28 February 2007

One in Two EU Citizens Find Religion Unimportant

I would have written this headline differently but then I am an atheist.

The rule of law

If agents of the American government break the laws in a foreign country, especially one with a long standing democratic tradition and open court system, should they be held liable for their actions? Should the US have faith in the court systems of these countries and allow them to have a free and fair trial? Or should the US presume to be the ultimate authority and shield these agents from the laws of democratic, allied states?

It would seem that the US government has no faith in the democratic institutions of its allies and will not permit the accused to be extradited to stand trial.

Why? Why? Why? Are these the actions of a free state with respect for law and its fellow free and democratic nations?

I say it is not and it is a disgrace. (And completely predictable.)

They aim to please...

...it's just that their aim is appalling. The US government has been forced to scale back its estimate of economic growth in the fourth quarter quite significantly. The had originally estimated a healthy 3.5% but say that the figure is actually 2.2%!

I'm fairly good at maths and the way I figure it that means that they reduced their original number by over 35%. That is really not very good at all. I think the appropriate grade would be a 'D' along with a note to the effect that the student "must try harder".

I need a car. Wanna swap?

Is it just my imagination or does this sort of thing seem to happen a lot more frequently in red (Republican) as opposed to blue (Democratic) states? You know those states that ostensibly full of people who believe that "every life is sacred".

In some ways his argument makes sense

Jerry Falwell is now telling us that global warming is "Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus". I mean Satan comes from Hell. Hell is hot. Ergo...

Oh, for fuck's sake, what was I thinking? This doesn't make any bloody sense even if we consider the source.

Fading fast

First I found out that all those years of revolting breath, which may or may not have an unfavourable effect on my sex life, may have been in vain with the news that garlic doesn't lower cholesterol and I am disturbed to find out that my vitamin supplements may be subtracting rather than adding years to my life.

At my age I think it just best that I sit down a while.

Hands across the water

American law enforcement officers are poised to fly half way around the world to help the Philippine government solve the current wave of political killings that is currently sweeping the country. Let's hope that the FBI doesn't have to send anyone who is working on their own forty year old backlog of unsolved political killings.

Big brother horns in

It seems to me that sometime ago Iran and Syria agreed to meet with Iraq to discuss issues of security in the reason. At the time I recall US officials muttering under their breath suggesting that the Iraqis shouldn't be talking to its neighbours. Now Big Brother Sam wants to come to the party. Don't the Americans listen to their own Vice President and understand that this will only embolden the enemy?

Chuckie disses Mickey D's

I guess McDonalds Corporation is going to have to take down any royal warrants they might have for supplying the Windsors with transfats or tasteless burgers now that the heir to the throne, none other than the Prince of Wales, has come and said that Bic Macs should be banned.

I knew that there had to be an upside to having a royal family.

27 February 2007

Srebrenica - a poem

Written, by me, shortly after the event as the true horror of the crime was becoming evident.

when Srebrenica fell I fell with her
when the men and children fell I fell with them
the hands I hold before me are stained with blood
is it mine or theirs?

What's wrong with this headline?

From the AP story about the bomb at the base in Afghanistan visited by the undead US Vice President "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney:

Cheney OK After Afghan Blast; 23 Killed

Might it not been appropriate to alter the syntax a wee bit so that the headline would read

23 Killed in Afghan Blast; Cheney OK

Just a thought.

Truly horrible news from Iraq

A car bomb has blown up in Ramadi today. The car was parked next to football pitch and at least 18 kids between the ages of 10 and 15 were killed.

Take a walk on the wild side - just not in Largo!

A commissioner for the city of Largo FL, one Mary Black, has introduced a resolution calling for the sacking of the city's manager, Steve Stanton. The commission is to consider the resolution at a special session this evening.

What's all the rush all about you ask. Well last week Mr. Stanton announced that he was planning to have a sex change. Mr. Stanton, who is a married father, has said he wishes to retain his position and has received support from the mayor among others.

Disney goes NIMBY*

That noted haven of enlightenment, the Disney Corporation, has taken steps to sue the city of Anaheim for daring to have the temerity to push forward with a plan that would put low cost housing into what it terms "the resort zone". According to Rob Doughty, a spokesman for Disneyland Resort:

"Our concern is, this could quickly unravel the Anaheim Resort area and the golden egg that it is for Anaheim."

And you wouldn't want to let poor people near a "golden egg" because gold is valuable and poor people either ruin or steal valuable stuff. Right Rob?

*Not in My Backyard

And they thought no one was looking

The Bush administration has, via the Food and Drug Administration, quietly cut the financing of the Women's Health Office within the FDA by about 30%. Last year's budget had asked for 4 million USD, which was granted. However the FDA has decided to withhold 1.2 million USD of that which effectively means that the department will more or less shut down for the rest of the year. Could this be payback for the office's position, counter to that of the administration as a whole, in the Plan B contraceptive controversy? One wonders.

Santorum wrong!

(He's also unemployed - snigger, snigger.) The US Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal by a Utah polygamist (any relation to Milt Romney?) on the basis of the court's 2003 gay rights ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. In his dissent in that case Justice Adolph Scalia argued that the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas would lead to successful challenges against laws forbidding polygamy, bestiality et al.

Too bad Antonio (Justice Scalia's real name - the Adolph thing was just my way of poking fun at him)! I'm sure you were looking forward to getting another wife, or a dog, or whatever.

Things always get worse before they get better

Ergo, in line with White House thinking, things are getting better in Afghanistan, or at least they will soon. The Afghans are suffering from a growing lack of security, a dysfunctional justice system and a provision of basic services such as electricity and water is at best remaining flat and probably declining. It is clear that the people themselves perceive their situation as growing worse and, after all, perception is reality.

Land of the free, home of the poor

If you believe the politicians, especially those associated with the Republican Party, the US economy is just a steamroller that is driving poverty to the dim outer reaches and making more and more Americans wealthy. The problem with this is that, on the fact of it, it just doesn't seem to be true. I have long described America, for friends and colleagues here in Europe (just the UK is part of Europe - just don't tell UKIP) that America has become a first world nation and a third world nation sharing the same real estate.

Now a study of US census data by McClatchy Newspapers shows that nearly 16 million Americans, over 5% of the population, are living in "deep or severe poverty". I guess those tax cuts didn't really help now did they?

Make it up as you go along

Five years ago the United States Government closed down the nation's largest Muslim charity, Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, because, it alleged, that the group was funding terrorism. Now evidence has come to light, from the government's own documents, that some of the evidence against the foundation may have been fabricated.

Surely not! Not Bush&Co! They would never lie to us (unless it was for our own good of course).

Think of the children

Just to show that there often is a meaningful difference between Britain and the United States and it is a difference for the better as far as UK residents are concerned I want all of you Americans to sit back and imagine that the US Secretary of Education comes out, in public, and makes a statement to the effect that marriage is not a requirement for the raising of children.

You're right. It can't happen there but it can happen here. In the words of Education Secretary Alan Johnson:

"It's the child that is at the centre of this, it's the parenting that matters, it's not the form of the relationship".

(Over)eating out

According to the US Center for Science in the Public Interest chain restaurants in the states are acting irresponsibly in making portions ever larger and filled with calories and fat. The Center is calling for legislation requiring all chain restaurants to display nutritional information, including calorie count, on their menus. They even found one burger, at an unnamed chain but you know who you are, called a "Colossal Burger" which contained 1,940 calories (only slightly less then the entire recommended daily amount for a woman) and 141 grams of fat.

I know that when I go out to eat when I am in the states and I am forced to eat at one of these places I generally have only a starter for my entire meal. Even that is often too large a portion for a sensible meal.

