" Madam Miaow Says: July 2010

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Call Mr Robeson review: a Black star in Britain


Last night Anna May Wong met Paul Robeson in Britain for the first time since the Thirties. Their stage personae, that is.

I first heard of Tayo Aluko's show, Call Mr Robeson, when I met him ten years ago at the Oval Theatre in London for a conference. Back then, it was still a dream of his to play his hero in a theatre piece he was writing. So it was immensely pleasurable to see, last night at the Rich Mix in Shoreditch, how that dream has turned out.

Blessed with the height and charisma to pull it off, not to mention an astonishing voice, British-Nigerian actor/writer/singer Tayo tells the story of the black hero to perfection. Excelling at whatever he touched, this son of a former slave went from sports luminary to law graduate before achieving recording success as a singer in the 1920s and graduating to major roles in movies including Show Boat, Sanders Of The River and Emperor Jones. I know from my own experience writing Anna May Wong Must Die! how difficult it is to cram a life's-worth of material into a mere 75 minutes, but Tayo and his dramaturgical posse (Director Olusolo Oyeleye) have selected exactly what's needed to keep their fascinating subject fascinating and the story moving along. There's not one ounce of fat in this well-paced tale of the first black American singing superstar, scholar, socialist and internationalist.

Against the simplest of stage sets (Phil Newman) — a broken record strewn with mementos of Robeson's eventful life — Tayo weaves in several threads. I particularly liked the way the story of Robeson's understanding wife, Essie, and his many love affairs is told as an affectionate running joke with a very light touch that is never prurient and never loses sympathy. This is a giant of a human being, but a flawed one.

In an age where black men are largely presented as being all about bling, rapacious consumption or barbarism, it's vital to show the intellectual who could speak over 20 languages including French, Mandarin, Russian and Swahili; who read voraciously, and was deeply immersed in the politics not only of the black people at home and in colonialised Africa, but of the working classes of the world. He made friends with Welsh miners and spoke up for the Republican cause against the fascists during the Spanish Civil War. His ideal society was the Soviet Union where he performed and sent his son to study. You can see why McCarthy and the tiny minds of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) dragged Robeson in to testify. Yet he never ratted on his friends or denied his beliefs, instead using the platform to make a stand.

He paid the price of defiance by being literally blacklisted by film studios and record companies in the US. He was also denied use of his passport from 1950 to 1958, making it impossible for him to travel to Europe where he was still hugely popular. At home, persecution by white-supremacist thugs closed down the theatre circuit for him and threatened his livelihood. His income plummeted from $100,000 a year to $6,000 — a further assault on his mental health — and he but narrowly survived a suicide attempt.

Not that he could depend on the solidarity of his fellow African-Americans. Despite his vociferous support for the rights of blacks and the fledgling Civil Rights movement, various organisations — including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) who collaborated with Hoover's FBI in the media distortion of his socialist politics — condemned him for being un-American. In a vivid image early in the show, he describes how, as his college's first black football star, he was injured when, in the first scrimmage of the game, he was pounded by BOTH sides. And that was the central metaphor of his life. As they say, your opponents are in front of you but your enemies are behind you.

He did encourage the new guys, though. A planned meeting with Malcolm X was prevented only by Malcolm's assassination by black gunmen whom Robeson suspected were backed by the FBI. And he admired Martin Luther King, saddened that he had been murdered when only 39. Robeson would reach 79.

A panoramic musical backdrop was provided by pianist Michael Conliffe with sensitivity and a sense of dynamics. Being a baritone rather than a full bass-baritone like Robeson means Tayo has to rise a little up the scale to reach full throttle, but when his voice climbs out of his boots it is the most wonderful sound, spookily close to the real thing. As someone brought up by communists I grew up with his records and I had to stop myself joining in Ol' Man River (complete with lyrics changed by Robeson), the swinging Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho, and Swanee River.

Call Mr Robeson has already found an audience in America. Tonight is the last night of this short run at the Rich Mix, 37-45 Bethnal Green Road (tube: Shoreditch High Street). But Tayo will be rocking the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at Zoo Southside which I expect to see him take by storm next month (6-26 August). Go see!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

MAC pledges ALL global Rodarte profits to Juarez initiative


Beauty bloggers unite. You nothing to lose but MAC's shame.

Public pressure in the blogosphere over the gruesomely marketed Rodarte cosmetics range has finally forced MAC to go beyond its original miserly pledge of $100,000 with a promise to donate all profits to an initiative supporting the poor women of the area who have to live practically under siege from serial killers thought to include members of the power elite.

Solidarity with the women and girls of Ciudad Juarez, the factory town in Mexico where hundreds and possibly thousands have been raped and murdered, was not to be bought for the tiny kiss-off of $100K. A large corporation, part of the Estee Lauder group, has been chastened and forced to give up all the profits made from exploiting their deaths as some sort of entertainment for what they must have assumed was a degenerate audience. MAC has had to apologise to Mexico, and Rodarte has dropped the roadkill monikers. In the bizarre grave-robbing exercise of giving names to nail polish and lipsticks associated with the femicide, the company had demonstrated contempt for the wrong people. It has been highly affecting to see an area of interest normally written off as the preserve of airheads as demonstrating higher principles, and achieving more, than much of the Left — in my experience, anyway.

A lesson to be learnt here, methinks.

More at Temptalia. See also Mizz Worthy's update.

How the blogosphere brought MAC to its senses.

Mac Rodarte range of cosmetics themed on Juarez serial killings of women.
Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy

MAC pledges ALL global Rodarte profits to Juarez initiative


Beauty bloggers unite. You nothing to lose but MAC's shame.

Public pressure in the blogosphere over the gruesomely marketed Rodarte cosmetics range has finally forced MAC to go beyond its original miserly pledge of $100,000 with a promise to donate all profits to an initiative supporting the poor women of the area who have to live practically under siege from serial killers thought to include members of the power elite.

Solidarity with the women and girls of Ciudad Juarez, the factory town in Mexico where hundreds and possibly thousands have been raped and murdered, was not to be bought for the tiny kiss-off of $100K. A large corporation, part of the Estee Lauder group, has been chastened and forced to give up all the profits made from exploiting their deaths as some sort of entertainment for what they must have assumed was a degenerate audience. MAC has had to apologise to Mexico, and Rodarte has dropped the roadkill monikers. In the bizarre grave-robbing exercise of giving names to nail polish and lipsticks associated with the femicide, the company had demonstrated contempt for the wrong people. It has been highly affecting to see an area of interest normally written off as the preserve of airheads as demonstrating higher principles, and achieving more, than much of the Left — in my experience, anyway.

A lesson to be learnt here, methinks.

More at Temptalia. See also Mizz Worthy's update.

How the blogosphere brought MAC to its senses.

