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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Interesting approach 'The Sun' newspaper has taken in taking a stance against the radical element of racism that has appeared over the past couple of years in Britain..
The papers front page features a Jewish child holding a sign that says 'Yid'.. a black child holds one that says 'nigger'.. a Muslim girl has one that reads 'raghead'.. a Muslim boy, 'terrorist'..and there are about seven more other children of ethnic origin with the epithetic lables they're subjected to..
This has caused quite a stir among the ethnic communities..
Now the Editor-In-Chief of 'The Sun' says it's a shock tactic, designed to highlight what these ethnic children have to endure at school, and to some extent, from the public at large.. And that he cannot believe that in this year 2007, kids still have to face this type of discrimination. The purpose of the front page, was to draw each and every reader into the world of these minority children, to demonstrate the polarisation process as it develops from childhood.
But the stance taken by at least some of the ethnic communities has been somewhat less than enthusiastic. To see these epithets in print, they say, is bad enough.. But to see them on the front page of a national newspaper is unendurable.
There is a point to the objections voiced to this approach, for to see such unacceptable labels anywhere is difficult to accept.
But, one must admire The Sun's courage in taking this stance, and printing such a headline picture, for if even one reader is moved by this image, and one attitude is changed, then some progress has been made.
And it is likely that British people, who, it has to be said are by and large socially concious, who see this picture, will have their collective shame touched to some extent.
And indeed, confronting what might be something lightly said, with little insult intended, could well lead to a more complete understanding of the damage done by such epithets, and could possibly prompt thought before they're uttered..
One can only hope, for as has been recorded here many times, this Island is becoming fragmented, and the issue of what it means to be 'British' is an issue which even the government is exploring..

Monday, January 29, 2007

These are unique times. We have instant access to worldwide news.. we have exposure to the worst of other cultures, and have been called upon to help those half a world away.. we have the weight of the world, literally, upon our individual shoulders, and this is a situation a normal adult would find difficult to absorb, let alone our children.
Thus, there are statistics which show that just under half of the British population is clinically depressed and is being medicated for it, and another half of those left are also suffering depression, but go undiagnosed.
Even our children are affected, to the point they too are medicated for a variety of behavioral disorders and depression. What they see on television is appalling, compared with that which was shown children half a century ago. That which they endure at school, is frankly frightening, with teachers having been stripped of all authority, and thus, can maintain no respect.
Now, we find that which has long been suspected, and likely has been a longstanding problem, wherein pharmaceutical companies who produce these medications to combat our depression, are falsifying their reports and clinical findings, to rush yet another drug into the public bloodstream.
That GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) attempted to show that Seroxat, a new anti-depressant, worked for depressed children despite failed clinical trials.
And that GSK-employed ghostwriters influenced 'independent' academics.

This leaves us in a position wherein we can no longer trust our family physicians, for they take the drug companies at their word, and will not hesitate to prescribe this new 'wonder' drug, in the hope it will have effecatious results on our suffering kids..
Ahh we have come a long way. An advertisment this morning showed a new film, a cartoon for children, of the old classic 'Charlottes Web'. This means that instead of sitting on Mom or Dad's knee, working through the text of the novel, learning to read while developing an imagination, we parents can now sit the kids in front of the box and ignore them while they absorb pre-concieved pictures of the characters, in a necissarily edited script..
Perhaps the answer is for parents to unplug the box. To take time to share with their children that which their parents shared with them.. time.
We might see a drop in adolescent depression, if children had a relationship with their parents wherein they knew they had someone who actually cared, who would actually listen.
This is the time of unfit parents, raising children who will follow in their footsteps and perhaps take it to yet another level of isolation between parents and children, as technology improves.
We are T.S.Elliot's 'Straw Men'.. and our children will do nothing more than continue with that which we have taught them.
Gods help us all.

