Showing posts from 2015

Can You Bank on The Banks?

Dear Reader,

At a time of important festivities, my diary entry for this week is not going to be long.

But because it's not long it doesn't mean to say that it's not something I feel strongly about: I do. It's about the UK banks.

This week the news emerged that the banks have been avoiding the payment of their taxes. We also learnt recently that our financial wizard George Osborne has been getting friendly with the banks. Is his friendliness a roundabout way of trying to get the banks to pay their share? But, the banks being the banks, they will not play ball unless there's something in it for them.

After all, Gordon Brown's quantitive easing (printing money) policy did not nothing but effectively give money to the banks to bolster their balance sheets as they refused to play ball by making that money available to the community. They got free money, and now they avoid paying their share of taxes, we hear. And it is the banking system that created the financial melt…

Why Not Try Converting Water to Oil?

Dear Reader,

There is a story (said to be true) about a holy man of recent times who demonstrated that he could change plain water into oil. So convinced was an entrepreneur, he said to the holy man, "Why not convert the whole ocean, and then we can make a fortune?"

It (surely) does not take too much savvy to work out that such an idea is foolish nonsense. It should not need explanation that the oceans help to balance the life on planet Earth, and greatly contribute to weather conditions. etc. etc. We don't apply this kind of idea as it would (most likely) simply and quickly lead us to a doomsday situation.

That being the case, can't the same kind of logic be applied to fracking? It seems to me that the fracking concept is also capable of bringing about a doomsday situation. There is a great concern that our water supplies could be affected, and some have even suggested that water is a communications system in its own right; equivalent to the blood supply in our own bod…

A Cold Response To The Notion That The Climate Change Issue Is Solved

Dear Reader,

I can hear them from here; the thumps of self-congratulation on the backs of the participants of the Paris Climate Summit.

Now I am not at all cynical about any attempt to address the Climate Change that patently exists (it's been a major concern of mine for 40 years), but when the sponsors of the Paris Summit are some of the world's largest energy creation companies, then you do wonder if there is more to the Summit meeting that we should worry about.

One sponsor was Engie. As a single entity, Engie is a massive energy company — according to the Brand Finance Brandirectory, it is the most valuable utilities company in the world, bringing in more than $80 billion in annual revenue. Engie emitted as much greenhouse gases in 2014 as the entire country of Belgium. And Engie isn’t the only company with ties to fossil fuels to be included as a sponsor at the Paris talks — corporations like √Člectricit√© de France (EDF), which operates 16 major coal plants worldwide, and BNP…

Respect For (All) Life

Dear Reader,

In 1965, fifty years ago this year, two of the world's most renowned individuals of that era died, both of them at the age of 90. One was Sir Winston Churchill: the other was Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

There are those reading this who will wonder why I bracket Schweitzer with Churchill as a great name, and I suspect the cause for that is down to the media attention that Churchill received over many years, particularly in both World War One and World War Two, which seem to place him high in the western mindset. In the latter period in particular he was constantly in the limelight, and then he was returned as prime minister of the UK between 1951 and 1955. He was greatly feted in both the UK and the USA.

The two men were, in some ways, an antithesis of one another. Churchill had the reputation (somewhat unfairly, I believe) of being a 'warmonger', while Schweitzer (for all of his life) tried to find life-affirming positives in creation and to bring them to the forefron…

Labouring Towards a Split?

Dear Reader,

Yesterday's debate on Cameron's proposal for air strikes on Daesh made for compelling viewing - in parts. I didn't watch the whole thing - just the first hour and the last hour (of 10 hours) but what I did see and hear largely impressed me as committed parliamentary debate. A lot of people were definitely speaking from the heart - but therein perhaps lay the problem: too much emotion and lack of reason.

A good deal of the Labour support for the motion was in support for the French. "If the atrocities had been committed in London [and not Paris] wouldn't we be upset if France didn't support our retaliation?" - was a main theme. Also, "strikes have done their part in Iraq, so why not Syria?" - another theme. The fact that Syria is such a complex and rich cocktail was largely ignored by the emotionalists.

Perhaps the most telling speech was the penultimate one - by Hilary Benn (Labour shadow foreign sec). His speech has been lauded as one…

More Smoke and Mirrors - and Being Polar-ised.

Dear Reader,

While our prime minister and the Tory media and some Labour-ites are bearing down on Jeremy Corbyn and his stance against further bombing by the UK, Mr. Corbyn himself today wrote a very appropriate piece in to-day's i newspaper - about global warming and the government's inaction in this vital area. Clearly a subject that Jeremy Corbyn takes more seriously - and with every good reason.

Does the plight of this polar bear affect you? If so please go to this site to read more.

And of course, it's not just polar bears but the whole of nature that's under threat. While the world goes on belching out the effluent (even in India they have no plans to reduce such emissions)  - and while the Western World throws its armaments anywhere so long as it's more than 1,000 miles away from our homelands - we cocooned Westerners are going into the Christmas period without (probably) little thought about all this. 

For the poorest in the UK, that's quite understandable …

Smoke and Mirrors - Everywhere!

