" Madam Miaow Says: December 2009

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Tsunami Caught On Camera: Boxing Day 2004


Well, that is the most harrowing film I've seen for a long time.

I'm watching Channel 4's Tsunami: Caught On Camera, tourist video footage of the Boxing Day disaster in 2004. When this actually happened I was in bed, drowning in my own lung fluid from a severe bout of bronchitis while the TV was on in the background. Somewhat delirious, I assumed I was hallucinating and putting the scenario together in my head. It was a shock when the blur between imagination and reality sharpened a few days later and I realised that was no fever dream.

What's really scary is the way we behave in the face of danger. People are staring at the oncoming wave in the distance, admiring the fascinating beauty of this thin white line and not realising what's coming at them until boats are overturned and it's almost on top of them. Someone calls it "a perfect wave." Despite the magnitude and speed of the advancing wall of sludge, people are rabbits in the headlights. The locals are just as vulnerable as they have no idea of the significance of the outflow of the sea and the bare sea bed. They've never seen its like before.

Everyone's gawping. "Hey, what's that? Do you think it's anything to do with the tremors this morning?" "Nah!"

Yeah, that looks like fun. You want to yell at the telly, "RUN!" For those of us who saw the movie Krakatoa East of Java as kids we recognise the signs. Anyone who carried on reading about geological phenomena knows that, if the sea starts acting funny, head for the hills. Respect the ocean. Basic physics: a big trough means a big wave coming up behind it.

Someone finally utters the word you want to hear: "tsunami". And then the spell is broken. For some.

A lot of the running is done seemingly in slomo. One tourist in red bathing trunks is on the beach staring out and then engulfed. An elderly couple stumble towards the hotel, survive the first wave and then sort of freeze. People practically crawl up the stairs.

I'm sitting here with my hand clasped across my face, willing them to run.

For there are more waves to come, each stronger than the last. One Briton tells us how the worst thing for him was being on top of a building and not knowing if this would be the last one. Would the next one collapse the building, overwhelm each man-made edifice? Even for those in the hills, rumours go round that another one 50 metres high is coming, and another after that 100 metres.

Every time you see someone in the water you know that's a dead person in waiting. It is truly horrible.

Survivors tell of the massive power. It's been described as like being churned around in a giant washing machine with big chunks of concrete. A man's clavicle breaks. A woman feels something snap and then she can't use her legs. Turns out she's just heard her pelvis shattering. Another couple try to cling on to their little girl. The mother loses grip of her. The next time they see her she's in a coffin.

Hotel manager Mark Heather phones his wife who's in their bungalow within his eyesight, hears it ring, yells, "Move! Move!" before it goes dead. That's probably when she died.

American Stu Breisch and his diving party are caught in the undersea whirlpool and emerge to a scene like World War Three. Thousands of dead bodies on the beach. There'll be 300,000 in total. He assumes his two teenage kids are dead as the bungalow they were in is flattened and they have to dig through the rubble. It's one of the tales with a happy outcome. Sort of. They find their son, Jay, in a hospital. But his sister Kali is dead. In one of the most distressing moments among many, a film crew captures the moment the family find the photo of her body posted on a wall with countless others.

Grim. Life. Don't waste it.

Tsunami Caught On Camera: Boxing Day 2004


Well, that is the most harrowing film I've seen for a long time.

I'm watching Channel 4's Tsunami: Caught On Camera, tourist video footage of the Boxing Day disaster in 2004. When this actually happened I was in bed, drowning in my own lung fluid from a severe bout of bronchitis while the TV was on in the background. Somewhat delirious, I assumed I was hallucinating and putting the scenario together in my head. It was a shock when the blur between imagination and reality sharpened a few days later and I realised that was no fever dream.

What's really scary is the way we behave in the face of danger. People are staring at the oncoming wave in the distance, admiring the fascinating beauty of this thin white line and not realising what's coming at them until boats are overturned and it's almost on top of them. Someone calls it "a perfect wave." Despite the magnitude and speed of the advancing wall of sludge, people are rabbits in the headlights. The locals are just as vulnerable as they have no idea of the significance of the outflow of the sea and the bare sea bed. They've never seen its like before.

Everyone's gawping. "Hey, what's that? Do you think it's anything to do with the tremors this morning?" "Nah!"

Yeah, that looks like fun. You want to yell at the telly, "RUN!" For those of us who saw the movie Krakatoa East of Java as kids we recognise the signs. Anyone who carried on reading about geological phenomena knows that, if the sea starts acting funny, head for the hills. Respect the ocean. Basic physics: a big trough means a big wave coming up behind it.

Someone finally utters the word you want to hear: "tsunami". And then the spell is broken. For some.

A lot of the running is done seemingly in slomo. One tourist in red bathing trunks is on the beach staring out and then engulfed. An elderly couple stumble towards the hotel, survive the first wave and then sort of freeze. People practically crawl up the stairs.

I'm sitting here with my hand clasped across my face, willing them to run.

For there are more waves to come, each stronger than the last. One Briton tells us how the worst thing for him was being on top of a building and not knowing if this would be the last one. Would the next one collapse the building, overwhelm each man-made edifice? Even for those in the hills, rumours go round that another one 50 metres high is coming, and another after that 100 metres.

Every time you see someone in the water you know that's a dead person in waiting. It is truly horrible.

Survivors tell of the massive power. It's been described as like being churned around in a giant washing machine with big chunks of concrete. A man's clavicle breaks. A woman feels something snap and then she can't use her legs. Turns out she's just heard her pelvis shattering. Another couple try to cling on to their little girl. The mother loses grip of her. The next time they see her she's in a coffin.

Hotel manager Mark Heather phones his wife who's in their bungalow within his eyesight, hears it ring, yells, "Move! Move!" before it goes dead. That's probably when she died.

American Stu Breisch and his diving party are caught in the undersea whirlpool and emerge to a scene like World War Three. Thousands of dead bodies on the beach. There'll be 300,000 in total. He assumes his two teenage kids are dead as the bungalow they were in is flattened and they have to dig through the rubble. It's one of the tales with a happy outcome. Sort of. They find their son, Jay, in a hospital. But his sister Kali is dead. In one of the most distressing moments among many, a film crew captures the moment the family find the photo of her body posted on a wall with countless others.

Grim. Life. Don't waste it.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

China executes British man by lethal injection


It's very sad to learn that the Chinese authorities went ahead and executed British national Akmal Shaikh by lethal injection. Although he was caught carrying 4kg of heroin, this was no drugs baron who might have been a continuing threat to Chinese society. He was a weak bit of social flotsam who it appears was suffering a bipolar mental disorder. The fact that he was a Muslim probably isolated him even more.

China should have been bigger and shown compassion even in the face of extreme provocation from a hostile British government eager to scapegoat it over the Copenhagen failure. Brown and Ed Miliband are fully aware that they can't insult a nation like China and expect them to roll over and comply. We don't own half the world any more and Brits with drugs in China are likely to press some deep buttons especially in the light of current hostilities and past history.

