Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: February 2009

28 February 2009

United States' economy is in it's worst state since a quarter of a century ago

In our old Brit Londoner's famous rhyming-slang, cockney-speak, it's called "boracic lint". To the rest of we Brits it signifies absolutely "skint".

Translated into American, it says "stony broke".

U.S. economy is in worst decline for more than a quarter century

The U.S. economy suffered a huge nosedive in the final three months of last year, shrinking by a staggering 6.2 per cent.

The figures released by the U.S. department of commerce yesterday far outstripped the worst fears of the government and the gloomiest predictions by financial analysts.

The contraction is the worst decline in America’s gross national product for more than a quarter of a century.

So see the rest of this sad story for yourself.

Shocking? For sure.

Surprising? You've got to be joking

Surely only the extremely stupidest of suckers couldn't see it coming.

Boy, oh boy, oh boy.

What BushCo & their various criminal, greedy and corrupt cronies broke, Barak Obama has got one hell of a job to fix. Temporarily to repair, even.

Well, we sure wish him lots & lots of luck, since he's certainly going to need some.

It's long been said that whenever the US sneezes, the rest of the world catches a cold.

The terrible truth of today is that America has actually already succumbed to one sodding serious case of the 'flu. And as almost all of us have already learned by past personal experience, the flaming 'flu sure is one infamously contagious critter.

Sad to say, we strongly suspect that things are set to get a lot worse before they start to get better.

But what should silly old sods such as ourselves know?


After all, this is the 21st century. Things are so much different these days.

So long as one stays silent regarding mere trifles such as wanton warfare, woeful welfare and (still) hardly any real health care.

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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24 February 2009

Kyrgyzstan kicks America out of it's country

Oh, dear! What can the matter be? Oh, dear! What a calamity.

Fancy such a supposed short-assed, no account, completely crappy kind of crummy country such as Kyrgyzstan having the temerity to tell the mighty US military machine to take a hike.

Oh, dear!

Bet they wouldn't be as big & brave if they didn't have their rich Russian & Chinese chums, eh?

Kyrgyzstan leaves US out in the cold

As the Kyrgyz parliament decides to close the only US military base in the country, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes considers the strategic and political impact of the announcement.


Manas airbase is one of those peculiarly American creations. Outside the fence it is Central Asia, inside it is the mid-west of the United States.

A land of large white pick-up trucks, stars and stripes and huge, very polite people who insist on calling you "Sir".


But the truth, I knew, is that the Americans are here for one reason only, and it was sitting outside in the shape of 12 large aircraft.

There is nothing very sexy about a KC-135. It is a big drab grey airliner converted to be a flying petrol station.

But KC-135s are hugely important to American and British squaddies on the front line in Afghanistan.

[See map of existing and possible supply routes in the region]

Every time they get into a tight spot with the Taleban, they call in an air strike by fighter jets waiting in the sky above.

Those fighter jets can only remain airborne because of the KC-135s flying out of Manas. There is one circling high over Afghanistan 24 hours a day.


... there is little to show for the eight years America has spent here.

Inside the Manas airbase the buildings all look distinctly temporary.

For all their talk of "partnering", the Americans have not even fixed the broken concrete runway.

They pay a paltry $60m a year in rent. And one day, when their war in Afghanistan is done, they will go home. Unlike the Russians, who have already been here for well over 100 years.
Still, as is so often said by some, sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Others, lots less polite, say such stuff as tough shit, get over it, move on, business is business m'boy and so on & so forth.

Read the rest of this extremely interesting, and telling, report right here.

Hmm. Certainly does seem to be an especially super-duper, sort of sooo strategically globally positioned place of seriously significant importance doesn't it?

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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22 February 2009

Tony Blair : Special Sunday Petition Edition : Please Sign A War Crimes Petition

** Blair War Crimes Foundation **

Aim: To bring Tony Blair to trial

For press enquiries you can contact:

Here's just a few of the ever increasing list of signatories to the letter, so far : including our own of course.

