Archive for May, 2009

Susan Boyle – Postscript

Posted in Britain, England, UK with tags , , , on 30/05/2009 by floroy1942

So, the final of ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ has taken place and the winner is known. As the results were announced, the tension was plain to see on Susan’s face. Just a short time ago it was announced that she was awarded second place behind the dance group Diversity. Susan was, as one would expect, magnanimous in defeat.

All the acts were, I must say, very good and I would have found it hard to pick a winner, but the British public chose the dance group. The difference between Susan Boyle and the others, is that she has an enduring talent. If she gets the breaks she deserves, she will still be going strong when all the rest are long forgotten. The general public are notoriously fickle, and always have been. As I think Diversity will find out after the Royal Variety Performance, you can be the world’s greatest star today, and yet tomorrow it would be as if you never existed.

I am sorry that Susan Boyle did not win, as I would have enjoyed very much hearing her sing in front of Her Majesty The Queen at the next Royal Variety Performance.

During the last week she has been hounded relentlessly by the Press who seem to have been intent on destroying her. Why this was done no-one seems to know, but the attacks on her were as vicious as only the English press can be. For those who do not know it, The English Press is akin to a pack of jackals in a feeding frenzy when they get their collective teeth into someone, and there are no bounds to the depths of depravity and outright viciousness to which it will stoop. “But you see, it sells newspapers!!!”

The situation got so bad by Wednesday she wanted to drop out of the final, so the organisers of the TV show were forced to move her into a ‘safe house’ where she could recover and prepare herself for the greatest moment in her life.

A Scottish spinster living in a village in Scotland, who’s only ambition in life is to sing for the people finally realised her dream for 99%. The crowning glory would have been the chance to sing for The Queen.

I sincerely hope someone gives her the chance of a recording contract, because she has a voice that should be heard, and if she does bring out a CD, I for one will buy it.

Now after a few short weeks of world-wide fame, she may have to go back to that little Scottish village from whence she came, and get used to ‘life after fame’, but I hope not. From the letters on her fan website (www.susan-boyle.com/) it would seem she has developed a huge following in America and across the world, and I am glad. If the Brits don’t know what a star they have in their midst, I’m happy someone else does.

Her story is like that of Cinderella, and now the clock has struck twelve, but I pray her prince will come along with a recording contract in hand very quickly.

If you wish to see the performance of this remarkable lady please use the following link:


http://www.susan-boyle.com/video/SUSAN-SINGS-I-DREAMED-A-DREAM-B


Good luck Susan, and God bless.


Roy.

North Korea – An Analysis

Posted in North Korea, Nuclear, Nuclear Weapons, Security Council with tags , , , , , , on 29/05/2009 by floroy1942

For many months the North Korean leadership have been playing a game of brinkmanship with the international community and the UN. Why, what is their goal?

Using their emerging nuclear capability as a tool of intimidation, they have taken on the world with threats of expanding their weapons capability and test firing missiles. Naturally, there is a certain nervousness among the surrounding countries, South Korea, Japan and China, at the prospect of North Korea achieving a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver it. The United States feels especially uncomfortable with the prospect of a nuclear armed North Korea, considering its many interests in the Far East.

This scenario may be some way off, but the ‘writing is on the wall’. In particular the firing of a long-range missile last month, thinly disguised as ‘a satellite launch into space’, caused much controversy and initiated an emergency meeting of the Security Council at the UN. After North Korea’s weapons test last Monday a further meeting was called.

It must be said that the UN, for all its supposed power is, and always has been, impotent in this and most other crisis’s the world over. It has never been possible for all nations, and in particular the permanent members of the Security Council, to agree on anything. So far, North Korea has received little more than punitive sanctions, for this read – a ‘slap on the wrist’, from the Security Council for its provocative actions.

In the past, it was always China and Russia who were hesitant to take any positive and meaningful action against the North Koreans for fear, they say, of making the situation worse. I believe events have proven them wrong. It would seem by its actions of late, North Korea had every intention of following this path regardless of any pressure brought to bear by the UN Security Council, or anyone else for that matter.

Traditionally, America has been the most hawkish when dealing with North Korea, as it sees a threat to its Far Eastern bases should they ever get a viable nuclear capability. But despite acting in its own interests, I believe it is also acting in the interests of the whole world, because no-one wants Kim Jong-il and his cronies to attain the status of a nuclear power.

