Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Lame Excuse For Action In Libya

Announcing the commencement of military action against the Gadaffi regime’s refusal to capitulate to the wishes of the UN our PM, David Cameron, said:
“We should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people”
It seemed to be a rather strange and weak reasoning for entering into what could well escalate as a long and full blown military occupation, given that successive UK governments have been happy to ignore similar unsavoury behaviour from Robert Mugabe or China or Syria (the list goes on and on) for decades.

Of course, creating an air exclusion zone is a good thing if Gaddafi is using air strikes – but he is not. His followers are still free to launch ground attacks on their opposition or to knock on the doors of rebels and ‘disappear’ them like so many brutal regimes do.

To stop such actions, we would need troops on the ground, and haven’t we been there before?

It seems politicians are slow to learn from historical fact (perhaps we should blame our education system)

The PM finished his address by saying:
“I believe we should all be confident that what we are doing is in a just cause and in our nation’s interest.”
I guess we'll have to wait to hear to whom the cause will be ‘just’ and exactly how it will be of direct interest to our country.

Personally, I shall not be holding my breath!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Respect To The Survivors In Japan!

If the recent events in Japan were the plot of a Hollywood disaster movie, we could all be forgiven for laughing at the lack of credibility in the story and suspecting that the scriptwriters had been sniffing too much apple juice.
Sadly, they are reality!

Five days after the initial earthquake and the devastation of the tsunami that followed, the estimated body count keeps rising and over 400,000 people are now homeless. With well over ten thousand officially unaccounted for, it is now claimed to be the largest death toll, ever, from a natural disaster.

I find it, even now, so hard to take in the sheer scale of the carnage. If the sight of ships laying on top of buildings and buildings being moved hundreds of yards from where they were built is not enough, there is still the ongoing possibility of a massive nuclear incident following the explosions at the power plants that we have already witnessed.

One thing, though, has been just as noticeable as all the other sights. It is the reaction of the survivors and their fellow countrymen. 

Despite the unbelievable structural damage, the queues for fuel and the lack of food on the supermarket shelves, I have not heard one report of looting, violence or other opportunistic crime.

I wonder how many other countries in the world would be able to claim the same thing if they had suffered as much as parts of Japan?

Let’s hope we never have to find out!


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Monday, March 14, 2011

Driving Down Taxation Street!

Have you ever wondered just how much you spend on ‘fuelling up’ your car each year?

If you are like me, you deliberately don’t keep a record, as you know it’s going to be a frightening amount of money.

Let’s take it a stage further and work out how much of your hard earned wages you are paying in tax, to the government, on that fuel each year.

According the the FairFuelUK campaign, if you drive 10,000 miles per year:
  • Total Cost of fuel to you = £1702
Of which:
  • Excise duty = £766
  • VAT = £284
  • Total Combined Tax = £1049
If you can bear to look, you can find comparable figures for differing annual mileages here

Happy motoring!!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Power Of Modern Dissent!

Yesterday’s paper had a good quote from Alastair Campbell which highlights the power of global communication in today’s world and its effect on the way governments and regimes control dissent:

“There are governments and leaders who continue to believe that they can shut down networks and keep dissent in its box. They can shut down websites, but they can’t shut them all and they can’t shut them forever, and nor can they silence all communication.”

The full article can be read on his blog here

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Friday, March 11, 2011

A Moment To Reflect On Japan...

I doubt there can be anyone who watched today’s events unfolding in Japan, who was not moved by the sheer scale of what they were witnessing,

It seemed unbelievable that an unstoppable ten metre high wall of water, caused by the earlier record breaking offshore earthquake (measuring 8.9) swept everything out of its path as it rolled across the shoreline. Cars, boats and even whole buildings were simply crushed and carried along by the Tsunami, as it drove ever onward across the land.

As I write this, it has been reported that at least 350 people are dead, a cruise ship is missing and two trains have been completely washed away. The final death toll can only be a guess, as many will probably never be found.

Perhaps, it is a timely reminder, to us all, that whichever religions we follow, however powerful our weapons or strong our armies, and whatever the political ambitions of the world’s feuding nations, we are not the ultimate controllers of our own destiny.

There is a much more powerful force at work than we can ever hope to invent. When it decides to demonstrate its power, we are all left helpless in its shadow.

My thoughts, this weekend, are with all those affected in Japan.

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Clegg Reveals 'Complete Bilge'

If, like me, you have ever wondered how two political parties, with differing ideologies, can form a coalition government and run our country, you will be pleased to read that deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has revealed all.

In an interview in today's Independent entitled ‘I Told Cameron He Was Talking Complete Bilge’ he said:
“Coalition is two leaders and two parties coming together from different perspectives, resolving differences, then arguing and explaining it in their own terms.”
Where ’Complete Bilge’ is concerned, it appears he is a master!!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Fine Mess......Well Almost!!

I haven’t written anything, up until today at least, about the recent uprisings in the Middle East. To be quite honest with you, I don’t really know what to think.

The speed with which the protesters achieved their objectives in both Tunisia and Egypt surprised even the most optimistic of observers. It was almost as if the ruling regimes in both countries had, like rabbits in a car headlight, been paralysed in fear at the strength of the protests against them.

When the ‘freedom virus’ spread to Libya it was for a while at least, fair to assume that the erratic but controlling forces of the Gaddafi clan would soon follow those of the deposed regimes from Tunisia and Egypt. You could almost hear the champagne corks popping in both our own country and the USA.

But, once again, it seems that Gaddafi has managed to defy the will of most of the ‘free’ world by resisting our demands and those of his people, and instead has turned his country into one that is fast approaching civil war.

Our own politicians are now the ones who appear paralysed. When the protests in Libya first started, they were quick to assume it would all be over in days and our version of ‘democracy’ would quickly take root. They were wrong.

Now, we hear talk of no-fly zones and sanctions being imposed against the ruling regime of Libya. Meanwhile, we have to suffer the embarrassment of international ridicule as our own special forces were captured by the very rebels they were trying to contact last weekend.

It is all starting to look very dangerous politically; we are soon going to have to ‘put up or shut up’. Either we stand by and observe from afar, or we get actively involved in trying to enforce our democracy on a people who have, for the most part, never experienced it before.

Sound familiar?

Last time we got too involved in the politics of other countries, the cost, both in lost lives and national debt, turned out to be far more than we could ever afford.

Of course, all of the above is based on having enough military hardware left after the coalition’s recent version of Scrapheap Challenge

I can feel another post forming!

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fuel Your Anger At MPs Not Road Users!

With fuel prices continuing to rise on the back of the political unrest in the Middle East, it is understandable that fuel users here are becoming increasingly frustrated.

It is tempting for campaigning groups to contemplate taking direct action by staging ‘go slows’ on major roads or blockading oil refineries.

While it may be understandable that some may see this as the only outlet for their anger and frustration, the problem is: they are harming the very people they are trying to help.

We all have to use the roads and none of us want to be part of the disruption or loss of business arising from demonstrations about high fuel costs.

Ultimately, the only people who can help to alleviate the problem are our politicians. Our coalition government can help by stabilising the amount of revenue collected from the fuel we use.

Many MPs are already sympathetic and those who aren’t will not want to suffer the inconvenience of answering a mountain of complaints from their constituents.

The immediate answer, then, is to sign a petition such as this or write/phone/email your local MP asking him/her where they stand on the issue of fuel pricing and the part taxation plays on the forecourt price of a litre.

You can find the contact details of your local MP here

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