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Monday, October 24, 2011

Cameron Faces Rebellion In Parliament.

The news regarding the backbench motion for a referendum on Europe is just foolishness.

I completely agree with the PM on this: this is a terrible time to be calling votes on whether Britain should remain in the EU.

One time pretender to the Tory leadership, John Redwood MP, said that a three-line whip on the vote (whereby if you vote against your party you are expected to resign from your government job) was "unnecessary". Of course Redwood would say that; he wants the lesser imposition of a one-line whip because it would permit Tory MPs to vote against the government and do as they please.

The banking crisis in Europe, along with the conduct of President Sarkozy (who this week verbally attacked Cameron in extraordinary scenes),  is a perfect example of why we need to back out of funding further EU escapades and handing further powers over to the totally undemocratic, unelected European Commission.

The European Commission is basically the cabinet government of the EU. It holds key powers in the hands of 27 completely unelected members proposed by the constituent nations of the Union. Scrutiny is undertaken by the European Parliament, though I'd argue that this is in itself no form of democracy either.

I think the backbench MPs in the Tory party are basically a bit bored and looking to vent after years of Labour government and European interference in the British political and legal systems. I'm no fan of the Commission, but with the world facing an economic meltdown I don't think this is anything other than opportunistic timing by MPs who really need to get a grip; if the Euro zone goes into freefall we ourselves will be seriously damaged even though we do not use the Euro in Britain. The only serious option is (and it infuriates me and everyone else in this country) to help bail out these corrupt, disorganised souther European nations and then back out of the whole thing gradually once this crisis has abated.

Ed Miliband is using this as an opportunity to snipe at the PM for "pretending to be a eurosceptic". I find that childish in the extreme, and yet another example of why Miliband will probably remain unelectable; it's schoolyard politics.

Sure, I want a referendum on Europe, but I don't want it while the roof is on fire.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Moderate Islam and The Tunisian Elections.

The party forecast to win the truly historic elections in Tunisia is the An-Nahda Party, a centrist Islamic party.

It bases itself on the form of Islamic politics seen in Turkey, where religious freedom is enshrined not only in law but in the spirit of the people of Turkey. Turks have no time for extremism of any kind.

VIDEO LINK HERE: To Hijab or not to Hijab; That is the Question.

I would urge you to watch the video. It will inform your opinion of what Islamic politics is and what it isn't. Just as we in Europe have Christian Democrat parties, so there exists in the Arab world a whole spectrum of religious parties which reject the same Taliban-esque rubbish we in the West reject.

I like the video because it is a behind the scenes look at the reality in Tunisia and it demonstrates the lies behind much of the western media's caricaturing of Islamic politics.

We in the west need reminding that there was a time, very recently, when our attitude toward Arabs was not dominated by right-wing, corrupt media outlets like Fox News.

We in Britain especially need to remember the contribution Arabs made to our efforts in the Great War, and the debt we owe them over our early mishandling of their road to independence. Let's not forget we were the empire masters in much of what is today the Arabic zone.

Karzai Stabs US in Back.

It appears Mr Karzai is up to his usual tricks. Today he told Pakistan TV he'd back them against the US. It's all just chat. The BBC doesn't even have it on its front page website. Why? Because it's not serious news, it's just games.

First to give Karzai his credit: The man has sat in a role no sensible person on earth would want. Being President of Afghanistan is like walking around all day with a faulty grenade in your pocket, knowing one day it's almost certain to go off and blow you to Kingdom Come. For over 5 years he has sat in the most isolated political position imaginable and made decisions which were constantly guaranteed to upset at least one of the armed, deadly groups in his land. He has watched countless friends and work colleagues murdered and lived with the permanent knowledge that he is likely to be killed at some point.

His comment (on Pakistan tv) that he would back Pakistan in a war with the US is being picked up on as the ultimate slap in the face. I don't really see it that way and I'm not surprised by the childishness going on in the press over this.

Karzai is shrewd.

He's also probably corrupt.

But he's also the only man capable of doing the job that needs doing: holding together countless complex tribal and religious factions in a fragile and volatile nation where men will often forsake wealth over the pettiest matters of personal pride.