Speculation is rife about the possibilities of nuclear weapon technology in the hands of such a dictatorial and oppressive regime as that in Pyongyang. It is not surprising they wish to hold on to the absolute power they have, and anyone, or anything that can upset that balance could become a target.

Should they see, for example the USA or Europe as a serious threat to their power base, they have the means to strike without direct involvement. One quick phone call to Bin Laden with the offer of a nuclear weapon and bingo, bye bye New York, London, Berlin or where-ever. I am sure Bin Laden and his pals would love to get hold of just such a device and use it against ‘the infidels’. Hopefully this is not likely to happen, but however far-fetched it may seem, it remains a nightmare that will not go away. It does make it abundantly clear that North Korea must be stopped before such a scenario becomes a possibility.

Yet another cause for concern is Pyongyang selling their nuclear technology to other countries in an effort to acquire much needed funds. It is well documented that they have sold missile technology to Syria, Egypt and other middle-eastern countries for this purpose. Should they begin selling nuclear weapons technology to these countries the whole balance of power in the Middle East will change forever, and not for the better. The world does not need a new arms race.

Experts have speculated that the main reason North Korea is following this antagonistic path, is to secure the succession for Kim Jung-il’s chosen son Kim Jong-un, his youngest. He is 25 years old, likes to drink and party as his father did, and has been groomed to succeed him. But outside of that little is known about him. Many experts believe he would become nothing more than a figurehead, and the power would remain in the hands of older, more experienced leaders.

Other experts are of the opinion, that this whole charade is nothing more than political blackmail, intended to get big rewards from the international community for ceasing their activities. To me that however does not hold water, because Pyongyang cannot expect to gain any more than it would have received under the six-nation talks that stalled some months ago.

Whichever way it goes, many Far Eastern countries are starting to get nervous, South Korea and Japan in particular. From reports it would seem even the Chinese are starting to lose patience with their neighbour. This could at last lead to a real consensus of opinion on action by the UN Security Council. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, the world waits with bated breath to find out what other surprises North Korea has in store.

Much has been said about South Korea becoming a full member of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) teams operating around Korea, a decision that prompted their northern neighbour to suspend the armistice that has been in place since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The teams initial purpose, was to intercept and inspect shipping suspected of carrying nuclear material or technology, to help prevent their spread to other nations. The various naval ships making up the force have to date however confined themselves to exercises alone.

The North Korean Government released a statement this week, saying that if any of their ships were stopped they would consider it an act of war. Tough words, and you can be sure it would be South Korea that felt any repercussions, although it is extremely doubtful that Kim Jung-il would be rash enough to risk a full scale war with the South, and America. North Korea starting a second war would bring the UN countries together to provide men and materials for the conflict just as they did in 1950. There is no hope for them with that course of action. The statement has however been sufficient for most Chinese fishermen to vacate the waters around North Korea, a measure that could be spontaneous, or at the behest of the Chinese government.

It may be just the usual political posturing that is always present with the Pyongyang gang, hopefully they do not have a more sinister purpose.

Whichever way you look at it, the situation is extremely complicated, and no-one has any real clue what is behind all this brinkmanship by the ‘Dear Leader’ and his cronies. The one thing we can be sure of, there is nothing innocent about it.

It is time for the UN to really show its muscle with sanctions that will bite hard at the Government and leaders of North Korea, and put them on notice the world does not want another nuclear capable nation, especially them.

The freezing of bank accounts, belonging to companies known to be providing the north’s regime with weaponry, are among plans mentioned in the press as measures that may be employed against the Pyongyang hierarchy, but we shall see what the Security Council comes up with. Hopefully the measures will be harsh enough to make Kim Jung-il back off.


As Bob Dylan once sang: “The times they are a-changin'” – Hopefully, not for the worse.


Roy.

Susan Boyle – A Phenomenon

Posted in Britain, England, UK with tags , , on 25/05/2009 by floroy1942

I have just been watching the videos of Susan Boyle’s performance on the TV show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’. Normally I avoid such programmes like the plague, mainly because most contestants have no real talent, and the whole thing stinks of a ‘put-up job’. The world-wide furor over a certain frumpy lady of 47 from Scotland prompted me to see what all the fuss is about. Like the rest of the world, it was for me a wake-up call.

