Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The dollar's fate no longer America's call

From the New York Times:

(open quote)

China has pegged its currency, the yuan, to the dollar. When this peg is either relaxed or tossed out, the dollar is likely to plunge sharply against it.

Some economists argue that if the Chinese do not allow the yuan to trade more freely, the dollar will not fall enough to reduce the nation's record current-account deficit.

That deficit, which is the broad gap between the nation's exports and imports of goods and
services, is expected to top $600 billion this year. A weaker dollar could reduce it by making
foreign imports more expensive for Americans while our exports are more competitively priced abroad.

China's possibly pivotal role in next year's dollar story is a reminder of its burgeoning economic importance, said Robert J. Barbera, chief economist at ITG/Hoenig.

"The adjustment to the dollar that all the economic models say we need to reduce the current-account problem is in the hands of China," he said. "It is not a U.S. call, and that is a profound change."
(Close quote)


Is America's power on the wane? I have had the feeling for some time now, that America's halcyon days are behind it rather than ahead of it. For the last 60 yeras or so, America has been able to go her own way and do pretty much as she pleases. As the strongest and by far the wealthiest economy in the world, the U.S. has, as the expression goes, been independently wealthy.

In today's more open global economy, America is much more vulnerable to external factors and influences. The globalised economy has encouraged countries like China and India to open up their economies to inward investment. This has ignited phenomanal economic expansion in these and other Asian countries.

As they grow bigger and stronger, America's slice of an admittedly larger pie is being eaten into. This is not what the Federal Reserve had in mind when it contemplated the benefits of globalisation. The idea was that America, as the driving force behind globalisation, would be the biggest benificiary.

As ever, the best laid plans of mice and men often have unforeseen consequences. The fact that the fate of the dollar now no longer rests in the hands of Alan Greenspan but in those of China's ruling elite, is surely one of them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Malawi leader settles into palace

According to a BBC report, Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika has moved into a palace outside the capital, Lilongwe, which previously housed the country's parliament. Mr Mutharika's decision to settle into the 300-room palace caused outrage when it was announced in July.

Most of the parliament's staff are now based at a nearby venue belonging to a merchant bank, but MPs are still seeking a debating chamber. Parliamentary committees have been holding their meetings in a motel.

The presidential palace was built at a cost of $100m by former President Hastings Kamuzu Banda - but he only stayed there for 90 days.

Besides hundreds of air-conditioned rooms, it has its own school and supermarket. Parliament moved into the venue in 1995.

Mr Mutharika said he wanted to move from his Blantyre residence to Lilongwe, as part of attempts to streamline government operations.

But the opposition says the decision runs against his promises to cut government expenditure. MPs have rejected the idea of moving to a sports stadium and have been searching for new premises.

Mr Mutharika was elected in a bitterly contested poll in May.


In the meantime Western leaders like Britain's Chancellor of The Exchequer, Gordon Brown are proposing that the West cancels third world debt! Well that should go some way to paying for Mr. Mutharika's 300 room palace and a new parlaiment for the minions!

Wake up Mr. Brown et al! I say not a penny till these corrupt African demigogs put their houses in order. It is simply throwing good tax payers money after bad!

The naivity of our leaders is at times bewildering beyond belief.

There is no point in giving money to corrupt and incompetent third world governments.

Most of it will either be squandered, or find its way into Swiss numbered bank accounts. Perhaps Mr. Blair and Brown can explain to us how that is going to eradicate third world poverty because for the life of me, it's beyond me!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Sikh and ye shall not find!

Sent: 20/12/2004 22:40

Birmingham Theatre Scraps Sikh Play

The directors of a play depicting sexual abuse and murder in a Sikh temple have scrapped the production due to fears that protests against it would escalate.


Our right to free speech was further eroded today by an intolerant minority and a too tolerant majority. That the Sikh community should take advantage of their democratic right to condemn a play they deem as offensive and blasphemous but then choose to use undemocrat means to get the play closed down, namely the threat of and use of violence, is despicable. They want the right to make their views felt but do not want the author ( a Sikh woman) to have the same right. Such is the hypocracy surrounding this case, the author has even been threatened with kidknapping and murder. So much for democracy then!

That we allow religious and other minorities to come here and dictate what plays we can or cannot stage in this, the oldest of all democracies, is testament to the spineless, knee bending, focus group driven, shortsighted, misguided, politically inept leadership we now have in this country. A populist government is always a dangerous government and a shallow government. Allowing minority groups to dictate the agenda in this way will lead to more, not less, racial tension in this country and play into the hands of parties like the BNP!

That these Sikhs cannot see that the events depicted in this play have nothing to do with blasphemy but merely reflect the sinful behaviour of humans, shows just how narrow minded is their thinking. It is not God who is being accused of misbehaving. That might be construed as blasphemy. In this case, as I understand it, it is the humans that are erring not God. The sin is theirs, not God's. So what is the fuss about? Surely no one is claimimg that Sikhs are without sin, are they?

Imagine what would happen if christian believers burned every book, play or newspaper that either depicted or carried a story of a priest committing a lewd or sinful act in a church or destroyed every cimema that had ever shown a controversial film about Jesus. What kind of a democracy would that be?

We don't do this sort of thing because no matter how strongly we may disagree with the views expressed or detest the nature of the material, we still respect the right of those who hold such views to express them. That is the bedrock of our democracy. If you don't like the play, book or film don't fork out the money!

We believe in freedom of choice and freedom of speech. These people say they do but resort to violence when someone says something they dislike! In my opinion these people should go live in dictator land where they can force everyone to agree with them, if that is what they want.

I prefer to stay here and agree to disagree with those who do not share my opinions or visa versa. As long as they do not try to force me to agree with them, I will not force them to agree with me.

It does not mean that we cannot share a pint and talk about something else on which we can agree, like what a great football club Tottenham Hotspur are for example! Alright, alright! I am only kidding.......................come on you Spurs!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Cycles of Life


As seed turns to flower and blooms in the spring

Aromas waft scented upon the wing,

Of bees and birds and butterflies,

Till the petals fall and the flower dies.

Seeds fall upon the mulch of autumn.

Trees bend in the whistling winds that court them,

And the leaves blush in hews of red,

As they tumble lightly to their dewy bed.

The leaves lie sleeping in gentle decay,

Harvested by mould turning them into chalk and clay,

While seeds lie trapped in the frosted earth,

Awaiting the spring of a new a born birth.

A Baby Is Born

Cycles of Life Posted by Hello

A baby was born this day, in a Bethlehem manger.

Three wise men following a star journeyed to see the stranger.

From heaven he came, to this humble earth,

When the virgin Mary, gave him birth.

And Leaves His Mark

Seeds of wisdom did he sow.

On barren ground they did flourish and grow,

For his words were harvested by the twelve apostles,

And guarded for posterity, like ancient fossils.

And Dies And Is Reborn

Upon a heathen’s cross he died.

Why have you forsaken me Lord, he cried.

But he rose again from the dead,

So doubting Thomas said.

From Dust To Dust

From ashes to ashes and dust to dust,

We metamorphose as all life must,

From state to state in mysterious form,

Shall all life itself transform.

