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

Sunday, September 28, 2003

It's that time of year again..
Charlie Kennedy and the LibDems have just finished a week of hail fellow well met and vitriolic commentary on the doings of the government and the Official Opposition.. not much new there.. Charlie's still leading that third string group..
But tomorrow, begins the Labour Annual Conference. In the run up, Tony's defended the war on Iraq.. saying it was right to invade and he has nothing to apologise for.. adding that his domestic policies are on track thanks very much, and effectively bugger the unions who say they're not.
Now this is not a traditional Labour stance.. in fact it's about as diametrically opposed to tradition as it can possibly be.. There are some who have now dubbed Tony's government as 'almost the working-man's Conservative Party'.. and they're not far off the mark.
Mind you, one topic Tony's managed to scrape past is Iraq, for while the war will be brought up, the issue will not be one brought to ballot..
Lucky Tony.
While Pierre Trudeau, long may he rot, is credited with the quote 'polls are for dogs'.. Tony's performance in the latest across the island show him in an exceeding bad position.. and with what's facing him on the home front, his political future is in sincere doubt.. for the polls show him slipping, slipping away.
It yet remains to be seen how Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader for those not intimate with UK politics, will fare at his conference, but he'll be doing his utmost no doubt, to keep Charlie and his LibDems firmly in the background, while aiming for if not the PM's position, at least a firmer hold on the role of his party as the Opposition..
Good luck Iain..
This country's in the grip of political confusion, for the simple reason there doesn't seem to be a viable choice for leadership. Those in the States will understand perfectly.
Asked if there was anything he would have done differently in relation to Iraq, Mr Blair replied.. "Nothing. I would have done exactly the same. We did the right thing in removing Saddam Hussein. The world is a safer place without him. And I don't think we have anything to apologise for as a country. Our soldiers did a magnificent job."
Tony insists the world knew "perfectly well" Saddam had.. has weapons and programmes...and that British troops would stay in Iraq "until we get the job done".. mind you he didn't think it would be as long as five years...
Realistically, it could be six, or seven, or more..
Ahh.. but where politics fade into insignificance down at the pub, is legislation pending that will ban smoking in all public places.. even in your car..
This has the populace agitated.. for especially in this small rebellious country, this Scotland, the average man loathes enforced morality..
The SNP is smiling..

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Ahh.. to what lengths will we go..
To allow freedom to any, means it must be allowed to those we fear.. and thus we all must see our freedoms diminish, so the asocial can be constrained, without appearing discriminated against..
There is an investigation ongoing in Britain.. Operation Ore.. It's designed to expose and prosecute those involved in internet paedophilia.. On the surface, any effort to protect children is to be applauded, as indeed this police action is designed to do. And what's more, there have been some convictions, among the hundreds of charges laid, and literally thousands of names investigated.
But among some of those investigated, are those who have had nothing to do with paedophilia whatsoever. Many of those who's names appeared on a list provided by the United States, date back to 1997, when credit card fraud on the net was a far easier proposition.. It's a slow process eliminating the wheat from the chaff, but it grinds on in defence of our children. Thus, it must be endured.
But here we have an ISP, Microsoft, announcing that three weeks from today, there will be no chat facilities provided by them. Quite a move, in that while Microsoft chat has never been a personal favourite, it has drawn some million faithful hits per month from this island alone.. Microsoft has always been one of the more heavily moderated chats as well, with rules of conduct and language strictly enforced.. much the same with AOL..
Yet how quickly Microsoft can throw away this aspect of the purpose of the net, due to their inability to successfully 'control' it.
One has said for years there should be age restrictions placed on those in chat.. for the most part, those rooms which allow complete unmonitored chat have a code of conduct of their own.. those serious on discussion do not suffer fools, or infants gladly.. and those bent on sexual cyberplay will soon find themselves ignored..
One would have to think, that rather than a throwing of hands in the air, and knee-jerking towards the cancellation of a service, anyone really concerned with the future of the net, and those who use it, would instead direct their attention towards education of the youth of this, or any country, on the proper use of chat..
It's a shame, but in this age of faster than light technological advances, children must learn when they can be 'innocent', and when they must not.. yet it would seem we've come to the point wherein 'Cynicism 101' should be taught, along with maths and spelling..
Ahh.. and while on the topic of cynicism..
It's the winding down of the Hutton Inquiry.. there have been revelations, more revelations, resignations, and recriminations, but while we've all been better entertained than we could normally have expected by our news of late, we've not had much in the way of hard answers to any of the questions. Lord Hutton will publish his decisions, his report, in about a months time.
As to what comfort it might bring to the family of Dr. Kelly, or his colleagues, or the BBC, or Downing Street, or the MoD, or the British motk..
We'll see, for while the Inquiry might end today, the machinations set in place by the events leading to the very cause of it all have yet to finish running their courses..

