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Sunday, 29 January 2012

African Freedom

The BBC ran an article on whether Africa (by which they presumably meant 'sub-Saharan Africa', aka 'Black Africa', as of course the 'Arab Spring' was also in Africa), needed an 'Arab Spring' .... oddly they didn't mean the whole continent coming under the thrall of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is whats happened in Arab Africa.

No they were suddenly implying that all is not perfect in sub-Saharan Africa, which must be something of a first for the BBC's usual PC reporting of this part of the world .... but my interest was taken more by the map supplied by 'Freedom House' of which parts of Africa they call as 'free'.

Africa - Free or Not Free?
 
Because strangely this map doesn't seem to equate the results of the 'Arab Spring' with 'freedom', as both Libya and Egypt for example are still marked as 'Not free' .... which kind of answers the question as to whether an 'arab spring' in sub-Saharan Africa would be any use?

Because if the 'Freedom House' organisation still classifies the results of the 'Arab Spring', as 'Not Free', then the answer to the BBC question 'Does Africa need an Arab Spring?' is obviously 'No'.

The Freedom House reports are here:   

Freedom House report on Sub-Saharan Africa

Freedom House report on the Middle East and North Africa


Growth And Decay

According to the International Monetary Fund, Asia and the Sub Continent are the growth engines of the new world economy. However even there, some are performing better than others. For instance Pakistan's economy grew last year by 2.4% last year according to the IMF. These are figures that the moribund economies of the UK and other European countries would do anything for.

But, and there's always a 'butt' (hah ha!) in Pakistan, the required rate to keep unemployment from rising is at least 7% pa. As it is, 2.4% is actually one of the lowest in the region with the other 'players' India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh all performing far better.

2011 Real GDP growth (projected):
  • China: 9.5%
  • India: 7.8%
  • Sri Lanka: 7.0%
  • Bangladesh: 6.3%
  • Pakistan: 2.4%*
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook
*Actual growth taken from Pakistan Economic Survey

Even with this growth rate, Pakistan's political and economic problems continue, with its structural problems just increasing - for instance in a country of 180 million, less than 1% of people pay income tax. Out of even that low benchmark, billions of rupees of the government tax revenue never even make it into the treasury coffers because of waste and corruption. Industrial production and exports are hampered by crippling bureaucracy, bribery, and energy shortages, often leading to violent protests.

Pakistanis - Up To Their Necks In It - As Usual

If anything the state sector is hampered even more by these and other issues, and the flagship public sector enterprises such as Pakistan International Airlines and Pakistan Railways, are all failing due to chronic mismanagement and blatant inefficiencies .... cronyism in job distribution is rife.

When you add in the political chaos with disputes between the civilian government and the armed forces, the continual rise of the Taliban (aided by the military intelligence ISI), and rapid and uncontrolled population growth, and it appears that even the signs of economic growth, just can't hide the whiff of continued political and social decay.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Equal Pay For Equal Effort

With all the talk of fair pay and equitable payments, especially for the bankers who just won't stop taking large amounts from the company profits, or adding to the company losses, in order to give themselves large annual bonuses, my attention was taken by another group of chancers. Women's tennis players .....

They campaigned for "Equal Pay" with male players in the 1980's and 1990's, and eventually achieved this, although outside of the 'four majors' of Wimbledon, US, French and the Australian opens, the earnings on the women's and men's tours don't actually match, because women's tennis doesn't generate the same interest from sponsors or the crowds.

But in the majors, they get equal money for the semifinalists and finalists, and this week saw the semifinals in the Australian Open .... In the men's draw these semifinals were between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Andy Murray of Great Britain in one semi-final, and Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal ESP in the other. In the women's draw they were between Kim Clijsters of Belgium and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in one semi-final, and Maria Sharapova of Russia and  Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the other.

Half the work but the same prize money - Worth every Penny?

Now bearing in mind that the women claim to be worth 'equal pay, despite evidence that commercially they generate far less money than the men when they have their own tournaments, and therefore are demonstrably living of the back of men's tennis in the majors, how much tennis do this weeks semi-final winners play in order to get to the final? Equal amounts? No.

