Sunday, November 29, 2009

Does Anyone Really Want To 'Find' Osama Bin Laden?

Unquestioning support for the presence of both our own and US forces in Afghanistan is rapidly dwindlng. As the number of troops returning from the country in coffins is increasing, our realisation of the difficulty of achieving a quick exit strategy is finally sinking in.

In the US, President Obama is, at present, deciding whether he can sell the idea to the American people, of sending another 30,000 troops to the region. It is a political 'hot potato' and a decision that I am sure is causing him many sleepless nights.

It seems, therefore, with somewhat fortuitously good timing, that a report from the US senate has been released stating that the world's most wanted terrorist figure, Osama Bin Laden, was allowed to escape capture from US troops in Afghanistan back in 2001. Of course, the report blames the previous administration for this unlikeliest of errors.

Suspiciously, the release of the report seems timed to re-light the fire in people's minds about the so-called leader of the dreaded Al Qaeda; the man said to be responsible for the 9/11 attacks and numerous other shocking terrorist outrages in various parts of the world.

What I have often wondered, is does anyone really want to catch this man? Does he even really exist?

It seems almost inconceivable, that in the age of the highly sophisticated and often secret technology freely available to the various security agencies, they have not been able to pinpoint the location of one mere mortal.

It raises the question of what they would they do with him if they did manage to capture him? He is the figurehead of an organisation with huge and sophisticated resources; he is not just the tribesman he is made out to be. His capture and trial would only increase his profile and would provoke huge terrorist outrages across the globe and increase the recruitment figures of the so called terrorist organisations.

Alternatively, if he were to be killed 'in battle' it is likely the same result would occur.

It is worth remembering that Osama Bin Laden has been a very useful tool for various governments over the last few years. He has become the world's 'Bogeyman'.

Both his name and the organisation he is said to lead, have been used by various western governments to promote a fear in our populations and allow them to introduce more control and restrictions on our personal freedoms. Without promoting such a fear, these measures would have been greeted with outrage.

Here in the UK, you are lucky to be able to go to the bathroom without being monitored by some nosey government employee following your every move on a surveillance camera.

In reality, the fear of any of us being involved in a terrorist incident far outweighs the probability. However, the perception is constantly promoted that we are all in imminent danger. Faced by this perception, we have knowingly allowed our democratic rights and personal freedoms to be taken away on the basis of what is really just a myth.

So I guess I really have to ask....does any government really WANT to 'find' Osama Bin Laden or is he of more political use remaining 'free'?

Make up your own mind!!

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Weird But.....Works For Me!

I don't have a clue what this has to do with the drink Orangina but after a week of depressing news it made me smile.

Probably, because I can imagine the outrage from the PC police if it were ever to be shown during the ad breaks of the UK's TV channels!

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

EU The Heck Is Catherine Ashton?

Mention the name Catherine Ashton and you could be forgiven for receiving a blank stare in response.

From today, though, all that is likely to change, for she is not only a little known (outside of the political world) Baroness who had been working as the Trade Commissioner for the EU but she has just been named as the person who will be its newly created foreign affairs supremo.

In a similarly surprising move, EU leaders have chosen the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman van Rompuy to be the first permanent European Council President.

Of course, there had been much lobbying for the above post to be awarded to one Anthony Blair, (our ex PM but now multi-millionaire after dinner speaker) and for the foreign supremo role to go to Blair's protege David Miliband (our own Foreign Secretary) but thankfully, the EU's 27 leaders have shown they have a greater vision.

All credit must go to them for turning their collective back on 'celebrity politics' in favour of people who will be able to negotiate with the world on a fresh footing and relatively untarnished by their immediate history.

The EU has taken a lot of criticism in the past but, just maybe, it is now starting to show it could be a good deal for all of us after all!

The jury is still out!!

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A 'Charge' Harriet Harman Won't Be Claiming!

Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman, is to face prosecution after all, following a police investigation into her alleged car smash back in July (see earlier post).

The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement:

'The Crown Prosecution Service has decided there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute the Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP for the offences of driving without due care and attention and driving whilst using a hand-held mobile telephone in relation to an incident on 3 July 2009 in Peckham, London.'

If found guilty, Ms Harman could face a £6,000 fine, penalty points on her licence or a driving ban.

Her spokeswoman said:

'Ms Harman strongly refutes the allegations and will deny the charges.'

Hmmmm...... now where have we heard that one before?

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No Expense(s) Spared In The Queen's Speech

Are we surprised?

Yesterday, the Queen's Speech, setting out the government's final plans for the country before facing the electorate in next year's general election, was conspicuous by one very large omission - there was no mention of any legislation relating to MP's expenses.

Following one of the biggest political scandals of the last few years, you would think that regaining the trust of the public in politicians (should I, instead, have said gain?) would be right up there at the top of the agenda but apparently that is not the case.

Perhaps, they are hoping we will become so distracted, by experiencing the inevitable financial cuts and increased taxation we are all about to face, we will simply forget the scams and fiddling that has been so rife in the Palace of Westminster - they think they will simply carry on as if nothing happened.

Well, just like the proverbial elephants, we must send the strongest possible message that we definitely won't ever forget!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Computer Virus? - Electrocute Their Genitals!

Beware, there is a new virus attacking computers. It starts with an email along the lines of:

We are contacting you in regards to an unusual activity that was identified in your mailbox. As a result, your mailbox has been deactivated. To restore your mailbox, you are required to extract and run the attached mailbox utility. Best regards, xxxxx technical support.

The file is normally opened before any antivirus software has spotted it. Of course, once open, it runs riot in your computer and stops you from even performing a system restore.

I know of two people who have already fallen foul of it and I have received the email at least six times at my work.

I hope the authors of the virus are quickly caught, so I can attach their genitalia to 240v electrodes until they shrivel up and drop off.

However, this is unlikely to make any difference; not because they are unlikely to be caught and not because I would not attach their genitalia to the electrodes.

It is because their genitals are probably already very small and shrivelled. That is why they have nothing better to do with their pathetic lives than create malicious viruses that cause people such inconvenience and distress.

Get a life you cretins!

