Wednesday, 22 May 2019

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO AFRICA?


Looking at Africa today you should be looking at least to some wealthy modern states where people are looked after and have opportunities that youngsters do in the West. All African countries that were under colonial rule wanted independence and local leaders promised them a better life under their own rule. What has happened? Between forty and sixty years on, Africa and those who live in it, are worse off than they were before independence. It is a sad fact that graft and corruption pervades African culture. African leaders make sure they are alright opening bank accounts all over the world and emptying the coffers of the counties they rule along with a small coterie of acolytes and favourites. The rest of the population of their countries remain in abject poverty. Infrastructure and amenities are ignored. Charities spend millions helping and demanding money from the public in the west to help. Western governments spend billions in aid supposedly helping these nations get out of the wretchedness they live in. Where does it all go because I can’t see any improvement in the common man’s living standards? In fact, quite the opposite.

Here are a few ideas :-

Uhuru Kenyatta, one of the West’s darlings, is worth £377 million. Yes he’s a clever business man who has dairy, television and banking interest and oh, he also owns half a million acres of land. However, he has been a politician all his adult life taking over where his father, Jomo, left off.

Teodoro Mbasongo is president of oil rich Equatorial Guinea since 1979. You would have thought that being in power all that time he would have sorted his beleaguered country out. His impoverished subjects live on less than a pound sterling a day according to the OECD. He is worth £450 million, owns estates in many foregn countries and has a garage full of Roles Royces, Lamborghinis, and Bugattis.

Robert Mugabe. President of Zimbabwe from 1980 till he was politely asked to step down by one of his best friends who’s nickname is The Crocodile, but that’s another story. When Mugabe became president he was a penniless revolutionary. He became the president of the breadbasket of central Africa. Not only has he presided over the total collapse of the economy but he is worth £750 million, has acquired a large farm and many luxury houses and cars whilst many of his subjects die of hunger.

Ali Bongo Ondimba president of another oil rich country, Gabon. The funny thing is the riches never sink very far down the human ladder. He is said to be worth £1.5 billion but it could be far more. That’s all researchers could find.

Daniel Arap Moi, ex president of Kenya and another penniless freedom fighter. He was the elected president from 1978 to 2002. He is now worth £2.3 billion. He has interests in banking, oil, shipping and has a 250,000 acre estate in Australia.

Sani Abacha, a Nigerian president who ruled with an iron fist and yet allowed endemic corruption to flourish. He ruled from 1993 till his death in 1998. When he died they discovered £3 billion hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

Mobutu Sese Seko was the president of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1965 to 1997. As corrupt a leader as is possible. Potentially one of the richest countries in Africa, he treated the economy as his own piggy bank and used it to buy luxury houses in Paris and Switzerland and had a cellar full of vintage pink champagne.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was Tunisia’s long term president till he was ousted in 2011. He is said to have controlled 40% of his country's economy. Whilst his people struggled to get one meal a day he amassed a fortune of £8.5 billion.

Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola’s president from 1979 till 2017. Another one of our great penniless revolutionaries who promised riches to all his subjects as soon as he came to power. Even though he presided over a dreadful civil war which crippled Angola he managed to enrich himself and his family to the tune of £15.1 billion.

Ibrahim Babangida, Nigeria’s president from 1985 to 1993 plundered Nigeria’s oil revenue to the tune of £16.4 billion.

Hosni Mubarak was Egypt’s hard man for thirty years till he was overthrown in 2011. Sentenced to life imprisonment he has been released by the current president and is said to be worth £59.2 billion. One should remember that all the years he was in power the Americans were giving his country billions in subsidies.

Muamar Gaddafi was in power from 1977 to 2011 when the west helped to oust him. He started off as a simple army captain and on his death was estimated to be worth£169.4 billion.

I could go on, but many of the current leaders are incredibly secretive about their finances. However, the sad truth is that African leaders often end up being African dictators, quite a few with sham elections, who don’t give a damn about the people they rule over. Small portions of their cumulated wealth would go a long way to building roads, power stations, water pumping stations, hospitals and schools. The money these countries are given by the west serves the top 0.5% of society and the rest have to rely on charity, food aid and the generosity of the public in Europe. It is a scandal. Hopefully one day the cream of African society will come to power and things will get better for the impoverished majority but I’m not holding my breath.

