keresaspa: (Karl Marx laughing)
As I believe I mentioned a few months ago during my time in Paris my most visited area was the Boulevard Voltaire, that I tramped up and down several times each day. I'm sure I must have passed the Bataclan at least ten times, although for some reason I never took it under my notice and don't actually remember having seen it. Still, pass it I did, as well as one or two of the other places attacked and it brings it home to you. Terrible scenes for a wonderful city to have to endure and unquestionably all sympathy must go to those touched by these tragedies. That such carnage is a daily occurrence in places like Gaza, Baghdad and Beirut and that their tragedies are ignored by the media says a lot about Western priorities and how unimportant we view non-White deaths, as is the overwhelming likelihood that the deaths in Paris will be used as an excuse to continue carpet-bombing Syria at will.

Inevitable too that the Islamophobes are out in force, placing the blame for insane fanatics on an entire belief system (yet the same people never launch on the Archbishop of Canterbury when some Bible-thumping nutjob in the Deep South blows up a family planning clinic) but that has become the default reaction to every such attack now, once again fired up by the media. Kind of what the Irish got in the 70s. The Daily Mail and their ilk have already done a number on the lumpen when it comes to the Syrian refugees but expect any lingering thread of sympathy for their plight to disappear as the people fleeing the excesses of ISIS get the blame for what they have had to endure, much like the German Jewish refugees in the Second World War.

A grim time all round with innocent people suffering at every wheel and turn under the yoke of belligerent militants and equally belligerent governments. Pray for Paris by all means, but remember all the victims around the world and never confuse the status of the victim with that of the aggressor.
keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
Before I start I should go on record as saying I'm no fan of Vladimir Putin. A little nationalistic megalomaniac, he is to me about as welcome as Spy Wednesday's leftover haslet on Good Friday. But really the coverage being given to the whole Russia-Ukraine business by the BBC is getting a bit much to take.

Whilst waiting on Match of the Day last night I happened to catch a bit of their news report and was gobsmacked by what I witnessed. The policy of "embedding" reporters has always been a controversial one as impartiality is bound to go out the window. After all, who would see both sides when all they see is one group coming under attack from another, rather than the effects of the actions of the group you are with? But with whom was a BBC reporter embedded? Only the bloody Azov Battalion! They mentioned at the very start of the report that this was a far-right group but from then on it was more or less "look at these bunch of great lads fighting for freedom, aren't they wonderful?". Well, no, they aren't wonderful at all and, whilst I've long since given up expecting impartiality from the BBC, has it really sunk so low that it is now endorsing neo-Nazi groups? Fox News was rightly taken to task for calling the National Socialist Movement a civil rights organisation in the aftermath of the murder of Trayvon Martin and yet I've heard nary a whimper about the publicly funded state broadcaster of a supposed liberal democracy glorifying the actions of a bunch of Holocaust-denying fanatics.

A report in their most recent bulletin about the killing of Boris Nemtsov stated that he had been silenced by the Kremlin. Quite probably but as yet completely unproven although, as I said, the sort of extreme editorialising we have long since come to expect from BBC News, which these days is little more than the Daily telegraph in televisual form. But the Azov Battalion? Good God. I've defended the Beeb for years but increasingly it's starting to look like this organ of state propaganda should be done away with. If it's only purpose is to reflect the opinions of the government (and post-Hutton, that's all it is) then I for one have no desire to pay to keep it in existence.
keresaspa: (Giant Haystacks pissed as a frt!)
Let's not go buck mad about Greece. Syriza are hardly the ultra left party that sections of the media in this part of the world are making them out to be (the same media that seems determined to paint the extreme right Marine LePen as a sensible conservative) and their new government is to involve a coalition with a right-wing rabble in the Greek Independents who spent the entire election making the usual noises about immigration, multiculturalism and Greek identity politics. Still, you have to take comfort where you can find it and the decision by such a sizeable section of the Greek electorate to show their displeasure with the existing political order by going to the left rather than the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn is a heartening one. If only the British left could stop wasting so much time attacking each other and organise they might present a genuine alternative to Farage's rabble but I've been saying that for years and it still hasn't happened. Given that their government is relying on the right for its existence and given that they are within the EU and the Euro it's unlikely that Syriza will be able to deliver very much in the way of change but neo-liberal monetarism has brought Greece to its knees so any alternative will be better than the present crap. Good luck to them either way and I hope they can somehow affect real change but I suspect a combination of the EU and NATO will smoosh them down and ensure they can go no further than the standard "ethical capitalism" crap that seems to be the order of the day for modern social democracy. Still, who knows, it might all turn out great in the end so let's at least try to be positive.

Still, whilst Greece is facing a potential new dawn (and thankfully not a golden one) there is a definite sadness in the air with the other big news out the country: the death of Demis Roussos. Inevitably he's remembered now as a big hairy fat man in a kaftan singing uber-cheesey pop songs in a strangely falsetto voice but as vocalist and bassist of the mighty Aphrodite's Child Demis played a leading role in one of the most creative and original bands to emerge from the psychedelic and progressive rock scenes in Europe. Inevitably Vangelis was the maestro behind their work but for me it was the very peculiar vocals that Roussos delivered which helped to mark them out as distinct from the other bands to emerge around that time. And, whisper it, but I reckoned some of his 70s solo stuff was fine too, despite its undoubted kitsch-ness. Let's enjoy the legend one last time:

keresaspa: (Salvador Allende)
Given how the mass media has lined up against it, the very desire for self-determination has been consistently likened to the genocide of six million people and the fact that they're a queer bunch who never vote Tory but nevertheless like to suffer under them every few years I doubt very much that Scotland will be taking her place amongst the states of the world next month. But just in case something earth-shattering does happen on the day before my birthday and Scotland does take on partial dominion status (which, as I previously expounded upon, is all Sandy Salmond is offering) it does rather raise the question of what impact it will have on Northern Ireland.

