It seems that the US’s Director of National Intelligence (ha!), John Negroponte, has come forward to refute claims that the threat from terrorism has grown since the invasion of Iraq. Quite the opposite, he says, the threat is now much lower.

Of course, this probably doesn’t include those servicemen who are currently being blown up in Iraq and would otherwise be at barbeques in Arkansas, but I’ll let him off for that.

What I won’t let slide is that, even though everyone’s in so much less danger, the Terror warning status is still sitting on the yellow ‘elevated’ level. Eh? What? If the danger is so much less, surely a threat level of 3 out of 5 is, perhaps, a tad over the top?

Now, obviously, there are two possible ways to look at this. Either Negroponte is a liar-liar-pants -on-fire, and we are all in imminent danger of a horde of heavily armed FALF suicide opticians descending from the hills and annihilating the West with a tide of soothing salinated solution, or….

Possibly, and I don’t wish to upset those Republicans out there who believe their Governement would never do anything wrong, but just possibly the whole ‘Terror alert’ system is a load of pants. A complete stuttering mess of bullshit designed to confuse and frighten those of the American public who are, shall we say, less aware of the world around them than a stunned watermelon. A – not to put too fine a point on it – pile of tosh.

Of course, the endless self-contradiction that has made the Bush administration so popular in the rest of the world (I for one have the complete first season on DVD) has never dulled the appetite of fifty-stone truckers from Texas to use their vote for petty imperialism. So I say we take that vote away. Anyone found to be over the weight of 18 stone should not be granted a vote and should be legally reclassified as a large mammal, or a bear, and then hunted for eight months of the year by anyone carrying a permit. That’d warrant a 3 out of 5 terror rating.

Pope V Islam

September 18, 2006

Our beloved pope Nazinger last week managed to offend close to one-eighth of the world’s population with an off-hand quote from the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologos, which basically claims that all Islam has ever done is evil.

Now, for a man who used to head the Holy Inquisition, this is a pretty daring statement to quote. I’ve read over a few of the choicest exerpts of the papal speech, and while he does make it quite clear he’s quoting, he’s also only really speaking in terms of Islam anyway. Not mentioning, say, the violent Christian reclaimation of Iberia, or the violent persecution of the Jews (best our ex-Nazi pope keeps quiet about that, mind). No, this is a quotation from a Byzatine Emperor, close to the final days of his Empire, who’s basically blaming Islam for the downfall, when he should really be looking at the hopeless inefficiency of the crumbling nation and the rising star of the Ottoman Turks. The Ottomans, incidently, were among the most secular of all Islamic nations.

Why, exactly, did no-one tell the leader of the Catholic faith that perhaps this might upset a few of our Muslim brothers a bit? Did no one think to mention, “Oh, Benny, perhaps the current political climate doesn’t encourage such a carelessly-chosen quotation?”

Of course, I don’t sympathise particularly much with those Muslims who feel a dodering old Nazi in Rome reading a 600 year-old statement is a good reason to start blowing shit up either, but frankly this is the biggest foot-in-mouth the Vatican’s produced since JP2 said that condoms don’t protect from AIDS. If this is the man that the Catholic world looks to for guidance and protection, is it any wonder I’m an athiest?

Lakehead University in Canada has put world-famous dunce George W. Bush to use in its new advertising campaign.

Bush, who graduated from Yale in 1968 for reasons completely unconnected to his multi-billionaire father, is depicted looking somewhat confused above the words ‘yale shmale’, with a caption saying ‘just because you graduated from an Ivy League Univeristy, doesn’t mean you’re smart.’

Of course, as one who never went to University and merely has to work with those who did, I’d say ‘just because you’re a graduate doesn’t mean you have any noteworthy skills or talents at all’, but that’s because I’m bitter and twisted and deeply, painfully cynical about the tragic world order that we’ve created. It’s all nonsense, particularly now we have degrees in Hair-based Physics and Media Studies (no offense, Modeski, I know your doctorate in Klingon is entirely legitimate). Endless levels of bullshit arrayed in a desperate attempt to excuse how a haircut in France costs more than a triple-bypass operation in India, propagated by a culture that fears the guilt it’s piled upon itself through rampant centuries of pitiless colonialism.

>Ahem.<

Anyway, the University has refused to withdraw the advert which some of the faculty have labelled ‘repugnant’, and has cited the 7,000+ hits it’s received. Which is all good. If Canadians can’t take the piss out of US politicians anymore, then what kind of a world do we live in?

The Tory party has given up on it’s recent attempts at economics and has gone back to simply suggesting they’ll slash taxes again.

