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Friday, 30 August 2013

Taking The Diplomatic Mickey

Everyone knows that the diplomats from third world countries often commit abuses under the cover of diplomatic immunity (sometimes terrible crimes such as child abuse, rape and murder), but usually its parking offences, shoplifting and espionage.

So imagine my surprise when the British Foreign Secretary William Hague issued a name and shame list of the chief financial offenders in London, and that the list was topped by the United States, which owes a total of traffic offences and other taxes of £7.2 million. The next worse offender is the £4.89 million owed by the Russian Federation and £4.85 million the Japanese owe.

Diplomatic Abuse Is Rife In The UK and USA

The primary reason is the London congestion charge which all these embassies refuse to pay and so far this has produced a total arrears bill of £67.5 million in unpaid congestion charges alone. This can be added to the unpaid parking tickets (which in 2012 alone amounted to £344,777), of which the chief offenders are the arrogant Nigerians who owe £84,000 followed by the Saudi's who owe £24,000 - the US on the other hand owes a modest £1,555 for parking offences.

Oddly Mr Hague also reported that some embassies owe business rates as well - £97,987 is owed by the Ivory Coast, followed by China owing £94,377. I have no idea what sort of businesses are run from inside embassies, and have to suspect that this is yet another scam, but the Foreign Secretary didn't elaborate.

A Million Dreams

Have you ever seen what a million pounds looks like?

Well neither have I until now ...... As we walked down the castle mound from a festival show in Edinburgh, we passed a window on the Museum on the Mound, and there through  a window could be seen a million pounds in notes (fakes I assume) in a display. 

Rather than just walk on past, I took a photograph or two, and so now you can see what a million pounds looks like.

A Million Pounds
And a closer view ......

A Closer Look At A Million Pounds.

We then moved on quickly before we were lifted by the police ......but I then had a weird thought. When I was a kid, being a millionaire meant having what I had just seen and it equalled a life of luxury. Now a million pounds would mean early retirement but not a life of luxury. Now you would need about five million to live that same life of material luxury I imagined when a kid.

That's inflation for you. 

Popular Blog Postings

When you are a Blogger, its sometimes a good idea to look to see which of your posts have been the most popular. Now, like most Bloggers, I don't fool myself that I am going to get big viewing figures for most posts, and indeed I am grateful if I even get two or three views. I guess that generally my posts attract a double figure + number of views (and in strict point of fact the Blog average is 177 views per posting, if you divide total blog views by the number of posts). So what accounts for the disparity? Popular posts.

Every Blog has a few posts that have a magic combination of subject, keywords, and or timing, that causes the post to attract considerably more attention than the average posting. We all wish that we could find this magic every post, but its indefinable .... I attempt it every post, but sadly mostly fail dismally.  

SEO is a "Dark Art" few have mastered!
 
To illustrate my point, below are the top ten posts by views on this Blog, with the dates posted and a brief synopsis of its content .... the top of the list has been viewed nearly 8,000 times, and the tenth over just over 2,000.

1) Blobby Britain 6 Feb 2011 - Obesity sweeping the UK and US.

2) Barbie turned "Fifty" this week!!! 8 Mar 2009 - Barbie doll 50 yrs old.

3) Nobel Prize, Ignoble Politics 12 Dec 2010 - China trying to block Nobel prize award.

4) The House That Money Built 6 Oct 2010 - The Royal house of the Saudi's.

5) Compare And Contrast 30 Dec 2010 - Israel's rule of law working.  

6) Cane Toad Burgers 2 May 2010 - Trying to control the Cane Toad in Australia.

7) The NATO Myth 17 Apr 2011 - How Nato is actually just a few 'fighting' countries.

8) End of the World ... Not 2 Dec 2011 - End of the world predictions.

9) Bison Herding and Other Wonders 14 Nov 2010 - Animal conservation and extinctions.

10) The Great God Pan is Dead 27 Dec 2007 - Prose piece on the Old God Pan.

 - with the other 1,112 posts outside this top ten, ranging from just over 2,000 views, all the way down to just 3 views.

So how come this 'top ten' attracted, and continue to attract so many regular views?

It can't be the snappy titles, I have done many others just as snappy (or even snappier), so it must be something else, but what? I wish I knew and I am just as baffled as ever. 


