The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The Last Days of Thunder Child - pastiche novel.


Go on, Go on, look at H.M.S. Thunder Child in my mind's eye.
Come aboard and witness her last days through the eyes of the crew.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

China Steals Australian Intelligence Records Online

Australia’s Secret Intelligence Service has had it computers hacked by Chinese espionage mercenaries. This is before the new data records are opened. The report was made by an investigation body and it has caused considerable embarrassment for the Australian Government and China; Australia’s largest trading partner.

This is causing growing concern about Chinese hacking programs and the aggressive way information is being stolen by servers running from China.

Australia no longer regards China as a military threat, but this may be because China is the world’s second biggest economy and perhaps the Australian government refuses to see the wood for the trees. 

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Monday, 27 May 2013

Tom Jones and Janis Joplin 1969

This retro clip is from 1969 and the late Janis Joplin sings with Tom Jones in this great clip. The dynamic duo in the very real sense of the word. Smashing blast from the swinging sixties past.

Roman Britain 409 AD - Over 350 Years of Rule Vanquished Overnight! (Endgame)

In 383 AD, the Roman Empire was well in decline because of the Eastern European tribes. A new general/ governor was assigned to Britain. His name was Magnus Maximus. He decided to carve out a new and smaller empire from old Rome’s territory. This bid for imperial power was successful at first.

He crossed into Gaul with his army and killed the Western Roman Emperor Gratian. With Gaul and Britain under his control Magnus Maximus ruled as Augustus - a "sub-emperor" under Emperor Theodosius I.

From this moment, Rome’s presence in Britain began to decline as troops were sent to secure holdings in mainland Europe where Magnus seemed to be concentrating his efforts. Most began to evacuate the north and west of the British Isles. Perhaps Magnus assumed there was no need for the military garrisons. Already the picture of an empire in decline is present. There may have been a few minor camps, but most of Roman Britain remained along the eastern side of the Isle.

Because of coin finds, modern historians believe that Hadrian’s Wall was still garrisoned too. However, it would appear that Britain’s Governor/General Magnus Maximus was too preoccupied in campaigning in Gaul - his ongoing effort to build a mini Empire of his own. He seems to have paid little heed to the needs of Roman Britain during this time. The Isle began to suffer coastal raids along the east. These were from Picts of Caledonia and Saxons from the Germanic areas of mainland Europe. Magnus Maximus ordered Roman troops to be dispatched from Britain to help in his quest to secure his new mini-empire in mainland Europe. He was playing a careful game of politics by pretending to pay homage to the Roman Emperor Theodsius I.

Also, in the West from Ireland; came raids by Scotti to the north-west of Britain (today’s Scotland) and also other Irish raids and settlements into Wales and Cornwall. Britain seems to have been raided by seafarers from all directions while Roman soldiers of Britain were busy fighting in Gaul. These raids seem to have increased when Magnus became absent from Britain. The Isle was marginalised from the grand arena of Europe.

There seems to have been no end to Magnus Maximus and his motivation as newly named sub-emperor Augustus. He gradually tried to gain areas of land here and there within Europe. Eventually. he overstretched. His chance taking and ambitions took one quest too many. He led his army over the Alps to try and gain more power from Imperial Rome. His adventure took him into today’s Croatia where he was defeated by Rome’s forces. He was captured and put to death by Emperor Theodosius in 388 AD.

After Maximus' demise, Britain came back under the direct rule of Emperor Theodosius for another five years until 392 AD. Then a new usurper came along. His name was Eugenius and this person was successful in gaining power off of the Western Roman Empire for two years. Once again Roman Britain seems to have remained isolated with Roman magistrates confined to the eastern towns of Roman Britain. The north and west seem to have continued to be neglected. Meanwhile, in mainland Gaul more internal conflict continued while Britain still suffered foreign sea raids.

Euginius, the new usurper, went the same way as the man before him – Magnus Maximus. Euginius was defeated and killed in 394 AD by Theodosius. For one year Theodosius ruled again over Britain though there was probably no sign of such. Britain was becoming more isolated from the empire with interest continuing to decline. Theodosius died in 394 AD and his ten-year-old son Honorius became Emperor in name. The regent ruler was a man named Stilicho and he was the son in law of the late Emperor Theodosius.

There is a record of a final campaign in Britain by Regent Emperor Stilitcho against the sea raiders. Many historians say this campaign was a naval one. This is believed to be the last Roman Campaign in Britain. This was around 396 to 398 AD.

