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

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A couple of thoughts to end the day..
Internationally.. Condalessa's turned the heat up a dgree or two.. her comments to the effect that 'too much power is centred in the Kremlin' is a not so thinly veild attack on Vlad.. and Vlad's not about to disappear from the Russian government..
A tone is being set by the Bush White House with Russia that will be something of a concern for the Republican who'll likely inherit.. It's also a situation the Republicans can campaign strongly on.. they haveing the supposed 'long-range plan'..
Extraordinary, for such a senior American diplomat to be so blatently rude to their host..

Two senior American 'officials' have flown to Turkey in the hopes of defusing a situation which is causing adeterioration in the two NATO allies' relationship.
Eric Edelman, an ex-US ambassador to Ankara, and Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried are to hold talks with top Turkish foreign ministry officials..
The US has criticised Turkish threats to stage cross-border raids on Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq.. and, perhaps a more volotile issue in the minds of the Turkish man on the street..ties have also been strained by a US congressional vote branding the killing of Armenians in 1915-17 as genocide..
It's a label no Turk wants affixed to it's history..
This could be a crucial issue.. what with Turkey awaiting admission to the EU.. the constant factor of Turkey being an Islamic State..
It's an ally the West does not want to lose.. other than perhaps the country which epitomises 'the West'.. the US..
Why Congress voted to accept that term is a mystery.. one which perhaps deserves some investigation..

And.. some mention must be made concerning the statement from retired American Lt.General Ricardo Sanchez.. who has labelled US political leaders as "incompetent" and "corrupted"..
He continues with condemning the current strategy in the conflict, which he warned was "a nightmare with no end in sight".
The White House responded.. by pointing to the report by current commander Gen. David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who said the situation was 'difficult'.. but marked by gradual improvements.
White House spokesman Trey Bohn said.. "We appreciate his (Gen Sanchez's) service to the country... As General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker have said, there is more work to be done, but progress is being made in Iraq."
Gen Sanchez was commander of coalition forces in Iraq for a year from mid-2003..
He retired last year in the aftermath of the scandal over detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.. He himself, was cleared of any wrongdoing.
'Delaying defeat' was the eventual outcome of present While House strategy, said Gen. Sanchez..
It's a certainty it's a situation George will hope to control, a best as he can.. and one from which he'll be only to happy to turn his back on..

Now, back at the ranch..
A leading environmentalist..Sir Jonathon Porritt.. said "soaring" speeches about making the UK a world leader in fighting climate change were not backed up by action..
Now, this issue was one of the main planks in the Conservative 'manifesto'.. as delivered in Brighton at their annual conference.
Environmental issues.. alternate fuel development.. viability studies supporting certain projects which have been subject to funding delay by Tony's Labour were trooped out again.. and it was pointed out that while the studies were, in some cases, several years old.. all they had predicted as far as weather changes had taken place..
It would seem that Labour is now willing to address the issue with more diligence..
Ten years of procrastination is pretty good, in political terms..

Not much to announce in the way of real developments in the postal strike issue..
While it's been released that 'Ministers are pleased' at the details which appear to have brought the threat of rolling strikes to an end, and a return to normalcy as we have come to accept it..
But.. we've yet to hear any of those 'details' in any confirmed sense..
It is understood that the "big pillars" of management demands were in place including pension fund reform, a pay rise this year of around 2.5% and the reform of working practices.. but the company had not "got it all its own way".
Quite frankly.. it's been somewhat refreshing this past week or so.. not to see the unending stream of bills and circulars littering the floor in the morning..
But there are many of us who have been waiting for parcel deliveries..

While simplistic to the extreme.. to many in this country the government has only five jobs..
To ensure tax dollars are spent wisely.. to keep our Armed Forces up to date.. to manage our healthcare system properly.. to keep our streets safe and fires put out.. and to ensure the garbage is picked up and the post delivered..
That's it.
And it is source of constant wonder to us all, why no government appears to be capable of delivering.
Some snippets which have been sitting on the desk for a while.. worthy of commen, but eclectic in their application to the larger Puzzle..
Now.. the details of a settlement in principle which has been worked out between Royal Mail and the TUC have yet to be announced.. but it would appear that deliveries should be back to normal, conservatively speaking, by mid next week..
But it begs the question.. why goes the government allow such costly disruptions to our national infrastructure, when a simple solution is directly at hand? What did the government gain from this?
Perhaps indeed, it is the support it felt was needed, to limit the powers of the Unions.. the movement upon which Labour itself was founded.. without it seeming to be a direct attack on workers rights..
Might be interesting to see whether or not Gordon uses his gifted time in office to bring in legislation that would pre-empt much of that which we might have seen if the Tories were in power..

Now Condaleesa's not having the best of times in Russia..
With Putin merely changing hats, so to speak, the US is well aware that while their own political movers and shakers will be changing when George steps down, the Russian's have a plan in motion that will re-establish that country as one of the superpowers..
Condaleesa didn't have much success in selling the new American surveillance systems planned for eastern Europe.. and while the Poles and the Ukrainians are hot for the American business, Vlad has no intention to stop short of reminding them they were once part of the USSR.. and European gas and oil come from Russian suppliers..
Now however.. Condaleesa's announced that she'd like words with leading Russian activists.. those in favour of a closer relationship with the West.. that she had an interest in their view of 'human rights and democracy' in Russia..
An interesting possibility.. that the US might support the growth of a movement in Russia that's diametrically opposed to that Vlad's leading his country towards..
How much would Vlad put up with..?

Now.. an interesting note from a couple of days ago..
Both Alistair Darling and George Osborne, the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor respectively, made it quite clear during the introduction of the pre-budget report earlier this week, that commitments to Foreign Aid would be met.. That we would not default on our international pledges to help the starving masses..
A report on armed conflict in Africa has shown that the cost to the continent's development over a 15-year period was nearly $300billion.. £146billion..
The research was undertaken by a number of non-governmental organisations, including Oxfam..
It says the cost of conflict was equal to the amount of money received in aid during the same period..
This is the first time analysts have calculated the overall effects of armed violence on development... at least according to the UN Agency..
And that's tripe.
There have been dozens of studies and analyses on the actual beneficial effects of our donations.. each of them pointing to corrupt government officials.. political manipulation in the distribution of the aid materials and cash.. profligate waste through lack of distribution infrastructures..
And some of these studies are over 30 years old, with exactly the same problems highlighted.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a significant amount of money out of our national economy, to help those who's lives have, or are in the process of being, destroyed. There is absolutely nothing wrong with our making what amounts to an investment in countries which have potential.. in people who both want and need at least the basics for human survival..
But it is absolutely pointless to continue to pour money into the pockets of those already wealthy, at the expense of those who's lives remain hopeless.
Would it not make more sense to demand that along with the cash, comes administrators.. contractors.. materials the likes of plumbing and lumber.. agriculturalists.. who would themselves be responsible for the expenditure of the total amount promised in foreign aid.
And would it not then be the responsibility of the various governments who's people are being dragged into the present, to protect these aid workers from groups the likes of the Janjamacoute.. would it not be a matter for the ANF..?
Would seem to make more sense.. and while it would undoubtably cause a huge uproar from countries in receipt of such aid..
What face we would gain as a society, from China..
Recall the initial statement in this particular comment.. We have paid for the weapons.. not crops..
Surely it's a case of 'fool me once..'

And just as a matter of interest.. Google the name of this blog..
Google powered more than half of all search requests carried out around the world in August..
A global study by analysts comScore revealed that more than 61 billion searches were performed by more than 750 million users in the month.. that users performed more than 37 billion searches via Google, more than all the other major search engines combined..
Yahoo was the second most used engine, followed by Baidu, the Chinese language search engine.
Creatures of habit.. are we?

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's a serious situation for the Burmese junta now..
Until today.. the generals could count on China to deflect any real action against them. But China has joined with the other 14 members ..The security council statement, which also called for "genuine dialogue" with the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, marked the first time that Beijing had agreed to UN criticism of the junta.
The statement did not threaten sanctions, but the significance of its unanimous support by all 15 members of the security council would not have been lost on Burma's generals..
Once again.. great face for China here..
And.. just as a reminder of the size of the country.. the scope of their projects which are quickly bringing a previously quiet presence into our economin sphere..
China plans to move at least 4 million people from their homes to ensure the "environmental safety" of the Three Gorges Dam, state media reported.
The shift of a population the size of Ireland, which is due to take place over the next 10 to 15 years, will be one of the biggest environmental resettlements in modern history..
Moving 4 million people..
The Chongqing municipality vice-mayor, Yu Yuanmu, said the move was necessary to protect the ecology of the giant reservoir formed by the dam.. that's according to the Xinhua news agency.

$82.77 a barrel for US sweet crude at the close..
Need one say more?

started the day with one.. can't think of a better way to end the week but another..
Used by Paul Rogers of the University of Bradford, during a discussion on the merits of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to environmentalists..
The professors point was that even the military has think-tanks working on the status of global security, should rising sea levels flood vast areas of the Far East..
"..that the 'securitisation' of the area over the long term, qualifies the award to those who are looking at future effects on disappearing land mass, and the relocation of those who once lived there.."
It's good to laugh, sometimes.
Just a small point to begin this morning.. concerning the deterioration of the English language..
Used during an interview with the BBC by our Shadow Health Minister, Andrew Lansley, when referring to the lack of incentives provided hospital staff.. nurses.. cleaners.. healthcare workers.. to maintain a constant level of cleanliness and adequate individual patient care, when their numbers appear to be constantly shrinking..
And this is an educated man..

That issue remains one of two stories at the fore in our media. Not the verbal blunder mind, but the state of our hospitals and clinics..
Back to this in a moment..