Recently Karzai was accused of wooing the Taliban by saying Christians had little place in Afghanistan. This was reported all over the world and Karzai was thus declared a bigot and an extremist. He then appealed to the courts to dismiss anti-Christian cases which persecuted Christians in his country. This is all a balancing act. Karzai has simply got to maintain the loyalty of tribal and religious elders if he is to hold the whole damned nightmare together.

With 87% of the world's heroin coming from Afghanistan, it is remarkable that Karzai is even still alive; drug traffickers don't care what you believe in, and having tried to crush the power of the drug warlords Karzai has persistently put his life at risk every day of every year since he came to power. That the world's petulant press cannot see this is in itself noteworthy.

We judge the situation in Afghanistan according to our own twisted sense of superiority, as though to sanction Iraq into 1,000,000+ innocent lost lives was a mark of our own moral rectitude whilst Karzai the demon is a panderer apparently beneath our noble western brilliance.

Karzai is Karzai. Afghanistan is Afghanistan. They never asked us to invade their country and inflict unbelievable loss of life on them...people seem to forget that.

In the final examination, what interests me is the way Americans are now talking about the "ungrateful" Karzai the way British people used to talk about Kenya or Zimbabwe or South Africa or Pakistan - that we had done so much for our empire subjects and now they turn against us!

The invasion of Afghanistan ended the Taliban but it still left power in the hands of the rural warlords and drug dealers. Anyone who thinks Afghanistan is a more stable society thanks to our efforts is nuts.

Yet it's not correct to say our efforts were in vain. There is deep gratitude in Afghanistan for the fact that there are basic freedoms today that didn't exist before. To see that youth in Kabul can play its rock music and piss about does give one a sense that the sacrifice of US and British soldiers will one day be recognised fully.

Sadly, that day is probably a long way off, and it must be arrived at in a time suitable to the Afghan people, whose suffering is beyond our western imaginations.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some Light Relief...

It's all death and disaster in the papers right now so I want you to laugh a little.

The following video is easily the best "bad language course" I've yet come across.

Having conquered the French language (with the help of a year in France working for The Bank), I decided to recently re-learn Persian. It's Indo-European (yes, citizens, Iranians are more closely related to you than they are to Arabs or Jews) so it's moderately straightforward when you get past the Perso-Arabic script (You've no idea how easy I just made that sound - there are over 150 different character combos to learn)

Well I found this random video on YouTube and you MUST watch the intro about "British accents". Once done, go straight to 4:40 and watch the world's most uncomfortable meal. From the look on the face of interlocutor number 2 you'd think "And the pepper?" was akin to "Shall we ask the Last Shah of Iran to come back to power?"

Then, for the greatest comic moment in history go to 5:20 and watch a conversation about "rest rooms" that literally made me spill coffee all over myself. Talk about Freudian disasters!! And trust me, beyond that it just gets funnier and funnier. I'd watch the whole series if I were you.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaddafi Dead. What Next For Democracy in Libya?

The announcement of Gaddafi's death did not come to me as a cause for joy. No man's death is a joy to a person with a sense of humanity. The end of tyranny is joyful, yes, but a human's end is no time for popping champagne and giving high-fives.

The most important question isn't how Gaddafi died, but what will become of Libya now. Continue Reading This Article>>>

Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Videos That Will Make You Glad You Check This Blog...

I urge you to watch this videos and ask yourself one question: Is my life really that bad? These videos will make you glad to be alive and they will make you like Ross Capicchioni a great deal. You won't forget this guy.

I think what strikes me most about this man's story is the complete control he has over self-expression and the extent to which he has overcome an absolutely awful experience in order to rise up and find new life. Having had to do this myself on five occasions I can relate to his story perfectly. It never gets any easier, but your learn to lessen the impact of trauma in life.

To be this young and have such a strong sense of gratitude is a gift and a choice. For the latter he deserves to be crowned by the universe.

Amazing guy. Enjoy the videos.

--PART 1--

--PART 2--

Iran Versus Israel...the war that would end an Israeli state.

So in response to the unparalleled amount of truly misguided "Team America" talk being thrown around on the internet by people in the US who still (for some bizarre, messed up reason) think Israel is the US's responsibility, here are some hard facts about a war between Iran and Israel.

