31 January 2007

Germany seeks arrest of CIA operatives

Anyone want to guess what the likelyhood is that the US will extradite these suspects to Germany if asked to do so?

Are there any numbers big enough?

"War is Peace"

"Openness is censorship".

So saith PR hack Eric Dezenhall after he was hired by the Association of American Publishers to fight the moves towards "open access journals and public databases" for publication of scholarly works.

He suggested that the firms argue that, and I quote, "public access equals government censorship". It's really hard to argue with that!

Why Johnny can't swim

George Bush is used to having grades that aren't so good. After all he did struggle at prep school and merely coasted his way through the Ivy League on his family's heritage so I reckon he won't be too shocked that the US has been given a C minus grade as regards its performance in protecting the ocean.

I say why should the oceans be treated better than the rest of the planet.

We must also admit that the student is getting better. The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative awarded a D plus to the US last year. Apparently when George hears someone talking about the seas he now knows that there might be more on their mind than "just a letter".

"Forgive me father for I may, or may not, have sinned"

Reporters for the Italian magazine L'espresso have gone underground cleverly disguised as Catholics to unearth if Italian priests are toeing the Vatican line in the confessional.

Guess what! They aren't. Well most of the time anyway. According to an article in today's Guardian they come up short in a number of areas. Amongst the more controversial opinions expressed were:

  • On switching off the respirator of a parent - "Don't think any more about it...I myself, if I had a father, a wife or a child who had lived for years only because of artificial means, would pull out [the plug]."
  • On taking a well paid job working on embryonic stem cells. Should the sinner take the job if he would use the extra money to start a family? - "Yes. Yes. Of course."
  • On being homosexual - "Generally, the best attitude is to be yourself - what in English is called 'coming out'."
  • On using condoms during sex when HIV-positive - this was described as "more of a personal problem, one of conscience".

Of course when the issue of abortion was raised by a reporter who said his future child would be born with Down's Syndrome - "I swear to God: if you do it, you'll be a murderer."

What has been the Vatican's reaction to this? Why what else would they do other than "accuse the magazine of profanity.

BAE redux

Remember the inquiry into UK's Serious Fraud Office inquiry into allegations of corruption involved in the deal between the British arms merchant and Saudi Arabia for the sale of EuroFighter; the one that had to be called off after Tony and his Cronies started running around with handkerchiefs on their collective heads screaming "National Security! National Security!"?

Now Claire Short has revealed that the SFO has evidence that the sale of advanced radar systems to the government of Tanzania by the selfsame BAE was corrupt. They would like to see someone charged in that case but as yet, alas, no one has been.

I hope he enjoys his legacy, that Mr. Blair.

The noose tightens

I wonder how Tony Blair feels about the Saddam Hussein execution now that the noose is tightening around the necks of his friends and therefore, by extension, himself. The police arrested New Labour fund raiser Lord Levy was arrested for a second time yesterday and was later released on bail. This raises the possibility, now perhaps a near certainty, that his Legacyship Tony Blair will be interviewed again, perhaps under caution. My oh my.
Will they hood him when they drag him out of Number 10?

30 January 2007

He does go on...

Over at AlterNet Evan Derkacz asks "What Can Possibly Be in Bush's Head on Escalation?". Why did he find it necessary to add those last two words?

We had best put a stop to this sharpish

How, I ask, will the magic, yet invisible, hand of the market be able to perform its miracles if we allow things like not-for-profit pharmacies in disadvantaged neighbourhoods to exist.

This is communism damn it and should not be tolerated in America!

Republic President Bush apologises

He says that his dropping of the "-ic" suffix when he (attempted to) mention the Democratic Party in his State of the Union speech last weeks was due to his difficulties reading a teleprompter coupled with his inability to speak the English language. Either that or it was "an oversight" - however that might apply.

I find this incredibly hard to believe

This is just fucking impossible. According to a survey by AC Nielsen 13% of Americans have never heard about or read about global warming. I'm sure however that they have caused some!

Note: this was an internet survey so these are people that should not be totally divorced from the world at large!

One small step

Some good news in the court martial of US 1st Lt. Ehren Watada for his refusal to accept deployment to Iraq on the basis that the war was, and is, illegal. According to the Honolulu Advertiser the government has dropped two of the charges and will not enforce subpoenas issued to two journalists.

Lt. Watada's defence has already been denied the right to argue that the war is illegal previously and is likely to be convicted on some or all of the remaining counts.

We have to hope that subsequent appeals will exonerate him.

The The Lord saves Washington DC (sort of)

In July of 2006 some Christian groups held a week long prayer vigil in the nation's capital. They asked the Lord that "the number of murders in Washington D.C. would drop dramatically over the next five months from the previous year". I found this a peculiarly specific but none the less laudable prayer request.

Well the results are now in and clearly my cynicism was unwarranted. According to a news release from the Christian Defense Coalition the Washington murder rate was down 27% in the last five months of 2006 as compared to the last five months of 2005. Halleluiah. Of course for the year as a whole there were only 3 fewer murders than the prior year. Q.E.D.

You what I wonder? Why didn't they pray to God for NO murders from that point forward or couldn't God do that? Why did they only pray for reduced murders for five months?

Of course there are other people, undoubtedly evil non believers or even Satanists, who think there might be other, more sensible reasons for the decline than a bunch of folks who spent a week in a tent on the Mall during the best of the summer weather. But don't you believe them!

Colombia - enriching the rich

Colombia is supposedly an important American ally. It gets huge amounts of aid primarily in the military arena ostensibly to fight the flow of drugs to America and which is craved by Americans. Where the government forces have made inroads against the FARC guerrillas right wing paramilitaries have moved in and seized land, around 26,000 square miles, from local peasants and small farmers. Much of this land, to my complete surprise, is prized for either its oil or mineral deposits.

The American back government of President Uribe is said to be dissolving these militias but it unlikely that most of the legitimate landowners will even return to their land due to policies put in place by the Uribe government.

Will the US take the issue up with the Colombian government and force them strip these fascists of their ill-gotten gains?


Alright. I'm back. I was just writhing about on the floor seized by fits of laughter.


It is this sort of duplicity, or realpolitik if you are Henry Kissinger (and I do pity you if you are), that has been the hallmark of American foreign policy dating back well over a century, and which continues to ensure that we are distrusted or hated by most vulnerable people on the planet. Will it ever change? It is unlikely to go away completely but perhaps, with another President, it might cease to be one of the most notable of the faces we present to the world.

American tragedy

More and more I find that I describe America to my European friends and acquaintances as a first world country and a third world country sharing the same real estate.

There is no doubt that there is much wealth in America and great opportunities are sometimes available. Unfortunately for many in America, due to circumstances beyond their control, they don't get to share in that wealth or have access to those opportunities. The gap continues to widen between the rich and the poor. As any remnants of the New Deal's or Great Society's "safety net" are swept away before by the prophets of the market the poor are getting poorer.

It is especially tragic when this affects the young as it does in a large numbers. What is even worse is that the plight of homelessness affecting a million young people annually.

A million.



God's country!

Stop the enemies of Israel!

An internal report produced by the Israeli Foreign Ministry expressing concern over groups of former Israeli Defence Force soldiers, who are now opposed to the actions of the IDF in the (illegally) occupied territories, who are touring the United States and presenting their views to the American Jewish community. The Ministry views this with great concern. Heaven forbid that their largest supporters should ever hear a viewpoint other than their own. Speaking of the so-called "refuseniks" the reports states:

"The willingness of Jewish communities in the United States to host these organizations, and even sponsor them, is unfortunate. This is a phenomenon that must not be ignored."

The report goes on the urge action against the ex-soldiers saying "their negative effect on Israel’s image must be stopped". I'm sure that the Israeli government would never encourage the US to refuse visas to any refuseniks and should it occur it is for other, completely justifiable reasons which must, of course, be kept secret.


According to the BBC GlaxoSmithKline, the largest British drugs firm which also has a significant presence back in the old home town of Philadelphia, withheld evidence from regulators relating to teen suicide during the approval process for its anti-depressant Seroxat. The BBC reported their findings on the programme Panorama. Their evidence included statements from former employees and emails which showed that the company was aware that there was little or no evidence that the drug was effective for use in the adolescent population but continued to promote it for use.

