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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Friday, February 28, 2003

This is how it works..
Iraq has agreed that it's supplies of al Samoud missiles will be destroyed.. this, a day before the deadline set not by George and Tony, or the UN itself, but by no less than Hans Blix.. force majeur indeed..
It was only a matter of timing anyway.. and Hussein got weeks and millions of his enemies marching for him.. for what will doubtless be very little indeed..
But today, it's the 2d UN Resolution that occupies George and Tony.. with the British supplying the diplomacy, and the Americans the cash.. They're buying votes, unabashedly..
Anglola is willing to side with the US, if there's post-civil war aid.. not a sure bet in any case..
The President of Cameroon is under some pressure from his own people to cut ties with the French in this, an election year for him.. but again not a sure bet for the US..
Chile has been outspoken in it's opposition to any war, but economically speaking they can't afford to defy the US when the markers are called in..
Guinea is a Muslim state, and appears to be weighing the advantages of siding with the US.. it takes over the rotating presidency of the Security Council tomorrow.. while officially on the fence, it appears there could be backing for the American stance here..
Mexico is in a political dilemma.. it's election year and the public is against a war.. but the government's anti-war stance has begun to waffle this past week.. a deal regarding Mexican migrants is purportedly on the block..
Pakistan is thought to be one which will abstain.. the Islamic power there and public opposition to war.. another 'million man march' is promised for Karachi this coming Sunday..
These are the 6 countries who could force unilateral action through their own inaction..
We know what France will do.. we suspect what Russia is playing, that being both ends against the middle..
What we will see over the next week or so, is how seriously the major powers take the UN these days.. whether the prospect of a European Hegemony is more appealing to those who pull the strings in that theater than a settlement of a world problem.. whether the promise of American cash will be enough to sway those, who realize the one eyed man is king in the land of the blind..

This is becoming a farce, and it's the scenario both the White House and Whitehall wanted to avoid..
What Iraq has sparked is a reorganization within the ranks of the EU.. and NATO.. and indeed the very concept of what constitutes 'The West'.. Russia's now threatening to use it's UN Veto to scupper the 2d Iraq Resolution.. that puts Russia and France and Germany in an agressive stance concerning particularly the US, but coincidentally Britain.. sets the stage for what France would desperately like to see.. an European hegemony which could concievably rival the economic clout of the US..
An European hegemony in which France plays a pre-eminent role..
So while the various motk's around the globe have been fired.. infused with one or the other stance on the Middle East.. the reality is that the global population is being visibly manipulated into assuming emotional arguments in a situation that hithertofor would have been purely politically driven..
Certainly the average citizen of this world cannot pretend to understand the machinations of government in the Middle East.. even the diplomats there train in the subtleties of negotiation, prevarication, and appeasement for decades before they're allowed to open their mouths in public.. We in the west.. generally forthright and open.. cannot seem to get our minds around the differences between societies.. We are saddled with a sense of guilt for our own success.. a sense of somehow failing the rest of the world because we did it better and faster.. a willingness to decry our own perspective and assume another must be at least partly right..
We're a particularly self-destructive group we are..
And those in the East can see this.. They know, given enough time, we'll argue ourselves from a position of strength to one of weakness.. if only to 'let the little guy win for once'..
The East has learned patience.. It's obvious to anyone that this society of ours cannot last, that it will tear itself apart like a machine.. once well-oiled and tended and now left to run at full speed, reviled and kicked into a corner..
We will destroy this enlightened west of ours, ourselves.. all we need is time.. and those who oppose us are only too willing to give us all that's necissary..

Thursday, February 27, 2003

One must say, that up til this point George has stayed on the right side of the truth.. that his claims justifying action against Hussein were reasoned and justified..
But today, the spin was on, and the target audience was the American people, his constituents..
George answered critics, who claim war would destabalize the area, by saying ' A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress to the lives of millions..'
That's at best naive.. at worst deliberate deception.
Mind, it would allow the US, while occupying Iraq as a military government pro-tem, to keep a sharper eye on the Israeli's and the Palistinians, and to force compliance from both sides to the strictures of numerous UN Resolutions directed at the cessation of occupation of disputed lands and terrorism..
But as for the average Iraqi.. one doubts they want their country to be 'edified'.. turned into a giant PX.. eventually becoming an eastern copy of Nevada..
They'll never accept the presence of a non-Islamic leadership, regardless of the kind intent or will to help.. and George will have one heck of a job getting an Islamic government in place..
Already there are murmurings among Iranian dissident expats.. who await the day Hussein leaves, so they can go back to where home used to be.. with George saying he'd use some of Saddam's 'untainted' officials in an advisory capacity..
The majority of Iraq is Shi'ite.. the Ba'ath government, and the Civil Service, are for the most part Sunni.. They don't really care for one another.. let alone what they feel about 'westerners' and 'Christians'..
Would have been more honest George, to have shrugged, and admitted ' you can't please everybody'.. and gotten on with the job..
It's a closed session at the UN.. where the US will be working the other members of the Security Council, lining up support for this second resolution on Iraqi disarmament.. Tony's again working his own party, after last evening's mini-revolt.. and Iraq's has moved a unite of the 'elite' Imperial Guard in the north of the country, the first redeployment of Iraqi troops, in any numbers of any importance, since this brouhaha began..
Tell the truth, anything of any real import today seems to be generated from within the media itself..
ITV.. one of the three national broadcasters in this country, has anounced it will move it's main nightly news to 9PM, in the event of a war with Iraq.. This is the timeslot the BBC vacated two years ago, when it became the trend to stay up a tad later, have one more cuppa.. when the murder mysteries were over, time for the news..
But, if we're heading back into a war footing, that must include the public.. and early to bed..early to rise and all that.. has been part of the British war mentality forever..
One wonders if they'll be issuing blackout curtains, or if we'll have to buy them ourselves..
And it's not a beautiful day in the neighbourhood today.. Fred Rogers lost his fight with cancer .. and has died..
See, this is where it becomes confusing..
It's a matter for some jubilation among the public at large, that Tony's had the biggest party revolt since he took the reins of office, and that Jaques Chirac, christened 'le Worm' by the of the tabloids.. has had huge support for his 'standing up to the United States'..
There still apears to be some confusion here, as to who wears the black hat in this drama..
Now normally one would be overjoyed, if not downright gleeful, to see Tony in discomfort.. but in this particular case even the Conservatives have to agree there is a case for preparing for war.. and that should Hussein force the issue, it should not be a responsibility we abrogate.. leave for one nation alone to face... especially a nation we've always had strong ties to such as the US..
Although, one of the village political experts did compare the antics of Jaques to those of Joe Kennedy, while London was being bombed..
However, this situation we face today.. it's prompted some shaking of the heads down at the local..
Those who have dealt with the politics of the Middle or Far East are in agreement, that those who have not, don't understand 'shyte from shoepolish' as one sage put it.. This, mind you, while removing encrusted wellies at the front door, proving he certainly knew the difference himself..

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Once again I am struck by the inherent difference between even the US, and this Island which spawned it..
One might see George Bush sit down with a carefully selected panel, to defend his stance concerning this impending conflict.. but frankly one doubts it. The American idea of a leader is one who is a step removed from the public, for both the protection of their person, but also the preservation of their image..
Here, Tony has just spent the last 40 minutes on live television, facing eight of those who protested a week ago last Saturday.. who he knew were all going to be hostile to his stance..
The group was again a cross demographic mix.. perhaps representing the range that protested.. the questions all revolved about the 'why' of the war.. both the practical and the ethical...
One found onese'f actually sitting on the edge of the seat.. tell the television to 'just explain it to them as though it was a staff briefing.. tell them the truth..'
But rather, for some reason unbeknownst to us, Tony kept mum.. and while convincing in his sincerity, was too convincing when he repeated he 'didn't have the monopoly on wisdom..'
That statement amounted to preaching to the choir..
Tony's facing the greatest threat to his political career this evening.. at seven o'clock, less than half an hour, the House will vote on the government's position on Iraq..
As mentioned earlier, Jack Straw made his case forst, and then the rest of this afternoon's sitting was dedicated to responses from throughout the House, from all parties..
Comments ranging from 'Saddam only responds when his feet are held to the fire, and the heat becomes unbearable..' from a Conservative MP.. to 'it would be a criminal act of agression, were we to march in following the unilateral action of the US..' from one of Tony's own Labour members.
This is a free vote, which means the members can vote their concience, loosely speaking and assuming some have them. Already some 80 have declared they'll break Labour ranks and vote against their Prime Minister..
This, while George appears to be gaining ground with Mexico.. another fencesitter in the Security Council..
Had we only forseen the consiquences of the breakup of the Ottoman Empire.. we might have acted differently in 1918..
An interesting speech from our esteemed Foreign Minister this afternoon.. Jack Straw, while not quite managing to bring the house down, did demonstrate with his answers to what may well have been a series of non-sequetorial interruptions, what the government was having to deal with from those opposing military action, while laying out why military action, is justified..
Jack dealt with the question in five parts.
He saw it breaking down into, why Iraq in particular, why not more time for inspections, why a new resolution if Iraq is already in contravention of an existing sanction, why not a policy of continued containment, and is there a double standard with the government's support of Israel v Palestine..a conflict of interests so to speak..
His answers.. edited for brevity.. were, Saddam's had ten years and disregarded 13 UN Security Council resolutions, still hasn't complied with the terms he agreed to at the end of Desert Storm, and he's a nutter who has a country bigger than France to hide things in.. that further time for more inspections would be pointless. Hussein has been raised in the age old Ottoman style of politics, and what would seem an humanitarian extension for more inspections bu the good folk of the west, would be to him a gesture of weakness, tantamount to permission to continue stockpiling his arms elsewhere while refining his plans against the Kurds and the west. It was also pointed out that when South Africa had to disarm following the abolition of aparteid, it took 9 inspectors three years to assure the world there was nothing that could possibly commit genocide in the arsenal. Iraq has had 12 years, and more than 100 inspectors off and on, and still they haven't a clue...the new resolution, says Jack, is to demonstrate to a doubtfull world that neither the US nor Britain want to rush off, guns blazing, to crush poor Saddam and the Ba'athist government. It is not recissary, as Jack so rightly pointed out, that this resolution even be asked for, becuase Iraq is already contravening the demands of 1441, but it is to allow the well-meaning impediments to a settlement of the problem a chance to see the logic and the right of action.. further containment, said Jack, would allow Hussein more time to increase his arsenal, as he has been doing since inspectors withdrew in 1998, and would serve to increase the suffering of the Iraqi people..
Now as to the last of the five.. is there a double standard in the west when Israel is brought into the equation..?
Yes, said Jack, there is.
Mind you, there is a not very subtle diference between an ally and a declared enemy, one which should be obvious to anyone. Jack continued to say that of course, the government was constantly urging both the Israeli's and the Palistinian authorities to follow the UN resolutions which bind them, intimating that the Middle East as a whole was at this time, a matter for concern.
They vote on the government position this evening. One will watch the results with.. 'bated breath..
Harry J. Anslinger. A man who wanted his name to go down in history.. just as his contemporary Edgar J Hoover did..
But though Harry himself managed, despite holding the office of Commission of the US Bureau of Narcotics for 32 years, to slip un-noticed into obscurity, his legislative accomplishments remain a souce of public interest to this day..
Harry, along with Randolph Hearst, managed to between them turn cannabis use into a criminal activity..
Now, as laws relax around the world on the use of this drug, and as new testing brings forth evidence of medical efficacy.. we have the UN stepping in with a warning to Britain about the relaxation of laws concerning the use of the drug, which take effect this summer.
As if the UN didn't have more pressing items on it's agenda..
Mind you, one can imagine Harry smiling.. somewhere..

