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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted -  11/01/2009  :  06:04
New Year, new topic. If you want to see the old one do a forum search for same title but 2008.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 26/08/2009 : 20:24
Talking of spirits in the Med reminds me of another story. I remember reading a British officer relating how he was in Greece at the end of WWII and the officers' mess was told it could get a cheap supply of spirits from a local Greek who made his own. He asked the Greek how long it would take to make large quantities of spirits for the mess. The reply "24 hours - except for brandy because that needs maturing."


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 27/08/2009 : 06:06
Same situation in Berlin where 'bath-tub' brandy was easily available and very dangerous (or so we were told)


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Bruff
Regular Member


479 Posts
Posted - 27/08/2009 : 08:59
First foreign holiday with my wife many years back, was to the little Greek island of Halki.  Our 2 weeks there coincided with annual festival where Halki folk from all over the world return for a day and night's feasting, dancing and drinking on the harbourside.  One of the best 24 hours of my life.  BUT, goodness knows how much Ouzo went down my neck and I had a two day hangover.  Absolutely fearsome stuff in excess.

 
Thing is though, Ouzo, Pastis, Ricard, all those aniseed spirits, they are absolutely delicious in the sun with a little ice, in a bar, watching the world go by.

 
Ouzo did for me, Slovakian Slivovic did for the wife at a wedding we went to in Slovakia 3 years back.  She still can't manage to say the word itself!

 
Richard Broughton



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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 27/08/2009 : 17:11
I had the same problem with Glenfiddich, in fact I'd still rather have something else. I once OD'd on Clyde Valley plums and that did the same thing, I had an aversion to them for years. Mind you, me and David Drinkall did eat about seven pounds between us!


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 31/08/2009 : 08:16
I wrote this over four years ago. Are things any better?

I’M HAVING A COMMUNICATION DIFFICULTY.

My problem is that up until now I thought I was quite adept at listening to a conversation, understanding it and coming to some sort of reasonable view about the opinions expressed.  However, all this has been thrown into doubt today by two related occurrences.

I was going about my life this morning, catching up on correspondence and checking the website when at 08:10 on Today on Radio 4 I heard George Galloway giving his views on the latest attack on him after he made a speech somewhere in the Middle East and used some fairly colourful metaphors for the state of Baghdad and Jerusalem.  Bear in mind he was speaking to an Arabic audience and expressing his solidarity with them.  He described the cities as ‘two daughters who were being raped’ one by the coalition and the other by Sharon.  I paraphrase but this was the gist of it.

The interviewer went for his throat about this and attempted to suggest that by doing this he was giving comfort to terrorists and justifying their actions.  Not surprisingly, he reacted violently to this and denied any such thing.  I’m sure that if you want to hear what he said you can access it on the BBC ‘listen again’ feature on the R4 website.

This is where I started to get into trouble.  I was listening very carefully to George and whilst I hold no brief for his general views or methods I didn’t hear him utter any statement that I could identify as being untrue. 

I don’t even see his use of metaphor in the lecture as being out of order.  He was speaking to his audience using language they would understand and empathise with, he was paying court to their culture.  My mind went back to Churchill and the techniques he used in his famous wartime speeches.  I’m sure you can all think of illustrations of his use of colourful language to get across a point, the one that springs to my mind is his speech to both Houses of Congress when he used ‘some chicken, some neck’ or again at Fulton when he talked of ‘an iron curtain descending across Europe’.  My point here is that whilst colourful and controversial, George’s metaphor was, I believe, accurate if slightly overblown to Western ears.  Unfortunately WSC would have been incapable of tuning his delivery to Eastern ears as he was an old fashioned racist at heart due to his upbringing and education so we can’t find a directly similar example.

The next thing I hear is Tony Blair delivering his latest views on the legislation needed to protect us from inflammatory preachers and apologists for the terrorist bombers.  I’m not suggesting that this was directly caused by George’s outburst, it has been a subject of debate since 7/7.  However, it did cross my mind that opinions like those put forward by George this morning could possibly fall foul of the spirit of this proposed legislation.  As I understand it the legislation will make it an offence to ‘justify’ or ‘support’ the activities of terrorists.  Hazel Blears, supporting Tony Blair has said that ’free speech should not be tolerated if it tends to support terrorism or corrupt the young’ or words to that effect.

