Very Naughty in Nigeria – In the course of cutting arms deals for Nigeria, $15 Billion was embezzled by those in the administration of Goodluck Jonathan’s government. They got found out, but will there be justice and retrieval? Unlikely. In view of the frivolous, even fictitious, basis upon which some Western nations have launched wars of late, one might wonder whether some of our diplomats’ pockets are being lined? That anyone would countenance the deaths of hundreds of thousands for the sake of their wealth might seem unthinkable to many, but rest assured that it happens. I would not for a moment suggest that Tony Blair’s impressive wealth of £60 million could be connected in any way to his peace efforts in the Middle East.

South Africa – 738 criminal charges against? – Answer: President Jacob Zuma. Seems like he’s losing his grip on power in South Africa as the nation’s High Court has decided that it was “irrational” to drop corruption charged against him in 2009, a few weeks before he became president. His power was enough then to convince the same High Court to drop all 738 charges relating to a multibillion-dollar arms deal. Here we are again, sleazy dealing involving the arms industry. This comes on top of the scandal over his spending of $23 million on private residence improvements, with state funds. Got to admit that Western leaders have more experience at keeping their sleazies under control.

 Obama sends UK to the back of what queue? – We were fed the image of poor old Britain forlornly stuck at the back of the queue, but never clearly told what queue. That would be inclusion in the hugely controversial TTIP deal that gives powers to corporations over governments and could lead to overriding of local regulations against GM foods, farming hormones, and much else besides. 

Someone just leaked the full content of the TTIP agreement, which was being kept totally secret right up to the wire. We can now see why, with the content confirming the worst fears of critics. Many hope this revelation will kill it. Will it?

Luxembourg, the EU, and corporate connivance – In what has been dubbed LuxLeaks, 45,000 pages were leaked by young accountant Antoine Deltour detailing how the government of Luxembourg connived with multinationals to virtually eliminate their tax obligations in Europe. This was back in 2010 and he is now being prosecuted under laws covering industrial espionage. This is appalling, and the sort of stuff we know all to well.

What I find of special interest is that the European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker last job was prime minister of Luxembourg, were he had a hand in shaping the tax policies that now enable the corporate avoidance of tax throughout Europe.  That’s politics in the EU, without even an electorate to worry about.

Saving Energy in Venezuela – Public sector workers in Venezuela get a “five day weekend,” working just Mondays and Tuesdays, at full pay, in an effort to reduce electricity consumption. Venezuela is in the grip of a serious energy crisis. Another measure moved the clocks forward 30 minutes to benefit from more useful daylight, saving lighting electricity. Climate, hydro-electrics, under-investment and poor management are contributing factors to the power shortage in this oil-rich nation.

 I’ll close with as quote from Shirley MacLaine.

“It is useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office”

If you want to make sense of these stories, and recognize that war, corruption and duplicity are not an inevitable fact of life then do check out this blogger’s book.

News thoughts – it’s weird out there

Did you ever realize that the one-child policy that China has been strictly enforcing for the last 35 years means that the current generation has grown up without brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, or cousins?  When their parents die, there will be no relatives at the funeral.

Venezuela has been suffering from a severe shortage of toilet paper. Public upset turned to rage when a senior government official declared that the problem was people eating too much.  This comes at a time when Venezuelans are also suffering a shortage of many staple foods. That’s government for you!

America is publicly puzzled over the surge in suicides, up 30% in the last decade within the 35-64 age group (two thirds of the 85 gun-deaths per day in the US are suicides). I’ve read many of the mainstream stories and they all seem to be missing the elephant in the room: Most Americans over 30 are on medication, and the most commonly prescribed medications are anti-depressants.

It’s kicking off big-time in Turkey just now. It was triggered by a local tree-protecting incident but exploded into discontent over the increasingly authoritarian state. The Islamic party in power promised to be secular, but people doubt this after it mandated which shade of red is acceptable for airline hostesses, and required that images of glasses or bottled of alcohol be blurred out on TV or movies. Inside story here:  from Turkey.
Turn your wheelchair into an earner! Wealthy Americans now bring a special aid when visiting crowded Disney World. They rent out a cripple at the going rate of $130 an hour and thus their party jumps all the queues. As a wheelchair user myself, I rarely use the “C” word, but this abuse of a thoughtful privilege makes me fume.
The current benefits system in the UK has 51 different categories of payment, accompanied by 10,000 pages explaining how to use them. I wonder (not really) how effectively the new trimmed down and fully computerized system will fare.