Just as Sinn Fein's rhetoric in recent years has become a lot more identitaire in nature, so too that of unionism and loyalism has for some time sought to underline their own small-n nationalist credentials by pretending that they constitute an ethnie. Be it through the means of the Ulster-Scots "language" (a combination of dialect, construct and fantasy that lies somewhere between Scouse, Volapük and Klingon in the credibility stakes) or Ian Adamson's "Cruthin" fantasies the idea has been to state that the Protestants in Northern Ireland are an ethnic group and that said ethnic group is virtually identical with the Scots. Leaving aside how ludicrous this notion is (the Protestants in Northern Ireland are about as pure blooded as the Catholics and we're all a big ethnic muddle of each other and several other groups of interlopers, like it or not) it does mean that a big part of the identity is tied to Scotland. Go into any loyalist area, or mixed area where the Catholics are too chicken shit to resist as pictured, and you'll see the saltire everywhere but nowhere will you see the Cross of St. George. Beyond the very top levels of the Unionist establishment England and the English aren't very popular here on any side and, whilst it might be very easy to construct a pro-UK agenda based on keeping tight with our brothers in Scotland, it will be a lot harder to do so based on keeping tight with our distant cousins in England. Happen there will be attempts to play up the English dimension in the plantations but surely even the loyalists wouldn't be gullible enough to swallow that over night.

The Cruthin and Ulster Scots has very occasionally been utilised by those who espoused the minority pro-independence view and I know both Doctor Doctor Kenny McClinton and the Reverend Clifford Peeples (both very occasional readers round these parts - hai guise) used those arguments to support it. It could well prove that were Scotland to go its own way loyalism might be forced to re-evaluate its position and instead call for some of the same, resurrecting the ideas that elements within the UDA dabbled with in the 70s and 80s. Certainly I've yet to hear Salmond suggest that he wants to take this place with him (although I would put nothing past him) so a rethought of position by some might well have to follow. Inevitably there will be those die-hards who never relent but an independent Scotland could potentially divide the unionist-loyalist side to such an extent that this place ends up having three sides, with the republican side the largest by default.

All pointless speculation of course, given that the Scots seem poised to turn down this opportunity (and let me hear one Scot moan about poor treatment from Westminster in the future as it will be your own faults) but were the miracle to happen the knock-on effects for this place could be wide-ranging. The thought of an independent "Ulster" under the dictatorship of former Ulster nationalist Willie Frazer is just too dire to contemplate!

Rebel songs

Jul. 7th, 2014 08:36 pm
keresaspa: (Maurice Bishop)
One story that did catch my eye during my barely noticed extended absence was the minor fuss locally over the Ku Klux Klan. For those unfamiliar, Island Street is a back street off a back street off the lower Newtownards Road. Made up of 80s style redeveloped Housing Executive houses, it is one of the more soul-destroying parts of east Belfast, saying something given what a bigoted little dump that side of town is. The walls proclaim allegiance to the UDA although, as is the case throughout the east, it is the UVF that largely holds sway with the UDA only existing with their permission and fulfilling little role beyond dealing drugs.

For years 81 Island Street has been a particular carbuncle in the gloom. With a front door festooned with racist and Islamophobic stickers, not to mention a bunch of stuff about Rangers, a Confederate flag flying on a pole and a window filled with KKK memorabilia, as well as UDA flags, it stands as a beacon of hatred. Action taken to address this? None. In an area of low-grade housing, towards which immigrants are likely to gravitate, a public display of racial hatred and xenophobia has for years been ignored. So recently a KKK flag went on a nearby lamppost and a fuss was kicked up but Belfast's own Braunes Haus continues happily in a part of the town already notorious for its racism. The flag was subsequently taken down "following discussions" (rather than torn down with its owner prosecuted under the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006) but when I passed that way today it had been replaced by a pair of Southern crosses. Well, that's much better as the flag of a racist state is a lot less offensive than the flag of a racist organisation.

Radio Ulster's decision to interview the local KKK boss-cocky is a dodgy one as it gives him much more importance than he deserves (although is very much in keeping with the ever rightwards drift of the BBC as whole). Given that we have a strongly anti-Catholic organisation in which members are expected to dress like prats and take part in bizarre rites in the Orange Order then it hardly seems surprising that the KKK could come here (although to be fair a few token Africans have found their way into the Orange Order) but it's also probably the main reason that they are an irrelevance. Extreme right organisations have found their openings within loyalism locally but they have never fully taken off nor are they likely to unless the loyalist paramilitaries ever come out unequivocally against racism and start punishing the racists in their own community. However the fuss over the flying of the flag is a little like suddenly becoming appalled about the Cerne Abbas Giant's tumescence - it's been that way years and nobody has batted an eyelid. To think that they're actually sinking money into promoting east Belfast as a tourist destination. God help any tourist who goes over that way and God help even more any poor immigrant who gets housed in Island Street. What an absolute shithole this place really is sometimes.
keresaspa: (Cartman)
I've been desperately trying to take some crumb of comfort from these election but I can't. Swept on by the biased "reporting" of the BBC and all the tabloids bar the Mirror, those hateful shits of the UK Independence Party have come top in the European elections and done fairly well in the council elections (although their head cheerleader Nick Robinson is talking shite by calling 163 councillors out of 2,101 an "earthquake"). If there's any justice they will follow the lead of the now virtually irrelevant (outside Pendle at least) BNP and become victims of their own success. After all the BNP's brief period of success in the early to mid 00s led to to them splitting into several little factions and saw their thuggish, frequently barely literate, councillors make total prats of themselves at every opportunity. Mind you, the BNP were fighting against a cordon sanitaire, something UKIP won't have to worry about given that they had the sense to get in some tokens in advance. I swear if I see Nigel Farage's hateful, smug, buck-toothed, squinty-eyed, batrachian face once more I'm a gonna kick this screen in! And an especial boo to all the Rangers-supporting knuckle draggers in Scotland and all the forelock tuggers in AndWales for following their English masters in electing that rabble too. Pish on the lot of you.