The Beginning And The End

Rivers of Life

Victoria Falls Posted by Hello

Seas blue to clouds dark grey,
Skies clear to dull rainy day,
Gentle breeze to angry wind blowing,
Cloudy day to starry night glowing,
Tiny seeds to mighty trees growing,
Trickles of water, to raging rivers flowing,
From snow covered mountains, to the waiting sea,
The rivers of life evaporate silently.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Fallujah and all that

Having advertised the coalition forces intent to attack the insurgents in Fallujah for weeks in advance as well as the re-deployment of the British Blackwatch brigade to cut off escape routes, why am I surprised that the leaders of the insurgents left in their Mercedes cars before the attack took place? Well actually I am not surprised at all and I doubt very much anyone else is either. What a stupid way to fight a stupid war which like most wars could have been avoided if their were any integrity at all, in the world institutions that are supposed to be the guardians of international law and human rights.

Until international law is applied to all nations equally and fairly, until corrupt and evil governments are excluded from all international bodies including the U.N. and until the assets of these governments and their leaders are seized and sanctions including the right to travel are implemented, their will never be any alternative to military conflict. No country, be it the USA, China, Britain, France, Iraq or Zimbabwe can stand alone against the rest of the world. War is avoidable but only if we create a system that all but makes it impossible for corrupt governance to survive let alone thrive. The U.N. is the embodiement of all that is wrong with our world institutions. Its charter is badly flawed. It is incompetent and it is itself corrupt.

In the meantime the innocent in Fallujah are the latest victims as are the so called martyrs. Whilst the leaders escaped, their minions were left to die in the rubble. Strange how it is that the bigwigs seem reticent to join the martyrs and lay claim to their heavenly virgins. It must be a painful sacrifice for them, having to delay their entry into paradise whilst encouraging others to go before them. Their sense of duty would be most admirable, if one believed any of this nonsense at all.

These views may seem cynical but I do feel enormous sorrow for those who have died believing that the Almighty awaits in heaven with open arms to welcome those who destroy the life he has created. It sickens me to my stomach that anyone could be so gullible in the 21st century.

Come on people wake up. You are giving your lives for nothing other than to satisfy the thirst for power of ambitious and corrupt men. To live is the greatest reward of all and to love is the greatest gift. Live to see your children and your grand children. Live so that your children may live and their children after them. That is the true wish of Allah/God. Nothing else makes any sense at all.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bush Shakes Status Quo

I agree with Ian Duncan Smith, (ex. Conservative Party leader) that Europe has to now make a rapprochement towards George Bush and not the other way around. Bush's position has strengthened. He has acted in the war against terrorism while the rest of the world dillied and dallied. They have been left behind and had it been left to the French, Germans, Russians et al, the U.N. would still be sitting on its hands and Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

Sometimes the world needs to be shaken out of its lethargy and moved on. Given the intractable problems in the Middle East over the last three or four decades, it was time. I do not condemn Bush or America for going into Iraq. I condemn the French, Germans, Russians and the rest of the world for not having the wisdom, will or the courage to back the USA and do what needed to be done. It is imperative that the international community acts as one in the face of the threat posed by renegade regimes and sends a clear message that the civilised world will no longer continue tolerating the intolerable. In this solemn and moral duty, the French, Germans, Russians and others failed abysmally.

Let's face it. Does anyone seriously believe that Saddam Hussein would suddenly transform himself into a benevolent, peace loving democrat, just because we were nice to him? Does anyone believe that Iran and North Korea are going to give up their nuclear weapons programs because the UN passes a few more resolutions or that Robert Mugabe will walk off quietly into the sunset because we impose a few porous trade sanctions against Zimbabwe? The world needed a Bush at this time and we got one.

The World has always needed leadership and sadly the UN does not and is incapable of providing it. America has sent a clear signal that unless it gets its act together it really will become a redundant irrelevance. It must be reformed to exclude brutal, corrupt governments from membership. It is totally unacceptable in a supposedly civilised world, that barbaric dictators like Saddam Hussein and Robert Mugabe, should have their governments legitimised by and through membership of world organisations, such as the U.N.

The world needed shaking up. It needed a man like President Bush to catalyse change. It will be painful as change often is but it is necessary. If he and the rest of the world stand firm, we will come out the other side of the storm to a brighter future; as long that is, that he and the rest of the World also tackle the problems of poverty and injustice that go hand in hand with terrorism.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Bush/Kerry Nightmare

Having watched countless hours of coverage on the American Presidential campaign, including the televised debates, I have come to the conclusion that I am really none the wiser. I feel a strong sense of anticlimax, and frustration, of being let down somehow. Although I am not an American. I was, and am nevertheless, deeply interested in the political process not to mention machinations, on the other side of the Atlantic. I have an awareness that what happens in America has some impact on me and mine and the rest of the World and therefore it behoves me to inform myself. And if what America does impacts on my life, then I feel I have a right to express my views, even if I do not have a vote. What I am less sure about however, is whether this perception of America’s impact on my life and those of people round the globe is real or illusionary. Let me try to explain.

I am sure what happens in China matters but the fact is, I simply don’t know what China is up to, so I am not touched by it in the same way. Ignorance is bliss, so to speak. I have no emotions about what is going on in China because there is little or no catalyst to spark those emotions. As far as the British media is concerned nothing is happening in China that matters to us. We do know that the Chinese economy is growing at a phenomenal rate and that they are consuming an ever greater proportion of the world’s resources. This must have an impact on my life. As the price of fuel soars along with the cost of steel, aluminium, copper, diamonds and much else besides, I become poorer and the balance of economic power shifts away from the west to the east. However, I only know this because I read the financial press. If it were left to the editors of television current affairs programs and the national press, I would barely know where China is let alone what is going on there. As far as the general media is concerned, China is not a news item. I also know that China’s human rights record is less than perfect but without substantive stories and horrific images of prisoner abuse, my mind is concentrated instead on the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American and British troops which our press seems to revel in publishing.

Whilst I am looking at these pictures, I am led to overlook or forget that the Iraqis have brutally tortured their fellow citizens for decades and even centuries. Instead, my attention and subsequent vitriol is focused on the unacceptable behaviour of some American and British troops, rather than the heinous crimes of others elsewhere. In the cold light of day though, I know this is an extremely biased and unbalanced view of events and one I know to be deeply flawed. It puts me in mind of that journalistic expression that one should never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

So, whilst the world’s attention has largely been focused on Iraq and the events that led up to Gulf War II, it is unsurprising that we should get the feeling, that America has a deep and pervasive influence on our lives. Events in our own countries appear almost as by lines in our national media and this has been going on now for more than two years. With the media scrutinising and highlighting every move, car bombing, kidnapping, political and social impact of the war in Iraq, so our guilt, anger, angst and psychological temperature is driven up by the media like mercury in a thermometer.

