Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A new year approaches but you're not safe yet. Use this picture to help promote this blog!
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Beyond telephony - Here comes Radio Tracking

AlterNet: Are You Being Tracked?

This news is hardly new, but today's story goes into some depth about the future of Radio Frequency Identification. It was originally the idea of developing businesses who wanted to track their products and utility companies wanting a way to remotely read their meters. It was also seen as a workable method of bypassing the web to deliver software upgrades for fixed hardware devices. But in an age where every downstream is also an upstream, it is another gift to the big brother mindset.

Tomorrow's fashion accessory could be a shirt with an electronic fabric. Or maybe just a tie. You will simply download the pattern you want to wear that day. There'll be a whole industry born for a new kind of garment design. Eventually the patterns will move and respond to your enviroment. Lastly, they'll be accompanied by a compulsory advertising logo which may indeed become a "must-have" emblem in it's own right. Any originality will simply be re-packaged as conformity and the lowest common denomiator will prevail as everyone tried to keep up with everyone else. The commerce wars of today's sportwear makers are but a hint of what may come. Your new uniform will be your marketing subscription.

Some will love it and for a while the novelty value will make it great fun. The question is not how long it will take the consumers to realise that the same technology is tracking their every move - it is how long it will take for the wearers to accept and forget that their every move is being tracked. It is then that big brother will have made us complete pawns in some mysterious greater game.

As the multi-day binge concludes and we all embrace the wonder of whatever technological gadgets we have acquired, maybe it would be wise to think more closely about their potential for abuse. And just why does that MP3 player, so cheap at the price, insist on trying to connect to the internet when you don't need it to? Maybe the Bush "wire-tap" mentality is already obselete - the future is the craft of "wireless-tap".


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Life's a bitch. Image from Slate.
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Eve of Disruption

Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove

It is of course the eve of the western world's big hoohaa and most of the editorial press have retreated for the holidays. Not the New York Times who here reveal more about domestic spying in Amerika. NYT have been getting some flack of late for having anti-Bush sentiments - odd, given that they are part of the Murdock media empire and some of the items in question have been with-held from publication until recently.

Here's a quote -
"One outside expert on communications privacy who previously worked at the NSA said that to exploit its technological capabilities, the American government had in the last few years been quietly encouraging the telecommunications industry to increase the amount of international traffic that is routed through American-based switches."

This gets ever more worrying. First Bush admits spying on domestic/international calls. Then they admit this may have included domestic/domestic calls due to a glitch in the way the empire's computer systems operate. Then we find they've been spying on both Islmic and other foreign organisations to the extend of monitoring their offices for traces of radiation. Lastly, we find they have actively been encouraging the routing of international telecoms traffic through the USA - presumably to spy further. This must be a collosal operation.

It has been pointed out that were any former president have have engaged in even a hint of such activity they would have denied it since the over-riding duty of the White House incumbant is to preserve and enforce the constitution. Since such activities go against the constitution itself, they would have been considered to have betrayed the entire nature of their office. Impeachment would not nearly be enough for commiting such crimes. We all know about Nixon's little jaunt and one suspects that no President will have totally clean hands in this area, but Bush is certainly the first to admit this kind of thing publicly. He not only admits it, but proclaims his divine right to do it and challenges anyone to argue the point. To date, there have been pathetically few takers.

That look set to change, but one still has to worry about the spying infrastructure that must now exist. If those of us living elsewhere are taking advantage of cheap international call services, how likely is it that they are being routed through a US government subsidised hub for surveillance purposes. It is not just we individuals who should be worried, but our governments themselves. The prospect of commerce wedded to a particular government and that government itself wedded to both fundamentalism and trans-national robbery hardly sits comfortably with the notion of freedom - be it for the individual or governments themselves.

This weekend there will be more international phone calls between individuals than at any other time of year. So as you enjoy the holidays, spare a thought for those poor eaves-dropper no doubt working overtime.



Reports are coming of a possible terror alert. Homeland security are said to have detected several imposter flights masquerading as the reindeer-powered craft, Santa Force One. Officials are currently believed to be trying to locate the authentic one before blasting the fakes out of the sky. The public are warned to be careful what comes down their chimney tonight. If in doubt - shoot to ... (killjoy)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Japan's prime minister attends the launch of a new car. It's 100% electric with a rechargable battery, has eight wheels and can still power up to 230 miles per hour. Only snag - it still has a number plate. See below link.
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Consolidation of Big Brother

Transport to Surveillance

This link leads to the Independent's headline article and suggests yet another reason for giving up those cardon-spewing four-wheeled affrontations to planetary respect. Drive one and you become another statistic in that mother of population control - the state database. Exactly why the snoops of Whitehall can't employ such technology to ensure the health and welfare of tax-paying citizens is another question. If the police, welfare, benefits and social service agencies talked to each other and shared information to the same extent as these proposals, maybe the big brother mentality could be vindicated by giving us a society free of child neglect, domestic abuse and the violence of dis-enfrachisement.

At least we can now link two trains of thought. To protect your civil liberties you will have to abandon use of private motor vehicles. Take to foot or bike, even trains and buses - anything that doesn't involve an individual license-plate or purchase of petrolium. We should not be subscribing to a surveillance agenda, we should insist on living as free individuals. Maybe then, those we elect to do so will finally start shaping a social structure that adapts to our needs rather than their own. We are not pawns - we should be demanding the "service" of politicians in the same way we demand that of jurors in the administration of law.

Also, a great new toon today from Mark Fiore - as always.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Amerika Convenes Anti-Castro Panel

CBS News

One might think that the with the current scrutiny of the Amerikan administration's behaviour at home and abroad they might take time to pause for thought before embarking on any new escapades. Not so it seems - as this link points out, Condi has now taken charge of the group planning regime change in Cuba. Missile Crisis it is not and one has to ask what it will take to keep the US from meddling in other countries' affairs.

The irony is that the preaching of so-called "democracy" is back-firing with a venegence. Bolivia is the latest Latin American example of a people more than willing to use the ballot box to democratically elect a government - only to produce a regime that disagrees with Amerika on just about everything. If democracy were to be forced on Cuba, who is to say the result would be any more to US liking than Castro's government. Changing the power structure will not change the culture.

It is also the obvious lesson of Iraq. It will now be January before all the votes of their recent ballot can be counted, but they too embraced the actual democratic process to a greater degree than expected. Whilst rumours of Amerikan "fixing" of the process in some places abound, early results indicate massive support for religious parties which means the new "democracy" will not only be rife with sectarianism, but also united in distrust of Britain and Amerika. If we do manage to get out, it will be no surprise if local divides being Iran back into the equation and all the meddling will have backfired again.

Democracy by decree is an absurd mismangement of foreign policy. It is not even absolute - as the western world's relationship with and dependency on China exemplifies. We don't actually give a damn about democracy when market forces and the economy are favourable to us. Self interest rules as the impotence of the Hong Kong trade negotiations proved. The only thing that might make us wake up is if Latin America and the Middle East used their "democracies" to deny us access to the Oil and Gas reserves we are so keen to swindle out of them. The urgency of change needed to our own lifestyle would then become starkly transparent and the charade of our own elected governments' ability to cope with future reality exposed.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

US Judge Expels 'Intelligent Design'

CBS News

Some rather good news for once. Evolution returns to the Amerikan classroom as a judge rules that "intelligent design" cannot be part of the curriculum. No doubt the religious right will be wetting their underwear.

Parallels are also being drawn between the Bush domestic wiretapping and what Richard Nixon did at Watergate. By all reports and frantic discussion in the blogsphere, this means there are solid grounds for Dubya's impeachment. Forget that campaign to give him a blow job - it seems some good old fashioned skullduggery may to the trick just as well. See here.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Contracts for Coupling

Western Isles poised for showdown over council's gay marriage ban

I've chosen this absurd little story as today's link because it leads in to what may turn out to be a real headache for the UK goverment.

Today saw the first formal endorsement of a long-term gay relationship in the UK. It was in Northern Ireland. Scotland follows tomorrow and England itself on Wednesday. None other than Sir Elton John will make sure we don't forget the latter as he will undoubtably provide the day's headlines. The whole legislative machine that has finally brought all this about has been cranking away slowly for years and today simply marks the endgame of that process. Why therefore, all the hue and cry from regressive types across the land? It is hardly an unannounced revolution.

