Sacre Bleu! – Er, Make That Red White And Bleu!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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sacre bleu cartoon

There has been a lot of activity in France lately concerning the United States government spying on three French Presidents.

The current President of France even called an emergency meeting of the Conseil de la Défense, the country’s highest national security forum to discuss the emergence of documents that appear to implicate the US National Security Agency (NSA) – now who’da guessed that? –  spying on Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who ruled France from 1995 to 2012.

The documents further indicate that the NSA may have also targeted the personal communications of Francois Hollande, France’s current head of state.

The files were published by WikiLeaks, which described them as “top secret intelligence reports and technical documents”, detailing NSA spying operations against the French presidency, as well as espionage directed at several French government ministers and at France’s ambassador to the US.

French President Francois Hollande at meeting to discuss Wikileaks revelations

The documents include intelligence briefs, which detail the thoughts and diplomatic maneuvers by French presidents and other senior officials, on subjects such as the Greek economic crisis, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and the United Nations.

This is further evidence of more disgraceful and arrogant behavior by US spy agencies.

The thing is, however, no one is surprised any more.

Since Edward Snowden’s revelations the world has come to expect illegal and bad behavior from Americans. It is as simple as that. And for the reputations of Americans it is as bad as that. Which is a great pity because these activities do not represent in any way the vast majority of the American people.

So, if they aren’t a surprise to anyone, will the latest revelations cause trouble between America and France? I think the undoubted answer is “Oui”, but only a “petit oui”.

As befits normal protocol in these kinds of things, the American ambassador to France was summoned for what was called ‘an official protest’, but little or nothing more happened apart from President Obama getting on the phone with the French President, groveling and apologizing and assuring him in no uncertain terms “that the US is no longer spying on France”.

No, I don’t believe him either, but there it is.

President Obama on phone

There was no need for America’s snooping. As with Germany, French and American intelligence agencies cooperate with each other regularly. They jointly monitor international issues of mutual concern, such as what is happening in Syria, Iraq, the Ukraine, Libya, and even the financial catastrophe that is Greece.

For now that will continue, but the road ahead looks bumpy.

Wikileaks has already made good on its promise that its “French readers can expect more timely and important revelations in the near future”.

The latest release from the whistleblower website contains more documents that indicate that the National Security Agency (NSA), under orders from Washington, were tasked with collecting secret information not only about the economic policies of the French government and the country’s financial sector, but on export contracts by French companies.

In fact every French-registered company involved in negotiations for international projects or other sales contracts valued at over $200 million, like car makers Peugeot and Renault and financial institutions like BNP Paribas and the agricultural credit union, were also subjected to US government secret snooping.

Washington’s pathetic statements that none of this information is ever used to benefit American companies competing for international contracts rings mighty hollow with the French, and the rest of the world come to that.

This latest information is a lot more damning and may necessitate a much stronger response from the French – even if it is just to save face.

Like their attitude over the invasion of Iraq, I think any further reaction would include little or no cooperation in any future American interventions in the Middle East and maybe the use of a veto or two in the United Nations.

We might be at the start of a new meaning to the term “non” cooperation?

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non merci button

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Time For Some Crude Talk.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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$200 per barrel oil

It’s not so long ago that I was getting bombarded with emails about how great an investment oil would be.

At that time the predictions by those in the ‘know’, who really know nothing, was that oil would hit $200 per barrel – maybe much, much more!

Well, they almost got the number correct, except that oil actually hit $20 per barrel, not $200. As these things go it was a pretty good guess!!!

declining oil price

So why has the oil price declined and, although it has recovered a bit, why are the predictions for today’s low prices to hold long term?

The simple layman’s answer of course is that the oil price has declined because supply is greater than demand. When there is a surplus of a commodity the price falls and when it is scarce the price rises.

The supply of oil has increased relative to demand for a number of reasons.

The most obvious one is the vast reserves of oil found and now being recovered in the massive shale-oil fields in the United States of America and the tar-sands in Canada that have added more than 5 million barrels per day to domestic oil production since 2008. Able to produce more at home, North America has been able to reduce its demand for imported oil.