Dear Reader,

The downing of the Russian military aircraft by Turkey seems to have the word 'skulduggery' written all over it. Not only was the action incrompehensible but just earlier Obama was muttering something about the difficulty of Russia attacking targets that were not just Daesh/ISIS but any opponent of Assad. Then - very coincidentally - the Russian aircraft was shot down after making a raid on a non-Daesh/ISIS site. 

The question then to be asked is whether the US put pressure on Turkey to make the attack to put pressure on Russia. Whatever the cause for the action, Daesh/ISIS must be laughing their socks off when so-called allies are shooting down their own planes.

Meanwhile, David Cameron's heir-apparent (Osborne) performed his own conjuring tricks in suddenly finding £27bn from which he claimed he could plan differently and not change the Tax Credit system. He hailed the government as being the One Nation party but forgot to say that the lower income earners will…

Can Extreme Enemies Become Friends?

Dear Reader,

We hear how ISIS/Daesh "must be destroyed". But if we were to think back to 2003 wasn't the organisation to be destroyed called al-Qayida? And they still exist. Furthermore, ISIS/Daesh have since appeared and are even a worse foe.

Therefore, isn't it logical that if we keep bombing it will only create further groups that want to throw their spite at the West, as they have appeared in Libya and other places?

Just what is the alternative?

In my view it's to turn the whole thing on its head and do something that stands a chance of removing these hate groups. Something peaceful!

Abraham Lincoln is reported as saying: "Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? " Well, it must be said that he didn't totally succeed as someone shot him; but that's another story for analysis at some other time. Just now, I'd rather look into the crux of this quotation of his.

In fact, Lincoln can be quoted many times in how he built bridges wit…

What Are 'British Values'? (3) - Is This The Route To Follow?

Dear Reader,

After some reflection, I am wondering whether last week-end's inhuman attacks in Paris actually point to a solution with regard to 'British Values'.

This week I read that in one year alone (last year: 2014), over 32,000 persons had been killed by terrorist activity. Multiply that by a factor of 2 for those who survived but were seriously hurt, then we have a total of around 100,000 very serious casualties in one year … women, children as well as men. The survivors and the families of the dead will be mentally scarred as well. And in addition we must add the numbers who have died at sea in attempting to seek refuge in Europe and elsewhere, such as Australia. And, I suspect, the deaths of Palestinians (are Israeli deaths classified as killed by terrorists?).

If that was just last year's total, what must be the aggregate total of severe casualties since, say, 2010? But many (most?) of those so damaged will have been Muslims. Yet it is the Muslims in the West wh…

What Are 'British Values'? (2)

Dear Reader,

I first of all must state my utter sympathy with the people of France and, particularly, Paris, and join with them in seeking a righteous solution to the demonstration of beastiality that took place last night. Right will prevail ... but we must be careful on how it is achieved.
In the previous article, I finished by postulating on perhaps whether we need to determine what sort of values we should be basing our vote on. "British Values" if you will.
So, when using the term "British Values" what is being alluded to here. The 'British' bit is self-apparent: something that relates to people in the British Isles. But 'Values' I define here as "beliefs about what is right and wrong and what is important in life". Not (please note) the use of 'value' to define monetary values; I fear that these days that is what we tend to think of first and foremost, and not what is intrinsically of importance. In other words, what do we regar…

What Are 'British Values'? (1)

Dear Reader,

This week (and for a while after), I'm going to lay off David Cameron. It must have seemed that I have been simply mounting a political campaign over the last couple of weeks, against Cameron and his cohorts, but it's not been quite as  it seems. I really want to get to the root of it all.

That I was expressing opposition to his policies and methods is certainly true, but there is an underlying matter that I really want to get to ... that the way this government is behaving reflects on us, the citizens of this country. 

We have been made (by a combination of indoctrination, self-delusion and apathy) to allow this government to behave as it is. The opposition parties (Labour, Liberals and Greens in particular) do have much greater aspirations, but we (the voter) have come to believe that the Tory promise of self-determination through work and management of the economy are the chief issues. They certainly have their place, but they are not the only issues, and they do …

Dastardly Dullards (Our Government)!

Dear Reader,

Nothing has changed on the Tory front bench. At Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, David Cameron spoke on behalf of a very beleaguered looking Chancellor who frankly looked as though he was afraid of having to claim benefits himself (by losing his job)! But David Cameron didn't answer the question put to him (six times) by the Leader of the Opposition, and gave the feeling that it was Osborne's responsibility to deal with the issue, and not his.

The following day there was a Parliamentary debate on "The Effect of the Tax Credit Cuts" at which a number of Tory MPs conceded that there was a case to look into for special help for those lower income workers. It took an SNP MP to point out that amounts wrongly paid out by the DWP and HMRC government departments exceeded the bill that would be saved by the proposed Tax Credit reforms (£4.5bn). The government, therefore, is failing to mop up expensive holes in its payments structure - as well as failing…

A Calamitous and Disorientating Oriental Odyssey

Dear Reader,

This past week - if we would look closely - has emphasised just how calamitous Calamity Cameron is!

