Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Anders Behring Breivik Mad?

When Anders Behring Breivik was arrested, I mused over that fact that he faced a maximum of just twenty one years imprisonment for this mass murder in liberal Norway .... which I also said didn't seem enough.

Well it appears that the Norwegian establishment feel exactly the same way, because when faced with making the decision over his mental state and whether he is fit to stand trial and go to prison, they have to the surprise of many in both Norway and abroad, determined that he is insane and had "developed the mental disorder of paranoid schizophrenia". A Swedish psychiatrist expressed disbelief in the diagnosis in a local Norwegian newspaper, stating that  Breivik does not appear to have been hallucinating at any point during the attack, which would mean he was in control of his actions and thoughts during the killing.

Face Of A Madman, or Clinical Killer?

The point that many will miss in all this is that if he had been found as sane enough to go to prison, then by 2032 under the current law, Breivik would be walking free on to the streets, into a much changed Norway, where maybe sentiment towards Islam may also have hardened. However under current Norwegian law, he can be 'sectioned' and locked away in a secure mental institution, until he is deemed as both 'cured', and no danger to the public. Its inconceivable that he will be let out inside thirty years if found as insane, and very probably never. Needless to say he has launched an appeal against this finding.

I am not much of a believer in 'conspiracy theories (too messy, and too many people involved), but this diagnosis neatly solves the problem of a liberal justice system coming up against a mass murder, and also lets Norwegian society ignore the rather awkward questions of how decades liberal socialism and 'multiculturalism' produced a mass murderer, after all he was mad wasn't he?

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Zombie Walks

Good to see that despite their terrible problems, the citizens of Mexio, and more particularly the residents of Mexico City have managed to set a new record for the "Zombie Walk"..... this is a craze that is sweeping that part of the world where you can't be denounced and killed for having a laugh, where people dressed as zombies shuffle and moan about a city centre in their thousands.

The Zombie Craze is World Wide

In Mexico a new 'world record' for the 'undead' was claimed when the organisors claimed that nearly 10,000 people have paraded in Mexico City ..... the previous current official Guinness world record was held by Asbury Park in the US, where 4,093 zombies marched in 2010, with Brisbane in Australia claiming have  massed 8,000 zombies last month.

Zombie Scenes in Mexico City

Still with the "Day of the Dead" being a national celebration in Mexico, it would be rather fitting if this record was held by Mexico.

In The Heart Of Darkness

Talking of failed democratic states and elections, the ironically named 'Democratic Republic of Congo' prepares for just its second general elections in four decades - when the citizens of this ever failing state come out with statements such as "the state is dying but not yet dead" or "the state is ever present but completely useless", or "when you are rock bottom, you can still dig deeper", you realise that not much is expected in this exercise of 'democracy'.

This country is two thirds the size of Western Europe, with all the resources in land, mineral wealth and natural resources than you can point a pointy stick at, yet the Failed States Index lists it as fourth in the list of the critically failed category of states. When you read that Zoe Kabila, the current President's brother, ordered his Republican Guard escort to beat up two police traffic officers because they did not give his 4x4 priority, you can see that the words "free and fair" are not going to apply here ..... to elections or anything else.

DR Congo - Compared with Europe.
Given its size and resources the DR Congo should be a very prosperous country, but decades of war, military incompetence and brutality, corruption and absolute economic mismanagement have left it desperately poor.

This state truly is "The Heart Of Darkness"

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

In the way that these things happen, there were two stories from Russia that caught my eye in the last few days. The first was that the Russians will hold Parliamentary elections on Sunday the 4th December, and there are allegations and fears that this will be the least 'free and fair' election since the fall of communism appeared to usher in 'democracy' in 1991.

During Stalin's, and the later Red Tzar's rule, there were 'elections' in the USSR, but there was only one party ever standing. In the region of Tambov for example, some residents can remember attending elections in the 1930's and voting for the cowherd to become a deputy to the local council. Now, in an irony that can't escape anyone, its the rump of the old Communist party that challenges the results in elections, in an effort to defend the weakening democracy in the Russian successor to the USSR.

