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Sunny on Iran

22 Jun

Agreed.

But…

The election was a fraud. ~ Sunny Hundal

I can’t help but wince when people claim that the result was fraudulent. We don’t know that. We suspect it, but we don’t know it.

The western press, as we know, polled the urban young. Many warned, prior to the election, that non-urban areas are far more conservative and that there Ahmedinijad is very well liked.

It’s apparent that some intimidation occurred, and the election result is questionable, but we should be careful about being so certain that any foreign election we don’t like is rigged.

And – this folks is the huge elephant in the room – it’s highly unlikely that the installation of Moussavi would lead to the rapid liberalisation of Iranian society.

That said… Sunny is dead-right. Conservatives demanding action are dead-wrong.

Know-nothing Republican senators and vacuous Tory blowhards should keep their traps shut. What would a “strong statement” actually achieve, apart from justifying the Iranian establishment’s claims of foreign chicanery?

If we can help the Iranian progressives logistically, we should. But help should come from western citizens, not moronic conservative politicians trying to score political points.

Iran is at a crossroads. We should allow the people of Iran to determine their own destiny.

*Yeah, I know I’m on hiatus, but I needed a rant*

Yay! The Story of Stuff makes The NYT

11 May

I just received an email alerting me that Annie Leonard’s wonderful 20-minute animation, The Story of Stuff, made The New York Times’ front page. I first mentioned Annie’s work, briefly, in 2007.

It appears that the video has become a hit in America’s classrooms, where teachers are using it to convey the basic law of economics: that finite resources are just that, finite. And that our rabid consumerism is accelerating the use of our planets limited resources.

Watch it here. Really, you should. It’s excellent.

How to survive the Aporkalypse

28 Apr

Obviously the swine flu is very worrying. I mean, who really wants trotters, a snout, and wiry hair on their neck? Anyway, rather than spending your life in terror and looking suspiciously at sausage rolls, why not use the epidemic to your advantage?

Below are a few ideas. Feel free to add your own in the comments. The best one gets a bag of pork scratchings.

  • Carry a pack of bacon at all times. If someone annoys you simply rub it in their face and watch them freak out.
  • Start historically informed rumours. For example: Apparently, the U.S. is considering the forcible internment of people with slightly upturned noses.
  • Wrap a piglet in a towel and carry it under your arm. Find that queues at the supermarket dissolve as you approach, and that getting an empty seat on the bus is a doddle.
  • Show that you’re internets-cool by tagging your flu-related tweets with a look-at-me-I’m-clever hashtag. Try #epigdemic, #aporkalypse, #snoutbreak, #swineflu, or my favourite, #hamdemic.
  • Take random days off work by claiming that you have a runny nose, achy bones, and a strange compulsion to roll around in your own faeces.
  • Rehash those oh-so-lame pig jokes.
  • Make the case to cancel that stressful family holiday on the continent. Spend a fortnight vegetating on the couch watching sports and adding to your collection of belly-button fluff.
  • Finally you have a socially acceptable excuse for forgoing that vile custom of shaking people’s hand. YES!
  • If your wife catches you in a bar without your wedding ring, tell her that it’s unhygienic and harbours the virus.
  • Start ill-informed superstitions. For example: I heard that, if you wash your genitals in rose-oil after having full-sex with a pig, you won’t catch the flu.
  • Write openly hateful comments about pigs (pigist?) on the websites of national newspapers and the Big British Castle.
  • Demand that Five cancels Peppa Pig, if only to desperately discourage your 2-year-old daughter from demanding every piece of cat-shit merchandise it inspires.
  • Finally, remember this, some people you don’t like might die.
  • Craig Murray: I will accuse Jack Straw on Torture

    20 Mar

    From Craig’s blog ::

    The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has agreed to hear my evidence on torture on Tuesday 28 April at 1.45pm. Many thanks to everyone who helped lobby for this.

    I am delighted, as I have been trying for over four years to lay the truth about British torture policy before Parliament. I will testify that as British Ambassador I was told there is a very definite policy to accept intelligence from torture abroad, and that the policy was instituted and approved by Jack Straw when Foreign Secretary. I will tell them that as Ambassador I protested formally three times in writing to Jack Straw, and that the Foreign Office told me in reply to my protests that this was perfectly legal.

    I will prove my evidence with documentation….

    Read more…

    Hat-tip Jennie (email), who wonders whether the MSM will run with this significant story? We’ll see. If the blogosphere makes a big deal, then I would imagine The Guardian will pick it up.

    Our managers must look beyond America…

    25 Feb

    Stefan Stern at the FT ::

    “[The American Business Model] remains the working hypothesis of most business people and consultants,” [John] Kay writes. But, he argues, it is mistaken in its core belief that greed can be a benign and sustainable force. He cites the economists Ken Arrow and Frank Hahn, who asked in 1971: “What will an economy motivated by greed and controlled by a very large number of different agents look like?” The economists answered their own question: “There will be chaos.”