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Edward Woodward - 'That's a Wrap!'

You know when you are getting older - the 'stars' you have always watched on-screen start to disappear.

Today, it was the turn of the great actor, Edward Woodward, who died at the age of 79.

I first watched him in the TV series Callan and was mesmerised by his clipped speech, which although was meant to sound posh, still had a touch of the 'common' in it. He had a unique ability to make his characters sound classy but with a hidden menace.

Younger fans will remember him for his starring role in the US series The Equaliser where he played a hitman (during the filming of one series he suffered a heart attack).

He never made it to the lofty status of acting's hierarchy by becoming a 'Lord' or a 'Sir' but he was as good as any of them and was never too serious about his fame.

I shall, like many others, miss him.

As they say in the movies... "That's a wrap"

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The Sun Goes Down!

You could not make it up!

The Sun has been forced to apologise for doing exactly what it criticised the prime minister of doing – misspelling the surname of Jacqui Janes. She is the mother of Grenadier Guardsman, Jamie Janes, who was killed in Afghanistan.

She made GB’s hand written letter of condolence public last week (see post), to illustrate his grammatical and spelling errors (he had inadvertently spelt her family name Jones)

It seems what goes around comes around!

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Afghanistan - The History Of Failure.

We are not an occupying army," Gordon Brown told the BBC on Friday. "It's not like previous interventions.... We are actually creating the conditions by which the Afghans themselves, and not an occupying army, can run their own affairs."

The words above are quoted from an excellent article in today's Independent by author James Fergusson. Within it, he explains why the PM's words are so misguided

The full article can be read here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Afghanistan- We Will Eventually Have To Talk (Pt 2)

I suggested it back in July, in my post Afghanistan - We Will Eventually Have To Talk! but now it seems our government is finally catching up with my common sense theory, that nothing will be resolved in Afghanistan unless we all start talking.

They have asked the government of Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan, to instigate talks with the Taliban leadership in an attempt to include them in the political process.

The are also pressing for certain former Taliban members to be removed from a United Nations blacklist which hinders freedom of travel thereby preventing open dialogue.

A memo leaked from the Foreign Office states:

"We must weaken and divide the Taliban if we are to reduce the insurgency to a level that can be managed and contained by the Afghan security forces. This can be achieved by a combination of military pressure and clear signals that the option of an honourable exit from the fight exists."

I am not sure there is any "honourable exit" from such a war but it does seems almost absurd, that it has taken so long for our government to wake up to common sense, having already gained vast experience of a similar solution to the problems of Northern Ireland.

Maybe they should read my blog more often!!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Coincidence Of Child Deformities In Iraqi Town Of Falluja?

A baby born with two heads, many with multiple tumours and others with extensive damage to the central nervous system.

It sounds like the kind of horror to be found in the plot of a science fiction film but is, in reality, what is happening in the Iraqi town of Falluja.

The level of chronic deformities in infants is up to fifteen times what was considered to have be 'normal' and the health authorities are struggling to cope. Falluja General Hospital used to see two admissions every fortnight but now they have two admissions every day.

It seems hard to believe it is just coincidence that the town, which was the setting of one of the fiercest battles of the Iraq war, is now showing such abnormalities occurring amongst its young.

One can only speculate on the nature of the weapons deployed in the battle (I am sure the US will not be forthcoming with any answers) but it seems their effects will not be easily forgotten!

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A War Is A Good Payday For MoD Civil Servants...

Civil Servants at the Ministry of Defence have been paid bonuses this year of £47 million.

The payments are, apparently, performance related although quite how 'performance' is measured in a department that deals in armed conflict I am at a loss to understand. Do they get a payment based on a reduction in injuries or deaths? One can only imagine with a feeling of horror!

Forgetting the dubious justifications given publicly for such payments, I wonder how any future government criticism of the bonuses that bankers have been paying themselves can ever be taken seriously from now on.

Added to which, the troops on the front line of Afghanistan only get their normal wages for performing a far more serious and life threatening job every minute of every day.

It is also worth noting that we would not have heard a thing about these payments were it not  for a written reply to a Tory parliamentary question.

It seems that the officials in Whitehall are still playing fast and loose with public money. Time for it to be brought back under control!!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Unemployment - What Hope For Our Young?

The Office of National Statistics has announced today that the number of people unemployed in the UK has risen by its smallest amount since May 2008.

Before we pop the champagne corks and explode the party poppers, we should remember that the rise was still 30,000 bringing the total number of those out of work to 2.46 million.

Even more sobering is the fact that youth unemployment which covers those between 16 and 24-years-old rose by 15,000 to a total of 943,000.

When you think about it, though, is it really surprising? We have become a country that no longer produces anything of substance. Our manufacturing industries have gone, along with our fisheries. Once, we were the envy of the world in technological advance but we now create very little that is innovative or original.

We have become just a service nation that trades in items that do not exist in a realistic form and where the profits and risk taking are high.

University graduates have spent years studying for qualifications, while accumulating huge debts, to find they have returned to a world of few jobs worthy of their abilities.

There are no longer apprenticeships for those to whom academic achievement was beyond their ability; we have few trades left where skills need to be passed on and taught over time. Many of the jobs requiring such skills are now filled by foreign workers prepared to accept lower daily rates and longer hours.

Of course, we all have to shoulder some personal responsibility for allowing such things to happen. The unions became too strong and past governments were too weak. Our products became too expensive and uncompetitive.

The fact remains, though, that when we gave away our industrial ability we also gave away the sense of hope and value of thousand upon thousands of our young people who are never going to be, or want to be bankers!

For many of them, we only offer the armed forces and war in foreign lands!

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Monday, November 09, 2009

What makes a Soldier....

I meant to post this at the weekend but foolishly, I left the original email at work. It was sent as part of a weekly newsletter I receive from the Red Fridays campaign.

I have no idea who the author is but I found it to be extremely thought provoking; it brings reality into the world of politics. I found it to be very moving. I hope you do too....

The average British soldier is 19 years old.....he is a short haired, well built lad who, under normal circumstances is considered by society as half man, half boy. Not yet dry behind the ears and just old enough to buy a round of drinks but old enough to die for his country - and for you. He's not particularly keen on hard work but he'd rather be grafting in Afghanistan than unemployed in the UK .