GSK, as could be expected, denies the charges.

And to think I missed it!

Yesterday was Milton Friedman Day. I'd best note this in my diary for next year!

"M" word confusion

Is a "miscalculation" anything at all like a "mistake"? According to Admiral William Fallon, the new head of US military operations in Iraq, the American military miscalculated the abilities and resolve of the Iraqi insurgents. In a letter submitted to the Senate Armed Service Committee he said:

"Securing the stability of the country has been more difficult than anticipated. Our ability to correctly assess the political, economic and security situation in Iraq has been lacking."

So he is, at least in my interpretation, saying "we're shit and we know we are".

At least I remain enormously amused at the idea of an admiral at the helm of things in a nation that is largely desert. At least it proves that Bush is unafraid to try out something new. Will he spend his weekends, in full dress uniform, piloting a naval launch up and down the Euphrates in search of a fleet to inspect?


Remember the furore that the right wing kicked up when one of the US Supreme Court Justices, I think it may have been Justice Kennedy, suggested that the court should, in some cases, take into account legal rulings elsewhere such as Europe. Of course the ignore the fact that English Common Law has an almost equal bearing to the Constitution as the basis for American Law, a fact which probably explains why the founders didn't believe it was necessary to include an explicit right to habeaus corpus petitions in the Constitution as it was already a bedrock of Common Law. This also confused the US Attorney General as he demonstrated last week.

So how will they feel about US judges increases use of citations from Wikipedia in their opinions? I wait with bated breath.

Rent-a-tans kill!

If you are Caucasian you're not meant to have brown skin in the winter time and if you are Scottish you are not meant to have brown skin at all, so stay away from the bloody sun beds already. It is no bloody good for you. Are you listening?

Bigotry on the Moskva

Amazing as it may seem the United States does not have a monopoly on right wing religious bigots, especially the homophobic ones. The mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, has banned a gay rights parade in the city and referred to it as Satanic. In so doing he has gained the full support of the Russian Orthodox Church. Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, a spokesman for the church, said:

"I believe that in the 21st century people will realize the malignancy of perversions opposing the family in its natural form as bestowed by God."

A nice refreshing 21st century attitude don't you think?

Leave my feet alone!

Britain is to launch the world's first national criminal footprint database next month in which shoe prints from crime scenes up and down the country will be available and compared. What a brave advance for British criminology!

Does anyone really think this will help that much? How long to people hang on to shoes? What if Imelda Marcos is a suspect? How will they be able to get through her entire wardrobe?

I wonder how much we are spending on this.

29 January 2007

In the (slightly smaller) House that Bush Built

Down in Florida, long an enclave of Bushiness and dubious electioneering, we now find that their system for controlling the issuance of conceal carry permits for firearms might new a wee bit of a rethink.

Will someone please tell Blair he's not on Mastermind?

Blair says he's not leaving until he finishes what he started.

Reports that a loud cry of pain followed by a single gunshot were heard from number 11 could not be confirmed at this time.

Joined at the approval rating

Tony Blair - 26% - an all time low.

George Bush - 30% - an all time low.

"At times they even talk alike —
You can lose your mind"

Do you see what I see?

I am certain that coppers will not waste their time, and considerable public resources, searching for school girls not wearing any knickers should the government install x-ray security cameras on Britain's High Streets.

One word makes all the difference

A British government study has found that young Muslims "more religious and political than their parents. This will undoubtedly be met with trepidation in parts of America.

However if you changed "Muslims" to "Christians" (or even "Jew") I would expect it to be met with joy from the same quarters. Hmmm.

If I had ever drunk this before I would probably know just what to do

Australia remains mired in a drought that has lasted for of years. Their Prime Minister, the incredibly annoying John Howard, continues to toe the Bush line on climate change. Now Australian states are having to act over the shortage of potable drinking water. Queensland has become the first to admit that it will have to begin using water from sewage waste to augment the supply of fresh water. I'm sure it is perfectly safe and that the government would never lie to the people over something as basic as this. Right?

"Your uterus belongs to the nation!"

The Japanese Minister of Health, Hakuo Yanagisawa, appears to be considering a career in American politics with his statement at the weekend that described women as "birth giving machines".

He has apologised but not, as yet, been sacked.

A sea change in Ulster

It is sometimes hard to appreciate just how far the Northern Irish peace process has come but ten years ago I am sure that few could have imagined that it would reach a point where Sinn Féin would vote to participate in the province's policing and justice processes. As is to be expected the ever intransigent Unionists greeted the announcement with scorn. I can just hear Ian Paisley chanting, in his dulcet tones, "no surrender to the IRA". By the way it took talking to American financied terrorists (or are they freedom fighters if they are Christian) to get this far.

I hope the progress continues. After all the Rev. Paisley can't live forever.

I say this as a victim of the 1996 bomb at South Quay which almost scuttled the peace process for good.

"Not to mention that I specifically asked for a cell with a view"

Two men spend eighteen years in prison for a crime they did not commit. They are abused whilst in prison for being child murderers. This is what happened in the case of the two men convicted of the murder of newsboy Carl Bridgewater. When they were finally exonerated and released they sought compensation from the government for wrongful imprisonment and won.

Then the government has the temerity to deduct 25% of the amount awarded for loss of earnings to pay for their room and board in prison because of the costs they avoided living the high life at the state's expense.

I don't know, maybe they just have bad karma, but I hope they win. In actual fact, the amount they were awarded, even without the deduction, seems woefully inadequate for their ordeal.

28 January 2007

Caution, wrist slap coming

The Bush administration has been forced to admit, and will report to Congress, that Israel may have violated the conditions of arms deals with the US when it used US-made cluster bombs in Lebanon.

And that will be the end of that.

How many lives to ducks get?

The phrase "lucky duck" is truly meaningful for a certain migratory waterfowl in Florida. He (or she) was shot but cruel and inhumane hunter Dale Tadlock on the fifteenth of January. He took the creature home and stuck the carcass in the fridge undoubtedly meaning to pluck and clean it later. Some two days later his lovely wife, Pamela, opened said fridge only to find the bird still alive, albeit the worse for wear. She rushed the creature to the nearest veterinary surgery where the bird was treated with oxygen and CPR. Ten days on the bird has had surgery and, although still weak, is saidto be doing fine, according to the vet.

There is no word as to how Pamela's therapy is going nor on the current status of her relationship with the evil one, Dale. One can only assume had he found the bird alive in the fridge he just would have taken out of doors and shot it again.

Fodder for the red tops

Tabloid editors up and down the country are undoubtedly squealing with glee at revelations in today's Independentthat, with British prisons full to bursting and the Home Secretary John Reid already being blasted for his penal polices, Mr. Reid is drawing up plans for a "offend now, serve later" system of waiting lists.

How long then before we are treated to a series of hysterical yet heartwarming articles about aged criminals living in dreary council flats who are afraid that they will expire before they are able to do their porridge?

Silencing the truth

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office is working furiously to prevent publication of a book written by Carne Ross, a former senior diplomat and member of the British mission to the UN. Mr. Ross's book, entitled Independent Diplomat, is said to include a number of revelations about the run up to the invasion of Iraq that will undoubtedly prove damaging to Prime Minister Blair and President Bush as well as their beloved legacies. A spokesman for the FCO was quoted as saying that publication of the book would risk "damaging the credibility and morale of the FCO and the relationship of confidence and trust within government".

Surely the government has done that already!

Mr. Ross's testimony before the Butler Commission, which was made public by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee is to be found here and is well worth a read.

Royal Philly

I see that my old hometown has given a warm and gracious welcome to Big Ears and Frumpy (aka the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall). I hope they had a grand time. Did they get to have any cheese steaks or Tastykakes?

The Prince is known for his green ambitions, even if he does fly a great deal, and that was apparently welcomed in the City of Brotherly Love but nonetheless buried in a British article about the visit I did find this lovely quote from a Philly area native, one Walt Kennie:

"You can drive small cars over there in Europe if you like. We're gonna keep driving the big ones. This is America. More is more."

