Archive for March, 2013

Christopher Lee

March 31, 2013

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Korea: The Director’s Cut.  Not Good Viewing

30th March 2013

Kim Jong-un is the movie buff who runs North Korea and wants a silo-load of nuclear tipped missiles to frighten the other guy, the other guy being President Barack Obama who is not a movie buff  but does have enough nuclear warheads to meltdown North Korea in an afternoon.

Kim Jong-un hasn’t the firepower to melt a marshmallows.  You would have thought no contest.  You would have thought wrong.

The North Korean has America prancing around the region like a tag wrestler winding up his image; China wondering what the hell it has to do to keep junior in line; the Japanese doing gold pen affairs on any defence treaty that will make them feel secure – which they will not – and, South Korea saying that maybe the latest north-south of the Panmunjon line spat is just another incident and it’ll go away some time soon.

There’s major problem in all this. Kim the movie man has to learn the difference between a trailer and a main feature and Washington is banking on this. So is China. So is Japan.

 

Kim has ordered his troops to go stand-by for a full scale war against America and South Korea.  He’s pulled the plug on the hot line. He’s told his rocketeers to point them south – long range and short. Targets are on his mental pinboard: Guam. Hawaii. Washington State and DC – he doesn’t care which zip code gets it.

According to this man “The time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation.” Which is what?

Back in February, Kim’s people ran a nuclear test. The UN, egged by the US, raised further sanctions on North Korea. The Americans are running manoeuvres with the South Korean military.  They’ve flown a couple of long range Stealth bomber operations over the Korean peninsular, had two dummy bombing B-52s in the area and made sure Kim’s seen the newsreels.

Kim says all this is bad news and shows no respect for his position.  He does not mention that he has to prove to his generals that he’s no easy shake down when it comes to facing off Obama. So then we get warm to the problem.

It could be of course that Kim is hanging on to an old North Korean tradition.  Every time there is a new President in South Korea, the North Koreas wing off a couple of rounds and test the resolve of the new man.  Just last month, South Korea got a new President, Park Geun-hye.   

Well that could explain everything excepting that Kim needs fast track nuclear weapons development so that he can get one-on-one respect from the US because any White House will be nervous of any genuine nuclear power.  Kim knows his recent history.  

India and Pakistan were given a hard time by America when it was heard they may be getting into nuclear weapons.  But once they were in, the rhetoric from Pennsylvania Avenue dropped to flesh pressing and newest best friends rating.  

And now Kim sees Iran getting the hard time from America just like him.  He also senses that if America had been going to do something about Iran, they would have done so or got their Middle East legman, Israel to do it.  They may still happen but Kim is not betting what’s left of the North Korean ranch on it.

But Washington’s nervousness is that Obama’s analysts are telling him that Kim has pulled this Red Alert trick before and backed down. So nothing to worry about.  Not so say Obama’s think tankers.  Could be that Kim realizes that his own generals and the crowds in the big state capital Pyongyang Square on 24-hour demo are going to be thinking that the wonderful leader is just big on screaming Death To The US Imperialists and nothing else.  Seems the whole nation is short on respect.

So the real fear is not an all-out rocket attack from the North Koreans but just maybe there’ll be a couple of fly-over rockets and maybe a border incident, maybe two.

There’s a dull truth that the Americans don’t want to share.  North Korea really is on the same sort of position as Iran.  If Kim wants nuclear weapons, chances are that the US will not, in spite of the diplomatic arm twisting, be able to do anything about it.  In the Middle East, the people to stop the Iranians at lastminute-dot-bomb are the Israeli.  They have the regional interest that cannot be denied and the rest of the world that matters in this business will leave it to them.

In the Far East, China is the local Israel.  They have the most to lose if North Korea go nuclear. They may not pull a raid on the test facilities, but they are the only hope of cutting Kim down to size.

The realistic thinking in the White House is that China won’t do it and North Korea won’t go down the diplomatic trail.  Then what?  That’s the last superpower’s problem.  The US doesn’t know what to do.  They talk about Kim having something to prove.  He hasn’t really. But this American President has.  Next American president may well discover on her or his watch, that North Korea is about to get the kiloton magic mushroom.  Then what happens?  Washington doesn’t know. That is what’s known as scary diplomacy especially in a week when US movie buffs are watching a new release.  It’s theme is a North Korean attack on America. This is not a trailer.

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Christopher Lee

March 30, 2013

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Time To Switch Off?

