Search This Blog

30 December 2006

Farewell to the Tyrant

It was difficult to know how to react to the news this morning that Saddam Hussein had been executed, and it was even more difficult to absorb the video footage of him being led to the gallows, watching him refuse a blindfold, then having black cloth tied around his neck. There was a brief view of the trapdoor through which he would fall, but the BBC decided to spare us the final footage of the execution itself.
My own view is that the man should have been kept in solitary confinement for the rest of his life because I am - and have always been - an avowed opponent of Capital Punishment. Even the official view of the UK government, and all governments of the European Union, is similarly equivocal, since all of us have long since abandoned the concept of State Executions, and yet in these particular circumstances we find ourselves as official Allies of the USA, a country that still carries out judicial executions at a rate that outstrips (almost) every other country in the world.
It was of course politically wise of the USA and the UK to distance themselves from this particular judicial process so it could be said that Saddam was tried and executed by his own countrymen. I have little doubt about the man's guilt but have been less than impressed by the farce that passed for a trial. I wonder how many murder trials in the US or the UK would have continued uninterrupted under a succession of three different judges, and how many Appeals against conviction would have been dealt with in such short shrift?

26 December 2006

My Goose was Well and Truly Cooked

It’s the day after Christmas, and I’ve been reflecting on the day before Christmas and Christmas Day itself. Responding to a widespread rumour that Christmas was a religious festival I went to Church on Christmas Eve for the Midnight Eucharist – my first time in Church for ten years (apart from the increasingly frequent funerals of friends). As always, I was able to feel some connection with God, though not on account of the fancy dress or the liturgy or the singing of carols. Indeed at one point I nearly lost all sense of connection – ironically in the process leading up to the taking of Holy Communion. As I read the words on the service sheet my brain was forced to ponder that part of the Christian message that appears to have more to do with cannibalism than remembering Jesus Christ. I balked at the words leaping out at me from the page as I was exhorted to “partake of the flesh” and “drink the blood”. Whoa! Hold up a minute!

My take on the Last Supper is that the bread and wine are wholly symbolic of the person of Christ, i.e., his body and blood, and the exhortation to partake of the bread and wine is to remember Him. We are most certainly not eating His flesh nor drinking His blood. Well, that’s my considered opinion after much thought and prayer with the brain God gave me, and if any person or persons try to convince me otherwise I regret to inform them that they are wasting their time.

I had other problems that night in Church. I noticed that the choir included a man, engaged as a Church Warden, whom I know personally to have acted in a wholly unpleasant (not to say un-Christian) way towards his neighbour over a long period of time.

All these thoughts occupied my mind as I walked back home in the light drizzle of the first hour Christmas Day and retired to bed.

The first half of Christmas Day saw me and wife at the home of our son, his wife, and our delightful 4-year old grandson for an exchange of gifts. The joy on the face of our grandson as he played with his new toys and opened yet more presents was the best Christmas gift that we could have hoped for, and the realisation that we were in the presence of the most special people in our lives was a more spiritually uplifting experience than my Church visit had been some hours earlier.

When we returned home a goose that had been cooking in the oven for some hours had spilled fat over the surface of the oven; the smoke alarms were audible outside the house, and when we entered the house we found every room filled with smoke. We opened windows, turned on extractor fans, and lit scented candles. Our goose was well and truly cooked.

A memorable and stimulating Christmas!

We are still lighting scented candles. The atmosphere in the house should be back to normal by next Christmas. Happy New Year! (And by that I mean a year free from any more mad adventures by the idiots Bush and Blair)

18 December 2006

Ethical Foreign Policy?

A few days ago (5th December) I posted a note about the British Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery and corruption on an arms deal between British Aerospace and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis wanted the investigation stopped (which in my book meant they were as guilty as hell) or else they would cancel the contract and go to the French.

Surprise, surprise! Tony Blair has cancelled the investigation ("in the national interest").

I'm sick to the back teeth with this Government. It is a government in which I and thousands of others had invested so much faith and hope. In the early days I was grateful for the declarations of high standards, ethical foreign policies, removal of interest rate control from the politicians' hands, the national minimum wage, Scottish and Welsh devolution (unfortunately nothing done for the English), winter fuel payments and free local bus travel for pensioners, and so on, but then we had the illegal Iraq fiasco, Blair in bed with Bush, political donations and loans in exchange for honours and peerages, the removal of the married persons' tax allowance, the Pensions crisis, increasing taxation by the back door, and now political interference in international fraud investigations. We are not even going to have the pleasure of kicking out the badly tarnished Blair (Bliar) since he's announced his intention to resign next year and pass on the baton to someone else. For the first time in my life I have no idea how I'm going to vote at the next General Election, and the more I talk to friends and acquaintences about it the more I realise they all feel the same way. Indeed more and more people cannot be bothered to vote at all. It's no surprise.

The Conservative Party under cuddly Dave Cameron (which recently unveiled a new Party Logo consisting of an oak tree apparently drawn by a 3-year old with a green crayon) looks less and less like a government in waiting, and Ming Cambell's Liberal Democrats cannot jump from 60 seats to a large enough number for government under the current voting system.

13 December 2006

One British Soldier's View of Iraq

A friend has a son serving with the British Army in Iraq. Here are some of his recent comments ...

... the country is crazy, dirty and smelly. The place is disgusting and most of the people are filthy dirty and lazy. The day labourers aren't to be trusted; they listen for gossip to report back to the insurgents. In central Baghdad where scores of Iraqis were waiting for job's as day labourers today at least 57 people were wounded or killed.

Nothing is reported about all the soldiers that get injured every day. They are taken to hospitals in Cyprus then returned to England to hospitals for treatment. They are receiving treatment in N.H.S hospitals (not a Military Hospital as we expect). The Military hospitals have specialised staff trained to deal especially with war victims The N.H.S aren't equipped for this - another cut back thanks to Tony Blair. They need trained military staff who understand the nightmares.

Only yesterday one of the soldiers was shot in the eye another was injured by a blast.

Simultaneous explosions occurr daily and we hear of car bombing and trouble caused by the insurgents.

We are not wanted in the country: even the Iraqi soldiers resent our presence. We cant trust anybody. They pretend to be friendly but in the next breath they say "Go home to your own country". The interpreter is always telling us this. It's crazy us being here!

We give small children sweets and treats; they are all bedraggled and brain-washed. The minute we turn away they are throwing stones at us and calling names. It's a no-win situation.

11 December 2006

The End of Pinochet - No Great Loss

Well, another tyrant has bitten the dust, and I'm not shedding any tears. Margaret Thatcher's frequent and public declarations of support and fondness for the old bugger was just one of very many reasons why I have always considered her to be a loathsome woman.

07 December 2006

Iraq Study Group Report

At last! A group of Republican worthies has told President Bush some things that ordinary people with half a brain like you and me already knew: the Iraq policy is wrong and needs a radical new direction.

Tony Bliar is beating about the Bush in Washington today. If he hopes to leave office next summer with anything other than a reputation in tatters he will pull no punches and persuade the Toxic Texan to switch his brain from automatic to manual, pull the humble pie lever, then press the switch that engages constructive thinking.

05 December 2006

Ethical Politics - an Oxymoron?

Saudia Arabia (that beacon of democracy and financial probity in the Middle East) has been putting pressure on the UK Government to put a stop to a Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery and corruption surrounding a proposed huge weapons deal between the Saudis and British Aerospace.

The Saudis are threatening to scupper the deal and go to the French if the investigation continues. Of course, thousands of British jobs depend upon a successful outcome to this filthy trade, so will the government to the decent thing and tell the Saudis where to get off?

Don't hold your breath.