Western Folly

With Britain surprisingly having rejected being pushed once again into the boiling cauldron that is Middle East politics (ostensibly, not to change the regime, but to back the US desire to punish the use of chemical weapons, which crossed Pres. Obama's 'red line'), it seems a timely occasion to remind ourselves that it is not just the Assad regime who act like animals.

We were effectively being pushed to be on the same side as al-Qaeda and those who fight under its banner .... for instance there are large groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, who have cooperated with al-Qaeda in many attacks against Israel and the Israeli security forces. The Israel intelligence services believe that Hamas, in cooperation with al-Qaeda, have managed to infiltrate operatives from the Gaza into Israel in preparation for attacks.

So its also likely that Hamas elements are already in Syria fighting alongside their allies, who will now include the US / France and the United Kingdom .... if that doesn't tell you that our inept leaders are completely out of their depths, then nothing does. But just in case there are any doubts as to the sort of allies we would be fighting alongside (in aims at least), here is a picture from the 21st of November 2012 which was issued by Reuters.

Our 'Allies' In The Middle East

It shows how much the technical 'allies' of the US and France (assuming we stay out), Hamas and al-Qaeda, value human rights, the rule of law and international norms .... these Hamas gunmen had just publicly executed six suspected 'Israeli spies', who they had accused of telling the Israeli defence forces about rocket launch sites and other information. So after being tortured, and 'confessing', they had been publicly shot .... then one of the corpses was tied behind a motorcycle and dragged around the streets of Gaza, to the cheers of an approving mob who chanted "Spy!, Spy!" .... in all, this little bit of 'justice' cost the lives of eight men (one was shot in the street, and another was found dead in a communal wheelie bin).

Pity the poor Christians who live in Syria, they will face the final ethnic cleansing in the region when these Jihadists get full control of the country .... Our politicians, particularly those on the European left-wing (France is currently both socialist, and playing an influence game in a country they once ruled), just don't understand what kind of animals are fighting in these middle east conflicts, and how while they use us and beg our help to fight their enemies, they remain implacably opposed to us, our religion, and our values.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Two Old Farts Meet A Legend

While wandering around the 'Pleasance Courtyards' (a major venue area), my mate Kenny and I were approached by a jocular old fellow handing out flyers (along with hundreds of others). He described his show as "two old farts talking about cricket" and "Jolly Good Fun" ..... but as soon he opened his voice I knew who he was.

A Living Legend Walked Amongst Us.

It was the living legend that is Henry Blofeld, aka "Blowers", doyen of Test Match Special, a long running radio sports show (launched in 1957), on which he and long time producer Peter Baxter were doing a question and answer show. The name of their show is 'Blofeld and Baxter: Memories of Test Match Special'.

Blowers and Baxter

What can I say. We talked, there was much handshaking and in our enthusiasm we didn't get our photograph taken with him. But were very much pleased to meet him, and I did take a few pictures of him walking around the courtyard, spreading much pleasure as he did so (although the foreigners may have been somewhat bemused). Of course famously, his father, Thomas Robert Calthorpe Blofeld, was at public school Eton with James Bond author Ian Fleming, and his surname is believed to have been the inspiration for the name of James Bond super villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

A National Treasure Gives Directions

I wish I had got his autograph, but we were still pleased that at least two old farts had met a legend.

Festival Pig Outs

Food is everywhere at the Edinburgh festival ...... of course there is a lot of rip off going on - I saw a portion of Chips (French Fries in US), being offered at £6.50. That's close to criminal! But most food was at city centre prices. However with competition so fierce, there are some attention grabbers about .... here's a few.

Porks a real standard this year ..... the benchmark for all the pork rolls is something like this one.

The Crackling Pig
So the competition came up with this ..... catchy legend as well.

The Hog Hut ... "Its only Pork 'n' Roll, but I like it"
There was also International Cuisine from around the globe ...... then there was this one from Australia.

Aussies Don't Do Cuisine .....
But you can never beat the Scots at their own game ...... Yes its not myth, this is the latest advert for the legend of Scottish cooking ....

The Deep Fried Mars Bar - Alive & Thriving

The stuff of infamy wherever gastronomes gather, proudly advertised by the Cafe Piccante on Broughton Street Edinburgh.

The Fried Mars Bar

Sights And Scenes From Fringe 2013

As usual, a few pictures from a week in the festival ......