In the Tambov region they have evidence of the United Russian Party being given extra votes and of ballot stuffing ..... and what with Putin and Medvedev seemingly about to swap the roles of President and Prime Minister again, some things it seems never change.

Svetlana and Stalin
Which brings me to the other story, Svetlana Stalin (Svetlana Alliluyeva, aka Lana Peters), daughter of Josef Stalin died this week. She holds a fairly unique position by first denouncing Communism and her father, following her defection and Asylum in the USA in 1967, and then calling her father "a moral and spiritual monster".... and she lived to tell the tale!

Then later she returned to the Soviet Union and denounced the USA (although she actually returned to live there in 1986 until the end of her life) .... she must have wondered in the end what the difference was supposed to be between the USSR of her father, and the Russia of today?

Sunday, 20 November 2011

No Justice For Walter Patterson

George Wright is an American Citizen who acquired Portuguese citizenship. He graduated  from High School in Halifax, Virginia .... and turned immediately to a life of crime. When he was 19, he and some friends robbed the Sands Motel in Englishtown Virginia of $200. They then made their way to the Collingswood Esso gasoline station on eastbound Route 33 in Wall, One of the accomplices fatally wounded Walter Patterson, a 42-year-old World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient, who was a father of two teenage daughters. Patterson died from the gunshot wound two days later.

The criminal gang were convicted for the crimes and murder in 1962, and Wright was sentenced to up to 30 years in prison. He would have been freed in 1992 at the latest, but probably considerably earlier given that he wasn't the gunman .... but in 1970 he escaped from a prison farm and went on the run to Detroit, then a hotbed of radicalism, where he and a fellow escapee became affiliated with the Black Liberation Army.

George Wright, Criminal Fugitive, Plane Hijacker,

On Monday July 31, 1972, Wright, then 29, and four accomplices (plus two of their children) hijacked a Delta Airlines flight in 1972 .... Wright, who was later described as the leader of the gang, was allegedly dressed as a priest, and using the alias the Rev. Larry Darnell Burgess, he had smuggled a handgun aboard the flight in a hollowed-out bible, which he held to a stewardesses head. They demanded that FBI agents (dressed only in bathing suits), deliver $1 million ransom to the plane; the FBI complied. The hijackers allowed the 86 hostage passengers to leave the plane in Miami, but kept the flight crew and ordered that the plane be flown to Algiers, the capital of Algeria, where they sought political asylum as that government had previously supported those 'struggling for liberation'.

The Captain of the plane said afterwards “They said they were revolutionaries, that America is a decadent society and they didn't want to live here anymore.” Upon arrival in Algeria, one of the gang told the pilot: "We're famous," he said, "Send us a copy of your paper."

They were granted asylum, but at the request of the U.S. government, the Algerian government confiscated and returned the $1 million in ransom money to the U.S. After the hijackers' calls to have the ransom money restored to them were ignored by the Algerian government, Wright and his associates disappeared. Apparently sometime in early 1973, the group travelled by ship to France and lived and worked there with new identities.

His accomplices were captured by the French in 1976, they successfully resisted extradition to the US but the French convicted them to five year sentences for the Hijacking. Wright remained on the run (as he was also wanted for the prison break, and murder), and went to Guinea-Bissau (a former Portuguese colony), and finally to Portugal. While living in Guinea-Bissau in the 1980's, Wright allegedly used his real name and worked as logistics manager of the Belgium-based non-profit Iles de Paix .... he married a Portuguese woman and took the name Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos. This new identity was given to him by Guinea-Bissau, but was recognised by Portugal when Wright was granted political asylum there in the 1980s.

