This week on Embarrassing Bodies, FIFA.
I was invited to join a ‘Constipation Society’ meeting. Ironically, I couldn’t go.
My use of synonyms continues to go from strength to strength.
You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, but you can break eggs without making an omelette. I just did, on the kitchen floor.
In Britain we need a new, caring kind of politics and a new, compassionate party to champion it. I hereby announce the formation of: UKHUN?
I have an inferiority complex AND a superiority complex. You probably hate me and one day I’ll explain to you why.
McDonald’s employing Hamburglar is just one of many heartwarming examples of giant corporations helping a petty thief turn his life around.
The camera adds ten pounds, which is why I never eat cameras
By Tim Dickinson September 24, 2014
Together, Charles and David Koch control one of the world’s largest fortunes, which they are using to buy up the US political system. But what they don’t want you to know is how they made all that money
The enormity of the Koch fortune is no mystery. Brothers Charles and David are each worth more than $40 billion. The electoral influence of the Koch brothers is similarly well-chronicled. The Kochs are our homegrown oligarchs; they’ve cornered the market on Republican politics and are nakedly attempting to buy Congress and the White House. Their political network helped finance the Tea Party and powers today’s GOP. Koch-affiliated organizations raised some $400 million during the 2012 election, and aim to spend another $290 million to elect Republicans in this year’s midterms. So far in this cycle, Koch-backed entities have bought 44,000 political ads to boost Republican efforts to take back the Senate.
What is less clear is where all that money comes from. Koch Industries is headquartered in a squat, smoked-glass building that rises above the prairie on the outskirts of Wichita, Kansas. The building, like the brothers’ fiercely private firm, is literally and figuratively a black box. Koch touts only one top-line financial figure: $115 billion in annual revenue, as estimated by Forbes. By that metric, it is larger than IBM, Honda or Hewlett-Packard and is America’s second-largest private company after agribusiness colossus Cargill. The company’s stock response to inquiries from reporters: “We are privately held and don’t disclose this information.”
But Koch Industries is not entirely opaque. The company’s troubled legal history – including a trail of congressional investigations, Department of Justice consent decrees, civil lawsuits and felony convictions – augmented by internal company documents, leaked State Department cables, Freedom of Information disclosures and company whistle-blowers, combine to cast an unwelcome spotlight on the toxic empire whose profits finance the modern GOP.
Under the nearly five-decade reign of CEO Charles Koch, the company has paid out record civil and criminal environmental penalties. And in 1999, a jury handed down to Koch’s pipeline company what was then the largest wrongful-death judgment of its type in U.S. history, resulting from the explosion of a defective pipeline that incinerated a pair of Texas teenagers.
The volume of Koch Industries’ toxic output is staggering. According to the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute, only three companies rank among the top 30 polluters of America’s air, water and climate: ExxonMobil, American Electric Power and Koch Industries. Thanks in part to its 2005 purchase of paper-mill giant Georgia-Pacific, Koch Industries dumps more pollutants into the nation’s waterways than General Electric and International Paper combined. The company ranks 13th in the nation for toxic air pollution. Koch’s climate pollution, meanwhile, outpaces oil giants including Valero, Chevron and Shell. Across its businesses, Koch generates 24 million metric tons of greenhouse gases a year.
For Koch, this license to pollute amounts to a perverse, hidden subsidy. The cost is borne by communities in cities like Port Arthur, Texas, where a Koch-owned facility produces as much as 2 billion pounds of petrochemicals every year. In March, Koch signed a consent decree with the Department of Justice requiring it to spend more than $40 million to bring this plant into compliance with the Clean Air Act.
The toxic history of Koch Industries is not limited to physical pollution. It also extends to the company’s business practices, which have been the target of numerous federal investigations, resulting in several indictments and convictions, as well as a whole host of fines and penalties.
Continue reading In view of the money these guys have pumped into getting Republicans elected and the predicted outcome of next months Senate Election you have to ask what the future is for US action on Climate Change? – Inside the Koch Brothers’ Toxic Empire (Long Read)
As fears grow of a widening war across the Middle East, fed by reports that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) envisions a region-wide, all controlling theocracy, we found ourselves talking about another war. The Great War – or World War I, as it would come to be called — was triggered one hundred years ago when an assassin shot and killed Austria’s Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Through a series of tangled alliances and a cascade of misunderstandings and blunders, that single act of violence brought on a bloody catastrophe. More than 37 million people were killed or wounded.
In the West, if we reflect on World War I at all, we think mostly about the battlefields and trenches of Europe and tend to forget another front in that war — against the Ottoman Empire of the Turks that dominated the Middle East. A British Army officer named T.E. Lawrence became a hero in the Arab world when he led nomadic Bedouin tribes in battle against Turkish rule. Peter O’Toole immortalized him in the epic movie, “Lawrence of Arabia.”