Monday, September 22, 2003

Ahh the games, the intrigue, the everlasting conflict between the government and the BBC, at best hidden by a thin veneer of civility, or at least such has been customary. And the lengths both would go to, to discredit the other, is frankly nothing short of amazing for the locals along the bar. Sad shakes of the head, and a somewhat embarassed avoidance of the revelations from the Hutton Inquiry..
Interesting reading.. this diary for Alastair Campbell, former chief of spin for Tony, and according to some, the power behind the throne so to speak..
David Kelly was used. by both the BBC and our esteemed government, as a pawn in the battle for discreditation..
To quote Alastair's diary.. "it would fuck" BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan if Dr Kelly was the source, because he was not "a spy or full-time MoD official".
A sacrificial offering, so to speak, was Dr. Kelly.
While one is not, these days, as firm a believer in 'justice', one can only hope the right heads will roll.
'It's a matter of trust'.
Meanwhile.. Jacques and George seem to have reached some sort of agreement on what might be done with Iraq.. at least France will not veto an American backed Security Council resolution on the future of that country..
Yet still there, the war of attrition continues. Seems American troops just can't win these days. The job's never as simple as it was initially expected to be, and not only do they have to deal with the hostility of the Iraqi's who want occupying forces gone, there is also the vocal faction at home decrying what they're laying their lives on the line for.
Rock and a hard place ain't in it..
Ahh.. and economically.. while the G7 called for market forces to set exchange rates, the weak American dollar prompted a 109 point drop in the Dow.. There are concerns, ostensibly, that the state of the buck will throw off foreign invesment in the States.. something George was originally bent on resolving before September 11th two years ago..
However, with France's sudden agreement with the US on UN involvement, coupled with yesterday's news the Iraqi government was selling off state owned businesses.. excepting oil of course.. and was about to allow a foreign banking presence in the country, one might think that a drop of a hundred, is really nothing to be too concerned with..
It was either liberate Iraq.. or legalize marijuana..
All the governments vying for a place in the industrial regeneration of a country with money to burn, desperately need this business.. from an entirely fresh market..
Recall what was mentioned some months ago, when the rise in the value of the Euro was mentioned as cause for alarm...
"Currency wobblies have hit global markets hard, as a falling dollar and a rising yen and euro tend to impact crucial export activity," said Larry Wachtel at Prudential Securities...
Bechtel might be something to look into, if you had some spare cash lying around..

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Not been a particularly good weekend for Tony..
Snubbed by Gerhard and Jacques at a meeting designed to encourage UN support in the stabalization if Iraq.. still the lingering indigestion of Brent East..
But then it's not been good for many of the European leaders either..
Germany's as confused politically as ever, and Gerhard's Social Democrats suffered a defeat equally as humiliating as Labour, on a far grander scale in Bavaria.. the Bavarians apparently of the mind the conservative Christian Social Union can't do a worse job.. and have put them in power... For Gerhard, this follows heavy losses in Hesse and Lower Saxony back in February.. One wonders what directions Germany and France will take, when their economies, already unstable, begin to reflect the implications of all these new members into the EU, the injection of rampantly captalistic eastern Europeans, all wanting a piece of the pie..
Interesting points of note here..
China's refusing to float the value of the Yuan.. at least not yet.. There have been complaints for decades China's currency's vastly undervalued.. and while the Bank of China agrees, it's not yet ready to take the economic upheaval that would follow, with it's work worth what the market would pay anywhere else.. The G7's made oblique references.. China's smiling..
The war of attrition continues in Iraq.. with US troops taking most of the casualties.. only to be expected for as long as there is a western presence, armed, walking the streets of an eastern town or city.
What is interesting, is the speed with which the Iraqi council, has agreed to sell off all of the formerly state-owned industries.. other than those involved with the oil sector.. This opens the door for investors, wanting a share of the multi-billion dollar reconstruction process..
It'll be a gold rush.. watch the price of firms involved in construction.. telecommunications.. food importation and processing.. and banking..
Under new bank rules, six foreign banks will be allowed "fast-track" entry into the country and will be permitted full ownership of the local banks within five years...
The World Bank says it should have a better idea of Iraq's long-term financial needs by the end of this week..
Perhaps this approach will have more success. Open wallets create more smiles than armed occupational forces, and, as in any part of the world, create far more allies..
Welcome to the west..