On September 26, 2011, he was arrested in Portugal. The FBI requested Wright's extradition from Portugal to the United States, but was denied on the grounds that Wright is a Portuguese citizen. "The Lisbon appeals court ruled that he had Portuguese citizenship and will not be extradited." Wright, praised the court's ruling .... "I am very pleased and I want to thank the Portuguese courts for having made the right decision", he said, adding that he had a "clear conscience".
He might have a "clear conscience", and the Portuguese judges may feel all warm and snuggly, but this decision must leave the family of Walter Patterson pretty cold. As usual in these legal games, the victims and their families are just ignored.  

Walter Patterson, Bronze Star recipient

Walter Patterson, unlike Wright, had done something for his country, been brave in battle, and was a hard working family man whose life was ended violently, after being shot while resisting a robbery by a gang of street punks. His family lost a wage earner, father, husband, grandfather, and they were left struggling for the next few decades. Where are their rights in all of this?
Not once in the coverage of the story are the Portuguese judges asked to explain why the murder of Mr Patterson can simply be ignored ... claims that the statute of limitations have run out on his many crimes just don't wash, as he was serving a sentence when he broke from prison, and should surely serve the remainder of the time (even if in a Portuguese prison) ... its not clear that Wright will serve any further time at all for his part in the murder of William Patterson. 
Just another sad example of how the justice system world wide serves the criminals, and not the law abiding.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Tough Pasta

Salvatore Riina, aka 'The Beast' ('La Belva'), was known to have ordered the murders of magistrates, policemen and scores of rivals (numbering several hundred) throughout the two decades he was the head of the Corleonesi faction of the Sicilian Mafia ..... he was alleged to have personally killed 40 men. He was captured after 23 years on the run near Palermo in May 1993.

Salvatore Riina aka 'The Beast'

This capture left the Italian Government with the problem of what to do all the land and properties he had accumulated in 23 years at the top of the corruption chain in Italy. They eventually seized the property under a law passed in 1996 .... but all was not well. The locals refused to have anything to do with the seized the properties."We all still know who the local bosses are right now," says one local. "They're just not the brutal gangster types of the olden days".

So people from the north were invited to come and turn the properties into 'Ethical "Mafia-free") businesses'  ... the locals still won't go in to them, and so its left to tourists who book via a new brand of Sicilian travel agency offering Mafia-free holidays at establishments that refuse to pay protection money, or "pizzo".

Bernardo Provenzano, aka 'The Tractor'

Typical of these new mafia free businesses is the former home of Bernardo Provenzano, aka 'The Tractor'  for his ruthless trait of mowing people down, which is now a co-operative shop known as "Bottega della Legalita" or "Shop of Legality".... local custom is sparse "because it's absolutely impossible to shop here unseen," although it sells pasta, sauces and wine produced by co-operatives now farming former Mafia land.

"Bottega della Legalita"

Most goods are sold in the North of Italy .... ah well, as a wise man once said "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" ... Big changes start with small steps.

The Seeds of Anger

One of the noticeable aspects of the latest financial crisis is that the super rich are comparatively unaffected .... no bankers jumping out of windows in this collapse. Oh no, in this crash the rich have carried on getting richer. For example in 1979, the top 1% of Americans took just 8% of the nation's wealth, but now the same group take 25%. .... I hate to say it, but that is a direct result of 'Reagonomics' (backed up by Pres.Bush jnr), 'Trickle Down' economics is just so much bull-shine, that just makes the rich richer, the rest of us very much poorer.

Steinbeck's 'The Grapes Of Wrath'

As a consequence of the rich taking an ever greater slice of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) pie, so there is less pie for the rest of us to share around - that's the thing about pies. The squeeze on well paid jobs in the West, where outsourcing under the guise of 'Globalisation' to places such as India, or Mexico, or even just mechanisation, have severely reduced the career areas where people may start rising up the wealth ladder. Eventually this will feed down into a reduction of taxes and in the funding for welfare state.

If the basis of class mobility in the Western post war society -i.e. "free" education, health and welfare, that allowed the poor to get their first leg up the ladder (if they chose to) -  is eroding, then social issues will soon start rising .... the rise of the new serfs is under way.