Kim Clijsters (11)  was beaten by Victoria Azarenka (3) by 2 sets to 1 in a match totaling 132 minutes, and Maria Sharapova (4)  beat Petra Kvitova  (2) by 2 sets to 1 in a match also totaling 132 minutes. 264 minutes of tennis in all .... whereas in the mens semi-finals:

Novak Djokovic (1) beat Andy Murray (4) by 3 sets to 2 in a match totaling 290 minutes, and Roger Federer (3) was beaten by Rafael Nadal (2) by 3 sets to 1 in a match totaling 222 minutes. 512 minutes of tennis in all, with one match lasting longer than both of the women's semi-finals combined, and the other nearly matching them (had it gone to five sets, it would also have surpassed the combined women's match time).

The women's final was won by Victoria Azarenka in two sets, in just 82 minutes play time.

The mens final was won by Novak Djokovic 3 -2 in long sets, taking 352 minutes of play time ..... that's over four times the length of play in the women's final .... all for the same money.

So how can this be classed as equality or equitable? Cos some 'wimmin' say it is.

And the moral of this story? Always follow the money when someone says they want 'Equality'.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Scotland Cries "Freedom"

The cat is well and  truly out of the bag, and fevered debate (marked by a fair bit of cross border vitriol) is now underway about Scotland's proposed referendum on 'Independence'.  I have no way of knowing what the decision will be, and in truth no particular preference. My personal belief is that in the long term, both Scotland and the UK will both ultimately become smaller places if a split occurs, but that in the short term, Scotland may prosper.

I do however have a view about the proposed referendum, which is that while I am English and also British, and I do believe we are better and stronger together, I also respect the right of the Scottish people to have a vote on independence. However, being independent should mean being independent, and not simply picking and choosing which parts of the union you want to keep if you lose the main vote (aka 'Devo Max') .

You just can't have it both ways .... it must be all or nothing. Not 'oh, lets just have a fall back of even more devolution', and then ask about full a full split again in five years or so. Just make a decision and live with it.

Alex Salmond plays hardball like Drake.

However, there are some other consequences that will make me laugh. The main one is that the real architects of 'Scottish devolution' and the fact that its ended in a referendum, the Labour Party (See Brown and the Scottish Claim of Right), is likely to be a two time loser.
  1. In Scotland, they will be the biggest losers in future polls, despised by unionists, and swamped by the 'victorious' SNP who will likely hold power for a generation.
  2. In England  they will be the biggest losers in future polls, despised by unionists, and swamped by the Tories who will likely hold power for a generation (Labour has only once won a majority in England).  
It would be ironic if Tony Blair's gut feeling that this would end in tears if he allowed devolution was proved right, and all those 'Scots Labour strategists' who said it was never going to be anything but a Labour Party stronghold forever, were wrong. Generations in the wilderness would be the least punishment they would deserve for the destruction of the United Kingdom and the Labour Party.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

US Electoral Processes

Its beginning to look as thought Pres. Barack Obama will win November's US Presidential elections. The Republican opposition is seemingly hopelessly split between the barely electable but flawed Mitt Romney, and the equally flawed, but totally unelectable (and last champion of the far right), Newt Gingrich. Oh, and the outsider coming up on the rails, Rick Santorum, who believes in 'Intelligent design' (aka creationism) which he supports being taught in schools, but who surely has lost the 'Gay' vote .... as if he cares.

In the latest round of voting for the Republican ticket in South Carolina, the primary winner was Newt Gingrich, who convincingly beat Mitt Romney in a spate of negative campaigning, and the scene is now apparently set for a long, hard, and bloody fight this spring. It seems unlikely that the winner of this will be in any state to seriously challenge Obama, who will even have been shown all his opponents weaknesses. Unless there's a serious downtown in the US economy and employment figures, then the general easing of the recession and 'green shoots' of recovery will also be in the incumbents favour.

US Presidential Contestants 2012

I am by and large a big admirer of the USA and its institutions, but I think that the process of electing a US President is hopelessly archaic and actually damages democracy there:

  • It occupies the top politicians of the worlds most powerful democracy for up to two years out of every four, and 
  • Allows for absolutely no long-term policies to be put in place.