Mac Rodarte range of cosmetics themed on Juarez serial killings of women.
Rodarte designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy

David Cameron tells Pakistan to fight terrorists we created as he strikes nuclear deal

David Cameron in India, BangaloreGetty Images
Prime Minister David Cameron flaunts his ignorance of history. Again. He's only been in the job for a matter of weeks and already is proving himself as gaffe-prone as BP's Tony Harwood.

He's said he would take on China in a nuclear bust-up, stated that Britain played second fiddle to the US in 1940, and now he tells Pakistan it isn't doing enough to combat terrorism:
"To be fair to the Pakistan government, they have made progress in chasing down militants and terrorists in Pakistan that threaten their own country and threaten others. But we need them to do more and we should work with them to do more because as I said yesterday, it's not acceptable to have those within Pakistan who are supporting terrorist groups that can do so much damage to their own country and to British people whether in Afghanistan or back home in Britain."

In India to sell military hardware, Cameron has insulted poor beleaguered Pakistan by tellling them to get their finger out. Considering it was the CIA who trained up Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda forces in the early 1980s during the Cold War with the Soviet Union and then left the region with the problem once the USSR was defeated, it's a stunning bit of hypocrisy for us to be blaming them.

What started as Taliban resistance to the US has now gone national as the Pashtun people have been radicalised by indiscriminate killings. By October 2009, the US had killed 14 Al Qaeda but 700 civilians. That is not a ratio designed to win hearts and minds.

It's us who have brought the Afghanistan war to Pakistan.

As ex-cricketer and former Indian MP Imran Khan said last year:
" ... it’s just a blatant lie. How can they say that Pakistan has to be stabilized and then Afghanistan will become [stable]. Surely, stability in Afghanistan will stabilize Pakistan. In fact, a CIA ex-station chief of Kabul, Graham Fuller, actually wrote in the International Herald Tribune that unless and until NATO leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to descend into radicalization and chaos which is absolutely right, because we had no Taliban in Pakistan."

While Cameron drones on, Imran Khan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to declare the use of drones in his home land illegal.
In his petition, Khan asked the court to declare as illegal and unconstitutional all acts that take away the fundamental rights of citizens, the provision of facilities and logistics to any foreign country, any alliance for mass destruction due to drone attacks inside Pakistani territory. Such acts should also be declared a violation of the United Nations charter, the universal declaration on human rights, international laws and international humanitarian laws. Khan said the respondents should be directed to lodge complaints against the killings of innocent Pakistanis, destruction of their properties and displacement from their homes at appropriate international forums. He also asked the court to direct the respondents to take all preventive measures against the drone attacks to protect the life, liberty, dignity, property and other fundamental rights of citizens.

Back in India, Cameron has just done a nuclear deal worth billions with his hosts. I wonder how his arms shares portfolio is doing.

David Cameron tells Pakistan to fight terrorists we created as he strikes nuclear deal

David Cameron in India, BangaloreGetty Images
Prime Minister David Cameron flaunts his ignorance of history. Again. He's only been in the job for a matter of weeks and already is proving himself as gaffe-prone as BP's Tony Harwood.

He's said he would take on China in a nuclear bust-up, stated that Britain played second fiddle to the US in 1940, and now he tells Pakistan it isn't doing enough to combat terrorism:
"To be fair to the Pakistan government, they have made progress in chasing down militants and terrorists in Pakistan that threaten their own country and threaten others. But we need them to do more and we should work with them to do more because as I said yesterday, it's not acceptable to have those within Pakistan who are supporting terrorist groups that can do so much damage to their own country and to British people whether in Afghanistan or back home in Britain."

In India to sell military hardware, Cameron has insulted poor beleaguered Pakistan by tellling them to get their finger out. Considering it was the CIA who trained up Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda forces in the early 1980s during the Cold War with the Soviet Union and then left the region with the problem once the USSR was defeated, it's a stunning bit of hypocrisy for us to be blaming them.

What started as Taliban resistance to the US has now gone national as the Pashtun people have been radicalised by indiscriminate killings. By October 2009, the US had killed 14 Al Qaeda but 700 civilians. That is not a ratio designed to win hearts and minds.

It's us who have brought the Afghanistan war to Pakistan.

As ex-cricketer and former Indian MP Imran Khan said last year:
" ... it’s just a blatant lie. How can they say that Pakistan has to be stabilized and then Afghanistan will become [stable]. Surely, stability in Afghanistan will stabilize Pakistan. In fact, a CIA ex-station chief of Kabul, Graham Fuller, actually wrote in the International Herald Tribune that unless and until NATO leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to descend into radicalization and chaos which is absolutely right, because we had no Taliban in Pakistan."

While Cameron drones on, Imran Khan has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to declare the use of drones in his home land illegal.
In his petition, Khan asked the court to declare as illegal and unconstitutional all acts that take away the fundamental rights of citizens, the provision of facilities and logistics to any foreign country, any alliance for mass destruction due to drone attacks inside Pakistani territory. Such acts should also be declared a violation of the United Nations charter, the universal declaration on human rights, international laws and international humanitarian laws. Khan said the respondents should be directed to lodge complaints against the killings of innocent Pakistanis, destruction of their properties and displacement from their homes at appropriate international forums. He also asked the court to direct the respondents to take all preventive measures against the drone attacks to protect the life, liberty, dignity, property and other fundamental rights of citizens.

Back in India, Cameron has just done a nuclear deal worth billions with his hosts. I wonder how his arms shares portfolio is doing.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Garden haven, part II: acanthus, olives, hydrangea and more

A second batch of photos from my north London garden to cheer us up now that the weather has turned gloomy and we may never see the sun again this side of New Year.

hysdrangea
The Lone Hydrangea.

acanthus and olive tree
Acanthus (Bear's Breeches), sedum, pulmonaria (lungwort), and an olive tree, which is already producing fruit, given to me by Denise.

acanthus spire of flowers
The tall dramatic floral spire of the acanthus. Those spikes hurt!

Coriander and basil
I'm trying to grow sensible food like corander, basil and rocket. The pots in the garden are much more successful than those on the sunny south-facing window sill in the kitchen. Maybe it's too hot for them. But these look healthy.


Waiting for the tomatoes to ripen.

wild strawberry in the garden
One wild strawberry left after the wood pigeons have been at them. Wild strawberries have the most amazing artificial flavour. Life mimicking art?

squirrel drinking in garden
Several water bowls around the garden keep the wildlife happy.


Another cat deity stands guard.

See also Gardening Relief. Garden haven pt I

Garden haven, part II: acanthus, olives, hydrangea and more

A second batch of photos from my north London garden to cheer us up now that the weather has turned gloomy and we may never see the sun again this side of New Year.

hysdrangea
The Lone Hydrangea.

acanthus and olive tree
Acanthus (Bear's Breeches), sedum, pulmonaria (lungwort), and an olive tree, which is already producing fruit, given to me by Denise.

acanthus spire of flowers
The tall dramatic floral spire of the acanthus. Those spikes hurt!