Inequalities In The 1930's Led To Dictatorships

Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Salazar et al, were creations of the 'Great Depression', and the social inequalities it produced. So with global unemployment the highest its been since the 1930's, surely if this continues for any time, then this is a recipe for revolution?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Historic American Flag

I didn't know that the US flag had no set design until 1912, and I suspect that most US citizens didn't either. You kind of assume that the US flag design was set in 1777, and has only increased the number of stars as new states joined the Union. Of course us Brits have had quite an influence on the design ..... obviously, the rebellion (aka Independence) set the first design ...

US flag design 1777

Then in 1812/13, as we were showing you that we could still exert some force in North America, the flag that the Americans raised over Fort McHenry at the request of the commanding officer who wanted "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance", was the one described as "The Star Spangled Banner" ....  this was the 42-foot (12.8m) flag he ended up with.

1813 - Star Spangled Banner

Then of course there was the Civil War, when the US flag temporarily lost some stars.

Some regiments removed the renegade states from the flag
 And the Confederates had a flag

Virginian Confederate Flag
Then there was the version from 1912 until 1959

The US Flag 1912 - 1959

And now the current version.

Current US Flag

Every flag tells a story ..... these pictures tell the history of the United States.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Arrivederci Roma

So its a wave goodbye to Europe's equivalent to the late (and unlamented) 'Gadfather', Silvio Berlusconi. Italians for the most part, seem relieved (despite the fact that they kept voting for him in large numbers), but for us at PC Towers, this is a sad loss, as we cast around for a new political figure of fun.

Silvio Berlusconi - Last Roman Emperor?

Now Italian politics as they are, there is a chance that Silvio will be back, but his age and the scandals are against him, and now his enemies will feel free to pursue him through the courts, so it seems unlikely that he will be back. However like an old lion, he may have lost his teeth, but he can still give a nasty suck .... so don't expect him to go down without a fight.

Still with Silvio gone, the pickings for political fun at the high table are thin indeed ..... so its not goodbye, its just 'Arrivederci' Silvio, you'll be missed here. 

Update: In March 2017 he said that he intends to run once again as centre-right candidate for the premiership, even though he is banned from public office until 2019 because of criminal convictions. The 2018 general election, if he runs, will be his seventh one .... we watch with interest.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Friend To The Stars

Every one's got to have a hobby or at least an interest, and Louis Schlamowitz is no exception. His 'hobby' started while he was serving in the US army in Korea in 1953, and after handing out Christmas cards to his unit, and having a spare Christmas card left over,  a friend suggested he use the spare card to write to President Harry Truman, on the off chance the American leader would write back. Apart from the fact that as he was Jewish, and it was rather odd that he had Christmas cards, nothing else too strange about this .....

.... Fifty eight years later, and the former florist has one of the largest contemporary autograph collections in the world ... amongst his 60 albums of many treasures, are a signed photograph from President John F Kennedy, President Obama signed a photo, President Harry Truman wrote back, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat signed a photograph, and he had a collection of signed Marilyn Monroe memorabilia.

Louis Schlamowitz and part of his vast collection - the envy of many collectors.

He also has a black gallery which includes President Richard Nixon, Gen Manuel Noriega of Panama who sent an 'action shot' signed with best wishes, lengthy letters railing against US and Israeli policy signed by Col Muammar Gaddafi, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, former PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, who sent Christmas wishes from Cairo ... some of these latter ones earned Mr Schlamowitz visits from the CIA, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security

Regrets? Well he always wanted the Queen Elizabeth's, but as he wistfully says "The Queen only writes to people she's met," still she did send him a photograph. But he doesn't regret the obsession ..."I feel good when they write back. I'm nothing special, just an ordinary guy, and now I'm part of history".

The Cruelest Cut Of All

There are credible reports coming out today, that the number of defence cuts in the British Armed forces will actually be 25% higher than has previously been admitted ... a national newspaper has seen a memo suggesting that instead of the announced 12,500 cut in size, the figure will actually be 16,500.

