Saturday, December 30, 2006
Parrot's oratory stuns scientists
By Alex Kirby BBC News Online environment correspondent
Feathered prodigy: N'kisi leads the fieldThe finding of a parrot with an almost unparalleled power to communicate with people has brought scientists up short.
The bird, a captive African grey called N'kisi, has a vocabulary of 950 words, and shows signs of a sense of humour.
He invents his own words and phrases if he is confronted with novel ideas with which his existing repertoire cannot cope - just as a human child would do. N'kisi's remarkable abilities feature in the latest BBC Wildlife Magazine.
N'kisi is believed to be one of the most advanced users of human language in the animal world.
About 100 words are needed for half of all reading in English, so if N'kisi could read he would be able to cope with a wide range of material.
When he first met Dr Jane Goodall, the renowned chimpanzee expert, after seeing her in a picture with apes, N'kisi said: "Got a chimp?"
School's in: He is a willing learnerHe appears to fancy himself as a humourist. When another parrot hung upside down from its perch, he commented: "You got to put this bird on the camera."
Dr Goodall says N'kisi's verbal fireworks are an "outstanding example of interspecies communication".
In an experiment, the bird and his owner were put in separate rooms and filmed as the artist opened random envelopes containing picture cards.
Analysis showed the parrot had used appropriate keywords three times more often than would be likely by chance.
Professor Donald Broom, of the University of Cambridge's School of Veterinary Medicine, said: "The more we look at the cognitive abilities of animals, the more advanced they appear, and the biggest leap of all has been with parrots."
Alison Hales, of the World Parrot Trust, told BBC News Online: "N'kisi's amazing vocabulary and sense of humour should make everyone who has a pet parrot consider whether they are meeting its needs.
"They may not be able to ask directly, but parrots are long-lived, and a bit of research now could mean an improved quality of life for years."
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday December 28, 06:35 PM
LONDON (Reuters) - The government said it will on Friday pay back the final instalments of loans taken out at the end of World War Two to finance vital reconstruction.
The payments of $83.25 million (42.4 million pounds) to the United States and $22.7 million to Canada will close the final chapter of the war and mean that in total the country has paid close to twice what it borrowed in 1945 and 1946.
"This week we finally honour in full our commitments to the U.S. and Canada for the support they gave us 60 years ago," Treasury minister Ed Balls said on Thursday.
"It was vital support which helped Britain defeat Nazi Germany and secure peace and prosperity in the post-war period. We honour our commitments to them now as they honoured their commitments to us all those years ago," he added.
Britain borrowed a total of $4.3 billion from the United States in 1945, followed in 1946 by a loan of $1.2 billion from Canada -- both at an interest rate of just two percent.
During World War Two, the United States effectively gave Britain billions of dollars worth of goods under the lend-lease programme.
But that abruptly ended in September 1945 despite the fact Britain was on its knees economically after six years of warfare.
Despite the heavily discounted rate of interest on the loans, in the intervening years Britain has failed to make any payments on six occasions because of balance of payments problems -- in 1956, 1957, 1964, 1965, 1968 and 1976.
To date the country has paid a total of $7.5 billion to the United States and $2 billion to Canada.
The Treasury noted that there were still World War One debts owed to and by Britain, but that no action had been taken on either count since U.S. President Herbert Hoover declared a moratorium in 1931 during the Great Depression.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Asking us to join the Euro express is like asking America to give up her sovereignty and become a part of an American Union with Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Canada, Bolivia, Venezuela et al. The capital of this "superpower" would have to be in Nicaragua so as not offend sensibilities and the Central Bank would be installed in Buenos Aries or Rio. It's a nightmare of epic proportions!
So, why should we want any part of such muddled thinking. it's a nonsense?
There are lots of other ways to be in Europe without having to sell our soul and our heritage. We have had joint ventures with European firms for decades. We can invest in or buy European corporations and trade within the EU without being owned by it.
If Britain joins the Euro it will become nothing more than a county of Europe, with no say in the World's affairs. Well I don't buy it. Our ancestors must be turning furiously in their graves at the mere thought of handing our sovereignty over to anybody let alone a Franco-German axis with ambitions to dominate a Europe they were unable to conquer by force, despite their best efforts, over centuries.
Why be in one camp when you can be in many? Voila, ce que je dit a vous tous!.Non, non et non!
Friday, December 15, 2006
Foreign competitors will see another performance by 'perfidious Albion', as the British government holds its hand on its heart and promises that commercial interests have played no part.
This is another classic example of double standards and hypocrisy on the part of all concerned. Once again economic interest has outweighed all legal and moral principles. As long as corruption is tolerated, the world will remain corrupt. Any simpleton can surely work that out?