 This was the twilight times of Rome’s influence over Britain and in 401 Rome’s attention was once again diverted from the Isle of Britain as Stilicho faced new wars withVisigoths and Ostrogoths. With the further need of land forces, once again Britain’s Roman garrisons were plundered of manpower. Again the Isles' military ability to defend itself was being taken away. It is possible that Saxon settlements may have started by this time in the South-East and maybe some sort of deal was done to appease these groups. We are now going into a region of history that is becoming clouded with uncertainty. Hadrian’s Wall was abandoned and left to fall into disrepair.

In the New Year of 407 AD, Britain became isolated from Rome again as a new conflict came about in Gaul. More migrating tribes from Eastern Europe crossed the River Rhine and began to wreck the Roman country. These groups of people consisted of Alans, Vandals and Subi. Rome seemed unable to deal with this and Britain was again totally cut off. Roman Britain began to fear that these barbaric tribes might cross the channel and invade the Isle too. Therefore the remaining magistrates of Roman authority were overruled and a new power replaced them. The Roman Britons tried to select new commanders that would take them into the new world that was before them. A way of preserving some of the good that Roman culture had brought Britain needed to be maintained. The civilised world was collapsing around the Romanised Isle. Seafarers were raiding the coastline east and west, The neighbouring land of Gaul was being ravaged by eastern migrating tribes.

Britain’s first choice was two men called Marcus and Gratin who seemed unable to deliver such hoped for security. These men met untimely deaths, but the next choice was Constantine III. He managed to muster the remaining unpaid Romans about Britain and went across the channel into Gaul to counter the eastern migrants that were plundering the land.  Another sub -Roman Empire was being carved out of the old and Rome was too busy fighting the Visigoths in Italy to do anything about the new ambitious Constantine III.

In effect, Constantine III was the final lEmperor/Governor/General of Roman Britain but he had also left Britain isolated. This was to peruse conquest of a new Roman dynasty in Europe. In 409 his short-lived empire fell apart. Gauls returned their allegiance to Rome. The rest of his force was in Spain. Also, the German tribes rebelled against him and Britain was still suffering Saxon sea raids.

Because of Constantine’s dire circumstance in Gaul, the Romano-Britons knew they could no longer rely on Rome or petty Emperors for help. In 409 AD Britons expelled all the redundant Roman magistrates from office in towns across Britain. The link with Rome was severed and Britons would now have to try and fend for themselves while Rome began her own battle for survival. The Romano-Britons believed Constantine’s plundering of Roman forces from Britain and his campaigns in Gaul and Spain had left them even more vulnerable. It was because of this that they made the decision to sanction themselves from the old empire and try to build upon what little civilisation they might preserve. In this, they had a final instruction from the Roman Emperor Honorius. He is known to have sent letters of consent that British Isle must fend for herself as best she could.

In 411 Constantine III was assassinated shortly after his son and other supporters were killed. Emperor Honorius was besieged in his new capital of Ravenna. The capital city of Rome fell to the barbaric hordes. Britain was suddenly a very irrelevant and obscure place of little importance to the once grand empire that was in its messy endgame.

The British Isle was alone and for the next few centuries, there would be Dark Ages across Europe.





How Long Will Jason Last Before Lord Sugar Fires Him From Apprentice?

I always say that I do not enjoy reality tv, but Lord Sugars Apprentice is one show that captures the imagination for me. I like watching the candidates prepare for set tasks. Then as each team battles away to make the most profitable product we see some people that are out of their comfort zone despite how good they say they are. 

This is often enjoyable because you can see some contestants who hide behind people and lurk in the background. They come forward to criticise and then retreat into the background again. It is easy for me (watching from the outside) to pick this out and in a way; I suppose I'm doing exactly the same thing from my armchair. Anyone who has the guts to go on the apprentice deserves some merit. It is a very tough challenge and candidates get picked off at the end of each task when they go before Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren Brady. This is usually amid accusations and brutal character assassination.  

This is all done before no nonsense hard judges, Lord Sugar, Nick and Karren - they seem to spot shirkers and small aspects of ability. Sometimes Lord Sugar will fire two people in one hit if he thinks there is good reason.

The above contestant, in this seasons Apprentice, is a guy called Jason. I've seen his team win an order for £85 and then he jumped in and knocked it down to £75. He suddenly went maverick. The guy is a little crazy and uncoordinated. The people who have him in their team often panic at the thought of letting him lose. As one might come to realise in the above clip. He is however, splendid entertainment. I think he might go far purely for this amusement value. There always seems to be one, in every season of the show, that slips through the net for some considerable time, like the past player called Russel Braggs. These guys also sell the show because they are so awful. They might be gold dust for this tv product. 