Friday, September 19, 2003

A somewhat disturbing wakeup call for Tony yesterday..
There is a constituency, Brent East, which has for generations been staunchly Labour.. a guarranteed seat for what had traditionally been the 'working man's party'..
Even Maggie Thatcher, who during her time in office managed to sweep seats away from the opposition with ease, failed to take Brent East..
Labour lost Brent East yesterday, in a byelection necessitated by the death of the former Labour MP.. and not only did they lose, they watched 29% of their most faithful supporters, turn instead to the Liberal Democrats..
A sign to Tony, that the country is not happy. And while perhaps not ready to move completely to the other side of the coin and vote Tory, they obviously are looking for something other than that which Labour has become.
The LibDems are as close as you can get.
For those who have never heard the name before, the leader of the Liberal Democrats in Charles Kennedy. It's a name one might become more familliar with in a year or so..
'It's a matter of trust'.
Ahh.. and poor Jacques.. there are problems for France looming..
Recall the Ontario Provincial Government of Bob Rae.. the first NDP government in the province's history was a knee-jerk reaction to the mammother 28 year run of the Conservatives, ending with Bill Davis..
The NDP came to power, and began a policy of uncontrolled social spending, coupled with the detemination not to raise taxes. Two years they spent and spent.. while the triple-A credit rating Ontario had always enjoyed slipped.. and the provincial deficit soared..
France is in this position now.
The problem is this. One of the foundations of membership in the EU, and tied to it, the use of the single currency, is the stipulation the various governments do not allow their deficit to exceed 3% of the GNP.. France's deficit is now over 4%, and it would seem it will still climb before coming down.
What a predicament.. is France now going to be put on probationary status within the hegemony it has dedicated itself to forming? And what does this bode for the future of the Euro, when France's economy cannot itself support it's use..

Thursday, September 18, 2003

In the interest of keeping the public informed..
There were 2,200 Americans injured by toilets during the single year 1996..
That equals the shark attacks on humans since such records first appear, back in 1580.
Now there's food for thought.
Ahh.. the sad nods of those along the pub rail says volumes.. the 'sad nod' being the step beyond the 'finger alongside the nose and the knowing look'..
It was a terrible performance from George, when questioned about Saddam's alleged connection with al Q'aeda and the bombings of 911 two years ago..
With the look of a rabbit caught in the sudden glare of headlights, he lost composure, appeared flustered, babbled for a moment about 'the guy who ordered the assassination of an American diplomat.. that, by the way a reference to a Jordanian Islamic zealot, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who's the leader of 'Ansar al-Islam', a terrorist group in Northern Iraq..
George ended the line of questioning with a defensively scornful assertion that of course, it was obvious Saddam had ties to terrorism..
Not his best performance.. Mind you he had a flight booked to get away from Washington.. and what Isabel might do to his shrubberies might have been on his mind..
And of course Tony's part in all of this is still being examined, if by proxy through the cross-examination of more of his MoD people at the Hutton Inquiry.. As this investigation progresses it is becoming apparent to even the dimmest intellect in this country, that what the government does, is often without the knowledge of the government..
It's a feeding frenzy of denouement, and reads better than Ian Fleming..
But, here is the point. What this government has done, what the American government has done, is nothing that any other has either done in the past, or has certainly had the power to do in the past. It's not the machinations of governments that have suddenly changed, become devious and twisted, for so have they always been..
It is we who have changed. We ourselves who now, privy to more and more of the pieces of the puzzle, demand public involvement in areas the public, in reality, should not even be concerned with.
We elect a government to represent us, investing in that government the power to act internationally on our behalf, because we know the common man is not equipped to deal with matters of diplomacy, foreign policy, international economics..
The common man is far too busy dealing with daily life itself, and that is as it should be..
There are many these days who have far too much time on their hands.. and while historically, the 'silent majority' has always been a ponderous presence politically, it has been silent.. Governments could go about their business, sordid or laudable, without having to really concern themselves with what the public might think until the next election approached...
Now, the masses who sit at home, who hithertofore have been stuck in a screen with their favourite soap surrogates, have this medium at their disposal.. and many of them express opinions, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
It's a development that no government is prepared for.. and truth be told it's going to be a struggle to make sense out of the noise coming from what might now be called the 'sedentary' majority..
For while they still may occupy couch space.. they now can communicate.
And they are demanding and consuming information.. faster than they used to go through a bag of Frito's..
A good thing, this superfluity of information? This new 'open administration' style of government people are looking for?
One must be carefull for what one wishes..