Coriander and basil
I'm trying to grow sensible food like corander, basil and rocket. The pots in the garden are much more successful than those on the sunny south-facing window sill in the kitchen. Maybe it's too hot for them. But these look healthy.


Waiting for the tomatoes to ripen.

wild strawberry in the garden
One wild strawberry left after the wood pigeons have been at them. Wild strawberries have the most amazing artificial flavour. Life mimicking art?

squirrel drinking in garden
Several water bowls around the garden keep the wildlife happy.


Another cat deity stands guard.

See also Gardening Relief. Garden haven pt I

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Gardening relief: my green haven

Something a bit happier on this sunnyish Sunday in norf London. The other day Ned posted some gorgeous gardening pix from his California home. In response, here are a few from my garden.

garden osteospermum flowers
Osteospermum flowers open in the sun and close at night. Plus dianthus and cyclamen.

Petunia, portulaca and aloe cactus
A pot of vigorous Petunia Surfinia taking over the garden table. The succulent portulaca will be covered in vivid multicoloured flowers. I used to have one that I adored but it died and I've only just found some more at Homebase. So I bought three. There's a tiny aloe I bought with the intention of harvesting its healthy nutritious gel from its leaves when it gets bigger. Unfortunately, the small print reads: "Caution. These plants may be harmful if eaten." There goes my big plan.

poppy flower
This poppy was from last month. Now only seed heads are left but it was so beautiful I wanted to share.

snail eggs
This was fascinating. Something while and pearly was half buried in the soil of a trough containing rocket and pansies. A closer inspection revealed eggs and a nearby snail. Cheek!

garden rosemary
I love cats. But not when they use the facilities as a latrine, or lie in wait for the wildlife. Here's one of my cat deities standing guard by the rosemary.


The local animals include a pair of blackbirds and one youngster; a pair of wood-pigeons plus a third interloper they keep seeing off; mother and child feral pigeons which are fairly fearless and bully the bigger wood-pigeons; a tiny hoppy field mouse; a cheeky robin; a wren; and assorted tits, chaffinches and martens. My favourite is a squirrel who is always pregnant or nursing, and her growing brood. She accosts me for nuts and is very entertaining.

The Big Bad is the magpie that has finished off numerous fledglings including, last week, the baby wood pigeon nesting in the Eriobotrya Japonica (loquat tree). My friend Phil came round for tea and cake, we had barely sat down at the table underneath the tree when something went "thunk!" next to Phil's plate: it was the partially gnawed carcass of the baby bird. High in the tree sat the magpie. And, do you know, I could swear it laughed.

See also Garden Haven Pt II.

Gardening relief: my green haven

Something a bit happier on this sunnyish Sunday in norf London. The other day Ned posted some gorgeous gardening pix from his California home. In response, here are a few from my garden.

garden osteospermum flowers
Osteospermum flowers open in the sun and close at night. Plus dianthus and cyclamen.

Petunia, portulaca and aloe cactus
A pot of vigorous Petunia Surfinia taking over the garden table. The succulent portulaca will be covered in vivid multicoloured flowers. I used to have one that I adored but it died and I've only just found some more at Homebase. So I bought three. There's a tiny aloe I bought with the intention of harvesting its healthy nutritious gel from its leaves when it gets bigger. Unfortunately, the small print reads: "Caution. These plants may be harmful if eaten." There goes my big plan.

poppy flower
This poppy was from last month. Now only seed heads are left but it was so beautiful I wanted to share.

snail eggs
This was fascinating. Something while and pearly was half buried in the soil of a trough containing rocket and pansies. A closer inspection revealed eggs and a nearby snail. Cheek!

garden rosemary
I love cats. But not when they use the facilities as a latrine, or lie in wait for the wildlife. Here's one of my cat deities standing guard by the rosemary.


The local animals include a pair of blackbirds and one youngster; a pair of wood-pigeons plus a third interloper they keep seeing off; mother and child feral pigeons which are fairly fearless and bully the bigger wood-pigeons; a tiny hoppy field mouse; a cheeky robin; a wren; and assorted tits, chaffinches and martens. My favourite is a squirrel who is always pregnant or nursing, and her growing brood. She accosts me for nuts and is very entertaining.

The Big Bad is the magpie that has finished off numerous fledglings including, last week, the baby wood pigeon nesting in the Eriobotrya Japonica (loquat tree). My friend Phil came round for tea and cake, we had barely sat down at the table underneath the tree when something went "thunk!" next to Phil's plate: it was the partially gnawed carcass of the baby bird. High in the tree sat the magpie. And, do you know, I could swear it laughed.

See also Garden Haven Pt II.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Was Ian Tomlinson death a police and coroner cover-up?

Pic Daily Mail

I may have answered my own question. Everything surrounding Ian Tomlinson's death carries the distinct whiff of a cover-up.

Pressure is on Coroner Professor Paul Matthews to stand down from the inquest as it has emerged that, not only did he appoint Dr Freddy Patel at the request of the Metropolitan Police (a not disinterested party at the time) — a discredited pathologist who was already under investigation by the GMC — he also banned the IPPC from attending the post mortem. On top of which, he failed to advise Ian Tomlinson's family of their right to attend or send a representative, or inform them of the date and time of the procedure.

See also Advice to charge police officer over Ian Tomlinson death ignored. And Are the Police above the law?

Dodgy all round. Discredited pathologist and unbelievable CPS decision not to prosecute PC Simon Harwood. No police charged in Ian Tomlinson's death at G20 demo.

Was Ian Tomlinson death a police and coroner cover-up?

Pic Daily Mail

I may have answered my own question. Everything surrounding Ian Tomlinson's death carries the distinct whiff of a cover-up.

Pressure is on Coroner Professor Paul Matthews to stand down from the inquest as it has emerged that, not only did he appoint Dr Freddy Patel at the request of the Metropolitan Police (a not disinterested party at the time) — a discredited pathologist who was already under investigation by the GMC — he also banned the IPPC from attending the post mortem. On top of which, he failed to advise Ian Tomlinson's family of their right to attend or send a representative, or inform them of the date and time of the procedure.

See also Advice to charge police officer over Ian Tomlinson death ignored. And Are the Police above the law?

Dodgy all round. Discredited pathologist and unbelievable CPS decision not to prosecute PC Simon Harwood. No police charged in Ian Tomlinson's death at G20 demo.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

No police charged in Ian Tomlinson demo death


Yet again a policeman caught on camera abusing the public is let off. Today the CPS ruled that, despite video of the policeman pushing news vendor Ian Tomlinson to the ground and beating him with a truncheon at last year's G20 demonstration in the City (London), there will be no prosecution. Not manslaughter, not assault, nothing.