30th March 2013

Last night my good and learned friend A J C Featherstonehaugh (he’s a lawyer so we don’t ask why that’s pronounced Fanshawe)) hurled first his iPhone then his Blackberry then his second Blackberry into the centuries old lifeblood of London communication, the River Thames.

There were no splashes, no tell-tale bubbles where the record of a thousand voices disappeared into the middle deep of the great waterway. We said no prayers, no biddings of goodbye yet the moment was solemn and with straight faces we set tread for Gordon’s wine cellar to silently think on what AJC had done.  He had in three wrist flicks regained his sanity or, so he said or so he hoped.

For last night, Featherstonehaugh gave up the mobile.  The world is isolated.

M’learned friend has returned to a life in which he spent more of his time and therefore his client’s money working on the legal presentation of  truths, half-truths and downright truthless submissions in the courts lower and higher.  His role has been lifelong and simple: to get off the innocent and sometimes, the guilty caught by their scruffs by the too often bent arm of the English law.

Featherstonehaugh has a rep.  He lomng ago understood that the court is not bound by the truth.  Instead it will be satisfied with whichever side gave, on balance, a better explanation of what had or what had not happened. Featherstonehaugh has got people off, including don’t forget, the innocent, when others have shrugged as their man went down. It is why his phone never stops ringing, until that is, until last night.

Until the solemn procession to the Thames’s embankment below the Middle Temple of law, one of the three mobiles rang 24/7 as the text jargon has it. He had become beholden to the thing. He travelled to crown courts in trains full of people checking their texts, emails and mailboxes and travelled back again with dozens ordering cabs, curries and excuses for being late.

When his workrate overwhelmed and woke at night on the hour, his caring and iPhonic daughter downloaded him an App that told him what percentage good sleep he had.  Worse still, he actually used it.

He had no interest in revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt but his news alert app told him the latest and cruelest from Tahrir Square. He observed that without mobiles the world outside Egypt would never have heard of Tahrir Square and he would have carried one less anxiety.  Maybe the revolution would never have happened.

When his second wife texted that she was divorcing him and his next best friend texted that he would see him in court for the biggest slice of alimony  since the Anna Nicole Smith case he actuality texted back whereas his legal instinct would have whispered that he should keep his powder and his emotions dry.  The vengeful mobile built on mathematical logic would not allow its owner to exercise emotional logic, if there is such a thing. Mobile rule was complete.

And so plop, plop, plop like some ungrateful tosses into a dark and dank skunk witch’s pool with no place for a magic wish, A J C Featherstonehaugh   committed himself to life without a mobile.  Now what?

He expects anger from his chief clerk who fixes briefs and mostly fat fees but needs the nod of  silk in chambers. His App-prone daughter will wonder if his diabetes is out of control. His mistress will have a distance panic and wonder about the future, or lack of it without clandestine texting.

He will not of course have cold calling drones telling him he has been sold bogus insurance policies and that big bucks compensation deals are to be had if he calls back. He will be able to sit through dinner without feeling the urge to respond to the buzzing in his pocket. He will probably get a good night’s sleep knowing that the seemingly continuous dialing ‘they’ cannot get to him.  He will of course have to buy an alarm clock.

Will he last as the only person he knows without a mobile? He’s a resolute chap and he probably will enjoy the exclusive world of  those outside the iPhone-cum-Blackberry- cum- whatever zone.

Maybe there is one moment when he will regret feeding the fishes on more computer power than Houston had for the Apollo XIII recovery.

When his fabulously old Bentley Continental shudders to a halt on the Yorkshire Moors just twenty pitch black miles from his country home, how does he call the breakdown service?

What was life before the revolutionaries clarion? It was called a three mile walk to an isolated phone box only to find it vandalized.

He’ll be back.

Christopher Lee

March 27, 2013

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How Come Southern Cal Applauds General Petraeus’s Confession?

 

27 March 2013

General Petraeus admits he screwed up. Or, to put it more delicately, he says he deeply regrets his adulterous affair. The ex-hero of his family was telling an audience at the University of Southern California that he had caused, and I quote, “pain for family and friends” because of his leg-over situation with the writer, Ms Paula Broadwell.

It caused a lot of hurt said the former director of the CIA.  The audience at Southern Cal gave him a standing ovation.  Clearly they admire his style. According to them, no hard feelings although that was part of his downfall.

He did not mention that the only reason that we know why the affair came to an end was that he and the lady were discovered by the FBI trawling emails investigating a harassment allegation by Florida socialite Jill Kelley. And Petraeus wasn’t the only four star mixed up in the ring.  General John Allen appeared in the frame although he’s been cleared of any misconduct.

