Monday, 31 December 2007

Hoping You Have A Good One

Another used up calendar dropped into the bin to be replaced by a fresh, clean one and so i want to wish everyone who has visited this blog in the past year all the best for the coming year.
I expect there are some who have disagreed with every sentence i have typed or we have crossed swords over something at some instance but to them and everyone i have met during my time blogging, whether we have agreed, swore at each other or just plain not seen eye to eye on anything, i hope you all have a great 2008 and it brings everything you wish and more.

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Taking Aim At Hunters

Another on an ongoing series of concurrent posts concerning the differing views of the ideological left and the right by Cody of It Is What It Is and I. We have decide to put forward our opposing views on hunting.

Back in the days before supermarkets or corner shops, man had to undertake the hunter gatherer adventure in order to survive. Regrettably, some members of society have not cottoned onto this concept as they continue the unnecessary, premeditated and cold-blooded killing of defenceless animals.
Hunters argue that it is not just about killing. They claim that the camaraderie, nature appreciation and exercise are just as important a part of the hunt as the actual killing, or attempted killing, of the target animal.
The overwhelming majority of the planets population can appreciate and learn about nature and also contribute to nature conservation efforts without having to kill things, a camera proves to be an excellent invention for this purpose.
The banning of fox hunting in the UK reflected modern society's abhorrence of cruelty to wild animals which has, for too long, been veiled in the cloak of tradition. Some traditions deserve to die and chasing animals for miles across fields before allowing your dog pack to rip the beautiful animal apart or taking aim at a grazing deer with a high powered rifle is one that deserves to whither and die.
Hunting has contributed to the extinction and near extinction of countless animal species all over the world with almost 16,000 mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish on the endangered list of threatened species and many more hunted out of existence.
By far the most bizarre justification some hunters put forward to try and justify their blood lust is that the kill is quick, painless and prevents the animal suffering an even worse death by disease or being eaten alive by predators.
Using the same logic a serial killer is actually doing his victims a huge favour just in case they went on to develop heart disease or cancer.
Future generations will look back on some things in disbelief, just as we look back in disbelief at cock fighting, bear baiting and badger digging. One of the things on which they will wonder is why, at the beginning of the third millennium we were still debating whether it was right and proper to allow people to kill animals for fun.

Cody's pro-hunting posting is here

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Another Fatal Dog Attack

Yet another attack on a child by a dog. This time a year old baby boy has been mauled to death by a 10 stone Rottweiler.
The thirteen-month-old was killed when the dog snatched him from the arms of his young cousin at his grandparents home and carried him into the garden.
Once again we hear the same old story from the Police after the tragic event.
"What we know at this time is that the dog was a family pet, a two and a half year old female Rottweiler, which the family had owned for about six months. It had interacted with members of the family including children, and had showed no previous signs of any aggression."
"All breeds of dogs are animals. They do revert to animal instincts. If a dog is confronted with a situation they are not used to, they can react unexpectedly," explained a spokesman from the British Kennel Association.
Sadly, people continue to keep dogs like Rottweilers or pit bulls as pets so we will continue to hear such stories as these for the foreseeable future.
Rottweilers are not banned by the Dangerous Dogs Act and while the common mantra is to blame the owners and not the breed, some breeds are certainly more inclined towards violent outbursts.
The UK does not keep details of attacks by breeds but the American Veterinary Medical lists Pit bulls as the most dangerous breeds for fatal attacks in the US followed by Rottweilers, German shepherds and Huskies.
A rottweiler, if treated properly, will behave itself, like any other dog. But there is one obvious difference. If a 10 stone rottweiler attacks, as we have seen in far too many occasions now, the result is fatal.
Surely the safety of your loved ones should come above some macho status symbol, guard dog or fashion accessory.

Friday, 28 December 2007

America's Greatest Band Are They?

