 36 nations European countries.
The results this year show that the average level of global peacefulness improved very slightly so we are getting there, just depressingly slowly.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Then There Were Seven

A list of 10 candidates were seeking the top job in the Conservative Party, a role that brings with it the title of Prime Minister.
Three have been ruled out, Esther McVey, Mark Harper and Andrea Leadsom, and the remaining seven now go on to further ballots among their fellow MPs before a run-off voted on by the party membership Rory Stewart, the most human by a long way of the shower of Tory candidates to replace Theresa May, is till in the mix but he barely made it through by the skin of his teeth so we can expect him to go out next round.
Boris Johnson easily finished top with 114 votes with Jeremy Hunt second with 43 votes and Michael Gove third on 37 votes with the rest likely to bow out soon and leave the field to these three.
Of the three, while you wouldn't trust any of them to run a bath let alone the country, Boris is looking the most likely to prevail although he is also the most likely to implode, so now might be a good time to make sure your passport is up to date.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Yemen? What Yemen Is That Then?

The Human Rights & Democracy report from the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office is always a riveting read but this year it has a special section on Yemen which could be a bit tricky for the UK Government.
If we can avoid mentioning Saudi Arabia at all we could avoid upsetting them and most importantly the £4.7 billion-worth of arms sales we got going with them.
Obviously we can't not mention that it is the UK selling them the weapons they use in the conflict so if we can explain that they is  'no risk that the weapons would be used to violate humanitarian law and we have confidence in the Saudi's dynamic targeting processes' and hope that nobody has noticed the UN investigative report which Saudi air strikes had caused the 6,100 verified civilian deaths in the country and air strikes had hit 'residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats and even medical facilities'.
If we can end with the line that we are 'continuing to lead international efforts to work towards an end to the conflict' then i think we can get away with it.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

No Job Safe From Ai

As Artificial Intelligence continues to improve, more and more jobs are being replaced but there are some jobs that a machine will never be able to replace a human at, or so you would think.
The AI of today can do things that we never imagined it would be capable of so nobody can think that they won't be replaced by a machine at some point. 
Journalists should be safe as as it takes a human mind to effectively report important information in the form of coherent and well-structured articles for everyone to easily understand, or so we thought until The Washington Post deployed a story-writing bot called Heliograf that churn out news pieces.
Dubai has put into operation a robot serving as a part of the police force on the streets and has creatively named it 'Robocop' and has been used to identify criminals, flag vehicle plates and report unattended bags in public areas so that's law enforcement taken care of.
People who write AI software should be safe but then along comes Google who have designed an AI that could design its own AI, and the AI it created turned out to be better at a task than software made by the same AI researchers.
Poet's and artists shouldn't be looking too smug either because AI has been developed that have written prose that experts were not able to distinguish from human-made ones and have produced art with as much understanding of perception, depth, and shadows as the best artists.
We are heading into a brave new world where your a robot will help you cross the road to buy your newspaper written by machines and you will be hanging art in your living room painted by automation.
Nobody will read poetry written by robots but then hardly anybody read that written by humans so no real change there.

LGBT Lessons

A set of rosary beads and a Saint Christopher medallion to anyone who can guess who is behind the 12 week protest against LGBT lessons outside the school in Birmingham.
With catchy slogans such as 'Our kids, our choice and 'Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve',
they have demanded the resignation of the headmistress over the sex education lessons that informs children about LGBT equality because nobody is as intolerant as a person with a religious belief.
Organisers of the protests include the Oldham Interfaith Forum who have said: 'This is about morality. We have our own religious beliefs and they need to be respected' but the local MP has called it 'hate preaching' and has asked for an exclusion zone around the school to allow pupils to attend lessons without being disturbed by the protests which was granted today with a high court
injunction.
I'm not sure what the parents are trying to protect their children from but they are not doing them any favours by showing that heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality are not equally valid.
By behaving like this, parents are teaching their children extreme prejudice and discrimination and that is what should be banned else they grow up to be as intolerant and as bigoted as their parents.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Forget Mars And Shoot For The Moon