The media have naturally become obsessed with the topic and, although the technical definition of what's going on is "civil partnerships", radio, TV and newspapers are insisting on refering to them as "gay marriages". This, of course, is just aggravating the controversy by using terminology that has other associations for backward religious types.

I've never had much truck with even the idea of marriage. My bone of contention is not people choosing the two partner (and usually two parent) family unit as a base for their lifestyle, but the formalisation that binds an inter-personal relationship to both the unknown future and a social norm dictated by the state. Whilst clearly a long-needed acknowledgement of same sex couples and the rights they should be allowed to subscribe to, this new recognition has more to do with social integration, fiscal planning and the eventual supression of something that otherwise stood out like a sore thumb in the routines of big brother's robotic society.

I have never seen any problem with gay and lesbian relationships, or any same-sex activities that do not involve rape or sexual slavery. The same applies to conventional male-female relationships. The problem is the contract for coupling itself. Many long-term heterosexual partnerships go awry after the contract is signed - whether a natural consequence of the march of time or the un-natural consequence of one or other party re-interpreting the relationship to conform with their own notion of the contract itself. Thousands of indiviuals end up "trapped" in circumstances they did not forsee and only if they are lucky is it possible to escape through the nightmarish drama of official divorce. There is no reason to assume that formalised gay partnerships will not ultimately fall into the same kinds of trap.

Marriage itself went into steep social decline around the 1960s as people realised it was an un-necessary restriction on personal freedom. It didn't however prevent non-formalised relationships from prospering and indeed, raising children. Issues of love and companionship do not require state or religious intervention to survive. Marriage is a relic of religious doctrine - although it is one ritual that is to a great extent shared by many different religions. As such, it suggests human beings have a tendency toward the lesser pack as opposed to the greater collective one. Proscribing it however is wholly regressive and in the modern world it has become a tool for population control, taxation and common-denominator marketing. To be "normal", you must be the nuclear family!

In a world where the likes of Bush and Blair have corrupted the notion of wholly secular government, it should be no surprise that the newly empowered, if somewhat retarded, faith-based groups are squawking in reactionary harmony. To the civilised mind it is, to quote a certain bard: "Much Ado About Nothing". If marriage is on the increase again these days, it has more to do with celebrity, pre-nuptial agreements and the pursuit of consumer credit than anything else. The hitherto maverick nature of the gay community has helped bring it into the open over recent decades. It would be a shame if having emerged from "the closet" they are seduced by the ritual of living in another tpe of cupboard.

Also in the news, the share price of GW Pharmaceuticals, the makers of the medical cannabis product "Sativex" have risen on the news they have negotiated an export contract with a distribution comany in Spain, on top of the recent one with Canada. This distributor will in turn be supplying it to other countries throughout Europe, with the notable exception of Britain itself!


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Just who's handling who here?

Sinn Fein expels British spy

A link to the Scotsman's take on the latest Northern Ireland fiasco - news that broke too late for this morning's print editions.

The last time Britain's Labour party were elected into office it was under the leadership of the late Harold Wilson. Like Blair, he too retired whilst still in office (one presumes Blair intends keeping his word on this of course!) but sensibly only told the Queen about his departure date. It was only some time after his exit from the political stage that we learned that the British Intelligence services had been involved in a campaign to de-stabilise his government for reasons of their own.

This latest news has a peculiar and slighty familiar stink about it. The peace process in so far as the Northern Ireland assembly is concerned fell apart a while back because of spying allegations against Sinn Fein. Now we find that the spy in question was a UK special branch operative. In other words, Sinn Fein themselves did nothing to justify the dissolution of the fledgling parliament.

Blair's government, whatever its other faults, can hardly be said to have engaged in any activity designed to hinder conciliation in the long-standing troubles. Thanks largely to the impartial attitude of the late Mo Mowlan and possibly the presence of catholicism in Blair's own marriage, it could rather be said to have made unprecedented progress in resolving the issues. For this reason, I can hardly believe they would have had knowledge of any agenda to subvert the process.

So the question is - exactly who was handling this agent and why? The thought of powers in Whitehall and beyond that can bypass the authority of government is bad enough. The possibility that they could be driven by a religious bias is more disturbing still.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Straw of Rendition

Independent Online Edition > UK Politics

Forgetting for a moment the fires and Arnie's re-invention of his role as "terminator", this link to today's Independent tells us the UK foriegn secretary Jack Straw did indeed approve a couple of "rendition" flights by the CIA here in Britain. It seems like a minor confession designed to distract attention from the current issue. The flights in question were approved back when Staw was home secretary, well before 9/11 and the subsequent so-called "war on terrorism". Well before the advent of the Bush imperial initiative - full stop!

As the article points out, this revelation may indeed raise additional questions. If we accept that requests were made and granted in the past, surely the complete absence of any such official requests by the Bush regime in the newer climate is suspicious in itself. It suggests the arrogance of the ape emperor is such that he would not have bothered to ask permission anyway - probably in the full knowledge that the intent would be criminal. Not that I believe for one minute that our government, via British intelligence services, would not have been entirely aware of such activities. Simply off the record - of course!

Sad news is that Bush's popularity ratings have increased again slightly. Probably because he's shut up for a while and hunkered down for the holidays. Whilst her European tour may have shocked Condi Rice into a re-assessment of the Amerikan position, there is no indication whether her reservations have registered in the dubious "brain" of Dubya.


Monday, December 12, 2005

Pryor Concerns

Independent Online Edition > Americas

A quick link to this morning's UK Independent with a short tribute to Richard Pryor who passed away yesterday. See also below.

Congratulations to Britain's deputy prime minister, John Prescott. Following a visit to the oil fire site, he has warned us that the emissions may contain something called "hydrocarbanoms". I'm not quite sure what these are but it is is surely a good sign that our government supremos are keeping themselves informed on the issues.


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Comedian Richard Pryor in 1977. He died today after a long illness, aged 65.
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Fallout Continues

channel4.com - News

As darkness falls the pictures from the burning site are awsome. Amidst new explosions in the last hours, we see enourmous flames and one can almost feel the heat. The clouds of filth have now expaned eastwards and cover much of London.

I was curious to hear the public health spokeswoman. In an attempt to convince us that the clouds are not toxic, she told us "they're only an irritant - just hydrocarbons!" That's no comfort for those with asthma or other breathing difficulties - especially when the temperature drops tonight and the air pollution gets worse. But I'm more intruiged by the reference to hydrocarbons.

This may be the worst such incident in peacetime Europe but the source is only one small part of the supply infrastructure. And that in turn is only one small part of the production process via oilfields and refinaries. Watching the sheer volume of visible hydrocarbon spewing out of Hemel Hempstead, it is easier than ever to comprehend the far greater amount of invisible hydrocarbons we methodically emit every day. This highly opaque disaster is small change compared to the slow transparent death we are inflicting on the planet every moment.

If there is any benefit to be had in the legacy of this event, it should be in the memory of the clarity shown to us by this exhibition and its vivid illustration of the harm we do ourselves. Sadly, it is a message lost on the myriad arseholes whose reponse has been to barrage the petrol pumps in the misguided belief that this will somehow have an effect on their precious fuel supply. I rather hope they do choke on it.


See that black spot? It's not an example of British weather - see below.
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BBC NEWS | UK | Massive explosions hit fuel depot

I don't need to tell UK readers the latest news. The fuel explosion at 6am this morning has dominated the agenda for the last eight hours and one might be forgiven there is no other news at all. As far as the BBC is concerned - this isn't. Like the hurricane of a couple of decades back, I managed to sleep through the initial event, but by all reports it was heard in Northern France and Holland.

Watching the images, it is fascinating. There is something rather grand about witnessing this - surreal too in that looking westward we see a beautiful sunny winter's day whilst looking to the east we see a nightmare of pollution. Sitting here in leafy Kensington, there is little evidence of the fallout, but just a few miles eastward the London Docklands are covered in the smog.