This war would cause atrocious loss of life and would stand as another mark of the incomparable stupidity of the human species. It would set the global economy back a generation.

1. Russia's Chief of Staff said in 2010 that any attempts by the US to become involved in a regional conflict involving Iran and Israel "Would be met with the most severe response".

2. Israel has roughly 42 missiles capable of hitting an Iran with a 70 million population

3. Iran has hundreds of mid-range missiles capable of hitting an Israel with a population of 6 million.

4. 42 missiles (even if primed with nuclear warheads) is not enough to destroy the armed forces of Iran nor Iran's war infrastructure. Iran is one of the biggest countries on earth in sheer geographic area and, contrary to general wisdom, nuclear missiles aren't as accurate or reliable as you would expect. As former Iranian defense minister, Ali Shamkhani, stated "The fact that Israel is threatening this war is the best indication of their lack of clear military strategy towards Iran".

5. Iran could sustain 70-80% damage to its defense infrastructure whilst still firing enough missiles to strike Tel Aviv. It would more than likely fire off a few dozen into neighbouring Saudi Arabia's oilfields, causing a meltdown in the oil markets and a US Dollar spinning out of control.

6. If Tel Aviv were struck it would be, in the words of US General David Hutchens, "all over".

7. Iran owns an upgraded S-200 Russian-built missile defense shield which would very easily prevent Israeli missiles from hitting their target. That would mean potential nuclear radiation raining down on Russia.

8. Iran is rapidly, with Russian help, attaining fully self-sustaining arms production. It has ramped up procurement of submarines including kilo class subs. It has joint arms tech projects with China. It is buying everything it can get its hands on.

9. Iran has one of the most dedicated and ruthless secret services on the planet.

10. Iran doesn't need "range" to be a consideration in a war with Israel - Syria is next door to Israel and would attack Israel the second any war broke out.

One could go on to list Israel's Jericho nuclear missiles or Israel's Arrow defense system but the basic point is this: Israel would be the only long-term loser in this Armageddon. Iran, Israel, North Korea et al can survive massive wars. Israel cannot.

If 200 Syrian and Iranian warheads land on Tel Aviv the government will be obliterated and Israel would be a nation without a leadership and without an economy.

If a single North Korean nuclear warhead landed on Tel Aviv, Israel as a nation would simply cease to exist. It has 6 million people and a fragile economy without any back-up funds to speak of. America has 14 trillion dollars of debt; it can't afford nation-saving projects any more - there simply isn't any money left.

In simplest terms, the "winner" of such a futile war would be the evil, despotic regime in Iran. The regime itself might be toppled by such a war, but that is not an eventuality they seem to fear. The regime would experience massive boosts in popular support and it would see Israel vanish as a regional force forever.

Bashar Al Assad would probably get to stick around too.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Iran Assassination Plot?? This Is A Remarkable Video...

The remarkable element in this is that this piece comes from Fox News. It is a superb piece of journalism and it deserves to be seen by anyone concerned about the lies and myths promoted by Israel, the AIPAC and State Department in order to push us into wars with non-existent enemies.

Before you watch this video, I want to say a couple of words about Iran and its sponsorship of assassinations.

I won't waste time condemning the Islamic Regime in Iran; it's brutal, sadistic and we all know it. End of.

But Iran's history of killing people abroad is not as profound and far-reaching as is so often portrayed. In the 80s, Iran's secret service murdered several high-ranking dissidents including the nephew of the Shah of Iran and the Shah's last prime minister, Bakhtiar, whom I apparently met when I was a teen but I've no memory of it - I met a lot of the Shah's people growing up. So yes, Iran did kill dissidents. But foreign government officials? pedigree of Iran doing that whatsoever. Unlike Israel, Iran does not have a history of assassinating foreign enemies. It just doesn't.

The entire notion that Khamenei would allow such a shoddy and reckless assassination attempt in which a drunk Iranian US Citizen would use the Mexican drug cartels to kill the Saudi ambassador in Washington is farcical. Iran's SAVAK has men all over Saudi Arabia and it could easily have planted a bomb there and avoid a diplomatic fiasco.

Like the majority of the American public, I don't buy this one bit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

UK Defence Secretary Resigns In Scandal

 Having initially stated that I didn't think this newsworthy, I hereby retract my comments and agree that Liam Fox was right to leave office.

