30 September 2006
Today's hot political new, in advance of the Tory party conference next weeks, is that the Conservative Party is going to join the You Tube generation. Tory leader David Cameron is to launch his new video blog
http://www.webcameron.org.uk/. And so the American's won't feel left out the site is going to kick off with a broadcast from everyone's favourite ex-POW Senator John McCain!
In related news we learn that the Tory's also wish to retain their traditional constituency and have the opening of a new campaign centre. It's a bit unclear who's actually footing the bill for their offices in Coleshill Manor set in 200 acres of parkland in the West Midlands. It's an impressive looking Victorian pile that should go over well with the blue rinse brigade.
Well. Isn't that what they got taught? They had to deal with corrupt men and older sexual predators who used their power and influence to have their way.
Can it get any more real than that?
It has a central government. It's recognised by the UN and other treaty organistations. It issues passports.
In some places, however, it's not that simple.
Welcome to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It meets all of the above criteria, right?
However in the world of sports there is now controversy as it seems that Great Britain (Northern Ireland gets forgotten for Olympic purposes) is planning on entering a football team (soccer for the yanks)in the Olympics when they are held in London in 2012.
Doesn't seem like a big deal you say. Well it is!. In football England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all compete at the international level as countries. The FAs of these "countries" are concerned that this might set a precedent and FIFA might force competition as the UK in the World and European cups. If you've ever been to, or near, an England v. Scotland football match you would understand that this might not be greeted with open arms in all (or indeed any) quarters.
To futher complicate things in Rugby Union England, Wales and Scotland all field their own sides but Northern Irish players compete for the Irish side. (There is considerable difficulty with national anthems!)
In cricket Welsh players are compete as part of England under the aegis of the England and Wales Cricket Board. Scotland has its own, rather pififul team.
Confused yet? Well the folks that live here aren't much help either. If you ask them what their nationality is you will generally be told English, Welsh or Scottish. About the only citizens that define themselves as British are those of African, Carribean or Asian descent and Northern Irish protestants. In one last complication Northern Irish catholics tend to describe themselves as Irish ignoring their citizenship altogether.
To quote al-Zawahiri:
"Bush you are a lying failure and a charlatan"
The Greeks think they know.
Facing an angry reaction from the EU over violating rules for the Eurozone that the budget deficit cannot exceed 3% of GDP the Greeks got clever.
Did they cut spending? No.
Did they raise taxes? No.
I pricture a cabinet meeting going something like this:
"Why isn't the black market included in GDP?" said minister one.Et voila. Greek GDP is up over 25% from last year now that the underground economy is included.
"I do not know. It's domestic, it's product and it's often gross" said minister two.
How much would US or British GDP jump if we included:
- Drug trafficking and retailing
- Illegal weapons trade
- Money laundering
- Illegal gambling (US only)
Today brings more news on the subject. The world's biggest exporter of rice, Ebro Puleva, has announced that it has stopped trading in US grown rice due to the risks of contamination.
The story so far. Within the last month imports into Britain and elsewhere in the EU tested positive for LLRICE 601, a strain of GM rice developed by Bayer and grown in crop trials between 1998 and 2001 in the US. (20% of imports appear to be affected. EU rice imports from the US total 300,000 tonnes per annum.)
LL601 was never tested for human consumption or environmental impact. Somehow the environmental controls during the limited trials were insufficient to prevent DNA from this strain contaminating other varieties. This by itself warrants immediate investigation and correction!
The reaction from the US government and Bayer? Seek retroactive approval. (Is it just my imagination or is everything retroactive these days?)
In a separate move, the US department of agriculture yesterday said it was helping Bayer to fast track retroactive approval for the rice so it could be consumed by humans.
Arguing that the offending strain is similar to other strains that have already been approved, it has now filed a request for deregulation of the Bayer rice to the US plant health inspection service and prepared an environmental assessment on the company's behalf for a preliminary decision.
I quote the Q&A section of the Guardian article in toto (with emphasis added):
What is LLRICE 601?
Liberty Link 601 is a strain of long grain rice which contains a gene that makes it resistant to the herbicide Liberty. It was grown as an experiment in five US states between 1998 and 2001 by agrochemical giant Bayer but was never intended for commercial release.
How much contaminated rice has got into the food chain?
The US government says it has no idea, has no way of finding out and cannot predict where it may turn up.
Is it dangerous to health?
It has never been tested or approved for human consumption. But US agriculture secretary Mike Johanns insists the rice is similar to other approved strains and poses no risk to health or the environment.
The government has no fucking idea where this untested rice is and has no way of finding out!
The government admits that the rice has never been tested but somehow knows there's no risk!
The government doesn't seem to give a fuck!
Something is very, very broken in this process and something needs to be down about it now! (How much money do the Republicans get from rice growers?)
US coverage you ask?
Washington Post? - 1 article in the past month.
New York Times? - big fat zero
Google news? - very little that isn't European or Asian
Excuse me now. I'm off to Sainsbury's to buy all the Italian brown rice they've got!
Violence broke out. The fascists were turned away and had to satisfy themselves with marching through the deserted City of London. The East End erupted in drunken celebration.
One for good guys! Remember it on Wednesday.
- Burger King's Quad Stacker - 1,000 calories and a whopping 68 grams of fat - all meat - no salad ("You think I'm fat now pal? Just wait until I finish this!")