Exactly how something of this magnitude could happen will be the subject of many questions. The fires will apparantly be burning for days and if tonight's rains come as predicted, the pollution in the air will be washed down to earth and infect everything. It will not however be enough to extinquish the fires. Just why such a huge amount of volatile material was kept in such close proximity is disturbing to say the least.

If such an event concerning our handling of fossil fuels can happen, it bodes poorly for an energy industry who now have their eyes on the nuclear option. If this is the kind of care afforded to the safety of our infrastructure, can Britain one day be expected to experience another Chenobryl? As I watch all this unfold and the fumes spread, I thank my lucky stars that, this time at least, it is not a radioactive spill. If it were, I would not be here to write this.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

It was 25 years ago today he was assassinated. Spare a thought for the memory of John Lennon..
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What season is it anyway? Dubya has definition probles - see below. Original photo courtesy of Slate.
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And a happy wotsit to you too

Independent Online Edition > Americas

This link points to one of many articles on a new dilemma for Bush. For once, he has mercifully taken a secular approach to the party season and upset his evangelical constituency in the process. Somehow it's not quite as laughable as it should be.

Even if you believe in christian mythology, history has it that the so-called messiah was actually born in October and the celebration of his birth was shifted way back in the dark ages to accomodate and ultimately subvert the traditional festival of Yuletide. The lie has prevailed as an institution in the annual rhythm of western society, these days used as a last-ditch attempt to bolster the consumer economy for the year's end. Were it a solely religious festival, I suspect it would generate little interest in the modern world.

The lie in our calender is all the more absurd given that the calender itself uses the death of the same character as it's starting point. When we refer to the date, it is an arbitary notion derived from centuries-long habit. It is easy to forget that completely different calenders are still used in other parts of the world - especially the middle-east where so much contemporary conflict is focused. As we absent-mindedly follow the routines embedded in our calender, we are subconsciously imposing its dictates on the rest of the planet. It has become an imperial definition of time, a callous imposition of out-dated theology and a cold-blooded marketing tool for the armies of consumerism.

Everyone strives to have faith in themselves. We also look to have faith in others - be they individuals or organisations. Even governments. It is when that faith fails that the vampires of organised religion descend to corrupt self-determination and rally us to the cause of their own agendas. Sucessive political generations of recent times have failed in the faith we put in them to manage our communities, our nations and our planet itself. Hence the re-ascendency of crusading Christianity and militant Islam. Worst of all, our leaders themselves then start to subscribe to the the same regressive tendencies that are infecting the population at large.

For once, Bush may have done the right thing - albeit accidently and for all the wrong reasons. It remains to be seen whether he'll drink himself into a black hole by the time the season is over. Especially as his own "flock" are increasingly losing their own faith in him.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The acclaimed playright and author Harold Pinter, who today delivered an insightful speech on the occaision ofhis Nobel Literature prize. Of particular note were is angry comments about US foreign policy since 1945 and his sharp rebuke of Blair's involvement with the same. Follow the link below - it's no yellow brick road!
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A Pinter Peace Polemic

I've just finished watching Harold Pinter's speech in acceptance of the Nobel Pirze for Literature. He didn't make it to Stockholm but did leave hospital for long enough to record the hour-long monologue which delivered incisive comments on Bush, Blair, post-1945 US policy and the state of mass-illusion in western society. If you missed the broadcast, follow this link to Channel 4 television's Pinter page where an online transcript will be posted shortly.

Britain's traditional right-wingers now have a generational shift with new champion David Cameron. His winning the Conservative leadership race was hardly unexpected but the novelty of a new opponent facing Blair over the dispatch box today was still cause for curiousity. Blair himself seemed more rattled by the lack of confrontation than by the verbal sparring he got from Cameron's predeccesor, Micheal Howard. He won't get my vote but I hope a change of face and attitude might start ruffling the feathers of this government's Blair-faced complacency.

Cameron may well prove a match for the now beleagured Blair, but whether he'd come out as well against Gordon Brown remains to be seem. With all the signs of a severe economic downturn in the wind, Brown's legacy as chancellor may be sorely tested anyway. If New Labour and Modern Conservatism can balance each other out, the stage may be set for Liberal Democrats to increase their strength. Here's hoping.

In one of the oddest twists to the endless debate on cannabis legality, it seems home secretary Charles Clarke reckons that 500 joints worth counts as "personal supply". I decline to comment save to say that it also sounds like a go-ahead for a small herb garden too. Cameron would be wise to keep mum on this one! More on that suject here as always.



Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Singer/Songwriter David Rovics (left) with the author at Saturday's climate change rally outside the US embassy in London. In my case, a state of bissfully frozen - which explains the unfortunate pose. Shame it's the only picture.
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23 year sentence for Ecology Activist

Free Jeff Luers (Schmoo)

Sniffling a bit here. Probably due to spending Saturday outside the US Embassy here in London photography the climate change protest and getting to meet the prolific and inspired David Rovics. As the one and only photo of us both shows, the weather had gotten to me by the end of the gig.

Excellent speeches from Micheal Meacher and George Monbiot amongst others, plus David's fine songs. Best guess is around 8000 turned out to make themselves heard, but a shame that the George Best funeral got most of the media attention that night.

On a related subject, today's link came to me last night. It tells of the harsh penalties that can be expected if you take radical ecological action in Bush's Amerika. Such is the fate of Jeff Luers and there is now a campaign to overturn the sentence. I wish it (and him) luck.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

No it's not another piece of psychedelia! This is a temperature map showing the mess currently afflicting the gulf stream. See below.
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Slow Thaw & The Big Freeze

Independent Science & Technology

30 miles or so off the west coast of Cornwall, here in England, there is a small cluster of islands known as the Scilly Isles. It's elderly and backward population live in a community several steps behind that of the mainland and given that one can walk anywhere on the largest island in less than hald an hour, it is horrifying to see carbon emissions from vehicles that would be barely legal elsewhere. Neither have the few shops serving the locals exactly cottoned on to energy efficiency and ecologically sound products. There is a derth of everything and what there is costs too much. The economy centres on fishing, spring flowers and summer tourism. Plus a few Autumn birdwatchers who don't spend enough for the locals to like them much! The fisherman can't sell to the locals - it gets bought en-masse by the meg-corps and does a tour of the country before arriving back frozen for retail.

Long-hailed for their outstanding beauty, the islands have attracted visitors wanting to benefit from the climate. Why? Well, like some parts of Ireland, this is a part of Britain that traditionally experiences sub-tropical weather conditions. The lagoon-like outcrop provides shelter from the Atlantic forces whilst the warm currents of the Gulf Stream travel right through their epicentre. Or rather they did! As locals increasingly moan about the weather, few of them seemed to even know that the position of the Guld Stream itself has shifted in the last decade or so. The change is a sad loss but somehow fitting for a population who market their environment whilst taking little care of it. Without the long hot summers, one wonders exactly how the community will survive.

Mass awareness of pollution and its effects becaome commonplace in the 1960s, but rather than act to protect the future, western consumerist culture chose largely to block it from their minds. And now it is too late! Today's link leads to one of many covering the now official news about the Gulf Stream - it's not just shifted but is now slowing down and could halt completely. Places like Britain could experience arctic conditions and have their climate changed forever - despite warming and desertification in other parts of the planet. The lack of foresight by sucessive governments means we are now having problems reaching sustainable energy levels based on current demands - just how we would get the resources to maintain today's lifestyles in an even harsher climate beggars belief. Canada's recent "Son of Kyoto" summit was once again scuppered by Amerikan self-interest and here in the UK, Blair thinks in nuclear terms - the most costly and least sustainable option of all. It's not at all clean when considered over the whole production cycle, it still not anything like safe and it is also a limited-lifespan, short-term fix. It is also unworkable economically without financial support, so we will end up paying not only higher power charges but will also be subsidising the operation through general taxation.