A new problem for Britain. It has been reported that Muslim youth is far more likely to be swayed by rhetoric from Islamic fundamentalists, and with over 1.5 million Muslims scattered throughout the country, there is a widening gap between what's percieved to be two different cultures.
13% of British Muslims support al Q'aeda, according to latest figures.. 27% would prefer they be dealt with according to Shar'ia Law, than the British Judiciary..
It was, at one time, something to be proud of, to be British. Not British-Muslim, or British-Christian, but merely 'British'. Not so these days.
We will take issue with this problem as time goes on, but unless there is a tie that binds which suddenly appears, this country is on a path towards religious intollerance unseen for centuries.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

George's seventh State of the Union address was somewhat of a disappointment, all in all. It seems to have offered little new for his Party to stand behind, and even less for his opponents..
He seems to be indicating that the last two years of his term of office, will be a continuation of that which he has already started, and while there was some attention paid to national issues, it's apparent the legacy he'll be leaving whomever takes over, will be focussed on Iraq, and the Middle East in general.
George has started something that the US, and Britain, cannot back out of, regardless of who holds the reins.. The threat of terrorism is growing, and will continue to do so, and it remains for the West to find a solution to Islamic fundamentalists.. a task anyone would find daunting.
In fact, it may well prove to be impossible.
It is, to many analysts, a problem with no workable answer. Once the tiger's out of it's cage, and has shown it's teeth, it will not willingly return to obscurity without an utter commitment towards action to achieve it's goal. This is a battle we're in for the long term, and a legacy no government wants to inherit.
For if, say the Democrats take power, which looks likely.. unless of course Hillary is their candidate.. they will have no option but to carry on with that which George has started. We will see the deliniation between Democrat and Republican policies diminish, of necessity, and this will serve only to confuse the American public.. Matters of local interest will still have to take a back-seat to the funding of this war in the Middle East, until some alliance is made which protects the State of Israel, while removing funding from those terrorist groups which would see the end of Israel entirely, and the establishment of the Caliphate..
Once again. the West is faced with a problem of dealing with unsure allies.. the likes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.. and this is a situation not unlike walking on a thin crust, covering a bottomless pit of quicksand..

Yet another problem facing the West, and Britain in particular, is the shifting of manufacturing and service-based operations from established markets, to both India, and the new EU countries. India's economy is booming, with IT leading the way. Scotland has lost more than 6 thousand jobs to India.. England even more.. and what has been shifted from the US to cheaper areas has yet to be addressed. We in the West have become complacent, in our work ethic, and in our expectations of what the work we do is worth. Outsourcing is good business, for the companies involved, but it's poison for those who've priced themselves out of the job market.
Projections for the year 2010, have India's GNP increasing to the tune of £12 billion.. and that means the West has lost that income to a country who's workers are happy just to have jobs.. and do their utmost to keep them.
Now it's not all roses.. There have been complaints, especially to Banks, that their call centres are based in a country in which English is not the first language. There have been many a customer dis-satisfied by the service they recieve, simply because their regional accents are misunderstood by those who're supposedly there to help them, and this has brought about the return of some jobs to the UK by the Banks. But there's no such complaints from those who outsource IT resources and manufacturing, and that is the bulk of the loss we will face.
The EU, it's major influential countries the likes of France and Germany, are already facing bankruptcy. British interest rates, already at 5.25%, are expected to rise again in an attempt to curb inflation, mainly spurred on my the outrageous rise in housing costs.
We're finally facing the realities of a global economy. Where it used to be that the skills needed for high-tech administration were available only in the West, we are now finding that expertise available, at a much cheaper outlay, in developing countries..
It's time we put an end to our complacency.. lost our colonial attitudes.. and began work on our own internal problems with education and motivation..
In fact, it's past time.