Oh my. Do you reckon he might be Republican by any chance?

Cameron out Bushes Bush

We all remember that wildly (un)successful education initiative of Bush's first term known as "No Child Left Behind". Well in today's Observer Tory upstart and boyish leader David Cameron promises to go him one better by ensuring in the new warm, compassionate, caring Tory Britain that he dreams about no one at all will be left behind. What a noble ambition I say!

Unfortunately I think it is going to have to remain an ambition. The population is around 60 million but it is only 874 miles from Land's End to John O'Groat's. If we all line up in one row we will all only get about an inch. There is going to have to be several rows which, unfortunately for young David, will mean that someone will get left behind.

Kelly's last stand

My favourite minister, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly, appears to be considering one last attempt to see to it that her beloved Catholics are allowed to continue to discriminate against gays via an exemption to the proposed legislation that would end such practices. Perhaps have this attempt fails she can resign and go to work for Opus Dei full time.

Good news for climate change deniers

There is an article in today's Observer with the headline "Experts split over climate danger to Antarctica" which I suppose debunks the UN report due out next week which is supposed to deny the decision of the Decider (TM) that doubt remains as to whether humanity is causing global warming.

Oh, wait. Never mind. Having now actually read the article I find that they are referring to "so called" experts which believe that the already harsh report doesn't go far enough, especially about Antarctica.

Sorry to have troubled you.

27 January 2007

Are you listening (or just deciding) George?

He is a past master at telling the Bush administration things which they do not wish to hear, that they will not listen to and about which he will be correct so if the American President and his minions ignore the statement from former UN arms inspector Hans Blix that "the threat against the global environment and global warming are a greater threat than weapons of mass destruction" we should be excused for reminding the Americans that he, and not they, was right last time. OK?

Green air miles?

Is there anything more inane than getting into the 4x4, driving about half a mile to the local Tesco's only to purchase a half a dozen organic apples flown in from New Zealand or a bunch of asparagus, in the dead of winter, flown in from Chile?

Well the Soil Association agrees and as it is responsible for the regulation of the use of the term "organic" in the UK is considering a ban of its use on goods which have been air-freighted from around the world. Let's hope they go through with it.
Oh, whilst you are at it, you could walk to the supermarket, now couldn't you?

The ethics of cheese

The US Food and Drug Administration is poised to approve the use of cloned livestock to produce meat and other products for the American marketplace. Their thinking has been critically influenced by scientists in the pay of the cloning industry and there has been little or no consideration of animal welfare or other ethical issues.

Questions are being raised as to whether the FDA has shifted from its responsibility to regulate to active promotion. Read the extract of the paper at the link, which has gone to the FDA, and think about contacting your Senator and / or Representative.

Wired for sound

I'm worried as to the potential impact on America's police forces should these caffiene laced doughnuts make their way onto the market. Each doughnut would have the equivalent caffeine to about two cups of coffee. So when Officer Jones pops into the local doughnut outlet in the middle of his shift for a couple of cream doughnuts and one of those huge 32-ounce coffees he will be getting the caffeine equal to about ten cups of coffee (not to mention the sugar and the transfats). Am I the only one who begins to freak out with that much stimulant in my bloodstream? Is this level of drug abuse conducive to the carrying of firearms? Perhaps coppers should be restricted to decaffienated only.

I know that the cops and doughnuts thing is a bit of a stereotype but when I used to live in King of Prussia I passed the Dunkin' Donuts at the intersection with Henderson Road at all hours of the day and right with great regularity. There were never less than two assorted police vehicles outside and there were often as many as five. (Does this save them money on insurance?)

American hate

Guildford College is a small educational institution in Greensboro, North Carolina associated with the Religious Society of Friends. Is it possible to imagine a more incongruous place for a potential hate crime?

Just to show how deeply ingrained racist, especially anti-Arab and anti-Muslim, thinking is ingrained in our society today the College was the site of a savage attack on a small group of Palestinian students,allegedly by members of the school's (American) football team. The FBI is now involved and investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Sad really although knowing the traditions of the Quakers I am sure that the college community will find appropriate means to deal with it themselves and in a manner that heals rather than divides.

The (not quite) greening of the President

In his State of the (dis)Union speech earlier this week George Bush made a few grudging "concessions" to enviromentalists and all of those concerned about human induced climate change. Basically he suggested that Americans should burn more corn and that the big American automakers would volunteer to make their cars more efficient. There were, of course, no suggestions that American (and Western European) citizens needed to address their profligate use of energy to drive a wasteful, consume-at-all-costs society.

With the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change due to release its report next week which will suggest that the situation is real, it is grave and that dire action is required to address the problem, if it is addressable at all, the American government is planning a counter attack. The planned US response sounds as if it was assembled by a group of stoned university students who were trying to kill the time between pizza deliveries. Alternatives provided to any sacrifice on the part of the American consumer include:
  • Sending some really big mirrors into space to reflect the naughty sunlight away. There is no suggestion that launching really big brollies were even considered and I would like to know why not.
  • Launching clouds of pixie dust above the earth
  • Digging some holes and burying the CO2 - possibly on New Jersey superfund sites.
The Americans are also upset at the report's lack of emphasis on the upside of global warming such as the addition of beaches to Tennessee's tourist attractions, Xmas day barbeques in Duluth and Massachusetts orange juice.

The US comments on the IPCC document are to be found here (PDF).

Conflict in the Irish Isles

Forget Ulster. The latest conflict to stir up the passions of the Irish is the battle between Inis Mor and Inis Oirr, both of the Aran Islands, to claim the right to be recognised as the real Craggy Island. Rumours that Peter Hain was on his inestimable way to mediate the dispute has encouraged the islanders to come up with their own novel solution. They are considering using an "All-Priests Five-a-Side Over-75s Indoor Challenge Football Match" to decide the matter with the winner getting to be Craggy Island for the year and the loser having to suffer the ignominy of being Rugged Island.

In the immortal words of Father Jack: "That would be an ecumenical matter!" so tell Peter Hain to just feck off then!

"What can I do? She still won't eat!"

The Spanish Ministry of Health plans to invite over 8,000 normal women to take part in a project that will ensure that clothing shop mannequins will reflect reality. The woman will be subjected to body scans which will then be analysed to determine how dummies should be modified to reflect the average woman.

I am a bit worried though. They can't stuff the dummies full of food, they just vomit it all up, so are they just going to throw the old ones away. Are mannequins recyclable? If so, which bin do I put them in?

26 January 2007

Brain damage key to giving up fags

No really. I'm not kidding. If I were a member of the Bush administration I could just ignore the scientists but I am not and therefore cannot. Here is the science.

So if you want to give up smoking. Spend this weekend killing some brain cells. I heartily recommend beer but feel free to use the tipple of your choice.

How long is a piece of string?

String theory, that bizarre attempt to produce a "grand unified theory" in the realm of physics that would reconcile Einstein's Theory of Relativity with Quantum Mechanics, has any number of proponents around the world. Its basis, like much of physics is largely mathematical but it makes a number of predictions, amongst them the rather bizarre requirement for an additional eight or ten spatial dimensions. Nonetheless there are problems with the theory.

The most obvious is that virtually no one can understand it but the most critical is that there seems to be no way to prove or disprove it thereby making more like speculation than a workable scientific theory.

Now scientists at Carnegie Mellon University the University of California (San Diego) and The University of Texas at Austin have devised a test that should be capable of disproving at least part of string theory. I will not pretend to understand what the hell they are talking about but for those with interest an explanation is to be found here.

Get that lad an ASBO*, quick!

A four year old boy has a scream that is so horrible upon hearing it a flock of chickens in Jiangsu province in China stampeded causing the deaths of 443 of them. A court has ruled that his father, a delivery man, has to pay compensation. I'm just glad that I don't live next door!

*ASBO = Anti-social Behaviour Order for the uninitiated.

Molly coddling criminals

Corey Clagett of Moncks Corner, S.C was a member of group of who shot dead three unarmed people. After pleading guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice he was sentenced to 18 years but could be out in 5 years. I await the chorus of indignation from the right!

