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Monday, 27 October 2014

The "cost" of a futile war.

The closure of British base marks the end of Britain’s ground war in Afghanistan

 The "cost" to the United Kingdom alone, of this Blair/Bush adventure into Afghanistan is the lives of 453 British service personnel, and hundreds if not thousands of maimed and injured.At the end of the day, this "cost" becomes another statistic of a futile war, which never had any possibility of fulfilling the objectives set out in 2001.
The ego's of Blair and Bush, fueled by the rhetoric of politicians both here and in the United States, has resulted in what can only be described as a defeat for the western powers. The Taliban are still very much in evidence, the Poppy and opium industry is still flourishing, and the Afghan army has little if any possibility of maintaining control of even the small amount of the country that is being handed over to them
What then can you say to the families and friends of our soldiers killed while fighting this abortive war? What do you say to the thousand of injured who will for the rest of their lives bear the consequences, both physical and mental, of a futile war brought about by the ambitions and arrogance of politicians?
After almost 14 years, can we honestly say that the outcome of this wretched war in this ill-fated country was really worth "the cost"?
I do not think that we can.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Changing the clocks for the last time?

The clocks go back, so remember to change yours – for possibly the last time ever 


The Persistence of Memory - Salvador Dali

British Summer Time (BST), officially ended at 2 AM this morning, which means that we are now all on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and will remain so until sometime in March of 2015. This ludicrous practice of changing the clocks by one hour twice every year, was originally a wartime measure designed to boost production. Even after the war the practice has continued apart from the short experimental break during the period 1968 two 1971.

The experiment did not continue beyond this time as it was considered that darker mornings would somehow provide a more dangerous environment for schoolchildren and early-morning workers.An argument that I have never really understood or accepted. Notwithstanding all the available evidence on the contrary, the powers that be decided that the country should remain on the historic time changing in March and October of each year.

Now there are those people who still argue that changing the clocks in the winter somehow assists with road safety and is of benefit to society. If road safety and the safety of children getting to school in the morning are the only two arguments the campaign to retain his ridiculous practice can muster, then it is high time we scrapped this nonsense completely. It seems that there are moves in Parliament and elsewhere to end the practice which would make last night's changing of the clock the last one that we  should experience.One can only hope that sanity will prevail.

On a personal note, I woke at my usual time this morning. My usual time that is according to my body clock, which for many, many years, has determined that I should wake (all other things being equal) at any time between 04:00 and 05:00 every day, including weekends.This morning, I woke at 04:00 I knew it was that time, because the little traveling clock, which has served well for a number of years, indicated such when the button on top was pressed to turn on the light to illuminate the digital face.However, it soon dawned on me that everyone else in the country, would understand the time to be 03:00. The realisation was not pleasant, as I knew that I would not go back to sleep, and that for the next 6 months, the disruption to my personal clock would rage on unabated until sanity returns to the nation and we can revert to a sensible standard of BST.

Perhaps legislation will be made over the coming months and this antiquated, ludicrous and disruptive practice will be ended once and for all.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

United States foreign policy, is part of the problem, not the solution.


Putin says US 'throwing its might' is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts

President Vladimir Putin
Whether we like Putin or not, we cannot escape the reality that he is absolutely right.
Viet Nam, Grenada, Panama, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and numerous other places together with countless covert operations against democratic (and non democratic) governments and countries around the world provide compelling evidence that American foreign policy since 1945 is based upon a policy of intervention, which itself causes global instability.
The "shoulder to shoulder, pro America, the United States can do no wrong", lobby will no doubt respond to the comments coming out of Sochi, with the usual hysterical anti Russian, but predominately anti Putin, rhetoric, as if shouting insults and personal abuse somehow convinces everyone that their arguments are right. Nothing in fact could be further from the truth. The record of American interventions under successive administrations since 1945, The paradox of course is that the results of intervention frequently produce even more chaos and instability in the areas where it was supposed to "spread peace and democracy". Witness the current situation in Iraq, the deteriorating campaign against Islamic State, and the ongoing but now discredited "war on terror".
American foreign policy, driven by neocons and the neoconservative agenda, have produced global instability and will continue to do so.
It is unfortunate that the reality is, and will remain, obscured by the propaganda and constant diversions of the western media and deferential western governments.   

