Sunday, December 31, 2006

Arise Sir Wiggy!
Now that Robin Gibb has joined the list of Blair's super-rich benefactors can we expect him to feature on some future honours list, or has the Right Honourable charity case kicked the arse out of that one? Having left his erstwhile friend Lord Levy to face the music, has Blair done enough to get the Metropolitan Muskers off his case? I hope not. Until we can get him before a war crimes tribunal this illegal huckstering will have to do.
So farewell then, Saddam Hussein. You were an ardent advocate, and practitioner, of capital punishment. What fitter way to for you to go?
A pity though that Saddam's successors were unable to eschew his methods and make a clean break with the past. What, give up torture, imprisonment without trial, judicial and injudicial murder? Not while their American masters encourage the use of the old and tried methods of government by despised puppets.
One problem, now that Saddam has gone, who will replace him as the embodiment of evil for Fox-ridden Americans? They need a hate figure and Usama seems to have left the building. Ahmadinajad! Give him a snappy name and he'll fit the bill. A five-syllable monicker is too much for any Anglophone.

Neoliberalism and Global Justice
This report is lifted from December's Industrial Worker. The terms "Wob" and "Wobbly" refer to members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). "Chooks" are chickens.
Melbourne Wobs participated in the
Second Latin American and Asia Pacific Solidarity
Gathering Oct. 21-22 at Trades Hall.
The conference sought to widen the cracks
in neoliberalism by building bridges between
grassroots organisations around the world,
which are fighting back in new and ever more
inventive ways.
IWW delegate Margaret Creagh spoke on
the opening day, beginning her talk with the
Wobbly Doxology. Excerpts follow:
“When the IWW was founded in Chicago
101 years ago, they said: ‘There can be no
peace so long as hunger and want are found
among millions of working people.’
“We were made criminals then and the
capitalists have plundered ever since.
“Ten years ago 176 bullshit world leaders
at the World Food Summit pledged to halve
the number of undernourished people by
2015. Yet 850 million are still hungry – some
18 million more than in 1996. ... Six million
children die from hunger each year, yet we
... have enough food to provide everyone
in the rest of the world with at least 2,720
kilocalories per person per day.
“Naming The Bastards: Monsanto’s empire
includes Dow Chemicals, infamous for
giving us the Vietnam War chemical Agent
Orange. ... Monsanto are now patenting
indigenous foods as privatised corporate
property; and genetically engineered soya
beans grown in Argentina are shipped here
to Melbourne for feeding chooks.
“Every year more of our class die due
to work-related illnesses and accidents.
Yet asbestos is still exported from Canada
and ‘Australian’ company James Hardie has
moved offshore to avoid liabilities here.
“Corporate crooks run amok. Climate
changed governments and capitalists are rebranded,
green-washed sustainable exploiters
of the planet. There is no right to food and
no right to water. In South Africa’s economic
apartheid slums you must get a pre-paid card
to get water from a tap in the street. That’s
profiteering in the 21st century. ...
“Military spending has gone ballistic
which means there is no more pretence at getting
rid of poverty in this world. When there
are ‘natural disasters’ ... the poor suffer the
most. ... Poor people who start climbing the
ladder to better conditions are outnumbered
by people who are facing worse conditions,
because of unemployment or more informal
employment. The abyss between rich and
poor increases daily in all countries.
“Where could be global justice?
“What if we join our community and
union forces to meet all the challenges of
today – we are millions, billions in fact.
Health and safety are the priority at work – we
cannot improve conditions and wages if we
get maimed and die. Here in Australia, April
28th is industrial work deaths and injuries
day. In the lead=up to May Day, May 1st, it is
a time to remember the dead and fight like
hell for the living.
“The International General Strike is coming
– Latin America can do it and Central
American can do it. In the USA, on May Day
of this year, millions of migrant workers went
on strike.
“Here in Australia the General Strike
defends and extends hard-won conditions
now under siege by the corporations and their
puppet governments.
“Before the invasion of Iraq began, several
unions, most notably in Italy and the UK,
made efforts to use their power as workers
to stop the transport of war materials. As an
IWW poet said years ago, ‘Without our brain
and muscle not a single wheel can turn.’ The
ruling class – international capitalism – needs
us to do its bidding. When we organize and
refuse its orders, we can start to define an
alternative to the ‘New World Order.’
“We can take over and lock out the employing
class and transform production to be
in harmony with Mother Earth, so six million
children do not starve to death again next year
and 850 million others are no longer hungry
and the bloody plunder wars cease.”

