Country Reflex - A Poem for America

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Scottish Independence, Democracy and TTIP

As a Scot living in London, who doesn’t get to have a vote in the forthcoming referendum I feel obliged to have a wee rant about it. Not about the fact I can’t vote, as there was never going to be a perfectly fair way to do it. I just hope that all of Scotland’s residents who are on the electoral register make the right choice. It’s a bizarre state of affairs.
There are a host of stunning reasons why Scotland should, and will likely become, an independent country. Certainly in my own living memory, the people of Scotland have only been governed by one government they actually voted for, in 1997, and what a monumental mistake that turned out to be - culminating in the destruction of Afghanistan, Iraq and fiscal deregulation to the extent of economic collapse that was only narrowly averted (for the time being) through a monumental debt accrued by taxpayers i.e. the state.   
The rest of the UK might moan about a dysfunctional coalition led by wankers but at least they technically voted for it, although that was probably Gordon Brown’s fault too, and nobody besides Tony Blair had a say in his appointment as PM.  
Needless to say, there is a major problem with democracy in the UK, primarily because the political establishment do not represent the interests of more than 1% of the population, while whoring themselves out to the interests of corporations at every available opportunity.  
Scottish Independence would certainly shake things up democratically, but it would also provide an alternative to neo-liberal, or as I call it ‘sell-your-granny’ economics. 
Why would any country want to sell off its publicly owned assets when there is no economically literate argument for doing so?
I wasn’t going to get involved in the debate at all until I heard all the eleventh-hour shit coming from the unionist camp. Given the establishment’s refusal to include ‘devo-max’ on the ballot paper, against the request of the elected government of Scotland, renders their last gasp ‘pledges’ nothing short of an insult and only serves to demonstrate the total contempt that the UK political establishment has for democracy and/or the people they govern.
Nothing makes this point more salient than the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in secret between the EU and US. I had no idea about it until a friend mentioned it this evening (thanks!) - there's been zero media coverage, yet the implications are profound - more so even than whether or not Scotland becomes independent. 
Here's a short excerpt: 
“The main goal of TTIP is, by their own admission, to remove regulatory ‘barriers’ which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations on both sides of the Atlantic. Yet these ‘barriers’ are in reality some of our most prized social standards and environmental regulations, such as labour rights, food safety rules (including restrictions on GMOs), regulations on the use of toxic chemicals, digital privacy laws and even new banking safeguards introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis. The stakes, in other words, could not be higher. . . . Most worrying of all, TTIP seeks to grant foreign investors a new right to sue sovereign governments in front of ad hoc arbitration tribunals for loss of profits resulting from public policy decisions. This ‘investor-State dispute settlement’ mechanism effectively elevates transnational capital to a status equivalent to the nation-state itself, and threatens to undermine the most basic principles of democracy in the EU and USA alike.”
The full text of John Hilary’s report can be found here 
Scotland has the opportunity to change direction, to redefine democracy in the 21st Century and a ‘yes’ vote will mean the people of Scotland have at least half a chance of creating a society that doesn’t exist solely for the benefit of multinational corporations and the super-rich. 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Perfect Shit Storm