If the government were really concerned about long-term sustainability, they would make it compulsory for new homes and offices to incorporate solar collection panels and domestic wind generators. In combination they should provid enough power whatever the weather. There should also be a fixed term plan to covert existing premises. Many properties could also be adapted to recycle waste and produce more fuel in the form of methane. Methane and hydrogen cells can also be used to power motor vehicles. It would be a costly exercise but it would protect the future. Nor need the petrolium and utility industries lose out - they could be the ones charged with manufacturing and installing eco-friendly systems in return for giving up their rape of our increasingly scarce planetary resources. Indeed, there would be whole new areas of the economy emerging, with employment opportunities that could be addressed locally all over the country. As an island itself, Britain could be a planetary showpiece by 2050. We could also be a lot safer by dis-engaging from the imperial plunder of other nations, cultures and their property. If we have to preach - let it be by example.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A failure of perception in South London? See below.
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U-turn for pot policy in London's Brixton


Once a hotspot of social disorder, great inroads were made with community policing initiatives in Brixton - including liberal attitudes to cannabis possession pioneered by the now assistant police commissioner, Brian Paddick. The loosening attitude also had a great influence on the recent downgrading of the herb to a "class C" drug in legislative terms.

Despite the fact the new legislation extends far beyond the local boundaries of Brixton, this area of Lambeth has remained a popular cultural centre for both Londoners and other visitors. This focus has brought gains to the local economy but also led to claims of "drug tourism" with dealers descending en-mass and destroying the new social fabric. It is a sad trend, but hardly unexpected and far from unique - it is a symptom of the social neglect in Blair's Britain and not a problem related to cannabis itself. The distinction is however apparantly lost of those now making policy and a u-turn on tolerance is underway.

Not mentioned in the article is the fact that the Home Office (national government) are about to define the amount of cannabis that can be considered to be owned for "personal possession" and that the quantity will be less than even the most casual of herb smokers will consider reasonable. In Brixton itself, the police will start re-arresting people with any quantity whatsoever as of 12th December.

Another page at the BBC discusses whether this clampdown is the right approach. For more on this issue, check out News of The Weed here at blogspot.


Currently rethinking the mess-o-potania. See below,
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Bush Goes On Offense Over Iraq

CBS News | Bush Goes On Offense Over Iraq | November 30, 2005�09:51:13

A quick link to CBS where you can view or download the new 35 page document released by the White House and describing future strategy for Iraq. In few few short hours it will be followed by Bush himself procrastinating on the issue.

Having left it a reasonable time since the passing of Michael Hutchens, those Australian mega-rockers INXS are back on the road with a new album. The replacement singer sounds like a cross between Hutchens and Jagger which means the band sound every bit their classic selves. Their current gigs are in the USA and a visit to the site at Sony Music set off my security alarms before crashing the browser completely. A better bet is the Australian band site where you can download the new single for free.

I still haven't found anything more on the latest Downing Street leak, but you can find a bit of speculation HERE.


Monday, November 28, 2005

No thanksgiving for Cindy Sheehan on her return to the Crawford ranch - a seasonal stuffing more like it.
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Friday, November 25, 2005

The sound of silence

CBS Newsa>

This link is for a news item on Tuesday. It's pretty much the same report as the link to The Scostman item I published the other day. But...

When this item failed to appear in the British news on Tuesday night I mailed Jon Snow at
Channel 4 News to express concern. The next night (Wednesday) they did cover it in a fashion by revealing that the UK media had been threatened by the government with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act if information in the leak was pursued. As a result, the coverage was more devoted to the censorship issue than the content of the story itself.

The conclusion seems to be that Blair took action at the request of the White House - largely to protect the image (????) of Bush than for any reason related to UK national security. After all - this is one leak that actually presents Blair in a favourable light and he certainly needs it. The farce is that although the story has been buried here in the UK, over in Amerika itself the item was reported here there and everywhere. This link simply proves it and if you didn't read it earlier it may be worth doing so now.

Although there will be no more details available for now in the UK, I suspect revelations will slowly appear elsewhere. I will be on the lookout for links.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Protest singer David Rovics. A prolific, angry and emotional artist, he arrives in Britain for a brief tour shortly. See below.
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David Rovics and Climate of Change

Campaign Against Climate Change

This link will take you to news about a march here in London on December 3rd.

These are the lyrics to a new song by David Rovics which he's just sent. Im sure he won't mind me reproducing them.

The Commons
David Rovics

First you told us only through you could we know God
And if we dared to question then He wouldn't spare the rod
For you we worked the soil, for you we dug the moors
For you we shed our blood and fought so many pointless wars
And now you build your fences and say there's nothing we can do
You say the world around us belongs fairly to the few
But about six billion people no doubt will agree
This world is our home, not your property

It's the commons, our right of birth
And to those who would enclose the land all around the Earth
Our future is your downfall, when we cut this ball and chain
You who'd sacrifice the public good for your private gain

With our sweat we built the railroads, built cities on these shores
But because you own the money you say that it's all yours
We laid the phone lines and the pipelines and then right before our eyes
You say these things our taxes paid for you now will privatize
Privatize the hospitals, privatize the schools
Privatize the prisons for all those who break your rules
And preparing for the day when all the wells run dry
You say you own the very rain that falls down from the sky

But it's the commons, our right of birth
And to those who'd own the water all around the Earth
Our future is your downfall, when we cut this ball and chain
You who'd sacrifice the public good for your private gain

You claim to own the harvest with your terminator seeds
You claim to own the genomes of every animal that breeds
You claim to own our culture and the music that we play
And with every song we download to your coffers we must pay
You would even own my name and you say it's for the best
Maybe you'll let us on your radio stations if our songs can pass your test
You own country, you own western, you say you've given us a choice
You may own the airwaves but you'll never own my voice

It's the commons, our right of birth
And to those who would own the music all around the Earth
Our future is your downfall, when we cut this ball and chain
You who'd sacrifice the public good for your private gain


David is currently in Europe and about to arrive in Britain for a few gigs. SEE HERE for details. He will be performing after the march on December 3rd here in London.


Bush attack on Qatar thwarted by Blair

Scotsman.com News - International - Blair 'convinced Bush' not to launch strike at Al-Jazeera

Some breaking news on the blogs, this item has just appeared in the Scotsman's evening edition. It's another leak from Downing Street and for once it puts Blair in a slightly more favourable light.

In essence, it seems the ape emperor attempted, in true cowboy style, to bomb the headquarters of the arab television and media station, Al Jazeera and was only talked out of it at the last minute by Downing Street. Given that Al Jazeera are based in Qatar, one can only imagine what might have happened if the strike had gone ahead. The arab league will not be happy.


Down at the World's Chemical Farm

AlterNet: Ecology

As I take time off to listen to Tony Blair gtetting a grilling from a parliamentary committee, here's something very meaty to get to grips with. A cautionary tale for us vegetarians too, the Amerikan bias at the start rapidly shifts to an international perspective on the self-interest behind world trade and the willingness of the US to not only poison its own citizens, but the planet at large too. Good and thorough read.


Monday, November 21, 2005

China presented Bush with a closed door. He escaped but by all reports achieved little else.
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Merry Go Round

We've all been highly amused by the sight of Bush trying to exit his China press confernece by way of a locked door. Pity they didn;t close all the others too and detain him indefinately.

After a short stopover to congratulate Mongola on helping him in Iraq, the ape emperor returns to his homeland as I write. First South America and then Asia - one wonders what has brought on the urge to travel so much? His return will be marked by a two week holiday in the business of Washington, so he'll presumably be hoping to hunker down for recovery undisturbed by all the shit flying his way recently.

I really have become allergic to the Blair-faced spectacle. When that wonderful singer Paul Rodgers joined up with the remnants of the Queen band some time back, my enthusiasm for the result was marred by the PR machine telling me how Rodgers was Blair's favourite vocalist. A similar downder happened when I watched the UK Music Hall of Fame ceremonies at the weekend. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart are two of Britain's major gems in the music world and performing together as the Eurythmics they have always been greater than their parts. Sad then that a greater part of the homage was delivered by that selfsame Blair.

Another homage by Blair came by videotape to another concert - this one a memorial for the late Mo Mowlam. Fine tributes from musicians and other major figures, but an odd one for Blair given that he'd snubbed her funeral in favour of a holiday. Hypocrisy and attention-grabbing is what I'd call it.

Another new entry today in Richard Neville's "Diary of A Futurist! today. Check it out HERE.