Of the Space pioneers, Elon Musk has always seemed the most whack-a-doodle and a mighty idiot to boot but luckily we don't have to rely on his drug addled brain to propel us forward because we have Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
Speaking at the Mars Tech Conference, he explained that Humanity's very survival relies on colonising space, and he is starting with the moon.
His lunar-lander vehicle, Blue Moon, is designed to deliver a variety of payloads to the moon with the ultimate goal of helping humans establish a presence there as a launch pad for further space exploration.
He is correct as Mars is too big a step too soon and our near neighbour would be ideal for perfecting space exploration and colonisation before even beginning to look further afield.
A trip to Mars is six months out, the moon is 3 days and for all out technology, the human body is unable to handle the lack of gravity as we see from those returning from the International Space Station who are greeted by Gravity and a hospital worth of medical services.
Bezos is the man to be following in this, the moon HAS to be out first port of call. 

Sunday, 9 June 2019

1984 in 2019

Apparently, sales of George Orwells novel, 1984, have soared in America and it is being put down to the Donald Trump administrations use of the dystopian novel as a template.
It is a great book and i would urge everybody to read it just because it is a brilliant read but also because although it may seem absurd, the concepts in the book, doublethink, thought police are being acted out in front of us.
The quotes from the administration regarding 'Alternative facts' and 'Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening' are dangerously close to the line from the novel that read: 'The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears'.
The lies told over the over wars in Iraq and Afghanistan made people far less willing to believe the media and plays into Trump's often repeated line of 'fake news' to describe any coverage which is not favourable to him despite obvious evidence that he is lying, or as Orwell put it: 'political language designed to make lies sound truthful'.
The key message running through Nineteen Eighty-Four is that the purpose of propaganda is to narrow and limit the human the range of thinking but where we differ from going full Orwell is that the novel's Big Brother tried to hide what it was doing whereas Trump just lies and doesn't bother to try and hide it. 
The most damning line from Orwell, and overarching line is that 'Ignorance is Strength' and it is the ignorance of the Trump supporters, rejecting what they see with their own eyes and ears that allow him to carry on, and get away with, what he does.
It is no surprise that people are reaching for 1984 to gain some understanding of what they are really seeing and hearing.

Top Five Addictive Substances

Any form of addiction is harmful but drugs are the most addictive and it seems bizarre that some of the most addictive are legal and earn the Government money despite the knowledge that if taken in large or long enough doses, they will prove fatal.
A panel of experts have made up a list of the five most addictive substances based on the harm it causes, the value of the drug, the extent to which the drug activates the brain’s dopamine system, how pleasurable people report the drug to be, the degree to which the drug causes withdrawal symptoms, and how easily a person trying the drug will become hooked.
Heroin was ranked as the most addictive drug which causes the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward system to increase by up to 200%. The dose that can cause death is only five times greater than the dose required for a high.
Cocaine is second as it turns the dopamine signal off, resulting in an abnormal activation of the brain’s pathways and approximately 21% of people who try cocaine will become dependent on it.
The third most addictive, and legal, is nicotine and approximately 66% of people who tried smoking reported becoming dependent on it.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate that diseases directly related to smoking kills more than 8m people annually.
Fourth, and another legal drug, is Barbiturates or downers which were used to treat anxiety and to induce sleep by interfering with the chemical signalling in the brain, effectively shutting down various brain regions and Barbiturate dependence was common when the drugs were easily available by prescription.
Fifth in the list is alcohol which increases dopamine levels by 40-360% – and the more alcohol which is consumed, the more dopamine levels increased.
Some 22% of people who drink will develop dependence on alcohol at some point during their life and the WHO has estimated that more than 3m people die annually due to damage to the body caused by drinking.