There has been an advert running on the radio stations here since before Christmas for the Eagles Greatest Hits album and is being advertised as being by "the greatest band to come out of America".
Now that sure is a big shout considering that America is responsible for almost every decent band that has graced the world stage, certainly in my lifetime.
I don't know what criteria the advertising guru's were working to when they decided to label The Eagles as Americas finest but take out the excellent single "Hotel California" from their discography and i am struggling to name many more Eagles hits.
Maybe it is an age thing and i was too young to appreciate the Eagles 70's heyday but if we are going to be bandying about labels such as "Americas Greatest Band" i don't think The Eagles would be figuring in many peoples top 5.
Our own definition of 'The Greatest' being purely personal, i expect everyone will have different bands in mind according to the style of music we enjoy listening to and most of mine would come from the guitar based groups of the 80s and 90s.
The likes of Guns N Roses, Ramones, Nirvana and The Offspring would battle it out for top 5 placement but my sticky lapel badge would go to a band who have been consistently brilliant from their first album to the latest over a decade and a half later.
Ladies and Gentlemen, i give you my "Greatest Band To Come Out Of America"....Green Day.
From "Dookie" through to "American Idiot", a Green Day album has been almost a permanent fixture on my Stereo, tape deck and CD player through the 90's and 00's.
With their latest album selling in excess of 15m worldwide, they seem to be finally getting the recognition they deserve and while i appreciate that their brand of music may not be to everyone's tastes and their singles have never bothered the top end of the charts that often, Billy, Mike and Tre would knock The Eagles into a cocked hat.
But then that's just my opinion and maybe the years of playing Basketcase too loudly has damaged a few brain cells.

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Talking To The Taliban

Before the news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto overtook events, the scorn was aimed at MI6 and the EU representatives for daring to hold talks with members of the Taliban.
I assume the people most outraged are the same ones who howled in horror when we met with the IRA, or with Gadaffi, or Kim Jong il. Of course we have to meet with these people because otherwise the only solution is military and with over 5000 people killed in Afghanistan in 2007, most of them civilians, that should be an option we seek to end immediately.
The Taliban are from from what anyone could describe as an ideal Government but prior to 2001 and the granting of safe haven to Bin Laden, the Taliban were not on most peoples list of bogeymen. The US were on more than friendly terms in the late nineties when meeting to discuss the proposed oil pipeline running through Afghanistan and even offered to go home and leave the Taliban in control of the country if they handed over Bin Laden.
Post 2001, the Taliban leadership has become a more hardcore ideological group but the main body are little more than cannon fodder, prepared to scratch the back of anyone prepared to make them a better offer and that should be our plan. Offer a better way out for the vast majority who have no affiliation to the former Government and are just in it for the money.
After 6 years there is a military stalemate with neither side winning and only the death toll advancing so we should be talking and making deals to our perceived enemies until support for the Taliban is scaled back far enough for it to be not considered a threat to the countries security.
The only alternative is the continued killing and hoping we can kill them quicker than they can recruit new members and chancing that we don't inadvertently take out innocent citizens as we do it therefore improving the appeal to young Afghans bent on revenge.
As we seen many times before, it does not matter how many troops we put on the ground, how many lives we expend be they ours, there's or civilians, the fight will go on and on until we change our direction because the talking option is the only one the we have left unless you are one of those who actually advocate an endless war from the safety of your own armchair.

Hunters Go On Hunting

According to the Countryside Alliance, over 200,000 people turned out to support it's annual Boxing Day tradition of slaughtering foxes.
Despite the 'sport' being banned in 2005, the red breasted and small brained among us continue to gather their horses and hounds and chase foxes across the countryside until it is to exhausted to continue and is then ripped apart by a pack of frenzied dogs.
The Countryside Alliance said: "A lot of the support you'll see today is about people who don't like the fact that this is an illiberal piece of legislation, they don't like the fact that the reasons for it were completely unjustified. So they're coming out to support the rights of individuals to carry out a perfectly reasonable activity in the countryside."
Unless you live in a cave and rub two sticks together to make fire, it is impossible to defend hunting of any nature but to call fifty men on horseback and as many as a hundred hounds chasing down a fox a 'perfectly reasonable activity' goes to show what mentality we are dealing with.
The hunt saboteurs have changed tact to compensate for the law change and now film the hunters breaking the law with a view to taking them to court so we can hopefully see some of these morons in the dock.
Meanwhile, lets hope that none of the hunters fell off their horses and spent Boxing Day evening having limbs set in plaster. That would just break my heart.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Brown: A Christmas Carol

