Economics

Tony Blairs All between Iraq and a hard place

Cartoon by Martin Schranks

Ken Macdonald QC’s piece in The Times brilliantly exposes Tony Blair’s real position on the decision to invade Iraq:

“Hindsight is a great temptress. But we needn’t trouble her on the way to a confident conclusion that Mr Blair’s fundamental flaw was his sycophancy towards power. Perhaps this seems odd in a man who drank so much of that mind-altering brew at home. But Washington turned his head and he couldn’t resist the stage or the glamour that it gave him. In this sense he was weak and, as we can see, he remains so. Since those sorry days we have frequently heard him repeating the self-regarding mantra that “hand on heart, I only did what I thought was right”. But this is a narcissist’s defence and self-belief is no answer to misjudgment: it is certainly no answer to death. “Yo, Blair”, perhaps, was his truest measure.”

It’s doubtful whether the Chilcott enquiry will reveal anything new, but it’s all very simple really:

Q:  Why did the Americans invade Iraq?

A:  Because there’s a lot of oil there and big bad Saddam while doing nasty things to his own people (but that’s beside the point) wasn’t going to give it to them – and coincidentally America’s own oil supplies are running low.

Q:  Why did the British invade Iraq?

A:  Because the Americans told them to (and apparently there’s a lot of oil there too).

Blair didn’t have the balls to say no to Bush.  Nor do his successors have the balls to tell the Americans to fuck off in relation to the extradition  of computer hacker Gary McKinnon who has the right to be tried in his own country.  Uncle Sam has John Bull in his pocket – just like a paedophiliac relationship between priest and altar boy.  The US has enough power and influence to carry on abusing and Britain is too ashamed to blow the whistle.  While the Vatican UN quietly turns a blind eye, pretending they didn’t know anything about it.

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A Fistful of Leone: A Fistful of Dymanite, Part 2

Juan
All revolutions attract a mixture of different personalities, ranging from political idealists to criminal opportunists seeking to capitalise on the confusion that the social upheaval brings. Juan Miranda (Rod Steiger) belongs very definitely in the second category, and the film begins with his scruffy form hitching a lift in a carriage full of upper-middle class snobs (Miranda claimed that his father had died and needed a lift to the next town). This first scene is important as it paints a backcloth (although partisan) to both the socio-political nature of the era, and Leone’s own leftist views. The passengers, including upper-middle class Mexicans, an American businessman, and an Archbishop, all of European origin, unlike Juan, who is of Indian origin, roundly abuse him for amusement, and the impoverished peasant class to which he belongs, calling them “animals” who breed like “rats in a sewer”, without morals or “decency.” Even the Archbishop identifies strongly with these sentiments, and refers to peasants as “unfortunate brutes”, indicating how far removed he is personally from the teachings of Jesus on love, mammon, and many other issues. It becomes clear, while these foul creatures proceed in close-up footage to stuff their faces with all types of food, that they support the dictator Huerta for “keeping the peasants in their place.”

However, when the carriage passes through a ruined village it is ambushed by a gang of bandits – Juan’s seven sons and other associates: Juan, the gang leader, had set the whole thing up in advance. They kill one of the most obnoxious passengers, rob and strip the rest, while Juan introduces the only female passenger to his seven sons, each, he informs her, from a different mother (we don’t know whether this is true or not!). He then violates the snobbish woman, and dumps her and the others into a pigsty. From this introduction we learn that Juan has no interest in political idealism and is far more concerned with keeping one step ahead of starvation, and keeping his pockets lined through petty thievery.

Sean

At this point that Juan comes across Sean (John) Mallory (James Coburn), a lone Irishman, who is testing explosives in the mountains near where the carriage has just been robbed. Sean, after an altercation with Juan and his bandits, claims he is merely using his impressive array of explosives to mine silver. However, we eventually realise through a series of flashbacks that he is really an intellectual left-wing revolutionary, who, after involvement in the Republican movement in Ireland, had had to flee the country after shooting a number of British soldiers who had tracked him down after torturing his best friend and revolutionary colleague. Sean, we later find out, shot his friend as a traitor for revealing his whereabouts (Leone gets the chronology of modern Irish history somewhat wrong, but this does not really affect the film’s central message). We also discover later that British intelligence services were in hot pursuit of Sean as he sought to evade his past. His primary reason for being in Mexico is to further the revolution against Huerta by means of both intellect and force.