Monday, September 15, 2003

Ahh.. what a new day Tony ushered in, with this alignment with the political goals of the West, and the alienation of those of the New World Order emerging in Europe..
Not only has the international situation solidified, not entirely to Tony's benefit, but the national picture is one which must be seen with some alarm in No.10.
The Hutton Inquiry has continued today, with a witness appearing in public, who's very identity would have been a closely guarded secret two years ago. Sir Richard Dearlove is the head of MI6, and the gist of his testimony was that the intelligence suggesting Iraq was capable of launching weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes was reliable...
He also said it was a 'case-scenario'.. and had been given far too much prominence.
This is turning into two 'trials', this Inquiry...
Both Downing Street, and the BBC, have much to answer for..
Internationally.. the dance continues.. with the focus off the economies of the world, and squarely on the Middle East.. economic policies have been somewhat lost in the dust..
Significant is the collapse of the World Trade Talks.. the main issue being the subsidies the wealthy countries provide their farmers..
Significant, because it puts a perspective on the promises of world economic growth, specifically on those who make such promises. The EU is no more going to cut it's agricultural subsidies for the benefit of say Nigeria, than it would celebrate Sweden's weekend vote.
Just not to mutual benefit.. Integral word being mutual.

Friday, September 12, 2003

There are problems in this country in particular, when presented with the necessity of taking on the powers that be...
The police.. the courts.. the media.. the division among one's own colleagues as to one's 'guilt' or 'innocence'.. the 'yellowing' that attaches itself regardless of the outcome of such a rigorous rotorooting of one's professional and personal history..
We've all done something, at sometime, we wish we'd never done.
The cost of September 11th 2001 is still being counted, for it indeed set in motion a series of events which those meagre terrorists could never have imagined in their wildest dreams.
The Homeland Security Act.
The Whitehall Witch Hunt.
The loss of confidence in, and credibility of, the two most powerful Western nations..
And the spreading of an already thin economy over half the globe, in payments for the maintenance of a military presence to combat what is essentially a religious movement. Granted, an extremist religious movement, but when it comes to the wanton killing of innocents, those who have habitually followed the doctrine of Manifest Destiny find it exceedingly difficult to back away without seeming to be abandoning the foundation upon which their own country(ies) are built.
The Chinese would say, losing face.
Interesting to note, the Chinese have spent billions of £'s over the past few days, on the latest in military hardware..
Good to have the money coming in, with most going to the US suppliers, and the lions share of the rest to the UK..
Also of note, the assassination of Sweden's Anna Lindh. The country votes on entry into the common currency Sunday.. It's a very important movement towards the consolidation of Jaques 'United States of Europe'..
Anna Lindh was considered to be one of those who were the future of Swedish politics, and an outspoken advocate of adopting the Euro..
What is interesting now, is even the Swedes, who have almost vehemently prided themselves on their open society, have reacted with comments the likes of 'it's naive in this day to be as prominent as Anna was, and walk about a department store without a bodyguard'..
For interests sake, those who can be bothered, there are startling comparisons to be made reading either Constantinian Roman historic accounts, or Gibbons..
A final note.
This debacle in Anglo/American Intelligence has had trmendous impact on the lives of many who have worked, always anonymous, in the back rooms.. There has been a tradition, set from the times even as far back as the Napoleonic Wars, that has been tossed off with contumely by this government, or with this government's assent through it's servants.
Families have been separated, allegations made, reputations smeared by inference...
Some, others less publicized than Dr.Kelly, have taken their lives rather than face the prospect of having to prove innocence in a system which normally would have to prove guilt.
Reprehensible, is too light a word.
A reckoning will have to be reached...
'It's a matter of trust'.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Two years ago today, at this hour, the world was progressing in it's natural order, as it had become over the past decade or so .. In North America people read, and watched the problems worldwide develop as indeed they had since the advent of saturation news coverage..
Suicide bombings in Israel.. Israeli reprisals on the West Bank.. threats of global terrorism from some radical Islamic group or another.. nothing new..
Problems, issues, that while certainly concerns, were not something that touched one's personal life. Or your neighbours.
People, at this hour, were still rising, making their coffees, standing in showers, sitting on commuter trains or subways as they made their way towards the same desk they'd sat at yesterday, and the day before..
Here, we had just begun discussions, oddly enough, which would have direct bearing on what would happen in the immediate months ahead, and which indeed are still ongoing today.. It was just about the time someone mentioned a lunch break might be in order, at 1:25 in fact.. that we began recieving frenzied reports.. we thought it a joke to begin with.. that someone had flown a highjacked plane into the North Tower of the WTC in New York..
We all knew people in that building..
Then, as more and more information flooded us.. at 2:03 we began hearing of a second aircraft, this time flying into the South Tower.. then 37 minutes later a third, crashing into the Pentagon..
The Intelligence community reacted as though an Al Hussein missile had been the driving force behind an enema.. Think-tanks were convened.. scenario's presented on the run.. the usual suspects dragged in for whatever information might be scraped..
As this quiet panic directed most, as though by instinct, through the machinations, we watched, an hour after the first 767 slammed into the South Tower, the entire structure collapse. A moment later, while we still stood shocked by the first spectacle, the North Tower followed.
It is vivid in memory, the sight of the building, the people leaping from windows, the utter amazement that such a thing could be contemplated, let alone planned and carried out..
The shocks of that collapse reverberate even unto today..
The British ISC released it's report on the government's handling of intelligence today..
One of the ripples of 911, still damaging two years after the fact..