And in a further cruel twist of the knife, many of these additional cuts will fall on those soldiers who have been wounded in action in Afghanistan or Iraq and been able to remain in the forces ..... it seems that what the German Army couldn't do in two World Wars, the Conservative Party is doing with a few bits of paper.

What I don't understand is why the cuts must fall on active service personnel, and not amongst the thousands of civil servants who are apparently required to run our tiny armed forces. It surely is madness when the number of civil servants in the ministry of defence, outnumber the total of soldiers, sailors and airmen in the British Armed Forces.

The UK Has Four Civil Servants For Every Soldier

What sort of armed forces are planned for at the end of this latest "Defence Review", and what it will be able to actually do, is beyond me. I guess I'll have to look at the Dutch Armed forces, because we appear to be heading to something of a similar usefulness .... and with the news that we are pulling all our troops from Germany (after over 60 years), which was something that has always been considered as not an economy in previous decades, its the end of Britain as a military first rate power.

There must be an increasingly large number of Tory Party supporters and people who voted for them, who now regret voting for them, and who certainly will think long and hard before doing so again.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Crime and Punishment

Crime does pay .... or at least if you are a Mexican prisoner. It appears that a surprise inspection in a prison in Acapulco Mexico,uncovered the fact that there were 19 prostitutes in the cells (more or less in residence), a 100 plasma televisions, two sacks of Marijuana, and over 100 cockerels for cock fighting. On top of this, it appeared that six female inmates were living in the male section of the prison along with two peacocks!

In July, prisoners in a jail in Sonora state were found to be running a lottery to raffle off a luxury cell they'd equipped with a fridge, DVD player and air conditioning. Its no wonder that Mexico is losing the fight against the drug cartels, when the prisons are just Rest & Recreation stations for those arrested.

All the Creature Comforts Available (for a price) in Mexican Jails

Crime doesn't pay in the long run  .... or at least if you are a British criminal, where a recent study suggests that a life of crime appears to damage offenders' health, but sadly only once they reach their late 40's. After that point they found that career offenders were more likely to be hospitalised, and were a whopping 13 times more likely to be disabled (or at least claiming to be disabled, which ain't the same thing). Also out of the total test group created in 1961 (aged eight or nine yr old white males), 17 of them had died, and 13 of those 17 had a criminal conviction.

Up until the age of forty, criminals actually appeared to have better health in their late teens and late 20's than those who had not offended when they were young .... must be the out door lifestyle!

Thankful Villages

While I was thinking about the fact that it was "Remembrance Day", when I stumbled across a small story about an aspect of the remembrance day events that I had never heard of  before. There are villages and communities in Britain and France that were known as "Thankful Villages" because despite sending many men to fight in the first world war, every man jack of them came back alive, albeit missing the odd limb. In Britain fifty two such villages have been identified, and all are in England (none in Scotland, Wales or Ireland).

There are an even smaller of these villages, just fourteen, like Upper Slaughter in England, that have come to be known as 'doubly thankful' for also losing no-one from WWII as well (24 men and one woman joined the services in WWI and a further 36 men in WWII) .... the original term "Thankful Villages" was first coined by the writer Arthur Mee in 1930's.

Upper Slaughter, one of a handful of  'Doubly Thankful' villages. 

In contrast to these lucky few, there were over 16,000 British communities which paid the highest sacrifice during those wars, such as Wadhurst, in East Sussex, which with a population of just over 3,500 people, which lost 649 men in WWI. On a single day in 1915 at the Battle of Aubers, twenty five men from Wadhurst were killed, nearly 80% of all those who went forward into no-man's land, and almost certainly the heaviest per capita casualties of any community in the UK for one day's battle ....  the majority of those killed had no known grave.

In France, there is a similar tale, but there is one village, Thierville in Normandy that has not lost any soldiers (in any arm of the services), in any of France's last five national wars (the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, World Wars I and II, Indochina, and Algeria).

If anyone is interested in more on this story, a good starting point is the lengthy BBC story that I based this post on, which is here.

