Moving on
Towards Better Times...?


Saturday, October 22, 2005

As Sick as a Parrot?



Bird flu found in quarantined parrot in UK

By Andrew Grey

From: msnnewsbox

LONDON (Reuters) - A parrot that died in quarantine in Britain had contracted bird flu but officials do not yet know if it was the lethal strain which has sparked alarm in Europe in recent weeks, the Agriculture Ministry said.

Traces of the highly pathogenic H5 avian flu virus were found in the parrot imported from Suriname, South America, and held with other birds from Taiwan, a ministry statement said.

"We've got a lot of work going on in investigating the background to this very important development," Britain's chief veterinary officer Debby Reynolds said. "The parrot was in quarantine (and) the birds have been culled in quarantine.

Reynolds said disinfection of the quarantine area was complete and further tests were now being carried out.

The government said it did not yet know if the virus was of the H5N1 strain, which has killed more than 60 people in four Asian countries since breaking out in late 2003 in South Korea.

It has now reached as far west as European Russia, Turkey and Romania, tracking the paths of migratory birds.

H5N1 has triggered widespread concern because it can transfer to humans in some cases, although only if they have had prolonged and close contact with infected birds, and some experts fear it could mutate to transfer between humans.

Reynolds said it should take a "small number of days" to determine whether the parrot had H5N1. It would be the first case of the strain recorded in Britain, although the parrot was not officially inside the country as it was in quarantine.

Hugh Pennington, a leading microbiologist, said bird flu posed no risk to human health in Britain for now and the case should be simple to tackle as the parrot had been in quarantine.

"It should be very, very easy to nip this particular problem in the bud as we have done in the past with bird flu," he said.

"Bird flu comes to Britain every now and then and it's always been controlled ... by a slaughter policy of birds who the infected birds have met and it hasn't spread into the general bird population of the country," he told BBC News 24 television.

Professor Colin Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, said people should be less concerned than if bird flu had been discovered in a migratory bird.

"Clearly birds in quarantine are not in contact with domestic birds, with farm birds in this country. That is the area of infection one should be worried about," he told BBC Radio on Saturday.

The parrot was part of a mixed consignment of 148 birds that arrived on September 16, the ministry said. They were held with another consignment of 216 birds from Taiwan.

An official with Suriname's Ministry for Natural Resources said the government had not issued any permits for export of animals to England this year, adding veterinary specialists checked birds' health before granting such permits.

The bird had been held in a secure quarantine unit and all the birds there were being culled, Britain's ministry said.

The small number of people who had been in contact with the birds were receiving antiviral treatment as a precautionary measure, the statement added.

"It is very difficult for humans to contract avian influenza. However, the necessary actions to protect human health have been taken in this instance," the ministry said.

"The confirmed case does not affect the UK's official disease-free status because the disease has been identified in imported birds during quarantine," Reynolds said.

Comments:

So, let’s get this straight:

1) The H5N1 strain of Avian Flu has killed around 60 people in four Asian countries in 2 years ………..

Well, obviously it was terrible for the people who died, and for their families.  But 60 people in 4 countries over 2 years cannot be considered exactly startling figures.  It is like a particle of one small grain of sand when compared to the number of people who die every day on our roads.  It is like a blip in the ocean compared to the number of people who die every day from Cancer and Heart Disease.  And it is like a speck of paint on a massive painting when compared to the number of troops and civilians killed in Iraq over the same period of time.

2)  We do not know yet whether the parrot had the H5NI strain or not.

3)  The bird was in quarantine.  A system that has worked exceptionally well in Britain for years.  There is no reason to think it will not work just as well this time.

4)  Bird flu can be contacted by individual humans only if they have prolonged contact with an infected bird. And, the people in contact with the parrot have been treated as a precautionary measure.

5)  A strain of the disease that may be passed from human to human has not developed yet.

6)  Bird Flu has come to Britain several times before and has always been controlled before.  So there is no reason to think things will be any different this time around.

As John Cleese so famously said, “This is a dead parrot! ……..”

And that’s all it is.

So why does MSN choose to place this at the top of their UK news bulletins?

One may indeed wonder …….




posted by summersun70 at 2:37 AM

0 comments



Thursday, October 20, 2005

Paranoid. Moi?

Unlike the vast majority of adults in the Western World today I don’t drive. If people ask me why, I laugh and say “it’s because I believe in keeping death off the roads”. But really it’s because I have a phobia about driving tests; my whole body goes to jelly and my brain goes to mush when I’m placed in the driving seat alongside a stern-faced examiner (tried once, completely freaked out; tried a second time [with valium] and completely bombed out ....), so I gave up any idea of ever being a car owner.

