Saturday, June 28, 2003

OH NO A CROW: Lock your daughters the crows are coming:-

“It is a terrifying scene which could have been lifted straight from Alfred Hitchcock's horror film, The Birds: vicious carrion crows have launched a series of unprovoked attacks on joggers and pensioners in German parks.

Authorities in Hamburg and Stuttgart say that at least five women have been attacked during the past six weeks, but they claim that EU bird protection regulations make it difficult to stop them. In every case, the crows appear to have taken their victims by surprise.”

Well first of all, I’d be a bit worried about the mental health of the German nation if they weren’t surprised to be attacked by crows. But that aside, how do we know that the attacks were “unprovoked”? Has the crow been interviewed? Did he have legal representation and a translator present at the time? Since the victims were “surprised”, presumably they had little idea about whether they’d offended the crows by trespassing on carrion ground or making gestures the crows found specially offensive and so they cant help us here either. Instead the anthropomorphic insertion of “unprovoked” is intended to add a justice angle to a story when, really, it simply isn’t merited; crows that attack old ladies, whether provoked or unprovoked, should crow no more.

Which is why the entry onto the scene of that great champion of economic, social, environmental, cultural and multipolar justice, the EU, is so telling. While the preservation of rare birds is clearly of interest, it is hard to see what expertise the EU brings to the cause of crows other than an ability to regulate the irrelevant without a thought for the consequences. And our insatiable desire to believe that justice touches upon every event everyday, however trivial, is why we tolerate it.
THE REAL WORLD: Its always interesting when government bodies that have been passed over by reality venture out and discover how strange things really are out there in the real world. In this report from the Equal Opportunites Commission they discover that:

“The report says that the equality lobby often speaks an alien language. People find phrases such as 'gender pay gap', 'work/life balance' and 'glass ceiling', too 'woolly' and 'abstract', and the concern of only a small minority of high-flying females. It warns the equality industry is 'too rigid and out of touch'.”

Really? And that

'There is,' says the report, 'a strong sense of needing to take personal responsibility for problems faced, and get on with life.'

Ah that concept called adulthood they’d heard so much of before. But more telling is the line;

The Future Foundation's study is controversial because it is based on a small sample - fewer than three dozen people”

And because they got paid for producing this report.

JOBS IN WONDERLAND: This is a serious problem:

“Fancy earning £20,000 a year as a "real nappy project development officer"? Or perhaps you would prefer being an "air action officer", a "play development worker" or "occupational kinesiology therapist" (bachelor's degree in kinesiology essential)?
Welcome to what was last night described by a leading economic policy research institute as "the twilight zone of political correctness translated into situations vacant…….
According to the Adam Smith Institute, public sector jobs such as "walking officers", "anti-social co-ordinators", "diversity co-ordinators" and an army of other such appointments are costing the British taxpayer more than £1 billion a year.”

New Labour advocates sometimes claim that these jobs are needed now as a fiscal stimulus. But the danger is not only that they are less productive than digging holes, but also that they each carry with them the legacy of a public sector pension. So we’ll be paying for this madness for years to come.

THE MODERN DRUNKARD: I hadn’t heard of this magazine before:

“In a market which already boasts a myriad of titles catering for minority interests, the Modern Drunkard has found a surprising niche. The motto of its 38-year-old editor, Frank Rich, is taken from the writer, Charles Bukowski: "When you were drunk, the world was still out there, but at least it didn't have you by the throat….

By expanding into Britain, Mr Rich's dream is to turn the magazine into an international platform for the regularly inebriated. After spending a number of years in Britain, London seemed a natural second home for his publication. A sales team is being recruited and the magazine is seeking contributions from heavy drinkers.”

But it seems they were too drunk to give an address. Maybe they’ll accept a slurred application addressed vauguelly in dat ta dyrecktien.

Friday, June 27, 2003

DICTATORS DAUGHTERS; Apparently Quadaffi’s girl looks like Claudia Schiffer; what’s more she’s a political hotshot too:

“We made the trip without permission from anybody because our visit is like moving from one room to another in the same house where no permission is needed.” She added, “this visit depicts brotherhood and solidarity with the brotherly Iraqi people and salutes them for their resistance of the imperialistic and oppressive powers which ultimately will be defeated. The people of Iraq will then remain proud with their heads up.”

