Archive for July 2010
Remember all the promises? Remember all the bullshit? All those politicians, eager to get their pix in the papers and on the telly, sharing with ‘Our Athletes’? Ah yes, the ‘selfless athletes’ who only wish to bring their country glory! (I should really stop all this sarcasm!) One point which was hammered home time after time was how ‘Green’ these Games were going to be. How everything possible was being done to diminish the ‘construction footprint’? How ‘Green’ were all the buildings; how ‘green’ were all the plans to make the ‘Environment’ suffer as little as possible? I almost listed ‘How Green was my Valley’, but I mustn’t get carried away!
Anyway, one of the proposals to help ‘remove’ all the non-green activities of building this really expensive and wasteful set of boondoggles buildings was to build a big lock which would allow river-borne barge traffic to serve the entire site. Now in itself, it’s not a bad idea, but of course the marketing people got hold of the idea and extrapolated to state that up to 1.75 million tonnes bulk construction materials moved by barge would allow:-
- up to 170,000 lorry journeys saved
- up to 4,000 tonnes of CO 2 saved
So, at a cost of £23 million, plus all the other feasibility, planning and other studies which raise the cost to around £40million, the Olympic Park was presented with access for barge traffic which was capable of removing huge numbers of trucks from the construction sites.
Job done? Not quite. The lock has been used by approximately five bargeloads per month for the first two months, and then zero. Green, very Green.
Long time back, when still a young man, with thoughts only of beer, work, and more beer, during my time in the Merchant Navy, I did two stints on two oil tankers. One of those trips involved a visit to the arsehole of the world, otherwise known as the Persian Gulf to load crude from a dump named Bandar Mashur, in what used to be called Persia, now of course the playground of all things stupid and Islamic, Iran.
In the afternoon and evening before our morning arrival in the harbour roadstead, we had sailed through a blinding sandstorm, with visibility down to about thirty yards from the bridge, so naturally we slowed down, and kept watch on our progress by radar. During the storm we viewed and navigated past maybe two dozen other tankers and large cargo vessels, and as we successfully arrived in the port area, the captain and deck officers were congratulating themselves on completion of a difficult passage.
The American pilot boarded for the short voyage to the jetty and oil terminal, and as he walked alongside the deck cadet who was escorting him to the bridge, casually asked, “Much of a sandstorm last night?”
The cadet replied, “Yes, it lasted for about ten hours, but we slowed down, kept a double watch all night by radar, and we came clear round about four this morning.”
The pilot smiled, and when greeting the Captain and First Mate, asked exactly the same question about the storm, and received the same answer as from the cadet. “You maybe wanna’ stroll up to the focsle’head and check your anchor, Captain,” was the cryptic statement from the professional pilot, but would say nothing further until the deck cadet returned from his two-hundred yard walk forward and back with the news that the topworks, mast and sail of a Dhow were wrapped around the bow and anchor of our ship; and we had run over this small wooden vessel during our sandstorm passage, with the loss of the entire crew of seven men.
Because the Dhow had carried no metal in her rigging, and because she did not have a radar-reflector fitted on her mast, we had not even noticed her presence. Because of the bulk, weight and power of our tanker, we hadn’t even felt a bump as we rolled this tiny vessel under, and killed all her crew.
The Dhow was identified, the crew families and owners were compensated by our Company Insurers without even the need for any court proceedings, and once loading had finished, we left for the long run to Europe. For the Dhow crew members and their families, it was a tragedy; for us, as Officers and crew of a British Tanker, because we knew none personally, it was a tragedy, but less personal than for the dhow crew; but still a tragedy, writ small.
That happening was a tragedy, this is not!
Remember the story about how two muslim women were denied access to a bus because their faces were covered (niqab, veil, burka, carpet, whatever!)? Remember how the bus driver was excoriated for his actions,which were seen and condemned as racist and criminal? Remember how the MSM reacted, shouting, wailing and shredding their garments (well possibly)?