Why should individuals obey the law when the state does not? What is the point of integrity when corruption pays? What is the use of good practice, when bad practice is immorally rewarded? What is the point of professionalism and high standards when greed is the main criteria? What is the point of anything if the determining factor in negotiations is the thickness of a brown envelope?
During my professional career, I had numerous bribes offered to me? I refused them all and sent the "clients" on their way, refusing to have any further dealings with them. I never regretted it. Trust, integrity, respect and honour cannot be bought.
As far as I am concerned, everyone involved in this scandalous affair is an accomplice to fraud and I have no respect for any of them, British, Saudi or anybody else who does business this way. This is not business. This is fraud. This is stealing. It's much harder to be a decent and honourable person than it is to be a rich thief. Nothing good ever came of no good.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Tony Blair has been questioned by police in connection with the cash-for-honours investigation, Downing Street has said. The Prime Minister was not spoken to under caution. Mr Blair gave explanations of why he nominated individuals for peerages, the spokesman continued. He added that the PM was not accompanied by a lawyer while being quizzed inside Downing Street.
The interview lasted between one and two hours. The aide flatly denied that the interview had been deliberately timed to coincide with the release of a report into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The cash-for-honours inquiry revolves around a series of loans made to both main political parties by millionaire backers before last year's general election.
It was sparked by claims that wealthy Labour backers were being rewarded with peerages and was later widened to cover similar claims about the Conservatives.
Sky News Political Editor Adam Boulton said: "We've been getting the message that they (the police) possibly haven't got the evidence to go all the way and indict the Prime Minister. Today's events indicate that."
Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP who triggered the inquiry, said: "This revelation will be shaking the very foundations of Westminster. "For the Prime Minister to be questioned by the police during a criminal investigation is unprecedented."
Now I'ain't saying he did, and I ain't saying he did not know, about cash for honours. I ain't even saying he was aware that there were no WMD in Iraq! I do know he said New Labour would be whiter than white. That, I am sure about!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
For the attention of David Cameron – Conservative Party Leader
According to a report in today’s newspapers, a group of skilled British craftsmen working on an NHS project have been sacked and their jobs given to Polish workers. The 16 glaziers one of whom had just won an award for his dedication and professionalism were working on a hospital construction project.
In the last day or two Mr. Ian Duncan-Smith has been talking about the beneficial aspects of the family unit in bringing up children in a stable environment and the negative social impact of broken families.
There is a massive contradiction in the above scenarios. The politicians want families to stick together and raise their families in loving and stable backgrounds but turn a blind eye when it comes to employment security and stability in the work environment, where corporate social responsibility is at a premium.
If you want to seriously tackle society’s ills, you have to do so across the board, and it has to be done by society as a whole, not just selected parts. This is surely a self evident truth from which there is no escape.
I have long believed that one of the most important factors in the erosion of respect for authority and the slide into binge drinking and the yob culture, is as much the instability in the work place and government expedience, as it is in the family unit. If you lose respect for institutional authority, it will not be long before there is little respect for paternal and maternal authority either. Government has continually undermined the authority of parents over the last three decades.
Corporations are no longer even slightly concerned with the well being of their workers, their neighbourhoods or the society they function in, and from which they make their profits. They are concerned only with the bottom line and making ever greater profit, irrespective of the social cost to their neighbourhoods or indeed the country as a whole.
Likewise governments are no longer concerned with principles or integrity. Political expedience is preferred in the mistaken belief that this is how to win votes and attain or retain power. They cater more and more to minority pressure groups who seek what is good for them but not necessarily what is right for society as a whole. They spin webs of deceit and propaganda to cover up unpalatable failures and have the bare-faced audacity, to wonder why ordinary people hold government and politicians in such low esteem? It is of course no wonder at all.
The much heralded, so called “globalisation” policy now pursued with such vigour by greed driven corporations with a sharp eye for easy money and bigger profits, is one of the driving forces breaking up communities and creating social instability. They don’t think twice about abandoning loyal, hard working staff to exploit cheaper labour in Third World countries, and they care nothing about the cost of the social upheaval they leave behind. Is it any wonder the workers lose faith in their turn?
Where is all this leading? We can see where it is leading, in our city centres on a Friday and Saturday night, in the statistics on divorce, marriage, single mothers, rising unemployment, overflowing prisons, drug addiction, teenage pregnancies, gun crime and on and on.
If we are to right the wrongs in our society we have to build a new model, one in which everyone plays a part. Corporations and their shareholders must understand that they have a duty of care to the people who work for them, their neighbourhoods, the country as a whole and the environment. Corporate culture has become much less service orientated and much more aggressive. They think it works but all it is doing is adding to the general rage levels that pervades society now. It’s counter-productive in the long term and therefore bad business practise. We now live in a rip-off society in which everyone is dissatisfied. They need to wake up and smell the coffee and cannot be allowed to ignore their social responsibilities any more than parents should be allowed to ignore theirs. They need to be pro-active in their communities. Everyone has a responsibility in a civilised society to their society and until we put this foundation stone in place, society will continue to tumble towards anarchy. Capitalism will also, mark my words, continue lemming-like, its headlong rush towards the cliff’s edge and its own demise.