Mrs Kelley apparently knew Ms Broadwell.  Ms Broadwell was apparently a mite jealous and winged off emails 

There are probably quite a few cuddles on the campus that could cause sadness for a whole bunch of people, but none gets turned over by Federal hackers and none gets the chief spy binned.

Petraeus turned his Southern Cal speech into something of a cross between an Oprah Winfrey tear-jerker and a credits module for a post graduate MBA seminar.

He said he hoped that his experience “can be instructive to others who stumble or indeed fall as far as I did.  One learns, after all, that life doesn’t stop with such a mistake. It can and must go on.”

Here’s the whole point of him breaking his silence self-imposed last November. After all, all the general did was screw around with a good looking chick until they were found out. Yes, he had to leave CIA headquarters at Langley which is a place where the snoopies have plotted, schemed and set up hundreds of sexual encounters for foreign officials the CIA hoped to blackmail into working for them.

And yes, it would have been interesting if a foreign Intelligence agency had wanted to set up Petraeus and got him photo-copying the last superpower’s secrets.

Or, and this is where it gets better: supposing Petraeus was set up?  Not by a foreign nasty but by a US nasty.  There were quite a few in that community who didn’t want him as Director CIA. Surely not.  Surely not indeed.  Just a fantasy – rather like his across the executive squeeze.  But, never knock a fantasy.

And, let’s agree folks, in these days we almost expect our testosterone A-team to be full of extra-mural activities. What was good for a four star who became President after the Second World War or in Kennedy’s Camelot is surely good for a fine soldier who took US military and foreign policy by the scruff and shook it out until worked.

Yet there was still something uncomfortable about the standing ovation and what it said on one particular point: Petraeus said he regretted the affair. What does that say about him and Paula Broadwell.  They were, and therefore he was, having a good time.  Lot of pleasure. So according to the general, she just a discard, maybe an easy lay. That’s not officer and gentleman stuff.

He told his audience that he simply “slipped my moorings” from the high standards he set himself. Just a mistake general? Just a nothing moment with a damned good looking 40 year-old former officer and by all accounts, good writer?

And Southern Cal got to its feet and applauded a hero who helped himself to one of the spoils of war.  We may wonder if Paula Broadwell would have got such a generous welcome.

Christopher Lee

March 26, 2013

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CIA Controls Arms To Syria Rebels. A Very Dangerous Game For Team Obama

23 March 2013

Hear the one about President Obama not wanting to get too involved in the Syria thing? Good. Now try this: hear the one about President Obama being very much involved in the Syria thing like helping to move weapons into the rebels?

Cannot be true?  Why only last week the British Foreign Minister, William Hague who is almost on first names terms with the US Secretary of State John Kerry (Mr Kerry, to Hague) was putting it around that he was sad that an EU arms embargo was stopping right thinking people shifting weapons into rebel hands.

 

Seems Mr Kerry forgot to mention that the CIA has been directly involved in weapons airlifts along with Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar Saudi Arabia and US-UK fellow NATO ally Turkey.

 

Or maybe Mr Hague is not out of the loop. Some say that the UK call to arms is a political bluff.  They are involved already and want to get deeper into it for fear of being dumped into the second team of Saudi influence makers in the Middle East when the Syrian civil war cools.

 

According to people who know these things in this the Turkish capital, the CIA controlled airlifts started on January 3 last year but progress was slow and Obama did not want this blowing during his election campaign.  

 

That’s one of the reasons why the CIA’s role has been cautious having been told during the first few weeks of 2012 that the US was backing the rebels.  And it could be that the brains behind the US end was David Petraeus, former general, former director the CIA and presumably, former adulterer.

 

The main thrust of the operation was held back until Obama was into his second term because no one could guess what a Mitt Romney Republic Administration may have done.

As soon as the results were declared in November, the full arms transfer got under way. The main co-ordination and take-off/landing point is, so locals say, is the airport known as Esenboga not far from the Turkish capital, Ankara.

 

But if Turkish and Jordanian people are right, the command and control for the American operation is in Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar because that one of the main centres for US logistics in the Middle East.

 

It may be that the CIA is not doing the lifting and carrying of these weapons.

 

Instead, they are fixing people and contacts and making sure the plan flies.  There’s an irony.  It could be that the US is not actually supporting the rebels.  It is in practical terms America is instead supporting the Middle East states such as Saudi Arabia its closest ally in the region after Israel.