Friday, 16 November 2018

CRY FOR BRITAIN


What a disaster the European Referendum was. David Cameron was sure the vote would be to stay. A huge miscalculation on his part which led to his immediate resignation and departure from politics altogether. There were plenty of good reasons for a 'no' vote, and those that did vote no felt that they had gained nothing by being in the EU. In fact, they had lost a great deal. Industries like the British fishing fleet was decimated due to Common Market rules. Then there was the gradual change in the union which had started out being a purely economic trading community called the Common Market when Britain joined, to more of a political union. As a trading union it had promised riches for everyone. That didn't happen, for two reasons. The first was that the Europeans and mainly the French and the Germans had another agenda. They wanted a politically united Europe, something the British never did and would never have voted for. The second and probably the most important, British politicians never really pulled their weight in Europe. Politicians of both main parties have always been split on Europe and continue to be so to this day. Had British politicians forced their way into the centre of the European politics and administration instead of always skirting round the periphery, Britain could have done a lot better for the industries and fisheries mainly based in the north of England. They may also have been better able to argue against the gradual politicisation of the union.

London centric political thought concentrated on what London and the the south of England had to offer (mainly services) and they have done very well out of Europe, unsurprisingly. In the referendum these people voted overwhelmingly to stay in Europe and now have to cope with the negative result. After 43 years of being tied to Europe and blindly following the unelected Commission's diktat, trying to quit in a couple of years and untangle the Gordian knot that has held us to everything European is beyond the capabilities of any of the current politicians in Parliament. This is the biggest and most complex situation Britain has faced since the Second World War and a time when she needs strong and charismatic leadership, and sadly there ain't none. The British political classes have dumbed themselves down over the past 30 years or so and there isn't a real and charismatic leader amongst them.

Look at the main Brexiteers, they are all rich men and women, multi millionaires some of them. What do they know of working people? Have any of them ever mixed with factory workers or drunk in the local pubs? If they get their way and Britain leaves with no deal they will be alright thank you. None of them will suffer a lost job or a dole queue and the extremist are pushing for just that sort of exit. It's a disgrace and it's no surprise that the polls show that politicians are now held in lower esteem than estate agents. One wonders who would get into power if voting was made compulsory. At the moment, if an election was called, it is probable that less than 60% of the population would vote and the result still probably 50/50 as the country is split down the middle.

I keep hearing the hard line Brexiteers stating that we should just cop out with no deal and follow WTO rules – easy! There is nothing easy about it. Imagine the disruption to trade. How many people would lose their jobs? It's guaranteed none of the politicians would unless there was a general election then some of the old soaks might. However, there is no one in the wings with the strength of personality to take the rains of this most difficult of all tasks.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

ERDOGAN – DICTATOR – ISLAMIST & HYPOCRIT


Erdogan recently called Netenyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, a terrorist for the deaths of 16 demonstrating Palestinians. This coming from a man that has recently bombed and killed hundreds of Kurds in Afrin in northern Syria on the pretext that they are a threat to Turkey. He states that they have only killed Kurdish terrorists (freedom fighters depending on which side you are on) but indiscriminate aerial bombing in the same fashion as in Syria, kills civilians. Erdogan is directly responsible for hundreds of Kurdish and Syrian men, women and children's deaths. Who is the terrorist?

Not only does he kill innocent men women and children in other countries but on the basis of a failed attempted coup he has had his police and secret police arrest nearly 40,000 people, most of whom are only guilty of not being Erdogan supporters. A classic example was that of Musa Kart who is a cartoonist who lampooned Erdogan. The president does not like being made fun of so he sued him. The courts in Turkey have been stuffed with his acolytes so always support the president and he won three and a half thousand US dollars. This did not stop Kart. He lampooned him again and is now in prison.

