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

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ahh well.. had to be done..
However the recordings released of the execution of Saddam, in which he is taunted by a Shi'ite clergyman, and several witnesses, tarnishes what should have been a simple act of justice.
Reactions have been swift.. and it would seem most of the world leaders use the same speechwriter..'that justice has been served, that the trial was in Iraq, the sentence passed by an Iraqi judge..a page has been turned..'
The Iranians must be feeling some relief, with the spotlight at least temorarily, directed towards the inevidability of an Iraqi civil war..
Another issue which might bear some attention is the state of the American dollar.. the increasing value of the Pound is not in our best interests at the moment..

Friday, December 22, 2006

Just a brief note for the now..
Seems, for the moment, Tony's blockers are doing their jobs.. keeping the media involved with the Suffolk murders, and various fillers, and ignoring any in depth questioning or analysis of last week's blockbuster.. the questioning of Tony, under caution, in the 'cash for Peerage' scandal.. And, Tony's announcement that regardless of country of origin, those who come to Britain will be British first, with their ethnicity to take a definate backseat..

The other two issues have their certain importance, but this last has been expertly buried..
And the dropping of the Serious Fraud Investigation concerning a deal between BAE and the Saudi's, on what Tony claimed was 'in the interests of National Security'..
Saying .. in effect.. bugger the Rule of Law.. any democratic cornerstone is in reality just applicable in most cases.. subject to expediency..
Hypocracy in politics..? Say it ain't so Joe..
Tony's place is dependent on the outcome of this current fracas in the Middle East, and some settlement of the Palistinian problem..
But he's sold his soul to the Saudi's in this deal..
And then begs the question.. can the Saudi's be trusted?
One has one's doubts.. Tony's building on sand..

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Religion.. at least Christianity, has appeared to have taken the back seat to Islam these past couple of years..
But there has been trouble brewing within the ranks of the Anglican Church since the ordination of Gene Robinson, a declared homosexual, as Bishop of New Hampshire.. and the British equivalent, Jeffrey John, the gay cleric who last year was forced to step down as Bishop of Reading, who was later installed as Dean of St Albans to the resounding applause of many Anglicans, but the deep disquiet of others.
Following Robinson's appointment as the Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, traditionalists in Africa and Asia, who make up the majority of Anglicans, called for the Episcopal Church to be expelled from the Anglican communion.
That has not taken place.. but there is an uneasy truce.
The fact that two American congregations are now considering aligning themselves with the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, shows that it remains an issue for some within the Episcopal Church.

Here in Britain, we have the largest percentage of all countries declaring themselves as Anglican.. some 26 million according to the last census.. mind you the Church claims only about 2.3 million actually are active in their faith..
But the Archbishop of Canterbury says the Anglican Church could be split into different sections in a bid to resolve the row over homosexuality.. Dr Rowan Williams favours exploring a system of "associated" Churches which would not have the same constitution as the rest of the Anglican Communion...
A schism, non the less..
Now, this writer could truely care less what sexual preference anyone might enjoy.. barring those which involve children, and it seems, during these trying times there are far more important issues our spiritual leaders could be involving themselves with..
There are only two stances the Church can take on this homosexual issue.. the fundamentalists who take the Bible a the inspired word of God, must confom to Leviticus,Ch.18v22.. and Romans Ch.1v27..
The more liberally incluned congregations can put whatever spin they wish on it..
But the imperative is, that they get on with it, and turn their attentions to the needs of their parishoners, rather than concentrating on exegetical argument..
One of Islam's advantages, is it's unity of faith in the eventual establishment of a worldwide faith under a Caliphate..
It's of little wonder Christians are abandoning organised religious observations, when those in charge of their faith are threatening to destroy their 'unity' over an issue which should be left to the individual, and behind bedroom doors..

Saturday, December 16, 2006

It's a difficult matter, guaging the thoughts of the man on the street to the BAE question, for it's diffucult to guage exactly how much information the individual has absorbed..
But the fact remains, that British Rule Of Law has been compromised.. and it has been heavily underscored that we live not in a democracy, but an oligarchy.. That there is one set of rules for small concerns, and an entirely different set for those which are worth £billions..
Campaigners are threatening legal action against the British government after investigators dropped a probe into a series of arms deals with Saudi Arabia.
The Campaign Against the Arms Trade and Corner House labelled BAE Systems, the firm accused of corruption, as bullies.
Typical British understatement..
BAE strongly denies wrongdoing.
Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said he felt the Serious Fraud Office inquiry would not have led to a prosecution.
SFO head Robert Wardle said he had "a different view" to Lord Goldsmith... insisting "There is no guarantee that charges will be brought until you've completed an investigation.."

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester said Britain had to move quickly to change the law to stop political interference in corruption investigations.
"British Aerospace are an enormously powerful body, more powerful than many governments..What is so serious here is that the rule of law is threatened and the reputation of the office of attorney general when there is outside political interference of this kind."
Explaining why his group was taking legal action, Nicholas Gilby from Campaign Against the Arms Trade said the SFO should have been allowed to complete its inquiries. It is fact that the Suaudi's were somewhat annoyed at this investigation.. that if it had continued, the contract with BAE might well have been cancelled and given to a French concern.. but to class financial agreements as 'matters of State Security' sets another bell ringing..

That Britain does not want to offend the Saudi's, they being out so called 'allies' in the Middle East..
The fact the Fahd, and Abdullah after him, have been funding terrorists, seems to be an acceptable compromise for our governments, as long as the oil keeps flowing, and the supplying of arms kept within reasonable limits..
This is blatent breach of the government's mandate, the cessation of this investigation.. and Tony has taken a step too far in defining his own, and his government's priorities..
'Peace in the Middle East' is suspiciously like 'peace at all costs'..

Thursday, December 14, 2006

An amazing day for the British political scene..
Firstly, Tony has become the first Prime Minister questioned, under caution, by the police..
And secondly, the Attourney General Lord Goldsmith has announced an abrupt end to a Serious Fraud Investigation into arms deals between British Aerospace and Saudi Arabia.. with no conclusions reached, and no report to be prepared, much less presented to Parliament or to the public at large.. The reason given for the ending of this investigation, is National Security.
What transparent tripe.
Seems the fraud investigators working in a department set up by this very government, have been told if they want to investigate any dodgy dealings, let it be dealing with any country other than Saudi Arabia..
Tony, by the way, was questioned about a dash for cash before this last election, when the Labour war chest went from empty, to wallowing in £20 million in a matter of a month, due to donations from 5 Labour supporters, who have since been given seats in the House of Lords.. The allegation was 'cash for Peerages'.. Serious stuff..
This investigation will continue, and is not what Tony wants to cap off his term as Prime Minister..
As for the fraud investigation, it seems the Rule Of Law in this country is flexible.. that while it has been suspected there have been bribes passing between Whitehall and King Abdullah's treasury since the 60's, to ensure a steady market for British arms manufacturers..
Lord Goldsmith also told peers that Tony had agreed that the continuation of the investigation would cause "serious damage" to relations between the UK and Saudi Arabia.
The probe had related to the Al Yamamah arms deal with Saudi Arabia. BAE has denied any wrongdoing.

Not surprising, that..
One can only wonder, what the government can possibly do to top todays events, tomorrow..
We await, with 'bated breath..