- Hardees's Monster Thick Burger - 1420 calories - 107 grams of fat
- Subway's 12-inch Double-Meat Classic Tuna Sub - 1,580 calories - 110 grams of fat
- Denny's Extreme Grand Slam Breakfast - 1,270 calories - 77 grams of fat
- Blimpie's (is it really called Blimpies?) BLT - 1,180 calories - 64 grams of fat
"This burger might better be called the quadruple-bypass special. Fast food like this is great if you're in a hurry -- to die."I guess it's OK for McDonalds to drop the salads then.
It is only a matter of time before it all goes pear shaped.
Scene: a fine summer's afternoon. The youngest son of the Mexican President is wandering along the border, admiring his work having just finished mowing the lawn, when he notices that the fence just put up by the grumpy family next door seems to be on his family's property. He runs inside and tells his father.
El presidente walks over to the neighbour's front door and rings the bell. His new neighbour a slightly bow legged, graying and grumpy man swaggers to the door and opens it.
The neighbour: "Heh. I'm sorry buddy but we've already got somebody to clean the pool. Have a nice day."
El presidente: "Buenos días señor. I don't wish to bother you but I live next door."
The neighbour: "Hey Laura! You didn't tell me there were spics next door!"
El presidente: "Señor. I see you have built this nice new fence since you've moved in. It even has this nice sign on it saying 'No entrar. Propiedad privada'. It is polite of you to have written it in my language but believe me all of my children understand 'keep out' in English."
The neighbour: "Hey Laura. He speaks spic. Call the nephew will you. I think he understands that shit."
El presidente: "As I said, I don't wish to bother you but I was just noticing that the section of the fence over there, by the river, seems to have been built on my property. I am sure it is just an innocent mistake and that you will be happy to correct it."
The neighbour: Listen here hombre. I don't know who told you I make mistakes because I don't, alright. I'm The Decider(TM) and I decided that's where the fence goes and that's where it stays! Entienda?"
El presidente: "But señor it is only a matter of a few meters. I am sure you had no intention to cheat me. Surely it was just an honest mistake. To be fair I will share the cost with you even though you are much richer than I am. You live in this fine mansion and I only have this humble little shack."
The neighbour: "Yeah. I was meaning to talk to you about that. Your run down little shack is depressing the property values around here. You need to do something about that pronto. And another thing you're kids are always climbing over the fence to come play in my yard. I don't like my little girls being exposed to you kids, OK? They're just innocent young girls. I think your kids have been selling them tequila."
El presidente: "Please señor. There is no need to be rude. I'd hate to have get lawyers involved in all this. We should be able to settle this like gentlemen, no?"
The neighbour: "Lawyers. You want to get lawyers involved. Wait till you meet my lawyer amigo! She was almost on the Supreme Court you know that? Just missed by a whisker. And she's got a friend Alberto. He speaks your language buddy so you won't be able to try any spic shit on me."
El presidente: "I hate to see it come to this. Despedida señor."
The neighbour: "Hasta la vista, baby"
El presidente: "Bastardo de gringo."
The neighbour: "Grease ball! Asshola! Think it's your country? It's my fucking country, damn it! I'm the king of the world!"
El presidente: "Cabrón!" (Exeunt chased by Minuteman)
What did they expect to happen in women's dragon boat racing?
Even were there weren't cross-dressers involved there was trouble in this week's Ethnic Minority Games in China.
The team from the host city, Zhaotong, brawled with the team from Wenshan city over the result of a wrestling match. Fortunately cooler heads prevaild and the "Wenshan team was eventually chased away by a local gang with blades and sticks called in by the Zhaotong team" Xinhua said.
I do remember having a particular difficulty with the pact that it was common practice to drop the definite article in conjunction with the word hospital. I.E. "he's in hospital". Over time I adjusted and now find it odd when I hear a yank do the opposite. (Note: I was living in the south of England. It was a few years before I got up north where the definite articles seems to be extinct. However, since I had so much difficulty understanding anything this peculiarity didn't stand out.)
Now there seems to be an acceleration in the elimination of the word. Over the past year or so NewLabocrats have been dropping the definite article and have invented a new phrase "fit for purpose" that is used when discussing how fucked up a bit of the bureaucracy is; usually a bit they wish to get rid or "reform".
I was reading an article in the Guardian this morning about the arrest of British online gaming executives in the US and the refusal of the governor of New York to enforce a Louisiana extradition request. In it they are discussing the next steps in the case and say that the executive's attorney will attempt to get the indictment "lifted at source".
Is this the death knell of the "THE"? Should I launch a campaign? The domain name www.savethethe.co.uk is available for only £15. Should I buy it? Wait. www.savethethe.eu is only £10 quid.
What should I do?
29 September 2006
According to the article 13 of the 14 projects with which they were involved are substandard. Their biggest project, construction of the Baghdad Police Academy, has led to the building being declared a health risk "after feces and urine leaked through the ceilings of student barracks". Nice.
In addition to the police academy (contract value 75 million USD) they were also responsible for the construction of 150 health clinics (contract value 243 million USD). Only six of these clinics were ever finished even though 186 million USD were spent. 121 were partially completed. These will be completed by Iraqi contractors for a further 36 million USD.
Do you think they may have had this Police Academy in mind instead?
I hope to vote although I may yet be disenfranchised due to the incompetence of the Mongomery County Board of Elections!
No wait that's not right. He will do nothing that will nothing that will "harm the American economy".
Now those dangerous radicals at extreme left wing, big 4 accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers have issued a "green growth plus" study which suggests that global warming can be addressed at minimal cost to the world's economy, the equivalent of one year's growth over the next forty years. In a further blow to Bush&co's thinking (as well as that of the UK's Labour government) the use of nuclear energy is not critical to the plan. The plan suggests that 60% cuts in emissions are possible by 2050. Big seven economies would cut their emissions significantly but emerging economies, such as China and India, would be allowed modest increases that well below what is predicted for these economies if nothing is done.