He recently left comprehensive school where he was probably an average student, played some form of sport, drove a ten year old rust bucket, and knew a girl that either broke up with him when he left, or swore to be waiting when he returns home. He moves easily to rock and roll or hip-hop or to the rattle of a 7.62mm machine gun.

He is about a stone lighter than when he left home because he is working or fighting from dawn to dusk and well beyond. He has trouble spelling, so letter writing is a pain for him, but he can strip a rifle in 25 seconds and reassemble it in the dark. He can recite every detail of a machine gun or grenade launcher and use either effectively if he has to. He digs trenches and latrines without the aid of machines and can apply first aid like a professional paramedic. He can march until he is told to stop, or stay dead still until he is told to move.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation but he is not without a rebellious spirit or a sense of personal dignity. He is confidently self-sufficient. He has two sets of uniform with him: he washes one and wears the other. He keeps his water bottle full and his feet dry. He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never forgets to clean his rifle. He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes and fix his own hurts. If you are thirsty, he'll share his water with you; if you are hungry, his food is your food. He'll even share his life-saving ammunition with you in the heat of a firefight if you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons and regards his weapon as an extension of his own hands. He can save your life or he can take it, because that is his job - it's what a soldier does. He often works twice as long and hard as a civilian, draw half the pay and have nowhere to spend it, and can still find black ironic humour in it all. There's an old saying in the British Army: 'If you can't take a joke, you shouldn't have joined!'

He has seen more suffering and death than he should have in his short lifetime. He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat and he is unashamed to show it or admit it. He feels every bugle note of the 'Last Post' or 'Sunset' vibrate through his body while standing rigidly to attention. He's not afraid to 'Bollock'anyone who shows disrespect when the Regimental Colours are on display or the National Anthem is played; yet in an odd twist, he would defend anyone's right to be an individual. Just as with generations of young people before him, he is paying the price for our freedom. Clean shaven and baby faced he may be, but be prepared to defend yourself if you treat him like a kid.

He is the latest in a long thin line of British Fighting Men that have kept this country free for hundreds of years. He asks for nothing from us except our respect, friendship and understanding. We may not like what he does, but sometimes he doesn't like it either - he just has it to do.. Remember him always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with his blood.

And now we even have brave young women putting themselves in harm's way, doing their part in this tradition of going to war when our nation's politicians call on us to do so.

When you receive this, please stop for a moment and if you are so inclined, feel free to say a prayer for our troops in the trouble spots of the world. Maybe you'll want to send it on to someone else too.

Why not leave a message here

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How 'Write' Was PM Gordon Brown ?

Gordon Brown Letter.jpg

It is not often that I feel a pang of sympathy for dear 'ole Gordon, our esteemed prime minister but I did feel it stirring today.

He has, after all, been guilty of extreme arrogance and aloofness in the past but he does not deserve the bitter criticism he received from today's papers.

He was judged to be guilty of nothing more than sending a handwritten letter of sympathy to the mother of a serviceman killed in Afghanistan and misspelling the family name. It is a mistake similar to that any of us could make every time we write a letter - although how many of us bother to hand write letters nowadays?

Whatever your opinion on the rights and wrongs of our presence in Afghanistan, it should be remembered that it was not GB alone who sent us there. He is guilty of many acts of stupidity but I am prepared to believe that today's incident was nothing more than a blip in a genuinely heartfelt message of sympathy.

I am more surprised that the serviceman's mother did not take a moment to think before running to the Sun newspaper.

Let's place a full stop on this story!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Remembrance Sunday and The Afghanistan/Iraq Conflicts

Today is the day we remember all those who have died in conflict fighting to preserve our freedom.

Since my earliest childhood memory of men and women standing around the Cenotaph in warm black coats, silently laying wreaths of bright red poppies, it has been about those who fought in WW1 and WW2. Now, though, it must include those who have, sadly, been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

For me, that brings confusion.

Both of the world wars were just that - they were global. They were about fighting to protect our freedom against those who sought to invade and conquer us.

In Iraq and Afghanistan the conflicts are different in that we have chosen to invade those countries - albeit with the excuse we are ultimately protecting our home country from terrorist attack. Despite what Foreign Secretary David Miliband writes in today's Mail On Sunday, the argument is still not convincing.

Sir Jock Stirrup, Head of the Armed Forces, said on the Andrew Marr show this morning:

"We haven't done a good enough job of explaining to the public what our strategy is".

That is because there cannot be a strategy against a foe that uses the unpredictable tactics of the terrorist and promotes our presence in their homeland as that of the invader. Yes, you can 'take the fight to the terrorists' and kill hundreds in battle, thereby reducing the numbers but you cannot change the mindset, or the radicalisation of future generations.

As I listened to the bugler at my local cenotaph service occasionally missing the notes and stopping during his performance of The Last Post, I acknowledged there are those in this country who would try to claim that speaking out against our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is being unsupportive of our troops. It is not.

To speak out against an unjust and legally dubious conflict is, in reality, being totally supportive of those who do not have a choice!


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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Life On Planet Concussion!

It has been a while since I last posted on here, following my spectacular dive down the stairs and my teeth numbing stop, using my head as a brake, against a doorframe.

Since my unplanned flight, I have been living on Planet Concussion. It is a strange world I entered after needing the rather confusing quality of service available from the NHS (could do better – maybe more written later) and where I have imagined strange things to be happening all around me.

For instance, I had visions of the leader of the over hyped and allegedly racist BNP being grilled on Question Time while outside the studios, demonstrations were taking place ; of MPs being made to re-pay and apologise for the expenses they had inadvertently claimed while “just following the rules”; of X Factor contestants taking up more space in newspapers than proper journalism; of footballer’s wives miraculously being able to give birth to babies; of even more of our troops losing their lives in a mystical land called Afghanistan; of senior scientific advisors to the government being sacked for not agreeing with the political will of our rulers; of bankers being curbed from receiving huge bonuses for doing what they are already paid to do and of the next prime minister of our great country performing a complete U-turn over holding a referendum over Europe.