Palestinian Peace Plan Doomed To Fail

America has long lost any legitimacy over deal with the Israel/Palestine conflict but Trump and his son-in law, Jerad Kushner, are still under the delusion that their long awaited 'deal of the century' is going to bring the warring nations together.
The Palestinians have refused to deal with the Trump administration since the president recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and even the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has reportedly admitted that many have doubts over the plan which he called 'a deal that only the Israelis could love' which was first expected in late 2018, then early 2019 but is now pencilled in to be presented at the end of June.
Leaks include plans to allow Tel Aviv to establish control over Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which remain illegal under international law which the Palestinians have said they will never accept and the head of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, said Trump’s deal can go to hell if that is a condition.
The EU, which has always been an ardent supporter of an independent and sovereign Palestine, said that splitting the West Bank between Palestine and Israel, with Israel keeping the whole of Jerusalem and Palestinians having no control over their borders is heavily skewed in favour of Tel Aviv and, therefore, is doomed to fail.
Matters were not helped when Kushner, in an interview, said the hope is that they [Palestinians], over time, will become capable of governing which outraged many who took, including many Jewish organisations, as an insult to mean that the Palestinians were incapable of running their own affairs.
The Palestinians deserve better than a deal which not only entrenches Israel's long military occupation but legitimises their illegal stranglehold over their neighbour and the plan will fall at the first hurdle but Israel will be fine with that because they will just continue their disgraceful genocide and inflict even further suffering on the Palestinians like they have for the past 70 years until America has a President not in thrall of the Israel tail wagging the American dog.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Free Porn

When i was a kid we had a cinema close to where we lived which would have 'special showings' which would see shifty looking men enter once a month to watch 'art films' which were about as much about art as Monty Python's Flying Circus was about trapeze artists and clowns, what they were showing were soft core porn films.
Where in bygone days the lovers of people watching other people have sex had to face the shop assistant to buy a top shelf magazine, now they have the internet and as much porn as their right arm can handle and one 1990s study of Usenet discussion groups suggested five in six images shared were pornographic.
Online pornography providers were pioneers in web technologies to compress video files to smaller, easier downloadable files but as the internet expanded, it gradually became less for pornography and more for all that other stuff and the problem porn studios have now is the same as faced by newspaper sites that when so much is available free online, it's hard to sell pornography when sites such as Pornhub are giving it away.
Whereas porn may have drove the early internet, today only 4% of the web is porn although 13% of all web searches are for 'erotic content' down from an estimated 40-50% ten years earlier and of the top one million websites, 42,337 are for sex-related content.
Although the porn industry may well have chocked it's own golden goose, there are still people who pay for access to pornographic websites presumably unaware that they can get it for free.
The moral panic may make it seem that you can hardly look at the web without seeing activities rated XXX but they are driven by companies that sell blocking software to 'make the Internet safe for children and families'.
Despite the availability of free pornography, an academic study by the General Social Survey (GSS) looking into pornographic viewing trends, found that when they asked 'Have you viewed pornography in the past year', during the decade before the Internet, (1987-1997), 32% of men answered yes while when asked the same question a dozen years after (1998-2010), the figure was 34%.
It may well feel that we have come a long way since the days of sex watching only being available in seedy theatres or on the top row of a newsagents and you had pay for either of those but with billions of porn pages now just a click away for free it seems that the scare stories may be not as scary as we thought.

The Solar System For Dummies

Nobody said that Donald Trump is an astronomer but maybe he should read a couple of books on the subject or at the very least get someone with even the shakiest grasp of the night sky to point out things to him.
Two of the first things should be that the massive yellowy-white thing in the sky about 240,000 miles away is the moon while the small reddish dot approximately 150 million miles away is a Planet called Mars.
Once he has taken that on board maybe they could explain that the Moon and Mars are not the same thing because judging by his tweet today he is struggling with that concept. 
'For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science' Trump tweeted to much shock and derision.
To be fair when he once declared himself 'a very stable genius' he obviously wasn't talking about his knowledge of the Solar System, and maybe he was a tired after all that excitement recently but this is yet another example of why having someone as dumb as a bag of spanners running your country is not the best idea.  
Your President America, well done.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Beware Your Spouse

The Femicide Census Annual Report is not something which i would recommend reading but it does have some very interesting statistics regarding just when, how and why women are killed in England and Wales.
The most likely murder place for a woman is in her home where 43% of women are killed by their boyfriend, partner or husband while 11% are killed by a stranger.
The most often cited reason for the murder is jealousy and the most popular methods for the murder is by stabbing (25%) and by strangulation (20%).
While most women die at the hand of their partner in the home, most men murdered are done so in the street or a public place and the most likely perpetrator is someone they know (34%) although 30% are killed by someone they have never met before who is likely to be another male.
The most likely cited reason is an argument that has escalated or a show of dominance and knives are responsible for most deaths, especially amongst young black men.
Partners or ex-partners are responsible for 4% of male murders but in both male and female deaths, previous violent episodes are recorded.