I am insufficiently knowledgeable to determine if the cuts go far enough or if the goals are achievable. I do suspect that the Bushniks will resist a plan that allows other economies perceived advantages.
I hope that someone who is capable of this analysis gives this the attention it deserves.
A summary of the report is available here. The full report (pdf) is available here.
(It is said that President Bush couldn't understand why they weren't having pork chops like always on Thursdays. White House Chief of Protocol Donald Burnham Ensenat had the unenviable task of trying to explain the concept of halal to The Decider(TM). After several minutes of intense discussion the President indicated that he understood. "Heh. Like kosher. My buddy Abramoff won't eat pork chops either. Not even on Thursdays.")
The conversation was undoubtedly tense but with the friendly Texan at the controls we can be certain that diplomacy was maintained. Afterwards the two south Asians said that they would "stay in touch".
Both of the neighbours expressed concern at reports that Taliban attacks had doubled since President Musharraf had come to a hands off agreement with tribes on the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Meanwhile in London an MOD report was leaked which accuses ISI (the Pakistani security service) of supporting al Qaeda and the Taliban. President Musharraf was not amused.
Also yesterday Amnesty International (known lefties and terrorcoddlers) released a report accusing Pakistan of "widespread human rights violations" including the torture of detainees.
Sounds like a brilliant idea doesn't it? Leave the car out to get stolen, track it electronically, close in on the miscreants, kill the car's engine and nail the bastards.
Just one problem. Sometime between last Friday and Monday the bait car was, well, stolen. Now the coppers can't find it as the tracking system seems to have failed!
As they say when nature makes a better mousetrap.....
If anyone in the Dallas - Fort Worth area (or anywhere else for that matter) who might have information as to the vehicle's whereabouts should ring the auto theft unit at +12146713535. Unfortunately there's no mention of a reward.
The Statue of Liberty has been reported missing this morning.
Several witnesses reported that they saw, in the early hours of the morning, the famous monument being bundled into the back of black Chevy Suburban with tinted windows and government plates by burly, crew cut men in dark suits and sunglasses. One of the men was reported to resemble Keifer Sutherland.
Further reports that the famous French woman was spotted at a small private airfield in New Jersey, hooded and handcuffed, being loaded onto an unmarked Lear jet sparked rumours that she had fallen victim to an extraordinary rendition. News that became available later on that the plane had filed a flight plan for Algiers amplified these concerns. (You know what the Algerians think of the French!)
US government sources were not forthcoming on the matter. Presidential spokesman Tony Snow would neither confirm nor deny the disappearance nor even discuss whether the statue may once have existed.
Coming on the heels of yesterday's passage of the so-called Foreign Rendition Enablement and Enforcement Debriefing Optimization Modus Operandi (FREEDOM) Act in the Senate many concerned citizens are concerned that the shrine to humanity could be subject to aggressive interrogation techniques and even torture. No methods that could be dangerous or even fatal to a bronze object are prohibited in the bill as approved yesterday.
A CIA official, speaking off the record, would not be drawn on the status of the statue. He did however say the famous woman was: "known to have been visited by both al Qaeda operatives, known Communists and people of color on multiple occasions. She has been known to make public statements that are likely to be of aid and comfort to the Freedomhaters(TM) with whom we are at war. Also she is French".
Calls made to the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the National Parks Service have not been returned.
In other news vistors to Monticello this morning reported the sounds of weeping emanating from Thomas Jefferson's grave.
Let's face we all know Rove must have done something illegal.
Don't worry Borat. President Bush is not fond of journalists except those from Faux News. Perhaps if you rang Mr. Murdoch and applied for a position as the Kazakh stringer you might have more luck in the future. For a taste of what you will be working with you will be pleased to know that Faux News is available in Kazakhstan!
This news came out too late for you to deal with it in your recent speech to the Senate as you effectively and truthfully dealt with so many other environmentalist myths .
Could you please take the time to lucidly and clearly debunk this hateful rumour that methane levels will rise causing a world wide calamity? I such this effort will be facilitated by the fact that this particular report was authored by an Australian. I mean, they live upside down, how can they be smarter than the US government?
I appreciate you using your valuable time in the service of this important campaign.
PS - A nice man from ExxonMobil gave me a fat envelope and asked me to pass it on to your. I have enclosed it and marked it for your personal attention.
If everyone who's not using them decides to throw them away will this lead to an environmental crisis and another fridge mountain?
George, what hath thou wrought?
I think that the proud, virtuous and courageous Senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe (R), has been unfairly pilloried by the hostile and patently left wing media for his recent speech on the floor of the Senate where he deftly countered the arguments of the global warming doomsayers.
He challenged all patriotic Americans to give up on "climate porn". (I assume that this leads to "climate masturbation" and then to "climate blindness". Hey! What's Inhofe been up to when he's alone in his office with just a copy of the New Scientist to keep him company anyway?)
He knows the suffering of those born over 500 miles from the sea. He understands that the children of Oklahoma have been unfairly deprived of day trips to the seaside. He knows that if climate change occurs sea level will rise and all of those evil, blue states will be destroyed by god's wrath.
Oh, and the beach may come to Tulsa and this might not be such futile quest!
Think of the children!