Tuesday, February 25, 2003

This is becomming something worthy of Tristan Tzara himself..
The international support Hussein has received over these past few months has given him such incredible leeway, that he now has the affrontery to turn western politics against itself, by demanding a public debate between himself, and George.
Now this cannot be taken seriously, for the Iraqi leader hasn't even spoken to a western journalist in ten years, let alone showed any willingness for dialogue..
Having said that tho, this request for the debate was spoken to Dan Rather, as he did the first interview with Hussein in the afformentioned timeframe. Saddam put on his pious face for the occasion, and stated 'this is an earnest proposal, made out of his respect for the people of the United States and those of Iraq..'.
And now he'd like you to look at this prospectus for land investment in Florida..
Hussein has also intimated he'll not follow the demands of the arms inspectors, and order the destruction of the al Samoud missiles which Hans Blix says contravene the UN resolution.. This is a direct result of the idiotic peace demonstrations held worldwide ten days ago.. now Hussein believes the West is split, that he's managed to do it single-handedly, and that he can do as he pleases with impunity..
Of course, the stance that France and Germany are taking helps Hussein as well, for if NATO falls..there's one less coalition to concern himself about while he continues his regeme of repression and atrocities.
It's time for the western man to take a wakeup call.. to shed this caul of guilt.. this denial of success.. and the glorification of those percieved to be 'weaker'..
It's time we grew up.. for those enemies we do have in the Middle East, will next look to Israel, and will test the commitment we have to that ally.
And never for a moment believe that by appeasing Hussein, we will see an end to terrorist attacks.. for we are still and will always be, the Infidel.. and the enemy..

Monday, February 24, 2003

Now here's a point to ponder..
Folks turned up in their millions nine days ago to march against the war in Iraq.. some notable celebrities took their chance to do a Geldorf and have their photo's taken as they put on their 'Man am I concerned' faces..
But not one of them has come out with a protest song..
Are we that jaded.. perhaps uninspired by this..? Deep in our hearts.. do we believe.. that we shall overcome..?
One saw seasoned protestors out there weekend before last.. but no chants.. no beating of drums.. nothing to infuse the masses with a sense of urgency, unity, and passion..
Janis McNair, who teaches at Caledonian University's Center for Political Song.. no, not making it up.. says it's ironic, but the sheer mass appeal of the anti-war movement rendered it silent.. That there was too much of a demographic swath cut.. for any camaraderie to form..
Only one heard deserves a mention.. and it's to be sung to the tune of 'If You're Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands'..
"If we cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq..
If the markets hurt your Mama, bomb Iraq..
If the terrorists are Saudi and the bank takes back your Audi
And the tv shows are bawdy, bomb Iraq.."
And to think it took John Lennon ten minutes to write 'Give Peace a Chance'..
Some political posturing from Labour today.. with Geoff Hoon announcing to a less than enthusiastic Kuwaiti audience that Britain is 'poised for war'..
That's taking British understatement to an extreme.. the whole bloody navy, airforce and most of the troops this country posesses are mucking about in the sand, while this diplomatic charade winds it's way towards the inevidable..
Geoff's main issue is argument against those who would want 'unlimited' time for the inspectors to wander about.. used phrases the likes of 'abdication of responsibility on a massive scale..' and Saddam's 'endless procrastination'.. warning of 'dire consiquences' should this man be allowed to snigger, openly, behind his hand, at this dance the west is performing to accomplish that which he'd effect with a wave of his hand..
Meanwhile..George is suffering.. image-wise in Europe.. The ubiquitous 'Senior American Official Who Has Access To These Reports' says it's astonishing, that nobody sees Hussein as the bad guy here.. One ambassador to a 'friendly' Arab state bluntly reported that the US had become 'the enemy'.. one would put money on that envelope bearing a Saudi postmark..
It's not quite the reaction from the world at large that the Americans had been expecting.. especially in the wake of the World Trade Center incident..
But therein the inherent problem with American diplomacy.. they've become so big so fast.. they've either forgotten the unshakeable pride, perhaps hubris, of the far more ancient European nations, or they've never bothered to pay it much attention.. This oversight has given the Europeans a 'moral ascendancy'.. completely spurious in nature but still a viable force, and left the Americans wondering what it is they've done wrong..
It's not the easiest job George and Tony have taken on here, and it may well spell the end itself for Tony.. but then perhaps history will treat them more kindly than do their countrymen, when all's said and done..

It would make a grown man weep..
This computer is a monster y'know.. it's churning out millions of children who cannot spell.. cannot understand the basics of grammatical construction..who's vocabularies are miniscule.. and who's social skills can be called tribal at best..
Now typo's, and those words which might be construed as 'difficult' one might excuse, but when a grown woman in the western US constantly writes 'witch' when meaning 'which'.. or we can see statements the likes of 'asl..duz enny1 wanna chat w/me' as a mean.. then we must examine the cost of this progress against that which is lost..
In the meantime.. remedial spelling courses should be manditory.. if only to assuage the pedants out there..

Sunday, February 23, 2003

UAV's.. the future of warfare..
The newest generation is called the 'Global Hawk'.. costs £25million.. can fly itself at 65 thousand feet from California to Australia and land itself.. without even a ground controller..
At the moment they're used for reconnaisance.. but as the technology improves.. it could be the end of manned bomber aircraft entirely..
Science.. it's wonderful..
The story of Europe's current fracturing is replete with ironies, outsize personalities and conflicting national interests, all three of which were on display in the one might think deliberate destructive intrusions recently by Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. defense secretary. Historic elements have overshadowed the fact that there is a genuine argument to be had about the wisdom of rushing to war against Iraq. To worry that the march to Baghdad might kindle rather than douse the fires of terrorism or to fret about the legitimacy of preemptive war is not to be anti-American, merely obstructionist.
But listening lately to the discordant voices of Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schroeder and others has led one to believe that the source of the tension runs deeper. A decade and more after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Europe is only now confronting the consequences both for the transatlantic relationship and for its own identity. The countries of Europe may agree to make common cause when the issues are small -- a peace-keeping force for Macedonia, a few thousand troops to help stabilize Afghanistan. But once the geopolitical stakes rise, national interests and pride win out over solidarity.
While the United States is pursuing those who launched the attack on the World Trade Centers, and those who support the 'cause' that led to 911, Europe is left standing, somewhat ineffectually, in the wings.
There are cocerns within the courts of Europe that since 1989, the US has been so preeminent, that eventually a western hegemony will emerge, and the EU while expanding, is not the vehicle for solidarity it had been expected to be..
Chirac and Schroeder lead the EU a the moment, and are well aware that their positions in the heirarchy are precarious, with membership in the EU burgeoning from 15 to 25 over the next few years.
This action against the Middle East may well be justified, but what Europe wants, which even Britain wants, is action that will eventually lead to a settlement of the Israeli/Palistinian problem.. and that is not on the American agenda at the moment..