It is no good one man adding a brick to the wall, if another man removes one from the other end. It’s as simple as that. At the end of the day life is about people not money. For people to live in a cohesive and civilised manner, life must first be worth living. That is the only bottom line that counts.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
One cannot find fulfillment in superficiality nor enlightenment without struggle. The same struggle that brings enlightenment is also the catalyst that drives evolution without which life would stagnate and die.
Current theory holds that the universe as we know it, came into being at the time of the Big Bang. In the course of this momentous explosion all matter was somehow imbued with positive and negative energy. The positive forces are the forces of construction and the negative are those of destruction. It is the balance between the two that ensures that life must struggle to survive thus growing stronger in the process; thereby increasing its chances of survival.
These reactionary and opposite forces are plainly visible everywhere in the natural universe. They are even evident in the human spirit which struggles to balance it's destructive and contstructive side. In spiritual terms, we can call the positive side of our nature, a force for good and the negative side a force for evil. Strangely in English if you remove an "0" from good you get "God" and add a "d" to evil and we have "Devil", the force of God and the force of the Devil. Is this what we really mean when we talk about God and the Devil?
As nature shows us, evolution is dependent on struggle, as is enlightenment. These two opposite forces have been essential to the progression and survival of life since the beginning of time. War is the embodiment of hate, greed and corruption while peace is the embodiment of love, compassion and enlightenment. All these things are the outcome of equal and opposite forces that were released in the creative soup or perhaps pre-existed in the i-ther from which matter materialised. I do not believe that the universe was generated from a state of "nothingness". That makes absolutely no sense.
One must assume that since it has always been this way that it will always be this way for such is the nature of evolution and life as far as we can see it. However, if this is the case, then what is the purpose? We know what the point of struggle is and we know that it's outcome, either by accident or design is enlightenment or knowledge. Is this the purpose of everything and if so to what end? Perhaps as there was no beginning, there is no end either.
I suspect that the struggle will go on until and if, mass enlightenment reaches a certain plateau at which point some kind of transformation in the state of being might occur, Utopia perhaps. Perhaps we will become builders of life rather than destroyers of life.
In the final analysis what does all this mean? It means that the impact on life of negative and positive energies or forces is undeniable and self evidently present in nature. Since there can never have been a state of nothingness, it suggests that these forces have always been present and were therefore instrumental in the creation of the universe and therefore life as we perceive it. This is at the very least is circumstantial evidence of a creative force that understood the need for equal and opposing forces for the birth, progression and survival of life.
On the other hand might we conclude that the purpose of everything is life itself and that enlightenment is essential to the preservation and even creation of life? When all is said and done, the greatest visible forces in the universe are the creative and destructive forces of life, both paradoxically essential for the promotion of life.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Team leader Professor Vincent Mathews said: "Playing a certain type of violent video game may have different short-term effects than playing a non-violent, but exciting, game."
Monday, November 27, 2006
Blair said the bicentenary of the trade's abolition next year offered the opportunity to condemn Britain's past involvement in slavery.
But his statement in black community newspaper New Nation, stopped short of a full apology, in what activists said was an attempt to stave off demands for reparations.
"Blair's article is taking a backward step from Britain's official position in 1807 when it abolished the trade and expressed regret for what had happened," said Kofi Mawuli Klu of rights group Rendezvous of Victory.
"This has heightened feelings among people in the African community. We want an apology of substance that addresses the demands for African reparations," he added.
So I take it the African communities are blameless and without historical blemish. If they feel able to demand an apology from us for our "crimes" against humanity, one must assume they are guiltless and have no blood on their hands.
This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Did not some of them actively particiapte in slavery? Are not some of them still selling children into slavery today? How many genocides have they committed in their history? How many wars and atrocities have they perpetrated against their neighbours? The answer is of course that they are as guilty as anyone else of crimes against humanity. No one is blameless, including them and it is time they faced facts and took off their blinkers.
This nonsense has got stop. Tony Blair should have had the guts to front up on this matter. He should now address the issue in an intelligent but forthright manner and put the issue to bed for good. Of course he will not and I don't suppose anyone else will either. It really is pathetic. History is history. It cannot be rewritten so lets just put it behind us and move forward for heaven's sake.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
In a modern, educated well informed society, people do not respond well to the stick because it’s simply unnecessary. They respond better to the carrots of reason, logic and intelligent debate. They react better to tax cuts for behaving well rather than tax increases for behaving badly, which only make life harder in countless ways for ordinary people.
