Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Papal`s Visit to Turkey

Having been born into and raised as a Catholic, the Pope has always been and perhaps in a way will always be a revered figure to me. However,the office of the Papal has over the years started to hold less and less importance and it must be said reverence in my personal view.

I haven`t been to confession for almost 20 years,same for taking the holy communion and i havent been to mass for 15 years save for the odd New Year`s eve service but i still regard myself as a catholic. So it is with much regret that i have to say i have no time for the new Pope, Benedict Ratzinger. He was quoted,not too long ago as referencing a 14th century byzantine emperor who said islam never brought anything but evil to humanity. By that he meant war and destruction. Well i think christianity too has its fair share of blood to account for. Over the centuries atrocities have been commited in the name of both religions. Even as we speak the Catholic Church stand accused of shielding it`s priests accused of sexual assault. Millions are being paid out in compensation. When the shit hit the fan Ratzinger explained he was only quoting what was said. You only use qoutes that way to butress a point. Dont get me wrong i am no apologist for islam or moslems but that statement was most impertinent.

His submission before becoming the pope, that EU memmbership should be denied to Turkey because according to him islam is a different culture from that of mainly christian Europe,is so flawed and simplistic i find it hard to believe someone occupying that august seat would come out with such arrant nonsense. Check this from Rantzinger-

"The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe.

"There were the old Ottoman Empire wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents...Turkey is founded upon Islam ... Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical."

Would someone please remind his holiness that this is the 21st century and not the 1300s.His papacy seems to be residing in some kind of time-warp and needs to be woken up. What happened or did not happen in those medieval times are nothing much than history. A collection of events and actions,which by and large are open to interpretations depending on which version or point of view you subscribe to. Moreso the values celebrated those days are not necessarily in tandem with today`s. What a nation`s membership of an entity as the European Union has to do with what happened there aeons ago really i do not know.There are set conditions for membership of the European Union and it is against these conditions that Turkey`s desire for European integration should be judged. Is the country geographically located in Europe? Is it a democracy? Sound economic policies ? Open to and able to withstand outside market forces? These are the factors that serve as the framework and the basis for inclusion in the Union and not some fisherman`s wife tales.

What does the Pope mean by `equating the two continents`? What does he mean by anti-historical? One can only deduce that his social,political and historical philosophy is disturbingly jaundiced. Disturbing because as the Pope he has a platform and a voice. The world listens when he opens his mouth. If what comes out is informed by retrogressive,seemingly reckless or myopic thinking then he runs the risk of losing the respect and ears of all right thinking, objective observers thus bringing further discredit to the Church.

The Turkish authorities did well inviting him to Turkey.Good on him for accepting the invitation.Only has to keep in mind this is 2006.

Brits Abroad

It has come to my knowledge that tourists from Britain have been making away with road signs from a particular small town in Austria. The local authorities there are obviously at their tethers end. It all has to do with the town`s name:Fucking.

Drastic measures are now being employed to ensure that the traffic signs stay where they belong and not end up stolen by visitors to keep as souvenirs.

Wonder what the Welsh would say about this.Heavens know they have some long,wild sounding placenames. Have to admit nothing beats Fucking in the embarassment stakes for a place to come from.Imagine little Angelica showing off to her nursery friends where she went with mummy and daddy over the weekend. Less said the better

Monday, November 27, 2006

Chelsea 1 Manchester United 1

Honours were shared yesterday when we went down to Old Trafford.Were they? Probably not.I think we won. Of course Mourinho reflected this view too. By drawing at Old Trafford Chelsea gained a point on Arsenal while staying `as you were` with regards to United. Ferguson would have loved to win that match most than any other encounter.Peter kenyon`s remarks earlier in the week that Chelsea was leapfrogging United in the world stage was not well received by the old soldier. So to win at home would have been a salient way of showing United were still a potent,dominant force. But they didn`t. No matter what Fergie says to the Press, he knows there are new boys on the block or should that be on the throne.The facts are evident,Chelsea won the last two Championships back to back and are favourites to retain the trophy.