Oh, did I forget to mention that Clagett was a US soldier and that the men that were killed were only Iraqis?

They can have any colour they want as long as it's red!

"Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!" (P.B. Shelley - Ozmandias)

Oh how the mighty have fallen. The American* car manufacture Ford has announced its largest ever annual loss, 12.7 billion USD or approximately 2,000 USD for every car and truck it sold. It also lost significant market share in the US.

*Note: don't tell anyone that they are American. A surprising percentage of people in the UK somehow think they are British!

Just wait until the wingnuts hear about this!

Why does the US military hate America? Because we all know that anyone who doesn't hate France must hate America by default. Ergo the fact that the US military has given a 1.6 billion USD contract to Michelin, a French company, to provide tyres for all its vehicles over the next ten years, is surely indicative of their deep and abiding hatred of the United States. Quad erat demonstrandum.

Disarm them I say!

Omitting the omission

Several major media outlets, including the Washington Post and ABC's World News, thought it important enough to note that the Decider (TM) decided that it wasn't worth his while to mention the Hurricane Katrina recovery (non)effort or New Orleans in his state of the (dis)Union speech earlier in the week.

Christ, even USA Today managed to notice, albeit at the very end of the story.

The Puppet Master

Is anyone surprised by the news out of the "Scooter"* Libby trial that Vice President Cheney was the evil genius behind the scenes manipulating everything?

I, for one, am not!

*Is "Scooter" any kind of name for a 56 year old man who is pretending to be a grown up?

"Not git out there and kill me some Iranicrats!"

One would think that someone who has started at least two wars in the past six years, neither of which is going quite as planned (assuming that there was a plan), would probably not be all that eager to start another one. Well, if one were to think like that one would being underestimating the Decider (TM).

I have long expected, and I am certainly that alone in this, that Dubya is just itching for a fight with Iran. They have a new policy in Iraq, courtesy of a new administration decision, that allows, indeed encourages, the capture or killing of Irani operatives.

This coupled with the sending of an additional carrier task force to the Persian Gulf and the introduction of additional sanctions will considerably ratchet up the tension in the area.

Coming soon to a (war) theatre near you.

Why is the murder of an ex-Russian spy like an arms merchant's bribes?

The investigation into the Litvineko murder by polonium poisoning has been proceeding apace and the police are nearly ready to charge one or two Russian businessmen with his killing. The chances of actually getting the individuals extradited from Russia to the UK are approximately nil however. I suppose, if Putin gets testy about it, Tony could just have the investigation quashed in the interests of "national security".

I think this reminds me of something.

The Nebraska corn rush

I have some additional thoughts re the Decider's (TM) green conversion via the use of ethanol to save us all. Besides the previously noted* impact that the use of corn to produce fuel will have in a world which already struggles to produce sufficient food to feed all of its inhabitants there is that fact ethanol just isn't all that green. In a best case scenario ethanol produces only 13% less greenhouse gasses than petrol. However using current methods to produce the fuel from the grain, which involve coal fired heating to extract the sugar, the net impact is NIL, ZERO, NONE!

*Note: it seems that the grain prices are already rising therby affecting costs to both meat producers and consumer alike.

Is this a surge or an augmentation?

The Bush administration is poised to get the printing presses at the Treasury fired up again as they plan to pour an additional 8 billion USD into Afghanistan. After all they've being pouring money into Iraq by the bucket load and that has turned out so well!

They also plan to send more troops but as there aren't to spare (see "Iraq surge") they will make up the difference by keeping the ones that are there already there longer.

To my antipodean friends

Happy Australia Day. I trust you won't waste your day off by staying sober!

Now, as a prezzie for me, will you please ditch John Howard? Thanks very much indeed.

Saint Tom the Divine

There are important things are brewing in the hallowed halls of Scientology. The "church" has discovered a new saviour in the "Chosen One". This divine and blessed being is currently on Earth in the form of none other than vertically challenged Hollywood giga-star Tom Cruise. He has been told by church big wigs that he is their Christ-like figure destined to go forth and convert the world. I have seen signs of this proselytising spirit already as there have been groups of the wacky, I mean holy, Scientologists on Bromley High Street recently offering their famous free stress test and selling sacred tracts by L. Ron Hubbard.

I have so many questions I really don't know where to start.
  • Does this mean his Cruiseness is the son of God or the son of Hubbard?
  • Was his mum a virgin?
  • Is his wife a virgin?
  • Is his child the son of the son of God (or Hubbard)?
  • Where does this leave poor Nicole as the jilted ex-lover of his Divineness?
  • Will Tom be crucified (other than figuratively in the reviews of his films)?
  • Will Tom be resurrected after he dies and come back to make an endless stream of Mission Impossible sequels?
  • Will there be Churches of Scientology named after him?
  • Will there be an order of Scientologist priests or nuns named after him? The Tomites? The Cruisians?
  • Is he the patron saint of shortness?
  • Is there already a factory somewhere in China already producing little plastic images of The Chosen One ready to be mounted on the dashboards of the official Scientologist fleet?
  • Will he eliminate mental illness, perhaps starting with post-partum depression?
  • Will Brooke Shields now have to apologise to him?
  • Should I sell my pharmaceutical stocks before the word gets out?
  • Am I too tall to be a Scientologist now?
  • Will he run for President? If so will he do better or worse than Bush? (This is a very, very tough call!)
  • Has his elevation improved young Katie's orgasms, assuming she is not a virgin (see above)?
  • Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.

25 January 2007

Can the NHS rescue the Afghan economy?

Maybe it can if doctors get their way. The British Medical Association may recommend that Afghan opium be imported into the UK and used to make diamorphine, essentially pharmaceutical heroin, which is in short supply. This would help Afghan farmers get a fair price for their crop whilst ensuring that the drugs stay off of the illicit market.

Why am I getting a nearly irresistible desire to break a leg?

A not so fond farewell...

...is due to E. Howard Hunt (1918-2007); Watergate criminal, CIA interventionist par excellence and all around bad guy.

Why President Bush is not a member of the church of England*

Church of England Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu has told the World Social Forum in Nairobi that the "war on terror" cannot be won by force and injustice but only through the elimination of poverty, disease and ignorance.

"God weeps and says, 'Who will help me so we can have a different kind of world, one in which the rich know they have been given much so they can share and help others?'"

*Note: Tony Blair is believed to be a member but rumours are rife that he is leaving for a faith that is more accustomed to the use of force for religious purposes.

Mother Nature fights back

Imagine you are Mother Earth. There are these annoying beings that have been living on your skin for millions of years - sort of like lice. For the last couple of hundred years they have been digging in well under you epidermis and carting away bits of your insides. You may have the patience of a saint but centuries of this treatment, coupled with drilling and blasting, you will probably reach the limits of your tolerance and eventually decide to fight back.

That is what appears to have happened recently in Indonesia where drilling for natural gas is now deemed to be the cause of a disastrous mud volcano on the island of Java that has been erupting since last year.

Well done madam. I emphasise with your plight.

The good news out of Iraq

The situation in the country is "not hopeless" according to Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus who is poised to be in charge.

That is all.

The Komodo Mary

"They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the lizard was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.

Some of the eggs of a Komodo dragon at the Chester (UK) zoo, that has never mated or even mixed with male members of her species, have hatched. Mother (and father) and babies are doing fine after this clear example of a virgin birth.

The lizard is named Flora but I think that perhaps they should change it to Mary. The new name would be doubly inspired by the mother of the baby Jesus and the daughter of the Vice President of the US.

No room at the inn

The Home Secretary John Reid has called on judges to jail only the most dangerous of convicted criminals due to the extreme population pressures on British prisons.

This policy will also have the added benefit of freeing up prison space for the use of politicians and their aides. Two birds, one stone.

Collateral damage

The US has launched at least one other air strike into Somalia apparently killing no one of interest. No word is yet available as to how many disinterested parties might have been sacrificed in order that this bold strike against the evil doers could go forward.