But not being able to drive isn’t a huge problem for me, as long as either (a) someone can give me a lift; (b) I have the fare for a taxi; or, failing those options, (c) there is public transport which can take me where I want to go. And because I tend to go to work at different times or to different places than anyone who can offer me a lift (and because the taxi fare would be extortionate), I usually end up going to work by bus or train.

And that (at last!) brings me to the point of this entry.

Usually when I travel by public transport, particularly early in the morning, I am too tired to really notice anything. But the other day I was a little more wide awake than usual, and bored. So I had a look around me at the posters on the bus.

And then it hit me. Every single poster, in some way or another, was telling me either that I was in some sort of danger, or that I ‘must not break the rules’ (or else ......), and some posters were telling me both things at once.

From the “we always catch fare dodgers” posters, through the “how to have a healthy heart” ads, to the “use a broom, not a vacuum cleaner” environmental posters, all of them were telling me to watch out, because, if I didn’t, I would either be caught and punished; make myself ill (and it would be my fault); or add to impending global disaster. They were all trying to warn me about something.

Ads for the Army said “we need you now!”(Just like during WW1 and WW11 – I wonder why......?); and even the one ‘normal’ transport add – for cheap fares for school-age children – warned that they must obtain “a special local transport ID”, or else, “your presence on one of our buses could be refused” (not, “you may have to pay the full fare”, but “your presence could be refused”). God help the poor child whose mother forgets to buy him an ID card – he could be made to stagger miles home from school in the rain or snow (but of course it would then be the mother who ‘should have known better’ – she had been warned).

Posters on the train warned “we will not tolerate ......” everything from violence (obviously fair enough) to children standing on seats (annoying, I know, but “not tolerate”? Why such harsh language?).

And it suddenly dawned on me that all the ‘normal’ adverts – you know, the ones which actually try to get you to buy something – had either been completely replaced, or had been altered into something much less healthy – subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) messages of fear.

Now a lot has been said recently about this growing ‘culture of fear’ which is said to be gripping the Western World (dammit, Michael Crichton has even written a best seller about it!) and the arguments for its existence are all pretty strong. From the reporting of the unending conflict in Iraq and the constant messages about ‘threats from Iran’ and Government suggestions as to ‘what we should do about it’, to the newish ‘threat’ (shock horror!) of Avian Flu, which the media lovingly pushes onto our TV screens and the front pages of newspapers every day now, we are a society which is expected to live in constant fear.

During the most paranoid years of the ‘Cold War’, people were told how to ‘protect and survive’, but I reckon that today’s ‘culture of fear’ must be just as bad. We have been given a new ‘enemy’, now that ‘we’ no longer have ‘the Russians’ to fear – Al Qaeda – and they appear to be every bit as deadly as the Soviet Union was portrayed to us. In fact, more so, because now we are told “they are among us”.

And so us ‘Brits’ now see policemen in our airports, armed to the teeth with guns which look too heavy for most of them to carry, leave alone shoot anyone with ......at least, with any accuracy ...... And we read about an unarmed Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, shot down in cold blood at one of our tube stations, just because someone thought he looked like a terrorist, and we are fed a diet of lies and half-truths about what actually happened.

My god! If Al Qaeda doesn’t get us, then our own policemen will!

But us ‘Brits’ are pretty hard to scare. We lived for years with the ‘constant threat’ that the IRA would blow us to pieces and we got on with our lives – we voted Labour, Tory, Lib-Dem, even Green Party; many campaigned on everything from disarmament, feminism, and gay rights to the new ‘poll tax’ and ‘saving the whale’ ........ And we remained defiantly unaware that we were supposed to be living in constant fear.

So what does a government do when it wants to control its people but they won’t play ball? Won’t lie down and give up their rights to civil liberties without a fight? Obviously the ‘threat of terrorism’ isn’t enough for the likes of most ‘Brits’ – we need more subtle measures of control.

And so, for years now, without many of us fully realizing it, those more subtle measure have been brought into play.

We have been soaking up the ‘fear messages’ on advertisement hoardings, on public transport, on TV and in Newspaper and Magazine advertisements. Many of us have slowly come to assume that it is normal for ‘them’ to tell us what we must and must not do: ‘pay the correct fare’; ‘don’t try to cheat us’; ‘don’t walk here’; ‘don’t run there’; ‘don’t cross’; ‘don’t board’; ‘don’t use this/use that’; ‘keep your children/pets/grannies(?) under control’ ........ or else ........