It’s as if the rest of the world barely existed. People continue to die by the tens of thousands in Sudan, Zimbabwe, and the Congo, almost without comment. Corruption and torture continue unabated in many countries, unseen, forgotten and ignored. Corrupt and despotic regimes still sit, legitimised as equals in the United Nations and nobody dares or cares to challenge this paradoxical flaw at the heart of the body politic that is the guardian of international law. Nobody protests in Britain or America, Germany or France, China or Russia on behalf of oppressed peoples living under despotic regimes but the cameras will be quick to televise the demonstrations against Bush and Blair who at least tried to do something. For thirty years or more the entire world including Iraq’s neighbours did not lift a finger, demonstrate or burn a flag in protest at the suffering of the Iraqi people under Saddam Hussein and the silent complicity of his neighbours in that suffering. It was a case of hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. That which is left unsaid cannot harm nor influence us nor be televised.

Returning to the Presidential elections neither candidate demonstrated to me that they had a better vision for the world. Neither spoke of fundamental shifts from the stale and sterile politics of the last 200 years. Instead they spun stories, distorted figures, and spent millions of dollars creating false illusions about the lack of qualities and leadership abilities of each other. This was a bitter, destructive, sterile campaign that had little to do with making a better world and everything to do with maintaining the status quo. This was a dirty, grubby incestuous struggle for power played by the rich and the powerful above the heads of the poor, the abused and the disenfranchised. This was an election about power and who holds it. It had little to do with power of the people, by the people for the people. This was an election singularly lacking in any concrete vision as to how to take the world forward to a better place. This was an election about nightmares rather than dreams. More is the pity.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Neo-Conservative Conspiracy

The Neo-Conservative conspiracy is built on the premise that it is essential to create a common enemy to ensure social adhesion and subjugation to the authority of the state. This is the lie on which American democracy and to some extent ours, is now founded. The notion that the Soviet Union was the embodiment of evil and the United States the defender of good was dreamed up by a small band of self chosen elite who saw the growth of individualism in the early 60s as a threat to the concept of an ordered society and to the authority of the state.

Like any dictator worth his or her salt, this self selected elite made up of people like Strauss, Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others alledgedly created an illusion, a lie, to achieve their goal, notably that the U.S. was under threat from the USSR; something the CIA itself had no evidence to support and constantly refuted. It was not until Casey, who had been influenced by the Neo-Conservatives, took over as the CIA Chief that this doctrine apparently became perceived wisdom. The illusion that the USSR was a threat became the perceived truth and formed the central plank of American foreign policy to the end of what appears to have been a Neo-Conservative initiated Cold War.

This is the synopsis of a new thoroughly researched television documentary series launched tonight on BBC2, called "The Power Of Nightmares" which includes interviews with some of the major players supposedly responsible for initiating the Neo-Conservative agenda. I doubt it will ever be seen in America but Americans need to see it, if only to make up their own minds.

Nevertheless, the program lends support to the idea that we have long been played like puppets on strings and that democracy is gradually being whittled away by those who hold and jealously guard power. The remainder of the series will make for fascinating watching and should be compulsory viewing for anyone concerned about the future of our democracy and freedoms.

We need a sharp wake up call. We are all as brainwashed as any North Korean. Like the North Koreans, we are constantly being fed illusions. The only difference is the manner and nature of the methods used but the objective is the same, mind control. The major difference is that Western methods of brainwashing use more modern and sophisticated tools. In North Korea it is more simple. The people are starved of all information other than that which the state chooses to give. In the West we are inundated with information from politicians, the media and the marketing men, much of it spun to obtain the desired reaction from the masses. The nature of the spin differs only in degree depending on whether it is initiated by the left or right. Irrespective the messages being transmitted are for the most part a distortion of the truth. The USSR is evil. America is the beacon of goodness.

If you believe the Hollywood version of history, America won two world wars on its own and according to the marketing men junk food and fizzy drinks are desirable and harmless. I could go on and on but the fact is that very little of the information we are fed is the whole truth. We are fed illusions spun to be perceived as the truth, by those who hold the reigns of power and who will do almost anything to maintain their status quo. Self evidently, this has very little to do with democracy and everything to do with the exercise and maintenance of power, by a self elected elite. What chance does an ordinary citizen with little or no wealth have of breaking into this club. It is clear to anyone who has observes the world that money is the key to power. Those without substantial wealth have little or no hope of ever becoming President of The United States or Prime Minister of Britain.

Communists are not bad people because they are communist, anymore than Americans are good because they are democrats but this is the illusion we have been fed. America did not win World War II alone as Hollywood would have us believe. In fact America has never won a war on its own, not even the War of Independence where the French were their allies. America lost the Vietnam War and was unable to subdue a renegade war lord in Somalia. Fifty percent of the troops that landed on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day were British. Had Britain not held out , albeit with the logistical support of the U.S., there would never have been a D-Day landing because there would have been nowhere from which to launch the invasion. The truth is that it took the combined efforts of many nations to overcome Nazi Germany.

America has never dominated the world nor ever could. We need look no further than Germany, Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq to know that it is simply a pipe dream. It's no more possible for America than it is for Bin Laden, China or India. World domination is an illusion built up by the Neo-Conservatives. America won the Cold War, ergo we are the world's only remaining super power. It may have super power but it is no match for the rest of the world. It is not even capable of imposing its will on the Middle East let alone Europe, China and India. No, America is not a self contained planet on Earth. It is just an island amongst others and it needs the rest of the world as much as the rest of the world needs it. We are all interdependent. We all need each other. That is the real truth.

Likewise, the media no longer simply reports the news. It opines on the news and even makes the news. They dictate what we will see, what we will read and what we should think. The media no longer give us thoughtful drama or unbiased documentaries. They give us opinions. They feed the masses a constant drip of so called reality TV, that is so far removed from reality, it is pure fantasy. Newspapers bow at the altar of celebrity which they themselves have created and fill their pages with endless kiss and tell tales of drivelling tattle to occupy our dumbed down, empty little heads. More people know the name of the winner of Big Brother than the name of the Opposition party leaders. Why? What does that say about them, us and our society in general? Who is behind this drive towards intellectual bankruptcy and why? The truth is that the media is in the hands of the rich and the powerful. It is there to serve its own agenda and to make money by concentrating on the banal, the sensational, the wicked. It chooses to appeal to the baser instincts of humanity rather than serve as a tool of enlightenment. In truth we cannot trust the media and we all know it, but do they or are they the victims now of their own deceptions?

And no, junk food and fizzy drinks are not desirable or healthy. They are bad for us. They make us fat, raise our cholesterol levels and give us heart attacks. Nevertheless, somebody, lots of people actually, have made massive fortunes by selling a susceptible public an illusion of something quite different. If this is not mass brainwashing, what is? And let us not even begin to talk about the tobacco or drug industries or we will be here for ever. Suffice it to say we have been sold hogwash and more worryingly we fell for it, hook line and sinker. So how hard can it be to manipulate minds? Its easy or at least that's what the mind benders believe.

However, like all castles built on sand, lies and damn lies eventually succumb to the tide of truth. The truth cannot hide forever from the logic of reason. That is why the Neo-Conservative conspiracy is doomed to the same fate as the communist conspiracy and every other conspiracy built on deception. When will all the would be comptrollers, realise that social adhesion, respect for authority and the building of a common destiny never has and never can be built on lies, deceit and illusions. When will they realise that real good can only prevail if truth and integrity prevail and nothing worth a pittance will ever come from a philosophy, of spin, half truths and outright deceit. Or could it be that the comptrollers are not really interested in real good but only what they perceive is "good" for them?