John Pilger, David Halpin, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Ken Loach, Noam Chomsky, Richard Dawkins, Lindsey German, Ben Griffin, Dr Nawal Saadawi, Haifa Zangana, Dr Kamil Mahdi, Bruce Kent, David Halpin, MB, FRCS, Nicholas Wood, MA, RIBA, FRGS, Chris Burns-Cox, MD, FRCP, Joyce Morgan, Sara Wood MA (Oxon), Roslyn Cook, Geoff Evans, Dr. Margaret Evans, Nisar Ali Shah, Michael Culver (actor) and Amanda Culver (artist), Jonathan Cook (Journalist), Euan Donaldson (Film Makers Against War), Dr Nawal Saadawi (writer Egypt), Haifa Zangana (Iraqi woman writer and activist), Edward S Herman, Ph.D (Berkeley USA - professor, writer), Mundher al adhami (academic), Rikki Blue (journalist), Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, David Edwards, Anabella Pellens (translator Argentine), Sarah Case, Angela Baguena (Barcelona), Jenny Wood (academic), Peter Day, Andrew Goodman, David Miller (Professor of Sociology, Strathclyde), Richard Dawkins, Lindsey German, Ben Griffin (former SAS soldier), Dr Kamil Mahdi, Ken Loach, Bruce Kent ...

... and many other other citizens (both ordinary and extraordinary) of Spain, Argentine, USA, UK and elsewhere who whole heartedly support a Blair War Crimes Foundation to seek signatures for a petition to the United Nations General Assembly and the UK Attorney General, to uphold the UN Charter, the Geneva and Hague Conventions, and International Law, and to indict Tony Blair for war crimes.

If you agree with this aim, please see the letter and add your name to the online petition. You can also contact us at Your email details will not be passed on to others or used for any purpose.


It is necessary to make leaders hesitate before indulging in “the paramount war crime” to quote the judges of Nuremberg, of “unprovoked aggression against a defenceless country”.

Unless leaders fear that they might be tried for their war crimes, we will live in an increasingly violent world, where The Geneva Conventions are treated as a joke, the UN is of no account, and death, destruction, torture, and repressive policing are commonplace.

At the moment such leaders enjoy more and more trappings of power, and retire with vast sums of money, houses, medals and lucrative contracts.

A group of UK Citizens have therefore set up an organisation, “The Blair War Crimes Foundation”, to initially bring one such leader to justice as an example.

Contributions to cover advertising and postal costs are welcome at BWC Foundation Fund PO Box 64656 NW3 9NG ~~ N.B. Any surplus will paid to Basra Childrens’ Leukaemia Hospital.

Secretaries of Foundation: David Halpin MB, FRCS, Nicholas Wood MA, RIBA, FRGS at above address.

Founded January 2009

** Please read the relevant letter, look at the list of signatories, then sign said petition yourself. **

After all, it's the very least you/we all can do.

Site info:

Blair War Crimes Foundation


(Theme: Andreas04 by Andreas Viklund. Blog at


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21 February 2009

Today, it's apt caption competition time ...

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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17 February 2009

America's Phony War on Terror : Ex Irish President Mary Robinson states the obvious

While we readily admit that today we're taking a sarcastic sort of swipe at the pretty dumb practice of stating the sodding obvious, we ourselves wish to make it perfectly obvious that we are in no way "having a go" at Ireland's excellent ex President, Mary Robinson.

Since the sad truth is that there are still millions of westerners convinced that bums like George Bush and Tony Blair, to mention just a pair, always told us all the truth.

Just take a look at this.

GENEVA (Reuters)

Washington's "war on terror" after the September 11 attacks has eroded human rights worldwide, creating lingering cynicism that the United Nations must now combat, international law experts said on Monday.

Mary Robinson, who was the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights when al Qaeda militants flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001, said the United States caused harm with some of the ways it responded.

"Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and repeal abusive laws and policies," the former Irish president said, warning that harsh U.S. detentions and interrogations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba gave a dangerous signal to other countries that could easily follow suit.

While new U.S. President Barack Obama has announced he will close Guantanamo to break from the practices of his predecessor George W. Bush, Robinson said sweeping changes needed to take place to ensure Washington abandons its "war paradigm."

"There has been severe damage and it needs to be addressed," she told a news conference in Geneva. "We are not more secure. We are more divided, and people are more cynical about the operation of laws."