Friday, November 18, 2005

The cat's away - let dissent play!

Independent Clinton Outburst

It must be psychology - with Bush temporarily dispatched to the other side of the planet, otherwise timid beasts emerge from the shadows.

Well not Bill Clinton. His claims that Iraq has been a "big mistake" are echoing everywhere and this link to today's Independent has a decent summary.

Possibly more upsetting for the ape emperor is the complete rejection of his social spending cuts and a demand for Iraq war accounting by Congress. Not so much a democrat uprising than a rebellion by now unhappy republicans.

In the UK, Blair's at home but facing similar dissent for his ideas of future social planning. Sadly, although he can't muster support from his own party, it seems likely he'll get a lot of backing from the opposition. As a result some legislation may get through. The Torys hardly need a new leader - they've got Blair! In his pursuit of legacy, he is more than willing to betray the party he used to lead and with retirement pending he has little regard for the electorate.

We've got the Olympics and now government is backing a UK bid for the World Cup (football). Scoring in one's own goal doesn't go down too well in that game and any team captain practising the habit with such regularity would not be tolerated for long. Blair should scuttle off to the other side of the house and let the team oust his cronies and rebuild themselves. Then they might just be ready to play in future games.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

U.S. Keeps Control Of 'Net Names

CBS News | U.S. Keeps Control Of 'Net Names | November 16, 2005�10:00:01

Hot off the press from CBS this item claims Amerika will keep control of the internet for now. See this morning's piece for more.

Webmistress sleeps & Pot gets go-ahead

When the webmistress sleeps

First off a plug here for Richard Neville's latest blog - always a favourite of mine.

Meanwhile in the UK there has been a limited approval for prescribing medical pot. FULL DETAILS HERE. Oddly, the "Sativex" product is manufactured in Britain and currently exported to Canada. Exactly why the product needs to be re-imported for use is something of a mystery - a lack of communication between government departments perhaps? It is welcome news noneless, especially in the light of my comments last week on the persecution of "Cannabis Gran".


My cartoon of the day courtesy of Slate. This nose is after the Web too, but can the UN or anyone else offer an alternative? See below.
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Is the Internet in danger?

Independent Online Edition > Science & Technology

A quick link today for an article in the British newspaper "The Independent" which examines in more detail the previously reported moves to shift control of the World Wide Web to an international body. Were there any kind of stable global authority available, this might be a good idea, but as this story shows, it is commerce, vested interests and censorship that are signing up for this campaign.

At present, there are no winners in the debate and the world's population has everything to lose. Information is power and neither dictatorships or corporate-manipulated democracies like the idea of giving it to we humble citizens. Even if control remains where it is, the imperial Bush machine will move the privatise its governance subject to US law and oversight. This in itself would be another obsticle to the empowerment of the people in the global state.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Carcinogens might be less of a problem if the government allowed some smokers access to Sativex spray. See below.
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Small Pharma? Reefer to dosage ...

Respectable Reefer

After a quiet weekend here is a story that seems appropriate after Friday's outrage about "Cannabis Gran". GW Pharmaceuticals make the only legal marijuana products in the UK and their customer base here is non-existent. They do however export produce to Canada.

This feature takes a look at the company whose Sativex brand isn't even available in the country of manufacture. Were it so, poor pensioners might not be forced to prepare their own medicine and thus be subject to persecution by forces of law and order who have far more important things to do in this day and age.

This on a day when our Transport secretary hosts a meeting where plans are being annouced for high-tech surveillance measures on the underground and elsewhere. It is, of course, part of the government's anti-terrorism strategy but surely this better fits the Home Office remit. Maybe this is designed to take the heat off Charles Clarke and recent parliamentary failures.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

She's not too keen on Bush either - Cannabis Gran experiences the wrath of big brother. See below.
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News of the weed not good for Granny

news of the weed

A quick link to the latest "News Of The Weed" here at blogspot.

When a 67 year old "grandma" can face a possible 14 year sentence and eviction from her home you might think she has been hiding some horrible history. Not so! The lady in question has simply been preparing a little home-grown cannabis for use as medicine. She's been rather loud about it's sucess as a treatment for various ails of course - maybe that's the real reason for this outrageous action.

The police should be watching out for terrorists - not themselves terrifying poor pensioners for habits they conduct in the privacy of their own homes.


Something In The Air?

America Waking

This link leads to a summary in the Times of the fall from grace of the Republication Party in yesterday's local and state elections. Long term bad news for Bush and short term bad news for Arnie.

By sheer co-incidence of course, we now have Blair suffering his first ever defeat in the House of Commons. When I wrote here yesterday, I knew it would be close but actually didn't remotely expect this - the vote against him was more sunstantial than one or two.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

World on hold for Blair's private battle


After several days of terrorising both his supporters and the opposition in an effort to gain support for draconian laws, Prime Preacher Blair has now put international business aside in order to recall ministers from foreign parts just to get their votes. The financial expense and political price of such behaviour is absurd - surely votes could be cast by proxy or electronically? The biggest folly is that even if our self-consumed leader gets his way and scrapes through the proposed legislation, the House of Lords are almost certain to reject it anyway.

It will be back to stage one and history will simply show British cabinet ministers abdicating their other, more important, responsibilities for a couple of days.

As our neighbour France shows all the signs of descending into a modern-day revolution, Britain's media eyes have been focused on the China state visit. Whilst "Free Tibet" and other civil rights protesters put on a worthy show, democracy and freedom were wholly absent from the agenda. This was iconic intercourse designed to consolidate pre-eminence in the power structure of the 21st Century. China may not offer any political menu to it's citizens, but it has proved a dab hand at capitist method and the market-driven world economy. Indeed, it bankrolls the vaster part of American debt! Britain may still have a degreee of free speech and claim to abide by its democratic heritage, but the menu offered to it's electorate is more often than not a case of the same pudding served with different sauce.

If Blair's aspirations were met, there would be even less difference between our two countries.

If America's debts were called in, Bush would either have to "nuke" the bank or accept that China is already the world's strongest economy. Their size makes them the planet's worst polluter, but they are also leading the field toward sustainable energy. They are ahead of America in the old space race, but their agenda is more concerned with off-planet resources and farming than America's showmanship. In percentile terms, China's citizens are emerging from poverty at an accelerating rate and the contentment factor is high. Elsewhere in the world, the opposite is becoming the norm as the social-economic divide widens. France today is a good example.

I would hardly claim that China's leaders are benevolent in our understanding of the word and they certainly exhibit ruthless methods of quashing any dissent in their midst. Yet they have proved more than capable of attaining a dominent position in the global economy in a very short period of time and as a world power they are currently in the ascendency. Even more significantly, they are largely unaffected by the new religious and cultural fundamentalism presently disrupting the rest of the planet.

Enough of the devil's advocate, but it all gives pause for thought.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Women protest during Bush visit to South America. Argentina, Brazil - you name it, they don't like it. Homecoming's not good either - the FBI reckon the Iraq War was started for the profits rather than ideaology and guess whose corporate pockets are getting fat? Actually, this photo replaces a destroyed MacDonalds in the Paris uprising which sadly vanished.
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Paris Burning

It has taken a week or more, but now the international press has woken up to the riots in France. This is not the student uprising of 1969, nor, as yet, is it an Islamist terrorist ursurgency. It is about poverty and social deprivation - albeit in predominantly muslim inner city areas. It is a matter of 21st Century ghettos and their consequences - here in a nation renowned for the volatile nature of its citizens.

The sudden and dramatic increase in violence has proved beyond the ability of the police to control and it should serve as a warning to other societies where rampant market driven economies are accelerating the divide between rich and poor. On the international stage it is the real source of the current global discontent, but the problem is present in most capitalist based nations and local unrest is only a matter of time. When people revolt "en-masse", there will never be enough law enforcement to keep them at bay. Such is the stuff of revolution and the French should know this only too well.

Chirac has unsurprisingly responded with condemnation and vowed to punish the protagonists. Exactly how he plans to round up so many individuals is unclear. His first stop should be to address the seeds of this civil warfare and attempt to placate the disaffected. Although street level intermediaries are doing their best to bring some calm on a local level, the danger that this uprising could be hijacked by religious extremeists is all too clear - and right here in the centre of Europe.