Saturday, February 22, 2003

Right then.. it seems the US, with Britain in the wings, is clearing up the diplomatic debris and is about to call time gentlemen..
George will allow the UN one more chance to examine the evidence and see what he sees, one more Resolution while the inspectors set a seven day deadline for the destruction of missiles that should not exist, one more chance for those Iraqi ships to end their endless cruise in the Indian Ocean.. to drop anchor and submit to examination..
But it's all a bit late in the game for anything other than war at this point..
The question is how many fronts..?
One has to shake one's head sometimes, at the well meaning bumbling about of those who live with a vibrant 'social concience' but no sense of how to apply it..
So many who will accuse themselves and their own of wrongdoing, while excusing the transgressions of others with all manner of sincerity, and great expense..
The tenor of the talk in the chats is changing from bemusement, to near universal condemnation for action against Iraq. The cost has been quoted at one trillion dollars by some who've read the extremist press and who take that figure at face value, without understanding the machinations of a war economy..
As Pope said 'a little learning is a dang'rous thing..'
Meanwhile, the inspectors protestations of non-cooperation from the Iraqi's is being buried, even disregarded completely by those who would sooner allow Hussein to continue than face the reality of the situation..
If only the masses understood what leeway they've allowed the Iraqi leader.. what weight they've given his cause, even at home..
One would bet good cash that the organizers of this protest understand the ramifications, and that in itself still has one's head shaking in puzzlement..
To what end..
An auspicious date aproaches.. one which should be noted for, if nothing other, coincidence's sake..
Twelve years ago today, George Senior told Iraq they had til 5 tomorrow afternoon to get out of town, or there'd be a showdown..
If we transposed.. that would be Sunday at 5pm..
A dozen years ago Monday morning, in the early hours, the shooting began..
And they say history isn't cyclical..

Friday, February 21, 2003

Y'have to love this island, and most of the people who live on it.. The wit and knowledge of those about you is astouding at times, and indeed the national identity is in large part based on knowledge, of something or other. Real in depth knowledge that is.. And the wit is inbred.. one is reminded of a taxi driver who when driving across Westminster Bridge mentioned this was where Wordsworth wrote quite a few of his famous lines, and when the recent arrival asked in all innocence, 'what.. right here on this bridge?', was told 'well no, he probably went home to actually write them down..'
Wit.. knowledge.. British.. tradition..
One actually stood, stock still in the doorway of the kitchen this afternoon as Anne Robinson worked her caustic paring down of the weakest British links,while one of the contestants, when asked in which Commonwealth country is the Province of Ontario, answered..after a pregnant pause mind you..' America..?'.
This proves inarguably that the US does not have the monopoly on general ignorance or downright stupidity..
Mind you, it took a lot to top the article in the Washington Post that informed it's readers that 'Scotland, is a country to the north of England..'.
Or Brooke Shields profound statement against the evils of smoking.. "Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life.."
Or Mariah Carey reaching right to the very heart of Third World problems with " Whenever I watch tv and see these poor starving children all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean, I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff.."
None of us care much for those damned flies..
And those Americans in Ottawa.. ruining the bloody colony, they are..
As the anti-war movement plods it's way through yet another workweek, for as we know even those with moral ascendancy do need to eat and pay bills, those plodding in the other direction are working out the final details..
One topic that's been quite popular with the motk, is what's going to happen to Iraq once Hussein's no more than a blurb in the history of what will soon become just another Middle Eastern country again..
Well, they've been busy, those boys in the back room..
Among the other parts of the post-Hussein plan..
Iraqi military forces would be gathered in prisoner-of-war camps.. Ba'ath opposition members now receiving U.S. training at an air base in Hungary serving as part of the guard force. The Iraqi troops would be vetted by U.S. forces, and those who were cleared, beginning with those who "stood down or switched sides" during a U.S. assault, would receive U.S. training to serve in what one official called a "post-stabilization" force... Now there's a time-honoured tradition being maintained.. find those who can't be trusted to have strength of conviction and give them a rifle and the power to use it..
U.S. forces would secure any weapons of mass destruction that were found, including biological and chemical weapons stores. "At an appropriate time," according to an an official, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency might, let's stress that word might, be brought in to examine weaponry, scientists and documentation.
Now, as well as a 'consultative council', an Iraqi commission would be formed to reestablish a judicial system. Yet another commission would write a new constitution, although officials emphasized that they would not expect to "democratize" Iraq along the lines of the U.S. governing system. Instead, they speak of a "representative Iraqi government"..whatever that might be.. considering the differences in religous denominations, tribal affiliations, and general traditional trains of thought..
They say the decision to install U.S. military and civilian administrations for an indeterminate time, stems from lessons learned in Afghanistan. There, power has been diffused among three power bases..U.S. military forces still waging war against the remnants of the Taliban and al Qaeda, a multinational security force of several thousand troops in which the United States doesn't take part, and the interim government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. And they're having a wonderful time.

Thursday, February 20, 2003

Another sign of the times..
When one reads of incidents on Kuala Lumpur where a man will run amok, killing indescriminately, while crowds beyond his reach continue without any apparent interest, one might smile, and from the comfort of one's armchair reflect on how much more civilised is this western culture than theirs.. how much more we have travelled along the ethical path, that we understand better the value of human life.. After all, western man turned out in his millions to protest the killing of innocents in Iraq just this past weekend..
Washington DC police had released a surveillance tape from a gas station, which shows a man being shot to death in front of a number of witnesses.. all of which ignored the dying man as he bled out on the forecourt.. one of which, only a few feet away, continued to pump his kerosene til he had what he wanted, left the body without a glance, paid for his purchase and drove away.
The attendant, in a soundproof booth, didn't know of the shooting til another customer happened to mention it, three minutes after the crime..
Ahh we are so concerned about those in other countries.. about our worldwide image..
We speak the good line of 'love for fellow man'..
ts elliot would have laughed.. for we are the hollow men..
One has to admire the Americans in one sense.. While the motk will complain unceasingly about 'bailing out other countries all over the world', and the morality of what is commonly and mistakenly seen as an 'oil grab'.. thay're possibly keeping their collective mind off what's happening in their own back yard..
Lets leave the economic slowdown, the reluctance of foreign money to come to the US, the 3 trillion dollar budget for fiscal next year, the increasing street violence and the spiral of what may well be a sizeable minority of American youth into a somwhat twisted version of the 60's.. with the emphasis on ennui and nihilism rather than the Age of Aquarius and free love.. Lets leave those concerns for a moment, and look at the Department of Homeland Security..
A frightening organisation that is.. one which will be closely watched by countries the likes of Britain, Australia, Canada, and the states that were the USSR..
Mind you those latter will be smiling, to see how close this American version of the Secret Police coms to that which they endured under the KGB..
The goal of this exercise is laudable.. to make the country a safer place to live..
But the logistics alone of this move are staggering.. Merging agencies as diverse as the Secret Service and the Federal Emergency Management Agency..pushing a venerable old department the likes of the Customs Service which has had protocols of it's own since 1789.. the cost of office stationary alone will be tens of millions..
A concern this is.. what with all these departments now having to fight each other for a slice of the pie..
A note about the American Customs Service here.. Seattle's not the busiest port in the US by a long shot.. but on average 1.5 million containers are offloaded from foreign ships every year there..
As it is now.. there are certainly not enough men..dogs..bodies available to search them all.. absurd to think they could..
This is what the Homeland Security Department should be looking at.. rather than merging these separate agencies..
It should be a small committee.. with powers to direct fresh funds into departments they see has a need for them.. due to overt threat..
But who's being naive here.. after all this is government..
Former Jordanian Prime Minister Taher Masri has perhaps given us the most incisive insight into feelings in the Middle East today, in a statement he made this morning in Cairo.. "..nobody denies (Hussein's) mistakes, nobody denies he loses more than he gains..and nobody denies his is not a democratic regeme, and that atorocities against Iraqi's by their own government are well known. Some of us try to ignore it, because we have a common battle to prevent American invasion, but the faults are there to be found, without much digging.."
Those who look at this situation as a simplistic expansionist move by the west are deluding themselves. Those who see this as nothing more than a grab for oil are utterly off track. Those who fill the already congested atmosphere with self-serving politically-correct rhetoric are nothing more than mountebanks, pushing their own particular brand of snake oil..
This, as was mentioned several months ago, is an ideological war, with geopolitical advantage the prize..
Ahh.. it must be noted that support for Hussein is not what it was back in '91.. he's tarnished his image.. blotted his copybook with the rest of the Islamic world..
But the cause remains..
And for the most part, it's the Islamic fundamentalist activists which have become the dominant voices in this struggle. And their goal, as stated, is for the removal of all western influence from the Middle East, entirely.
Which of course includes the State of Israel..
It's always been a concern, the manner in which the elderly are regarded, indeed treated in Western society..
Those in the flush of youth, or the bloom of middle age, seem to have little thought towards the day they too, will return to the habits of their infancy, and require assistance to perform that which is not only simple, but instinctive, other than to look at that eventuality as a financial issue. Pensions, investments, savings, all accruing weight to defray the massive cost of caring for the aged infirm.
It's refreshing to see the government here, albeit some eight years and a different Party after the fact, looking into the NHS responsibility in the field of geriatrics, and is now shouldering some of the cost, and is preparing to construct facilities suitable for a dignified and less stressful endtimes..

Wednesday, February 19, 2003

The machine rolls on..
Britons have been formally told to leave Iraq immediately, and to postpone all non-essential trips to Kuwait and Israel..
As though, commented one wag along the bar this evening, who in their right mind would be planning a jaunt to the Dead Sea these days..
It's been a while since there's been any mention of that which has been tabled in the chatrooms, and for the simple reason nothing new is being said at all.. people are mouthing the same platitudes pro and con, for some weeks now. Perhaps a sign of the inherent tension underlying everyday life these days, as we teeter on the brink of what many feel will be Armageddon..
Really.. they are concerned..
There's one particular fantasy I will recount.. I'll omit the name of the chatter involved for reasons which will be plain on the 5th of July this year..
The story is, this chatter was visited back in 1993 by a 'spirit' named Anna.. claims to have physical proof of the message she delivered in the form of a tape recording.. y'see this epiphany was via the radio.. This tape by the way is under scrutiny by a team of Amerian scientists somewhere is the eastern United States, our suspicions are the implication is Langley..
However, Anna, and seven others will appear before us all on the 5th July, at 10:45pm EST.. after which we all will be 'changed'..and life as we know it will come to an end..
Ahhh.. Anna also says the Biblical number of the Beast as reported in Revelation, is not quite correct.. It's not '666'.. but rather '60614332233'.. a 'cold evil heart' will appear..
Now somehow a Tulsa preacher by the same of Kenneth Hagen is involved in this.. and around the world today there are those who are 'chosen'.. and who somehow 'know' or 'sense' their mission.... again, one might speculate the number of the 'chosen' might be what.. 144 thousand maybe..?
However.. we shall see on the 6th July ..
That's 3:45am here.. but we'll be online.. waiting for the lights to go out..