The weirdest vision of all was the one where Transport for London insisted that actress Kelly Brook should have her own 'buns' concealed with...even bigger buns on a poster advertising the play Calender Girls on London's underground trains.

Planet Concussion is a scary place to be and I am really looking forward to returning to the real world, where things like these would never happen!!

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great 'Expenses' Quote From Ann Widdecombe MP

One of the best quotes of the day, referring to the MP's expenses repayment saga, must have been supplied by Ann Widdecombe, Tory MP for Maidstone.

She was trying to make the point, that limits for expenses should not have been imposed on MPs retrospectively and was implying that MPs should be trusted to govern themselves.

However, her words have inadvertently described what a large majority of the voting public must be thinking about the whole sorry episode.

During an interview for the BBC Ms. Widdecombe said:

"if we can't govern ourselves within the rules of natural justice we certainly ain't fit to govern anybody else"

Well, it seems they have proved that they can't .... and many in this country think that they are not!

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Global Warming Makes A Nice Sunset?


If this is an October sunset in the UK that results from global warming then things can't be all bad! Bring it on!

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Guardian Gagged From Reporting Parliament!

The Guardian newspaper has announced it has been gagged from reporting parliamentary proceedings, on legal grounds, for the first time in living memory. It has said in its report:

Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations.

The action against the paper appears to call into question the privileges that guarantee free speech established under the 1688 Bill of Rights.

The Guardian has vowed to immediately go to court to overturn the decision.

For the sake of our free speech and our democracy let's hope they succeed!

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Sympathy For MPs? - Not Even Slightly!

OK..Ok it's time to own up...aren't you feeling just a little bit of sympathy for that dysfunctional group of society called MPs?

After all, they have just returned from weeks and weeks on an expensive summer vacation (working in their constituencies, of course, and not holidaying in their second homes or travelling the world) to find that most of their number are receiving letters demanding they pay back expenses they have 'mistakenly' claimed in the past, not knowing they had never incurred them in the first place.

Of course, they are not guilty of having abused the system, they are just the poor persecuted victims of an unjust media world. Their only crime, in reality, was to get caught! you own up to feeling sympathy? I would guess not!!

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Arse Kicking At Parliament Buildings!

For a country that has so many surveillance cameras the authorities can virtually see the state of your colon as you walk down the street - and all in the name of anti-terrorism - it comes as some surprise to learn that 50 Greenpeace campaigners (protesting against global warming) have been able to climb onto the roof of Westminster Hall, part of the Houses of Parliament, without being spotted by police officers guarding the high security building.

Even more amazingly, the demonstrators used ropes and ladders to climb the perimeter fencing - hardly items that can be concealed under everyday clothing.

Perhaps, the police guarding Parliament, are like the MPs they are supposed to be protecting - still on their annual vacation.

With everyone returning to work tomorrow, it seems likely that the arse kicking that will be sure to follow, will be increasing global warming even further!

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Support World Mental Health Day - You Would Be Mad Not To!

Today, is World Mental Health Day.

It has been organised to try to stimulate discussion on what seems to be one of the most stigmatised areas of modern medicine: mental illness.

Most people would rather own up to having a serious sexual disease than admit they suffer from the most common form of mental disorder - depression.

It is a disease that brings a feeling of isolation to the sufferer but then feeds off the darkness of that same isolation. It is so easy to sink into the dark fog of loneliness, but to put it all into perspective, one person in four is likely to suffer from some sort of mental illness in their lifetime - governments have been elected with a smaller percentage than that!

More importantly, the percentage amongst children is growing, so it is even more essential we remove the taboo surrounding mental illness as soon as possible.

Almost as worrying, according to recent surveys, only about 25 percent of employers say they would give work to someone they knew had a mental illness. In most cases that just does not make sense and combined with the negative reporting in the press of people who suffer with extreme mental problems, it seems the quicker we all educate ourselves and tame our fears, the quicker the stigma attached to the disease will die.

I am going to start by admitting to the world that I have suffered from depression and received medication to control the imbalance in the chemicals that make up my thought processes. I feared people knowing about it - even though I have not been in such a bad way ever since I sought out medical advice. I was lucky, I had a superb and understanding GP who supported me throughout the whole slow healing process but I know some people are not so lucky.

Nowadays, when the 'black cloud' starts to descend, I go for a long walk and take action to reduce the stressful parts of my life that I know fuel the fire of my problem. I find it therapeutic to write about the things I used to think about; that is one of the reasons I maintain this blog.

I know it is manageable but I still fear that one day it might not be.

It is for all these reasons, I applaud and support any attempt to make such an illness socially acceptable, for sufferers need to be able to discuss and, thereby, share the burden that is mental illness.

So, please show your support for World Mental Health Day, for if you don't ... you really are mad!!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

London's 'Mayor Boris' Tries to 'Stuff' Paxo

I have only just caught up with this interview between London's somewhat eccentric Mayor, Boris Johnson and BBC Newsnight's 'Rottweiler' frontman Jeremy Paxman. It was recorded at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on October 5th.

I am not sure if it is really about politics or is just an audition for the lead roles in a situation comedy. Judge for yourself - and weep!

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Second Class Service For A First Class Postal Strike!

Postal workers have voted by a 3 to 1 majority in favour of an all out strike. If it goes ahead, it will be the first UK-wide walkout since 2007.

However, I am not really feeling much sympathy towards either side in the dispute.

Postal workers are seeking to protect their job security and working conditions, while the management of the Post Office are trying to preserve their right to maintain large profits from a declining service.

Both concepts, are in today's world at least, rather out of touch with reality.

On one side, the workers are claiming they are now being overworked and undervalued, while their management are claiming workers are overstaffed and under modernised.

According to their latest management computer 'toy', which works out the theory of how fast a Postman should walk and therefore, how long each round should take, the staff are capable of doing more in their day. Sadly, I don't think that computers have a first hand knowledge of snapping dogs, inclement weather and the time if takes to chat with certain members of our smaller communities.

Both sides need to wake up and realise that the world has changed dramatically and how we choose to communicate with each other has become far more urgent than in times past; for most things we want instant contact and not next day.