Under different circumstances there was more than enough of an excuse for China to show leniency. Fahim wrote in an online discussion:
Most death sentences are never actually carried out. A uniquely Chinese sentence system called 'death penalty with 2 yrs probation', means that as long as you don't commit any further offences within 2 yrs your sentence is generally reduced to life. In 2003 a local court sentenced a triad leader to death with 2 yrs probation, but a public outcry led to the supreme court retrying the case which resulted in a death penalty carried out immediately.

But how likely was that with the utter lack of meaningful diplomacy on show from our government and the savaging in the British press? The hypocrisy of some of the media's breast-beating is sickening in the light of their recent misreporting — we'll never know for certain if the execution is in part a result of their hollow war-like cries. Newspapers that shrieked "China holds the world to ransom" when it's now clear that no such thing happened now scream inflammatory headlines about Shaikh. When will you lot cut out the testosterone? It doesn't help.

But China! I'm glad to hear they wish to phase out the death penalty — 71% of global executions are held there — but now would have been a good place to start. China could have gained the moral high ground by showing mercy to this man and made many more friends in the international community but they got down on the British government's level and now a man, a political pawn, lies dead.

To those who say they couldn't care less that a drug smuggler has been executed, let's hear it from John Donne :
No Man is an island entire of itself; every man is a part of the whole continent. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

It's forgetting that that is leading us into some dark places.

This is what I'm talking about. Sections of the British media practically declare war on China

Blood and Treasure has this take

Michael White in The Guardian on Why denouncing China is hypocritical A tip of the Miaow chapeau to Harpymarx

UPDATE: 30th Dec 2009 This is one situation where I am pleased to say I was wrong. The eruption of sinophobia at The Independent seems to be at an end with the publication of a balanced leader article that lets no-one off the hook: What this execution doesn't say about China and Britain
... it would have been an extraordinary gesture of humanity or diplomatic goodwill had the Chinese authorities overruled the court to commute the sentence. That they permitted two of Shaikh's cousins to pay a farewell visit was itself unusual and suggested that Beijing might not be completely deaf to the pleas from many miles away.

UPDATE: Talking of barbarism, while the media has been feeding us diversionary hysteria over Shaikh's execution — to which I remain opposed — here's how Western justice treats the massacre of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater operatives. I do wonder where the front page hysteria was on this occasion.

China executes British man by lethal injection


It's very sad to learn that the Chinese authorities went ahead and executed British national Akmal Shaikh by lethal injection. Although he was caught carrying 4kg of heroin, this was no drugs baron who might have been a continuing threat to Chinese society. He was a weak bit of social flotsam who it appears was suffering a bipolar mental disorder. The fact that he was a Muslim probably isolated him even more.

China should have been bigger and shown compassion even in the face of extreme provocation from a hostile British government eager to scapegoat it over the Copenhagen failure. Brown and Ed Miliband are fully aware that they can't insult a nation like China and expect them to roll over and comply. We don't own half the world any more and Brits with drugs in China are likely to press some deep buttons especially in the light of current hostilities and past history.

Under different circumstances there was more than enough of an excuse for China to show leniency. Fahim wrote in an online discussion:
Most death sentences are never actually carried out. A uniquely Chinese sentence system called 'death penalty with 2 yrs probation', means that as long as you don't commit any further offences within 2 yrs your sentence is generally reduced to life. In 2003 a local court sentenced a triad leader to death with 2 yrs probation, but a public outcry led to the supreme court retrying the case which resulted in a death penalty carried out immediately.

But how likely was that with the utter lack of meaningful diplomacy on show from our government and the savaging in the British press? The hypocrisy of some of the media's breast-beating is sickening in the light of their recent misreporting — we'll never know for certain if the execution is in part a result of their hollow war-like cries. Newspapers that shrieked "China holds the world to ransom" when it's now clear that no such thing happened now scream inflammatory headlines about Shaikh. When will you lot cut out the testosterone? It doesn't help.

But China! I'm glad to hear they wish to phase out the death penalty — 71% of global executions are held there — but now would have been a good place to start. China could have gained the moral high ground by showing mercy to this man and made many more friends in the international community but they got down on the British government's level and now a man, a political pawn, lies dead.

To those who say they couldn't care less that a drug smuggler has been executed, let's hear it from John Donne :
No Man is an island entire of itself; every man is a part of the whole continent. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

It's forgetting that that is leading us into some dark places.

This is what I'm talking about. Sections of the British media practically declare war on China

Blood and Treasure has this take

Michael White in The Guardian on Why denouncing China is hypocritical A tip of the Miaow chapeau to Harpymarx

UPDATE: 30th Dec 2009 This is one situation where I am pleased to say I was wrong. The eruption of sinophobia at The Independent seems to be at an end with the publication of a balanced leader article that lets no-one off the hook: What this execution doesn't say about China and Britain
... it would have been an extraordinary gesture of humanity or diplomatic goodwill had the Chinese authorities overruled the court to commute the sentence. That they permitted two of Shaikh's cousins to pay a farewell visit was itself unusual and suggested that Beijing might not be completely deaf to the pleas from many miles away.

UPDATE: Talking of barbarism, while the media has been feeding us diversionary hysteria over Shaikh's execution — to which I remain opposed — here's how Western justice treats the massacre of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater operatives. I do wonder where the front page hysteria was on this occasion.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Neither the Guardian nor China: Madam Miaow globally banned


So, the commie tsars of the Guardian Trust and the Beijing regime join hands to prevent my words polluting the precious bodily fluids of sensitive liberals and impressionable proletarians alike.

I'm now banned at The Guardian's Comment Is Free as well as by the Great Firewall of China. C'mon guys, make your minds up. I'm either an apologist for the excesses of the Chinese regime or an imperialist running dog seeking to drag it into the mire. Which is it?

I just tried to post at Martin Khor's excellent article on the Copenhagen failure and attempts to blame China. What I wanted to write was a point about fiendish oriental villainy:
Thanks Martin and John Prescott for adding some balance to the mix. Phew! Now I can stop twirling my moustache and stroking my pussy.

But post there came none.

Was it this that upset them?

Oceania and Eastasia have always been at war.

Here's another stunt they pulled when I was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize — please read the thread.

Neither the Guardian nor China: Madam Miaow globally banned


So, the commie tsars of the Guardian Trust and the Beijing regime join hands to prevent my words polluting the precious bodily fluids of sensitive liberals and impressionable proletarians alike.

I'm now banned at The Guardian's Comment Is Free as well as by the Great Firewall of China. C'mon guys, make your minds up. I'm either an apologist for the excesses of the Chinese regime or an imperialist running dog seeking to drag it into the mire. Which is it?