The raising of taxes is not a solution for reducing anything other than individual wealth. Raising taxes will not convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. It will not prevent the continuing destruction of primeval rain forests. It will not plant a single new tree or convert combustion engines into electric hybrids. These things can only be done through multi-lateral government agreements and the ingenuity of scientists and engineers. These are the people that have to be motivated.
The less money people have in their pockets, the more difficult it is for them to insulate their homes or install solar heating panels or wind driven turbines on their roofs. Instead of taxing people, the government should be giving homeowners incentives to exploit new technologies. In so doing they will catalyse those industries to increase R&D and invest in newer more efficient and cheaper technologies to combat global warming. How is raising the taxes of ordinary people going to achieve any of these things? People do not have to be forced into green technologies. They all understand the need. They want only to be able to afford them. Taxation does the opposite and makes affordability more difficult.
Those that can afford higher taxes at least have a choice. They can either pay the taxes, move somewhere else where taxes are lower or give up their gas guzzlers because it makes simple sense to do so. Those that cannot afford the taxes, have fewer options. Increasing their tax burden in any way shape or form, will only make it harder than ever for them to afford greener technologies. That is why using increased taxes to change habits is such an appallingly sterile and stale approach to global warming.
How will we pay for it? On the face of it there are massive savings to be made in oil and gas imports. Paradoxically however, this will lower the price of oil and gas and rejuvenate demand for fossil fuels. This is a problem that economists and governments need to deliberate in depth. What will oil producers do initially as demand falls? What incentive will they have to switch to greener energy themselves when oil is plentiful and cheap and in their own backyard? These are matters that require a global approach that simple local taxation cannot begin to address.
We also need to recognise that for the time being at least, war is no longer an option we want or can afford. The only war left is the one to save our planet. World leaders should be sitting round a table as I write, agreeing to reduce military spending by at least 50% in order to transfer funds to the war on global warming. Failure to do so will render the word “superpower” meaningless, taxes irrelevant and life or much of it, extinct.
The Earth we are told is in mortal peril. So what are we doing spending billions in Iraq and Afghanistan when there is a much more serious threat to our survival than a few mad mullahs. If they must kill each other, we should not spend one penny to help them do it. These people need to start worrying about their future and that of their children, just like us. They need to be planting trees, building reservoirs and constructing wind farms to save their own hides from nature’s wrath. We are all in the same boat here and its sinking. Until governments start taking dramatic and meaningful action along these lines, how can any of us take anything they say seriously? Unless they do act and quickly, there is not a snowflake’s chance in hell of saving the planet simply by taxing 4x4s in Richmond or tripling congestion charges on gas guzzlers in London!
Here’s another conundrum. How will the Chancellor cope with all that lost VAT revenue he collects on oil and petrol as consumption falls? I suppose he will in time honoured fashion, start taxing all the green technologies, thus making them even more unobtainable for ordinary people. One thing is certain, Mr. Brown and all the other overpaid bureaucrats who live off our taxes will not suffer and nor will their pensions; at least not until they, like us are extinguished by our common Mother Earth, who is rapidly losing patience with her wayward children!
Friday, October 20, 2006
We fret about Wayne Rooney's broken metatarsal lest he not be fit for the World Cup but everyday hundreds of children lose limbs to landmines in current and past war zones around the world. Do they make the headlines?
We spend millions of pounds voting on appalling reality TV shows, stream fed to us by brain dead television producers determined that we should all become morons.
We make many undeserving nobodies into celebrities while the real heroes in our society, the nurses, firemen and others remain anonymous and relatively poorly paid.
Great things are done everyday by ordinary people but we never hear about them.
Our soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians die by the arms we manufacture and sell to warlords and dictators. What do we do then? We send aid to the hapless victims of these weapons, to rehabilitate their shattered lives and economies at great expense to taxpayers and much profit to fat cat corporations. That's a grisly little merry-go-round don't you think?
Why are we not seeking alternatives modern solutions to old intransigent problems.? On the other hand, why use dialogue or the instruments of international law when you can use B52s? Why use a handshake and smile when you can use a Kalashnikov? Well I can think of millions of reasons why, and they will never see another sunrise.
Lenders freely loan money to those that can least afford more debt against assets they are bound to lose. Why? Because its easier to entrap the poor into borrowing beyond their means than the rich. It is exploitation of the basest kind.
We exploit developing countries to produce ever cheaper goods for the rich. Mr. Brown the Chancellor pats himself on the back and takes the credit for low inflation. Enough said!
In conclusion and without labouring the point further, we inexorably speed unwittingly and most carelessly towards our own demise, because we never do what is philosophically and morally right, only what is politically convenient.
