Now, finally, in the last few weeks, Miliband's lack of any calculating savvy has upset one of his closest supporters, Lord Dlasman, a left leaning academic who was originally given the nod to the upper house by Ed Miliband himself. Dlasman - not swayed by who gave him this uplifting appointment - has now openly criticised Ed saying the younger Miliband has a lacklustre approach to his leadership, with no strategy whatsoever, no narrative and little spark.
These sentiments all week have been echoed by numerous Labour back-benches, not to mention Ed Balls, the Shadow Chancellor - clearly eyeing off the top spot should Miliband be forced to resign, or worse...pushed. Well, a rather scared little Ed has, in the last week, been forced to come up with 'a plan' or, end up himself on his own back-benches. No doubt alongside a happily smiling brother.
What, then, is this miraculous and masterful plan that has appeared out of the blue clearly formulated by 'Little Ed' out of desperation? Will brother come to the rescue?
Ed's policy had been the American way, run down the opposition and have a very vague alternative. While the detractors in his own party had been for a long time suggesting that if Ed 'can't beat 'em,' then surely he should 'join 'em'...just for the time being, of course, and agree that cuts are essential, strikes are pointless and in the end - when all is well again with the country back on its feet and on its way to recovery with everyone spending - the faithful Labour voters will return to the fold and 'Bob's your Uncle.'
It's obvious to a blind cat in a Casbah Brothel that Iran is referring to the U.S.S. John C. Stennis, part of the U.S. Navy's fleet in the region. It moved last week from the Persian Gulf into the North Arabian Sea, as part of what the Navy's 5th Fleet called, a long term pre-planned transit.
It appears that Iran saw the move as a reaction to their own naval exercises and missile trials. Iran claimed the United States should have known that it's manoeuvres were not aggressive, but rather about Iran protecting its own interests.
Every western politician and his wife's dog have been aware for a long time that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear deterrent...if not more, but in essence, they describe everything as a mere naval exercise. However, it's common knowledge that Iran's main goal is to drive Israel into the sea by Captain Hook or Nuclear Crook.
Amateur strategists could work out their end game. Volatile as well as erratic behaviour seen in the last week is either a weak feint or a genuine attempt to throw their real purpose off the scent with something far more sinister in mind.
Are they that clever?
Such comments on politics from a man who, himself, lives in an Ivory Tower and wants for absolutely nothing, simply means that firing these radical and somewhat socialistic views out in a Christmas sermon, a sermon supposed to be about the birth of a faith it claims to represent, simply screams out the word, 'Hypocrisy.'
Perhaps this so-called man of intellect, who speaks seven languages (so he prides himself on speaking in tongues) underneath his own views - from such a great, great height - means well, but history teaches us that good and well-meaning men who misuse their power can do a great deal of horrific damage.
In a world where many eyes have become far too greedy and where governments globally must make tough decisions pulling in the reins. Unreasonable criticism will not help but instead hinder. New shoots always grow back stronger - given time - after a forest fire, Dr. Rowan Williams should know that.
When it comes to airline strikes I'm more than used to hearing about European strikes, particularly in the Union dominated United Kingdom, where strikes in the Airline industry are almost threated weekly and occasionally implemented. British Airlines often seem the target for Union Bosses trying to justify their huge take home piece of their member's dues, but for several days I was in Australia for the Queen's visit 'Downunder' and of course, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and was surprised when Qantas called a wildcat strike.
Unions in Australia who use gangster tactics are not terribly
well accepted. Ever since Ronald Reagan took on the Unions in the USA when he was President, and won, the habit drifted down under.
So when Qantas announced that it would cancel 31 flights and delay another 46 services across the country and around the world, blaming it on the planned hour-long stoppage by engineers, it seemed to be serious stuff. But, was it REALLY?
The cancelled flights affected about 2,500 passengers. The union’s federal secretary, Steve Purvinas, the Federal Secretary at Australian Licenced Aircraft Engineers Association said in a statement, that the work stoppage had finally been called off due to ‘‘concerns about the growing number of technical faults that have emerged on Qantas aircraft in the previous 48 hours’’. He cited an inflight engine fire and shutdown on a Singapore bound aircraft, a number of unscheduled engine replacements, fuel leaks from an engine in Japan and landing gear problems on a 737 aircraft.
“In light of the widespread technical issues confronted by the airline, we have decided that planned work stoppages for Friday were cancelled due to the compounding impact it may have on Qantas passengers,” he said.
He failed to add that an independent tribunal ordered a permanent end to the industrial dispute with its union members.
Supported by a court order. Not something we'd see happen quickly in the Union-controlled UK.
Most years my Editor sends me off to cover the fashion and social side of the Melbourne Cup in Victoria. Perhaps that is because I know Melbourne and it's people exceptionally well and find Australia's cultural capital far more to my taste than it's brash arch rival, Sydney.
The results of my Fashion experience can be found in our newspapers and my weekly fashion column. Needless to say, I find the Australians who dress up to go to 'The Race that stops a Nation,' far more adventuous in their dress sense than those who attend Royal Ascot, but with slight fear of an expoding Yorkshire Pudding arriving by snail mail, I will say, the Victorians actually are far more Fashion aware than their British cousins and, consequently, appear more confident, glamorous, fun-filled and flirtatious.