Elsewhere Little Miss Le Pen has come top in France to show that the British lurch to the extreme right is not unique. Given France's unusual history with right-wing extremists (along with Italy, it's the only Western European country where being a self-declared neo-fascist is no bar to a leading role in public life, as the likes of Alain de Benoist and Dominique Venner have demonstrated) and the mess both major parties have made of government it's no surprise but still a real shame. Meanwhile in Finland the rightist Finns Party have added an extra seat, the Poles have returned their usual quota of hardcore Catholic racists who claim the label "centre-right" with straight faces and even in Greece a left-wing victory has tempered by three seats for the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn. Stygian gloom the continent over.

Locally we are still waiting on the final results of an election held last Thursday but so far, as I predicted, Sinn Fein have topped the poll and Anderson is back in, with Diane Dodds likely to follow soon. Ho-hum. beyond that it's pick-a-dick between Jim Nicholson, Alex Attwood and Jim Allister for third place with Anna Lo not in the running and bloody UKIP even managing twenty odd thousand votes here. In the local elections the Sinn Fein vote pretty much held and, whilst the DUP shed support, it all seems to have gone to the Ulster Unionists (for reasons unknown) or rewarded the bigoted Strasserism of the Progressive Unionist Party or the reactionary High Toryism of the Traditional Unionist Voice. In among all that the dissident republican campaign got nowhere, with Eirigi, Republican Network for Unity and various independents getting almost nothing (OK, one exception but I'm not much of a 32 County Sovereignty Movement fan personally). Hell even bloody UKIP managed to get three seats here and the total mess that is NI21 took one. If I am to finally take that one crumb of comfort I spoke of earlier it will be from the good people of Black Mountain electing Gerry Carroll, a man I very vaguely know, to Belfast City Council instead of yet another faceless Sinn Fein nobody. On his own and stacked up against the cabal of the big five I can't see him being able to make any real impact on the new council when it finally splutters into life next year (that's right, the old council is continuing for another year in a colossal waste of money) but the fact that somebody, somewhere was prepared to vote against oppression and for the people is heartening anyway.

Now if you'll excuse me I think I'd like to find a pile of coats to hide under for a while.

Eurotrash

Apr. 24th, 2014 09:04 pm
keresaspa: (Cartman)
Just so as we can be clear about this the UK Independence Party are not racist, just their policies, their rhetoric and their members. One of the faces of their election campaign, Andre Lampitt, is now the latest to join the long-line of UKIP racists and is the latest to join the huge list of those suspended by the party for publicly endorsing hatred. In any civilised society this sort of hatred would see people deserting this bigoted rabble in their droves but Britain gave up on civilisation a long time ago and I fully expect these vile vermin will still sweep the polls next month. The media have already anointed them as big cheeses and have convinced the sheep that xenophobia is the way to go so even were Nigel Farage, who is nothing like the Westminster lot don't forget, to be hauled in as part of Operation Yewtree I still doubt it would make a blind bit of difference. How shitty and British really - racism, xenophobia, bigotry, hatred, misogyny, the whole kit and kaboodle, are all fine as long as the person spreading them has a posh accent. The difference between tut-tutting at tattooed, h-dropping National Front yobs but chuckling gently at the latest bit of racist bile from Philip Mountbatten. Wankers.

Well, I suppose at least I can rely on one thing - Henry Reilly, the candidate for the UK Independence Party (and enthusiast for made-up languages, God help us) will not be getting a seat in the European Parliament. With the candidate list finalised this may well be the first election since 2001 when I don't bother voting*. My days of voting Sinn Fein are well and truly over and even, if I would have considered it, Martina Anderson is the kind of faceless, nodding-dog apparatchik that that party is stuffed with nowadays. The SDLP are out too as, during his time as a Stormont minister, Alex Attwood was single-handedly responsible for laying waste to this city, allowing the developers to tear down every and any historic building with impunity. I probably would have voted for Anna Lo as I respect her on a personal level as a brave and feisty opponent of racism and bigotry and admired her decision to nail her colours to the mast as an anti-imperialist despite being in a pro-British party but it is said party that means I can't. Their affiliation to the Liberal Democrats means that the Alliance are effectively supporting this filthy government and there's also the issue that they are the ones who ensured that the City Hall still flies the butcher's apron on "designated days" rather than taking the rag down altogether so that, along with their general bourgeois crapulence, rules them out. Similarly bourgeois crapulence rules out the Green Party and NI21, with the latter too unionist and too much of a vanity project for its two leaders to be worth consideration. The rest are all avowedly unionist and right-wing, even radical right in Jim Allister and Henry Reilly's cases, and so are not worth wasting words over.

All in all an evil crop, with nobody to remotely attract my attention. I might still change my mind but as things stand a destroyed ballot looks the only viable option. Interesting that after spouting so much crap about how he reckoned he could win the election Billy Hutchinson's name isn't on the ballot, nor indeed that of the UVF's Jamie Bryson (I guess the money ran out once he was caught doing the double) who made a song and dance all winter about how he too would be a candidate. A shame though that the menagerie of dissident republican parties are all giving the election a miss too, as at very least their presence might have made inroads into the Sinn Fein vote, with PSF now virtually guaranteed top spot. Either way, nothing for me here so I think I'll sit this one out.