Pleasance Dome Twilight
Spiegeltent George Street
Udder Belly Tent
Castle In Twilight
Here Be Dragons ....

I think you'll agree, not the usual High Street pictures.

The Best Of Our Fest Reviews

Well we at PC towers are back ..... and slowly recovering .... so as usual, here are the personal *ratings / the 'Best Of Our Fest' from the shows we personally saw:

Slightly Fat Features. (5 Star)
Described as 'Monty Python, meets Cirque du Soleil', and that's about right - but very very funny, and a very polished act. Laughter guaranteed and given from start to finish.


The Play That Goes Wrong. (5 Star)
A play goes wrong with multiple problems, with the players gamely trying to bring it to a successful completion, or in the case of the girls, pursuing an increasingly violent personal duel ..... a joy to watch and with great timing and humour.


Its Me Dayne. (4 Star)
A strange weird psychopathic socio-path up on the stage ..... its a slow burner, but slowly it hits you that all is not as it might seem.


The Thinking Drinkers Guide To Alcohol. (4 Star)
Good pro act, says what it is on the label, and the 'free drinks' were a hit with Kenny, who was fairly 'pished' later in the evening ....


Farce Noir Presents: The Big Sheep at The Wee Coo. (3 Star)
Dark detective tail from the Big City ..... good cast performances (especially the femme fatal and the baron), but the miniscule stage and the irritating side story about the actors and an imaginary 'film agent' meant the mark is lower.


The Beta Males in Superopolis. (3 Star).
A large cast and stage, well performed but a little bit hit and miss on the laugh front.



Mat Ricardo: Showman. (3 Star).
Essentially a juggling act, tied together by some neat patter. Might have benefited from a higher ceiling in the venue, but nothing really new in terms of juggling tricks. Felt a bit like a street act transferred to a venue, but that was just an impression.


Ian Fox: Shutter Monkey (free). (3 Star).
A free show about photography and the back story pictures tell, which we took in that was surprisingly good. Not sure if Mr Fox has another trick for a show next year, but the show we saw was entertaining, and in a nice air conditioned venue as well.


Casual Violence Presents: House of Nostril. (3 Star).
Another sketch team with and extended play. However the story was disjointed and again a bit hit and miss (e.g. the plays best laughs came with a lady in the audience, who laughed at some strange times). The lack of decent props, and a suitable venue may have impacted the otherwise energetic performance.


Terry Clement: Din Times 8. (1 Star).
Described on one bill poster as "You'll be amazed at the energy he brings to his performance" Toronto Star (or another Canadian paper). The winter nights must be long in Canada if he's considered funny. We were 'amazed' all right .... that he didn't get booed off the stage. There was once probably an act in there, but its long gone, and what's left shouldn't be a paid for show. Barely a laugh from the eight who turned up (and if you can't get a laugh out of people who want to laugh, then you are a bad act).  Other reviewers have apparently thought much the same thing.


Other Peoples Recommendations:

A staff member in 'Smithies Ale House' very strongly recommended "Captain Morgan And The Sands Of Time" which is playing from the "The Fiddler's Elbow" pub which is at 4 Picardy Place. I understand from her description that its a fast-paced comedy with two actors playing over 30 characters in a tale of life on the open seas to rave reviews.

And a follower of this blog, highly recommended a play to us (but sadly I may have misheard the title / subject - it was a long festival), so hopefully I am quoting the correct play "That is All You Need to Know" .... not a comedy, but a drama about the untold stories of Bletchley Park - the code breakers.

The reviews expressed on this post represent the 'personal opinion' of this blogger or those who expressed an opinion about shows to this blog only, and do not necessarily agree with other reviewers opinions. Similarly, the review stars are based on the criteria described below.

*The personal ratings system on this page are:
5 star - Exceptional
4 star - Very Good
3 star - Good or Better
2 star - Average to Good
1 star - Poor
0 star - Shouldn't be at Festival

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

If Its August, It Must Be Edinburgh

Yes, there will be no other posts this week, as we at PC towers are off on our annual jaunt to Edinburgh to take in the sights and sounds of the festival and fringe.

A chance to catch up with old friends, get a few beers inside me, and dodge rain ..... yes as per usual, the forecast is for cold and rain in August, so I will be wrapped up for a Winter in Summer. The festival acts may change, but the weather never seems to from one festival to the next .... my mate Kenny will no doubt describe the weather (i.e. non stop rain), in that typical Edinburgh manner, as 'Mixed'.