The US facilitation has included an important and necessary clandestine operation in Croatia which has become a weapons flea-market.  The American “officials” vet the buyers as well as the sellers and also tell the mostly Arab paymasters who among the rebels is a reliable ally in the future.

Mind you, this arms traffic – estimated to be in the thousands of tones so far –  is not one way.  Russian and Iranians arms people who are not natural allies have it seems become mainstream suppliers to the Syria government forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

 

There is growing pressure from the rebels to increase the flow through Turkey and through Jordan in support of the southern based groups. If there is an obvious reservation it is that providing humanitarian aid is one thing for Jordan and Turkey, acting as arms quartermasters is quite another and could lead them directly into the conflict.

 

The main and continuing concern is who gets the weapons.  The mainstream rebel groups are on side according to CIA officials.  But the headache is how to stop Islamist groups fighting among the rebels getting their hands on new equipment.

Here is one the reason – apart from instinctive duplicity – why the Chinese and Russians say it is wrong to arm the rebels: not everyone is sure who they are and who they represent and who they may represent in future.

Backing one side or the other is historically a risky and often a treacherous business.  But that is exactly the business the CIA and its cousins in this operation are in.

Christopher Lee

March 24, 2013

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Could Cyprus Happen In The UK? Sure It Could. Ask Any Banker

24 March 2013

The British are all toffee nose about what’s going on in Cyprus banking.  In the Westminster parliament this past week the mood was that it could never happen in the UK.

MPs were telling their Right Honourable and Honourabale Friends in the Chamber there was no need to think the Cyprus contagion would spread this side of the English Channel. Really?

Never is one of the words that should be banned in financial crisis analysis.  Never inevitably means: Here Next.

Today Cyprus. Tomorrow Italy. Then Spain.  Then why not the UK. Clearly, we are just two or three calamities away from crash barriers and helmeted policemen outside banks and ATMs telling Brits no more than fifty pounds a day.

And it’s all in a good cause. It’s to save the banks, the places in which we still put most of our money in and get less and less of it out.

When the banks have the money, then what happens?  The bank plays casino betting and hands out twelve million share bonuses to directors who fancy the odd £k on the second favourite at Leopardstown; and, if there’s anything left, then they’ll give us point one per cent interest – and leave it to the Chancellor to explain that times are hard and we’re all broke for another generation?

But there’s worse. Using the Cyprus experience he now feels he can cream ten percent of whatever we have left.  Given a couple of years and two or three more crises, it’ll become the norm.

There are about fifty million adults in the UK.  Only one million of them do not have bank accounts. And every month the banks are opening 30,000 basic accounts.

Just do the sums: a ten per cent tax on the average current and savings account would solve the Chancellor’s borrowing requirement inside three years and there’d be enough left to order one and a half Trident submarines. Easy peasy.

So what would happen if the UK went the Cyprus way?

You only have to watch when a headline says there’s going to be a bread shortage.  The supermarkets are cleaned out inside an hour.  Remember the petrol tanker strike? Remember the queues from the Tamar to the Tweed?

There’d be crisis statements from the great and mostly good.  The archbishop of Canterbury would announce he was selling off all those twelve bedroom bishops’ palaces and sending the money to the Bank of England.

The Queen, like her late mother ever aware of the need to suffer with the people, would call in PropertyWhiz dot com to see what her country estate at Sandringham would fetch. May even promise to pay a couple more taxes.

Man U would discount Wayne Rooney for a quick sale – a sort of Premier Division When It’s Gone It’s Gone! bargain and send ten per cent of the transfer fee to 11 Downing Street.

But there’s a darker side. The Markets won’t wait to be ripped off. The price of gold would hit new highs. Because the UK is not in the Euro, the Euro would trade above parity. Same with the dollar and because oil is bought in dollars, the price of oil would rise.

This would dramatically increase domestic fuel prices in the UK, diesel and petrol would reach new highs and therefore transport costs would rise and so would goods and importantly food.

So even before we got to the near panic of Treasury raids on bank accounts, the weekly domestic economy of the UK would be turned upside down.

The public dimension of this would be two-fold – what it was being told and practical experience on the day. So there’d be government and opposition briefings to newspapers and broadcast media as Downing Street went into its Keep Calm mode.

But it’s here that the whole theory breaks down and if we want to know why, just think of the Arab Spring.

Texting, emailing and messaging would be the most effective disruption of any official position.

Anecdotal evidence from every UK high Street would be only part of it. This would be a global issue and particularly an EU one. Every smart phone in Brussels would be beaming rumour and counter rumour the shorthand of which is chaos.