Sometimes I wonder if Lord Sugar knows this and indulges the odd character now and then. If so, perhaps an awful contestant can be an asset for a limited amount of time. Someone to milk for the audience?

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Stem-Cell Help for Stroke Victims

In the world of medicine, we are hearing of so many wonderful research ideas to help improve people's lifestyles. Some of the hopeful breakthroughs cause great excitement. So when I came across this article  from BBC news concerning encouraging reports on stem-cell trials for stroke patients; I had to put it on my blog. 

The tests were done at Glasgow University and early signs appear to show mild improvements of some seriously  affected victims of stroke.  At the moment the tests are in early days, but with hope this may be a small step in a more positive direction of helping stroke victims in future. Read the report below for a more detailed view of the research so far.

Stroke patients see signs of recovery in stem-cell trial

Five seriously disabled stroke patients have shown small signs of recovery following the injection of stem cells into their brain.
Prof Keith Muir, of Glasgow University, who is treating them, says he is "surprised" by the mild to moderate improvements in the five patients.
He stresses it is too soon to tell whether the effect is due to the treatment they are receiving.
The results will be presented at the European Stroke Conference in London.
Complete paralysis
Foetal blood stem cells
BBC News has had the first exclusive interview with one of the patients involved.
They are taking part in a small clinical trial involving nine patients in their 60s, 70s and 80s at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital to assess the safety of the procedure which involves injecting stem cells into the damaged brain part.
It is one of the first trials in the world to test the use of stem cells in patients.
Results to be presented on Tuesday show that there have been no adverse effects on the patients so far and there have been improvements to more than half participating in the trial.
However, at this stage it is not possible to say whether the improvements are due to the close medical attention the patients are receiving. It is well documented that the feeling of wellbeing resulting from such attention, known as the placebo effect, can have a positive effect on people's health.

But it is thought that stroke patients do not recover after the first six months of their stroke. All the patients involved in the trial had their strokes between six months and five years before they received the treatment.
The recovery of any one of them - let alone five - was not expected, according to Prof Muir, who is in charge of the trial.
"It seems odd that it should all just be chance and a placebo effect," he told BBC News. "We are seeing things that are interesting and somewhat surprising.
"We've seen people who now have the ability to move their fingers where they have had several years of complete paralysis," Prof Muir said.
"We have seen some people that have been able to walk around their house whereas previously they had been dependent on assistance and we have had improvements that have enabled people to recognise what is happening around them."
'Temporary change'
These improvements have made it easier for the patients to do day-to-day tasks such as dressing themselves, walking and being more independent.
"My expectation had been that we would see very little change and if we did see change it would be a relatively short-lived temporary change. (But) we have seen changes that have been maintained over time," Prof Muir said.
Among the patients to have shown improvements is 80-year-old Frank Marsh, who had a stroke five years ago.
Frank and Claire Marsh on the "terrific small improvement" he has made
Prior to his attack Mr Marsh, a former teacher, was fit and active: a member of the Glasgow Phoenix Choir and a keen piano player. The stroke left him with poor strength and co-ordination in his left hand and poor balance.
He needs a walking stick to help him move around the house and he can no longer play the piano.
After the injection of stem cells into the damaged area of his brain, his balance and mobility improved as did his hand strength. He can now also tie up his shoe laces.
Mr Marsh said he believed the operation had gradually led to improvements.
"I can now grip things that I couldn't grip before, like the hand rails at the swimming baths," he said.
Phase two trial
His wife, Clare, also a teacher, said that the small improvements had made him more independent. "He had reached a plateau and wasn't really improving (after his stroke). But following the operation he is able to do things he couldn't do before, such as make coffee, dressing and holding on to things."

Mr Marsh added that he hoped the improvements would continue: "I'd like to get back to my piano. I'd like to walk a bit steadier and further."
However, Mrs Marsh felt that there would be no further progress for her husband, but hoped that others might benefit from the clinical trial that he is participating in.
"The great potential is what it is going to do for the future," she said. "I told Frank at the beginning that this may not help you, but it might help your grandson."
Mrs Marsh is right in that even if it is proved that the stem-cell treatment really works it will be a long time before any treatment might be widely available.
The results so far pave the way for a so-called phase two trial later this year which will be desirable to determine whether any improvement is due to the treatment.
If the phase two trial does show that the stem-cell treatment is the cause of the improvements, it could still take many years before it becomes widely available. Larger phase three trials will be needed to assess who the treatment is most suitable for and at what stage it might be most effective.
Ethical approval
Commenting on the research, Dr Clare Walton of the Stroke Association said: "The use of stem cells is a promising technique which could help to reverse some of the disabling effects of stroke. We are very excited about this trial; however, we are currently at the beginning of a very long road and significant further development is needed before stem cell therapy can be regarded as a possible treatment."
The stem cells were created 10 years ago from one sample of nerve tissue taken from a foetus. The company that produces the stem cells, Reneuron, is able to manufacture as many stem cells as it needs from that original sample.
It is because a foetal tissue sample was involved in the development of the treatment that it has its critics.
Among them is anti-abortion campaigner Lord Alton. "The bottom line is surely that the true donor (the foetus) could not possibly have given consent and that, of course, raises significant ethical considerations," he said.
Reneuron says the trial - which it funded - has ethical approval from the medicine's regulator. It added that one tissue sample was used in development 10 years ago and that foetal material has not been used since.