Even at the end of the process, the President may only have two years in which to try and 'bribe' the Congress and Senate into backing a few major pieces of legislation before the regime becomes paralysed by local politics (often governed by 'pork barrel' considerations). In some cases, the President may be hog tied from the start if his party fails to control either house.

I understand that historically this system was meant to encourage consensus politics and national polices arrived at via negotiation, but increasingly in the US, the politics has become confrontational, with both parties unwilling to give any concession to the other. This leaves the executive in deadlock for long periods, or for bad legislation being passed through, which is worse than no legislation at all.

I have no idea what would cause the US to consider amending the political process, but its obvious that after two hundred years, the current system is not really fit for the 21st century and needs at least a major overhaul, if not a complete replacement.

Maybe the economic, military, and political challenge posed by the Chinese in this century may act as a spur. The Chinese are playing a long game of decades, or even centuries in order to gain their geopolitical goals, while US policy is only consistent for four or five years.

In the long-term there will only ever be one winner in that contest unless the US can start setting long-term economic , foreign and domestic political goals.   

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Rich Get Richer

The US (and presumably UK and other Western countries) have been following ever more capitalist tax policies over the last 40 odd years. This follows an earlier trend in the first half of the 20th century (which lasted up until the mid 1970's on both sides of the Atlantic), for the wealthiest 1% of societies to be expected to pay more in taxes i.e. For the differential between them and us to gradually decrease. But on the advent of Thatcherism and Reaganism in the late 1970's and 1980's this trend was reversed. Since then, there has been an ever increasing widening of the gap between the top of the top 1% of the wealthy, and everyone else (including the rest of the top 1% of the wealthy).

If you believe in cycles, then its probable that this wealth gap has now passed the limit of what Western democratic societies will generally accept, and there is now increasingly louder calls for the very rich to be reined in, and for them and the large corporations to be forced to stop dodging the tax bullet (some large American Corporations have been paying the same level of taxes as small family firms), and to pay all their tax dues.

There is no denying that when millions are facing tough times, and some are even facing malnutrition or even starvation in southern Europe and elsewhere, then its hardly equitable to still believe that making the super rich, even richer, and then trickling the wealth down via their purchases of cars, will work (it never did, it was a massive morally blind alley for the Right to go down this path). In the US there are still proponents of this kind of social wealth distribution, but even there its doubtful if this sort of argument can be made into a vote winner anymore.

The figures collated by the US Congressional Budget Office suggest the the very rich have increased their wealth by as much as 275% in the last few decades (partly by tax avoidance). Over the 28 years covered by this CBO study, US incomes had increased overall by 62%, allowing for tax and inflation, BUT the lowest paid fifth of Americans got only a small share of that: their incomes had grown by a modest 18%. Those in the middle income households were also well below the overall average increase with modest gains of just 37%, and even the majority of America's richest households saw gains of barely above the overall average at 67%.

However the vast majority of the income gains over the past 30 years had gone to the top 1% of US households. Their incomes had almost quadrupled, with rises of 275%!!

The UK has also seen much the same situation, where a longer term study of the distribution share of national income going to the richest 1% since 1918, which has show that we are reverting to the sort of societal wealth imbalances not seen since the days of the late Edwardian era "Upstairs Downstairs", with the same fall and rise of the proportion of the wealth owned by the richest as seen in the US. The top 1% are now on course to return to the relative wealth gap as it was in 1918.

The UKs Wealth Gap mirrors that seen in the US

No societies in the modern age can survive this sort of blatant wealth grab by the wealthy robber barons (aka Oligarchs), and the same social equality pressures that drove the urge to redistribute wealth more equitably in the first seventy years of the last century, are likely to emerge again. The greed that has caused the wealthy to keep on grabbing, is likely to be the cause of their own downfall, because even the US is unlikely to be quite the safe haven for the extremely wealthy that it has been in the past.  

If I was a betting man, I would suggest that tax compliance and redistribution of wealth will become a bigger issue over the next decade, especially if the austerity measures being taken now, turn into decades of stagnation. We are getting ever closer to returning to the world of 'Downton Manor' or perhaps we should rename that 'Downturn Manor'?

Justice For All?