And of course we get those TV adverts that tell us what we must have, followed swiftly by those telling us what dire consequences will befall our new acquisitions if we don’t toe the line: ‘insure now’ (or your loved ones will be left starving and unhoused); ‘you need to take out a loan with us right now’ (but you will lose your house if .........).

And in adverts for food and drink we have constant warnings too: ‘you must bring down your cholesterol’; ‘you must keep your bowels in good working order’; ‘you must watch your weight’; ‘you must not drink too much’; ........ or you could die horribly. And, of course, the adverts which make many of us appear like lepers and totally irresponsible citizens: ‘you must not smoke’ (or you will not only die horribly, but you will also add to the burden on our over-stressed NHS, and thus there will not be enough facilities left to treat ‘good people’ [even though we are allowing all forms of toxins from other sources into the atmosphere] – sorry – a pet rant of mine - ).

At this rate, the day will soon come when we are told that we must not drink water without government permission as to do so would be bad for our health ........ maybe even that we cannot live freely without permission? Who knows?

The day will come when we need permission to go about our normal everyday lives, and it won’t be that far away, unless these ‘subtle messages’ are recognised for what they are: attempts to make us fear – to make us think we must have ‘their’ help to run our lives because we just cannot manage them on our own. We need to recognise these messages, and to find ways to stop them affecting us right now.

And I’m not saying that everyone in the advertising/information industry is part of a grand plan to attack our civil liberties. What I am saying is that many of them, like the rest of us, have soaked up this culture as ‘the way’ to send us information. They too think it’s okay now to frighten people into buying their products or taking their advice – everyone else does it, so why not them? No, this whole fear thing is much more subtle that that. It has been going on for years, slowly growing in strength. But now it is being utilised by those who have their own agenda.

So, call me paranoid if you will. It won’t add to my fear. Because I have other fears – not fears of what ‘could happen’, but fears of the people who are trying to make us afraid: who are trying their damndest to build upon this ‘culture of fear’ that we have all become accustomed to and to make it more effective, and my fears are of why they should want to do this and to do it now.

posted by summersun70 at 5:32 PM

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Save Roe Campaign

“Harriet Miers has been nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. And our rights are at risk.
She has already stated support for amending the U.S. Constitution to ban abortion except when necessary to save the life of the woman.
And she has endorsed radical restrictions on reproductive freedoms that Americans have relied on for decades.
Pass this message on to your friends and colleagues, and invite them to join the Planned Parenthood campaign to Save Roe.”
…………………….

There’s nothing I can do here in the UK, but I’m posting this link here for anyone in the US who might see it and want to join the campaign:

http://www.ppaction.org/saveroe/join-forward.tcl

posted by summersun70 at 4:38 PM

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

What Bush really meant ...........

 "The War on Terror" - In Translation     By Norman Solomon

From: Truthout


When the Bush administration fires off a new round of speechifying about "the war on terror," the US press rarely goes beyond the surface meanings of rhetoric provided by White House scriptwriters. But the president's big speech at the National Endowment for Democracy on October 6 could have been annotated along these lines:

"We will not tire or rest until the war on terror is won."
Translation: This is a war that can go on forever.

"And while the killers choose their victims indiscriminately, their attacks serve a clear and focused ideology, a set of beliefs and goals that are evil but not insane."

As president, I am the world's authority on evilness and insanity.

……………………

For the rest of this article on what Bush really meant see this link:Truthout






posted by summersun70 at 4:27 AM

0 comments




Doing the maths .........

Police move terrorism suspects to immigration custody
From: msnnewsbox

LONDON (Reuters) – 15th October 2005

Police have turned over to immigration authorities the five remaining detainees from a group of 10 terrorism suspects seized a week ago, with no charges filed against them, the police said on Saturday.

The 10 had been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences in the Croydon area of south London and in towns in the Midlands.

The high-profile October 8 raids were the latest to follow strikes on London transport systems in July in which Islamist militant bombers killed 52 passengers and themselves.

Police had said the 10 men were suspected of committing, preparing or instigating acts of terrorism.

But five were released with no charge during the past week, and London's Metropolitan Police said in a statement the other five had been released into the custody of the immigration authorities.

That means the 10, whose identities and nationalities were not disclosed, cannot be charged unless they are arrested again.

Britain has arrested hundreds of suspects under its anti-terrorism laws since the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Only about a sixth of them have been charged with terrorist offences, and only a fraction of those have been convicted. Others have been handed over to immigration authorities or convicted of non-terrorism-related crimes.

Comment:

A case of “if we can’t get you for one thing; we will damn well get you for something else” ...........?