We’ve known for 30 years that London’s Victorian sewerage network required serious upgrade. Combined with EU legislation and a smattering of free market dogma, this fact justified the industry’s costly (£5bn) privatisation in 1989 with taxpayers writing off the debt needed to make our water utilities suitably attractive.   
Although compliance with the Urban Waste Water Directive was meant to be achieved by 1998, the UK has spent 14 years avoiding unlimited fines via infraction proceedings due to 39 million tonnes of shitty water spilling into the River Thames every year - half of which was picked up by the Lee Tunnel in time for the Olympics, at a cost of only £635m.
Thames Water has been working with the Environment Agency since 2000 to deliver our EU Directive-complying future and apparently the answer is a second, 32km tunnel costing £4.6bn at 2011 prices.     
Of the £5m ‘strategic study’ budget that helped reach this conclusion only £12k was allocated to examine options for sustainable urban drainage (SUDs) with no consideration given to the possibility of a hybrid scheme, contrary to the findings of the Ofwat commissioned Independent Review carried out by Jacobs Babtie in 2006.
This was only one issue raised by the Thames Tunnel Commission set up by five London Borough’s whose million plus residents will not only pay an additional £80-£120 per year forever on top of their existing water bills - along with every other Thames Water customer - but who can also look forward to a decade of construction and the destruction of local amenity space and property values should the preferred option get its rubber stamp.   
Despite the Jacobs Babtie review, despite completion of the Lee Tunnel and despite no scientifically definitive assessment to support their position, the Environment Agency is of the opinion that alternatives to the 32km tunnel are ‘too difficult’.    
Instead we’re creating such a money making bonanza with our taxpayer guaranteed shit chute that both Chinese and Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth funds have acquired a slice of the action, safe in the knowledge that Thames Water customers will foot the bill while the risk is underwritten via Osborne’s ‘infrastructure guarantee scheme’ – surely missing the point of either private ‘investment’ or privatisation, George?   
The truth is that building this infrastructure will enrich a debt laden non-taxpaying Thames Water’s private equity owners, effectively rewarding the company’s £8bn debt burden and pisspoor performance. Despite meeting Ofwat targets, Thames Water still tops the national leak table, pissing away 665 million litres a day, enough water to fill Wembley Stadium every 36 hours.    
But the greater scandal is that a £4.6bn shit chute isn’t needed, at least not in the ‘preferred option’ state promoted by Thames Water and our watch-poodle Environment Agency. While the latter claim to take an ‘evidence based approach’ to decision-making, the Commission “call[ed] into question the scientific rigour and validity of the[ir] whole assessment exercise” in relation to the combined sewage overflows (CSO’s) used to justify their support for Thames Water’s ‘gold plated’ turd tunnel.  
One senior Agency manager in the London Team responsible for overseeing the Thames Water-led plan went so far as telling a junior colleague that “we are not to get into any analysis or debate on the impact SUDs may have on the proposed Tideway improvements or other CSO's not picked up by the Tunnels”. Why are Environment Agency managers so keen to avoid ‘analysis or debate’? 
Information obtained via a Freedom of Information request shows the Environment Agency Pension Fund holding direct assets in Macquarie Group prior to and for two years after RWE sold Thames Water in 2006. While these direct asset holdings were effectively dumped two years after the acquisition, the Environment Agency is now clueless with regards its pension funds indirect investments in Macquarie Group, helpfully stating that they, ‘are unable to provide information about indirect investments made in Macquarie Group on behalf of the EAPF as neither we nor our global custodian hold information or have access to the detailed holdings in the underlying pooled funds.’     
While the Environment Agency Pension Fund’s interest in Macquarie Group could be entirely innocuous it brings into focus the close relationship between government departments and private utility owners.
The fact that Thames Water pay for at least one full time Environment Agency salary in support of their project appears to serve no discernable business function beyond mutual back scratching. 
Potential conflicts of interest aside, the Commission’s findings suggest a hybrid scheme, as described in the Jacobs Babtie review, could not only solve the crap crisis at less cost but would be more comprehensive in tackling the problem at source, helping to ensure London copes with increased flood risk and drought.  
The Environment Agency had a duty to ensure that every option was adequately defined and tested at the feasibility stage but instead squandered the opportunity based on crude assumptions of ‘difficulty’  and a pisspoor assessment of the problem.
But as we have seen with political lobbying elsewhere, increasingly cash strapped government departments will dance to whatever tune is played by their paymasters and Environment Agency support for the Thames Tunnel is perhaps no exception.   

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Frack Off

This won't be news to many of you, especially anyone living in Lancashire or other parts of the world where our insatiable desire to do fuck all about climate change means extracting as much fossil fuel from the ground as is 'feasible', regardless of the consequences.

I'm meant to be redrafting a script at the moment, so that means some procrastination is in order and it has, after all, been a while since the last post, the reason for which shall be subject to similar treatment in the not-too-distant.

Anyway, Congratulations George Monbiot! for taking a break to enjoy changing eco-friendly nappies. This is clearly my opportunity to steal Guardian readers away from his eloquent journalism and to thrust them into something up front, personal and peppered with 'bad language'.

As a then employee of our ever vigilant Environment Agency, I did ask the question as to why Cuadrilla’s fracking operation in the UK wasn't subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and questioned the extent to which the Agency provided this information for Mr Monbiot's article. I received the following reply from Tony Grayling, Head of Climate Change and Communities on behalf of Paul Leinster, CEO:

"George Monbiot, the investigating journalist in question, was provided detailed information about the Environment Agency’s enforcement of the Environmental Permitting Regulations (EPR) 2010 in regard to Cuadrilla’s operations in the Northwest but this information was not used in his article, perhaps giving a misleading impression that we were not helpful. I do not think that the article accurately reflected our response to Mr. Monbiot’s questions nor the risks to the environment in the UK from shale gas activities more generally."

