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Tuesday, 26 April 2016

184. Boris Johnson the London Mayor racially insulted President Obama. Why is that OK?

…according to Ian Duncan Smith.

So, one has to conclude that if the Mayor of London is insulting and racist to the President of America it’s not the same as if a working class person was racist to their neighbour. You can be racist if you went to Eton…


Spot the double standards anyone? You gotta give it to the Elite in the UK. They do double standards SO well.

As part-pig man Boris Johnson denigrates the first black president for being ‘part-Kenyan’ and somehow not being able, therefore, to form intellectual views of the world separate from his ancestry, one wonders just where the hideousness that is the pointless EU referendum will end. In a mess of duplicity and xenophobia it seems.

That Johnson, the repugnant progeny of privilege currently sitting as London Mayor, should spew this vile prejudice while in such a prestigious position is way more than just a national embarrassment. This is the guy who was coughing up all sorts of guff about inclusivity and reaching out to the world in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. But then big money and prestige were at stake and it was a chance for him to buffoon around at tax payers’ expense. 

Boris Johnson should resign - at the very least.

A couple of weeks ago a Falklands War veteran was jailed for 15 months when a military pistol was found in his home. He had kept it as a memento from his time as SAS fighter in the 1980s. Having or secreting weapons of any description is not desirable. However, as we STILL await the Chilcot enquiry – Bush and Blair live their rarefied lives floating high above the realities of life. Tony paying £100k+ salaries to the staff helping to make him rich.

Spot more double standards anyone?

And two companies which are (depending on your social and political views) pretty much reviled, just gave their CEOS multi million pound pay awards. BP and BT. In the UK BT is a customer byword for incompetence and crap service. At the same time high street iconic store British Home Stores has gone to the wall taking employees pensions with it and possibly their 11,000 jobs and that’s just tough while their CEO who walked off a few months ago with a £multi million golden goodbye aint touched.

Here in the UK also, David Lammy MP proposed a ‘diversity’ clause in the new BBC licence agreement. Yes – in 2016 the publically funded broadcaster is still unequal, unrepresentative and riddled with sycophancy, nepotism and London centric snobbery – while taking multi millions in licence fees off the whole of Britain.

(I’m not saying you’re a moron if you live outside London or are not white / middle class and pay your licence fee but hey…)

I am sick of listening to programmes masquerading as either topical or nationally relevant which are in fact hobbies of the comfortably off delivered in a manner you'd expect at a cosy dinner party where the edge is taken off debate by a glass of good Beaujolais... (no offence to Beaujolais either).

We’ve seen similar duplicity in the economic environment. Tory ministers have been queuing up to bemoan the failure of Tata steel in Wales tut-tutting and ‘isn’t it sad but the market must take its course’, blah blah blah. Ironically the same market forces were most definitely not applied to bankers when they wrecked the global economy plunging us into debt and austerity for eternity. The banks (and the bankers) had to be saved with state intervention and tanker loads of public money…

Poor people claim benefits and are vilified at every turn and become a punch-bag for the media. Billionaires and global companies hide their wealth in The Cayman Islands and all of a sudden we get all civilised. The HMRC will ‘negotiate’ with companies to get tax off them! This would be the HMRC that have just had massive staff cuts by this government.

The government can afford £9m+ for a leaflet about the EU referendum that I would argue we should not even be having in the current global mess. On the other hand we cannot take in unaccompanied children fleeing war and languishing right now in unsanitary and dangerous conditions within the EU and on EU borders. My God.

So here are a couple of questions-

·       Do you see a pattern here?
·       Do you think it stinks?

If you answer yes to both questions you are sane and humaine.
Well done

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

183. Is Saudi Arabia the world’s Moral Cesspit?

There is some competition…

On this blog I’ve battered you verbally with my objections to global greed, the cancer of consumerism and, recently, the limp leadership in Europe (honourable exception Frau Merkel). I’ve hammered my keyboard at the perilous state of the poor the powerless and refugees from conflict.

You’ve heard (read) me groaning about everything from the ankle-breaking coffin-sized wheel suitcases that epitomise Western materialism to our lack of priorities in a world where we have Viagra but no cure for Malaria.

Recently I’ve decried the criminal absence of compassion shown by stable, comfortably-off Western nations in the face of the Syrian Pogrom (see blog172). I have despaired at the woeful, destabilising global flight of peoples as everywhere fear forces families from their homes, their friends and their roots. Where do they fly? To uncertainty and possibly an early grave in an unknown place.