Edinburgh Has 'Mixed' Weather

Ah well, despite all this, I am looking forward to my week tremendously, and will not be in any fit state to post again until next Friday.

Friday, 9 August 2013

15 Minutes Of Extra Fame

Andy Warhol once famously said in 1968 that "In the future, everyone will be world famous for 15 minutes." .... well it seems that the '15 minutes' he had in his lifetime wasn't long enough for him .... as his Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh, broadcast a live webcam feed from his grave there, to mark what would have been the artist's 85th birthday on Tuesday the 6th of August 2013 ...

His gravestone, in a graveyard in suburban Pittsburgh, has Warhol's original surname, Warhola, the dates of his birth and death, and a simple cross, although he had said that "I always thought I'd like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph and no name. Well, actually, I'd like it to say 'Figment'." .... this wish wasn't respected (how many times does that happen? Ah well that's another post for the future), so the broadcast was given the name 'figment'.

The museums spokesman said beforehand that "We believe that this will give Warhol the pleasure of knowing that he is still plugged in and turned on over 25 years after his death'' ... or maybe not.

Warhol Having The Last Laugh With Jagger and Yorick
 
Still another 15 minutes of fame is more than most of us will ever get even when alive, so maybe the last laugh will be on him.

Hero To Traitor In One Move

Is it just me or is everyone who into sport / football (a modern opiate of the masses, if ever there was one), not thoroughly fed up of the names Gareth Bale, Wayne Rooney, and Luis Suarez?

The endless speculation in the media about whether they are going to 'transfer' from their respective football clubs, seems to be the main talking point of the sporting summer (not ignoring the Cricket).

  • They are all multi millionaire footballers.
  • They are all being courted by other clubs.
  • They are all being touted around at ridiculously inflated fees (£100m, £30m and £50m respectively).

But none of them is apparently prepared to actually forgo their percentage of any deal by requesting a transfer ....

  • Suarez has given interviews indicating he wants a move to either Real Madrid or Arsenal (who have bid £40,000,001) - but other than vague suggestions that he had 'an agreement' with Liverpool about £40m being a release clause if Liverpool failed to get a Champions League spot, he hasn't actually taken action that we know of - he's since had a series of minor injuries which have mostly kept him out of the pre-season friendlies until last week.
  • Bale and Rooney haven't actually said anything - Bale seems set to go, but no bid from Real Madrid has formally been stated as being received, he could be priced out of a move. Rooney' like Suarez has also had a series of minor injuries, which have mostly kept him out of the pre-season friendlies until now, and Chelsea have made at least one formal bid.

Now I am aware that there is not much honour amongst thieves or club loyalty in football anymore, but if you want to leave, and are already so rich that you earn more money in a week, than most in your family earn in a year, then surely whether or not you get another £3 million, £4 million, or even £10 million, should not be a factor in whether you leave a club or not. However, so far not one of these players has formally request a transfer in writing.

Club Loyalty - Easily Demonstrated - Easily Faked

The clubs would rather sell (if sell they must) to a non domestic club (which makes the Bale transfer most likely of the three), but in truth they will sell for the right amount to a domestic rival rather than

(a)  Let the player run their contract down, or
(b)  Keep a player who wants to leave, and who has publicly disrespected the club (except maybe Liverpool who are desperate to keep Suarez).

So the reason why we are doomed to have weeks more of these three wealthy young men dominating the back pages of our national press, is greed. If they really wanted 'away', then they simply have to put their names to a bit of paper stating that they want to go, and in the modern game that will usually trigger the transfer/loan. Its a sad indictment of the modern game that when you pay millions for a 'star' man, as soon as he gets bored, he can engineer a move via the press, or effectively sulk his way out of a contract if another club comes in for him.

The losers are invariably the fans (especially the younger ones), who often idolise the 'Stars' - buy the replica tops, posters and other paraphernalia from the club shops etc, only to find 'last seasons hero', is now a 'traitor' reviled from the stands ..... it just didn't happen in my day!

I guess I am officially growing old ......

Opium Of The Masses

"Religion is the opium of the people" said Communism's philosopher Karl Marx (German original, "Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes"), and the Communists spent 70 years trying to throttle the Orthodox religion to death across much of Eastern Europe, to prove that the Bolshevik revolution was a historical imperative.