There would be no way the British banks and government would keep a grip of the public response once the banks started freezing accounts.

Contrary to romantic ideas of the World War Two British Stiff Upper Lip, modern Britain was shaped in the nineteen eighties, not the nineteen forties.  Modern Britain no longer queues.

And because of the collapse of respect in the institutions, modern Britain no longer believes – especially when someone puts a foot on what’s left of their money.

As a last resort, maybe government would ask the monarch to say something; that could turn out to be a miscalculation that would see an assault on the only institution in Britain still trusted.

Those left in the saloon bars may well listen and watch the monarch’s appeal for calm. Those same people, poorer on the day by ten per cent with more to come, may wonder why they should take notice of the most privileged person in England.

The answer is of course: it’ll never come to all this because government and the banks will make sure it cannot. But, but, but … every day the British are becoming more used to seeing major issues incompetently handled by governments who, for example announce policy without checking its consequence.

See how sadly complicated it gets? We’re down to asset selling.

Sell Southampton to the Chinese? They’ve more or less bought Paraeus so they must be interested. The gas companies to the French? The trains to… nope. No good. They’ve already been sold.

Mind you the Greeks and Italians have been getting billions out of their banks; where’s it all going? They’re buying up Kensington and Chelsea (current sales worth more than the whole of Northern Ireland).

And, let’s not forget there are 300,000 or so Russians in the UK and a lot of them looking for bargains. Could be that’s how it will end? The arrival of the new colonists?  The great empire trick reversed. It’s actually happening now.

Britain is gradually being sold off to stop the Cyprus Disease spreading to these shores. Or is there another reality?  There is: the UK is having a clearance sale of its assets to save the very people who started the crisis: the banks.

What then, happens next? Ask the man who likes a bet on the second favourite at Leopardstown and beware one thing: never believe it could not happen in the UK.

Christopher Lee

March 22, 2013

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Thatcher Stripped Bare By Her Own Words And Deeds.

22nd March 2013
The Prime Ministerial papers of the almost late Mrs Thatcher (as then she was)  have been released by Churchill College Cambridge.  They show a bunch of second rate politicians and a Prime Minister who declared she was thrilled at the triumphs of her brave boys in war.

The fact that a bunch of guys getting shot at and too many of them killed were less than thrilled seems to have passed by the great lady.  The basic fact is this: utter incompetence by the government of the greatest iconic British leader of the 20th century after Churchill allowed the Argentineans to walk into the Falklands. The islands were defended by a handful of Royal Marines and a governor in a plumed hat who drove around the main island in a London taxi.

Thatcher was billed as a brilliant leader.  She was the Iron Lady. She beefed the European Union and she’s been promised a state funeral.  On the showing of these papers, she deserves nothing of the sort. Apart from a bunch of nostalgia-ridden Tories it is difficult to see anything in these papers that rate her any higher than second rate.

Her government was split over what to do after the Falklands were invaded.  She had a a chief of the army and the head of her airforce and a stand-in chief of the defence staff (yet another airman) who told there was nothing that could be done to get them back

If it hadn’t been for an old school admiral, the then first sea lord Admiral Sir Henry Leach, it’s doubtful that she would have sent a task force. He went to see her, told it could be done and told her if she didn’t do it that every tin-pot crackhead of a foreign dictatorship would be trying his luck with British interests worldwide.  It was the sort of thing she should have said in the first place but failed to.

She had a Joint Intelligence Committee that was so dysfunctional that it had no idea how to pull together all the Intelligence in-coming London, could not know if the analysis was even vaguely correct and couldn’t convince the Prime Minister of anything.

She had a defence minister who withdrew the naval guard ship, so suggesting to the Argentine government of the hideous General Galtieri that the UK did not care for the islands.  She had one of the few men she could trust, the sometimes brilliant Lord Carrington, in the Foreign Office who could not tell her in harsh enough terms that something was wrong in the South Atlantic.

On top of this, the one person in her Cabinet she believed to be utterly like herself, the now late Nick Ridley, made a complete cock-up of his reading of the House of Commons attitude to the idea of  a Hong Kong type leaseback of the islands to Argentina.

Thatcher was the boss – as she kept reminding people – and she surrounded herself with mediocre people who would not oppose her in the crucial first three years of her political reign.

So now, for this period anyway, the Thatcher Papers are on show.  They are supposed to make her luvvies even more adoring of the baroness, as now she is. Read them carefully.