Let us hope the current destruction does not start focusing on the greater economic infrastructure or places like the channel tunnel itself. Those who advocate terrorism are just waiting for the chance to ingratiate themselves with a movement such as this and in the absence of hope, there will be all too many willing recruits.


Saturday, November 05, 2005

Grandchildren of the revolution

Grandchildren of the revolution by Richard Neville

Today's link is for a lengthy essay by Richard Neville. More a case of "then and now" than his usual satire, he looks back at sixties London and draws some parallels with modern times. Essential reading!

Bush may have a few problems at home these days, but beyond the womb of his homeland security the reception in South America would be enough to give an intelligent person cause for thought. Has nobody told him he's unwelcome most places on the planet?

Another link. This tells of a UN audit which suggests the US owe millions of dollars to Iraq. First they invade and secure the oil supply for cheap. Then they steal back the profits to pay for an infrastructure. Then they build to such a poor standard that they make extra extra profits. Money for nothing or oil for nothing?

Here in the UK the government almost lost a vote in the House of Commons on anti-terror measures. Just one vote short of defeat. This link points out that a certain loudmouth called George Galloway was too busy with a bit of self-promotion to attend and cast what could have been a crucial vote. Like Blunkett, this guy enjoys the cushy life - his procrastination and willingness to combat the Amerikan Emprire may have endeared him to many, but this is folly of the highest order.

Scan down a few entries for that photo of Blunkett published the day before his resignation. Some of you missed the significance - his companion looks to be none other than the selfsame Galloway. Let him hang himself, or should I say "head the gallows way!" Before we get too silly ...


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sorry - wrong movie! See below.
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13 hours to reboot the universe and everything


This week the final installment of the "Star Wars" saga goes on sale for our home entertainment. We can all now take a day off to watch all 13 hours or so in the correct order and muse upon a phantom reality that has occupied our lives for near on 25 years. This link has an interesting essay.

Of course, a synopsis will barely take 13 minutes.

Bit One. A long time ago in a galaxy very far away a child is born. He is exceptionally gifted and gets adopted by the state to be trained for some higher purpose. He's cute and has lots of robots and aliens for friends.

Bit Two. Boy in now a teenager and doing lots of worthy stuff for his tutor and the state. Shows signs of attitude problem but still struts his stuff in a palitable fashion whilst falling in love and getting married. Meanwhile, the shadow of war falls on the state.

Bit Three. War arrives and boy is young adult. Has a son and daughter but then rebels and joins the other side. Abandons children to pursue a career as serious war-monger.

Bit Four. Son has grown up in isolation but inhertied daddy's talents. Daddy's old tutor resurfaces to educate son. Son also discovers secret sister. Daddy is now a major bigwig in the empire that has replaced the state. State is now relegated to resistance movement and sets out to train son as their own champion. Old tutor dies.

Bit Five. The son is now the big hero of the resistance and, unlike daddy, shows no signs of being a rebel. The son, his sister and assorted mates do all sorts of things to combat the empire. Also gets to meet a load of daddy's old pals who also help him out. Son finally meets daddy and has a fight with him before finding out the truth of their blood relationship. Survives fight and escapes with an arm missing.

Bit Six. The son gets a new robot arm and makes serious plans to sort out the daddy problem. Seeks out daddy's old mega-guru to get some advanced training before having another go at daddy. Big generation battle ensues but daddy won't kill son and decides he's a nice guy after all. Son kills emporer instead and everyone has a party. It was just a little celebration at first, but becomes galaxy wide for the remastered edition.

Bit Seven. There isn't one, but you could just go back to bit one and re-enter the loop.

13 hours! Just how many times are we really going to watch it all again now? If there is a parable here, it's a mighty flimsy one.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

As the temper tantrums become increasingly public, everybody's favourite protest sign currently reads: "Won't someone please give him a blow-job so we can impeach right now!"
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Senate enters closed session on Iraq

CBS News | Senate Dems Force Showdown On Iraq | November 2, 2005�08:30:04

I'm no expert on the American constitution but this latest news seems significant. The demoncrats have effectively closed down the US senate and put it in a closed session to address the Bush administration's abuse of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq invasion. With everything else piled up against the ape emporer, could this be the icing on the cake?


Nightmare in Downing Street? Must be the company he keeps - see below.
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Pack yer bags - Take two!

For those who haven't heard (it was too late for this morning's papers), the British cabinet minister David Blunkett has now departed government again. He will not be sorely missed!

In other news, Iran has sacked all its diplomats whose attitude was considered too liberal for the new regime. See here. Not the most encouraging decision in the current climate.


Monday, October 31, 2005

Daze of ghosts and gory

A harvest of Halloween traditions

Tradition has it we tell our children never to take sweets from strangers. Given that such strangers could be persons of dubious intent offering cunningly disguised adult chemicals, this may be wise. On the other hand, tonight we let all those same children dress up as witches and the like then pack them off to knock on every stranger's door asking for - you guessed it - sweets. Trick or treat or weird logic?

It is of course Halloween - or to be more precise, All Hallows Eve. Time to celebrate the spooky, the mysterious and the downright unknown. When it comes down to it, this is a truer holiday than Xmas. Why? Research shows that far more Britons believe in ghosts than believe in a god! I'd rather this pot-pourri than the official mythology of state. Tomorrow the party will be over and we'll remove the masks. But in the corridors of power, they'll be keeping them on - lest we see the true face of their ideaology and the nightmares therein.

It can't be a comfortable time in Whitehall. After all, in barely another week the entire country will be indulging in the glorification of terrorism! That's right - it's fireworks galore as another celebration remembers Guy Fawkes and his attempt to bomb the British parliament. What strange hypocrisy surrounds us.


Friday, October 28, 2005

10% of British use Pot

Independent Online Edition > Crime

A quick link to today's Independent. It seems 11 million people here in Britain have used illegal drugs - hardly a small minority any more. More telling is the fact that 10% of us seemingly use Cannabis and that's after suggestions of a decline in it's use generally. Prohibition has clearly become a joke! If tobacco consumption is to be limited to private clubs, maybe marijuana should join it in a new class of recreational dugs for use in reserved places only. It's social policy that kills - far better to have licensed thrills!

If Blair wants to become the "war president" of the EU and play the one-upmanship game with Bushy, someone should remind him that the office expires in a couple of months, at which time he simply becomes British prime minister again.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Never Mind the Fumes - Extinquish the Fire! (See below)
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Washington in Crisis, Bush at Bay!

Independent UK

The headline alone is enough to justify this morning's link. I was waiting all day yesterday for indictment news before posting the blog but it remains simply iminent.

In Britain, the government has finally stopped bickering amongst itself long enough the announce that the smoking ban will happen here. As a smoker I'm concerned that something so comprehensive has civil liberties implications but acknowledge that it is a habit to be discouraged.

It's bad news for the chancellor too - much less revenue if the habit wanes. It is also unclear whether the expression "smoking" extends to ginseng and other herbal cigarettes. If it were simply an issue of inhaling toxic substances, far more dangerous to health are the petrolium fumes we have to endure constantly. Ban those and I'll agree to give up cigarettes - cold turkey or no!


Monday, October 24, 2005

War Droppings Falling On Our Heads

Independent Burt Bacharach turns protest singer

A link to the Independent with an article on singer-songwriter Burt Bacharach. During the Vietman War he whimisically mused about raindrops falling on his head and despite his technical craftsmanship was viewed as a slightly absurd anachronism given the pioneering and frequently political pop music of those times. A major surprise then, that at the ripe old age of 77, he is back on the scene with an album that lyrically castigates Bush and criticises the state of the modern world. One wonders if I'm about the develop a taste for a "smoochy" underscore.

London today has miserable weather and I have a headache. It is nothing of course compared to the 125mph winds of the latest hurricane battering Florida. Ominously, I just heard news on the radio that Britain will probably experience the tail end of Wilma herself around the end of this week. This planet seems to be getting seriously pissed off with mankind!