As I am now in Churchill Downs in the USA for this weekends Breeders Cup meeting, my above words will probably be forgotten soon and with luck and fingers and legs crossed, that C4 laced pudding will be opened by my Editor.
If my European readers have never seen a Melbourne Cup, then they have never seen a real race meeting. The Aussies spare no expense to make this the greatest race day spectacle in the world - and that's apart from the huge prize money on offering.
European owners and trainers have become more and more aware of this fact in the last ten years. In fact, this year, for the second year in a row, the winner was a French horse. One could even rub salt into the locals wounds by saying that the first seven horses home in this gruelling two mile race of share courage and stamina were European horses.
It's not only the huge crowd who turn out each year - always in excess of 100,000 - nor the champagne that flows freely from 10am from the carefree parties in the car park, it is the hedonistic fun loving Aussie's attitude to life that make the day just as much as the graceful thoroughbred horses. Friend or foreigner, their 'Gday mate' to all and sundry is as genuine as the bright skies in that marvellous 'sun-burned country!'
Qatar Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe is where Fillies, Mares and Colts all gather together to strut their stuff – and we are not even talking about the horses! No matter what your sex – but, uno momento ‘hold your horses,’ the pre-requisite for this very fine 2,400 metre race – the richest race in Europe and the second richest in the world to the Japan Cup – where form and stamina is a must – in the crowds and on the track, alike, makes certain that you are indeed a thoroughbred, and that’s where it all counts. It’s all in the breeding, no matter what great Uncle Robespierre thought.
It is one of the worlds great thoroughbred meetings on the racing calendar with a 4 Million Euro purse up for grabs. A monumental event with it’s namesake taken from one of the greatest and most stoic monuments in Paris itself.
And, this was certainly one great meeting I wasn’t going to miss, not even if Sarkozy decided to shed all his clothes and run barefoot – as well as naked – down the Avenue des Champs Elysees singing at the top of his lungs, “I‘ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts.” No Siree, I had had my fair share of mortar fire, constant aeroplane flights, cramped sleeping arrangements, train trips and mad taxi drivers in the last 6 weeks of journalistic travel to last me a life time – I was here to get the old adrenalin fired up for a different reason and this filly was going to have herself one fun filled afternoon!
So, when race day came I certainly made the essential stop-over, not to mention…wager. Arriving back in Paris just in time from another work related trip to Athens – No, not with worthless Greek Government’s Cheques to gamble with, but decked out in my ‘almost’ finest – Okay, so not quite Audrey Hepburn style, granted, as was depicted in her ‘oh so fine’ My Fair Lady cinematic extravaganza but, it can be said, I graced the track washed and primped to perfection, as were the delightful horses – All ready for this rather divine frisky filly occasion.
So, on this fine October day, Sunday the 2nd to be precise. One found thousands of people like myself – many with over sized hats and stuffed pockets with lots of ready cash (and they say the economy is grim) and wearing every conceivable well known fashion label in Europe – with some outfits probably costing as much as a few of the 1,700 Kilos of horse flesh being saddled up. And, many even better shod than the exquisite and expensive equine beauties.
One just had to take in this quintessentially gorgeous venue for such an end of season climax of supreme French horse racing – breathing in the newly mown hay and the smell of polished saddle cloth – swallowing up the breathtaking view of none other than the artistically, spectacular Longchamp Racecourse or to the seasoned Parisian, Hippodrome de Longchamp itself.
Set in 57 hectares of beautiful landscaped turf tucked between the Seine and the Bois de Boulogne, this absolutely majestic ground, with not one blade of grass out of place, and it‘s relentless, naturally sweeping, wide green tracks. No wonder they call horse racing ‘The Sport of Kings.’
On this wonderful race day the place comes alive with colour, embracing all your senses. Only a huge, strong, yet elegant, four legged creature, along with it’s athletic, diminutive - but fearless and brightly decked out jockey, dare grace these luscious grounds, anything else – apart from a few Moulin Rouge Clowns – would surely be sacrilegious and even then, they’d get swallowed up with the vastness of the area.
There are 17 racetracks in all here at Longchamps with some of the most intrinsic beauty spots one could ever see in any city, let alone the magnificent City on the Seine – such as the windmill, waterfall, lake and wood.
The race itself did not disappoint, as one witnessed the thunderous pounding of horse’s hooves as well as the emphasised beating of human hearts with hands clenched and eager eyes flashing – although, to more than a few thinned out wallets, it surely did.
The favourites on the day Aidan O’Brien’s ‘So You Think’ and Alain De Royer-Dupre‘s ‘Sarafina’ along with last years winner of the Arc, Sir Michael Stoutes’ ‘WorkForce’ all paled in comparison, a Day Dream to these guys and the folks who wagered on their steeds, it was not.
As sure as Aidan O’Brien’s cell phone is always glued to his ear, dashing away from the field and hoofing it to the finishing post, leaving every other piece of horse flesh flat-footed and in panting awe, the 20/1 German filly, Danedream romped home to secure her place in the history books, scooping up the prize and the well deserved accolades. Like a thief in the night she left everything else stranded and stunned.