Wel, the bus company has now reviewed the CCTV records for that particular journey, and discovered that not only were the two women not barred because their faces were covered, as they had alleged, the CCTV review showed the women banging on the front doors and attempting to board the bus when it had come to the end of its run. They then get on through the rear doors and begin arguing with the driver. They get off and wait for the bus to start its journey back to Paddington – but another exchange follows, and the driver refuses to set off unless they disembark.
That was why they were refused permission, and for no other reason.
So when will we see the apologies to the driver from the BBC and the Muslim council of Britain? Personally, I reckon we’ll be waiting a long.g.g.g.g.g time!
The first building which catches your eyes on when reaching the headworks of one of the deepest gold mines in the world is the Safety Workshop. Besides the classrooms where all the safety regimes are listed and taught, where all the safety films and videos are shown, there is also a complete mock-up of an underground haulage, where many dangers are discussed, accidents and examples are shown and also the means to avoid such accidents happening. No-one can demonstrate how to escape the effects of an underground ‘bump’ or mini-earthquake, caused by the removal of a thin slice of rock stretching many, many hundreds of yards at a depth of maybe twenty thousand feet underground; but most other dangers are well-known and catalogued. These include the falls, the heat-exhaustion, the falling of random rocks weighing in at half-tonne each, the rapid transit from life to death if you place one foot in the wrong place, and so on, and so forth. The ‘Safety’ mantras are preached, and repeated, and reminded so often within the Workshop that one would actually believe that ‘safety rules’ underground as well.
Unfortunately, the one ‘mantra’ which was preached once the cages dropped below the surface of that particular mine was ‘Production, Ore production, Production’, and ‘Safety’ took the last seat on the tram. As a contractor, I ran an installation project underground, but also supervised a team of contract maintenance workers within the gold-ore operation. I have witnessed the ‘losing’ of un-expended sticks of ‘dynagel’ explosive by casually throwing them into the ore passes, I saw a passage where dozens of men were supposed to walk with one side next to an thirty-foot drop with absolutely no protection against accidental falls; I saw many other items which would drive the average H&S inspector up the wall. But was ever anything done? Nope, it was always ‘dig more ore’, get more gold, don’t hold up production!
The only time that ‘Safety’ took priority was when I signed my name to state that a haulage staircase, a wooden stairway which stretched upwards for literally hundreds of yards from one level to another, was dangerous and to be condemned. Once the Mine Manager saw the same conditions as one of my electricians had been complaining about for literally weeks, the entire walkway was replaced over a weekend!
My point is simple, when you read this, you can believe it, because if the great god ‘progress’ or the other idol named‘production’ is thought to be in peril, safety gets pushed out of the queue, and lands up in the back seat as usual!
I visited Zimbabwe twice during my time in Africa, both times on business. It was a strange time, when Zimbabwe was still run almost on civil lines, by a Black Administration headed by a Robert Mugabe who seemed to be running against the tide of Black-run Africa with sensible policies towards the farming and business communities, with little showing of the ruthless militaristic policies which dominated his latter rule. None of the tactics which latterly terrorised the farmers, with the bloodshed and plain theft had yet appeared, none of the confiscatory regimes were yet in place. Zimbabwe was being talked about as though it had broken the mould of repressive dictatorships which had bloomed throughout Africa.
The only jarring note was when the S.A.A. jet took off from Harare as I left, and ALL the Zimbabwean passengers applauded as the aircraft achieved height. Somehow I don’t believe the applause was all for the pilot.
Some twenty-seven years later, things are rather different. Page back with Cathy, if you will, and read of the slow, sad, but seemingly inevitable death of a Nation who once lived in a place which was often described as the ‘Breadbasket of Africa’. A Nation which has had it’s diamond mine output sales partially agreed by the Kimberley Process, but the profits from such sales remain invisible to the average Zimbabwean.