Global warming they cry! We are 10 years from the point at which it becomes irreversible, they warn. Ten years!
Well if we are only ten years away from turning our planet into just another sterile dust bowl, may I suggest we go out and party; because it's too damn late now.
Actually it's not all doom and gloom, at least not for the two or three billion who will survive. Ole Mother Earth will do what she has to. She will reduce carbon emissions by reducing us and we will have no one to blame but ourselves, except for those fat arsed Presidents of course!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
The consequences for not doing so will be dire for the entire world, not least for the muslims themselves, no thanks to Bush and the incomprehensible stupidity of his neo-conservative masters.
As for Blair, he will not be pardoned by the British nation or by history for complying meekly with Bush's folly. Having said that the entire international community is equally guilty of not standing shoulder to shoulder aginst the tyranny of criminal governments who commit genocide and other appaling crimes against their citizens.
No one and no country comes out of this mess with any credit whatsoever.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Scientists have calculated the year when the human race will cease to exist. It will be October 31, otherwise known as Halloween. But there is no need to worry yet as the year is 2,252,006 - more than two-and-a-quarter million years from now.
The date was announced by a team of European geologists and palaeontologists after millions of fossils from central Spain were analysed.
It confirms suspicions that mammal species have an average lifespan of 2.5 million years and modern man has already been around for 250,000 years.
The reason for the life cycle is thought to be a blip in the Earth's orbit which means it does not get as close to the sun as usual, triggering rapid cooling.
A report in Nature Journal says the subsequent ice age would destroy all human life.
Scientific mumbo jumbo, hogwash. The way the World is going it will be long before the above date!
If we survive 2.25 mio years we will (being intelligent mammals) have found ways to survive elsewhere and/or here for as long as the planet remains habitable. Scientists are like Doctors, they should be taken with a large pinch of salt.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
During previous election campaigns this government had the affrontary to lable anyone who had the courage to raise the issue of immigration as a subject for discussion as racist, cynically discrediting their views by pulling out and waving the race card. It was a shameful disgrace. Now John Reid the new home secretary is hypocritically calling for a national debate on the subject. It's too late now Mr. Reid!
Does anyone in this country believe a word this government says anymore and who believes their "latest" figures showing that since accession of the new EU states 600,000 immigrants or migrants have come into the U.K.? Nobody I know has any faith in any figures this Government publishes. Right or wrong anyone who underestimates the numbers by more than 46 times is incompetent and a dimwit.
The fact of the matter is that as the economies of the newly joined EU states improve, many of those who came here for higher wages will return to their home countries as demand for their services grow and wages consequently rise. This is already happening. Poland has started a recruitment drive offering incentives to Poles in Britain to return.
Having said all that, the immigrants that I have come across are in most instances better educated and better mannered than a great many Brits anyway. Perhaps one benefit of their presence will be an improvement in the gene pool in this country which as far as I can see is in dire need of refreshment!
Thursday, August 17, 2006
I have no doubt that great changes will occur in the Middle East over the next ten to twenty years as a direct result of the Bush administration’s intervention in Iraq. If nothing else Bush and his neo-conservative masters have let the democracy genie out of his lamp. Once out, there is no putting him back.
This genie however is not vested with magical powers. It cannot wave a magic wand and simply make democracy happen and send everyone on their way with their wishes fulfilled and a contented smile. This genie is a loose cannon, a harbinger of uncontrollable forces and total chaos. The best we can hope for is that out of the ashes of death and destruction left behind by this helpless and hapless genie, a phoenix will arise but will the cost in innocent lives and hundreds of billions of dollars have been worth it?
Mr. Bush and his puppeteers might think the cost worthwhile but tell that to the hundreds of thousands who will not be around, who will not have seen their families grow up or even had the chance to have a family. Tell that to their relatives and unborn sons and daughters. Will they think it was worth it?
True democracy has always come at a price. The American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the countless coups and counter coups in South America and Africa and the English Civil War are but some examples of the long process of nation building and democracy.
These wars were fought because those in power were to put it mildly, reluctant to give up their power and self accorded privileges. Not much has changed. Even today, democratically elected governments will compromise every principle of good sense and decency to retain their power; hence the falling standards and social breakdown of western democracies and the concretisation of fundamentalism in the Middle East. On the one hand, Democratic Governments pander to the more outlandish elements and basic instincts of society in search of popularity and votes. On the other, the dictators retain their power with draconian policies designed to restrict freedom of thought and action.
In this respect Saddam Hussein was no different. He was a brutal, unscrupulous and murderous dictator like countless others before him. Like so many of his ilk, he had a chance to go down in history as a great and farsighted leader, a man who empowered his people and improved the health and wealth of his nation.