C4 News quoted Tomlinson's son as saying, "We were fighting a losing battle they were on the policeman's side from the beginning. This guy will be back on the beat."

It's as if, with a string of similar cases of killings and assaults by the police, the government has declared war on the public. They know that the present Tory scorched earth policy of savage cuts in services — where we are being made to pay for the bankers' mess while the rich remain untouched, and where no reputable economist will say that this is justified — will result in protest. We now know what police action to expect.

The Tomlinson case serves as a further warning to us that challenges to the government (this one not even elected by the majority of the electorate) will not be tolerated.

One excuse for today's shock decision is the contradictory conclusions from two pathologists. The first, Dr Freddy Patel, said that Tomlinson's death was caused by a heart attack. It was only when the family called in their own expert that the real cause — abdominal haemorrhage — was revealed.

This is not the first time one of Patel's verdicts has been discredited after he has provided results which have turned out to be favourable to certain parties. In 2004, my friend Valerie Chang lost her brother Richard in what was termed a "suicide" at the Abbey National headquarters following an interrogation by his bosses.

The Chang family state:
Richard Chang, 47, senior risk analyst died tragically at work after a fall of over 80 feet, 13 July 2004 in a suspicious suicide at Abbey National plc headquarters, Euston, London following an interrogation organised by senior directors and conducted by Kroll Associates. The incident happened shortly before Abbey National was taken over by Banco Santander.

The pathologist, Dr Freddy Patel who conducted the post-mortem for Richard Chang is under investigation by the General Medical Council. The Fitness to Practise Panel will inquire into allegations that, whilst working as a Consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr Mohmed Patel’s conduct in carrying our four post mortems was irresponsible and not of the standard expected of a competent Home Office registered forensic pathologist and that in one case his conduct was liable to bring the profession into disrepute.  He is accused of giving "questionable" verdicts on the causes of deaths, several of which later turned out to be suspicious.

The CPS must have known that Patel is under investigation by the GMC and yet they dragged their heels all this time. Will we be told why?

UPDATE: Harpy Marx reminds me that today is the fifth anniversary of Jean de Menezes's killing by police. The Labour Representation Committee has issued this reaction to the Tomlinson decision. And Harpy carries a press release from INQUEST.

UPDATE 2: Friday 23rd July 2010. Pressure is on Coroner Professor Paul Matthews to stand down from the inquest as it has emerged that, not only did he appoint Dr Freddy Patel at the request of the Metropolitan Police (a not disinterested party at the time), who was already discredited but a safe pair of hands, he also banned the IPPC from attending the post mortem. On top of which, he failed to advise Ian Tomlinson's family of their right to attend or send a representative, or inform them of the date and time of the procedure. See also Advice to charge police officer over Ian Tomlinson death ignored. And Are the Police above the law?

No police charged in Ian Tomlinson demo death


Yet again a policeman caught on camera abusing the public is let off. Today the CPS ruled that, despite video of the policeman pushing news vendor Ian Tomlinson to the ground and beating him with a truncheon at last year's G20 demonstration in the City (London), there will be no prosecution. Not manslaughter, not assault, nothing.

C4 News quoted Tomlinson's son as saying, "We were fighting a losing battle they were on the policeman's side from the beginning. This guy will be back on the beat."

It's as if, with a string of similar cases of killings and assaults by the police, the government has declared war on the public. They know that the present Tory scorched earth policy of savage cuts in services — where we are being made to pay for the bankers' mess while the rich remain untouched, and where no reputable economist will say that this is justified — will result in protest. We now know what police action to expect.

The Tomlinson case serves as a further warning to us that challenges to the government (this one not even elected by the majority of the electorate) will not be tolerated.

One excuse for today's shock decision is the contradictory conclusions from two pathologists. The first, Dr Freddy Patel, said that Tomlinson's death was caused by a heart attack. It was only when the family called in their own expert that the real cause — abdominal haemorrhage — was revealed.

This is not the first time one of Patel's verdicts has been discredited after he has provided results which have turned out to be favourable to certain parties. In 2004, my friend Valerie Chang lost her brother Richard in what was termed a "suicide" at the Abbey National headquarters following an interrogation by his bosses.

The Chang family state:
Richard Chang, 47, senior risk analyst died tragically at work after a fall of over 80 feet, 13 July 2004 in a suspicious suicide at Abbey National plc headquarters, Euston, London following an interrogation organised by senior directors and conducted by Kroll Associates. The incident happened shortly before Abbey National was taken over by Banco Santander.

The pathologist, Dr Freddy Patel who conducted the post-mortem for Richard Chang is under investigation by the General Medical Council. The Fitness to Practise Panel will inquire into allegations that, whilst working as a Consultant Forensic Pathologist Dr Mohmed Patel’s conduct in carrying our four post mortems was irresponsible and not of the standard expected of a competent Home Office registered forensic pathologist and that in one case his conduct was liable to bring the profession into disrepute.  He is accused of giving "questionable" verdicts on the causes of deaths, several of which later turned out to be suspicious.

The CPS must have known that Patel is under investigation by the GMC and yet they dragged their heels all this time. Will we be told why?

UPDATE: Harpy Marx reminds me that today is the fifth anniversary of Jean de Menezes's killing by police. The Labour Representation Committee has issued this reaction to the Tomlinson decision. And Harpy carries a press release from INQUEST.

UPDATE 2: Friday 23rd July 2010. Pressure is on Coroner Professor Paul Matthews to stand down from the inquest as it has emerged that, not only did he appoint Dr Freddy Patel at the request of the Metropolitan Police (a not disinterested party at the time), who was already discredited but a safe pair of hands, he also banned the IPPC from attending the post mortem. On top of which, he failed to advise Ian Tomlinson's family of their right to attend or send a representative, or inform them of the date and time of the procedure. See also Advice to charge police officer over Ian Tomlinson death ignored. And Are the Police above the law?

Recall of hollow-point bullets which fail to explode flesh: The Onion



The Onion reports on Steel Hawk Inc's defective batch of ammunition which "may not properly shred internal organs". Steel Hawk CEO promises the "long-shreddingest" bullets ever.

"Some of these defective bullets can leave an exit wound as small as a plum. That is unacceptable."

Dry. Very dry.

Hat tip John Booth

Recall of hollow-point bullets which fail to explode flesh: The Onion



The Onion reports on Steel Hawk Inc's defective batch of ammunition which "may not properly shred internal organs". Steel Hawk CEO promises the "long-shreddingest" bullets ever.

"Some of these defective bullets can leave an exit wound as small as a plum. That is unacceptable."

Dry. Very dry.

Hat tip John Booth

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

MAC Rodarte cosmetics themed on Juarez serial killings

Juarez women's graves
Don't say Marx didn't warn us. Further evidence of capitalism eating itself with this latest insane marketing campaign from MAC cosmetics, part of the Estee Lauder group and very popular with young women. Young women like those who have been killed in their hundreds, some say thousands, in the Mexican factory town of Juarez.