Strike action is an outdated method of resolving a dispute and will not settle anything. Ultimately, it will cause an even greater decline to the postal service and its associated workforce.

For my part......I am going to start breeding pigeons!!

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Is Harriet Harman More Equal Than Anyone Else?

"I'm Harriet Harman, you know where you can get me."

Those are the words of Labour's deputy leader, Harriet Harman.

They were not the reassuring words of an MP to a worried constituent but, instead, are alleged to have been made to a witness, who saw a parked car hit by Ms Harman's vehicle, while she was apparently driving and using her mobile phone.

Ms. Harman denies the allegation and that she left the scene of the accident without supplying details of her registration or insurance.

The accident is said to have occurred in Dulwich, South London, on 3rd July and the police are waiting to question Ms. Harman. The reason for their delay is said to be because officers wanted to wait until after Labour's party conference last week. By anyone's calculations, that seems to be a long time to delay such an enquiry and we can only wonder why.

Ms. Harman is of course best known for officially promoting the case for women's equality.

It seems, though, that she sees herself, as being far more equal than anyone else.

I await with interest, the result of the police investigation!

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Conservatives Try To 'Benefit' From Cheap Votes!

At times of financial downturn in the economy and when politicians are having to justify the bad news about raising taxes and cutting public services to refill fiscal potholes, it is always the easy option to highlight those in our country who are unable to defend themselves. I refer of course to those who are receiving benefits.

An article in today's Sunday Times has reported that the Conservatives would force the jobless back to work by stopping their benefits, if they do not enter into privately run training schemes.

Of course, forgetting for a moment, the obvious point that training is about as much use as a cat flap on a submarine, when there are not the jobs available for the newly 'trained' to fill, it is insulting to brand, by implication, that all of those who are receiving benefits are a drain on public funds and scroungers.

It is no fun to be unemployed and the people who target them are usually those who have never themselves had to suffer the indignity of entering a job centre. They have never been unfortunate enough to need the help.

Most of them watch programmes and read papers that sensationalise the actions of the minority who abuse the system and then tar all other claimants with the same brush.

As we have found out recently, however, where there is a system to be abused, there are always those who abuse it. I refer, of course, to the MP's expenses scandal.

Most people who have received benefits over a long period do not want to be in that position. They want to work but have often lost all self belief and confidence in any ability they may have for finding a job. Single mothers are unable to afford the childcare that will enable them to work even part time. Many do not have the help of immediate families. They are not living the high life, they are trapped by the same system they are accused of abusing.

Interestingly, the simplistic view of the Conservative policy announced today makes no mention of those who have entered our country from abroad and used the UK as a benefits 'cashpoint' and then sent the money back to their families abroad.

Neither, is there a mention of the billions of pounds being lost by those who are able to exploit loopholes in the tax system and deprive the revenue - and the rest of the country - of the benefit. These cheats are not treated with the same scorn as benefit claimants and instead are often feted and admired.

Perhaps, this is because funding of our political parties is largely received from such donors?

It is regarded by many as a socially acceptable fraud but, in reality, it is just as much of a fraud as that perpetrated by the minority who abuse the benefit system.

I was lucky enough to have a friend who has been trapped as a long term claimant of benefits. She has fought to bring her two children up as respectable, intelligent, responsible and much loved individuals. She has struggled and her children have missed out on the things that most children take for granted, but they are neither bitter or envious; they are grounded.

I have gained far more respect for her, than I will ever have for the politicians who seek to make cheap political capital by attacking those who cannot afford a voice!

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Don't Predict The Next Government Just Yet!

Six months is a long time in politics and we have even longer than that until the next general election takes place.

Of course, all the parties are now, unofficially at least, campaigning to capture the imaginations of the voters and predictably, the Conservatives are the most popular party in the polls at this moment in time.

Before they get to be too complacent, though, it is worth remembering that its main players have little experience of running anything more complicated than the tuck shops in their various public schools and their leader had a career in public relations - a profession where you gain the ability to persuade people that even a turd can be a 'must have' product.

They keep telling us they have great ideas but they have yet to reveal exactly what they are; they are promoting theory, rather than reality.

Now that The Sun newspaper has announced it is switching from being a Labour supporting rag to Conservative blue, there will be many more who will soak up all the promises made by David Cameron and his posse. The problem is they are the same readers who believed that Freddie Starr ate his hampster and that they all have a chance at copping off with the topless models on page three. They are gullible!

This might sound like I am a Labour supporter or I am anti Conservative but I am not. I was brought up within a Tory voting family and have been raised to hold beliefs about country, personal morality and honesty, which I have tried to incorporate into my everyday life - of course I have failed but I did say 'tried'!

The problem I have now - and I believe there are many others like me - is that I am disillusioned by all of the parties, as they all seem to be just mimicking each others presentation and policies.

Just like the buttocks on a Sumo wrestler, there is not a lot between them!

Therefore, we should not write anybody off, or vote anyone in, just yet!

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Roman Polanski Must Go Back To The US

Roman Polanski is an acclaimed Oscar winning Film Director. He is the man responsible for films like Chinatown and The Pianist.

He is also the man who admitted the drugging and sexual abuse of a thirteen year old girl, while he was photographing her for a magazine in 1977. He fled the USA before he could be sentenced and has been openly 'on the run' ever since, living mainly in France.

Last weekend, he was detained in Switzerland while travelling to the Zurich Film Festival where he was expected to receive a Lifetime Achievement award. He now faces being extradited back to the USA.

Polanski is now 76 years old and has lived what can only be described as an eventful life. He was the son of parents with both Polish and Jewish backgrounds and he was forced to run from the Germans, when they sealed off his Jewish Ghetto in Krakov, in 1940. His mother died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

In later life his wife, the actress Sharon Tate was murdered by the infamous Charles Manson cult while she was eight months pregnant.

With this background, it is hardly surprising that Polanski has lived his life in the headlines.

His thirteen year old victim was plied with drugs and champagne before Polanski had unlawful sex with her at the home of the actor Jack Nicholson. Of course, despite admitting his guilt, he maintains that the girl was sexually experienced and her participation was consensual.