Arthur Chaskalson, former chief justice of South Africa, said that the United States should launch an inquiry into its counter-terrorism practices, including acts of torture by individual security and intelligence agents.

Although counter-terrorism issues have faded from the front pages since the change of government in Washington, Chaskalson said such practices have shifted around the world and could keep restricting liberties if they are not confronted head-on.

"We all have less rights today than we had five or 10 years ago, and if nothing happens, we will have even less,"
So here's to you, Mrs Robinson, we have to say that we like your style. Like it a lot, in fact. Truth be told, maybe we even love it.

Now read the rest of this Reuters'report.

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14 February 2009

US National Lawyers Guild Investigates Israel's Palestinian Persecution

If you belong to that bunch of barmpots who habitually condemn all American lawyers as being nothing but a load of lying, money grabbing mofos, don't bother reading further. We'd hate to waste both your time and ours.

However, if you're not so stupid as to all too easily swallow such silly shit, you'll probably choose to continue.

A Report from Gaza

Strong Indications of Israeli War Crimes


Gaza City.

We are a delegation of 8 American lawyers, members of the National Lawyers Guild in the United States, who have come here to the Gaza Strip to assess the effects of the recent attacks on the people, and to determine what, if any, violations of international law occurred and whether U.S. domestic law has been violated as a consequence. We have spent the last five days interviewing communities particularly impacted by the recent Israeli offensive, including medical personnel, humanitarian aid workers and United Nations representatives.

In particular, the delegation examined three issues: 1) targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure; 2) illegal use of weapons and 3) blocking of medical and humanitarian assistance to civilians.

Targeting of Civilians and Civilian Infrastructure

Much of the debate surrounding Israel’s aerial and ground offensive against Gaza has centered on whether or not Israel observed principles of proportionality and distinction. The debate suggests that Israel targeted Hamas i.e., its military installations, its leaders, and its militants, and in the process of its discrete military exercise it inadvertently killed Palestinian civilians. While we have found evidence that Palestinian civilians were victims of excessive force and collateral damage, we have also found troubling instances of Palestinian civilians being targets themselves.

The delegation recorded numerous accounts of Israeli soldiers shooting civilians, including women, children, and the elderly, in the head, chest, and stomach. Another common narrative described Israeli forces rounding civilians into a single location i.e., homes, schools which Israeli tanks or warplanes then shelled. Israeli forces continued to shoot at civilians fleeing the targeted structures.
If that snip has tempted/interested you enough to read the rest of this remarkably revealing report,
then please be our guest.

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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12 February 2009

Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them


From Haaretz:

A few weeks ago, a senior Greek Orthodox clergyman in Israel attended a meeting at a government office in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul quarter. When he returned to his car, an elderly man wearing a skullcap came and knocked on the window. When the clergyman let the window down, the passerby spat in his face.

The clergyman prefered not to lodge a complaint with the police and told an acquaintance that he was used to being spat at by Jews. Many Jerusalem clergy have been subjected to abuse of this kind. For the most part, they ignore it but sometimes they cannot.

On Sunday, a fracas developed when a yeshiva student spat at the cross being carried by the Armenian Archbishop during a procession near the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City. The archbishop's 17th-century cross was broken during the brawl and he slapped the yeshiva student.

Both were questioned by police and the yeshiva student will be brought to trial. The Jerusalem District Court has meanwhile banned the student from approaching the Old City for 75 days.

But the Armenians are far from satisfied by the police action and say this sort of thing has been going on for years. Archbishop Nourhan Manougian says he expects the education minister to say something.

"When there is an attack against Jews anywhere in the world, the Israeli government is incensed, so why when our religion and pride are hurt, don't they take harsher measures?" he asks.

According to Daniel Rossing, former adviser to the Religious Affairs Ministry on Christian affairs and director of a Jerusalem center for Christian-Jewish dialogue, there has been an increase in the number of such incidents recently, "as part of a general atmosphere of lack of tolerance in the country."

Rossing says there are certain common characeristics from the point of view of time and location to the incidents. He points to the fact that there are more incidents in areas where Jews and Christians mingle, such as the Jewish and Armenian quarters of the Old City and the Jaffa Gate.