Sharia Law is being increasingly used by Muslim communities in the UK and other countries, often by those immigrants who have little in common, either linguistically or culturally with Britain. It is a system of law derived from a combination of sources including the Quran, the Hadith (which are a collection of stories based on the life of the prophet Muhammad), and Fatwas, which are rulings of Islamic 'scholars'.

However there are a number of issues with this as the basis of fair laws:
  1. Women are not considered the equal of men in both the Koran and Sharia Law (Quran 4:34 – ‘Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient’).
  2. The Hadith were only collated long after his death (around 200 years later) and were maintained in just oral tradition, and many seem to have been created decades or centuries after the events. Turkish scholars have acknowledged that these have been  much added to over the centuries, and many stories were added to suit local leaders (religious or otherwise) needs at the time of their creation, so are not a safe source. Interestingly the Sunni and Shia have many different stories in their Hadith which makes them even more problematic.
  3. The Hadith includes such things as the basis for men taking child brides (Muhammad married Aisha when she was aged 9 or 10 and he was a man in late middle age).
  4. Fatwas have not prominence over each other and therefore can be and often are contradictory - anyone who is deemed a religious leader locally can pass them as long as they have been 'trained' in Islamic law (which can mean many things) and  unlike for example the Catholic Pope, there is no overarching authority on the rulings. Fatwas are not universally binding; which makes Sharia law non universal or consistent. An example of a fatwa was the Sudanese Teddy Bear name Muhammad story, when a Fatwa by a local cleric decided to punish a foreign teacher for the fact that her kindergarten kids named a Teddy bear 'Mohammed'.
Men Demonstrating For Sharia Law - they cover their faces.

Just today, three Muslim men (Ihjaz Ali, Kabir Ahmed and Razwan Javed) have been found guilty of stirring up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation when they handed out leaflets entitled "Death Penalty?", "Gay - an acronym for God Abhors You" or "Turn Or Burn" at a mosque and through local letterboxes in Derby, calling for homosexual people to be given the death sentence. In the leaflets they quoted the same Islamic texts which would also be used in Sharia laws and jurisprudence. They said this themselves in their defence .... they claimed they were simply following and quoting what their religion taught them about homosexuality and did not intend to threaten anyone.

And in case you think that these Sharia laws are never applied, and don't 'threaten anyone' ... on December the 12th in 2011 (a month ago) the Saudi Courts executed a woman for practising "witchcraft and sorcery" and in October 2011 a Sudanese man was publicly beheaded in a car park in the city of Medina for "witchcraft and sorcery".

Sharia Executions are public

These are not isolated cases, and this is not a theoretical discussion. An ICM opinion poll in 2006 showed that 40% of Muslims in the UK wanted Sharia Law in parts of Britain. In Pakistan in 2009, a poll showed the following levels of support for aspects of Sharia .... 

Pakistani Opinion Supports Sharia Punishments

 ... and whats opinion in Pakistan today, arrives in Britain tomorrow. 

Finally, the Muslims in the UK actively benefit by the UK having 'secular' laws that protect them, while they reject the idea of the host society having any jurisprudence over them. Sadly this just another example of the vast majority being asked to bow to the demands of a 'special' minority, who just refuse to try to fit in with the host society. "Justice for all" should be same for both men and women, and for all religions or the non religious ... not one law for us, and another set of laws for a religious group.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

ET Don't Come

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence better known as 'Seti' for short, has always been on the outer edges of scientific endeavour, with many scientists considering it a waste of money. As a result, the Seti project has always been struggling for funds and computer time to analyse its results. It offset the computer time by harnessing the power of people home computers by asking supporters to download the Seti Screen Saver which used spare time on their PC's to download, process and upload small sections of their signals.  The prize to participants is that their name is attached to that data, so if they're the lucky one that finds ET, they get the Nobel prize!
  
Sadly, this lack of funds has reached crisis point, and last April, there wasn't even enough money in the Seti coffers to pay the staff, and the facility shut down. There was an emergency fund raising drive and it re-opened again, but despite support from such luminaries as former astronaut Bill Anders, sci-fi author Larry Niven, and even Hollywood actress Jodie Foster, these funds were only enough for a few months of operations.

Aliens like these from Petrozavodsk Siberia and Irkutsk Russia wont be asked back.