He did it a damned sight quicker that Geoff Hoon did, even though Hoon pushed us into an illegal war in Iraq that has left 112,000 Iraqi civilians dead.

This whole story with Fox just seems a little more...curious, shall we say. He angrily denied there was any private nature to the events, yet one can't help but wonder about the hold Mr Werritty had over him that after a lifetime in politics Fox acted so foolishly.

But kudos to Fox for at the very least living up to the principles he laid at the door of other politicians. I'm no fan of his, yet I do think some recognition of the speed with which he made his decision needs to be noted.

US Catholic Bishop Charged In Child Pornography Bust.

Anyone who knows me personally knows I have the strongest possible reasons for being a Roman Catholic who is deeply glad to see Robert Finn charged.

I have so far steered well clear of stating the full extent of what I saw at the heart of the diocese for which I trained for the Catholic priesthood after a career in banking and the charitable sector.Continue Reading This Article>>>

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The American Taxpayer: Blackmailed into Paying For Israel's Wars.

 Courtesy of:

Now you can all see the direct power that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has over the US taxpayer.

Bear in mind: A) these sums are in MILLIONS of US Dollars B) they are conservative estimates.

If this doesn't sicken Americans already tired to death of paying for Israel's wars with US dollars AND America's sons and daughters, then I'll eat my hat...with chopsticks:

TABLE 1: Direct U.S. Aid to Israel (millions of dollars)

All Other
Notes: FY 2000 military grants include $1.2 billion for the Wye agreement and $1.92 billion in annual military aid. FY 2003 military aid included $1 billion from the supplemental appropriations bill. The economic grant was earmarked for $960 million for FY 2000 but was reduced to meet the 0.38% rescission. Final amounts for FY 2003 are reduced by 0.65% mandated rescission, the amounts for FY 2004 are reduced by 0.59%, and the amounts for FY 2008 are reduced by .81%.
Sources: CRS Report RL33222: U.S. Foreign Aid to Israel, updated Jan. 2, 2008, plus the FY ’08 omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 2764.

The Destruction of Arabic Jerusalem.

You probably don't know this (most westerners don't), but East Jerusalem is where the international community says the capital of Palestine must be.

Given that this is a fundamental principle of the world's stance on Israel you ought to know that a bigotted, sectarian Israeli group called Elad has for several years been creating a settlement in the heart of East Jerusalem to dig up the city and claim intense archaeological necessity has caused the influx of "settlers" into an ancient Arabic district of the city.

It's ethnic cleansing. And it has the backing of Netanyahu and the Mayor of Jerusalem.

So take a look at what a courageous Jewish-Israeli archaeologist thinks of all this:

I subscribe to the daily newsletter from Silwan. I urge you to do so, and to send them your support. These people's kids are arrested and shot at almost daily:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Iran Plot to Kill Saudi Ambassador in America.

So that's the big story this week: Iran tries to kill ambassador Al-Jubeir in Washington DC.

I'm angry so I'll cut the crap.

Al-Jubeir met General Petraeus throughout 2007-2009 and we know as a matter of incontrovertible fact that that putrid sack of detritus (Al Jubeir, that is) informed the US government that the thief and tyrant running Saudi Arabia (I won't refer to him as a 'king') wished for the US to "cut off the serpent's head", a reference to Iran's sovereign government.

This will end in hot words and nonsense. No one can touch Iran - it's one of Russia and China's largest oil suppliers, Syria has a joint defense pact with Iran, and the North Koreans have emphatically threatened to nuke anyone who interferes with N. Korea's oil supply. So there's no need for long-winded foolishness about international diplomacy.

Consider it: The Saud family called for "severe US and international sanctions on Iran, including a travel ban and further restrictions on bank lending." The wikileaks cable releases also showed these people adding, "the foreign minister also stated that the use of military pressure against Iran should not be ruled out."

Over ONE MILLION innocent Iraqis died under the US sanctions against Saddam. THAT is what the evil, corrupt Saud family wants done to Iranians. 

