Archive for December, 2012

What Does 2013 Hold For Us?

Posted in Al Quada, America, Britain, Environment, Modern World, Security Council, Taliban, UK, United Nations, USA with tags , , , on 31/12/2012 by floroy1942

While most people seem to be looking back at the events of 2012, I wonder what the new year holds for us. The ‘End of the World’ event of December 21st 2012 seems to have passed off without any dramatic consequences and so now we stumble onward.

Arab Spring

Arab Spring

As usual the world is full of crisis in many places, least of all the Arab world where the ‘Arab Spring’ is still in full flood, and natural disasters are occurring everywhere with ever increasing frequency, but what the hell! We are still here.

Trouble Ahead

Trouble Ahead

One thing is for sure, 2013 will not be a lucky year for most people as the western countries still struggle with economic problems that just will not go away. The American ‘Fiscal Cliff’ looms closer with no compromise in sight, because as usual the Democrat and Republican political parties cannot agree on anything. In Europe people are still struggling to survive the economic downturn because those with low incomes are paying the price for the stupidity of the banks and the rich are hiding their ill-gotten gains.

Russia And China Veto Syria Action

Russia And China Veto Syria Action

Despite the apparent success of the Arab uprising in many countries of the Middle East few people are better off, and in nations like Egypt and Syria the problems are far from over as various factions vie for power. Naturally this will carry over well into the new year and maybe even the year after because Assad at least seems determined to fight to the end. The United Nations Security Council is still hamstrung by the veto’s of China and Russia so the international community can do little to stop the needless bloodshed.

al Quada Bombing

al Quada Bombing

Intimately involved in the unrest in the Middle East and further afield are many insurgent groups like al Quada who are deliberately escalating the violence for their own ends, which seem to be gaining control of a country.

Taliban Warning

Taliban Warning

The Taliban are continuing their war against fellow Muslims with an increasing number of attacks on their own people. Many would ask, Why do they attack fellow Muslims? Well, I think the answer is they wish to gain power again in Afghanistan, which they surely will when our troops leave, and the continuing bombing campaign is to reinforce their main weapon – Fear! I found it amusing when I read a news report on the negotiations that have taken place recently when the Taliban spokesman said they have “no ambition to take over the government of Afghanistan”. Well, I predict that as soon as the foreign troops leave they will do everything they can to return to power. Only time will tell.

New York City Tunnel

New York City Tunnel

During the last year the environment has been a serious area of concern for many millions of people across the world. We have had Hurricane ‘Sandy’ that ripped through the eastern seaboard of America, droughts in the Mid-West followed this winter by heavy snowfall.

Drought Impacts Food Production

Drought Impacts Food Production

Even ‘The Green and Pleasant Land’ of Britain had to suffer major drought and flooding problems in 2012. Many countries in the Far East have been battered by typhoons, drought and major flooding in areas where you would not expect it. There can be little doubt in any sane persons mind that all these weather phenomenon are the result of global warming, which the governments of the world seem powerless to stop.

In the case of rich nations, there is a distinct lack of will to trade profit for the continued existence of mankind, and the developing nations are loath to see any slow-down in their progress in catching up with the West for the same reason. In a nutshell, profit rules!

A Day At The Beach In An Over-Crowded World

A Day At The Beach In An Over-Crowded World

The world population will continue to rise at an alarming rate as it has done over the last thirty years. The fact that millions of people are dying of starvation because places like Africa cannot grow crops due to global warming is considered insignificant, just ‘situation normal’!

There can be little doubt that none of these challenges will be met in 2013 and life will continue as it did in 2012, because no single person is capable of stopping Assad, al Quada, the Taliban or climate change.

Really Necessary?

Really Necessary?

People will continue to consume resources at an ever-increasing rate, own more than one car in the family, add to the monumental number of electrical gadgets in the home, contaminate the environment and have more and more babies.

Power Consumption Gone Mad

Power Consumption Gone Mad

Most folks think it is the governments job to look after the well-being of the world, the environment and world resources etc., but they are wrong. 2013 would be a good year for us, the people, to start putting our own houses in order by drastically cutting down on our consumption of electricity, fuel and useless gadgets and start looking after the environment with simple things like refusing to use plastic bags, cups and packaging. We have to learn to forgo that extra ten cents of profit if it will help save the planet and humanity.

