Wednesday, July 06, 2005

No heart, no soul, in the womb of empire


Another late quickie today. This link leads to an account that should be read by all of you in that it tells us a lot about the creature who is undoubtably the centre of attention at Gleaneagles. Cindy Sheeham lost her son five days after he arrived in Iraq and, following a private audience with the Bush entity, certainly lost faith in her president.

I also forgot earlier to express respect for and best wishes to the Dalai Lama who celebrates his 70th birthday today. If the world were a different place he would be among those attending the G8 today.


As a bonus, here's a copy of tonight's Snowmail from Channel 4 News.


An extra-long Snowmail today with reports from all over the UK covering
both the Olympics and the protests at Gleneagles - with reports from
inside and outside G8 and from our blogger in the protest itself.

From Jon in Gleneagles

Well, straight off the plane from Entebbe and into the Blair court in
time to hear the epic Olympian announcement .

I say that it wasn't quite direct because the journey to Gleneagles
from Glasgow was circuitous in the extreme.

Not because of protesters, I think in the entire journey I saw perhaps
sixty, which included a couple of half cocked road blocks. But because
the Thames valley and Met police, who are doing valiant service in the
Scottish lowlands, hadn't a clue which way to send us.

So I bask in the enjoyment of having circumnavigated the entire
perimeter fence of Gleneagles and I can testify to the truth that there are
least 50,000 more sheep here than there are protesters.

Those protesters that I have seen have strawberry ink wigs, rainbow
scarves, and scuffed trouser bottoms, though I gather things have got a
bit more serious in the last hour or so, with protestors threatening to
breach the fence. Police on horses, and now police jumping out of a
helicopter would you believe?

But certainly not a million people here in any form. Merely five
thousand massed media, three thousand policemen and eight suits.

Blair bounded into the room for once justifying every quandary of his
MacLean's smile - it was one of those rare events where you couldn't'
think of anything difficult to say…

I mean whether the Olympics are a good idea or not, and sentiment seems
to swung behind the idea that they are, the fact is that most
extraordinary victory has been scored at the expense of Mr Chirac - that'll
teach him to talk about English cooking

He hasn't made it here yet. Having waited in Singapore a bit longer
than Mr Blair, but I think I'm beginning to understand the meaning of the
word 'chagrin'.

As to the real issue here resolving climate change and what to do about
it, and Africa? Well, there's a lot of harrumphing going on and the key
discourse seems to centre on whether to simply to agree something on
climate change but accept President Bush won't be around forever and
ignore him. Or weaken the entire agreement in favour of keeping him on
board. There’s all to play for

Africa - well people are trying to increase the number of countries
that are forgiven their debts from 18 to nearly 56 and the case being made
by a number of NGOs is that these people forgave Iraq's 20 billion
pounds of debt with one flick of their fingers.

Anyway we shall be live from there at 7

Keep reading for the views of our new South African colleague Redi
Direcko, who's part of our team covering the G8, and from our brave blogger
Brendan out with the Wombles at the Gleneagles perimeter fence, but for
now, as ever

Jon Snow

From Alex Thomson in London

Greetings all,

They're ready... they're set -- and now they've got the go. Against all
the odds the British tortoise took the Gallic hare well after the bell
and probably into the final straight

It's London 2012 for the Olympic Games. Thousands of people, indeed
hundreds of thousands (and lots of estate agents) will be highly chuffed.
Great news for London it will be argued and the regeneration of what
is, having been there several times myself, a vast area of neglected

So it's about to get the mother of all makeovers and David Beckham's
"manor" will soon begin to be transformed. But isn't he from Walthamstow,
miles away? Well who cares - it was all about hype and frenzy and now
it's all about delivery.

Tonight - the final push; the moment of decision; the partying and
where we go from here not just for London but for Britain - because if it's
really going to mean something it's got to strike home with
overwhelming majority who don't live in London, are very glad of it and don't much
care about the place.

What with Gleneagles and Olympics - all else is a little on the
squeezed size tonight.

Louise Casey, charged with sorting out yob culture, is in a little hot
water. She gave an after dinner speech, greeted in some of the more
absurd tabloids as a foul mouthed tirade -- in fact anybody born this side
of Jane Austen would hardly characterised her earthy observations on
the joys of boozing in such terms -- it's a bit of a hoot and was
secretly recorded. Tony Blair says he stands by his woman.

The group al Qaeda in Iraq, now says on its website it will kill the
Egyptian diplomat whom it kidnapped - earlier they'd posted his ID
documents on their site and... on more mundane matters... Steven Gerrard
won't be walking alone, at least not to Chelski.

It turns out that the Russian millions couldn't tempt him from the
banks of the Mersey so, for once, money isn't the thing which talks
loudest in what used to be called a sport.

That's about it - I'd better leave some space for Jon, if I know him, I
think he'll have a few things to say from the fence around Gleneagles

Cheers - AT

From Redi Direcko inside the G8 summit

Africans everywhere love a sense of occasion. Funerals, weddings and
baptisms are a huge cause of celebration. A gathering like the G8 summit
is definitely not business as usual. And back home there is sense of
hope and expectation.

I dare say that the proverbial ordinary man in the dusty streets of
Africa's shanty towns is not familiar with fancy terns such as 'global
warming', 'debt cancellation' and 'fair trade'. All he knows is that he
cannot feed and clothe his family as and when he wants to. He also has to
worry about providing shelter for his family.

As for Africa's women - they too are at the forefront of subsistence
farming and low scale economic activity. Political correctness aside
there are still the fairer sex and carry the burden of HIV aids that is the
fate of Africa.

It is the fate which easily transforms when there is a promise of a
better life and the much hyped G8 summit is seen as a promise of a better

For Africa the high profile of world leaders including those from the
content itself is an indication that something is happening, that a plan
is being hatched to reverse the cycle of poverty and unemployment.

Some Africans are cynical and have resigned themselves to their fates,
accepting poverty as a way of life. Some want more accountability from
their leaders.

The unprecedented 40 billion dollar debt deal announced last month has
been wildly welcomed by African countries, humanitarian groups, and
social activists, as a positive but modest step forwards. What it will
amount to in real times remains be seen.

For the poor Africans, packing bags and making a journey is a big deal.
World leaders have packed their bags and undertaken the long journey to
Gleneagles Scotland.

Surely this time it cannot just be for mere pleasantries and occasion?
Surely something will come out of this?

That's the expectation of Africa.

Redi Direcko is one of South Africa's leading radio and TV journalists.
We've asked her to report for us from within the G8 summit at

From our blogger Brendan Cole with the protestors

I'm at the front line at the moment. It was pretty quiet at first but
just now a group of anarchists grabbed one of the gates and forced it
down. Police reinforcements on their way. But there's verbal and physical
altercations all around me.

I'm five rows from the front I've really got to keep my wits about me.
One group of protestors is pleading with the black crew: "Why are you
doing this?" Their plea fall on deaf ears.

The gate is upended. There's enough police backup to take care of it. I

Earlier a Chinook flies overhead. Everyone starts jeering. In a surreal
aside, two protesters made it on to the Gleneagles golf course - but
no-one seemed interested in them. They stayed there awhile, but then
rejoined the main march...

More from our G8 Blogger at


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