Nine months, 5 days, still sober.
In the end I skipped the weekend edition of my blog and I am now back on track with my mid-week effort.
So what’s been going on the Mobi household?
Hmmm. My memory’s not what it sued to be – must be mad cow’s disease rearing its ugly head again.
Let’s see now…last Thursday morning I drove to Wat Phra Yai (Big Buddha) on Pratumak hill to collect Noo and her friend from their three days of ascetic nun-hood at the ancient Wat. They seemed delighted to see me and as soon as we got home they stuffed themselves silly with food and then fell fast asleep!
It would seem they hadn’t had a great deal of sleep during their sojourn as nuns, what with gossiping half the night away and then rising before dawn to perform their menial duties like sweeping and cleaning around the Big Buddha statues and shrines.
Anyway, when they woke, they assured me that they had enjoyed the experience and felt much uplifted in spirit…. I suggested to Noo that she might feel even more uplifted if she made a start on the mountain of washing up waiting for her in the kitchen.
I know, I’m an s.o.b…
Saturday was rugby day, so I decided to have a nice breakfast in the Pussy Cat where I watched the Frogs being humiliated by Tonga, before joining Rick and a few others in the Church where we all watched the England /Scotland game.
You will have to read my little piece on ‘sport cheats’ below to find out who I supported and why.
During the course of the game, I had a bit of a falling out with Rick and haven’t seen him since, although I will probably catch up with him sometime today. It was silly really and as I know he reads this blog I will not dwell on the details, only to say that such occasional ‘fallings out’ are probably inevitable amongst head-strong, grumpy old men…. (‘speak for yourself’ , says Rick..)
On Sunday, I was due to drive to the airport in the late afternoon to pick up my friend Bob, who was scheduled to fly in for a visit from Cambodia, but I received an sms at the last moment to inform me that his trip was postponed for a week. I then assumed that I would have Monday free to catch up on my blog, but in the event, Bob changed his plans again and took a cab into Pattaya in the small hours of Monday morning and held up at some flea pit of a room in Pattaya Tai.
So on Monday morning I had to pick him up and he has spent the past 2 days with me, so this is partly but not wholly, the reason why I have failed to write a blog.
I am pleased to report that I have been behaving myself over the past week, no weak moments, no straying into places of ill repute, and on most days, I have taken my 40 minute walk around the lake with Noo and the dogs.
We seem to be living in an era when the world is forever swinging from one major crisis to another, be it economic collapse, flood, famine, hurricanes, cyclones, earthquakes, nuclear meltdown, endless wars, and last but not least, the brutal repression of uprisings in the Middle East against despotic, oppressive, Arab regimes.
You would have thought that at a time when the world appears to be increasingly in ‘uncharted territory’, that at least the so-called mature and responsible world states that constitute the only organisation that the world recognises as having any kind of international legal authority – namely the United Nations Security Committee – would have the wisdom, the far sight and indeed the plain common sense to adjudge what is just and right in this increasingly troubled world of ours.
You would have thought that the weak and oppressed would be able to rely on these ‘elder states’ to make the right and proper decisions’ to protect and support the basic human rights of ordinary citizens.
Yesterday, Russia and China joined forces to veto a European-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution which condemned Syria and which hinted that it could face sanctions if its bloody crackdown on protesters continues.
The decision by Moscow and Beijing to use their veto power indicated that the Security Council might be headed for a longer-term deadlock on issues related to the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the “Arab Spring” pro-democracy movements in the region.
The draft resolution received nine votes in favour and four abstentions from Brazil, India, Lebanon and South Africa. Russia and China cast the only votes against the resolution, which was drafted by France with the cooperation of Britain, Germany and Portugal.
“We cannot today doubt the meaning of this veto of this text,” the French U.N. Ambassador told the 15-nation council. “This is not a matter of wording. It is a political choice. It is a refusal of all resolutions of the council against Syria.”
“This veto will not stop us,” he added. “No veto can give carte blanche to the Syrian authorities.”
The United Nations says Syrian military operations against demonstrators have killed at least 2,700 civilians.
The U.S. Ambassador said Washington was “outraged” by what diplomats said was a “double veto” by Moscow and Beijing, adding that the time had long past for the Security Council to adopt “tough targeted sanctions” on Damascus.
“The crisis in Syria will stay before the Security Council and we will not rest until this council rises to meet its responsibilities,” she said.
The British Ambassador said that he, too, was “deeply disappointed” by the rejection of the resolution.
Regarding Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s promises of reforms, he said: “There is no sign of reform or a genuine attempt to address the concerns of the Syrian population.”
