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

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.

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