They are deceiving themselves however. Fundamental truths are indestructible. They are written into the code of life itself and are there for all who have eyes, to see. Those of us who do see through the mirages, understand whilst we are all different, we are nevertheless all part of a single humanity. We know it is only possible to bring nations and cultures together by building bridges, not destroying them. We know that the respect of people for their governments can only be obtained by governments who behave and act with integrity and honesty. Political hypocrisy and double standards will never engender anything but a loss of respect for its practioners. Far from creating orderly societies, such policies can only fuel anger, frustration and a loss of faith in authority, thus engendering the collapse of social adhesion rather than its consolidation. A truth built on a lie will always be a lie. It is a contradiction in terms that will not stand the light of day or the test of time.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Can You imagine?

Can you imagine,
The screams of a mother on a train,
Separated from her child calling her name,
Herded away and never seen again,
Her child, still screaming out her name?

Can you imagine,
Your husband shot dead,
A pool of blood by the bed,
Your brother before you slain,
A child, still screaming in pain?

Can you imagine,
The cries of a daughter’s rape,
Pleading for mercy with no escape,
Fighting for her honour in vain,
Childhood lost in lust and pain?

How can we possibly understand,
Those of us who live in this land,
Where justice reigns and men are free,
Where hunger never touches thee?
No fear have we of the dictator’s hand,
For he lives far away from England.

Pensions, Savings and Investment

Sent: 12/10/2004 16:42

It was Chancellor Brown who raided the pension funds helping the treasury to £5 billion per year of savers money! This along with other Brownite polices undermined the confidence of savers and investors alike and destroyed the credibility of pension funds. As a result British companies have been forced to double contributions to occupational pension schemes to £37 billion per year since Labour came to power.

The CBI DG, Mr. Digby Jones complains that employers have been wrongly cast as the villains of the pensions piece. He says much of the blame for the crisis lies with the decision to abolish the dividend tax credit in 1997 costing pension funds £5 billion a year, a move he describes as "a grave error".

This coupled with regulations obliging pension fund holders to sell shares to maintain a pre-determined cash reserve to investment ratio has impacted negatively on the stock market. This has led to a ludicrous catch 22 scenario where on a falling market pension fund holders are required to sell more shares to maintain the ratio between cash reserves and investments which drives the market down further; requiring fund managers to sell yet more shares which drives the market down still further, ad infinitum. This is a classic case of bureaucrats meddling in affairs of which they have little or no acumen or experience. There must be a better way of maintaining the financial integrity of pension funds than this!

It is not surprising therefore that the FTSE 100 has lagged well behind other international stock market indices since Labour came into power, largely because pension fund holders have been divesting themselves of equities. This is catastrophic for pensions, savings and investment, a disaster already well into the making.

Worse still, instead of admitting this gravest of mistakes, Mr. Brown prefers to blame us for his monumental error of judgment. Instead of righting the wrong he wants us to make up for his shortsightedness by making us work longer and forcing us to save what we do not have, thus only adding insult to injury.

Mr. Brown does not tell us, however, how much he thinks we will have to save over a lifetime to ensure a comfortable retirement. With interest rates at 3-5%, every £100,000 saved will yield a paltry income of £3000 - £5000 per year, barely enough to run a motor car let alone pay for lighting, heating, phone bills, clothing, insurance and many other essentials. Unless we have saved half a million pounds, we can forget about holidays in the sun. Perhaps Mr. Brown can explain how a middle- manager with a student loan and a mortgage can save £500,000 for retirement over his or her working life when interest on savings is so low, equities are depressed and house prices are falling? Even more to the point how do the millions on minimum wages save for their old age when they cannot even afford to rent their own accommodation let alone take on a mortgage, even with low interest rates? No Mr. Brown, the sums do not add up. This is cloud cuckoo land.

This must surely offer political hay for opposition parties and yet they have failed abysmally to expose in any meaningful way, this monumental error of judgment by Mr. Brown, one that so gravely puts at risk the futures of millions of hard working British citizens? Unless somebody comes up with policies to reverse the damage done by Mr. Brown to our savings and our stock market, we are headed for the mother of all busts. Mr. Brown's famous boast that thanks to him we have left behind the bad old days of boom and bust will look very shallow and hollow then.

However, the Chancellor's poison could and should be the Conservative's meat. They are already in the last chance saloon. If they fail to win this election and Mr. Blair delivers the long promised reforms and improvements in public services (by no means certain) as well as a stablised Iraq in his third term, it will be the end of the Conservative Party. They have to win the next election or risk facing extinction. Unlike many commentators, I believe the good news for them is that it is extremely winnable but only if they tackle the issues that matter to ordinary people with far more dynamism and imagination than they have hitherto shown.

Pensions, savings and investment is one of many areas where they could make a real impact on voters minds, provided they do their home work and convey their message in an unequivocal manner and in a way that is easily comprehensible to the general public. They must go after this government and expose the weaknesses in its policies with the same tenacity as a bulldog in pursuit of a juicy bone. If there was ever an opportunity to show the long term damage of Labour's policies, the destruction of savings and investment is as juicy a bone as any Conservative bulldog could possibly want. More to the point, we want our savings and investment opportunities back. We want our future back.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Jehova’s Map

In Jehova’s map each road is signed
You should study it well,
Otherwise t'is the Devil's Den you'll find,
On the roads to Hell.
There are many roads to many places,
In Jehova's map you'll find,
Many familiar faces,
Upon Satan's roads unlined.

Avoid the road to Purgatory,
Via Avarice and Greed,
Through to Bigotry
A road you should heed.
Beyond lies Lust,
Through the Valley of Sin,
Home of the unjust,
Don't go in.

Better you take the highway,
That leads through the Valley Of Peace,
Than the low way,
To the gambling dens of Fleece.
Follow the signs to Happiness,
And the City of Love,
Not the road to Emptiness,
Choose the road above.

I have travelled to Satan’s cave,
But found no meaning there,
No feeling I should save,
That I would want to share,
To touch my heart and mind,
Or answer heartfelt prayer.
Be not fooled by the Devil’s kind.
Stay away from Satan’s lair.

Avoid the motorways to Hate,
And the Fields of Destruction.
Take the road to Pearly Gate,
Where Hope is under construction.
Remember if you happen to stray,
By Satan’s roads you are not bound.
You can always turn and walk away,
And Evil walk around.

Pass the junction to Temptation,
For no sake but your own.
Choose carefully your destination,
On Jehova’s map all shown.
Make the wrong connection,
And you’ll miss the Pearly Gates,
That lead to Resurrection,
And who knows what other fates.