The issue facing the man on the street as he reads his paper, is stress. How it's affecting our children..
A Cambridge based think=tank has released it's conclusions, that Primary School students are being overwhelmed.. not only with the exams, the SATs they must sit, but with the state of the world in general..
One can recall when nightmares were the spawn of Saturday afternoon horror movies.. and a vague yet persistent worry our parents seemed concerned about called 'the Cold War' and 'the Cuban Missile Crisis'..
But for those who took part in this study.. some 750 kids under 5 years of age.. their concerns ranged from world economic issues, to violence on the streets, to the breakdown of the family.
Less than a third of the children polled sat down with their entire family for an evening meal.. More than half expressed, in the terms of a child, fears about family finances, and the future Mom and Dad had together.. More than two thirds said there had been 'talks' with their parents about the importance of studying and paying attention in class now.. and these kids are in pre-school..
Even more disturbing is the apparent lack of success parents and teachers are having with these children.. That fewer than half of 4 year olds, entering the formal school process for the first time, can read even simple words.. unable even phonetically to string together 'r-ed' to get red..
This would seem to point to a trend among teachers, wherein their role is less now that of an educator, and more of a social psychologist..
The Tories were pushing this issue hard during their conventioneering.. the re-establishment of family values.. the rearranging of parental priorities so that family issues are taken at least as seriously as those dealing with work..
It's an apt picture though which comes to mind.. that of the Dutch boy trying to stop the leaks in the dike..
And while on the subject of the Dutch and children.. kids in the Netherlands are rted the happiest and most content in Europe by a UNICEF study.
It, of course, has to do with a number of factors.. but it seems the most influential were the Dutch attitude in general concerning issues the likes of sex.. marihuana use.. and drink..
Because parents are more relaxed, the dynamics of the problems are less severe than in countries where they are seen as more of a serious issue..
Yet that is not to say the importance of an education is not impressed on Dutch children.. what is significant, is that they are not pushed beyond their boundaries either by their parents, or their peers..
Interesting. Swedish children are second on the list, by the way..

Now. This issue of British health care is one which will continue for quite some time.. the Opposition will have ten years of figures to recount.. ten years of Labour promises to toss across the floor of the Commons..
And this story which came out yesterday concerning 90 deaths directly attributable to hospital care, or lack of it.. and hospital conditions.. will demand statement and counter-statement..

At least it'll take some of the focus off the fact we won't be getting regular post through the door for a while..

Thursday, October 11, 2007

There are many governments running subsidised health care programs.. the various schemes run by the Canadian provinces spring to mind among the examples of those which provide excellent service.. but there are few given the annual budgets of our NHS..
And very few with the problems we're facing..
The deaths of 90 hospital patients from clostridium difficile are "scandalous", according to Health Secretary Alan Johnson.
Kent police have launched an investigation into whether that county's Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust should be prosecuted for the deaths..
The Healthcare Commission said a "litany" of errors in infection control had caused the "avoidable tragedy".
It said nurses at the trust were too rushed to wash hands and left patients to lie in their own excrement..
This, in a British hospital..
The health secretary has told the trust at the centre of a hospital bug investigation to withhold any severance pay from its former chief executive.
Rose Gibb of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust resigned on Friday after four years in the post..
One question reverberates from last Wednesday's Question Period.. a question asked by David of Gordon.. 'all the billions of Pounds allocated to the improvement of the British health care system over the past decade.. the institution of basic hygiene proceedures.. Where has all the money gone..?'
Gordon was Chancellor during all the years ofpromises of an improved health system..
It's his question to answer..

We back to intermittent postal service across this island, as postal workers start a series of wildcat walkouts..
The issue at the core of the dispute is that of pensions.. Not to imply the prospect of modernisation and the loss of 45 hundred jobs, and current wages aren't legitimate concerns of the Union.. but with an aging workforce, the pensions some of these men and women have been working towards for thirty years just may not be there when the time comes to start collecting..
The government has not invested wisely.. and the man or woman who puts the post through the slot fully understands the position they're in..
But again.. two words for the government.
"Essential services".

Finally.. a note here..
A leading industry survey shows house prices across the UK tumbled last month at the fastest rate for two years, while demand from first-time buyers plummeted sharply, adding to widespread evidence that the housing boom could be over.
Emphasis on 'could be'..
If housing prices fall a too precipitous rate.. those banks and equity funds now holding defaulted mortgages could find themselves even deeper in the hole..
It does not bode well for the British building industry, dispite government promises of a million new homes built by 1012..

And herein the basic flaw in the pre-budget report delivered by Alistair earlier this week.. He assumed our economic growth would continue, albeit at a slower rate than predicted.. and all indications are he's overly optimistic..
While many would smile at the very idea of political debate being entertainment, have never seen the British House of Commons in full swing..
And never is it any more entertaining .. during 'Prime Minister's Questions'..
Now, to explain for those who's various forms of government might not have such a procedure.. what it entails is a half hour, every Wednesday at noon, where the Prime Minister faces off with the leader of the Opposition, in a full-out, insult laden, sarcastic attack on whatever issue might be in the public eye..
Now.. Prime Minister's Questions follows a different format to those of questions to other ministers. MPs do not normally give the prime minister prior notice of the subject which they are going to raise..
This element of surprise allows opposition MPs, in particular, to try to catch the Prime Minister out with an awkward question..
And, the Prime Minister must respond without delay, thinking on his or her feet..
This is where it gets interesting..
Today, was a session which will go down in history, as a classic..
It is common knowledge that David and Gordon actually dislike each other. Each believes the other to be guilty of the lack of ethical values, and moral fibre..
But yesterday.. David attacked Gordon with such vitriol.. with such vehemence.. throwing accusations which ran the gamut from irresponsibility, to demonstrating to the British man on the street that Gordon's government essentially regards the individual as 'fools'..
Gordon's retorts became equally as forcible.. but the Prime Minister did repeat himself a few times, occasionally flustered by the tone of the Conservative attack..
Now.. another feature of Question Time, is that MPs in attendance can comment while a statement or a response is being given.. catcalls.. jeers.. derisive laughter.. all allowed, within the discretion of the Speaker of the House.. who does, mind you, frequently intervene in the scrum, and call for a general quiet..
Gordon has, for the first time, given the Opposition genuine issues to practice their sarcasm skills..
And one must say.. Gordon will certainly be fervently be mouthing that old Gaelic valediction.. which translates to 'may no new thing happen..'.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

British households might be seeing something this morning that's been missing from what was a daily routine.. There might be post through the door for the first time in a week..
But it could be short lived.. a new round of rotating strikes has already been announced.. starting early next week, and continuing until there's some resolution of the differences between the Royal Mail and the TUC..
65 million pieces of mail awaited the workers who returned to their jobs this morning.. with the Union saying it will take some time to get through, but RM managers claim it amounts to not much more than one day's worth of backlog..
Regardless.. the effects of this strike have had downstream effects.. catastrophic effects in some cases.. Some businesses which do the bulk of their business over the internet and which rely on the mails for their deliveries, have simply found even this last strike too much, and have folded. Others, who find themselves close to the edge, are dreading the possibility of no mail over the Christmas season when they conduct a significant percentage of their business..
'Essential Services'..
Our politicians need to consider the option seriously..
We'll discuss this more, as the situation develops, and more figures are released which reflect the ripple effect throughout our economy..

Now.. this past summer has been touted as perhaps the wettest since records began being kept.. Floods throughout the Island have left insurance companies facing a bill which could amount to close to £3billion.. and the government has announced that it's only willing to throw some £600million into a relief fund for those towns, cities, and villages worst affected by the waters..
This has prompted an announcement from insurers this morning, that they'll not be offering 'flood cover' for homes built on flood plains.
Consider. The government has promised the construction of a million plus new homes throughout the country over the next two years.. and factoring in how many of those homes must be built on areas with the possibility of flooding should this summers weather repeat itself.. it means many of these new homes will not be offered coverage protecting them against what might euphamistically be called 'an act of God'..
It's undeniable we need more housing. It's inevidable they will be built.
But whether or not flood preparations on offer from the government will meet what's seen to be the minimum needed to be done to reduce the risk of property damage, is moot..
There will be a Parliamentary debate on the issue today, involving the Environment Agency and the plans they have come up with to contain the overflow should the rains return.. But if events unfold as they normally do, it will be a cost that's eventually and inevidably passed along to those looking for insurance.
Not a positive sign for either the housing industry, or those who're looking to get on to the property ladder.
Oddly enough, this past summer's flooding was forcast by the Environment agency back in 2004..
Again, this is an issue we'll be keeping a close eye on..

Now.. an issue which is of growing concern throughout British society..
A survey by the charity, the Howard League for Penal Reform, suggests that a full 50% of all schoolchildren have been thevictim of crime.. often right on school grounds.
This goes beyond the archtypical school bully taking lunch money from the weaker.. but has escallated to severe beatings.. theft of mobile phones, iPods, electronic notepads..
And what is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this trend, is that these items are not stolen to be sold, or kept for the use of the thief.. but are taken simply for the thrill.. the exercise of power so to speak.. with most of that being stolen destroyed in front of the victim..
There is little enough to distinguish humans from animals, without the disappearance of common values and ethics and manners..
It must be said that most of the blame must be laid at the feet of the parents of those who become delinquent..
It's far too easy to blame society as a whole, for the failure on a personal level of those who sire these 'yobs'..
There is still an argument to be made, for young offenders being removed from a parental environment which does not actively promote respect for others and their property. It might well be time to re-evaluate the penalties imposed upon those involved in anti-social behavior.. Compulsory national service, or a return to the Borstal system, begins to appear attractive..
This trend can likely be traced back to attitudes developed decades ago..
It was a mere 4 years ago, that Vergers at Sheffield Cathedral were sent on self-defence courses amid the rising tide of violence against church workers.
And figures published in March 2003 showed that since 1999 there had been a 33% surge in the number of violent crimes against vicars and other ministers..
During that period, 561 attacks were recorded, including two murders in 2002.
This past week.. Members of the clergy were advised to take off their dog collars when they are on their own, to reduce the risk of being attacked.
National Churchwatch, which provides personal safety advice, says vicars are attacked more often than professions such as GPs and probation officers.
The organisation's Nick Tolson said all clergy should consider the advice, including the Archbishop of Canterbury..
The group also produces security advice for all UK churches and churchworkers.
In the past decade, five vicars have been murdered.
A number that in itself, disappears when taken in context of those who've been victims of a violent death over the same period of time.. But certainly an indication of the loss of respect for those, who have traditionally been seen, as non-violent people, and those who represent a non-violent lifestyle..
In a survey of 90 London clergy carried out last year, nearly half said they had been attacked in the previous 12 months.
One vicar, from Willesden, north-west London, said his vicarage had been machine-gunned.. but still did not believe he had experienced violence.
Taken in the context of the random incidents of berserkers in the US, and the world in general recently.. one can admit that particular Vicar has a point..
Just another piece of the Puzzle..