Presenting Rendition, a film planned by New Line Cinema and provisonally starring Reese Witherspoon and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Mr. Abramoff and his business partner have been granted a second delay to a start to their prison term so that they may continue to cooperate in a corruption investigation. Interestingly both sides sought a longer delay than was granted.
There has to be some good to come out of all this surely.
Meanwhile former Foreign Minister Jack Straw shows why he lost his job under pressure from the US by telling the audience at the BBC's Question Time
that the situation in Iraq "is dire". He blamed the Bush administration for mistakes and for not following "the lead of Secretary Powell. The State Department had put in a huge amount of effort to ensure there was a proper civilian administration."
In the states Bob Woodward's new book accuses the Bush administration of ignoring the level of violence and unrest in Iraq. He is quoted as saying:
"The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon saying, 'Oh, no, things are going to get better'."
In Iraq journalist have long had to live in fear. First from US attacks and more recently from insurgents and death squads. Now the Iraqi government itself joins the mix. New laws* make it an offence to ridicule the government or government officials. A dozen or more journalists have been charged and at least three have been imprisoned for these offences. On the 7th of September the "police sealed the offices of Al Arabiya...for what the government said was inflammatory reporting" and some other news outlets have been shut down.
The "Freedom Agenda"(TM) marches on.
*Note: it is rumoured that President Bush as tasked Attorney General Gonzales with "getting us some of them laws". The Attorney General was not available for comment.
Alas the golden age of British wrestling is behind us. Yet it is possible that the UK can reverse the trend. It would be an ideal career choice for John Prescott after he leaves politics!
According to research reported in the Journal of Biological Chemistry excess testosterone kills brain cells.
Yesterday in Manchester we were treated to a sad farewell speech from Deputy Prime Minister John "Two Jags" Prescott. Mr. Prescott has promised to step down from the post, but not from politics, before the next part conference. Curiously this annoucement has stirred less controversy and speculation than the Prime Minister's departure date.
Mr. Prescott is a master of the malapropism with a gift for mangling the English language surpassed by only a few (George Bush may or may not be one of them). Those wishing to study his turn of phrase need look no further than Simon Hoggart's book Punchlines: A Crash Course in English with John Prescott (which may unfortunately be out of print).
His career has been peppered with incidents that have been of equal interest to the tabloids and the broadsheets.
He has punched a protester who hit him with an egg.
He is known as "Two Jags" as he keeps (actually he may have got rid of one by now) two Jaguars, his official chauffeur driven car and one he actually owns.
At the Labour party's 1999 conference in Bournemouth he hopped in a Jag to traverse the 250 yards from his hotel to the conference centre. He later blamed this on the need to protect his wife's coiffure from the wind. He later, sans wife, repeated this performance at a climate change conference in Providence, Rhode Island.
Despite a certain physical resemblance to a bulldog and a physique like a sumo wrestler he managed to have a two year affair with his secretary. (Well - Henry Kissinger used to get laid too!)
After this affair he fought tooth and nail to hang on to his grace and favour governemnt homes even after being stripped of much of his portfolio.
What war is this you may ask?
Ken "Red Ken" Livingstone's war on pigeons. Six years ago the London mayor declared war on the "rats with wings" that haunt Trafalgar Square. He has even brought in a pair of hawks to hunt them down.
So far his efforts have proved largely unsuccessful as any recent visitor to the West End will tell you. The hawks have only managed to bag 121 pigeons over 3 years although 2,500 have disappeared one way or another. The operation has cost £226,000 or around £90 a bird.
Maybe Ken should bring in Ted Nugent and while he's here perhaps Mr. Nugent could pop round to the US embassy and collect£890,000 they owe us for the congestion charge. This would more than cover the cost of the pigeons and would leave more than enough to invite Hugo Chavez for another visit.
Lib Dems be damned Ken. This is no time to be soft. There's a war to win!
28 September 2006
I was driven to this nsark after receiving an email from someone (I forget from whom know and I deleted it) in which Pink was described as a superstar. Now don't get me wrong. I like Pink, she's talented, aware and I dig much of her music. But she ain't no superstar and ain't gonna be one anytime soon!
The cover of this week's international edition features an Afghan fighter wearing a turban and pointing a grenade launcher towards the reader. The headline? "Losing Afghanistan".
This week's US edition is a little milder. The cover photo is Annie Leibovitz. The headline? "My life in pictures".
By way of explanation Newsweek International's editor, Fareed Zakaria, offered "that in the US, Newsweek was a mass market magazine with a broad reach, while overseas it 'is a somewhat more upmarket magazine for internationally minded people'".
You can see the different versions here.
Come on Yanks. Toughen up! There's a war on.
Buried in the article was mention of a nutritionist in Chicago who has a 22 year old Hostess cupcake to demonstrate how truly horrible these things are. Turns out that it's true.
I'm sure I must have eaten a Butterscotch Krimpet older than that. It's too bad they don't come in the waxed paper anymore. There was a real art to unwrapping them without the icing sticking to the paper. At least they're kosher now! (How did they ever sell in Northeast Philly if they weren't?
Maybe we should send Bush and the Republican leadership to the cinema. It seems to have had some impact on Jacques Chirac. (Not that I'm comparing those great patriots to the French! Mais non!)
I wonder what we could send them to see?
He talked about Tony Blair. He talked about aids. He talked about global warming. He talked about ubuntu.
"Some word he learned in Africa."
"Man he's come a long way since Little Rock. What's it mean?"
"Something like 'I am, because you are'."
"What's that mean?"
Alternate definitions here or here.
Or maybe he was just promoting Linux.