How can you tell when freedom of speech and opinion is under attack?  Once you have made up your mind about that question, how can you decide whether the restrictions proposed are necessary or reasonable?   As a matter of fact, I believe that Tony Blair is quite right in targeting certain people and organisations who have undoubtedly abused their rights in this country by intemperate speeches and actions.  The danger arises when measures designed to achieve these ends are so loosely worded as to be capable of being used for other ends.

It seems to me that there are three separate strands intertwined here.  The efforts of those dedicated to undermining and corrupting our society and culture on behalf of the terrorists.  The public pronouncements of those who have deeply held beliefs about the causes of terrorism and are trying to understand the root causes and draw attention to them in order to give some direction to policy.  The political imperative to maintain public acceptance for a course of action in the Middle East which has tapped deep wells of  opposition in the country.

This is where I start to get really worried about my ability to analyse the information I am taking in.  I start from the point where I abhor violence as a tool of politics, whether at home or abroad.  There can be no justification for terrorist actions leading to the death of innocent people.  I assume that this is a universal belief.  How then do I square an event like the destruction of Falluja with four bombs in London.  As I ponder this I hear the reports of the commemoration of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  I hear nothing about the widely held belief that the only reason for the second bomb on Nagasaki was to see whether a Plutonium based bomb was more or less efficient than one based on Uranium.

If George Galloway is to be a target for those who wish to stifle public pronouncement of any opinion contrary to that of the government, what do we do about Simon Schama who forecast this scenario before the second attack on Iraq?  How about Cheri Blair’s recent pronouncements on human rights in the region?  How about me, sat here trying to understand what is going on?  Is Echelon up at Menwith Hill going to read my email because it contains the wrong keywords and flag me up as a dangerous subversive?  Are the high tech video cameras recently deployed in Barlick Town Centre capable of monitoring my movements?  Is it possible that we could all be held without trial after an early morning call by the spooks?  Who can say with certainty that none of this can happen?

My bottom line is that this sort of climate of opinion and the fact that I can be genuinely worried about the future of freedom of speech and opinion, however flawed my reasoning, is exactly what the terrorists are hoping to achieve.  This does not mean that no measures at all should be taken to stop corruption and inflammatory pronouncements intended to further the aims of fanatics.  What it means is that we should be very clear about any legislation passed to achieve this end.  Voltaire said that even though he disapproved of what certain people were saying he would defend their right to say it.  We should be very careful where we set the bounds of this right.  If we go too far we destroy the very thing we are trying to protect.

SCG/05/08/05

    


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 10/09/2009 : 08:29
I'm watching Obama taking on the might of the medical industry in the US and being accusede of being a Socialist in the process. During the summer he has been viciously attacked with all sorts of lies and scare tactics and there is no doubt he has an uphill battle. The reason we should be taking notice is that some of the supporters of the anti campaign are US companies either making bids or already holding contracts for things like providing out of hours services in the UK. It is no coincidence that firms like McKinsey are giving 'advice' that we should sack ten percent of the front-line staff in the NHS. They are totally committed to privatised health care because that is the route to making a profit out of illness and leaving the poor behind. I think I heard the figure this morning that 45% of US citizens do not have health insurance and so are dependent on emergency room services only. There was another statistic as well that flags up the danger, most US bankruptcies have expense caused by illness at their root. I doubt if we have a single one in UK. It is all a long way away but we need to keep an eye on these people, if they had their way we would be in as bad a position as poor Americans.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Tizer
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5150 Posts
Posted - 10/09/2009 : 10:54
Healthcare in the US is a bit like trying to get over climate change, you are faced with the vested interests of big business. The drug companies and medical equipment companies in the US make vast profits by over-charging and the medical insurance companies go along with it. They're all in it together and don't want the fun to end.

Talking of drug companies, the following is from the New York Times, September 2, 2009.

Pfizer Pays $2.3 Billion to Settle Marketing Case

WASHINGTON — The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to settle civil and criminal allegations that it had illegally marketed its painkiller Bextra, which has been withdrawn. Administration officials like Kathleen Sebelius heralded the fine in Washington, signaling an increased focus on such cases....