Tuesday, February 18, 2003

Once again it's been a day of justification for Tony, as the window for an invasion gets smaller and smaller.. One would think there's litle doubt the US will hold off as long as possible, in the hopes that a smoking gun will materialize, that a mistake will be made by those involved in the transport and concealment of that which would demonstrate the true extent of the arsenal he has at his disposal, but it's the weather y'see.. and when it gets hot there.. it gets very hot indeed..
One might say the same, as far as the political side is concerned, right here at home..
Meanwhile.. and one must apologise in advance for blatant editorialism.. some idiots left Dorset a coupple of weeks ago on a double decker bus no less, and drove all the way to Baghdad to act as human shields for Hussein..
Now one must applaud the sentiment and the conviction that led Joe Letts and his crew to set off on this..adventure.. and one cannot deny that the scenes of deprivation, sickness and disease running rife, malnutrition, are indeed endemic in the quotidien life of the average Iraqi.. but this has been caused by Hussein himself.. not those who would remove him..
When Joe spoke to the government officials who so graciously welcomed him, one wonders what was on the menu of that government dinner..
And was ever the question asked.. why doesn't the government distribute the obvious wealth controlled by the Ba'ath?
One doubts it..
Finally.. some progression in the British Penal System..
By the end of this year, there will be no more under 16's in the prison system.. they'll all be farmed out to 'correctional homes' across the country..
Now what this means is, that a juvenile from London, will be taken to say Aberdeen, and put to work, given a wage, a curfew, and an ankle bracelet that keeps constant tabs on them.. If regulations are broken, then privilages will be removed, just perhaps as any parent might, til the problem's corrected..
This move might provide for some of these kids.. the first chance they've had to what even comes close to a family environment.. with the state acting not as a gaoler, but as a parent..
Not to say there won't be some 'hard-cases' that simply will not see this as a chance, but if only a small percntage respond to this new rehabilatory process, then it's well worth it..
And it also frees up space for those who we know will not come back to the fold..
Win win..

Monday, February 17, 2003

Ahh yes.. the war..
In brief.. it appears the EU is growing concerned over the rift developing between east and west... at least that's what we're told..
France, Germany and Greece..Greece currently holding the Presidency of the EU, which essentially means little more than they get to sit in the big chair at the head of the table, are still warning against rushing into war in the Middle East.. with Britain, Spain, and Italy on the other side, saying they'll stand behind the US..
The largest protests to this war were held oddly enough, in Britain, Spain and Italy this past weekend, with figures now showing more than a million marched in each of Barcelona, London, and Rome..
Meanwhile, the weapons inspectors will continue their impossible search for evidence of weapons of mass destruction..
A thought to ponder.. What might be the odds of that which has already been found, the modified missiles, the warhead casings, the missing documented chemicals, having been planted by the Ba'ath authorities themselves, to fuel a hawk stance from the US and it's allies, and a massive public outcry against 'over-reaction' from the peoples of the west..?
All this, while Hussein's production of proscribed materiel continues elsewhere..
Just a thought..
Was listening with some interest to the boys at the pub last evening, as they dissected the war, the £5 charge that it'll cost to drive into London as of this very morning, the value of the Euro, and possible dates for slurrying their fields..that date by the way is of tremendous import to we in this village..the waft from that fertilizing process curdles milk.. when one of the venerable members of the order of the bar began emitting a warbling from his vest pocket..
Of course it was his mobile. His wife asking he come the half mile back to his house via a three mile detour into town to pick up something domestically indispensible.. Thus, mumbling his apologies, he took his leave, and shortly thereafter our nightly forum dispered, and we all went our separate ways. But before that, two more of the group had similar calls from their respective spouses with almost identical requests, and there was a bit of a rush to catch the first so he could collect for all of them..
That, is a sad sign of our times.
One, that there isn't a place on this earth one can escape to, away from the possibility of a phonecall. Even the sanctity of the pub is breached, and equally a mother can no longer escape the family for a peaceful hour, without enduring the presistent nagging guilt that comes with turning the bloody phone off..
And two, the frightening fact there are 49 million registered mobile phones in use.
This island has some 57 million people on it, which includes the doddering through the swaddled.
And what these phones can do, is surprising to say the least..
One has to wonder where a simple neural implant will be developed, that would allow you instant access to all telecommunicated services..
One has to laugh.. Not at poor wee Britney Spears for winning the NAFTA for Worst New Actress Of The Year.. or for the vehicle she starred in winning Worst Picture Of The Year, along with Most Flatulent Offering To A Teenage Audience award..
One understands the selfsame film and actress et al are up for similar awards at the American counterpart..The Razzies..
No, what is amusing is the renewed attention the star, and the film are recieving, and the inevidable rush that will follow to buy the DVD so that one can add it to one's collection of 'world's worst movies'..
Never to be watched, unless exceedingly intoxicated, but, a conversation piece..
Should look good, right there next to 'Cannibal Ferox' and 'Barry Lindon'..
It appears NATO has resolved it's difficulties regarding deployment of forces in Turkey.. with Germany and Belgium dropping their objections to the move this evening.. France, which had vocally condemned this action, is not represented in NATO military committee meetings.. France dropped out of any involvement with the military decision making process in 1966..
NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson says 'solidarity has prevailed..'
Turkey gets it's AWACs.. it's anti-missile batteries..and it's anti-chemical warfare units after all..
Only seems fair..
I'm sure the French would respond with some Gallic wit.. perhaps 'Merde'..

Sunday, February 16, 2003

Yesterday afternoon Tony had to stand before his party faithfull, and once again make his case for war with Hussein. And indeed, for the first time, the Prime Minister said he wanted a regeme change in Iraq, and that ridding the world of Saddam would be 'an act of humanity'. However, he reluctantly conceeded that for his part, he would allow the weapons inspectors more time, but warned that while every step should be taken to avoid war, if peaceable means proved unsuccessfull, we should not fall to the delusion the problem can be safely ignored..
Tony is these days, between the proverbial rock and the hard place.. he is justifiably throwing all the country's resources behind the American determination to wipe Hussein and his ilk off the face of the planet, but the tide of popular antagonism towards the stance has him totally off balance..
Today, as though guiltily slinking back to their party roles, those Ministers who marched with the mob yesterday are singing the assurance they have in Tony's sincerity.. They're falling short of toeing the line and backing his war plans, but they wholeheartedly believe he believes he's right..
Politics is a harsh game.. One can be sure Tony knows exactly who was marching yesterday, demographically speaking, and he knows his credibility rides with George on this one..
Meanwhile, in spite of American pleas of not turning this into a 'street fight'.. NATO is still split on the issue of sending military support to Turkey. Now, it would seem an odd stance for France, Germany, Belgium to take, denying a fellow NATO member the support they have the right to ask for, in fact it is a very odd stance. It could spell the end of NATO as it exists today, and a leaning towards the EU being the representative of it's member countries in defining issues of defence.. it also would spell an end to the organization that has been the bedrock of the alliance between the US and Europe..
These are disturbing times..
Again.. keep an eye on the Euro.. one could have made a fortune in futures..

Saturday, February 15, 2003

'Make Tea..Not War'.. The numbers have upped over the afternoon.. with the police saying 750 thousand marched through the streets of London today.. the organizers claim closer to two million, but one can forgive them a bit of licence in the exuberance of the moment.. Similar, if less popular demonstrations were held in 60 cities around the world, all bent on stopping the war against Hussein and terrorism..
One must marvel at the basic ignorance of the great unwashed.. as indeed those in the Middle East are likely doing now.. One would think that before a course of action was taken, the history of the area.. of the conflict.. of the peoples involved would be carefully studied and evaluated, but it appears this is a matter of image, of popular sentiment, not of reasoned thought.
May this not come back to haunt those who marched today.. or their children.. One has fears it might well do just that..
In one sense though, Tony got off lightly.. While he addressed the spring conference of the party faithful in Glasgow this morning, he only had his own to deal with due to the lack of substance in Hans Blix's report to the UN.. One must understand that pacifism has been a cornerstone of the Labour movement since it's inception, and Tony has been bucking the basic Party Image with this alliance with George and the US.
That most reviled of Labour leaders, Ramsay Macdonald had been a hero of the pacifist left when he opposed Britains involvement in the First World War..and in 1935 George Lansbury resigned as Labour leader after union boss Ernest Bevin accused him of 'hawking your concience' around Europe in an effort to forstall Hitler and the Nazi machine..
Tony pitched his war efforts this morning, as a continuation of Labour's time homoured policies, but any student of history could have confounded him with simple history.. no heckling.. no walking out by disgruntled delegates.. but this is a result of Tony himself changing the Party..
One might say, as has been said of most if not all Socialist Parties.. that power has changed Labour into a shadow conservative party..
But then they only had to look to Ontario, and analyze what happened with the NDP under Bob Rae, to see what would happen..
Mind you.. there were some who held posters reading 'No blood for oil'.. which shows the depth of understanding even Labour delegates themselves have of this impending conflict..
If one was prone to quoting the Bible, The Gospel of John, Chapter 11, verse 35 would spring immediately to mind..
Half a million of the politically ignorant, but pristinely correct, will march in London today.. that's the number being touted not by the organizers of this farce, but by the authorities which will be tied up watching them, ensuring there's little if any trouble..
Y'know.. back in the 60's there were people who blythely said 'we'll move back to the farm, grow our own food, make our own clothing.. retire from society and it's ills..
It wasn't long before the discovery of early mornings, late nights, constant work and the ever-present crop failure, forced these pseudo-Rousseau's back to their warm apartments, back to their supermarkets, and back to the ubiquitous complaints that these amenities will be the downfall of western civilisation..
These are the people in charge now..
And what they've either forgotten. or have chosen to ignore, is that those in charge in other countries are those who grew up in the 60's as well, but in an entirely different circumstance. The leaders of the eastern countries grew in a 60's that saw genocide, and casual murder, as parts of their everyday existence, and who watched the west with envy, or distain, or outright hatred for the ease with which it's children could voice their dissent.
The naivete of the west will be it's destruction, for here we are today, out in our hundreds of thousands, protesting something most have no knowledge of whatsoever.
And those in the East..?
They're getting a good chuckle out of all of this.

