Category: Uncategorized

Iran: All about one thing

The last few months (years, let’s face it) have seen a lot of antagonism focused on Iran. That country can’t seem to do anything right, in the eyes of others. Ever since the hostage crisis that ended in 1981, it has been vilified as the cause of so many problems, not only in that region, but the world over. If they couldn’t actually pin anything on the Iranians directly, they complained about the use of ‘Iranian-supplied weapons’, or ‘Iranian-backed troops’.

They didn’t mention all the Western-supplied weapons, or Western-backed troops. Oh no.

Remember the long war Iran fought against Iraq? It was from 1980-1988, to jog your memory. During that war, we all thought the Iraqis should win, and wanted the Ayatollahs in Iran to be defeated. Our governments did, anyway, and told us that was the preferred outcome. So we supported Iraq with weapons, advisers, and probably money too. Anything to see the end of Iran, or the regime that wasn’t on our side, as the former Shah had been. This despite the fact that it was conveniently forgotten that Iraq was the aggressor, as they sought to capture the rich oilfields of Khuzestan. At the end, nobody won, and over 1,000,000 troops and civilians were dead. But we don’t ever think about that, as we fill up our cars with fuel.

So once again, it was about oil. It was about oil then, and it is still about oil now.

What are those naughty Iranians up to now?

The US has withdrawn from a Nuclear deal that everyone else accepts was working, claiming Iran is not keeping its promises.
The US is now laughably blaming Iran for the 9/11 attacks, despite proof-positive that they were backed and organised by Saudi Arabia.
Iran is supplying arms to militant Palestinians in Israel.
Iran is supplying rockets that are being fired into Israel.
Iranian banks are ‘funding world terror’.
Iran has imprisoned a British woman on spurious charges.

There is more, but I cannot be bothered to list all the accusations.
Behind all of it, there is just one thing. Oil
It has always been about one thing, Ayatollahs or not. Oil
The Nuclear deal rejection is a smokescreen for? Oil.

The west wants Iran’s oil, and will stop at nothing to get it. That’s what all of this is about.
If you want to believe all the rest, then that’s up to you.

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Facebook, and Cambridge Analytica

During last week, the world was supposedly ‘shocked’ by revelations that the details of Facebook users were being used by a research company, Cambridge Analytica, for sales or marketing purposes, and also to possibly influence voting patterns in the 2016 election in America. It was also ‘revealed’ that they targeted voters in the UK, during the EU referendum.

Facebook has 215 million users in the United States alone, and 35 million users in the UK by current available figures. Worldwide, users of that one social media platform are believed to be well in excess of 2.2 BILLION, with at least half that number active on a daily basis. People in most countries around the planet, people of all races and creeds, young and old. They happily share a photo of their latest meal, new sexy outfit, playing with their pets, or just plain old-fashioned keeping in touch with family and friends.

As well as that, many express their political preferences, attack people with different views and opinions, or bully vulnerable people whilst online. They tag people in photos, often without asking, and mention the people they have been socialising with, as well as family members and children. All this information is eagerly harvested by Facebook, from their headquarters. It is then sold on to advertisers, marketplace sellers, opinion poll companies, consumer research organisations, and statistical number crunching outfits like Cambridge Analytica.. Facebook is now estimated to be worth over $500 BILLION, without including the personal worth of its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

So, why the surprise? What is all the furore and chest-beating about? Did you really think that Facebook was just the invention of an amiable geek who wanted to allow everyone to connect with their old school-friends? Really?
Just like how Amazon only wants everyone in the world to be able to buy reasonably-priced goods, delivered to their door.
Or Google provides a totally free search engine, for the altruistic benefit of mankind.

Charities In Meltdown

The current Oxfam crisis comes as little surprise to me, to be honest. I gave up donating to such charities decades ago. I discovered that they were paying their executives six-figure salaries, and that much of the aid sent to desperate countries was either ending up in the hands of armed warlords, or being sold on by middlemen, described by various charities as ‘local entrepreneurs’. They tried to dress this up as ‘job creation’, but what it actually meant was more profit for a charity that had become little more than a business, its coffers swelled by huge government donations too.

Other charities will be exposed too, I have no doubt. Save The Children has already been mentioned, and many others will topple like dominoes, in the weeks to come. Sex for aid, the misuse of vehicles and funds, and the appalling spectre of children sexually abused in return for the basics in life. This with charities paying their executives well in excess of £100,000 a year, as well as supplying housing, company cars, and expense accounts to many as well. Make you feel warm inside, for doing that ‘fun run’? I doubt that.

And how about their luxury offices, in prime locations? I think it would be unlikely if even 10% of donations actually reached the underprivileged and starving they were intended for. Too much money equals big business, and we know how that ends up. Corruption, abuse, deprivation, and big rewards for those in charge. Sex, exploitation, child abuse, what a shameful catalogue of horrors. Abuse of resources and vehicles, and perhaps more tellingly, abuse of a position of trust. Not only do I feel sorry for those poverty-stricken people who deserved compassion and help, but also for the hard-working and unpaid volunteers who did it all for nothing.

And for those of you that doubted me, as long ago as the 1970s, I have four words.

I TOLD YOU SO.