Gun nut turn on one of their own

There seems to be little tolerance among the pro-gun community for anyone who challenges the accepted orthodoxy in any way. This lack of acceptance extends to those who have spent most of their lives amongst the gun and hunting communities. So when renowned outdoor writer Jim Zumbo happened to say on his blog at Outdoor Life Magazine that he did not believe that assault rifles, such as AK-47s, had any place has weapons of choice for hunters the rabid dogs were unleashed. The revered National Rifle Association even went so far as to issue a news release announcing that its publications arm had "suspended its professional ties with Mr. Zumbo". Mr. Zumbo has also had to resign his position at Outdoor Life.

These zealots, who have done Zumbo such a disservice, are acting as though gun ownership were a religion. In a way I reckon they're right.

Is he or isn't he?

Some experts testify that the treatment that José Padilla has received at the hands of the American government, treatment that would certainly seem to border on the inhumane if not illegal, has made him unfit to stand trial. One expert testified that the former gang member has "strong indication of cognitive impairment" and there is a 98% certainty that he has received injuries to the brain.

Other sources, however, couldn't disagree more.

The decision will probably hinge on the testimony, if allowed, of his jailers as to the actual treatment received.

Do over!

Taking advantage of the curious mistrial that they were given in their first attempt to try Lt. Ehren Watada Army prosecutors have decided to refile charges in the case and try Lt. Watada again. I wish him well.

Serbia - a new sort of innocent

The International Court of Justice, attempting to be Solomon, found that the massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995 was indeed an act of genocide but that Serbia was not guilty of the crime but could have prevented it.

Please explain.

Support the extremely wealthy!

If you are worried that the costs that defending himself against a multitude of charges of fraud and financial malfeasance could force Baron Black of Crossharbour (aka Lord Black aka Conrad Black) to give up his extravagant lifestyle I urge you to go immediately to www.supportlordblack.com and surrender some of your hard earned money.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect 200 quid.

"We do not use the word 'win'"

"We can't kill our way out of this problem." So saith a senior British official in describing the tactical changes planned by British forces in Afghanistan. In order to undermine recent gains by forces of the former Afghan government the British plan to engage with average Afghanis, who they believe do not support the Taliban, in an effort to encourage them to quit fighting, rejoin their tribes and take advantage of human rights laws and increasing government presence.

The British are also concerned that plans to by the Americans to attempt to eradicate the opium crop will drive impoverished farmers without alternate sources of income back into Taliban hands.

Lest we forget...

...where most of the 11 September hijackers came from and where a great deal, if not the majority, of funding for al Qaeda and related groups comes from four French nationals were killed in a terrorist shooting in the desert Kingdom yesterday.

It is too bad Prince Bandar isn't still the Saudi ambassador to the United States or he could pop round to the White House this evening and discuss the matter with the Decider (TM) whilst they have a private smoke on the balcony. Perhaps they could work out the schedule for the invasion at the same time.

Homophobia or just plain greed?

The family of Thomas J. Watson Jr. the founder of International Business Machines, is trying to have the adoption of the lesbian former lover of one of Mr. Watson's children dissolved in order to prevent her from gaining access to a trust fund set up for Watson's grandchildren.

I'm not sure it matters what their motivation is. It is clear that these are just unpleasant people. I wonder if they are Christians in good standing or not.

Meanwhile back on the home front

Murders in Philadelphia are already well ahead of last year's pace, a pace which was considered a crisis. Most of the sixty murders so far this year did indeed involve guns but it is important to remember that it wasn't the guns that shot bullets into these people killing them it was the people that were attached to the guns that shot bullets into these people killing them.

Got it?

Meanwhile back on the home front

Murders in Philadelphia are already well ahead of last year's pace, a pace which was considered a crisis. Most of the sixty murders so far this year did indeed involve guns but it is important to remember that it wasn't the guns that shot bullets into these people killing them it was the people that were attached to the guns that shot bullets into these people killing them.

Got it?

How many great-grandmothers is too many to be President?

Maybe there is a clinic somewhere where Republican Presidential hopeful Milt Romney can get cured of the polygamous habits of his not too distant ancestors. If not it could prove somewhat of a problem for the former Massachusetts Governor who seems to have more that legally permitted number of great-grandmas as one of his great-grandfathers had at least five wives simultaneously.

It must make Xmas shopping that extra bit more difficult.

It's midnight. You're on holiday. Do you really know where your car is?

Have you ever wondered about some of those off site airport parking services? You know the ones I mean. They meet you when you arrive at the airport and drive your car off to some secure remote site where it remains until they bring you car back to meet you upon your return.

Or not as the case may be. The company in question, Pink Meet and Greet, "blamed problems on individual members of staff" and said that "it was no longer trading".

Trust me. It's safe.

Have you ever been driving down the road having just lit a fag, happily puffing away only to see a petrol station ahead and realise that you are almost out of fuel? Don't you hate to waste that brand new cigarette by extinguishing it before filling up? Well according to the boffins at the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms you really don't have to. According to them, after extensive research they found that it is virtually impossible to light petrol with a cigarette despite what we see in Hollywood films. (Warning: actually lighting a fag at the pump might not be such a good idea however.)

And, in case you missed it, you needn't worry about your mobile phone either. Rumours that mobiles would ignite the fuel were also a myth just like global warming.

Beware of Greeks bearing sorority pledges

The national organisation of the sorority Delta Zeta was concerned about the chapter at De Pauw University. They didn't seem to meet the high standards they set for themselves. What did they do about it? They sacked all of the fat women, all of the plain women and all the ethnic women leaving behind a perfectly homogeneous collection of attractive, slim white women.

Well done ladies! Perhaps you should change your name to Phi Beta Barbie.

Farewell to a brave young woman

16 year old Josie Grove, whose request to have no more cancer treatment caused some controversy, has died at home surrounded by her family. Josie had fought leukaemia for over two years. May she rest in peace.

Welcome to the Big Smokeless (2025 edition)

As if it isn't already difficult enough to get a black cab in London the city's mayor (not to be confused with the Lord Mayor of the City of London) "Red" Ken Livingstone has promised to reduce London's CO2 emissions by 60% by 2025.

His full report (PDF) is to be found here.

Hot on Falwell's heels

One of the reasons I am quite happy not to live in America is that I generally only have to expose myself to the better bits of American television. (Not having satellite or cable I don't have to expose myself to Faux News.) Therefore I only get exposed to annoying little cretins like John Stossel. He you can listen to him, on the Glenn Beck show, letting us know that even if there is global warming it probably is a good thing.

He must watch Jerry Falwell religiously.

The unrisen

I don't know why so many Christian Evangelists seem to be upset about the new documentary by James Cameron that purports to unearth the tomb of Jesus and his family. Some two decades ago I made a couple of business trips to Israel and made a trip to some of the so called holy sites. Everywhere you go there is a church which claims to contain the actual site of the crucifixion (the supposed actual place is marked with a round, silver ring) or that claim to house the place of Jesus's birth. Why can't they just build a church on top of the tomb and draw in the simple-minded? It could be a nice little earner.

I suppose that what they are really upset about is that Cameron asserts that Jesus's body is in the tomb which would mean that the alleged son of God did not literally rise from the dead. Do you think that they have ever heard of metaphor?

26 February 2007

Where are Halliburton's hospitals when you need them?

It must say something about the state of a country if, when the head of state is taken ill, he is flown for treatment in another country. I guess he can count himself lucky he didn't end up at Walter Reed.

Who knew?

Did you know that Mr. Sulu, or at least George Takei the actor who played him, was gay? I didn't. And it turns out it has a thing or two to say about Tim Hardaway.

Trickling down

The American economic model is the great success story of the modern world, right? So how come one in six American families must rely on programmes designed to aid the poor to get by? I'm just asking.

MII (Missing in Iraq)

The Bush extended family is a large one and there are lots of young men and women of an age at which they could be serving the American people in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines. The putative head of the extend family, the Decider (TM) himself, is always going on about what a fine career choice the military is.

So why, I ask myself, is it that there are no Bush extended family members who have made this excellent career choice and are proudly defending their country? Anyone?