With Arsenal languishing in sixth position and Liverpool stuck in mid-table this season`s trophy is a two-horse race{United and Chelsea}
and i bet my bottom dollar that come end of the season Terry will be holding that cup.

Property Millionaires

It's official London now has 46,668 millionaires.Thanks to the exponential increase in property prices over the decade. London is not the only area where many people have been rocketed into the millionaires` league.It`s a country-wide phenomenon.

This has serious implications though. Not least the issue of inheritance tax and capital gains tax.The former being the major thorn in the flesh of most home owners.The Inheritance Tax was designed to re- distribute wealth- basic argument for most taxes,whereby the Treasury creams off the estates of deceased wealthy people.Now that is not the case any more because more and more of us now fall in the `wealthy` category based on the threshold where the tax sets in.Presently,an estate(read property,since that is the single most valuable asset most of us have) worth less than £285k does not incur Inheritance tax,but go any higher than that and the taxman hits you with a whopping 40% charge. And there is the rub of the whole matter. Why should people work all their lives to pay the mortgage,renovate and maintain their properties then forfeit most of the accrued equity on such holdings to the government after their demise. The irony is the superbly wealthy for whom the tax was designed do not always pay.Why? How?

They have experienced professional tax advisers who handle their financial affairs. Chief of this is how to minimise their tax liabilities or even to pay nil tax where possible.Tax avoidance is not illegal.Tax evasion is! So get planning how to keep that profit from the taxman.

London2012 Olympics Budget Muddle

What is it with us and planning a project, delivering it on time and on budget?.Cue The Millenium dome,Wembley Stadium,NHS Information Technology infrastructure and many others.Now a week barely passes without ramblings from the seemingly clueless people charged with delivering such showcase event as the Olympics. No one seems to know what exactly is happening regarding a host of issues connected to the project.The Olympics Minister Tessa Jowel admitted that she has no idea.The certainty is that the Games would cost Londoners more. Considerably more! The original budget for the extravanga was something like £2.4b but now a sum of £3.3b is being mouthed. Analysts reckon we should make that £5b.Sighs.

Highly commendable of Vince Cable,Liberal Democrats Shadow Chancellor to put down a list of parliamentary questions regarding the issue.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Ode To A Watering Hole

CUBA on Kensington High Street has shut for business. This is sad news indeed. I was informed of the impending closure during the World Cup. It has been a feature on High Street Kensington for years. It will always hold memories for me personally.Many a newly-met date have been convinced after the mesmerising dishes on offer in the restaurant followed by the hips-moving music supplied downstairs in the club.

As the years went by,the family came along(wife and two daughters)and the venue was where to go for a decent meal ,drinks and some footie watching.Im sure a lot of West Londoners will miss Cuba too.

From what i heard the club was bought by some Russians and would be replaced with a Russian restaurant.

Best Thai In West London

There is a little gem in a corner of West London i discovered lately.if you live in or around Ealing and you love Thai food then you are in heaven.Just make your way to Thandwell on Uxbridge Road,just by the intersection with Lower Boston Road opposite the Peugeot dealership.

Stumbled on this restaurant with a friend from out of town who is passionate about Thai cuisine,having spent time travelling around that part of the world.The food was authentic and exquisite.The decor interesting,simple and warm creating such a relaxing ambience.And according to my companion, is straight out of Thailand. Added to this was the service. Friendly,efficient and cordial.Great!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Was watching The Prime Minister address journalists earlier this week and he was in such a fiery mood i thought wow .There was a point he shot a journalist [who kept prodding him] a stern , piercing and menacing look that said `Thats it. Lets take this outside you so and so`. He could as well have because what he said and the tone he said it was filled with venom. He said something like `Do you mind? Thats all i am saying on the matter`.
Then came midweek and the Queen`s speech.Responding to the speech,Tony Bair let rip on David Cameron saying`The next election , it will be a flyweight versus a heavyweight, and however much he may dance around the ring before times, at some point he will come within the reach of a big clunking fist.He will be carried out........` What a fighting talk.
It begs the question what is happening to the Prime Minister? Ok this is just an allegory but the choice of such violence to depict what in his view will be the result of the next general elections and the ealier incident in the week is quite remarkable.Could it be he just stumbled on a copy of Scarface in which Al Pacino played a shoot-them -down -no- nonsense character called er er Tony.