Its not clear if the program will be able to keep going long-term, it needs about $2m (£1.3m) or so a year to keep going, and it would be rather sad if in an age when we are discovering planets around every star, and have better technology than ever before, funding couldn't be found to secure the projects long-term future.

Space Projects you can help with are:

The Seti Org.
The Milky Way Project.
The Galaxy Zoo Project.

Good News Bad News

First the 'Good News'. We are not going to have a new 'Ice Age' within the next 1,500 years or so, which is when it was due to have started. The last one ended about 11,500 years ago, and as they cycle through every 12,000 years or so, according to scientists (its all to do with Earths orbital cycles known as 'Milankovitch cycles' - subtle variations in the Earth's orbit around the Sun), we were about due one. So probably we can all be grateful for this bit of information, and granny can stop knitting the Woolly Mammoth jumpers.
 
Not In The Neighbourhood Soon

Now for the 'Bad News'. The reason why there isn't going to be a new 'Ice Age' next week, or even next millennium, is that 'Global Warming' is preventing the conditions that triggers the start of the next 'Ice Age' from firing up. This because scientists believe that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would have to fall below about 240 parts per million (ppm), before the glaciation could begin, and as the levels are currently about 390 ppm, then obviously it won't be happening soon.  

Incidentally, before we all started worrying about 'Global Warming', I can remember newspapers discussing how we were overdue for the next 'Ice Age' .... even with the warming up. So unless we get a runaway 'Greenhouse Effect' (like the planet Venus), we will still have another 'Ice Age', its just a matter of when, not if.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

The Future Of Things

While we are still talking of making predictions, we can now add a new name to those of the great seers ..... American engineer John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. who in the December 1900 edition of the Ladies Home Journal wrote an entitled “What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years ”, with 29 predictions ..... some, where right, and in fact his hit rate was better than your average savant.

Included in his predictions of 100 years of progress were the following:

Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century.

Actual, there are in fact 313,000,000 million US citizens.

Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches.

Actual, this is exactly the current average height increase in US males.

Prediction #5:  Trains will run two miles a minute, normally; express trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour between New York and San Francisco.

Actual, Amtrak's flagship high-speed rail line, the Acela Express, opened between Boston and Washington, DC. It reaches top speeds of 150mph (it should be pointed out that this was not the average, and is slower that fast trains in China, Japan, France, and in fact anywhere else, except of course the UK, who can't even manage that).

Prediction #6:  Automobiles will be cheaper than horses are today.

Actual, well cheap second hand cars are about the price of a good hacking horse, and a good race horse can be more or less the price of an average new car.

Prediction #8:  Aerial War-Ships and Forts on Wheels. Giant guns will shoot twenty-five miles or more, and will hurl anywhere within such a radius shells exploding and destroying whole cities.

Actual, fighter planes, tanks, and nuclear shells/missiles could be covered by this prediction.

Prediction #9:  Photographs will be telegraphed from any distance and Photographs will reproduce all of Nature’s colours. Prediction #10:  Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. Prediction #18: Telephones Around the World. Wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world.

Actual, Phones, TV, Internet, PC's, WiFi and satellites have allowed colour media content to transmitted in seconds and communication to every part of the globe. 

Prediction #12:  Peas as Large as Beets. Peas and beans will be as large as beets are to-day, and Prediction #13:  Strawberries as Large as Apples!

Actual, well fruit and vegetables are often larger than in his time, and certainly plants are more productive so in essence he's right. But we haven't tried to produce extra large produce, mainly for reasons of taste and utility.    

Prediction #15: No Foods will be exposed .... to air ..... Liquid-air refrigerators will keep great quantities of food fresh for long intervals.

Actual, mass tinning and sealed packaging is the norm, with refrigerated food making up the other 95% of shop produce.

There Are Many Visions Of The Future

Prediction #17: A university education will be free to every man and woman. Several great national universities will have been established. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind.

Actual, in the UK and US, we have the great national universities, but they were not free in the US and are not free anymore in the UK (excluding Scotland where its still free). The UK has 'free' health care for the poor, and very cheap provision for most. The US has some provision for the very poor, although maybe not as generous as in Europe or Canada.

Prediction #21: Hot and Cold Air from Spigots will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house.

Actual, Central heating and Air Conditioning are the norm in the developed world.