The Nuclear Threat

Ever since I can remember, the world has lived in fear of one side or another using nuclear weapons. At school in the 1950s, we had air-raid drills; hiding under desks, facing away from the windows. As if that would have made any difference, if a nuclear bomb had actually struck central London, some two miles from where I was concealed under my old desk, in a school built during the Victorian era. We had seen the result of the American attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and these new bombs were many times more powerful.

At the time, there were few countries capable of using such weapons. The Soviet Union was the presumed enemy during the Cold War, and Britain had been given the means to retaliate too, by America. The French had also tested atomic bombs in the Pacific, so it was safe to assume that only four countries had these bombs in their possession. We are now in 2018, and that list of countries has not grown significantly. As well as Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Israel are all known to have the potential to launch nuclear weapons. And if you believe the propaganda by both sides, (I don’t) North Korea may well have a viable delivery system too.

Then there is the issue of ‘sharing’. That sounds very cosy, given what is being shared. The USA has ‘shared’ the option to launch nuclear weapons with Turkey, Belgium, Holland, Italy, and Germany. This basically consists of the USA siting weapons in those countries, then deciding whether or not to fire them. There are also countries that once had nuclear weapons, but apparently no longer have any; South Africa, Canada, Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. One thing we can be sure of, there are a lot of nuclear bombs and missiles out there.

By using published figures, there are 14,900 nuclear missiles and bombs stored around the world. That’s more than enough to wipe out the human race, many times over. Probably enough to not only eradicate all life on Earth, but also to destroy the very fabric of the planet. When we read about the nuclear threat, it is generally in terms of a supposedly limited conflict. The US has hinted that it will use them against the DPRK, should their leader fire rockets at US bases, South Korea, or Japan. But the DPRK has a border with China, so involving the Chinese could not be avoided. India and Pakistan square up against each other all the time, and have been in conflict since 1947. But both sides know that using nuclear weapons would also be self-destructive, so have never launched any. For Israel to use them against their near-neighbours would also result in disaster for their own country, so they are almost certainly not going to launch any.

For almost sixty years, I have lived in the shadow of this Nuclear Threat. The Cold War, The Cuban Missile Crisis, and many other supposed ‘near misses’ over the decades. I have finally decided that nobody will use them. It doesn’t make economic sense, and money rules the world. I stopped living in fear of the Nuclear Threat, and concluded that it is just that. A threat.

Sheep and true democracy.

A great argument for leaving the EU, from someone who lives where such decisions matter, and are not just liberal Europhile niceties.

Looking back in sadness

It is fair to say I will never be described as saintly; I have never mastered piety, my good works, such as they have been, are mundane, and  I too easily slip into my vices. I imagine, that the majority of us, I am better described as a sinner than as a saint. However, over the past year and a half I have developed a saintly aspect, rather small but perfectly formed, I have developed the patience of a saint and I have needed it.

I live and work in a rural, agricultural part of the country where the majority of my neighbours, mainly farmers, voted in favour of Brexit. I tend, like my friends, to have liberal views and to be welcoming of change. I also voted in favour of Brexit. Since the referendum there has been a steady barrage of complaint – “How did you come to…

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ISIS: What’s going on?

Recent reports might have you believing that ISIS had been eliminated as a force to be reckoned with. Their apparent defeat in Mosul and Raqqa led to claims that thousands of their fighters had been killed, and most of their leaders too. Less well-publicised reports hinted that many had been ‘allowed’ to leave to avoid further conflict, and that opposition forces, including US-backed Syrian militias and Iraqi army units, had stood by and watched, as many ISIS fighters left unhindered, with all their equipment and weapons.

Whatever you believe about the situation in those places, one fact remains. ISIS have not gone away. In fact, events over the past few days show that they have even decided to change tactics. The attack on an Egyptian mosque, resulting in the deaths of over 300 people, many of them children, signals something of a different path. This group have usually reserved their attacks for those westerners they despise, Christians they hate, and members of other sects that they do not consider to be sufficiently ‘Muslim’ for their liking. This recent attack was against a Sunni congregation, in a Mosque attended only by Muslims. ISIS are supposedly also Sunni Muslims, so this recent atrocity almost defies explanation.

It is interesting to note that they do not claim responsibility for it, despite the perpetrators carrying ISIS banners, and the attack bearing all the hallmarks of previous extremist outrages. Perhaps condemnation in the Muslim world has held them back on this occasion. So why did they do it? I can only speculate that this and other attacks in Egypt are concentrated on making that country unappealing to foreign tourists. These horrors do not have to happen in a Cairo museum, or in front of the Pyramids, to make outsiders fear to travel to the country. Egypt’s economy relies so heavily on tourism, that even a partial disruption to that industry can disrupt the economy, followed by the government, and leave the situation open for extremist groups to exploit the vacuum.

It also makes the rest of us realise that this evil organisation will go to any lengths to maintain the momentum of their perceived cause. We should take that recent example on board, no doubt as they hope we will. If they are prepared to do this to innocent people who follow exactly the same religion, then they are obviously prepared to do the same, or worse, to those they regard as infidels. Nobody should believe that ISIS is ‘finished’, whatever some world leaders would have us believe.