All the ‘Ooh la la’s’ in the world could never accentuate this marvellous vision, it may have been a bookmaker's dream come true if no-one else's. But, to the adoring crowd and the screwed up betting slips tossed on the ground it was far more than just a ‘Danedream.’
The Sport of Kings
SAMSUNG GALAXY 11
- Cario -
In Tahrir Square the last
week I was there for the start of the elections and you could be mistaken
for thinking 'the lights were on but the
house was really empty.'
Yes, there were great crowds, violence,
arguments and even western women journalists groped - western journalists
abused for trying to show the world, the truth and that the cause most were trying to fight for, was - at least in theory - supported by the western media. A media, these protesters should all be protecting and even supporting.
The problem is, the crowd had no 'Head to their Snake.' They had been, in affect, acting like a rabble of disjointed dissidents - many with different agendas. While most want the Army to step down and democratic elections held next year, few are willing to say who will keep the peace. The police? No, way, Ali Baba, they are hated almost as much as the army.
This has been chaos at it's worst and yet it is also where the Arab Spring started. The irony of it all was not lost on me.
Not that many blocks from the Square, The Arab League were meeting in order to place sanctions on Syria due to the violence it had shown towards it's people. It was hard not to see it all as the actions of a group of 22 nations supporting an 'Arab Spring' but in reality, only supporting it because of their own fear of a 'Winter of discontent' in their own countries.
I can sprout out the phrase 'Arab Lip Service' till the camels come home in this arid, steamy and volatile part of the world and while not that many Kilometres away, over in Libya, it is clear to most who have even one revolutionary brain cell undamaged after the Gaddafi affair, that 'plain sailing' to democracy there is going to mean, 'much melding of the minds' of a collection of tribes that, historically, have disliked the other's intestines to the point of total and utter biliousness for hundreds of years.
Their common enemy now gone and the 'united we stand and divided we fall' philosophy neutralized, why does the west, in all it's so called, 'civilized wisdom' think that Egypt and Libya will all get together over a beer and sort it.
Pigs may not fly, but nor do camels.
Using Iraq and Afghanistan as role models. The writing seems to be on the proverbial tribal wall.
Britain at odds with its neighbours, but who would have played his cards correctly in the end?
There was never any doubt at all that when I arrived in the city where Sarkozy and Merkel - the architects of a new EU treaty - felt they could bring Britain on board with their 'New Treaty Proposal.' And, at the beginning - as foreign Ministers always do for the press - they smiled at each other, hugged and shook hands. Nothing changed yesterday, until last night, when the dealing of the cards began, the airhostess smiles were cast aside. For in this game, no one held a Joker up their sleeve. Not even a 'get out of jail free card.' All could be winners, or a few could win. Or... all could lose.
For such high stakes - the stability and survival of the Eurozone and the Euro itself - was sitting on the table.
All of the players were nervous, not because their own political careers were at stake, but because they all had a dream. The main dream many shared was simple, unity. Unity is always a force to be dealt with. The United States stands alone financially, but still with 50 States to back it up, it has never been a walkover and has survived tough times before.
Oceana, while they have no formal agreement, which includes, China, Indonesia - and most parts of the East and Asia, have an unwritten trading agreement brought on by mutual need of each other's products. Russia, the other world power, although broken up, still, nevertheless, is a very wealthy force and have always been happy keeping their own counsel.
The Middle East is in transitionary chaos and while there is great wealth there, autocracy still stands supreme and mostly the general masses there are poverty stricken and all the Arab League has to offer the world is oil. Not a commodity to be scorned at, but only while they have a market to sell to.
The point is, even though the brave Cameron stuck to his guns and gave a virtual veto to the new treaty, the question remains long term. Given that Britain - a shadow of its former self - without even an Aircraft Carrier or many war ships to defend itself, could at some future point stand alone in total islolation, with little to offer the world in commodities, financial services or exports.
And, would the United States ever come to its rescue again, taking in its own debts? A big doubt there. So, hypothetically, if Argentinia suddenly decided it was time to re-take the Maldives, Britain would be virtually helpless to stop it. So, does Merkel's comment on 'United Europe stands, divided it may fall' auger well for the future survival of Britain and its standard of living? No one can answer this. It is, nevertheless a question worth pondering over.
We all know that languages evolve and often dramatic change can even come about in merely a generation or two. We only have to look at how abbreviations have become popular in text as well as internet hip hop cyber-jargon. Sometimes quite daunting,
even to a professional decipher expert in an Intelligence Agency.
Nevertheless, whether the language is English, French, German or even Urdu there remains the purists who pride themselves on using their criteria at a point where they feel their own particular language has reached its peak in terms of perfection.
Shakespearian English - although not in its lyrical form - is a yardstick that is often referred to when we speak of the purity of the language. In fact, in most parts of the Euro-zone areas where English is taught as a second language, it is somewhat more precise than taught in the home counties of England – as it also is in many parts of the north-west areas of the USA. Many might say, Bostonian English can often be easier to follow – in its written and spoken form – than the English taught at Wallow-on-the-Marsh in rural England. So why do I make this initial point?