Prediction #23: Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar to our bakeries of today at a price much lower than the cost of individual cooking. The food will be served hot or cold to private houses in pneumatic tubes or automobile waggons.

Actual, supermarket ready meals, takeaways and home deliveries are all common place now.

Prediction #27: Few drugs will be swallowed or taken into the stomach unless needed for the direct treatment of that organ itself. Drugs needed by the lungs, for instance, will be applied directly to those organs through the skin and flesh.

Actual, this is not quite the case but we are heading this way with drugs that target genes or organs, and skin injections via pressurised air bursts are also more common.

Prediction #28: There will be no wild animals except in menageries.

Actual, not yet but by 3000 AD we will probably have driven many species to extinction in the wild.

Prediction #29: To England in Two Days.

Actual, he didn't predict air planes (he thought airships would remain slow because of winds), so he thought super fast passenger liners would sail the seas ... so we have exceeded his predictions with airliners.

So who was this far-sighted man?  Well he was a railroad engineer who lived from 1852 to 1903. He suffered a "disabling" accident in 1873 and became a clerk for the Pennsylvania Railroad. He then took a job as curator at the transport section of the US National Museum in 1885, where he also became a writer for the Ladies Home Journal's sister magazine, the Saturday Evening Post, based in Indianapolis.

His job at the museum allowed him access to many scientists and he used this access to make his predictions. "These prophecies will seem strange, almost impossible". He said that that he had consulted the country's "greatest institutions of science and learning" for their opinions on 29 topics.

A reproduction of the full list is here (or on the links above) ... you will have to save to your PC to read this image because of blogspot limits on sizes.


Food For Thought

Quote of the week .....  "Human rights do not prescribe national suicide".

The actual context of this quote from Israeli Judge, Asher Grunis, was in a ruling upholding the right of the Israeli state to stop arab Israeli's marrying non Israeli arabs, and then these spouses being automatically granted Israeli citizenship. This practise was banned on both security grounds, and because it was starting to affect the demographics of Israel and would if continued, have led to the Jews becoming a minority in their own state. Predictably arab 'human rights' groups (if that's not an oxymoron?), who had been championing the rights of arabs to swamp Israel via this backdoor immigration, are unhappy at this eminently sensible decision.

4.6 million Arabs want to get into Israel

But just imagine the fuss if 3 or 4 million 'Christians' or Jews emigrated to a small arab state, then demanded it stop being 'Muslim' ... would those same arab 'human rights' groups support that?  .... they didn't when Israel was founded this way.  Incidentally, one the Palestinian key demands is that around *4.6 million palestinian 'refugees' living in surrounding states, be allowed to live in Palestine and Israel ... a move which would effectively wipe Israel off the map.

However, I am not so interested in the arab belief that they can use immigration via marriage to undermine Israel. No, I think that the ruling, and the logic behind it, is so profound, that a few UK and European judges, who often perversely use 'human rights' considerations to stop the deportations of suspected terrorists, illegal immigrants, failed asylum seekers, and foreign criminals (including rapists, paedophiles, and murderers), might occasionally stop and think about its implications.   

*in January 2010, UNRWA cited there being 1,396,368 registered refugees in camps, and a further 3,370,302 registered refugees not in camps

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Strange But True Stories

In one of those strange tales that the media love to close the news with so much, Lena Paahlsson in Sweden found her wedding ring, lost in her farm kitchen sixteen years ago, now on the loving body of a carrot growing in her garden.

Lena Paahlsson's Wedding Ring
 
This is yet another variant on the lost ring found in a fish tale that crops up every so often. The latest of these tales that I can recall is that of Joe Richardson's graduating class ring, which he lost fishing in lake Sam Rayburn Texas in 1987, and which turned up in a fish caught in the same lake in November 2008 by another fisherman, who tracked him down and returned it.

Joe Richardson's graduating class ring

File them both under the 'strange but true' category. 

Sacrifice To The Gods

Sometimes we at PC  towers wonder what the world is coming to. In India, the police are looking for the villagers who killed a seven-year-old girl in a case of tribal sacrifice. The little girl, Lalita Tanti, was apparently kidnapped from her school and her body was found two days later.

