Monday, 26 September 2011

PC Madness At The BBC

Two items on the BBC radio news flagship Radio5 live caught my attention today.
  1. Six Muslim men in the Midlands, appeared in court charged with terrorism including a suspected suicide bombing campaign .... not once did the BBC use the term "Muslim", either on the radio reports, nor on the web report. It wasn't hard to work out who and what they were, because their names were given on the web site ...Irfan Nasser, Irfan Khalid and Ashik Ali, Rahin Ahmed, Bahader Ali  and Mohammed Rizwan (all remanded in custody).
  2. It has been reported that the BBC has decided that the terms AD and BC (Anno Domini, or the Year of Our Lord, and Before Christ), can be replaced by the terms Common Era and Before Common Era by their programme producers.
 What have these two stories got in common? two things .....
  1. Political Correctness - The publicly funded BBC made a decision some time ago to stop reporting the race or religion of criminals when they are what it considers an oppressed 'minority', even when its race and religion inspired terrorism and mass murder. Its a form of 'Newspeak'
  2. Appeasement - Instead of standing up for the Judeo / Christian values that allows immigrants to settle here, even if they dislike us and our liberal values i.e. tolerance, no, the BBC prefers to appease the minority inside these minorities, who want to force us to bow to their values. 
Appeasement Never Works In The End 

The BBC has apparently given the reason for abolishing the use of AD and BC (which have been in use for 1,200 years in the UK), as that as the BBC is committed to impartiality, it is important not to alienate or offend non-Christians.

There have been Jews in the UK in reasonably large numbers for over 150 years .... the Muslims have been here just over 40 yrs in any numbers. One of these immigrant groups got on and largely assimilated, while keeping their culture and heritage, and the BBC didn't think to change its dating system. The other group has a section of its community who have done nothing but threaten the rest of us both with violence, and an insistence that we change our laws and culture to accommodate their 7th century barbarism. I'll let you guess why the BBC is changing their dating references to satisfy one of these groups. 

Finally, I hate to point out a couple of things:

  1. 'CE' and 'BCE' could be read as Christian Era and Before Christian Era 
  2.  The year, 2011 or 2012 etc are based on Christian dates.
.... just a thought.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Greeks Will Default On Debt

At least that's the sentiment of the Greeks I talked to for a week .... they all consider it a certainty that Greece will default on its debts. Everyone I spoke to said that Greece would never pay back its debt. That it couldn't ever keep up the debt repayments for even a few years, let alone the decades required to cure the underlying problems, and that lending it more and more money was 'stupid' but 'German' because it just made the debt worse, not better.

In fact the consensus was that as soon as the Greek government had drawn the next tranche of EU/IMF funds, the price paid to get this money would prove to be too great, and Greece would default sometime over the coming winter, but before the next tourist season, so that they can devalue and get their competitive edge back. Most of them wished that their government would just do it now, instead of taking them to the edge of a civil breakdown (and possibly a left right civil war), by stretching the country to breaking point, but then defaulting anyway.

There was even a rumour that the UK mint (or other, secret, Greek printers) are printing a supply of Drachmas in secret .... which just goes to show how far things have gone. I managed to avoid all the strikes and travel disruptions travelling there and back, but I was told that the disruptions would get a lot worse over the coming winter. Many Greeks have been thrown into poverty, not so much in the resorts where the holiday trade underpins the economy, but in the bloated public sectors, which are the mainstay of Greek employment these days. It was noticeable that it was mostly British workers in many of the bars in the resorts, when 15 - 20 years ago it was mostly Greek workers, with just a few Brits employed.

The Drachma - Many Greeks expect this to return.

We could  be seeing this currency return to our holiday wallets next year ..... wouldn't that signal a big reverse in the European federal dream?

Corfu On The Rocks

At least that's the sentiment of the Greeks I talked to, who think the whole country is finished  .... I have just returned from Greece after several years away. I returned partly as I was curious as to how things had developed, and partly to see how it is handling the Euro Crisis.