People who had the great pleasure of reading Helen Hanff’s modern classic, 84 Charing Cross Road where a Philadelphia born New York based writer – first published in 1970 – where it shows her 20 years of correspondence with Frank Doel, a buyer for Marks & Co, a London bookshop, on which she depended on obscure classics and British literature titles, which her passion for self-education revolved (The book was made into a film with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft, and a must for all lovers of fine literature) They will appreciate why, when George Whitman, the owner of Paris’ famous English language bookshop, Shakespeare & Company died last week aged 98 and that he was mourned around the world by great writers, would-be writers and millions of readers alike.
The remarkable longevity of this eccentric, but much loved man – and the fact that through books – fantasy and fiction – his life probably took on wonderful disguises, brilliant adventures, time travelled and had altogether unremitting romances – that always ended well – and endured battles and mayhem, yet came out of it all totally unscathed. His entire life was books – books that could quite literally take your breath away. And, wonder of all wonders, they were all in English – IN PARIS!
When I first visited this amazing shop I was into my second year at Oxford and enamoured by a language that was not my original mother tongue, but having already absorbed the great writings of Madame de Lafayette, Voltaire, Alexandre Dumas, Théophile and Jean-Paul Sartre my mind was drawn to the great English writers.
George Whitman had by then, expanded his small shop to house 13 extra people if required to do so. Either the accomplished high and mighties, or aspiring would-bees if they could-bees and even just the lowly book lovers could stay when in town – free of charge. Oh, yes, George had strong socialistic leanings and he had kept acquiring more portions of the building he was in to house his great loves. Books and the people who also loved his books.
In those days – myself, the usual struggling student of the times – spent a night talking to George surrounded by his books, plays and anything that he thought was a great work of art in the written English word. These works swallowed up George’s life - was his life - and if you couldn’t afford to buy something that was required reading, George would lend it, again free of charge. George saw himself as patron of a literary haven, and in the lean years after World War II, and the heir to Sylvia Beach, the founder of the original Shakespeare & Company, the original shop became a haunt of Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce in its early days.
The death of George Whitman this last week, at 98 years of age, makes us mourn for more than just the man. It is what he stood for.
Overlooking the Seine and facing the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, the store appears, now, like the old shops of the famous Charing Cross Road in London, a somewhat character filled store with a Dickensian flavor and over three floors is a mixture of open house and writers commune.
For countless years George Whitman provided food and makeshift beds to aspiring novelists letting them spend a night, a week, or even months living among the crowded shelves and alcoves. Even more remarkable is, this great man was an American – born in 1913 in East Jersey. His early life saw him moving around the globe something that he continued to do into adulthood until he arrived in Paris and although without much money but with a great love and desire to open a book shop. He did just that in 1951.
When you look at another incredible thing is that the original owner of that first Shakespeare & Company was also an American – Sylvia Beach who was born in 1887 in Baltimore, USA and in moving to Paris also dreamt of opening her own book store which she did in 1919 calling it Shakespeare & Company. (George inherited this title upon her death in 1962 and again applied this name to the current book shop as a homage to her.)
Sylvia Beach, sadly had to close her doors to S&C during the German occupation in 1941. Rumor had it the Gestapo thought it was being used as a meeting place for Secret Agents for the allies.
That aside, here we have two Americans bringing the English language together – and not an English man or woman in sight.
When you see the English Prime Minister, Cameron, French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor, Merkel all speaking together they use, what in France and Germany is known as ‘Shakespearean English.’ That is not to say, that Sarkozy cries, ‘Ah, where art thou with thee economy, thou roguish Cameron?’ Nor does Merkel disappointingly say to Sarkozy, ‘What hast thee hidden up thou vast proboscis?’ No. Of course not!
The term is merely applied to a preciseness of ‘Business English,’ and given the term ‘Shakespearean.’ Perhaps because it is more colourful and visual. An articulated sense of the word. Maybe it is the English that many of us would prefer to see at times, even though preciseness can often deprive us of one of the idioms of indigenized English, for without that idiomatic 'street' colour and flavour, TV drama and film would be somewhat dreary and very lacklustre. So we compromise. A bit of this and a bit of that!
George saw himself as patron of a literary haven in the lean years after World War II, and being the heir to a small inheritance of his Aunts, as well as the heir to a lot of Sylvia Beach’s fine books, plus the name of her store Shakespeare & Company. And, as a gracious nod to her, when George’s daughter was born, she was given the classical name of Sylvia Beach Whitman.
So, let us just say, that while the great and wonderful man, George Whitman helped keep English intact, while he may not have been part of the evolution of English as a language, he kept its purity enshrined for those of us who like it that way!
Dr. Rowan Williams would like to give the impression that he is a liberal-minded Archbishop of Canterbury. But the possibility exists that lurking beneath that genial, bearded exterior is a dyed-in-the-wool, socialistic reactionary who'd obviously prefer to take Britain back to medieval times?
Clearly, there's a slight glimpse of a would-be, latter day Rasputin in this unusual cleric. Obviously, not the kind of psychosis that haunted the Mad Monk of Nicholas the second of Russia, but nevertheless a man with disturbing radical beliefs that have no place in anyone who is supposed to be the leader and head of a religion.