Anarchy In The UK Finally

The Sex Pistols were not only one of the greatest bands the UK has ever produced but they were amazing visionaries because as Theresa May packs up her kitten heels and leaves Downing Street for the last time, Britain is now Government free until the Conservatives crown another leader who will by default become Prime Minister so...ANARCHY IN THE UK!!!
With the tune firmly reverberating around my head, i set off with a claw hammer and a crowbar and list of shops whose wares i have taken a fancy to but just as i was about to lob a brick through the local jewellers window, my Anarchist friend stopped me and told me that Anarchy was not about smashing things up but about rejecting authoritarian government and maintaining voluntary institutions best suited to express man's natural social tendencies.
All very nice but i don't recall that line in the Sex Pistols song but most importantly it doesn't end with me making off with a new, free sofa so i referred back to the 1976 song and can quite clearly hear Johnny Rotten singing something about stopping a traffic line but he distinctly says at the end 'get pissed, destroy'.
That's settled that then, Anarchists can keep their key principles of self-organisation, voluntary association, freedom and autonomy because there is a lovely Chesterfield in Argos's window and i quite fancy that top in Next and it's three weeks until payday.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Trump Just The Latest Unsavoury Character In The UK

Theresa May has quite rightly been getting it in the neck for inviting Donald Trump over for a full state visit but he is the latest in a long line of unsavoury characters the Queen has been asked to entertain by the Government of the day.
In 1971 Japan's Emperor Hirohito was invited over for the full package which as the Japanese wartime head of state, didn't go down with angry veterans and former British prisoners of war, who joined the thousands whistling the Second World War march, Colonel Bogey, as he passed by in the horse drawn carriage.
Romania's Nicolae Ceausescu came for the visit in 1978 and the Queen even gave him an honoury knighthood although she admitted to trying her best to spend as little time with him as possible during the trip.
Japan's Emperor Akihito came over in 1998, the son of Emperor Hirohito, was treated to protesters turning their backs on him as he passed by in the carriage down the Mall which is not as bad as the protester who threw himself in front of Russia's President Putin's motorcade when he was given the full regal treatment in 2003.
The US President George W Bush followed Putin to Buckingham Palace in 2003 which was really bad timing as the Iraq War demonstrations were in full swing and tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the war, including an effigy of Mr Bush being toppled in Trafalgar Square. Eggs were thrown at the presidential cavalcade and £5m of extra security was drafted in.
Protesters followed around Chinese President Hu Jintao during his turn in 2005 although the Government did there best to block the leader seeing protesters by ordering police vans be lined in front of them although they never tried it when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia came over and he was greeted by a line of demonstrators all the way down the Mall.  
The Chinese President Xi Jinping was here in 2015 and he was treated to running battles between human rights protesters and Chinese supporters during Xi's procession to Buckingham Palace, the carriage avoiding a protester who sat in the road.
So Britain has a history of inviting over some of the World's worst leaders and i'm sure there will be more after Trump, especially as we will need the business after Brexit.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Best Of British

Two things us British are reknown for is our sense of humour and our politeness so the best of British has been on display on the protests banners held aloft for Donald Trump to see.
Some favourites include 'I'm awfully British, you're just awful', 'Orange is the new stupid' and 'Dear Queen, don't offer him the good biscuits' but some were more blunt such as 'All in all you're another prick without no wall' and 'Fascist Twat'.
There was a baby holding a sign that said 'You're more of a baby than me' and some schoolkids who went with 'Trump is a wally' and there was even my all time favourite of 'Impeach the Orange' which always tickles me.
The runner up and so very British was 'I took the day off work and found a babysitter and came all this way just to tell you you're a wanker' but for Britishness the award for best Trump protest sign has to be 'We're British, we're polite but Fuck off please'.
Brilliant, well done to us British.

