February 26, 2011

Cameron Interview

I'm not sure how many people will be interested in this Al-Jazeera interview with Cameron - there's nothing he hasn't said before.  The only thing I picked up on was that he aims for the UK to have the lowest Corporation Tax rate in the G7 - that will be an interesting bunfight if it ever gets off the ground.

Here's a rundown of the questions he was asked with some rough timings so if anyone wants to know his answers to a specific question they can be found relatively easily.
  1. UK arms sales to Libya and other rogue states.
  2. 3.15 - Libya/Yugoslavia and the prospect of NATO intervention.
  3. Engaging with elected Islamic Parties, eg Hamas.
  4. 6.02 - "Assault on public sector & complete lack of taxes on banking sector."
  5. Reducing unemployment for national & international graduates.
  6. 10.57 - Legalising marijuana.
  7. Sanctions against Iran but not Israel, "the only rogue nuclear state".
  8. 14.15 - British complicity in torture in Iraq.
  9. Lessen effects of cutbacks at home by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
  10. 17.20 - A referendum on the European Union.
  11. Tution fees discriminate against English students.
  12. 20.32 - Immigration and welfare reform.
These were followed by three set questions common to all interviewees:
  1. What formed/changed your view of the world?
  2. If you could ask one question of a world leader, what would it be?
  3. What's the biggest problem facing the next generation?
Video link

It's part of a new initiative/collaboration between YouTube & Al-Jazeera to feature a monthly interview with a world leader.  Here's the January i/view with Obama

Calling England

February 25, 2011

Time To Grow A Pair

There just isn't any other way to put it. American citizens are murdered by Somali pirates and the official response of the United States of America is this wobbly prose:

“This deplorable act by the pirates that stalk vessels in the waters off of Somalia firmly underscores the need for the international community to act more decisively together,” she said. “We’ve got to have a more effective approach to maintaining security on the seas, in the ocean lanes that are so essential to commerce and travel.”

These are the words of the Secretary of State, Rear Cellulite Admiral Hillary Clinton. There will be no need for the "international community to act more decisively together" because they are incapable of meaningful action. The international community usually sits with its thumb stuck up its international ass and does nothing but wait for the world's sole superpower to wipe the slumber from its eyes and rouse itself to action.

There is a sizeable group of men straining at Hell's Leash who are ready, willing and able to address this problem. They did it once before on the Shores of Tripoli and would love to do it again. Let the Marine Corps do what it does best; deliver the full measure of American indignation to the filthy vermin who are committing these atrocities.

Do it in such a fashion that the Somalis return to basket weaving, fly swatting or whatever the hell they did before they found out they could load rowboats full of thieves and AK-47's to commit mayhem on the high seas against unarmed civilians.

Let the world condemn us in public and bless us in private, we've been there before.

"Oderint dum metuant"
Let them hate so long as they fear.
It's time to go all Carthage on their asses. In the words of Ann Coulter,

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.

February 24, 2011

This Is How It Works ... Not!

"Never underestimate the power of human stupidity."
Robert A. Heinlein

Not satisfied with pissing off most of the population of Wisconsin, the leaders of the state's labor organizations are now planning to put on their big boy pants and ratchet public indignation up a few more notches by starting a general strike. From Weasel Zippers:
MADISON, Wis. — If Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators pass a union bill that restricts collective bargaining rights, some labor groups in Madison said they would endorse the entire of a general strike of unions around Wisconsin.

The South Central Federation of Labor endorsed the idea of a strike at its meeting on Monday night, but they didn’t “call” for a strike, since members said they don’t have the power to do so. However, members of the group said they now start needing to educate the public about the possibility, to explain why they feel this may be needed.

“We’ve set up a committee to set up the education process. We’ll be working with other labor bodies, and church groups,” said Carl Aniel, AFSCME Labor Federation delegate. “This action is designed to put control back in the hands of people doing all this work.”
Sorry to bust your bubble, Carl, but that's not how it works. The people doing the work are paid to do the work; the people who pay to have the work done are the ones who call the shots. The rest of the country gets it, why don't the unions?

February 23, 2011

Looking For Mr. Goodfelafel

Waiting for the 13th Imam to climb out of his well can be a lonely business when you're the leader of Iran.

Even a half inch thick prayer bump ("zebibah" meaning "raisin") caused by slamming your head on the pavement five times a day is not enough to get you through the hard times.

When executing homosexuals and torturing student protesters no longer excites you, you need a new outlook on life. Perhaps companionship; an understanding shoulder or warm, gentle eyes to gaze into and lose yourself. Preferably someone just as batshit crazy as you.