Going toe to toe with Jerry Falwell

Dear Reverend Falwell,

I see that you have decided that you are a scientific expert and have been kind enough to inform us that global warming is a myth, that it isn't happening and that it is not based on facts. To use your words "global warming, at least as we think we know it, does not exist".

In that case I have decided to anoint myself as a Biblical expert and I am willing to trade you myth for myth. (Hey - I have at least read the book though admittedly in translation.) I say that the world was not created in seven days around six thousand years ago. That the biblical creation story is just a myth.

Go ahead Reverend. Your turn!

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yank in London

What do they do with kids like this in America?

The Tyneside mother of an eight year old boy who weighs 14 stone (89 kilos / 196 pounds) has been required to appear before a child protection conference tomorrow and it is possible that he could be taken into care. He has already lost a stone and half since Xmas.

I would certainly hope that it doesn't come to the last resort of removing the child from the family but clearly something has to be done for this kid or he isn't going to live very long. If all other measures fail then I guess there is no alternative but surely there must be something that can be done. The mother indicates that he won't eat anything but processed foods ("Connor had a mouthful of apple once and he didn't like it") and I'm sure we all know kids whose diets are troublesome but even if he only eats rubbish he surely is getting way too much of it.

There are certain to be those who will say that the mother's rights are being infringed but surely the interests of the lad must come first mustn't they?

Supporting the troops

TThe American military mental health system is in extremely grave condition according to a study released by the American Psychological Association. At a time when one in ten of all soldiers would be defined as having a mental disorder the service is short nearly half of the psychologists it requires and there are many other shortcomings as well.

Of course if I pour through the detail of the Pentagon's record budget request I am sure that I will find that these shortcomings have already been addressed and that the spending isn't all on toys.

So long. It's been good to know you (sort of)

The ever controversial head of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, gave his last major speech in Detroit yesterday bidding farewell to the faithful and saying that followers of the worlds major religions are "far removed from the prophets we all claim", which is hard to argue with, and saying that the Decider (TM) should be impeached for his "wicked policies", which is also hard to argue with.

Happy trails Louis.

Bloody Saturday

The English Rugby Union side played at Croke Park in Dublin, site of the Bloody Sunday massacre of Gaelic football fans by the British Army, for the first time at the weekend. The Irish fans greeted "God Save the Queen" with respect (there was a protest outside the ground) and then the Irish team kicked some English arse!

Well done lads.

Bush gets tough

President Bush is going to "send a message" to Pakistan's President Pervez "The General" Musharraf and threaten to cut US aid unless he gets tough on terror.

No mention of cutting US aid because he's a fucking military dictator he overthrew a legitimately elected civilian government. What ever happened to the "Freedom Agenda" anyway?

In hometown news

Back in Philadelphia I see that this past weekend four people were killed and six injured by something but not by guns. Why do I know this? Because guns don't kill people!

Oh, they are having some weather too!

Glorious spring!

This is my favourite time of year. Today is mild but the wind is blustery. The daffodils are blooming, trees are beginning to flower and difference in the amount of daylight is noticeable almost day by day. By Friday there will be fifteen more minutes of daylight, if not sunshine, than there will be today.

To deport or not to deport that is the question

The UK has been brokering deals with several countries that have significant issues with the adherence to human rights standards in order that the British government may deport failed asylum seekers after getting assurances from these governments that the returned individuals will not be tortured or otherwise mistreated. Great idea right? Except perhaps if the selfsame governments had their fingers crossed when they made their promises. These two Algerians agreed to drop their appeal against their deportation from the UK after receiving assurances from the Algerian government that they would not be tried upon their return. They were deported from the UK to Algeria and guess what. They are going to be tried.

Meanwhile across the great water a Canadian court has ruled that the process by which Mohamed Harkat, an Ottawa resident, was found to be a member of al Qaeda was "fundamentally unjust". This finding will undoubtedly put on hold his scheduled deportation to Algeria, a country from which he fled as a political refugee in 1990. He blames an informer-for-profit or possibly the Algerian government for the evidence given to the Canadian security authorities.

What impact, if any, will the situation of the UK deportees to Algeria have on the news this morning that the UK can deport radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan under a regime whereby Jordan vows that he will not be mistreated. I have no doubts that Qatada is a bad, and possibly evil, human being. However the quality of his humanity does not diminish it and he, like all of the rest of us, should have the right not to be tortured. To disregard his rights, as much as some of us may wish to, lessens us all.

Karmic Kleaning?

The branch of Bromley Express Dry Cleaners at Plaistow Lane lists on its front the various non-cleaning related services it offers. These include things you would expect such as "alterations", "tailoring", "zips replaced" et al. However I am not at all sure what they are hinting at by offering the service "Selves Altered". Is this more private competition in the mental health sector for the NHS to worry about?

Seymour Hersh on Iran

Where would we be without Seymour Hersh, eh? Is anyone else as devoted to the hard graft of real journalism as he is? His must read piece in the current edition of New Yorker about American plans re Iran is sobering. Is the US using Saudi funds, and perhaps other funds diverted from the accounting mess that is Iraq, to finance black operations in Iran and Lebanon? Are "American interests" being diverted to a larger war in the Islamic world between Sunni and Sh'ia?

Read it and find out.

All hail Inis Mor

For the next twelve months Inis Mor has earned the right to call itself Craggy Island, the spiritual home of Father Ted, after winning the innaguaral Craggy Cup yesterday by a score of 2-0.

All I have to say to that is "Feck! Drink! Girls!"

25 February 2007

Strom's legacy

It's a shame that Strom Thurmond is dead because based on these recent revelations he probably would want Al Sharpton to call him "Massa".

I hope I die before I get old

Meet Chan Chi a 107 year old citizen of Hong Kong. He still enjoys the occasional fag but he attributes his long life, in part, to the fact that he has been celibate for the past 70 or so years. Not worth the price in my estimation.

Democracy's last line of defence

George Bush continues to pursue an ever more imperial Presidency and I think I speak for most people when I say that there is increasing concern over his intentions re Iran. There must be concern that even if Congress explicitly bars him from taking military action such is his hubris that he will attempt to proceed in any case. Should that come to pass then the only thing that stands between the American people and dictatorship may be the honour of those senior members of the military who would refuse his orders and resign. Should it come to that one thinks that anyone who follows in their footsteps would not dare to proceed with the Boy King's madness.

At least that is what one hopes.

A thousand times no!

Speaking in Australia, whilst standing on his head to avoid that upside down feeling, US Vice President "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney has said that the US is open to military action against Iran.

I am but one of 300 million voices, a registered voter, an American and, despite what you believe in your darkest of hearts, a patriot. My voice says: :"No. We, the American people, are not open to more violence, more bloodshed and more tragedy for millions of people in the name of your neo-colonialist mission. 300 million times no!"

Who would Jesus foul?

Welcome to the Clericus Cup, a football tournament put together by the Holy See and featuring teams of seminarians ands priests. Instead of yellow or red cards for fouls the players are given blue cards and then have to spend five minutes on the bench and presumably have to say twenty Ave Maria's.

In other football news we expect results from the Craggy Cup to be coming in shortly!

Lost in the desert - no Moses in sight

A group of right wing Christian leaders are feeling lost and abandoned as they search through the 2008 Presidential field looking for someone to support. They feel marginalised and are afraid that they will be left without a viable candidate.

Well guess what. I am not sympathetic. I have been a left wing American all of my life and I have never, I repeat never, had the opportunity to support a viable candidate. Welcome to politics on the margins my friends. I hope you don't mind keeping me company for a while.

New Labour's family values

The right wing of the New Labour party, proudly led by Prime Minister Tony "Big Tone" Blair, want to take a leaf out of Bush 41's failed play book and make a big push to promote family values and financially aid married couples with children at the expense of unmarried ones. Other members of the party, led by Education Secretary Alan Johnson, disagree. Is a quicky divorce in the offing?