Monday, December 11, 2006

So farewell then, Pinochet - asesino, ladrón, hijo de puta. We mourn the thousands you murdered, but for you we feel only contempt. You evaded justice in a most cowardly way.You seized power in a cowardly way, bombing the presidential palace from the air. Did you ever in your life act like a man?
We remember also your British friends, Thatcher, Lamont and Jack Straw, a man whose reputation for cowardice vies with yours.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

L'Wren, isn't that the most ridiculous name ever concocted, and it's real. There is someone going around with this name. What I want to to know is, did her parents foist this name on her, or did she just adopt this exotic spelling? Perhaps she thought it was "kinda classy", as Kirk Douglas did his nom de guerre. The apostrophe is the icing on the cake, gives it that little extra.
I've always wondered who sent the name Lauren out into the cold world - I'm assuming L'Wren is a "classy" version of Lauren. But that name seems to me to be synthetic, one with no genuine roots . The first of the name, to my knowledge, was the actress Lauren Bacall, but she was Betty Perske in the real world. I'm guessing that the pseudonym was imposed on her by some agent/ manager/PR person who thought it "kinda classy".
Then there's Lauren Hutton who's really called Mary Hutton; and Ralph Lauren, who's real name is Ralph Lifschitz. So when do we get to the genuine article?

Remembering my copy of Leslie Dunkling and William Gosling's "Dictionary of First Names" I looked up Lauren. It seems that the individual who renamed Ms Bacall and gave this name to the world was Howard Hughes, though Lauren was found occasionally as a male given name for a few years prior to Howard's stroke of genius. She, it seems, was the first female Lauren.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Blair apologises for slavery, which was abolished 200 years ago. Well, not quite an apology, but he feels bad about it. How long will the Iraqi people wait for an to apology?
What is the point of apologising for something for which one is not responsible, something that happened hundreds of years ago? A Tory MP, Greg Clark, said recently of the Thatcher years, "Ignoring the reality of relative poverty was a terrible mistake." A Tory criticising Thatcher, that's more like it. Maybe one day the Conservatives will issue a full-blown apology for the Poll Tax, Mad Cow Disease, the destruction of the mining industry (virtually all British industry, in fact). Then it will be Labour's turn to apologise for Blair. Let's witness a little contrition for what the malefactors have done to us, the living, to our institutions, and to our communities.

Litvinenko, who worked for Berezovsky, met Lugovoy, who works for Berezovsky, then he died. Goldfarb, who works for Berezovsky, produces what he claims is a deathbed statement by Livinenko, blaming Putin for his poisoning. Putin, Berezovsky's bete noire. There's something missing from this investigation, and from the media's reporting of it. What can it be?
Meanwhile, in Lebanon, the investigation into the death of Pierre Gemayyel has turned up two names; the mass murderer Samir Geagea, and Sami Gemayyel, brother of the deceased. Both Maronites, both, presumably anti-Syrian. This is not the way things were meant to work out. Time for a change of tack.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Farepak swindle is a demonstration of our economic and political system at its purest. The rich steal from the poorest sector of society and it's all legal, nothing can be done. What's more nobody in the government wants to do anything. Apart from that prick McCartney, "Let's have a whipround, but let's not disturb the thieves while they're tallying up."
Blair stands up in Parliament and states the government's intent to ensure that this will never happen again. Later a spokesman interprets this statement. "It doesn't mean that the government is going to do anything."

Statements in Parliament are no longer to be taken seriously, it seems. Margaret Beckett gets up and declares that British Forces will start pulling out of Iraq in the Spring. Later a government spokesman clarifies, "This doesn't mean that troops will be pulling out in the Spring."
Well of course not. I remember when John Profumo had to resign from the government for lying to Parliament - such quaint old customs.
The past is another country. I sometimes wonder if my presence in this one is legal.