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It could well have been scripted to be a pre-election economic platform, this pre-budget statement from Alistair this afternoon..
The national economy.. was going to be adversely affected by the American Housing Bubble.. growth has been downsized to around 2% or 2.5% for the coming year..
Oddly enough we heard the same from George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor at the Tory conference..
Net borrowing.. to be kept within 'sustainable levels' guided by 'restraint'..
A bit of a non-statement there..
However.. net borrowing was forecast to fall from £38billion this year to £23billion in 2012.. roughly £3billion a year if we start now. How, was not quite explained though..
And on the environment.. Alistair said aviation duty would be paid on flights, rather than individual passengers..
We heard that proposal just a week or so ago from.. the Conservatives..
Now Alistair touched on a myriad of taxation issues.. allocation issues.. funding issues.. but to make what seemed to be a long statement much shorter.. it boils down to the usual suspects..
A promise of a judiciously administered economy.. of improved funding for better public services.. without the fine details of just how the money is going to be raised..
It must be said that the Shadow Chancellor had a field day..
And it was also clear, that while Gordon is officially Prime Minster.. he had made more than a small contribution to that which was delivered to the Commons this afternoon..

Monday, October 08, 2007

A couple of points to end the day.. outside the scope of Britain's immediate problems..
Ibrahim Gambari.. the UN Envoy who's just returned from Burma.. briefed the UN Security Council today.. having warned the Burmese junta leaders that continued human rights violations would lead to 'serious international reprecussions'..
During his 4 days in country, he met senior generals and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi...
The government claims at least 10 people were killed in the crackdown after last week's protests.. Mr Gambari said he feared the real death toll could be much higher..
One can only reasonably suspect the Envoy's fears were emminently justified..
But the problem here, is the financial relationship the junta has with Beijing and Delhi.. China has opposed what would amount to effective sanctions against Burma in the Security Council, saying that it's an internal matter, and something the UN has no mandate to interfere with..
But.. some signs the junta is not entirely without minds which can grasp continuing world pressure on their economy..
Earlier, reports suggested that General Than Shwe, the head of the ruling junta, had agreed in principle to meet the detained pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi..
However..he insisted that Ms Suu Kyi must give up her calls for international sanctions to be imposed against the regime, according to state media reports..
Mr Gambari said he was "cautiously encouraged" by the news and called for "maximum flexibility" from both sides.
Now, to see if such a meeting will in fact take place..
If indeed it does, and China can make itself seen as a mediator.. What face the Chinese would gain..
And what commitment could be forged between a nation that needs favoured status in oil trading, with a nation holding huge reserves..
Meanwhile, the reality of the supression of the recent protests throughout the country continues..
An undercover correspondent in Rangoon met two fugitive monks, and was told in one neighbourhood that the army had disposed of the bodies of monks killed during the crackdown by burning them in the local crematorium..
The military government is also reported to be holding monks in disused municipal buildings.. even those who applauded the monks during their demonstrations are being hunted down..
The atmosphere in Burma's main city is tense and fearful.. and will remain so until the junta can devise how a change in he basic governmental structure of the country can be effected.. without either disrupting the status quo.. or diminish their own power..
It would not do, to allow what appears to be positive moves by this junta, to lull to any degree the outrage at the fate of the protesting Buddhists..
Where arey are..
How many are left..

Or, that Darfur is still in uproar.. Charges that government troops and Janjaweed Rebels armed by the Sudanese government have attacked the only Darfuri rebel faction which agreed to a ceasefire with Khartoum..
Apparently the machete is still one of the weapons of choice against women and children..
That the UN's commitment of troops and aid still has not been met..
A number of rebel groups and the government have committed themselves to take part in new peace talks in Tripoli expected to begin later this month.. and there are suggestions that the spate of recent attacks is connected to the repositioning of forces ahead of these talks..
But analysts say that not only are the rebels splintered.. conservative estimates say there are at least 12 to 15 factions.. but that there are also splits between tribes, leaders in the field and political figures in exile..
Yet.. by next year the UN and AU are meant to have deployed the world's largest peacekeeping force.. 26 thousand troops.. to Darfur.
The hybrid force will absorb the 7 thousand African Union troops in the region who have struggled to protect civilians, admitting they are outmanned and outgunned..
But is this too, an 'internal problem'.. and has the UN or the international community any right at all to interfere..?
A fair attempt by Gordon when he spoke with the Parliamentary Labour members to minimise the damage incurred over this past weekend..
Even managed an uncharacteristic quip.. telling his sitting members that at least he had forced the Conservatives to reveal their strategies, which he could now tear apart..
Or adopt..
He'll have his time in office to demonstrate his abilities, or reveal his shortcomings..
And David will hone his political tactical leadership skills while leading the Opposition..
Facing us is Alistair the Chancellor's pre-budget report tomorrow.. which will announce that Britain's growth is greater than any other the G7 nations this year.. but which also must contain the forecast that 2008's going to be a bad year.. GDP forecasts suggest growth will slow, as the ripple effects of the US housing collapse filters through to the wider economy.. add to that this years interest hikes will begin to hit both the companies who've financed themselves through their immediate problem by taking loans at exorbitant rates.. and the consumers who've put themselves into record levels of individual debt..
To wit.. Northern Rock is paying 6.75% to the Bank of England for the cash it took to keep afloat.. Mind you, Northern Rock may well weather what appeared to be a catastrophe.. it's stock's rising again..
The Treasury expects the economy to notch up growth of between 2.75% and 3.25% for 2007.
That's in line with City forecasters..
But its 2008 forecast of between 2.5% and 3.0% is looking increasingly optimistic.
Consumer spending is expected to slow considerably.. credit's tightening..
And regardless of what might be said in Alistairs speech tomorrow, taxes will rise..
Another thought.. Lower official growth forecasts may have been one of the factors that persuaded the prime minister not to call a snap election.
They would have put government borrowing targets under more pressure and tied ministers' hands over vote-winning give-aways.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch..
The mail's not being delivered.. the NHS is screaming for more funding.. Local Councils will be demanding more from Westminster than the recent £50 million which is to be earmarked for 'local integration programs'.. a sop to give the impression the Ministers and elected representatives in Parliament are truely making an effort to ease racial integration.. And, the recent forcasts are that some 65 hundred jobs in the City's financial sector are to be cut because of this recent uproar in the markets..
Now this may seem somewhat insignificant in the big picture.. but it is a significant trend. Jobs, in the financial sector, have been on the increase.. 11 thousand over the last year.. It indicated a growth economy..
This reduction in staff, signifies the opposite in the eyes of the man on the street..
Now.. back to the revision in growth estimates for 2008..
Global Insight predicts a growth rate of less than 2%..slower economic growth means reduced tax revenues, and the spending targets set by Gordon when he was still chancellor will be hard to meet..
So.. Alistair has inevitably had to tread very carefully when preparing the Pre-Budget Report and the longer-term Comprehensive Spending Review, which sets out the government's expenditure over the next three years.
Should be interesting speech..

And, the $Am continues to slip.. oil prices continue to increase.. the price of gold is on the rise..
It's an interesting time..
Gordon faced the media early this afternoon, and took something of a masochistic stance when faced with a barrage of questions specifically aimed at his involvement with the rumours concerning an impending election.. and his backing away from a plebiscite when faced with the poll results which followed the Conservative Conference..
It was almost a Tony attitude.. a 'mea culpa'.. but not a 'mea maxima culpa'..
Accepting that perhaps he should have quashed any talk of elections before it was spun into a national frenzy, he initially told the media that he had not 'bottled out' from a national contest, but then accepted that as Prime Minister, he himself was responsible for whatever his advisers had allowed to blossom..
His prime concern now was to get on with implementing the business of government.. to put into action the plans he had laid out in his own manifesto as presented at his own party's conference, and that the idea of a general election was something we could all put out of our heads for the foreseeable future..
The reaction from the media was something bordering on contempt. Gordon has gone from a man who's character had been typified by careful consideration, to a 'politician' who's every statement must now be scrutinised for spin.
He has taken his first hundred days of successes, and tossed them away, and is now back to square one, both in the eyes of the public, and the media which feeds the crowd..
But Gordon does have the time to repair the damage, and this is a factor which cannot be discounted. If he manages to weather the oncoming financial and international crises which are in the offing over the next 18 months, he may find himself back in the race when the time the next election must be called..
However.. he faces the Commons later this afternoon to deal with the Iraq situation.. at least that's the proposed subject for his appearance before Parliament..
And if David allows this agenda to continue as planned.. Gordon still has Prime Ministers Questions to face on Wednesday, when this 'dithering and taking his countrymen as fools' will certainly be brought up..
There are a rocky few days ahead for the Prime Minister.. and his opponents are lining up their arguments to throw at him.. one after another..
An exceedingly unenviable position for Gordon..
Food and drink for David..
But the main concern is how soon.. or even whether the British man on the street, will forget this gaffe..
Much will be expected.. much demanded.. from a man who's gilding has worn transparently thin..
Having gone through arguably the worst weekend of his political life, Gordon will face the media this morning at his monthly press conference.. no doubt with the focus being the failed spin attempt of the possibility of a snap election..
The former Chancellor will also have his economic record dragged back into the limelight during this scrum.. a record he would have had preferred to see put behind him once he took the post of Prime Minister from Tony..
Unfortunately.. there's nothing Gordon can pass responsibility on to Alister Darling, yet..
Should provide us with some interesting soundbites, if nothing else..
And later this afternoon, he'll face Parliament, returning from it's Summer recess..
Now the agenda was meant to have been Gordon's plans for troop withdrawals from Iraq.. but he shot that bolt last week in Basra while paying a snap visit to the British contingent in Iraq..
So reasonably, one would expect David and his Opposition to also deride the PM on his electioneering tactics..
While it has to be said, Gordon's not done a bad job since he took the reins.. it cannot be minimised, this damage he's done himself and his Party with bringing the country, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say allowing the country to be whipped into a frenzy of election speculation..
It would be safe to say, the honeymoon's over..
Ahh.. and the Royal Post began their second of their announced strikes at three this morning, which will preclude home delivery until perhaps Friday..
Once again, the issues here are pensions.. wages.. and modernisation plans the Union says will cost their membership some 40 thousand jobs..
Gordon's going to have to answer for that, as well..
More to come as this day unfolds..