Britain Leaving the EU?

I do not think things would be as straight forward as this next article states. However, with all the hardships that will ensue after the UK leaves the EU; I do think it would be better for us to leave rather then try for a renegotiated relationship with the EU. 

We must be completely in or completely out. To be completely in a very undemocratically led EU, as it is at the moment, is no longer a viable option. 

In the long run, the EU will become democratically viable to its citizens, but alas, not quick enough for the UK. Our politicians can't sell the EU to the electorate as it is. The EU has dropped the ball and no longer cares about UK membership to the degree of becoming democratically responsible to European voters quick enough. The EU is far too interested in saving the EU currency.

Rome burns while un-elected Presidents play their fiddles. 

The EU - Superstate or Free Trade Partner? We Can Leave.

EU leaders are determined on political union.  This is clear from the way the Lisbon Treaty and the Constitution were driven through, ignoring their rejection by popular votes in Ireland, France and Holland.   Polls show that almost no-one in the UK wants political union, and more and more want us to leave.  The politicians tell us that leaving the EU is unthinkable.  They are wrong.
We can leave the EU.  We would prosper outside as a free and independent country, trading with every part of the world, as we have always done. See Britain outside the EU

Of Course we Can Leave - our Parliament is Sovereign

We can leave the EU, because no UK Government can bind its successor.  We are subject to EU rules only because UK legislation says that we are. Statutes are passed through Parliament to implement each EU treaty.  These statutes require UK judges to have regard to EU law in making their judgements.
Repeal this UK legislation, and we are free. EU law no longer applies to us. The debate with the EU would be about how best to manage our leaving, not whether we can leave. 
We don't have to pay anything to leave.  In fact we will stop paying into the EU budget – more and more every year.
There is a procedure for leaving the EU in the Lisbon Treaty, but no sovereign nation would use it in practice. Treaties can be repudiated (ask the Germans). The Lisbon Treaty procedure requires permission from a majority of countries and MEPs. The leaving country is not allowed to take part in the discussion of the details of leaving, such as who bears any costs. Having left, the country remains bound by EU rules for two years. Having decided to leave, who would be so spineless as to accept so one-sided a deal? The Lisbon Treaty affects the UK because an Act of our Parliament says so. If we repeal the Act, then we are not subject to the leaving procedure.

How would we Leave?

The actual steps of leaving could be as follows:
• Repeal the European Communities Act and its amending acts which brought in subsequent EU treaties.

• Stop paying contributions into the EU budget. 

• Repeal the Human Rights Act and withdraw from European Court of Human Rights. UK courts could then no longer refer to foreign jurisdictions in their decisions - just British law and precedent.

• There are thousands of UK laws based on EU Directives. It would be impossible to repeal them all at once. We should pass a series of Enabling Acts as vehicles for amending EU-related laws, and set up a Parliamentary group to review them over 2-3 years. Their brief would be to reduce the burden of regulation substantially and remove the influence of EU Directives. An Enabling Act each year would revise those laws which had been considered by the group. Businesses would be free to create more jobs. 

• Negotiate a free trade agreement after we have left - once we give them a fait accompli it would be in their interests to regularise trade. WTO rules would prevent discrimination against us, as would self-interest - we are a big market for EU countries.

• Negotiate our own free trade deals with the growing countries of China, India, the Far East, South America and the US – deals to increase the trade of Britain, not the EU

• Notify the EU that we are resuming control over our 200-mile fishing limits, reviving what is left of our fishing industry

• Replace the Common Agricultural policy with a policy which helps British farmers produce what we want at affordable prices

We Can Leave the European Union - and Still Trade Successfully with Them

And Finally, a Thought from our former Prime Minister

"Of course, Britain could survive outside the EU...We could probably get access to the single market as Norway and Switzerland do..."

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Saturday, 25 May 2013

Did Saxons Destroy King Arthur's Kingdom When he Died?