The Hungry Of The World

The Hungry Of The World

During the next twelve months  things will continue to deteriorate in many areas of the world for we have not yet reached the ‘Wake up Humanity’ point. When that time comes, and we see what we are doing to ourselves and our planet, I just hope it will not be too late.

Whatever happens in the future, I wish you all a wonderful, happy New Year!

Roy.

Family Breakdown And The Repercussions

Posted in America, Britain, Child Discipline, Children, Christianity, England, Europe, Parenting, Relationships, Teen Violence with tags , , , on 30/12/2012 by floroy1942

According to an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) survey on family life, Britain is now fourth among all western nations for the breakup of marriages and in particular, partnerships. By this they mean families where a relationship has broken down and children live alone with either the mother or father, compared to children living with both parents.

On The Decline

On The Decline

Britain has just 68.9% of children living with both parents, however the country at the top of the list is Finland with a score of  95.2%. Other examples are Italy at 92.1%, Spain at 91.5%, Germany at 82%  and the US on 70.7%. The country with the lowest percentage is Latvia on 64.9%.

As you would expect, in Britain at least, this situation is also linked with an increased divorce rate, but the predominance of so-called ‘partnerships’ these days means the divorce rate is a poor guide to one-parent families. Marriage was always viewed as a union for life in the past, but increasingly over the past thirty years or so actual marriage is no longer considered necessary and couples live together and have children by mutual consent.

A New Life - But A Life Lost!

A New Life – But A Life Lost!

The problems have been exacerbated by the steady decline in morality whereby the number of teenage pregnancies has gone through the roof compared to forty years ago. The days when couples did not have sex until they were married have long gone, much to the relief of many, but it means we are seeing too many young girls left ‘holding the baby’ – literally!

In a way this is sad, for it means there is no commitment from either partner in the union. It also means there are no legal ties and either one can just walk away if they feel like it. The fact that the union has produced children is but a small consideration, especially for the one who does the walking. I have always been of the opinion that couples who just ‘live together’ are much more likely to fail than those with a marriage contract, even in these times of increasing divorce rates.

Single Mother

Single Mother

At one time the appearance of children on the scene was a positive binding agent for any marriage, and often resulted in couples becoming closer even if they had tended to drift apart a little beforehand. But now in this ‘modern age’ with its total lack of commitment, children sometimes become a problem, or in many cases just a source of income in the form of ‘Family Allowance’.

In my opinion, the slow death of religion in the country has also played its part. Whereas years ago the churches were full on Sundays, now you often find only the old folks in church. Love it or hate it, religion in British churches did promote a sense of responsibility, respect and caring in people that is lacking today. With the steady rise of agnostics in society these admirable qualities are seldom evident as people concentrate more on themselves. This has had a steady influence on partnerships and as always it is the children who suffer the most.

Becoming Unruly

Becoming Unruly

There can be no doubt that a child who loses a father or mother during a breakup go through a traumatic period that can affect them their whole lives. Many children become unruly and seldom listen to their lone parents advice for they feel let down when one parent moves out. It is hard for children to acquire a sense of responsibility when it appears to them that their parents have none.

Many of the problems suffered by children these days come not only from the fact that either their father or mother no longer live at home, but also from the need for lone parents to work in order to make ends meet.

For A Child - Traumatic

For A Child – Traumatic

I have always believed that for children to have a proper upbringing the mother should stay at home. I have seen nothing in modern life to make me change this.  The idea that you dump your small children with a stranger in a crèche for the day while you go out to work cannot possibly have a positive influence on them. Ever been in a situation where your children do not do as you tell them, ignore you completely or argue? Well, put that down to the fact you were not at home teaching them the essentials of life when they were very young. Many young mothers today seem to think “That’s the nursery or teachers job”! Well, it isn’t! All these facts combined lead to the aimless, unruly, and often violent teenagers we have on the streets today.

If this was my child he would have received a bloody good hiding!