Our discussion continued with an exchange that concluded with,

"The Environment Agency’s position is that the existing EPR [Environmental Protection Regulations 2010] framework is robust for dealing with the environmental risks from exploratory shale gas activities"

before continuing that the Environment Agency were or are

"undertaking an internal review of our own regulatory powers, to ensure they are fit for purpose in the event of significant commercial development of shale gas in the UK."

In the event of? It's a foregone conclusion. Surely the point is that you either frack, or you don't frack. You either implement and follow EU Directives, such as that covering EIA, or you don't. It's a bit like the situation with regards GM crops. What profit hungry corporations, pension funds and their political cheerleaders apparently want is unrealistic, unsustainable and unfettered growth with an element of unnecessary danger thrown in for good measure.
An experiment in the field that has consequences - in the field - is not an 'experiment' in any conventional sense of the word and poses a myriad of questions, not least some overtly ethical ones around our ability to tit around trying to control things in the field that we have no proven ability to control. Like run away climate change if we continue doing frack all about our ridiculous energy 'market' and addiction to fossil fuels, or earthquakes and damage to aquifers from getting the stuff out of the ground.

Besides the crap civil servants come out with in justifying various 'positions', the real tragedy is that we're experimenting with a process that should, even at an 'exploratory' stage, be subject to EIA regulations simply because the impact is, with the exception of scale, the same as a commercial operation. The activity is the same. The process is the fracking same. If anything there should be more controls on exploratory activity because that is a known unknown, to borrow a stupid phrase from Dickhead Cheney. We're fracking exploring . . let's see what happens when we do this etc etc. Of course, when looking for fossil fuels, anything apparently goes. From Shetland to Blackpool - it's the wild fracking west.

We can't or at least shouldn't be looking at this on a quantitative basis. Fracking is fracking, GM crops in the environment are GM crops in the environment. Risky deep sea drilling off the coast of Shetland is precisely that. Risky. We will never be able to adequately regulate our own stupidity, precisely because we are stupid.

It's about time our civil servants actually did their fracking jobs and stopped waffling shit, although I suspect that would be equally unrealistic.

Next week . . . news on the Thames Tideway Tunnel, London's forthcoming multi-billion pound shit shoot - foreign owned water companies, drought, snow and urban air pollution. Just kidding, I probably won't post anything for a few weeks now.

Happy Easter.

PS I noticed Mark's & Spencer advertising not just any pig, but an 'Easter Pig' . . . WTFrack. Easter is all about rabbits, chickens and lamb curry. Jesus and Mohammed would be genuinely disgusted, although it wasn't a real pig so maybe not that disgusted. Come on folks, it's Easter - buy more shit you don't need! Forget about your pay freeze and new tax code, unless of course you're very rich or very poor. Has the coalition gone all zen on wealth redistribution? Is your leader a useless moron with a fake penchant for pasty? Is your Jerry can ablaze because the Tories told you to do it? It's time to vote off, The Weakest Link.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Smoking, the NHS, Private Finance and St Paul's.

As I think about this post I've spent a minute making the obligatory hand rolled, chemical/additive free cigarette otherwise known as 'American Spirit'.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not being self righteous about my so-called brand loyalty or anything like that. But there's not many companies, especially cigarette companies that can be even remotely considered 'ethical'. And indeed, its a bit like Ben and Jerry's takeover by Unilever - my favourite blend of baccy is a wholly owned subsidiary of R J Reynolds and therefore British American Tobacco. In other words, the nice people who produce and manufacture my tasty tobacco are owned by bastards. And I'm a hypocrite. I don't really mind too much about this as a confirmed smoker I a) need to make a choice b) I have to buy something and c) I don't wish to quit). I also still eat Ben and Jerry's ice cream. That's not really the point, at least for this posting. But it's fairly obvious that 'consumer freedom' is a myth.

In my ideal world I'd like to grow my own tobacco and make my own ice-cream, it's just not a practical possibility at this moment in time.