If a company had this ratio of error to accuracy in its business dealings it would go under very quickly. If a schoolchild had this ratio of error to accuracy in their maths homework s/he would be made to do go back and re-learn that part of the course.

But, instead of re-thinking its strategies, this Government is bringing in laws which will make ‘mistakes’ like this occur with additional regularity .........

Does this add up?


posted by summersun70 at 1:50 AM

0 comments



Saturday, October 15, 2005

American Girl and Women's Rights

Conservatives diss American Girl

By David Crary
Associated Press
October 15, 2005
Excerpts from: TheCapitolTimes

NEW YORK -- American Girl, manufacturer of a highly popular line of dolls and children's books, has become the target of conservative activists threatening a boycott unless the toy maker cuts off contributions to a youth organization that supports abortion rights and acceptance of lesbians.

The protest is directed at an ongoing American Girl campaign in which proceeds from sales of a special "I Can" wristband help support educational and empowerment programs of Girls Inc., a national nonprofit organization which describes its mission as "inspiring girls to be strong, smart and bold."

American Girl, whose often patriotic products have long had a loyal following among conservatives, issued a statement Friday defending its support of Girls Inc. and assailing the protest campaign.

………………….

The Mississippi-based American Family Association, in a campaign launched Wednesday, is urging its members to demand that American Girl halt support for Girls Inc., which it called "a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group."

…………………..

The Pro-Life Action League, a Chicago-based anti-abortion group, also is asking supporters to contact American Girl to express dismay. The league's executive director, Ann Scheidler, said her organization might call for a boycott of American Girl's products and organize picketing at its stores in Chicago and New York if the company doesn't sever ties with Girls Inc.

……………………..

Girls Inc., which traces its roots back to a center founded in Waterbury, Conn., in 1864, serves about 800,000 girls a year, many of them black or Hispanic and most from low-income families.

The "advocacy" page on its Web site lists some of the positions that roused conservative ire - for example, a clear endorsement of the 1973 Roe v. Wade court decision establishing a woman's right to abortion.

Girls Inc. also supports a girl's right to have access to contraception and pledges support for girls dealing with issues of sexual orientation.

…………………

One of the protest coordinators, American Family Association special projects director Randy Sharp, said the campaign was noteworthy because American Girl's products have long been favored by conservatives. …………

"Now we find they're teaming up with Girls Inc., which supports the very things we oppose. It's very troubling."

Sharp said the AFA was not yet ready to call for a boycott, but he predicted that many conservative families, including his own, would be reluctant to keep buying American Girl products. "I think no question this will have a financial impact on American Girl," he said.

Comments:

This is so bad.  I wonder whether American Girl directors will eventually cave in to the demands of the religious right …………… It would hardly be surprising when you consider how much their profits could be hit by this campaign,

The religious right in the US have such power nowadays (and is gaining ever-increasing power with Government assistance) that it is truly frightening.

And all the rights that women have fought long and hard for are being eroded.

Soon it will be too late for ordinary, thinking Americans to fight back. And what happens in the US today often happens in the UK the next ………….

The religious right truly scare me.

posted by summersun70 at 9:07 AM

0 comments




Care and share alike


U.S. rejects Katrina meals donated by Britain


From: MsnNewsbox

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday offered needy countries more than 330,000 packaged meals donated by Britain to feed Hurricane Katrina victims but rejected due to a U.S. ban on British beef.

State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said the “Meals Ready to Eat”," or MREs, had been held in a warehouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, for more than a month after U.S. Agriculture Department officials said they could not be distributed in the United States because they contained British beef products.

............

The United States bans the import of products containing British beef because of fears of mad cow disease, a chronic, degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle.

............

Early on, there was a need for about 500,000 readily packaged meals and the State Department asked its embassies worldwide to seek food donations. Britain was among the first countries to offer MREs.

The State Department said it did not want to appear ungrateful for the British donation and that it was working hard to pass on the meals to another country in need.

"We obviously want to find needy populations and get them these supplies as soon as possible, because if you need them, you need them now. So we're eager to resolve this soon," said Ereli, adding he did not know what the expiration dates were on the food packages.

Comment:

So let me get this straight ........ the US Government has fears about British beef – fears serious enough to warrant them not using it to feed US citizens, however hungry they may be ........ but they are quite happy for these products to be passed on to other countries, even though, according to US estimation, these products are potentially lethal ........