I just tried to post at Martin Khor's excellent article on the Copenhagen failure and attempts to blame China. What I wanted to write was a point about fiendish oriental villainy:
Thanks Martin and John Prescott for adding some balance to the mix. Phew! Now I can stop twirling my moustache and stroking my pussy.

But post there came none.

Was it this that upset them?

Oceania and Eastasia have always been at war.

Here's another stunt they pulled when I was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize — please read the thread.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Will models form trade union? Kershaw, Poly & Pivovarova refuse killer shoes


From Naomi Campbell to Naomi Klein?


Abbey Lee Kersher in sensible shoes


Natasha Poly


"Can't you wait?" Sasha Pivovarova helps Kate Moss with her infirmity. It's what Gucci's for.

It was once sabots chucked into looms, now it's ankle-breaking high heels that's galvanised fashion's top catwalk models into rebelling against their exploiting oppressor and maybe forming the industry's first trade union.

I love Alexander McQueen's designs but embarrassing OTT clobber is one thing. It's surely an act of war to make fashion models take to the catwalk in 12 inch killer heels, what with teetering on sparrow legs and banks of cameras recording your humiliation for posterity.

Three top models — Abbey Lee Kersher, Natasha Poly and Sasha Pivovarova — went into a huddle and refused to risk their twiggy limbs on stilts several inches higher than the Westwoods that did for Naomi Campbell so spectacularly in 1994. Finding strength in unity, they stayed away from McQueen's October show leaving him without his favourite muses. Not surprising as Kershaw had already fainted at an earlier McQueen show when she was trussed up too tightly in one of his creations, and suffered a knee-injury.

Models of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your pain.

Will models form trade union? Kershaw, Poly & Pivovarova refuse killer shoes


From Naomi Campbell to Naomi Klein?


Abbey Lee Kersher in sensible shoes


Natasha Poly


"Can't you wait?" Sasha Pivovarova helps Kate Moss with her infirmity. It's what Gucci's for.

It was once sabots chucked into looms, now it's ankle-breaking high heels that's galvanised fashion's top catwalk models into rebelling against their exploiting oppressor and maybe forming the industry's first trade union.

I love Alexander McQueen's designs but embarrassing OTT clobber is one thing. It's surely an act of war to make fashion models take to the catwalk in 12 inch killer heels, what with teetering on sparrow legs and banks of cameras recording your humiliation for posterity.

Three top models — Abbey Lee Kersher, Natasha Poly and Sasha Pivovarova — went into a huddle and refused to risk their twiggy limbs on stilts several inches higher than the Westwoods that did for Naomi Campbell so spectacularly in 1994. Finding strength in unity, they stayed away from McQueen's October show leaving him without his favourite muses. Not surprising as Kershaw had already fainted at an earlier McQueen show when she was trussed up too tightly in one of his creations, and suffered a knee-injury.

Models of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your pain.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Sinophobia and Copenhagen: open letter to the Guardian's Mark Lynas



PREVIOUSLY: The story so far ... One moment we were told there was a scandal brewing with the leaking of the 'Danish Text', a stitch-up of the poor nations by the wealthy, with the US and Britain among those implicated (8th Dec 2009 onwards), the next moment, this happened.

The Copenhagen blame game continues with the media reaching a hysterical pitch in their attempts to demonise China over the disappointing results at the climate change summit.

The Guardian publishes another lurid smear, this time by someone called Mark Lynas and titled: "How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room"
Starring Mark Lynas as Sax Rohmer which, I guess, makes me Fu Manchu. (I recommend you read all the comments on the Guardian thread.)

UPDATE Wednesday 23rd December : Comment is free but only if you agree. The Guardian removed my comment below from their thread, posted 22nd December 9.23pm. Not only mine, but I notice some other very good posts robustly rebutting Lynas's assertions and errors have been removed. Now I'm BANNED

Dear Mark,

So the cold war is alive and well.

Western spin is really pulling out all the stops, perhaps because we are onto you as the various blogs and forums show.

if anything, China got strong-armed into signing a weak deal when it should have held out as Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and others have said.

The US and the rich nations use up almost all the carbon allowance in the atmosphere over the past 160 years, the US dithers over ten years of Bush, they refuse to ratify Kyoto, the Danish summit chair has to resign when she's caught fast-tracking the rich nations' deal, the West fail in their Kyoto pledges, Canada rips up its Kyoto deal and proceeds with exploiting its huge reserves of dirty oil, the US will only reduce emissions by 4% against the 1990 base year and not the 17% you describe as "serious cuts", while China makes real strides in green technology, and so on.

But it is all China's fault.

Hillary Clinton bursts into the conference demanding China [edit: eat merde] when the US didn't even have anything to offer. They knew that the terms of the "verification" they demanded was an exercise in humiliation and China would not stand for it. The US can't get anything meaningful past their senate, which includes some "wholly owned subsidiaries of the energy industry" (Monbiot) and resorts to sleight of hand.

But China is the villain.

As for Merkel, she is a massive hypocrite when you look at what her government's been doing.

Even John Prescott pointed out that we've had our industrial revolution yet the poor countries have to halt in their tracks and people live on an average of $2 per day. [Update: see Prescott's take here.]

But according to you China twirls its moustache and strokes its cat as it eats the planet for breakfast.

What other country has an entire city using solar powered appliances? Who else has planted such huge tracts of forest while loggers tear down the rest? China aims for 15% of its energy from renewables, it has revolutionised wind-turbines, makes a key component of electric car batteries, and so on. We in the UK can't even meet our Kyoto promise.

The world says it'll pay $100 billion [edit: previous error said million] into the global kitty. Yet how much does the US spend each year on wars? Something like a million dollars a day on petrol alone.

This game of smoke and mirrors is shameful. Dividing the world into angel and devil does not help, neither does throwing a hissy-fit when China baulks at signing the rich nations' deal which condemns the poor nations to a slumdog future. At an early stage in its industrial development China is moving onto the right track. By all means criticise them when they screw up but give them credit for what they're getting right. The future of the planet is too important for these political football games.

Seasons greetings, although seasons may soon be a thing of the past if the rich nations get their own way,

Anna

Practically a lone voice in the Guardian, George Monbiot writes:
Obama went behind the backs of the UN and most of its member states and assembled a coalition of the willing to strike a deal that outraged the rest of the world. This was then presented to poorer nations without negotiation: either they signed it or they lost the adaptation funds required to help them survive the first few decades of climate breakdown. ... Pushing a strong climate programme through the Senate, many of whose members are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the energy industry, would have been the political battle of his life. Yet again, the absence of effective campaign finance reform in the US makes global progress almost impossible.