Twas the night before Christmas, and a stirring pierced the chill air outside of the Chamber of Commerce as a young army wife carrying a young child approached the Prime Minister.
"Please Sir," ventured the woman, "My husband is in Iraq and on the matter of Christmas . . ."
"Bah!" interjected Brown. "Humbug! He will pass the period over Christmas fighting to make us all safe from those Al Queada types we filled their country with."
"But we are his family . . ." persisted the mother.
"We shall mark Christmas my way" bellowed Gordon. "and that is an end to it. Be gone"
And so it seemed until Brown's passage to his bullet proof Jaguar was impeded by a hideous apparition. "Margaret Thatcher" he whispered, "What dost thou want with me?"
"Three spirits shall visit you this night," intoned the repulsive spectre. "Heed them, if you persist in this refusal to embody the spirit of empathy, you shall suffer my fate of dragging your baffling decisions behind you on a heavy chain as you are removed sobbing from office.
"Be gone" shouted Gordon, concluding he must have eaten too many mince pies and returning home to settle into as deep a sleep as a man who had just lost 25m peoples tax records possibly could.
On the stroke of midnight the curtains of his bed were drawn aside.
"I am the Ghost of Christmas Past," replied this vision in the guise of Winston Churchill. The room dissolved, and they came upon a once-familiar scene. "Edinburgh University" gasped Brown.
"Yes," intoned the spirit. "But though it be Christmas, the place is not quite empty. Who is this, hunched over his tattered copy of Das Kapital, dreaming of establishing Socialism in Dunfermline?"
"Haunt me no longer!" wailed a stricken Gordon as the ghost melted away.
Dong! On the stroke of one, Gordon came upon a rotund, John Prescott trying to pick egg shell out of his hair.
"I am the Spirit of Christmas Present," laughed this vision, "Come, let us press our ears to a cabinet meeting and observe your friends plotting to replace you."
"But who is that?" asked Gordy, pointing to a little fellow alone in the corner studying a map of the Occupied Territories.
"That is Tiny Tony," sighed the spirit. "He suffers from illusions of grandeur."
"But tell me he will overcome it," pleaded Brown.
"I cannot" came the sad reply.
"Be gone!" wailed the Prime Minister.
Dong! Dong! Two o'clock, and the final visitor appeared shrouded in a deep black garment that concealed its face, nothing of it was visible save one outstretched hand.
"Rupert Murdoch" whispered a terrified Gordon. "Are you the Spirit of Christmas Yet To Come?" The figure nodded.
"Lead on..." he murmured. With a jab of its bony finger, the spirit flicked the
television set to Sky News. A ticker ran across the bottom of the screen.
"Labour Party: there will be no mourners for him," ran the ticker. "He was even worse than Tony Blair."
"No!" wailed Brown. "Worse than Blair! I am finally persuaded! Oh spirits, i will not shut out the lessons that you teach. Oh, tell me I may wipe away the writing on this ticker!"
And that is the story of how Gordon Brown stopped being such a Bush toadying liability. He was out after the next election, of course, but that is another story.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

And to All A Very Merry Christmas

Christmas comes but once a year which is probably just as well according to the British Society for the Prevention of Accidents who calculate that over the 12 days of Christmas around 80,000 people in Britain will be hospitalised.
The season of joy is also the season of strange accidents and weird injuries from Christmas trees, paper chains, tinsel, holly, ivy and sprigs of mistletoe.
Some injuries are inevitable such as sharp knives in the hands of a tipsy cook but other accidents are linked to the more innocuous features of Christmas with 2000 injuries last year caused by Christmas trees.
So for those of you not being handed a breakfast menu and asked what time you will be requiring your bed bath, I wish you a very merry Christmas and hope to see you again the other side of Boxing Day.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Bye Rudy, Hello Mike

With supporters distancing themselves quicker than his hairline from his eyebrows, Rudy Giuliani has been removed as the US publics favourite Republican and has been replaced by Mike Huckabee.
With his colourful background which included hilariously marrying his own cousin, Giuliani was a God send for anyone wanting to mock the right wing of America but the fickle finger of fate has decreed that Rudy is not going to be plonking his hair restorer in the White House bathroom cabinet.
Instead, and showing a penchant for the magnificently foreheaded, it has decided that Mike Huckabee become the right wing's choice for getting resoundingly beaten by Hilary or Obama instead.
With such a rich source of childish humour now out of the running, us lefties have had to hit the internet to find out about this Huckabee chap. Turns out that the Arkansas Governor has got himself quite a checkered background himself.
Dodgy use of a personal expense account, Ethics Commission appearances, banning evolution from the classrooms, anti-gay comments and freeing rapist who go on to re-offend.
Reaching out for the female vote may be a problem with the revelation that he signed his support to a church statement that read "A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband."
As expected from an American conservative, Huckabee puts his recent success down to divine intervention with the big guy upstairs lending his support to the campaign. The same big guy i guess that the present incumbent has chats with. Usually about how he is the most unpopular President ever.
The hapless Giuliani may be gone but his replacement seems to be of an equal calibre.