He chose instead to feather his own nest and brutalise his people. The international community, including his neighbours chose to ignore the atrocities he committed against tens even hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens. The U.N. impotently allowed him to flout international law and commit crimes against humanity for decades. The West armed him and exploited him.
What kind of a civilisation is this? What kind of civilisation looks the other way while one million people are slaughtered in 100 days in Rwanda and looks the other way now in the Congo, Sudan and Zimbabwe?
That is why I believed and still believe it was right to oust Saddam Hussein but it was a moral obligation first and foremost. The Bush administration however with the connivance of Tony Blair chose to make it an issue of non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Deceit is not a good basis for policy making. This was Bush’s first mistake. Although he made it plain more or less from the outset that he wanted regime change and democracy in Iraq, he has never bothered about it in less strategically important countries like Congo or Zimbabwe!
Thus his rhetoric sounded then and remains now, hollow and hypocritical. Democracy is a must if you have oil it seems, but does not matter a damn if you don’t. It’s those old double standards again for which the West is so reviled by many.
There are other more civilised ways that the international community could have dealt with Saddam that did not include invasion and the indiscriminate killing of tens of thousands of innocent civilians, all of which appear to be beyond the wit and will of the UN and the international community in general. These include:-
The expulsion from all international bodies including the UN of rogue regimes
The seizure of assets A total ban on international travel by all government officials or their representatives A ban on all non-humanitarian trade
The issue of international arrest warrants Secret negotiations with high ranking officials military and civilian to facilitate the removal of the offending head of state and ministers once the above measures have been put into place.
There are no doubt others but it is beyond me why no one has had the wit or the courage to come up with a better less barbaric way of tackling states who abuse international law and human rights without resorting to force and a massive loss of innocent life.
Is it not time to amend the UN charter to take account of dictatorial regimes who commit crimes against humanity. Why not? There can be no excuse in any way shape or form in a civilised world, for tolerating brutal governments implicated in corrupt and criminal acts against their own citizens.
Surely the first responsibility of a good leader is to think outside the box and look for better ways of solving old and intransigent problems. The recourse to force is an outdated, cruel, costly, medieval bludgeon that has passed its sell by date. The modern global age offers us many new far more subtle means of bringing criminal governments to their knees without the recourse to force and the murder of the innocent and it is the duty of leaders to formulate these solutions.
In this respect the Bush government like most other governments, including the Russian, Chinese and European governments, has singularly failed in its duty. As the World’s only super power it has a special responsibility to initiate, innovate and catalyse new thinking and create more imaginative solutions to solve the longstanding global dilemmas that confront our historically insecure planet.
In this respect, Bush has failed on every level. He has failed to think outside the box and even inside the box. The invasion of Iraq has been an unmitigated disaster of ridiculous proportions that has cost tens if not hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. It has been brutal, clumsy, ill thought through in every respect and far from winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi nation it has served only to antagonise them and raise the level of hostility towards the U.S. and the West in general. The ranks of Al Qaeda are swelling by the day. If this is not massive incompetence, I do not know what is.
In Afghanistan, it seems the Americans have failed to follow up on early promises to help re-build the country’s shattered infrastructure and develop economic opportunity. The Taliban remain an ever present threat and the major responsibility of confronting and defeating them appears to have been left largely to the under-equipped and under-manned British forces, which are said to be exhausted just a few weeks into their mission. On this front as in Iraq, Bush has failed to deliver.
The Taliban remain an ever present danger and the opium trade is as vibrant as ever. The human and economic cost has been astronomical and the return on investment would have seen many a CEO kicked out on his ear in Wall Street had he been responsible for such a farce.
Let us not even begin to talk about budget deficits, global warming, Aids and the famine, death and destruction in the Congo, Zimbabwe and Sudan. Let us whisper quietly the words North Korea, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Burma and of course Palestine. Our "revered" leaders are no closer to resolving the Palestinian issue now than they were ten or even twenty years ago. It is scarcely credible that the combined wisdom of the World's most powerful leaders have been incapable of finding a lasting and equitable solution to the Isreali/Palestinian connundrum; especially when it is the desire of the vast majority of humans everywhere to live in peace.
Where is the wisdom and where are the leaders that can and should resolve these issues? I can tell you now, they are not in the White House, 10 Downing Street , The Lycee or the Kremlin and as far as I can see they are equally absent in Damascus, Tehran, Bhagdad, Jeruselem and Peking. The inhabitants of these distinguished addresses do not possess an ounce of true wisdom between them.
They have always allowed and continue to allow petty minded politics to get in the way of humanity, compassion and equity. It is beyond shameful. It is a travesty of truly bibilical proportions for which they all deserve humanity's unequivocal condemnation. They have failed all the world's people in their sacred duty of leadership.