There are many destinies mapped out in the universal plan. We travel on many paths to our eventual destiny. The first path we travel is that which our parents are already on when we are born and on which we remain until such time as we are mentally and physically able to make independent choices. The many paths of destiny that have been laid out for us, crisscross each other like cross roads on a gigantic map. Each time we reach one of these crossroads, we have choices to make which influence the eventual outcome of our journey. At each crossroads, the path we are travelling is affected by the positive or negative flow of those we traverse which has a correspondingly negative or positive impact on our own destiny. At any such point we are vulnerable to the traffic flow. Sometimes our journey may tragically be shortened there and then by events out of our control. If we make the right choices and the dice rolls for us , we may continue our journey either in the same direction or choose another. This is what people call fate but it is in all probability part of the great plan, the learning curve towards enlightenment. Thus our control over our own destiny is at the very least tenuous.

Logically our individual destinies cannot be anything but inextricably linked to the collective journey upon which humankind is embarked Politicians in Israel and Palestine and all over the world where nations and cultures are in conflict, would do well to remember that the destiny of nations as well as individuals are therefore totally interdependent. No man or nation is an island. Individual well being is never assured if collective well being is suppressed denied or even simply ignored. This realisation is the only hope we have of building a world where we do not live in constant fear and threat from each other. We must build bridges not destroy them.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Time for Iraq to stand up and be counted

Has the time come for the Iraqi people to stand up and be counted? They cannot go on blaming the coalition for the massacre of their own citizens by other Iraqi and Arab groups. The coalition has freed them from the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein. In so doing it has presented the Iraqi people with a once in lifetime opportunity to put their suffering behind them and to have a say in the way their country is governed. They now have a chance to prosper in peace, if they want it and they will never have a better one; thanks to the sacrifice, not of their fellow Arab nations but that of the western coalition.

Iraqis must now ask themselves, why should American, British, Polish, Italian, Japanese and others continue to risk their lives for people who do nothing to help themselves and show nothing but hostility, to those who fight to bring them freedom and democracy? It is time the Iraqis and the Arab nations as a whole, took a hard look at themselves and the responsibility they bear, for having stood aside while Saddam Hussein murdered and tortured his own people. Had their fellow neighbors, shown any sense of duty or care for their Iraqi brothers when Saddam Hussein was in power, the Americans would have had no cause or excuse to launch either Gulf War I or II and they would not now, be in Baghdad or anywhere else in Iraq.

We are where we are because neither the Arab nations nor the West have acted from a foundation based on civilised principle, i.e. doing what is right rather than what is expedient, over the last thirty years. The compromise of good practice and sound principles in international affairs has jeapordised the outcome of events. We must wake up and understand that one can never attain the right solution by applying the wrong equation, to any problem. The right outcome can never nor will ever be achieved by compromising on what we know to be right. Wrong can never be right. This is the lesson the international community must take on board in the execution of national and international politics.

It is time to admit that the United nations can never be an effective arbiter of civilisation or international law whilst it is founded on the ill conceived often corrupted principles that pervade its entire structure. A United Nations that harbours despotic and corrupt member governments within its walls can and never will be anything but partially corrupt. Such a body will never be able to act effectively to protect the innocent from state barbarity. We need not look further than the genocide in Rwanda, the chaos in Zimbabwe, the slaughter in Sudan and the persecution of the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein for over thirty years, to know this to be true.

In the absence of an effective international body responsible for the application of civilised rules of international behavior, countries will inevitably fall back on unilateral action to resolve problems and the world will continue to flounder from catastrophe to catastrophe. Until we understand that the serving of the common interest is the key to self interest, we will go nowhere worth going to.

Now is the time for the Iraqi people to show the world a better way. Their destiny lies not in the hands of the UN or the USA but in their own hands, if they did but realise it. It is what they now do that will determine what course the UN and USA will follow, not the other way around. Say yes to freedom. Say yes to democracy. Say yes to justice and above all say no to terror and the USA will become their client and not their master, their friend and not their enemy.

Refuse and we must bid them goodbye and leave them to their fate, which may be far worse than the suffering inflicted on them by Saddam Hussein. It is up to the Iraqi people. They must understand that we cannot nor will not go on dying for nothing.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Mr. Putin at the crossroads of destiny

So Mr. Putin has decided to use the recent despicable events at Beslan to reinforce his hold on power by appointing regional governors himself, thus denying the people the opportunity to vote for their own representatives; thereby tightening his influence and grip on power. This is the oldest trick in the book, used by despots the world over since the beginning of time. Russia is fast returning to the dark ages of autocratic rule, her fragile democracy dissipating like water from a steaming kettle.

This is not the solution to Russia's problems, nor will it make Russia safer from acts of terrorism. One does not make Russia or any other country better, safer or stronger by diluting democracy. The stifling of democracy can only inhibit the production of ideas and the elements of competition essential to efficiency and innovation. Autocracy asphyxiate initiative. It turns people into automatons and inhibits expression and invention. These fundamental elements of freedom are what have made the United States and Western Europe so successful and so vibrant.

The centralization of power cannot protect Russia from terrorism but better public awareness, good intelligence, shared intelligence and well trained efficient security services can help reduce the risks.

Likewise, centralization cannot eliminate corruption. If anything it may increase it or at least provide greater opportunity for those higher up the ladder of power, once ensconced, to indulge themselves and in so doing spread the corruption outwards as well as downwards to a much greater degree even, than is the case now. The corrupt always depend upon the corruptible.

The only way to reduce corruption is to make those at all levels of power more accountable to the people they represent and this can only be done where democracy and a free press prevails. In young democracies there are always those willing and able to take advantage of a situation to manipulate the people to their own ends but the people learn quickly who they can trust and who is and is not corrupt. It is they, not the state who will root out the corrupt and make the leadership accountable. As a well known British politician once said, "you can fool all of the people some of the time but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time". What is needed is a strengthening of the foundations of democracy. Weakening these foundations will only weaken Russia in the longer term.

I say this to Mr. Putin. You stand at the crossroads of your own as well as Russia's destiny. You have the opportunity and the choice to serve your country well or badly. You can go down in history as either one of the greatest leaders Russia has ever known or you can be remembered as just another self serving despot, in a long line of self serving despots. That choice and that responsibility lies in your own hands Mr. Putin and I hope, we all hope, you choose wisely.

Is it better to build bridges or destroy them? Is compassion, understanding and collaboration better than vengeance, ignorance and confrontation? Which of these building blocks will build the better world? The answer is surely obvious.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Whose will?

It was not my will to be born, to live or to die. So whose will is it? Since my will is subservient to the forces of creation, I am the will of another. Do with me therefore what you will for I am powerless to resist the death I do not will. I can only embrace the life and death I am given and wonder what will follow next.


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Free Trade - Rubbish!

Is it just me who thinks that the EU is a protectionist trading block? Is it just me that thinks that imposing a 30% tariff on value added cocoa is anti-free trade?

The last time I looked up the word "free", it meant "without cost". Apparently this is wrong. Free does not mean that at all. Apparently free means as long as you export your raw materials to us at rock bottom prices we will buy them from you free of any import tariffs. Free, you understand means free to us, not you. Free means, we the importers, get to add the value and post the ensuing profit to our balance sheets, not yours!

So just remember you producers, when the EU and others talk about free trade and globalisation, they mean they want your trade free, globally. As long as this is clearly understood we'll all get on like a house on fire at the next round of World Trade Organistion talks.