Which makes what has happened in the old Soviet Blocks since the fall of the communist regimes somewhat ironic ..... religion has boomed. In Russia millions, including the ex communist leaders of the state such as President Putin, regularly attend masses on national religious days such as Easter Sunday.

Many Ex-Communists Now Attend Church

In many places the Orthodox priests and hierarchy are tainted with both charges of being collaborationist (with the former Communist regimes), and corruption (with vast funds being passed to the churches since the fall of Communism) .... in Romania for example, there are dark suspicions about the vast amount of both private, and more worryingly 'state aid' money, being diverted into the Orthodox church system, especially as the country has been bailed out by the International Monetary Fund.

None of which seems to stem the demands for even more money from parishioners in what is one of Europe's poorest countries. There is no doubting that those politicians who donate most time, influence or money, get 'church backing' during elections, and this is deeply worrying for many democrats in these poor countries, but equally, there is no doubting the genuine resurgence in religion (particularly amongst the middle aged and elderly populations who lived through Communism) across all the countries of this region .....

What makes this is all the more ironic, is that in many places the building of new churches to replace those torn down by the Communist regimes, is so frenetic, that up to 3 a day are being completed .... faster in fact than the pace of the originals being torn down. Often the new churches are on the sites of old Soviet era icons to Lenin or Marx himself.

Bolshevik's Lost The Historical Imperative To Religion.

History has a sense of humour at times .....

No Big Surprise

According to press reports, Tamerlan Tsarnaev one of the Boston Bombers (the dead one), was a subscriber to publications espousing ‘white supremacy’ and ‘government conspiracy theories’ …. Why this is any sort of surprise is beyond me.

As far as I can see, any sort of extremist will find succour in other extreme groups ideas. The Far Right nationalist groups and those Far Left internationalist groups are very close to each other in methods, aims and ideas … just from different angles so to speak.

Political Circles

For example Adolf Hitler welcomed converts from the communist party saying “There is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it”, so he allowed converts from Communist parties to join the Nazi party because  ‘they didn’t have so far to leap', whereas he mistrusted the liberal middle-cases.  So the fact that a couple of self-styled radical Jihadists would be influenced by far right US conspiracy groups can hardly be a surprise.

  • The US far right believe that 9/11 was a government plot and that the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing was also a government conspiracy.
  • Apparently reading about Hitler's views on German Aryan supremacy Tsarnaev commented that "Hitler had a point".
Both these ideas are not unpopular in the Muslim world:

  1. If 9/11 was a secret US government conspiracy or plot, then obviously Muslims were innocent and the ‘War on Terror’ illegal. In fact it would amount to a blood libel against Muslims (oddly like the one believed by many anti Jewish propagandists in the Muslim worlds and beyond e.g. Hitler).
  2. Hitler’s book Mein Kampf is sold openly in the Muslim world where it’s something of a slow burning best seller in Bangladesh and Palestine. Its anti Jewish thoughts (and Hitler’s attempts to enact those thoughts) make it a popular work with those who share that belief.

So why it should be any kind of surprise that a white Chechen Jihadist who hated the US for its pro Israeli stance, would not find succour in the writings of those who agreed that the US government was in conspiracy to defame Muslims, or that Hitler’s views on the supremacy of Aryans over the Jews wouldn’t also evoke some agreement from him, is the mystery that only PC multiculturalists can answer.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Taking Culture To The People

It seems that Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Company is a group on a mission:

Firstly to take his play Hamlet to every nation on earth (including the Vatican), and others not known for their love of the West, or even their love of the theatre - including some which have never before seen a professional production of a Shakespeare play. I am talking about countries like North Korea and Afghanistan (not confirmed as venue but do able). Apparently the aim is to knock off 200 countries in a two year cycle starting in 2014 and ending 23 April 2016 - with the aim of covering the 450th anniversary of the playwright's birth next April and the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death in 2016.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Company

But not content with that, they have also been performing Henry VI, parts one, two and three, on the actual battlefield of Towton, where in 1461 one of the bloodiest battles (28,000 men died in those same fields), ever fought on English soil took place between the two royal houses of of York and Lancaster, in what was the culmination of what later became known as the 'Wars of the Roses'.