X-posted from A Tangled Web
In our Democratic process, the leader of the Party with the most seats in Parliament is asked to form a Government by Her Majesty, and so to run this Country of ours under a set of rules. The fact that Cameron sits in Number 10 by virtue of a Coalition with Clegg and his sandal-wearing numpties, is really a matter for him and his Party. But the Coalition is working, and despite rumbles in the undergrowth from a few of those same ‘numpties’, the deal seems to be working. Some if not all of the really stupid things brought in by Labour are being ditched, and who could argue with that?
However, Cameron must still learn his job description does not hold or have the power to make a Web Company change its direction in the publishing and promotion of its stock-in-trade. He might detest the very idea of glamourising the suicide of a man who killed, but it is the right of Facebook to continue hosting that page, notwithstanding the fact that Facebook obviously does not like the spotlight placed on one of its products.
That, and that alone, is the real argument. Should a private Company allow itself to be bullied into removing the page for Raoul Moat, or should it politely state that the opinions of its contributors are theirs alone, and they have every right to post them, however ludicrous, obscene or plain silly those opinions may be.
I do not consider Cameron to be a Right-wing politician, I think he may be a good Manager, but a ‘conviction’ politician he is not. He must get the very idea out of his head that, because the phone message emanates from No. 10, the recipient must jump to do his bidding! What Facebook is doing in the hosting of this particular page is, whilst possibly distasteful, is certainly not illegal, because all those statements are simply opinions.
In the course of my contributions to David’s blogsite, I have deleted a few comments upon my posts, mainly because the comments attacked the writer rather than the writing. I have stated that I will not tolerate obscenity, or personal attacks, and I believe I have kept to those tenets. Both on this blog and on my own site, I have always spoken my mind, and that is the nub of the argument against Cameron and his high-handed statements regarding the Facebook site. The Facebook commenters are placing their thoughts and beliefs in public, and as long as they do not incite violence or insurrection, they should continue to stay on that rather silly Facebook page.
Cameron has stated his position, regarding the sympathy for the dead and injured victims of Moat’s actions; he should perhaps realise that that is his opinion, and he should never attempt to censor or diminish the opinions of those who hold a different viewpoint.
As many know, I used to live and work in South Africa. That nation has a population of some 49 million people, and, compared to Great Britain, has approximately the same ratio of majority to minority people. In Great Britain, with some 62 millions, there are some 90% European stock, with 10% minority, of a dazzling range of ethnic and nationalities present. In South Africa, there is a direct reversal, with some 85% Black people with some seven tribal origins, Europeans including Afrikaans- and English-speaking people being 9% of the total remaining. The total population of South Africa, as extrapolated from the last census, is around 50 mlliion, as opposed to the 62 million of Great Britain.
In Great Britain, there have been 38 Farm and Agricultural workers killed on their farms and workplaces. All these deaths have been recorded and investigated by the Health & Safety Executive, and all deaths have been judged to have been accidental, some however also avoidable.
In South Africa, however, there have been 3,115 farmers and family members murdered in the past ten years. Strange how some statistics don’t get the same publicity as others!
YOU ARE PROUDLY SOUTH AFRICAN WHEN :
You call a bathing suit a “swimming costume”
You call a traffic light a “robot”
The employees dance in front of the building to show how unhappy they are
The SABC advertises and shows highlights of the program you just finished watching
You get cold easily. Anything below 16 degrees Celsius is Arctic weather
You know what Rooibos Tea is, even if you’ve never had any .