I believe the legend of King Arthur comes from fact - he once existed, but I'm not sure if it was during the Dark Ages because Roman culture Britons would have been literate after four hundred years of speaking Latin. It does not seem feasible that Angle, Saxon, and Jutish kings were known of from the supposedly pagan English times, yet the learned Celtic Britons have no substantial record of the real King Arthur, the Arthur knights, the Arthur sword, Merlin the wizard, and of course the round table. I   am no long sure of King Arthur of Cornwall and his queen, Guinevere living during the Dark Ages. After all, these were the ones who could put pen to paper at this time.

I have recently become sceptical of this mass migration of Anglo-Saxon tribes suddenly arriving in Britain when the Romans abandoned the Isle. I have seen documentaries where Saxon sites have been dug up and DNA samples of bones suggest Britons predominantly living in Saxon sites. This throws so many things into confusion and even the evolving of English language, from Frisian or what Dutch people speak.

Some historians of language think it was adopted with heavy British (ancient Welsh) influence. How this was explained was a little beyond me, but there seems to be a general agreement that pagan English tribes were already in the south east of Britain or speaking such a dialect when Rome still ruled. Were these people Christian because by this time Romans and Britons were? Names of Teutonic Gods would suggest that there was a pagan belief, but not the old British Druid system of religion. Therefore this Teutonic religion must have been imported. There are so many unanswered questions especially skeletons of Saxon settlements being mainly Briton in DNA testing.

However, as said previously, much of the DNA is still Celtic British. I wonder if Arthur and his legend were old even during these times - a folk tale back then and perhaps Saxons, Angles and Jutes replaced Romans as the enemy of Arthur's kingdom. I honestly think this mythical king of Celtic Britons was around before, English language or pagan English tribes were in Britain.

Perhaps Angles, Saxons, and Jutes speaking a strange tongue and believing in an un-Christian religion would have found themselves ostracised by Romanised Britons who were literate in Latin. Why write off these people yet not Arthur? I think he would be much more chronicled if he lived in the Dark Ages.

This is the reason I did not mention such a British Celtic King by name in the novel Saxon Quest. I think two cultures clashed in Dark Age Britain, but I can't commit to there being a King Arthur of this time. I believe he goes much further back.

Pastiche Novel of War of the Worlds' H.M.S. Thunder Child vs The Martian Tripods

In H.G. Wells famous novel; The War of the Worlds, we see Victorian Britain, during the height of Empire, reduced to an apocalyptic wasteland. An alien invasion from the planet Mars brings alien fighting machines in the form of gigantic tripods striding about the land spewing black poison gas and devastating heat rays against any force that might challenge them. Within these monstrous vehicles are Martian creatures controlling the horrific fighting machines.

As refugees try to flee the onslaught, there is a brief description in the novel of a Royal Navy Ironclad that charges three martian tripods in the River Blackwater off of Maldon in Essex, UK. Also in Jeff Waynes' musical adaptation of War of the Worlds, we have a song about the valiant H.M.S. Thunder Child performing her brave deed in the arena of the river with refugees as the compelled audience watching the brave deed as though they had bought tickets for the show. 

In the pastiche story above, we go aboard H.M.S. Thunder Child (The ironclad of War of the Worlds) The extrapolation tale goes back several days before the encounter and we see the build up through the eyes of the crew of Thunder Child.

If you enjoy retro sci/fi from bygone days; you may like to read:

On sale in USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Giving You The Contemplative and Isolated Life

The Extreme Retreat

A man rows his boat home to his house, which is; as one can see, rather remote and isolated. The man does not get disturbed to much as his house built on a rock on the river Drina near the western Serbian town of Bajina Basta. He wanted a little isolation for the more contemplative life style of prayer that the postman might not deliver unwanted bills.

With strong a contemplative spirituality network of very singular self indulgence; life in the wilderness is no life game or life story for most people.

 Perhaps most of us might think it a little extreme, but it depends on how much isolation a person craves.


Thursday, 23 May 2013

British Challenger 2 Tank tested in Action

British Challenger 2 Tank

British Army tanks have evolved since British WWII tanks. Modern British tanks are of course much more complex with dynamic instrumentation to make them more effective. To drive a tank in this day and age is probably more agreeable then during WWII.

Challenger 2 saw its first combat in March 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. One hundred and twenty Challenger 2 tanks went into action around Basra and saw action during the siege of Basra where the covered with fire support for British forces.

During part of this conflict within an urban area a Challenger 2 came under attack from irregular forces. Machine guns and rocket propelled grenades were used were used upon this one particular Challenger 2. The driver's sight was damaged and while attempting to back away, the other sights were damaged and the tank threw its tracks entering a ditch. It was immobilised by the group of resisters who surrounded the stricken vehicle.