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Cracks in the Vision? Blair by Michael Dickinson - see below.
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An explosive U-Turn

It will be time for fireworks soon, but in Downing Street I suspect they will not be confined to November 5th. A long-term betrayer of the values of the original Labour Party, Blair took a very odd turn last week. It is one that now conflicts with his beloved New Labour project and is potentially a harbringer of all sorts of unrest.

I refer to his agreement over pensions with the public service union. Civil servants have always been on to a cushy number. Unless they are really senoir, they don't get paid that highly, but (since they are largely beaurocrats) their life is frequently one of undemanding paper-pushing and subservience to the dictates of the state. In return, they have uniquely received a retirement pension linked to their final salary. Thus, around age 60, they settle down to a reasonably comfortable old age. Such generosity has never existed in the private sector and these days there is little security for life-long workers in those sectors at all.

Assuming corporate administrators do not hi-jack the funds for their own devices, pensions are supposed to be paid for with money held for and invested safely on the part of the worker. They are the one "tax" that is eventually refundable with interest. Or they were! Decades of unwillingness to increase contributions coupled with the refusal to accomodate longer lifespans have left the whole business in a complete mess. The Blair government's response has been to push foward legislation and policy that allows them to abdicate the obligations of the welfare state and corporate schemes in forcing the population to make financial plans for their own retirement years.

For those starting their adult life, this may be fine - assuming they can find any institution left willing to offer such long-term secure investment. For those already retired with modest resources, there is the threat of ever-dwindling resources. For those still working and yet to retire there is also much insecurity - largely linked to one's current status in the now massive rich-poor divide. This latter is the "black hole" between any future system and the old.

Essentially, unless you are already well-off, we are now told that we will need to work longer and save more of our own money from wages that are diminishing anyway if you are at the lower end of the pay scale. It is tough already and will be tougher in the future - unless, that is, you are a government employee. The new agreement means civil servents will be exempt from working extra years and their rewards will remain linked to their final salary. In other words, no such changes for them!

This is the kind of "favouritism" that will lead to major unrest in other areas of society. It is also, to my mind, no major surprise that such exemption has been granted to those who provide the machinary of state. The new authoritarianism will need them! The biggest irony is that such exemption does cover other areas of social and public services. If civil servants get this privilage, why not the others who strive to keep the country running on lower salaries than that of the average civil servant?

An explosive situation looms. How long before Blair is "The Guy"?


Friday, October 21, 2005

Cream - The way they were. See below.
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A grand reunion

Cream Free On-Demand Music Videos

This is a link to Rolling Stone magazine. It gets a plug because they have three video tracks running from the new Cream Reunion DVD release. If you want to get the feel of the kind of musical experience we loved over 35 years ago, this is where you can find it. Try closing your eyes - the sound is virtually timeless.


Off to the hustings? UK Conservative leader candidate, David Cameron (left) now has to tackle the grass roots activists. Photo courtesy newsoftheweed.blogspot.com
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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Today at the White House. Bono hits Bush for lunch = agenda unknown. Prayers maybe?
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Whatever happened to non-proliferation treaties?

Independent Online Edition

CND must be turning in its grave. Today Tony Blair annouces plans to build a load of new nukes for future use. All the greater his audacity in demanding other nations not be allowed to do the same. A sad day.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The shape of things to come?
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On The Road to Plastic Anarchy

Independent Online

Yesterday the UK government pushed through the first steps of legislation to introduce its controversial ID cards. As this link points out, it was a shallow victory. They only mustered a majority of 25 MPs and look set for greater rebellion as the bill progresses. Interestingly, the Microsoft corporation (no stranger to big-brother style snooping themeslevs) also warn that this is the first step on a path toward future fraud and anarchy. SEE HERE.

It would make far more sense and be far less costly to bring in some kind of "chip and pin" system like that used by credit card companies. Such a card could allow us all to access the personal information we are entitled to see under the Data Protection Act and could be compatible with a standard computer card-reader so we can interact with government services online if required. If the card was lost or stolen, it could then be cancelled and replaced. Futhermore, if needs must and our civil liberties were not threatened, the disclosure of the PIN could be required by the police and security services under existing law to confirm our identity and the PIN itself could be surrendered using the same kind on technology now seen at vitually every supermarket check-out.

Even if fingerprints, iris scans, dental records and the like are to be compulsory future identity requirements, the information can still be held on an online database linked to the card. I would certainly rather that than the thought I carry it all on my person with the prospect of my entire existence being wiped out if it was mislaid or acquired by someone else.

There is also a "worst case scenario" where environmental and terrorist threats may someday result in the disruption of modern technological communications. A secured data hub with remote backups would surely offer a faster route to social and economic recovery than millions of displaced people wandering around with defunct ID cards tied to a non-functioning closed system.

It is time the power-brokers of this world were reminded that they exist to serve us. We do not exist to serve them or their control fantasies.


Monday, October 17, 2005

The return of liquid politics?
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Booze and the terror equation

Saul Landau: Luis Posada and Bush's Drinking

Just a quick link to an interesting piece in Counterpunch this weekend. We've been here before of course.


Clamour On - Cameras on Cameron. See below
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Backfiring bitch of a witch-hunt

Times Online

This link for today's Times suggests that the sex and drugs stories that so obsess the media may not quite have hit their mark where discrediting the conservative leadership contender David Cameron is concerned. I'm tempted to agree - the public are so used to seeing the glorification of shallow, barely controversial, evidence against public figures that they are beginning to take it in their stride. The big question is whether the Tory parliamentarians have the ability to connect with the public mood before deciding which two candidates should go forward for the final contest.

Cameron has everything to gain. His refusal to answer personal questions has given him credibility as a reasonably dignified diplomat whilst avoiding any polarisation amongst those who might vote for him. The whole witch-hunt has now given him the highest profile amongst the contenders and his demeanor is one that suggests the time is right for a political generation shift. The only thing we don't know is much more about the detail of his policies and when it comes to figureheads I onder who really cares. After all, Blair won the 1997 election against John Major by offering very little and saying "trust me, trust me, trust me!" Look where that got us!

I'm not a Tory voter but I'd love to see the final as a contest between Ken Clarke and Cameron. It would be a clear choice between effective opposition and a distinctive fresh start. Whichever the winner, I would hope they then work together to combat the wild, blind and deceitful arrogance of the current administration. Britain might even begin to feel like a democracy again.

Meanwhile, Blair is in trouble again. This time for pretending his anti-terror policies have the support of the intelligence service. See here.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

See "from the post" below as Dubya gets back to his primaries
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A Sunday diversion

As the contenders for the British Conservative Party throne battle it out, one wonders why they can't muster this kind of energy and venom at a General Election. Who did what, when and with whom seems wholly tangental to the real issue - who can do what, when and how in the future. Meanwhile, our present chancellor gets his portrait in lights - except that is isn't. See here.

In America, maybe there's hope for the next generation yet. This from the post ...

President Bush was visiting a primary school and he visited one of the classes. They were in
the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings. The teacher asked the
President if he would like to lead the discussion on the word "tragedy". So the illustrious leader
asked the class for an example of a "tragedy".

One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm, is playing in the field
and a tractor runs over him and kills him, that would be a tragedy."

"No," said Bush, "that would be an accident."

A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying 50 children drove over a cliff, killing
everyone inside, that would be a tragedy."

"I'm afraid not," explained the president. "That's what we would call a great loss."

The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Bush searched the room. "Isn't there
someone here who can give me an example of a tragedy?"

Finally at the back of the room a small boy (Lil Johnny) raised his hand. In a quiet voice he said:
"If Air Force One carrying you and Mrs. Bush was struck by a "friendly fire" missile and blown
to smithereens, that would be a tragedy."

Fantastic!" exclaimed Bush. "That's right. And can you tell me why that would be tragedy?"

"Well," says Lil Johnny, "It has to be a tragedy, because it sure as hell wouldn't be a great loss
and it probably wouldn't be an accident either."

Lastly, plug for another blog here. If you like the blues (music) this is for you, but there's much more too. Go now.


Friday, October 14, 2005

We're not stoned enough it seems

Independent Online Edition > Health Medical : app2

When it comes to the clinical uses of marijuana, new research seems to suggest that alleged problems are actually due to the administration of a "too low" dosage. A decent amount boosts brain power and also acts as an anti-depressant. This article explains more.