    Read on…

    The good times are over. Glutton is gone. Lean is back in vogue.

    If there is one thing that will be our ultimate undoing, it will be our ignorance and our arrogance. Our business leaders love nothing more than criticising our governments, yet in reality, many of them are unaware of their own inadequacies and shortcomings (even if they do work incredibly hard).

    We do have professional bodies that work to propagate best-practice, but they also enforce age-old Anglo-Saxon business techniques that in many cases have become outdated. If we are to return to a level of effectiveness that will equip us to compete in a tight global market, we have to open our eyes to techniques from other cultures.

    The top-down, greed is always good ethos has been vanquished. Markets have not failed, we have failed them. And the fallout – the toxicity of American economic calamity – is poisoning global industry. We need to become more than what we have been.

    It’s time for British managers to visit the world. Not as travelling titans, but as humble students. To share and learn.

    We have some excellent companies and some brilliant managers, no doubt. But in the main, we suffer institutional stagnation in many of our businesses, a culture of unjustified remuneration for executives, and a chronic lack of appreciation for investing in training.

    I have worked in industry for over a decade, within the much-derided manufacturing sector in fact. Contemporary management theory, in many cases, is non-existant and formal training is viewed as a waste of time and money (not only by senior managers, but by the junior-level managers themselves).

    In a new post-crash global economy, skills and education will become more and more necessary as fat is trimmed – only the smartest businesses will survive. We need to start with our children, but we must not forget education when people leave formal education.

    Blair once made a commitment to “Education. Education. Education.” Yet, despite over a decade in power, and “improving” exam results, our economy is still strangled by a lack of basic numeracy, literacy and the capacity of our young people to adapt to industry.

    The reinvention of Labour – if it is to reinvent itself in this parliament – must be a commitment to lead the country in a national project to reform education and skills. We need not only investment, but a leadership with the charisma to inspire change.

    If not, we must be prepared to rot on the vine, and say good-bye to any ideas of global economic leadership.

    The problem when ideology is ill-informed

    23 Jan

    From Dizzy “Thinks” ::

    From former Spanish PM José María Aznar López on whether the current economic crisis signifies a failure of the free market.

    It is certainly not a failure of the free market, but a failure of the current mechanism of state regulation and intervention in a sector which is already highly regulated, the banking system. It is the same with politics – democracy is not discredited merely because a bad government has been elected.

    Spot on.

    Spot on? You sure?

    A lack of regulations in the CDS market, meant that when one institution collapsed (Lehman Brothers – or taking it further back and looking at another unstable financial instrument, Bear Sterns), the others lost confidence in each other as they had no idea as to each other’s level of exposure to the crisis.

    The day-to-day borrowings between financial institutions seized up, and businesses in the real economy couldn’t secure short-term lending to continue operating (I used to arrange this borrowing myself when I worked in finance). This sparked the inevitable market correction that many of us had been predicting for years.

    It was absolutely a lack of regulation of the these complicated financial markets that meant there was no transparency, and credit traders couldn’t calculate risk with any level of confidence. Fear spread quickly, and governments – rightly or wrongly – decided they had no option but to step in and try to grease the system, to prevent many companies having to cease trading because capital they relied on had dried up.

    (History: The Republican legislature and Clinton White House took a pass on regulating this emerging economy, who along with our own European governments, share responsibility for the initial collapse.)

    I don’t like regulations per se, but they’re often a necessary evil to ensure the stability of a system we all rely on. Good governments write good laws and set sensible, lean and robust rules.

    Maybe some of the existing regulations in the banking system are crap, but you’d be a fool to suggest that it was regulation that caused the initial collapse, when it’s the exact opposite that’s true (in the specific cases of CDSs, CDOs, and short-selling).

    It’s no use taking an ideological laissez-faire attitude, if you don’t understand the fundamentals of the system, and how a lack of transparency (see rules) can lead to massive ‘systematic risk’.

    Craig Murray’s new book

    13 Jan

    A few sites are hosting Craig Murray’s latest book The Catholic Orangemen of Togo and Other Conflicts I Have Known, and tygerland is one of them (we’re published in Utah, doncha know?).

    Anyway… the controversial back-story, as to why the book was pulled by Craig’s publishers, can be found here. It’s seems those pesky buggers at Schillings are at it again. Craig is keen for his story to be told, and is releasing the book FOC.

    The book is in three parts.

    *** Front_Cover *** Intro_pages *** main_body ***

    Craig has self-published a few copies, and if you want a hard copy, go here.

    Update: John Hirst has posted the document using iPaper (good idea). I have reproduced it after the break.