So, please raise your glasses to free trade and globalistion and keep that cocoa coming boys.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Back to Africa

Victoria Falls Posted by Hello

The rain battered the tin roof like a demented drummer, endlessly stuck on the same rhythm, constant and deafening but somehow hypnotic. The tropical storm bought relief from the heat and dust of the last few days. Joel lay in bed feeling secure, protected from the elements, like a baby in it’s mother’s womb. A massive drum roll of thunder played overhead, followed by a bright flash of lightening that lit up the night sky. It was as though God had briefly lit some monumental torch to better see his way through the driving rain. Joel sighed and drifted off into unconcerned sleep.

Balthazar woke him at 7 o’clock with a cup of tea as he did every day. That early morning cuppa, somehow made all the difference, providing the necessary fuel to kick start his metabolism. He rose and walked nude into the bathroom. He hated pyjamas. Wearing pyjamas in bed was like wearing a three piece suit to the office, stifling and unnecessary. Thank God, he no longer had to do that. Hell, he thought, bed was the only place where one could feel truly free anymore. Working in Africa had it’s advantages and no pyjamas or suits was one of them. Yes he was back, back where he belonged, away from the spin and bullshit of London, Paris or New York. God it felt good!

Showered and refreshed, he walked out onto the balcony and looked out over the rooftops and streets of the town and on across the lake to the hills on the other side. It was a sight he never tired of. Anywhere else on Earth, he thought to himself, one would have to be a millionaire to enjoy a view like this. He sat down at the table and dug heartily into papaya, eggs and bacon and the best arabaca coffee in the world. He sat back, lost in his thoughts and lit a cigarette which he inhaled contentedly between sips of coffee.

Bujumbura, like Africa itself was a tapestry of paradoxes, a simple pretentious ugly and yet attractive place. There were no skyscrapers here, just the two storied, largely white painted, flat roofed buildings typical of many towns and cities in Africa, Asia or South America. There weren’t even any traffic lights except the one unblinking set in the Avenue de la Paix, testament to a brief but disastrous flirtation with sophistry. The uneven pavements that lead one down the main streets, give way intermittently to hollows and humps of compressed red earth constantly re-sculptured by the endless stamp of feet, the stinging chisel of tropical rain and the dehydrating heat of the equatorial sun. The whole place was in a constant state of repair and disrepair.

Embedded in the surrounding hills overlooking Lake Tanganyika and the Ruzizi Plain were the elegant and spacious houses rented by diplomats, NGO’s, technical assistants and successful entrepreneurs. Reflecting in the sunlight out to the north east were the tin roofs of the poorer shanty dwellers. Scattered everywhere was the fertile green canopy of date palms, avocado, mango, papaya and banana trees, whose fruits swelled the market stalls in the town centre and the breakfast tables of rich and poor alike.

The ample gardens of the well to do expatriates were awash with the colour of hibiscus and bougainvillea plants, the scent of moon flowers and yesterday, today and tomorrow shrubs. Down below the network of tarmac roads in and around the town centre, gave way to rutted gravel tracks that headed into the dusty Asian and African quarters, where even weeds struggled to get a grip in the hard trampled, barren earth. Yes, Bujumbura had the alluring scent and charm of Africa writ large in every pot holed boulevard and paint flaking wall of it‘s being.

Thanks to the rain, the hills on the opposite shoreline, were clearly visible. They appeared to rise almost vertically out of the lake. At their base lay the town of Uvira, a sprawling African township with it’s mix of slum dwellings, traders shops, pot holed roads and the inevitable army barracks. Getting there though was another matter. Crossing the border inevitably meant paying the officials an unofficial tariff, regardless of whether or not, your papers were in order. The immigration and customs officers could always invent a “new regulation” as and when it suited them. The favourite, when all else had failed to extract the required bribe, was the non existant but apparently “mandatory AIDS certificate”. Unpleasant though it was, it was inevitable given the fact that government officials were seldom paid and were left to use their initiative to “earn” their living. As a result they created their own rules and tariffs with impunity and it must be said, with some imagination. If only their noteworthy initiative could have been put to better use. This was one aspect of Africa that Joel found hard to stomach and Zaire was perhaps the most anarchic country in Africa in this respect, although he had heard some pretty horrifying stories about Nigeria and Liberia too.

On one occasion he had met a well travelled advertising representative from a national U.K. newspaper at the Novotel in the centre of town. The poor devil had spent ten years travelling the length and breadth of the continent in fourth rate airlines and fifth rate taxis. On one occasion he was on an Air Zaire flight out of Kinshasa. The plane was hurtling down the runway when the pilot decided to abort the take-off and slammed on the breaks. Amidst guffaws of laughter he recalled how his head had been thrown forward with such force that he had bitten through the cover into the foam of the seat in front of him. As he was catapulted back into his seat a large chunk of foam and material remained firmly entrapped between his tightly clenched teeth.

Being Africa and more particularly, Zaire, the pilot called for the steps to be brought to the end of the runway, climbed down to the tarmac and ran a quick check round the aircraft. He then climbed back on board, retook his seat and headed immediately back down the runway to recommence take-off. On hearing this not entirely surprising yarn, Joel had laughed, saying that had it been him, he’d have been down the steps before the pilot and continued his journey on foot!

His drinking companion then went on to recount an experience he had endured in Liberia. He was on a business trip and had been out to dinner. On his way back to the hotel he had passed the usual ladies of the night displaying their charms. Weary from his travails he ignored their lascivious suggestions and walked on by. Suddenly he felt cold steel on the back of his neck. Turning around, he noted with unease that it was a pistol firmly attached to the hand of a Liberian soldier. Hissing into his ear the soldier asked him why he had not taken one of the women? Heart beating with surprise and some panic, he replied falteringly that he was very tired and just wanted to go back to his hotel and sleep. Not satisfied, the soldier demanded he pay a fine of one hundred dollars! Somewhat shell-shocked, he asked the soldier why? Pressing the pistol harder into his neck he replied, “insulting Liberian womanhood”!

My companion said he had never handed over a hundred dollar bill with more alacrity in his life. Joel remembered suggesting, it might have been cheaper to avail himself of the lady in question. His companion thought not calculating that it would in all probability have cost him considerably more in doctors fees! It was a fair point.

It had been a harrowing as well as thirst provoking adventure and he had hurried back to his hotel and drowned a double scotch or three on the rocks before falling exhausted into bed. Looking at him it was evident that he had had need of a few tranquilising whiskies in his travels. In truth, the poor fellow was a nervous shaking wreck, but good company, for all that. Ah, the charms of Africa!

Joel made a mental note there and then to cross Liberia off his places to see list. There were others too that were less than enticing. The American marines had found Somalia too hostile for there liking in recent times. Angola was another country that had been at war for a decade or more. Sierra Leone was somewhat less than inviting and some of the stories Joel had heard about Nigeria did nothing to entice him to visit Lagos. Though Zaire’s border was a mere 20 kilometres or so from Bujumbura, that was close enough for Joel.