At The 11th Hour of the 11th Day

Today is the most sombre day of the year in the European and Anglo Saxon world. At the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, we shall remember them ....

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

The two minutes silence was impeccably observed at my place of work .....

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Its official, there is no 'Area 51'. No back engineering of alien spacecraft. No 'Greys' (aka 'Zetas') are buzzing the planet, in fact, 'No E.T.'s' full stop! The 'Xenu' never brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling 'Douglas DC-8 airliners', the 'Reptilians' haven't scuttled across our lands, and the 'Space Brothers' (aka 'Nordic Aliens') will likely never visit Earth.

And the reason I know this to be true?

Well the White House has issued an official statement in which it formally denied that it has any knowledge of contact with extraterrestrial life. It did so after more than 5,000 signatories signed each of the two petitions on the White House 'We The People website', which promises to address any petitions that get more than that number of signatures. In fact more than 17,000 citizens joined the two petitions on this subject, so they have now changed the figure to 25,000 signatures, but this still compares well with the 100,000 signatures required in the UK before the Parliament discusses, then instantly dismisses the UK citizens concerns. 

These Girls Could Be Blowing That Trumpet in Vain
The exact response was:

"The US government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye".

Anyway, so far, so party line ..... but the statement authored by Phil Larson of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, then added that;

"Many scientists and mathematicians have looked... at the question of whether life likely exists beyond Earth, and have come to the conclusion that the odds are pretty high that somewhere among the trillions and trillions of stars in the Universe there is a planet other than ours that is home to life. Many have also noted, however, that the odds of us making contact with any of them - especially any intelligent ones - are extremely small, given the distances involved."

Now I wonder what the fundamentalist Christians, who often push the disingenuous "Intelligent Design" theory (that proposes only we exist in a universe created by he who can't be named), think of this? They are a powerful lobby in the Mid West and Southern States come election time, and who are usually no friend to any politician who suggests that intelligent life exists outside of the Earth.

Anyway, whatever the politics of the statement, its still a pity ... many of my schoolboy daydreams are now lying shattered on the rocks of reality.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

European Union: Democratic or Despotic?

Today, sometime tonight in fact, the democratically elected majority government of Greece will be dissolved and replaced by a 'national unity coalition' .... the reason for this change is that the EU rescue package terms are so opposed by the Greek public, that the Greek government had called for a 'referendum' to get a public endorsement of the bail out terms.

Now the referendum is off the table, and the Greeks were told to either take the money and implement the plan in full, or leave the Euro-zone (or even the EU itself if Pres. Sarkozy of France had his way) .... they vote tonight to create a 'stable' government, and then to fulfil all the bail out plan terms laid down by Germany and France. Italy, is in much the same boat with their government have to agree to EU inspectors looking at the state books, even though it has had no bail out funds so far. Of course in Greece this 'national unity coalition' isn't likely to last more than a few weeks at best, so this could all be just another sticking plaster, and Greece just leaves the Euro-zone after the new year (as most people expect).

So, this raises the question of whether this is actually the first stage of the death of national independent democratic governments in Europe, with the small Euro-zone countries being forced to do what the big two Euro-zone economies want inside a federal straight jacket? There are many in Greece who believe that they are being sacrificed to bring in a 'Federal Europe', which their political leaders will benefit from, but they will suffer for.

Will this be how the EU enforces the bail out in Greece?
Interestingly, late on Tuesday the Greek government  replaced the heads of the army, navy and air force and the chief of joint chiefs of staff in what officials described as a long-planned move largely unrelated to political turmoil ..... this has raised fears that they were preempting a coup attempt. Memories of the rule of 'The Colonels' in a military junta between 1967 and 1974 still run deep in the Greek psyche.

As the imaginary Chinese adage can be said .... "we live in interesting times".

Update: The BBC has just run an article on the 9th November, which includes the lines:

"These are disturbing days for European democracy. The euro-zone crisis is driving out elected leaders. European officials are telling elected governments what to do".

They agree with the idea that there's now a risk that democracy is being replaced by a EU unelected technocracy, it just takes them three days longer than us to reach that conclusion.