Ironically on the release of this reports comes just days after the US House passed a defence spending bill that includes a ban on the construction of permanent bases.
I guess it all depends on what the meaning of "permanent" is. Nothing lasts forever.
Today the British intelligence community weighs via a report leaked to BBC programme Newsnight that says that the Iraq war has acted as a "recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world". The report, actually written about the situation in Pakistan, also condemns the British government over Afghanistan saying it had sent troops there "with its eyes closed". The government has attempted to distance itself from the document saying that it represents the thinking of neither the government nor the MOD.
Elsewhere in the real world:
The bodies of 40 man, most apparently tortured, have been found on the streets of Baghdad over the last 24 hours.
A suicide bomber has killed 19 in an attack in Helmand province where British troops are primarily deployed.
Lincoln Group, who has admitted paying journalist to plant pro-American articles in the Iraqi press, has been awarded a new contract, worth 6.2 million USD over two years, to "monitor a number of English and Arabic news outlets and to produce public-relations products like talking points or speeches for American forces in Iraq".
The war in Iraq is now costing US taxpayers nearly 2 billion USD a week up 20% on last year. Running ahead of inflation then!
Pfizer is specifically accused of making thinly veiled threats to take its business elsewhere. Drug companies represent about a quarter of the UK's manufacturing base and is worth about 3.5 billion GBP annually. The industry as a whole operates on a higher gross profit margin than any other industry sector.
In a similar vein The Times reported last week that drug firms also use funding of health charities, often specifically targeted towards specific events or projects that could provide favourable publicity for their business.
Even The Pusher didn't go to these lengths.
*Note: NICE is charged with vetting new drugs and other treatments to determine clinical value and cost effectiveness. It decides whether a new treatment will be available on the NHS and how wide its utilisation will be. Their decisions are not without controversy and often strongly condemned and protested by lobby groups be they from industry, the medical community and the wider public. The recent controversy over breast cancer drug Herceptin is a case in point. (Before the right wing Yanks start screaming "rationing" I recognise that there is a measure of rationing in any system, single payer or otherwise. Taken a hard look at the American system and tell there isn't rationing of care and treatment in America. Those with money and good insurance get excellent care with the most current and expensive therapies. Those without the funds or insurance get limited care, poor care or no care!)
27 September 2006
Most importantly he thinks he knows why 26 November 1997 seems to have been picked out of the air as the date the White House wants the amendments the McCain Kabuki Compromise to be retroactive to.
Well, I can't argue with it. There's got to be a reason.
President Bush has allowed snippets of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq released because he says it supports what he's been saying all along: all is well, stay the course, a thousand points of light (oops that was Daddy Bush).
And guess what? It doesn't support what he says! Now what?
Read it(pdf) and decide for yourself.
* Aletheiaphobia is a word of my own invention (I think) from the Greek word for truth - aletheia + phobia for fear.
But not Jerry Falwell's god! No siree bob.
Not the Republican god.
Not a god who damns all non-believers
Not a god who blames "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way" for the 11 September attacks.
Not a god who you have to follow his way to be a human being.
Nope. Not this athiest. No sir.
ExxonMobil corporate affairs director Nick Thomas assures us that
"we are taking steps to reduce and minimise carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations. In addition we support approaches to reduce emissions more broadly in ways that are cost effective for society and that consider the uncertainties that remain."
While assessments such as those of the IPCC have expressed growing confidence that recent warming can be attributed to increases in greenhouse gases, these conclusions rely on expert judgment rather than objective, reproducible statistical methods. Taken together, gaps in the scientific basis for theoretical climate models and the interplay of significant natural variability make it very difficult to determine objectively the extent to which recent climate changes might be the result of human actions. These gaps also make it difficult to predict the timing, extent, and consequences of future climate change.
Even with many scientific uncertainties, the risk that greenhouse gas emissions may have serious impacts justifies taking action. The choice of action must consider environmental, social, and economic consequences, as well as recognize the long-term nature of climate change.
This is described as "controversial" and it is put forward that this represents "gun control".
Of course NRA has marshalled its forces to protest this draconian restriction which clearly violates one's god given rights.
I assume that this means the federal govenrment will be sending weapons inspection teams through rural Pennsylvania any day now looking for weapons of mass destruction. I mean the man said he's got to have them!
Mr. Johnson, who it has been suggested might contest the party leadership, went on to say "I mean if the prime minister says, 'I want to use the rest of my time to try to resolve the Middle East problem in the same way as we tried to tackle the Northern Ireland problem,' I think it suggests he's not talking about a couple of weeks; it's a big problem."
Well for fuck's sack. If he's going to bring peace to the Middle East first Gordon will be a great granddad before he gets his shot!
Specifically this is about the Test series between the English and Australian national teams.
Test matches are international matches between countries that are rated sufficiently highly by the International Cricket Council or ICC to be awarded test status. (Current test nations are England, Australia, South Africa, West Indies, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.)Test matches are played over five days with each side getting an opportunity to bat twice. The total score between the two innings wins. A match is drawn if a team is behind but hasn't had a chance to get through all its allotted wickets (or outs) before the end of the fifth day. Confused yet? It gets worse but I'll leave you to find out for yourself should you so desire.
In Affectionate Rememberance of English Cricket Which Died At The Oval on 29th August 1882, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P.
The body will be cremated, and the ashes taken to Australia
In theory when England play Australia in a test series they are playing for this little urn (only 10 centimetres tall) urn when they meet in a Test series. However even when Australia "hold" the Ashes (which has been much if not most of the time since) they don't get to keep them. Instead they pose for a picture and then they are put back in the museum at Lord's.