* For future reference my voting history is as follows:
1998 Good Friday Agreement referendum - no;
1998 Assembly election - Sinn Fein (Sean Hayes);
1999 European election - Sinn Fein (Mitchell McLaughlin);
2001 general election - destroyed the ballot;
2001 local election - Sinn Fein (Alex Maskey);
2003 Assembly election - Socialist Party (Jim Barbour);
2004 European election - Socialist Environmental Alliance (Eamonn McCann);
2005 general election - Workers Party (Paddy Lynn);
2005 local election - Socialist Party (James Barbour);
2007 Assembly election - Socialist Party (James Barbour);
2009 European election - SDLP (Alban McGuinness);
2010 general election - Alliance (Anna Lo);
2011 local election - Workers Party (Paddy Lynn);
2011 Assembly election - Socialist Party (Paddy Meehan);
2011 Alternative Vote referendum - no.
keresaspa: (Cow)
There's one thing we can probably say without fear of contradiction - Yulia Tymoshenko has quite nice hair. Generally the notion that conventionally pretty women don't belong in prison (venomous harridans are fine, but not babes) and as such the outpouring of bollocks about the woman is perhaps understandable. Let's call it Eva Peron syndrome, as I'm at a loss to explain why otherwise sensible people are reacting with orgasmic fervour to the news that an admittedly corrupt President is about to be replaced by a billionaire oligarch whose political stock in trade has always been populist conservatism. That this woman, who made billions by buying up precious natural gas reserves that could have served the people rather than the individual, worked closely with Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko to increase her fortune, a man subsequently convicted in the United States for his corruption and who happily collaborated with Viktor Yushchenko in the Orange Revolution despite the leading role played by the anti-Semitic extreme right and who in 2009 signed a gas deal with Russia without consulting the elected government, is now being hailed as a wonderful heroine, a shining angel in the holy war against Russia, is laughable. I expect the inevitable fawning tone from the BBC, who have been the organ of state since Hutton and who now trumpet the NATO apologist line of William Hague as if it were gospel but seeing more considered people anointing this witch as some latter day Joan of Arc is a real disappointment. She's a right-wing populist and will no more benefit the Ukrainian workers than Russophile predecessor. And clearly she's happy to jump into bed with the extremists too:



So that's what the new Ukraine will be like is it? A historic statue of Lenin tore down and replaced by the symbols and slogans of the SS. Nearly 4 million Ukrainians, Jewish and otherwise, killed by the SS and their Einsatzgruppen during the Second World War and the return of their symbolism is hailed by the West as a great dawn for democracy. Despicable.

I'm certainly no fan of Viktor Yanukovych but he and Tymoshenko are two sides of the one coin; the bureaucrat being ousted and replaced by the monopoly capitalist. That people are giving their lives to replace dominance by one crook with dominance by another is the real tragedy here, not that some blonde-headed bint had to do a bit of stir. Being dictated to by Yanukovych and cosying up to Russia or being dictated to by Tymoshenko and cosying up to NATO - what's the sodding difference? As usual it will be the people who suffer whatever happens whilst those in charge fill their boots. Really not worth dying over, no matter how long somebody's plaits are.
keresaspa: (Piggy Banks)
It's an annual tradition of mine to buy the Sky Sports Football Yearbook. There was a time I was first in the queue on the day it came out (well, the day after, given that almost everything takes an extra day to reach this backwater burgh of mine) but now that boyhood fire is no longer in my blood I tend to wait until around this time as by now Waterstone's (they can drop the apostrophe all they want, I'm leaving it in) have usually knocked a fiver off the price and when you're living under the yoke of brutal monetarism you need every penny.

In recent years the grand old annual has begun to look a little creaky as problems have sneaked in and, having got my copy a few days ago, I regret to report that it shows no signs of improving but rather is getting worse. The standard gripe about the book is the fact that they list all winners of the Football League as a single entity, relegating the achievements of all those clubs that were champions of England before 1992 to the same level as those that won the second tier afterwards. It's probably not worth bothering about that though as, even when it was the Rothmans, Jack Rollin was adamant he wouldn't stop doing that and there is no chance of it changing now that it is part of Rupert Murdoch's hype machine. All real supporters know that Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough getting promotion are not comparable to Huddersfield's trio, Liverpool's umpteen or the rest, but it still causes needless confusion with regards to Newcastle United, Sunderland, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Portsmouth, the five clubs to win both "versions" of the First Division.

But as I say, not worth worrying about as that won't change no matter how much people want it to do so. Besides, there are plenty of other problems with the book that could be fixed. Time was I could flick through the yearbook to find out who finished where in, say, the United Counties League but those days are gone. Coverage, perfunctory at best, ends with the top divisions of the the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian leagues with all other parts of the pyramid, along with the leagues under the auspices of the Amateur Football Alliance (admittedly of no interest to me personally, but others may well care), jettisoned, presumably to make way for the line-ups of every Champions League match to have taken place in the previous season. Perhaps I'm just out of step with what the modern consumer of football wants but for an almanac of British football surely it is much more important to include the final table for NPL Division One South than it is to include the full line-ups for AIK Solna v Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. By all means include the line-ups for the British teams in Europe and their opponents but the rest is a waste of space and I'm sure in no way connected to Sky Sports holding the rights to the Champions League.

The length and breadth of the book clearly makes it a massive undertaking so errors are inevitable but some of them are simply chronic. A lot of the information for the Scottish clubs seems badly researched, with the record transfer fees in particular looking rather outdated in a number of cases, but there are some pretty basic goofs. Livingston have apparently never had a player capped at full international level whilst at the club, something that will come as a surprise to Marvin Andrews, Horace Stoute, Gustave Bahoken, Chérif Touré Mamam and the other Livvy Lions to have represented their respective countries whilst on the books at Almondvale. Player records are also prone to problems. I was surprised to learn that I apparently dreamt Marc-Antoine Fortuné's 2009 spell at West Bromwich Albion as, according to the yearbook, he went straight from AS Nancy to Celtic. I would love to know who that was that scored two in the 3-1 win over Wigan then as he didn't half look like the big Guianese.