US Defence Department spokesmen only said that the attack took place earlier this week. Do you reckon that, had they actually killed anyone of interest, there might have been an extra paragraph in the Decider's (TM) speech on Tuesday?

Nah. I'm just being cynical. This administration would never arrange the timing of anything for purely political purposes, right? In any case it’s not October.

"Patience my arse. I'm gonna invade something."

President Bush displayed incredible arrogance in asking for patience on Iraq the other night in is State of the (dis)Union Address. If he and his minions had shown a little patience in 2003 and allowed the UN inspectors to do their job before deciding he needed to send none of his family to die whilst invading Iraq perhaps thousands of members of other American families and hundreds of members of families from other COW (Coalition of the Willing) countries, not to forget the hundreds of thousands of members of Iraqi families would still be alive. With a little patience hundreds of billions of dollars belonging to future American taxpayers would not have found their way into the coffers of Halliburton, Bechtel and other American corporations.

Bollocks to patience!

Blair no show

There was a debate in Parliament yesterday on the situation in Iraq but the Prime Minister was much to busy hobnobbing with the glitterati of big business to both to attend.

This is either an admission of his growing irrelevance or an expression of his belief that he, and not Parliament, runs the country.

Tae Robbie Burns

Address To A Haggis

Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o' the pudding-race!
Aboon them a' yet tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy o'a grace
As lang's my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin was help to mend a mill
In time o'need,
While thro' your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like ony ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin', rich!

Then, horn for horn, they stretch an' strive:
Deil tak the hindmost! on they drive,
Till a' their weel-swall'd kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
Then auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
Bethankit! hums.

Is there that owre his French ragout
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad make her spew
Wi' perfect sconner,
Looks down wi' sneering, scornfu' view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckles as wither'd rash,
His spindle shank, a guid whip-lash;
His nieve a nit;
Thro' blody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread.
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He'll mak it whissle;
An' legs an' arms, an' hands will sned,
Like taps o' trissle.

Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o' fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies;
But, if ye wish her gratefu' prayer
Gie her a haggis!
Happy Birthday!

More work found here.

US s-u-r-g-e v British e-g-r-u-s

Cracks are appearing in the grand coalition of ex- and neo-colonial powers the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. (We really need a shorter name for this country.) The British plan to pull some of their 7,000 troops out of southern Iraq later this year and the Yanks are not well pleased.

The US ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said:

"We would like to coordinate and for us to have a joint plan, and we are talking about this. It is clear our preference would be 'the longer we stay together here the better'."

The failure of the British government to consider the impact of their foreign policy on the historic legacy of the Decider (TM) must certainly be condemned and certainly should be reversed!

Just in time

Those of you who doubt the imperial, perhaps divine, powers of George the First, Emperor of the United States of America and Iraq, will probably argue that it is mere coincidence that today it is snowing in London for the second consecutive day. The snow began almost immediately after the Exalted One spoke about his plans to address climate change by feeding some corn to SUVs rather than people.

And George said let it be cool and it was cool and George saw that this was good. And there was great joy amongst the people and on the internets.

I would like to thank Mr. Bush for solving this problem with the same efficiency that he has used to address the problems in Iraq, Afghanistan and New Orleans.

Let us pray.

A small victory

Poor Ruth Kelly, the British Communities Secretary and Member of Parliament for Opus Dea, must be down in the mouth today over the news that the cabinet has rejected her plans for special considerations in the proposed anti-discrimination laws that would have allowed the Catholic Church to continue to refuse to offer services, such as adoptions or accommodation, to gays. The same must be true of her mentor, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, who seems to be heading down the path to Catholicism himself.

I can only say: "too fucking bad" or perhaps the more considered words of Consitutional Affairs minister, Harriet Harman, might be more appropriate:
"You can't be a little bit against discrimination."

24 January 2007

If your collar and cuffs don't match....

...don't worry! Try Betty Dye for the "hair down there".

How will anyone be able to determine who is and, more importantly, who is not a natural blonde anymore?

Karl did it!

I think I understand the defence’s strategy in the Libby perjury trial. Basically it is to jump up and down like a petulant five year old and shout "Rove did it! Rove did it!". Did I miss anything?

Wrong! Wrong! Just plain wrong!

Today's been, and will continue to be, a hectic day and I shan't have an opportunity to comment properly on the Decider's great speech last night until tomorrow but I do want to touch one his call for the use of ethanol fuel from grass and grain to somehow resolve the carbon dioxide crisis without an American sacrifice. The only positive result that this is likely to have is the bounce that it has given to ethanol stocks.

The market, to which these "Christians" are so happily wed, is completely amoral. The market will say that if Americans can and will pay a higher price for grain to used to fill up an inefficient and unnecessary motor car than others can pay for food that they require to survive there is no question as to where the grain will go. It will go to the Americans.

In a world, with a rapidly growing population, that regularly produces less food than it requires every hectare of arable land diverted from the production of food to the production of fuel will mean more people will go hungry, that more children will grow up malnourished and more people will did of starvation or diseases related to hunger. There is no doubt that, not only is this morally wrong, it is unacceptable irrespective of neo-liberal globalise capitalists believe.

We must look elsewhere and we will need to sacrifice or all will suffer. What would Jesus do?


The British Director of Public Prosecutions, the country's chief prosecutor, Sir Ken Macdonald, has broken ranks with the great leaders, Bush and Blair, by declaring that there is no war on terror. His exact words were "the fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war". I guess he will be roughed up in the alleyway nearest to number 10 sometime soon.

He went on to say:

"We wouldn't get far in promoting a civilising culture of respect for rights amongst and between citizens if we set about undermining fair trials in the simple pursuit of greater numbers of inevitably less safe convictions. On the contrary, it is obvious that the process of winning convictions ought to be in keeping with a consensual rule of law and not detached from it. Otherwise we sacrifice fundamental values critical to the maintenance of the rule of law - upon which everything else depends."

Is anyone listening in America?

A brief weather update

Yes. In case you were worried we did have a good 2 CM of snow here in SE London last night. How did the country respond you may ask.

Complete and utter fucking chaos. Thanks for asking!

23 January 2007

How many parrots will fit into an Audi?

Five hundred apparently. I hope they hadn't learned to talk yet. Who could manage to get anywhere, let alone Kazakhstan, with five hundred back seat drivers?

Perhaps Sacha Baron Cohen can use this in Borat II: Kazakh Revenge.

And throw away the key

Do you ever get the feeling that there are just some people who don't belong in the gene pool, who are doomed to be evolutionary dead ends?

Well that's how I feel about Teorry Henderson, a 23 year old father from Groveland FL who shot his four year old son with a BB gun to teach him a lesson.

"I made his take off his shirt and I shot him and two of three pellets came out. It was just wanted to punish him. I didn't want to whoop him."

See what I mean?
Mr. Henderson now faces thirty years in jail.

Never again?

Will Yosef Lapid be vilified over his remarks about Israeli treatment of the Palestinians in the same way that Jimmy Carter has been vilified over his book?

Mr. Lapid is a holocaust survivor, an Israeli Jew and the head of Israel's largest holocaust memorial. In comments on Israeli radio he said that the treatment of the Palestinians reminded him of the anti-Semitism in Europe prior to WWII. Surely that is worse than just comparing the same treatment to apartheid, isn't it? He went on to say:

"It was not crematoria or pogroms that made our life in the diaspora bitter before they began to kill us, but persecution, harassment, stone-throwing, damage to livelihood, intimidation, spitting and scorn...I was afraid to go to school, because of the little anti-Semites who used to lay in ambush on the way and beat us up. How is that different from a Palestinian child in Hebron?"

After being angrily criticised by Israeli settlers he went even further saying:

"When we impose upon ourselves, and rightly so, the restriction of not comparing in any way or under any condition, the behavior of Jews to the behavior of Nazis, we forget that anti-Semitism only peaked in Auschwitz...It is unthinkable for the memory of Auschwitz to serve as cause to ignore the fact that there are Jews among us who behave today towards Palestinians just like German, Hungarian, Polish and other anti-Semites behaved towards Jews."

I wait for the backlash. Maybe I'll check Little Green (American) Footballs out later. After I've taken my anti-nausea medication of course!