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's a scenario one might have expected during the height of the Cold War..
Alexander Litvinyenko, a former Colonel in the FSG, the former KGB, was buried yesterday in a special casket, one designed to shield against radioactivity..
Litvinyenko, a defector to Britain some years ago, blamed the Kremlin for his death, alleging his anti-Putin stance had prompted the Russian government to poison him..
British police have traced Litvinyenko's actions around the first of last month, and have found traces of Polonium 210 scattered throughout most of the places he visited before, and after the 1st of November.. some of those he came in contact with have been tested, and found to be mildly contaminated. His wife and children are among those who are now hospitalised..
Then came the development. that one of the men he met, a Russian businessman named Dmitry Kovtun, is also contaminated, as is his wife, and as is their home in Hamburg, Germany..
There have been several theories concerning who might be behind these poisonings.. the Kremlin denies all association.. but there is a criminal element of no small scale operating in Russia these days, which Litvinyenko was highly critical of, and they seem to be the likely suspects in the eyes of investigators at this point..
They are suggesting that there is now trafficking in radioactive materials, by this criminal element, throughout Europe..and indeed, with Britain, Germany now involved in this investigation.. and the distinct possibility of Dmitry Kovun being fatally exposed.. this takes on exceedingly sinister overtones..
If these materials are being traded by Russian criminal elements, it would be for the express purpose of undermining the Putin government, especially in light of Russia passing a law which allows it's operatives to carry out executions of foreign nationals outside Russia itself..
Russia, under Putin, has begun to revert to conditions that existed before the liberalisation process began, and the movement towards Capitalism..
Any association with these poisonings, could cause irreperable damage to Russia's international standings, and have immediate and catastrophic effects on it's trade agreements and economy..
One tend to lean towards the theory that this trafficking of Polonium 210, which used to be known as Radium F, is being orchestrated by those outside Russian law.. a definative attack on the opening of Russia to Westernisation..
Thus, it falls to the Russian Government itself, to have a massive crackdown on it's own criminal element.. and while that may lead to the downfall of many who are actually in government, a thorough housecleaning would seem to be in order..
Just what we need in these times of political uncertainty, encompassing virtually all Western governments, not to mention the Middle East.. is the appearance of assassination by radioactive exposure..
It appears, that while a trail is left, like radioactive bread crumbs, to the assassin.. it will be a far more difficult task to identify the source..
And for, if nothing else, the continuation of the international stabilisation process, this source must be found, and eliminated.

Friday, December 08, 2006

BarneyCam.. We've got the Queen's Christmas message.. but it's George talking to his dog for the US.
Interesting comments from Tony this afternoon. He's taken a stance against the polarisation of British society.. saying that while immigrants from all cultures are welcome to this island, it must be understood that it's Britain they're coming to, and a British way of life. That while individual cultures have the right to their own peculiarities, British values must superceed ethnicity.. that extremists who would change British traditional values in the name of 'progressive intigration' will not be tolerated..
Good on ya Tony. It's amazing the stands you have the fredom to take, when you know when you'll be stepping away from the job.
It's a good stance, but it's going to cause problems. But then, they'll be someone else's to deal with in a few months..
To quote a BBC article..

"Multi-culturalism in Britain has failed and should be replaced with a policy aiming for integration, researchers have concluded. A study carried out by experts from the University of Leicester found people taken out of the "comfort zones" of their own communities integrated well.
Researchers put on a series of events including an Indian musical in a white working men's club.
A group of Pakistani women also put on an exhibition in a mainly Indian area.
Co-author of the report, Asaf Hussain, said: "We believe multi-culturalism has failed.
"It was a concept and a social re-engineering policy with the best of intentions, but with little debate at the grass roots. Britain's population has to become integrated."
The report also recommended putting citizenship on the National Curriculum and removing the link between country and religion so that British Muslim would become British Indian or British Pakistani.
Race relations expert Professor John Benyon from the University of Leicester said: "Rather than adopting knee-jerk reactions in terms of legislation, I feel the government should be taking a more considered approach."

To change the point .
It has been written many times that if we truely wanted to speed up the process of eliminating terrorism originating from and funded by the Middle East, we would cut economic ties.. stop buying their oil..
Now not wanting to appear naive, it is to be understood that we, by doing this, would be putting ourselves in an economic bind.. that countries the likes of Saudi Arabia put litterally billions back into particularly the British economy.. companies such as BAE alone would lose some 23 billion pounds in one contract.. that for 26 of their new fighter jets..
That in itself is somewhat ironic.. that we should be selling our latest technology to those who are at the top of the list of possible threats..
But never the less, that which we suffer, would only be a drop in the bucket, compared with what the Middle East stands to lose.. and if it means that Western business has to find a new market for the tools of war, let it be elsewhere, and preferably to an ally..
For it remains a fact, that since the Islamic world began expanding, there have been those who wield incredible power, yearn for one thing and one thing only. That being an United Islamic World, under a new Caliphate, and some of those behind those veils, are both influential, and incredibly wealthy..
It's difficult for those in our society, this western world of ours where computers, televisions, instant communication.. where if something stops working, we simply scrap it and buy another.. to imagine the Eastern mind. They think in terms of generations.
Where we have no patience, they rely on their ability to wait until the time is most advantageous. Where we have a approach.. a lets get on with it attitude.. they obfuscate, and it's an artform to them..
We should never underestimate that which we don't fully understand.

Monday, November 27, 2006

In response to a comment on our post concerning the economic state Scotland would find itself in should this country leave the Union, a comparison was made with Luxembourg, which indeed has a population less than that of Edinburgh, and thus a much lower tax base than ours.
But, it must be pointed out that Luxembourg has established industries in steel, banking, telecommunications, and agriculture.. It also enjoys a great deal of foreign investment, with the US investing more capital in that country than any other save Canada..
The iron and steel industry, located along the French border, is the most important single sector of the economy. Steel accounts for 29% of all exports (excluding services), 1.8% of GDP, 22% of industrial employment, and 3.9% of the work force.The restructuring of the industry and increasing government ownership in Arbed (31%) began as early as 1974. As a result of timely modernization of facilities, cutbacks in production and employment, government assumption of portions of Arbed's debt, and recent cyclical recovery of the international demand for steel, the company is again profitable. Its productivity is among the highest in the world. U.S. markets account for about 6% of Arbed's output. The company specializes in production of large architectural steel beams and specialized value-added products. There has been, however, a relative decline in the steel sector, offset by Luxembourg's emergence as a financial center.
In 2001, through the merger with Aceralia and Usinor, Arbed became Arcelor and now forms one of the largest steelproducer in the world.

Banking is especially important to Luxembourg's economy. The country is a tax haven and so attracts capital fleeing from other countries so they can reduce the costs. At the end of March 2006, there were 155 banks in Luxembourg, with 23,000 employees. Political stability, good communications, easy access to other European centres, skilled multilingual staff, and a tradition of banking secrecy have all contributed to the growth of the financial sector. Germany accounts for the largest-single grouping of banks, with Scandinavian, Japanese, and major U.S. banks also heavily represented. Total assets exceeded €792.4 billion at the end of 2005. More than 9,000 holding companies are established in Luxembourg. The European Investment Bank—the financial institution of the European Union—is also located there.
As for the economic future of Scotland itself, Scotland could become a poorer country than Greece or Portugal within the next 50 years, according to economists.
The Centre for Economics and Business Research said the country needs more entrepreneurs and tax incentives to encourage companies and investment.
The experts also said there should be greater deregulation, allowing businesses to flourish without the burden of red tape.

In their report, Douglas McWilliams and Richard Greenwood said Scotland had failed to fully enjoy the benefits of the consumer boom in other parts of the UK.
The "global technologies slowdown" has also had a negative impact on Scotland's 'Silicon Glen'.
However, the economists stressed that weak economic performance is not a recent problem.
They said: "Scottish growth since 1995 has averaged only 1.9% compared with 2.7% for the UK as a whole.
"Scottish manufactured exports are running at a lower level than four years ago while the number of people living in Scotland has been falling since 1995. "

"If present rates of growth are projected ahead, Scotland within 50 years will be a poorer country than Greece or Portugal and not a long way ahead of Poland or Turkey."
The economists said Scotland suffers from a "lack of entrepreneurship culture" and they urged Scottish banks to offer more support to business start-ups.
They called for a "tartan tax" reduction of three pence which would mean less public spending but would encourage a more efficient economy and a reduction in red tape.
While the report said there would be no quick fix, it stressed that the suggested measures would start to "turn the economy round".