The Iragi irregulars fired the weaponray at the Challenger 2 from various directions. It was hit directly by fourteen rocket propelled grenades at close range, plus a MILAN anti-tank missile.

Inside the Challenger 2, the British crew survived until the tank was recovered for repairs by relieving British forces who drove the Iraqi irregulars off. The worst damage was to the tank's sighting system. 

The same Challenger 2 was back in operation, six hours later after repairs. 

Another Challenger 2 operating near Basra was hit by 70 RPGs during a different incident and survived with crew intact. The Challenger 2 was proving good in tight situations. 

In August 2006 at a place called al-Amarah in Iraq, a Challenger 2 was penetrated by an old Soviet RPG-29. The frontal hull of of the tank was ruptured through ERA in the area of the driver's cabin.

The driver lost part of his foot and two more of the crew were injured. However, the driver was able to reverse 1.5 miles to an aid post. 

I can't help thinking that if two technologically advanced nations came head to head. How long could such nations keep up fighting with such expensive tanks? How often could they be replaced There are many fine examples of good tanks but how would they fare against more resourceful opposition?

By this, I imply that any force with the durability to endeavour and keep fighting and with ability to destroy such vehicles; how long before a nation begins to run out of financial resources to replace or repair such technically advanced vehicles. Imagine better RPGs that can cause such damage - easier to produce on the mass market then such tanks that must cost so much.

I think some of the tanks of today are truly awesome machines, but I can't help thinking that smaller intricate and less expensive technology might cause such warfare to be too costly for tank providers in a more prolonged war and against a more determined enemy.

How Dangerous is North Korea?

It might not be immediately obvious from her neat wool jacket, black frock and smart perm, but 55-year-old Kim Su-yeong is, she insists, "very good with weapons" – trained in throwing grenades and firing machine guns.

Tania Branigan
newspaper report
Her expertise is the legacy of the regular military training that she underwent in her youth in North Korea. "When I was there I believed that the US and South Korea were every day, all the time, trying to eat us up," said Kim, who now lives in the South Korean capital, Seoul. "When I came out, I couldn't believe that everything was so peaceful.

"Then I realised everything was a lie and felt terrible … Once you are here, everything is different, by 180 degrees. When I look at the news, I think war will not happen."

The furore over Pyongyang's angry rhetoric and possible missile launch, and its nuclear programme may have raised tensions internationally, but like the vast majority in Seoul, Kim said she did not believe there was any risk of a military conflict.

But the idea of an impending clash is nothing new to the North, a society structured around the belief that it is still at war. Technically, that is true. No peace treaty was signed when the Korean war ended in 1953, only an armistice. More pertinently, say analysts, the rhetoric of being under siege is used to explain and justify its straitened circumstances.

"This kind of regime can only exist under the conditions of isolation and crisis," said Leonid Petrov, an expert on the North at Australian National University in Canberra.

The struggle against the enemy is imbued in people from the earliest age. Tatiana Gabroussenko, an expert on propaganda at Korea University, said a recent North Korean magazine showed under-fives at a kindergarten using wooden clubs to whack dummies of South Korean leaders.

Even maths books for primary schools include – among examples based on train timetables and children's games – calculations of the number of "American imperialist bastards" killed by the Korean people's army.

Gabroussenko said the longstanding militarism of North Korea was typical of a "national Stalinist" society and also reflected Kim Il-sung's background as a guerrilla leader rather than an intellectual.

But after the fall of the Soviet Union, propaganda shifted from presenting the North as "a people's paradise" to showing it as "a paradise under siege", she said, stressing the message: "We have to make a fortress of our country to protect ourself from these attacks."

Because the North's ideology is also heavily ethnocentric, "it is easy to believe the whole world is against you, because the whole world is different from you," Gabroussenko added.

Other analysts suggest that the shift was exacerbated by the plummeting of trade as the Soviet Union collapsed, accelerating the disintegration of an economy that had once been one of the most advanced in continental East Asia.

For Kim – who did not want to give her real name to protect relatives still in the North – the rationale of leaders is simple: "When you are preparing for war, you will never complain about where you are."

The North still holds regular military training for civilian militias, though these days they are more likely to involve drilling, marching with backpacks or practising evacuations, and air raid and blackout drills for the population as a whole.

Hazel Smith, an expert on North Korea at Cranfield University, recalled seeing people training with wooden guns, presumably to save on precious resources. Conscription was also introduced as the prestige and security of becoming a soldier declined, reflecting increasing disaffection with authority and the government's inability to feed its own troops.