Since our Tony is the most talented actor moonlighting as Prime Minister i see a successful career in hollywood beckoning.Afterall Arnold Swazernegger offered him a part in Terminator 4. How else can he show his hard-man credentials?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sex Appeal

Recent Polls show David Cameron is ahead of Gordon Brown in the sex appeal stakes.The Times/Populus show that women backed Cameron by 42% to 32% over Brown.Well no surprises there ,the dude is younger for heaven`s sake.No matter how you want to couch it Cameron is a hip Notting Hill uber-yuppie. An attribute that could not have been lost on the women populace. Remember comparing John Major and Blair in those days.I rest my case.
Only William Hague bucked the trend. He never swayed the female votes(well the male too) even though he is younger than Tony Blair.Ever heard of the oldest young man?

Still on the sex appeal issue, but now closer to home. I thought it was only me then i found a lot of people think so too.What am i talking about? Helen Mirren.Thats what.I hear she has just been voted the sexiest woman over 60.To be honest i do not know who conducted the vote or where but hey i dont care.That woman`s been making my heart skip a beat for decades.I careless if Helen Mirren is as old as Methuselah ,i sure would like to spend some time with her.Now did i really say that ? Kind of sad but hey i can`t lie.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Congestion Charging Could Cost £100m

Dont know what to make of these findings that the Congestion Charging Extension Scheme could cost £100m and be less beneficial -in financial terms anyway.Here is the story:

Home » News » London: Western expansion could cost £100M London: Western expansion could cost £100M

Sponsored by the Municipal Journal

Mayor Ken Livingstone has announced he will go ahead and double London's charging zone, despite doubts about the controversial scheme's cost-effectiveness.
The costs of expanding the zone westward could outweigh the benefits by £100M over 10 years, according to Transport for London's own analysis.
A separate assessment of the impact on TfL's finances indicates that it could be 10 years before the scheme breaks even.
Extending the daily £8 charge to the rest of Westminster and parts of Kensington & Chelsea in February 2007 ? four years after the first cordon scheme's introduction ? will cost £113-118M to set up, and a further £25M for traffic management.
TfL expects to cut traffic by 10-14%, while raising £55-75M in charges and penalties, depending on driver 'sensitivity' to the new charging area.
But a series of concessions, following a hostile public consultation, will erode the benefits and income arising for public transport. The discount zone for residents will be bigger than first proposed, and two more additions ? in Kennington and north Battersea ? are set to follow.
The mayor has also decided to end charging a half-hour earlier at 6pm from September next year, and give drivers an extra 24 hours to pay up, at a higher cost of £10, to avoid penalties.
Income from the current central zone will fall by up to £9M a year, while 'pay next day' loses another £8-11M in the short term.
TfL stresses that the extension will still raise £25-40M annually in net revenue, but that does not include the upfront costs and £11-15M a year for extra buses.
The number of drivers willing to pay has to be at the upper end of TfL's expectations, if it is to even begin recouping its investment within five years. That, however, would mean a cost/benefit ratio of less than one, and poor value for taxpayers.
Livingstone's statement admitted this would be criticised at a public inquiry, which legal counsel advise is not essential.
He was persuaded to go ahead because of the scheme's 'strategic fit' with his transport goals of cutting congestion and promoting public transport.
Livingstone said he regretted the 2% increase in central zone traffic but levels would still be 15% below pre-charging levels.
Kensington & Chelsea leader Merrick Cockell welcomed the 90% discount for all its residents, but insisted that congestion levels did not justify an unpopular move that would harm business.
His opposition was echoed by the AA, freight industry and business group London First.
London Assembly Greens predicted that extending the zone would again defy predictions of doom, while Transport 2000 saw it as a first stop to capital-wide charging.

Blogger Beta Is No Better

I normally steer clear of programmes in Beta stages.Experienced has taught me it is better to wait for all the problems that might crop up in the testing phase to be sorted out before installing such programmes.I wish i stuck to this dictat and not switch from the classic Blogger to this Beta one.Videos dont play anymore,the whole page takes longer to load , have to sign in first into the old Blogger then into the this one and what have you.