The police in Chhattisgarh state said that the sacrifice was carried out to ensure a bumper crop. According to reports there are many cases of human sacrifice thought to be carried out in the tribal belt of eastern and central India, in Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and parts of Andhra Pradesh bordering Chhattisgarh.

Some Gods Want Sacrifices

Last time we discussed this subject a rather lively debate ensued, but its hard to ignore the fact that in the 21st century, and in an age of modern media communications, in a country that's claiming to be one of the coming centuries next 'social and economic giants', there are people so backward that they murder little children to appease their gods .... if this (and Chinese imperialism), is what is to replace western civilisation in the coming century, then god(s) help us all.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Predictions 2012

Like seers throughout the ages, from Old Mother Shipton, to Nostradamus, blog commentators always feel impelled to have a stab at the coming years events .... its a chance to look stupid within months, weeks or even days.

Nosterdamus And Mother Shipton

But what the heck, here we go for 2012:
  • Iran will test fire a Nuclear Bomb sometime this year, with all that this implies.
  • All the 'Arab Spring' states will end up with Islamist parties in power, with all that this implies. 
  • Nigeria will move closer towards a civil war based upon the Islamic Christian splits that already exist.
  • North Korea will attack South Korean forces in another calculated gamble that they can force more aid from them.
  • Pakistan will continue to slide backwards, and the army will take over again (that's if they ever really let go).
  • Greece will pull out of the Euro, and at least one other state will follow suite.

Oh and one last one ..... the Mayan Apocalypse of 2012 will not be the end of the world .... well not unless the world reacts badly to one of the above, in which case maybe it will be. And that's my thoughts for the year ahead .....

Racial Sterotyping

Diane Abbott, the left wing, member of the Labour Party's shadow cabinet has featured on these posts before. Whether she is really fit for a top job is somewhat doubtful in many commentators opinions.

She once again has been seen to hold views that would get a white politician the sack. Her latest outburst was in stating that ''White people love playing 'divide & rule'. We should not play their games". This caused the predictable outrage, but as is usual with the Labour Party, she didn't resign (they didn't have many, if any resignations, in thirteen years of power, despite several cases of ministers abuses being exposed).  However what was missed was that she also stated that "Ethnic communities that show more public solidarity & unity than black people do much better" .... which is something of a condemnation of the black community as well .... predictably, they didn't notice this slight.

Abbot and Stereotyping

She then followed this up by saying that she was “Dubious of black people claiming they’ve never experienced racism. Ever tried hailing a taxi I always wonder?” .... this begs a few questions about the advisability of taxis picking black males late at night, which we would be in trouble for asking, so I'll just point out that black comedian Chris Rock said that "It's not 'the media' that's giving black folks a bad name. When I go to the ATM I ain't looking over my shoulder for "the media", I'm looking for the ....." I can't use the word he used next, but he was pointing out that theres a difference between 'Black folks' and other 'Blacks' that everyone is aware of.    

She has some previous form on these sort of 'race ' comments .... she was of course the Race Relations Officer at the National Council for Civil Liberties from 1978 to 1980, but her ideas on race equality seem to have something of a slant to them:
  • She once apparently argued that white teachers, especially white women teachers, couldn't deal with black boys who needed a black male role model to control them (presumably because they had no male role models at home ... she is a single black mother herself after her divorce) - So she sent her son to a private school to be taught by a largely white teaching staff.  
  • She upset some in the black community when she said that "when it comes to corruption, Nigerians make Jamaicans, and every other nationality in the world, look like mere amateurs".
  • In 1988, at a conference in the United States of America, she made a speech in which she said that "the British invented racism".
  • In 1996, Abbot commented that at her local hospital "blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls" were unsuitable as nurses because they had "never met a black person before".
  • She referred to Politicians David Cameron and Nick Clegg as "two posh white boys" in May 2010

A fellow Hackney Labour MP Brian Sedgemore suggested that Abbott would "never be taken seriously again" after the private school episode of hypocrisy, but he forgot that Race Politics play big in Labour Party politics, as does tokenism, so she is back in the Labour Executive, losing them votes again. 