Friday, 24 October 2014

The "top of the agenda". Well, it is top for today anyway.

Ed Miliband: immigration is at top of Labour’s agenda


Ed Miliband: Another career politician.



The hypocrisy of career politicians is breathtaking.
 It is not possible to have more than one subject "at the top" of any agenda.
One day it is the NHS at the top, then the economy and the national debt, then education etc.
It seems that the item at "the top of agenda" can vary on a day to day basis, dependent upon which subject the political party perceives to be the most popular with the British people at the time. Echo's of the SDP back in the 1980's.
No wonder that politicians generally are despised and not trusted, by the British people who are in any case disillusioned with the political process.
YouGov reports today that the next general election could result in a "dead heat" with party being able to form any sort of coalition with others.In the light of the evidence of the last 5 years, perhaps a minority government might not be a bad option.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The effect of inflation on spending a penny.

 Traveling by coach in the United Kingdom

Coach travel UK

 If, for any reason, you need to travel by coach in the United Kingdom, and the route happens to take
in Bristol as a stop over or change, there are some important points that you will need to be aware of.
In my case, it was travelling last Sunday,(12th October) as a passenger with National Express from Dorchester to Swansea in Wales, with changes at Bristol and Cardiff. The journey had a duration of some 6 hours, including changes and some minor diversions to obscure pick up points along the way.
A lengthy time traveling, which would in any circumstances require "comfort breaks" even with the provision of toilet facilities on the coach. As it so happens, the "facilities" on the first coach were in fact blocked and therefore unusable. This must have been even more inconvenient, (no pun intended) for those traveling with this coach to its ultimate destination, which was in fact Blackpool, some distance away up the M6.
On reaching Bristol, there was the usual scramble for the station facilities, particularly as a number of coaches had arrived at the same time, spilling their cargo's of human travellers into an already crowded concorse, (and I thought that this was Sunday!) Eventually, we reached a turnstile, rather similar to those which used to be found at the gates of football grounds (perhaps the builders of the Bristol bus station has managed to secure a job lot of turnstiles at a knock down price during the construction work) to be confronted by a sign which demanded a 20p entry fee and moreover, would only accept 20p coins as a means of entry. After obtaining the necessary coinage, by the purchase of a Bounty Bar and a Crunchie, I gained entry to the convenience.
If the management of these bus stations are compelled to charge extortionate prices for the use of their amenities within the station, they might at least ensure that the facilities are clean and usable. The Bristol facilities are dirty, uncleaned and when seraching for toilet paper to wipe hands after discovering that the hand driers did not work, found that all of the WC's in the cubilcle were blocked. All of them. Not just blocked but overfolwing with paper and other matter. 
Not un naturally, I obtained a complaint form from the station office and indicated that I was not very happy with the situation. Bizzarely, he said that they have received lots of complaints about the state of the loo's from many users. Weird that nothing has been done to resolve the problem.

If by chance you travel on to Swansea, the charge is 30p!

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Trying to hang on, at any cost.

Nick Clegg makes case for power sharing role in future coalitions

Nick Clegg

 Clegg and the LibDems making their grubby little bid for another coalition.
It seems that these political opportunists will go to any lengths and make any promise necessary to hang on to their seats around the cabinet table, their ministerial cars (and other perks of the job) and of course their over inflated ministerial salaries.When it comes to hypocrisy and self interest, the LibDems have few equals.

Herbert Asquith

My grandfather, a life long Liberal since before World War 1, must be spinning in his grave. Thankfully he did not witness the duplicitous behaviour of the LibDems over the past five years and even before, since the "marriage" of Liberals and SDP.