Friday, November 24, 2006

My semi-serious remarks about a rehabilitation of Saddam may not be far off the mark. According to a report on James Baker has been talking to one of Saddam's lawyers. The lawyer was informed that Tariq Aziz is to be released to negotiate with the Baathist resistance, presumably to cut ties with the Sunni Fanatics if any such ties ever existed.
Meanwhile Tony Blair mourns the death of one Pierre Gemayyel. OK Tony, tell us all you know about this political giant. I'm betting he'd never heard the name before the assassination. Pierre was one of the anti-Syrian faction in Lebanon. That means pro-American, that's the America that sent the Israelis into Lebanon to kill as many Lebanese as possible, and to turn the country to rubble. I can see why he might be a target for people other than the Syrian Mukhabarat.
Lebanese politicians are assassinated with regularity, usually by other Lebanese, and its my opinion that the Maronites, Gemayyel's own confessional group, top the assassination charts. Observers are pointing out that Pierre was killed in what should have been a relatively safe area for him.

Another claimed political murder, that in London of Litvinenko, raises some questions. He is supposed to have upset Putin with his claims about the Moscow bombing, that it was done by Putin's people, not Chechen terrorists. Well this story has been in the public domain for some time and the western media and western politicians have chosen not to hear it. Why should Putin worry? As long as he pays lip service to Bush's "war on terror" he can do what he likes to his own people.
We are supposed to sympathise with this Litvinenko, yet he was once part of this state terrorist set-up. That's how he knows so much. He chose to transfer his allegiance to the gangster, sorry oligarch, Berezovsky; doubtless a much more rewarding post, financially speaking. I can't swear to this but I'm sure I heard his friend Nekrasov say that he knew he'd been poisoned because he was once part of the department that carried out these operations.
I have to ask, who are these people, Litvinenko, Goldfarb, Nekrasov? What are they doing here? Russian politics and gangsterism are so closely linked that we should treat all these people with suspicion. At the moment the Berezovsky boys are having a free run in the British media, and they are muddying the waters in my opinion. Their activities merit closer scrutiny.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Back in the saddle. Major surgery, complications, serious illness, slow, continuing recovery.
My best laid schemes for the exposure of cliché-ridden mediaspeak, and a catalogue of silly name spellings have rapidly descended my list of priorities. So has my planned piece on the evil that is Starbucks. I may manage it eventually, but for now I think I'll just kvetch (or it quetsch?).
What doesn't kill us makes us stronger, that's what the platitudinarians say, and it's shite. What doesn't kill us softens us up for the next attack on our physical well-being. We are left weaker, not stronger; and, I'm wagering, our lives are shortened by the massive drain on our powers of resistance and recovery from an attack on our system. The Iceman hasn't got me yet, but I don't think he's given up on me. He isn't saying "How much stronger is Jemmy Hope!" More likely he's saying "Next time will be easier."
But have I said one word of thanks, one word of praise, for the dedicated people who brought me through the ordeal? The thanks are felt and meant, and were expressed at the time. What I would add is that those fine, hard working people who work at the gory end of our once great National Health Service deserve better than they are getting from managers, money-grubbers, and the lying politicians who are cosying up to the privateers - oh. and ineffectual full-time union officials.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Americans are looking for a strong man to take over in Iraq. It seems democracy has dropped down the list of priorities. Isn't the answer obvious? Reinstate Saddam. All he needs to do is drop that idea of trading oil in euros instead of dollars, and accept Israel's right to invade and occupy any Middle Eastern country at any time, and his differences with the Yanks disappear.
The practitioners of realpolitik are a forgiving bunch; how many former terrorists have ended up with the Nobel Peace Prize? Menachem Begin, Nelson Mandela, Seán MacBride; how long before bin Ladin's on his way to Oslo? Yesterday's evil dictator is today's valued ally; look at Pervez Musharraf; and the Gadaffi makeover continues. And vice versa, as the man himself can testify - one day blithely gassing Kurds and massacring Shi'ites with chemicals and weapons provided by the US and UK, the next standing accused of heinous crimes against those same Kurds and Shi'ites, by the US and the UK!
But all's not lost, the rehabilitation of the Red Knight may become necessary. Insh'allah, ya Saddam, insh'allah.