Trump In The UK: Day 2

As we learnt at his inauguration, Donald has a problem with judging crowd sizes so we can excuse him when he said the protests in London against him coming to our shores was 'very small' and 'thousands had lined the streets to welcome him' or maybe he just didn't notice the 75,000 people waving banners telling him to feck off.
He never mentioned the giant, orange baby blimp flown in his honour but it may be he had his head down working out what the NHS stood for because after he said it would be part of the negotiations for any trade deal, Theresa May had to explain to him exactly what it was. 
At least we know that chlorinated chicken is exactly what it says on the tin, or box of chlorine, which America wants to send to our supermarket shelves when we leave the EU and lower our food standards.
He also explained that there wouldn't be any problem with any shared intelligence which was later proved true as he met with Nigel Farage and had a telephone conversation with Boris Johnson so no intelligence was shared then but he did refuse to meet the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, describing him as a negative force which led to several kettles and pots exploding.
Trump did seem to have a problem speaking and kept tripping over his own words but English is the president’s second language, the first being utter bollocks.
A disappointingly tame day in terms of Trumpyness and he ended the day with a banquet at the American Embassy and so keeping up his valiant effort to become the second fattest President ever.
It's my home town of Portsmouth tomorrow and as 1,634,917 people have told me, Portsmouth is an anagram of Shoot Trump so maybe we will be bringing a little bit of America to Southsea Common. 

Trump In The UK: Day 1

Probably my favourite moment of the day was when the third fattest President ever of the United States said he never saw any protesters, just hordes of welcomers outside the gates of Buckingham Palace who were actually protesters but to be fair, it is easy to confuse a sign saying 'Trump For Prison' for one that says 'Welcome Mr President' and he is barely literate.
It had all began so well with him abusing the Lord Mayor of the city that he is staying in and the sight of Trump clambering out of Airforce one to wave briefly to the absolutely zero people gathered to greet him apart from the pageantry who had to be there to make sure he didn't wander off.
Melania came dressed as a flight attendant but went through clothes changes like her husband changes dinner plates and it was noted that when they turned up at Buckingham Place to meet the Queen, who wore the fixed grin of someone who has just received a present she hates, it was noted that she doesn’t usually wear gloves to shake hands with world leaders, but has chosen to this time, best to be safe, never known what that hand had been grabbing just before.
Checking to make sure the mace spray was in her handbag, they went on a tour and was joined by Prince Harry who did his best to deliberately avoid the man who said that he could have 'nailed' his mum. 
The day ended with a slap up banquet back at Lizzie's place, steamed fillet of halibut, watercress mousse, asparagus spears and a chervil sauce with Windsor lamb with herb stuffing, spring vegetables and a port sauce and then a Strawberry sable and lemon verbena cream or as Donald usually calls it, a snack.
As 17 stone Trump (ahem) is only 3 stone behind Grover Cleveland, by the time he lands back in the USA he could be well be the second fattest President ever.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Welcome To The UK Donald

While he is here Donald Trump is not actually visiting anywhere where he will meet any protesters, but he will be meeting many politicians and royals, or rather the ones who haven't managed to come up with a previous excuse.
Labour and Lib Dem leaders Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable, have returned their invites to the Buckingham Palace banquet with a 'we will not be attending' message and Meghan Markle is staying away after she branded her fellow American 'misogynistic and divisive' and 'super creepy'.
The meeting with Prince Charles, William and Harry may be interesting considering that Trump said that 'he could have nailed her' and bombarded Diana with massive bouquets of flowers.
Boris Johnson is on his agenda for a meeting but Boris once said he found Trump to be stupefyingly ignorant and 'unfit to hold the office of President of the United States' while Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry did not mince her words by calling him 'an asteroid of awfulness' as well as a danger, a racist and a sexual predator'.
Ih win wins the Tory leadership, Michael Gove, should be remiknded that he mocked Trumps 'glowing, sodium orange skin',  his hair and his 'narcissistic and egotistical' personality although David Cameron will ne nowhere in sight althoigh he did say if Trump was ever to visit the UK he would 'unite us all against him' which appears to be one of the most honest things he ever said.
Anolther politicians he may bump into is Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon who said of Trump that he was a racist, sexist, misogynist and intolerant or there is David Lammy who decided to go with a 'woman-hating, neo-Nazi-sympathising sociopath'.
Caroline Lucas of the Greens plumped for plain old 'racist bigot' and 'a bully' while it might be good to be a fly on the wall if he meets the Lonon Mayor who today compared him and his supporters to 'the fascists of the 20th Century'.
Welcome to the UK Donald.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Making Me Feel Old