Sunday, October 07, 2007

While indeed, today's newspapers will be tomorrow's scrap paper.. the message will have some lasting effect on Gordon..
"Bottler Brown" many are calling him.
His decision not to hold an early poll has fired the gun for that cruelest of sports - a press field day..
Mr Brown gets a thorough going over in both the broadsheets and the tabloids..and in what is surely a first, both the 'Mail on Sunday' and 'Independent on Sunday' opt for the same headline.. "Brown bottles it."
Papers of all persuasions agree that the PM's "dithering" has damaged his reputation for strong leadership and as a conviction politician.
It's also brought Gordon's record of 'hidden taxation' throughout his tenure as Chancellor under Tony back into the limelight.. something Labour would sooner see put behind them..
In the Sunday Times Mr Brown is "all mouth and no trousers".. helpfully illustrated with a mocked-up picture of the PM in his boxer shorts.. it concludes he is a "victim of his own spin" and adds the country will think less highly of him..
Meanwhile, an article by Tory leader David Cameron goads that the Tories are ready but the PM is not.
One has to say Gordon made the right decision, that now is not the time for an election.. but his fuelling the speculation that his Party was ready and willing to increase their majority, appeared to wilt following the polls published following last weeks Tory Convention..
The voting public in this country will forgive politicians almost any indiscretion.. but is not tolerant of those who shy away from what's seen as a confrontation..
Gordon's record will needs be spotless for the next 18 months or so..
And that's quite an ask.
And what with the issues facing Parliament, David will be smiling at this point.. For what the Conservatives will face in the future, is a government which has some exceedingly unpopular issues to deal with..
Better Gordon dig the hole just a bit deeper, for surely there are neither quick fixes for the problems we will continue to face on the home economic front.. nor for those we're involved with on the international stage.
Either way, this has turned into a win/win situation for the Conservatives..

One issue we have been trying to keep on top of over these past few years.. is climate change. But, it would seem there is far more attention paid to the increasing numbers of hurricanes affecting the US and Caribbean, than the typhoons which yearly sweep through the far east..
While it is undeniable the weather patterns in the West have changed, and the effects have become far more damaging.. we hear little concerning storms the likes of Typhoon Krosa, which has caused a million Chinese to be displaced and a death toll which would be exceedingly difficult to estimate..
It would seem that a fuller picture is being denied us.. with the 'global' effects being sidelined..
Perhaps it serves certain interests to keep our concerns localised, for a broader understanding of how the weather is changing might well damage the credibility of some of those lobbying for fewer global emissions..
Something to think about..

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Ahh Gordon..
It was always a doubt, that the Prime Minister.. after waiting ten years to have that title, to hold that power.. would chance diminishing his majority in the Commons, or in fact, turning his Party into the Official Opposition, by calling a snap election..
David has pulled his Tories back into a position of power.. defined himself at this part party convention as a man who has solid planks upon which to build a government..
And going head to head at this moment, would be daft.
Quite right too.
Gordon's been making the moves of late that would have led one to think he was gearing up for a contest.. announcing troop pull-outs from Iraq in Basra before announcing it in the Commons.. as it is that announcement will be made Monday..
There are also plans for a pre-budget report in the near future..
And while speculation had run rife that we'd be heading to the polls on either the 1st or the 8th of November.. we're now told that while Gordon will make an announcement 'soon' concerning a snap election.. it's now odds on he'll be laying the thoughts of a quick campaign to bed..
Gordon has two years to either improve his country.. to introduce legislation which may well have been originaly Tory, but which now can be added to Labour's laurels..
To improve his own standing.. entrench himself on the international stage..
And while the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats may make political hay for a couple of weeks over Gordon's 'dithering'.. It will soon be back to business as usual in the Commons..

What's of more interest at the moment, is a proposed £9 billion train/subway system which would bisect London..
Ken Livingston is the current Mayor of London.. he's Labour..
Boris Johnson's the Tory opponent, and certainly a contender.. It wouyld not be much of a surprise to see Boris campaign against this new train system.. there's much debate about it's necessity.. it's cost.. the fact it would funnel so much government money into London, and what the downstream effects would be for funding for other British cities also crying for Westminster funding..
One would suggest that if the name Boris Johnson is an unfamiliar one to any readers.. that a Google of the man would be interesting to say the least..

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Just one more breaking story that deserves mention this evening..
It's what Gordon.. and David.. have been waiting for.. The results of the latest polls, following the Conservative Convention..
An ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper indicates the gap has narrowed to just 1%compared to 7% a month ago...
This follows two other surveys which suggest Labour's lead has dropped to 4% and 3% respectively.
It would be a daring move from Gordon to call a plebecite, as had been predicted, this November..
All in.. so to speak..
Concerns over wages.. only a 2.5% increase on offer..
Concerns over modernisation plans which.. according to the Union.. would cost close to 40 thousand jobs throughout the system..
Now.. after this strike ends next Wednesday..the CWU plans to stage a programme of rolling strikes each Monday until the dispute is settled.
The union's deputy general secretary, Dave Ward, says the strikes were "a proportionate response to an employer that is completely out of control," after five weeks of negotiations..
So.. Royal Mail has decided to start imposing changes on workers' conditions without union agreement from next week.
The Royal Mail spokesman has asked customers to avoid posting mail during the strikes to avoid a backlog.. but if they do, to post it at Post Office branches.. they'll remain open as usual.
But.. it's another legacy from Gordon's stint as Chancellor..
And it's raised the question as to why some professions have not been deemed 'essential services'.. police.. firemen.. doctors and nurses.. ambulance drivers.. postal employees.. all of course entitled to Union representation for negotiation with their various employers.. but denied the right to any work action other than 'work to rule'..
It's a choice when one makes when one takes on the job..
Accepting that what you've chosen to do.. any work issues must go to binding arbitration.. and while this process is underway, it's work as usual..
'Why has the government not adopted this process..?' has been asked a number of times by a number of people, and business concerns.
This will cost tens of millions, with the bulk of that sum to be absorbed by the smaller businesses who exist through mail order..

And it's going to be a hard winter for our farming community..
What with livestock contained within a rather large exclusion zone.. wherein they can't be taken anywhere but their own fields.. the farmers are running out of graze and are dipping into feed that was meant to have kept a diminished stock through the winter..
Stephen Dennis.. who runs the Farm Crisis Network in south-west England.. says calls to its hotline have "quadrupled" in recent weeks..
"Some people are desperate now. They are just getting by's the biggest time of year for moving livestock from one area of farms to another and also for rents and bills to be paid. The ban on exports is creating a massive backlog in the system and causing meat prices to plummet. Meanwhile, winter food stocks are being used up at the very time cereal prices are soaring."
Ahhh.. just what we need.. with the global economy teetering..

And the word from the States.. orders for factory goods saw their biggest drop in seven months in August.. according to US Commerce Department data.
Orders fell by 3.3% compared to a month earlier.. worse than the 2.8% forecast and reversing July's 3.4% rise..
Fewer orders for commercial aircraft had been a major factor behind the fall, down nearly 40% for the month..
But analysts seemed unperturbed by such figures..
"Signs that the world's biggest economy is slowing.. come amid wider fears over a global credit crisis that has impacted markets worldwide.."
"I don't think factory orders are a significant new indication of weakness," said Charles Lieberman, chief investment officer at Advisors Capital Management..
But hedging the bet here.. investors would be closely watching data to be revealed tomorrow..
Job figures set to be released..

One wonders if Gordon regrets selling that whack of our bullion reserve back when gold was at it's lowest level for ten years..
A very brief note to start the day..
More than 150 thousand postal workers are set to drop tools at noon today.. that means this country will see no post through the slot, 'til next Thursday.
That's a week.
From two deliveries a day, to none whatsoever, in 10 years.
It's a pension fund issue here.. the Communications Workers Union says Gordon could have prevented this..