During her first performance, I watched with interest the reactions of the judges and audience when she walked out on stage. Her appearance certainly belied her talent, but even so, it was shocking to see the bare-faced derision for this Scottish spinster not only by the judges, but also the audience. I hope for her sake the stage lights prevented her from seeing the looks on peoples faces. But she got the last laugh!

In today’s society, to be a successful pop singer you need the looks and body of a model, male or female, and a huge P.R. machine that will force your music down everyone’s throats. Without it you have no chance. If you have the body and looks of Beyonce, or the sultry aura of George Michael for example, fake as it all is, you are an instant hit with the fickle music crowd of today. Never mind if you don’t have talent, they’ll fix that in the recording studio.

It was therefore extremely refreshing to see an average, middle-aged woman come out on stage before an audience with the intention to sing. She had obviously not spent hours in front of the mirror doing her hair and makeup, and getting herself into a sexy dress, she was just, ordinary.

As soon as she started to sing, mouths popped open all over the auditorium. The faces of the judges were a picture in themselves. For someone off the street so to speak, with no formal vocal training or coaching, she stunned them all.

A video of her performance was placed on Youtube, and suddenly she was a world-wide hit. Views of the first video have topped 59 million, which must be a record even for Youtube. After receiving this mega-exposure, it was no surprise that American talk-show hosts were lining up to get her on their programmes.

Since then of course, the next round of the talent show has taken place, and guess what, Susan is through to the final. I think the judges would have been lynched if they hadn’t vote her through. Singing ‘Memory’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical ‘Cats’ she wowed the audience yet again, despite obviously feeling a bit nervous.

Two previously recorded songs have been found by someone, ‘Cry Me A River’ and ‘Killing Me Softly’. I have listened to them all, and I have to say, it is very seldom that I get emotional when I hear a song or piece of music, but these literally brought tears to my eyes.

Whatever you may think of her looks and the way she dresses, she has tremendous talent, and I hope she can make it as a star in her own right. It must have taken a lot of courage to step out onto that stage knowing what the reaction was likely to be. But thank God, there is still justice in the world. She had the last laugh, and I sincerely hope she now has a career as a singer. She deserves it.


Sing little bird, the world is listening.


Roy.

Friends Forever?

Posted in Britain, England, Europe, Germany, Modern World, Relationships, Spain, Teens, UK, USA with tags , , on 24/05/2009 by floroy1942

How good a friend is your friend? Is he/she loyal, helpful, trustworthy and kind? Can you tell your friend your darkest secrets and be sure they will keep your confidence? Can you call on your friend for help, counsel or support when times are bad? A lot of questions we perhaps should ask ourselves these days before trusting someone.

Years ago most people had friendships that would last their entire lives. The reasons being, people were far more static than they are now, and attitudes were different.

In the past, opportunities for travel were severely restricted for most, and you spent your entire life surrounded by those who lived in your street or village. This led to a far deeper bond between people.

It was this closeness more than anything that created life-long friendships, because you grew up and worked surrounded by familiar faces. It takes years of knowing one another to produce the bonds necessary for a deep friendship to develop. On top of that, people felt more kinship with each other in a small community, and did not have the attitude of many today — me first!

I know from my own experience as a child in the north of England, if you were moving into a new neighbourhood, before the removals van was even a quarter empty your neighbour would be around with cups of tea for everyone on a tray.

Today you would say they were just being nosey, but that was not true in 99% of cases, they were just being kind, and it was their way of saying welcome to the neighbourhood.

Of course, I will be the first to admit that it was never the same everywhere. People differ from country to country and even from town to town, but it is a good example of what things used to be like.

Now the modern age has brought mobility to the masses. With this increased ease of travel has come the possibility for people to move at will wherever they please. Some move because of work, some just to buy a better house. Either way, this migration has meant that few spend their entire lives in the place they were born.

This movement is not necessarily a bad thing because it gives everyone the chance to improve their standard of living, but in all this there has been one major casualty. You guessed; True friendship!

Ok! Yes, I know you have friends, but would they stick their hand in the fire for you, or at 3 a.m. drive a hundred miles in a storm to tow your car if you broke down? Not likely! They may well search the directory for the telephone number of a local garage, or offer to pick you up at the train station, but that is about as far as it would go.

If you had some dark secret that you just had to share with someone for your own piece of mind, is there anyone you could tell without the whole neighbourhood knowing about it the next day? If you can come up with a name you are indeed blessed. No! I don’t mean your Mother, think again!