The inconsistent approach to best wins and worst defeats is also somewhat maddening. My understanding was that "Record League Victory", "Record Cup Victory" and "Record Defeat" meant in senior competition but this only seems to be observed in some cases. Fleetwood Town have, of course, only completed one season in the Football League but listing their record victory as 13-0 makes no sense when it was against Oldham Town in the North-West Counties League. Compare this to fellow relative newcomers Crawley Town, whose record victory is given (correctly) as 5-2 v AFC Wimbledon in League Two. Are we supposed to believe that big spenders like Crawley never managed better than a three goal win in non-league circles? Bollocks they didn't! Fleetwood's record victory should have been given as their 4-0 against Morecambe otherwise the book is using different standards to judge different clubs and creating pointless inequality. Stevenage's 7-0 record defeat against Southwick and Elgin City's 18-1 record win over Brora Rangers are among other results that should follow the Fleetwood one into the bin. Alternatively go through the history of every club and list their genuine biggest wins and worst defeats, taking in every bit of non-league they have ever played. Personally though I think the former solution is much more sensible but even the latter would be an improvement on the current mix and match approach.

The "did you know" features added to each English club page were also pretty lacklustre this year. Albion's duo this time out were one about the Chambers brothers becoming the first twins to represent England at any level (widely reported at the time but probably forgotten outside the Hawthorns now, so fair enough) and the fact that in 1888 FA Cup holders Albion lost 4-1 to Scottish Cup holders Renton in a match billed as the "Championship of the World". You don't say? As football trivia goes this is possibly the best-known titbit about the Victorian game going and anybody with even a slight knowledge of the history of the sport in Britain (which, let's face it, is everybody who buys the book) will know this like the back of their hand. If it continues in this vein we can expect the Manchester United page next season to have as its "did you know" that they once had a manager called Alex Ferguson who won some trophies.

It pains me to write this stuff in many ways as I love the Rothmans like my own sweet life and want it to continue forever. But in this day and age of online databases and instant access to the most minute of football information it is important for it to stay relevant and not drive people away with sloppy work and pointless stubbornness. If the Sky Sports Football Yearbook dies because, despite all efforts, it just can't compete with the internet then that would be a disappointment but if it dies because of neglect then that would be a crying shame. Time to pull your fingers out and rescue this design classic from the doldrums before it's too late.
keresaspa: (Karl Marx laughing)
So farewell then, Margaret Thatcher. The hagiography already began several years ago and will no doubt be enshrined as fact now by the right-wing media along with such bollocks as "Enoch was right" but even I would never seek to deny how powerful an influence she has had on British politics. To destroy wilfully the industrial backbone of the economy and replace it with a monetarist system based on debt and the rewarding of people that we could easily do without is some accomplishment. To destroy solidarity and compassion and replace it with a country that even now follows her atavistic template and wherein the default setting for everybody seems to be one of uncaring selfishness and where a bunch of sadistic bastards laud constant attacks on the poor and vulnerable and constant support for the rich and corrupt as "strong government" is also some accomplishment. The destruction of party politics and its replacement with a knob measuring contest in which a bunch of privileged bastards who bend over backwards to support the rich and crucify the poor compete with two other groups that are exactly the same is some accomplishment. Yes, undoubtedly Thatcher's shadow looms large over the political landscape but it is a shadow that has wreaked destruction and frankly made Britain an at-times horrible place to exist in.

In the name of the millions of industrial workers whose lives you destroyed, the victims of Operation El Dorado Canyon, the crew of the General Belgrano and the memories of Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O'Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Michael Devine I condemn you. If there really is a Hell than Thatcher will be ensconced therein, being jabbed with roasting pitchforks as we speak. Now if you'll excuse me I think I'll hibernate for a while as the ongoing gushing of false emotion that is sure to continue for the next few is making me feel quite sick.

I'll leave the final words to Gerry Adams - I am, and remain, a harsh critic of the way you and your party have abandoned republicanism in pursuit of money, influence and personal power but today you have nailed it and I commend you for a rare rejection of an opportunity to sell out.
keresaspa: (James Connolly)
No match this weekend as all Saturday football in Belfast was cancelled because a bunch of fascists who openly broke the law were "punished" by getting their own way as usual. Great response from the republicans, both mainstream and dissident too, as the fascists were allowed to own the streets as usual. Meanwhile the media is hailing it a great success and saying that it passed off peacefully even though once again the bootboy flute bands once again played their hate-filled dirges as the passed St Patrick's. Still there's no punishment for them so why bother getting worked up about it? If this is the shared future that they keep trumpeting frankly I would sooner be in Soviet Russia as this is the same old, bigoted one-sided crap that we've always had to endure. And for those who claim it was a wonderful family fun day, well bully for you but I'll listen to mother, a woman who faced armed UDA men ordering her to shut up the bakery she was managing during the Ulster Workers Council strike, but who still said that yesterday in the town was the most intimidating atmosphere she had ever endured. Ulster Covenant - I wouldn't wipe my arse with it.

And just to add to the fun my back has gone. I'm not sure why (although I suspect it was sit-ups which, no matter what way I do them, always crucify me somehow) but it woke early on Saturday with the pain and it has yet to dissipate, despite applications of jollop and those crappy heat packs that I've never trusted anyway. From time to time I am prone to back twinges but these are the worst I have had as long as I can remember (possibly ever) and there isn't a position I can take that feels comfortable. Needless to say I haven't closed an eye since it struck and would be exhausted were it not for the regular explosions of pain forcing me to rouse.