Let us not forget that the lack of commitment to each other and the family has led to the point where the tax payer is having to subsidize broken families in the form of benefits that is costing many billions every year and climbing. Britain has a staggering 26.7% of children living with only their mother, and 450 children from every 1,000 will experience their parents breaking up before they are 16. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that to continue in this way will have very grave results in the future.

Roy.

Newton And The Gun Laws – The Debate Rages On

Posted in America, Children, Government, Insanity, Justice, Modern World, Parenting, Primary Schools, Teen Violence, USA with tags , , , on 23/12/2012 by floroy1942

There has been a lot in the news about the Newton tragedy in The States and its ramifications on the gun debate, but now I find things have taken a weird turn. In the town of Harrold in Texas for instance, drastic measures have been taken to prevent gun crime in schools by arming teachers! Certain members of the teaching staff will carry concealed guns to protect pupils of the school from any repeat of the massacre that took place in Newton. The situation that caused many schools in The States to have metal detectors at the entrance has just got so much worse that now they have to arm teachers?

 Wayne LaPierre of the NRA

Wayne LaPierre of the NRA

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) has just made a call for every school in the country to have an armed police officer on duty, and that is their answer to the many school massacres that have taken place over the last few years. As I write this I still cannot believe what I am hearing! For crying out loud, why not just give all the schoolchildren a gun and they can then defend themselves!!!!

Typical Gun Collection - Why is this necessary?

Typical Gun Collection – Why is this necessary?

Guns in the hands of people do no harm if they are mentally stable and responsible and you can argue that this covers the greater majority of gun owners in America, but what of the rest? It is no great task for someone with a grudge to get hold of a gun when the whole country is full of them. It is not difficult for anyone who is completely or temporarily ‘unhinged’ to get their hands on an assault rifle and go on the rampage. The past is full of atrocities committed when even people who have legal permission to carry a gun decide they want to kill a few people, and yet the NRA’s answer is even more guns!!!!

True - A Lot Of It!

True – A Lot Of It!

It is fair to say that the business of guns in the hands of private individuals, i.e. not the police or military, has proven to be a recipe for disaster in these times. True, the American people love their guns, and for sure any attempt by the government to ban people from owning one will be met by extreme resistance as one previous commenter has said, so you have a choice, either get rid of the guns out of society or continue to mourn the deaths of adults and children in massacre’s like Newton and all the others, for Newton will not be the last by a long way.

Compared to any other nation there is no contest, as can be verified by the fact that the USA is about the only country in the world where members of the general public can legally own a whole closet full of guns, ranging from machine guns and assault rifles to machine pistols and handguns.

Assault Weapons For Sale

Assault Weapons For Sale

It is interesting to note that the sale of guns, and assault rifles in particular have gone through the roof since the tragedy in Newton, in fact Walmart has sold its entire stock and is waiting for a new shipment. Its the same story all over the country. America’s fascination with guns means that some owners have their own arsenal of weapons and I can only guess the reason is its an American obsession based on its violent past. It makes me wonder why Congress doesn’t pass a Bill allowing people to buy anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles also.

But perhaps the people should remember the old saying, “Live by the gun – Die by the gun!” Ok so I  changed it around but the meaning is clear and relevant.

The only way for there to be a real and lasting peace in the United States without one atrocity following another, is to change the mentality of the people and help them learn there is life without a gun in your hand.

Politicians And The NRA

Politicians And The NRA

The government response to the crisis is probably going to be the re-enactment of the ban on assault rifles but in my view this is not going to prove very effective for there will still be millions of other guns on the streets and in homes. There can be little doubt that the NRA will not sit by quietly while the government tries to limit the number of guns in the country no matter how well intended. They will fight tooth and nail to be able to retain the law as it is and don’t care a fig for those that die needlessly, even when they are children as young as 5 or 6. In the current crisis the best they could come up with is an armed police officer in every school, as if that is going to make a difference: “The only way to stop gun crime is to have more guns!” What a load of tripe!!!!

Roy.

AAAARGH! Its the Apocalypse!

Posted in America, Britain, Environment, Europe, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 21/12/2012 by floroy1942

I really don’t know why I’m writing this because chances are there will be no-one around to read it tomorrow, at least that’s what many people believe. At the moment I am torn between going to church to make my final peace or going out and getting drunk!