You can sing your national anthem in four languages, and you have no idea what it means in any of them
You know someone who knows someone who has met Nelson Madela
You go to “braais” regularly, where you eat boerewors and swim, sometimes simultaneously
You know that there’s nothing to do in the Free State
You produce a R100 note instead of your driver’s licence when stopped by a traffic officer
You can do your monthly shopping on the pavement
You have to hire a security guard whenever you park your car
You can count the national soccer team’s scores with no fingers
To get free electricity you have to pay a connection fee of R750
Hijacking cars is a profession
The national soccer team’s coach gets paid more than the mnister of finance
You can pay your tuition fees by holding up a sign at a traffic light
The petrol in your tank may be worth more than your car
More people vote in a local reality TV show than in a local election
People have the most wonderful names: Christmas, Goodwill, Pretty, Wednesday, Blessing, Brilliant, Gift, Precious, Innocence and Given
“Now now” can mean anything from a minute to a month
You continue to wait after a traffic light has turned to green to make way for taxis travelling in the opposite direction
Travelling at 120 km/h you’re the slowest vehicle on the highway
You’re genuinely and pleasantly surprised whenever you find your car parked where you left it
A bullet train is being introduced, but we can’t fix potholes
The last time you visited the coast you paid more in speeding fines and toll fees than you did for the entire holiday
You paint your car’s registration on the roof
You have to take your own linen with you if you are admitted to a government hospital
You have to prove that you don’t need a loan to get one
Prisoners go on strike
Prisoners get to vote
You don’t stop at a red traffic light, in case somebody hijacks your car
You have to budget for 2 muggings in your monthly budget
Rwandan refugees start leaving the country because the crime rate is too high
When 2 Afrikaans TV programmes are separated by a Xhosa announcement of the following Afrikaans program, and a an advert in zulu
The police advise you not to stop if they wave you down in the middle of the night but rather speed past them and drive to your nearest police station.
A minibus taxi overtakes you, just to stop right in front of you.
Votes have to be recounted until the right party wins.
A shop clerk makes you feel as if he/she is doing you a favour by letting you buy from their shop.
The police ask you if they should follow up on the burglary you’ve just reported.
A 45 year old engineer is replaced by a 25 year old who cannot write his own name.
20% of the city pays for everyone elses electricity and water supply.
A murderer gets a 2 year sentence, and a pirate TV viewer a 6 month sentence.
Crime actually DOES pay.
The Minister of Housing didn’t build a single house.
The Minister-without-Portfolio makes more noise than all the portfolios put together, and then, when he’s given a portfolio, you never hear from him again.
The Minister of Tourism is the same person who said “One Settler, One Bullet”.
Police stations hire Armed Response Units
Police stations get robbed
You go to a New Year street party in Hillbrow and wake up in hospital.
The Constitutional Court declares the death sentence unconstitutional, but rules that abortion is okay.
A government Minister is caught driving her car with a forged license, but the case is dropped for “lack of evidence”.
A minister of religion who stole millions from overseas-donated funds for the oppressed, returns to the country to a hero’s welcome and is officially welcomed by the government, represented by the Minister of Justice.
Scholars protest at the lack of schooling facilities by destroying school buildings and burning school books.
The entire country sees a thug admit on TV news to murdering several people, but the police say they have no case.
Landlords may not evict illegal squatters unless they offer them alternative accommodation.
ah! what a country!
There is a line of verse from this song by Abba, which goes:-
“Times of joy, and times of sorrow,” and that is what this life is really all about.
Yesterday afternoon, I sat on the the carpet in my son’s living room, and watched and played with my younger Grandson. I helped him load toy cars into a garage, and taught him that the winding path down from the top of the toy garage is called a ‘Ramp’, and then he smiled and repeated ‘Down the Ramp’.
He eventually sat on my knee, and I knew that all was well with my world.
We all have to play the cards we are dealt, and the deck which I have been dealt from has given me a few lousy hands, but as I looked at my grandson, I realised that there are always aces in the pack!
There is no noise from such an activity, because the other hand has been tied behind the back. Zen Buddhists claim to think on “When both hands are clapped a sound is produced; listen to the sound of one hand clapping.” as an exercise in mysticism. I have my own thoughts on that particular exercise, most of which could be gathered under the heading, ‘Why Bother’. But that is for Buddhists, and really none of my concern. I quite like Buddhism, and Buddhists in general, mainly because they do not try to change anyone’s mind by the application of Semtex, or a home-made hydrogen peroxide nail-bomb, as perhaps some of another major religion’s adherents are prone to try. But I digress, back to the hands.
