Monday, April 30, 2007

How bright is the New Dawn now ?

The last youtube clip from 10 year's ago, but tomorrow really is 10 years since the "New Dawn" promised by Tony Blair. Maybe this is the final hours of his dusk..........

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Does anyone still remember being up for Portillo ?

Michael Portillo was a rising star and potential leader of the Conservatives in 1997. The loss of his seat, Enfield Southgate, came to symbolise just how bad a defeat the Conservatives suffered in New Labour's landslide on May 1, 1997.

And slightly less iconic but probably more entertaining , David Mellor loosing in Putney.

Referendum Party leader, Sir James Goldsmith adds significantly to the event chanting "Out, out, out" throughout David Mellor's speech after loosing.

10 years on things look rather different. Most Labour activists wonder what all the celebration about their victory was really about. Enfield Southgate and Putney were recaptured by the Conservatives in 2005. Ironically the son of Sir James Goldsmith (the noisy heckler in the Putney clip), Zac Goldsmith, is now Conservative candidate in nearby Richmond Park.

The victor of May 1 1997, Tony Blair, apparently has only a matter of days or weeks left in office. 1997 looks like a very long time ago......

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Northern Most Capital

Apologies for the lack of writing of late. Things have been very busy out there in the "real world". Somewhat surprisingly I got promoted and with that comes more work.
However here is one more holiday "snap" of Reykjavik from last weekend. Hope to be back writing again before too long......

Monday, April 23, 2007

A unique and independent country

I just returned from a long weekend in Iceland with Mrs. Donatella. I will try and do the place and its people some justice by writing in due course. However it is certainly a unique country with a strong and independent people. It is refreshing to go somewhere so distinctive, especially at a time when so many places start to look a bit the same. There is no risk of that happening to Iceland just yet. Here are a few photos that give an indication of this. (click on the photos to see full size, if interested)

The spaceship like tower of the Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik.

Steam rises out of the ground at the place that gave the name to "Geysirs"

Water pours over the edge of the Gullfoss falls in Iceland (tiny figures at the top of the photo give a sense of scale)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

lost Chinese auditors............

"In the public interest" I feel this awful cringing video should be shared to encourage tomorrow's generation to do something meaningful with their lives and not join the organisation "promoted" here......

I suppose it beats the cultural revolution....

Absolute Reykjavik

From tomorrow, Mrs. Donatella and I hope to make it on holiday to Iceland.
Above is what we hope to see.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Living and dying in the lands east of Eden

33 young people meet a violent death. It is of course a painful and shocking tragedy, both in the largely unreported coach crash that killed 33 school children in Turkey on Saturday or the massively reported shootings at Virginia Tech yesterday.

Both events are tragic for all involved. Of course it is wrong to attribute the vastly differing news interest solely to the relative media importance of the countries involved. While this does in reality play a role, the differing cause of the deaths is more significant here. One a dreadful accident, albeit with an element of negligence likely, and the other a deliberate cold-blooded act.

However, apart from the scale of suffering imposed on so many by one deranged individual I (sadly) do not see anything unusual here. Taking the title of John Steinbeck's great novel East of Eden, we all live in the lands east of Eden and evil in all its forms can take a part in any of our lives.

That is true in the case of a sloppy mechanic who cannot be bothered to do his job properly and blots out the impact his negligence could have on others, the drunken driver who just wants to get home or the student deranged with jealousy who flips and as if walking in an arcade game blows his fellow students away to release his anger. The last category is undoubtedly the most extreme and is what we find so shocking, hence the wall to wall news coverage.

The common thread in these very different examples of failure is a lack of regard for others, a dehumanising of potential victims of the situation and a selfish "me" approach. Ultimately this is the darkest side of the ego and the bit that feeds its own identity through the destruction or disregard of others.

With those ingredients together there is little that can prevent mass murder by someone willing to loose their own life. That is as true for the college-psychopath in America, as it is for the jihadi youth worker from Yorkshire who blows himself up on the London Underground or the daily suicide bomber attacks in Iraq against people of all backgrounds.

In each case while the names, numbers and perceived motives may be different the victim is ultimately the same - life in all its forms.

The media noise over gun control and similar specifics is largely a distraction. American society seems prone to "mad" shootings but the mass killer knows no real boundaries. Equally nations such as Switzerland enjoy relative tranquillity despite the legal requirement for every man of military age to keep a loaded gun in the house. "Gunless" Britain still sees a fair sprinkling of shootings in London and other cities with the guns smuggled in along with the related drugs. Knife crime makes up where guns are absent. While this piece is not about gun laws, I would say simply each nation must decide its own rules in this area but the actions of people are the decisive factor. Gun-possessing Swiss rarely going on shooting sprees while gunless Britain falls victim to other weapons from knives to explosives made of hair peroxide.

As far as killing is concerned, where there's a will there's a way, and in the lands east of Eden, sadly there remains a will.

That said, good does ultimately triumph and I hope and pray that the students of Virginia continue to realise this.

33 families are reeling in America but let's not forget the 33 in Turkey. The numerical symmetry of suffering here is not reflected in the cause. However somehow there is a connection in the suffering of humanity and the tragedy of young lives lost, in both cases east of Eden.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

April 1997- 10 years back

These were the sort of broadcasts being put out by the New Labour party precisely 10 years ago ahead of their landslide election victory on May 1, 1997.

With the passing of time and the benefit of hindsight they look incredibly ironic and dated now.

Guess who the guy in the blue shirt turns out to be !

Very dated now.....

Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Friday

Today is a reminder of the darkest of days and that hope is never far behind.

Bringing Freedom from Within

In response to a recent comment from a blogging friend Joanie, from Allegiance and Duty Betrayed, I post a reminder of times when despots and regimes fell not only in response to external pressure but also the will of the people within.

This is Bucharest on 21 December 1989. President Nicolae Ceausescu is addressing a crowd to condemn an uprising in another Romanian city, Timisoara. The crowd starts out loyally chanting party slogans and clapping out of habit and out of fear. Then somehow, someone starts whistling and jeering the feared president. Like a fire through dried grass it spreads in seconds.

Ceausescu can't quite believe it as he has never been jeered in his life. The coverage is cut quite quickly but I find the spectacle moving of how people who have put up with so much suddenly turn and claim their freedom.

The outcome of this was speedy revolution and Ceausescu was controversially executed 4 days later on 25 December 1989.

This has to offer hope for those living in the several despotic regimes still in existence around the world today as well as all those falling victim to their actions.

True freedom can only be born within although it can sometimes be helped from outside.

(note the party apparatchik in the hat running behind Ceausescu when the crowd starts erupting)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Homeward bound ?

Despite a lot of contradictory noises the end of this mini-crisis seems to be in sight as the Iranian President announces the release of the 15 British sailors.

Despite this, bigger issues remain and remain unresolved.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Gathering Storm ?

Russian news agencies are reporting intelligence reports that the US will attack Iran on Friday- Good Friday- 6 April.

The story is in Russian but babelfish will give an approximate English translation

While the veracity of this story is open to question there is no doubt we live in unsettled times.