As far as Bush is concerned, here is a man who cannot think on his feet, who cannot express himself properly. He cannot even pronounce the word “nuclear” correctly, pronouncing it “nucelear”! Here is a man who makes up policy on the basis of instinctive hunches who claims to have a direct line to God and who clearly believes there is no need to think further or more deeply on the matter. If it's good enough for God, that's good enough for Bush, because he clearly did not think through the repurcussions of the aftermath of invading Iraq or for that matter, Afghanistan. Bush, in my humble opinion is the most naive, ignorant, callous and dangerous of all Presidents.
Now in the face of failure on all fronts, his only defence is to blemish the character and motives of all those who would oppose his ideas. To vote for anyone but Bush is according to Cheney and his neo-conservative acolytes, to hand victory to the terrorists. In Bush’s simple world, if you are not with him you are against him and that makes you the enemy. Has there ever been a worse President? This man is leading the world down the road to purgatory because he lacks the imagination and the intelligence to do anything else.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
The post was always delivered on time and intact. Your bank manager knew you and you knew you could go and see him and discuss your financial matters at any time. Jobs were secure and people generally content. Schools were good. Discipline and a sense of fair play were the hallmarks of a respectful and respected British society.
You could leave your front door and windows open and go down to the shops without fear that someone would break in and steal your possessions. Communities were vibrant and closeknit and looked after each other. The vast majority respected the law and adhered willingly and skillfully to the highway code. Politicians were still trusted and our institutions were widely acknowledged as being amongst the best run and least corrupt in the world.
You could go almost anywhere night or day in relative security. People were polite and respectful of each other. Kids by and large behaved themselves and looked up to their elders. Government trusted its citizens and only the guilty were punished.
Kids climbed trees, made daisy chains, played conkers or drew squares in chalk on the pavement and played hopscotch while the boys played cowboys and Indians. Sport was widely played in schools, in the streets and on village greens around the country. Childhood was fun and as idyllic as it probably has ever been.
Now we have cameras following our every move. We are spied upon by unseen faces in unseen places 24 hours a day. Government dishes out collective punishment to the masses for the excesses of the few. Policeman are faceless people hidden away in squad cars and hardly ever seen in rural towns and villages. Communities have been broken up.
We are no longer individuals but numbers in computers, no longer greeted by friendly faces or voices but by lifeless, annoying, exceedingly frustrating automated computer generated answering systems, abhorred by everyone with a vengeance and without exception. Yet there they are, day after day, call after call, speaking at us and down to us in dull numeric monotony. Our well known hatred and frustration of these souless machines has no impact on their perpetrators. They ignore us as though we are unworthy of anything better, as inhuman as the electronic gagetry itself. It is all about the bottom line and shareholders pockets and the people be damned.
Most middle aged and elderly people are afraid to go into their city centers on a Friday or Saturday night when they are taken over by badly behaved foul mouthed youths, intent on getting as drunk as possible in the shortest possible time and generally causing trouble. Street corners stink of urine and hapless policemen and women are drafted in numbers and at great cost, to keep order week after week after week. Compounding the problem is the fact that the tabloid press panders to the culture of youth and the lowest common denominator in all things that appeal to the baser side of human nature. The expression "rod for our own backs" comes to mind
The elderly are ignored, even reviled and often left to die in a heartless game of post code lotteries. Souless men and woman in suits decide who can and cannot be treated. The wisdom of age is undervalued in a cheap thrill seeking, short term outlook society, that has lost faith in a better future. Some are even forced illegally to sell their homes to pay for healthcare which should have been free.
Adding insult to injury the Chancellor of the Exchequer has plundered billions more from their pension funds, plunging many into hardship in their retirement. Rubbing further salt into their wounds, the elderly and even the not so elderly, are prey to superbugs running riot in our hospitals, killing thousands every year who would otherwise recover, but nobody really cares anymore.
Kids can no longer climb trees, make daisy chains or play conkers due to ridiculous and draconian health and safety regulations. Police spend tax payers money tracking down kids who have drawn chalk squares on a pavement for a game of hop-skotch, instead of tracking down the gun runners and dope peddlers or dealing with the knife culture that almost every week, sees innocent people stabbed and killed for fun. A father of a child of two is fined fifty pounds by zealous council officials when unseen by him, his two year old son innocently discarded a sweet he did not like onto the pavement. Is it possible for officialdom to be any dumber or to behave any more ludicrously than this? How did we sink to such depths of insanity? Who is responsible for this nonsense?
Millions who once might have earned a reasonable salary are now forced to work themselves to a standstill on minimum daily wages for years on end without any job security and with diminished workers rights. These workers fall victim to illness at their peril. Miss a day's work and they go unpaid. Not only are they not paid but in many instances, they have to work an extra day to make up for the lost day! Managers however, can fall ill and receive full salary in their absence to their hearts content. This is unjust and immoral. They are all workers and they are totally inter-dependant. Can management run the business without workers? Of course not! So why the discrimination?