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The end of the Conservative Conference this afternoon.. and David, speaking without autocue or a script, began his speech as a man who was a doubtful challenger to Gordon's bid for another term, but ended it as a man many could easily see as fit and ready to face a snap election.. should one be called.. and a man capable of leading this country..
About Gordon..
"Now last week in Bournemouth - or Bourne-mouth - we saw the old politics on display. It wasn't just that we' heard it all before, I mean literally heard it all before. I think actually quite a lot of people in America had heard it all before as well. There were the GP surgery family friendly opening hours, we've had that one three times before; eco towns, four times before; competitive sport in our schools, six times before - and no indication about how any of these things are going to be done. But it wasn't just that. It was the cynicism of it. He told us things that he knows he can't do. British jobs for British workers, it's illegal under British law. Deporting people for gun and knife crime, you can't do that because of Labour's Human Rights Act. I have to say to the prime minister: if you treat people like fools, you don't deserve to run the country, let alone win an election."
About the EU..
"When we look at our democracy, we're still stuck in the dark ages. When it comes to politics we just have to take what we're given and put up with it. And to me nothing sums this up more than the European constitution. It's not just that it's an issue of trust. We put it in our manifesto that there should be a referendum, Labour put it in their manifesto that there should be a referendum and it is one of the most blatant breaches of trust in modern politics they won't give us that referendum. But it actually goes further than that. In a world where we have all this freedom and control are we really saying to people that when it comes to how you're governed, how your country is run, you can't have a say, it's nothing to do with you? That's wrong and that's why we'll keep pushing for that referendum, campaign for a no vote and veto that constitution."
The speech lasted just over an hour.. punctuated frequently by ovations from the party faithful who crowded the convention centre..
And left Gordon with a decision. Either rely on the polls which indicated Labour in the lead after their convention.. or wait until he's had the job he's coveted for ten years, just a while longer..
It may well be that the Government will call us to the polls.. But, after this Tory Conference, the outcome may not go quite as planned..
Frankly, it would seem to be a dangerous move to make, to call an election before Labour has had a chance to implement some of the policies they outlined..
But people remember, that many of those planks Labour set down, were re-worded Conservative proposals which were voted down..
All in all.. David made his mark with this speech.. In his own words..
"We can get a great NHS if we make doctors answerable to patients and not to politicians. We can get great schools if we break open the state monopoly, allow new schools in and insist on high standards. We can get safer streets if we strengthen our families and get the police onto our streets. We can get it if we really want it. That's what we've got to do. So Mr Brown, what's it going to be? Why don't you go ahead and call that election? Let the people pass judgement on 10 years of broken promises, let people decide who's really making the arguments about the future of our country, let people decide who can make the changes that we need in our country. Call that election. We will fight. Britain will win."

A casual mention in the last post concerning biological attacks..But it's apparently a possibility the authorities are taking seriously..
A pot of burning chilli sparked fears of a biological terror attack in central London on Monday..three roads were closed in Soho and homes evacuated following the alert.
Specialist crews broke down the door to the Thai Cottage restaurant at seven in the evening where they discovered the source.. a 9lb pot of chillies..
The restaurant had been preparing Nam Prik Pao, a red-hot Thai dip which uses extra-hot chillies which are deliberately burnt.
But the smell prompted several members of the public to call the emergency services.
Alpaslan Duven, a Turkish journalist based in the restaurant's building, said: "I was sitting in the office when me and my chief start coughing and I said this was something really dodgy..
Supranee Yodmuang, the restaurant supervisor, was above the restaurant when she received a phone call from her boss..
"It was about 4pm when I saw the police who were closing off the roads but I didn't know why..My boss rang me and said I had to get out of the building because of a chemical attack."
She added: "Because we're Thai, we're used to the smell of chillies."
What has this society been led into..?

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Almost a case of Gordon shooting himself in the foot..
He's announced that by 2008, a thousand British troops will be home from Iraq..
But, what he didn't do was make the announcement in Parliament, but chose to do so while making a visit to Basra today.. And to further the blunder, he failed to mention that 230 of that thousand are already back.. that another 270 of them already had their orders cut to come home.. and that the other 500 were already expected to be returning early next year..
David and his Conference were expected to have been focussing at their Blackpool Conference on traditional Tory platform issues.. social reform.. prisons.. Home Ministry issues..
But this proved to be too much of a temptation to miss..
The Prime Minister has been accused of blatent electioneering with his announcement.. and the pundits are beginning to re-evaluate the advantage Labour might have, by calling a snap election..
Gordon's scarcely put a foot wrong since he's taken over from Tony.. But today's 'misinformation' has the public's attention..

Meanwhile.. at the Tory Convention.. Immigration did come up..
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis.. He told the party conference "unchecked immigration is not inevitable...not the irresistible result of globalisation. We can control it. We will control it".
Davis promised "tough new border controls" and annual limits on economic migrants: "We want the right people and the right number of people."
He also backed "zero tolerance" on crime and pledged to axe ID cards.. a measure Labour backs, and which would cost tens of millions to put into effect.. The money saved by the scrapping of that plan, would be put towards expanding British prisons.. allowing an end to Labour's policy of 'early release', which to this point, has seemingly increased recidivism..
David also had some scathing remarks about Labour's failure to hold the promised referendum on any EU Treaty.."One of the most flagrant breaches of trust" in British politics the Tory leader declared..
More tomorrow.. with the Convention coming to an end. David's closing statement to his Party should be an interesting one..

The backlash from the collapse of the American housing market continues..
A number of big investment banks have admitted major losses caused by bad investments centred on US sub-prime mortgage markets..
Worst hit was Swiss bank UBS which was forced to write down losses of 4 billion Swiss francs..$3.4Am billion.. £1.67billion..
The group said it now planned to cut 1,500 jobs and make extensive management changes..
Later, US giant Citigroup revealed its sub-prime losses would total $1.3billion, as well as $2.6billion in extra credit costs..
And with gold and oil hitting record prices.. One hopes some took our advice and bought bullion.. a slight dip in the price early today, but that can be put down to profit taking..
It's not over yet..

Now, British media is not allowed in Burma.. but there are a host of reports coming in..
Apparently about four thousand Buddhist monks are going to be transported to prisons in the north of the country.. It might be advisable for some International Regulatory Commission to try and keep a head-count, for it's odds on many will 'disappear'..
On Sunday morning, the Christian churches held special services praying for peace and reconciliation for the country.. At least one Catholic church a priest led a prayer for the victims of the military violence.
The church wants to remain apolitical.
It wouldn't do, one supposes, to have Christians actively involved.. even though it is their country.. their rulers.. their cause..
Ahh well..
In the meantime, sources indicate, the streets of Rangoon are quiet.
But, then what can one expect when their are armed soldiers at every streetcorner..

First foot-and-mouth disease makes a reappearance.. disrupting British livestock trade.. then the appearance of bluetongue..
Not being one to promote conspiracy theories.. It might be considered how.. and why these diseases have suddenly appeared..
Biological terrorism is not limited to such as 'dirty bombs'..
Merely something to be considered..

Monday, October 01, 2007

An Interesting morning..
Petrol prices have passed the Pound per litre mark..this due to a plan set in motion several months ago which increased government taxes by 2p per litre. And there'll be another 2p increase next month.. again part of this plan Gordon implemented while Chancellor..
And, as of this morning, one must be able to prove that one is at least 18 years old to buy a pack of fags.. that's a bump of two years. The shopkeepers, not to mention the kids who live in a culture that is not quite Californian in it's perception of the habit who will now be bothering their parents to keep them in supply, are somewhat bewildered.. a politically correct move, one supposes, but those who've been selling to kids they've known to be smokers for two years now are going to get an amazing amount of stick, and the aforementioned parents are not thanking Gordon for this new bother..
More stress..
Meanwhile, yesterday's speech by David at the beginning of the Tory Conference impressed his membership with an idea that maybe, just maybe, the country would be less impressed by Gordon's recent successes in comparisons with other world leaders, with his ten year record as Chanellor..
David's speech.. focussing on the usual suspects.. touched on the economy.. our international relationships.. ecology..
And on the whole.. he struck the right note..
Today.. some tax changes.. promises for reductions on those who inherit.. the abolition of the 'Stamp Duty' for first time buyers who's property's going for less then £250thousand..
That revenue coming from a tax on those 'non-national residents.. those citizens of other countries who live, and own businesses in Britain, but who have incomes which are diverted abroad.. thus avoiding British taxation entirely. David wants to charge them a flat rate £35thousand a year. Pocket change, for most of the estimnated 135 thousand who choose to keep their foreign passports..
It's a promising start..
And the one recurring theme we'll have hammered upon us for the next couple of days.. is Gordon's affect on all acpects of the last ten years..
And how David can do better.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The end of another day here in Scotland..
It's getting on to our winter.. such as it is.. and while the weather may well be the staple of conversation starters here.. other issues dominate the talk in the pubs..
Burma.. the idea of a military junta keeping a democratically elected government out of power for decades.. monks, nuns, and protesters again being gunned down in the streets of the Capital..
The economic ties binding China.. Britain.. France with the junta and the selective language being diplomatically applied to those in power, the military, in obvious efforts to appease those of us.. the Americans, British, French.. who share a sense of outrage.. rather than seriously having any effect on the events which will continue to unfold in that Asian country..
The Burmese people are less a consideration to our economic machine, than is the oil and gas the junta has contracted to supply..
Many a sage nose has been tapped, with a wink of an eye, at that thought..

And then there's Gordon, a man who could well be planning a call to the polls for us..
The signs are there.. before the Labour Conference shut down this noon hour, recruiters were already talking with local campaigners.. Gordon himself is mute, but will meet this Sunday with the hierarchy of his Party..
At this point, the consensus along the bar is that Labour would take a majority.. That while many of the policies Labour has been touting of late have been stolen directly from proposals made by the Tories two or three years ago.. policies Labour ridiculed and voted down at the time..
Policies dealing with issues the likes of immigration.. home security.. legal liability of those who intervene to stop a crime they might see being committed..
education.. the value of 'family'..
All former Conservative bills.. all voted down.. but now, popular stances..
And whether or not Labour can follow through on, or even afford, some of the planks we'll see laid over the next couple of weeks, is essentially irrelevent..
It's popularity that seems to be the push at the moment..
And that would point to the possibility of an early call for an election..
It would also take a lot of the focus off the Conservative Convention.. itself set to start next week..
David could find himself fighting for column inches, at a time he should be dominating the national political spotlight..