US a haven for criminals!

The US leads the world in spam output narrowly edging out China which dominates the malware rankings. Quite an accomplishment for such a law abiding nation wouldn’t you say? Can I charge the US government for wasting my time through lack enforcement of the law?

I just can't believe this

Surely the American government wouldn't be stretching the truth (aka "lying" in everyday parlance) about when they claim that the Iranian government is arming Shiite militias in the Iraqi civil war. Right? They would never do that again in an effort to get us to sign up to military action. Would they?

The EU to report on US and rendition

The final version of the European Parliament's report on CIA "extraordinary rendition" flights through the EU is due out in a week's time and there is still considerable disagreement amongst the parties. Right wing MEPs are resisting the use of the strong language from the preliminary report, issued last year, which accused member states of human rights violation and which recommended censure.

We will know the end result shortly.

A mere snip at just under £2,500 per sq. ft.

An 11+ foot by 7+ foot former cleaner's cupboard in Chelsea has gone on the market at $170,000. It will cost another £30,000 or so to make it habitable. That is of course if you consider something the size of a prison cell to be habitable.

The estate agents listing the "property" are describing it as "tiny studio flat in a premier location" after "Bolthole in Belgravia" was rejected for violating the estate agents' code as it was too close to being true.

More like Pandora's Box

President Bush's Press Secretary Tony Snow has been given a look at the State of the (dis)Union speech and he says that pick out the best bit is "like looking in a drawer full of diamonds".

I think he meant "blood diamonds".

Am I a right to lifer?

The United Nations' World Food Programme is going to have to cut off food aid to around 700,000 Cambodians next month for the lack of around 10 million USD.

The US is currently spending 8.4 billion USD a month in Iraq. For those of you who are bad at maths it would take less than an hour's spend to continue to feed these people.

I believe that these people have a greater right to life than the Iraqi people have a right to death so why don't we just do it? Let everyone put down their guns for an hour and play football just like the Christmas truce in 1914. Someone will have to tell the Yanks that "football" = "soccer" so they don't try and pad up in all that heat!

A Philly news update

A whole lot of numbers. That's how Marc Umile of Upper Darby laid claim to his particular fifteen minutes of fame. Unfortunately it took him three hours and forty minutes to recite the 12,887 decimal positions of π which is his claim to fame. Not only that but his only the North American record holder.

When asked why he did it he said:

"It seems like in the eastern part of the world, they really have their stuff together...I want to help us catch up."

That's what keeps America great. Hey - I only knew 3.14159!

"I had a dream!"

Yes I did. It was very simple. I simply took this headline and replaced "Israeli" with "American".

I think it may have been a wet dream.

Prince of Darkness upstages Bush...

...as he announces that the Decider (TM) will Decide to bomb Iran "if necessary".

Has anyone seen my sleeping tablets?

How intentionally misleading is this headline?

The release, from the ever reliable Christian Newswire, implies two things that are just not true.
1) That "believers" = "Christians" well Muslims are believers too. They even share the same God as Christians do whether either side wishes to admit that or not.
2) That only "believers" are in danger in Iraq. Bloody hell, don't they read the papers? Everyone; Muslims, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics and atheists, is in danger in Iraq. There's a bloody war on.

Not enough chicken in the sea

The World Wildlife Fund is warning that the stocks of tuna in the world's oceans and seas are seriously threatened due to over-fishing and mismanagement and will soon be commercially unviable unless drastic action is taken shortly. It’s time to say farewell to stock lunch of tuna mayonnaise on pita bread I guess.

I guess our grand children will probably be eating tins of Tuna-free Dolphin.

"Oi! Adrianne!"

It isn't often that the old home town, Philadelphia, gets a mention in the hallowed pages of the Guardian. When it does it has usually been either the murder rate or municipal corruption that gets a mention.

Today there is a story about Philly that features neither of those elements but I'm not sure if a story about Rocky and the Art Museum steps is any more flattering.

Happy Saint Ruth Day.

Tony Blair must be feeling a bit hard done by these days what with criticism from the OECD over the cancellation of the inquiry into the BAE bribe scandal and, of course, the Metropolitan Police's investigation into "Lolly for Lordships".

On particular he must be concerned about the pressures on those lesser beings around him such as his political advisor Ruth Turner who was rudely awakened by policemen very early the other morning and arrested. We should all do our part to ease Tony’s anguish and by extension Ms. Turner's as well. I can think of nothing that will do more to ease his burden at the moment that than contributing to the campaign to urge the Catholic Church to make Ms. Turner a saint post haste without waiting for her death, miracles or any other such nonsense. As the petition so rightly says:

"[S]he has never done anything wrong in her life, she is arguably more holy than John Paul II, who was known to leave the toilet seat up on occasion. Furthermore, if by her actions she has spared one of the faithful - Tony Blair (who is almost a Catholic) - from the strong arm of the law this is clearly a miracle in her favour."

So go there and sign on right now.

That means YOU!

"I knew I should have let Jeb have this bloody job!"

How terrible it must be to be George W. Bush these days. He may be the King of the World and the Decider (TM) but it seems as if no one, but no one, likes him anymore. In advance of his State of the (dis)Union address tonight the (deceitfully Marxist) BBC has commissioned a worldwide poll on attitudes towards America and I doubt if he will like the results. Of course this assumes that his minions tell him about it as I doubt it will feature on Faux News.

Of the wide array of countries surveyed in only Kenya, Nigeria, the Philippines and the USA is the USA viewed as having a mainly positive influence on the world. Even in such staunch allies as the UK and Australia the public has a very dim view. In the UK 57% view the States as having a mainly negative influence v. 25% who view the US positively. In Australia it is 60% negative v. 29% positive.

On specific issues such as handling of the war in Iraq, the North Korean nuclear programme and the Israeli / Palestinian crisis the news in no better. On the topic of global warming even the US deserts him and in only Kenya, Nigeria and the Philippines do a majority either approve or strongly approve of his position.

He'd probably be last to be picked for a game of football as well. That's probably why he became a cheerleader.

The complete results (PDF) may be found here.

"Now the Lord had prepared a great fish" (Jonah 1:17)

Just to let all you Bible doubters out there that the tale of Jonah and the great fish could really have occurred I give you this little story out of Australia. An abalone diver, Eric Nerhus, was partially swallowed, head first, by a Great White Shark off the southeast coast but managed to escape after pushing his abalone chisel into the fish. His injuries were rather amazingly limited to a broken nose and, rather obviously, bite marks.

The shark, which fled the scene, has not yet been commented as to whether "the Lord spake unto" him and, even if he believes that the Lord did so, whether he had been taking his medication at the time.

US attacks Pakistan

Before his big speech tonight the Decider (TM) may have to make a little conciliatory phone call to his buddy The General in Pakistan. US forces attacked a Pakistani border post in the Shawal area of North Waziristan yesterday killing one Pakistani soldier and wounding at least two others. A coalition spokesman said "I cannot confirm or deny loss or injury of Pakistani military" but added that it "all happened inside Afghanistan". The government of Pakistan has lodged a "strong protest" with the American forces and insisting that they "take necessary steps to ensure that such incidents are not repeated in future".

Sorry General! They probably just thought they were shooting at Iran.

Quashing free speech in Oz

If you are planning a trip on Qantas in the near future you might want to wear a jumper over any politically minded tee shirts at least until you take off. Allen Jasson, an Australian living in London, was barred from a Melbourne to London flight because he was wearing a "Bush is a terrorist" t-shirt and plans to sue the airline. The airline says that they refused to board Mr. Jasson because his shirt was "a security risk or an item likely to upset passengers".

I wonder if they would let you on with an "Osama is a terrorist" t-shirt or even an "I ♥ Bush" t-shirt? The later would certainly upset me (and most right thinking individuals).