Hmmmm ........


posted by summersun70 at 1:09 AM

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lies allegations and smog


Iran 'is training Basra killers'

“Specialist bomb-makers targeting British troops in southern Iraq are being trained by an elite arm of Iran's armed forces, defence sources say.”
From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4333246.stm

(all highlights below have been made by me)


“Insurgents making tank-busting explosives, which have killed eight UK soldiers in recent months, are being trained in Iran and Lebanon, they say.
BBC defence correspondent Paul Wood says the claims implicate the Iranian government.

Tehran denies them.


The MoD said the new claims supported Tony Blair's concerns of an Iran link.
…………………..

The prime minister said evidence linked the attacks either to Iran or its militant, Lebanese allies Hezbollah, but added that officials could not be sure.
…………………….

These fresh claims, which first appeared in the Sun newspaper, follow earlier allegations by a British official over Iranian links to the Shia insurgents in southern Iraq.


The unnamed official also linked the type of bombs used in the attacks on UK forces in Basra to Iran's Revolutionary Guard.
They had provided technology to a Shia Muslim group in southern Iraq, he claimed, prompting a diplomatic storm.
……………………………..

………….. Mr Blair said it was clear "that there have been new explosive devices used - not just against British troops but elsewhere in Iraq.


"The particular nature of those devices lead us either to Iranian elements or to Hezbollah... however, we can't be sure of this," he added.
………………………………………….

A spokesman said the evidence pointed towards Iranian involvement, but it did not have decisive proof.
…………………………………………..

he said there was no clear proof Iran's Revolutionary Guard was involved.

……………………………………………..

.... the Iranian government has dismissed the claims as "baseless" and demanded the UK government produce evidence to back up the claims.

………………………………………………”
_____________________

For the full article see the above link.
_____________________

Comments:

Call me cynical if you like  ……… but haven’t we been here before?
Don’t words like ‘claimed’, ‘we cannot be sure’, ‘unnamed official’, ‘no clear proof’, ‘no decisive proof’, ‘The Sun Newspaper’ ……………….. oh yes, and ‘Tony Blair’, ring any bells?

Didn’t we hear all these words in the run up to March 2003?

Or am I mistaken …………………?
__________________

From the same article:

“Meanwhile British forces in Iraq are trying to draw a line under the storming of a police station in Basra by saying the UK is prepared to pay compensation for injuries and damage suffered in the incident.

"We also regret the casualties on both sides and the material damage to public facilities," the statement said.

"The British Government is prepared to pay valid claims for compensation for casualties and material damage in the well-established manner." “
___________________

Comments:

A cynic may argue that ‘in the well-established manner’, when applied to this particular response will be to pay up and hope that a financial transaction makes all talk of accountability go away.  

So it’s okay for the British Government to ‘draw a line’ under ‘incidents’ and create a comfortable ‘smog’ over these matters, but it’s not okay for them to question whether a similar ‘smog’ (of hearsay and allegations) actually provides any clear-cut evidence of aggression and threat by Iran …………………..

Why is that, I wonder?

____________________

A link to the Iraq timeline: July 16 1979 to January 31 2004:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/page/0,12438,793802,00.html











posted by summersun70 at 4:49 AM

0 comments



Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Another day of 'tough talking'......

Iran must obey rules on nuclear programme - Blair

From: msnnewsbox

11th October 2005
“LONDON (Reuters) - Iran must obey international rules over its nuclear programme and should not doubt the will of the international community to ensure it does so, Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Tuesday.

Blair, due to hold talks on Iran soon with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, said Britain and the United States would continue to put pressure on Iran over its nuclear activities, which Washington says -- and Iran denies -- are a cover for making atomic bombs.

"The position of Europe and America has been the same on this. We will continue the pressure," Blair told a news conference.

"They have to abide by the rules of the international community on their nuclear capability. They have to stop support for terrorism, whether it's in the Middle East or elsewhere.”

.........

Blair said Britain was "concerned" about the situation in Iran and said a recent IAEA report on Iran's nuclear activities was "very significant".

........ “

See above link for the rest of this article.

And so Blair pushes us further up those steps to war ...... again ......

While, just to cover his back ........

Blair insists on need for tough security law

By Madeline Chambers

“LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Tony Blair on Tuesday backed police calls for powers to hold terrorism suspects without charge for three months, a plan civil liberties groups have attacked as draconian.

One day before the centre-left government publishes tough new laws in response to July's bombings in London, a debate is raging as to whether the extended detention period -- up from 14 days -- goes too far.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said he is prepared to reconsider the length of the extension.

But Blair was adamant.

"This is what we need to make our country safe," he said at his monthly news conference .........