So, should Polanski be dragged back to the US after 32 years, to be sentenced for his crime?

The answer has to be yes.

He may well be a famous old man but he is also a self confessed child abuser. The passage of time does not erase the act that took place over thirty years ago, or change it's status in law.

Polanski maintains that the legal process, after he was charged, was flawed and the prosecutor and judge dealing with his case had been negligent.

If he has a case to make against the legal procedures prior to the time of his escape, now is the time to challenge them.

The law is the benchmark by which all decent society survives. It cannot be allowed to suffer from alzheimers.

Polanski must go back and face his past. Celebrity, fame and wealth, cannot be allowed to re-write the truth.

Perhaps, Polanski is about to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award after all!

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Andrew Marr Angers PM's Aides

Aides to PM Gordon Brown are said to be furious that he was sandbagged, during an interview with Andrew Marr, on BBC1, when asked whether he is taking prescription painkillers.

Marr said:

"A lot of people in this country use prescription painkillers and pills to help them get through. Are you one of them?”

The PM relied:

“No. I think this is the sort of questioning which is all too often entering the lexicon of British politics.”

There has been much speculation over the last couple of weeks about the subject (I wrote a post 2 weeks ago) but until today, it seemed that no-one from the mainstream media was prepared to actually ask the question directly.

Whether this is because the media machine at Number 10 had deliberately tried to suppress such an enquiry or whether it was because none of the favoured political commentators wanted to risk their controlled access to the PM, we cannot be sure.

However, it is a justifiable enquiry to make and one to which we should all have the right to an answer.

If the PM is to survive until the next election and beyond, he needs to come out fighting and forget the scripted answers that his advisers prepare for him before interviews. He needs to 'shoot from the hip' and look like he is in control.

If he does that, then we might start to think of him as a worthy leader after all!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

BBC Bans The Word 'Butcher'

I am irritated!

Tonight, while travelling home from work, I was listening to the excellent Eddie Nestor who hosts the drivetime programme on BBC London 94.9FM.

Eddie is one of the few broadcasters who has the rare gift of being able to discuss any subject, however sensitive, in a fair and amiable way, while still being able to express his own opinion without causing offence.

Tonight, he was engaged in a telephone conversation with respected financial expert, David Kuo, about a new London initiative called the Brixton Pound. It is a concept that is aimed at promoting trade in the locality of Brixton and David was explaining why it might not work in reality.

To help his explanation, he was using the examples of a Butcher's shop and a Grocer's shop to demonstrate how the Brixton Pound might be used in practice.

However, half way through his explanation, he was told by Mr Nestor that he could not use the example of a butcher as it could cause offence to those with certain religious beliefs, or non-meat eaters. Nestor had been told to explain this, by his programme producer, while Kuo was talking.

Are you getting irritated yet?

Has the normally excellent BBC finally become a censor for the political correctness movement?

Surely the whole point of a phone-in show is to exploit the values and principles of free speech and to hear the views of the callers by promoting discussion? It is not to publically admonish a guest expert for describing a profession that has been the mainstay of most high streets and food stores for as long as commerce has been in existence.

Sadly and unusually, Mr Nestor did not challenge the instruction he was given by the time I arrived home. I can only hope this is because he was in a state of shock at being given such a pathetic instruction by his producer.

In reality, though, I fear incidents like this will become more common.

If you are one of those whom the BBC assume would be offended by the mention of professions to which you do not approve......tough!!

Last time I checked, the majority of us were still sane.....just!

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PM Finally 'Graduates' From Business School

"We are doing the right thing to make sure that for the future as we move into a full recovery we will invest and grow within sustainable public finances - cutting costs where we can, ensuring efficiency where it's needed, agreeing realistic public sector pay settlements throughout, selling off the unproductive assets we don't need to pay for the services we do need"

The above words were spoken by Gordon Brown to delegates at the TUC conference in Liverpool today.

They describe what most students learn, in chapter one, of the guide book to running an efficient business.

So, why after all these years in power, has this government only just discovered how to run UK plc?

Time to man the lifeboats methinks!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Is Our Prime Minister Depressed Or Just Useless?

There has been an increasing level of discussion in the 'world of blogs' over the last week about whether Gordon Brown, our Prime Minister, is suffering from depression and whether he is being treated with medication.

To my knowledge, the mainstream media have not, so far, made reference to the theory but I am sure they are fully aware and are just waiting for the right moment.

If it were true, it might help to explain why we have seen so little of the PM over the last few months and why, when we have, he has seemed so unconvincing. It might also explain why the likes of Lord Mandelson and David Miliband are taking so much of the limelight and announcing initiatives that by right should be publically introduced by the PM.

If GB is depressed, it is fully understandable and should not be interpreted as a weakness. There are few of us who can honestly say they have never suffered from the ailment at some point in our lives - especially at times of stress.

Sadly, though, depression is a mental illness and anything that has the word 'mental' in it, is instantly judged as something we should all fear. However, many successful and brilliant people have lived with the condition for most of their lives and despite their personal burden, the public have not even noticed.

When it comes down to it, depression is really just a 'flu of the mind' and can easily be eradicated or controlled.

If the stories are true, I hope that the PM will 'come clean' and help to educate everyone who would stigmatize those who suffer from mental problems.

If they are not, then maybe he is just useless as a Prime Minister after all?

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

ITV Need More Than Just Product Placement

The government is expected to announce a trial to allow independent television companies like, ITV, to profit from product placement in their programmes.

This is another form of advertising where the bottles behind the bar in Emmerdale or the drinks in front of the judges in the X Factor will become paid space for manufacturers who have the money to pay for the exposure of their products.

The benefits are obvious as the broadcaster can make easy money and the manufacturer avoids the present situation where many viewers just avoid watching their expensive adverts, during the commercial breaks, by either flicking to another channel or putting the kettle on.

ITV have been campaigning for product placement for ages and have been using the excuse of financial hardship caused by a reduction of advertising, due to the economic climate.

What product placement will still not solve, however, is that if decent programmes are not being provided by the broadcaster, then neither the ad breaks or the product placement will be visible to the viewers as they will not be bothered to watch the channel in the first place.