The so called Marxist media

It would appear that the damned American liberal media has drifted across the Atlantic if the editor of the Daily Mail is to be believed, ever a risky option. In fact, we are told by Paul Dacre, that it is not just liberalism that we have to fear but the terrifying spectre of "cultural Marxism" on our airwaves. Mr. Dacre used the occasion of the Hugh Cudlipp Lecture to accuse the BBC of "institutionally biased left-leaning views" along with its fellow members of what he calls the "subsidariat" the Times, Guardian and Independent. He tells us that these media outlets are "consumed by the kind of political correctness that is patronisingly contemptuous of what it describes as ordinary people" (aka Daily Mail readers.

I'm glad that he cleared that up. I am sure that he is proud that his publication is a stalwart line of resistance to this insidious trend.

Cracks appear amidst right to lifers

An influential Italian prelate, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milano, has sparked controversy in Italy with his remarks that suggest that, in certain cases, removal of life support would not qualify as euthanasia. His remarks come as Dr. Piergiorgio Welby, a leading advocated of right to die legislation, has been refused a church funeral after his death last week following the removal of a respirator.

Given the track record of the current Pope I don't see a sea change in the Vatican's attitude coming anytime soon.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T (sock it to me)

I can't tell whether this is an attempt to distract the press from their troubles, lolly-for-lordships & the suppression of the BAE investigation, or just another spectacularly bad idea. The British government has announced plans for, wait for it, "repect zones" in forty urban areas across the country. The initiative, funded to the tune of 6 million pounds, will include measures such as "parenting classes and family intervention projects” in areas blighted with high truancy, school exclusion and deprivation. These "no dissing" zones are to be launched in parts of Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester as well as Ipswich, Hastings or Norwich. To the relief of MPs there are no such zones planned for Westminster or indeed anywhere in London.

I imagine that even as we speak George Galloway is ensconced with his solicitors in a basement office somewhere in Bethnal Green planning to sue the government for tradmark infringement!

Containers galore

The beaches of Devon are littered with debris from the Italian container ship MSC Napoli was grounded about a mile offshore last week. They are also crowded with modern day scavengers hoping to land a small fortune in booty. They may be disappointed as the goods will probably remain the property of the original owner and in any case they have to contact the police with the details of anything they remove. As is to be expected in this day and age items from the Napoli have already appeared on EBay.

God's criminals

What is the world's worst city crime on a per capita basis? If you thought Detroit, Washington or Sao Paulo you would be ever so wrong because you would have overlooked the mean streets of Vatican City. And why is the Catholic state so dangerous? They're soft on crime (damn those Christians) as most offenders "go unpunished".

This just goes to show how wrong Ann Coulter was when she compared Baghdad to L.A.. She should have compared it to the Holy See and instead of the Crips and Bloods it should have been the Jesuits and the Benedictines!

22 January 2007

Saints get whitewashed

Most of the British papers had a story at the weekend about the resurgent New Orleans Saints and their quest for a shot at the Super Bowl, now sadly ended. Each of these was accompanied by a shot of fans cheering in the renovated Super Dome during a match. It took me a while to figure out what was disturbing me about all of these pictures.

Virtually every fan shown was white. Was it just my imagination or didn't New Orleans used to have a population that was more than two thirds black?

Spot the accidental irony

George W. Bush declared yesterday to be National Sanctity of Life Day.

It was immediately preceded on Saturday by the third deadliest day for American soldiers in Iraq since the illegal invasion.

Good thing he doesn't read the papers and I'm sure that Faux News probably forgot to mention the Iraq thing.

Does anyone have a team sheet?

You see I had thought that the Pakistanis were amongst the good guys, what with them being run by Dubya's good buddy "The General" and all, so you can readily imagine my surprise at the suggestion that agents of their government just might be aiding and abetting the Taliban and wanting them to return to power in Afghanistan.

Mr. President I certainly hope you are going to touch on this sensitive topic in your upcoming speech as I am quite confused by all this. Please reassure me!

It's a tough job

OK. Please form an orderly queue. We will being reviewing applications shortly.

News reaches us that the police in Sydney Australia have taken to hiring private dicks (sorry - I couldn't resist) to have sex with prostitutes in order to ferret out illegal brothels. As long as it is in the service of good I have no problems with this.

Ah. To serve and protect!

More time, more money, more troops

That's all it will take to win in Afghanistan according to NATO commander General David Richards.

I thought we had already won in Afghanistan. Silly me.

65 "augmented" in Baghdad

Two bombs were exploded in a predominately Shiite neighbourhood in Baghdad earlier today killing at least 65 and injuring over 100.

In the words of Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore:

"It smells like victory."

Stormy weather

The fourth report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to be released next week and according to a report in yesterday's Observer newspaper it sure ain't good news.
"Although the final wording of the report is still being worked on, the draft
indicates that scientists now have their clearest idea so far about future
climate changes, as well as about recent events. It points out that:

· 12 of the past 13 years were the warmest since records began;

· ocean temperatures have risen at least three kilometres beneath the surface;

· glaciers, snow cover and permafrost have decreased in both hemispheres;

· sea levels are rising at the rate of almost 2mm a year;

· cold days, nights and frost have become rarer while hot days, hot nights and
heatwaves have become more frequent.

And the cause is clear, say the authors: 'It is very likely that [man-made] greenhouse gas increases caused most of the average temperature increases since the mid-20th century,' says the report.

To date, these changes have caused global temperatures to rise by 0.6C. The most likely outcome of continuing rises in greenhouses gases will be to make the planet a further 3C hotter by 2100, although the report acknowledges that rises of 4.5C to 5C could be experienced. Ice-cap melting, rises in sea levels, flooding, cyclones and storms will be an inevitable consequence.

Past assessments by the IPCC have suggested such scenarios are 'likely' to occur this century. Its latest report, based on sophisticated computer models and more detailed observations of snow cover loss, sea level rises and the spread of deserts, is far more robust and confident. Now the panel writes of changes as 'extremely likely' and 'almost certain'.

And in a specific rebuff to sceptics who still argue natural variation in the Sun's output is the real cause of climate change, the panel says mankind's industrial emissions have had five times more effect on the climate than any fluctuations in solar radiation. We are the masters of our own destruction, in short."
In light of this whatever small concessions The Decider (TM) is likely to make in his State of the Empire speech are likely to be meaningless.

The first volume of the report is due to be released on 2 February and will be available here upon its release.

Tony to fall on sword - Gordon elated

In related news rumours abound that Sir Tony (I'm just practicing for his retirement) will most likely resign should any of his aides be charged with crimes in the lolly-for-Lordships row currently gripping the nation.

In light of this I have a message for the Crown Prosecution Service. Just bloody get on with it will you?

Government at war (with police)

The British government and the police are at odds over the arrest on Friday morning of the PM's political advisor Ruth Turner. Ministers and former ministers came out in force to make statements criticising the police's "theatrics" in arresting Ms. Turner at six AM. Apparently she likes a bit of a lie in and found the early hour most inconvenient.

In return Sir Chris Fox, former president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that New Labour heavyweights were "scheming to discredit a very important inquiry".

I don't recall any ministerial outrage over any of the mistaken and aggressive arrests of Asians as alleged terrorists in the wee hours of the morning. Perhaps the accusation of heavy handedness is only appropriate for the arrest of Anglo Saxons (i.e. "real English").

Catholics to be more equal than others

I confess I have been hard on British Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly of late. I also confess I haven't been hard enough. Her brief allegedly includes tolerance and equality but she wants toexempt Catholic adoption agencies from requirements in new anti-discrimination legislation that would disallow these groups from excluding gays. I wonder if, should scientists eventually discover a gay gene if she will allow genetic testing so that Catholic couples don't have to adopt gay babies. In the interim perhaps she should just allow for any homosexual adopted to children to be returned to the agency once their perverse predilection manifests itself.

Did I forget mention that Ms. Kelly is a Catholic and reputedly a member of super secret reactionary Catholic group Opus Dei?

Did I also forget to mention that Ms. Kelly is supported by the Prime Minister in this?

Time for both of them to go I think.

20 January 2007

Atlanta's lap dogs run amuck

If you in live in the Atlanta region you should be on the look out for a pack of undoubtedly vicious feral Shih Tzus that make life miserable for residents of a local condominium community.