But the talk gravitated back to Burma..
How the State media is telling those not at the protests that the international media is "lying".. that now it's confirmed 9 protestors, one a Japanese freelance Photographer.. died when government troops opened fire on the crowds.. How david Milliband, our Foreign Secretary who's in New York at the UN has assured us that harsh sanctions will be placed upon the Burmese government..
But there was almost the look of a deer, caught in the headlights of an onrushing Mac truck, in Davids eyes..
He knows full well, that little the West does is going to have any effect on the junta.. That it will take definative threats from India and China for anything other than quiet amusement from the three Generals who control 'their' country..
And that will depend on what value India and China see, in maintaining the goodwill of Wesern investors..
Russia will have something to say on this as well, having contracted with the junta to build a nuclear reactor for them..
A complex issue.. much shaking of heads..
But all in agreement at least on one point.. that in the short run, the Burmese people are screwed..
"A skyfull of lies.."
The Burmese people have been warned by their military government.. that reports from the West, specifically the BBC and SkyNews.. and manufacturing a crisis which simply doesn't exist..
The military fired on the protesters today.. reports are that at least four have been killed, one of them, possibly, a Japanese photographer..
It continues to be interesting, the reaction from France concerning these developments in one of their spheres of economic involvement.. At the moment, France is a major investor.. along with the military junta.. in the construction of a major oil and gas pipeline complex. There's a lot of French money tied up in Burma..
The French oil giant Total is a major investor in Burma through its gas pipeline project in Yadana.. Total itself has been embroiled in a series of court cases over forced labour and other human rights abuses..
Under Jacques Chirac, the French government told a US court that suing the company would "conflict with French national interest".
The Sarkozy government takes a more critical line with Total, but had not, in the past, called for disinvestment.
Then, last night in an interview.. French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner suggested that he would eventually like to see Total disinvesting..
A serious statement, when taken in context..

Let's segue for a moment to the Labour Party Conference, which has wound up today..
It would seem, that Gordon has demonstrated that not only has he the flexibility to accept programs suggested by the Opposition, and the nous to keep a finger on the pulse of the nation..
One might go out on a limb here, and suggest that Gordon will call an early election.. perhaps not as early as the 'Young Turks' in the Party might like, but likely by the Spring at the latest..
Possibly earlier..
And he will win.. There may well be a time for David to take the reins, but not yet..
But the point is, that Gordon, along with France's new leader Nicholas.. and Germany's Angela.. may well form the core of an alliance which would wield considerable weight in International Affairs.. While Britain will remain and island, separated from a complete EU.. the decisions made, in concert, by these three leaders will begin to have some international credibility..
Vlad, also in the way out, has set his country on a road which would appear to be an acceptable compromise, bridging traditional Leninist values with Western economic realities.. A solid power base there, and one not antipathetic to consumerism..
China's waking up.. And is perhaps realising the responsibility that accompanies it's role in the worldwide scheme of things..
It may well be, that a consolidation of the Northern Hemisphere/Pacific Rim countries will, of necessity, see the end of 'military dictatorships' as such.. and to return to the original focus, Burma may well be the catalyst that sets off a reaction which will be a prototype for change in other parts of the world..
When we hear that the Burmese military raided several monasteries overnight.. with hundreds arrested.. '..beaten and herded like cattle into army trucks to be taken to parts unknown..' according to witness reports.. it sparks a sense of moral outrage..a global shudder of revulsion that surpasses even those felt when we're presented with pictures of African infants with flies crawling into their eyes..
Perhaps, if the persecution of the Burmese clerics and public forces some change in that country, through international moral suasion.. Those African infants might feel a downstream effect..
One major question remains.
When George leaves office, what will the US become?
Now frankly, with the certain exception of the Middle East, Europe and Asia can deal with both Africa and the Indonesian problems.. An alliance between Britain, a diplomatically strong EU, Russia, China, Japan, and Australia, can settle issues the likes of Burma.. and any other like situations..
But, the world has it's eyes on the States.. trying to determine which of the Parties.. which of their possible candidates, has the credibility to deal with the problems they'll inherit.
It's a concern..
Interesting.. a statement directly from the White House literally moments ago.. 'demanding' the violence against peaceful protesters in Burma cease immediately..
How much more weight the same statement would have had, had it come from Beijing..
Thousands of Buddhist monks, nuns, civilians, took to the streets of Rangoon, with the Army responding with tear-gas and live shots fired, over the heads of the protesters for the most part..
But.. it has escalated to a situation analogous to 1988, or 8/8/88, as it's remembered over there..
It's interesting, the reactions from the various hegemony's.. with Britain, the EU.. the States, all condemning the flagrant human rights ignored by a military government which, by rights, should not even be in power..
While China' deplores' the situation in Burma, it feels it has no right to step in to the realm of interfering with what is an 'internal problem'..
Now India's taking the same route.. and for the same reason..
Burma has vast oil and gas reserves.
It's easier to negotiate, and to keep in line, a corrupt military government, than it is to deal with a democracy..
China, then, is very much the key player.. but Beijing faces conflicting pressures. It has to weigh its energy and strategic interests against access to the Indian Ocean, for example.. with its desire for stability and its concern for its own reputation abroad, especially with the Beijing Olympics fast approaching.
Today's informal Security Council meeting served in part to gauge the Beijing government's current position.
China's UN ambassador, Wang Guangya, reaffirmed China's predictable position that this crisis was not a threat to international peace and that sanctions would not be helpful.
And that leaves the west in a moral cleft stick.
How deep are our convictions, when not tempered by economic incentive..
Now, the US has entered a new phase of sanctions of the Rangoon government..
But somehow, this always seems to filter down to cause more problems for the man on the street, than ever they do to those either in, or connected to the government..
Same problem facing us in Africa.
One has to shake ones head at times, at the number of people around this world who need to be 'saved'..
We know too much, and learn of it far too quickly..
And.. should it be Burma still..?
The ruling military junta changed its name from Burma to Myanmar in 1989, a year after thousands were killed in the suppression of a popular uprising. Rangoon also became Yangon..
Britain never recognised the right of the Junta to change the name of the country.. neither did the US..
But, China did.. as did India.. and that's how it's little label reads at the UN..
And the latest reports are, that government forces have conducted night raids on monasteries.. some 100 monks have been taken into detention..
The government has confirmed that in the demonstrations yesterday, at least three men were killed..
There are further reports of raids in the north-east of the country as well..
Seems the government is willing to take this to the level of 8/8/88..

Interesting, the state of British economics these days..
Housing prices are still on the rise.. the Northern Rock collapse hasn't been settled yet, with even speculative funds, who would simply liquefy the tangible assets, don't appear willing to put themselves any further in debt.. at least not yet..
But it's expected the Fed in the US is going to fall again.. and with the devaluation of the $AM against the £ and the Euro.. one might reasonably expect the American economy to implode temporarily.. sanctions against even favoured trading partners will needs be put into effect..
Add to that.. orders for durable goods, which include everything from washing machines to commercial jets, fell by a far larger than expected 4.9%.
So much is being built, to deliberately blow up, that this war, when it decelerates, is going to have drastic impact..
But here on this island.. our GNP is growing.. inflation has actually fallen in what the public sees as important sectors.. foodstuffs.. clothing..
We seem to be handling the over-inflation of real estate reasonably well.. with foreclosures not up appreciably..
In fact, banks and building societies said 'Thanks, but no..' to an auction of cash by the Bank of England.. The BofE was willing to inject £10 billion more into the money market, on short-term loans..
Mind you, they wanted 6.5% on it..
But, with a new Chancellor, and a new PM.. we're bound to have a fair honeymoon period..
There are serious problems to be faced, and they will take money..
It's the Euro/Dollar ratio that's a concern..
One has an inherent distrust of a currency which is undenyably tied to the nation which uses it with the lowest GNP.. the highest inflation rate..
And if selling American dollars appears to be the trend.. it indicates the US itself is absorbling more and more of it's own currency.. preparing to start a movement wherein it's too expensive for Americans to buy imports.. and better to 'Buy American' anyway..
This Euro may well have reached the point where it's priced itself out of the market..
Where's the incentive for American investment, when their $'s worth so little..?
Conversely.. where's the advantage in expanding business.. or enterprise.. in Russia or the Ukraine.. when the Ruble and the Euro can buy so much more, in the US..
And when the situation turns around, as in a few years it will, those same companies will be bought back by a resurgent greenback. For it's inconcievable, considering the foundation of the currency, that the Euro can maintain it's value for much longer.
Equally inconcievable, that the American dollar will abrogate it's position as a watermark..