Individual acts of compassion are oases of kindness in the dessert of disinterest. A couple of weeks ago I listened to a brief report of an old poor Greek man. He’d opened his home to refugee family after refugee family even though all he could offer was the use of his shower.


There has been something missing. And maybe because they’ve kept so extraordinarily quiet.

What has been largely absent is a focus on the eye-wateringly wealthy states in the region where a lot of the current miseries are occurring. No real help is being offered by countries that a. have cultural/religious links to many of the refugees and b. are geographically close and c. are richer per-capita than almost anywhere else in the world.

There has been criticism from NGOs but not loudly from Western governments or the media.

Perhaps refugees don’t even think of going to their sister nations because even they know that behind the flowing robes, cool opulent palaces, golden yachts and huge expensive cars, some of the worst human rights violations on the globe go unchallenged.

Saudi Arabia (they buy a lot of UK armaments -  well done Britain!) is the TOP RICHEST country in the Middle East.

And Globally – the top richest countries per-capita include -
Qatar (football anyone?)
Dubai (Luxury holiday / sky scraper / ski slope anyone?)
Kuwait (Trip over a fat Billionaire every few dozen miles)

Where are their vast, well-equipped refugee welcome shelters? Where is their medical aid, their schools for displaced children, safe havens for the traumatised etc etc etc?
So – my dear bleaders. Here is a junior style essay question for you in lieu of my usual longer ramblings.

Bearing in mind the horrors facing many Muslim families in the Middle East right now – as I type – as you read – which of the countries named above deserves the title


Answers on a postcard to Riyadh.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

182. This Little Piggy…

In the old nursery rhyme from the 1700s ‘…this little piggy had roast beef [but] this little piggy had none…’ which is pretty much the state of the world today.

As we know, poor sanitation kills a child under 5 every 100 seconds. So by the time you get towards the end of this post, a child, probably otherwise healthy, has faded away due to lack of clean water – in 2016. When these things make the news it is as heart-rending images of starving African babies on charity advertisements – in-between the ads for luxury cars (oh and someone is killed in or by a motor vehicle every 25 seconds). They are never portrayed as a damning indictment of global priorities, historical exploitation and the consumer disease of developed countries.

As a little exercise I scanned the front pages in the supermarket news stand and looked at the trending lists on the internet. I saw items about a rich woman’s dress, which celebs were shacking up together and who was appearing in which soap opera.
Yes – this is what the media feeds us – unadulterated trivia and misdirection - but isn’t it time we grew up and stopped chewing it?

Accepting that the current state of affairs is wrong is part way to accepting we have to do something and then we are into the really uncomfortable bit. We may have to alter how we live.

If children in poor countries – not Western darlings with their mobile phones, designer trainers and diabetes – are to have clean water, the earth’s resources have to be better shared. And what a headache that would be. We’d have to – for example – tackle tax havens (see blog 179) in a very direct and muscular way. We’d have to deal with national leaders who see their country’s resources as their personal pocket money fund.

But here’s the thing. If we stopped behaving like morons it wouldn’t just be better for poor people it would be better for everyone.

Inequality is one of the leading causes of social unrest as well as bloody miserable lives for those at the bottom of the pile.

I’m not saying don’t worry about, for example, terrorism. But, you know, compared to pollution, and traffic and bad food and addictions and depression and the diseases of excess and the sicknesses of poverty – it’s a long way from being our biggest threat – whatever the politicians tell us. And many bigger thinkers than me – Professor Noam Chomsky and the French economist Thomas Piketty believe inequality gives succour to the growth of this particular beast. Grand statements about fighting the ‘war on terror’ make politicians feel macho, it provides a smoke screen for the West’s bad behaviour and renders the populous powerless and passive.

Terrorism is like a destructive, invasive plant. Chopping at the branches, however powerful your chain saw, will do nothing. It needs to be dug out at the roots. And the roots of the current monstrosity are deep and tangled; tangled up with gross injustice and unfairness and lack of investment in infrastructure in the region and bent Western foreign policy. No point pretending these nutters sprang out of thin air.

As the elite (in the UK) suck up to Arab royalty and they buy our weapons and football teams and chunks of our capital cities, the oil revenue – (soon to start depleting) – has never been used to build schools, hospitals, rail / road networks etc. It is one of the most unequal regions on the planet and Western intervention helped to make it that way. Terrorism on this scale is a symptom of the whole edifice crumbling.