Needless to say, things haven't gone especially well on either front, but another post covers the euro crisis. I was in Kavos (Cavos) in Corfu, so lets not beat about the bush, it was not a classy place. In fact its very run down and dirty, with a lot of drunken foul mouthed Brits, biting mozzies and wasps, and a faint but noticeable smell of human sewage (all of which I knew about beforehand, so wasn't a particular surprise or disappointment), but its fairly cheap (€2 -3 per bottled beer and a main course plus a beer under €10), and it was very very hot (over 30c everyday).

There is loud music everywhere, plus the ubiquitous quad bikes, but in mid/late September the resort was winding down, so the Gypsy's and most of the African pan handlers, who can both be a real pain on the Greek Islands these days, had gone, and the resort was 'quieter' than normal i.e. the noise volume was not unbearable most of the time. 

I was told that a British firm had been hired to to fix the sewage problem (and potentially the mozzies), by repairing all the broken sewage pipes, and clearing up the still water sites around the island and resort (where the mozzies breed), but when the first payment tranche became due, the Geeks had defaulted, and the company had abandoned the work .... which about sums up Greece all over.

This leaves the resort plagued by mozzies (and wasps) .... the beach is only 'safe' when there is a breeze, which sadly was lacking in the time I was there, consequently I was bitten over 50 times inside a day, but after that, a few basic precautions ensured that I wasn't bitten again. I didn't scratch (which really inflames them and you see a lot of bloody legs in the resort), and I used a mozzie stick (ammonia based), plus a basic antiseptic cream, and this stops them hurting and takes inflammation down quickly. So although a pain in the neck (and shoulders, and arms and legs etc), it didn't ruin my holiday break, but be warned, there were many people who seemed to be a real mess because of the bites.

For the record, if you are not on a vomit, beer and sh*gging party, there are usually one or two decent bars and food places, in even the worst of resorts, but as a rule of thumb in these places, I will stick to the burger/pizza joints if in doubt. In Kavos, if your are over 30 and resigned to a week surrounded by the council estates of the UK, then try the following:

DayTime: BabyG's cafe on the Beach Road - Run by 'Tony' and his family. Quiet, with both open and shaded areas. Home cooked basic cafe foods. Free Internet and Wifi. Very friendly and full of Greek hospitality.

BabyG's Cafe Bar - Kavos Corfu

Evening Meals:

Likourgos Taverna - very good traditional food on the beach, so away from the disco's.

Likourgos Taverna on the Beach Kavos - Corfu

There was also a traditional restaurant actually on the strip, but its name escapes me (it might be The Village Taverna), although the food was good and there was plate smashing and dancing .... it probably suffers a bit in full season.

Late Drinks:  If you don't want head banging music, and all the semi-naked males that this brings with it, then there is only one bar to go to, 'Rodneys Bar', a 'Aussie themed' bar at the far end of the strip (left hand end of strip, if looking from the beach). It features the odd live musician (a singer/songwriter), and chilled out, grown up music, not played above talking volumes. Its part of a chain (TKD's), but was very well managed by an English beach dude called 'Russ Brown'. They also serve up the popular Melon drinks at various prices and sizes ..... only one picture of the bar I'm afraid, but as you can see it has a patio with the bar serving area running against that, and also an inside area.

Rodneys - Best Run Bar in Kavos 

Russ's Melons were the talk of Kavos

You only get out of a holiday, what you put in to it .... Greece has a lot of problems that are not going to get any better soon, and certainly you must really research your resorts before booking them these days (especially Corfu and other popular British resorts, which can be hellish), or end up like the couple I heard, who had come, hated it, and spent the whole time complaining ... if they had spent another £100 or so, they could have gone to a nicer resort on the same Island or the mainland.

Although I won't be going back to Kavos (or Corfu) again by choice (it was my third or fourth visit over the years), I did and could continue to manage to get something out of it, if I ever ended up there again.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Libya's "Banksy"

During any war there are some oddly surreal moments, and the overthrow of Gaddafi has thrown up one of these at a checkpoint in Benghazi being manned by engineering student, Ibrahim Humaid, aged 22. He was bored, but excited by the possibilities that his new 'Freedom' offered. The war had moved West to Tripoli, and there wasn't much to do at the checkpoint, so he started painting caricatures of Col Gaddafi, and just kept going.