He later read a joint statement by Britain, France, Germany and Portugal, telling reporters “those who blocked this resolution will have that on their conscience,” and that it was a “bitter blow” to those fighting for democracy in Syria.
The Russian Ambassador told the council that Moscow’s veto reflected “a conflict of political approaches” between Russia and the European council members.
He said that Moscow was firmly opposed to the threat of sanctions against Damascus, adding that what he described as the confrontational approach of the European delegations was “against the peaceful settlement of the crisis.”
He reiterated his concerns that passing the European resolution on Syria could have opened the door to a Libya-style military intervention in the Syrian authorities’ six-month crackdown on anti-government demonstrations there.
He added, however, that Moscow would prefer it if Syria was “quicker with implementing the promised changes.”
The Chinese Ambassador said that Beijing opposed the idea of “interference in (Syria’s) internal affairs.”
For months, Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – the “BRICS” countries – have criticized the United States and European council members for allegedly allowing NATO to overstep its Security Council mandate to protect civilians in Libya.
The failed resolution was a watered-down version of previous drafts that had threatened Syria with sanctions if it ignored international demands that it halt its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Later drafts removed the word sanctions, though this was not enough to satisfy Russia and China.
Although the USA voted for the draft resolution, Washington was unhappy with the extent of the compromises the Europeans had made in an attempt to satisfy the BRICS, diplomats said.
So the question is: why did Russia and China veto what was actually a very weak, almost ineffectual resolution which was unlikely to have much effect on what the Syrian government was up to; except to make it very clear to them that in the eyes of the world, their behaviour was to be utterly condemned?
The answers are twofold. Firstly, the two vetoing states are very unhappy with the situation in Libya where they completely miss-read the situation and failed to contribute to efforts to oust Gaddafi, with the result that the European and American powers are now firm friends with the new Libyan regime and the Russians and Chinese may be frozen out.
They do not wish a similar situation to occur in Syria, so the veto is a blatant, cynical political ploy to try and protect their own relations and interests with the criminal Syrian regime. The welfare of millions of ordinary Syrians citizens, some of whom are being beaten, tortured and killed on the streets every day is of no concern to them.
In their judgement, it is none of their business, even though they are de facto guardians of world order by virtue of their permanent seats on the UN Security Council. They are not acting in the interests of the international community; they are acting purely and selfishly for themselves.
Then we come to the second reason why they are so reluctant to condemn despotic repressive regimes. The simple truth is that the whole spirit of the ‘Arab Spring’ is an anathema to them. It sends a cold chill through their authoritarian hearts, as both Russia – and in particular China – have much to fear from their own people if they ever decided to rise up against human rights and democratic abuses within their own borders.
Greece is virtually a failed state. They have been living beyond their means for decades and have run up massive debts that they have no hope of repaying. Their only hope of survival as a nation is to dramatically cut their spending and go through a period – probably many years – of severe austerity.
If they do not do this, they will run out of money and the means to survive. We can spend the next year debating about what has caused this mess, and the reasons are many; from the idiotic decision by the EU to bring countries like Greece into the Euro, to everyone’s favourite country that predicated the current world financial crisis in the first place – our beloved US of A with its venal, bonus hungry bankers and their sub- prime mortgage scandal that was exported to virtually every corner of the world.
But right now, this simply isn’t the point.
WE ARE WHERE WE ARE!!!
You can string up every banker in the world and watch them die miserable, painful deaths, but it isn’t going to change anything.
So what do the good Greek folk do? Why, bless my soul and tickle my booze-addled liver, they do something very intelligent. They organise yet another 24 hour general strike in protest against the country’s austerity measures.
Schools will be closed, ferry services and flights cancelled and hospitals will be working with reduced staff. Some militant civil servants are promising to sabotage government reforms.
And just what do they expect to achieve by this action?
Maybe the Greeks have a word for it….
While we are on the subject of national economies, I have been fascinated to observe the head of steam which has been fast gaining momentum in Scotland to move rapidly towards total independence from England.
Being a true-blue Englishman, nothing would please me more than to give our Scottish neighbours the old heave-ho and rebuild Hadrian’s Wall to keep out the marauding, kilted mac-hoards, with Sean Connery and Mel Mac-Gibson at the helm.
There is little doubt that within a couple of decades, they will be desperate to return to the bosom of their Sassenach betters, with their glengarries and empty sporrans in hand, begging us to take them back again.
Why would they do that? You may ask. Well the simple answer is that if the Scots became an independent nation it wouldn’t take many years before they would become as bust as Iceland.