Let us look at the one hand which is free, especially when that hand is attached to say, a U.S. Marine or a British squaddie on patrol or in base in the sandy dung-heap which is Afghanistan. If they come under fire, they must not return fire immediately, but refer to the Tactical Directive where it states, and I quote,
The use of air-to-ground munitions and indirect fires against residential compounds is only authorized under very limited and prescribed conditions,’ as well as ‘No ISAF forces will enter or fire upon, or fire into a mosque or any religious or historical site except in self-defense. All searches and entries for any other reason will be conducted by ANSF(Afghan National Army)’ and ‘I expect leaders at all levels to scrutinize and limit the use of force like close air support (CAS) against residential compounds and other locations likely to produce civilian casualties in accordance with this guidance. Commanders must weigh the gain of using CAS against the cost of civilian casualties’.
In other words, the lives of British and American servicemen and women were being placed at further risk by the actions and orders of an American general whose one desire was to please Obama, politicos in Washington, and a corrupt and venal Afghan Administration. I am surprised they fired MacCrystal, as he was indeed their type of soldier.
With regard to the Tactical Rules of Engagement, which usually get gold-plated by the time they come down to the ‘grunts with the boots’, and with the arrival of General Petraeus, will we be seeing a revision of the ‘no round in the chamber rule whilst on patrol’ which stripped our forces of the ability to react fast; and will we be seeing a dilution of the ‘no mosque searching’ tactic, which almost guaranteed a weapons build-up, all carefully aligned towards Mecca?
As I listened to the M.P. for Bridgewater bleating on about the cuts in school building whilst on the Today Programme this morning, I suddenly realised the vast gulf which exists between ‘us’ as ordinary British subjects of Her Majesty, and those who are ‘voted’ to represent us in Parliament, as well as those who purportedly work in Government.
As with the ‘Expenses’ saga, so with anything which involves real life thinking. The saying ‘They just don’t get it’ summed in total the attitude of the MPs when their pillage and rapacious appetites were thrown wide open by those wonderful Telegraph front page headlines. ‘They’ just did not understand the anger and bitterness which was generated by the news that our representatives had virtually been given a free run at the chocolate factory, and there had been no limits set on their appetites.
So to the flawed release of school building budget cuts which had to be revised, and Ian Liddell-Grainger’s interview on the BBC, which is what I found so incredible. The reason why the amount of money available for the building budget was being cut was because we didn’t have the money, but the genius from Bridgewater was ready with his reply. “We’ll build the schools now, and pay later on than we should” was his economically-judged answer. What this illiterate moron was stating was that Labour and Gordon Brown was correct when they enlarged PFI funding by some 700%. What his reply said was that it was okay, in his view, to put the nation in hock for billions because ‘things have got to get better, later on’ and when the bills come due, we, or rather our grandchildren, will pay. The schools in Bridgewater are so important to the economy that we must abandon the spending cuts, not of course for everybody; just for my Bridgewater constituents, who are really special!
As I said, ‘They really, really, do not get it’!
Interpol has always advertised itself as being a ‘power for good’, and it states that it ‘exists to help create a safer world by supporting law enforcement agencies worldwide to combat crime’
All well and good, and many if not most of the police who are seconded from its member countries are dedicated officers.
In its ‘mission statement’, Interpol talks about battling corruption, as corruption undermines political, social and economic stability. It threatens security and damages trust and public confidence in systems which affect people’s daily lives. Although corruption frequently occurs at local or national level, its consequences are global; its hidden costs immense.
Interpol also states its mission is to enhance co-operation among member countries and stimulate the exchange of information between all national and international enforcement bodies concerned with countering organized crime groups and related corruption. Drawing on the wide investigative and analytical experience of its multinational staff, Interpol helps 188 member countries.
Jackie Selebi, a former political ally of Thabo Mbeki was given the top police job in South Africa despite having no police experience whatsoever. Jackie Selebi, National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, served as INTERPOL President from 2004 until 12 January 2008.