Now I don't necessarily agree with the Arab idea that everything wrong in the Islamic world is because of 'Zionists', and so his suggestion that Gaddafi was a Zionist Rat is frankly plainly stupid .... Gaddafi was all Arab, and all Rat .... but hardly a Zionist.

But regardless of that one caveat, I think its fair to suggest that Mr Humaid has a real talent, and could, if he can throw off these religious blinkers, as quickly has he has thrown off the shackles of the regime, become the Arab "Banksy".

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid
The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid
The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

The Work of Ibrahim Humaid

Ibrahim Humaid At Work

The Artist - Ibrahim Humaid

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A Strange Crime Or Respect?

Robert Young and Mark Rubinson, have been charged with 'identity theft, criminal impersonation and abuse of a corpse' by police in Denver Colorado for allegedly driving around the town visiting various of his favourite haunts with the body of a close friend after discovering him dead in his apartment.

Robert Young and Mark Rubinson

They bought drinks, took dinner and removed $400 (£253) from Jeffrey Jarrett's bank account to pay for all of this .... they even visited a strip club (Shotgun Willie's, in Glendale) before eventually reporting his death the following morning.

Now I realise that technically its a crime, but if it was my corpse I would not object to taking one last night out (although maybe the lapdance club was taking it too far ..... one stiff too many so to speak), before I was buried.

A 'Wake' can take many forms

Many years ago, in the early 1970's in South Manchester I attended a 'wake' at a house where the coffin was half opened and stood up in the corner of the next room, while we all had a drink with the embalmed deceased (who had a glass in his hand) .... it was only mildly odd, and while a deviation from the more traditional wake described on the link above, it was considered a decent way to send him off.

Now I don't know if it was legal (although I wasn't aware of any offence at the time), but it was still a fairly common practise to hold some variation of 'the wake' in the Irish community, especially amongst older Irish men who had no family having worked for decades on building sites and who were living in England when they died. I seem to recall that there was a priest drinking with us, so it wasn't socially unacceptable even if it was dying out so to speak.

So maybe that's why I don't really see this as a crime, but in fact a little bit of respect ..... in fact isn't this story rather like that 1989 'road movie' comedy Weekend at Bernie’s?

Weekend at Bernie’s

Victim Justice Is Rarely Seen

"Praise the Lord, God is worthy to be praised. God's mercy triumphs over judgment. I feel good" ....

These are the words of a double Texas murderer Duane Buck when told that his legal team had managed to stop his death sentence.

Duane Buck - Said Ms Gardner deserved to be killed

No one apparently disputes his guilt, but after all he only killed two people and attempted to kill a third, so why should he die? In 1995 he killed his ex-girlfriend Debra Gardner, and her friend Kenneth Butler at her home in Texas .... and here we are sixteen years years later, still waiting for "Justice" (or rather his death sentence), to eventually be served.

The lawyers have taken all this time to determine that his original trial judge and jury, may have been unduly influenced in the setting of his sentence, by a psychologist who testified that 'black men were more likely than others to commit acts of violence' .... a statement that it can at least be argued is supported to some level by US Justice Department statistics on crime and race, but nonetheless is potentially 'racial profiling' ... a no no.

These facts that are not disputed include the following:
  • A week after breaking up with his girlfriend, the then 32-year-old Ms Gardner, challenged her at her home outside Houston.
  • He was under the influence of drugs.
  • He accused Mr Butler, 33, of sleeping with Ms Gardner.
  • He then used a shotgun to kill Mr Butler inside the house.
  • He then chased Ms Gardner outside and shot her in the street.
  • Not content with that he also attempted to murder of a third person, neighbour Phyllis Taylor, who was also shot, but survived.
  • He did all of this in front of Ms Gardner's 14-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, who both witnessed the murders.
  • Police Officers said Buck was laughing at the time of his arrest, and told them Ms Gardner deserved her fate.