There are an increased number at certain times of year, such as during the Purim holiday."I know Christians who lock themselves indoors during the entire Purim holiday," he says.

Naturally, the phenomenon of Jewish Israelis spitting on Christians is treated as a closely-guarded secret by the American media. But if it were Muslims who were spitting on Christians, you can bet that it would be covered breathlessly by media outlets all over the US.

(cross posted at appletree)

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09 February 2009

John Pilger on Israel's Palestinian Holocaust Deniers

That the awesome Aussie and giant among a mire of mediocre, midget, so called journalists, the great John Pilger has been permanently on our blog roll since it's 'birth' - should surprise nobody.

Nor should it surprise anybody to learn that this hero, and we use that word advisedly, once again dares to tell it shout from the rooftops how it really is.

Recently, perhaps we could have spent a little less time reporting in our own amateurish (yet no less sincere and urgent) style, tirelessly trying to warn the wider world of the terrible truth re; Palestine and Israel. Had we done so, we may have caught up with Pilger's recently published pieces somewhat sooner. But to coin a corny and well worn phrase, better late than never.

How does this sound for starters?

Holocaust denied: the lying silence of those who know

8 Jan 2009

Writing in the New Statesman, John Pilger calls on 40 years of reporting the Middle East to describe the 'why' of Israel's bloody onslaught on the besieged people of Gaza - an attack that has little to do with Hamas or Israel's right to exist.


In fact, Hamas’s real threat is its example as the Arab world’s only democratically elected government, drawing its popularity from its resistance to the Palestinians’ oppressor and tormentor. This was demonstrated when Hamas foiled a CIA coup in 2007, an event ordained in the western media as “Hamas’s seizure of power”. Likewise, Hamas is never described as a government, let alone democratic. Neither is its proposal of a ten-year truce as a historic recognition of the “reality” of Israel and support for a two-state solution with just one condition: that the Israelis obey international law and end their illegal occupation beyond the 1967 borders. As every annual vote in the UN General Assembly demonstrates, 99 per cent of humanity concurs. On 4 January, the president of the General Assembly, Miguel d’Escoto, described the Israeli attack on Gaza as a “monstrosity”.

When the monstrosity is done and the people of Gaza are even more stricken, the Dagan Plan foresees what Sharon called a “1948-style solution” – the destruction of all Palestinian leadership and authority followed by mass expulsions into smaller and smaller “cantonments” and perhaps finally into Jordan. This demolition of institutional and educational life in Gaza is designed to produce, wrote Karma Nabulsi, a Palestinian exile in Britain, “a Hobbesian vision of an anarchic society: truncated, violent, powerless, destroyed, cowed...

Now, read the rest of these truths that hurt : or remain an ignorant, rabid Pro-Israel, Middle East Master Race enabler. And/or an actual criminal accomplice to ethnic cleansing, mass murder, mayhem, madness, collective punishment and suffering on a massive scale, cold blooded, completely & clearly premeditated, meticulously planned massacres and a virtual barrage of blatant bloody war crimes.

Be said pitiful personal ignorance having been brought about by accident or by design.

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree')

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08 February 2009

Special Parson's Egg Edition ~ Good in parts

As is always our habit whenever we're away from home for a while, we steadfastly stick to our self imposed, semi-sacred rule : strictly no newspapers, no television, no radio, no phones, no magazines, nor even any online news sources.

That's why it came as such a shock to learn that a lot of Australia is apparently ablaze. And while we wish nothing but well to all our antipodean friends, acquaintances and their families - especially, we sincerely hope 'our Old Brit own' considerable sized Aussie contingent are safe & sound.

Incidentally, even as we sit and type we see the death toll is now at least 108.

And all this as the United Kingdom has shivered, frozen and been blanketed by as much as as 8/10 inches of snow even inside large cities like Birmingham. Brrrrr.

Whilst away, we learned first hand exactly how totally 'topsy-turvey' certain 'mother nature' related things increasingly appear to be becoming 'the norm'.

We travelled all the way from the West coast to the East coast of England, last Monday. We left home pretty early and found the first fall of the white stuff had already carpeted our own locality.

Yuk, we thought.

We were setting out to cross both Lancashire's and Yorkshire's wild, windswept, and notoriously bleak 'moors' - and obviously, the Pennines too.