Because the Mayan calendar stopped on this day many people believe that the world will end and none of us will be here to enjoy the fruits of life and love tomorrow – how strange? I am sure I will still be here on Saturday the 22nd because I haven’t finished paying off the mortgage and I’m damned sure the bank will not accept a little thing like the Apocalypse as an excuse, plus, the electricity bill is due any day. Reason enough to think that life will continue!

Where the Hell Is Batman When You Need Him?

Where the Hell Is Batman When You Need Him?

This whole business of believers travelling all the way to various Mayan ruins in Central America to watch the final ceremonies by the locals, and those who truly believe that all will end today makes me laugh. Don’t they realize that whoever made the calendar in the first place probably just got tired of it and one day turned to the chiefs and said: “Sod this! I’ve covered the next 2000 years, I’ve had enough – I’m going home!” The sad thing is there are still people who believe that just because the guy gave it up the world will end! Whoever the guy is, I bet he’s lying in his grave laughing fit to bust at the antics of today’s believers.

Hang On - I Haven't Finished My Coffee

Hang On – I Haven’t Finished My Coffee

In China there are many people who think all is lost, in fact one farmer is reported to have built seven survival pods, each of which can contain 14 people. In several so-called survival areas like the Rtanj mountain in Serbia and the Turkish town of Sirince, which are said to be ‘Apocalypse proof’, all the hotels are full to bursting as people flock to the places they believe will survive the end of the world. What makes these places so special is anyone’s guess, but maybe the rumour was started by the hotel owners in an effort to drum up more trade!

On the other hand there are those who think today brings a new era for mankind. In the city of Merida in Mexico hundreds of spiritualists have gathered wearing white robes to celebrate this. One man, spiritual leader Alberto Arribalzaga said earlier this week, “A galactic bridge has been established…The cosmos is going to take us to a higher level of vibration… where humanity is in glory, in joy.” To be honest, I doubt that because the bank will still want its money and the electricity bill will still drop into the post box next week!

Me? I gave it all up for Lent! See ya tomorrow!

Roy.

Israel Is Pushing The Limits

Posted in America, Arab, Europe, Iran, Israel, Netanyahu, Nuclear Weapons, Security Council, United Nations, USA with tags , , , , on 20/12/2012 by floroy1942

This latest step by the Israeli government to build yet more homes on Palestinian land leaves Hamas and the Palestinian people with yet another axe to grind. Israel consistently says it is willing to negotiate with them  over the formation of a two-state plan, but as everyone knows, these are empty words for what they mean is: We will negotiate a solution on our terms alone and the people of Palestine can do nothing but agree.

Israeli Settlement Growth

Israeli Settlement Growth

Although illegal occupation began in 1948, there has been an explosion of new settlements over the last twenty-seven years, and between 1993 and 2004 the number of inhabitants in illegal settlements almost doubled. Currently there are 516,569 people living on land that belongs to the Palestinians according to the United Nations agreement that Israel’s borders should be fixed as they were before the 1967 war.

However, it is not only the settlements that are causing problems, for because of them huge tracts of Palestinian land have been closed to the people of Palestine and many villages have been removed by the Israeli government for ‘Security Reasons’. The proposed next phase of building to the east of Jerusalem will cut Arab Palestine in half, and forget not that Gaza is already isolated from the rest of the country.

The Growth of Israel

The Shrinking Palestinian Lands (Green)

To me there can be little doubt the Israeli aim is to take over the whole of Palestine ‘by stealth’ as it were. By continuing to build on occupied land they are not only robbing the Palestinian people of their homeland, but eventually subjugating them to Israeli rule. For having ‘colonized’ the entire country they will have built an Israeli State for beyond its legal boundaries which means the Palestinians will have no other option but to become permanent refugees without a homeland, or live under Israeli rule.

Ban Ki Moon recently issued yet another communique condemning these new settlements, but as usual it fell on deaf ears. The Israeli government has no intention of listening to anyone, least of all the U.N. ‘Talking Shop’. Successive attempts have been made over the years in an attempt to get Israel to withdraw to its 1967 borders, but all to  no avail. What is more, it will continue so until its most powerful ally, the United States, withdraws it backing. So long as the Americans continue to put their weight behind the Israeli government there will be no change.