Almost forgot, Naomi Klein: Copenhagen's failure belongs to Obama

UPDATE 2: A recent comment (not mine) at the above Guardian CIF thread:
The Guardian writer was trying to confuse the public by omitting the fact that the EU couldn't even agree to its binding emission cut targets even by 2020 and they couldn't fill that blank. He also omitted the fact that the US also refused to have its emission cut target by 2020 included in the draft. An 80% cut by 2050 on a global scale obviously would have painted a big panckage in the sky. When the rich countries have not honored their pledges to the Kyoto Protocol to cut their emissions and they couldn't set binding short-term emission targets, how do we expect them to honor a long-term emission cut targets by 2050? In fact, Yvo de Boer in his last press conference said that the commitments to cut GHG emission by individual developing nations combined are far larger than those of the developed countries combined.
They want 80% cut by 2050 written into the accord so they could pressure the developing nations, because after all, the developing nations are the ones whose emissions will have to grow and peak as the year 2050 gets closer.
Above all, the writer didn't even tell how the US and other rich nations were pretty successful in detrailing and deviating the negotiations over the Long-term Cooperative Action and amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, especially the Kyoto Protocol, the two documents that have legal binding over the rich countries. The writer didn't even have the courage to mention the two most important documents, upon which any political declaration should have been based on.
It is the rich countries, the US, particularly, which has hijacked the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. That much should be clear to us all.

Wonder how long that'll stay posted.

The real reason Copenhagen failed.

UPDATE 3: AAARGH! Just read at a debate here that I have a typo. The international kitty is, of course $100 BILLION not million. Apologies. And thanks to the peeps at www.metafilter.com/87766/General-Tsos-Climate

UPDATE 4 (sigh!): A very clear article on what went wrong at Copenhagen. (Thanks to Splinty for this link.)
"But what was this ‘deal’ that these obstinate rascals obstructed? “A 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 and an 80% reduction by the developed countries,” laments Mr Milliband. “Both were vetoed by China.” What he refers to of course is none other than the infamous Danish Text. But what he carefully omits from his account is the reason why this deal was ‘obstructed’.

"The Danish Text, which had been secretly put together by the US, the UK and Denmark, revealed the true aim of the rich countries in Copenhagen. There was to be a gesture towards cutting emissions, sure there was… on condition that the natural order and balance of the world remains unaffected, that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor, that growth and accumulation continue unhindered. The proposal would have sidelined the UN by handing power and control to the rich countries themselves; it would have entrenched global inequality by allowing the rich countries to emit 2.67 tonnes of CO2 per capita while granting developing countries only 1.44 tonnes; it would have handed control of climate change finance to the World Bank; it would have locked the world into a disastrous system of carbon trading; it would have attached tight strings to any financial aid; and it would have abandoned any interim 2020 targets. All in all, the ‘deal’ would have condemned the world, and the South in particular, to a climate catastrophe of unimaginable horror."

Big thanks to Harpymarx, Socialist Unity, Liberal Conspiracy and Sunny at Pickled Politics

The BBC says

John Prescott on China at Copenhagen

Martin Khor in the Guardian on the Copenhagen failure

George Monbiot on what the US has to offer

Global Comment with something useful to say on sinophobic hypocrisy

Madam Miaow banned in the Guardian, Comment is Free. Free speech, much? Here's another stunt they pulled when I was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize — read the thread.

Anna Chen on BBC World TV on the opening day and the final day of the Copenhagen summit

Ed Miliband accuses China.

Guardian admits China's green plans leave US red-faced.

March 2012 and the Guardian acknowledges huge investment in renewables.

Sinophobia and Copenhagen: open letter to the Guardian's Mark Lynas



PREVIOUSLY: The story so far ... One moment we were told there was a scandal brewing with the leaking of the 'Danish Text', a stitch-up of the poor nations by the wealthy, with the US and Britain among those implicated (8th Dec 2009 onwards), the next moment, this happened.

The Copenhagen blame game continues with the media reaching a hysterical pitch in their attempts to demonise China over the disappointing results at the climate change summit.

The Guardian publishes another lurid smear, this time by someone called Mark Lynas and titled: "How do I know China wrecked the Copenhagen deal? I was in the room"
Starring Mark Lynas as Sax Rohmer which, I guess, makes me Fu Manchu. (I recommend you read all the comments on the Guardian thread.)

UPDATE Wednesday 23rd December : Comment is free but only if you agree. The Guardian removed my comment below from their thread, posted 22nd December 9.23pm. Not only mine, but I notice some other very good posts robustly rebutting Lynas's assertions and errors have been removed. Now I'm BANNED

Dear Mark,

So the cold war is alive and well.

Western spin is really pulling out all the stops, perhaps because we are onto you as the various blogs and forums show.

if anything, China got strong-armed into signing a weak deal when it should have held out as Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba and others have said.

The US and the rich nations use up almost all the carbon allowance in the atmosphere over the past 160 years, the US dithers over ten years of Bush, they refuse to ratify Kyoto, the Danish summit chair has to resign when she's caught fast-tracking the rich nations' deal, the West fail in their Kyoto pledges, Canada rips up its Kyoto deal and proceeds with exploiting its huge reserves of dirty oil, the US will only reduce emissions by 4% against the 1990 base year and not the 17% you describe as "serious cuts", while China makes real strides in green technology, and so on.

But it is all China's fault.

Hillary Clinton bursts into the conference demanding China [edit: eat merde] when the US didn't even have anything to offer. They knew that the terms of the "verification" they demanded was an exercise in humiliation and China would not stand for it. The US can't get anything meaningful past their senate, which includes some "wholly owned subsidiaries of the energy industry" (Monbiot) and resorts to sleight of hand.

But China is the villain.

As for Merkel, she is a massive hypocrite when you look at what her government's been doing.

Even John Prescott pointed out that we've had our industrial revolution yet the poor countries have to halt in their tracks and people live on an average of $2 per day. [Update: see Prescott's take here.]

But according to you China twirls its moustache and strokes its cat as it eats the planet for breakfast.

What other country has an entire city using solar powered appliances? Who else has planted such huge tracts of forest while loggers tear down the rest? China aims for 15% of its energy from renewables, it has revolutionised wind-turbines, makes a key component of electric car batteries, and so on. We in the UK can't even meet our Kyoto promise.

The world says it'll pay $100 billion [edit: previous error said million] into the global kitty. Yet how much does the US spend each year on wars? Something like a million dollars a day on petrol alone.

This game of smoke and mirrors is shameful. Dividing the world into angel and devil does not help, neither does throwing a hissy-fit when China baulks at signing the rich nations' deal which condemns the poor nations to a slumdog future. At an early stage in its industrial development China is moving onto the right track. By all means criticise them when they screw up but give them credit for what they're getting right. The future of the planet is too important for these political football games.

Seasons greetings, although seasons may soon be a thing of the past if the rich nations get their own way,

Anna

Practically a lone voice in the Guardian, George Monbiot writes:
Obama went behind the backs of the UN and most of its member states and assembled a coalition of the willing to strike a deal that outraged the rest of the world. This was then presented to poorer nations without negotiation: either they signed it or they lost the adaptation funds required to help them survive the first few decades of climate breakdown. ... Pushing a strong climate programme through the Senate, many of whose members are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the energy industry, would have been the political battle of his life. Yet again, the absence of effective campaign finance reform in the US makes global progress almost impossible.