This is also a man who once suggested that Sharia Law should be adopted in Britain, which shows his strange and unfathomable mind, seemingly with desirous notions of ingratiating himself to our Muslim brothers - by way of taking us back into Britain's past. A past we respect and have learnt from, but we must leave well and truly behind.
There is only one rule of law in the UK and while it is based on Christian values, it is a secular law upheld and interpreted by secular judges. To have produced a single body of law, observed and respected by the great majority of people, is one of the great triumphs of British civilisation and is unquestionably the cornerstone of what has made Britain what it is today.
So, something not to be torn apart by a man who apparently, not only craves publicity and has views diametrically opposed by millions of British subjects, but a man who seems to have an agenda befitting the Prime Ministerial office. Maybe he feels he could do a decidedly better job? A quaint thought for one who obviously saves an awful lot on razor blades.
Dr Williams has let the belief in his power corrupt his role. In former times he could possibly even have been accused of petty treason.
State and Religion have to remain two separate entities and not interfere with each other. Historically, from Russia to Greece and the Middle East such interference has often led to war and violence. Rowan Williams believes he can interfere with the Government and its policies, even though his appointment in the first place is a Government appointment. Clearly his latest comments on 'the Government letting the people down and losing their trust, plus, the lack of attention by the same Government to the poor,' is an attempt to influence voters. Yet, his Government appointed duty is supposed to be of a spiritual kind that influences the soul – and nothing else.
Many centuries ago, after the murder of Thomas à Becket, then Archbishop of Canterbury, for getting involved in the policies of the Government at the time - as cruel and corrupt as they may have been - the Church of England has had to accept that it should never play any part in the administration of Political justice. Its role is to appeal to our consciences - not to arbitrate in our everyday disputes, or to apportion guilt and pass sentences or interfere with issues of the State.
Iran's Brinkmanship or oil income concern
Iran warned the United States Tuesday not to return a U.S. aircraft carrier "to the Persian Gulf region."
"The Republic of Iran will not repeat its warning," said Maj. General Salehi, commander of Iran's Army, according to
the state-run news agency IRNA.
Salehi said "The country will not adopt any irrational move
but it is ready to severely react against any threat," the report added. The commander spoke at the Port of Chabahar in southern Iran, as forces held a military parade the day after Iran ended naval drills in the region, IRNA reported.
The United States on the other hand explain that "their necessary carrier strike group
deployments are important to maintain the continuity and operational support to ongoing missions in the U.S. Central Command area of its commitment to the area's responsibility" said a US spokesman.
There are few people who would not know that the United States has had forces in the Persian Gulf since World War II and has had warships sailing through that area more often than not.
After all, they do have the 5th Fleet's headquarters in Bahrain. Its area of responsibility covers about 2.5 million square miles, including the Persian Gulf, which the Navy also refers to as the Arabian Gulf; the Red Sea; the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The dispute over the Stennis began last week. Tehran said an Iranian warplane identified a U.S. carrier patrolling the area of their exercises. Iran's state-run Press TV said Tuesday "the images it showed last week were of the Stennis." Tuesday's events came amid growing tensions over the Strait of Hormuz, a critical shipping channel for everyone in that region.
After a previous Labour Government
was ingloriously ousted out of office for obnoxious management of voter's taxes, Ed Miliband came to office due to him
playing up to the Unions. They supplied 90% of Labour election funds, while Ed unwaveringly shoved the knife into his better equipped - and more articulate,
older brother David's back. You may well think this is all water under the proverbial bridge, because, as we all know in politics, war and love, there's very little conscience. But, while the new Coalition Party had a plan. One to make deep cuts in order to recover from the damage done by the Labour Party, to wit, Gordon Brown and his cohorts. Beginning, of course, with Brown selling off the hefty British Gold reserves for a pittance.
Ed Miliband has been merely a 'tiny terrier' snapping at the steely, high heels of Prime Minister, David Cameron without really having the 'way-with-all' or the oratory skill to argue on many issues. Nor, without a clear and co-hesive plan for positive advancement of his own. Had Labour regained power, undoubtedly, they'd have had to make similar cuts to the current government - "Lord knows, the well, she had dried up." Which, in a way, makes it hard to have an alternative plan for poor young Ed. So, barking out objections to every move the Coalition made, was, perhaps, the best Miliband thought he could do...But, some plan, ANY PLAN. There has been no scintillating, constructive alternative to offer the people who had voted Labour.
Perhaps not a plan deserving the title of 'masterful' OR indeed 'brilliant' but a far better strategy than just barking at shinier heels.
Besides, if the good of the country is at stake, isn't a bi-partisan approach a sign of common sense? After all, one does beg the question, on who's watch did the bricks start to tumble?
Anyway, as history tells us, hard core Labour voters, once they know the country is back on track again, will always follow in the steps of their forefathers. But, is Miliband taking this advise? No. Just as Al Gore declared he had created the internet. A rather 'Dumb Galoot' claim. Ed Miliband is puffing up his chest exclaiming that he should be recognised as the man who took on Murdoch! This statement alone tells one that kudos in his corner are obviously hard to come by.
Obviously, Murdoch's not a great example. To slow down an 80 year old geriatric who will always have power - as well as to deny that a huge, gaping hole deficit exists in the UK, regardless whether we're bosom buddies with our European neighbours or not, sounds like the old Red Ed barks on cue yet again. This time more like an insipid poodle than a feisty terrier.