..........”

see the rest of this article here: msnnewsbox

No Tony, what we need to keep our country safe is a change of Government and an end to our ‘special relationship’ with Bush and his henchmen.








posted by summersun70 at 1:07 PM

0 comments




Lie Detectors?

Benefit losses are 'astronomical'
“Benefits fraud and mistakes are so "astronomical" the figures are rounded up to the nearest half-a-billion pounds, say MPs…………..
……………………….
The MPs say there has been progress in reducing the losses but it wants the system to be simplified……………..
…………………….

Lie detectors?
Anti-Fraud Minister James Plaskitt said: "Fraud is at its lowest level ever thanks to our skilled investigators that use technology and the support of the public.
"But we are not complacent. We have got a new fraud strategy and will be looking at innovative ways to track down the cheats."
The department is looking at using credit reference agencies and "voice recognition" technology systems used by private firms - essentially lie detectors.”
See all of this article at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4328936.stm

Now it seems to me that there is an underlying contradiction here. On the one hand we have MPs admitting that the UK benefit system is a bureaucratic nightmare that is often misunderstood even by those who work for it, but on the other hand we still have all this ‘rallying the troops’ talk about ‘tracking down cheats’ and continued emphasis made by the Government and by David Blunkett in particular, on ‘what must be done’ to ‘crack down on benefit cheats’ (with the ‘we are watching you’ TV adds and constant reference to ‘benefit fraud’ within Labour Party rhetoric). Not to mention the cost of providing ‘new surveillance systems’ which will terrorise benefit claimants (most of whom deserve more, not less, than the meagre benefits they are grudgingly given).
And just to add to the fears of anyone who is on Incapacity Benefit, we have new rules coming in which will force many claimants off of the benefits they deserve and into low-paid, often completely unsuitable, work.

Isn’t this insistence, even in the face of reality, of concentrating on fraud rather than bureaucracy a case of shifting blame elsewhere?  And also, wouldn’t it be more to the point if this ‘nightmare’ of a benefits system was simplified – in a way that not only helped prevent errors, but also helped claimants rather than victimising them?

But perhaps that is too much to ask of this Government?


posted by summersun70 at 5:39 AM

0 comments



Monday, October 10, 2005

Lennon versus McCartney

Ono reopens old wounds at Q Awards
Yoko Ono reopened old wounds between John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney at an awards bash.
Ono was at the ceremony to pick up a Q Special Award for Lennon, a day after what would have been his 65th birthday…………………….
……………………………
…. she said: "John, I wish he was here today. He would have loved it.
The petite artist continued: "John was very human and sometimes in the middle of the night he would say, 'Are you awake ?' and I would say, 'Yes, yes' and he said, 'You know, they always cover Paul's songs and never mine and I don't know why'. I said, 'You're a good songwriter, it's not June with Spoon that you write. You're a good singer and most musicians are probably a little bit nervous about covering your songs'.
…………………

See whole article here: msnentertainmentnews

I think Yoko Ono was absolutely right in what she said.  Lennon was the Beatle with the truly unique talent, while it seems to me that McCartney wrote songs with a commercial appeal aimed as much (if not more) at mums and grannies rather than teens and twenties.

It is Lennon’s songs that make you think; that often touch a nerve.  McCartney never had that talent and never will.




posted by summersun70 at 4:25 PM

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

On Becoming an 'Ex-Pat'

As anyone who reads my blog may know, me and my husband are shortly moving to Spain – Andalucia to be precise.  Our reasons for this are various: escape the cold; less-stressful way of life; liking the Spanish people and Spain in general; and also, just to make a move while we have enough money left to do so, have time to make it work and to enjoy the experience (and in this sense it is two adults [who perhaps should know better……] setting out on an ‘adventure’).  I have also spoken about my fears about what is happening in the UK in terms of increased Government intervention in people’s lives and the increasingly totalitarian nature of the present Government, and I simply do not want to be a part of this any more.

But all of this does not mean that I have lost touch with reality.

On our last visit to Spain, on the plane coming back to the UK, I had the (one could say unfortunate?) experience of sitting next to another UK citizen who was in the throes of becoming an ‘ex-pat’.  He spoke to me incessantly of why he and his partner were moving to Spain ...... and the bigotry and prejudice that fell from his mouth was appalling, but, I’m afraid, somewhat typical of the attitude of many (although not the majority) ex-pats and many (hopefully not the majority) Brits.  Being a person who does not like to cause a furore in an airplane (I have enough trouble staying calm when flying as it is ......), I talked to this ‘gentleman’ without expressing too much distaste (I think ......), although I just had to tell him my point of view, which anyone should have been able to tell was vastly different to his.  But although I seethed inside at his words, I decided to let them go as there was little point in arguing against such deeply-rooted views (at that particular time, anyway).