An acquaintance of mine has been let down several times by so-called friends. She is the type who would do anything for a friend, and always thought of them before herself. She is a person you or I would want as a soul-mate, always there when you needed help, and a true confidant.

Because she has been let down so many times, I often advised her to take her time, find out what sort of person she was dealing with before making a commitment to real friendship. This has been very difficult for her because she is the type who enters spontaneously into a friendship.

Even when shopping, she always stops and has a friendly chat with the sales person or cashier. It’s just the way she is. She has to my knowledge, never refused help to friends in difficulty, even when it meant her own things must be put aside.

People like her are few and far between these days, and it is sad indeed when they are constantly kicked in the teeth by someone they thought was a good friend.

Recently a ‘close girl-friend’ of several years suddenly stopped calling her, and wanting to find out why she sent her a text message. The reply was an abusive message with the words “stop pestering me,” and no explanation. Naturally she was very upset and called me close to tears, wondering what she had done to deserve this thoughtless reply. This is not the first time. On each occasion I give her the same advice; Put it behind you and let it be a lesson.

Some time ago she had a similar problem with a girlfriend she cares a lot about. Even though this person often used her as the butt of her jokes when out in a crowd, she cared enough to let it go. Several times in the past this friend has upset her deeply by suddenly being uncaring or insulting. But, because she cares, she keeps going back for more.

As someone with a kind heart, and who is happy to be everyone’s friend I know there will be rough times ahead until she has learned to, how shall I say it, “Separate the wheat from the chaff”.

I learned a long time ago that as times have changed, so have people. The majority are extremely self-centred today and always put themselves first. In most cases friendship is a shallow thing, good for a night out, the occasional barbecue or going to a football match, but don’t expect too much. If the old concept of friendship was a five-storey building, then today, the top two floors have been removed.

You may think I am being over-dramatic on this subject, and maybe I am, but I have lived a long time and seen the changes in people over the years. Don’t get me wrong however, I am not condemning today’s society as a bunch of shifty, worthless individuals. Of course there are people out there who do not ‘fit the mould’, but it is sad to see the numbers are dropping with each succeeding generation.

It is world’s apart to have someone to socialise and have fun with, but when the chips are down, it’s a different matter if you need a friend you can share your feelings and problems with, knowing they will be sympathetic and helpful and not gossip about it to all and sundry.

Perhaps, who knows, the idea of a real meaningful friendship will again be popular at sometime in the future. I hope so.


May your friends never let you down – nor you them.


Roy.

The Latin Farce -A Mexican Prison Story

Posted in Insanity, Modern World, Police, Prison, Theft, USA with tags , , , , on 22/05/2009 by floroy1942

I have heard some crazy things in my time, but few can compare with the comic opera played out in a Mexican prison last Saturday.

According to reports released today, prison guards at Zacatecas Prison stood to one side while 53 inmates walked calmly past them and out the front door. Not one of the guards made any move to stop them.

At least 12 of the escapees are known assassins and kidnappers, members of Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. Among the other 41 are rapists and murderers. So far 11 have been described by Interpol as extremely dangerous, and a severe threat to the public world-wide. They must be laughing fit to bust at how easy it was. Not a shot was fired during the entire episode.

The whole sordid scene was captured on the prison’s security cameras (see clip) and would do justice to any of the comedy films coming out of Hollywood, all it required was Leslie Nielsen to make an appearance.

Thanks to the video footage, the real nature of the breakout was revealed, and now, the prison governor and the entire night shift of guards are themselves behind bars pending an investigation.

It would seem the drama unfolded with pictures of bored-looking guards watching TV while an inmate walks past them and releases prisoners from a cell block. They make absolutely no moves to stop him, or the released prisoners from walking out.

Meanwhile, outside the prison, a convoy of fake ‘Police’ vehicles draws up and the gate guards rush to let the ‘cops’ into the prison. They make no attempt to question the new arrivals and stand aside as they file in.

Eight gunmen, wearing jackets with Federal Police markings, enter the prison and escort the inmates to the waiting cars. All this time the guards are standing on the sidelines watching. The prisoners had also helped themselves from the guards armoury and many were armed.

After the ‘police cars’ drive off with their passengers, guards can suddenly be seen running to the gate with guns drawn. Reports say they were ‘overacting’ for the benefit of the cameras.