With these facts, and projections in mind, it would appear that Scotland would have an exceedingly hard time in setting up legislation which would induce foreign investment, simply because tax breaks would be a difficult incentive to offer..
Luxembourg has an economy that is well established, and trade and financial agreements which are longstanding.
Scotland would be starting from scratch.
To continue on the subject of slavery, it's worth reading ten facts about Britain, in particular, and what slavery meant to the Empire..

1. The British were the first big slave-trading nation to abandon the trade. They did this in 1807 when there were still huge profits to be made, and they did it for mainly moral reasons. It took a revolution of the slaves to destroy France's system and a terrible civil war in the US decided the fate of the slaves of the Southern States. In Britain alone slavery was ended by millions of people, black and white, free and enslaved, who decided it could no longer be tolerated.
2. From the ending of the slave trade to the beginning of the 20th Century, the Royal Navy patrolled off the coast of Africa searching for slave trading ships, boarding them and freeing the slaves. The fleet was known as the West Africa Squadrons.
3. Slaves in the British Caribbean didn't produce cotton as they did in the US. Sugar was the crop of islands like Jamaica and Barbados and the slaves who produced it were the world's first industrial workers.
4. The campaign to end slavery was dominated by women. With no vote, the anti-slavery crusade was one of the ways that women were able to get involved in politics.
5. Thousands of black slaves were brought to Britain by slave ships. In the 18th Century it was the height of fashion for rich ladies to have a black child servant.
6. Slave-produced sugar transformed our national cuisine. Much of what we today think of as the most traditional British food, is in fact only a couple of centuries old. Biscuits, cakes, sweets, toffee, rum and the resulting British sweet tooth - all products of that revolution in the kitchen brought about by sugar. Slave sugar was the missing ingredient that transformed tea from a strange novelty from India into an enduring national obsession.
7. Slavery was the world's first global industry but before globalism and corporations it was actually run by a few hundred families. Today many of the great aristocratic families of Britain have a hidden past in the slave trade.
8. Slavery in the British empire came to an end after a rebellion led by the Jamaican slave Sam Sharpe. Sharpe's original plan was to use non-violent passive resistance to end slavery. He was the Martin Luther King of the 19th Century.
9. The abolitionists were pioneers who helped invent the methods of political campaigning that we have today. They collected mass petitions, organised hundreds of local societies , created a campaign logo and even organised consumer boycotts.
10. Not all black people in the Caribbean were slaves. Not only were there free black people, there were also an army of escaped slaves called the Maroons who fought against the British Army for years.

It might be added, that while the slave trade was abolished by Britain in 1807, it was not until 1833 that West Indian slaves were fully emancipated..
As abhorrent as the trade was, it reflected society as it was at that time.. and nothing, absolutely nothing, can turn back the clock.
Lets have a word about slavery.
Now in this entry, we will concentrate on that condition as it was imposed on black races, and the history of the abolition of the practice by the whites..
Initially, slavery was introduced by African tribes on their enemies.. I was found to be profitable for warring tribes to take prisoners, transport them to the eastern shores of Africa, and sell them initially to Arabic states, and then, as the Europeans took control of the seas, to the English, the French, and other European nations who were looking for cheap labour in their Carribean holdings, and of course, in their own countries..
So it might be said, with historical backup, that indeed the practice started with warring African tribes, by the black nations themelves..
The reason this has come up is a statement from Tony, which in essence is an apology for a society long gone, for taking part in such an abhorrent practice. Next year will be the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire, and this issue has been left to Tony to address this issue before he steps down..
Yet somehow, this is not enough for some black community leaders in this country. They're looking for a definative apology.. some demanding financial reparation, and this, in essence, is ridiculous.
We're looking at a time, a society, which ws controlled by the white nations, and they were taking advantage of an opportunity presented to them by the black.
As President Andrew Jackson said in 1866.. "Everyone would, and must admit, that the white race was superior to the black, and that while we ought to do our best to bring them up to our present level, that, in doing so, we should, at the same time raise our own intellectual status so that the relative position of the two races would be the same."
This attitude prevailed in the US for another 100 years, and to some extent still is the opinion of a certain percentage of Americans..
No apology from George though, and certainly no possible acquiesence to demands for financial reparation for those who are decendants of those who worked the Southern cotton fields.
Slavery itself has a history that reaches back thousands of years. The Romans, the Greeks, the Celts.. all of the major civilisations kept their captives to work for them, under conditions which were on the whole, unsavoury. None of these civilisations granted slaves the rights of citizens, for indeed, they were 'property'.
What Tony has done is a brave move, with the two hundredth anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the Empire coming up next year. It has set the state for other governments throughout the world to emmulate this sentiment..
It is doubtfull any other nation will take this step, in fact it would be, to most other nations who involved themselves in the buying and selling of other human beings, anathema to recall their history in such an unfavourable light.
But, for one segment of the British citizenry to now demand anything other than the acknowledgement of the failures and foibles of a society long gone, is hardly realistic.
They would be next, demanding to have reparations from the individual tribes in Africa, which began the practice in the first place..
There are countless races, countless nationalities, which have throughout history, been slaves.
Next, we will have the Jewish Community demanding some recognition from Egypt, for their captivity.
Slavery, in today's society, is abhorrent, but it's a far different world than that which existed two hundred years ago..
Even the man acclaimed as perhaps the greatest emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, said in 1865, "It is unsatisfactory to some to know that the elective franchise is not given to the coloured man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on intelligent coloured men, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers.."
Even Abraham had his conditions, and that some 58 years after the British abolished the practice.
In fact, it might be put to Britain's credit, that it's Navy took an active part in the destruction of the trade along the African Coast, sending squadrons to destroy slave ships, and setting those captive on board free.
Asking for more, 199 years later, is bordering on presumption.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

An interesting situation developing in these British Isles..
The Scottish Labour Party is holding it's annual convention on Oban this weekend, and Home Secretary John Reid is expected to make an address today.. The focus is expected to be the threat to the Union posed by the Scottish National Party, led by Alex Salmond, and it's agenda to separate from England.
There have been numerous attacks on Alex and his SNP plans in the House of Commons of late from Tony.. but it seems each forray against the SNP is boosting it's popularity here, north of the border.. There is a real chance that in the Scottish elections, scheduled for next May, the SNP may well form the majority in the Scottish Parliament..
It's a situation that seems to reflect that which is going on in Canada, with the Bloc Quebecois aiming for the same results as the SNP..
The Independant newspaper, an English publication, leads this morning with a poll which indicates that while 53% of Scots favour independance.. 59% of English would be happy to see Scotland go it alone.. There have been many protests from English MP's, since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament, that Scots MP's in Westminster have the right to vote on issues that affect England only.. It would appear the English are fed up with the Scottish drive to dissolve ties, and are quite willing to let the SNP carry Scotland into the precarious position of going it alone..
One wonders how many Canadians would feel the same about Quebec..
It's a shame, as one has stated before, that fences are being erected without complete analysis of the economic and sociological consiquences, but if the Quebecois and the Scots are hell bent on going it alone, then so be it.
As for Canada, being a bi-lingual country is not a matter of pride for the bulk of the country. Most of the rhetoric touting the two language situation appears to be coming from Quebec itself, which ironically, is uniligually French.
On both sides of the Atlantic it would appear, those who pay the bulk of the bills, and receive the bulk of critisism, have just about had enough.
England, like Canada, would find itself on the winning end of separation.. English taxes would go to English needs, just as Canadian taxes would exclude Quebec from any provincial benefits, including Federal Transfer Payments, which would provide a much needed boost in the incomes of the poorest Atlantic provinces..
In England, at least, the man on the street sees Scottish separation as a win/win situation..
One would imagine a poll of Canadians would produce the same results..
What the Pequistes and the SNP apparently has not thought out, is how they'll run a country with a tax base of some 6 million people in Scotland.. and some 4 million in Quebec..
How they'll fund the pensions, the social services, reduce unemployment, attract foreign investment into areas that geographically are much the same. In Quebec, there's nothing, in essence, once one goes north of the St Lawrence Seaway, other than hydroelectricity and lumber. In Scotland, there's nothing much to entice foreign investment when employment opportunities are cropping up like the flowers of spring, in the newest countries to join the EU..
This writer, should it come to Scottish separation, will happily move South, for the thought of being governed by short-term opportunists does not appeal, at all..