This in itself is a thorny issue, for any United States President or government that withdraws its backing for Israel will commit political suicide, such is the power of the Jewish lobby in American politics.

Israel is in an unenviable position, hemmed in on all sides by Arab countries and although an uneasy peace has reigned since the Yom Kippur war of 1973, there have been a total of eight ‘mini-wars’ with Hamas from Gaza and Hezbollah of Lebanon, but on the international front all has been quiet.

New Settlement

New Settlement

There can be little doubt that so long as the Israeli’s continue to build on Arab land there will be no lasting peace in the Middle East. If they continue to ‘swallow’ Palestine, eventually a breaking point will be reached and all of Islam may decide to end the existence of Israel once and for all time. This becomes much more of a possibility if Iran does eventually get ‘the bomb’.

Should the international community fail to take positive action to prevent this Islamic State from gaining nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them, all hell will break loose in the Middle East, and places like Tel Aviv, Hebron and Haifa could end up as nothing more than smoking holes in the ground.

Surrounded On All Sides.

Surrounded On All Sides.

The Israeli government is playing a risky game, relying on the fact that any country that attacks them will be repulsed by their superior forces, and in the event of nuclear weapons being used the USA will come in on their side. Any American involvement would naturally bring in the European Union, bound as it is to America by its NATO Agreements. I dread to think of such consequences.

As things stand at the moment, there is no solution in sight so long as the Israeli government remains intransigent on the issue of Palestine, and the United Nations remains unable to take any positive action because of the American veto which it has exercised 82 times since 1947, most in connection with Israel.

How it will all end is anyone’s guess, but for sure the Israeli’s will not return to their pre-1967 borders, and the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran will not back down on the issue.

Roy.

U.S. School Shootings – Time For Change

Posted in America, Children, Insanity, Modern World, Parenting, Primary Schools, Teen Violence, Teens, USA with tags , , , , on 16/12/2012 by floroy1942

The United States is the only country in the world where a citizen can legally own a machine gun or other rapid fire machine pistol or rifle as well as the usual small-arms, and now once again the country is counting the cost. The ‘Right to Bear Arms’ is enshrined in the American Constitution and many are loath to see it repealed. For this reason its not surprising that often, guns find their way into the hands of a ‘nut-case’ or ‘deeply disturbed’ individual who goes on a shooting rampage like this latest incident in Newton Connecticut.

Some of the Traumatized Survivors

Some of the Traumatized Survivors

What has sparked horror this time is that most of the victims were very young children who were at the beginning of life but will have no chance to pursue their dreams. Like everyone else, my heart goes out to grieving relatives, but condolences and grief will not solve the core of this problem in American society.

It will not come as a surprise to many that such incidents are a regular feature of American life. The most notable school shootings add up to a total of 125 incidents since 1800. In these attacks, some 325 innocent people, mostly school children and teenagers have been gunned down by someone who thought they had been wronged and taken to the gun as a way of retribution. Included in this figure are those who have decided to commit suicide in front of their classmates. 325 may not sound many to most people but whichever way you look at it, its an awful lot of lives cut short for insane reasons.

Guns continually find their way into the wrong hands, and in this case the mother has been described as a gun freak so its reasonable to assume there were guns in the house. If there is no proper lockable storage for weapons in the house it was a simple matter for the son to get his hands on one. Time and again there have been reports of even very young children playing with a gun and killing themselves, or someone else through an accidental discharge of the weapon.

Is This Your Child?

Is This Your Child?

Whatever side you are on in the gun debate, laws that allow just about anyone to carry a loaded gun must be at the heart of this controversial issue, and now this law will come under scrutiny once more after this latest disaster. Following each new shooting the same old arguments are put forward but nothing is ever done because the gun lobby is so strong. People in the USA have to learn that the days of the Wild West are long over, and guns in every home is not sustainable in a modern day society. It is not acceptable for children as young as five to be taught how to fire a pistol or rifle, and for ten and eleven year-olds to accompany father on a hunting trip and shoot animals.