The issues that have been greatly highlighted this week have been related to (a) the Chinese president's visit and (b) the associated UK steel industry problems. And the latter issue has - in my opinion - been dealt with appallingly badly by Cameron and his government.

Okay, Cameron was quick to make the statement that the interests of the steel workers would be safeguarded. But isn't that just rhetoric designed to keep people believing - mainly his supporters - that everything is fine and that he has One Nation interests at heart?

The fact is that with the Redcar steel plants completely closed, there is virtually nothing in that area for the workers to go into, so no matter what you re-train them for (if that's the idea) then nothing short of moving families to a totally new area will help them. Tibbett's "On your bike" rhetoric rears it's ugly he…

On Fracking, Smart Meters and Microchips

Dear Reader,

It may have escaped your attention that the UK government has lately transferred all subsidies that were designed to reduce emissions and support renewable energy towards more greedy projects. The UK was doing well in the development of solar energy solutions, but the government has pulled the rug from the feet of that development with the result that solar enterprises have gone to the wall. Yet another instance where Britain has promised so much through its inventiveness and has been sold off or suppressed. And when it happens to a cause celebre, then all the more sad - and wasteful. (This happened to graphene very recently.)

Why has this happened? Well, the government (for what reason does not take too much imagination) is only interested in motor cars, gasoline and fracking. Of these fracking is the subject of most concern.

The underground water system acts as a blood supply acts in our bodies. Encoded information is carried in the underground water from one part of the p…

Only by possessing true compassion can you gain integrity!

Everywhere, there seems to be the state of reactive opposition. With the forthcoming of the right-wing protestations in Germany this week, following the left-wing developments in the English Labour Party setting themselves completely apart from the Tories, and our Prime Minister resorting to castigating the Labour leader in an extreme (and erroneous) manner, my thoughts went to the Bible and the words of Jesus about division:
In Luke 12:51 Jesus says (via one translation) “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”Now there are people who think that religion and politics are two different 'things' and should be treated differently. We…

To Arm or Not To Arm; That Is The Smoking Gun

The West still tries to portray itself as being the Good Guys, while the Baddies are countries like Russia and Iran. But the countries that continue to provide arms to many (not one) dubious regimes are the USA, Britain and France. And it's the USA and Britain that have been the hawks over the last dozen years in their insistence on use of arms in preference to diplomacy. Russia, therefore, can legitimately scoff - but not that I support their support of Assad.

So it comes as no surprise to learn this week that the British Foreign Office has decided that Human Rights issues are no longer high on their list of consideration, in favour of trade. Er, the arms trade.

This in the midst of plentiful advice being offered to the British government that a perpetuation of militant solutions instead of diplomacy is counter-productive. That a display of arms does little more than stir up more resentment - and more "terrorists".

The Lord Jesus and other great spiritual beings advise…

United we stand; divided we fall...

There are ominous signs, world-wide. Nowhere seems to be without conflict of some kind, and a lot of it is extreme. The topmost issue will soon be - I'm sure - the survival of the huge number of Middle Eastern refugees and economic migrants that have entered Europe. Many, many more will soon come and then will be faced with what could be a grim European winter, and I fear a crisis arising. There is already a serious food shortage situation in the camps that exist in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan.

The 'migration issue' has certainly opened up some real issues in respect of our so-called eastern European partners. Up until now the European Union seems to have been operating reasonably well as it says on the tin (a Union), but the sheer scale of the migration has caused panic amongst the eastern countries of the EU and much criticism of Merkel's generous invitation.

The UK is poised to have a referendum on whether we should stay in the EU.

But not only do we have division w…

Can we love our neighbour?

Yes, they are saying that a week is a long time in politics, and applying this thought to Jeremy Corbyn's week.

Already we hear that he's backing down on his attitude towards the UN and, now, the Trident programme. But at least he has not capitulated on the nucelar warfare issue, and is seeking other ways to re-generate interest in the anti-nuclear campaign. And he must be right too - how absurd it is to spend all this dough (that we haven't got) on equipment which - if used (and a big 'if') - would most likely create a sterile world and therefore (if people remained) one that would then want to forget about nuclear investments. 

Nuclear warfare planning is an insane policy. As is any policy that pretends that the national economy can perpetually grow as a way of bringing everyone out of poverty. It's insane because there's a small group that always seem to want more than everyone else (they've earned it, they mysteriously say) and will also do their utmo…

Could not 'the left' be ... right?

Jeremy Corbyn has confused his opponents and won the Labour Leadership contest by a very comfortable margin. 

Immediately afterwards, he was savaged by the Tories and even by some of his old Labour colleagues - in the Tory press! The Tories claim he is a threat to our national security and goodness knows what else. The Tories have cast aspersions on some of Corbyn's quotes ... mainly out of context.

The country is ... very sadly ... already divided. But divided not by Corbyn but by the Tory policies that have attacked the poorest and weakest in the country (except pensioners) under the guise of One Nation.

The natural purpose of life is not to feed the proceeds of the country's wealth towards the wealthy, but to distribute so that all may share prosperity. The ordinary person usually works just as hard as any big businessman (and certainly the bankers and traders), so why should he not be able to share - fairly - the nations' wealth, and be able to live happily without undue …