At the risk of embarrassing myself and possibly you, here is a sketch of a dream I recently had.
I was by the banks of a river or lake and a small creature emerged from the water – something like a young manatee or baby hippo; a happy amphibian thingy. It trotted along the bank a little way from me.
A while later the creature morphed into a petite warthog or boar or wild pig type animal. When I next saw the small thing it had a huge concrete building on its back. It could not move. There were well-dressed, well-fed people in the building oblivious of the little pig. I went to a window and knocked until a woman noticed me. I was trying to tell her about the hog. All I could discern in the dream was that she was upset or disbelieving of me or cross or all of the above. There the dream ended.

What was obvious was that the little pig’s legs wouldn’t hold out much longer. When it gave way, not only would it be crushed, the building would collapse and everything would be obliterated…
Make of that what you will.

Thanks for reading.

I’ve been asked about the cartoons. Click on my name in yellow/orange at the side top right or below this blog if you are using a mobile device. Then scroll down the posts. There are some there.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

181 ‘Bigot Baiting’ - Why do Brits Bite?

More toxic leaks ooze out from the dark world of the grossly wealthy. The Panama Papers show how Mossack Foneska (MFs!) help the super-wealthy, including many ex heads of state, hide their ill-gotten billions. They protect the money siphoned off from national resources. They squirrel away the proceeds of exploitation so that is not wasted on projects such as health, social care, education, roads, support for the sick and elderly. 

It is vile - it’s also a wonder tax havens are not in the news more. Or is it?

One thing is sure, the masses are not howling for the blood of these super parasites at the same pitch they are for immigrants, and other unfortunates.
This morning I listened spellbound to a gentle, brief chat on BBC radio as a rep from MFs discussed the nuances of tax limitation v tax avoidance. It was all very civilised.

Why is it so difficult to direct popular indignation onto those whose greed really affects our lives and the future of the planet? One answer in the UK is the remarkable success of Bigot Baiting. 

Bigot Baiting is the constant presence of media items on how the poor and the powerless are responsible for our problems!

I’m not saying folk aren't fed Bigot Bait in other countries. In fact it’s very popular at the moment. However – what I observe, for example in the US, is that as Trump dishes out Bigot Bait by the tonne he gets hordes of new admirers but he turns off as many as he attracts – on the stats I read. There is fierce and funny public debate and comment about him, he is challenged on news programmes. In fact one of his few high profile arse-licks is our own establishment boy – Piers Morgan!

Following on from last week’s blog, I've spent some time reading both press and comments and in a very rough analysis I’d have to conclude this is not happening in Britain. Bigot Bait is swallowed hook line and sinker by a worryingly large number of people. Maybe because it is served in bite sized chunks relentlessly, ceaselessly, unremittingly, often by the main stream media.

Step back a few years when the hapless Gordon Brown had a go at the getting-elected-thing. He had an infamous encounter with what politicians like to call an ‘ordinary voter’. Clumsy with the subtleties of media juggling he said, on mic, that the woman seemed bigoted in her expressed views on immigrants. She seemed like that to me too. But he was forced to apologise and became - unelectable.

Not only did it subsequently become de-rigeuer to accuse people of being bigots – even if they were – it became fashionable to be a big loud stupid bigot. Suddenly the age-old politician’s trick of blaming every social wrong on those at the bottom of the pile – the disabled, single parents, those on benefits and now most especially migrants and EU immigrants – started to seem less grubby. It was like a political lottery win for a lazy media, weak leaders and most of all the bigots themselves.

Recently the Arch Bishop Justin Well-heeled was berating the country for drawing a parallel between those who are anti-immigrant and bigots. Which is great from a church that – while the world is burning – is still struggling with gender equality centuries after its famous murdering,  misogynist founder Henry VIII deceased.

The EU is being blamed for our failure to save the steel industry.' Europe won’t allow us to support our steel industry' goes up the cry. Odd.

Fact is that in equivalently developed European nations – Germany – Italy – France, energy is far cheaper than in the UK because they invested in their energy industry and especially in renewables DECADES AGO and that helps the steel industry. Plus, in trying to slaver up to China, it was the UK that blocked steel tariffs within the EU. But the facts don’t get through. Even the steel industry crisis takes on a xenophobic flavour. It’s nasty.

Is the argument ‘we are in this mess because of lack of leadership and planning’ difficult to grasp? Is the self-evident fact that tax avoidance robs the planet of resources, hard to understand?

Listen to any so-called interview on the EU, and immigration is the first port of prattle. Listen to or read the comments pages of the daily rags and in relation to Britain’s failure in the steel industry throngs of voices are screeching 'EU bad'.

If we vote to leave Europe and everything is still shit – what are they going to do then?

Blame the ducks…