This is the man who has allied himself to the Iranian regime, probably the greatest organizer of state terrorism in the world. Also a regime that hangs people publicly for being in opposition to it and who follows Sharia law by cutting off peoples hands, heads, and stoning women to death even when they have been raped. It would appear that Erdogan wants to turn Turkey into a similar state. He has managed to change the constitution of the country so that he can stay on as president indefinitely. The sure sign of a dictator. Kemal Attaturk must be turning in his grave.

All this has led to a rising voice against him. When demonstrations broke out in 2013 Erdogan ordered a crack down in which 22 people were killed. These were Turkish citizens demonstrating against him, not terrorists but peaceful demonstrators and they were killed. Who is the terrorist? Erdogan served his two terms as Prime minister when the Turkish president was more of a ceremonial position. The Turkish constitution states the PM can only serve two terms, so what does he do? He stands for President but before leaving office gets the constitution changed so that, in fact, the president has all the power. If ever there was a man obsessed with power it's Erdogan.

The fact that Erdogan, in attacking the Kurdish YPG in northern Syria has actually invaded a neighbour does not seem to bother him. Further, the fact that the YPG were allies of the West in the defeat of ISIS does not bother him either. In fact, French president Macron hosted the YPG at the Elysee Palace and got a serious mouthful from Erdogan. It might be added that during the fight with ISIS Erdogan said nothing about the YPG. As soon as the battle was won Erdogan moved his troops into the Kurdish area of northern Syria and bombed the hell out of them. Who's the terrorist?

The sad thing is that here we have a passionate Islamist, greatly adding to the problems of the Middle East and Britain and France and most of the rest of Europe are still selling holidays in Turkey. Why would anyone want to go to Turkey these days? It used to be a very nice place to go to and, I have to say, in general the Turks are lovely people but their president is definitely not a lovely person. If we all stopped going to Turkey for holidays, that would hit the Turkish economy and send a message to Erdogan and the people who support him. This is a power mad, up and coming dictator and while he murders civilians in northern Syria, the West's politicians stand by and say nothing. It's an absolute disgrace.

Friday, 5 January 2018

JERUSALEM – WHAT'S THE PROBLEM ?

Jerusalem has been the de facto capital, albeit partitioned, of Israel since its birth after the Second World War. The Arab countries never accepted the fact that Jews should settle in Palestine. They have also managed to get many countries of the world to sympathise with them mainly because of the refugee problem it created but also because of a general anti Antisemitism. They want Palestine back and for some reason, mainly oil and economics, many countries seem to agree with them. However, Jerusalem was Jewish long before it was Arab. Over the millennia it has been a city fought over, captured, destroyed, and rebuilt many times but it's origins are Jewish and it has always housed many Jewish institutions and families.

Ever since the establishment of the state of Israel the Arabs have fought against it. They first laid siege to it and occupied it way back in the seventh century. Then the Turks fought the Arabs and occupied the city during the sixteenth century. They were thrown out at the end of the First World War. The whole area was peopled by Arabs and Jews and some Christians all of whom, as a rule, lived together in uneasy peace. However, the Jews were always discriminated against, not just by the Arabs but actually by most nations in Europe too as the Second World War was to prove. Hence, Jewry, in general, felt, with reason, that they needed a homeland of their own once again before they could feel safe. Palestine, the promised land of Canaan in the Old Testament, was the obvious place as that is where they had originally settled and had a continued presence and had began to resettle through the nineteenth century.

In 1948 they fought a war against the Arabs and established a state that was quickly recognised by the major powers of the world and the United Nation Organisation. The Arabs did not and vowed to sling them out. The 1956 conflict was as a direct result of Egyptian president Nasser closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping. This was a provocation which Nasser was sure he could win. He was wrong, he lost and lost the Sinai Peninsula too. The Israelis withdrew from the Peninsula after getting an agreement that the Tiran straits would remain open to their shipping.