The first thing our coach driver told his passengers was that we may well find ourselves, at best, taking some unusual detours and at worst, well ... it could only be a case of "wait and see".

Amazingly, and thanks to all those numerous county council areas, and their heroic workers, the fleets of gritters and sanders had, and continued to do so, and indeed still continue to - work virtual miracles on all our major motorways.

For the entire (lots longer than usual) journey, as far as the eye could see was a completely snow covered country. The worst winter weather, snow storms and snowfalls, so our met-office experts say, for 20 years.

As you can no doubt imagine, the scenery was far more spectacularly beautiful than we'd ever witnessed it before - coast to coast - before then, heading North.

However, having made a single phone call to the local police as we neared our destination, and wisely heeding their advice to take a detour around one particular town (on the normal route), we all arrived safe and sound. Not even all that late.

The most amazing thing of all though, was that just about half a dozen or so miles from our destination we ran out of a semi-whiteout, and right into crystal clear, dry though cold and windy weather. Unbelievable? Yep, we thought so to.

For two of our five days away, the sun actually shone in a completely cloudless beautiful blue sky - none stop. Hand on heart, it truly did.

During the other three days, as we visited some nearby places of special interest to us, on each occasion we ran right back into what was by now a veritable 'Winter-wonder-land' - as soon as we'd gotten five or six miles out.

We'll tell you what though, we would NOT have missed this marvelous trip for the world. Talk about picture post card pretty. Talk about gorgeous, glittery Christmas cards - huh! The spectacularly super-serene scenery we travelled through beat 'em all - by miles. Believe us.

And now we're told, by the Beeb, that we certainly haven't see the last of this sort of stuff.

But enough of all that for now.

We thought it might be rather novel to end this post with a sorta quiz-like question.



Novel. Storm. Horror. Harbour.

And of course, those already strongly hinted at, in our preceding 'travel itinerary'.


Well, we honestly hope you haven't cheated by clicking here before you should have.

*(Cross posted across at 'appletree'

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Flat Earth Economics: 'corporate income tax' edition

Economic thought from the folks who pushed the economy off a cliff

Writing in Reason, a Libertarian monthly, Jeffrey Miron proposes that we eliminate the corporate income tax as a way of saving the economy:

One policy change can stimulate both the economy in the short-run and enhance efficiency in the long-run: repeal of the corporate income tax, which collects up to 35% of the difference between revenues and costs of incorporated businesses.

Repeal means higher stock prices and improved cash flow. Corporations would respond to this change by investing in plant and equipment, and by hiring additional workers. These investments would be more productive than the ones funded by stimulus projects, since corporations respond to market forces, not to political influence. Since corporations could more easily invest out of retained earnings, repeal would also circumvent many banks' reluctance to lend.

The budgetary impact of a corporate income tax repeal—roughly $300-350 billion per year—might seem daunting, but this amount falls well short of the Obama fiscal package. The long-run impact will be less than what is implied by current revenues, since repeal will expand economic activity and therefore increase other kinds of tax revenue.

The stimulus impact of a corporate income tax repeal is likely to be substantial. Recent estimates by Christina Romer, the head of Obama's Council of Economic Advisers, suggest that tax cuts have a multiplier of three, meaning that repeal would increase GDP by roughly $1 trillion. By comparison, the administration's assumption that the government spending multiplier is about 1.5 suggests that the $500 billion in the Obama stimulus package would increase GDP by about $750 billion.
There you have it: repealing the corporate income tax would cost less than Obama's package, and even Obama's top economic adviser thinks it would create more jobs. What's not to like?

Well, one thing I don't like is Jeffrey Miron's dishonesty. Here's respected economist
Brad DeLong on Christina Romer's alleged views on the multiplier effect of tax cuts and spending:
Read more »


06 February 2009

Been away but back now!


First off, our apologies for being AWOL.

Secondly, many, many thanks for the full email box. You really have no idea how much it's appreciated.

Thirdly, we've missed you all too.

And ...... this is official confirmation that all & any rumours of our premature demise have been greatly exaggerated.

We will be back in business sometime tomorrow, Saturday 7th February 2009.

That's a promise.