And guess what? The smart kids paid to keep their products in the public eye thought (not that much of what I would recognise as thinking went into this) that it would be a cute stunt to theme their new Rodarte range of cosmetics around the femicide centre of the world. It includes lines called Factory, Juarez, Ghost Town and Badlands. (Rodarte? More like Roadkill.)

The Juarez serial killings marked a departure from the thousands of drug-related murders in the area. They are notorious around the globe for the numbers of poor young women killed, the prolonged time-frame with few convictions, and the conclusion that some members of the political elite must have colluded in order for the perpetrators to escape for so long. Teenage girls are STILL disappearing without trace. Exploited day and night in the factory for poverty wages, women factory-workers are then fodder for murdering sickos. And now, we have make-up companies dancing on their graves, bringing us a step nearer the world of Soylent Green and actual cannibalisation.

Not only that, but to celebrate the mass killings of the very people who buy your product? Is that what they teach in business school? Or does the fact that these poor working-class girls earn £3 per day and could never afford MAC make-up render them not human in some way? Is that the message? That in this system, purchasing power alone gives you status as a human being?

All the beauty sites are in an uproar about this, but the political grooming site, Beauty Mouth, carries a particularly powerful piece which you must read.
What in the name of sanity is INSPIRING about the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of over 400 women (official figures from the Mexican Government - the real figure is estimated to be in the thousands by support groups) I DO NOT KNOW. ... My real fury/shock/sheer unbelievability about this range is this: I know how long it takes to bring something to market. And how many people are involved.

Even worse — oh, much worse — than Body Shop's attempt to stem sex trafficking by bringing out a handcream.

Due to the outcry, MAC has now committed to a $100K donation to "a non-profit organization that has a proven, successful track-record helping women in need and that can directly improve the lives of women in Juarez in a meaningful way." It has also felt compelled to change the name of their range, but a rose by any other name would smell as rotten now we have some insight into the mindset and philosophy of this company. I won't be buying anything more of their products — which alone should put them out of business.

Hat tip: MsKitton

UPDATE: An interesting debate at Temptalia

Rodarte is actually two women designers, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, said to have been inspired by lines of women workers on their way to the factory night shift they saw during a holiday around the Mexico/US border. What's a little thrill-seeking misery tourism? Thanks, sistahs.

UPDATE: Thursday 29 July 2010 — MAC pledges ALL global Rodarte profits to Juarez women initiative.

MAC Rodarte cosmetics themed on Juarez serial killings

Juarez women's graves
Don't say Marx didn't warn us. Further evidence of capitalism eating itself with this latest insane marketing campaign from MAC cosmetics, part of the Estee Lauder group and very popular with young women. Young women like those who have been killed in their hundreds, some say thousands, in the Mexican factory town of Juarez.

And guess what? The smart kids paid to keep their products in the public eye thought (not that much of what I would recognise as thinking went into this) that it would be a cute stunt to theme their new Rodarte range of cosmetics around the femicide centre of the world. It includes lines called Factory, Juarez, Ghost Town and Badlands. (Rodarte? More like Roadkill.)

The Juarez serial killings marked a departure from the thousands of drug-related murders in the area. They are notorious around the globe for the numbers of poor young women killed, the prolonged time-frame with few convictions, and the conclusion that some members of the political elite must have colluded in order for the perpetrators to escape for so long. Teenage girls are STILL disappearing without trace. Exploited day and night in the factory for poverty wages, women factory-workers are then fodder for murdering sickos. And now, we have make-up companies dancing on their graves, bringing us a step nearer the world of Soylent Green and actual cannibalisation.

Not only that, but to celebrate the mass killings of the very people who buy your product? Is that what they teach in business school? Or does the fact that these poor working-class girls earn £3 per day and could never afford MAC make-up render them not human in some way? Is that the message? That in this system, purchasing power alone gives you status as a human being?

All the beauty sites are in an uproar about this, but the political grooming site, Beauty Mouth, carries a particularly powerful piece which you must read.
What in the name of sanity is INSPIRING about the rape, torture, mutilation and murder of over 400 women (official figures from the Mexican Government - the real figure is estimated to be in the thousands by support groups) I DO NOT KNOW. ... My real fury/shock/sheer unbelievability about this range is this: I know how long it takes to bring something to market. And how many people are involved.

Even worse — oh, much worse — than Body Shop's attempt to stem sex trafficking by bringing out a handcream.

Due to the outcry, MAC has now committed to a $100K donation to "a non-profit organization that has a proven, successful track-record helping women in need and that can directly improve the lives of women in Juarez in a meaningful way." It has also felt compelled to change the name of their range, but a rose by any other name would smell as rotten now we have some insight into the mindset and philosophy of this company. I won't be buying anything more of their products — which alone should put them out of business.

Hat tip: MsKitton

UPDATE: An interesting debate at Temptalia

Rodarte is actually two women designers, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, said to have been inspired by lines of women workers on their way to the factory night shift they saw during a holiday around the Mexico/US border. What's a little thrill-seeking misery tourism? Thanks, sistahs.

UPDATE: Thursday 29 July 2010 — MAC pledges ALL global Rodarte profits to Juarez women initiative.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Now China blamed for BP oil spill. I mean: Hunh?

Pic from Don't Tea On Me

The latest in the Guardian's increasingly demented run of attempts to blame China for every disaster screeches out: "BP oil spill: failed safety device on Deepwater Horizon rig was modified in China". Tim Webb's article then goes on to admit:
There is no evidence that the significant modifications to the blowout preventer (BOP), which were carried out in China in 2005, caused the equipment to fail. But industry lawyers said BP could be made liable for any mistakes that a Chinese subcontractor made carrying out the work. It would be almost impossible to secure damages in China, where international law is barely recognised.

No evidence, but I guess the Guardian lives in hope.

In contrast, over at the Observer, their stablemate/rival, Tim Webb dispassionately reports the fact that there are moves afoot to "pass the buck" for responsibility away from BP's awful health and safety record, th'awl bidness's general screw-you to local communities, Halliburton's dodgy cement, and JR-style cronyism with ambitious/influential politicians, to China! When in doubt, blame the Chinese.
The Observer has learnt how Cameron [International, not Dave] will try to pin the blame on BP for the failure of the BOP: lawyers will claim that BP ordered Transocean to modify the BOP in China so significantly that the remodelled component no longer resembled what Cameron had originally manufactured.

A different emphasis entirely.