Now, a brief observation on the growing threat of Scotland's leaving the Union.
It would be an observation that would not be far from the same scenario that Canada is facing with Quebec, in that both Scotland and Quebec are living in a dream world if they think they can compete for international investment, and maintain a working economy.
If the established nations are having problems with the developing nations, what concessions would both Scotland and Quebec have to make to provide an incentive for foreign investment? Certainly the average Scot would balk at the proposal that they endure lower wages, work longer hours, and provide a better product. One would imagine it to be the same with the Quebecois.
Yet, this is the scenario both would be facing.
Not long ago, we posted an entry that stated that should Scotland separate, our economy would be much the same as that of Poland or Romania within a matter of a few years. This has been reinforced by the latest figures on outsourcing to India and Asia, and we have yet to really tap the workforce of the Chinese..
Economically, the next few years are going to be chaotic, with traditional businesses moving for valid economic reasons, to markets wherein their profits can be maximized, and their products better made.
This is not the time for 'independance'.. but a time for a re-grouping of all our resources, so we may compete in an economic situation which, historically, is brand new.
We need cohesion, not a disruption but a reorganisation of the status quo. It's time for Western Nations to pull together, and institute a return to what used to be our reputation.
British workmanship, and experts in fields as diverse as machining to invention, had been a worldwide benchmark. It's time we concentrated on regaining that status, or we will sink to the level of a Third-World country ourselves.
And, time is running out for us, rapidly.

Monday, January 15, 2007

An interesting proposition has come to light from documents dating from the 1950's..
It appears there was a serious proposition by the French Prime Minister, Guy Mollet, that Britain and France merge into one country, with the Queen taking the role of Head of State. Mr. Mollet apparently went as far as taking a trip to London to talk with the then Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, concerning the formation of a single nation.. a precursor to the European Union..
Historically, it was a bad time for both nations, with the Suez Crisis in full bloom and the French and British economies suffering from the effects of the Second World War, and Egyptian President Nasser funding insurgents in French Algeria..
The following is an extract from a British government cabinet paper of the day. It reads:
"When the French Prime Minister, Monsieur Mollet was recently in London he raised with the prime minister the possibility of a union between the United Kingdom and France."
Mollet was desperate to hit back at Nasser. He was also an Anglophile who admired Britain both for its help in two world wars and its blossoming welfare state.

Some analysts, French ones to boot, still think it would be a good idea.. describing France as 'bankrupt', and saying British entrepreneurialism could turn a stagnating State around. They also point out the advantages to Britain, in the increase of tourism for the cojoined countries..
When Eden turned down his request for a union between France and Britain the French prime minister came up with another proposal.
This time, while Eden was on a visit to Paris, he requested that France be allowed to join the British Commonwealth.
A secret document from 28 September 1956 records the surprisingly enthusiastic way the British premier responded to the proposal when he discussed it with his Cabinet Secretary, Sir Norman Brook.
It says: "Sir Norman Brook asked to see me this morning and told me he had come up from the country consequent on a telephone conversation from the prime minister who is in Wiltshire.
..The PM told him on the telephone that he thought in the light of his talks with the French:
..That we should give immediate consideration to France joining the Commonwealth
..That Monsieur Mollet had not thought there need be difficulty over France accepting the headship of her Majesty
"That the French would welcome a common citizenship arrangement on the Irish basis.

It seems that the French prime minister decided to quietly forget about his strange proposals.
No record of them seems to exist in the French archives and it is clear that he told few other ministers of the day about them.
This might well be because after Britain decided to pull out of Suez, the battle against President Nasser was lost and all talk of union died too.
Instead, when the EEC was born the following year, France teamed up with Germany while Britain watched on. The rest, it seems, is history.

So has it always been.. so shall it always be..
Also interesting to note, that this proposal was not known to French Ministers of that time, nor is it part of French history..
Seeing these words for the first time, Henri Soutou, professor of contemporary history at Paris's Sorbonne University almost fell off his chair.