Saudi Arabia, a land without basic human rights, has the nerve to call on the US to invade Iran leading to the horrific loss of innocent civilian life one sees in Iraq daily. If you knew anything about the Saud family you would know they are among the most vicious, murderous, evil clans to have ever walked upon the earth. They are thieves of the first order, robbing their people blind and blowing fortunes on extravagant trash while millions of children in this world starve to death or die of easily curable diseases.

Iran is no Disneyland, but they are entitled to hate the western world for what we did to them for a century.

I would not celebrate the death of the Saud ambassador but I certainly would not weep over his passing.

So long as women in Saudi Arabia are beheaded for adultery, or publicly flogged for driving, or banned from sitting in the faux-parliament then the Saud family (which has brutally crushed opposition in its land) is in no position to call anyone a "serpent".

Islam, The West, and thanking the Arabs for discovering the New World.

Islam and Science Link Here
Western right-wing conversation on Islam is about as useful as a pedal-powered wheelchair.

I haven't enough time and patience to write a full analysis of this latest  "Reds Under The Bed" mania which now grips the right-wing of western media but I wanted to address a couple of points which I think matter in the current climate. I could go into a massive, erudite thesis covering the Safavids and the Moghuls and Saladin and his treatises on war or the court of the Ottomans and their dhimmi rule but let's not; it's too early and I've things to do. So...Continue Reading This Article>>>

Friday, October 07, 2011

This is what The Republican Party Needs...

"Moral values while you're diddling your secretary? Come on, get off of it!"

Now that's a Republican anyone would be happy to vote for.

I came across this on another blog and I had to share it. This man is exactly what the Republican Party needs to rediscover and I was absolutely stunned to see this sort of deep moral integrity coming from a GOP senator.

If this man stood as a presidential candidate for the GOP he'd have a very good chance of winning an election against Obama for the obvious reason that he is a unifier and NOT a divider.

Remarkable stuff:

Round-up of the Inspiring and Unusual...

1) What fearless courage in the name of freedom looks like. This is the speech King gave the night before he was murdered. These are the last words of that 40-minute speech and until you've heard it in its entirety you've barely lived! It'll be on YouTube somewhere, but for now here's the spine-tingling ending:

2) Reminding you how beautiful the human race can be. The old lady at the beginning is someone we could all do with in our lives:

3) An amazing green/urban redevelopment project in New York City. Amazing stuff and I would love to go see it some day:

4) Lunatic Wingsuit Man Jeb Corliss flies through cave in China:

Savonarola and Lessons for Our World

I recently started re-reading my biography of Girolamo di Savonarola again, he of "Mad Monk" and "Bonfire of the Vanities" fame.

Be sure, reader, Savonarola is not for the fainthearted: he has been called a terrorist, a lunatic, a misanthrope and far, far worse besides...Continue Reading This Article>>>

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP Steve Jobs, February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011

Never Confuse Ideology With Intelligence.

I briefly had a series of online confrontations today after helping a friend sort out their finances which left me with a truly nasty taste in my mouth.

After an hour of sitting with the said friend to advise on a couple of things to get them out of a situation (a very rewarding experience), I came back to find a series of responses on Huffington which demonstrated to me the depravity of so much of western dialectic (if it can even be rewarded that term) in the modern age. It's the kind of behaviour I just don't see in Persian or Arabic forums and it is sick to the core...

See what I mean about the rise and fall of empires?

This just backs everything I've said about the deadlock in American politics; the world has categorically moved on from a US-dominated global economy and the only people who are doing nothing about it are the Capitol Hill Brigade.

This news from Russia will doubtless see French, German and British finance ministers launch a whole range of relationship-building exercises which will further damage the US economy in the wake of 10 solid years of political chauvinism under Bush. It is absolutely no coincidence at all that it comes after another suicidal decision by a US president to back Israel in the UN against the wishes of the rest of the worlds governments. This has been timed to say to America's president, "Ok, so let's show you how irrelevant you are in the Security Council. Go ahead, veto another piece of the puzzle; we don't need you anyway".

British excellent relations with India, French close economic bonds with China, German diplomacy in Russia. 15% of UK trade is with the US and that figure is rapidly diminishing.

People in Washington are rushing their country into absolute decline by sidelining the US in just about every international organisation from the UN to NATO to the IMF. And they think this news doesn't prove what happens when you tamper with global political opinion.