Bugger!
keresaspa: (Starry Plough)
So the whole fuss about Catherine Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge and the new Queen of Hearts having her dirty bags featured in French magazines and Irish tabloids then. For my part I've not seen the pictures in question. No, honestly. Despite my somewhat unjustified reputation as a bit of a dirt bird the scrawny, pasty Middletons do nothing for your correspondent so the close encounters of the blurred kind doing the rounds have no appeal for me. Rather though it has been the general reaction of shock, disgust and hand wringing that has got royally on my tits (no pun intended).

Let's face it, whenever you hear Richard Desmond trying to come off as a great moralist you definitely know something is wrong with this picture. This is the same Richard Desmond whose Northern & Shell company held the publishing rights to Penthouse in the UK and produced a slew of its own smutmags, including the famed Asian Babes. This is also the same Richard Desmond whose Northern & Shell company owns Television X, the home of such delightful family-friendly fare as "Feel or No Deal", "A Filthy Idiot Abroad" and "Gash in the Attic", and the Red Hot family of channels. And what, I wonder is the difference between Saint Catherine's jebs appearing in the Irish Daily Star and a million and one other z-listers like Kelly Brook having their perkies papped through long lenses and featured in the British Daily Star? OK, some of those desperadoes are in on the joke and are getting a cut from these pictures but others are not and Desmond has no qualms about invading their privacy (and given that a lot of these photospreads come from private resorts her being on the grounds of a private chateau when she bared all is no excuse either). There is quite possibly a case to answer about the rights and wrongs of featuring topless pictures for which permission has not been granted in newspapers at all (although the contrary argument - that if you make the choice to strip off in public you have to be prepared for the consequences - is quite compelling) but Richard Desmond is neither advancing that case nor in a position to do so. Instead he is indulging in a fine example of the contortionist's art by managing to tug the forelock and lick the royal arse clean simultaneously.

Middleton and her ilk have no complaints when they are using the press to further their own image and bolster monarchism through carefully arranged photo-ops. Put her and the Bigtooth Aspen alongside a bunch of starving cherubs from one of them loser countries and they will happily line up for every photographer going whilst the tabloid-reading lumpen smile and say "oh, aren't the Royal Family great helping the poor like that whilst sitting on billions of pounds worth of money and assets". But as soon it goes tits-up for them (no pun intended) they become all precious and start demanding the press only print nice puff pieces about them and be banned from daring to print anything else. And don't hand me that old jazz about her being new to this and not knowing what to expect. From the second she started knocking about with the human equivalent of Boehlkenchelys longidentata the photographers were stuck to her like limpets so it doesn't take a genius to work out that if the bra comes off they're going to be hanging about. It's a free press for all or it's not a free press; the law cannot make exceptions just because somebody is handed a position of false status through marriage.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of the paparazzi but if you put yourself in the public eye you know what you are getting and it is the same for everyone. I will stand corrected if I am wrong on this but I'm certain that nobody held a gun to Middleton's head and forced her to marry Chipmunk Choppers so had she found it all a bit much she could have buggered off long ago and joined Koo Stark and other forgotten former House of Windsor squeezes in anonymity. As it is she chose a life of ludicrous wealth and decadence and the price she has to pay is that the readers of sleazy papers and magazines are going to be interested in her every bowel movement. Don't like it, keep 'em covered. Now perhaps Mr. Desmond can will come along and tell me what an immoral cur I am, or is he too busy promoting the latest series of "Nylon Nans"?
keresaspa: (Arthur Atkinson)
Hard luck to England on their elimination but they deserved to go out after being completely dominated by an Italian team that would be bloody excellent if they had a decent forward (and I don't count Balotelli). A penalty shootout was bound to fail for them especially when Buffon is in nets. You can keep your Joe Harts and Manuel Neuers, for my tuppence worth the old boy is still the king of the keepers. Besides this is about the usual stage for England teams anyway so there's no need for any disappointment. Expectations were low and England exceeded them in the group stages which, inevitably, saw the press foam at the mouth and revert to "we can/will win this" type before the inevitable exit. No doubt the inquisition on whether things would have been better under 'Arry will now open but personally I don't think they would have. His side would have been much more attacking but on that basis France would have beaten them, they would have finished second in the group, went through to a quarter final with Spain, continued to play attacking against them and got hammered as the Spanish are clearly better so Woy or 'Arry the outcome is the same. I haven't got into hating this England side as much as usual, probably due to a combination of residual affection for Woy and a bit of a liking for Scott Parker (whose marriage of a sensible haircut, continual hard-running and a private life that, to the best of my awareness, doesn't make the tabloids marks him out as a throwback to a bygone age) and Theo Walcott (the lad's elan and joie de vivre on the pitch are admirable, even if his shots are sometimes wild), but I did enjoy the gloom descending on the smug quartet of stout Englishmen doing the punditry in the shape of Lineker, Dixon, Shearer and former Scotsman Hansen. Get a dictionary and look up impartiality, chaps (and whilst we're at it, look up traitor too Hansen).

Meanwhile England will qualify for the next World Cup with ease, the inevitable hysteria will break out again, the inevitable quarter final exit will follow and everybody will go away from it very cross. A cull of the self described golden generation might now be sensible although I reckon Stevie G, JT and the rest have a bit too much clout to be sent packing en masse so expect the same old same old to carry on for a while yet.

And I stand by my earlier statement - Italy will now go on to the final as they either go out in the first round or go all the way these days. Pirlo = god of football.
keresaspa: (Trotsky)
I've kept my counsel on the whole Trayvon Martin issue for a number of reasons, but the main ones being (a) it's one of those issues that the dogs on the street probably already know my opinions on so I have no need to waste a bunch of words; and (b) I try to not to write about American news on here as, to be honest, I reckon it already gets an inordinate amount of coverage in this part of the world as it is. However one thing about the coverage did catch my eye, specifically from those doyens of good taste at Fox News. And I thought the Simpsons were exaggerating about them for comedic effect.