Regardless, I buy American Spirit tobacco because it is a genuinely natural product, without all the gunk, pesticides, herbicides and all the other 'added' guff that goes into most tobacco products . . . the fact the Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company are owned by a big nasty multinational is merely a function of a globalised, hegemony of interests exploiting resources and labour in search of ever more profit while diversifying their respective 'offers', finding new markets, so and so forth. That combined with the fact that very few company's own almost all the others.

Ah, yes - the point of this particular rant. The cost of my tobacco habit is relatively small, both to myself (at least at the time of writing) and society, with a much higher ratio of 'my tax' in return (and not just through purchases of tobacco, but add through PAYE, NI, VAT etc etc) for what care I may one day need as a direct result of smoking, as opposed to say urban air pollution or a road traffic accident or indeed by becoming a fat, junk food munching cunt, or indeed by living so long I need 24 hour care and a mini crane to lift my sorry ass out of bed.

The NHS costs around £105 billion a year to run, a bargain when you think about it.
Smoking costs the NHS around £5 billion a year or 5.25% of the total.
HM Treasury tax receipts from smoking equal £11 billion a year or 11.55% of the total.

Besides the obvious problems of differentiating between people who die or get sick because they smoke, breath others smoke or just breath shit air next to a busy road or any combination of those, add in a few genetic, inherited health problems and huge fat reserves and the fact that various interest groups provide various statistics (the smoking cost-to-society figures are, for example, provided by the British Heart Foundation research group at Oxford) and have an interest, to some degree, in said statistics . . . but we can assume that those numbers above are well researched and more or less correct.

As a brief continuation to the previous post, the annual cost of Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contracts to the NHS, which for those of you unfamiliar with this particular form of voodoo economics (invented not by Gordon Brown, as the Tory's would have you believe, but by none other than a fascist Italian bloke called Mussolini) is where private investors (preferably your pals) put up the cash needed to build a hospital and charge a fortune in interest payments over a 50 year period, while squeezing every ounce of profit out through various tied-in contracts for 'services provided' to the Trust in question, such as catering, security and cleaning- and breath, ah. . . . delicious. The sweet smell of profit.

Anyway, the annual cost of these PFI contracts (in interest payments, etc) is around £2.5 billion so we can say, with some degree of objective analysis, that PFI is arguably worse for the NHS than people smoking, which is certainly the case if you consider the tax revenues that smokers contribute to the Treasury. Smoking is not going to bankrupt any NHS Trusts, that's for sure.

All PFI contributes is a ridiculous mechanism that allows our beadcounters to ignore the debt and pretend to the public and markets that the debt doesn't exist - even though we all know it does.

And while practice has shown the reality of PFI to be very different, no one is coming up with a solution. We've got a brass neck slagging off the Greeks and Italians for being feckless.

Andrew Lansley, the twat currently in charge of the botch operation being inflicted on the NHS, has suggested the taxpayer should effectively bail out the NHS trusts being shafted by unaffordable PFI contracts while whinging that it's all Gordon Brown's fault, Europe's fault - but not his.

However, the Conservative Party were (and remain) enthusiastic cheerleaders for Gordy's Italian fascist idea - Public Private Partnerships, and PFI in all its forms. The difficulty now, more than ever is that the systemic failings of capitalism that resulted in the current crisis have hiked interest rates on PFI deals to levels of borrowing almost double what they were when the contracts were signed.

So, time for the evil state apparatus, funded by the ungrateful taxpaying masses to ride in to the rescue to ensure the greedy bastards get their money, again at our expense. This is why private money should not be used to supply public goods at a profit.

Anyone for a bit of Northern Rock? Ah, Beardy already bought it at a more subsidised rate than 20 Virgin West Coast main lines! Tax avoiding twat.

When are these fuckheads in government going to start understanding that an ideological and dogmatic belief in 'free market' capitalism is not the 'way forward' or that 95% shouldn't be working to ensure a comfortable existence for 5% of the population?

Perhaps if more than 30% of us ever turned out to vote, or perhaps if there was someone or something worth voting for things would be different, but I doubt it.

The whole system is bankrupt, the political element no longer has legitimacy. I don't believe there is a democratic mandate for our so-called leaders to be making any of the kinds of decisions that continue to be made in propping up what is clearly broken beyond any kind of meaningful repair - and that started with the global bailout of our banks and lenders.