OPEC

The effect of this, of course, is that the OPEC countries have seen their annual revenues fall sharply during the same period. To try to rectify this fall in income, which they need to provide for their own citizens, they have been trying to replace lost revenue from North America by increasing production of their own oil supplies.

In other words, they have created even more over supply in the market, which helps to keep the oil price down.

Then there was the ISIS or ISIL terrorists in Iraq who had taken control of most of the oil fields and were dumping oil on the black market as fast as they could to help finance their war. Recently they’ve lost control of a lot of those oil fields so that part of the equation may no longer be in play to the same extent.

However, if there is a deal ever done with the Iranians and they are able to trade without restriction again, no doubt they will be adding their oil to the market glut which will also help to keep the market over-supplied and the price suppressed.

burning off gas at oil well

Then there is the increasing use of compressed natural gas or CNG. This is the natural gas that used to be burned off at the oil wells, but that is now collected, compressed into tanks and used to power vehicles and in drilling equipment, meaning less diesel is purchased.

Despite all these over-supply pressures, the thing that is keeping the oil price from collapsing completely is the continued demand from China. This is a good thing because a long-term collapse in the oil price, whilst it may make life a bit easier financially for many with decreased heating and fuel bills, also has detrimental secondary effects on some parts of the country where the oil industry provides a living for a great many people.

I haven’t had an email about investing in oil for a long time and I don’t expect them to start again soon. Now you know why.

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Whatever Happened To Right And Wrong?

 “Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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A bit of politics today.

The Iran deal – if there in fact is one, nobody seems certain – is causing a lot of angst within the Republican Party. Maybe they know the reason for their concern, but somehow I doubt it.

Don’t worry I’m not going to go into a big analysis of the deal, not yet anyway. As I said, no one is sure that anything has really been agreed.

iran nuke deal cartoon

But the details of the deal aside, what this and many other happenings over the past few years has clearly highlighted is that political parties – and not only in America – have become obsessed with the “if he’s fer it, I’m agin it” mentality.

The facts don’t count.

The reasons don’t matter.

The benefits are never logically weighed up.

Nor are the faults.

It is always just a knee-jerk reaction with no analysis whatsoever. You could write the headlines even before the event it is all so depressingly predictable.

And these pompous parties and politicians have the gall to call it ‘democracy’ and to try to foist it on other parts of the world that don’t want it and haven’t asked for it.

reaction to iran nuke deal cartoon

Somehow we have deteriorated to the point where a country full of politicians who don’t know what’s best for their own people, now think they know what is best for everyone else. Self-delusion, arrogance, call it what you like, there are many words that could be applied to describe it, none of them very complimentary.

An example is Republican Senator Tom Cotton, who has clearly learned nothing from what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, because he now boasts that a U.S. military campaign against Iran’s nuclear facilities would only take “several days” of bombing.

Apparently in his head there would be no consequences. The Iranians will just sit back and take their medicine then wise up and never do it again.

On the other hand, of course, if Obama was against a deal with Iran I bet you Sen Cotton would be all for it.

That’s the real depth of his analysis, and there are (too) many others like him.

Whatever happened to right and wrong?

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Doing The Right Thing.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

Barrack Obama during his first Presidential election campaign
Barrack Obama during his first Presidential election campaign

Seven years ago a young fellow called Barrack Obama was running for President. One of the cornerstones of his campaign was a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which he called “a dumb war”.

In that much he was right. It was a dumb war, instigated by the dumb American and British politicians who preceded him and who had the deceit and arrogance to lie to their electorates in order to manufacture an excuse to invade that country.

It was always destined to be a disaster. Once Saddam had been eliminated there was no strong leader to hold Iraq together. He may have been a monster, no one is arguing he wasn’t, but without him, or someone like him, things have far from improved. That is just the harsh reality, like it or not.

Seven years ago Obama had no moral objection to the fact that a withdrawal of the occupying forces in Iraq might leave the way open to civil war and genocide. In fact to quote him from that period he said, “[If] that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done.”

He could have said the same about many other countries in the world where civil strife raged.

So today the speeches laden with moral indignation, telling the world that he has ordered military action in Iraq “to prevent a potential act of genocide,” ring mightily hollow.

It would be much better if Obama came clean.