"Civil rights group...the National Socialist Movement". Oh God. I knew they were right wing but an unashamedly neo-Nazi organisation that happily flies the swastika gets characterised as a civil rights group by a major news outlet. I know the Daily Star gives positive coverage to the mouth-breathers that make up the English Defence League but this is tantamount to ITN calling the November 9th Society a civil rights group. The story was quickly taken down after publication but the fact that this appeared in the first place is one of the most frightening things I have heard in ages.

A-Kim-go

Dec. 19th, 2011 06:01 pm
keresaspa: (Communism)
And then there was one. There was a time when we were stocked from truck to kelson with the sort of crazed "Third World" dictator that hacks love so much because they give them licence to be casually racist but now that Kim Jong-Il has joined Colonel Qaddafi in the big exile mansion in the sky we are left with only Robert Mugabe as a great Ooga Booga that the media can throw their vitriol at when they're struggling to fill column inches. Well, a case might be made for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but he doesn't quite have the flamboyance the classic bonkers dictators whilst Hugo Chavez falls more into the Sandinista category of ones who attract sympathy from the Left. Now I'm no Carson Robison but I'm no Stalinist either so whilst I have professed communism on here it certainly wasn't the extreme etatism of North Korea that I had in mind. As such I'm certainly not mourning the passing of a great revolutionary hero here.

Nor however will I be reacting like our own William Hague, who only seems to appear now when somebody dies in order to gloat about it happening. Has he done anything since the Tories got in apart from smirk at death and that whole business with that guy that never gets mentioned now? Also interesting to note that that bastion of impartiality that is Channel 5 news covered the story in passing, in between promoting failed X Factor contestants and doing a story about Holly Willoughby wearing a jumper (I wish I was kidding about that, but it actually was a news item). Much was made of the money North Korea wasted on vanity projects and nuclear warheads whilst their people battled poverty. Good point well made there Channel 5 - so glad we don't have a government that leaves people in poverty whilst blowing money on rubbish like Trident and the Olympics. And before anybody suggests anything I was passing through a room where somebody else was watching Channel 5 as I haven't looked at it since the axed Football Night a few years ago.

No, Kim Jong-Il was no hero of mine and I will shed no tears for his passing but a few people need to remember Matthew Chapter seven verse five ("Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye") before they start chuckling.

And do you know for years I though his name was Kim Jong the Second as I had only ever seen it written down.
keresaspa: (Gorilla madness!)
Well it seems that we can all rest easy in our beds once again as the latest brown-skinned bogeyman to terrorise lovely Western civilisation is dead and all is right with the world. Just as it was when Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden were killed. Oh wait don't forget about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he's bound to be planning something. And of course there's Robert Mugabe who is no doubt stockpiling nukes as we speak, and that Omar al-Bashir, the world wouldn't miss him. Whilst we're at it who's running Ethiopia these days, they're usually no-goodniks. Still we should obviously joyously celebrate the death of Qaddafi and the liberation of Libya from the Libyans by our brave boys. Libyans can now look to the wonderful example of Egypt and prepare to reap the benefits of demawkracy just as they are doing because there is nothing in the world more important than choosing which rich man gets his turn at exploiting you. Good luck to the Libyans but if they really think things are suddenly going to get a lot better because one man is dead and they have swapped one regime forged in violence for another then they have a quare gunk ahead of them.

I happened to catch a piece about the wonderful world of new Libya recently on that bastion of measured journalism the BBC not long ago. Some faceless correspondent salivated at how great the whole thing was over footage of school children doing a bunch of oddball exercises whilst yelling out extreme patriotic slogans. The slabbers continued to trip him over footage of university shelves emptied of Qaddafi related books followed by footage of the removed books being torched in public bonfires. So hordes of children being indoctrinated and pushed through formation exercises was followed by footage of burning books. Nope, we've never seen anything like that before. Personally I'm with Heinrich Heine when he said "where they burn books, at the end they also burn people" and I have no doubt that these mythical Qaddafi loyalists who keep getting shot to pieces by the Libyan Army will be the first ones to burn.

Still, if nothing else Liz Seawright and Gary McMichael might be able to tap the new government for some compo as, let's face it, there few people more innocent to die in the Troubles than George "incinerated" Seawright and John "shopping list" McMichael and it was clearly Qadaffi's fault that these paragons of human virtue were killed.



And yes I know Qaddafi is not a nice man and he did bad things (unlike our own leaders who are all avatars) but presenting this as some sort of great development in the history of mankind when the same old shit will continue to happen is just silly and so typical of the hyperbole that informs the news these days. Some rotter has been killed, there are plenty more where he came from and so far it seems that all Libya has to look forward is another military dictatorship followed by some rubbish western-style representative government, no doubt with the oil fields sold off to Shell and the like. Not a lot to get excited about really.
keresaspa: (Shakuni (Gufi Paintal))
[Poll #1769171]

Well everybody else has had a go at these so I might as well, seeing as this is, after all, the most important thing to happen in years apparently. As I have already stated a lot of those involved were great sludgers and reet rotters but the way things are this sort of reaction is no surprise and will inevitably continue. We are faced with a government that has put itself at war with its own poor. At a time of rampant unemployment it has turned on the weakest members of society, seeking to take constantly from the bottom rungs by denying access to benefits, making it impossible for people to afford housing and yet seeking to criminalise homelessness, denying those without money access to justice by cutting legal aid and encouraging the creation of a culture where people are being forced to give away their labour for free, either through the so-called New Deal, internships in which people have to do somebody's paid work for nothing or the ultimate oxymoron of Dave's Big Society in which volunteering is compulsory. You can dress forced unpaid work in whatever terms you want but slavery will always breed resentment. Some of this might be justified if we were in a full employment situation but we are a million miles away from that with many more to end up out of work in the not too distant future. It also demonstrates the short-sighted idiocy of the government that they are actually considering evicting rioters from their houses and stopping their benefits. Yes, total poverty is a great way to convince people not to turn to crime. Meanwhile a much bigger problem, that of tax avoidance by the super rich, something that costs the state a hell of a lot more than benefit fraud, is ignored because the Conservative Party will only ever attack the poor. But this isn't just the Tories who are at fault here - witness the BBC sending its chief goblin Dominic Littlewood out to expose those evil scumbags who are fraudulently claiming an extra tenner a week and yet telling us that we should be impressed by wonderful capitalists like James Caan whom we should all celebrate for their entirely legal frauds (like you don't defraud too, Bannatyne) and attempts to purchase human beings.