Battlefield Shakespeare - Henry VI

One has to admire the 'up and at em' ambitions of the Globe Theatre company .... they are single handedly doing what the rather staid "Royal Shakespeare Company" should have been doing for the last 40 - 50 years, and is taking the works of Shakespeare to the masses. There have been attempts to popularise Shakespeare before, but they have either been attempts to change the settings (the Mafia does 'Romeo and Juliet', or a Military Junta for 'Julius Ceaser', or occasionally puerile attempts to slang the language, to 'get down with the kids'), but maybe none quite as inventive as these Globe Theatre company efforts.

Personally I would approach it via the language, not slanging the language across the bard (sorry LOL), but updating all the swearing to current standards ... yes I do mean Bastard and the 'F' and 'C' words (after all the terms used in the plays were the equivalent terms 400 years ago), and removing archaic phrases that make no sense unless you are far more widely read than today's teens.

As an example here's a scene from "Much Ado About Nothing; Act II, scene I"

LEONATO: Well, niece, I hope to see you one day fitted with a husband.

BEATRICE: Not till God make men of some other metal than earth. Would it not grieve a woman to be overmastered with a piece of valiant dust? to make an account of her life to a clod of wayward marl? No, uncle, I'll none: Adam's sons are my brethren; and, truly, I hold it a sin to match in my kindred.

LEONATO: Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer.

BEATRICE: The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him there is measure in every thing and so dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a measure, and a cinque pace: the first suit is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and full as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, as a measure, full of state and ancientry; and then comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls into the cinque pace faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.

LEONATO: Cousin, you apprehend passing shrewdly.

I ask you, how many teens in the UK would fully understand that? Could it be altered to make more sense to a modern teen audience, whose use of English has dramatically changed?

I had a quick attempt ......

LEONATO: Well, niece, I hope to see you married one day.

BEATRICE: Not till God makes men of gold rather than mud. Would it not shame any woman to be conquered by a piece of congealed dust? to promise her future to a clod of clay? No, uncle, I'll have none: Adam's sons are my brothers; and, truly, I hold it incestuous to marry my brother.

LEONATO: Daughter, remember what I told you: if the prince do ask for your hand, you know your answer.

BEATRICE: The fault will be in the music, cousin, if you be not wooed in good time: if the prince be too important, tell him there is timing in every thing and so to dance out the answer. For, hear me, Hero: wooing, wedding, and repenting, is as a Scotch jig, a dance, and a lively dance: the first stage is hot and hasty, like a Scotch jig, and as lively as fantastical; the wedding, mannerly-modest, restrained, full of state and sedateness; and then comes repentance and, with his bad legs, falls back into the lively pace, faster and faster, till he sink into his grave.

LEONATO: Cousin, you perceive the situation with unusual sharpness.

Is that losing too much for the sake of understanding? It seems not so to me, especially if it leads teens into the full language and poetry later.

Finally, as an after thought ...... I suspect  that they had best get to Afghanistan fast, before the Taliban get back in to power .... camp bastion will only be a comparatively safe spot for a few months more .....

Dopey Drug Policy

That man strikes again ....  President Jose Mujica, possibly the coolest politician on the planet, wins yet another vote from this blog for daring to think the unthinkable and starting the process of making  pot in Uruguay legal.

He's thought it through, decided that the current drug laws for Marijuana, only make criminals of the users, billionaires out of the smugglers, and have corrupted the state, and has asked his parliament to pass a law that would allow the state to assume "the control and regulation of the importation, exportation, plantation, cultivation, the harvest, the production, the acquisition, the storage, the commercialisation and the distribution of cannabis and its by-products".

President Jose Mujica - Doesn't Smoke Joints

Buyers would have to be registered on a database and be over the age of 18. They would be able to buy up to 40g (1.4oz) per month in specially licensed pharmacies or grow up to six plants at home.

Good on him, I don't take these kind of drugs anymore (just the legal ones), but may have risked it when younger .... its something most of us grow out of. There would have to be safeguards against driving or flying etc while out of their heads (like alcohol in fact), but other than that, why not try another way?

Portugal is trying something similar right now with some success .... but we in the Anglo Saxon world sure as hell ain't winning the current war on drugs as we are right now .....

Supping With Shaitans Children

US Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl holds something of an unwanted unique distinction. He is the only US soldier held by the Taliban (well the Haqqani network, an insurgent group affiliated with the Taliban), in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl with Taliban Captor.