Almost forgot, Naomi Klein: Copenhagen's failure belongs to Obama

UPDATE 2: A recent comment (not mine) at the above Guardian CIF thread:
The Guardian writer was trying to confuse the public by omitting the fact that the EU couldn't even agree to its binding emission cut targets even by 2020 and they couldn't fill that blank. He also omitted the fact that the US also refused to have its emission cut target by 2020 included in the draft. An 80% cut by 2050 on a global scale obviously would have painted a big panckage in the sky. When the rich countries have not honored their pledges to the Kyoto Protocol to cut their emissions and they couldn't set binding short-term emission targets, how do we expect them to honor a long-term emission cut targets by 2050? In fact, Yvo de Boer in his last press conference said that the commitments to cut GHG emission by individual developing nations combined are far larger than those of the developed countries combined.
They want 80% cut by 2050 written into the accord so they could pressure the developing nations, because after all, the developing nations are the ones whose emissions will have to grow and peak as the year 2050 gets closer.
Above all, the writer didn't even tell how the US and other rich nations were pretty successful in detrailing and deviating the negotiations over the Long-term Cooperative Action and amendments to the Kyoto Protocol, especially the Kyoto Protocol, the two documents that have legal binding over the rich countries. The writer didn't even have the courage to mention the two most important documents, upon which any political declaration should have been based on.
It is the rich countries, the US, particularly, which has hijacked the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. That much should be clear to us all.

Wonder how long that'll stay posted.

The real reason Copenhagen failed.

UPDATE 3: AAARGH! Just read at a debate here that I have a typo. The international kitty is, of course $100 BILLION not million. Apologies. And thanks to the peeps at www.metafilter.com/87766/General-Tsos-Climate

UPDATE 4 (sigh!): A very clear article on what went wrong at Copenhagen. (Thanks to Splinty for this link.)
"But what was this ‘deal’ that these obstinate rascals obstructed? “A 50% reduction in emissions by 2050 and an 80% reduction by the developed countries,” laments Mr Milliband. “Both were vetoed by China.” What he refers to of course is none other than the infamous Danish Text. But what he carefully omits from his account is the reason why this deal was ‘obstructed’.

"The Danish Text, which had been secretly put together by the US, the UK and Denmark, revealed the true aim of the rich countries in Copenhagen. There was to be a gesture towards cutting emissions, sure there was… on condition that the natural order and balance of the world remains unaffected, that the rich stay rich and the poor stay poor, that growth and accumulation continue unhindered. The proposal would have sidelined the UN by handing power and control to the rich countries themselves; it would have entrenched global inequality by allowing the rich countries to emit 2.67 tonnes of CO2 per capita while granting developing countries only 1.44 tonnes; it would have handed control of climate change finance to the World Bank; it would have locked the world into a disastrous system of carbon trading; it would have attached tight strings to any financial aid; and it would have abandoned any interim 2020 targets. All in all, the ‘deal’ would have condemned the world, and the South in particular, to a climate catastrophe of unimaginable horror."

Big thanks to Harpymarx, Socialist Unity, Liberal Conspiracy and Sunny at Pickled Politics

The BBC says

John Prescott on China at Copenhagen

Martin Khor in the Guardian on the Copenhagen failure

George Monbiot on what the US has to offer

Global Comment with something useful to say on sinophobic hypocrisy

Madam Miaow banned in the Guardian, Comment is Free. Free speech, much? Here's another stunt they pulled when I was shortlisted for the 2010 Orwell Prize — read the thread.

Anna Chen on BBC World TV on the opening day and the final day of the Copenhagen summit

Ed Miliband accuses China.

Guardian admits China's green plans leave US red-faced.

March 2012 and the Guardian acknowledges huge investment in renewables.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Gordon Brown signs Briton's death warrant in China


Being implacably opposed to the death penalty, I hope that China will put to one side the dishonest, unprincipled, British government and media dissembling over Copenhagen and show mercy to Akmal Shaikh, the British man caught smuggling four kilograms of heroin. It now appears he was mentally ill and deserving of clemency.

In the face of extreme provocation by the rich nations who threw a hissy-fit because China wouldn't sign up to their pact condemning the poorer nations to a slumdog future, China would come out of this the better nation if it commuted the death sentence due on 29th December.

It is somewhat laughable to see that Gordon Brown intends appealing to President Hu Jintao on Shaikh's behalf after what he and his muppet Ed Miliband just said about China. If I was Shaikh I'd be praying Brown stayed well out of it because I reckon President Hu won't find Gordon appealing one little bit.

So, Ed, China tried to hijack the summit, did it? George Monbiot presents a different appraisal here.

The Guardian reports Shaikh's lawyer, the renowned anti-death penalty campaigner, Clive Stafford Smith as saying:
Stafford Smith said Shaikh's chances of avoiding a death sentence may be hampered by the row between China and the UK and US at the climate change summit last week in Copenhagen: "Britain and the US chose to make China the scapegoat at Copenhagen which, given US intransigence over the past decade, might be viewed as hypocritical. We very much hope that Akmal Shaikh does not become a victim of the regrettably cold political climate that has resulted."

And that's how ugly politics gets.

UPDATE: Monday 28th 2009. Shaikh has been given the time of his execution, 10:30 (2:30 GMT) tomorrow morning. This is awful as, on top of the whole death penalty debate, it does appear that he is mentally ill. I hope China will show clemency and not make him pay the price of the West's recent politicking.

Gordon Brown signs Briton's death warrant in China


Being implacably opposed to the death penalty, I hope that China will put to one side the dishonest, unprincipled, British government and media dissembling over Copenhagen and show mercy to Akmal Shaikh, the British man caught smuggling four kilograms of heroin. It now appears he was mentally ill and deserving of clemency.

In the face of extreme provocation by the rich nations who threw a hissy-fit because China wouldn't sign up to their pact condemning the poorer nations to a slumdog future, China would come out of this the better nation if it commuted the death sentence due on 29th December.

It is somewhat laughable to see that Gordon Brown intends appealing to President Hu Jintao on Shaikh's behalf after what he and his muppet Ed Miliband just said about China. If I was Shaikh I'd be praying Brown stayed well out of it because I reckon President Hu won't find Gordon appealing one little bit.

So, Ed, China tried to hijack the summit, did it? George Monbiot presents a different appraisal here.

The Guardian reports Shaikh's lawyer, the renowned anti-death penalty campaigner, Clive Stafford Smith as saying:
Stafford Smith said Shaikh's chances of avoiding a death sentence may be hampered by the row between China and the UK and US at the climate change summit last week in Copenhagen: "Britain and the US chose to make China the scapegoat at Copenhagen which, given US intransigence over the past decade, might be viewed as hypocritical. We very much hope that Akmal Shaikh does not become a victim of the regrettably cold political climate that has resulted."