24 February 2007

White House takes a stand!

Once again we are treated to the real hard news. This from ABC: "White House Warns Against Iraq Pullout". Because we all know what happens when you pull out. You just can't make a baby that way.

He must have been a boy scout

The Freeway Blogger is ready for the next war.

I especially like the "now we'll have to shop even harder" one. In fact, I'm still chuckling away.

Encouraging the evil doers

US Homeland Security Secretary Michael "The Scream" Chertoff has taken steps that will endanger the Homeland by ruling that children will not require passports in order to travel to Canada.

Why doesn't he just tell Barack Obama, ooops, sorry, Osama bin Laden, to dress his storm troopers up as innocent American kids? Why do members of the Republic Party hate America so?

We're having an inquiry!

Here in Old Blighty we have been promised an inquiry into the illegal invasion of Iraq by the leader of the Commons Jack Straw. When will we have this inquiry you may ask. "In due course" says the Rt. Hon. Mr. Straw which I presume to mean "after Tony's out of the line of fire".

Just because you are paranoid...

Back in the Fifties conservatives saw Commies under every bad today they see "liberal bias" in every nook and corner of the known universe (note: the known universe is only 6000 years old).

In order to combat the lefties that are somehow behind the controls of Wikipedia some complete moron has decided that there was an overpowering need for a, get ready for it, Conservapedia. But won't this have a right wing bias which some enterprising soul will need to balance out by founding the Farleftapedia (TM)?

Virtually terrified

Maybe in his battle to defeat the "terraists" George W. Bush will be sucked into the alternate reality that is Second Life never to be heard from again. Of course, he has to take Dick Cheney with him.

Hey look. A man can dream can't he.

Trouble brewing

As if British top flight football sides didn't have enough cause for concern with the near collapse of on line gambling, driven by US arrests and prosectutions, which is responsible for a significant amount of football revenue including kit sponsorships of several club now the Royal College of Physicians has called for an outright ban on advertising of alcohol including sponsorship deals.

At least it isn't the Carling Premiership anymore.

Who's in charge?

If Iraq is a sovereign country why would Israel be looking to the US to gain approval to overfly Iraq during a possible future attack on Iran?

Compare and contrast

This headline from a California TV station's web site, "Death toll rising in Baghdad car bomb attack" with this one from unbiased news source NewsMax "Baghdad Crackdown Sees Dramatic Drop in Death Toll". Both are dated 19 February.

The Associated Press have a story on a related topic: "Americans Underestimate Iraqi Death Toll". The AP have polled Americans and found that, while they can tell you with reasonable precision* how many US soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq, they woefully underestimate the price paid by the Iraqi population at large. The median estimate came in slightly below 10,000 whilst reliable figures have put the loss of life to be at least 50,000 with several estimates that are significantly higher.

*Addendum: most Americans estimate the US death toll at around 3,000 with the actual figure currently at a bit over 3,100 but both of these numbers fail to take into account the 800 civilian employees that have lost their lives performing tasks that in other wars would have been done by the Army. Speaking for myself, and I consider that I am reasonably au courant, would have put the contractor number much lower at perhaps 200 to 300. I think that is a number that will surprise most folks.

I can't wait to see him in a burqa

According to sources in the Middle East Wacko Jacko has converted to Islam. This could prove interesting. How long before he ends up on the no fly list I wonder.

Heads keep on rolling

An eighth US Attorney with an seemingly excellent record has been sacked by the Bush administration. Margaret Chiara, a Republican, has announced that she has "resigned" as a US Attorney in Michigan.

The Brothers Baldwin - bad and busy

C- minus movie "star" and former enfant terrible Stephen Baldwin also describes himself as an "radical spiritual activist". Is there no end to his talents? He has just finished a new movie called Midnight Clear which has been produced by the author of the fabulous Left Behind series and is going to launch an extreme sports Christian ministry this year. Bless.

Do you think he talks to brother Alec much these days? Or to brother Daniel for that matter. Who knows extreme sports might of help to the wayward Baldwin.

A place in hell for the Decider (TM)?

A complaint against a New Zealand billboard campaign for Hell Pizza which described The Decider (TM) as an "evil bastard" has been partially upheld by the county's advertising standards board. The offending ad had a picture of Bush-43 and the caption "Hell. Too Good For Some Evil Bastards". The board held that the use the term bastards was offensive. Other complaints that cited the denigration of the Great Leader and blasphemy were not upheld.

Striking out

The New York Times reports that the United States launched attacks against alleged Islamic militants in Somalia, raids which the US now admits killed no so-called "high value targets", from Ethiopian airbases. The raids came at a time that the US was giving tacit approval to the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Ethiopian government officials are denying the story.

McCain speaks more rubbish

No matter how fast American Presidential contender John McCain changes his positions he never seems to stop, however briefly, on a position with which I could agree. He has now opined that British PM "Big" Tony Blair has "literally sacrificed his political career because of Iraq". If this is the case Senator McCain would you kindly explain to me how it is the case that he is STILL THE FUCKING PRIME MINISTER. Thanks.

The sins of the teacher

The Spanish constitution has a curious exception laid out for the Catholic Church's role in education. The religious curriculum of Spanish schools is set not by the state but by the church. The church is also responsible for the appointment of religious teachers and that includes the right, now upheld by the courts, to sack teachers whose lifestyles don't measure up to the church's exacting standards. Offences to the Church's dignity include adultery, drinking and cohabitation. None of the sacked teachers seem to have engaged in sexual abuse of the children in their care; perhaps this is reserved for the priests alone.

I foresee an exodus of American right wing Christian nutcases who trundle off to Iberia to seek advice as to how to adjust the American Constitution in this direction.

Auntie non grata

The press credentials of three journalists in Cuba have been withdrawn including the Beeb's representative. Also barred are journalists from the Chicago Tribune and the Mexican paper El Universal.

We must not forget to condemn the actions of any state who represses freedom of expression.

"Can I play?"

Why does Tony Blair remind me of the littlest kid in the school class, hopelessly uncool, who never gets picked to be on the team or the annoying little brother who always wants to tag along whatever big brother gets up to? It now appears that Big Tone is engaged in "secret" negotiations with the Septics in the hopes that they will build a Tony Blair Memorial Rocket Zapping Launch Pad somewhere in Britain.

I ask again. Is he leaving anytime soon? Please.

Kids are slipping

There are things that show up in the papers which I think should qualify as news. Today's Guardian has a front page story in which they feature the results of an "exclusive poll" which indicates that parents don't know what their kids get up to. According to the article two thirds of parents don't know that their kids have tried drugs. For fuck's sake to me this is an indication that parents are more involved in their kid's lives. When I was sixteen we were much more resourceful and secretive. I don't think any of our parents knew we had "tried" drugs even less that that we used them with considerable regularity.

23 February 2007

Janus will be envious

US Vice President "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney, speaking in Australia has said that the coalition "simply cannot indulge" in considering early withdrawal from Iraq or a new wave of terror will sweep the globe.

Mr. Vice President, please don't shoot me for asking this but how does this square with your administration's stated position that the British withdrawal is a sign of success?

What is he up to?

Why has US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales launched a new anti-religious discrimination campaign, called the First Freedom Project and why did he choose to announce it at a Southern Baptist Convention? He also plans to establish a Religious Freedom Task Force, charged to "review policies and religious discrimination cases". Is religious discrimination such a significant problem in the (undoubtedly small) mind of Mr. Gonzales that he has elected to set off on this initiative even though he has admitted that "he doesn't know how much the program will cost". It is reassuring to know that there are bags of excess money lying about in the District of Columbia, isn't it?

Eliminating useless government intervention

The United States Department of Agriculture has announced that it is to close the only laboratory in the Pacific North West capable of testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). What we don't know can't hurt us, right?