This winter, when England tour Australia, the Ashes get to go along. In a handy dandy specially designed travel case they will fly down under in their own business class seat and then will be displayed around the country.
There are however some fairly strict conditions dictated by the MCC:
They must be kept at 20C.I think the entire membership of the MCC would perish if they could see what happens to the Stanley Cup.
The must be kept at 50% humidity.
not be exposed to more than 50 lux of light.
The MCC will supervise the
placing of the urn and its base in a purpose-built hydraulic, double-alarmed
8mm-thick glass case.
The public will not be allowed within one metre of the
The LA Times reports on the continued above inflation increases in the costs of health insurance in America as well as the increase of the number of uninsured. According to the article the number of uninsured workers has increased by around five million over the past six years.
As premiums increase fewer workers take up insurance even when it is available, fewer companies offer insurance and the cost to the employee increases. Just the premiums for family cover now average around 11,400 USD annually and on average employers cover 73% of the cost. Of course this would be without deductibles or co-payments. Assuming a median income of around 65,000 USD this would leave an employee with access to employer sponsored coverage still spending nearly 5% of pre-tax income on premiums alone. If a household doesn’t have access to an employee plan then they are in trouble with 17.5% of pre-tax going to insurance alone for a family with median income.
I know that on the surface that doesn't sound very encouraging. But the middle class, unlike the poor, do have political clout. As the problem begins to touch middle class lives they may begin to realise that socialism may not be a dirty word. Then something may change. In the interim the gap widens between haves and have nots.
I hope something changes and quickly.
Now the promised civilian prime minister looks likely to be retired general. The "Freedom Agenda" marches on!
And in what may be a fatal blow to liberty the junta has now banned go-go dancers from dancing near tanks or handling weapons. I assume that the second restriction applies to both rifles and guns!
UPDATE: the Times noticed too!
"The truth is, you cannot go on forever. That is why it is right this is my last conference as leader. Of course it is hard to let go, but it is also right to let go; for the country and for you, the party."
All in all it was a bit of "more of the same", the usual lecture-like performance. Underneath the message "thank you, the Labour party for giving me the extraordinary privilege of leading you these past 12 years" was the subliminal message "aren't you thankful that you've had me to lead you".
Elsewhere he delineated his version of liberty:
"but because our idea of liberty is not keeping pace with change in reality, those freedoms are in jeopardy ... we can only protect liberty by making it relevant to the modern world" i.e. by redefining freedom to fit his purpose.
In coded language he made it clear that the troops won't be coming home whilst he's still in office:
"If we retreat now, hand Iraq over to al-Qaeda and sectarian death squads and Afghanistan back to al-Qaeda and the Taliban, we won't be safer; we will be committing a craven act of surrender that will put our future security in the deepest peril ..."
"From now until I leave office I will dedicate myself, with the same commitment I have given to Northern Ireland , to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine. I may not succeed."
"But I will try because peace in the Middle East is a defeat for terrorism."
26 September 2006
Note: a thought a link to Pravda was approrpiate. Pravda means truth in Russian even though it never used to print very much of it. Sort of like G.W. on global warming, or anything really.
There are many issues that need to be discussed and resolved:
In a post cold war era whom are we attempting to deter and will it work? In my mind it would not be effective against a rogue state and could only be used for revenge. Would a British government ever use it for this purpose? I don't wish to ask (or answer this question for the US.)
Does replacing the system violate the anti-proliferation treaty? I think so. However the major powers have been in violation of this treaty since before the ink was dry. It was really only meant to apply to other countries anyway. We know how that's turned out: Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea!
Would the new systems be free and independent? Would the UK have the authority and the power if the US disagreed? This is critical. The government has always asserted that it would be independent but experts have disagreed. They contend that the US might retain the power to prevent the missiles from being used. This is critical. The rogue state that worries me the most is America. They (we) have the most weapons and the government is drifting further from the no first strike policy every day.
Secretary of State Rice gave an interview to that beacon of the intellectual press, The New York Post. In it she attempted to rebut Bill Clinton's allegations that the Bush administration did little or nothing during it's first eight months in power to deal with the al Qaeda threat. Whether or not she did so is not what I wish to discuss now (although it sounds as if she got as pissed off as Clinton did - I wonder if Faux news will describe it as "Rice gets crazed").
What I would like to discuss is how she exposed the side of her that just likes to dream. Some choice quotes from the interview:
I like a woman with a broad ranging imagination.
On Iraq: "You're never going to have a just Sunni-Shia reconciliation if you don't have a political system in which the interests of all can be represented - and that's what Iraq represents."
On Pakistan: "The future of Pakistan, as [President Pervez] Musharraf and his people fully understand, is to de-radicalize elements of the population."
On the Middle East conflict: "It would help to have a moderate force in the Palestinian territories and to have the beginnings of rapprochement with Israel and the rest of its neighbors."
On the Far East: "I would like to see an improvement in Japanese-China relations."
In general: she said that U.S. forces must finish the job in Iraq and the wider Middle East to wipe out the "root cause" of violent extremism.
It has also been at the centre of an earthquake and tsunami, it is associated with acts of terror and it has active volcanoes.
Now it is home to a massive mudslide, which may have triggered by gas exploration, which has been flowing since May and could last 100 years.
50,000 cubic metres a day flow out of it. 11,000 people have had to leave their homes and farms. It already covers over 400 hectares. 100 years!