I don't know what Ed's cunning plan is, but he better come
up with one pretty damn quick before credibility departs.
Unless of course, you are the incorrigible, highly irreverend and beautifully audacious Barry Humphries AKA Dame Edna who has become the Australian of the year in the UK.
An esteemed award which the massively popular Dame picked up with her usual grace and self styled aplomb dropping in a few hints that, "it was about time."
Of course, the 77 year old Humphries who hasn't lost any of his bounce or acerbic wit and who joined the purple rinse set more than half a century ago, has been entertaining packed out theatres with his/her colourful and engaging characters for what seems like an eternity.
Picking up his award at a gala dinner held in London, Humphries of course stole the show beating off all challengers at the Australia Day Foundation dinner who threatened to steal the limelight, even if they were in the form of Australia's Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd.
Leaving no neatly, unguarded stone unturned Humphries opened up his acceptance speech with a few words with regard to the medal around his
neck saying, 'It really is a paper weight, it is a strain on the neck really.'
In his usual satirical send up of all that's sacred in the cow department Humphries quoted from media magnate Rupert Murdoch's comments when he 'laid himself bare' in front of a British parliamentary committee on phone hacking last year. 'This is the most humble day of my life,' he said.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard didn't fare any better with Humphries mocking her voice along with Kevin Rudd's name. 'All is fair in love and war' is certainly this loveable Dame's moto. Humphries also revealed that he had prior knowledge that he was up for the award. 'I had a friend very high up in the world of media who has been tapping the phones in Australia House for many years,' he said. 'He told me, I can't tell you his name, he is married to a Chinese girl. He said it was between me and Julian Assange and it turned out to be me.'
Humphries who has become a household name under his AKA nom de plumes Dame Edna Everage and the irascible Sir Barry McKenzie has had many accolades in his colourful life including being made an AO in 1982 and CBE in 2007 but what I am sure he would greatly love, to tie it all up in a neat little bow, would be a 'Real' knighthood by our Queen. Now, 'That Dame surely looks good now!'
The Rick Santorum election organization has an ad out that depicts Mitt Romney as a machine-gun toting nutter. Using similar tactics that Newt Gingrich used to attack his opposition in the quest to become the chosen Republican Representative against Obama in November. Ron Paul also wages a massive assault on Newt's moral compass. In the end, will any of this negative, 'shoot from the hip' advertising help any of these guys beat off their opponents. And, as it shows in Santorum's video, possibly backfire in all of their 'Two Faced' faces?
Personally, I find this sly process of simply attacking one's opponent, rather than laying out what policies they might have up their indelicate sleeve in order to help the American people, to be an appalling way to play the political game. But, this is how it's being fought on the stages of the various states and the process is not going to change any time soon. It's simply the American way and I'm not sure I will ever get used to such dirty tricks.
Newt Gingrich ran a TV ad against Romney in January which might make some cry with laughter at it's rank and corny stupidity, however, it appears to have had the opposite effect, as - except for one state - Romney (In good old American terminology) has 'whupped' Newt's ass in the polls to date and no American seems to be ruffled by Mitt's ability in handling a gun or indeed his desire to use it. Perhaps the US masses enjoy this kind of cruel oneupmanship, but many that I have spoken to since being here in the land of 'Big Hair, Long Nails and Broad Bottoms' find this kind of TV advertising to be extremely
To the 'rest of the world' - a portion of planet earth that many US politicians regard as being merely inconvenient lumps of poorly developed land to throw bones to (or bombs at) when it interferes with the American way of life - we 'aliens' find USA politics far more confusing than the Rubik's Cube is to an Amazonian half-wit. Here, 'fair play' and gentlemanly bahaviour is not part of the equation when it comes to destroying a politician's enemies in primary elections.
In one's reasonably astute mind however, one can not help but realise that if, god forbid, any of the current bunch of Republicans actually go on and defeat Obama come November, then how in heaven's name can they ever look each other in the eye again, let alone work together.
During the Democratic Primary race between Obama and Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama was often heard to say, "How could a women know everything that's going on in the country when she wasn't even aware that her husband was cheating on her."
Cage fighting is mere 'baby play' to these fellows and their supporters - and it is clearly obvious that the shenanigans that goes on behind the scenes, or how they raise the enormous amount of capital in order to 'duel' with one another - or is the term 'Vicious Jockeying' more appropriate - to see who will have the honour (Honour?) of taking on the incumbent Master.
All one can mutter is, ONLY IN AMERICA!
The London Olympics 2012 are over and the doom merchants, naysayers and the packs of wolves who licked their ravenous chops for shiny scraps - big or small - in fact, any fine morsel that could be squeezed, manipulated, fought over or cunningly conned. They were all wrong.
On the best side you had the athletes going at it hammer and tongs, with hearts and minds 100% on the games - their aim was always to WIN and WIN well in a defiantly, but sportsman-like manner. To prove to themselves, their country and to the world, that they were the best in their chosen field.
Morbidly and regrettably on the other side, we had the racketeers, the sleazy teflon suited opportunists. Those who reaped the wondrous benefits from this illustrious event, not forgetting, those who will continue to do so for many years to come.