This whole sordid episode is symptomatic of what is wrong with the penal code in most ‘civilized’ countries these days. It makes no difference if we talk about Mexico, the USA, Britain, France, Germany or any other western nation, the problems are the same. Prisons have become holiday camps for the worst our societies have produced.

It must be said that in most penal institutions it is the prisoners who run the prison, not the governor or guards. In many English jails, the prisoners are allowed a lot of freedom, because those supposedly running the place think that is the way to head off trouble among the inmates.

Drugs are rife these days, and little, or nothing, is done to stop the flow. It has been reported that in many cases the drugs are brought in by prison personnel themselves, as well as visiting family members.

In Britain, statistics show the majority of prisoners released after serving their sentence go on to re-offend, so what happened to the deterrent? The simple answer is, it doesn’t exist any more. A custodial sentence today is a joke, and the ones laughing the hardest are the criminals themselves.

They look upon their sentence as a mere inconvenience, but hey, it’s not so bad living in a five star hotel for a couple of years.

The only things they miss are the freedom to move at will, and possibly, sex. But that is not necessarily true because there are alternatives to taking a woman to bed, if you know what I mean. So we are left with the restrictions on freedom.

Good meals, probably better than the wife makes, plenty of games, TV, film shows and libraries all go to make life a little easier for those incarcerated by society. Then there is always the extra curriculum activities as mentioned in the previous paragraph.

When all is considered, not a bad life for a serial killer, crime boss, drug peddler, murderer, rapist or child sex offender!

One of the more ridiculous reports I read some years ago, stated that prisoners would have curtains on the windows to cover up the bars, and so make them feel more at home. Naturally, it was a ‘Bleeding Heart Brigade’ suggestion. They constantly bleat on about prisoners ‘human rights’. So far as I am concerned, if you are a criminal the first thing you lose is the right to be treated like a decent law-abiding citizen.

The Police in most western countries are over-stretched trying to catch the crooks, and when caught, they get a ridiculously short sentence from the courts because the prisons are overcrowded.

It seems to me, all incentive for criminals to straighten themselves out and become honest citizens again, is today none existent.

Years ago they were so afraid of ending up ‘back inside,’ the majority never turned to crime again.

I think it is time for people to insist on sentences to fit the crime, and to re-introduce things like labour gangs. America has the right idea when it comes to chain-gangs. Make them work for their keep doing useful work for the community, like laying road foundations or digging ditches.

With modern technology I am sure we can make certain no-one escapes, or if they do, that they are captured quickly. Implant them with micro-chip trackers, so if they do manage to slip away it will be easy to locate them.

Whatever measures are taken, control of the prisons must be taken out of the hands of inmates, and the ‘softly, softly’ approach needs to go out the window. A strict regime must be introduced to ensure discipline in prisons, and that goes for the prison officers as well.

Anyone caught taking drugs into a prison should end up as an inmate, and anyone caught using should receive a mandatory 2 years on their sentence. Drug tests need to be introduced and enforced to ensure compliance.

The courts should ensure that sentences are more proportional to the crime committed, and this business of parole for ‘good behaviour’ for career criminals needs to be scrapped. Too many hardened criminals have got away with only doing a third of their sentence because they were ‘model prisoners’.

Let the justice system put some muscle into the words “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”


If you wish to view the BBC prison break report and the jail cctv camera footage, please copy and paste the following link.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8062789.stm


May you always be free as a bird.


Roy

How Do We Solve The Arab-Israeli Conflict?

Posted in Arab, Britain, England, Europe, Gaza and Hamas, Human Rights, Israel, Justice, Muslim, Netanyahu, Obama, Palestine, President, Religion, Six Day War, Terrorism, UK, UN, United Nations, USA with tags , , on 21/05/2009 by floroy1942

For sixty-one years the Israeli’s and Palestinians have been at each others throats, and what has been achieved? The answer is, nothing!

The divisions are now as deep as they were in November 1947 when the United Nations decided to form a partitioned homeland for the Jews in Palestine.

This was not as arbitrary as it may sound. Europe was awash with Jewish refugees from the infamous Nazi concentration camps, and there was a historical precedent for the positioning of a Jewish State in Palestine, namely ancient Judea, the original Jewish lands of biblical times.

Judea had been conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians, and Byzantines among others, before eventually being made part of the Ottoman empire in 1516, to which it belonged until the 20th Century. Each conqueror tried to remove the Jews from the land and almost succeeded, but a small number always managed to remain around Galilee.