Putin The Great

Any award that includes such unsavoury characters as Adolf Hitler, Stalin, George W Bush and Deng Xiaoping as it's past winners is always going to be a bit on the controversial side and Time Magazine has not let us down with this years 'Person of The Year' award going to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Cue much harrumphing from everyone who failed to read the part of the award that explains that the magazine aims to recognise the person who has had the greatest influence over world events, not just those who have made a positive contribution.
Putin was hailed for his "extraordinary feat of leadership in taking a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability".
Time said he was "choosing order before freedom", however, acknowledging concerns about his style of leadership but you cannot deny, Putin has certainly dragged Russia back to the big time following its slump during the Yeltsin years.
Personally i would of given it to the runner-up in the shape of Al Gore who not only won an Oscar for his film An Inconvenient Truth and the Nobel Peace Prize but forced the greatest danger we face in environmental issues to the forefront of the political agenda.

Monday, 17 December 2007

British Pull Out Of Basra

Gosh us Brits are great. Seriously, we really are some of the darn nicest people in the world. Take a look at Iraq for example. In we went without a care for our own safety to make everything better for those poor, downtrodden Iraqi's and now with our mission accomplished we are striding back out again leaving behind a land of daffodils and fairy castles. Yep, we rock.
If only real military 'victories' on the ground in Basra were as easy to conjure
as the sickening propaganda successes we've seen on our television screens over the last few days.
Gordon Brown can spin it anyway he likes, the bottom line is we have left Iraq, and Basra, in a worse state than we found it. And we are leaving our mess behind for them to clear up.
The scale of the chaos we have abandoned them to has been revealed by the Basra Police Chief who told the ITN News ""They left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world."
He described the breakdown of law and order in Basra with the murder of women for being unIslamic. "They are being killed because they are accused of behaving in an immoral way.Some of them have even been killed with their children because their killer says that they come out of an adulterous relationship."
Not quite the picture that has been painted by the British Government who called the timing of the handover as "appropriate."
The only good to come out of this outrageous debacle is that the right wing militarists have been so thoroughly discredited that they have been forced to accept that we cannot forcibly impose our values on other races or religions.
As for this British Government, it was complicit in over 1 million Iraqi deaths, 4 million refugees, Iraq's society destroyed, the countries infrastructure destroyed, the presence of terrorists where there was none before and a country covered in DU and cluster bombs.
Feel as proud of yourself as you like Mr Brown but don't you dare try and portray this as anything but an unmitigated disaster from start to finish.


Monday, 10 December 2007

Where Have All The New Xmas Songs Gone?

It was about a fortnight ago in the middle of Sainsbury's that it happened. Suddenly, and without warning, i suddenly felt Christmassy. The reason for this unexpected turn of events that led me from 'damn, it's raining again' to 'wow, it's almost Christmas' was the first bars of festive music.
I think i even smiled at the checkout boy rather than eyeing him suspiciously as i entered my chip and pin number.
Christmas is probably the only time of year you can get away with humming songs sung by Cliff Richards or Bon Jovi without your image suffering terminal meltdown but most of the decent Christmas songs that clog up the ears this time of year are all decades old.
The 70s and 80s were the high point for the sound of sleigh bells on three minutes of some bloke singing about snow or calling someone a scumbag and maggot as The Pogues did in Fairytale of New York.
So where are all the new relentlessly jolly or teeth rottingly sweet Christmas songs? Pushing to one side Cliff Richards (someone, please), our charts over the last decade have been almost as dry as Betty Fords liquor cabinet when it comes to seasonal tunes.
Come on you pop stars, there are only so many times i can hear Merry Xmas Everyone as I step into a high-street shop. Put down the pretence that your far too cool to do Xmas, pick up your guitar and write something jingle belly, comforting, familiar, and irritating.
Everyone except you Spice Girls, you have overdone your irritating quota.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Xmas Everyday