Selling war or war for selling

Lord. Even Sweden is at it now. The leaders of the Swedish military want to see locally produced fighter jets used in combat in an effort to boost sales as it would "create invaluable PR ahead of future export deals".

God told me to do it

People are more likely to approve of or engage in violent behaviour if told that it is encouraged or approved by God. New research conducted at Brigham Young University in Utah and the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam showed that people reacted differently to a violent passage, one that describes torture and rape, from the Old Testament if they were told that passage came from the Bible than if they were told it came from an ancient scroll discovered by archaeologists.

And there I was thinking that it was just the Qur'an that promoted violence.

Victory, at least for now, in Pierre

A new attempt to ban abortion in South Dakota, rejected by voters in the most recent election, has failed in the state's Senate but hard core supporters insist that they will continue to try and force down the throats of the electorate.

But does this just encourage the evil doers?

Lying through their gritted teeth the Bush administration is hailing news of the impending British retreat from Iraq as a sign of success!

Hunger in India

The Times reports that, despite a seemingly booming free market capitalist economy, malnutrion in India is worse than that in Ethiopia.

What part of trickle down didn't they understand.?

This propoganda is only for other people

The usa.gov website has been stripped of any and all content generated by the Voice of America after that was found to be in violation of a law, the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, which "bars domestic dissemination of official American information aimed at foreign audiences" (aka propaganda).

Let's face it the American people should not be aware of the lies that their government is telling the rest of the world. After all it is hard enough to keep up with the lies the American government tells the American people!

Heart of Blackness

Baron Black of Crossharbour aka Lord Black aka Conrad Black aka the disgraced former publisher and proprietor of the Daily Torygraph is due to go on trial next month in the United States for various forms of financial malfeasance. Even though he has obviously been busy preparing his defence to he has managed to find the time to file an 11 million USD libel suit against Tom Bowers the author of an unauthorised biography of Lord Black and his wife entitled Conrad and Lady Black: Dancing on the Edge. Lord Black has described the author of the tome as "vindictive, high-handed, contemptuous, sadistic" and "pathologically mendacious". That sounds like a more than adequate description of the good baron himself.

Lies, damn lies and statistics

"I could prove God statistically." - George Horace Gallup

The company you keep

A conference in Oslo (for the Americans it is to be found in Norway which is to be found in Scandinavia which is to be found in Europe which is a continent in its own right) has seen the passage of a resolution calling for the banning of the production, sale and use of cluster weapons by 2008. The resolution passed by a vote of 46-3 with only Poland, Japan and Romania voted against. The China, Israel, Russia and the United States found that they had other things to do and didn't bother to attend.

At least they are consistent. China, Israel, Russia and the US have all refused to sign up to the land mine treaty as well.

Think of the children!

According to Steven Milloy in his ever entertaining "Junk Science" column on the Faux News website we need global warming or we won't be able to feed the children! At least I think that is what he is saying. It is not always all that easy to tell.

Birthday wishes for an autocrat

Wilf Mbanga, a former friend of Robert Mugabe and the former editor of The Zimbabwean, now in exile in the UK, sends birthday wishes to the Zimbabwean potentate and tells him there is still time to do the honourable thing.

Like Mr. Mbanga I can remember when Mugabe was on the side of the righteous but that now seems a very, very long time ago.

UKIP to lose its independence?

Is it time we should bid adieu to the United Nations Independence Party? Yesterday the Electoral Commission ruled that the party had to surrender over £350,000 of contributions that were illegally obtained. The loss of these funds could make the anti-European party insolvent. Once the reality of the situation had an opportunity to mingle with the party's paranoia a spokesman said "it feels to us like there's an attempt here by the establishment to close us down".

America's favourite terrorist

Luis Posada Carriles, has failed in his bid to win release via a writ of habeas corpus. The bad news is that he is only in jail on charges of perjury and not for terrorism. He is wanted in both Cuba and Venezuela on charges of blowing up an airliner, killing more than seventy, as well as for the bombing of a Havana hotel.

Since he only killed atheistic communists it doesn't really count as terrorism I guess.

Career choices v. names

I have brazenly stolen this little titbit from "The Diary" column in the Guardian. A leading member of the Urology Team practice in Austin TX is one Richard "Dick" Chopp. For Christ's sake didn't he even give it a thought before he decided on a speciality? I suppose if he were Jewish he would have become a mohel.

Unlike some I AM fair and balanced

Aficionados of Faux News and rabid Dubyaphobes may want to turn away now. I am about to be fair and balanced and say something nice about George W. Bush.

Christ this is hard!

The Guardian reports today that the Decider (TM) make actually do something good and support Zambia as it tries to defend itself against so called vulture funds which are seeking, quite legally but reprehensibly, to claw back payments for debt incurred by the country. The fund in question, Donegal International, is owned by an American and bought the debt valued at 30 million USD from Romania for 3 million USD. He has already won a judgement against Zambian assets in the UK in the British courts.

The amount in question is equal to or greater than the amount of debt relief that the poor Africa country has received from the West. The President is said to be concerned about this and has the power to block attempts at collection in the US. Should he do so he can expect to hear from me:

"Well done Mr. President. I'm with you all the way on this one. (Just don't get fucking used to it, OK?)

I think it necessary that I now go and medicated myself in some fashion.

Corruption pays

Shares in BAE Systems Europe's largest arms dealer (aka merchant of death) have soared to a seven year high with a slight assist from Tony Blair and the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith who killed the SFO inquiry into alleged bribery and now appear to be determined to kill the SFO itself (see earlier post).

Indonesian cojones

A novel technique is to be attempted to deal with the mud volcano that has been erupting on Java for the past nine months. It is believed that gas exploration by PT Lapindo Brantas.

Scientists are going to attempt to plug up the volcano with balls. Really big concrete balls. If it doesn't work I wouldn't want to be around when the 250 kilo concrete lumps come down.

Freeing the tubes

The US State Department proudly proclaims to the world that free speech on the internet is "a basic human right". This in itself surprised me as I had more or less assumed that the Bush administration had given up on the concept of basic human rights (i.e. ones that apply to ALL human beings including those that the US deems "evil doers") in entirety.

I haven't read the fine print of the release but I am sure that somewhere in there you will find a qualifier that suggests that in order to proceed with this concept that obscure and isolated sections of the internets will need to be designated as "free speech zones".

Variations on a theme

The US intelligence on Iran does not stand up to scrutiny according to diplomatic sources out of Vienna. The UN's IAEA has issued a report that indicates that the Islamic Republic is in violation of a Security Council resolution that requires it to freeze its nuclear programme. However the US intelligence related to a nuclear weapons programme has repeatedly resulted in dead ends when turned over to and investigated by the IAEA.

Anything sound at all familiar to anyone?

In the meantime Increasingly Irrelevant US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice makes noises with her sabre.

Will the real Craggy Island please fall over?

The effort to determine which small Irish island can lay claim to being the "real" home of Father Ted and to call itself Craggy Island for the next twelve months will reach its fevered conclusion this weekend with a three day extravaganza to celebrate the playing of the inaugural Craggy Cup match. Irish football legends John Aldridge and Tony Cascarino are to coach the competing sides. Bookmakers Paddy Power are sponsoring the event and I am certain that entertaining betting opportunities are available on their website (but not if you're American).

Justice denied

Lotfi Raissi is a British resident of Algerian origin who was arrested by British authorities in 2001 and held without charge after an American request for extradition. The British courts subsequently found that there was "no evidence at all" of involvement in terrorism and released Mr. Raissi in early 2002 after he had spent five months in Belmarsh prison*. Since his release he has been seeking compensation and an apology.

Yesterday his compensation claim was rejected by the High Court on the grounds that he had been held based on a request for extradition to the US and that he was not wronged "in the domestic criminal process". Essentially they have told him to go see the Yanks about the money. I assume that this will not prove to be fruitful.