Wordwatch 3
Since the last tally: two icons, one iconic, two adjectival keys, one surreal. That last may have been acceptable use as it referred to Bing Crosby and David Bowie duetting on "The little Drummer Boy". Creepy, sinister, louche, disturbing; I'm sure there were more apt words.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Here's a quote from Terence Davies, unemployed film director -

"...we once had a culture of our own and now it's just been subsumed by America. In 20 years' time we'll be little better than Hawaii, and why we're not admitted to the union I don't know because we're no longer our own country. We swallow hook, line and sinker everything from America. And we've become cheap and shoddy and we do nothing well. And abroad we are despised, and we deserve to be."
I have to agree with that. What annoys me most is that while this ethnocide is going on right-wing propagandists are howling about how Europe is destroying our culture. Their American paymaster, Murdoch, is well served.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I see that the masked media tart is now claiming to represent all of Islam in Europe. Aren't the faithful getting a little embarrassed by this woman?

Wordwatch 2
Since the last tally I've collected two icons (BBC News, Hull DailyMail), one bling (Channel 4 News, what a let-down!), and one surreal (Guardian). I've also encountered a strange new adjective, milky. What the hell is that? It was used by a commentator to describe a football team's performance, (honestly!), and by a reviewer describing a singer's voice. In the former context it seemed to convey a negative verdict; in the latter context, I've no idea what was meant. Maybe it can be used when you don't want to give anything away. "How are things in Iraq, Mr. Blair?" "Oh, you know, milky." I recommend it to Government speechwriters and spin doctors.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lesson Learned.
The first line of the entry becomes the title. Ah-ha! So let's make it official, bold type and all.

"Nickeled and Dimed" to the Limit.
News of an encouraging development.
by Liza Featherstone, Nation Contributing Editor October 17, 2006
Yesterday, more than 200 Wal-Mart workers held a demonstration in front of a Wal-Mart store in Hialeah Gardens, Florida. In the first significant protest ever organized by Wal-Mart employees in the United States, workers objected to managers cutting their hours, and to the company's insistence on employees' "open availability," as well as to a new, more stringent attendance policy. It's courageous of these workers, who are part of a Florida group called "Associates at Wal-Mart," to speak out publicly and demand better treatment. Let's hope their protest is a turning point in the fight for workers' rights atWal-Mart, and that more workers will be emboldened by the Florida workers' example and begin to organize.Too much of the debate over Wal-Mart takes place without the perspective of the true experts -- the workers themselves.

Words used by TV presenters that set my teeth on edge:
icon, iconic, surreal, quirky, feisty, key, cool, bling, chav. I may boil over occasionally about use of such. Yesterday's count - one apiece of icon, iconic, surreal. Also on the list, "key" as an adjective, but detached from a noun, as in "it's key". Is it really, Prat? I give up on "guys"; no middle-class twit can open their mouth without uttering it. It's shorthand for "I'm a middle-class twit, and I'm about to talk shite at you."

I shall also be collecting silly name spellings, Lezli for Lesley, that sort of thing. "His name was Rick but he spelt it Ryque. I decided he was a pryque." (Bob Monkhouse).

Monday, October 16, 2006

First entry. How long before I tire of talking to myself? One person in three with access to the internet keeps a weblog, so they say. But who reads all this output?

My native city has just been labelled the "stupidest" town in Britain. Apparently this conclusion is based on school exam results and academic qualifications obtained by the people of Hull. Well here's a couple of possible reasons why we fare badly on this particular scale:
1. We don't lie and bullshit about our qualifications like the majority of the population.
2. We don't suffer from "diploma disease". We don't seek the approval of the guardians of the nation's academic standards, perhaps (certainly, in my case) because we think those standards are so debased as to be worthless.

Change of subject - the veiled teacher. Well why not, everyone else has had their say?
It turns out that when this woman attended her job interview she was not wearing the veil she cannot leave home without. Do I detect a little money-making scheme here, a compensation award from an employment tribunal? There is another interpretation, one to which I'm inclined: in spite of her much vaunted modesty this woman is a publicity hound, a self-advertiser. If I'm right on this the final act will be her unveiling in the tabloid press in return for a substantial sum.
I'm sure that no Wahhabi fanatic is convinced of her sincerity. I can imagine them watching the telly and screaming, "Look at this harlot! She expresses her worthless opinions to an infidel male before the whole world. She goes out to work! She should be beaten with a stick no thicker than my thumb. No! We must stone her to death."