When the Western nations' duplicity over the secret Danish Text at the Copenhagen climate change summit was about to hit the headlines last December, The Guardian and Ed Milband led the field in switching attention (hey! Look over THERE!) to supposed machinations from China, in order to protect a deal that would have left the US still producing four times per capita the carbon emissions of the Chinese. My own attempts to join the debate and present an alternative argument at the Guardian's CiF (Comment Is Free, irony duly noted) resulted in my comments being deleted and my being banned.

In 2000, when the government's mishandling of the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in the UK resulted in pyres of culled livestock across this green and pleasant land, The Guardian was one of the loudest in suddenly accusing the UK Chinese of starting the outbreak (while the Independent was alone in maintaining a healthy scepticism). When this lunacy resulted in an apology and vindication from Nick Brown, minister at the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, the story melted away, with the late Hugo Young conceding in an email exchange that there were wheels within wheels, and one Guardian reporter telling a UK Chinese defence campaigner that there had been a dressing-down at the very top with the instruction that this should never happen again. If only Young were still with us and on watch ...

Isn't it about time the Guardian acted like a newspaper and offered us unbiased news reporting so we can make up our own minds? What is their agenda? What are they warming us up for? With the US conducting military exercises in the Yellow Sea and Cameron's statement that nuclear war with China is an option during the General Election campaign, is the West seriously building up to a conflagration with its giant economic rival? Could China's relationship with Iran be a factor, perchance?

As if we haven't had enough wars started by the West. Still, no war news is bad news if you happen to have arms industry companies in your share portfolio.

UPDATE: Note that both articles were by Tim Webb but with a different emphasis. The Observer's homepage featured the more sober headline and standfirst: "What lurks below the surface for BP? Even amid the 'cowboy culture' of offshore drilling, BP's operational record raises concerns BP safety device was sent to China"

The Observer piece acknowledges the buck-passing strategy currently being employed and makes it clear that "BP ordered Transocean to modify the BOP in China so significantly that the remodelled component no longer resembled what Cameron had originally manufactured." The implication is that the Chinese subcontractor only worked to BP/Transocean's money-saving specs.

The Guardian's home page, however, had the headline: "BP oil spill: failed safety device on Deepwater Horizon rig was modified in China." The piece by the same journalist implies that any fault — which has yet to be determined forensically — was down to Chinese work alone despite there being "no evidence" that any modifications had anything to do with the BOP failure at all.

It would be interesting to to know if either of these versions represents the actual views of the credited journalist.

UPDATE 2: Monday 19th July. As both articles seem to be good examples of objective reportage, containing some interesting material and placing the blame for the oil spill firmly with BP/Transocean, I am left wondering why the Guardian Online chose to foreground the China angle even though the article itself makes it clear that, "... the modifications were carried out at BP's request and "under its direction" ... '. It looks as if both headlines and standfirsts were written by eds at the Observer. The Observer home page led with the "What lies beneath the surface" angle, focusing on BP, and which features China as only part of the equation. Take out China and replace it with anywhere else in the world (India and South Korea also get these jobs) and you are still left with a cost-cutting scandal that is the responsibility of the oil industry. But the majority of the subsequent blizzard of Tweets didn't reflect this, homing in instead on China.

The Observer newspaper published the China angle on page 7, and the "Beneath the surface" article on page 36. So what is going on?

Friday, 16 July 2010

Why Ed Miliband is pants but will probably win the Labour leadership contest


Warning: the following item may cause you to lose the will to live

It’s great to see Diane Abbott alone among the Labour leadership candidates playing a straight game as she continues her campaign here and here. But not all lefties want her to win.

Following articles by myself and Harpy Marx about the disappointing Labour leadership hustings in Westminster the other week, there was a passionate exchange of tweets with Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy and Pickled Politics as he manfully defended his chosen candidate, Ed Miliband.

I’m not singling out Ed M as particularly grim since he, bright lad that he is, only plays the same game as the other three male contestants (four amnesiacs in suits and a no-hoper, as I've already dubbed them).

Those of us both for and agin Miliband Minor knocked the argument about on Twitter, which is hilariously useless when you have only 140 characters to play with. It's like debate by haiku. Puh-leaze don't make me reproduce all of it. For those in need of a 'Previously on ...' to catch up with all the gory details, you can check out my Twitter page, and follow the thread from there.

As succinctly as possible: I am suspicious of someone who has only just spoken up about Iraq as if he was nothing to do with the government despite being a minister. If he’s so good at decrying the invasion of Iraq now, how come he didn’t say so when he was in power? Especially during the Chilcot inquiry. Why now when he is hustling for votes? Since Iraq was perhaps the most important issue of the period, it provides a handy litmus test of who the candidates are. And it’s not looking good for Ed.

Then Sunny and Dave Semple sensibly opened up the argument on their blogs, where you can get a better bead on your opponent and a bit more swish to your sword-arm.

Sunny fired the first salvo, Tweeting us that he’d posted, "The problem with the Left and their political parties", a wonk piece about the minutiae of procedure and political machinations that made my eyes glaze over and wonder what was for tea.

Dave actually bothered to read the article and answered at Though Cowards Flinch with: "The problem with 'the problem with the Left'-style articles".

The next thing that happens is arguments about why Ed Miliband is not the saviour of the British nation are derailed and turned into personality glitches rather than politics because we couldn’t possibly not find Sunny’s latest love object as pretty as he. Except for the raft of reasons given by Harpy Marx in her thorough demolition, and those that I and others put forward elsewhere, that is.

Sunny, nice chap that he is, kept missing the point. He had already tweeted that for the detractors, it was emotively “about in-fighting and need to find ppl to disagree”.

Kevin Blowe had to pick him up on more smoke and mirrors and wrote in Dave Semple’s thread:
Equally lazy and deliberately provocative is the assertion that “socialists going around saying the Labour party and the Tories were essentially the same” – presumably meaning those he tweeted – “will be eating their words”. Now personally, I know very few people who would argue that Labour and the Tories are ‘exactly’ the same …

Sunny then responded: “I feel like many on the socialist left want to find an excuse to dismiss Ed M as viable simply because he didn’t go as far as them on an issue.”

Really? Not the war, then? Not his shameful sucking up the the Americans at the Copenhagen climate change summit? Not the wiping out of the collective memory of 13 years of Labour rule where Ed and the others sat at the heart for much of it? Not the desperate need for leadership that doesn’t just manage the unwashed masses but goes all out to improve our lives in meaningful ways and not just pay lip-service when they want our votes?

So I replied:
Sunny, again you distort the argument. I and Harpymarx and others have good reason to write off Ed. Loaded words such as “excuse” and “simply” followed by a rather childish dismissal don’t engage with our reasons. If you really want to promote your man I suggest you present those reasons to him and get him to introspect honestly on what he has done. Until then I see no change in his character and how that manifests in his actions.