It seems that ITV, in particular, have been slow to catch on to this most basic of theories!

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Dying To Negotiate A Bargain!

According to a report in today's Independent, the average cost of bidding farewell to one's dear departed, is now £7,018 taking into account legal costs, funeral expenses and flowers etc. This is a rise of 42 percent over the last five years.

The funeral industry says the cost of new environmental procedures has been largely responsible for the steep increase, but others say it is a lack of competition amongst funeral directors, since many have been taken over in recent years by larger companies.

Another factor is that bereaved families are often loathe to haggle over the price at such a distressing time.

It seems that we no longer just have to struggle to survive financially when we are living but now we have to worry when we are dead too!

I think I have the answer....

I am going to refuse to die unless they give me a good price first!

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Calling Time On Alcohol? - Mine's A Large One!

We have a habit in the UK of punishing the majority for the sins of the minority.

The latest attempt to deprive us of choice comes from the British Medical Association (BMA) who are campaigning for a complete ban on all alcohol related advertising and to bring an end to the supermarket special offers and happy hour deals that are so popular with all who enjoy a tipple.

Of course, the pub trade will be in a bit of a dilemma, as they blame the cheap supermarket deals for their own problems. They will not, however, want to back anything that will ultimately reduce their profits any further.

There has never been any firm proof that advertising bans work - although campaigners against anything at all will always try to claim success.

The advertising ban on cigarettes has not stopped people from smoking; the young, who see it as being a cool thing to do, are not that gullible.

The fast food advertising ban on TV during the hours that children might be watching, has not seen a rise in healthy kids, nor has it seen the likes of Mc D's complaining about a fall in profits. All it has done is deprive companies like ITV of the money needed to commission and supply quality programming for children and destroy an industry that was once the envy of the world.

Being rebellious is part of growing up and we have all drunk, eaten or smoked too much at some point in our lives. Most of us grow out of it but there will always be some who will not be able to break the habit. Their problems will not be solved by the absence of advertising, or of alcohol, or of any other substance.

We drink because it is what we want to do. Those of us who are responsible - and can handle it - should not be punished because of those who do not have the ability to know when to stop!


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Monday, September 07, 2009

BBC - Face To Race!

Today's big 'storm in a media teacup' is whether the BBC should invite a spokesperson for the British National Party (BNP) to sit on the panel of the political discussion programme Question Time.

Of course they should. It is a no brainer!

The BNP are mainly known for appearing to be a party with extreme and racist views and their outlandish statements have been seized on by the media and our MPs as being unacceptable. But, they have managed to openly voice the concerns that are genuinely held by a large number of voters worried about what is perceived as being a huge increase in immigration in the UK.

There have been many varied and diverse arguments, both for and against an appearance on Question Time, but like it or not, the BNP are becoming a legitimate political party because an increasingly disenchanted public are using them as a protest vote against the humbug spoken by our mainstream political leaders.

Many of those in favour of the BNP appearing on the programme, have said it would expose them as having no other policies and no idea what they would do about things like the economy but hey....we have been watching the regular panelists for years who suffer with the same problem.

The real reason for them appearing, though, should be because we constantly preach to the world that we live in a democracy where everyone has a voice and we cherish the right to freedom of speech, however distasteful the words that are spoken.

We should remember that the leaders of Sinn Fein - who were accused of far worse things than the BNP could ever hope to achieve - were once gagged by Margaret Thatcher. Their voices were muted on newsclips and replaced by a commentary.

Today they are entitled to sit in the Houses of Parliament.

But whatever we all think, the real winners will be the BBC who will get an increased rating for a programme that most people would normally avoid watching.

I can't wait!

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Wake Up Prime Minister And Face Reality!

On the day that Labour MP, Eric Joyce, resigned his job as parliamentary aide to the Defence Secretary, our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has decided to try to convince us all that things are really going well in Afghanistan.

Mr Joyce, a former army major, said last night in his letter to the PM:

"I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets. Nor do I think we can continue with the present level of uncertainty about the future of our deployment in Afghanistan."

The PM said today that we need to train Afghan troops with more urgency to allow us to hand over control to them sooner rather than later.

He also said that the tactics of the Taliban had changed from a head-on military conflict to guerrilla warfare using explosive devices - 1,000 of which had been dismantled this summer.

Hello....!! isn't that what 'terrorists' do?

Probably the most stupid thing the PM said was that there was "nothing more heartbreaking" than meeting the families of those killed, or those who had been seriously injured, while in action in Afghanistan.

Sorry to disappoint you Mr Brown but there certainly is something "more heartbreaking".

It is to face the reality that your loved ones are returning to the UK in a coffin, after being killed in a conflict that has never been fully justified nor explained and in a country of which most of us have no idea of its location or politics.

Perhaps, Prime Minister, it is time to stop trying to justify the unjustifiable!

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

The Camera Never Lies - Except In Afghanistan!

The conflict in Afghanistan is taking a heavy toll on resources and human lives in both the US and the UK.

The media and public in both countries have taken a long time to wake up to the fact that it is not going to be an easy war to win against the Taliban and that our military might is easily matched by the terrain of the country and the unpredictability of the opposition.

Our politicians are panicking at having to face up to the the problem of convincing us all we are making progress, before there is a political price to be paid, domestically, for our continued involvement. They need to show us that normality is returning, due to our efforts and we are liberators and not occupiers.

Enter the media and Public Relations experts!

What is more normal than to go out into the streets of what was once one of the most dangerous towns in Helmund province - the area where the majority of deaths and casualties to our troops have occurred - and buy an ice-cream?

You can almost hear the collective brain of the media machine suggesting the idea as a classic illustration of normal life returning due to our military efforts in the region.

Cue Lieutenant General Jim Dutton, Deputy Commander ISAF (NATO’s International Security Assistance Force) as the man nominated to be sent into the busy town bazaar to purchase the ice-cream.

There is no doubt that it would make a convincing picture - just as long as the 50 US Marines, British army troopers, Royal Marines, Afghan army troops and the police who were providing his protection were not seen in the resulting image!

Just a few miles South, both US and UK troops were still in the thick of the fighting.

