October 2008

Suffering for art

No pain no gain

He made them laugh, not wince He made them laugh, not wince
As a child I was regularly taken to the cinema by an aunt, it was a gold and red Odeon that smelt of nicotine and we sat in the circle. The whole event was regarded as a bit of a laugh by my family as I had a tendency to fall asleep. Why, you may ask did she persist with the trips in view of this? Well I found out later it was all a bit tortuous, she was a friend of the cleaner, who also worked in the box office. She liked going to the cinema and did not want to go on her own! I can also remember part-way through a Jerry Lewis (see right) film realising, yet again, my faculties were one by one deserting me. The first to go was the vision, down came the eyelids like a shop shutter, there was no stopping them. Next was my hearing, it just faded away.

Very entertaining

some bits are very funny, sort of

There will be a short intermission There will be a short intermission
Bankers all over the world are trying to repair their reputations and refill the bank's coffers. By contrast the state broadcaster, otherwise know as the BBC, is pretending nothing is wrong. But there is. Jonathan Ross is usually described as a presenter, chat show host and celebrity. Russell Brand, also does those things, but is able to manage being a comedian as well, he does 'stand up', he writes too, for the Guardian. As you are no doubt aware Ross and Brand have got both themselves and their employer into a bit of bother. However, unlike the bankers the chances are that the reputations of both and that of their various employers will only suffer a minor setback. As Ross earns about £6 million a year you may say he is cheaper than a high-flyer banker, true, but not relevant.

EU green fascism

Not in my name

illegal bluefin tunaillegal bluefin tuna

The EUobserver tells us that EU fisheries ministers are wiling to accept reduced quotas for the tuna, a shortened fishing season and increased controls, but ruled out a complete ban.

Greenpeace had called for a suspension of the fishery "until France, Spain, Italy and their Mediterranean neighbours stop illegal fishing practices."

"The ministers of France, Italy and Spain have shown they are incapable of keeping illegal fishing for bluefin tuna under control," said Saskia Richartz, Greenpeace EU oceans policy director. "Only a suspension of fishing can bring the bluefin tuna back from the brink of collapse."

The mirth of a nation

This is really important

The pound sinks The pound sinks
We are supposed to rise above it. I refer to what lofty folk call the tittle-tattle of everyday life. That is anything involving Russian oligarchs, Corfu, private yachts, donations to political parties and men with names like Osborne and Mandelson. The high minded may indeed be appalled at such trivia. But what is wrong with having fun? It would seem that some sectors of the media and especially the state broadcaster, otherwise known as the BBC, are really enjoying themselves, so where's the harm in it?

Shame on Nulabour again

Archived Stop Press article

Paradise lostParadise lost

In 2007, the British high court ruled the Chagos islanders had been illegally expelled and should be allowed to return, but the British government appealed and the House of Lords ruling has upheld that appeal.
Al Jazeera tells the sad story. The House of Lords also denied us a vote on the Lisbon constitution treaty. It used to be an admired institution that upheld civil liberties and human values and provided a bulwark against the Commons. Sadly no more.

Anyone in charge?

Gdansk Monument of SolidarityGdansk Monument of Solidarity

Oh dear. Just when we in the UK have privatised anything that moves including government agencies - even arcane areas such as the Land Registry! We have privatised water and energy and have no credible energy planning. We have a mere week's supply of gas and we pay high prices for this because we have such low storage capacity.

The government may blame the energy companies but it's not their job to ensure national supplies, that should be a job for government. The energy and water companies are also businesses and their job is to make money for shareholders. The person in charge of energy security is is now Ed Miliband, God help us.( At least I think so, cabinet roles are much like a game of musical chairs).

Many our coal-fired and nuclear stations are ageing, under repair or don't comply with EU rules and have to close soon. Subsidies are poured into renewables but not into run of the mill power generation. We have to pay for this in increased bills. Why? Because the EU says so. We must comply with competition rules and not give state aid and, being well behaved, we Brits have obediently done this.
You can change his clothes too!You can change his clothes too!

Times change and we are allowed to give state aid to failing banks but only once we received permission from Brussels.

Now a real volte face.

Democracy Movement wins poll

Archived Stop Press article

DM leafletDM leaflet
In recent weeks, ITV's Tonight programme has staged a referendum on the European Union in Luton. Three thousand local residents were given the chance to vote 'Yes' or 'No' to the Lisbon Treaty, and whether to stay in or come out of the EU.

The Democracy Movement was asked to lead the 'No' side. 63% voted 'No' to the Lisbon Treaty and 54% voted to come out of the EU altogether.
See the Democracy Movement's site.

Ode to Joy?

or Clockwork Orange?


Deforestation accounts for nearly one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions and whatever your views on climate change this really is an environmental crime of an enormous scale. Fauna and flora and native peoples are destroyed and can never be replaced. So everyone should be trying to stop this.

You would have thought that the EU, the organisation that struts the global stage saying how it is leading the world in climate change reduction, would be keen on saving the rainforests. However, instead of requiring that traders halt timber imports to the EU from illegal sources, the EU commission's proposal only demands that they "seek sufficient guarantees" that no laws are being broken when the wood is harvested. See here.

Our Glass Bead Game players.

Mixed messages confuse plebs


It's hard to please everyone. The world could be heading for another Great Depression and people and countries are getting into more and more debt. Whilst all this is happening there seems to be some confusion in our government's mind, or what is left of it.

On the one hand EU pollution curbs are being weakened in order to allow Heathrow airport to expand. Official papers show that civil servants are working to delay for five years a Brussels air quality directive due to come into force in 2010 specifically to avoid harming the airport's growth.

Winner and losers

Davis proved right

The winner.jpgThe winner.jpg

David Davis can now savour the taste of success for he, like many others, played a part in the battle to scupper the 42 day detention without charge scheme beloved of Gordon Brown and Nulabour. It is a pity the attention of the media is so fixed on other matters otherwise the coverage would be greater. In the Guardian today the headline for this reads -

David Davis 'vindicated' by defeat of 42-day detention