Victims: Ms Gardner and her children

Kate Black, one of Buck's attorneys said after the appeal decision "No-one should be put to death based on the colour of his or her skin" .... which isn't exactly what the psychologist had actually said. But in any event, surely this flaw was evident at the time, and to all the courts of appeal since then?

How many of the jury and witnesses, prosecution team and police are still alive, or seriously able to recall evidence from 1995? But I guess that's what the defence team rely on. Obviously in some eyes 'Justice' is best served if this murderer is spared, and even allowed the possibility of release in the future ... but where is the justice for the victims or the survivors?

I am reminded of the case of  Wayne Dumond, whose release from prison after a serious set of crimes, was assisted by a Republican governor, but who then went on to rape and murder again, thus blighting said Republican candidates campaign, and also serving reminder once again, that disregarding the facts in these cases leads to more deaths. For more on these death row scumbags, and their supporters go to the link.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Modern Dinosaurs

Recently Dinosaur Archaeologists uncovered the largest land predator to have ever lived - the Spinosaurus of the late Cretaceous period. At 17m (56ft) long, and weighing 11 tonnes, it is the largest land predator ever known.

Spinosaurus - At 17m (56ft) long, and weighing 11 tonnes.
The largest land predator ever known.
Move forward several hundred million years to the Philippines, which is a home to saltwater crocodiles, which can reach prodigious lengths ....  they can grow to 23ft (7m) and can live for more than 100 years. In a story much reported around the world, the local villagers of Bunawan have captured a veritable monster of a crocodile, 6.4m (21ft) in length and weighing 1,075kg (2,370lb). Impressive or what?

Monster Crocodile in Philippines
Well Josefina de Leon, wildlife division chief of the environment ministry's protected areas and wildlife bureau was ...  "Based on existing records, the largest that had been captured previously was 5.48m (18ft) long," she told the AFP. The captured crocodile will now become the main attraction at a planned nature park in the area.

But in a nice twist to the tale, the crocodile hunter Rollie Sumiller who led the capture said this reptile may not be the killer they have been looking for after at least one attack on a human was reported in the area.

"We're not really sure if this is the man-eater, because there have been other sightings of other crocodiles in the area," he told AFP ..... so don't go swamp fishing too soon.

Wolves In Europe

In France there is an immigrant who is causing much concern .... the wolf. Hunted almost to extinction in France in the 1930's , they survived in the French Alps, northern Italy and Switzerland but since a protection law was introduced they have start spreading northwards again. They are  limited only by habitat (wooded areas suit them best).

Its believed that France currently hosts some 200 wolves who have colonised the southern regions of France, and are divided into about 20 packs.

Wolves in France
Of course they are now coming into conflict with farmers, especially sheep herders (their traditional enemies) and already calls for culls are being made with signs painted on the road to Hautes Alpes, in the south-eastern France saying "NO to the wolf." .... Since an anti-hunting code was agreed in 2004, only four wolves have been killed in France, but its expected that this number will rise (illegal killings may have already taken place). Ironically for the 200 wolves in France, there are believed to be 8,000 feral pet dogs in the same areas who kill hundreds of sheep every year.

Some conflicts are eternal, and we just don't seem to be able to resolve them, this is after all the land that gave us "Little Red Riding Hood".

Women Plus Shoes Equals Temptation

What is it with women and shoes?

Is there a genetic code inherent in women that means that whatever the race, their culture or background, they just act irrationally in or around shoe shops? Many woman have a minimum of five or six pairs, and very often a lot more ....

Imelda Marcos loved shoes

It appears that if you are a dictator's wife, or a ruler in your own right, then the shoe gene just becomes more powerful ..... I remember Imelda Marcos (wife of the dictator Pres Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines), and her collection of over a thousand pairs of shoes (1,060 pairs were "liberated" by the revolution), which was exposed when they were forcibly deposed from power in a four day revolution in 1986.

The Imelda Shoe Cupboard was extensive.