A quick, passionate embrace and it seems like your very soul is on fire. Those moments are precious. Nothing says "I Love You" like a big, wet muh-ah from a mullah.

But then there are times when you know that the magic is gone and you despair that you'll ever find it again. A quickie on the cheekie and we're done.

Just when it seems like all hope is gone, suddenly, someone walks into your life and the vale of tears disappears.

The Sun always seems to shine just a little bit brighter when a new nutjob walks into your life.

February 22, 2011

Ghettoes of Affluence

"Walled or fenced housing developments to which public access is restricted, often guarded
using CCTV and/or security personnel."

The number of gated developments has been rising in the UK since they first emerged in the US some twenty-odd years ago and at the last official count I can find on't'web (2003) there were roughly 1,000 here.  I should think that 7/8years on there are now considerably more.

I can see the initial appeal, at least as touted by the developers: safety, a degree of peace and quiet, like-minded neighbours, but I've never liked the concept.  To me they are a physical symbol of division, of pulling up the drawbridge and I'm alright, Jack.   What must it be like for these set-apart people when they go outside their gates?    Are they locked in or locked out?  To the people who move out of areas they consider unsafe or unsavoury,  I say if you don't like the broken windows* in your street, don't move away, don't emigrate, stay and do what you can.

There are natural 'gates' too, such as rivers, woods or parkland that delineate the grander estates where some politicians live.  I wonder how many past and present MPs live in gated communities or on family estates, ushered to and from their place of work by security officials in chauffeur-driven cars.  These politicians don't live as normal people live.  They are removed and remote from the daily cares of the people who elected them; they have grand ideologies to put in place or self-imposed 'missions' to fulfill.  They want to change the world, to benefit all mankind and leave a grand splash of a political legacy in future historical footnotes.  Such bravado and self-aggrandisement; such self-interest and disregard for what really matters: the wishes of the electorate.

Neither gated developments nor seclusion on family estates will help in the long-run - theirs will be the first walls to come a-tumbling down take Donne's words out of context, "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee".

Actually, the title of this post isn't quite right since it's a state of mind rather than affluence which primarily determines whether someone will choose to isolate themselves from the realities of society.  However,  the common acceptance seems to be that you have to have money before you can afford to to live in a GC so I'll leave it at that.

* broken window theory

How Does This Strike You?

While not completely similar to the recent events in Madison, Wisconsin, the Boston Police Strike of September, 1919, does present an opportunity to examine the reasons for the work action and the course of action taken by a future President of the United States, the then governor of Massachusetts, Calvin Coolidge.

Desperately underpaid (annual salary of only $1,100) and working out of filthy hovels used as police stations, the 1,500 man Boston Police Department of 1919 had formed a union which the Police Commissioner,Edwin U. Curtis, refused to recognize. From the Boston Police Patrolman's website:

In 1919, during the inflation that followed World War I, Boston police officers saw their wages hold steady while the cost of living and the incomes of other groups rose. The Boston Police Social Club affiliated as the Boston Police Union. The Police Commissioner refused to recognize the new union and terminated scores of union leaders. On September 9, 1919, the strike started with 1,117 of the city's 1,544 officers walking off the job. Governor Coolidge called in the state guard to put down the looting that resulted in 7 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The strikers were fired and never rehired. Coolidge went on to become President of the United States.

The police strike threatened to turn into a general trade union strike that would have paralyzed the city. Coolidge mobilized the Massachusetts National Guard to maintain order and stop the looting.

Coolidge maintained the following rationale
“There appears to be a misapprehension as to the position of the police of Boston. In the deliberate intention to intimidate and coerce the government of this Commonwealth a large body of policemen, urging all others to join them, deserted their posts of duty, letting in the enemy. This act of theirs was voluntary, against the advice of their well-wishers, long discussed and premeditated, and with the purpose of obstructing the power of the government to protect its citizens or even to maintain its own existence. Its success meant anarchy. By this act, through the operation of the law they dispossessed themselves. They went out of office. They stand as though they had never been appointed.
Due to the extreme working conditions that infuriated the striking officers, it seems harsh that none of them were allowed to return to duty. The reason for this was simple and it still stands as a tribute to the service required of every law enforcement officer:
."... a policeman does not strike; he deserts. The policeman’s status is not that of a laborer but a defender of peace and order.”
Go to Canada Free Press for more.

In Madison we are not dealing with police officers who have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of (your State) and the Constitution of the United States. Teachers are not expected to maintain order and are not issued weapons in order to do so. After seeing some of the footage of these striking teachers I thank God that liberal socialists do not believe in arming themselves.