And that's how ugly politics gets.

UPDATE: Monday 28th 2009. Shaikh has been given the time of his execution, 10:30 (2:30 GMT) tomorrow morning. This is awful as, on top of the whole death penalty debate, it does appear that he is mentally ill. I hope China will show clemency and not make him pay the price of the West's recent politicking.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field: the mystery of space in 3D



And now for something a million billion miles from the travails of our tiny blue planet. Smaller than ants in the great scheme of things, it's estimated it would take only ten thousand years for nature to obliterate every sign of human existence. We'll be blown away like dust and no-one would know we were ever here.

So here is "an animation that was rendered using the measured redshift of all 10,000 galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image": the furthest we've ever seen into deep space. A bit of perspective to meditate on over the holiday season.

Or, to put it another way ...



Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer Launch — WISE

Hubble Ultra Deep Field: the mystery of space in 3D



And now for something a million billion miles from the travails of our tiny blue planet. Smaller than ants in the great scheme of things, it's estimated it would take only ten thousand years for nature to obliterate every sign of human existence. We'll be blown away like dust and no-one would know we were ever here.

So here is "an animation that was rendered using the measured redshift of all 10,000 galaxies in the Hubble Ultra Deep Field image": the furthest we've ever seen into deep space. A bit of perspective to meditate on over the holiday season.

Or, to put it another way ...



Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer Launch — WISE

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Climate change: Is new Independent newspaper regime Sinophobic?


Well, I used to be a fan of The Independent, what with having Robert Fisk and being so brilliant on the Iraq war. But with an article yesterday headlined, "China's delaying tactics threaten climate deal" by Chris Green, and allowing racist epithets in their comments threads, has The Indy jumped the shark?

You know what came next. I couldn't resist posting a reply to their US BS:
That is an appalling bit of US spin and I'm amazed that Chris Green has swallowed this wholesale. I wonder just who his "sources inside negotiations" are. We can make an educated guess.

After wasting ten years under Bush, obfuscating and setting up obstructions to the talks over the past two years, Clinton rides in six-guns blazing, holding the world to ransom by demanding that the $100 billion fund for the developing world's climate change technology is contingent on China jumping through hoops of America's choosing while Obama has nothing to offer. The US is the nation who refused to ratify Kyoto — the ONLY legally binding instrument in the world that can require countries to cut emissions.

MEANWHILE ... China is soaring ahead in green technology: it has revolutionised wind turbines (using electro-magnetic principles); the entire city of Dezhou in Shandong of 5.5 million people have their appliances powered by solar energy; it has planted the biggest area of man-made forest in the world; it is charging each household $64 towards the $30 billion it needs [to pay for its cuts in emissions]; it's leading the world in electric cars and makes a key component of the car batteries. And yet you make this unfounded, unfair, bad-tempered attack. How does this help except to let the US off the hook?

I'm not the only one to observe that Obama has come naked to the table and some are speculating that he has been set-up to fail by right-wing elements in government.

Wen Jiabao has said that any internationally supported cuts will of course be subject to international scrutiny — meaning legally binding global decisions made through a successful treaty. He is refusing to be browbeaten by the world's worst polluter per capita over China's voluntary national mitigation action which will be legally binding within China.

If he's heard Scott Ritter admit the Iraq WMD teams were also espionage groups I dare say this might also have swayed him. Who'd want the agents of such a warmongering nation swarming over their country?

China has pledged that its cuts (40-45 per GDP unit) will be adhered to even if Copenhagen fails, unlike others such as Japan that says its cuts are contingent on a deal. If China sticks to its targets it will set the international benchmark for looking after the environment. If it doesn't, then go ahead and poke them with a sharp stick.

Yet another article is headlined, "China holds the world to ransom".

The fan-boys gushed breathlessly:
It was unforgettable political theatre. Like a poker player with a sudden new bet, the power-dressed Mrs Clinton changed the game instantly as she pulled her gigantic sum out of the US back pocket and slammed it down on the negotiating table.

Er ... it's not actually America's money, though, is it? This is the combined world fund to help the third world develop green technology and meet climate targets.

Let's remember it's not China that's been belching out carbon emissions for over a hundred years. America has cheated the Kyoto figures, claiming to aim to cut emissions by a measly 17 percent by 2020. But this is against 2005 levels and not the Kyoto base year of 1990, meaning if we're lucky, the US will have made cuts of only 4 percent. No wonder they put the rat into ratify and refused to sign up.

Currently producing four times the emissions of China per capita, even if all had gone well at Copenhagen, the US would still have been allowed to pollute at twice the rate of the poor countries for each man, woman and child by 2050.

In another Independent article, "Tony Juniper: China is a country that dislikes being told what to do", the Chinese are accused of that old colonialist cliché, being "inscrutable". What is this, the 19th Century?

Is Tony Juniper — environmentalist and director of Friends of the Earth — aware that a third of all China's emissions are produced making goods for ... guess where? How about Western markets picking up the carbon bill?

To top it off, The Indy ignores its own moderation policy. The moderators may be off getting some seasonal cheer but perhaps someone should be awake when posts titled "Obama and the Chinks" come in. Would they allow equivalent racist epithets for other minorities or are we a special case?

The Guardian has also evidently been briefed along the same lines but it is the Independent that's picked up this particular bone with gusto and run with it, such as with this vicious article today.

John Prescott in The Guardian is good, though.
But the atmosphere was soured by the US, first by its climate change special envoy, Todd Stern, who said emissions "isn't a matter of politics or morality or anything else, it's just maths", which completely ignored the per capita argument. President Obama's speech blaming China didn't help either. The US has pushed the Chinese hard on emissions cuts. Fine when you've had your industrial revolution. But China and the other developing countries need that growth. Understandable when more than half of the planet is living on less than $2 a day.

This from Joss Garland sounds right on the money: Historic failure that will live on in infamy

UPDATE: I've just remembered that the new Indy editor, Roger Alton, was the editor of the Observer when bizarrely it was part of a media bloc that kept trying to stitch up the UK Chinese community and blame it for the Foot And Mouth Disease outbreak which devastated large swathes of Britain in 2001. MAFF minister Nick Brown stated that this was nonsense and completely untrue. So what's going on at The Independent?

Madam Miaow on the Copenhagen climate change summit

Johann Hari, the Indy's one remaining journalist worth reading, gives an overview of the truths Copenhagen ignored here

More on post-Cop15 sinophobia in the Guardian here

Climate change: Is new Independent newspaper regime Sinophobic?


Well, I used to be a fan of The Independent, what with having Robert Fisk and being so brilliant on the Iraq war. But with an article yesterday headlined, "China's delaying tactics threaten climate deal" by Chris Green, and allowing racist epithets in their comments threads, has The Indy jumped the shark?