The circumstances surrounding his capture are somewhat hazy, certainly his claim to have been captured whilst out on patrol are not considered really credible, and haven’t been backed by up his unit, but what he was doing off base has never been fully established. And of course as John Lindh (aka John 'Walker' Lindh) showed, not all Americans fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq have been prisoners of the Taliban.

John 'Walker' Lindh

Sergeant Bergdahlis father has grown a bottom chin beard and taught himself Pashtun in an effort to try and appeal to the captors directly …. One of his lines was very Churchill like .... "I will not leave you on the battlefield. Your country will not leave you on the battlefield. You are not forgotten.”

As far as anyone can tell he’s still ‘alive’ (although I won’t say ‘well’), his captors have occasionally posted videos and posted letters to his parents on his behalf.

Of course they do this so that they can ratchet up the most emotional pressure on the US via his parents, friends, and family, who would do almost anything to get him back. This is all a bit like Gilad Shalit, the Israeli sergeant who was kidnapped by Hamas, and who was exchanged for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners (including some convicted of multiple murders and carrying out terror attacks against Israeli civilians - according to Israeli government sources, the prisoners released were collectively responsible for 569 Israeli deaths), a decision that many Israeli's saw as surrender. Oddly it also says that just one Israeli soldier, is worth over a thousand Palestinians .... the terrorists don't always get the more subtle messages.

And so the fact that only a couple of weeks ago the Taliban offered a prisoner exchange, to build confidence between the US and Taliban negotiating teams is probably only the first step (certainly the US are unlikely to offer anything like the number of prisoners that the Israeli's did) – currently the offer is said to be for the release of five Taliban from Guantanamo Bay.

It's a controversial idea, and the US may not be politically able to accept even this idea … time will tell, but in the meantime the pressure on the US to do something about their missing soldier will only grow more intense as the date for their withdrawal approaches.

President Obama may yet have to face up to supping with the devils children ....

The Path To Servitude

It says a lot about the UK's possible path to Dhimmitude, that two US bloggers who campaign against the creeping Islamisation of the world (but particularly against it in the USA), are banned from entering the country by the UK's Home Office.

The reasons are that that their presence "is not conducive to the public good" and that "we condemn all those whose behaviours and views run counter to our shared values and will not stand for extremism in any form", and therefore they could be excluded by the home secretary.  Their banning letters gave examples of their anti-Muslim views ..... I wasn't aware that it was actually a criminal offence not to love Islam in the UK? ... or that holding 'anti Muslim opinions' was also a criminal offence? ... those laws must have got through parliament without any fuss at all. 

The pair, Ms Geller, of the 'Atlas Shrugs' blog, and Mr Spencer, of 'Jihad Watch', are also co-founders of the American Freedom Defence Initiative .... and are admittedly right-wing. In a joint statement on their respective blogs they said that being banned was "a striking blow against freedom" ..... and that "the nation that gave the world the Magna Carta is dead".


Mr Spencer - 'Jihad Watch' and Ms Geller - 'Atlas Shrugs' blog.

Its a sad fact that being a US right winger, or even a fundamentalist Christian is very likely to get you banned from entering the UK, whereas being a radical Muslim 'cleric' doesn't usually stop you getting in, and we can't get them out either.

We seem to have decided that 'free speech' is OK for people who avowedly hate the majority of this populations history, society, and religion .... including the right to picket St Pauls Cathedral on Christmas Eve (imagine daring even to attempt to put up a placard outside any mosque at Eid, and not be arrested?), but that same free speech is not acceptable from US citizens not yet cowed into submission and a fear of offending the adherents of the religion of peace.

I would be interested on how many Saudi Wahhabi Muslim clerics are banned from entering the UK each year? Not too many I suspect. I also looked at prominent individuals who have been banned.



Actor George Raft Was Banned From Britain

It includes fourteen US citizens (including actor George Raft, and Singer Snoop Dogg), amongst which are US right-wing politicians / broadcasters and fundamentalist Christian pastors ..... but only one Saudi of any opinion or creed (a Yemeni - Saudi), and just two Pakistanis. This despite the fact that most world terrorism is funded from that region (9/11 for example, or the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan) and it is common to call for our society to be overthrown.

How strange is that? ...... or maybe not. 

   

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