Maybe Cameron could out-smart Blair but that old battle-axe Margaret Thatcher is having her say too. On Irag that is:

"I was a scientist before I was a politician and as a scientist I know you need facts, evidence and proof -- and then you check, recheck and check again. The fact was that there were no facts, there was no evidence, and there was no proof. As a politician the most serious decision you can take is to commit your armed services to war from which they may not return."



Thursday, October 13, 2005

Woof Woof !
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On and On Part Three

Reuse, Recycle, Repeat! 10/12/05

A quick link to this week's offering from Mark Fiore. It's a continuation of the theme.

Also a continuation of sorts - Blunkett's been up to his tricks again. SEE HERE for more.

Meanwhile, amidst all the disasters, the Iron Lady gets her 80th anniversary polish and almost looks tame beside the reality of the Blair state. Let's hope it doesn't take a flu pandemic to expose our own inability to cope with a major disaster. At least the mainstream media has woken up to the iminent threat at last.

Check out Planet Ark's news service for environmental matters.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Finger of Blame?
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Blunkett flunks it with crumpet and resorts to his trumpet

Scotsman.com News - Top Stories - New technology and greater scrutiny to feature in anti-fraud strategy

You'll have to excuse the mild sexist undertone to that title - I just couldn't resist!

Today's link leads to a report on the Blair/Blunkett plans to slash British welfare payments. Draconian in itself, the real nightmare is the extraordinary plans they have to monitor those involved - with benefit claimants being subjected to the kind of surveillance hitherto reserved for "terrorists". Evading the regulations of this new "big brother" state will, I suspect, lead to far greater fraud and other criminality - eventually burdening an already over-stretched police force. The government only has itself to blame for the beaurocratic mess it's in. To execute this plan without creating further economic segregation they will have to invent more artificial jobs for the otherwise un-employable (beaurocrats?) or risk the kind of civil unrest that will finally define the "lie" of everything the Labour Party ever stood for.

Last night's television drama on Blunkett's days as Home Secretary was hilarious and made for great first night viewing. It was a digital broadcast of course, so one wonders how many benefit claimants actually had the privilage of seeing it. Odd nonetheless that this news appears just when the protagonist's questionable integrity and competence are in the limelight. If this is a "knee-jerk" announcement timed to convince us otherwise, I suspect they have indeed "flunked it".


Monday, October 10, 2005

Amerika Sleeps
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More 4 Debuts with extended news and Pot Question

More 4

Tonight will see the launch of the highly anticipated new channel from the British broadcaster, Channel Four. More 4 is an adult channel, but despite some initial titillating promos, is not at all concerned with sex. Rather, it promises something similar to BBC4, but less restrained - a second place on the box to appeal to the thinking man and woman.

It launches with More 4 News at 8pm - a direct run-on from the usual highly-acclaimed Channel 4 News of the previous hour and going into more depth on current issues. This link to their website also features an issue of the day. Tonight they ask if it matters whether our politicians have smoked Pot - a natural response to yesterday's telling evasion of an answer by new Tory hopeful, David Cameron.

9pm on the new channel sees something called "A Very Personal Secretary" which looks very much like a fictionalisation of the real life adventures of David Blunkett. At first site, I thought the clip was from "Bremmer Bird & Fortune" but the Blunkett character looks so much like the real thing it's uncanny. I can't see myself doing much channel surfing tonight.


Who Rules the Web?

The following editorial comes courtesy today's newsletter from Info Economy.


Who rules the web? "No-one", answer some. "Google", say others. "The US", say a growing group of nations around the world - who are set on doing something about it.

At next month's World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the European Union, backed by many other countries, is seeking to take formal 'control' of the Internet away from the US and give it to the United Nations.

The proposal has US bloggers and columnists fuming, even if the US government itself seems untroubled: it has simply said it will not happen.

In practice, it is not clear what the move would mean. Certainly domain name registration, IP addressing and the overall routing architecture remain under US control. But apart from that, the US has little more power over the Internet than any other nation - except by dint of the many privately owned US companies who contribute so much. In fact, the Internet is largely privately owned, and control points are deliberately and effectively distributed - in accordance with the original US military design back in the 1960s.

At first sight, the moves by the WSIS seem laudable: they want to close the digital divide, enshrine free speech, and attempt to secure some consistency over electronic trade. For example, it might be possible to legislate on where taxes should be paid, or on what rights governments have to tap digital conversations.

But there are several problems with this approach. On most matters - say, libel, or freedom of speech - there is a huge gulf between any governing body's ability to legislate over these matters, and their power to actually impose these on the ground. The task of bringing centrally controlled electronic order to some 190 countries, with their plethora of laws about tax, trade, freedom of speech, surveillance, privacy and copyright is beyond the ability of the UN in its current form.

And where would the UN's new responsibilities lie? Trade, for example, is already handled by the WTO, by parts of the UN itself, and by various multilateral or bilateral agreements. It is doubtful where any new controlling bodies could add much. The same is true in many other areas, whether it is privacy, or intellectual property, or even high level electronic trading formats.

Meanwhile, the US has not - so far - used its limited powers in order to use the Internet as an economic weapon (by denying access, for example), and it is unlikely that it would get away with it at the UN if it tried.

The UN has many big problems, and at the moment, the Internet is not one of them. For the time being, at least, it should leave the Internet alone - as unregulated and privately led as it can possibly be. Where deeper problems exist, these should be dealt with by the governments concerned.


On Friday I got dragged along to the Ideal Home exhibition in London to look at mass-produced interior design. Very boring. However, I got an hour or so to myself at the end and took a look at gadgets and Xmas gifts. So here's an unashamed plug for something that really caught my eye.

It's a game called "Cirondo" and it combines some of the more basic moves of Chess with a new circular playing board. Strategy is in theory simpler than Chess, but the reality is far more complex with the mind being challeged by this new, less-linear environment. For example, diiagonal moves which take place in a straight line on the traditional chessboard, here move along a spiralling sphere with obstacles far from obvious.

The game sells for around £30 but the really good news is that you can play it online for free. Go HERE and expect to stay a good many hours.


Dreams of Treasure in Ice Melt

As Polar Ice Turns to Water, Dreams of Treasure Abound - New York Times

Today's link leads to the start of a new science series in the New York Times and reveals a new aspect of global warming. As the polar ice cap melts, new islands and territories appear and are ripe for the picking. Like the gold rush of yesteryear, savvy entrepreneurs are paying pennies to claim their stake on land that may be worth millions in future years.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Cartton by Gary Varvel from Slate
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Watching the defectives (on and on - pt.2)

The merry-go-round of Britain's political conference season ended last week with the conservative party rally. As usual they went on and on about electing a new leader but on this occaision the incubent made himself scarce until the end. All former bets were off as the new favourites are the old tobacco smoking sage and the new young (alleged other-smoking) pretender to the throne. We'll find out shortly one way of another.

On and on went the imperial cowboy too. A supposed important address to the Amerikan nation turned into a re-run of re-runs but without the optimism or any sense of morale boosting. There may be no turning for this president, but one wonders why he sought to offer up an excuse for his actions... "God told me to do it!" Hell - even the Blair-faced pulpit hasn't tried that one!


Friday, September 30, 2005

On and on and on! See below and below and below.
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What's cooking in the mind of Bush?

Paul Craig Roberts: Bush is Cooking Up Two New Wars

So here's a quick update for an intruiging article in today's Counterpunch. It makes for scary reading, especially given the author's credentials.

For those here in London, it has been annouced that the congestion charge is now to be extended. In announcing it, Mayor Ken Livingstone came up with what most be the most stupid remark for a long time - on urging it's necessity he said: "I wish we could do this without charging people!" Eactly what would be the point of it at all were that the case. Anyhow - I approve of it.


TERRORIST OF THE WEEK. Caught red-handed brandishing a weapon of mass destruction (Labour Party Membership) and refusing to wear a Staw Hat, Walter Wolfgang is apprehened under British anti-terror laws in an effort to prevent him attacking the Labout Party Conference in Brighton.
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