Following the United Nations decree, Israel declared independence on the 14th of May 1948 and the new Jewish state was born. Since then, a continuous conflict has been raging between the Jews, Palestinians, and bordering Arab nations.

Several wars were fought between Israel and its Arab neighbours, and each time Israel came out on top. This led to the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasser Arrafat in the late sixties-early seventies, which carried out devastating attacks against Jews and Jewish interests world-wide, including the killing of the Israeli Olympic Athletic Team at the 1972 Summer Games.

In 1967 Syria, Jordan and Egypt massed armies on Israel’s borders, but were defeated in a pre-emptive strike by Israeli Forces in what is now referred to as the Six-Day War. Israel occupied the Left Bank, the Golan Heights, Gaza, and Sinai peninsular to the Red Sea. There followed another war in November 1973 when they were again attacked. Once more Israel carried the day, despite suffering heavy losses.

Later that same year, the Egyptian President Anwar Sadat became the first leader of an Arab country to recognize Israel’s right to exist, and signed a peace accord. He was later assassinated by members of the Egyptian military during a parade.

Since that time, several US Presidents, and many different governments have tried, and failed, to get the two sides to agree on a solution to the problems. But what are the problems?

They are, not necessarily in order of importance, the return of Israel to the pre-1967 war boundary’s i.e. return of the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian control, the Golan heights to Syria and the Sinai to Egypt, removal of all Israeli settlements on Arab land, and the return of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians.

Each of these have been rejected by successive Israeli governments for a variety of reasons.

First lets look at the boundary’s. Israel insists on having a buffer zone between it and its Arab neighbours, and, there are a large number of Jewish settlements on Palestinian land. Israel would also lose its vital port on the Red Sea, Elat.

Secondly, the removal of all settlements on Arab land would be very unpopular with the settlers, causing widespread condemnation of any government that tried it.

Thirdly, the returning of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, who also want it as their capitol, is a very thorny issue, being as it is probably the most important religious site in the world. Judaism, Islam and Christianity all lay claim to the city as one of their most holy sites. On top of this, there are 465,000 Jews living mostly in West Jerusalem, and 232,000 Muslims living for the greater part in East Jerusalem.

The Israeli government insists the city remain united under their control and should be their capitol. Meanwhile, the Palestinians insist Israel retreat to its pre-1967 borders, thereby giving up East Jerusalem. Like two dogs fighting over a single bone.

There are without doubt very tough problems to solve, because Israel sees its security as a number one priority, which is understandable; and the Palestinians want their lands back, which is a reasonable request.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block to a peace deal is purely the length of time this conflict has been going on. So much mistrust and hatred has built up on both sides over the years, that the two sides may never agree on a solution. Then of course there is Hamas.

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, has taken a softer line with the Israeli government, and appears more willing to negotiate than Hamas, who refuse to recognise Israels right to exist.

Hamas is a terrorist organization that still continues to attack Israel at every opportunity, most recently evoking a week long attack by Israeli Forces on Gaza after they attacked southern Israel with rockets. The stand Hamas has taken is also responsible for splitting the Palestinian nation.

In my opinion, both sides have to be prepared to make big sacrifices if peace in the Middle East is to be achieved.

With regard to Israel’s safety, I believe the only solution is for the Palestinians to accept a de-militarized zone around Israel until such time as sufficient trust is established. Israel should be allowed an observation post on the Golan Heights to ensure no militarization of the land around the Heights by Syria.

So far as the settlements are concerned, the inhabitants should be given the ultimatum of returning behind Israel’s borders with government financial help, or remain where they are under Palestinian control.

Jerusalem should become an open city, perhaps under UN or joint 50/50 Israeli-Palestinian control, so neither side can claim sovereignty. Both sides will need to find somewhere else for their capitol.

For its part, the Palestinian government, along with Hamas, must recognise Israel as a sovereign state and guarantee its borders.

It may seem to some that Israel is making more concessions than the Palestinians, and that may be true, but if they are to live in security with their neighbours I believe this is the only way. At least both nations will be able to flourish and prosper without the continued threat of war.

I further believe that such an agreement will take the wind from the sails of Iran, who has for decades been fermenting hatred and distrust of the Jewish State, plus arming people like Hamas. If the rest of the Muslim world can accept such an agreement, they in their turn should bring the necessary pressure to bear on this rogue state and bring it into line with the rest of humanity.