An accidental revolutionary

Juan (in a very amusing fantasy sequence) sees Sean’s head surrounded by the halo-like visage of the National Bank at Mesa Verde, a bank which Juan has dreamed of raiding since he was taken to Mesa Verde as a child. He sees Sean’s skills with explosives as a godsend, and Sean himself as his key to the bank. Sean, however, has his own ideas, recognising how useful Juan’s skills as a fearless guerrilla fighter could be in the struggle which he knew was brewing. He entices Juan and his gang to the town of Mesa Verde, and introduces him to a revolutionary colleague, Dr Villega, who offers Juan the opportunity to attack the bank, an offer eagerly accepted. Unbeknownst to Juan (but known to Sean all along), the bank at Mesa Verde has been converted to use as a political prison, and these are all released after Juan’s daring attack. This marks the beginning of Juan’s unwitting involvement with the revolutionary movement.

Tyrone Manager Harte blamed for global economic woes

MICKEY-HARTE_28270t

The World Bank with the support of the G8 leaders has sent a stern letter to the secretary of the Tyrone GAA County Board blaming manager Mickey Harte for the current global recession.

“The economic downturn is all due to the actions of one man, Mr Michael Harte of Glencull” said Brad J. Hackenbacker Jnr III, chairman of the Wunch of Bankers Association of America.

President Obama has called on Mr Harte to come clean about his misdemaeanours. “He might be a great manager and an inspiration to his team” said the president, “and I congratulate him on his recent All-Ireland and Ulster successes, but that doesn’t absolve him of the blame for our dire financial situation, which he must be held to account for.”

Piet Van Aardvark, managing director of Net Blankes, a South African company specialising in the distribution of washing machines, cookers, fridges and other white goods which recently went into liquidation slammed Mickey Harte for his irresponsible actions. However others claim that the poor quality of Van Aardvark’s goods was to blame for the company’s downfall. In the 1980s the washing machines supplied by the company were unable to wash coloured garments as the dyes used were likely to cause internal damage to the machines. To this effect each product came with a “whites only – no coloureds” warning notice, which was wrongly interpreted as a racist slogan. Cyril Mbsekwe, chairman of the Associated Consumers Network (ANC) dismissed Van Aardvark as an incompetent businessman and a publicity-seeking fantasist who simply wanted to blame Harte for his own mistakes as he was a disgruntled Armagh supporter from the Orange Free State.

Van Aardvark has since set up a new company called Afri-Kans a continent-wide distributor of aluminium drinks containers. “If we went into liquidation this time I would consider that a very bad pun”, he was quoted as saying yesterday.

The CIA has issued an arrest warrant on the Tyrone boss, but said it would also like to question the Dutch entrepreneur Mikey H’Aart, president of the Global Assets Association (GAA) headquartered in Tyrone, Pennsylvania. H’Aart, a wildlife conservation enthusiast has a number of failed business projects behind him. In 2005, he lost millions of dollars after the construction of a sanctuary for endangered frog species called Croak Park went way over budget.

Mickey Harte was approached by a scrum of reporters and photographers from the international media while attending a fundraising event at Drumquin community centre, but denied any liability for the global recession.

Putting the meltdown into perspective

While clearing away some old newspapers I came across an article published in the Observer in January by Tim Adams which explores the anxieties and fears curently engulfing western society in the face of the current financial crisis. One paragraph in particular sticks out:
“I was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in September, an awfully long way from where our generally abundant nation was fretting about its mortgage extensions and its job prospects, and I wondered just how the people there – who had lived with war for 15 years – coped psychologically with the constant fears of their lives. Why weren’t they all on the verge of a nervous breakdown? How could they sit and laugh in the sun? The most plausible answer was that they did not have even the luxury of anxiety; their expectation of security had never extended much beyond the next hour or two. Anxiety is a disease of relative plenty; it arises not from fear at what you do not have, but fear of what you might lose.”

Probably of scant consolation to anyone who’s just lost their job, but it does put things into perspective.

Davos: Daleks plot to exterminate world economy

The World Economic Forum at Davros

The World Economic Forum at Davros

Could it be pure coincidence that the recent World Economic Forum was hosted by Davros, megalomanical genius, crippled mad scientist and creator of the universe’s most evil creatures the daleks?

It all makes sense now.  The world recession and credit crunch were engineered by Davros and his minions as part of an evil masterplan to bankrupt the planet’s economy and thus conquer the earth and absorb it into the glorious dalek empire!