Of course the money is the smallest bit of the price the world has paid. There have been nearly 3,000 deaths among the "coalition" forces, between 50,000 and 100,000 civilian deaths, countless soldiers and civilians physically wounded and maimed, thousands with psychological damage, hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced persons. The currency of human lives continues to flow into the bottomless pit that is this misguided war.
Can anyone tell how much will be enough? Can anyone even tell me when we will know?
Via this initiative they want to send to troops serving God and country 100,000 copies of "a special camouflage military edition of “The Gospel of John” in...synthetic weatherproof Bible format" (aka the Outdoor Bible®).
I only have one question. Does it come in Kevlar®?
Then look no further!
The ideal gift for everyone this Christmas (I would have said Xmas but the folks at Faux News would get angry with me) is War on Terror the Board Game!
It certainly would be ideal for the 101st Fighting Keyboarder on your list as it would get them closer to the action than they're used to!
Note: for any entrepreneurs out there they may having trouble finding distributors in some countries. This could be your Pet Rock moment!
The sensitive folks at Little Green (American) Footballs seem to find it most droll although some commenters seem to be upset that they've missed out on an unique retail shopping experience.
As the Mitsubishi website says "intimidation is more than skin deep"!
I must confess I have mixed emotions about this. I would not bother me a bit should the tobacco industry lose and have to fork over billions to the plaintiffs and to lawyers. However how naïve did you have to be to believe that light fags were better for you than the regular variety? Did these folks expect to die less slowly, to last another five years before getting cancer or emphysema?
I mean come on people. Pay attention. A little critical thinking wouldn't go amiss. The next thing you know people will suing McDonalds because they got fat!
What's that? Really? Oops, they already have.
She's tacky. She's tasteless. She's not very bright. She has her own tax break. Should we expect less than this from Paris Hilton?
This week brings us the launch of her new ad campaign in which she promotes Prosecco's new canned wine range Rich a week after she was arrested for drunk driving. Perhaps the product would more aptly be named Thick.
The head of Italy's Road Safety Society said: "She has just only been arrested for drink-driving and a few days later she is promoting an alcoholic drink. What sot of image is that?" I've driven in Italy. As amusing as Ms. Hilton's faux pas is I think the society has greater things to worry about.
Number 10 has, of course, that she said any such thing. In the confusion of a busy conference centre she could just as easily have said "what a tie", "there's a fly" or "I'm so high" and been misheard. Yet as Simon Hoggart says in his Guardian column today "that nothing is really true until it has been denied by the No 10 press office".
For the conspiracy theorists the remarks were reported by Bloomberg and Bloomberg is owned by the Republican mayor of New York. Perhaps the Republicans wish to ditch the "special relationship" with the post-Blair Labour party and are trying to stir up the infighting. The story could just be a plant to encourage this. (Would we have believed it if reported by the Daily Mail?)
And I was worried the conference might be boring!
Mr. Wolfgang, a Jew who escaped from Nazi Germany as a teenager in the late 1930s and who was a founding member of the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), has subsequently been elected to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
I assume that this means he will have a better seat this year and won't have to yell as loud to be heard. (He was in the balcony last year - surely a cruel fate for an octogenarian!) I also assume that he won't be ejected.
I wonder if he'll get to meet the PM. If so, I'd like to be a fly on the wall.
25 September 2006
I don't know why anyone thinks that Sicily is the home of the mafia when we all know that it is the home of sexually active, abortion seeking Catholic priests and nuns!
But have we forgotten about Afghanistan? What news we do get from that unfortunate country is horrific. The fighting seems to be much worse than what is occuring in Iraq, Nato controls only small swathes of the country and the Afghan government controls even less, the Taliban is resurgent in large areas,the reconstruction (if one can laughingly call it that) has progressed even less and there is probably a great deal more to play for.
If this is success what does failure look like?
For some reason estate or inheritance tax (at least I have't heard it called the "death tax" yeat) has popped up as an issue with politicians on both sides suggests its repeal or modification. Presumably this is due to more estates having tax owing due to the rapid escalation in property values, especially in the southeast. The estate threshold is now £285,000 if the heir is not a spouse or domestic partner and the tax rate is 40%. (I believe the threshold is £1,000,000 for spouses and partners.)
The case invariably used to demonstrate the unfairness of the tax is that the heirs may have to sell the property to pay the tax. Have these people never heard of mortgages?
Here's an example:
A parent dies leaving you a detached house in greater London worth £400,000. The tax due on this is £46,000. To pay that back over a 10 year mortgage at 7.5% would mean monthly payments of around £560. I assume that you're living somewhere. Renting a two bedroom flat in London is going to be at least £750 a month.
America got to have a Great Society over forty years ago. The UK has to settle for just a good one.
Things are getting a bit dicey amongst the Roman Catholic community in Sicily.
Sister Silvia seems to have thrown a wobbly after finding here lover (and the parish priest) in bed with a married woman. She then attempted to set his house on fire and to kill him. The good father is 70 and the sister, who is also his cleaner is under 40.
Sister Silvia also claims to have aborted (or murdered in the vernacular of the church)two fetuses planted by Father Carmelo. Could it be easier to find an abortion provider in Sicily than in Mississippi?
How do you say "googly" in Mandarin?*
Of course Rupert Murdoch is probably salivating over the idea of a test series between China (pop. 1.3 billion and world's most populous country) and India (pop. 1.1 billion and soon to be the world's most populous nation) given that he has significant media investments in both.
*Note: I can't find a translation but the name for cricket in Mandarin is either shen shi yun dong (the noble game) or ban qiu (球棒 - bat ball).