North Korean men are supposed to spend 10 years in the army, though soldiers are often used primarily as labour; last week, one visitor to Pyongyang saw them planting flowers around a monument. "I think the big change was from 1997, with the institutionalisation of the military-first policy," Smith added.

"With the military being in control, the tendency is to adopt military solutions to political problems as the first thing you do."

The problem for the regime, she noted, is that "North Koreans think the military leadership has failed to achieve anything good for North Korea … In Kim Il-sung's day, people felt life was getting better. These days, I don't think they believe in anything."

That view is echoed by Kim, who recalls how she used to hope that the war would start quickly, assuming the North would win.

"We had certainty that when the Americans attacked the war would finish very quickly and no one would suffer any more and then we'd be able to stop tightening our belts. Now, when I look at it from outside, they do the same – but fewer people believe it," said Kim.

It is not uncommon for North Koreans working in China to say they wish that war would come, but often they seem to expect neither victory nor defeat – they just want to get it over with, say those who work with them.

Those living away from the border areas, where information from the outside world spreads more easily, may have more faith in the government, Kim acknowledged.

But even so, external military threats seem less important these days, she said: "Their fears are much more focused on what they will eat."


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

UK Can't Stay in Politically Integrated EU

The more I listen to this the more I think the UK is in a position to distance themselves from this mess. I feel sorry for the Greeks, but to expect Germany or other EU nations to bail them out is very wrong. If the Germans want to; fair enough, but the UK must distance themselves from this club. It's not working. A Common Market policy was good, but this closer political union is something we can walk away from. We in the UK would be better to do so.

Economic Voice News About Failing EU

The EU is not important enough for these people

The spread below is written by a reporter for the Economic Voice. It is reported and authored by Jeff Taylor. As I read this, I could not help thinking that Jeff Taylor had a very striking point indeed about the voices that scream for the benefits of the EU - these educated people that try to tell us we would be in a very bad way if we left the EU. Try telling the people who live in these run down areas with no hope at all. What is the pro-EU voice for these people? "More no hope or things might be bad for the fat cats who will never employ you anyway?" 

If the rulers don't care, why do they expect these people to care about the country being in the EU. They (pro EU) are calling from a platform that has no meaning to this electorate and all they can see are people who don't concern themselves with estates forced to live on benefit. Not all of these voters are wasters, but a great many have had their dreams taken from them long ago and someone else's dream of an EU means nothing to them.

These people have votes and UKIP will take them from Labour supporters too, because Labour are no different from the Tories. The Economic Voice report is as follows:

Why study rich people's desire for EU. Staying in makes no difference.

Big multinational businesses have signed an open letter on the need to ‘promote the cause of EU membership’ claiming that we wouldn’t have it so good outside the Union.

But while they push for a continuation of more of the same they should spare a thought for the millions of people who live in this country’s forgotten welfare ghettos and have no hope of sharing in the economic plunder that the heads of big business enjoy. Those people (and whole families) have been consigned to the scrapheap while the powers that be pretend that the EU benefits us all. Well it has not benefitted these people has it? And what’s more I see nothing in the pipeline that will improve their plight.

A report out today from the Centre for Social Justice (Signed Off, Written Off) should be read by every politician and give them all nightmares tonight.

Whilst the rich and powerful politicians and business people have been strutting the world stage over the last couple of decades busying themselves making a world fit only for them, they have ignored and failed so many ordinary people at every level on a breathtaking scale.

And, as the report points out, this is not something that has happened overnight. This has been evolving over decades to the extent where families of three generations in some areas have never worked. How can it have come to pass that so many people have given up aspiring for something better? They cannot all be wasters.

All those politicians that profess to have gone into their chosen Westminster career to make the UK a better place should look at this report and ask themselves bluntly “what have I really done to try and prevent this?” Then they should say loudly that they are going to do something about it.

Just like so many people across the EU in countries like Spain, Greece and Cyprus who have been failed by their domestic politicians and sacrificed at the altar of an ever more intrusive EU, so have our own people been let down.

Instead of worrying about what the EU thinks or says, or what the needs of other countries are, our own politicians should be concentrating on the needs of the people that live within the UK.

The report itself does not link the benefit ghettoes with the failings of the EU, that is just my interpretation of events. All I see is that instead of spreading wealth the EU has concentrated it amongst a few to the detriment of so many and will continue to do so.
Here is the CSJ press release:

Benefit ghettos of Britain exposed by CSJ in major new inquiry into welfare state

Total spending on social security in the five years of this Parliament will top £1 trillion
CSJ says these areas represent the tragedy of wasted human potential

Some British towns and cities contain welfare ghettos where more than half the working age residents depend on out-of-work benefits, according to a major new investigation into the anatomy of the welfare state.