Of Women and Toads

John Steinbeck made an animal connection for mens behaviours in 'Of Mice and Men', so the question is 'What do the Cane toads of Australia and the women pioneer settlers of the old Canadian and American frontiers have in common?'

I'll bet you haven't guessed, so I'll tell you its the fertility (or fecundity) of each wave of settlers ... yes apparently scientists and researchers have managed to link these two apparently disparate topics, with some detailed analysis of the well kept marriage and birth records of the French settlers of Canada (which go back to the 17th century), to show that women who were first to settle in a new land had more children and grandchildren than those who followed later.

French Candian Settlers with high birth rates
Now why this is a surprise to anyone beats me, anyone in Europe watching immigrants arrive in the last 35 yrs will have noted that they have larger families than the natives, and similarly in the US, the Latino immigrants into the USA have larger families than the natives, but in most cases their children have smaller families as each generation reproduces until they reach the norm for that area.

The main difference between this casual observation, and the research findings, is that they managed to show that woman who arrived as part of the first wave of immigration into an area had 15% more children than those who arrived a generation later ..... apparently pioneering woman married younger and benefited from scooping up the best local resources, and their daughters inherited their mother's higher rate of fertility. They then showed that women who came with the later immigration wave that arrived 30 years afterwards, did not exhibit the same fertility rates as the first wave and their offspring.

The Hatfields were a fertile pioneer settler clan in the Tug valley.
Who famously clashed with the similar McCoy clan.
So how have they managed to link this analysis, with the menace of the outback (I have posted on these creatures on more than one occasion), the cane toad, and thus allowed me to also link this post with them?

Well apparently, scientists have observed that the cane toads at the edge of their range have bigger front legs and stronger back legs; making it easier for them to invade new areas. Then when these pioneer cane toads at the frontiers breed, their offspring also inherit these bigger and stronger limbs. However, other cane toads who migrate into these areas after the first wave, don't exhibit these physical attributes.

Fertile Cane Toads - doing what they do best
Apparently this effect was not unexpected, but no one until now had been able to show this phenomenon operating in human populations .... the point of all this research (if there is one) is that families at the front of the wave of migration contributed more to the contemporary gene pool, than those that were slower to arrive and this explains why pockets of certain rare genetic diseases carried by the first settlers still exhibit in some areas to this day (so now you know!). 

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Butt of all Jokes

Once again, to the surprise of no one apart from Pakistani cricket fans, the corruption of its favourite sport, and the blindness of it sports institutions has been exposed to the world. This time (and there have been numerous other occasions), it was the fact that bookies had corrupted their cricketer's to the extent that they were bowling 'no balls', and performing other activities to order, during test matches.

I have posted before on these events, and I even predicted that 'The Pakistani cricket team are poison to the world game, but such is the fear of 'losing the subcontinent's' money in a split, that I won't be surprised if they bury this event, and after some bans (which will be overturned a few months later), business as usual will resume' .... and I wasn't far wrong.

The sentences were not very long, with former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt jailed for 30 months, Mohammad Asif, 28, jailed for one year and bowler Mohammad Amir, 19, was sentenced to six months. And all of them got a 'five year bans' from cricket by the International Cricket Council, with all three appealing against their suspensions. The families claim that they are all innocent .... as you might expect (although Amir admitted his guilt).

The guilty Three - but there were others implicated

But the Pakistan Cricket Board said the conviction of the players was "a sad day for Pakistan cricket".... they forgot to add the word 'again' . Sadly as usual, most of the Pakistani fans blame everyone except their own society (they couldn't blame the US, Zionists and Israel) so they blamed India and 'the West'.Here's one typical comment reported by the BBC .... Zahim, a 'cricket fan' who was eating outside Lahore's 'Gaddafi Stadium' , said "The West just wants to destroy the image of Pakistan"  and he went on to add for good measure that " I think the Indians are involved too. We need to get to the real truth"  (yes really, 'Gaddafi Stadium' ), a statement which tells you a lot about Pakistan, and its disengagement from reality. By 'real truth'  Zahim means that its all a 'conspiracy' by everyone, but the Pakistani's involved. 