Of course there remains a hardcore of wannabe bourgeoisie who feel that all rioters are wicked scum and want those nice heroes of the army brought out to dish some Ballymurphy massacre style peacekeeping to the lower orders. The problem with these are that many of them are not the middle classes that they think they are and that will only get worse as wages continue to freeze whilst prices rise. Before long people like that should realise that they are much more under threat from the government than a bunch of misguided young idiots attacking shops and should themselves oppose instead of clucking their tongues and moaning about property values. Assuming they're not too busy reading Heat magazine and going to Starbucks to notice I suppose.

At the risk of repeating what I have said previously treat people like animals and they will act like them. The government is intent on pursuing Social Darwinism but it should know that even weakest rat will attack when backed into a corner and the more rats they insist on backing into corners the more they will have to be prepared for this to happen again. Monetarist governments breed violent societies, as Thatcher and Pinochet have proven in the past, and it was naive to think that putting in cuts-happy Cameron would not have the same effect when experience has demonstrated that it would. Besides one glimpse of the sort of smug, posh-boy, Tory tossery demonstrated by that bastard Michael Gove on Newsnight recently would be enough to make any sane person smash things up. Like one Peter Lilley wasn't enough without son of Lilley being inflicted upon us.

Now can we maybe stop hearing about this whole business as it's getting old.
keresaspa: (Arthur Askey)
So the News of the Screws is to go after 168 years. Yeah right. What's the bet that in a month or two the Sun of Sunday will begin publication before changing its name some time early next year? The hand-wringing over phone-tapping is all a little hypocritical too. Are we seriously expected to believe that no other media outlet in Britain has ever done this? Come on! Apart from all that the phone-tapping has been good for the establishment as it allowed them to totally ruin one of their leading critics in Tommy Sheridan so once this has blown over it will all be forgotten. Mind you the glory days of NOTS were clearly over from the time they had to hand over money to Max Mosley despite the dirty old fascist bugger being guilty of everything they said whilst the whole superinjunction palaver has made the tabloid press look emasculated in comparison the internet. Who knows maybe it won't be back. I'm still not convinced though but just in case it has died let's recall its finest hour with a bit of the Crafty Cockney.
keresaspa: (Seagull)
It has been love at first sight. He's so young, so beautiful, so Portuguese, so like the Special One whom we adored but according to Olivier Dacourt he's more human. So not only is he a special one but he will make us feel special too and touch our souls with the spirit of fado. What a dreamboat.

Well judging by the reaction in sections of the press to the news that Andre Villas-Boas has become the new Chelsea manager you would think he was the Messiah on earth or something. No question in his short time in football management he has come up trumps and won more trophies in Portugal than anybody since Afonso the Fat. But gentlemen of the press, let go of those tear-sodden pillows, quit staring at his cheeky grin and designer stubble and repeat after me "he is just a man". He may will deliver the Holy Grail for Chelsea by lifting the European Cup, no doubt half-smiling roguishly whilst he does, but he will still just be a man and he still wont make Jose come back to you. So dry those eyes because you're big boys now.

Realistically speaking Villas-Boas is something of an unproven quantity who has succeeded in a brief spell in a league that is hardly the most competitive in the world (a bit like the Premiership really). I don't doubt that under him Chelsea will continue to challenge for the honours as ever as they're too rich not to. But to suggest that one season makes this lad any better than Carlo Ancelotti and any more immune to the inevitable Roman Abramovich order of the boot if things don't go right immediately is ludicrous. So folks let's calm down. Just because he has won things and Portugal and looks a bit like a member of Blue doesn't mean he is God.
keresaspa: (Squidward losing it)
Little to say about the visit of some senile 85-year old to the southern mob and the money being wasted on it when a large number of their citizens are wondering where their next meal will be coming from. I'm sure that cowface Mary McAlesse will be revelling in it - there are few things worse than somebody from a working class area of Belfast who gets a bit of prestige. Buck-toothed sow! One thing has caught my eye however and that is the story on the BBC's website. Promises to be less fawning about the monarchy appear to have been shelved after the verbal wankathon that accompanied Billy and Kathy getting spliced but but do we really need an entire paragraph to say "After lunch the monarch wore a white outfit". Cripes, they might as well have added the addendum "bless her cotton socks". And it's very nice of the "republicans" in Sinn Fein leaving the work of protesting the wasteful visit of the symbol of British imperialism one of the few mobs with any balls left on this island in Éirígí. As long as Martin and the boys have their big salaries coming from Her Majesty why should they bother protesting her I suppose.

Elsewhere I'm certainly no expert on the man's canon but is the recent admission by Arnold Schwarzenegger that he fathered a secret a child ten years ago not a missed opportunity? Surely the news should have been kept buried for another eight years or so by which time the secret child could have 'roided up from here to ya-ya, returned and kidnapped Arnie's current family before being killed in a momentous battle that would climax with our hero saying something like "Daddy's home" before ventilating secret child's cranium. After all he needs something to do now that the whole gubernator thing has come to an end.

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