It has long been said, the Sydney Olympic Millennium Classic was the Games every other country has to now out do - from every possible aspect. However, it was the tremendous warmth of spirit that came from the hearts and minds of every Australian that truly made those games. To every Aussie, being home to the Olympics for two weeks, was a personal 'Cause Celebre.' It was a chance to show case their beautiful and engaging country. From their determined sportsman-like behaviour, to their funloving and generous attitude, inviting visitors to take in the marvelous Australian way of life and the heavenly topographical surroundings. In other words, the people had National Pride in what they were trying to acheive. Not to mention, as host, Australia managed to pay for their games well before the event.
Not long ago we were read the riot act by those who will be transporting us around the great metropolis of London during the games. The bus drivers, train and tube drivers, not to forget, the decidedly poverty-ridden taxi drivers. The long and the short of it being, like Oliver, they wanted MORE.
So, whether you wish to call it a bribe, bonus or the holding of a jolly old .45 revolver to the heads of the government and the Olympic Games Committee, their hefty demands were met, otherwise, the 'good ole boys' would take their annual holiday and bedlam would ensue.
NOW, after rubbing their hands with glee over that little poker faced chess game manoeuvre, the union Lords, alias UNITE, were at it again and with the success or failure of the Olympic games at stake, they were playing a churlish hard ball.
UNITE, UK UNCUT, OCCUPY and the RIGHT TO WORK, gathered all their resources to see how far they could go to test the strength of the weak - and to push the government - not to mention, the already stressed populace - to the wall. They failed. The Games were a great success.
Yes, it was all about power, greed and the desire to play havoc. This need to destroy those who 'give it a go' for the sake of country, honour and respect. The Olympics is what uniting a people as a whole is all about. Heaven knows what UNITE as a UNION think it means. Their title alone reeks audacity! This time they failed, this time we won!
From all reports Pope Benedict XVI feels betrayed by his Butler, whom,it is said may be a former Butler to the highly respected 'Corleone Family of Sicily.' The Butler was arrested during an investigation into Vatican whistle blowers. Although, one would have thought, 'whistle blowers' would be most welcome in this city of well buried, semi-sordid secrets. In fact, the Borgias relied on similar leaks for survival. Therein lies the incongruity of the situation.
Other reports say the Pope is determined to 'root' moles out' (no insult intended to the hard working street girls who loiter with intent to solicit outside the walls of the Vatican plying their intimate trade) Vatican spokesman Freddy Lombardi supposedly said to the media.
The Pope is a witness to a case which touches him closely. It is a trial for him. He is suffering from a traitorous malady of deceit, it is said, but the kindly Papal Overlord also desires to understand what it's all about, to have evangelical light shed on the matter, and to discover the truth. The truth of who got at his secret documents and flogged them off? Or, the truth of the rumoured words he privately has with his 'Boss of all Bosses' in the heavens? And, perhaps, even the answers he receives? Or, as the newspapers accuse, big time 'Tax Evasion and Child Sex orgies?' Supposedly, the Pope is particularly hurt with regard to one person, Paolo Gabriele, who he was 'very' close to, who he knew, loved and respected and called his beloved 'Benedict Butler,' but, who was arrested after he was found in possession of a bundle of the Pope's secret 'Papal Papers'...Vatican spokesman Lombardi has denied Italian media reports that five cardinals have now been 'interrogated' under extremely 'bright celestial lights' as part of the investigation into the leak of the confidential documents to the Italian newspapers, but also said that searches were still being carried out internally by the Vatican's Secret Police.
His lawyers have said he would 'collaborate openly' with Vatican authorities, sparking wild speculation in the national media that the Butler may be about to 'Spill the Papal Beans' on other whistle blowers. Or, perhaps, on the very Pope himself?
Gabriele, who has worked at the Vatican since 2006 and was one of a select few with access to the Pope's private quarters, was arrested a month after Benedict set up a special commission of cardinals to probe for leaks. Papal-Gate is now in full swing and while heads may roll after the inquisitions, the press seemingly, already have enough information that would bring major disgrace on the Holy City and mammoth embarrassment to the Pope.
The documents, now splashed in the national media and published in a book, have shed light on many Vatican secrets, including the church's tax problems, child sex scandals and covert negotiations with hard-line, traditionalist rebels.
Shades of the Borgias methinks.
Gabriele's arrest was greeted with disbelief as the 46-year-old was known for his papal devotion and loyalty and there has been much speculation since that he is simply a pawn in a game of intrigue and struggle for power inside the Holy See.
(C 2015) Affiliated Press International Foundationl/Admin/infoUS/Canada/Paris-Europe/Geneva/Australasia/Dubai/Singapore/Hong Kong/Japan
With Russia's navy sinking almost as quickly as the Costa Concordia, not only is Syria the only sea base that Russia has in the area, but the income from munition sales to that troubled country, is extremely important to the former Soviet super-power, and therefore, is a bank not worth tampering with. When you add to this rewarding truth that one of Putin's last claims to popularity amongst his people, is the fact, he has always stuck to his - 'We don't need the west' - attitide. In fact, by vetoing any interference by the west in Syrian internal affairs, he is more than likely to win considerably more votes in the coming election.