Here’s hoping Allah and God can shake hands on this agreement.


Roy.

M.P’s Expenses – Legalised Corruption?

Posted in Britain, England, Government, MP's, Parliament, Theft, UK with tags , on 19/05/2009 by floroy1942

Accusations flying across the Chamber like a swarm of hornets, casualties dropping like flies left and right, I am of course referring to the debacle of the expenses row in the British Houses of Parliament.

Today the Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, has resigned to forestall a vote of ‘No Confidence’, the first time this has happened in 300 years of parliamentary history. It is said he could not offer the necessary leadership to ‘The House’ in order to minimise the fall-out of the M.P. expenses row, and he was also responsible for the running of the office that regulated the expenses.

It is without doubt, the most troubling scandal to hit the “Mother Of All Parliaments” for a very long time, and it’s depth has caught everyone off guard. M.P’s have been willing to go along with the corrupt practices for decades, and the astounding thing is, most of it was ‘within the rules’.

The fact that many of the payments made to M.P.’s were morally wrong did not seem to be considered by most of them. As usual, it all came down to money, and after all, it was only tax payers money!

The fallout has not been limited to any one political party, they are all equally guilty of ‘milking the system’ for everything they can get out of it. Heads have rolled on all sides as the Press continued to probe into the accounting of claims put in by politicians.

The system in place for M.P.’s expenses is extremely complicated to us ‘outsiders’, but the main point, and the one open to the most abuse, are the payments made for ‘Second Homes’.

All members of parliament have a constituency home (i.e. in their home town), and a second home in which they live when in London on parliamentary business. Due to the necessity of maintaining two homes in order to do their work in parliament, they can claim expenses for the running of the ‘second’ home. This is what has led to many of the fraudulent claims made by M.P’s over the years.

Andrew Mackay, (Ex)Advisor to David Cameron the Tory Leader, was claiming second home allowance for his London home, while his wife, also an M.P., was claiming the allowance for their constituency home, as her second home. This added up to somewhere in the region of £300,000 a year between the two of them. They have been doing it for 8-9 years, and he maintains in a BBC interview he was told ‘it was acceptable within the rules’ by the Fee Office (Run by the Speaker).

Some of the more ridiculous claims made, and paid for by the Fee’s Office, were hanging a chandelier with associated electrical wiring work, and in the case of one previous Minister, gardening and swimming pool maintenance, and a housekeeper.

One of the most damning concerned former Labour Minister Elliot Morley, who claimed £16,000 for a mortgage he had already paid off, while he and his wife, both M.P’s, had jointly claimed £170,000 for separate ‘second homes’ over a 4 year period. He has since been suspended from the Labour Party.

Throughout all this scandal there has not been a sniff of these crooks paying back some of the huge sums of money they have “embezzled” from the tax coffers. Some have agreed to refund amounts claimed falsely but the figures are minute in comparison to some of the huge amounts claimed immorally.

In interviews they all claim that the expenses submitted were within the rules and they feel they had done nothing wrong. A few have admitted that some of the claims were perhaps morally unacceptable, but they were still “within the rules”.

As an onlooker, it seems to me the Rule Book needs to be rewritten because it is obviously too much of a temptation for M.P’s to put in a dishonest claim.

What amuses me, is the number of parliamentary members waiting in line outside the TV studios for their turn to wring their hands in sorrow saying “I’m sorry for letting down my constituents, and for the money I took that I shouldn’t have, but it was all within the rules”. So, no real apology there then!

There must also be some very nervous Lord’s in The House, because it won’t be long before they come under scrutiny.


Roy’s Blog expenses (If they can get away with it, why not me!):


Apartment Rent: €800

Electricity: €42.20

Water Charges: €31.40

Telephone (Called Mother for advice): €18.50

Refreshments: €15 (Cups of tea and Pizza)

Wear and Tear (W/T) on computer: €100

W/T on Typing Fingers (2): €25

W/T on Seat: €12

W/T on Spectacles: €10.50

Printer Ink: Nope, didn’t use the printer!

Printer Ink: €25 (I could have done)

Wrist allowance (Mouse): €4.50

Grand Total: €1,084.10


OK! I might have overstated the apartment rent, but it is within the rules! I am however sorry for any embarrassment I may have caused my constituents, my party, and myself. Now please let me get on with running the country!


Winston would have been furious!


Roy.

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