David Knopfler Blog

Somewhat political observations

Saturday, July 03, 2010

What price decent drinking water?

My tap water tastes of undrinkable chlorine (supposedly a health alert anyway) and is additionally, anyway officially technically illegal in terms of the contaminants it contains... I think it's over the line for nitrates. But plastic-bottles used for spring water sold locally is also said to be hazardous, and actually it tastes like plastic contaminants if it's not super-fresh refrigerated. Much of it anyway comes from a Nestle subsidiary apparently successfully sued in 2003 for $10million (out of court) for all kinds of un-speakables. To quote from Wiki...

"In June 2003, Poland Spring was sued for false advertising in a class action lawsuit charging that their water that supposedly comes from springs, is in fact heavily treated common ground water.[8] The suit also states, hydro-geologists hired by Nestlé found that another current source for Poland Spring water near the original site stands over a former trash and refuse dump, and below an illegal disposal site where human sewage was sprayed as fertilizer for many years.[8] The suit was settled in September 2003, with the company not admitting to the allegations, but agreeing to pay $10 million in charity donations and discounts over the next 5 years.[9] Nestlé continues to sell the same Maine water under the Poland Springs name."

Is it too much to ask in "the land of the free," to have a safe source of drinking water without spending $1000 plus the cost of a plumber, to fit it, for a water filter? And would it solve the problem?

Monday, February 01, 2010

David Knopfler Blog: Oh what a tangled web... meetings with Israelis

David Knopfler Blog: Oh what a tangled web... meetings with Israelis

Oh what a tangled web... meetings with Israelis

Blair mentioned (in studied passing) to the Chilcot inquiry last week, that while at Crawford seeing Bush in 2002 to discuss possible invasion of Iraq that they had "meetings with Israelis." Would this be to check if they'd be down with it, if more scuds fell on Tel Aviv during the invasion of 2003? or to reassure them that all the talk of WMDs was froth and not to worry because the weapons inspectors had cleared the ranges? As Sir Walter Scott put it... "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive."

It seems to me, unlikely Blair would have mentioned it by accident. More likely he was confident that this information would come out at some stage anyway, (in Bush's memoirs perhaps ;)) so better try not to look like a conspiracy was afoot. It seems, thus far, he may have over-estimated the panel's facility. Maybe Sir Roderick still has a trick or two up his sleeve, but I'm not holding my breath.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another year on and now what...

I don't expect to change anyone's minds about anything - conservatives will remain conservative and visa versa. We read opinions largely to confirm our own prejudices but I read somewhere today the boggling fact that the US spends more than any other nation on Health but it plainly has less to show for it if comparative reports are to be believed. If you spend, per capita, more than twice the French, but get substantially less for it... something is seemingly rotten is it not? Can it be sensible to have to phone an insurance company if you need an ambulance? Extraordinary for an outsider to see how impossibly mired the US has been for decades with this one. Almost every Administration has tried and failed to make much headway with it.

As a Mr Smith looking in from the outside, it seems to me ending the billions wasted on lobby flab in Washington could be a good place to start reform, rather than the usual voices of "reason" in the media insisting long suffering low income groups must expect less social provision if State spending is to be reigned in. I'm not saying that the whole sprawling ineffective system of State and Federal Government isn't in dire need of new vision and better administration, but I am saying that when effectively their decisions are being made, based on the biggest spends of the lobby, true Democracy, for the people, of the people and by the people can't hope to begin to work effectively can it? No doubt there are other so called elephants in the room but that one seems hard to miss.

And one year on, exasperated voters, who believed Obama's message of change and hope are disenchanted by his failure to throw them a bone or two. His rhetoric has been nothing short of stunning but in practice, he's not yet demonstrating any sharp shift in policy from the eight years that preceded him. He's looked for bipartisanship instead of nailing their failures to the mast and as a reward been saddled by the Republican opposition with blame for all the sh*t they pulled. Meanwhile where are the stringent regulations on Wall Street? Where is even a glimmer of Roosevelt's New Deal when it's most needed? Where's the repeal of the Patriot Act? Why is the Peace Prize winner who opposed the War in Iraq sending drone bombs to Pakistan and Yemen, illegal detentions continue... and on and on. If he really has liberal convictions then why do almost none of his appointments reflect it? Why is the Pentagon seemingly able to call more shots than him? He has another mere ten months before the awful multi-billion dollar campaigning starts all over again... If he doesn't read this slap in the face in Massechusetts correctly, the electorate plainly will vote him out... if only through the apathy of non-voting.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Barack Obama

What a difference a year makes: The results may not yet add up to a great deal in terms of shifting the values of the various Government officials but the unequivocal way that Obama has set out his stall at the UN this week, putting increasingly confident distance between himself and the previous US regime has to be respected. I hope he can inspire some more of those "bought and paid for" Senators and Congressmen to start doing what their electors hoped they might when they elected them.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Well they would wouldn't they?