We should have nationalised the lot in return for preventing the total collapse that would almost certainly have happened without all our cash and sacrifice of living standards.

I think this is what the people sat outside St Paul's are getting at - they have a very, very good point. The only problem is that there is no genuine public debate on what could possibly be an alternative, and just at a time when a lack of alternatives to propping up this bullshit is the new Thatcheresque vogue. Why? Because some fucking bond traders say so? Because Standard and Poors will give your country a rating downgrade?

Our current modus operandi is so fucked we should be seriously examining the near incomprehensible changes required. It requires an entirely new way of looking at more or less everything, nothing short of a paradigm shift in thinking.

It could be a beautiful thing but that will depend entirely on which direction we choose, how we get there and of course our reasons for bothering at all.

It has to be fearless.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

news, views and attitude (innit?)

A lot can change in a week. More can change in a month and quite a fucking lot changes in a year etc. And I can’t believe that this is the first time in 16 months that I have sat down to write anything even remotely ranty. Especially as there’s been so much to write, eh, rant, about.

The global economy has gone into free fall at the hands of the muppets who have have been bleeding it dry at everyone's expense, there have been popular uprisings throughout the Middle East, much of Africa is once again being consumed by drought, famine and conflict, Afghans are still being killed, Pakistan has gone crazy, but nearly as crazy as the authorities in सिरिया. The US of A would like to attack Iran but can’t afford to, the Israelis still won’t behave themselves and treat their brothers and sisters with any modicum of respect. There’s been a host of natural disasters and storm damage around the world, from Bangkok to Philadelphia . Our so-called leaders have failed to agree on any meaningful action to prevent irreversible and catastrophic climate change. There have been riots on the streets of London, protestors are now camped out in the City of London and New York. A nuclear power plant nearly Chernobyled on us in Japan. The European Union looks to be on the brink of collapse following our largely pointless bailout of our crumbling, bankrupt financial system. Berlusconi's gone 'bunga bunga' and it's otherwise all gone Greek.

And now the tube drivers in London want triple pay not to strike on ‘boxing day’ while everyone else in public sector employment is going to strike on November 30th because the government has fucked them in the mouth as far as a decent pension is concerned.

Well that’s all we need. Tube drivers behaving like bankers and half the country out on strike because they have to work harder for less reward. I mean really? Who the fuck are they kidding? Don’t get me wrong. I sympathise wholeheartedly with those who will now have to work longer, pay more and get less and when they do get their ‘less’, will no doubt be too fucking old and decrepit to even enjoy a round of golf, or as most public sector workers can afford - a shot on the crazy golf at Southend-on-Sea. These are indeed difficult times. We should all pull together, muck in and, eh, stop paying into our fucking pension schemes?! There’s a thought.

Rather than striking because the financial system - crushed under the burden of pockets belonging to the very, very few - will no longer support the modest aims of public sector workers, why don’t people strike because half the world lives in diabolical poverty, hasn’t a pot to piss in or clean water to drink? Or because we have to step over the homeless on our way to work, or because some maniacs are determined to exploit every last drop of oil and cut down every last fucking tree on the planet? Fuck me.

These precious bloody pensions help run and maintain the status quo. Even those pension pots that are deemed ‘ethical’ or indeed ‘sustainable’ - it is all bullshit. Our pensions fund business-as-usual and as long people are conned into making their contributions, absolutely nothing will change. Everyone with a pension has an interest in business-as-usual.

Strike because our government wants to privatise the NHS.

Strike because old people will die of hypothermia in their own homes this winter and in one of the wealthiest nations on Earth.

Strike because our environment, our water and soil, is being ruined on a global, industrial and indeed criminal scale.

Strike because your government has and is, continuing to lie to you.

Strike because we are still embroiled in several illegal conflicts either directly or by proxy and our taxes are still being used to underwrite arms exports.

Strike because in doing so you can actually send a message to our so-called leaders that you give a shit about more than just the paltry some of money you MIGHT have to scrape by on when you’re old.

Strike because not going to work, or not partaking in any economic activity, is GOOD for the environment.

Strike because you demand regime change at home, not in some far off land to be exploited for lucrative oil and construction contracts.

Strike because it’s worth it.