In 1967 Nasser broke his promise and again closed the Straits to Israeli shipping. He moved his forces up to the Israeli boarder. At the time Egypt, Syria and Jordan were in an accord and called themselves the United Arab Republic. Their aim was to crush Israel and return the territory to the Arabs. At the time there were 5 countries ranged against Israel, they were Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. They were supported by 7 other countries and the PLO. On paper Israel did not stand a chance. She had a total of 240,000soldiers that included reservists of which they actually deployed 100,000. The Arabs had 547,000 troops and they deployed 240,000. Israel had 300 combat aircraft and 800 tanks. The joint Arab forces had 957 aircraft, and 2,504 tanks. Not a fair fight and the Arabs were convinced they would win and that would be the end of the state of Israel. However, we all know the result. The Arabs were soundly thrashed and Israel reoccupied the Sinai Peninsula, the whole of the West Bank including Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

Up to this time Jerusalem had been partitioned with Jordan nominally in charge of east Jerusalem and the West Bank. Jerusalem had actually been proclaimed the capital of Israel by the Knesset in 1949. After the war Israel held the whole of Jerusalem and since then the city has been the unified capital. Needless to say the Arabs refused to concede defeat and have wanted all their territory back. Palestinians, Jordanians and Syrians who fled the war ended up in refugee camps and whilst many have escaped to other countries and settled down the bulk are still in these camps. They are kept there by the Arabs nations, who have the ability, the money and the land to resettle them if they wanted to. However, to gain sympathy from the rest of the world against the Israelis these poor people are kept in these camps in terrible conditions and abject poverty. And this is how it continues to work. Although Israel has given the Sinai back to Egypt and agreed that Palestinians should have a state in the West Bank and Gaza strip, with conditions which are mainly to do with her safety, the Arabs steadfastly refuse to come to an agreement.

At the end of the day, Jerusalem is Israel's capital and the Israelis are not going to agree to any form of partition in the future. The Arabs are all up in arms about America recognising this fact and there will, no doubt, be some blood spilt over the decision but the fact will remain. The Arabs, in an effort to gain support also state that Christians should be worried about the situation, but under Israeli stewardship there are no problems for Christians living or visiting Jerusalem. Under Arab stewardship there are always problems for any non Moslems. Just ask an Egyptian Christian of whom there are about 7 million, how they are treated and discriminated against in Egypt. The same can be said for all the Christians and Jews throughout the Middle East. None of them can live in total peace or feel completely secure under Moslem Arab governments and that includes Palestinian Christians.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

POLITICIANS, THE BAIN OF OUR LIVES

Politicians, a bit like policemen, are indispensable to society. Every society has them because we need leaders and organisers for the smooth running of complex or even simple societies. However, getting the best people for the job is the truly difficult part. We need sympathetic, incorruptible, intelligent people who are willing to listen to their public and act for the general good and be totally truthful to their electorate. What do we get? Self seeking, power hungry, corrupt people with very little interest in the public they serve. The only thing the two groups have in common is a modicum of intelligence. The problem with that is that today most politician's intelligence is directed towards themselves, their power, their pocket and their survival in power. Here, I am not talking of just British politicians. Look at any country around the world and you will find the same type of people in positions of power. The less transparent the country the more corrupt, at least Britain still has a free press that does not fear to expose corrupt politicians, so they do have to be more devious than most. However, even in Britain, many of the people we entrust with power are corrupt.

Britain's Private Eye is probably one of the best newspaper at sniffing out corruption and every fortnight it manages to expose members of parliament, local councilors and business men. I'm sure that if the men and women in power in the UK could get rid of that newspaper they would. This type of pecuniary corruption can be exposed and regularly is, but it is the corruption of thought and deed that is so pernicious to society. Since 1928 'war' has been illegal. It was declared so by the Kellogg-Briand Pact in Paris and the signatories all agreed that that is how it should be in a modern civilised world. The Pact is still valid and in force today and is signed by most countries in the world, but who would believe it? Since then, of course, we have had the Second World War, the Korean war, the Vietnam war, the Iraq war to mention but a few. So, in fact, this great ideal, aimed particularly at saving civilians from harm, has actually meant nothing to the leaders of countries. They regularly sign up to these ideals, take the plaudits when they get home and then ignore them. Given a chance the general public would always vote against any kind of conflict. It is always Jo and Jane public who suffer most. The politicians and fat cats come out on top, usually having made fortunes and always remaining safe and well fed whilst their voters, followers, and workers get ruined and starve.