Friday, January 12, 2007

One of Tony's chief concerns these days, is what will happen to British Foreign Policy, once he steps down in a few months time. Now Tony himself has not been slow to pick up a gauntlet, having involved British troops in Serbia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and of course, Iraq.. all in the effort to contain terrorists and curtail their operations..
But while there is talk of mothballing half the British Fleet, and cutting the size of land forces, Tony has announced that while indeed, some naval forces will be reduced, there will be expenditures over the next ten to twenty years towards replacing old ships with new.. aircraft carriers twice the size of those we're going to retire.. destroyers equipped with state of the art technology to take the place of those which are effectively, now, obsolete.
Tony says he does not want Britain to become a 'soft' military power..
It is an interesting stance to take, for at the moment, Britain spends 2.5% of it's GNP on military equipment and in maintaining a sizeable standing army, and there are those who would see that money put towards national interests, some of those within the ranks of the Labour Party. Just what lies in the future for Britains involvement in maintaining a 'shoulder to shoulder' relationship with the US.. Whether Gordon Brown, in the two years he'll have in power, will maintain Tony's intent, is moot.. Whether David Cameron, if and when he takes the reins, will continue the intense war on Middle Eastern fanatic factions, is as yet, unknown..
And therein lies the problem. Any withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, could well mean the return of the Taliban, and afford groups the likes of al Q'aeda and Hammas safe havens for the training of terrorists.. A withdrawal of British troops from Iraq would certainly be seen as a capitulation..
Tony has put this country, just as George has put the US, in a position wherein there is no room for any show of weakness..
In effect, we're stuck with the positions set by the US and our own Parliament, since 911..
And as we have found out, at some great cost, ending the rule of a dictator is a simple matter, but ending guerilla attacks almost impossible.
It would appear we are in for the long run, regardless of who sits in majority in Parliament, or who lives in the White House. Once a ball of this magnitude is set to roll, it must be expected a massive effort will be necissary to stop it.
We have chosen our enemies.. and they have chosen us. The game must be played out, 'til the threat no longer exists.
We have no choice now. For if we thought the threat of worldwide Communism was a viable threat, we can certainly give no less creedence to that from radical Islamists.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A couple of points to ponder..
Economists are estimating that more than 30 thousand Brits will declare insolvency before the end of February, prompted for the most part, by Christmas spending. This, while British banks are coming more and more under attack by their own customers, who are finally rebelling against the usurous rates charged for a returned direct debit.. returned cheques.. excess overdrafts..
There is no more profitable business in this country than banking, again, their profits boosted to an amazing degree by the charges customers pay for the length of time a deposit takes to actually appear in your account.
To wit, if you deposit a £1 thousand cheque on a Monday, and make a direct debit withdrawal on that deposit on Thursday, it will be returned and you'll be hit with up to a £45 charge, even though the funds are in the banks own system. It could be the following Tuesday or Wednesday, before that £1 thousand deposit is actually in your account, and until it is, all withdrawals against it will be refused, and you will be charged.
And while this subject will be discussed further, it has come to the attention of the British banking public, that such charges are, in fact, illegal.. Several cases have been settled out of Court, with the customer having 'service charges' returned in full, usually with a 'gift' from the Bank itself, to effectively keep your mouth shut..

Also, the situation developing in Iraq is indicating what amounts to a 'need' for American troops to be withdrawn.. There are growing movements both in the States, and in Iraq itself, for occupation forces to withdraw..
And this, while the Iraqi Prime Minister has announced that he will not run for a second term, and in fact, would wish his current term would end as soon as possible..
Does not bode well for the stability of the region.. Once again, the US and Britain have found themselves involved in a conflict that was so badly mismanaged, that it is certainly now un-winnable..
It's going to be an exceedingly hard job for the Allies to shake the dust of Iraq off their feet, and have any hope of leaving a stable situation behind them..
It has been a matter of some concern, that the 3 thousandth American serviceman has died in this 'war'.. and little hope to offer the voting public that that number won't grow significantly.
George's plans are to send some 20 thousand more troops into Baghdad and area.. and at this point one must ask, 'to what end?'.
The best think about beating your head against a brick wall.. is stopping..

Monday, January 01, 2007

And so it begins..
A year that will see momentous change.. world economic policies.. the addition of two new members into the EU.. the continuation of the uqiuitous conflicts in the Middle East.. and catastrophic changes to our ecology and weather patterns..Tony will be gone in a couple of months.. George in a couple of years.. gods alone know what will develop in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East, any scenario is a possibility..
It promises to be an interesting year, 2007..
We'll be watching..

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