But they are doing the same thing that the Boston cops tried to do, they are trying to "intimidate and coerce" the State of Wisconsin into doing something that is contrary to the will of Wisconsin's elected officials. The teachers' unions seek to inflict their will on the entire State, thus superceding the laws of the land. This is a bare faced grab for political power by the state's public service unions.

February 21, 2011

The Ghost of Deficits Past

The frightful moan is heard every night after midnight throughout the White House.

Servants huddle, trembling, under their blankets; the sounds of clanking chains and screaming red ink banshees cause pale, shaken Secret Service agents to nervously check their weapons - they know that nothing they carry on their hip or under their shoulder can defeat the creature that roams these halls.

This ungodly din is the efforts of an ethereal being who seeks to remind a man of flesh and blood, a man who thinks himself superior to all American Presidents who walked the earth before him, that he ignores at peril of our national comity what others knew long before him.

Keep the effing unions out of government.

From Weasel Zippers:

Roosevelt’s reign certainly was the bright dawn of modern unionism. The legal and administrative paths that led to 35% of the nation’s workforce eventually unionizing by a mid-1950s peak were laid by Roosevelt.

But only for the private sector. Roosevelt openly opposed bargaining rights for government unions.

“The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” Roosevelt wrote in 1937 to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, “I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place” in the public sector. “A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government.”

And with his liberal bend if FDR says you're out of line, you're off the charts completely.

Blood For Resources

I'm cheating a bit this morning - I posted these photos of Gadaffi being feted by the internationalistas last September.

This post isn't intended to condone or excuse the  questionable dealings with Libya (I'm with  Kampfner on this  one); it's intended to highlight the hypocrisy of other nations pointing the finger. Who remembers this record US/Saudi arms deal?  To paraphrase Cameron: They're all in it together.

US/UN 'condemn' UK
US accuses UK
Kampfner article: UK always happy to oblige

The EU

Calling England

February 20, 2011

Hey!! Nickie Goomba is going to the Royal Wedding!

Me and Maria knew it was gonna happen, but you can imagine the excitement around Casa Goomba when we opened yesterday's mail and, hidden within a stack of Land's End catalogues and MasterCard bills, there was a purple and cream velour envelope containing our invitation to the big event.

Maria immediately gave Billy and Kate a quick e-mail to find out where they're registered. I said, "Are you nuts? This trip is gonna cost us a fortune as it is. Just rewrap that Panashiba iPod knock-off your cousin Carla dumped on us at Christmas. Who's gonna know?"

Good news: I was worried about renting a tux, but the invitation gives me the choice of wearing a "lounge suit". Whew! That makes it easy. I have a classic in the closet.

Sunday Round-up

Or we could call it "Only in Britain!"

Perhaps I'm not looking hard enough but I don't see much 'new news' in today's Sundays: they're mainly regurgitating old stuff so the usual round-up is a mix.