I know it’s a bit of a reach for a politician to start telling the truth, but it would help.

Obama needs to tell the world that he will clean up the mess he and his predecessors made. He needs to admit that the “sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” that he said he had left behind, when U.S. troops pulled out, was a dream that has deteriorated into a nightmare. And he needs to remove the advisors who prompted him to compare ISIS to a junior varsity basketball team when he was interviewed on the subject in January this year. That was just another thing they got completely and tragically wrong.

Yes, I’m asking for a bit of honesty and humility, that’s all.

What I’m hearing instead, however, is more claptrap and confusion.

Vice President Joe Biden is telling everyone that the U.S. “will follow ISIS to the gates of hell”, while other senior Obama Administration officials are assuring us that America is, “not launching a sustained US campaign against ISIS…”

journalist-james-foley-isis-beheading
Journalist James Foley minutes before he was beheaded by ISIS terrorists

Conflicting statements like those, in the face of the continuing barbaric beheadings of men, women and even children, and other heinous crimes committed by these despicable and godless terrorists, will hardly strike fear into them. Perhaps the strategy is to have them so helpless with laughter that they cannot continue fighting?

Winston Churchill once said, “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

After all this time and after all these failed initiatives we must be getting closer to doing the right thing  –  surely???

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Dirty Harry? It Must Be Fact Day!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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No dirty facts here. That’s someone else’s job.

Just good clean fun with another selection from the fabulous fasab fact file.

Enjoy.

..Oh, and spare a thought for poor Betty Stobbs who for one split second thought she had made it.

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facts 03

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Dirty Harry’s badge number is 2211.

Dirty_Harry_Badge

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Frisian, a language native to the Netherlands,

is considered the easiest foreign language

for English speakers to learn

Nord friesische Dialekte

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The amount the U.S. military spends annually

on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion.

Keeping their cool

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The Milky Way has four spiral arms, not two.

Milky Way galaxy

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The main ingredient for chocolate are technically cacao beans,

but they are known throughout the cocoa industry as cocoa beans

because of a misspelling.

Cacao beans and chocolate

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Cacao has been around for millions of years and

is probably one of the oldest of nature’s foods.

cacao beans

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It has been calculated that in the last 3,000 years

there have only been 240 years of peace in the world

peace-time-war-time

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During the An Lushan rebellion in China in the mid 700s

nearly 40 million people died.

This was 1/6 of the world’s population.

An Lushan rebellion in China

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Your brain is the fattest organ in your body at around 60%

fat-head

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Curfew comes from a combination of two French words

– “couvrir” and “feu”. Literally this means to “cover fire”.

curfew-photo

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In 1999, Betty Stobbs, 67, of Durham, England,

took a bale of hay to feed her flock of sheep

on the back of her motorcycle.

Her hungry sheep, however, charged her bike and

knocked her into a deep ravine.

She survived the fall but was killed

when her bike landed on top of her.

Betty Stobbs

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Andrew Jackson was involved in as many as 100 duels,

most of which were fought to defend the honor of his wife.

Not surprisingly he was shot multiple times during his life.

Andrew Jackson duel

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Alexander the Great is famous for a spying technique still used today.

He had all his soldiers write home to their families

and then intercepted the letters.

Whoever didn’t have something nice to say was executed.

Alexander_the_Great

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If you are referred to as a “treasured guest”

in Disney don’t get carried away.

That means you’re an asshole and

workers are being warned about you

Sleeping Beauty Castle Disney

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The voices of Yoda and Miss Piggy

were done by the same person.

His name is Frank Oz.

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Shock Headline – The President Agrees With Me!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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I’ve been saying it for a long time – and now the President of the United States agrees with me – he doesn’t know WTF he’s doing!

Obama on Syria - we don't have a strategy yet

I can’t say as I take much satisfaction from his admission though.

The US President is the most powerful man in the world and he has at his disposal the most powerful military organization in the world.

Yet he doesn’t know what to do with it, when to do it, or even who to aim it at!

A bit of it, belatedly and half-heartedly, is now pointing at ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. Yes, you’re right, they are the very same Islamic terrorists he was funding for a while in Syria! He says he wasn’t, but in practice he was.

Confused?

You should be.