....The government charged that executives and sales representatives throughout Pfizer’s ranks planned and executed schemes to illegally market not only Bextra but also Geodon, an antipsychotic; Zyvox, an antibiotic; and Lyrica, which treats nerve pain. While the government said the fine was a record sum, the $2.3 billion fine amounts to less than three weeks of Pfizer’s sales.

Much of the activities cited Wednesday occurred while Pfizer was in the midst of resolving allegations that it illegally marketed Neurontin, an epilepsy drug for which the company in 2004 paid a $430 million fine and signed a corporate integrity agreement — a companywide promise to behave.


This is just one example of a very wide `off label' scam going on behind the scenes in the drug industry. Doctors often prescribe drugs for uses that have not been approved, and sometimes the choice is valid but other times not. That choice is up to the doctor. But drug companies have been breaking the rules by blatantly promoting their drugs to doctors for these off-label uses. The companies have realised that there is enormous money to be made out of it (most people regard the fines in the above news story as being far too small to deter the drug companies).

Edited by - Tizer on 10/09/2009 11:12:53


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 10/09/2009 : 13:52
It is a universal problem that once corporations reach a certain size they can, within the restraints (if any) of regulation manufacure their own business climate. Very similar to the situation with monopolies. The US recognised these problems many years ago with anti-trust regulation but it doesn't seem to work for the big corporations these days. Look at the financial institutions and how they appear to be managin g the world to suit themselves, this is because they in effect control the money supply.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 27/09/2009 : 07:43

I am so at odds with politics these days that I have been keeping quiet, far better things to do like taking care of myself and Jack and scanning pics in or writing.

What triggered me today was the news that Lord Mandy of Everything (unelected and untrustworthy) is reported to have said that he is willing to give the country the benefit of his experience no matter who is in power. How extremely generous and helpful of him! How can anyone take this man seriously?

I’m sure you have all had your personal ‘rage triggers’ over the last few months ranging from the broken banking system to inaction on what many of us see as the real threats of energy and food shortages looming up on the horizon. The government’s own energy advisor tells them that as we stand now power cuts are inevitable probably within five years, sound men like Tim Lang tell them the same about essential food supplies, The milk industry is in melt-down and the supermarkets, despite all their protestations about giving us cheap food manipulate the supply chain using foreign imports to drive down prices to producers and report even higher profits in a recession.

At the same time the view from the mushroom farm is that the opinions of the electorate are being totally ignored. Our masters say that this is because they see the big picture and it is up to them to govern. The net result is that they continue to govern a rapidly changing 21st century situation using a 19th century political model.

I’m not going to bang on because it’s boring and a complete waste of time. I have some bad news for you it’s even worse than you think! I have long been an opponent of Friedman economics, the Chicago school and the use of fear as a political and economic tool. This goes back many years from my reading about the United Fruit Company in Central America, ITT’s role in the same area, US involvement, often through large corporations in clandestine activities to bring down regimes that were successfully pursuing a more inclusive mode of government like Allende in Chile and many more examples culminating in the latest con-trick, ‘The War on Terror’. The latter deliberately designed to give governments an opportunity to take unilateral action and manage opposition by cutting back on civil liberties. The great egalitarians of the last three hundred years would be amazed if they saw what we have allowed to happen.

I am reading a brilliant synthesis of these tactics at the moment and would recommend it to all of you. It is so good that I suspect it might generate at least a counter-current to the erosion of liberty that we are suffering under. It is by Naomi Klein, published in 2007 and the title is ‘The Shock Doctrine’. If you have any interest at all in how the modern world works and the deep-seated flaws in the ideology, both political and economic, that have helped get us to where we are now, get hold of a copy and read it. Well researched, very readable and totally shocking. Do it!


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 06/10/2009 : 09:59
Another big potential threat to the security of control of our energy distribution is on its way (information courtesy of The Times, Saturday edition, 3/10/09).

The French company EDF already owns a big part of our electricity distribution network - all the south-east and east of England including London. But it has announced it will sell it off in order to reduce debt, and an Abu Dhabi investment fund and an Asian business (owned by Asia's rchest man, Li Ka-Shing) have been named as possible buyers.

We are talking here of our biggest power distribution business  with about 100,000 miles of cables supplying electricity to 15 million people in an area that generates 40% of our GDP. It covers supply to major airports like Heathrow and Gatwick, London's Underground, the Channel Tunnel etc. Yet the business is being passed around to anyone who has enough money to buy it, regardless of their location, their loyalties, their motives. We will regret letting this happen - this could be the next `crunch' coming our way.