But I couldn’t let it go.

The ‘gentleman’ spoke of his hatred for Tony Blair’s Government.  I could agree with that, but not for his reasons which were along the lines of: “All Labour Governments are the same.  They tax the people who bother to make money to give it to those who don’t; they pour money into helping gays and lesbians and other ‘causes’ we don’t need, while letting the country go to rack and ruin ...... and they let anyone in here – it started with the w.....s and now the country is full of  w.....s and p.....s spouting about their rights while our rights are being taken away from us ......” And so it went on ......

The usual garbage one could say (and the ‘message’ [covert but in place nevertheless] carried by the English right-wing media).  Anyone who lives in the UK will have heard this many times before.  But I had to listen to this for over two hours (on a plane ride which experienced turbulence most of the way ....) and try to let him (and anyone else who was listening) know, without causing a scene, that I didn’t share his views.

But I think the worst of it was that he seemed to see me and my husband (who pretended to be asleep ......) as comrades in ‘the great escape’ from the UK and as people who shared his views – after all, why else would we want to move to Spain ……..?

To give this man credit, he did also talk about all the good things in Spain, but even here, he stressed “it is all very well living amongst the Spanish, but one has to have some British neighbours, doesn’t one? After all, the Spanish are usually nice people, but they will try to rip us off whenever they can, especially as we don’t speak their language.”  One of the reasons he had chosen to live in a particular area (not too near to us, thankfully) was that “other British people live there already and more are coming out soon. Hopefully there will be a few British clubs and pubs there shortly.”

Talking to this man brought home to me what I had realised, but largely ignored, before.  Yes, many Spanish people want Brits to come to Spain, as they can sell their houses to them at a very good price and British (and German) visitors to Spain benefit the Spanish economy and thus (hopefully) the Spanish people.  But do they actually like ‘the Brits’?  Well, would you, if this was the type of attitude you encountered with many of them?

The views given by this man are not my views, or the views of my husband.  In fact, they couldn’t be much further from our views if they tried.  But I still feel like I have to ‘prove’ that people moving to Spain from Britain are not all like that – that we want to live among Spanish people; we want to get to know them; and, although we know that we have probably been ‘ripped off’ on the price of our property in Spain, it doesn’t bother us, as it was still far cheaper than any house we could have purchased in Britain.  Good luck to them - they make a profit and we get somewhere nice to live.  What could be wrong with that?  And if we don’t speak Spanish, whose fault is that?  It will not be easy, but we intend to learn Spanish well enough to be able to communicate with people in our new home.  What is the point in moving to a Spanish village otherwise?  If we didn’t wish to communicate with our neighbours we would have been better off moving to Torremolinos, which has been so taken over by ‘the Brits’ that it now resembles somewhere like Blackpool ...... only with sun.  No way would we want to live somewhere like that!

But this is getting me off the point a little.

This morning I happened upon a forum at Yahoo:  LondonBombingsThread where people were discussing ‘The War on Terror’.  The views expressed were from left, right and centre; from educated to less so …… Some views, from all political areas, were appropriate, but many were led by prejudice, particularly about immigration.  

Amongst all the messages I found a couple by people who were moving, or who had moved, out of Britain.  This is an example:

“Most British born people are law abiding citizens who know right from wrong. Many of these people are looking to live elsewhere. I left for Spain in ………. I WILL NOT return to live. Here in Spain people say as they think - a spade is a spade - none of this politically correct rubbish. The UK has been far too soft on immigration for far too long - and now it is too late - we no longer have a national identity!! The UK has gone to the dogs ...” ForumReply

Oh dear!

Naturally, people hit back with comments like: “It’s a good job Spain allows immigration then!” and reminded the writer about Spain’s past, under Franco (a far from ‘free thinking’ time), and about how terrorism was affecting Spain too.  All very apt comments.

But here again were those same views, almost word-for-word, that I had encountered on the plane.

Now I know that all British ‘ex-pats’ do not think this way, but it does seem that it is the most vociferous who are listened to, and these tend to be the people expressing views like these.  I do not want to be associated with them in any way, shape or form.