You know what came next. I couldn't resist posting a reply to their US BS:
That is an appalling bit of US spin and I'm amazed that Chris Green has swallowed this wholesale. I wonder just who his "sources inside negotiations" are. We can make an educated guess.

After wasting ten years under Bush, obfuscating and setting up obstructions to the talks over the past two years, Clinton rides in six-guns blazing, holding the world to ransom by demanding that the $100 billion fund for the developing world's climate change technology is contingent on China jumping through hoops of America's choosing while Obama has nothing to offer. The US is the nation who refused to ratify Kyoto — the ONLY legally binding instrument in the world that can require countries to cut emissions.

MEANWHILE ... China is soaring ahead in green technology: it has revolutionised wind turbines (using electro-magnetic principles); the entire city of Dezhou in Shandong of 5.5 million people have their appliances powered by solar energy; it has planted the biggest area of man-made forest in the world; it is charging each household $64 towards the $30 billion it needs [to pay for its cuts in emissions]; it's leading the world in electric cars and makes a key component of the car batteries. And yet you make this unfounded, unfair, bad-tempered attack. How does this help except to let the US off the hook?

I'm not the only one to observe that Obama has come naked to the table and some are speculating that he has been set-up to fail by right-wing elements in government.

Wen Jiabao has said that any internationally supported cuts will of course be subject to international scrutiny — meaning legally binding global decisions made through a successful treaty. He is refusing to be browbeaten by the world's worst polluter per capita over China's voluntary national mitigation action which will be legally binding within China.

If he's heard Scott Ritter admit the Iraq WMD teams were also espionage groups I dare say this might also have swayed him. Who'd want the agents of such a warmongering nation swarming over their country?

China has pledged that its cuts (40-45 per GDP unit) will be adhered to even if Copenhagen fails, unlike others such as Japan that says its cuts are contingent on a deal. If China sticks to its targets it will set the international benchmark for looking after the environment. If it doesn't, then go ahead and poke them with a sharp stick.

Yet another article is headlined, "China holds the world to ransom".

The fan-boys gushed breathlessly:
It was unforgettable political theatre. Like a poker player with a sudden new bet, the power-dressed Mrs Clinton changed the game instantly as she pulled her gigantic sum out of the US back pocket and slammed it down on the negotiating table.

Er ... it's not actually America's money, though, is it? This is the combined world fund to help the third world develop green technology and meet climate targets.

Let's remember it's not China that's been belching out carbon emissions for over a hundred years. America has cheated the Kyoto figures, claiming to aim to cut emissions by a measly 17 percent by 2020. But this is against 2005 levels and not the Kyoto base year of 1990, meaning if we're lucky, the US will have made cuts of only 4 percent. No wonder they put the rat into ratify and refused to sign up.

Currently producing four times the emissions of China per capita, even if all had gone well at Copenhagen, the US would still have been allowed to pollute at twice the rate of the poor countries for each man, woman and child by 2050.

In another Independent article, "Tony Juniper: China is a country that dislikes being told what to do", the Chinese are accused of that old colonialist cliché, being "inscrutable". What is this, the 19th Century?

Is Tony Juniper — environmentalist and director of Friends of the Earth — aware that a third of all China's emissions are produced making goods for ... guess where? How about Western markets picking up the carbon bill?

To top it off, The Indy ignores its own moderation policy. The moderators may be off getting some seasonal cheer but perhaps someone should be awake when posts titled "Obama and the Chinks" come in. Would they allow equivalent racist epithets for other minorities or are we a special case?

The Guardian has also evidently been briefed along the same lines but it is the Independent that's picked up this particular bone with gusto and run with it, such as with this vicious article today.

John Prescott in The Guardian is good, though.
But the atmosphere was soured by the US, first by its climate change special envoy, Todd Stern, who said emissions "isn't a matter of politics or morality or anything else, it's just maths", which completely ignored the per capita argument. President Obama's speech blaming China didn't help either. The US has pushed the Chinese hard on emissions cuts. Fine when you've had your industrial revolution. But China and the other developing countries need that growth. Understandable when more than half of the planet is living on less than $2 a day.

This from Joss Garland sounds right on the money: Historic failure that will live on in infamy

UPDATE: I've just remembered that the new Indy editor, Roger Alton, was the editor of the Observer when bizarrely it was part of a media bloc that kept trying to stitch up the UK Chinese community and blame it for the Foot And Mouth Disease outbreak which devastated large swathes of Britain in 2001. MAFF minister Nick Brown stated that this was nonsense and completely untrue. So what's going on at The Independent?

Madam Miaow on the Copenhagen climate change summit

Johann Hari, the Indy's one remaining journalist worth reading, gives an overview of the truths Copenhagen ignored here

More on post-Cop15 sinophobia in the Guardian here

Friday, 18 December 2009

Copenhagen summit final day: Anna Chen on BBC World TV

Anna Chen speaks on BBC World TV "World Have Your Say" on the final day of the Copenhagen climate conference, Friday 18th December 2009. What has Copenhagen achieved?

Hosted by Ros Atkins. Also participating:
Daniel Mittler — environmentalist and blogger
Prabir Purkayasta — an energy analyst in Delhi
Isaac Mwaura — a development consultant in Nairobi
Julian L Wong — Senior Policy Analyst with the Energy Opportunity team at The Center for American Progress and blogger
Mark Kenber — Policy Director of The Climate Group and former adviser to Tony Blair

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Anna Chen speaks on BBC World TV on the opening day of the Copenhagen climate summit

Madam Miaow on the Copenhagen climate change summit

Copenhagen summit final day: Anna Chen on BBC World TV

Anna Chen speaks on BBC World TV "World Have Your Say" on the final day of the Copenhagen climate conference, Friday 18th December 2009. What has Copenhagen achieved?

Hosted by Ros Atkins. Also participating:
Daniel Mittler — environmentalist and blogger
Prabir Purkayasta — an energy analyst in Delhi
Isaac Mwaura — a development consultant in Nairobi
Julian L Wong — Senior Policy Analyst with the Energy Opportunity team at The Center for American Progress and blogger
Mark Kenber — Policy Director of The Climate Group and former adviser to Tony Blair

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:


Anna Chen speaks on BBC World TV on the opening day of the Copenhagen climate summit

Madam Miaow on the Copenhagen climate change summit

Monday, 14 December 2009

Top lawyer damns Blair as Bush sycophant over war


Today's Times carries a powerful article by Sir Ken Macdonald, director of public prosecutions between 2003 and 2008, that says Blair was drunk on power when it came to dragging us into the Iraq war, engaging in "an alarming subterfuge with his partner George Bush" and going on to "mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want".
"In this sense he was weak and, as we can see, he remains so. Since those sorry days we have frequently heard him repeating the self-regarding mantra that 'hand on heart, I only did what I thought was right'. But this is a narcissist's defence, and self-belief is no answer to misjudgment: it is certainly no answer to death."