The presents, tree, decorations and the Disney version of Scrooge on the TV. As wizzard lamented in the 70's, don't you wish it could be Christmas everyday? Fulfilling the dream of the glam rockers is a place called North Pole in Alaska where it is indeed Christmas all year round.
The town of North Pole was established in the 1950's with the sole intention of attracting tourists and the toy industry to the home of Santa Claus. To this end, every shop and business has something to do with Christmas, the town is festooned with decorations all year round, and a sizable proportion of the adult population spends their days decked out in elf costumes.
As any letter simply addressed to Santa, North Pole ends up here, the local schoolchildren in the sixth grade even have replying to the hundreds and thousands of letters sent to Father Christmas as part of the curriculum.
Its biggest attraction is a gift shop named Santa Claus House with the world's largest fiberglass statue of Santa Claus outside. Street names include Santa Claus Lane, St. Nicholas Drive, Snowman Lane, and Kris Kringle Drive and all the street lights in the city are decorated as huge candy sticks.
Of course, the city came to prominence last year when a group of children were foiled in a Columbine style high school massacre so maybe basing your towns philosophy on glam rockers is not that wise after all.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Applauding Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez has been taking a bit of a knocking recently as his proposed plan to serve more than two terms took a bit of a fall this week.
The opponents of the Venezuelan leader hammered away at the claim that the new constitution would make Chavez president for life when actually he was proposing the same rules that operate here in Britain, namely to serve as many terms as he was democratically elected for.
Of course it serves the capitalist countries and big business leaders to play down and even vilify the system that would see them knocked from their lofty perches which a wide uptake of Socialist ideology in most of the world would do.
Since Chavez was elected in 1998, we have seen the first serious attempt at a modern form of Socialism and only the most blinkered of McCarthy era relics would not admit that Chavez has made a mighty fine fist of things so far.
He inherited a country devastated by two decades of poverty and driven by oil revenues, increased social spending by ploughing the money into health care, education, food provision, employment, land reform, culture and the environment.
To compare 1998 to 2006 figures make astounding reading.
1628 doctors in 1998, 19,571 today while there was 250,000 free school meals in 1998 in 2006 there was 1.8m.
Access to education has dramatically increased, including more than 1 million people participating in free adult literacy classes, leading to Venezuela eradicating illiteracy by UN standards.
55% of the population was in poverty in 1998, 30.6% in 2006. The Venezuelan economy has grown by 76%. Inflation is down from 120% in 1998 to 20% now.
Don't expect those bent on condemning Chavez as a power crazed megalomaniac to applaud these impressive achievements but the rest of us can maybe agree that he has set about solving the problems of the most vulnerable in Society, namely the poor and sick and has laid the groundwork for a country where the majority and not the few, reap the most benefits. As it should be.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Bush's Iran War Plans Collapse

See those round things bouncing off into the distance? That would be the wheels coming off the Bush Administrations attempt to bounce 1000lb bombs off the top of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's head.
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which collates the work of the 16 American intelligence agencies, have issued a report that Iran has no nuclear weapons programme.
"Tehran's decision to halt its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005," it said.
The gnashing of teeth in the Bush and Cheney house must of been deafening as their efforts to convince the World that Iran was on the brink of unleashing nuclear Armageddon on us all fell flatter than a sumo wrestlers armchair cushion.
Bush and his vice-president have been forcibly claiming that Tehran is bent on
achieving a nuclear weapon, with the president even warning in October of the risk of a third world war if action was not taken soon.
With Bush today telling a press conference that he had been aware of this information since August, it throws up two very interesting thoughts.
Firstly, why was the USA, Britain and France pushing for tougher sanctions against Iran a few weeks ago and warning that "A wait-and-see approach is not an option" if they knew, or at the least Bush did, that Iran was not building nuclear weapons? Also to be considered is what is to come of the sanctions that have already been imposed?
Secondly, and most appallingly, our leaders have once again been exposed as fantasists who were willing to unleash another devastating war, killing hundreds of thousands while increasing the risk of terrorism and hatred of the west based on outright lies.
In 2003, the UK and USA said Iraq had WMD's and Saddam said he never. In 2007 the UK and the USA said Iran was building a Nuclear capability, Ahmadinejad said he never. Both times the UK and USA have been exposed as the liars.
We can only thank the heavens that at least this time it didn't take over a million dead Middle East residents to expose our morally bankrupt and breathtakingly dishonest leaders.


Sunday, 2 December 2007


Imagine, if you will, a world run by right-wing conservatives. A world where Fox News is said to have "gained the reputation for reporting the news in an unbiased manner" and where Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party was the result of the theory of evolution.
Scary indeed but there is such a place where the right wing congregate free from the unpleasant left-wing views that tends to accompany the truth.
Conservapedia looks just like Wikipedia but was created by religious activists to counter 'liberal bias' in Wikipedia which they claim to be anti-Christian.
Unintentionally hilarious to anyone who is not an evangelical right winger frothing at the mouth, there is a statistics link on the main page that leads to the most viewed pages.
So what are the top 5 right wing issues that concern our more gullible and soft headed number? Gun control? Socialism? Atheism? Removing the Main page, the top 5 most viewed pages are:

1 Homosexuality? [2,018,819]
2 Homosexuality and Hepatitis? [519,571]
3 Homosexuality and Parasites? [498,737]
4 Homosexual Couples and Domestic Violence? [374,858]
5 Homosexuality and Gonorrhea? [333,457]

The introduction on the subject of homosexuality sets the tone nicely, stating that "homosexuality has a variety of negative effects on individuals and society at large."
Conservapedia. Where topics are debated and everyone agree's it's the the gays fault.