You may remember the scene when, after dynamiting the Hijaz railway and looting a Turkish supply train, Lawrence is asked by an American reporter, “What, in your opinion, do these people hope to gain from this war?”
“They hope to gain their freedom,” Lawrence replies, and when the journalist scoffs, insists, “They’re going to get it. I’m going to give it to them.”
At war’s end, Lawrence’s vision of Arab independence was shattered when the Versailles peace conference confirmed the carving of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Palestine into British and French spheres of influence; arbitrary boundaries drawn in the sand to satisfy the appetites of empire – Britain’s Foreign Office even called the former Ottoman lands “The Great Loot.”
The hopeful Lawrence drew his own “peace map” of the region, one that paid closer heed to tribal allegiances and rivalries. The map could have saved the world a lot of time, trouble and treasure, one historian said, providing the region “with a far better starting point than the crude imperial carve up.” Lawrence wrote to a British major in Cairo: “I’m afraid you will be delayed a long time, cleaning up all the messes and oddments we have left behind us.”
Since 2003, as the reckless invasion of Iraq unfolded, demand for Lawrence’s book, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” increased eightfold. It was taught at the Pentagon and Sandhurst — Britain’s West Point — for its insights into fighting war in the Middle East. In 2010, Major Niel Smith, who had served as operations officer for the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center, told The Christian Science Monitor, “T.E. Lawrence has in some ways become the patron saint of the US Army advisory effort in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
But then and now, Lawrence’s understanding of the ancient and potent jealousies of the people among whom he had lived and fought generally was ignored. In 1920, he wrote for the Times of London an unsettling and prophetic article about Iraq – then under the thumb of the British. He decried the money spent, the number of troops and loss of life, and warned that his countrymen had been led “into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information…. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It… may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster.”
Not for the last time in the Middle East would disaster come from the blundering ignorance and blinding arrogance of foreign intruders convinced by magical thinking of their own omnipotence and righteousness. How soon we forget. How often we repeat.
Original Article (With Video)
T. E. Lawrence (Wiki)
Seven Pillars of Wisdom (Wiki)
Cameron echoes Blair – If we can’t beat this opposition “we don’t deserve to be in politics” – PM’s attack on “complete shower of an opposition” recalls Tony Blair’s final speech as Labour leader. BY GEORGE EATON PUBLISHED 29 SEPTEMBER, 2014 – 01:23
As in previous years, UK Primae Minister David Cameron addressed tonight’s 1922 Committee/ConservativeHome party at the Tory conference in Birmingham. He began with a rhetorical blast against Ukip defector Mark Reckless, another sign of how determined the Conservatives are to win the forthcoming by-election in Rochester and Strood. Unlike in the case of Douglas Carswell, a well-liked and well-respected figure, there is cold fury across the party at his behaviour.
“Now, I remember what it was like to follow a member of parliament who had defected from the Conservative Party. I think we’ve all forgotten Shaun Woodward. Let me just say this: I know how Conservatives in Rochester and Strood will be feeling tonight. They will be saying, ‘I worked my socks off, I banged on those doors, I stuffed those envelopes, I worked my heart out to get that man elected and yet this is how I’m repaid. So I don’t care whether you’re from the north, the south, the east, or the west, from London, from Birmingham, from Manchester. I say at this conference, we make this vow, we go to Rochester and we win that seat back for the Tories.”
But the most striking passage came when he turned to Labour. He declared:
“We saw last week what we are up against, and I have to say, after that Labour leader’s speech, after that Labour conference, if we, the Conservative Party, cannot defeat that complete shower of an opposition, we don’t deserve to be in politics.”
The line was reminiscent of Tony Blair’s final conference speech as Labour leader, in which he said of the Tories: “If we can’t take this lot apart in the next few years we shouldn’t be in the business of politics at all.” (Labour, of course, failed in that mission.) It also recalled Ed Miliband’s 2012 conference address, in which he asked: “Have you ever seen a more incompetent, hopeless, out-of-touch, U-turning, pledge-breaking, make-it-up-as-you-go-along, back-of-the-envelope, miserable shower than this Prime Minister and this government?”
Cameron added, in reference to the absent passage on the deficit in Miliband’s speech,
“We all forget things, my children sometimes forget their homework, I sometimes forget where I’ve left the car keys, but to speak for an hour and twenty minutes and not remember the biggest problem facing this country, the deficit, shows you are completely unfit for office.”
By making his contempt for Labour and for Miliband clearer than ever, Cameron has raised the stakes at the next election. If, as the polls, the bookmakers and a significant number of his own MPs suggest, he is destined for defeat, it will be a truly humiliating end to his political career.