Monday, September 08, 2003

Parliament has begun it's fresh session, with the standard rhetoric from the standard actors..
However for Tony, these next few weeks will be the making or breaking of himself, and his Party...
It must be odd, for those not intimate with this island, it's peoples, and the standards set both for those who lead, and for those who follow, to understand the gravity of the situation this Labour government finds itself hip deep in. In throwing in our lot with the Americans once again, Tony was doing what any Prime Minister since the First World War would have done, and while certainly there were and still are those vehement in their opposition to 'modern colonialism', the country, as a whole, resigns itself to following what is inevidably found to be a just cause.
For we are a 'just' peoples, on the whole. Well used to standing up to oppression and tyranny, equally adept in recognising when we ourselves are behind opression, and in support of tyranny, and attempting reparations.
Gods know Britain has been doing it for centuries..
War is not a stranger. Governments leading us into war is not unusual.
But today, in this Britain, as throughout our history, the people do not like to have the piss taken...
We can be as patriotic as the next fool, but it had better be justifyable in the end..
'A matter of trust'.
Much has passed since last one had opportunity to sit, undisturbed or unsupervised, and merely write.. sequestration is a dreadful bore when all's said and done..
The end of the first stage of the Hutton Inquiry at an end.. now Lord Hutton's tapping the buiscuit, watching for the weevils to emerge.. It has been demonstrated adequately, one would think, that this country's ability to inspire trust in those it farms out information to, is somewhat lacking.
But then Tony knew it would come down to this, ages ago. It was a calculated toss of the dice..
An opportnity to demonstrate solidarity with an injured superpower, while seemingly doing Jaques and his New Holy Parisian Empire in the eye, would seem now to be more of a millstone around the government's neck..
More troops to be sent off to Iraq.. an announcement in just over an hour which should have some 80 thousand or so more British uniforms running about the desert sands.. so to speak..
And George, asking for $87billion US.. to help rebuild Iraq..
Now, if only it could be determined how best to get the Iraqi's to accept the help, without shoving their faces in their own squalor.
Ahh well.. we'll see what the pub philosophers have to say..
And if all else fails.. the nation can lose itself in Test Match cricket..
One note.
John Scarlett will be recalled for cross examination at the Hutton Inquiry.. this could lead to the recall of Geoff Hoon, and perhaps of Tony himself..
It would be short odds, against Hutton wishing he had the power to subpoena some of the key American actors in this drama..

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