And while we are at it we should look at the security of our food supplies. China is buying up large tracts of land in Africa to secure future sources. It places much greater importance on food security and food self-sufficiency than we do (Chemistry & Industry magazine, 28 September 2009).

Edited by - Tizer on 06/10/2009 10:00:36


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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 06/10/2009 : 11:35
Sorry Tizer I don't buy the problem with who owns our energy companies for security of supply.. The Engineers or Line men won't shut the system down because some arab in Dubai says so.
Ok they may limit the cash input for development, but if they did  that why buy them in the first place ?? The industry is regulated on price by OFGEM or some other OF whatever so they can't tamper with that !!!.

Think the most pressing problem for the World is Pakistans nuclear arsenal, how do we take control of that before it falls into the hands of AQ ?? Should we build up the Indian Army and quick ??



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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 06/10/2009 : 16:14
Frank, the linemen might not shut the system down but the owner could sack them and put in people who would. Or run the business into the ground. I know the owners want to make money out of it now but they can do that by selling it too and not every buyer would have the same motives for controlling it.

I agree about Pakistan's nuclear weapons being very important. Instead of trying the impossible job of bringing order to numerous warring tribes in Afghanistan wouldn't it be better to work with Pakistan, help them develop, get our people in there and secure the weapons themselves. A more direct approach. Our target should be to make sure the nuclear arsenal is secured.


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frankwilk
Senior Member


3975 Posts
Posted - 06/10/2009 : 17:03
Well we seem to agree 100% on that. The same goes for Iran we need to stop the rush to Nuclear Weapons. These people are not to be trusted you only have to look at the President and his backers.
I really think we are heading towards a senario of it's now, or it's to late.
We are talking about people here, who will stick a bomb up their Ar*e and try to blow up a Plane or some place that is crowded with shopper etc. The mind boggles, but the end game for these people has to be they want to take over a country witha a Nuclear Arsenal



Frank Wilkinson       Once Navy Always Navy Go to Top of Page
Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 07/10/2009 : 07:00
Frank, I fear you might be a bit sanguine about power supplies. Remember the power outages that brought California to is knees? No problems about availability or distribution, we now know that they were caused by Enron manipulating the market. It is already agreed that the market system which sets prices for energy in Europe is badly flawed and runs more like a cartel than a regulator. You should get hold of Naomi Klein's book 'Shock Doctrine' and read it. I am about two thirds of the way through it and it is a devastating critique of the Chicago School, monetarism and the operation of the market. I'm just reading about the early days of Rumsfeld and Cheney, I hadn't realised what the motives were that drove them and eventually led to Iraq and Afgahnistan. Quite shocking.

Talking about blowing planes up, get hold of PE and read the article on Lockerbie, it might alter your view on the Megrahi conviction.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 06/11/2009 : 07:24
Winter approaches and the government realises its vulnerability to charges of not taking the action it promised over energy prices so the subject comes up yet again in Parliament. Everyone who understands the market system in energy knows that it is rigged and that customers are supporting the massive profits being made. Any chance of any improvement? Don't hold your breath!

Meanwhile back at the Treasury another £25billion  is pumped into the economy making the total £200billion so far and the crazy thing is that all the experts agree that it is a gamble, there is no guarantee it can work. Add to this the billions pumped into the banks and what benefit (apart from big profits made by the bankers) can we see? What would the effect have been if the money had been pumped directly into the small businesses and core areas of the economy like construction and manufacture for export? There is also the danger of how you turn the tap off without triggering withdrawal symptoms in the economy. The 'experts' are divided on what these c ould be. I have this dreadful feeling that there is a real possibilty that what we are seeing is Godrons last inept intervention in the economy working its way through and we may live to regret it. As far as being a miracle chancellor is concerned we now know the truth. The emperor had no clothes and didn't understand what was happening.

So what's being done to reduce the chances of it happening again? Mervyn King gave us the answer and he has been ignored. The banks are still gambling through their investment departments just as before. Core, retail banking is stagnant, It isn't a question of if there is a repeat of the credit crunch but when.


Stanley Challenger Graham




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