George Bush - 11 September 2006 - "The world is safer because Saddam Hussein is no longer in power"
Condoleezza Rice - 10 Septeber 2006 - "I think it's clear that we are safer but not really yet safe."
Dick Cheney - 11 September 2006 - "I don't know how much better you can do than no attacks for the past five years. The fact is, the world is better off today..."
Or people who should know:
National intelligence estimate - THE WORLD IS MORE DANGEROUS!
Clearly eating disorders are significant problem and putting forward as icons women who's physique is unobtainable for 99+% of the female population is troublesome. Perhaps the most disturbing part of the Independent article linked to above is the discussion of material that is out there on the web: pro-anorexia sites, fasting forums and "thinspiration" sites. A lot of it's pretty disturbing.
At least it appears that Milan is taking a different direction and utilising a more Rubenesque model.
Blair didn't counter Bush when the President claimed that Iraq had bought aluminium tubes to use for nuclear weapons production even though he had"received 'private briefings' which indicated that the aluminium tubes were more likely to be for conventional weapons". The claims come from a new edition of Lawless World by Philippe Sands published due to be published tomorrow.
I think the PM just got confused when Bush said "aluminum" rather than "aluminium". The extra syllable makes all the difference.
Get ready. This week brings us the Labour Party conference from sunny Manchester.
Better than reality TV or an old episode of Morse.
- There will be intrigue.
- There will subterfuge.
- There will be plotting and conspiracy.
- There will dishonesty.
- There will be drunkenness.
- There will be sex (although we may not hear about it - but it will be there!).
- There will be murder.
Errr, scratch that last one I may have gotten carried away.
Or it may just be full of boring platitudes and mind numbing speeches.
Let's hope for excitement!
Jantemir (Jantik) Baimukhamedov is perhaps one of the more famous television personalities in the country and perhaps comes closest to claiming the title of the real Borat. He is threatening to crash the London premiere of the film with his mother and his horse.
Unlike Hollywood at least there's some grass in Leicester Square for the horse to graze on.
23 September 2006
He is not being held at Guantánamo.
He has not been extraordinarily rendered to a country were he will be tortured.
We know where he is.
He is about to be released!
The countries that have requested his extradition are Cuba and Venezuela. (The extradition requests have been refused as - wait for me here - he might be tortured!)
He is accused of blowing up a Cuban plane flying between Cuba and Venezuela along with other acts of terrorism.
He is reputed to be a current or former CIA operative.
There are strong indications that the CIA and others in the US government knew of his plans before the airplane was blown up.
He's just an all around nice guy.
Anyway the Guardian has a feature piece in their magazine section today that suggests the death penalty in slipping in popularity in the states. I think from a distance, largely based on poll results, it may seem that way but I believe that the underestimate how zealous the supporters are. Read it and decide for yourself.
The writer went to Oklahoma to witness an execution. In her description of the process she notes that the executioners are not state employees but volunteers who answered an advert for the position in the local newspaper!
Does anyone else find this appalling? Do you include it on your CV under other interests: Little League Coach, avid tennis player, volunteer executioner? What type of person would volunteer to do this? Should they be under surveillance rather than the rest of us?
Note: this website tells me that my old home state of Pennsylvania also uses "citizen volunteers" as executioners. That makes me feel better! Illinois is also noted as using volunteers but it isn't clear whether they are civilians or corrections staff.
How about a written constitution for the bloody country first? I always hear politicans droning on about the British constitution but when I ask about it no one's ever been able to show it to me. Isn't this a bit of a shortcoming for a so called constitutional monarchy?
So, just for you Tony, here are a few suggestions as to what it might cover:
- The basic rules of governement including the responsibilities and the limits of the Parliament, the judiciary and the head of state.
- The methods of selection for the Parliment, the judiciary and the head of state. (Would I be tipping my hand if I suggested that my preference for the later role wouldn't be besed on bloodline?*) You can think of this as an opportunity to replace the current upper house (which you've been promising but not delivering) with something remotely democratic.
- The methods for removal of any of the above.
- A definition of the rules under which a government may go to war including when and where parlimentary approval is required.
- A bill of rights. The basic, involiable rights of citizens and residents. These should include life, freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion (including from religion - so dump the Church of England while you're at it), a right to privicy (from other citizens, corporations and the state), jury trial and explicit rules about double jeopardy, right to property and from unreasonble search and seizure, a right to counsel if accused, freedom from torture and inhuman treatment, a right to healthcare, a right to education and, most importantly, the right to vote. (Feel free to expand on these as you see fit!)
- The role of central government and the powers devolved to the regions (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) and to local government councils.
- The definition of a citizen and the definition of the means of naturalisation.
- The means whereby the constititution would be adopted. This should be through a plebicite or referendum and should require something greater than a simple majority as well as a majority in all regions.
- The means by which the constititution may be amended. This should be through a plebicite or referendum and should require something greater than a simple majority as well as a majority in all regions.
*Note: if you ditch the monarch you'll need to come up with a new name for the country. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a bit of a mouthful anyway. I think having a call in show on BBC 1 would be a good idea. You could co-host with Ann Robinson and Prince Charles. The public phone in suggestions at 50P a call. (Gordon will like that.) You pick the 10 best then you have a week of shows a la Big Brother and vote one off a night. For entertainment value you can have celebrity supporters of each potential name do silly stunts and challenges. (Ring Ant and Dec they may have some good ideas.) Think of the fun. I'm sure Cherie and the kids will want to be involved as well.