Take one example and wonder. This is a Prime Minister who designed her foreign policy with Israel on the basis that she believed the majority of her electorate in her Finchley constituency were Jews. That about sums up the icon of  1980s political Britain. Incompetent and with doubtful integrity.  But none of us knew that.  We were proud in the UK of tough Maggie. How little we knew.

Christopher Lee

March 18, 2013

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Why would de Kirchner think Il Papa can fix the Falklands?

18th March 2013

The Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was in the Vatican today claiming that she had asked Pope Francis to fix the Falklands for her.

She said she asked him to bring together the two sides.  Presumably by two sides she means Argentina and the UK.  

Well isn’t that what happened in 1982? Didn’t the British kill enough of the Argentineans and sink their biggest cruiser and make them eat Falklands dirt (reputed to taste better than Falklands mutton)?

Seem to think the then British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had a pretty big victory parade.  Didn’t hear many bands doing hot numbers in Beunos Aires in June ’82.

But back to now: the president, arrived to be the first to kiss the holy ring or whatever it is these people do in private.  Not so private was the shot of the pope giving the fragrant Cristina a big kiss – on the right cheek, just by the ear to be precise.  

Maybe popes should not go about kissing fiery widows who are on the make.  Before you know it, the word would be going the rounds that the swaying and elegant Cristina whispered to Il Papa that if he doesn’t fix the Falklands with the Brits then she may just not deny any stories that appear in the Argentine media that there was a time when she and Jorge Mario Bergolio were a little more than just good friends.  

Everyone knows that’s not true, but we all know how the world works. News editors on six continents  are waiting for the truth about Jorge and the Kirchners to emerge.

The irony of this one is that the Brits would love to do a deal with Kirchner.  The Falklanders have just this past week held a referendum on handover. Seems all but a couple of guys who don’t matter everyone down there in the South Atrlantic want to stay British.  They reckon any Argentina tin-pot who thinks differently  will be taken out by Prime Minister Cameron’s brave boys – that’s if he’s still got any after the biggest defence cuts in Conservative history.

But the lady’s line that the pope will fix it raises the spectre of  Francis being asked to sort quite a few outstanding differences involving the UK.  Let’s take just two.

Maybe he could persuade the British to give back the six Northern Ireland counties to the Republic of Ireland.  The fact that the British want to get rid of Northern Ireland and the Irish government don’t want it matters not.  Pope Fixes 100 Year Old Troubles would be a great headline.

He could even have a go at another Brit-Squatting issue – Gibraltar.  The Spanish want Gibraltar back.  The people of Gibraltar seem stubborn about staying British.  There are only 29,000 of them but they can’t be persuaded to go.  

The British don’t particularly want Gibraltar but it is a good place to put out retired ministers and generals to grass and be saluted.  About 80% of the people of  The Rock are Roman Catholics so maybe the pope wouldn’t want to upset them by suggesting that they be governed by the nice but inept Spanish.  Can’t see that one working either.

All this raises the point: if Francis has signed up for the poor and if as he thinks the poor are always with us, why would anyone want him to be anything else but a mendicant and nice guy and to keep out of politics.

That would be a reasonable line if it were not for the fact that the pope has form on this.  Last year during a service for Argentinean veterans of the 1982 Falklands War he said, and we quote, “We come to pray for all who have fallen, sons of the Homeland who went out to defend their mother, the Homeland, and reclaim what is theirs”

Not sure Jorge got it right about defending Argentina.  Didn’t they do the attacking? Maybe he was under pressure from the delectable Cristina.  Maybe she does know something or maybe in the context of his service he was saying that the soldiers simply saw things that way.

All this tells us three things: firstly, the British own a lot of places that others still want, or want back and if truth were known, the British want rid of them. Secondly, no pope ever fixed things publicly so why is the Argentinean first lady putting on the pressure? Thirdly, maybe she did after all get her ear nibbled.

Wonder what the pope emeritus makes of all this? Kissing in public? OMG Catholic cardinals only do that in private, surely.  But that’s another story for Francis to fix.

 

Christopher Lee

March 16, 2013

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Hire the cardinals to pick all our leaders?

16th March 2013

Still thinking about white smoke. Which had me thinking the Vatican has a better idea than we do.

Maybe the traditional, or the British version of democracy needs a new look – just like the political parties and their leaders. Maybe the vote for everyone over the age of 18 is finished. And maybe, just maybe we have all been witnessing the future from the past. Maybe, we should vote the way the Vatican does.