He had visited Lumbumbashi in the early eighties in the Presidential Caravel with some Round Table friends and keen golfers. It was a thoroughly enjoyable week-end but there lies another story. Natural diplomat though he was, he was not good at being humble when confronted by drunken, greedy, obdurate border “officials”, no matter how alluring the country on the other side. Strangely though it was all part of Africa's allure.

Burundi was another kettle of fish though and there were plenty of exotic and rare varieties in Lake Tanganyika. It had its problems but at the time they seemed miniscule compared to many. It was a beautiful country of endless rolling patchwork covered hills, planted with maize, sorgem, beans, potatoes, the inevitable bananas and other food crops. Eucalyptus trees were planted widely, particularly on the hill summits and along the road sides. Being one of the most densely populated countries in Africa much of the indigenous vegetation had long since disappeared. There were however, still some glorious enclaves of natural forest scattered around the country. The glittering jewel in the crown was Lake Tanganyika, a blue amethyst, sitting in the basin of the Ruzizi Plain, an extension of the magnificent Rift Valley. The lake is the second deepest in the world and stretches southwards 800 kilometres to the south, into Zambia. To be on the lake at the setting of the sun, is to be overwhelmed by it’s surrounding beauty and the almost mystical power of Africa. The spirit once captured, never escapes. Once parted the yearning to return never leaves one. Yes, Joel thought, it was good, really good to be back.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


We are many shades of many colours,
The seconds and minutes in the hours,
The winding valleys, beneath the mountains,
The crystal water of spouting fountains,
The scented petals of colourful flowers,
The winter drizzle in fresh spring showers.

We are the breath of the northerly winds,
The tropical heat on sun burned skins,.
The grains of sand upon the beaches,
The mellow flavour, of yellow peaches.
We are the darkness in the moonless nights,
The flash of lightening, a spark ignites.

We are the words that tell a story,
Of history past and deeds of glory,
We are the thoughts our voices speak,
The ghostly shadows, of times antique.
We are father, mother and ancestor feint,
Brush strokes of creation, on a canvas of paint.

We are the yellow and green in shades of blue,
Of colours many, from colours few.
We are the shades of grey in black and white,
We are the light of day and the dark of night.
We are the music of concerto and string,
The soprano and tenor, when we sing.

We are part devil, part god, you see,
One and the same, for eternity.
I am you and you are me,
In varying form and subtle degree.
I am the beginning and I am the end,
I am your enemy and I am your friend.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Apathy has no voice. Apathy makes no noise. It passes unheard, unheeded and unheralded. Apathy is the enemy of democracy and the meat and drink of dictators. It feeds the greedy and the corrupt. It disempowers the people. It encourages arrogance and disregard in the powerful and those who ensconce themselves in ivory towers. Apathy is the succumbing of one's will to the bidding of others. Apathy is the surrender of control over destiny.

Osama - The Lesson of the Blackbird

Now here’s a story, I have to tell.
Pray excuse me,
If I do not tell it well.
It was a warm spring day,
Not long ago,
I happened to gaze, through a window,
And in the garden,
A murderous scene was set,
One I saw and shall not forget.

I saw a blackbird trapped upon the ground,
From his open, orange beak, came not a sound,
Over him talons upon his throat,
A Kestrel stood,
Wings spread like a hood
Hiding his dark deed,
From the neighbourhood.
Deadly claws held firm the prey,
Remorseless, almost sanguine,
Was he in his way.

His stranglehold tightened,
Upon the blackbird, frightened.
Its small feathered body,
Struggled and fought,
Though it seemed, all for nought.
With every sinew, it struggled and strived,
Fighting for life and the strength to survive.

It flittered and fluttered,
Gasping for air,
Afraid to die, in the kestrels lair,
Fighting for time,
For time was life,
Worth the pain and all the strife,
Till the blackbird,
Could fight no more,
And death upon him,
Closed the door.

Whilst feathered friends looked on alarmed,
The kestrel, feeling its prey becalmed,
Winged effortless into the cloudless sky,
One last time, the blackbird to fly.

Then Osama,
Your words came to me once more,
The words I have heard, many times before.
We prefer life but you prefer death,
You said.
But the blackbird was gone,
The blackbird was dead.
No longer do we hear his song.
Nor see him fly among the hedgerows,
Nor over fields, where the thistle and the nettle grows,
No longer does he scamper on my lawn,
Picking up breadcrumbs in the early morn.
Ah! death, I’ve seen it clear.
Is the end of life, God holds dear.

You see Osama, Nature’s laws are unbending,
The struggle for life, is unending.
It is not death the Blackbird seeks,
Though he live for years,
Or merely weeks.
It’s life, the Blackbird cherishes,
Not death by which he perishes.

Osama, if it is death you prefer,
Then why life do you suffer?
If death Osama, is so glorious,
Why is Allah’s work so laborious?
If it is in death we are living
Why is Allah, life giving?
If death is true light,
What need we of sight,
To see life’s glories,
Or ears,
To hear life’s stories?
And why Osama, would you flee,
The talons of the Kestrel,
Swooping down from the tree?

Without life Osama, there is no God,
And without God, there is no life
That’s why blackbird struggles and strives,
Why bees hum in their hives.
It is not for death, they suffer strife,
It is for time, for time is life.
And every time, has a season.
If blackbird lives, he lives for reason.
Blackbird is born of God’s creation,
Wondrous, beyond our imagination.

Our soul to God we give,
Not to die,
But to live and live.
In life we hear the blackbird’s song,
But in death, his music is forever gone.
The mournful silence of death, cannot be heard.
Unlike the song, of a singing blackbird.
So who, Osama, chooses to die?
Not the Blackbird, the kestrel or I,
If death is so glorious Osama,
Then please tell me why,
Why the great Allah, made you and I?
And why Osama, would you flee,
The talons of the Kestrel,
Swooping down from the tree?

Tuesday, May 04, 2004


Some wisdom from our Native American brothers:

An elder Cherokee Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He spoke to them.

"A fight is going on inside me ... it is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arroganze, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside you - and inside every other person, too."

The children thought about it for a minute and then one child asked: "Which wolf will win"?

The old Cherokee simply replied ... "The one you feed."

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Cry Africa

Tracers red, orange, white,
Racing across the sky at night,
What are they firing at?

Boom, boom, boom,
Shaking walls, trembling room,
Thud, thud, thud,
Splattering walls, feeble mud.

Oh no, Here they go again!
Oh my God, it’s so insane.
Rat-a-tat, boom,
Soothsayers of doom.

Who, what, why,
Must these people die?
Splat, splat, splat,
Bullets to bones in deadly chat.

Evil afoot, stalks the night,
Dark brooding, primeval fright.
Hutu hatred , Tutsi might,
How long still, must they fight?

Others forgive, better to live.
Than die, their blood to give,
Cannon fodder, human manure,
Flesh and dust, insecure.

Splat, splat. splat,
Boom, boom, boom,
Soothsayers of doom.

Be gone to your hovel,
Squirm and grovel,
Daylight break,
Saviour awake.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Sowing confusion in the mind

Dare to think of the consequences of uncontrolled immigration into Britain. Dare to mention the word "immigrant" and the chances are that you will be labelled a right wing xenophobe. In the politically "correct" world of today, it takes courage to express any clear view about anything. It is better not to think than risk the wrath of cynical power crazed propaganda spin merchants, weaving webs of disingenuous mumbo jumbo.