Don’t know about the looks but she’s certainly Claudia’s equal in oratory. Anyway lets hope she makes the trains run on time.

THE HARD LIFE: Cantor Fitzgerald is being sued and:

“Seedy goings-on described in court make Becky Barrow wonder why anyone would want to be a broker.
It is difficult to understand why anybody would want to become a City broker after allegations in the High Court this week about their daily cocktail of cocaine, alcohol, hitmen, abusive bosses and streams of swear words.”

This is an industry where a married man with three children sat in the witness box on Tuesday and admitted to taking on average one gram of cocaine and drinking five pints of beer and five double vodkas every weekday night.”

Sounds OK so far. But, it appears there was a harsher side to the job:

“He described Tullet, Mr Horkulak's new employer, as "pretty straight, even a bit dour". These are certainly words that would not have been used by Laurent Weinberger, a former employee.
Mr Weinberger, whose grandmother died at Auschwitz, resigned after being asked to dress up as Adolf Hitler when he arrived late for work, an incident that came up in his employment tribunal case. A Welsh colleague had been asked to dress as Bo Peep.”

Despite this abuse, employees seem to have retained a certain sense of fair play;

Mr Horkulak recalled one "well-known story at Cantor Fitzgerald" where a colleague broke down the lavatory door because a fellow employee was refusing to share his supply of cocaine.”

Thursday, June 26, 2003

PRIVATE SOLUTIONS: Techcentral reports that:

“A consortium of mercenary groups has made the UN a deceptively simple proposal: give us $200 million, and we'll help bring an end to the war in the Congo.”

The UN has given a deceptively simple response; - give us $2 billion, 10 years and we'll form a special consultation, evaluation and inspection team to consider it.

A TALE OF TWO ALIS: In London “Evil Ali” Campbell sticks it up the BBC:

“Downing Street is claiming that the BBC has reported without any reliable evidence that the government had knowingly exaggerated the scale of the Iraqi weapons threat in an attempt to convince parliament and the country of the necessity of war...

After a day of agitation among BBC management, including some close questioning of senior executives, Richard Sambrook, BBC news director, said: "We stand by our entire story. In my experience, this is an unprecedented level of pressure on the BBC from Downing Street. The BBC will respond properly to these matters, but not to a deadline dictated by Mr Campbell."

“The BBC's greatest difficulty is that Britain's most senior intelligence officials appear to be backing Mr Campbell's assertion that he did not transform the JIC assessment in its final days. “

Meanwhile in Baghdad, "Comical Ali" is also unrepentant and sticks to his story:

"The time is not yet ripe to say what happened. When history's ready, then we can talk about it," he said.

He refused to retract his wartime claims that Iraqi forces were "burning the Americans in their tanks", saying only that his reports came from "authentic sources - many authentic sources".

Big claims, un-named sources- it's like the final page of Animal Farm – you read Ali and listen to the BBC, and realise that you can't tell the difference.

DEAR DENNIS: Dennis Thatcher was probably a much underestimated man but in this excerpt the NY Times is off key:

“A millionaire retired oil executive, Sir Denis was routinely caricatured in the British press as gin-swilling, cigarette-puffing and golf-obsessed, a portrayal he did not exactly disavow. “

And why should he? Message to the New York Times – there’s a world out there where being a hard drinking, chain smoking, golf playing oil exec is considered a virtuous aspiration not a vice.

FUDGE OR FIX: Has the EEC reformed it’s agricultural policies? The Times is sceptical:

“Extreme exhaustion can induce hallucinations. The interminable haggling over reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy must have been exhausting in the extreme. How then to evaluate Margaret Beckett’s verdict that the dawn deal struck yesterday will, for the first time since the CAP was set up four decades ago, impose “real change” on this bureaucratic, fraud-ridden, market-rigging monster? How can that claim be reconciled with the triumphant prediction by Miguel Angel Canete, her Spanish counterpart, that “there is not one hectare, one head of cattle in all Spain, that runs the risk of disappearing”, or her French counterpart’s assertion that agricultural markets will stay firmly under state control? The answer is that all three may be right.”

The reality is probably that just “her French counterpart” is right.

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