Only difference i noticed so far is the time it takes to republish.Just hit the publish button and it`s done.So little improvement for so much aggro.

So im just going to leave this Clinton video till Blogger sorts all the problems out and embedded videos start playing again on it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Clinton On War Path

Clinton seemed primed for this interview.Poor dude was just doing his employer`s bidding as pointed out by the former President. I think Clinton came out in a passionate,upfront and somewhat impressive light than the people at Fox might have envisaged. Though some say he lost his rags and bla bla bla. We see through his responses the inner workings of Capitol Hill.The various efforts made to neutralize Osama.Candid, passionate he was.Ruffled yeah,probably but measured.The allegation that he did not deal with the threat poised by Osama is a grave one.The upshot being he was negligent in nipping a growing menace in the bud,a menace which then grew to such level and might to inflict such carnage on America and Americans as witnessed on 9/11.We all know how high Osama rated on Dubya`s list.As Clinton said at least he tried , but what did the Bush administration do between the time he(Clinton)left office and the attacks?

I go a bit further, what has the administration done about Osama between the time Clinton left office and now.Nada,zilch,.Yeah that is right,nothing.Well, more or less. A man commits such attrocities against Americans , on American soil and 5 years on he is still breathing God`s air,honing his skills as a video director.Yet we have the American President beating his chests everyday,delivering speeches written by ideologues who, mostly need to have their heads checked.Mr Bush is on a trophy hunt and the prize is that vermin Saddam Hussein , so he had and has not much time for Osama.Personally, i do not dabble into the Iraqi issue anymore.Suffice to say i hold my nose anytime the American invasion of the country comes up.

I think a large swathe of America feel the same as i do and today they will make this known by voting en masse against the Republicans in the midterm elections.The Reps are set to lose the House of Represantives and would be very fortunate indeed to hold the Senate.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Prime Minister`s Question Time:Michael Martin vs David Cameron

What an interesting encounter it was between Michael Martin and David Cameron during this week`s Prime Minister`s Question Time.Cameron was going to ask The Prime Minister who he wanted to see as his successor but was prevented from doing so by Martin.On the basis that he should confine himself to relevant matters only.Cameron then replied `are you honestly saying ........` to which Martin to his credit wittily replied `everything said on this chair is honest`

Some people took umbrage at the Speaker`s action while some derided Cameron for his choice of word.The word in question being`honest`.I personally deem the exchange quite interesting.English as a language is very dynamic and contextual.A word can convey different meanings in different contexts.Honest, as used by Cameron in this case was not to question the integrity or call the Speaker Of The House a liar but to express incredulity.

There is a subtext here.Younger people mostly use honest in this way.`Honest` in this context has more to do with relativity and surprise than anything else.So when someone says`are you honestly......` they are not saying you are fibbing (well not necessarily) but more likely to mean `are you really,seriously,surely,positively saying...` . Well i consider myself a member of the younger generation in this instance.Yours truly turned the big 40 this August.

Cameron was just doing his job for asking the question and Martin was doing his in taking the action he took.What is notable and probably laughable is the fact that Cameron did ask the question afterall.So makes you wonder what the fuss was all about all along.Next time David Cameron should sneak such questions into other main questions.You can`t lose that way.The Prime Minister would have to give one answer or the other or ignore it.Either way it is in the public domain.As a seasoned politician he should know how to do this.Though seemingly dormant for now ,we know the Labour leadership issue is festering and would continue to do so.Not until the party chooses a new leader.By a process of election or coronation.

We also know the relevance of the question or why Cameron would want to put the Labour leadership imbroglio on the front pages again:The American mid -term elections coming up next week.All indications are that the Republicans are going to lose the House of Represantives and would be lucky not to lose the senate too.Why? George Bush.Mr Blair`s friend or who some more cynical people call his master.If as expected, Americans show there disapproval of Bush`s policies, notably the handling of the iraqi issue,by voting en-masse against the Republicans the backlash here would be immense for the Prime Minister.Chiefly the call for him to step down.

We wait and see.