Friday, February 14, 2003

This is truely an amazing scenario we're seeing played out here these days..
Indeed, how one country, originally created by he west itself from the remains of the old Ottoman Empire, could bring so much of the world into opposing camps, is something to be wondred at. It certainly demonstrates the lengths to which countries will go to further their own political agendas, regardless of the consiquences. Germany for example, France for another. The chaos these two countries caused whem they left their African posessions, protectorates, is now back to bother us, with a vengeance.
As was mentioned a day or so ago, France alone with it's granting automony to Algeria, started a movement which has snowballed alarmingly, and the Paris government seems quite happy to sit back and watch the US and Britain clean up their mess, forgetting the riots of the 60's, oblivious to the calous statements of their own Prime Minister and National Hero Charles deGaulle, which set of this entire powderkeg.. and typically, their stance is one of armchair condemnation.
Public misinformation is widely disseminated and acdepted as fact.. half a million are expected to demonstrate against this war in London alone tomorrow.. countless thousands more around the world.
Can it be so difficult to understand what stragegic import the Middle East is, or is it more a fashion statement, this protest..
Today's west is suffering under a massive guilt, for the most part brought about by the failure to see injustice, and reluctance to deal with it when finally percieved. Hundreds of thousands have died because of the Chamberlain Attitude.. seems image is more important than the lessons history can teach us.
This is a society led by vocal minorities, and sheep desperate to shed their ovine characteristics.
If it weren't so desperately sad, it would bring a chuckle.
The boys are the pub have given up on their fingers beside their noses. It's gone beyond that. Now the looks are solemn, for the while faith is still there that the Scots have managed to keep all out who attacked with force, there is a doubt that we will survive the 'diplomacy' which threatens to bring this society down about our ears..
Aluminum tubes for 'gas centrifuging'.. modified missles meant to carry chemical or biological payloads.. the admission that engines for those missiles had been imported.. the lack of cooperation in finding some key Iraqi scientists.. Hans Blix wants more time to deal with the inspections.. and it would appear he'll get it..
The world appears ready to err on the side of non-violence, and that in this time of political actions and reactions, would indeed be the 'safe' course..
One hopes this is not another Chamberlain exercise..

Thursday, February 13, 2003

Ahh it's good to have a chuckle..
We've had a census here in Britain.. the results are just now being released bit by bit.. And it appears that some 390 thousand Brits have chosen 'Jedi' as their faith..
Census officials actually bowed to public pressure, due in large part to a massive internet campaign, and included Jedi on the list of religions..
Support ranged from 2.6% in the southeast of the country.. Tony's consituency of Sedgefield, along with Knowsley, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Wear Valley all came up with less than .2% pledging support for the Force..
Unconfirmed reports suggest the 'Dark Side' might hold sway in those benighted areas....
And Darth Vader's been reported walking the streets of Merthyr Tydfil, late at night..
George Tennet..he's the head of the CIA.. says they have another bin Laden tape which 'almost definately' links the Iraqi government with al Q'aeda.. This tape was aired to the Iraqi's on the Arab satellite station Al Jazeera yesterday, and on it the perrennial villain exhorts the people of Iraq to fight the American Infidel by any and all means at their disposal, including suicide attacks and forcing troops into urban warfare..
Mind you, the Iraqi media hasn't reported the tape, and most Iraqi's don't have satellite dishes..
Ahh well..
Gainsville Missouri, wonderful little town..Ozark County's pride..
It's there a judge has ruled that Richard John Adams, who stands accused of 'tampering', after threatening a judge in an earlier traffic case, can have Jesus Christ represent him. But only as co-counsel, and a licensed lawyer must speak for him..
Richard.. a former member of a militia, and a 'Christian Identity' movement, claims that all lawyers are devils who are bent on undermining the Constitution..
Just goes to show, that even in the ravings of a barking lunatic, there can be a grain of truth..
Odd, how some countries seem to put less emphasis on news from certain parts of the world.. In Canada one hears little about the Belgians..the Belgians are unaware to a large part concerning the daily goings on in Mexico.. and the Mexicans join the rest of us in general ignorance when it comes to China..
But once in a while something crosses one's desk..
It appears that China's ripping along the road of progress, while managing to maintain the Mandarin ambiance of the place. The reports lately have shown a country inundated by cheap labour, as some two million workers migrate from the country to the cities on a seasonal basis. These workers are forming a second working class layer, with little protection from the courts, unions, or police.. these are the ones who work like the devil, and then can be fobbed off when it comes to pay.. who will work with no written contract, and under conditions that any of our workmen would have a right good chuckle over, before suggesting options for the disposal of the offer.
Such is indeed the practice it seems, for workers have taken to threats of suicide to get their employers to pay up.. It works too, but it's happening with such regularity that most Chinese cities have now made it an automatic 14 day stretch in the pokey.. Nothing worse for the image of a construction or for that matter any comany, than to have someone threaten to thunder in for lack of payment..
One mustn't think tho that the Chinese authorities are unaware of their position, precarious as it must be. With two billions of subjects, those who rule do so only at the sufferance of the masses, and he dedication of their troops.
China's quietly throwing itself into the 21st century, with a determination that bespeaks a long thought strategy.. but then that's to be expected in a country who's foundation is long range planning.
Have to keep these human bombs under control though.
A short note.. a total ban on cigarette advertising comes into effect in what.. fifteen hours.. here in Britain..
So far, we've seen 'The Benson and Hedges Snooker Masters' fall to this legislation.. one wonders what Formula One will be doing when it has seeped over to encompass that sport in 2006.. the money is substantial..
But the BMA says even this is not enough..the self-destructive urges should be further legislated away with a ban on smoking in public. Outdoors. Anywhere.
One finds it amazing how fervently the cognoscenti/activists grasped this chimera, and how far the sniggering petrochemical lobby has seen it progress..

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

The State of Jordan has never been much of an ally of the West.. it's been involved since 1946 in running battles with first the Palistinians, then with the new state of Istael, over posession of the West Bak and the Gaza Strip..
A point of explanation here.. the West Bank is the area to the west of the Dead Sea, from the Sea itself roughly to Jerusalem in the middle, Nablus in the north, and Hebron in the south...
When the State of Israel was originally created, by effort of a UN resolution passed in November 1947, it was to have been an Israeli/Palistinian State, but the panArab League led by Egypt at the time, was always against the concept. Terrorist attacks against Israel from the other Arab States were constant, and caused a mass exodus of Palisitians into Jordan itself.
By 1952, King Hussein was ruling in Jordan.. the Egyptian Monarchy had been overthrown and Nasser was in power..Saudi Arabia had just signed a mutual defence pact with the US..Itaq was still ruled by the Hashemite Dynasty.. Iran had just nationalized all oil facilities.. and the sentiment in the area had turned against the west.. those who had had colonial rule or maintained the centuries-old monarchies in the area were a convenient focus for public sentiment..
The area, always volotile, went through a succession of Arabic coalitions, each with the destruction of Israel top of the agenda.. none of which was successful, and Israel remained the sole foothold the west had in the Middle East..
Now this note began with Jordan for a reason..Al Dustur is one of that country's most popular newspapers.."There will be no Eid after this one," the paper says. "What is coming is scary since we are at the threshold of a new stage of hegemony, domination and arrogance."
Referring to purported US plans to "democratise" the Middle East, starting with Iraq, the paper warns that "the tyrants are preparing to change our features and give us new identities".
Egypt's Al-Jumhuriyah has an Eid wish to make: "These blessed days [of Eid al-Adha] require political and diplomatic moves, full of strength and vigilance so that the happiness of Eid will be rewarded with victory over those plotting against Arabism and Islam."
"We would like to present one million roses from the gardens of Arab presidential palaces to Germany and France," Sudan's Al-Ray Al-Am says. "With this gesture we would like to express our appreciation to them."
The paper has a very different view of Washington: "The US is a dreadful military power, a cowboy frightening the whole world." But "the US is scared to death of Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network, scared of Saddam Hussein and of North Korea."
It may well be a difficult jump for the American public to make, what with the collective guilt of those who would leave this part of the world to it's own devices, but the Middle Eastern culture, mindset, ethical yardstick, is not the same as theirs.. The same mistake was made in VietNam..
These people don't like us.. for whatever reasons history might toss at us. The fact remains, they don't like us at all..