Now if the only a certain Time Lord were around to save the world.  Just where is the Doctor when you need him?

 

A Reasoned and Considered Rant against Big Corporate Brands and Globalisation

The anti-globalisation movement hasn’t had the best public image, with the stereotype of the dreadlock-adorned, dayglo-wearing lentil and organic rice-eating new age type with multiple piercings and henna tattoos. But in the age of global economic meltdown and credit crunches, such beliefs are becoming more mainstream.

Opposition to the dominance of big corporate brands over small businesses and traditional cottage industries shouldn’t by any means be in the exclusive interests of dreadlock-adorned, dayglo-wearing lentil and organic rice-eating new age types, nor even of the political left. We should all be concerned.

Do we want the traditional earthy pub like the Blue Tiger, the Frog and Fuck, the Puke of Pork – with their real ales beloved of bearded chunky sweater wearing CAMRA types, the old guy in the corner who reminisces about the old times to anyone who’ll listen to him, the barstool bore who knows the solution to all the world’s problems but will only tell you if you buy him a pint, the amateur Casanova who, despite rapidly expanding beer belly and thinning hairline tries (however unsuccessfully) to chat up the well-endowed barmaid – to be replaced by shallow, characterless chains like Whateverspoons or All Bar None frequented by pin-striped city types crying into their Pimms or trendy designer lagers, (a bottle of which costs the equivalent of the government bail-out of the said banks) after being made redundant by Deutsche Wank and blowing their million pound pay-offs on coke and hookers.

Imagine your local town centre being taken over by Starfucks, Boots, Specsavers, McDonalds, O’Neills (the plastic Paddy Irish pub chain that is, not the popular Irish sportswear manufacturer), WH Smiths et al. Or has this already happened?

It’s a trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the comedian and Socialist Workers party supporter Mark Steel in his latest book “What’s It All About”:

 

“Now you could go to a shopping centre in Croydon, Penzance, Lincoln or Dundee, and guarantee there’d be a Body Shop, Clinton Cards, Going Places Travel, HMV, Waterstones, fake Irish pub, Wetherspoons, Pizza Hut with a little glass screw-top jar of Parmesan cheese, JJB Sports, Burger King, a bloke in a green pullover trying to recruit you into the AA and a bunch of Peruvians playing ‘I Just Called To Say I Love You’ on the poxy panpipes”.
 

 

Go to an independent café rather than Starfucks or Costa Coffe (Costa Fortune more like) and you invariably get more generous portions often of superior quality and value for money. Who wants to go to Caffe Grande Cazzo sponsored by Figlio di Putana casual wear and pay £5.50 for a prosciutto and mozarella pannini (basically a glorified ham and cheese toastie) or £3.00 for a thimble full of espresso which you can down in one go and it barely fill a cavity in your tooth?

An Americano used to be what Clint Eastwood in a poncho was called by the Mexican bandits in a Sergio Leone spaghetti western, but now it’s a fucking coffee.  And I thought moccachinos were what Italian American Indians wore on their feet.

You couldn’t make it up.

Northern Irish banknotes

A comedian called Michael McIntyre (a not very funny one though, like most of the stand-up so-called “comedians” you see on TV these days) did a routine about Scottish banknotes. His main point was that despite being sterling and thus legal tender in all parts of the UK, they generally aren’t accepted in England. Much the same as Northern Irish banknotes – an age old rant familiar to many who on crossing the Irish Sea find that their hard-earned Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank and Northern Bank notes, although being sterling currency of legally equal value to Bank of England notes, just don’t cut it.

A few years ago, I was returning to London after being home for Christmas. Knowing that my local bank notes wouldn’t be accepted once I got off the plane at Stansted, I tried to get them changed at Belfast International airpport. On being told to my utter bewilderment that there was a charge (yes a fucking charge to change sterling notes into different sterling notes of the same denomination of equal value) I point blankly refused and walked way in disgust, resigned to the fact hat I’d have to wait till the next time I went home to use up these notes.

How fucking ridiculous can you get?

Even machines don’t seem to accept them – I’ve tried on ticket machines at train stations and at the self-service check-out in supermarkets, but the machines are just too clever.

So why the fuck do the NI and Scottish banks issue their own notes in the first place if they’re not accepted in the same currency zone? Ironically they’re more likely to be accepted in the Eurozone in places like Lifford, Letterkenny or Louth than in London, Luton or Leicester.

Now if we all adopted the euro, none of this would be happening…;-)