The Usual Violent Response

The sad thing from my point of view is that for some reason, all this has to be played out in the UK and at the expense of the UK taxpayers, because Pakistan is too corrupt to even be able to bring the trials, let alone get to the truth .... there are 100 million Zahim's in the land of the pure.

Freedom of Speech v Freedom of Religion

The petrol bombing of the French satirical magazine 'Charlie Hebdo' in Paris, for daring to portray the creator of the self-styled 'religion of peace' (or 'religion of surrender' as it should be properly described in English), on its covers, says all you need to know about its followers.

Different Countries, Different Targets, Same Intended Result - Intimidation

The important point about this event was made by the editor-in-chief of the magazine, Stephane Charbonnier, who said Islam should not be excluded from 'freedom of the press' to comment in the West. He said: "If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam, or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying."

He bravely added that "This is the first time we have been physically attacked, but we won't let it get to us". We shall wait and see .....

China's Economy

With all the talk of the Euro powers (Germany and France), asking for the Chinese to bail out the Euro, we need to look more closely at the Chinese economy and to put things in perspective. For all China's dramatic economic rise, its economy still accounts for less than 10% of global GDP at present, while the developed nations of Europe and America make up nearly 50%. It is Europe - even in a time of crisis - that does much to power China's rise, rather than the other way round.
Super Economy or Trade Dependent?
Europe, is China's biggest export market. Last year it bought 280bn euros of Chinese goods, while China isn't investing much in Europe, in fact less than 1bn euros last year. That was little more than 1% of foreign investment in Europe, which pumped five times as much into China (and could move it elsewhere if the economics worked that way e.g. Vietnam).

Before China started to really decline in the late 17th Century, it accounted for approx 25% of the worlds GDP (in line with its approx 25% of the world population). This was why it felt no need to open up or take new ideas from the West .... now it accounts for about 17% of the worlds population, and about 10% of GDP. We can expect that its share of world GDP will probably flat-line at about 20% in the next decade or so and with India set to reach levels of about 15% of world GDP, they will be a powerful block.

However when GDP is divided by population, the position is a lot weaker. GDP (PPP) per capita places both nations very low down the league tables. They have to feed and clothe billions of people, or risk rebellions, and this where the money ultimately will have to go.

The US position of the mid 1960's, made them dominant in both GDP and GDP (PPP) per capita, a position which the Chinese will never attain, nor will they or India be likely to catch European life standards for several decades (if ever).

The "Yankee" Dollar

Its a sign of the strange times that we live in, that the US dollar is still weak against the crumbling Euro. I only remark on this because when I was kid, we used to think of the British "Pound" as worth four US dollars and we even used the term a "half dollar" for a 'half crown' and the crown was sometimes called a "dollar" ... this was obviously pre-decimal days in the UK, when there were 20 Shillings to the Pound, a Crown was 5 Shillings, and therefore a Half Crown was 'Half a Dollar' .....

"Half A Dollar" in slang terms 

So why does this even matter, well it means that countries such as Japan and the UK are finding that the cost of their exports to the US are going up, relative to the cost of US imports, despite their poor economies, and they are all having to 'sell money' (or buy dollars) to try and push their currencies down again. This raises the threat of inflation not just in the United States, but also elsewhere in the world, and with most of the world's major commodities still priced in dollars, it is noticeable that any major decline in the value of the US currency has usually coincided with sky-rocketing commodity prices.

Dollar and yuan's

The US wants China to allow its currency the Yuan to rise to allow US exports to China to be relatively cheaper, but while the Chinese won't do this (for their own economic reasons), then the US believes that letting the US Dollar slide, boosts their exports abroad and lowers imports at home. So until it finally starts to believe that having 'cheap money' is starting to hurt its own economy, then it appears that we are all stuck with the problem.


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