Forgive me if I am wrong but aren't Shih Tzus the sort of thing one would expect to see under the arm of a fashionably dressed woman on the Paris Metro that looks like a rather posh dust mop?

Perhaps they all did it

In a story reminiscent of Murder on the Orient Express the entire population of Fago, a small village in the Pyrenees region of Spain, is under suspicion following the execution style murder of the town's mayor.

I'm surprised this never happened to Marion Barry.

Bush's nadir?

Can it be true? According to the White House's in house new service, Faux News, a greater percentage of Americans viewThe Decider(TM) unfavourably than view Dick Cheney unfavourably at 58% v 53%. It is surely hard to imagine. Bush's approval rating is slightly higher than his Satanic second in command at a soaring 38%.

Out in the real world if 58% of your bosses think you are doing a shit job don't you generally get sacked? Unless of course you live in one of those socialist European states where they coddle the workers at the expense of profits!

What's good for Big Pharma is good for the country

Pharmaceutical companies have taken to paying off generic drug manufacturers to delay them producing lower cost equivalents to name brand drugs at the expiration of patents. Is this the way the market is supposed to work? It is certainly not in the interests of the consumer. Sen. Leahy (D - VT) wants to put a stop to it but I am sure that this will raise a chorus of complaint from the free marketeers of the right at this unnecessary government intrusion into the sanctity of the marketplace.

A convenient venue

Anti-environmentalists may be going to great lengths to prevent American schoolchildren from seeing Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, in schools but the have had less luck in Scotland. The Scottish Executive has announced that all schoolchildren in Scotland will see the film.

There is no escaping activist judges

It is bad enough, despite six years of George Bush appointments to Federal judgeships in the US which have gone some way to resolve the problem, that America is littered with activist judges overstepping their bounds and trying to tell the executive branch that they can't do things that they really, really want to do. Now it seems that these judges have family members in Europe. The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia guilty of torture in the case of two Chechnyan brothers. According to the judgement:

"The applicants were indisputably kept in a permanent state of physical pain and anxiety owing to their uncertainty about their fate and to the level of violence to which they were subjected throughout the period of their detention...The Court considers that such treatment was intentionally inflicted on the applicants by agents of the State acting in the course of their duties with the aim of extracting from them a confession or information about the offences of which they were suspected."

Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the court, quite rightly in my opinion, of being political.

Surely there must be somewhere safe from this judicial tyranny like Iraq, Burma , Zimbabwe or Fiji.

Save the family - beat the kids!

California legislator Sally Lieber has suggested that the state should adopt a ban on spanking children. Rather ironically given their name, the Campaign for Children and Families thinks this is a bad idea. According to their President, Randy Thomasson, the legislation is "intrusive, unenforceable, and the most blatant violation of parental rights I’ve ever seen". He went on to say that "God gave children to parents" thereby suggesting that parents have been given divine carte blanche.

A note to Mr. Thomasson: should you ever come to the UK you will find that smacking is banned here and you could face arrest. I would also suggest that you never, in public at least, tell your child that you are "going to spank their fanny" especially if the child is question is female. The word "fanny" has a materially different connotation here and is not a cute way to refer to one's bottom. Should you use that phrase you are likely to have some serious explaining to do to the Old Bill.

Terrorist enablers in the streets of Miami

Supporters of the confessed terrorist took to the streets of Miami yesterday to protest at his harsh treatment at the hands of the US government.

Is Sr. Posada detained at Guantánamo Bay or some secret American prison somewhere else on the planet?


Has he been maltreated or possibly tortured by the American authorities?


Is he likely to be detained indefinitely without charge or access to family and legal counsel?


So why are these people so upset? They seem to feel that the man in question, who is wanted in two countries for the bombing of plane, with the loss of 73 innocent lives, and a hotel, is being unfairly treated by the Americans who have charged him with immigration offences but who will not extradite him to face the charges of terrorism.

Surely these supporters who openly support our enemies in the streets are under 24 hour surveillance and, when no on is looking, will be whisked away to parts unknown! Well, no they won't because the US government doesn't seem to think he is a terrorist. He used to a CIA operative and the 73 people who died in the plane he is likely responsible for having bombed weren't innocent. They were Cuban.

Life in the 21st century is very confusing.

Justifying a father's loss

In this morning's Guardian there is a moving tribute from a British man, Bill Stewardson, to his son, Alex Green, who was killed recently in Iraq whilst serving in Basra.

I feel for Mr. Stewardson's loss. It is tragic to lose a child at any age in any circumstance. Alex was just 21 and the father of a 2 year old. In his article he speaks movingly about his son.

Yet no matter how much I sense Mr. Stewardson's pain I cannot subscribe to his argument that "if our troops pull out my son will have died in vain". Despite my opposition to the illegal invasion I do wonder if removing western troops from Iraq now is the right thing to do or just the politically expedient thing. There is a material risk that the violence will worsen, perhaps only briefly and that the country will descend into full on civil war. More innocent people will die. In a sense this mirrors Mr. Stewardson's argument but to suggest that staying on at this juncture is the only means to ensure that the loss of his son, and the loss of all the other sons and daughters, can be perceived to have value is, I am afraid, wrong on all counts.

The Turner prize

The inquiry into illegal activities related to the gongs-for-loans scandal surrounding the New Labour government crept a step closer to the doorstep of Number 10 with the arrest at dawn yesterday of one of Tony Blair's top political advisers, Ruth Turner. Ms. Turner was arrested by the Metropolitan Police on charges of "suspicion of perverting the course of justice". She was later released without charge.

Does Tony fear the early morning knock on the door? I, for one, certainly hope so.

19 January 2007

Crackers in Caracas

In general I have been a supporter of Hugo Chavez, especially in his battle over American interference (remember the coup?), but I think has gone too far now and someone, somehow needs to rein him in. His legislature has just granted him the authority, for the next 18 months at least, to rule by decree. Take a deep breath Hugo and try again, please.

"Is that a fire in your pocket...

...or are you just glad to see me?"

If George Bush read the papers

This story, about the eviction from his office of the Chief Justice of Fiji by the illegitimate government currently in power there, would certainly have given him a woody! How much would he, and his little adviser, AG Gonzales, love to do the same in America?

Well George, when you finish demolishing the rest of the Constitution, perhaps you will be allowed to do this too! At least as long as you ask Unca Dick nicely.

US soldiers wanted by Spanish

Do the US and Spain have an extradition treaty? If so, what will happen if the Spanish government, not exactly the American's best friend at the moment, ask the US to exercise this international arrest warrant for three US soldiers for the murder of Spanish cameraman José Couso in Iraq? The US Army has already "cleared" the three accused of any wrong doing.

A disarming proposal

Maybe the US really did get their man when Ban Ki-moon was appointed Secretary General of the United Nations but everything is not, as yet, going their way.

He had proposed that the Secretariat's Department of Disarmament Affairs be eliminated as a separate entity and that it be brought under the Department of Political Affairs, probably with an American in charge. He has had to backtrack on that proposal after angry protests from the Non-Aligned Movement.

Score one for the good guys.

Not-real-Christians set to oppose President

The faux Christians at Faithful America seem to think that the Lord speaks to them rather than through our dear Leader. They have arrogantly decided that they are more qualified to present the State of the Union than the President and are busy preparing their own message. Their incredible hubris is reflected in this comment from one Barry Tepperman:

"Our national leaders seem not to understand that 'Thou shalt not kill' is not followed by an 'except'."

It is a good thing that we have a President who doesn't just have voices in his head, like these people, but rather the 100% authentic Voice of God (or VoG as I like to call it)!

In memoriam

Given Art Buchwald's recent and unfortunate death I did a bit of internet trolling and came up with this little gem of a quote:

"You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it."

I couldn't put it better myself and I am sure that I've tried!

War in space

Not so long ago the US government issued a revision to its space policy that sounded very much as if it were laying the groundwork for, at a minimum, American hegemony over space, or, in a worst case, total American military dominance outside of the Earth's atmosphere.

Now it would seem that they have an answer as to how at least one member of the world community feels about that as China has successfully destroyed a satellite using a ground based ballistic missile. The White House "expressed its concern".

Where next I wonder.