The camera never lies......or does it? Beware of false images!

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Red Arrows - Simply The Best!


An article in today's Independent is praising the RAF's Red Arrows display team and it is right to do so.

Although they are officially part of the UK's military forces they represent far more than just military might. They display the very best of training, discipline, bravery, skill, spectacle and engineering.

Wherever they appear - and they fly at airshows all over the world - they are invariably top of the bill and normally leave all other displays looking ordinary, while the crowds cry out for more.

I travelled to see them fly in the Southend Festival Of The Air back in May of this year and I was left spellbound and open mouthed by the show they put on.

The article in the Independent asks why middle England can't get enough of them but it is not a matter of class, for they transcend those barriers.

They are simply the best ambassadors this country could possibly send to demonstrate the very best that the UK has to offer the world!

More pictures of the Red Arrows and others displays at The Southend Festival Of The Air can be viewed here.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Falling In Love - With A Perfect Beauty!

Last Thursday, I fell in love.

It was not with an attractive female and certainly not with a man - although I am not saying there is anything wrong with that (tokenistic PC gesture over!)

It was not even with a racy looking car or any of the thousand things I constantly desire from the Apple store.

It was instead with a word ... and that word is 'Defenestrate'

It sounds so perfect and is a joy to pronounce. It's meaning is just as beautiful as its formation, for it is used to describe the action of throwing something out of a window.

Therein lies another piece of its beauty. Throughout the history of rock music, bands have been idolised not just for their music but for throwing hotel TVs and the like through windows. They never even knew they were performing defenestration.

Our English language is often criticised for being overly complicated and reformers argue to simplify the multitude of words we use to communicate the things we see; we are highly unlikely to ever see words like it included in the dictionary of 'text speak'.

I would also challenge you to find another language that has bothered to incorporate a word that was originally formed from Latin and include it as a dedicated word for such a ridiculous action.

But, that is the beauty of English. Unlike the languages of those who live across the waters, we have always been thorough. While they have been brewing and drinking wine and beer or inventing gastronomic delights, we have been sitting around increasing the quality of our vocabulary.

I hope our relationship with words will continue forever and we never get divorced from such perfect beauty!!

Thank you to the guys at tmesolutions in Maidstone for introducing me to the word - I never knew a meeting about a possible website could turn out to be so interesting.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Michael Jackson 'Homicide' - What The Coroner Found..

The much revered Michael Jackson, who died after suffering a cardiac arrest in June, had a cocktail of drugs in his body which included Midazolam, Diazepam, Lidocaine, Lorazepam and Ephredrine.

The Los Angeles coroner has now announced the official cause of death as 'homicide due to intoxication by anaesthetic' with the primary drugs responsible being Propofol which is the powerful anaesthetic and Lorazepam, a sedative.

His personal physician, Conrad Murray has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and said that MJ had been given the drugs as part of his treatment for insomnia.

It certainly seems to have worked!!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Enoch Powell Was Not A Racist......He Was A Prophet !

A Tory Member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, has got himself into hot water with his peers - yet again.

Two weeks ago he was severely criticised for describing the NHS as a "60 year mistake" - his Party Leader David Cameron publicly denounced his views as "eccentric".

Hannan's latest 'crime' is to tell a TV interviewer in the US that Enoch Powell had been a great political influence on his career.

For those who lack memories long enough, Powell was sacked from the shadow cabinet back in 1968 by Edward Heath after making a speech on the dangers of immigration which became known as his "Rivers of Blood" speech.

It was in the days when MPs were free to speak as their consciences guided. They were not tethered to electronic pagers and worked hard to represent the views of their constituents - even if they were at odds with the official party line.

Powell was, arguably, one of the greatest orators in the history of Parliament. I clearly remember his captivating speeches and his daunting presence. He had a personality that most of today's politicians would die for and could easily hold his own against his critics - using reasoned argument and not the cheap jibes and backbites of today's MPs.

His "Rivers of Blood" speech was, in retrospect, a mistake and caused immense damage to his following career. He was held up as an example of all that is bad in the politics of 'racism'.

When asked by David Frost in 1969 if he was a racialist he replied:

'It depends on how you define the word "racialist." If you mean being conscious of the differences between men and nations, and from that, races, then we are all racialists. However, if you mean a man who despises a human being because he belongs to another race, or a man who believes that one race is inherently superior to another, then the answer is emphatically "No."

His words are arguably even more relevant in today's politically correct world, where 'blackboards' have become 'whiteboards' and the nursery rhyme 'bah bah black sheep' has become 'bah bah white sheep'; 'blacklists' have become 'blocklists' (see earlier post) and comedians are not allowed to joke about people from other countries.

We have been forced into a world of PC fear and this particular quote, from 1970, seems to sum up our present situation perfectly:

Have you ever wondered, perhaps, why opinions which the majority of people quite naturally hold are, if anyone dares express them publicly, denounced as 'controversial, 'extremist', 'explosive', 'disgraceful', and overwhelmed with a violence and venom quite unknown to debate on mere political issues? It is because the whole power of the aggressor depends upon preventing people from seeing what is happening and from saying what they see

He added:

The public are literally made to say that black is white. Newspapers like the Sunday Times denounce it as 'spouting the fantasies of racial purity' to say that a child born of English parents in Peking is not Chinese but English, or that a child born of Indian parents in Birmingham is not English but Indian. It is even heresy to assert the plain fact that the English are a white nation.

Whether those who take part know it or not, this process of brainwashing by repetition of manifest absurdities is a sinister and deadly weapon. In the end, it renders the majority, who are marked down to be the victims of violence or revolution or tyranny, incapable of self-defence by depriving them of their wits and convincing them that what they thought was right is wrong.

The process has already gone perilously far, when political parties at a general election dare not discuss a subject which results from and depends on political action and which for millions of electors transcends all others in importance; or when party leaders can be mesmerised into accepting from the enemy the slogans of 'racialist' and 'unChristian' and applying them to lifelong political colleagues..."

A lot to read I know, but when you consider the words were spoken almost 40 years ago, it seems that Mr Powell was lucky not to have been denounced for being a psychic!

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