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Imagine such a scenario in a 'western' country..
One in which religious leaders.. members of religious orders, both monks, nuns, priests, ministers, pastors.. all took to the streets along with tens of thousands of their followers.. to protest a failing economy and a government that is more concerned with maintaining it's power base, than in the welfare of it's country's citizens..
You are among the protestors. You know that 19 years ago, a similar protest ended with the army first infiltrating your protest marches with thugs and members of the military who will themselves start fires, cause a violent disturbance, which justifies those in charge to send in the troops in earnest, and it ended with more than 3 thousand of your fellow protestors being killed, and thousands more interred, tortured, with the leader of the Opposition Party, which had been democratically elected, placed under house arrest which remains in place to this day.
You know this. It's part of your national history.
Yet, you join the protest.
Such is the case in Burma.
Now we in the West have little we can actually do to effect a change in this situation.. Burma's already under heavy UN sanctions..
But your neighbour, China, is trying desperately to join the world community, and is in a position to step in, and impose effective sanctions against a military government which holds power illegaly..
Would you reasonably expect, as a citizen of Burma, for such a vast power such as China, to step in and help the popular cause?
This would not be tolerated in a Western society. Any government imposing such a repressive rule, would become outcast by it's peers.. by it's trading partners..
The UN would be called in, and delegations from diplomatic corps would be flooding in to try and negotiate on behalf of the people..
But while China has told the Burmese government that it 'would regret seeing the same level of violence evidenced 19 years ago..', that's about as far as it's gone..
There has been no pressure put on China by the West, to exercise whatever influence it might have to resolve the Burmese problem.. It would seem the prospect of disturbing such a huge potential economic market is by far the most important Western consideration..
So.. we will sit back, and allow a repeat of the events of 19 years ago in Burma..
And we'll sweep the fact that China could have been an active force in bringing democracy to an Asian country under the carpet, as long as Walmart and McDonalds can keep their franchises open..
We are an exceedingly hypocritical people betimes.. We choose which governments we'll bully into submission for economic or strategic advantage, while allowing others to continue with regemes so supressive, that the goal of 'democracy' is trampled underfoot with impunity..
It would be an extraordinarily advantageous step, in the eyes of the West, for China to step in, and demand, as we have in Iraq, that a democratic government be allowed to take power..
But, China is well aware that it need do nothing. That we in the west are more concerned with their economic potential than we are with the democratic efforts of a tiny Buddhist country in the middle of nowhere..
It makes one ashamed.

Monday, September 24, 2007

In just under two hours, Gordon will address his first Labour Party Conference as Prime Minister.. and one difference between Gordon and Tony has become immediately apparent..
Whereas Tony would spend the hours before his keynote speech writing, editing, re-writing his notes.. Gordon appears to have it all prepared. So much so, in fact, that he's spent the morning giving interviews, conferring with his colleagues, relaxing in effect..
Now while the substance, as announced, of this speech will center on the state of the NHS, social issues, "responding to the issues important to the British peoples..", crime and the Courts.. there is still almost a fever-pitch of speculation as to whether he'll announce a snap election..
Gordon himself has downplayed this possibility, but significantly, has not ruled it out, which, if nothing else, has kept the media frantically analysing the possibilities, probabilities, advantages and disadvantages of calling the country to the polls..
An interesting approach from Gordon.. one which demonstrates more political nous than many would have thought the former Chancellor to possess..
More, of course, after Gordon's left the podium..

Iranian President Ahmadenejad is in New York today.. having arrived yesterday with little fanfare, but some demonstrations against his country's stance on nuclear proliferation..
Of course, said Ahmadenejad, Iran is not heading for armed conflict with the United States.
In an interview with US TV network CBS, he said Iran was not on a path of war with the US and that Iran had no need of nuclear weapons..
The aforementioned protests have been held outside Columbia University in New York, where Ahmadinejad is due to speak later this afternoon.
The US is leading moves to impose further sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear development programme.. and many Americans think Ahmadinejad should not have been invited to speak at Columbia.. but tickets to the event were snatched up within an hour of becoming available.
He is due to address the UN General Assembly in New York tomorrow.. his third address to the assembly in as many years..
He had wanted to lay a wreath at Ground Zero during his visit, but the New York authorities refused that request on security grounds.. and perhaps in the interests of simple good taste.
We'll be exceedingly interested to absorb the content of his speech to the UN tomorrow..

Meanwhile, while it's not a surety that either Saudi Arabia or Syria will attend, an invitation has been extended to Damascus to participate in meetings planned between the West and the Arab League, this November..
Condaleesa confirmed the invitation had been sent.. but with the agenda centering on a resolution for the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, there is a better than good chance those States who have expressed their desire to eradicate the Jewish State entirely, will take a pass..
Condaleezza described the Arab nations as "natural invitees" but said they would have to renounce violence... a condition unlikely to be met..
She was speaking after the four backers of the peace process.. the US, EU, Russia and the UN.. met in New York and gave support to the proposed summit last night.
This same quartet issued a roadmap in 2003 for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
But the roadmap has been sidelined and no apparent progress has been made towards achieving the declared aim of the process, a two-state solution.
Tony will, of course, be in attendance as well..
The last major peace summit to try to create a Palestinian state was held by President Clinton at Camp David in July 2000. Its collapse was followed by the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September of that year..
Condaleesa admitted that some were skeptical about whether Washington's high-level meeting.. had any realistic chance at pushing the Israelis and Palestinians closer to peace.
"The international meeting has the potential to galvanize people on a political front and frankly gives the parties something to shoot for, something to look forward to, and frankly that is all we can hope for," she said. "If this conflict were easy to solve, it would have been solved by now."

For literally years, jaded diplomats and academics have rebuffed Burma's democracy activists with one question.. 'Why don't the people of Burma rise up?'
And for the past month, they have been doing exactly that, against unimaginable odds and with unquestionable courage.
So now a different question arises..
Is the world..its leaders, diplomats, academics and others..going to stand on the sidelines, or offer some help?
Since Friday.. more than 1,000 Buddhist monks and nuns have marched peacefully along the rain-soaked streets of Burma's largest city Rangoon, with thousands of spectators encouraging their protest. At the head of the procession a monk carried an alms bowl turned upside down, symbolically refusing to accept any more support from the military regime.. well recognised as one of the world's most repressive.
In an overwhelmingly Buddhist Southeast Asian nation of 50 million people, this was a withering rebuke. The echoes of the last great uprising, in 1988, must be alarming the country's corrupt ruling generals..the roots in economic discontent and the slow stirrings from students to monks to the general population and from the capital to smaller cities across the nation.
The frightened of its own people that it had already transplanted its capital in the dead of night to a desolate inland spot on the advice of an astrologer no less.. has responded in some ways more desperately than it did in 1988. Though the monks have for the most part not been blocked, virtually every student leader is in prison, many reportedly being tortured.
Cousins, siblings and even children of demonstrators have been swept up as well. Anyone with a camera is suspect, as the regime seeks to block news of the protests from traveling. Yet Burmese with cellphones continue to relay photographs, and unarmed civilians continue to interpose themselves between protesters and regime vigilantes.
Global response to this has been, to say the very least.. lackadaisical.
The U.N. Security Council held a briefing Thursday, but the American representative emerged with no message of particular urgency.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's special envoy has yet to announce a date to visit Burma. There's been some desultory talk about the need for more studies of the humanitarian situation inside if the humanitarian disaster and even more, its cause in political misrule, were not already well known.
But..what needs to be done would appear clear.
The current regime could begin by releasing all political prisoners, starting with Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.. in the hopes that negotiations toward democracy can begin.
George.. who has spoken eloquently of Burma's struggle for freedom.. needs to engage in strenuous diplomacy, above all with China .. to make clear that this is an American.. in fact.. a worldwide priority.
And China, which has more influence in Burma than any other country..needs to decide whether it wants to host the 2008 Olympics as the enabler of one of the world's most repressive regimes, or as a peacemaker..
To date, the only reaction from the Burmese government has been a warning, that if the protests continue, violence will almost certainly ensue. And that's just the picture China would like to avoid.. that of unarmed Buddhist monks, nuns, and their supporters, being shot down in the streets..

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tony's making his first appearance before the United Nations in his full capacity as Envoy to the Middle East..
Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the UN, is underlining the role UN troops will take in this Palistinian problem, and the war in Iraq..
Now there is seemingly a consensus, among those in the West, that the 'roadmap' and the 'Arab Peace Initiative' has made some forward steps.. one of which is an agreement to meet with the members of the Arab League itself. However, there would appear to be some doubt, that Saudi Arabia, and Syria, will not attend for reasons yet undisclosed..
It might be considered, that Saudi involvement in such talks, would be seen as tantamount to 'betrayal' of the cause which they undoubtably support.. that being the success of the extremists and the establishment of the Caliphate. That extremists forces might abhor any real progress aided by the Saudi's..
If the Israeli/Palistinian conflict should be resolved, it would undermine decades of subversive work.. ruin painstakenly make plans to effect the destruction of the State of Israel.. demonstrate that Islam and Judaism can coexist..
Diplomatic progress is anathema to zealots, if the Saudi's show any real sign of an equitable agreement.. they will, in the words of Osama himself in his last video, be 'infidel'..
This will soon be a turning point within the Arab League itself.. the commitment to the general cause of 'Islam'..
And while Saudi Arabia appears to be a stable country at the moment, what would it take to inflame the people to the point at which they see themselves as 'Western Arabs'.. How long before radical Imams convince enough of the population to embrace the 'cause'..
How many Saudi's in high places, already have committed resources to the terrorist cause, to maintain what must be an exceedingly fragile status quo..?
Osama himself, is a Saudi Prince.. and while the thought of Saudi Arabia wholeheartedly throwing it's financial weight behind this Jihad is terrifying, the possibility of such an eventuality cannot be ignored.
One would think the pressure on the Saudi's to abandon their 'favoured status' with the West would of necessity, be enormous.. but this is the Levant we're dealing with here, and in all truth, while some Arab countries have not fared well in dealings with the West.. others have prospered beyond all possible belief. Historically, the eastern Middle East has been a constant surprise to those Westerners who've come in contact with them..
Their ethics.. sociological divisions.. double-edged diplomacy.. have baffled us, and to a great extent, still do..
One has to wonder if such an understanding will ever truely be reached within the time left, for this societal model we all enjoy, to survive.
The Middle East.. China.. India.. Indonesia..
It had to be expected that, as this world became a smaller and smaller place through technological advances and economic interdependencies, that Societies would clash..
It's a true pity that simple human nature will not allow it to be a peaceable transition.. a melding of that which might be the best, through common agreement..
It doesn't appear this will be remembered as a bumper year for British, or European livestock farmers.. the opposite, in fact..
While Britain has been struck by repeated outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease.. northern Europe, especially Belgium, has been killing off it's stocks of sheep and cows infected with 'blue-mouth' disease.. some 2 thousand animals euthanised so far in that country..
And now, this blue-mouth infection has crossed the Channel, and has been detected in Surrey.
This particular disease affects an animals head, causing swelling.. it's throat, causing problems with breathing, and it's joints, causing open lesions, and is transmitted by midges..
And the probem is.. how does one control the midge population..
Now, it's not the massive cull of cattle we experienced some two years ago here, at least, not yet.. Exclusion areas appear to have stopped a general spread of the current foot-and-mouth outbreak..
But what it does mean is, that animals cannot be shipped to market.. that existing stocks are running out of grazing lands.. and their owners are close to dispair..
Beef futures might be worth looking into..