Thursday, November 23, 2006

An amazing 'coup de main' by Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper's announcement to Parliament that 'Quebec is a nation within an united Canada..'
Harper's motion was made in anticipation of a vote next week on a motion by the Bloc Quebecois to recognize the Quebecois form a nation, with no reference to their place in Canada.
The motion distinguishes between the Quebecois as people and Quebec itself. It reflects similar previous recognitions such as those for Acadians and First Nations.
Harper said his motion recognizes the Quebec people's historic position in Canada, while the Bloc's motion is about separation. .. While recent public opinion polls show such recognition will prove popular in Quebec, it is equally as unpopular across the rest of Canada.
It also comes as a potential lifeline for Liberals, who reignited the nation debate earlier this fall when the party's Quebec wing voted overwhelmingly to recognize Quebec as a nation and look for ways to "officialize" the status. It has become a divisive issue for the party on the eve of crowning a new leader next week because the race's frontrunner, Michael Ignatieff, said it would eventually need to be recognized in the Constitution.
Liberal interim leader Bill Graham said he was confident his party will support Harper's motion when his caucus meets to discuss the issue today.
Ignatieff said he saluted the PM for his action. ..

It's worth re-printing Harper's statement to the Commons here.. Might be a prototype for a similar speech in these United Kingdoms..

"Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the Bloc Quebecois will present the House with an unusual request that we here at the federal Parliament define the Quebecois nation.
"As a consequence, with the support of the government and with the support of our party, I will be putting on the Notice Paper later today the following motion:
"That this House recognize that the Quebecois form a nation within a united Canada.
"Once again, the leader of the Bloc and his separatist friends are not concerned with defining who Quebecers are but rather what they want them to become, a separate country.
"The separatists do not need the Parliament of Canada to define what is meant by the sociological termination. My preference has been well known. I believe that this is not the job of the federal Parliament. It is the job of the legislature of Quebec, but the Bloc Quebecois has asked us to define this and perhaps that is a good thing, because it reminds us that all Canadians have a say in the future of this country.
"Having been asked by the Bloc to define the Quebecois, we must take a position. Our position is clear. Do the Quebecois form a nation within Canada? The answer is yes. Do the Quebecois form an independent nation? The answer is no and the answer will always be no, because Quebecers of all political persuasions, from Cartier and Laurier to Mulroney and Trudeau, have led this country and millions like them of all political persuasions have helped to build it.
"With their English- and French-speaking fellow citizens and people drawn from all nationalities of this earth, they have been part of making this country what it is, the greatest country in the world.
"To millions more who live in a dangerous and dividing world, this country is a shining example of the harmony and unity to which all peoples are capable and to which all humanity should aspire.
"I say to my federalist colleagues and I also say to the separatist side that we here will do what we must, what our forefathers have always done to preserve this country, Canada, strong, united, independent and free."
A bold move in an accutely sensitive time..
While one is of the personal opinion that Canada itself might be better off without the weight of Quebec, preserving Confederation must be the prime concern of the Federal Government.
The Pequiste in Quebec could be compared with the Repubicans, or indeed the Loyalists, in Northern Ireland.. or equally with the Scottish Nationalists..
One would think there was at least one economist among these extremist groups, who is not swayed by 'nationalist fervour'..
But then again, while the world works consistently towards breaking down barriers, it is only natural, human nature, that there would be those who would try to build more walls..

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A couple of points of interest this morning..
Big Brother has taken a step closer.. Police on the beat will be carrying a biometric device, which will take your fingerprints on the spot.. right there on the street.. and compare it to a national database giving them such information as whether or not you've given them your correct name.. whether or not your TV license is paid.. whether or not you own a car and if it's properly tagged and insured.. whether or not you're in the country legally.. This, of course, is the natural progression from the issuing of National Identity Cards..
As has been mentioned here before, the average person walking about London is photographed more than 300 times..
That's a matter for some concern..

And it was once the benchmark for the rest of the world.. a British education..
But it appears a government study indicates that one in eight schools on this island, are sub-standard by any yardstick..
It might quite reasonably be argued that much of the problem actually stems with the students themselves, with the values instilled at home. But it is more apparent that there is a general malaise among the young, who live with an uncertain employment future, and a sense that what they're learning is either too much for them, or has no market at home.
There is also to be factored in, the quality of teaching these kids are getting.. Teachers, stripped of any authority, deal with what most of us would consider imposible situations on a daily Basis. Disinterested, disrespectful, disruptive, and frequently violent students make it problematic to work through a syllabus..
One has to put the blame on the trend, which perhaps peaked in the 1990's, which dictated that anyone was deserving of a University Degree.. that all students were equal.. And this, besides being absolute rubbish, has led to the development of an ethos which allows for no separation by ability.. and no advantage taken of those skills which, while not requiring a Degree, does demand manual ability, if not talent..
More and more it becomes obvious that while the government is shovelling cash into the education system, it's nothing more than a stop-gap.. That cash would be better spent establishing technical wings in our schools, and a return to an apprenticeship system..
It's a certainty that we have more than a sufficiency of Social Workers and bureaucrtats.. equally a certainty we have a shortage of skilled machinists, and designers who can work out the dimensions of an area without the use of a calculator..

Some three years ago, it was noted in this journal that, in an effort to bring down drug-related crime, it might be considered taking those who are addicted to heroin, and thus theft, assault, in extreme cases murder.. should be precribed their dosage on the NHS..
The Deputy-Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire has announced that in his opinion, this option has it's merits.
The average heroin addict needs, conservatively, £15thousand p/a to support their habit.
This means they must, through whatever means open to them, acquire at least £50p/a.. and that's if you're dealing with a generous dealer who'll give you 30 pence on the Pound..
Literally millions are spent annually on Court costs to try these addicts, and then the State is left with the bill to maintain them, three hots and a cot, for whatever sentence is meted out..
The entire situation is risible..
We are running out of prison cells in this country.. it is a dire situation.. some prisoners serving their sentences in police station holding cells..
Now, while in no way advocating the use of drugs the likes of heroin, it must be said that an addict will remain an addict until he/she decides they no longer want to be. Some will never decide to quit. This is an indisputeable fact, and our manner of dealing with these peculiar personality types has manifestly been a failure.
It's time we realised that, as a society, we cannot save everyone.
Rank hubris to assume we can.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Some interesting words by Tony at the Lord Mayor's Banquet this evening..
Iraq, and Britain's role in this conflict, was of course the main object of his speech..
He spoke at length of the need now, on the responsibilities of other Middle Eastern countries, specifically Iran, who must stop the funding and training of terrorists, and begin to involve themselves in a diplomatic resolution to the longstanding problems which have plagued the area..
He said he would be speaking to the authorities in Syria and Iran, to ask them for their help in bringing an end to the perpetual violence endemic in the region, but will, while offering the carrot of the lifting of trade restrictions, demand that terrorists become anathema.. that the flow of money, and the allowing of training camps, must come to an end..
A tall order..