Broadly, Ed M, like the other guys, was quiet over Iraq when he was in power, probably the most important issue of his Labour government’s tenure. While he was relatively good at the New Statesman hustings, this raises the question of why he is only talking about it now. The elephant in the room is the issue of career. If he remained silent so as not to rock the boat and send his career off course, then that says something about his character and indicates how he is likely to perform as leader of the party.

I also thought he was dishonest at the Copenhagen summit where he jumped through hoops for the US agenda when their mendacity over the Denmark Text was about to hit the headlines. Whatever China’s shortcomings in the areas we all know, they have in recent years soared ahead of us in their use and development of Green technology, the knowledge of which should be part of any honest debate around the future of this planet. To be so willing to throw them out of the back of the sleigh to satisfy the wolves is not a good sign that Ed will be a principled leader. I experienced an unpleasant wave of anti-Chinese, not just anti-China, feeling after this, so I am most certainly not impressed. I do not believe he will represent me if he is leader.

Stung, Sunny then rattled off another Pickled Politics post: "How should lefties deal with party loyalty and ‘collective responsibility’?"
If you have people constantly resigning or contradicting party lines then the media will tear you apart and nothing gets achieved. Voters would start believing that Labour didn’t know what the hell they were doing, or what they stood for, and vote them out. This is partly why Ed Miliband didn’t speak out when it wasn’t necessary. ... pragmatism ...

Sigh!

Meanwhile, back at Dave’s, Sunny wrote:
“6) MM says: Whatever China’s shortcomings in the areas we all know, they have in recent years soared ahead of us in their use and development of Green technology, the knowledge of which should be part of any honest debate around the future of this planet.

I’ve heard Ed M make that exact point.”

To which I replied:
But, Sunny, he did the opposite when it mattered. As soon as the news of what the US and other rich countries were up to over the Danish Text at the Copenhagen Summit was about to hit the headlines, it was knocked off the front pages with Ed M’s shriek that China and other poor countries had “hijacked” the climate change talks and were “holding the world to ransom”. He completely distorted the debate and defended the US who were demanding an agreement that left them belching out four times the carbon emissions of the Chinese per capita.

His article is a joke when China is forging ahead with Green technology after polluting itself so badly during its own industrial revolution, something we have failed to do.

It was interesting to see in April, the Indian Environment Minister place responsibility for the collapse of the climate summit on the heads of the Danish Text nations.

Ed M did what Blair had done before him and demonstrated to the US that he was a safe pair of hands. The fact that he made his bones with this and his silence over Iraq while he was in power does not fill me hope.

From Sunny saying, “I’ve heard Ed M make exactly that point,” suddenly he is arguing about the Copenhagen Summit all over again, as if Ed never did make that point. No, Sunny, I brought up Ed’s behaviour at Copenhagen as Environment minister as an example of how he, like Blair before him, is prepared to demonstrate to the US that he is their man, and will even provide a diversion when their Danish Text skullduggery is about to make headlines. Great to see him throw himself in front of the charging rhino like this. Would he do it for the Brits who vote for him?

Sunny does concede that:
I think Ed M fucked up Copenhagen and that is down to his terrible political skills. Same with Obama. But the same applies to China and India. None of these people want a global deal – they just want an excuse to blame the other. I’m sorry but you can’t blame Ed M here and exonerate China’s role in all this.

Yes, that is indeed a debate worth having, but the point I am making is that the way it was used cynically here signals that we may yet again have a PM who puts the interests of the US before those of Britain.

For Sunny it's "discipline" and "pragmatism" that excuse Ed. He'll be evoking the spirit of realpolitik, next. For others it's about principle and the will to fight for those with no power. You takes your choice.

Do we actually want Blair Mk II? I surely don’t, but I fear that's what we’ll be given. I can see the contest being something of a shoo-in for Ed. He’s livelier than his taller cuter brother, for whom the lax attitude towards the torture of British citizens might see him sliding down the rankings. Hearing Balls pander to the Mail/Express agenda on immigration requires a stronger stomach than mine. And Andy “Zeppo” Burnham has still not burnt himself into my consciousness.

Perhaps in the future, ALL British leaders will be Tony Blair. We already have a pair of Blairlites helming the ship of state, and now Labour have a bunch more warming up in the wings.

Why Ed Miliband is pants but will probably win the Labour leadership contest


Warning: the following item may cause you to lose the will to live

It’s great to see Diane Abbott alone among the Labour leadership candidates playing a straight game as she continues her campaign here and here. But not all lefties want her to win.

Following articles by myself and Harpy Marx about the disappointing Labour leadership hustings in Westminster the other week, there was a passionate exchange of tweets with Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy and Pickled Politics as he manfully defended his chosen candidate, Ed Miliband.

I’m not singling out Ed M as particularly grim since he, bright lad that he is, only plays the same game as the other three male contestants (four amnesiacs in suits and a no-hoper, as I've already dubbed them).

Those of us both for and agin Miliband Minor knocked the argument about on Twitter, which is hilariously useless when you have only 140 characters to play with. It's like debate by haiku. Puh-leaze don't make me reproduce all of it. For those in need of a 'Previously on ...' to catch up with all the gory details, you can check out my Twitter page, and follow the thread from there.

As succinctly as possible: I am suspicious of someone who has only just spoken up about Iraq as if he was nothing to do with the government despite being a minister. If he’s so good at decrying the invasion of Iraq now, how come he didn’t say so when he was in power? Especially during the Chilcot inquiry. Why now when he is hustling for votes? Since Iraq was perhaps the most important issue of the period, it provides a handy litmus test of who the candidates are. And it’s not looking good for Ed.

Then Sunny and Dave Semple sensibly opened up the argument on their blogs, where you can get a better bead on your opponent and a bit more swish to your sword-arm.

Sunny fired the first salvo, Tweeting us that he’d posted, "The problem with the Left and their political parties", a wonk piece about the minutiae of procedure and political machinations that made my eyes glaze over and wonder what was for tea.

Dave actually bothered to read the article and answered at Though Cowards Flinch with: "The problem with 'the problem with the Left'-style articles".

The next thing that happens is arguments about why Ed Miliband is not the saviour of the British nation are derailed and turned into personality glitches rather than politics because we couldn’t possibly not find Sunny’s latest love object as pretty as he. Except for the raft of reasons given by Harpy Marx in her thorough demolition, and those that I and others put forward elsewhere, that is.

Sunny, nice chap that he is, kept missing the point. He had already tweeted that for the detractors, it was emotively “about in-fighting and need to find ppl to disagree”.

Kevin Blowe had to pick him up on more smoke and mirrors and wrote in Dave Semple’s thread:
Equally lazy and deliberately provocative is the assertion that “socialists going around saying the Labour party and the Tories were essentially the same” – presumably meaning those he tweeted – “will be eating their words”. Now personally, I know very few people who would argue that Labour and the Tories are ‘exactly’ the same …

Sunny then responded: “I feel like many on the socialist left want to find an excuse to dismiss Ed M as viable simply because he didn’t go as far as them on an issue.”