12 million people in this country can barely read and write despite 10 years of so called education! This is a shocking and shameful indictment of our society, parents, teachers and politicians. Instead of raising standards for everyone, they lower them in a vain attempt to give the appearence of collective advancement but ask the universities and the truth will out.
This once great haven of good sense is now a place where politicians profane anxiety at voters apathy but continue to spin webs of deceit and hypocrisy, sell honors for cash and lead this country to war on a pack of manipulated half truths. A certain Deputy Prime Minister thinks nothing of having sex with his secretary over a publically owned desk in working hours on a fat salary paid by taxpayers and the powers that be, have the audacity to say that it is a private matter. Are they mad?
If that were not enough this same government has mismanaged billions of tax payers money poorly implementing ill thought out plans to "improve" public services, principally in health and education! They have done nothing about public transport.
Political correctness, so beloved by liberals and this nannying government, has gone mad and like the proverbial snowball, is running out of control. Nobody dare speak for fear of offending over-inflated sensibilities. Soon we will be afraid to express an opinion about anything! This is manna from heaven to Big Brothers everywhere!
This is the England of today, no longer a green and pleasant land, but a dark, sinister police state in the making. Were it not for my wife's health I would be gone in a cloud of dust in less than the time it has taken me to write this obituary for a country, I once respected above all others.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Ill conceived mumbo jumbo that sprouts from the mouth of Mr. David Cameron like weeds in an unkempt allotment. Once sprayed with a dose of reality they wither and die. Go hug a hoodie David!
Exploit cheap labour in developing countries and keep inflation low! Genius or what?
Hypocracy looks like...
Hypocracy looks like John Prescott - ugly!
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
away from the bulldozers destroying ever greater swathes of the world's rain forests.
away from hunger and disease.
away from the rape, pillage, torture and murder of tens of thousands of innocent, harmless, poverty stricken people in Sudan, Zimbabwe and the Congo.
away from the dilution of our democracy and the theft of our freedoms by power thirsty states that seek to enhance their own power bases by controlling our movements, our thoughts and our habits.
away from the greed and corruption of those we entrusted with power.
away from the mismanagement and waste of hundreds of millions of pounds of our money in the NHS and other public sectors.
away from MRSA.
away from the ineptitude that has left 12 million people in this country with poor literacy skills despite years of education.
away from the plight of some of the elderly who despite paying their taxes and defending their country in World War II, are forced to sell off their homes to pay for health care.
away from the state sponsored theft of accumulated wealth in the form of inheritance tax on which every penny has been taxed throughout long hard working lives and then governments help themselves again when you are dead. Disgusting and scandalous!
away from the mismanagement and misappropriation of public funds in other sectors.
away from political cronyism.
away from truth and the value systems that really matter to us all and without which we are headed for catastrophe.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
A Matter Of Priniciple
The idea that an opposition party will support government legislation which is clearly in the interests of the country, is a noble and desirable ideal. It is a policy which must obviously be beneficial to the whole nation and would if implemented with integrity and honesty, restore much needed faith in our political institutions.
However, such a policy pursued cynically with the intent of belittling or embarrassing the government or the Prime Minister of the day is not only hypocritical but will serve only to disenchant and further augment the cynicism of sceptical voters.
An opposition party that behaves and acts honourably at all times in the best interests of the country, will ultimately gain the respect and trust of voters from all sides of the political divide and will thus ultimately, be entrusted with long term power.
It has never made any sense to opportunistically oppose a policy or some specific legislation for the sake of opposing, irrespective of whether or not it is good for the country. This is the fundamental mistake that all political parties and most politicians have made since time immemorial. It has eroded all respect for politics and its practitioners. It is a destructive, illogical and therefore ultimately unintelligent strategy, that ill serves politicians and voters alike. It is simply bad for the country and bad for democracy.
It has always been my experience that if you act honestly and with good intention on the basis of sound and intelligent principle, you have nothing to fear from anyone. There are no weapons, no words nor arguments, powerful enough to destroy true integrity. On the contrary those that seek to destroy truth and integrity are exposed and destroyed by the fallibility of their own hypocrisy and the dubious nature of their motivations.
The leader who truly understands the profundity of this wisdom can change the world, eventually. It cannot nor will not happen overnight but it is the only way the world can be changed for the better. Nothing worthwhile or lasting has ever been constructed on a foundation of hypocrisy, spin, greed or lies. This is an inescapable and fundamental truth that politicians should, indeed must come to understand, if we are ever going to build a fairer more just world.