Alistair Darling stands accused of flipping four second homes and using tax payers money to finance the operation. The Liberal Democrats have called on the Chancellor to be sacked over his expenses, saying "his moral authority has vanished." Mr Darling said the allegations were "untrue" and according to the BBC, Lord Mandelson called them "cheap jibes." Would that be unelected Trade Secretary Lord Mandelson, who used tax payers money to help tart up a house no longer needed for official duties in Hartlepool, presumably so he could up his personal margin of profit? I assume he called them "cheap jibes" from his new two and a half million pound house in Regents Park... which, according to the Mail, was partially paid for with funds of which he has yet to reveal the source. Brought in to shore up Brown's ratings, his own personal liability has no doubt contributed to the further ten point drop that has accompanied the stench of the gibbering corpse of the jaw dropping attempted resurrection.

Where is that other Mandy, when you need her? and which part of "totally" and "discredited" is it that self-serving Peter Mandelson, (not Foreign Secretary), doesn't get?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dear Mr President - Habeas Corpus

“It’s a messy situation. It’s not easy,” Obama told C- SPAN in an interview. “We’ve got a lot of people there who we should have tried early, but we didn’t. In some cases, evidence against them has been compromised. They may be dangerous, in which case we can’t release them, so finding how to deal with that I think is going to be one of our biggest problems.”

The problem Mr President, is that you know perfectly well, you don't lock people up for crimes you think they may commit, you can legally only lock them up for crimes a court of law has proven beyond a reasonable doubt they did commit... You can remand people up to a point... but eight years???!!!! No one is proposing to go kidnap you and keep you locked up indefinately, in case, like your predecessor, you decide to illegally kill people by invading their country without a fig leaf of legal justification. That would be a crime. Seems to me you need to stick to plan A ... close GITMO and then allow due process to take care of the rest. Charge them all - if you must - but if there isn't suficient evidence to convict - then you will let them go when a court of law finds the case against them unproven... whatever the outcry from Fox News and the defeated former CEO of Halliburton. It worked perfectly well for hundreds of years and terrorism is as old as humanity. The problem you have of course, is that 90 of your Senators appear to have misplaced their spines and will require you to re-insert them... forcibly from the rear if necessary.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

In 1939 Britain found itself unavoidably in a real war, not the phoney war against a noun, Blair illegally dragged us into. My father, blonde haired and blue eyed, arrived in the UK that year, having been in occupied territories of the Third Reich as a fugitive, and instead of being interned here at immigration as a possible terrorist mole for the Soviets, or Fifth Columnist for the Nazis, and shipped off to a secret gulag to be tortured for intelligence, he was welcomed with a headshake and given £5 pounds, which would have been a week’s wages in those days. He was then allowed to travel North to Newcastle, given a free university place to study.

He came out with a First Class Honours Degree and never ceased to be grateful until his death, for the tolerance and fair-minded liberal values he encountered here in those genuinely difficult times. I’d like to think the debt to the nation has been repaid by his three children in their contributions financial and otherwise, and equally so by the refugee children he was escorting out of Czechoslovakia when he arrived, most of who’s parents were probably killed as “terrorists.”

What a falling off was there: Here we are, sixty plus years on; scores of civil liberties, men and women fought and died to protect, torn up under a raft of regulations that have more in common with the persecution my father was fleeing, than the land of the rule of law where he found asylum, Great Britain. And how has it come to this that it takes a conservative shadow home secretary David Davis, to draw attention to this sleep walk to authoritarianism?

I hope the decision of the Supreme Court in the US, and welcomed by Barack Obama, finally means the one British Citizen, who was illegally kidnapped and interned with the connivance of the UK authorities, and is still locked up at Guantanamo Bay, can finally get the sensible protections under the law, we once all took for granted and that allowed me a life to live to write this.