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Trouble for Tony this week..
It will be a first in British history, if a sitting Prime Minister is questioned by the police..
This concerns a 'cash for peerages' scandal.. The Labour Party Coffers were running exceedingly low just before the last election.. when all of a sudden, there was a cash injection of donations from five prominent businessmen of £40.. not bad..
The problem arises, when all of a sudden, on the Christmas Honours list last year, these contributors were granted Peerages..
Now the House of Lords is not a very powerful political instrument. It acts as a 'check' on proposed Legislation, only to the extent that it can delay it's passage.. give the House more time to think it out.. But buying one's way into any political position is frowned upon.. and several of Tony's cronies have already been questioned by the authorities..
More will come of this..
And it doesn't end there. This Tuesday Tony will appear, via video-link, to testify before an 'Iraq Study Group'.. one charged with coming up with a new strategy for the Middle East.. Tony will be asked to justify his support of George, and give his particular reasons for sending troops into the area..
Now this has upset some of the Members of the House of Commons, particularly the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Menzies Campbell..
His complaint is that the Prime Minister will answer questions to an American investigatory group, while denying the formation of a similar panel here in the UK..
The American panel reportedly thinks that "staying the course" is an untenable long-term strategy and is said to have been looking at two options.
One is the phased withdrawal of US troops, and the other is to increase contact with Syria and Iran to help stop the fighting.

Had to be expected..

Friday, November 10, 2006

Interesting comments from a representative of the American Islamic Council..
Habib Rehab is touring Britain, meeting Islamic leaders and visiting Mosques around the country..
The premis of the interview was, 'is there a lesson Britain can learn from the ways the US has integrated it's own Muslim Community?'
This is the second interview over the past three days on Islamic issues, the other being 'faith schools'.. but what is interesting that both those being interviewed overused the word 'empowerment' when discussing the state of their religious fellows...
Just what this 'empowerment' entails, when any citizen of this country, and one expects the same of the US, have exactly the same rights, the same responsibilities, and should share the same goals.
'Empowerment' suggests some degree of repression on the part of the government, the Judiciary, the public at large.
And frankly, until the terrorist attacks were perpetrated, and the plans for even more and worse discovered, there was little attention paid to the Muslim Community as a whole.
Interesting that this word, 'empowerment', is one that is used by Muslim spokemen from both sides of the Atlantic..
It suggest repeated use, and an expression circulated throughout the Community to take up as a common goal..
And it also begs whether it has not come from a central source, with orders to emphasise this phrase.. to turn it into a rallying cry.. a cause..
The "serious, growing threat" of terrorism will be "with us for a generation.. That's the warning from the Head of MI5..
The "campaign" was "sustained... not a series of isolated incidents"according to Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller speaking to an audience of academics.
MI5 knew of up to 30 alleged terror plots to kill and was watching about 200 networks or groups, she said.
Her warning comes days after a UK man was sentenced to at least 40 years in jail for planning a series of attacks...including the use of a 'dirty bomb'. All he was waiting for was financing..
And another young Muslim has been sentenced to two years for 'inciting indiscriminate killing'..
At a rally a couple of years ago, where hundreds of young Muslims protested the war in Iraq, and he was caught among the thousands for holding a sign saying 'Behead the enemies of Islam'.. and shouting that what was needed were more British troops being sent home in body bags..
Now there are problems with this. The issue of free speech.. of Hyde Corner, come into play.
When do the rantings of a 23 year old computer student become 'beyond the pale'?
Where, regardless of it's seeming improptiety, does free speech end?
One would never suggest a firm grip on the gathering of information on terrorist plans and activities be relaxed, but in this particular case, one sees a kneejerk reaction..
Watch the man, certainly. Investigate himself, his family, his habits, his friends, his haunts..
But incarceration?
One wonders at what rehabilitation is possible, comsidering he'll be out in nine months or so..
Seems in reality, we might only be firming a belief which previously might have been compared to 'football hooliganism'.. emotion born of a moment, and not yet tempered by a two year sentence behind bars.
Gives one a long time to think.. to blame.. to make other contacts..

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An interesting situation in Washington now.
For the next two years, George will still control the White House, his veto, will continue in his role of Supreme Commander of the US Armed Forces, but where once he had a clear road through Congres and the House, he now faces more road bumps than a British Council Estate.
His personal objectives may change little, but now it's a diplomatic gain.. swinging right-wing Democrats to support the Republican cause.. concessions to States which, til now, had perhaps somewhat less political clout.
It should be an interesting two years, with both the newly-liberated Iraqi's joined in their desire to see an end to coallition occupation, as those at home in the US and Britain..
Once again, the States has started something, and finds it cannot succcessfully complete the job.

A thought that's been nagging for some time.. a way to generate income for those destitute in war-torn areas the likes of Darfour..
What's needed, is a UN enforced agency to organize those who are capable of working, to take them to which were areas of highly concentrated fighting. Issue them with shovels.. sieves..and metal detectors, and set them to collecting spent copper casings.
Copper is not cheap, and even of those working were allowed a tenth of a cent per shell, it would provide them with instant income.
Workers would be paid on the spot, and one would suggest something along the lines of top-up credit cards with fingerprint ID to remove the chance of theft.. This UN Force could be split into groups of small workers.. spaced over distances, to minimize the chances of attacks, and while transportation is always the most difficult of any operation of any size, UN convoys could collect, and deliver their daily loads to portable smelters..
As for this new disposable income the refugees would find themselves with, American PX-style stores could be set up within the camps themselves..
Clearing the land they have been driven from.. giving them a sense of reconstruction..
Seems the type of job UN troops were created for..

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Interesting developments from Iraq.. with the Prime Minister insisting that regardless of the appeals process launched by Saddam, he will be executed before Christmas..
This reflects comments from the present Iraqi Oil Minister, a scientist who spent 12 years in Abu Grabe under Saddam's regeme, for refusing to work on the country's nuclear program. These comments amounted to a statement that American and coalition forces have harboured a 'fear' of the Iraqi people in general, perhaps prompted by the fact there was no recognizable enemy.. that combatants dressed and acted as any normal citizen would, until weapons were produced and a firefight ensued. This has alienated occupation troops from the population in general, and indeed the Iraqi Prime Minister has said he wants occupation troops out of his country in a matter of months, not, as coalition plans have previously intimated, a withdrawal over a couple of years.
Stability is going to be the central problem in Iraq once the US and Britain withdraw.. and the prospect of a civil war, or continuing terrorist attacks on those native to the country who will be left in charge, seems to be of secondary importance..
Indeed, it seems that even those who've been given the right to form a government, are now increasingly hostile to Western Forces.. a development which does not bode well for future relations with Iraq, or indeed with the entire Middle East..
We created the government of Saddam, and it would now appear we have created a democracy which is going to be equally thorny to deal with..
There is a lesson to be learned here, one which should have been absorbed with the inconclusive end to the VietNam war.. That while we might be resented equaly by the survivors of such a conflict, as we were by those we were in direct conflict..
Time to retract, to put our own societies on alert, while dealing with our various homegrown problems.
This polarisation, based on conflicting ideologies, will inevidably continue, and the battleground will certainly be increasingly on our own soil..
But as one has said repeatedly, we hold a vast economic weapon which has yet to be deployed..
Even if China takes the place of the West in pouring money into the Levant for their oil reserves, the transition in the markets will remind those in the Middle East just how much they have to lose if we follow a 'green' trend..

More to come, as the American mid-term election results come in this evening.. It would appear that the sentiment in the US is that many of the votes cast, will be based on the American position in Iraq..
With the news that Saddam will be dead before Christmas, and that American troops will be coming home sooner than later, might swing some of those undecided voters, many of whom have said they'll decide on the day who'll they'll support..
Now this note must be prefaced by the fact that there are fewer than 100 jail cells available in the British prison system, and that some convicted prisoners are now serving their times in police station cells..
This has led to a series of early releases.. a system which has clearly not had the effect it was disigned to have..
One prisoner, serving 5 to 7 for the manslaughter of a girlfriend who spurned him (he beat her to death with a hammer), has just been convicted, after early release, of killing three children, and their mother's boyfriend, as they slept. He doused their house with gasoline, and set it alight. One of those was the 16 year old who had dumped him. The only reason the mother of this family survived, was because she was working night shift..
Now, a BBC report which will be aired this week, reveals a man, named Frank Parker, who has served 39 years for the rape and murder of a 10 year old girl, has already been released, and has already been seen befrending children, and taking pictures of a semi-naked teenager, whom he invited up to his hostel room..
Interesting that this BBC report twice reported to police that they were concerned about his bahavior, and it was after the second call that Parker was picked up, and returned to prison..
This lack of prison space in Britin is chronic.
But one woders how many spces are being taken up by those convicted of the crime of selling marijuana..
That drug alone, has as many serving sentences as do those who commit violent crimes.. and many current problems could be dealt with by a simple Act of Parliament, that being the de-criminalisation of cannabis, the legislated sale of that drug, and the realisation that, that drug is no more dangerous than alcohol..
Not to say, that alcohol can't even be a more anti-social drug when taken indiscriminately..
It baffles one, that the stigma placed upon the drug by the American Harry Anslinger decades ago, is still the benchmark..
We nees to empty cells.
Lets start with those who have committed the least harmful crimes..