Putin has been in power now since the Millennium and along with his 'personal puppet,' Dmitry Medvedev he's been chopping and changing his political role to fit in with Russian Electoral laws, therefore, becoming President again must symbolise a really big deal for Putin. He must have chess moves galore stacked up to play coming out of his Russian Balalaika. Perhaps even an intricate Russian version of the time honoured 'Nutcracker,' because he's a hard one to crack.
The world must never forget that dear Pal Putin is from the old school KGB - (Kremlin Get'em Brotherhood) school of poisoned darts and even more potent beverages and
after he left university in 1975, he joined that august institution.
There may be a few head-in-the-sand optimists in Outer Mongolia who would like to think that Vladamir Putin might
give the green light to the United Nations regarding the west intervening in Syria's internal affairs, but, in the real world of politics, power play and world policing - and, with only weeks
to go to the Russian elections - even Eddie the Baker in south Hackney knows, that the highly conniving 'Boss of all Bosses'
in Russia (come what may) will do nothing to upset his main
ally and 'Comrade in Arms,' Syria, in the Middle East.
And, as they say - much like the Catholic faith - once they have you for seven years, they have you forever. From monitoring foreign infidels, to Consular Officials, the 'Brotherhood' obviously realised he showed a keen eye and while a stint in Dresden, East Germany proved a little futile for 'Poor Pute' (as he couldn't contain the collapse of the East German regime or stave off the popularity of 'Glasnost Gorby' during his finest hour) he did what any rising Russian star would do under the circumstances.
With a forte for Counter Intelligence he looked out for more redeemable recruits from the corruptible librarys of the Leningrad University.
With this kind of persuasive background, it's hard not to assume that this Russian Leopard could ever change his spots and with over 17 years of experience with one of the worlds most devious and tricky organizations under his belt, it is also not difficult to swallow the fact that he would not put all this 'seemingly' worthwhile instruction to 'proper' use.
It was at this time where Putin probably saw his true calling and propelled himself into a position where he thought he was best suited - at the helm. A place where no questions could be asked and all actions could be justified. Even Boris Yeltsin from the depths of his vodka bottle failed to see the writing on the Kremlin wall. With Gorbachev's dream of a 'Perestroika' and 'Glasnost' giving the people of Russia a freedom to voice their angsts, Putin's goal was to make sure that any democracy that was put in place would be a tightly controlled one - and he saw to it - with a cleverly contrived musical chair philosophy - that the person who had total control, would be the mighty Putin himself.
"Who chose the Boss?" "the old boss!" "And who was the old boss?"
"Well, the New Boss of course!"
It is said that most events that catch us by surprise are both predictable and preventable, but we consistently miss (or ignore) the warning signs. This is easy to say and therefore apportion blame on our intelligence Agencies. Should they always understand, anticipate, and prevent such disasters before they strike?
It is idealistic to presume Intelligence Agencies are never fallible. There is a universal fear factor surrounding the belief that society and the workplace are filled with tragedies in the making, and that we could prevent them, 'if we only knew what to look for,' is a pessimistic and unrealistic approach that, realistically, only gives ammunition to those who later thrive on
The Twin Towers atrocity was as predictable as the precise date of the next coming of a genuine messiah.
In retrospect, 'The Twin Towers' caught the entire world by total suprise, and that's a simple truth.
Although swift in execution, the attack on Pearl Harbour had actually been brewing for years. The US had once looked on Japanese ambitions with sympathy. Hit hard by the Great Depression of the early 1930s . However, Japanese disillusion with party government grew and moderates gave way to militants. In 1931 Japan occupied Manchuria in northern China. Conflict intensified and in July 1937 war was declared. As Japanese aggression increased, its relations with the USA deteriorated. Pearl Harbour was predictable.
The only signs that the Twin Towers might be a target was noted by White House Counter-terrorism Czar Richard Clarke because the World Trade Center was attacked in 1993 by people affiliated with al Qaeda and numerous warnings
came into US intelligence showing al Qaeda had designs
to finish the job. Few, however, if any, ever expected
the method that was used.
It was easy, after the event. To say it was obvious. It was not!
Other attacks in the US and abroad showed an al Qaeda presence in the US and a willingness and ability to hit us at home. For example, in 1992, a Pakistani named Mir Amil Kansi shot and killed three people in Virginia while waiting to enter CIA headquarters (al Qaeda was formed by UBL with assistance from the Pakistani intelligence services – the ISI).
al Qaeda bombed the USS Cole, two US embassies in Africa, assassinated the Jewish Defense League leader Rabbi Meir Kahane - by al Qaeda agent El Sayyid Nossair - in 1992 - and supported Somalian leader Hussein Mohamed Aideed - where the “Black Hawk Down” incident occurred in 1993.
Clearly, the USA expected attacks on the Homeland, but not in a million eons could they have picked the unusual and unexpected method that was eventually employed. In fact, methinks, it is doubtful a latter day Nostrodamus, in conjunction with a clutch of top psychics, could have picked the final route and method the radical Islamic cowards took.
Accusations to the contrary may seem logical in retrospect, in hindsight of any great event in history, it is so easy for us all to say 'Of course!'