Michael Jackson.. pauvre petit enfant..
Fascinating, how it seems there are so many fringe groups for the bewildered in North America..
Michael's got a two hour rebuttle to Martin Basir's 'Life With Michael Jackson', to be aired on Fox on the 20th it seems.. But truth be told, Michael's getting more out of this than sympathy or condemnation for his lifestyle.. He's raking in millions.. this has been a boost he could not have afforded the cost of, had he been paying..
Y'know.. the emotion we all got from Jackson was anger.. a genuine sense of betrayal.. certainly not dispair..
But that's not how 'Right Ways Youth Activities Inc' sees it.. they're so sure their friend Michael's on the brink of suicide, that they're going to hold a vigil.. 200 of them.. on Michael's bloody star outside Graumann's Chinese Theater..
One would think if Jackson is at all sensitive to the needs of children, that he will take a moment from his righteous indignation, and deal with the image these ill-led children have of him..
Now. Not when it's 'right' according to the spin doctors..
The consensus is that Jackson is a Howard Hughs in the making.. and that eventually he will disappear behind the walls of Neverland, to be seen nevermore..
'My word', was the exclamation this morning from a hundred thousand Britons, as they wandered towards Heathrow for their morning flight to Amsterdam, or where ever.. as they shuffled, Times' and Guardians under their arms, fending of armed troops with the shield of briefacse and sword of battered umbrella..
It is a real annoyance, this. Someone apparently told British and American Intelligence of the possibility of terrorist attack, by surface-to-air missile, and by George aren't they taking it to heart..
Mind you, if there was to be a concerted terrorist attack come Saturday, the end of the Eid al Ahda, one would think they'd pull out all the stops.. launching simultanious attacks in Britain.. the US..
What will be interesting, when and if these attacks take place, will be the major powers.. will be to see which of the big players, are left alone..
Which are the terrorists not trying to send a message to..?

Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Another step in the dance this evening.. George, appearing at a dinner in Nashville, was introduced not as 'the President of the United States', or our 'Commander in Chief'.. but as 'our friend and brother in Christ'..
Mind you, taking this in context, George was appearing before the National Religious Broadcasters at their convention, but he's taken a step towards firm entrenchment on the 'faith' aspect of this war..
Al Jazera reports it has a new video from Osama.. calling on all sincere Muslims to do what they can, when they can, wherever they are, to disrupt American society and kill as many of the Infidel as possible. By American, he's including the entire west..
One wonders when there'll be troops on alert, patrolling the streets of Washington..New York.. Chicago.. Detroit..
The boys at the pub were animated this evening, what with the goings on with France, Germany, Russia, NATO, the US, and of course Britain.
German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer's public harrangue against Donald Rumsfelt was dissected word by word, by those who could read Der Spiegel at least..
Colin Powell's comment about Inspector Couseau and how it reflected on the French themselves brought out a quiet chuckle..
The ever widening rift in NATO is being sagely nodded over..
..and Turkey's invocation of NATO Article 4, something never done before, called for many a half pint to disappear before composure was regained along the bar..
NATO seems to be foundering.. as Rumsfelt said following meetings this morning with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, if NATO happens to disagree with beefing up forces in Turkey, too bad. They'll do it anyway.
It is perhaps a time to re-think NATO, and the UN itself. The divisions between the alliance of 'Old Europe and New Russia' may be a sign of what's to come, as the EU becomes a more cohesive and viable force.
It would of course, leave Britain again, the most easterly of the western countries.. but so has it ever been..
Ahh. one more issue that had the fingers beside many a nose.. the US has announced plans to re-shape it's military presence in Europe itself, reducing the compliment of 100 thousand troops now on station on the Continent.. not that the US would pull out entirely, but this does signal a loosening of ties..
This dance is getting complicated here..
France..Russia..Germany..China are all calling for a non-agressive solution to Iraq.. without offering any really effective plans to that end.. The NATO alliance is beginning to crack, with France and the US trading veiled diplomatic insults.. and Germany stolid in it's opposition..
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw today warned.. as we were sure someone would eventually.. that the road to appeasement dragged the world into WW2, saying the UN cannot follow the 'catastrophic precident' set by the League of Nations in the 1930's..
It's all academic at best.. when the US is ready to attack.. they'll be in there and on Hussein like white on rice, as they say..
Knew a businessman once in Canada. This man ran a tool and die company, which did repairs for the refineries on both their boats and their plants machinery, and every two years this man would hop on a plane, fly over to Scotland or England, and interview machinists with a yen to emmigrate. He did this, because having been trained in his craft himself in Britain, he felt the British jouneyman was the best qualified for the work he needed doing.
He stopped in about 1978 or so, because he couldn't find men with those qualifications any more. The British education system had finally crumbled, and subscribed to the idea that you can't tell a 12 year old they're not suited for an academic life and might be better off thinking about a trade. The entire system became geared to keeping the lowest common denominator in school, and 'feeling good about themselves'.. What tripe.
One wonders how good they feel about themselves when, unable to manage higher education, they end up either on the dole or fighting their classmates for the next vacancy at Burger King..
However, and this is almost ironic, Conservative leader Ian Duncan Smith has decided the Tory stance on education for the next election, will be a return to a system which has the facilities to steer those with aptitude, or inclination, towards an education in the trades. Ironic, because it's being announced as a 'new policy'..
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope yet for this island and those who live on it. If we could rediscover pride in workmanship, and build a work ethic, we'd be on the road to rebuilding the Empire..
Well.. we'd be far better off than we are..
More than two million Muslims are taking part in the Hajj this year.. 14 of those were killed this morning in stampedes, but that's not much really in the grand scheme of things..last year 35 died..1998 it was 118.. 97 saw 343 pilgrims die in a fire, 1500 injured.. and in 1990 1426 were crushed to death in an overcrowded pedestrian tunnel..
This pilgrimage, which retraces the steps of Muhammad, is the biggest annual mass movement of people on the planet..every able bodied Muslim must complete the Hajj at least one in their life.. The numbers descending on Mecca every year is proof that as many as possible seem to be taking this seriously..
Tomorrow marks the start of the Eid al Adha, the feast of sacrifice.. when traditionally a camel.. or a sheep is slaughtered..
And thus the reason for the army's presence for the next few weeks, on the streets of British cities..
One expects to see hundreds of armed military personel when one gets off a plane in Korea.. or Somaila.. but it's an oddity to have them wandering about Heathrow and Gatwick, and other notable spots around the City. The threats made by al Q'aeda are being taken seriously, equally as seriously as those made in the past by the IRA.. this is the Islamic Festival of Eid, and when it ends on Saturday it's expected something's going to be in the works..
What is odder yet is the mood in Europe and indeed in the US itself. This is not a popular action, with the collective voice blythely chanting 'Hell No We Won't Go' and practicing their scatalogical skills on George Bush that's not a difficult sentiment to miss. But one begins to wonder why the western mind seems unable to keep issues in their heads for more than a day or so. How many World Trade Centers will need be brought down?
One would think one, was enough.
'..appeasement and weakness bring violence and seriousness of purpose and strength bring respect..' Professor Michael Novak, a leading Americican theologian, used that phrase in an address to the Vatican today, to justify another war in the Middle East. Novak calls the last ten years an 'asymmetric war' that has been ongoing against Hussein.. and under Church Doctrine, maintains this was to be 'just'..
The Dance has become so dreadfully complex these days. When the whole world watches, one must treat any international action as though it would eventually end up in a court of law.. The preparations for justification are immense, but as has been said before, so many political futures ride on this issue..
Another sign of the times here.. Gibson's releasing a new Les Paul design model.. this one can be played traditionally, or through digital technology, can be played to record directly on your comps hard drive.. it's insideous, this progress..
Twenty eight years ago today, Maggie Thatcher was chosen to lead the Tories..
Thirteen years ago today Nelson Mandalla was released from Robin's Island..
One wonders will this day be recalled for anything in particular, if indeed at all..

We're such a dour Calvanist country we are..
As war looms on the horizon, with a split in NATO, the polarization of France and Germany from the United States and those who support it, we plod on in our own fashion towards what's thought to be inevidable..
But the Australians, well that's another story. Prime Minister John Howards concerned with this Middle East nonsense, and says 'Iraq must get fair dinkum about disarmament'. That's wonderful, when your politicians can't be bothered to put on the act. One might expect the next statement from Howard to be to the effect of 'and if they don't, we'll have a wander over and do the Bilderberg swilling gallahs. Bugger..'
Meranwhile, we've been watching the Canadian news about this war.. and there's a definate trend towards non-information actually..
Reuters Canada, while mentioning Newfoundland Power's rate rise..a report on the decline in Telecom spending..the Sens getting a court reprieve.. nothing about Iraq there..
The Globe and Mail is running 16 stories on it's front page.. the second of which does mention the Americans stance on the NATO split.. However that's it for the war..
One would suppose that the proximity of Canada to the US would allow Canadians a full spectrum of coverage from American sources, but where are the homegrown perspectives...? True there are only half as many people spread out over all of Canada than there crammed unto this island, therefor only half the opinions, but the question remains, why is this a non-issue in Canada?
We'll look at this again..

Monday, February 10, 2003

Computer-linked think tanks.. what a novel idea..
There's a group called the Collective Detective available on the net to those willing to pay a small fee.. according to it's foundnders, this group is attracting those who spend time on their comps.. who enjoy gaming the likes of The Sims.. and who enjoy solving puzzles. This particular group has already caused some problems for online gaming companies, the likes of Mindquest, who had been running a scavenger hunt competition called Terraquest. This game was meant to have lasted six months, and had a prize of $25thousand US. The Collective Detective group solved the first part of the puzzle in three days, which caused Mindquest to rethink it's competition, and refund the entry fees collected..
This, says technology seer Howard Rheingold, could led society in an entirely new direction.
Howard, you're lagging..