Look at all the conflicts going on today. The Syrian war is a damn good example. Here, there are many 'leaders' all with their own factions and followers and together they have decimated the country. Ask the average family what it's all about and they may well have a vague idea but all they want is peace to get on with their lives. Out of a population of 23 million there are not a million fighters including the Syrian army. The rest of these poor people have been put through hell because of politicians and leaders and their often ridiculous ideas of how society should be run. The new caliphate state, ISIS, is a classic example. It grew out of discontent with the government in Damascus and Baghdad but it's leaders were far crueller and more despotic than Assad or Hussein ever were. To rule over the land they took, they needed to recruit psychopaths from all over the world to fill their ranks because the local populations didn't want to know. Look at towns and villages in Syria now, they have been reduced to heaps of rubble. Do the leaders care? I don't think so.

Yemen is another country that could probably manage without a government at all. It is still quite tribal and although there are minor dust ups between tribes and families, in general they got on with life, living off the land quite happily. The population is now subject to this proxy war between Saudi Arabia and its Gulf State allies on one side and what they call the big evil Iran on the other. Who is suffering? The general population, and if you were to ask them what they want more than anything else, the one word they'd give is PEACE. This poor, faction ruled, country is probably the greatest humanitarian disaster of the past 50 years and no one is prepared to step in and help the poverty stricken, disease ridden, starving populace. Who is to blame for their situation – politicians.

A long while ago I drove through the deserts of Saudi Arabia right down to the Yemeni boarder. I drove from Jeddah north through Jordan, Syria, Turkey and what was then Yugoslavia. I was with my wife and two young children and we camped all the way for six weeks whilst we visited the sites in each country. Everywhere we were greeted with kindness from the local population often receiving gifts of fruit and vegetables. Not once did we have the slightest inkling of distrust or dislike. In every country we were received with kindness by the locals. It is never the people who cause wars, it is always the politicians. The people seldom want to follow their leaders into conflict situations. If they did there wouldn't be as many refugees in the world as there are today, they'd stay at home to show support.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

ANOTHER ATROCITY ANOTHER DAY OF DISBELIEF

Another atrocity and just when we thought they couldn't get any lower after the Bataclan, they attack and kill a bunch of children. What can we think? How do western civilized people come to terms with this sort of horror? How do we get our minds round an act that specifically aims at killing and maiming children? There is no doubt that this man knew damn well the sort of people that were going to this Arian Grande concert in Manchester. Not since the days of the Third Reich has a group of people such as ISIS, for I'm sure they will claim responsibility for it, been so blaze about other people's lives. Not only that, but in the social media that they have access to they have been rejoicing at this 'great act' of revenge for their version of Islam. They call it revenge against the Crusaders because, of course, they still call Christians, Crusaders. The problem is that a bomb is indiscriminate so that kills Muslims too and for some reason that doesn't seem to matter to them.

I might have mentioned this before but I feel it's worth saying again. Until all the Imams in Britain and round the world stand up and with a unified voice condemn these acts of barbarism and make the point that the perpetrator will burn in hell, it's going to be very difficult to stop suicide bombing. Everyone is shouting how this is an act of extreme cowardice, but they have got it all wrong, this is an act of extreme bravery in the eyes of the perpetrator. Killing yourself whilst 'doing God's work' is very brave and can be compared to early Christian martyrs in the eyes of radical Islam.

In fact, the bad guys here are the Imams or sheikhs who have persuaded these people that they will be martyrs for Islam and that they are doing God's work for him. They are the psychopaths in this business. Look at the 7/7 bombers. They were not down and outs or people with learning difficulties who didn't understand what they had let themselves into. They were teachers and social workers who were doing well and had families, yet they were persuaded they would be martyrs. What greater reward can a man or woman have? Think of the many Christian martyrs, who gave their lives for their religion, these bombers feel the same. They have been persuaded by charismatic psychopaths that their reward will be in heaven. Although, these abhorrent people have been know to use children when they can't persuade adults. There is a well documented case of a twelve year old with learning difficulties and her three year old sister having bombs strapped to them and being carefully instructed and directed what to do.