British GDP per capita PPP is still head and shoulders above Russian GDP so it'll be a while yet before there is any serious impact, but who do you think the Arabs and Iranians would now prefer to sell their oil to? India recently agreed to pay Iran over £3 Billion in oil debt because Iran threatened to stop exports of oil to India; so if India (a 1 Billion person economy) does as Iran says, what hope is there for the US to resist the tide if the Middle East has its probable backlash after decades of interference which established Mubarak, the Shah of Iran, Israel and all the other despotic regimes out there?

The funniest political interview on British TV ever...

Ken Livingstone has been quoted many times in saying that it's a fool who underestimates our Mayor, Boris Johnson. Having met Johnson on several occasions I have to agree with Ken (whom I actually like in equal measure and for very similar reasons) that Johnson is a shrewd man with a good mind and a slight genius for campaigns. He's also totally and utterly real; he treats everyone with equal attention (or lack of it) and you get the impression you're talking to a real human being.

To those of who who don't know, the interviewer (Jeremy Paxman) is the UK's version of Bill O'Riley; famed as a vicious political interviewer loved and loathed in equal measure.

If both Boris's intellect and humanity don't get him re-elected then it'll be a sad day for London. We've probably not had a politician this popular this St Tony Blair came to power in 97.

Paxman ended up in fits of laughter the last time he interviewed Boris and it happens again here!

What's wrong with Britain today.

Britain often seems like it's changing too fast for my generation to cope with.

To set the record straight, I grew up in a working class Irish family in London where I was the first member of my immediate family to enjoy a university education. I went to one of the country's best universities after getting the grades I needed and after years at a failing state school...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A US Death Penalty Case far worse than that of Troy Davis.

Innocent Man Denied DNA Test Which Could Exonerate Him?!

This is just the worst story on the Death Penalty in the US I've read in years and it will no doubt overtake the horrendous experience of Troy Davis, a case which shocked Americans to the core.

What is wrong with these people?!

Global Obesity Quick Stats.

Further to this blog entry: The Danes Launch "Operation Cheeseburger"...

..I thought you'd all like a quick look at this: (Click image to enlarge)

How to cure America's economy.

The above video is a stark and even shocking reminder of what American politics used to look like. I urge you to watch it and ask where these men are today.

The 1950s was the heyday of US free market economics. If you were white, middle class, and paid into your pension fund you are now living a superb life in most cases and not only own your own home outright but have invested in enough fixed-income products to see you through this current hyper-squeeze...

Monday, October 03, 2011

Afghanistan - where it's not all bad news.

After looking at endless news coverage of murder, mayhem and morons, this story above on the 'Beeb' really made me feel good about the world.

We take so much for granted in the west and it goes to show that people are all the same at their core. Especially the young.

God bless 'em, let them rock their hearts out. Lord knows if any group has earned the right to party it's young Afghans.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Danes are taxing FAT??

When I first saw this headline I thought, "Oh for heaven's sakes, more nanny state politics".

I'm not a fan of state interference in the sphere of private consumption of legal goods, but this news item did appeal to me...

I do believe in giving people a gentle nudge away from things that cause them to live shorter, unhealthier lives. What I mean is this: tell a person to quit smoking and they will likely put their lips around a chimney and breathe in 50 kilos of tobacco smoke in one sitting. Yet tell corporations to stop raising our sodium levels and most of us will be ok with that.

The fact is that saturated fat kills far more people per annum than smoking ever did, and now that hardly anyone smokes any more (at least in the west) it is obvious that obesity has outstripped tobacco and alcohol as the number one killer.

The Danes aren't anti-fun at all; they drink like fiends. It is because of my personal experience of Danes that I actually admire this move.

But it does make the thought of having a Danish and coffee seem a little less appetising. But not as unappetising as the thought of eating a twinkie!

Why America Can't Fail.

I grew up in a family where "America" was always a good word. It meant the place where I had hundreds of Irish-American cousins, it was where good films were made, and where having a British or Irish accent made you instantly popular no matter how big a fool you were back in Britannia or Hibernia.

My hero has always been Bobby Kennedy, possibly the last true Statesman the US political world has had, a man who would quote Aeschylus in his campaign speeches and tell rich Harvard students that THEY were going to pay for a new American society...