Spin the wheel. Sow confusion in the minds of the people. Subtley alter the meaning of language by casting allusions on the intent or character of those that use it. Repeat the lie often enough and eventually anything your opponents say, will be treated with contempt, no matter how intelligent or sensible it may be. Insinuate something often enough and it becomes a perceived "truth". This is the evil and the danger of spin. This is the tool of the propogandist or the would be dictator. This is a simple method of mind control, a step in the direction of Big Brother, that we would do well to take seriously.

Install 4.000.000 CCTV cameras around the country, create data banks of information on every citizen (except ironically, illegal immigrants whose presence is undetected), take DNA swabs of the entire population and presto you are well on the way to knowing everything bout everyone. You know where they go, when they go, what they eat, what they watch, what they read, what they buy, how much they earn, how much they spend, who they vote for and who they sleep with, how often and where.

There will soon be no privacy from the state. Yet the state has no right to have any of this information. We are not here for the benefit of the state. The state belongs to us. It is there for our benefit. We created it and we pay for it. It belongs to the people not to government. Government is there to serve the people not control the people. It has no right to engender itself with power over the people, only to exercise power on behalf of the people.

Likewise, politicians have no right to simply denigrate those who oppose their ideas. That is not the stamp of a civilised or intelligent democracy. We do not want spin which by definition, is a lie. We do want a society and a political system based on mutual respect, intelligent debate and most importantly on truth. Above all we want to live in a free society and a state that serves the people and not the government.

The government, whomever it may be at any given time would do well to remember that governments that serve themselves first and the people last, never last.

Thursday, February 05, 2004

The leaves of the tree

Revelations 22:2

In the midst of the street of it, and on the other side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Man or Beast?

No matter how hard humankind tries to distance itself from the animal kingdom, the evidence throughout our history shows that the veneer of civilisation is very thin indeed. We continue to portray all the basic instincts of every other animal on the planet. We are territorial. We are driven by the instinct for survival. We are competitive. We want to dominate and we are prepared to kill mercilessly and often cruelly to ensure our own survival. The cruelty of humankind to humankind and nature alike, makes us the most ferocious, the most savage, the most harmful animal on this planet and possibly in the entire universe.

Intelligent we may be, devious even, but clever we are not. We have overpopulated our habitat, polluted our environment, and overexploited our resources. Two thirds of our population live in abject poverty. Eighty percent of the World’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of ten percent of the population. We face the same political, economic, social and religious problems today as the Romans, Greeks and the Egyptians before them. Despite splitting the atom and sending men to the moon, we are as incapable today of resolving the fundamental issues of our existence as our ancestors were, before us. We continue to revolve but the spinning wheel brings us back time and again to the same old conundrums. We appear no more able now to solve them than our forebears. Just when we think we are making progress, the animal in us will out.

We have been fighting, raping and torturing each other for hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of years and there is no sign of abatement. On the contrary, as we become more sophisticated, we find new ways of committing old atrocities. In this respect we resemble our close cousins, the chimpanzees. They too have begun to discover new uses for sticks and stones, new methods of intimidation. However, they pose no threat to our dominance. They are headed for extinction.

If the Hutus had their way, the Tutsis might have joined them on their journey to the end of the road. It took a matter of seconds for the blood lust to re-surface in Rwanda despite centuries of relative civilisation and decades of religious teaching. The barbarity with which the Hutu slaughtered 800,000 of their fellow beings in a matter of days, was a graphic reminder, that below the thin skin of sentient man, lies a savage animal. The veneer of civilisation still hangs on a thread, no thicker than the strand of a spider’s web.

Yes we pay lip service to the godly concepts of truth, honesty, integrity, mutual respect and understanding. Yes our leaders preach the benefits of freedom, democracy, justice and human rights. But when it comes to the crunch, they apply these values sparingly and in accordance with self interest.

We will oust a brutish dictator in Iraq, or a medieval regime in Afghanistan but for political or commercial expediency, we will turn a blind eye to a nine year war in Chechnya; where Russian troops continue to rape, torture and brutally murder tens of thousands of civilians. We will rout a barbaric rebel movement in mineral rich Sierra Leone but do nothing to help millions of Zimbabweans suffering horrendous brutality and genocide by starvation, from a corrupt and despotic government. We will act militarily to prevent genocide in the Balkans but dare not criticise China for doing nothing to help hundreds of thousands of people infected by HIV infected blood transfusions in government hospitals for fear it may result in the loss of economic benefit to western business.

We pay lip service to international law yet accord corrupt and brutal governments equal legitimacy and status in the U.N. Assembly as the law abiding democracies; thus legitimising these regimes and the brutality they inflict on their peoples under a so called agreement of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. What sort of people are we, that we sign an agreement that tolerates criminal barbarity carried out by states on its own citizens?

We talk of free trade but create protected trading blocks and impose tariffs on those outside. We preach globalisation but the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. We preach democracy but do nothing to help those whose freedom, dignity and lives hang on the whim of dictators. We talk about protecting the innocence of our children and yet we bombard them with sleazy media images of sex and debauchery, in magazines, newspapers, films and television. In the same vein, greedy corporations create a perceived need for endless fashionable products, children do not need and parents cannot afford. We talk of charity but seek to impoverish those who can least afford it by entrapping them in debt. Everyone is feeding off everyone else. We call this civilised but in reality, it is the law of the jungle, the concrete jungle.

Where is this justice for all? Where is the equality, the integrity, the respect for human rights and the law that supposedly sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom? Why should voters pay any attention or have any respect for those who preach these values but only practise them when it suits them? They are no different than the alpha males of any group or herd of animals. They are the manipulators, the hunters, marking their territory, covering their tracks, preparing their ambush, feasting on their prey, the top dogs in the pack. Politics and religion are the camouflage that hides the basic instincts of the human animal. They are the sophisticated tools we use to facilitate control and corral the sheep.

However, the sheep have belatedly begun to question their role and their place in this animal kingdom. They have begun to see through the hype and the hypocrisy and are less and less willing to submit to the will of the manipulators. They are taking to the streets more often and in ever greater numbers to demonstrate their displeasure. They want justice and a bigger say in how the World is managed.

The herd has begun to realise the true meaning of democracy and that without them the ram is nothing. They have begun to comprehend that it is not the ram who holds the power but the herd. Beware you rams that are slow to understand. The sheep will no longer be led where they do not want to go.

Are we man or beast? Are we a civilised and sentient species or are we just another animal living by the law of the jungle? We need to make up our collective mind and we need to do it quickly. Otherwise the animal in us will out, and humankind will join the chimpanzee in the annals of extinction to become just another fossil in time.

The real stupidity of humankind has been its failure to understand that by tacitly condoning that which we know to be wrong for whatever reason, we simply end up perpetuating and complicating matters to the point that the undoing becomes impossibly difficult. Until we understand, that we can never build a civilised world founded on self interest, deception, greed and hypocrisy, we will remain firmly entrenched in the animal kingdom with all that implies. Our future will continue to hang by a thread.