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ahh.. the plots continue..
A London Court has heard testimony, that while he had not recieved funding or meterials, he had plotted with al Q'Aeda officials, Former Hindu Dhiren Barot, 34, from London, plotted "massive explosions" in the US and UK, aiming to kill hundreds.
Barot, who last month admitted conspiracy to murder, wanted to pack limousines with gas cylinders and also use a radioactive "dirty" bomb.

The court was told, Barot had been planning 11 September-style synchronised attacks in Britain, which could have involved a dirty bomb and a gas attack on the Heathrow Express train service.
He had also plotted to detonate a bomb under the River Thames to flood the Tube network and potentially drown hundreds of commuters.

Other targets in Britain had included the Savoy hotel and mainline train stations, Waterloo, Paddington and King's Cross, and Barot also planned to strike the IMF and the World Bank in Washington DC.. the New York Stock Exchange building and the Citigroup headquarters, as well as the Prudential building in Newark, New Jersey, were also among his targets.
Now, what is concerning is, that since Saddam's death sentence, there will be a flood of volunteers worldwide, waiting for the money and the means to carry out plans, detailed and merely shelved, for years.
The money is certainly there. We can only wait.
As for the Bush Administration, whether or not it becomes a 'lame duck' will soon be seen.. whether Americans have had enough of this war, and harbour the sentiment that removing Congress from Republican control will be enough to calm the seething resentment in the minds of the various terrorists who demonize the American man on the street and his way of life, will soon be obvious.
But the problem remains, that while the US may well in the near future do a 180 on it's policies in the Middle East, it can be assured the Middle East will not reciprocate. A dramatic defeat for George and the Republicans will certainly be seen as a sign of weakness, of indicision.
This election in the US is a lose/lose situation, and to make the job of mopping up what can be cleared from Iraq more difficult for the Administration, will be seen by the Islamic Fundamentalist world as a repeat of the American action in the area back in the 90's.
It also leaves the Taliban, al Q'aeda, Hammas, Hezbolah, with something tangible to celebrate, and will certainly spur them onwards towards their goal of a Worldwide Islamic Caliphate.
Seems a ridiculous aim now, but recall, their plans span decades.
Never underestimate a fundamentalist.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

One awaits, with great anticipation, the sentencing of Saddam later today..
Which is politically more expedient..
To condemn the man to death would certainly polarize an already fragmented population, for certainly many want his death, an example to the world that even Supreme powers will not protect a 'criminal' leader from the ultimate sentence..
And it will satisfy a large proportion of the country who have suffered for political opposition to the old regeme; those who have been subjected to what is tantamount to genocide, ordered by this man..
But there is something to be said concerning the certain escallation of terrorist acts, of those willing to join 'terrorist' organisations of those who will see the 'martyrdom' of Saddam as the ultimate atrocity carried out by Occupation Forces, who, as they percieve it, control the Courts..
It's a thorny question, an uncomfortable situation..
And while we can expect any sentence to be appealed, and while this court case will drag on for years, the sentence itself will fuel those Ba'athist cells to a return of sucide bombings, and terrorist acts, the likes of which we have not yet seen..
Perhaps the Russians have a gulag or two operating in the wastes of Siberia..
It's an option.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Interesting to note..
The report mentioned in the preceeding entry was compiled by Sir Nicholas Stern.. an economist.. The focus was not on the environmental effects of global warming, per se.. but on the economic impact the phenomina will have on the global GNP..
Apparently, at this hour, a copy of this report has not even reached the White House, much less been digested or evaluated..
One would think that with mid-term elections within just over a week's time, a report of such impact would be of prime concern to the Republican Party.. it's already been shown, by actions taken in California by Arnold, that comprehensive legislation against carbon emitters, would only raise esteem, in the eyes of the American man on the street, for the Party willing to take a hard line.. Arnold's gained 15% in the polls by his stance..
But what this does speak of, is the probable reluctance of the Federal Government to disturb it's main contributors by announcing plans the likes of those stated by Tony, who's set a 60% reduction on emissions over a 50 year period..
A good plan, but as to whether we have that time is moot..
Not to have even recieved this report, is something that one finds hard to fathom. One might even go so far as to say that this is simple disinformation. Perhaps George's speechwriters are still trying to phrase an announcement that will appease the populace, while keeping industry content.
Such obfuscation can only be interpreted as deliberate, and as such, a subject deserving of some concern.
The US contributes 25% of carbon emissions. It's a touchy subject, one which will affect the finances of whichever Party demands immediate action.
Again, one can only re-state the difficulties facing all of us, in forcing our politicians to make draconian stances..
There's little the common man can do to alleviate this problem, other than by chosing politicians who do make a stand.. and finding them might prove a difficult task..
Little has been done so far, according to the Stern Report. We can only wonder what actions those we elect will really take..
As far as the US is concerned, a willingness to sign the Kyoto Accord would be a positive start..
But again... money plays a huge role in what legislation is passed, or delayed, or discarded entirely.
And this is 'democracy' at work..

Monday, October 30, 2006

Disturbing news..
Not unexpected.. this blog has been writing about it for years..
But finally, Tony has released the results of a report which predicts that global warming, as contributed to great effect by our carbon emissions, have reached the point where within 15 years, it could cost the global ecomony close to £4 trillion.. 20% of the current total..
What's perhaps more disturbing is, that even if Britain cut it's emissions to zero, developing industry in China alone would wipe out any reduction we could make..
Herein lies the problem. We have India and China evolving to Western standards of living. It's not a quick process.. it will be decades to reach the point wherein there are hundreds of thousands from starvation levels enjoying electricity, plumbing, such basics as running water at a kitchen sink..
And to give these people the basics, as we would see them, it will take vast expansion of particularly the Indian economy, and that, as technology now stands, demands excessive carbon emissions..
Unless the West can offer technology that replaces that which brought us our own prosperity, to those countries straining to achieve parity, we are, without exaggeration, doomed.
India itself will be one of the primary areas affected.. as the Himalayan glaciers melt, Indian lowlands will be permanently innundated, which in turn will create a catastrophic drop in food production..
The African continent as a whole will be drastically affected.. reports have that areas general temperature as risen .3 of a degree in the last two years.. other reports have specific areas, the likes of the Horn and the sub-Sahara, rising an average 20 degrees in the last three years.
But once again, while we have the US refusing to even sign up to the Kyoto Accord, which in itself does not go far enough according to this latest British report, how can we expect to get agreement from China.. or India..
China, by the way, has not even been asked to reduce emissions, as it qualifies as a 'developing nation'..
Now while there are those who say carbon emissions are not the main cause of this climate change.. that it is a natural cycle of the earth, the fact remains that we are between a rock and a very hard place, and if there is anything we can do to even slow this process, we would be nothing short of idiots not to make an attempt.
It's the old argument of economics.. lobbies such as those representing the car industry in the States dictate government policy.. We seem to have an inexplicable reluctance to legislate what would amount to a retooling of our way of life, and to fund the development of technology that would ease the threat we now face..
It will take the innundation of the American East Coast.. the British seacoast.. the Indian lowlands.. the deaths of milions and the loss of £billions before those in power will even consider doing something to combat further damage.
We seem bent on short-term views, ignoring the obvious until indeed it is too late..
It is a fact that those, in this country, are on the whole reasonably well informed concerning the effects of global climate change, and it will be perhaps the prominent issue when our next elections roll around. But what is desperately needed is a response from those who hold the reins, right now..
And it will certainly require global agreement on a plan to implement changes, radical changes.
And this, is far to much to reasonably expect..
At the very least, as we have said again and again, we should be making moves away from our dependence on the Middle East, and the oil it provides us..
Truthfully, it is a question that no-one can answer.. that which will be left for our grandchildren to deal with..
And we are lead by those, who apparently couldn't give a damn.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