The BBC channel has been re-running some old Top of The Pops and at the end they show you the year that song was a hit and after almost every song i say 'that can't be right'.
I clearly remember hearing Nirvana bang out Smells Like Teen Spirit for the first time on The Word and was quite shocked to see it was 1991, 28 years ago, which means that it is now as old as 'Surfin' USA' by The Beach Boys and 'He's so fine' by the Chiffons when it was released.
Will Smith was being interviewed on the TV and my husband mentioned how old he is looking now which hurt as he is the same age as me which got me wondering just what else do i refuse to acknowledge is telling me that my youth is quickly vanishing in the rear-view mirror.
I still say i will need to 'tape that' or put the tape on for that' when i see something i want to record on television which my children find hilarious and i saw people queueing up to go see Detective Pickachu who were not even born when the cartoon series introduced him to us in 1997.
Seeing a birth year of 2000 on application forms always makes me think at first glance that they entered the date wrong before i realise that they would make them 19 and once i could run for miles and just feel a bit out of breath and no aches while now i ache for the rest of the day just by sitting at a funny angle for 10 minutes.
The 'Now That's What I Call Music' series has reached 102 and i have number 2 in my record collection, bought for me as a 14th birthday present and playing 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' by
Cyndi Lauper over and over.
Worst of all is one of my favourite films is Back To The Future, where Marty McFly travelled back 30 years to a very old fashioned looking 1955 and realise that if he made the same trip today, he would have to go back to 1989!
Bloody hell, i'm feeling old all of a sudden.

Austerity Britain Report #2

Austerity reports are like buses, nothing for ages and then two come along at once so on the heels of the UN report that the Governments austerity drive had inflicted 'great misery on it's people with punitive, mean spirited and callous measures', on the desk of the Prime Minister now drops the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) that those same austerity measures had resulted in over 130,000 deaths in the UK since 2012.
The IPPR found that, after two decades in which preventable diseases were reduced as a result of spending on better education and prevention, there has been a seven-year slump in which state provision has been pared back because of significant budget cuts to public health services.
The IPPR calls for a large increase in the budget to replace the 5,100 health visitors who have been cut and a reversal of the £700m reduction in public health funding and to plug a £3.6bn gap in funding for social care.
If you ever wondered what the UK would be like after 10 years of Conservative Government, have a look, and if you are still tempted to vote for them ever again, then you haven't look hard or long enough.

Is Trump An Actual Fascist?

This week on my blog is going to be very Donald Trump heavy as he is here and he is bound to do or say something stupid, insensitive or just plain crazy several times a day and until Thursday at least the whole media circus is going to be concentrating on him and his entourage so little else will get a look in which will make a nice change to Brexit. 
One word which is going to be bandied about, and used today by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, to describe the crazy haired lunatic is 'Facist' but it is hard to know how accurate that is because fascist and fascism is hard to nail down.
Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini are probably the most famous fascists but author of many books on Fascism, Robert Paxman, explains that Fascism is all about arousing enthusiasm by propaganda techniques for an anti-liberal, anti-socialist, exclusionary nationalist agenda while George Orwell in his essay 'What Is Fascism?' explains what is the most common traits of a fascist.
He found that fascist leaders scapegoat and demonise other groups to gain a common enemy to unite against, refer to a glorious past and wish to return to it, not allowing dissent or challenge, rid their Government of the previous laws and decisions of previous leaders, to create their own, use the nations resources to build up the military to which they threaten weaker and smaller nations. 
So to judge Trumps fascist tendencies, he certainly has scapegoated many including Mexicans (rapists and criminals), the media (enemy of the people) and Muslims so he gets a massive tick for that one.
His clarion call of 'Make America Great Again' satisfies the harking back to a better time agenda and CNN lists 62 members of his staff who have either been sacked or resigned under pressure, famously sacking FBI director James Comey when he refused to pledge loyalty to him.
Trumps whole time in administration has seen him energetically rolling back his predecessors laws and decisions and although he hasn't actually used the military during his time in office, he has threatened to destroy North Korea, warned of the end of Iran, has discussed sending the military to overthrow the Venezuela leadership and sent armed troops to the Mexico border while significantly increasing military spending from 2.4% to 4.7% to $750 billion.
Nobody can deny Paxman's criteria of pushing an anti-liberal, anti-socialist agenda is not spot on so when we also take George Orwell's definitions of what makes a fascist, then Trump is overwhelmingly one and the use of the word is legitimate.