Sunday, February 09, 2003

Table talk in the pub this evening..
There's general outrage and many a finger up the side of the nose at the latest performance from our National Health trust.. Two private clinics have apparently been botching the innoculations for MMR leaving over a thousand kids at risk.. The looks of those along the bar spoke volumes, the questions centered about which box of matches offered medical folks their credentials..
Three hundred years ago, in an effort to ease overcrowding in British gaols, the began stuffing non-violent villains into ships, mooring them a mile or two off the coast, and forgetting about them until either their sentence was up, or the Royal Navy needed some wasters. Two hundred years ago they gave it up as a waste of time, and the practice petered out. Until six years ago that is, when they towed a bloody great tanker across from the US, built a mammoth superstructure on it, and shoved some 400 prisoners aboard the HMP Weare. Now these are peacefull types serving two years or less, or those from land based clinks who have just a few months to serve. Not folks deemed a danger to the public.
Just as well too, for as unlikely as it sounds, they've had an escape. Police are looking in the area the man came from, thinking he might check in at the house to get his mail.

Television, as it exists in the British Isles, has been a topic of discussion before. But there's an aspect that seems baffling to the North American mind, unless some time is spent over here.
One must understand, British folks like their sports. You'll see a far higher percentage of older folks over here kicking a football about.. or tossing darts at the Veterans Clubs.. or playing snooker in the Workers Associations.. Lawn bowls is a big one here too..
The thing is, they televise these sports during prime time. One recalls the look of horror on a relative who was visiting from Canada, when at two in the afternoon found three of the five available channels devoted to lawn bowls, snooker, and steeplechase racing. It was a matter of some incredulity that people actually tuned in to these telecasts, but be assured, they do.
Case in point, this evening Steven Hendry's taking on Mark Williams in the last ever Benson and Hedges Snooker Masters Tournament. Safe to say there's an audience in the neighbourhood of 3.5 millions, plus one.
There are times in everyone's life when one feels overwhelmed. When the pressures and stress from simple everyday living just get to be too bloody much. When circumstance leaves you having to make decisions which have even your friends shaking their heads in doubt..
For those of us who have these feelings, there is a grain of comfort. At least we're not the President of the United States..
If George had watched the events of 911, and done nothing, he would have been branded a coward. His 'War on Terrorism' is now being branded a smokescreen to hide the true motive, which is acquisition of oil.
George stood up to the challenge and prepared his country for war both at home and abroad, and for doing so has been branded a bully.
George has pledged his country, due in most part to the earlier ideals expressed in it's founding, to the deposition of a dangerous world leader,and by doing so has been branded with the same iron by many of his own people.
So, for those of us who feel the weight of the world, and feel badly done by, recall that at least, we weren't elected to lead a mob who's attitudes change more often than the breeze..nor are we judged on such a scale by those who's education on matters of import come from a smattering of articles in the press, or the latest report on CNN.

Saturday, February 08, 2003

Y'know we look about this world today with a freedom unparalleled. We are able to see, firsthand, things which til this generation have been objects far beyond reach, and we've been places our parents would not have believed possible..and we have this ineffable hubris, this untouchable pride, to think we're in an unique situation. Every generation since the Industrial Revolution has awoke to find itself that much further along the road of technological development, and has felt the same. And despite societies claims to growing enlightenment, a study of recent history and a comparison with today's news would show many of the same problems still present, some to a far greater degree.
It's odd to think that many of those who debate the ethics of this war we're facing, are doing so from the perspective of one who was prepubescent when the last one took place..
The pronouncement of denunciation, or of support for the effort, is from one who can't remember when, and why OPEC was formed. What the political 'feel' of the day was, the subtleties of the coalition, is lost of them. It, to these cognoscenti, is a matter of history. And what is odd, is to be such a position where far from being 'history', it is a vivid memory.
It was 41 years ago today that ten thousand Gendarmes took to the streets of Paris, to face a mob 20 thousand strong, protesting right-wing bombings. Two hundred and fourty people were injured.. half police.. half unionists.. Eight killed, including a 15 year old boy..
The issue?
Charles de Gaulle's decision that Algeria should be self determining, and the disagreement of the OAS.
How quickly we forget..
It could have been a bargain.. an original, albeit badly restored Van Gogh was up for sale at a Tokyo auctionhouse this week.. bids suggested to start at about 80 bucks.. their appraisal was somewhat off, with the Amsterdam Van Gogh museum setting the price at closer to $25USthousand..
That's the Shinwa Art Auction Company bargain hunters.. try to make the sessions before the post comes..
And one has to look at one's fellow man with amazement sometimes. In this day of mounting tension and threats of war, Blasco Gavric has struck a personal blow for fredom..
Blasco lives in Northern Serbia, which is achievement enough for a note in history, but there's more.. Blasco's of the mind he's been done over by the politicians, and while this is certainly nothing unique to him, he's decided to declare the re-established state of Yugoslavia within the 3 hectares of northern waste he happens to own. All Yugoslav expatriots are welcome to citizenship; Blasco's ordered boundary stones from the local mason, and some 30 thousand copies of the old flag are being printed up..
Blasco sees a demand.. He also owns the printing shop..
There are precidents after all.. San Marino.. The Vatican.. Quebec..
The markets are flat.. the wars on simmer.. the economy's floudering.. and bloody hell.. Phil Mitchell's leaving EastEnders for a year..
Now that's news.
Picture if you will.. and entire island.. seven o'clock in the evening.. all lost in the same dream..
The two things British women, and men to a certain degree to be fair, are adamant about are Bingo at least once a week, and the 'shows' between 7 and 8:30.. in which time you'll have sat through EastEnders, Coronation Street, and Emmerdale.. mind you, things have improved substantially from the days of BBC1.. and nothing else..
For those who live in the land of 250 stations and sattelite or cable shunting endless choices, it's a wonder how so many can get by for so long with so few..
Take BBC2 for Friday o'clock.. tea's finished.. dishes washed and away.. time to settle down with a cuppa and tune in Politics Scotland.. to be followed half an hour later by Clarissa and the Countryman..where the host means Lord and Lady Whatstherename and try their hand at shrimping.. wonderful..
At 8 Bill Odie Goes Wild for half an hour, making a boat trip out to an abandoned monastary in the Atlantic.. with the excitement of that only to be eclipsed at half the hour by The Winter Flying Gardener.. really..
EastEnders you say...
One of the storylines had Phil Mitchell being shot.. a la JR.. the denoument had an audience of 20 million and caused the third largest power surge on record...
Even the Flying Winter Gardener tuned in..

Friday, February 07, 2003

As for the war..
This whole play should be underscored by something..solemn..Handel maybe..
The word from the American Defence Secretary is that this war will be short and sweet..
Well those aren't exactly Rumsfeld's words, but that's the gist of it.
What is remarkable, is that both the US and the British have gone to great lengths to make sure someone hears them saying 'this war is not a can be stopped..' while winding up the clockworks of the greatest set of soldiers ever collected by one head of state.. The latest American deployments involve 23 thousand of the 101st Airborn and a 5th aircraft carrier..that would be the USS Kittyhawk..
A full third of all British combat aircraft are now in or on their way to the Gulf.. Those Tornado GR4's can put a bomb on you're dinner plate.
There must be a 'drastic' change in attitude in Baghdad, says Mohamed el Baradei, the leader of the UN's nuclear watchdog, as the inspectors head back to pick up where they left off..
We won't hold our breath..
It was the end of 80 years of British, well English football history today, as the twin white towers of Wembley were bulldozed. Not Wimbleton mind you, but Wembley Stadium, not only remown actually for it's football moments, but for some of the best rock concerts ever produced. One recalls the Stones, The Dead, the Who, and a host of others who brought their talents to that place...
We're told they're keeping the tops of the towers, to put on a museaum in the new stadium.. and many of us will stand, while the crowd mills around us, and recall different times, while Euro 2012 gets underway..
Now this story means little in the whole scheme of things, but attend, for it shows an attitude.. One of the most prolific burglars in this country has been packed off to jail again.. Martin Maloney stole some £180thousand from pensioners over the past 18 months or so, while posing as a copper. Martin entered a guilty plea to two counts of burglary in Harrow Crown Court this afternoon, and asked for another 587 cases to be taken into consideration.
Considered they were. Martin's now serving a 7 year sentence.
We are amazed.
Scotland..ever the most volotile of the three nations which share this island.. headlines 'Which Part of the War On Terrorism Don't You Understand?' this morning.. as, with a wry smile at the performance of the Prime Minister last night, we metaphorically roll up the sleeves, and take an extra hitch around the kilt, and prepare to march off to odd countries to defend the honour of the Crown..
Now you might think that was meant with irony, but I assure you one does not intend that impression at all. It's quite serious, for when it comes down to the bottom line, the Scot is as protective of the Crown as is any south of the border. It's the English we enjoy baiting, and that only in deference to tradition.. This is a fiercely patriotic country, when that emotion is finally stirred.
Case in point, while Scotland has always felt a close kinship with Ulstermen, and the Irish in general, when the news was announced that some half dozen key members of the UDA had quit their homes in favour of a quick midnight ferry to Stranraer, the warning was made plain on the front page of the Sun with 'Keep Your Bloody Terror Out Of Here' taking up most of the front page.
The preferred status the Irish enjoy remains, but they've been told...