Storm In A 'D' Cup

Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdel Aziz al-Sheikh, has warned the kingdoms shop owners that employing women is a "crime and prohibited by Islamic sharia law" .... but the King has apparently decided that on this issue he will bow to pressure from women's rights campaigners. So from this week, certain shops will not be allowed to employ men.  

Of course this being an Islamic paradise on earth, all is not as it seems .... the King has only legislated that male employees be removed from 'lingerie shops', where conservative women were 'embarrassed' by having to give their bra and knicker sizes to male employees.  He has also said that the ban is due to be extended to cosmetics shops from July 2012.

Praying To Mecca or M&S?

Even funnier is that in their efforts to stop women working (Shock, Horror!) so that they wouldn't develop any independence, Saudi men were happy for the majority of the male employees in these lingerie departments to be foreign men. These men were not even guaranteed to be Muslim. The decree is expected to cause 40,000 jobs to be lost to these men, but not necessarily create the same number for Saudi women as its likely that it will be foreign women who take around half of these jobs because Saudi women wont be able to take the jobs (can't drive cars, need male chaperone, need male permission etc etc).


QURAN 4:34 – ‘Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient


However even this small 'victory' for women could be somewhat Pyrrhic as it reinforces other aspects of the separation between women and men, and even the King is powerless to stop there being opposition from the religious police, and their backers .... one step forward, two steps back?

Monday, 2 January 2012

Who Watches The Watchmen?

The British Police have not had a good year in 2011. Firstly there was the complete collapse of law on the streets, when the police failed to tackle the street scum of London and other cities, while they looted, robbed, mugged and burnt out the law abiding ..... even an internal report has condemned the poor responses of the London and other police forces.

There have even been suggestions that in Manchester it was a 'societal issue' and was caused by 'deprivation', and therefore it was somehow 'inevitable' that rioters and looters would succeed. Not the fact that the policing was very poor, or that its the congregation of criminals in certain postcodes that creates the deprived areas in the first place.

London Riot - A 100 yr old business, gone forever.

Then there was the mindless killing of an Indian man in Salford, in which his parents only found out via his "Facebook" page, and for which the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) suddenly stumped up a £50,000 reward because it was classified as a 'hate' aka 'race crime'. Now considering the fact that there are hundreds of murders in the UK each year, this begs the simple question, if it had been a white victim of a black attacker (of course that never happens in a multicultural paradise, where only one group are ever capable of 'racist' crimes ...), would a reward of £50,000 have been offered?

I don't remember any murder, even the much publicised hunt for the killers of Stephen Lawrence, or the Boxing day shops 'gang' (black on black) murder of Seydou Diarrassouba, ever having prompted the offer of such a large amount, but then they aren't perhaps as 'politically sensitive' as the Labour funded GMP.

But to cap a bad year, the politically correct policing of the UK has seemingly produced police forces who can't even apparently prevent robberies in their own police stations ..... a report issued today, shows that hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of equipment and personal belongings have been stolen from police stations across Britain .... the worst hit in 2011 were the following forces;
  • Greater Manchester - £86,910
  • Strathclyde - £22,524
  • Northumbria - £19,858
  • Essex - £15,406
  • Surrey - £9,657
But every force had examples, from a £10,000 patrol car and £30,000 private vehicle stolen from GMP, through, police cars, computers, warrant cards, bikes, riot shields, a battering ram, breathalysers, a small fridge, CCTV footage and a TV, to a packet of crumpets from Priory Road police station in Hull.

The Taxpayers' Alliance director Emma Boon said that "The list of stolen items is truly astonishing and taxpayers will worry that police giving out crime prevention advice can't seem to avoid being robbed themselves," and called for an investigation.

Maybe if the police and courts in Britain actually concentrated of police work, and the sentencing of criminals of any racial aspect, and not on political policing, in which some crimes are racially 'high profile' and given maximum resources, while the bread and butter policing, such as upholding law and order on the streets of our 'deprived estates' or on the shopping high-streets are allowed to fail. Then maybe we would all have more confidence that our society isn't simply breaking down on the margins.

UK Police are looking for their stolen items. 
A Roman poet Juvenal once asked in his 'Satires', "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?", which can be translated loosely as 'Who polices the police?' ..... I suspect he didn't realise that in the UK it would be read as 'who protects the police from the thieves!'

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