There's the obvious knock on effect in the Eu, with the admittance ofRomania and Bulgaria next year.. that of course being economic..
Even in Britain, we are feeling the pinch, with that quintissential British sports car, the JVR, closing it's plant here, and farming the jobs out to plants in Europe..
It is hard to imagine what countries the likes of Germany, France, and Italy will lose, and their economies are already in dire straights..
What will the streets of Paris be like if thousands of workers converge to ptotest the loss of what they thought to be lifetime jobs, taking account of what was done by students earlier this year when they realised they had nothing to look for in the way of jobs when they graduated, and that the fees for what is essentially useless education, at least on this side of the Atlantic, were going to be raised?
With China expanding it's potential exponentially, Russia while still dealing with it's Chechen problem, emerging as a growing world economic force, the value of the American dollar decreasing steadily, the EU is rushing wholeheartedly into bankrupcy..
This world of ours is changing, with ballances of power shifting with the effects of tectonic plates..
There are so many foreign issues for The West and by the West one must include Canada, although that country will not go willingly into deep woreign waters, to contend with, that there will be less and less attention on the Federal level focussed on matters of national importance. The Individual States will have to pick up that burden, and that will mean a definate divide between those that have the tax base, and those who do not..
It's basically the same scenario facing the EU.. with the particular difference being that there will be a central, or federal government, trying to maintain an equitable ballance between individual member states..
Populations are going to shift radically in Europe over the next few years. That's a given..
But industry will take advantage, while it can, of the disparate lifestyles which might be offered the poorer states, while paying wages which are not universally enforced..
One would dispair at the immediate future of this world, while this metamorphosis takes place..
If all the pieces of the puzzle were laid in place, the future would not be a bright thing to contemplate.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

There wre estimates of upwards of 1.4 million applicants waiting to enter Britain, when Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union this coming January..
And this frankly, frightened this Labour Government..
Immigration Minister John Reed has had to take a pre-emptive stance, and announce legislation that would limit those unto our shores, to the skilled, at least for the most part. He has allowed for migrant workers, but only in the food processing or agriculrual sectors..
It has yet to be announced that measures France and Germany will take, but they certainly will have to do something. Their economies can't reasonably support the population they have, let along the millions who will be looking for a better life, in 'The West'.. These are recovering Communist regemes, and their sociological makeup at this time, is, to say the least, lax in Law Enforcement..
There will be many who would early love to leave those countries.. and as of the first of this new year, they will be free to do so..
This economic problem of new EU members is a matter that will take decades to sort out, and it is to Tony's credit, and a necissary commitment from whomever takes over, be they Labour or Conservative, that they tread very quietly in further involvement with what will develop on the Continent..
It could be a literal juggernaut..

Monday, October 23, 2006

Now this is where we get to see, how two of the worlds 'superpowers' back out of an untenable position..
Iraq is not going well..
An American State Department official, who has since retracted his statement as being non=representative of either his own position or that of the State Department, told al Jazeera that there had been 'arrogance and stupidity' in the American approach to the war in the Middle East..
We have here, two senior army generals decrying the lack of forethought, and statements to the effect that this is an 'unwinable' war we're involved in..
Now perhaps there was originally a feasable manner in which Saddam could have been deposed without involving conventional army personel in a constant battle with spontanious terrorist militias and established terrorist organisations, but historically, a lesson should have been learned from past encounters with the Levant, and more importantly, with VietNam..
We have destroyed the everyday lives of those who might well have supported us, through lack of intelligence. We cannot identify civilians from combatants, when uniforms are not distributed to al Q'area or Hammas or Hezbollah operatives, and we have not succeeded in cutting off the financial and material aid getting to these organisations through other Islamic States.
Nor are we going to.
It is time for a switch in Western strategy in the area, as has been evidenced both by George, who's facing mid-term elections, and Tony, who's looking towards retirement. Once again, it could be stressed that the only viable option is financial attrition, a decrease in Western buying from the entire region, and a restructuring of our oil-based economy.
With the internal sociological problems facing both the US and Britain, there appears to be no option but to turn towards a policy of isolationism, and that this policy should be for the long-term.
For once, the finances directed towards warfare, should be applied to correcting inequality at home, and finding a solution to growing zenophobia among our own populations..
It is time, now that Saddam has gone, to allow the Middle East to determine it's own destiny, and for we, as a block, to do the same at home.
it is now a case of 'physician, heal thyself'..

Friday, October 20, 2006

One must question if it's a case of 'familiarity breeds contempt'.. or whether it's just the natural progression of the pursuit of the lowest common denominator..
Internet chatrooms have deteriorated to an amazing extent over the past few years.. to the point at which there is no intelligent conversation to be found..
This might be in part to the misuse of the medium.. the fears of providers in keeping paedophiles away from their prey, but it would seem to go deeper than that..
While in Britain, there are only two major chat options available.. those being AT&T and Yahoo/Lycos.. those who once frequented these rooms for an exchange of ideas, thoughts, have been replaced by cliquish groups who, for the most part, are only interested in witless banter. Those rooms once dedicated to the discussion of religion, philosophy, politics, are now either empty, or devoid of a population with any interest in these subjects..
And this is a terrible shame..
Where we once had forums... we now have little more than a small village mentality, in which gossip is the main topic..
We have squandered what could have been an amazing resource.. exchanged intelligence for mediocrity..
And while the various governments worldwide have had their part in this deteriorative process, the main fault lies with those participating..
What was instant acess to global debate, has become a travesty.
Yet another great idea.. reduced to the lowest common denominator.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Interesting scenario unfolding before us..
One has to find it almost inconvievable that Venezuela is running a close second for the temporary seat on the UN Security Council.. The appointment would only be for two years duration, but the presence of a government who's President has called George 'the Devil' when there are so many cards on the table.. North Korea, Afghanistan, The Sudan, Iraq, continuing petrochemical sources..
Yet there it is indeed.. the possibility of a voice which could prove decisive in immenent votes..
While on the topic of North Korea.. There is some question concerning just what sanctions will be imposed on North Korea.. It's always those at the bottom of the ladder who suffer most when trade embargos are imposed, and China is understandably concerned about the possibility of a flood of refugees, with the poorest appearing first..
Yet all seem agreed that something must be done to curb Kim Jong Il's determination to test nuclear weapons.. There has been a formal warning from the US to Pyongyang, that no follow-up testing will be tolerated.. but just what that ambiguous statement actually means is moot..
Military action would seem to be a non-option, on several levels..
The US and NATO are already deployed on two fronts.. to stretch the limited resources of the main contributing countries, and with France, Italy, and Germany exceedingly reluctant to contribute to this effort.. could, and almost certainly would, lead to failure on all fronts.
Especially when China declares itself neutral, and possibly refuses any forces engaging North Korea the use of Chinese ports..
Russia itself could likely adopt a similar disassociation..
The Japanese..
Well despite their non-violent stance since the end of WW2, their Foreign Minister has dropped sotto voce hints, that they too, might consider a nuclear program.. It demonstrates perhaps more graphically than any other statement, that there are real concerns about the virulence of the attacks on The American, and thus by association the Western, way of life, by the average North Korean man on the street. They do believe our way of live to be evil.. not just bad, or despicable, but evil. This is what they've been taught, indoctrinated into believeing, since the Korean War..
And they're a proud people.. whether earned or not, they have self-belief in abundance..
Just as the Japanese have a name for Westerners they're not too fond of.. so do the Chinese, and the Koreans, and right around the Pacific rim to the Philippines..
It is an area of the world which has a history which far oputstrips ours.. While our ancestors fought with gay abandon, the Oriental mind had already become well-versed in manipulation.. both in battle and in diplomacy.. and we, relative newcomers to this poiltical scene, who's government(s) aim for the well-being of the individual, are dealing with those who have been trained to deal with amazing alacrity, leaving all those within the negtoiations at least appeased, while achieving their own purposes entirely. Their diplomacy works in small steps, small concessions, leading them into a position of moral, or economic superiority.
One must define 'moral' here, in the Western sense..
North Korea is fishing.. seeing just how strong the line is that binds them with China.. and how the other rod reels in the West..
North Korea could not concievably win a full-fledged war with the West, and Pyongyang knows this without a doubt. This is the case of 'The Mouse That Roared'.. an attempt to pry direct talks between Kim and George.. concessions for a country that while wallowing in poverty, is united in it's hatred of all the US represents..
Interesting.. Mohammad al Baradai, the head of the UN Regulatory Commission, says it's becoming 'fashionable' to posess nuclear capabilities.. he estimated that as many as 30 countries have the technology to build the bomb..
It's when these powers posess the long-range rockets capable of delivering these bombs, that we'll find ourselves back in a 'Cold War' situation, multiplied by tens..
We are doing well, are we not?