I fully realize that the American nation was founded at the end of a gun barrel but there comes a time when a nation must look past its history, and even a document like the U.S. Constitution needs updating to reflect modern times. America has the highest amount of gun crime in the whole world, anywhere, and when you consider everyone has the right to own a gun its not surprising.

It is possible that this latest tragedy might cause a spark of remorse in Congress, and maybe some headway will be made in changing the Constitution to ban guns for all except police and the military like it is is most civilized countries, but to be honest, I doubt it. As usual the country and its people will wipe the tears from their collective eyes and it will be business as usual – until the next time!

Roy.

The Press and Morality

Posted in America, Britain, Europe, Human Rights, Mobile Phone, UK, USA with tags , , , , on 08/12/2012 by floroy1942

Do two such opposites as the Press and morality go together? From recent events it seems not in many people’s eyes.

Could He Have Done More?

Could He Have Done More?

The recent death of a man at Times Square station on the New York Underground photographed by a freelance photojournalist Umar Abbasi, and the disgusting headline and photo on the New York Times front page that followed, has raised a storm of protest about news journalists and photographers in particular.

Many are complaining that instead of continuing to take photographs, Abbasi should have done something to help the poor man who was pushed under the approaching train by an unknown person with whom he had previously been talking. Abbasi contends there was nothing he could have done to help the victim back onto the platform before the trains arrival in the station, but that he did operate the flash on his camera several times down the track to try and alert the train driver.

Tasteless In Extreme

Tasteless In Extreme

The New York Times was also heavily criticized for its poor judgement in making the incident a front page story with graphic photo’s.  I too find it most distasteful when the Press revel in the suffering of humanity, like that which we saw daily from places like Gaza during their recent spat with Israel. Bloody corpses and a father carrying the mutilated body of his daughter. The newspaper editors today seem intent on putting gory photo’s on the front page in an effort to attract more readers. The sad thing is, it works because people today love to see pictures of the suffering others – just so long as they do not have to witness it first-hand of course!

A Vulture Stalks Its Prey

A Vulture Stalks Its Prey

There have been many cases in the past where ‘the shot’ is more important than those under threat. In 1993 photographer Kevin Carter was awarded the Pulitzer prize for his picture of a vulture stalking a starving Sudanese toddler, but afterwards received so much criticism for not saving the child he committed suicide a year later.

Do We REally Need To See This?

Do We Really Need To See This?

The base desire to get that magic photo that will sell millions of newspapers is overpowering for many photographers today and they will do whatever is necessary to get it. We saw this with the death of Princess Diane in Paris all those years ago where the paparazzi were fighting with police and ambulance men to get close enough to photograph the inside of the car!

The Paparazzi Camp Outside The Hospital

The Paparazzi Camp Outside The Hospital

We see it daily at any big news event like when the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton was taken to hospital recently. I would describe photographers today as a pack of wild dogs, but that would be an insult to wild dogs. The pushing and shoving of photographers surrounding an important news event make a rugby scrum look extremely gentle and sophisticated by comparison.

Paparazzi 'Scrum'

Paparazzi ‘Scrum’

It always amazes me that after getting a good photo they still have to fight for position to take a hundred more that turn out just the same. When I photograph something I take one shot and if its good I end it, not keep the camera shutter clicking for about two minutes non-stop. The trouble is, these days with digital camera’s you can take a hundred or more photo’s, whereas in the old days you only had a limited supply before you needed to put in a new film.

Death Through Indifference?

Death Through Indifference?

The basic question here is: Should a photographer put down his camera and go to the aid of someone in trouble? Photographer Abassi was criticized for not doing that even though he maintains there was nothing he could do. That may be, but obviously, basic morality says he should at least have made an attempt, but he didn’t. For a professional photographer it is difficult to make a decision to forgo a possible Pulitzer Prize photo with the fame and money that comes with it, or to drop the camera and perhaps save a life or prevent someone getting badly hurt. Its a sign of how people and moral standards have changed today.

What Would You Do?

What Would You Do?

Don’t for one minute think that this dilemma applies only to Press photographers, for you or I could face the same situation at any time, on any day. Do you take the photo that could make you a lot of money but at the risk of serious injury or death of another human being, or do you drop your camera and perhaps save a life? I’ll leave you to decide!

Roy.

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