Until a good sized seed of doubt can be planted in their minds there will be a constant stream of applicants for martyrdom. Suicide bombing can only be stopped by Islam and in general we haven't got that message yet and neither has Islam. Moslems need to take their religion into the twenty first century and see that punishments and diktats that were acceptable in the seventh century are no longer acceptable. But they don't, and the more fanatical, and there are plenty of those, are easy meat for their psychopathic preachers. The big problem with Islam is that it accepts no criticism. The minute anyone criticises anything in the Koran they are labelled Islamophobes and blasphemers and then you can be killed. Until they lighten up about their religion it is difficult to see where the West can go. Bombing and shooting and declaring war on them as terrorists just doesn't work and never will.

A dispassionate look at Islam will show your average civilized man or woman that there is plenty in the Koran to like and dislike. Yet air your views in public especially about the bits you dislike and you may be prosecuted. But how can you like a religion that promotes beheading, amputation of hand and foot, stoning to death and even recently, in Saudi Arabia, a blogger sentenced to be crucified in public because they didn't like his blog. There may be plenty in the Koran that is worthy, naturally, because it was modelled on the Torah and the Bible. However, these punishments, which are still carried out in a few Islamic countries, are nothing but cruel, horrific, even disgusting. It is, I propose, very difficult for people in the West to imagine being stoned to death, yet it happens regularly and always in public so everyone can enjoy the sight and throw the stones. There is plenty in Islam that is not pleasant and I have difficulty understanding Westerners who convert to it. The only modicum of comfort in all this horror for people of other religions or no religion is the sure belief that the perpetrator is definitely not going to heaven.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

THE RICH AND TAX


What is it with the rich and paying tax? It never ceases to amaze me that Mr and Mrs Average are reasonably happy to pay their taxes. Most of the people I know will stand back and look at exactly what you get from the state and be happy to pay up. We do any way because if we don't the tax man is quickly on our case. I suppose Jo Average is much easier to chase than Mr Rich. We are quickly intimidated into paying what we owe. Yet the rich and the stinking rich find all sorts of ways to avoid paying taxes. Of course, they can employ the top accountants to help and they in their turn, manage to conjure up all manner of wheezes to get round the tax laws. Not only that, but many of these top accountancy firms who organize tax avoidance schemes still get government contracts and are asked to give the government advice. Seems loony to me.

How much do people need to live? How much can you spend in a lifetime? If you are making five million a year why would you want to avoid paying tax? Yet many who earn that sort of money and a lot more in some cases go out of their way to pay as little tax as possible. You would think that the sums paid to these greedy accountants would almost cover tax liabilities yet people still stash away huge sums in tax havens like the British Virgin Islands. Governments of all persuasions condemn these transactions and swear to do something about it but never do. How many chancellors of the exchequer have sworn to eradicate the practice and close any loop holes and actually do nothing. Are they complicit in the practice? Many of these very rich people make donations to the political parties and politicians fighting funds and this may have some baring on their supposed inability to plug the holes in the laws that allow this to happen.

Of course, politicians are known for their corruption, many are corrupt, although all would vociferously deny it, but being taken out to a top restaurant in London and schmoozed for an evening even if it is declared, is a form of corruption. Is it any wonder that populations are getting fed up with politicians. They don't do themselves any favors. The expenses scandal a few years ago is a classic example of politicians behaving badly and getting away with it. One or two of the very worst cases were publicly dealt with but the vast majority got away with their frauds, and sad to say, it is still going on to a slightly lesser extent may be, but still happening. Members of the public who do similar and are found out are prosecuted and land up with criminal records if found guilty. Well, plenty of MPs admitted their guilt and paid back money they had fraudulently obtained and that was alright! So when they state that they will pursue those who hide their fortunes abroad do we believe them? I don't think so.