I don't believe that he has had as much as a whisper of apology either.

*Note: Mr. Raissi in that the request for extradition was handled under the old agreement with the United States which required the Americans to present a prima facie case. Under the new and controversial agreement such evidence is no longer required for extraditions from the UK to the US but is still required for extraditions in the opposite direction.

Tough on investigations into corporate fraud - tough on the causes of investigations into corporate fraud

The purpose of the Serious Fraud Office is essentially what its name says. In has been much in the news of late since its investigation into allegations of corrupt practices by weapons merchant BAE Systems in its successful efforts to secure a multi-billion pound deal with Saudi Arabia was quashed by the government whilst they chanted "national security, national security". Now we learn that the Blair government has decided that enough is enough and is making moves to close down the department and perhaps merge its functions into other branches of the government.

I am certain that these moves are solely in the interests of streamlining government processes and are not at all politically motivated.

And then there were nun

The Catholic population of the United Kingdom is growing in leaps and bounds on the strength on Eastern European immigrants, largely from Poland. However the church is suffering from a staff shortage to serve them. This is especially true of the number of nuns who now number less than 1,110 and are aging rapidly. Perhaps market forces which are competing in the marketplace for young, female virgins to serve as houris for the legions of Islamic martyrs are causing the church to come up short.

Any volunteers?

22 February 2007

Oops she did it again

Should anyone outside of the immediate family care Britney Spears is once again in rehab. Third time this week I reckon and it's only Thursday!

Tit-for-tat (by tits)

North Korean supremo Kim Jong-Il has accused the US of "fabricating lies". In a sharply worded rebuttal a highly placed but anonymous source within the Bush administration called the allegations "absolutely false and untrue" and went on to say that "we were only fabricating the truth".

Extraordinarily rendered tours

If I had to make a guess I would say that Szarpie Travel of Poland is in all probability not an in house travel agency for the CIA.

There's nothing like a good Quaker education

That's why someone at Swarthmore College can bring us this compendium of bizarre American sex laws.

Note: to al-Qaeda members - you sure better hope that heaven isn't in the state of Washington!

Could polygamists destroy gay marriage?

Don't laugh. It could happen.

Dodgy cantaloupes

I am not sure I want to know what it is that can be done to a melon so that it carries salmonella. If you know please don't tell me.

Further down the slippery slope

What causes internal ethnic or politic strife of whatever intensity to turn into a full fledged, bloody and ultimately self-destructive civil war? Often it takes just one triggering event; an event that in the grand scheme of things may seem relatively minor. I am not suggesting that the rape of 20 year old Iraqi woman is a minor event but I am thinking that it could prove to be just such a trigger.

I hope that I am wrong.

How low must I stoop?

Must I rely on the New York Daily News as a news source?

I am afraid that in certain circumstances I must and this short and succinct delineation of the "Scooter" Libby / Valerie Plame food chain is one of those circumstances.

Note to the Decider (TM): if Scott McClellan really spoke for you back in 2003 you've got quite a few folks to sack. If you hurry you can get it done tomorrow morning and release the news on Friday afternoon. You have to admit that you love to bury bad news by releasing it on Friday afternoons. Why should this be any different?

The way of all flesh

Will the Southern Baptists go the way of the Catholic Church and have to expose itself to damaging and painful criminal cases and civil suits over sexual abuse within the church or is this just Jesus hating atheists stirring up trouble for the righteous?

A delicately laid trap

A representative group of Israeli Arabs is putting forward a manifesto that calls for the Arab minority to be given collective rights and to ensure that they are represented in the government. The move has set off alarm bells amongst Jews in the country.

The document is called "The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel" has been produced in conjunction with the Committee of Arab Mayors in Israel and "has been endorsed by an unprecedented range of Arab community leaders".

I have always felt that the a reason, perhaps the primary reason, that Israel does not have a written constitution is that to put down in black and white a definition of the state of Israel as a state for and of Jews, and Jews alone, exposes that policy as a racist one which would lose it much international support and which would be an anathema to many of Israel's citizens.

It is hard to say how the Israeli state, or the United States for that matter, will react to this once it is put into a position that it has to deal with it directly. Does it expose itself as a racist state? Does it consider the possibility of a one, secular state of greater Palestine as the ultimate solution to the seemingly intractable problems it faces today but at the price of the loss of a Jewish state?


The invisible hand of the market

One would think that it would not be necessary to have a specific law that would prevent hospitals from dumping patients on the street but one would, it seems, be wrong.

You know that sometimes, just every now and then, I get to thinking that the death penalty isn't such a bad thing after all.

Baghdad turnarounds

The US Department of Defense is having to redeploy National Guard units that have already served in Iraq and to shorten the length of time between deployments in order to satisfy the Decider's seemingly insatiable need for fresh cannon fodder. Hey. Maybe they will get lucky and be privileged to serve alongside of royalty!

Right to life plea

Two Scandinavian religious organisations, DanChurchAid and Norwegian Church Aid have made a call for all governments to adopt an immediate freeze on the production, sale and use of cluster munitions. Their news release says in part:

"As church related agencies, we are driven by our faith that life is sacred, because we believe that all people are created and loved by God. Cluster munitions maim and kill indiscriminately."

I am certain that it is a matter of mere hours before their call is taken up by the numerous and various "right to life" organisations in the US. I mean "all life is sacred", right?

Things ratchet up

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, none too subtly warned the United States not to embark on military endeavours outside the borders of Iraq and explicitly noted Iran. According to Mr. Lavrov:

"The escalation of the conflict and its possible spread beyond the Iraqi borders will inevitably result in catastrophic consequences and not for the Middle East alone...I believe Washington understands this."

Undoubtedly there will be more to follow.

Maybe Spielberg could do a film

This company's lifts are to be found in office buildings and hotel across Europe and I almost always have a chuckle when I see their name on the little safety notice.

"When I said 'No Visitor' I meant 'No Visitors'"

A Swiss Senator, Dick Marty, who is investigating the treatment of detainees at the hands of their American gaolers for the Council of Europe, has had his request to visit the Guantánamo detention facility denied by US authorities. Mr. Marty had planned to travel to Cuba with the United Nations special rapporteur for torture in order to talk with prisoners.

Is anyone surprised?

Breaking new. Israel to do what it wants!

The Israeli government says it will ignore Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas if he and his Fatah party join with Hamas in a unity government. It is clear that the US, at least tacitly, supports this. Remember that Hamas was put into office by a democratic process which all parties agree was free and fair. But democracy be damned if they won't do what we want.

If you can keep a secret, at least from Bush&Co, I will inform you that Tony Blair is hinting that he might actually deal with the elected government of Palestine in defiance of the Decider (TM).

Calling the IAEA

Will you please go the United States immediately, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred quid, and embark on an emergency inspection tour of American nuclear weapons facilities.


Of course, on second thought, it is in Texas.

A suggestion for climate change skeptics

Pack up your things, get your family together and move to a home (preferably beach front) in Bangladesh.

If that doesn't tickle your fancy just shut up and go away!

Quote for the day (an irregular event)

"A cult is a religion with no political power" - Tom Wolfe

Fighting Hungary

In a move that will make neither the US government nor the genetically modified food industry happy the European Union has upheld the right of Hungary to ban GM seed. According to a spokesman for EuropaBio, a GM industry group "the Council continues to seriously damage the credibility of the EU's regulatory system which they helped to put in place and on which much of Europe's innovative and industrial capacity relies...today's decision simply denies the freedom of choice to Hungarian farmers who want to grow insect protected maize crops". So in this case, choice is good?

Sticking to what they do best

It is good to see that after a long period of corrupt but reasonably stable government until Silvio Berlusconi that the Italians have returned to old favourites as the sixty-first government of the country in the past sixty-two years has collapsed and Prime Minister Romano Prodi has resigned.