His previous positions include:South Africa’s representative at the United Nations, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations 54th Session, Chairman of the Anti-Landmine Conference, Oslo.
So what do readers think of the very recent conviction of Jackie Selebi for corruption in South Africa. Was he the right man for the job in 2004, and if so, what would a logical explanation be for his fall from grace in 2010?
Parents of Madeleine McCann to meet home secretary
Once the ‘shock and awe’ bit of the American and British onslaught was over, and after the years-long Shia & Sunni uprisings against the hated invader, rather than the Baathist oppressor was also slowing down, the American reconstruction phase began. After all, Bush stated, we knocked it down, we should help build it up again. A noble ideal, but perhaps if the military and civilian contractors who commenced the re-building had been given a fair run, the end result might have been better.
So the Americans are pulling out of Fallujah, because the American Base is closing down, the Iraqis are left with no sewage works worth talking about. Nationwide, there is a death toll for America now numbering 5521, and the Iraq Parliament still hasn’t agreed on who sits where and does what, never mind running the country!
All told, a very fair deal. For who? The body bag and coffin makers?
Tiger’s wife to get $100 million!
Once more the headline writers strive for the superlative which fits their idea of a huge sum of cash to be handed over to the divorcing wife of a philandering egotistic sports star who has been ‘outed’ in the headlights of the worlds’ news media. Now many of the readers of those headlines are thinking ‘Cor, all that cash, wot’s she done to deserve that?’; but few have wondered why this information is splashed all over the red-tops, as well as most of the staider publications.
Whether it be a marital infidelity battle between a sporting star and his long-suffering wife; or a feud between a high-flying businessman and his wife who has discovered he has been supporting two mistresses and seven illegitimate children over a period of fifteen years, the same question applies. Why the headlines, why the photos of the string of one-night-standees, why the interminable stories of who did what to whom, and all that money, Agatha!
Is it because the target of the artillery gave the impression as ‘noble and pure’ and ‘a loving family man’, and so put himself up as someone who is a natural target for any of a jealous or prurient nature? It is only human nature to attempt to emulate a hero, and when that hero is discovered as having ‘feet of clay’ in any part of his life or lifestyle, the awful truth that he after all just like many others, is perhaps too hard for the hero-worshipper to accept, and so the betrayed revel in his, or her, downfall. But do we need to know how much the wife gets as a reward for her betrayed trust?
When Paul McCartney ditched Heather the stories and gossip columns were full of the scandal, and the jokes about ‘not having a leg to stand upon’ were posted by many, including myself. Part of our interest was piqued by the sight of yet another ‘old fool’ taken for a ride by a grasping femme-fatale, part no doubt by a memory of a great love-match which had been the previous McCartney marriage, and a collective intake of breath when he was snared by one who was said to be stalking him from the moment they met. So when we read that Heather, who was also the subject of lurid headlines about her previous employment, grabbed £24.3 million after trying for £125 million, are we a) relieved that she and her daughter have been provided for, or b) disgusted that the court system has been used by some presumed slag to attack a pop music legend, or c) revel in the knowledge that there is ‘no fool like an old fool’. Then wonder what it would be like to have £24.3 million?
With just about everything that is associated with ‘celebrity’ or ‘celebrities’ these day being almost common knowledge, should we just accept that they have more money than us, and let them get on with it, or should we reserve our ire and disgust for some true thieves, such as Yvette Cooper and hubby Ed Balls. Yup, that’s the pleasant pair of rogues who stole through ‘flipping’ their second home allowances so as to gain a real pecuniary advantage. It might have been ‘within the rules’ but it was still theft! And don’t let any word of ‘disgraced’ M.P.s alter the fact that both Balls and Cooper are still Shadow Cabinet members.
So the dead hand of McDoom (Gordon Brown for the forgetful) is striking back in revenge for all that has been done to him.
Well, it seems as though Gordon is striking back, because the re-use of plastic bags, and the usage of long-life bags has been thrown into doubt because of the newly-discovered build-up of E-Coli inside the re-usable bags.