Parts of Denbighshire in Wales, Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Wirral, Tendring and North East Lincolnshire are the worst affected, the report reveals.

In Liverpool, there are nearly 70 neighbourhoods where the number of people claiming out-of-work benefits is 30 per cent or higher. This is followed by Birmingham (49 neighbourhoods), Hull (45 neighbourhoods), Manchester (40 neighbourhoods), Leeds (37 Neighbourhoods) and Knowsley (31 neighbourhoods).

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) report features a “league table” of the 20 neighbourhoods (Lower Layer Super Output areas, which have an average population of 1,614) in the UK where out-of-work dependency is highest.

The report, Signed On, Written Off, will be published in the week beginning Monday May 20, 2013.

Ranked on the percentage of people claiming out-of-work benefits, the top six neighbourhoods in England and Wales are:
CSJ 1 Big business calls for EU case to be made while benefit ghettos are ignored
Click to Enlarge
But if the rankings are calculated on average welfare spending per head, the top six local authorities are:
1. Sefton £6,278.75
2. Barking & Dagenham £5,916.98
3. Blackburn & Darwen £5,400.57
4. Luton £5,292.80
5. Newham £5,256.88
6. Bradford £5,252.89

Across the country, 6.8 million people are living in a home where no one has a job. Nearly one fifth of UK children (1.8 million) are growing up in a workless household (the second highest rate in the European Union), and the vast majority of charities helping the unemployed surveyed in the report say that they know of families where two or three generations have no one in work.

One of the charities, Chance UK, said that some children do not understand what work is. Asked what they wanted to be when they grew up, the children said “I want to be famous” or that they wanted to be the “boss” of a gang.

Knowsley in Merseyside and Glasgow both had over 25 per cent of working age people dependent on out of work benefits during the economic boom in 2003 (25.3 per cent and 26.1 per cent respectively), compared with a national average at the time of 12.4 per cent. In Boston, Lincolnshire, dependency on benefits actually rose during the boom years.

The new CSJ report follows two previous studies, published in 2007 and 2009, that shaped the “make work pay” reforms introduced by the Coalition Government under Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. A further report, due next year, will draw up detailed recommendations for a second phase in the welfare revolution.

This report exposes the soaring cost of welfare. It has risen 18-fold since the inception of the welfare state in 1948, up from £11 billion to more than £200 billion today and accounts for 13 per cent of GDP, compared with 4 per cent in 1948. Despite the Government’s welfare reforms, the bill is projected to go on rising to £218 billion by 2015/16.

Over the five years of this Parliament, the Government will spend over £1 trillion on social security, not far short of the total value of all goods and services produced in the UK in a year.

In a foreword to the report, CSJ Managing Director Christian Guy warns that a much sought-after resumption of economic growth is not guaranteed to curb the seemingly unstoppable rise in worklessness and welfare bills.

He points out that during the recent economic boom, welfare spending on people of working age rose by around 40 per cent in real terms, mainly because of the Tax Credits paid to people with a job. The Tax Credit bill surged from under £3.3 billion in 1997/98 to more than £20 billion in 2010/11.

By 2009, nine out of ten families with children were entitled to some kind of state support.

But Mr Guy says it is the waste of human potential rather than money that should keep politicians awake at night.

He said: “The welfare ghettos trapping as many as 6.8 million people are a national disgrace.

“They represent years of tragic failure and indifference from the political class. People in these neighbourhoods have been consistently written off as incapable and their poverty plight inevitable.

“Their lives have been limited by a fatalistic assumption that they have little prospect of anything better.

“While some campaigners accuse this Government of being callous for its benefit cap, the truth is there has been a much more damaging welfare cap in these communities for years – an unjust cap on personal potential.”

The report also reveals just how deeply entrenched worklessness has become. Despite 63 successive quarters of growth from the early 90s onwards, the numbers claiming out of work benefits stayed above 4 million.

Liverpool has 50 jobseekers claiming for 10 years or more; Tower Hamlets in London 40 such jobseekers; and Middleborough has ten.
The report backs the Government’s efforts to make work pay and to move people off long-term dependency on state benefits into a job.

But it says that the present package of changes is only a start.

“Reform is now essential and can wait no longer. Some cite the spiralling costs of the welfare state as the key reason to act. These arguments are important as the Government now spends more than one in every three pounds on welfare.

“Yet the most powerful arguments for reforming welfare are not financial, but social. By focusing on income transfers rather than employment, our welfare system has made people dependent on benefits, trapping them in poverty and preventing them from achieving economic independence.”