Because the Obama Administration certainly is!

Indeed Obama’s team of idiots have confused themselves to the degree that they don’t know what to do and are afraid to do it even if they did!

The situation is not being helped by the noise coming from the equally ill-informed politicians in the Republican camp either. Some cynics would say they are doing a lot of it with the November elections in mind!

Political Elephant and Donkey Cartoon

As I’ve said before on this blog, America has never been good at foreign policy. There are so many examples over the years to prove this beyond any and all doubt (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, now Syria). But this latest debacle could turn out to be foreign policy failure on a grand scale.

This is simply down to the fact that, even yet, the Obama administration clearly does not understand the severity of the problem. They haven’t managed to process the long term threat that a well armed, well supported and well funded group like ISIS can become.

Everyone – except the President and his people apparently – knows that these terrorists will not be content even if they are allowed to establish a fundamentalist Islamic state in the Middle East. Their hatred of anything and everything in the West is total.

In fact, as we have seen in Iraq and Syria, their hatred even extends to fellow Muslims who they do not consider to be ‘militant enough’ and they have attacked and murdered them in just the same ways as they have attacked and murdered Christians.

In Syria, which is none of our business, the Obama team thought they wanted the Assad regime removed, and to get that done they thought they could support ISIS (or the anti-Assad fighters of whom ISIS were always destined to be a big part).

Now the US may well find itself on the same side as Assad in a fight against the terrorists. And that may be the crux of the US Administration’s problem. They made the wrong move, at the wrong time, in the wrong place, for all the wrong reasons and correcting the mistake will require a major volte face and sizeable portion of humble pie.

Are they big enough to swallow it?

We’ll see.   

humble-pie

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What A Flipping President – What A Flipping Mess!!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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The Sunday Sermon

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President Obama said in June that he would be prepared to “take targeted and precise military action” in Iraq, whatever that meant.

But it’s taken him two months to make the decision. Two months during which Islamist militants have swept through northern and western Iraq and are now threatening Christians in that country with religious conversion or death.

indecisive Obama

So far its not only too little too late, but half-hearted to boot, with Obama saying that the step was being taken to defend US personnel in the city of Irbil and protect religious minorities facing what he called a “potential act of genocide” from the Islamic State, the extremist group most recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

There doesn’t seem much “potential” about from the reports I am reading.

convert or die

It’s as if the President’s Administration and his advisors didn’t see it coming!

This belated decision is yet another turning point in the Obama administration’s dreadfully badly thought out foreign policy, which has seen his ratings plummet, both at home and in the eyes of the world.

Even now his administration’s goals remain unclear. For example, is this latest move a tactical decision, or a simple reaction to the consequences of failing to act sooner, or is there a strategy behind it?

I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone else knows, but I fear it is just the former. Sadly, a belated attempt to halt ISIS’s advance toward Irbil won’t be enough – and if I know that, why don’t Obama’s advisors?

Of course, on the other side of the political fence, rather predictably, some of the gung-ho Republicans, always spoiling for a fight (somewhere other than in the US), have quickly jumped on the bandwagon and tried to use this latest debacle to score political points against the President.

gung-ho GOPers

They have criticized Obama’s inaction in Syria and the failure to bolster moderate rebel forces there as contributing to ISIS’s growth. But hang on a moment GOPers, think it through before you speak (this will be new territory to most of them!). If the President had intervened (or rather, been allowed to intervene) in Syria he would have been intervening on the same side as ISIS, not against them.

Then we would have had an even more bewildering situation where US troops would have been fighting with ISIS (effectively) in Syria against Assad and at the same time fighting against ISIS in Iraq trying to stop their genocidal purge of the Christian community there.

It is this kind of utter confusion that has over the past few years greatly diminished America’s global influence and standing.

bush_wmd_cartoon.1

The mess that was left in Iraq after Bush’s invasion on the false premise (the lie) of WMDs, and Obama’s withdrawal of troops on the equally disingenuous premise (another lie) that they had brought peace to the country, is a disgrace.

And unfortunately it sends a message to the world that America is confused, indecisive, deceitful, short-sighted, blundering – in short all the things that you don’t want the world to think about you if you want to be taken seriously.

What a flipping mess!

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