Maybe it’s time to stand up and be counted ........?


posted by summersun70 at 7:30 AM

0 comments



Thursday, October 06, 2005

Beasts of prey

Beasts of prey

In Guatemala, women are being raped, mutilated and murdered in their thousands. Even little girls have to constantly look over their shoulders. There is little chance of the perpetrators being caught — because often the law is right behind them. Christine Toomey investigates

There is a country where a man can escape a rape charge if he marries his victim — providing she is over the age of 12. In this country, having sex with a minor is only an offence if the girl can prove she is "honest" and did not act provocatively. Here, a battered wife can only prosecute her husband if her injuries are visible for more than 10 days. Here too it is accepted in some communities that fathers "introduce" their daughters to sex.

The whole article can be found here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2099-1740992_1,00.html

And a link to register your protest about this and other cases of violence against women worldwide, is here:postcard
and here: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/

Also:

Seeking Asylum is not a crime

Amnesty International is campaigning against the arbitrary detention of people who have sought asylum.  
The link to this is here: http://www.amnesty.org.uk/asylum/takeaction.shtml


posted by summersun70 at 6:46 PM

1 comments




Cynical?

Iran denies British attacks link
Iran has denied UK claims that it is responsible for explosions that have caused the deaths of all eight British soldiers killed in Iraq this year.
A senior British official linked the type of bombs used in the attacks to Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
He said they had provided technology to a Shia Muslim group in southern Iraq.
An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman denied the charge, saying it was a "lie" and accusing Britain of fomenting unrest in Iraq.
See the rest of this article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4314186.stm

Seems to me that ‘the powers that be’ will try anything to keep up the momentum on their ‘war on terror’.

Or is it just me being cynical?

posted by summersun70 at 6:13 PM

0 comments



Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bush considers using military against avian flu outbreak

Bush considers using military against avian flu outbreak
By Jennifer Loven, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON — President Bush, increasingly concerned about a possible avian flu pandemic, revealed Tuesday that any part of the country where the virus breaks out could likely be quarantined and that he is considering using the military to enforce the decision.

See the rest of this article here: http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2005-10-04-bush-avianflu_x.htm

So Bush wants to quarantine people ‘for their own good’.
What next I wonder?  ‘Quarantining people who don’t share his views?
This kind of thinking just has to stop.

posted by summersun70 at 3:52 PM

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Monday, October 03, 2005

No surprises...........

Iraq war delayed Katrina relief effort, inquiry finds The Independent 03 October 2005  By Kim Sengupta Relief efforts to combat Hurricane Katrina suffered near catastrophic failures due to endemic corruption, divisions within the military and troop shortages caused by the Iraq war, an official American inquiry into the disaster has revealed. The confidential report, which has been seen by The Independent, details how funds for flood control were diverted to other projects, desperately needed National Guards were stuck in Iraq and how military personnel had to "sneak off post" to help with relief efforts because their commander had refused permission.

See the rest of this article here: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article316682.ece

No surprises here then ………………

posted by summersun70 at 4:54 PM

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Brigitte Bardot??????????

You are Brigitte Bardot

Naurally sensual and beautifulYou're an exotic beauty who turns heads everywhereYou've got a look that's one of a kind

What Famous Pinup Are You? Take This Quiz :-)



Well ..................... she is a free spirit and she was a great beauty......................
I'm not blonde though!

posted by summersun70 at 4:05 PM

0 comments



Sunday, October 02, 2005

Why Help Never Arrived

This explains a great deal about why help was so late in coming to New Orleans:

http://jupiter.walagata.com/w/princessbing/whyhelpneverarrived.jpg

posted by summersun70 at 7:30 AM

0 comments



Saturday, October 01, 2005

Alhama-de-Granada_Gorge_and_mill_house

We have just got back from another visit to Granada, Spain and have finalised all the details on our new house.

This is a picture taken from the City Walls at Alhama de Granada, where we find our local town hall and pay our taxes!

The views make it worthwhile though.

More pictures follow soon.

posted by summersun70 at 2:43 PM

0 comments




Societes worse off with 'God on their side'

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

By Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent for The Times September 27, 2005 (Britain)

See the rest of this article here: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1798944,00.html

This, to me, is something that should be apparent to any free thinker who studies World events.
Not only does religious belief cultivate in its followers a false sense of ‘worthiness’ (the “we are better than you” mentality), but, by doing this, it also cultivates a system of scapegoating, marginalising, and victimising (“if you are not ‘one of us’, then you are dangerous and we must protect ourselves against you”).
Religion is also cynically used by those who wish to control others for their own ends.  One only has to look at how the political right in the US also claim to have ‘God on their side’ when they wish to prove a political point or bring in a new, oppressive law.
And, of course, more wars have been fought in the name of religion (and that can be any religion) than in any other name.
As Marx said “Religion is the opium of the masses”.  He was right.



posted by summersun70 at 6:44 AM

2 comments



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