Two strikes and you're out

It should not surprise anyone too greatly that American troops have conducted an armed raid against the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists. I mean union members AND journalists. Guilty as charged!

The raid occurred on Monday and the US forces arrested ten security guards and "confiscated their licensed weapons". (Are you listening at the NRA?)

We should also no bet surprised that I can find no coverage of this outside of the Middle Eastern press and the Guardian. The International Federation of Journalists has also issued a press release condemning the raid.

The coalition of the leaving

The United Kingdom has announced plans to pull its troops out of Iraq although Tony Blair has reserved the right to check and raise. Now Denmark is also pulling out and Lithuania is likely to be hard on their heels.

Is anyone keeping score? Who's left other than Australia? Fiji? Liechtenstein? The Holy See?

Did you know....

....that Ted Kennedy and George Washington share a birthday? I didn't. This must really wind up the Bushites as the Decider (TM) has to share his birthday with lesser lights 50 Cent, Sylvester Stallone and Merv Griffin. He also shares it with Nancy Reagan but I don't think they're talking because of the stem cell thing.


In its six years and a bit in office the Bush administration has failed to nominate a single Afro-American for a judicial position in nine of eleven Southern states, including Bush's home state of Texas. Representatives of Senator Trent Lott want to include the recent nomination of Halil Ozerden as he is of Turkish descent and an example of diversity in nominations as he is "non-Caucasian", a position with which Atatürk would have strongly disagreed.
I think we should give them the benefit of the doubt here. I mean it is hard for Republicans. They just don't know any black people who don't clean their houses, cook their food or drive their cars.

Cuba libre

In an effort to prove that the one thing that the Bush administration does will is consistency and commitment to failed policies Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutiérrez yesterday reminded everyone, despite the opinions of the business community and the American public, that the US government will never change course. On anything. Especially Cuba.

In an act of civil disobedience against this complete idiocy I propose to spend the afternoon in a English pub getting pissed on fine Cuban rum and smoking noxious Cuban cigars in defiance of the US Treasury.

Go ahead call me a sexist bastard*

I know some of you will because I disagree with the decision by the All England Lawn Tennis Club to award equal prize money to the winners of the men's and women's tournaments. I did a bit of research last year when the issue was so controversial and female competitors earned considerably more per set and per hour than their male counterparts. So is this truly equal pay for equal work or not?

If they are concerned about ensuring that all competitors are treated fairly why are the prizes in the doubles competitions increased to twice that of those for the singles?

OK. I'm ready. Abuse me.

*In my defence I am most definitely not a sexist!

Is Jesus involved with this?

Do you think that when George Bush and Tony Blair retire they will move on to do anything useful for society as a whole? If they are considering in they probably won't want to choose former American President Jimmy Carter as a role model because he's just a little too far left for their tastes. They might however consider having Yahya Jammeh, the President of the Gambia, as their mentor though. After all he can cure AIDS with just a herbal paste, bananas and a laying on of hands.

The Western press has been at best sceptical, and at worse downright critical, of these claims but the undoubtedly independent Gambian press quickly cuts them down to size. Not only that but they expect a huge influx of the diseased, deluded and deranged to soon descend upon their country.

James Brown's body lies amoulderin' in the grave (alomost)

The bickering amongst the family of the sadly departed singer James Brown continues but they at least seem to have finally settled on funeral arrangements some two months after he passed away.

His body is to lie in an undisclosed location where it can be visited by US Vice President "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney whilst he is in hiding so that he may have his blood refreshed by transfusions from fifteen year old virgins.

In the footsteps of the master

Following in the tradition of the Decider (TM) Tony Blair, British Prime Minister (almost) Emeritus and George Bush's succubus, says that he listens to the generals on the ground and then ignores their sage advice. British military commanders wanted a bigger and swifter withdrawal of troops from Iraq than that promised by Big Tone yesterday. Their position is that the duties that they are currently performing in and around Basra in the south of the country are effectively little more than policing and would be better done by the, well, police.

Today St. Anthony went further. In speaking on the Radio 4's the Today Programme he denied that he was in any way responsible for the "very grim situation" in Iraq and left open the possibility that British troops might return or, one suspects, not leave at all should condition further degenerate.

Does he have a departure date yet? If not - why not?

The evil of socialism

The British Office of Fair Trading thinks that the NHS is paying too much for the wrong drugs and has put out a position paper as to how to tackle the problem. They suggest the current system of price and profit controls with a value based system. I am unsure if I agree entirely with their thinking, and admit I have yet to get all the way through the 120 page document (PDF) but it is not surprising that big pharma is less than pleased with their ideas with a spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry saying that the organisation "strongly refuted suggestions that the NHS is paying too much for its drugs".

Ban the bulb!

Following the footsteps of newly converted eco-warrior John Howard the Decider (TM) can take nearly painless measures to enhance his already inestimable legacy by proving that he does indeed care about the planet by banning tungsten light bulbs.

It's easey peasey George.

21 February 2007

Icelandic mystery solved

Fifty large trees that went missing in Reykjavík last week have been found save and sound in Hafnarfjördur yesterday. Their means of travel from one spot to the other was, as yet, unclear.

I've been to Iceland and there aren't a lot of trees around to begin with so it isn't like they were hiding in the nearest forest as there isn't one.

What ever you do just don't panic

Before anyone gets overly concerned about it I bring you the welcome news that Swedish authorities are to allow the IAEA to inspect the country's nuclear power plants. Whew. That was a close one.

When is the American inspection scheduled?

Dick Cheney - a profile in courage

Speaking to American troops on an aircraft carrier just off of Japan Vice President "I'm a Big" Dick Cheney said of the occupation of Iraq:

"We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and then we want to come home, with honor."

Vice President Cheney, who will be home Monday, must have been using the royal "we".

Speaking of blowing in the wind

Aussie PM John Howard is trying to match McCain revolution for revolution.

Paraphrasing Tim Dickinson

You would have to be a weathervane to know which way McCain blows.

The department that cried wolf

I, for one, am shocked, appalled and not a little surprised to find out that the American government might be lying about terrorism-related investigations and prosecutions they pursue. It is so unexpected from this lot. This is not according to some radical left wing news source, if there are any, but from the Department of Justice's own Inspector General. Of the twenty six categories of statistics that he reviewed he found that twenty four of them were inaccurate.

Go Rudy go!

There are lots of bad reasons to think that Rudy Giuliani should be the Republican presidential candidate in 2008. I can, however, think of one good reason; the Christian hardcore hates him and therefore probably will not turn out to vote for him in overwhelming numbers.

Fugitives from justice living in North Carolina

Two of the pilots wanted by Germany in the "extraordinary renditions" case have been tracked down and are currently living in North Carolina. Whether the US will cooperate with the German authorities and assist in identifying the men and arranging for them to be brought to justice remains to be seen. Not!

Who'd a thunk it?

Einstein had a big brain.

Harare hell

The situation in Zimbabwe continues to spiral downwards as poverty, hunger, human rights violations and general political suppression worsen. American invasion plans, said to be part of the "Freedom Agenda", are said to be contingent on the discovery oil in the beleaguered country. "Why else would we bother" said an unnamed by highly placed administration source.

Get out now...er...I meant soon

British Prime Minister has taken strides to "embolden the evil-doers" by announcing a time table for the exit of British troops from Iraq. The draw down will take longer than expected and hoped; 1600 fewer in a few months and all personnel out by the end of 2008. The dragged out schedule is probably due to US pressures but that, of course, will be denied.

20 February 2007

I confess

I bought a packet of Iranian dates today. Do I have to inform the CIA or can I just turn myself in at Grosvernor Square.

A citizenship quiz

An article over at TomPaine.com asks Which Babies Are Real Americans?". So the right wingers don't get all in a lather over this I have a few simple tests that should, I hope, make everything clear.