Thursday, February 06, 2003

One more blow against the government's war effort tonight, when it was shown a report, one referred to by Colin Powell during his presentation to the Security Council yesterday, was in large part plagerized from an academic report, with some strategic editing. The report was the worlk of the governments Intelligence Services.. and was so well prepared the original grammatical errors remained uncorrected.
Good work our side..
A rough ride for Tony tonight.
This is one of the fundimental differences between the US and north American society.. for here a Prime Minister can be confronted by a group of 'constituents' on national television.. where he must face an intimate confrontation with those who have no training in foreign policy or economics.. who have been educated and moulded by the media.. who's intelligence sources are no better than yours..
It's not a popular war here... We'll go if we must.. but it won't be with the public lining the streets, brass bands blowing away..
And the consensus is, that Tony did not convince the audience of the necessity of war, that his performance was less than persuasive.
Comments the likes of 'weak arguments' and 'muddying the waters'.. expectations of some evidence of a material breach of Resolution 1441 dashed.. a rather pointless but entertaining exchange between Jeremy Paxton and Tony on the semantic exactitude of the claim the inspectors had been 'expelled' from Iraq.. all have contributed to a picture we'd rather not see. That of an over-eager Tony, tying our traces beside George... for a page in history.
This will not help the markets tomorrow..
Financial analysts in the City were left scratching their heads this afternoon, as the Bank of England defied predictions and dropped the Prime by a quarter. This in reaction to somewhat optimistic previous estimates of next years growth..a spiral in house prices..a sluggish bear market..and the imminence of war..
At 3.75%.. the Prime's not been this low since 1955.. keep an eye on gold..
On the war front.. we have Tony spending the day with Hans Blix.. the chief UN weapons inspector.. with both emerging with smiles, both saying Iraq's hiding something..even if we're not sure what it is..both saying a second UN Resolution should do the trick..
So.. roll on the UN..
But whether the US is willing to allow time to creep on towards Springtime for Hussein while the UN dithers aboiut with international niceties is moot. One incident of agression.. terrorism.. would be enough to spark off the whole shooting match..
It gets dry and dusty in the spring.. then winds pick up.. then it's hot..
American troops will not find it comfortable to wear all the bio-chemical protection gear if it's hot..
If this is all delayed until more clement weather appears.. the timing will all have been thrown off.. World opinion, when left to stew.. tends to reach a definative if not wise decision on an issue.. then it's left to die..
And Tony.. bless the man.. was not even phased when asked this afternoon how it felt to me the MP for Texas, North.

Just a few random pieces of the puzzle here..
The World Court has ordered the US to temorarily stay the executions of three Mexican nationals set to walk the green mile. The World Court is the Judiciary arm of the UN..and actually has no legal status whatsoever.. the rulings of it's 15 member panel have been disregarded before by the US.. and by others for that matter.. The issue is apparently some doubt the condemned were informed of the efforts the Mexican government would make on their behalf
It's a crucial time for such an issue to cloud the 'ethical' shadow the US casts..
For those wondering.. the three comitted unrelated crimes.. one shot a taxi driver in El Paso.. another bludgeoned his wife and two youngest children to death with a hammer..and the third killed a man and his wife which committing burglery..
Odds are, when their appeals run out..these and the other 51 Mexican nationals on death row, will die for their crimes.
Fringe Parties are making their opinions on the war clearer today.. The Liberal Democrats..LibDems..have taken a firm stand in the middle..saying something must be done, but not yet. Or words to that effect.. More fuel for pub talk there..
And a trend in Pakistan.. a country that itself is a concern..
Seems a return to fundimentalism.. with four men claiming sanctuary under 'karo kari'.. a defence for the killing of someone to preserve the family honour.. Four separate incidents.. that's the Balochistan province.. and, in Himachal Pradesh a woman poisoned her twins before setting herself alight. She left a note saying the in-laws were insufferable..
Rodon Sinmun..North Korea's official Party Newspaper.. is reporting that any movement my the US towards 'surprise' attacks on their nuclear facilities would lead to 'total war'.. The commentary actually read "..when the US makes a surprise attack on our peaceful nuclear facilities it will spark off total war..".
One wonders at the use of such blatant journalistic license..
Yesterday Leicester.. today Glasgow.. tomorrow..ahh.. the mind reels..
Reports this morning tell of seven arrests in four cities..London, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh.. all foreign nationals and their girlfriends.. and their weapons of mass distruction...
Now it may appear a flip response to a real threat, but terrorists have inspired a wry smile for many on this island for years. It's a wonder that they believe themselves to be forwarding their cause.
But there it is..
Colins' speech yesterday did little to move the French or Germans any further towards agreement with a move against Hussein.. the dissenters still want more time to plod on, more inspections, more churning of the markets..
But Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon's jumping on the wagon though.. Britains contribution to this effort will be some 40 thousand men and 90 aircraft.. not quite the Widows Mite..
A move to ponder.. the dollar rallied slightly had a dip..a bit of profit taking there..
But what's going to be the reaction to bristling little North Korea.. threats of pre-emtive action against American troops if the US presence is increased..
Now there is something fundimental about fighting a war on two fronts..
Ahh yes.. avoid it..

Wednesday, February 05, 2003

Ahh.. if one can't get a chuckle from one's own elected officials..
'A veneer of superficial cooperation..' was how Jack Straw described Iraq's compliance with the inspection teams..
One supposes tautology's forgivable, allowing the passion of the moment..
As Jack spoke, police in Leicester had two men in Crown Court facing charges of plotting to supply terrosists with funding and recuitment of terrorists in aid of a Holy War directed by..Osama bin Laden.
Leicester.. it makes one shake one's head..
That the 'enemies of Islam' should be tracked to such a place has most of us smiling behind our hands tell the truth. Not that the threat of a bomb going off is a stranger to the motk on this island, but Leicester..really..
That's akin to a Southwestern Ontarian discovering a terrorist cell in Chatham..
'Ahh well.. Colin put on a show now, but where was the compelling evidence.. those tapes were quite something though..' Now this, out of the mouth of a Scottish farmer who lives down the road, as he pondered the state of the world over a pint of Tennants. The motk here seems prepared, almost innured to the idea of war in the Middle East. It's a given we'll have men fighting over there. Britains always had vested interest in Palestine, and that area in general.
But as for the justification presented for unilateral action by the States and of course, Britain.. well that calls for the old finger-up-the-side-of-the-nose..
Interesting question.. ethically speaking of course.. came from the former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.. Evans now heads the International Crisis Group.. He said the wrong question was being asked here. Assuming it's a given Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, is it actually such a threat that it must be overthrown by force?
The chats seem to relect this sentiment, even though their mood hasn't been defined for them quite as eloquently as Evans' question was. People are questioning the necessity of this action, having on the whole passed through the stage of wondering if it was 'right'.
So many political carreers rest on this pivot..
One somewhat disturbing piece of the puzzle fell today, with the BBC pointing out the Iraqi Government and al Q'aeda would be 'unlikely bedfellows'.. this in a preamble to Colin Powell's UN address..
It was correctly pointed out that bin Laden would likely think Hussein something of a secular fascist.. that al Q'aeda's goal is an Islamic Caliphate to rule over a Muslim world, and Hussein's is venal greed and self-promotion..
But this in itself makes the connection viable. For Hussein is training terrorists.. cells of Palitinian and Iraqi terrorists have been documented..
For a price, he would even tolerate bin Laden and his zealots. And they would tolerate him, thinking that he will fall with the other false leaders when all is good with the world again.
It's the same old story the world over, when one mentions a move, one's friends come out of the woodwork, almost solicitous for lack of a better word.
Half the world has been colonized by people from this island, and while being born here makes it a simple matter to chuckle all over the globe, it's assumed that as one reaches the age to settle, one comes home. And that's all well and good, but it's a mystery to those who stay, why some decide to keep their hand in play and continue to globe trot.
Now it's true we are casting our nets out, so to speak, to see what if any opportunities exist back in North America (and if any reading know of something worthwhile.. email to ..) but should nothing turn up.. this hack will continue to pound out and voice for the Beeb for some while to come, but it's the thought of movement among the group that has some of my neighbours scratching their heads.. wondering where it was we slipped away..
It's a sense of 'home' one supposes..
Equally, they might be concerned they'll not get their hedge trimmers back.. or thinking they've managed to get an impact drill for free.. that brings out the sense of concern from those about..
Colin Powell's delivering his address to the Security Council today.. the world waits with 'bated breath to hear the covertly recorded conversations.. although I'll like so many others, be relying on an interpreter.. and to see the surveillance photo's.. and to hear the arguments that form such an integral part of the symphony of agression.. The dollar has hit a four year low.. yet the markets are steady.. gold's up the roof.. but that was spoken about some time ago..
It's a matter of trade deficit, this war.. the US must willingly throw away billions of dollars.. to create an internal market that will compensate for the lack of new foreign money.. But this situation with the Euro's getting out of hand. The EU's currency is now less than ten cents American from it's starting value of $1.17US, and the economies of the countries using this specie does not justify it's level.
Consider. The American dollar is falling away.. but the US economy grew by 1.0% during the third quarter last year.. The Euro's up like a rocket.. and the German figures for the same period added up to a 0.2% growth.. 0.3% for France and Italy..
One doesn't have to extrapolate too far..

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

A shambles of a day for Tony.
The old chestnut he'd hoped to do away with, the reform of the House of Lords, has been completely derailed by a refusal by the Commons to reach any agreement whatsoever on what forms those reforms should take. All options, running the gamut from completely elected to completely appointed Lords, were turned away with contumely, and that puts the issue out of the reach of this Parliament.
And then the meeting with Jaques Chirac today, left Tony wafting in the French breeze, while Chirac managed to convey an honest concern over the Iraq issue. It was one-upmanship, and Tony came up short.
For the rest of us, the scene continues to unfold as out leaders play their game. The markets reflected the general lack of interest, as punters await the next round of dips to buy into the war machine.
The next steps involve the report from Colin Powell tomorrow to the Security Council, then the Inspectors report on the 14th..
The two finalists for the design of the new World Trade Center were announced today. Not that the final structures will look much like the projected designs, but the basic idea seems to be a constructed statement. Both designs would leave New York with the tallest buildings in the world again, and both incorporate some sense of memorial to that which stood before September 11th..
Both have been criticised by the holder of the lease on the 16 acre site, for lack of office space.
It is so difficult to strike the ballance between profit, and patriotism.

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