What’s wrong with 115 guys sitting in secret and voting for the prime minister? If you think it through, there’s nothing at all wrong with it.  Nor should there be. After all 1.2 billion Catholics – about a sixth of the world – think it’s a great idea and, it’s such a great deal that whoever gets the vote can stay in the job for the rest of his life.

So how would it work?

First we have to agree on one thing: forget, Tory, LibDem & Labour (insert political names where you are).  In the new system there are no political Parties.  That makes life easier and anyway, most of us don’t join them anyway.

Secondly, who do we get for the 115 “cardinals”?  Simple really. By obvious computer selection we find the 115 people who have made a success in running whatever it is they do.  Top bankers, top lawyers, top industrialists, top medics, top musicians, top cops etc.  These guys and gals are simply the tops.

Thirdly, they each have to agree one simple rule: each one of the “cardinals” has to agree that if selected by a two thirds vote by the others, then he or she would be willing to give up the day job and become Prime Minister or President.

Fourthly, they get locked into the main political chamber – in London, Westminster Hall is drafty enough to encourage them to get on with it – and deep in isolation and contemplation, they come up with the political guy in white.

Fifthly, remembering that we have no parties, he or she then picks a bunch of people from anywhere he or she likes to run the country.

So what about Parliaments and traditional legislators and constituencies? Forget it.  Parliaments and senates are intellectually corrupt, never get anything changed that needs changing and is consistently unable to command an ounce of respect from the people.  Parliament has run its course, had its day and as soon as we do a Vatican Job the better.

Question: Would it work?  Answer: Does the present system?

Christopher Lee

March 13, 2013

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Habemus Papam! But Does Francis 1 Have A Church?

13 March 2013,

Habemus Papam. We have a Pope. Today, Francis I took in both hands the tainted chalice of  Supreme Pontiff of more than one billion Catholics – one seventh of the world’s population.

With Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon as his comforter in his shadow, Bergoglio emerged on the central balcony of St Peter’s with raised arms no longer in scarlet, blue and black of his times just past but now clothed in the white samite mystic papal habit. Below him, the familiar scene of St Peter’s Square now saturated in the tears and hopes of  the thousands of his gathered pilgrims and acolytes and the hundreds of millions more across six continents.

For the new Vicar of Christ here on earth now has a task far removed from the robes and dignity of the Sistine Chapel, its frescoes and fanfares. In straight business terms, the pope’s task is simple: fix the Church of Rome.

He begins this very day with the most important role of any pope; the balcony scene had it.  The pope must look good.  He has to look credible.  He has to look like The Pope, the Holy Father, The Supreme Pontiff.

Hundreds of millions of Catholics untouched by the politics and social tragedies of the church see his elevation from the skull-capped sinister imagery of Vatican power to pure white figure as the hope and inspiration they have all but abandoned since the passing of  the saintly Pope John Paul II, eight years ago.

The would-be reformers in the church talk of the failure of Rome to implement the finding of the Second Vatican Council back in the 1960s. They felt betrayed by Rome.  They are right to feel so. But the people there today know little of Vatican 2. It was a complex and vital opportunity for the Church of Rome more than half a century ago –  thus its meaning is rarely in living memory.

The new pope has a hard task and must travel, travel, travel. He must emerge from the Vatican to kiss the soil of every province of his global see. The people must see him, hear him celebrate Mass. Sense his humanity.  For the first purpose of this pope is to restore faith not in the God in which he believes, but faith in the Vatican and in the bishops. Faith in the very Church itself. The people probably want a new John Paul II.  They have not got one.  Even more reason to hit the papal road.

But that does not empty his toxic in tray, nor the single almost explosive document locked away in the deepest vault of the Curia. 

This file contains the extent of abuses of children and others by the clergy.  It has been kept even from the cardinals – maybe because some of their names are in it. 

Back in the 1950s a report to the then pope, Paul VI, observed that clergy who have molested children are not likely to change and therefore should be removed from their duties “and not returned to ministry.” 

It didn’t happen, which is why the Church is in such a terrible mess and dilemma.

The pope now has to make a clear declaration: any priest who has committed such crimes or, who has covered up such crimes, must not simply stand aside.  They must be publicly removed and as the 1950s report’s author Fa. Gerald Fitzgerald said “not returned to ministry.”

In not very Vatican phraseology this would be handing over every detail to police, seeing the prosecution through, standing by the verdict and although once a priest always a priest is the common rule, kicked out of the Church. 

During the cardinals deliberations to elect a new pope, any official (down to car drivers) who leaked information was threatened with excommunication.  The pope would electrify the Vatican and its devoted worshippers by doing the same. Charity? Forgiveness?  