Are the parents married (to each other)? If yes continue

Are the parents different sexes? If yes continue

Does either parent speak a language other than American? (Note: English may be acceptable.) If no continue

Are both parents Christians or similar religions like Catholic or Mormon? If yes continue

Is either parent an Indian? (Asian or American) If no continue

Does either parent read more than three books a year? If no continue

Is at least one parent clinically obese? If yes continue

Does at least one parent own a gun? If yes - we've got a winner!

Our Leader speaks out on intelligence. We listen.

The Decider (TM) used the occasion of a speech at an Air Force base to call for greater diversity in recruitment in the intelligence community. He was specifically referring to language skills but perhaps there was a broader yet hidden message. He may have also meant that there should be more tall people or left handers or chess players or homosexuals. (Heh. I snuck that last one in there to see if you were paying attention.)

From a Jewish perspective

Why anti-Zionism is not to be equated with anti-Semitism.

In the fall of 2004 I edited Bad Subjects #70, an issue that featured essays on a wide variety of topics including a piece by Rebeca Siegel about the correlation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. At the time, there was (and still is) a great deal of controversy taking place in academia because various scholars/teachers had been pushing their respective universities to divest funds from Israel because of their treatment of Palestinians, and their continual defiance of U.N. law. In addition, a growing number of scholars were beginning to raise general concerns about Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights. While anti-Zionist perspectives had been most clearly articulated by, and thus associated with, faculty and students in Middle East Studies and Ethnic Studies programs, there were more professors outside of these fields that were becoming visibly upset about the policies of the Israeli government and the general project of Zionism. Among those dissenters were Judith Butler, a well known and respected Jewish academic who teaches at U.C. Berkeley. In an essay entitled “The Charge of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and the Risks of Public Critique” Butler spoke out against the manner in which anti-Zionism had been publicly conflated with anti-Semitism by a wide variety of public figures including Lawrence Summers, the president of Harvard.

Is Aussie PM John Howard a pinko?

He obviously lacks true faith in the holy power of the market!

A level playing field

That's all Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to be asking for when he says that he will stop nuclear fuel processing for negotiations if the Western parties to the talks will do the same. Likely to happen? Not.

Is the Decider (TM) a latent homosexual?

If one is to believe his eloquently expressed desires re Osama bin Laden one would have to think so.

Perhaps Ted Haggard can help him down the 100% straight and narrow. (Ted's website is "in transition" very much like the great man himself.)

The end of world as we know it

I keep getting a sinking feeling about Iran. Somehow I get the sense that the Decider (TM) and his surrounding sycophants and evil doers have already made up their minds and are just seeking a rationalisation. Now the Beeb has got hold of American contingency plans for an attack and they are much more comprehensive than one would have thought. Targets include almost all of Iranian defence infrastructure and go far beyond just attacking nuclear installations. It is believed that there are two possible triggers for such an attack: confirmation of Iranian work on nuclear weapons or a high casualty attack in Iraq traced back to Iran. Do any recent noises out of the White House ring a bell for anyone re option 2?

Are we in a situation where we may have to rely on a serving high ranking military officer refusing orders from the Decider (TM)? I, for one, certainly hope not but what else will stop him should he make up his limited mind?

Why Open Source Software is a communist plot

Because it steals hard(ly) earned corporate profits and gives them to, well, no one and because Cuba is all for it!

And the hits keep on coming

Laith al-Ani is a ordinary Iraqi who spent nearly two and half years in American custody after the illegal invasion. He was interred as a "security threat" but the reason was never explained, although an Iraqi uniform was found in his house during a weapons search, and he was released in January of this year it was because someone, somewhere had determined that he was no longer a threat. Again this was never explained. When the Americans were preparing him for release he was given a piece of paper with two options on it and asked to tick one which described his treatment. The options were:

I didn’t go through any abuse during detention.

I have gone through abuse during detention.

Mr. al-Ani ticked the first option, as suggested by the translator, as he feared what would occur if he ticked the second, which he felt was the appropriate answer. One wonders why the American forces felt such a statement was required and whether they believe that they are receiving any honest responses.

The number of Iraqis in American, rather than Iraqi, detention now exceeds 15,000. The current level is higher than it has been since the war started.

Condi's Middle Eastern sojourn

Increasingly irrelevant* US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has gone to the Middle East and, quelle surprise, will return to gloomy Washington empty handed. The Bush administration continues to walk in lock step with the Israeli government and refuses to recognise the free and fairly elected government of the Palestinian Territories, at least until they adopt a suitably subservient position.

*To anyone who disagrees with my assessment I challenge them to name one accomplishment that she has managed to achieve in her time at the State Department. (The North Korean negotiations do not count as she was detached from the process.) We are all aware of the swathe of destruction that she left behind as a result of her tenure as National Security Advisor.

On the side of the angels

Under the Bush administration the special relationship that America has is with Saudi Arabia. No foreign official, including Britain's PM and Bush succubus Tony Blair, has enjoyed the kind of oval office access that was afforded to the ex-Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar. We have long known that the Middle Eastern kingdom was not a haven of democracy or human rights but now Human Rights Watch has been given admittedly restricted access to the country in order to investigate allegations of abuses and the news isn't good. Of course those on the right will explain it away as just the predictable indictment from an allegedly left wing organisation. The sensible rest of the would do well to pay heed of who our "friends" are.

The HRW investigators where kept under 24 hour surveillance but still managed to uncover "unfair trials, detention of children and oppression of women and foreign laborers". Imagine what they may have uncovering had they been given unfettered access.

HRW news release

Pacificism and human rights are not leftist ideologies

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, a certainly right of centre group, seems to be upset that some American religious leaders are going to visit Iran on a visit of peace. The delegation, organised by the Mennonite Central Committee and American Friends Service Committee, is described in the IRD news release as a "coalition of liberal religious leaders" (emphasis mine). I grew up in Pennsylvania and one would have to stretch the truth at least twice as far as the Bush administration average to call the Mennonites liberal. It is laughable. Even many members of the Religious Society of Friends, who were prevalent in Chester County, were really "small c" conservative in many ways. Both groups are, however, strictly pacifist (Richard Nixon being a notable exception) and strongly concerned with human rights and dignity. I guess these are to be considered traits of the "loony left" these days. I guess Jesus is on my side now!

Only the loyal

Today the Guardian continues its publication of extracts from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone. Today we get to meet the 24 year old, loyally Republican estate agent (realtor in American) with no financial experience who was assigned to reopen the stock market and the 60 year old, loyally Republican head of a "faith based" anti-abortion adoption agency who was tasked with rebuilding the health care sector.

The score card on these two? Successes - nil; failures - two.

"Does anybody even care?"

Do you think that it is possible that even John McCain can no longer work out what John McCain's position is anymore? I don't know about you but I'm getting dizzy.

Please. Just tell me when it's over.

Alright. This has got to stop. It is clear that the Decider (TM) and the rest of the known universe (Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are inhabitants of an alternate and particularly unpleasant universe) do not think of the same things when they think of Bush 43.

Yesterday he essentially compared himself to George Washington or, to use his own words, "first George W". Who's next? Gandhi? Jesus?

Treatment in a hurry

Tony Blair continues to govern the country with an iron fist and an eye on his legacy. Yesterday he repeated previous pledges to cut NHS treatment waiting times and described them as the "real transformation" of health care in this country.

Rumours that his megalomania has caused him to consider hiring a psychic (perhaps Cherie knows a good one) to actually predict when people are going to fall ill and allow their treatment in advance cannot be confirmed at this time.

Dodging pastoral duties

The bankruptcy law passed by the previous Republican majority Congress and signed into law has made it more difficult for ordinary families who are trapped by debt thrust onto them by the banks and credit card companies to escape from the clutches of the selfsame banks and credit card companies and restart their lives.

It may not however, prevent the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego from using bankruptcy to escape obligations to their flock as the first civil trials related to sexual abuse by priests within the diocese are due to open.

Shame, shame, shame.