But he warns that the Chilcot inquiry may turn out to be a whitewash.
"In British public life, loyalty and service to power can sometimes count for more to insiders than any tricky questions of wider reputation. It's the regard you are held in by your peers that really counts, so that steadfastness in the face of attack and threatened exposure brings its own rich hierarchy of honour and reward."

We all knew Blair had a weak character. Why couldn't his own party see it?

See Blair admits war lies

Top lawyer damns Blair as Bush sycophant over war


Today's Times carries a powerful article by Sir Ken Macdonald, director of public prosecutions between 2003 and 2008, that says Blair was drunk on power when it came to dragging us into the Iraq war, engaging in "an alarming subterfuge with his partner George Bush" and going on to "mislead and cajole the British people into a deadly war they had made perfectly clear they didn’t want".
"In this sense he was weak and, as we can see, he remains so. Since those sorry days we have frequently heard him repeating the self-regarding mantra that 'hand on heart, I only did what I thought was right'. But this is a narcissist's defence, and self-belief is no answer to misjudgment: it is certainly no answer to death."

But he warns that the Chilcot inquiry may turn out to be a whitewash.
"In British public life, loyalty and service to power can sometimes count for more to insiders than any tricky questions of wider reputation. It's the regard you are held in by your peers that really counts, so that steadfastness in the face of attack and threatened exposure brings its own rich hierarchy of honour and reward."

We all knew Blair had a weak character. Why couldn't his own party see it?

See Blair admits war lies

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Nutcracker advent calendar


Now for a bit of culture. Try out this beautiful advent calendar which gives you a clip of the Nutcracker ballet every day up until Christmas.
Welcome to the Opus Arte Advent Calendar – an interactive calendar that celebrates the magic of The Nutcracker and celebrates Opus Arte’s 2009/2010 cinema season; a season that features the very finest opera, ballet, music and theatre from The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, King’s College Cambridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, Teatro Real, Madrid and the Liceu, Barcelona in cinemas across the country. To see where the Nutcracker is being performed this Christmas season please click on the link provided and enjoy the performances day-by-day!

Nutcracker advent calendar


Now for a bit of culture. Try out this beautiful advent calendar which gives you a clip of the Nutcracker ballet every day up until Christmas.
Welcome to the Opus Arte Advent Calendar – an interactive calendar that celebrates the magic of The Nutcracker and celebrates Opus Arte’s 2009/2010 cinema season; a season that features the very finest opera, ballet, music and theatre from The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, King’s College Cambridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, Teatro Real, Madrid and the Liceu, Barcelona in cinemas across the country. To see where the Nutcracker is being performed this Christmas season please click on the link provided and enjoy the performances day-by-day!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Tiger Woods' nipples banned in Britain


In yet another assault on our freedom of speech, fame-hound Justice David Eady has banned the publication of "any naked part" of Tiger Woods anatomy.

This is the same judge who granted Trafigura a super-injunction not only banning information about the polluting corporation dumping poisonous waste, but also banning information about the existence of the injunction.

Up until this point I sympathised with Tiger Woods as it looks like he has a problem that requires TLC, not being traduced by the press. But his recourse to some of the most draconian laws in the world is pathetic and ineffective, especially as the US media can do what they want with his pix.

So here for your delectation is a picture of Tiger's face and torso including (shudder) a brace of nipples which might or might not have taken a pounding from all his "admirers". If they exist. Allegedly.

Hat tip, the wonderful Craig Murray

Tiger Woods' nipples banned in Britain


In yet another assault on our freedom of speech, fame-hound Justice David Eady has banned the publication of "any naked part" of Tiger Woods anatomy.

This is the same judge who granted Trafigura a super-injunction not only banning information about the polluting corporation dumping poisonous waste, but also banning information about the existence of the injunction.

Up until this point I sympathised with Tiger Woods as it looks like he has a problem that requires TLC, not being traduced by the press. But his recourse to some of the most draconian laws in the world is pathetic and ineffective, especially as the US media can do what they want with his pix.

So here for your delectation is a picture of Tiger's face and torso including (shudder) a brace of nipples which might or might not have taken a pounding from all his "admirers". If they exist. Allegedly.

Hat tip, the wonderful Craig Murray

Tony Blair admits Iraq war lies: what happens at Chilcot?


What sort of madness is it that makes a person insist in the face of facts, principles and public opposition, that they alone are right in taking an action that results in over a million civilian deaths, impoverishes us as a nation and rips up our moral fabric?

What sort of moral bankruptcy allows that person to take money from the very companies that made a fortune from the war they started?

What sort of society allows this to happen with no constraints or consequences?

Tony Blair has now admitted in the softest of interviews with BBC's Fern Britton — not Jeremy Paxman or any of the other heavyweights, note —that his decision to go to war in Iraq was nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and everything to do with regime change.

Isn't this illegal under international law? How many service men and women died because of his faked-up reasons? I'm far from being alone in believing that Blair should now be tried as a war criminal. Blair did what he wanted like he was some third world potentate with divine right to rule with hardly any opposition from his own party to their eternal shame. (Honours, of course, to those few lone voices within the party who did put up a fight and deserve better company than the sheep.)

I never believed him for one moment about WMDs. To me and millions of others who opposed the war, it was a far-fetched cold-war paranoia about moustache-twirling, cat-stroking villains that served the neo-con agenda to grab oil and open up the nation's finance to foreign banks; banks such as JP Morgan charged with co-ordinating the plundering of Iraq and now paying Blair $2 million a year for services rendered.

He said in his typically self-pitying way: "There is no point in going in to a situation of conflict and not understanding there is going to be a price paid."

The trouble is, it's not you paying the price, is it, Tony? It's Iraqi civilians, British soldiers and our national finances. You, Tony, are very far from paying any price, having pocketed your loot.

His change of tack would indicate that the revelations heard so far in the Chilcot inquiry have had an effect on his morale and he's desperately slipping and sliding around to avoid being exposed as a lying, self-serving war criminal bereft of any moral compass save some cartoon Ivanhoe self-image in which he saves the world (TM Gordon Brown) and earns the undying gratitude of powerful men.

What happened to democracy? To British fair play? To the rule of law? For people like Blair, it's no longer about serving your country — it's how can your country serve you and devil take the hindmost.

UPDATE: A FEW FACTS
The Iraq war has cost the UK £6.5 billion.
"Secret MoD documents leaked to the Press now confirm that preparations for the war began as early as February 2002." Paul Routlege in The Mirror.
179 British service men and women have died in the conflict.
Over a million Iraqis have been killed.
"Tony Blair is paid $2 million a year by JP Morgan, the bank at the centre of Iraq "restructuring".
"Total spending for both wars will reach 4.37 billion pounds ($7.15 billion) in the current fiscal year, which ends in March 2010, compared with 1.56 in the year ended March 2006, according to Ministry of Defense figures published by the House of Commons Defense Committee."


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