‘Any new policy statements with spending or economic implications will be cleared with the Leader’s office and Shadow Treasury teams, working closely together.
'Where there are policies with neither spending nor economic policy implications they will need to be cleared by the Leader’s office.
‘Issues for clearance will include: any public statement by a frontbencher spokesperson, whether in speech or article or Press statement; any contribution to Parliament.
'It should also include public campaigns you intend to support. A template has been circulated showing the information required to facilitate sign-off.
'It is imperative that all statements made which change our existing position or language on spending or taxation are cleared in advance with the Shadow Treasury team in addition to the Leader’s office.
'It goes without saying that this the entire Shadow team.’
'Locality' has been chosen as the government's preferred 'national delivery partner' to co-ordinate 500 Leaders @ £20k a throw so that the rest of us can be 'empowered'.  It seems the phrase 'Broken Britain' did its job well and has given way to 'Something must be done'.
A new case, involving four patients at secure mental hospitals and one former patient, is among a series of extraordinary claims being considered by Strasbourg, demonstrating the extent of the court's influence over Britain.  Other new applications to the European Court, disclosed for the first time today, include a convicted terrorist claiming it was "inhuman and degrading" to increase his jail sentence and a paedophile claiming that his "right to a family life" was breached when the Prison Service banned visits from his infant son.  The criminals detained at Broadmoor and other psychiatric hospitals claim it is discriminatory to prevent them claiming Income Support, pension credits or Jobseeker's Allowance, which are paid to some of their fellow patients.
Low staffing levels, assaults on prison officers and criminals being sent to inappropriate prisons are some of the complaints raised by the POA.  However, an un-named Prisons Service spokesman schooled in nu-speak refuses to take his head out of his backside and says: "Prisons are secure and ordered environments housing a complex and challenging population.  Incidents are dealt with professionally and efficiently by trained Prison Service staff.  We take the safety of our staff and security within our prisons very seriously.  Staffing levels across the prisons estate are strictly risk-assessed and there is a zero tolerance approach to violence against staff.  Incidents such as those at HMP Ford are thankfully rare but do demonstrate the difficult challenges that prison staff face and it is to their credit that prison regimes are peaceful and well-ordered."
The financial crisis engulfing the MoD is now regarded as so severe that, following Britain's withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2015, the size of the Army will be reduced to "circa 80,000", according to one senior defence source.  This would make the Army the smallest since the reign of George IV, when troop numbers were drawn down after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
Skilled IT professionals will bypass the Government’s new immigration caps and then be free to undercut struggling British graduates, despite soaring unemployment.  They will be exempt from National Insurance in their first year, yet be able to use the NHS for free. Britain is preparing to accept 20,000 skilled Indian workers every year for the next five years, 40% of the proposed quota for all 27 countries in the EU.  The deal was initiated by Marrakesh Mandy in 2007 and is expected to be signed by the end of June..
All, supposedly, to benefit tourism.  It was not clear last night whether the proposals would mean a two-hour shift every spring and autumn, or whether winter time would also advance from GMT to GMT+1, bringing Britain into line with most of the European continent year-round.
Barclays said it complied with all taxation laws in the UK "both in the spirit and the letter".  "In 2010 the Group paid over £2.8bn in taxes in the UK and £6.1bn globally... The corporate tax affairs of an organisation with the global footprint of Barclays are complex and not reducible to simplistic comparisons; any link between Barclays Group profits and the amount of tax paid to the UK Government is inappropriate – there is no direct correlation."
This year's intrusive 32-page census is already part of a trial run on an EU data sharing project but Lockheed Martin's involvement seems to have gathered together disparate groups calling for a boycott.  Protesters say they are willing to break the law and face a £1,000 fine and a criminal record by refusing to fill in the 32-page questionnaire. Resistance to the decennial census is growing as a coalition of anti-war groups, pacifists, religious organisations and digital activists begin raising public awareness about the role of Lockheed Martin, America's largest arms manufacturer.
Recently, there have been those who might want to hang the Big Society label around the necks of the lighthouse men and women. The people in Happisburgh have little time for this and show scant interest in David Cameron's pledge this weekend that community organisers in the Big Society will be paid £20,000 during their first year.  The volunteers don't foresee going cap in hand to the Government for money any time soon. "That cash will come laden with caveats and be impossible to get hold of ... We've learned how to manage ourselves."
They were 'celebrating' the 3rd anniversary of Kosova's independence.   More money is obviously the answer to this problem on our streets:  Luljetta Nuzi, project director for Shpresa, a group for Albanian speakers in the UK, said that the violence was a reminder of the work that needs to be done in addressing divisions within the expatriate community.  "It is very sad to hear these things are happening, when we are trying to integrate in the community ... We know there are gangs of young people in Barking and Dagenham and we did some work with them previously. Unfortunately, there is not enough funding to continue the preventative work we were trying to do."
CRB checks reveal only UK convictions.   They failed to disclose that, according to the summary indictment issued against him by the Rwandan authorities, Ugirashebuja chaired meetings after the genocide began and ordered the killing of Tutsis.   The indictment alleges: 'The defendant issued instructions that they were to be taken to a certain place and killed.'
Dr Zakir Naik addressed the Oxford Union on Friday despite the exclusion order against him entering the UK.  Naik gave a speech and answered questions via video link from India to a crowd of students and other onlookers at the event, organised by the famous debating society.  In his speech, Naik blamed the “virulent propaganda” in the media for the “misconception of Islam” and for his own ban on entry to the UK. He claimed the media printed portions of his speeches “out of context” and so portrayed him as a “preacher of hate”.
A small number of "muslims who have got upset" protested to David Cameron about Britain's foreign policy.
Research, commissioned in 2005 and scheduled for publication in 2007,  has not been released to the public.  Officially, the Environment Agency says the report is still being peer-reviewed. However, it was submitted to the peer-review process "more than a year ago". The Environment Agency does not have a date for its publication, except to say that it will be soon.  I wonder if there's something they'd rather we didn't know.

And, finally, why it's pretty pointless relying on others with vested interests for unbiased news:
Red meat good
Red meat bad