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30 January 2009

Today's Motion for Debate

Today's Motion for Debate is ..

Bankers are Wankers

Last year American bankers paid themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses during the period the whole system was spinning out of control.

President Obama has, rightly, condemned them.

There are currently riots in Paris over the French Government's bank bail-out plans. It is understandable that there is going to be mounting anger amongst the average Joe Public in a number of countries when it becomes clear how disgusting the behaviour of the banking community has been in recent years.

I doubt that public anger will be assuaged until or unless they start seeing a few more of these parasites being consigned to a prison cell.

And talking of bail-outs, why are America and Britain now in the process of giving financial assistance to the automotive industry? What are people who work in other industries and services to think whilst they are being closed down and made redundant?  Surely, once you decide selectively that one industry deserves saving, then natural justice dictates that all are worth some assistance, and yet we see thousands of people losing their jobs every week, and we see the Woolworths chain closed down and boarded up in every High Street.

The world is in financial meltdown through the greedy and immoral activities of an entire breed of people who were once looked up to as the model of probity and respectability. How did they get from that place to this place where they are looked down upon as greedy, grasping, selfish, idiotic, blinkered, self-centred wankers?

They got there because our governments were stupid enough to let them.

Riot, anyone?

25 January 2009

President Obama's First Days

Closing Guantanamo Bay .. Good.

Closing secret CIA prisons around the world .. Good.

Prohibition of torture .. Good.

Tightening up the regulations and monitoring of the financial markets .. Good.

Return to America's true values .. Good.

Not using force just because you can .. Good.

Security but not at the expense of America's basic values .. Good.

Total repudiation of the Bush/Cheney way of doing things .. Brilliant.

It could be a brighter future for all of us; but the whole philosophy could fail. On the other hand it can't be worse than the results of the past eight years. There's nothing to lose by trying.

He's going to be a hard man to say "No" to,  European leaders better get ready, especially when he calls for better back-up in Afghanistan. Britain has been shouldering most of the Europe's burden in Afghanistan whilst other European countries have made lesser contributions in terms of military numbers and the type of operations in which they are prepared to engage.

Apparently Winston Churchill's bust has gone from the Oval Office. I can understand why .. in the 1950s, the latter days of the British Empire in Africa, Churchill sent in the troops to crush the movement for independence in Kenya. And we know Obama's links with Kenya.

Churchill might have been a great war leader, but both before and after World War II his humanitarian credentials were highly suspect in my view. In Britian's earlier involvement in Iraq between the two World Wars he was an enthusiastic proponent for the use of poison gas to put down any rebellion.

No human being is perfect, and I suspect that we shall in due course discover that even President Obama is not so, but I expect in that case the redeeming factor will be that he does actually recognise that.

I wish him, and America, well.

16 January 2009

Israel (again)

Listen up you Israelis .. which part of disproportionate response don't you understand?

You've now killed more than a thousand people (about a third of them children). Are you satisfied now? Do you call yourself civilized?

09 January 2009


I fully understand that any democracy has the right to defend itself. My problem with Israel is the way it is currently reacting to the Hamas rocket attacks. It appears to me (and apparently to most of the world) that their response is somewhat disproportionate, to the say the least.

The death and injury toll suffered by Israel pales into insignificance compared with the dead and injured in Gaza - now approaching 1,000 - with children left and ignored by nearby Israeli soldiers to starve amidst the corpses of their parents.

I have no time for Israel so long as they persist in building settlements in illegally occupied territories, and for many years I have tried to avoid purchasing anything made by or originating in Israel. I shall continue my personal boycott for as long as their current policies and practices continue.

Israel's occupation of lands and their vicious military methods are the twin sources of further escalation of terror against them. They themeleves are acting as very efficient recruiting sergeants for any Arab groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

Meanwhile, it is also important to recognise that there is also a kind of proxy war going on here between the USA (via Israel) and Iran (via the Palestinians). It was notable that in the latest Security Council Resolution condemning the current action and calling for an immediate ceasefire, America abstained. Israel can do anything it likes so long as the USA is backing them, and the USA always backs them - it appears to be in their DNA.

From a historical and religious point of view the whole Jew v Arab thing is a farcical tragedy considering they are all descendants of Abraham.

04 January 2009

Back to Normality

We have come to the end of that strange but slightly magical limbo period between Christmas and New Year, during which the normal working week doesn't quite manage to re-establish itself, and you continue to eat what's left of the mince pies, Christmas cake, various "nibbles", not forgetting to help it on its way with all that beer and wine that you bought too much of. Just when you are coming round to the idea that you should be doing something more responsible you find New Year's Eve upon you and before you know what's happening you are down to the local pub for yet more food, drink, music and general festivities, and another late night to bed for several hours of weird dreams and indigestion.

We finished off our limbo period by taking our grandson to see a Pantomime in York (Jack and the Beanstalk) - the usual load of corny jokes, outrageous costumes, and an opportunity for 500 children to scream out "He's behind you!" .. "Oh no he isn't" .. "Oh yes he is!"  and ..

.. "What I want is adventure and excitement; I want to see something new and different"
"Well, you can always catch a bus to Pocklington" .. and ..

.. a Pantomime "Dame" in a succession of outrageous gowns and dresses saying "This is no job for a grown man".

No doubt we'll do it all again next year .. a production of Cinderella.

They say Americans don't do Pantomime, and don't understand our obsession with it every Christmas. I suppose the secret is not to analyse or question it at all but just have fun with it, enjoying the way the kids enter willingly into a slightly mad repartee with the characters at the top of their voices.

* * *

I was given a heated coat for Christmas. It has an electric heating element in the back that connects to a small battery/control unit sitting in an inside pocket. The heat settings range from 1 to 9. I set mine to 2 but when I sat in the car and lent back against the seat I was nearly barbecued! I can't imagine cranking it up to 9 unless standing outside in 20 degrees of frost and a horizontal blizzard. When the opportunity arises, I'll report back.