George Osborne, the Tory’s shadow Chancellor, reckons that scrapping Stamp duty on share trading will give a big boost to the major share holding pension schemes. Of course, it’ll also rob 4 billion quid from the treasury.

Osborn also talked of removing lower-paid workers from tax altogether. In fact, he’s talked about a number of ways in which he’d get rid of lots of money that’s currently going into the treasury; possibly he just wants to make the job of Chancellor slightly easier. It’s clearly left Gordon knackered.

Of course, the whole thing is just a ludicrous and transparent attempt to lure greedy voters away from New Labour. It’s just getting to the point where I wish the Tories would admit they stopped being a serious political party some time in 1992, and just bugger off. Every time they elect a new leader, they end up going through the same process of completely failing to do anything with the party and then go to the election on a raft of tax cuts that aren’t fooling anyone. It’s crap opposition that’s allowed Blair to get away with murder for the past nine years, and unless one of the other parties shows us they’re competent he’ll continue to do so.

Hyperfundamentalist psycho-theocracy Iran has continued to ignore UN demands that it cease work on enriching uranium, and has opened a heavy water plant.

Heavy water would be instrumental in the cooling facilities for the planned nuclear reactor that Tehran has been building. While Iran insists that the reactor would only be used for power, the USA reckon that it would be used to create a nuclear weapon.

Tehran continues to insist that it has no intention of building a nuke, and the heavy water plant itself doesn’t actually constitute a breach of the anti-nuclear proliferation agreements.

All in all, the whole messy situation could prove disasterous. Israel won’t tolerate another nuclear power so close, and particularly not the violently anti-Israeli Iran. The US and the EU are also against Tehran on this, and while Russia and China are willing to help Moscow is rather more interested in finding other solutions, probably involving their own vast power industry.

In a rare display of mutual goodwil, South Korea has offered food and supplies to its crazy Northern counterpart following catastrophic flooding.

The North, which has been run into the ground by a combination of UN sanctions and horrific mismanagement under Kim Jong-Il and the Communist party, has taken terrible casualties from recent flooding and famine, and finally agreed to accept aid after massive storms in July.

Relations between the two countries have gotten increasingly hostile over the years since the Korean War. The North, which has the largest per capita army in the world, has tested new long-range missiles by lobbing them over the South and into the sea, and is known to have up to four nuclear weapons. They are also, not to put too fine a point on it, utterly crazy.

Korea’s actual head of state, Kim Il-Sung, has been dead for 12 years, but this has apparently not slowed his career in any way at all. He’s still in charge, albeit via his son, the frankly deranged Kim Jong-Il. Little Kimmy seems to think of himself more as a rock star than a head of state; he’s more worried about people talking about him than what they actually say. And he maintains a strict hold on all information within North Korea. He spends most of his time watching one of the only televisions in the country to receive satellite TV, surfing the internet on just about the only non-censored PC, and driving the rest of the world to distraction with his antics.

However, he also authorised the exchange of video tapes with South Korea that allowed families who’ve not seen each other in sixty years a brief moment of happiness, and he was behaving much better until a certain Western leader branded him a member of an ‘axis of evil’. Since then, North Korea has become increasingly petulant, and has openly threatened the South on occasion. With any luck, this particular friendly move may cause them to be a little less aggressive, as their only ally China has been urging.

For Christ sake.

Israeli commandoes launched a late-night raid deep into Lebanon last night, in what Lebanese officials have referred to as a ‘naked violation of the cessation of hostilities’. The Israeli government claims that the raid was an attempt to disrupt a weapons transfer, and since Hezbollah’s not supposed to be receiving any weapons they reckon this whole thing can be blamed on the Lebanese militants.

However, most sources within the Lebanese village of Bodai, the site of the attack, believe the move was a kidnapping attempt aimed at a senior Hezbollah figure living in the area. Lebanon i, of course, absolutely furious, and has threatened to cease troop deployment in the south of the country.

This is just another example of Israel’s total lack of respect for the international community. As ever, they’ve completely ignored any attempt to reign them in, to the point of risking the whole ceasefire process. That the raid was unsuccessful, and resulted in Israeli casualties, speaks of incompetence in addition to the dishonesty.

While the Arab nations had every right to be angry about the creation of Israel, they almost certainly would have been able to get over it in the end, but for Israel’s treatment of both her neighbours and those arabs living within her borders. When South Africa practiced Apartheid, the world imposed sanctions. When Israel does it, we give them nuclear weapons. Go figure.