There is still talk floating around Westminster, that Gordon could call a snap election as early as the 25th of next month.. barring that, perhaps sometime in November..
Polls would indicate that Labour has weathered the various crises.. Northern Rock.. foot-and-mouth.. the EU's Berlin Accord.. and apparently holds close to a five point lead over the Tories..
But the question is, will Gordon gamble with a job he's been waiting ten years for, simply to extend his mandate for a mere 18 months or so longer than the one he now has in hand..?
As it stands, Gordon appears intent on tackling the ongoing problems with the NHS.. the outbreaks of MRSA.. cleanliness in general in hospitals around the country..
He has pledged that each and every one of them will undergo a 'sterilisation' process.. a thorough scrubbing of all surfaces.. all air ducts.. everything within the hospitals themselves..
However, there is the nagging voice of the medical community, saying 'bugs' the likes of MRSA can be controlled, but only up to a point, what with the continous traffic of patients and visitors, and while a scrubbing of the facilities should be de rigeur for all hospitals, it should not be seen as a measure which will eradicate the problem of infectious diseases being introduced to the wards, from outside..
This may be the wrong issue for Gordon to pin his election campaign to.. perhaps a definative stance of a European referendum.. or a cap on housing prices.. or care of the elderly, might be better brought to the fore..
Nevertheless, those within the ranks of Labour anxious to take their government to the polls, say they're ready.. They have the funding and infrastructure in place..
And while this may well be the start of Gordon's first General Party Conference as Prime Minister, it will almost certainly be his last, before we're called to decide who will sit in power in the House of Commons..

Well.. Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki has told the UN, that he can personally guarrantee the safety of UN personnel, should they decide to return to his country..
The secretary general..Ban Ki-Moon said there would be a new "regional support office" in Baghdad to foster dialogue between involved countries and an office in the southern city of Basra was also being considered..
This could be seen as a major move towards a pull-out of American troops from the country.. leaving only those required by American committment to the maintenance of UN Forces..
An out for the US.. and a development to be closely watched..

Especially with the sabre-rattling heard this weekend from Iran..
Ahmadenejad's parading of a souped up ballistic missile, and five home-made jet fighters at the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Iran-Iraq War.. and his bald statement to the effect of those who threaten Iran with war, would find themselves in hotter water than they could imagine.. or words to that effect.. are aimed directly as France, and the US.. both having issued warnings to Tehran that should the supply of arms and money into Iraq from Iran not stop, a military solution might be all that's left as a viable option..
It would be something of compounding a disaster to remove the Iranian government from power.. While it on the surface, would be a comparitively simple operation, for the Iranian Armed Forces are no more competent than were their Iraqi counterparts.. It would simply involve the West in yet another 'control situation'.. guerrilla warfare which could keep us occupied.. and economically unballanced.. for decades..
It would seem that we are left with only two viable options..
Nuke them.. or utterly ignore them.
Destroy their society in one fell swoop.. or build an economic wall around the entire region. Stop buying their oil. Break off all diplomatic relations. Sever all economic ties.
For once, let it be our money that draws the line in the sand.. And make that intent clear to all the Levantine oil producers, that their product is no longer needed.
Time we moved on, and took our economies in an entirely different direction..
But, the time is now..

Friday, September 21, 2007

Let's start with the 'Reform Treaty' that now sits on the desks of EU politicians..
This treaty is the effective replacement for the EU Constitution.. rejected by the majority of the member countries two years ago..
Belgium of overwhelmingly behind an agreement which would form an United Europe, with 89% of it's population in favour of a deal which would remove even more of their national prerogatives..the environment..migration.. social matters..
France's Sarkovski has managed to have some objectionable clauses removed.. so "free and undistorted competition" has been erased from a list of EU objectives.
This allows France to control the subsidies it commits to it's agricultural sector.. and impose it's own trade restrictions.. Odds are that while the French rejected the Constitution two years ago, this ammended text might get a pass by their government..
The Irish.. while surprisingly voting down the Nice Treaty.. will follow the economic facts of a more collective agreement..
The Dutch were others who voted down the Constitution two years ago.. and they're leery of abrogating some of their national rights.. justice.. social services.. home affairs..
The majority of the Dutch are still Eurosceptics.. But, the Dutch Cabinet is considering tossing the issue in the ring one more time..
It would be more than likely, they would lose, again..
Now.. in Poland.. it's the government which is against a closer relationship with a consolidated Europe.. The public seems to overwhelmingly Europhile.. It remains to be seen whether this Treaty will be accepted, to appease the people, while allowing the government to better prepare itself to offer the Polish people an economy which can stand on it's own..
Here on this island.. it's always good for a pub discussion.. with some surprising insight spoken over a pint.. It's the "Cast In Stone Promise" we've been given, that any move towards forging closer ties with the EU, be put before us all, in a referendum. That no decision will be made unilaterally, by any government is power.
The debate is, how close is this Treaty to a Constitution in sheep's clothing?
What are the odds, of exchanging the £Sterling, for the Euro?
How will an aging population deal with the inevidable influx of those from countries once thought 'foreign'..?
Equally, how would a Glaswegian shipwright be welcomed at a yard on the Baltic..?
It's going to be an interesting trend to watch develop.. the social changes that will take place, not only here in Britain, but in the new EU member countries..
But regardless, it's not a move Gordon's likely to take.. not a question that he'd want to put to the public.. Not just yet.

Now, here on the home front.. Labour is starting it's annual convention in a couple of days, and there are two camps.. of course.. each betting on a date for Gordon to call a National Election..
Most are in agreement, that Gordon will hold off until likely May pf next year, depending on the polls of course..
But there are a significant few, who would not be surprised if the dour Scot will strike before his honeymoon is over, and issue a call to the polls by the end of October.
A firmly established government, with what could develop into a worthy Opposition, could be just what our economy could do with at the moment.. and with the latest injections of cash into the money market by the Bank of England, and looming investigations into why this crisis wasn't anticipated.. A solid government with a new mandate would be a definate advantage..
It would also put Gordon into a slight position of pre-eminence with dealings with the US.. and the EU..
Listen to the rhetoric of the next week from Labour.. If possible, watch the body language.. the response from the delegates..
By the way, just in passing.. think on Tony Blair for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the possible future in the United Nations..

By the way, our Defence Secretary Des Brown, has agreed with a report compiled by the Royal Legion.. that indicated veterans returning from the Gulf were not being recognised for their time over there.. That, something akin to those who returned to the US from VietNam, the Armed Forces, and the public.. don't have an appreciation of what their service entails..
That even those brought home to their families on their shields, so to speak, are not leaving the legacy they thought their life would be worth to their countries, to support the families they left at home..
Des also mentioned that 500 troops would be home by Christmas..
He also had an interesting comment to make about the other 'allies' in this conflict..
"Our international allies, particularly some of our European allies and Nato, simply have not been stepping up to the plate in an international operation of this nature. It seems that some countries are very good when in the conference room to signing up to resolutions, but not very good when it comes to the fighting."
We'll allow that statement, to stand alone.
As it is, an article in the Washington Post seems to indicate that the American war machine is beginning to wind down.. although senior officials did not use the term 'exit strategy' the outlines of one emerged from the various statements and speeches they made last week. Petraeus plans to begin redefining his mission in December from leading combat operations to partnering with Iraqi security units and eventually to supporting them. At least 21,700 troops, and perhaps more from the buildup, will be pulled out by July..
Here we go..

One more point of interest..
It would appear, that Britain has stockpiled, over these past few years, some 100 tonnes of enriched uranium.. enough to build 17 thousand nuclear bombs. The Royal Sicoety's working group chairman Professor Geoffrey Boulton said: "The stockpile has grown whilst international nuclear proliferation and terrorist threats have increased..Just over 6kg of plutonium was used in the bomb which devastated Nagasaki and the UK has many thousands of times that amount.We must take measures to ensure that this very dangerous material does not fall into the wrong hands."
Now, it's doubtfull the stuff is in a losely locked storage shed somewhere in rural Yorkshire.. But the fact we have it, is somewhat disturbing in the first place..
One can imagine Ahmadenejad drooling at the thought.. no doubt he'd find a use for it.

Ahh. One more point.
Interesting that the President of Mattel Corporation went himself to China, to apologise to manufacturers in that country, who had been blamed for using sub-standard parts in some of the toys..
This caused quite a stir in China. Reports are, that one company Director committed suicide over the shame he thought he had brought on Chinese workmanship in general.
All for nothing, it appears.
But, it has shown that one.. the Americans are determined to keep in the favour of the Chinese government, to manufacture and distribute their wares there.. and two.. the Chinese take their responsibility to turn the epithethic slogan 'Made In China' into something to be taken seriously.
Suicide, no less. Puts the penalty imposed on the officials at Enron, in a somewhat different perspective..

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