I was reminded of this when Ms Mayawati, the ruler of Uttar Pradesh state in india (Indias most populous and poorest state), was reported recently to have sent an empty private jet in 2008 to collect a pair of new sandals from Mumbai (Bombay) where her favourite brand was made. The cost of this was tens of thousands of rupees of tax payers money, for shoes costing very little and appears to have happened whenever she fancied a new pair.

Incidently this lady puts up statues of herself and encourages her followers to give her money garlands ....

Ms Mayawati likes the trappings of power

Maybe it really is just genetic .... after all you never see a poor bookmaker, and never see a women's shoe shop go bankrupt.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Grease Devils

This blog has long had an interest in Fortean News from around the world, so our interest was much intrigued by a tale from Sri Lanka of the activities of the notorious "Grease Devils" .... a name given to malevolent men who smear themselves in grease to avoid being caught.

"Grease Devils" Have A Long History In Sri Lanka
Apparently the panic has been caused by (or been the cause of), large swathes of the country being gripped by a fear of 'nocturnal prowlers', who have frequented rural areas apparently assaulting women at night.

Of course in this part of the world once the stories started, the mob violence was quickly underway and a series of brutal retaliatory vigilante attacks have left people murdered.

The police and army have arrested hundreds and even deployed tanks ...... but the panic currently shows no sign of abating. Interestingly those reporting attacks from "grease devils" have been Muslim or Tamil rather than the majority Sinhalese community .... perhaps the triumphant Sinhalese feel confident enough, to not fear prowlers in the night?

What with the End of the World coming so often this year, and conspiracies knowing no limit in their scope, why anyone would think we were living in the "End Of Days".

Time Really Is Money

The Germans never miss an opportunity to raise a tax, if not a smile, and the news that the City of Bonn has installed street meters to tax prostitutes who are soliciting on its streets (at a rate of six euros (£5.30; $8.70) per night) is guaranteed to prove once again that German humour is both deep and sly.

Taxable Benefits?
What makes this story even funnier, is that far from just ignoring the meters, or moving to other areas, both of which the ladies of negotiable affection would have done in other countries, the German prostitutes are as law abiding as the rest of the country and actually paid up. According to reports a grand total of €264 euros were found in the meter when it was first emptied.

When Currencies Corrupt

The pound in your pocket probably isn't worth what you think it is .... not because there is particularly any intrinsic problem with the pound on the international market, but because the pound coin is prone to forgery or copying. The Royal Mint surveys suggest that around 1 in 40 (or 2.89%) of pound coins are forged in the UK, but so far has resisted the calls to recall and scrap all current designs and issue a new set.

South Africa, with an actual forged rate of around 2.5% had to recall and reissue a 5 rand coins when taxi drivers started to refuse them (5 rand is a lot to a taxi driver in South Africa), and public confidence in the coin collapsed .... ironically, many of the UK forgeries are too good and therefore are still usable, so confidence hasn't collapsed, but it can't be too long before a tipping point is reached.

An informal poll in my local pub (we all checked the £1 coins in our pockets) suggested that the 2.89% figure in the UK is on the low side ... a figure of 1 in 10 was more like it. Of course the irony is that we moved to metal pounds to give them a longer life, little thinking that the forgers would immediately move in (Pound notes were notoriously difficult to forge, and hard to pass off), and necessitate recalls at vast expense.

In the US, attempts to introduce the $Dollar coin, have failed because public confidence failed in them before they were properly issued, not because of forgeries, but because the public don't want them. Mind you if the cost of the base metals used to create the forgeries, such as brass and lead, rise enough, then they aren't going to be used for forgeries.

Sometimes the best laid schemes of mice and men and all that ....

The Coin on the left is obviously a cruder version
This suspicion is confirmed by poor text impression on rim

These photos were taken from two coins I found out of the twelve in my pocket ..... Just check your pockets now ....  but shh, remember its illegal to pass them off to anyone, and the banks don't exchange them for good coins.

PS: I took some £2 coins to the bank a couple of days after this post ... one was declared a forgery, and the bank took it off me with no compensation. So there you are.


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A middle aged orange male ... So 'un' PC it's not true....