Really? Not the war, then? Not his shameful sucking up the the Americans at the Copenhagen climate change summit? Not the wiping out of the collective memory of 13 years of Labour rule where Ed and the others sat at the heart for much of it? Not the desperate need for leadership that doesn’t just manage the unwashed masses but goes all out to improve our lives in meaningful ways and not just pay lip-service when they want our votes?

So I replied:
Sunny, again you distort the argument. I and Harpymarx and others have good reason to write off Ed. Loaded words such as “excuse” and “simply” followed by a rather childish dismissal don’t engage with our reasons. If you really want to promote your man I suggest you present those reasons to him and get him to introspect honestly on what he has done. Until then I see no change in his character and how that manifests in his actions.

Broadly, Ed M, like the other guys, was quiet over Iraq when he was in power, probably the most important issue of his Labour government’s tenure. While he was relatively good at the New Statesman hustings, this raises the question of why he is only talking about it now. The elephant in the room is the issue of career. If he remained silent so as not to rock the boat and send his career off course, then that says something about his character and indicates how he is likely to perform as leader of the party.

I also thought he was dishonest at the Copenhagen summit where he jumped through hoops for the US agenda when their mendacity over the Denmark Text was about to hit the headlines. Whatever China’s shortcomings in the areas we all know, they have in recent years soared ahead of us in their use and development of Green technology, the knowledge of which should be part of any honest debate around the future of this planet. To be so willing to throw them out of the back of the sleigh to satisfy the wolves is not a good sign that Ed will be a principled leader. I experienced an unpleasant wave of anti-Chinese, not just anti-China, feeling after this, so I am most certainly not impressed. I do not believe he will represent me if he is leader.

Stung, Sunny then rattled off another Pickled Politics post: "How should lefties deal with party loyalty and ‘collective responsibility’?"
If you have people constantly resigning or contradicting party lines then the media will tear you apart and nothing gets achieved. Voters would start believing that Labour didn’t know what the hell they were doing, or what they stood for, and vote them out. This is partly why Ed Miliband didn’t speak out when it wasn’t necessary. ... pragmatism ...

Sigh!

Meanwhile, back at Dave’s, Sunny wrote:
“6) MM says: Whatever China’s shortcomings in the areas we all know, they have in recent years soared ahead of us in their use and development of Green technology, the knowledge of which should be part of any honest debate around the future of this planet.

I’ve heard Ed M make that exact point.”

To which I replied:
But, Sunny, he did the opposite when it mattered. As soon as the news of what the US and other rich countries were up to over the Danish Text at the Copenhagen Summit was about to hit the headlines, it was knocked off the front pages with Ed M’s shriek that China and other poor countries had “hijacked” the climate change talks and were “holding the world to ransom”. He completely distorted the debate and defended the US who were demanding an agreement that left them belching out four times the carbon emissions of the Chinese per capita.

His article is a joke when China is forging ahead with Green technology after polluting itself so badly during its own industrial revolution, something we have failed to do.

It was interesting to see in April, the Indian Environment Minister place responsibility for the collapse of the climate summit on the heads of the Danish Text nations.

Ed M did what Blair had done before him and demonstrated to the US that he was a safe pair of hands. The fact that he made his bones with this and his silence over Iraq while he was in power does not fill me hope.

From Sunny saying, “I’ve heard Ed M make exactly that point,” suddenly he is arguing about the Copenhagen Summit all over again, as if Ed never did make that point. No, Sunny, I brought up Ed’s behaviour at Copenhagen as Environment minister as an example of how he, like Blair before him, is prepared to demonstrate to the US that he is their man, and will even provide a diversion when their Danish Text skullduggery is about to make headlines. Great to see him throw himself in front of the charging rhino like this. Would he do it for the Brits who vote for him?

Sunny does concede that:
I think Ed M fucked up Copenhagen and that is down to his terrible political skills. Same with Obama. But the same applies to China and India. None of these people want a global deal – they just want an excuse to blame the other. I’m sorry but you can’t blame Ed M here and exonerate China’s role in all this.

Yes, that is indeed a debate worth having, but the point I am making is that the way it was used cynically here signals that we may yet again have a PM who puts the interests of the US before those of Britain.

For Sunny it's "discipline" and "pragmatism" that excuse Ed. He'll be evoking the spirit of realpolitik, next. For others it's about principle and the will to fight for those with no power. You takes your choice.

Do we actually want Blair Mk II? I surely don’t, but I fear that's what we’ll be given. I can see the contest being something of a shoo-in for Ed. He’s livelier than his taller cuter brother, for whom the lax attitude towards the torture of British citizens might see him sliding down the rankings. Hearing Balls pander to the Mail/Express agenda on immigration requires a stronger stomach than mine. And Andy “Zeppo” Burnham has still not burnt himself into my consciousness.

Perhaps in the future, ALL British leaders will be Tony Blair. We already have a pair of Blairlites helming the ship of state, and now Labour have a bunch more warming up in the wings.

Beautiful frocks, impossible heels: sado-fashionism


And I am supposed to walk in these, how?

The male species may not be aware of the torture-wear storming the shops this past year. Following the best few seasons for ages featuring frocks that I actually desire and which would be cramming my wardrobe if it weren't for (a) dosh (or lack thereof), (b) space (or lack thereof) and (c) my favourite outlet, Primark — bringing high fashion to the low rent — STILL failing to sort out its cheap labour sources ... the deity that rules these things has snuck in footwear that hates women.

Unbearable AND unwearable! Your choice this summer is flat flip-flop-style sandals with that alarming strap that threatens to slice your big toes from all the other little piggies; medium-height wedges that allow no movement in the dark night of the sole; and vertigo-inducing hobblers, example above (Top Shop). Steve Martin didn't call them "cruel shoes" for nothing.

What happened to good ol' Clarks, you may ask? Well, what happened with me was a pair of lovely black leather mid-heel boots that moulded beautifully to my size sevens, apart from the stitched band across the base of the toes that failed to give and pushed my big toe joint sideways, making walking painful even now.

China got rid of its bound feet decades ago, but here we are being lured back into crippling bondage boxes for our delicate tootsies. Do you know how similar to bound foot-stumps the current trend in foot shapes is? These things may look fab when you are reclining sexily, but have you watched women walking in them? Have you TRIED walking in them? Look at the angles on those things. They push your bum out at unnatural degrees closer to our Australopithecus ancestors, and force you to waddle like a duck.

France bans the veil but puts up with our young women crippling themselves permanently. If you are going to dictate what women should or shouldn't wear — which you should not be doing at all — I'd rather see Sarkozy banning Carla Bruni and her sisters from wearing these things in public than telling grown Muslim women they have no say in their own attire.

And, yes, I did buy a pair. Why do you ask?

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