For the moment, let’s take leave of the real world and assume that the Scottish banking crisis never happened. Could Scotland feasibly go it alone? The bottom line is, not without taking a huge hit to living standards and/or public services.
During the election campaign, the Scottish Labour Party attempted to cost the Scottish Nationalist Party’s goal of quitting the UK and came to the conclusion that without major spending cuts and or tax increases, there would be an on-going structural budget deficit of £14bn a year, equal to around £2,600 per head of population.
Bang goes free university tuition and bang goes free prescriptions. And bang goes an awful lot more to boot.
Ah, but the Scots have North Sea oil, you say. Well yes, but the Labour Party calculation is after taking into account £4bn a year in North Sea tax revenues. Depending on where the line in the sea is drawn, it might be a bit higher than that, but unless you include fields which are unmistakably in English waters, it’s not going to close the deficit.
It’s a hoots mon and an Och Aye to that…. and… so sorry about the rugby…..
We are living in a world where cheating in sport is completely acceptable, unless you get caught.
Even then, as a rule, not much happens to the cheats. It’s a bit like fiddling your tax. As long as you don’t get caught, cheating the tax man is considered by most as fair game.
But first and foremost sport is a game? Or is it? Not really, not any more. First and foremost it is a business, and a distant second – or maybe – third – it constitutes a game.
Cheating in professional football (soccer) has been rife for many years. There is simply too much money at stake and players, coaches and managers alike have been actively involved in twisting the rules any way they can dream up – and get away with – to gain an advantage.
And what happens when someone gets caught cheating? There is such an indignant outcry of innocence from the accused party or parties that the average football punter could be forgiven for thinking they were living in a parallel universe.
We have also seen all manner of cheating in that so-English, so-polite and gentlemanly of all sports – cricket. Ball gouging, rubbing sand into the ball (once perpetrated by a well-known English cricket captain) and providing inside information and throwing matches for gambling syndicates has been going on for as long as I can remember.
Then we have the drug cheats in countless sports, but in particular in athletics, including, I am quite sure, many household names who have never been caught. There is even a growing school of thought that drug taking in sports such as athletics should be allowed, as it is so difficult to detect every new drug that is introduced into the sports market.
The only reason this idea doesn’t gain even more traction is because it is thought it would disadvantage the competitors from the poorer countries who wouldn’t be able to buy the latest hi-tech drugs.
But there is no mention of the stark fact that drug enhanced performances is cheating – just that the poorer folk might not be able to cheat on an equal footing.
I could go on and on about cheating in modern day sports, but let’s jump quickly into the ‘sport of the moment’ – rugby – given that the world cup is currently in progress.
I recall a rugby cheating incident a few years back when there was furore over the use of ‘fake blood’ by certain players to persuade the referee to allow them to have a temporary ‘blood replacement player’ come on at a crucial point in the game where the introduction of such a player with specific skills would be to the advantage of the cheating team. (The rules state that any player who is bleeding from a wound during the game should go off and be temporarily substituted until such time as the wound has been treated and the bleeding has stopped).
That was then, so what cheating took place last week?
The Rugby Football Union suspended two of England’s coaches before the Pool B decider against Scotland last Saturday.
Kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon were found to have illegally switched balls during England’s 67-3 win over Romania.
Jonny Wilkinson twice tried to change balls before converting England tries!!!!
“It’s unfortunate that we have had to take this action but ultimately there was a breach of the laws of the game,” said England manager Martin Johnson.
“But it’s happened, some action has been taken and we have to move on.”
The pair were banned from entering Eden Park, the venue for the Scotland game, following an internal RFU review of the incident.
The RFU fully accepts that the action of those team management members was incorrect and detrimental to the image of the tournament, the game and to English rugby
A spokesman had earlier confirmed that England were warned at half-time in the win over Romania about attempting to use a different ball to the one used to score a try for the subsequent conversion attempts.
“It happened twice and they were told to desist, which they did,” he added.
The RFU said it had decided to suspend Alred and Stridgeon because switching balls during a match contravened “both the laws of the game and the spirit of the game”.
It concluded: “The RFU fully accepts that the action of those team management members was incorrect and detrimental to the image of the tournament, the game and to English rugby.”
World Cup organisers welcomed the “decisive and timely” move and said no further punishment would be handed out.
Your humble blogger was so outraged by this pathetic and unnecessary and deliberate cheating in a game which claims to be above such underhand practices, that despite my antipathy towards my northern neighbours, I actually supported the Scots while watching the subsequent clash between the two sides.
I was quite distraught when they lost…..
BUTT…BUTT…BUTT… I don’t give a hoot!..