Monday, October 16, 2006

One must wonder if Jack Straw had any idea what a broohaha he would be stirring up with his stance aginst Muslim women wearing veils while in his Constituency Surgery..
It's turned, from one man's stance aginat anonymity, to a national cause od group segregation..
This weekend, Government Minister Phil Woolas angered Muslim groups by calling for 23-year-old Aishah Azmi - a Muslim teaching assistant suspended for refusing to remove her veil - to be sacked.
The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Muhammad Abdul Bari, has claimed that a recent "drip feed" of ministerial statements over the issue has "stigmatised" the entire Muslim community... that "What is happening, especially in the last few months, has been a barrage of demonisation of the Muslim community to such an extent that the community is now scared and the whole community feels vulnerable."
Yet Communities Minister Ruth Kelly spoke to a meeting of local authority officials saying the battle against extremism in the UK was the biggest security issue for local communities and should be fought by everyone - not just Muslims.
She told representatives from 20 councils and senior police officers at the meeting: "This is not just a problem for Muslim communities.
"The far right is still with us, still poisonous, still trying to create and exploit divisions.
"Extremism is an issue for all of us. We all must play our part in responding to it."

One cannot doubt the sincerity of Ruth Kelly, or the resentment of the Islamic Community.. but what has begun as a tempest in a teapot is turning into something much more ugly..
If we have British Commanders on the ground in Iraq saying the presence of our troops is indeed leading to an increase in terrorist rectuits, what can we expect on this island, when traditional values are becoming something which could face antipathetic legislation..
We have had a history in dealing badly with minority groups in this country, and especially when dealing with cultures which differ radically from 'the norm'..
Historically Britain has not been a place minorities have flocked to.. it wasn't until the 50's and 60's that the Black Community grew to any significant size..
Now, we have a Muslim Community which measures in the millions, and quite frankly this, when looked at by native Britains who live side by side, is in some cases, daunting to say the meast..
Add the aspect of the source of most terrorists these days, and there is cause for concern..
As has been said several times in these writings, while Britons must become familiar with the true nature of these new faces on the block.. it behooves the Muslim Community to defuse this current issue..
There is nothing in the Q'ran which demands a full-face cover for a woman.. it is the choice of certain sects and individuals..
Time to really dig deep, and decide, on both sides, the relative importance of religious dress..
Mind you, having said that, one wonders if there will be future protests about the particular dress of Hassidic or Ashkenazi Jews..
Already a woman has been fired from her job for wearing a cross on the job..

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A disturbing sociological trend in these British Isles has prompted the government to invest £4 million to televise ads aimed at 18 to 24 year olds, about the dangers of 'binge drinking'..
But one has to wonder, whether seeing clips od young people vomiting on themselves, starting pointless fights, anding up in police custody, will really make much of an impact on the problem..
It seems there is, among a significant proportion of British youth, a sense of pointlessness, of directionless everyday existence.
Now, drinking las long been an integral part of British social life, and has always, to some extent, been a problem..
But these days, there is a sub-culture, of a young demographic who are either in poor paying jobs, or entirely unemployed and on State Benefits, who fi d that their working, or trying to find work, is made bearable only by the prospect of losing themselves in recreational drugs or alcohol, or a combination of both. There is a distinct lack of 'pride' in their work, and a subsequent reluctance to find a job..
And it seems we're seeing a repeat of the cycle last evident at the end of the Second World War, wherein those who have achieved qualifications, are leaving the country for more lucrative employment in North America. This, in itself, is a reflection to those who have no skill to export, of the 'trapped' scenario.. and thus.. the drive to escape the quotidien slog by a cathartic release on the weekend..
Itr's difficult to find any particular person or institution to point a finger at.. to lay blame at the feet of..
It's a phenominon that has been evolving for decades..
It would seem that perhaps one solution would be to re-introduce an older form of educational standards, wherein it was determined in lower schools what each individual student's capabilities might be, and guidance offered to steer them towards a realistic goal.. a skill they can excell in.. It might be best to reverse our position, that 'anyone can achieve a higher education, and deserves a place in University'..
A return to the apprentice system, and a re-instilling of that elusive 'pride' element, would give those who are currently square pegs being forced into round holes, to realize they have worth, without having to struggle for a Degree they will never be able to complete..
It might be better if the £4 planned for advertising against over-indulgence.. was used to build and staff a technical school.. one which could properly train tradesmen.. offer those among the great bewildered an option which currently is not available..
Give people a sense of pride, and there's far less a chance they'll take any oportunity to escape their mundane existence.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A comment from General Sir Richard Dannet, the Head of the British Army, has indicated that the British presence in Iraq is fueling terrorism, and it would be better for the Government to reconsider the schedule for withdrawal of troops from the area..
Comments from the British man on the street appear to agree with this assessment, and would indeed like to see our boys come home.. but there have also been reports from Brits living in Baghdad, who say such a withdrawal at this time would be catastrophic, leading to the deaths of thousands of Iraqi's in continued terrorist attacks, and would in fact, allow those terrorist groups to consolidate, throwing the country into a situation wherein there is a national government which is effectively powerless to protect those who have opposed the Muslim extremist stance..
It's a fine line Tony has to walk these days. It is absolutely true that once Western troops disappear, the government of Iraq will face an enormous task of trying to deal with those who would die to restore a Caliphate, while dealing with the normal everyday incidents of crime and mayhem. This Iraqi government is totally dependent on the Western presence at this point, and is still working on the timetable set out three weeks ago, that projected a civil war in the country within two months.
If British forces depart the south of Iraq, leaving a situation that has yet to be resolved, then it could be quite rightly said that we have done exactly what George Sr. did following his withdrawal from Iraq in the early 90's.. leaving a population open to reprisals, and perhaps facing certain death.
Yet as Sir Richard pointed out, and as has been mentioned before in this journal, we are fighting a war which we cannot now, conceivably win..
This is our VietNam.. and while the deposition of Saddam was certainly a necissary action, the followup operation was always going to be a losing proposition..
A rock and a hard place aint in it.. we either commit ourselves to an almost continuous occupation, or we cut our losses, and leave it to the Iraqi's to sort it out.
It's a loss, anyway one looks at it.
One wonders, once Western forces have withdrawn, how long it will take Iran to launch an offensive against the precarious government in Iraq.. again proposing a unified attempt at implementing a religious solution.. a turning back of the clock to a Caliphate, and a government filled with Islamic zeal..

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