But whatever you do, do not strike because you’re not going to get triple pay on ‘boxing day’. That is the most absurd thing I have ever heard. Bankers take note (not that you need any encouragement to take them by the bundle), look at the bad example you’ve set! Even tube drivers think their fucking special now – so much so that they can earn nearly twice the salary of a senior nurse responsible for line managing several others with responsibility for the lives of over 60 patients. And you fuckers think it acceptable to get £50k a year for pressing buttons to make a train move, stop and open doors? Okay, it maybe boring and the odd banker may well hurl himself under your train, causing a massive bloody mess of fat and gristle on your windshield. But hey, you signed up for it. Most boring jobs pay shit for wages and many people have to see ‘bad things’ happen every fucking day, even in the most boring of fucking jobs.
But at least you’ve got one. So fuck off Mr Crow. Go tell your drivers to shut the fuck up and stop behaving like those biscuit arsed banker boys and our whinging hypocritical leaders, too distracted from reality by their inherited fortunes, heiress fucking wives, six figure salaries and multi-million pound pensions, Bob.

Here’s an interesting piece of journalism (without any swearing in it) that deals with a fallacy that seems to be contagious.

On other news - The British Medical Association (BMA) really made me laugh today! Now there’s another great fucking example of irony’s brutally painful death. I didn’t think it could get worse after Tony Blair's appointment as middle east peace envoy. But in case you haven’t heard the BMA called for smoking to be banned in cars! Cars!!! Fuck me.
Yes, these vehicles that wreak carnage on the roads, pump out lots of nasty carcinogenic stuff and generally fuck the environment right up. But yes, we should ban smoking in cars. Instead, it should be compulsory for drivers to attach a tube between their exhausts and their mouths to prevent others from passively inhaling the toxic fucking soup that comes out the end! I think the British Medical Association have been experimenting with drugs again, not least because they make this sort of ridiculous announcement when an important and topical report on air quality is published. Or perhaps the BMA merely have a refined and sophisticated sense of humour?

Not only does smoking provide an excellent source of revenue for the Treasury, it also means that people don’t live as long. People paying more and more and more while getting less and less and less is surely just what the doctor ordered to help us through this age of so-called fucking austerity?

This may seem like a glib, facetious remark. But I do not believe that smoking is a ‘drain' on the NHS. Smoking is no more a drain on the NHS than people getting older, living longer or indeed the myriad of cancers that result in people who live longer which have absolutely fuck all to do with smoking and more to do with the shit food we eat, the lack of exercise we take, and the air pollution we breath, so and so forth.

No, my friend, the biggest 'drain' on the NHS are the Private Finance Initiatives that we are all hocked to the eyeballs paying for – but I’ll save that for another rant.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

mobile phones, pensions and McFuckery

I'm almost half ashamed of this post, especially having not even logged on here and written anything for a while. I suppose I've been too busy.
Anyway - this started as up update to facebook status but its too long, so here it is:

after a long a valiant fight for life, and in the face of much adversity, my phone has eventually spluttered to a more or less dignified end. No doubt it will now be sent along with all other "recycled" phones to the African Continent upon where small children will deconstruct it with their nimble fingers in order to extract minerals originally mined in the so-called 'Democratic Republic of Congo'. And because I - like most others - couldn't possibly live without a mobile fucking phone, I shall knowingly perpetuate this cycle of mineral extraction, war, poverty and general McFuckery safe in the knowledge that i will have a new shiny phone tomorrow with the same number as before. However, I can offset this hypocrisy by having canceled my public sector pension. I can now bask in the fact that my future financial security is more or less uncertain while being safe in the knowledge that I am no longer investing in mineral and oil extraction, and that this - my small contribution to not having a financial interest in planetary destruction - may mean a more secure future for the same nimble fingered children soon to be setting about removing the Coltan (Google it) from my dead mobile phone. Phew. This of course depends on whether or not you think the income these children receive for extracting metals from our dead consumer durables could outweigh the possibility that the industry itself is part of the machinery destroying our planet?
Do let me know what you think.
Answers on a postcard please.
Fuck, that's a tree - if only all postcards were made from hemp!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Iraq Inquiry II

I have to say I felt quite sorry for Claire Short. Her appearance before the Iraq Inquiry was always going to be emotional if nothing else. But she did get a round of applause for being stupid enough to be conned and bullied into one of the worst votes in her political career. As I said, I feel a certain amount of pity - which, in many respects is perhaps wrong but there we go, eh?
We already know what the FCO lawyers thought about it.