Sunday, 18 January 2009

Diana Watch (on tour)

Usually she just lies there in the faecal position. Today Martyn is in Kent. In the front line, so to speak. It’s like war reporting this. Let’s get it out of the way at the beginning because I know that it has become a little dull to hear me go on and on about Israel, it has been reflected in the readership numbers, but at the time of typing there is talk of a ceasefire. Much to the relief of the UN, as well as the Palestinians, who have had 2 schools and their headquarters in Gaza bombed, possibly with white phosphorus bombs, which are illegal. My point is this, what has Israel achieved? They claim that their goals for a ceasefire have been met but Hamas are still firing rockets at them, so that doesn’t seem to be one of them. Is it suspicious that they started talking about a ceasefire on the day that George W Bush left the White House? The timing is also significant in Israel because they have an election coming up. You don’t want to go into an election actually at war but going into it just after a war that you can claim you have won and see how seriously we take National Security, the only thing to be heard saying this season for any serious politician, does give you a reasonable platform. To claim that the war was merely electioneering would be a little cynical but hey….

It seems that no one listens to me. This will not come as a surprise to anyone but me. I turned on my television this week to see Iggy Pop advertising insurance. And after my “why do famous people do adverts” rant, oh how the mighty have fallen and while we are at it, The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Charlatans seem to have licensed their music for ads. It makes me sad but I suppose you have to make money. One other point, on the ghastly “Injury lawyers 4 U” adverts it is claimed that “they are real lawyers”. Good, I’m glad to hear it, although it is sort of what I would expect from a company of lawyers, even if they do use text speak in their company name. Oh and is that a vulture that appears over their name at the end of the ad? I don’t suppose for a minute that they have that level of self awareness but it would be nice.

Environment news now and I think we should start with a positive story from India. Delhi has banned the plastic bag and they’ve really gone for it as well, no silly little punishment for them, oh no, up to 5 years in jail. One of the reasons that they have banned them is because discarded bags were blocking the drains and this is remarkable unhelpful in a monsoon. They are not the first to ban them though; Rwanda, Bhutan and Bangladesh are also in on the act. So if some of the worlds poorest countries can do it, take this bold step into a plastic free future, why can’t we? Well the reason is Gordon Brown. And man who really doesn’t understand. This week has seen one of more odd announcements from this government, one that will haunt them until they are no longer in charge. We shall have a third runway at Heathrow. Why? Do we really need it? It is estimated that it will only generate £42 million a year which really isn’t that much. I have heard at least 2 government spokesmen saying that the 3rd runway will help us be more competitive on the other side of the recession and at least 1 said that it will help Britain’s (how will it help Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland?) infrastructure post-recession. Now the likelihood is that they won’t cut the first sod until 2012 and it won’t be finished until, at the earliest, 2020! How long do they think the recession is going to last?
Greenpeace is doing its bit in order to help hold things up. It has purchased a small piece of land within the area that will be needed for the expansion and is currently dividing the ownership up too as many people as possible. At the moment it is owned by about 12000 people and Greenpeace are going to start offering parts to foreign people in an attempt to slow down the compulsory purchase order process even more.
What the government has succeeded in doing is providing it critics with a really big, oily stick with which they can hit it every time they try and do something meaningful for the environment. Whatever suggestions they make we can shout back “Heathrow”. They have managed to shoot themselves in the foot so badly that now the Tories look like the environmentally friendly party. There should be a joke about recycled ideas here but I can’t be bothered. They took the opportunity that was presented to them and grasped it with a big tree hug and proudly announced their own plan to save the planet, some of which was very good, tidal power, an “intelligent” power grid and micro-generation (see I told you it was the way forward) but some of it was utter pish. Plugs all round London to recharge electric cars despite the fact that electric cars are rubbish and take hours to charge, for instance. Hydrogen fuel cells are the future anyway as you can fill them up like a petrol car. The government messed so badly that David Cameron could vote against getting rid of old style tungsten bulbs (as he did this week) and still look like the hippy. A quick fact for you, 14% of all the electricity generated in this country goes on lighting. Think of the power that could be saved of we all switched to low energy light bulbs? Even the Daily Mail agrees with that.

Let’s do some awards,

The Award For Fantastic Bit of Flying of the Week,

This goes to Chesley Sullenberger who managed to not hit anything in New York after taking off from LaGuardia Airport, getting hit by a flock of Geese, losing both engines and then somehow managing to land safely on the Hudson River. Take off to landing took 7 minutes. Lets be honest, we take our pilots for granted but when it comes down to it, they do a remarkable job.

The Award For Really Embarrassing Thing of the Week,

There really is no competition for this week; it really has to go to Kate Winslet and her awful, awful acceptance speech at the Golden Globes when she got her gong for being best at pretending to be someone else.

The Award For Funniest Art Instillation That Embarrassed A Government of the Week,

“And so we are going to be the EU presidential country for 6 months, how should we celebrate such a thing?” “I know, sculpture!” Unveiled this week was a sculpture to challenge European stereotypes. It was suppose to be by 27 different artists doing a bit about their own country, it turns out, however, that it was all done by one artist and a couple of his mates and some countries have found his jokes a tiny bit offensive. Bulgaria was portrayed as a toilet; Denmark was made out of Lego and, if viewed from a certain angle, looked a bit like one of the cartoons of Mohammad that pissed so many people. My favourite part of the work was the UK, which wasn’t there. See what they’ve done there? Britain is not really in Europe, see?

The Award for Fuss Over Nothing of the Week,

This goes to everyone who made a fuss about Baroness Whatsit saying that she could see “the green shots of recovery”. George Osborne claimed that she should apologise for the comment as she was insensitive and out of touch. A spectacular fuss was made in the press about it as well, claiming that it was a gaffe but really what it was was an answer to a direct question about the credit markets and her reply was in reference to a specific company getting a loan. Taken out of context it could be a little wrong but you could consider other business results out in the last weeks. Sales figures for Sainburys, HMV, Tesco, Aldi, Carphone Warehouse and the Smart Car are all up. Consumer confidence survey was up and the website says that numbers registering on the site looking for a new home had doubled on this time last year. Green shoots there might be.

Ok that will do for this week, hope you all have fun. Oh and listen to the new single by Britney Spears and Lily Allen because they are both fantastic. I know I should be telling you about obscure indie nonsense but pop music it good for you, sometimes anyway. To redress the balance may I recommend to you albums by The Acorn and Woodpigeon cos they are great too.

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