The pope must be seen seen to take command and to be as uncompromising as the church is over such issues as celibacy, homosexuality and divorcees.  Unlikely to happen? Maybe. But nothing much less will do.

He then has to reform the curia, the governing body of the Vatican.  It must not be disbanded. After all, the Vatican is a state and has to have government. But it is that very government that prevents the reforms and actions that will mark the new papacy.

On the other issues such as homosexuality, divorce and celibacy and even marriage for priests, there are few reasons to believe that there will be much change.

For the people, the important role is to see the man himself.  He must gird himself for the followers of Roman Catholicism and others. For example, he must get to Brazil and save his church from the attractions of clappy evangelism.  He must get to Ireland, once the most Roman Catholic province of all, where the people have been lured not by tambourines but the attractions of a new post-Tiger economy, social media, the cult of cynicism and indifference and the new betrayal.

Pope Francis’s first task is simply being there among his people and allowing Catholics to metaphorically touch his hem.  After all, it has been done before, albeit 2000 years ago, but it worked.

Christopher Lee

March 8, 2013

Image

Chavez – A big enough man for rumopurs

8th March 2013

The word among the ex-pat Latinos is that a CIA agent killed Hugo Chavez in Havana last week.  

The rumor/truth (the line is always very fine) is that some two weeks back the medical team from Havana arrived in Caracas, checked out the near-death comandante and then had him back in Havana.  In the Cuban capital and while under heavy military protection, a Cuban working for those nice folk in Langley, Va. “hurried” Chavez through his final hours to make sure there were no mistakes.

When Chavez returned, his soul was long gone elsewhere and had done so some days before his death was announced.  

To support this fantasy, the people here who know everything but have always heard it from someone else say this explains why none of Chavez minister’s were seen visiting the Caracas hospital during the time when they said he was still alive.  

Furthermore they say here that the government references to the CIA using the illness to kill him did not refer to an attempt to give him terminal cancer, but to use his hospitalization to finish the job.

As responsible observers we must take all this ex-pat talk as suspicious.  After all, almost every one here is anti-Chavez and they do not want to build his image of the people’s saint as much of the world’s media does.  

Also, they along with the Cuban exiles, like to hint that Chavez’s dear Cuban brother a.k.a. Fidel Castro either knew what was happen or his people looked the other way.

Neither theory makes practical sense.  More likely, the extreme of the story goes like this:

Chavez died in Cuba.  The Cubans wanted the body out before someone suggested that they were responsible for his death.  The Venezuelan government wanted the body back, examined, certificated and then prepared for show because el commandante could only die in his home country with the shadow of Chavez’s saint,  Simon Boliva hovering above.  

The whole political and military team had to agree the announcement timing and then to be able to say what happened next.

All the above is reasonable. But it enhances the perception of Chavez to the world and most importantly, to Latin America.

Do not make the mistake of dismissing Chavez as just another personal bank-loading, popularist, America-bating dictator.   Yes, he was all and each of those things but look at the funeral guest list.

Some of the world’s most uncompromisingly scathing White House bashers have either turned up or sent their highest representatives.  

The front row looks like the top end of the CIA’s would-be hit list or their envoys: Ahmadinijad, al-Assad, Ghaddafi’s Ghost, The Castro Bros, Kim Jong-un and all the rest of the powerful global scalliwags.

A bunch of nobody’s? Not so. If you think that then ask yourself why it is that most people had heard of Chavez. Then ask why it is that apart from the names Obama and Merkel most of the world knows who Chavez’s political ruffians friends are but couldn’t name the leaders of France, Spain, the UK, Belgian (the HQ of the EU and NATO) post-Berlusconi Italy, Japan, Australia or any of the other 40 or so members of the US coalition of the willing in Afghanistan.

Then look at the connections they made and make. Venezuelan discounted oil propping revolutionary states – especially Cuba. Iranian technicians building North Korean nuclear warhead facilities- and so on. These people are not nobodies. They are not just a bunch of opportunists.

Chavez was honored by attendance and or speeches from across the non-US arse licking world by people who occupy every waking moment of the so-called democratically elected governments, their leaders and their Intelligence agencies (14 of them in Washington DC with whole sections dealing with Chavez alone).

The fact that he rated a was he long-dead or worse, was he murdered, rumor says how important he was more than it doers about the global society of hacks looking for a headline.

All this is why the next question is equally import: now he’s gone, does Venezuela sink back into corrupt oblivion? The start of the answer is this: not with all that oil it doesn’t.