Pre-Christmas stories of the week

A range of pre-Christmas stories that caught my eye.

America’s Indian takeaway – How to loose friends and alienate people
There is a diplomatic row brewing between India and the US after the Americans arrested and allegedly strip searched (and cavity searched 88|) a senior Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, last week. Naturally this set off a storm of protests in India, with the Indian government responding by removing anti-terrorism barriers from outside the US Embassy and talking about imposing diplomatic sanctions against the US consulate.

The Americans have defended their actions by pointing out that the Indian official in question is suspected of visa fraud, specifically to bring a maid into the country and pay her well below the US minimum wage. However, by arresting her they have violated the principle of diplomatic immunity, a convention that extends back to the time of Rameses the Great.

While I’m not going to defend this woman over her alleged crimes (she sounds like a bit of a primadonna personally), the fact is that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. The art of diplomacy could be best described as “getting you’re own way without starting a war or offending 1 billion people”. Clearly the US needs lessons in this.

They could have for example, leaked the details of this case to the Indian press (such a story would not play out well with the rural poor who make up a large part of the ruling INC’s support base), applied diplomatic pressure and likely the Indians would have quietly withdrawn her from the country and likely ensured her next posting would be to North Korea! :>>

However, typical Americans, act unilaterally without thinking things thro first and find yourself knee deep in it…like Iraq (twice!), NSA spying, Wikileaks, etc.:no:

Racist Tweet of the Year
A PR officer for the Internet firm IAC made had a rather un-PR friendly moment this week when she tweeted (or should that be twit’ed :crazy:)

“Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get Aids. Just kidding. I’m white!”

Her account has since been deleted and her employer (which includes a dating site for African-Americans) is apparently seeking to speak to her about her career. Still I’m quite sure she’ll get a job with UKIP or the BNP!

Irish Economy
I’m in Ireland for Christmas and there is talk about the fact we are supposedly out of the ECB’s bailout process. So is everyone spending like there’s no tomorrow?…ah!….No!

Many Irish are sceptical of the government’s unbridled optimism with talk of growth rates of 3% per year and unemployment back to pre-crisis figures by the end of the decade. In part this scepticism is found in the fact that the directors of Anglo ain’t in jail, as well as the leaks coming out of NAMA, our bad bank whose job it was to nail property developers and spiv’s who caused the crisis to the wall, has instead been colluding with some of them :no:

But also in part this scepticism is due to the fact that those in Ireland who live in the real world can still see the signs of the recession all around them. As I discussed in a prior post, one of the consequences of the recession was to catch many, including many retiree’s and hard working people in a poverty trap which they cannot easily escape. In short they bailed out Wall street and forgot about Main street.

Also it should be remembered that the issue with Ireland wasn’t so much the tens of billions worth of banking debt or public (government) debt, but the nearly 1 trillion euro’s worth of private debts that the Irish have run up as part of their mortgages, credit card loans, etc. It is this mountain of debt (about 200,000 euro’s for every man, women & child in the country) that is still a long way from being paid off that’s the problem, and I’d still say the chances of it all being paid off are probably 50/50.

Cheap Fruit
Another Irish story is a price war going on between supermarkets over the price of fruit and veg. While this has had the advantage of Irish getting low cost vegetables (which means some have discovered you can eat other things than potatoes and meat! :)) ) for all its not necessarily all good news.

Smaller stores, organic food shops, etc. have seen a huge drop in sales. Farmers are also alleging pressure being applied to lower their prices by the major retailers. And there are questions if such below cost selling is actually legal.

As I recall discussing awhile ago, one has to realise that when it comes to the major supermarkets there’s a price to be paid for low price. After all anyone for horse meat?

Fake Booze
Of course some smaller corner stores are hardly helping themselves. There’s an epidemic in the UK of the selling of “fake” Alcohol, often made using dubious practices (e.g. containing methanol which is poisonous), often imported without payment of duty and often labelled as a recognised brand.

While this “fake” booze is sold through various channels, often small corner shops tend to be the major route through which it is fenced. Given how many smaller shops are struggling (see previous story) this is hardly surprising, however the problem is that this sends the message not to buy booze in smaller corner shops. But quite a number of such retailers will often tell you that sales of alcohol is what keeps their head above water. So this trend threatens to put the legitimate retailers out of business.

My solution? Catch the guys behind it and make them drink all of their own booze :oops:, that’ll learn em!

Are you being served?
And speaking of booze, there’s a bit of controversy about muslim staff at M&S refusing to sell booze to people on grounds of there “belief’s”.

All due respect, but if you feel that strongly about your believes, don’t get a job which conflicts with them. That’s like me getting a job as an airline pilot and then claiming my belief in pre-Ptolemy physics means I don’t believe in a round earth nor that a big metal tuby thing can fly.

Islam doesn’t out-rightly ban alcohol, just strongly discourages it. Some choose not to drink at all, much as some Christians don’t drink either. But in many Muslim countries, particularly those with large non-Muslim populations alcohol is legal and in all likelihood if you’re buying booze in these countries it will be a Muslim serving you. Can you imagine what would happen to somebody in Turkey or the UAE who took a job in a shop which sold alcohol and then refused to serve customers? He’d be sacked on the spot!

Equality means equal treatment, but as I’ve mentioned in prior posts, that’s a double edged sword as it means you have to respect other people’s belief’s in kind.

And speaking of cheap skates, the latest round of Tory cuts involves cutting back on fire stations throughout london, including the very teams that went to the rescue of those trapped in the Apollo a couple of nights back when the roof collapsed.

So next time you go to a london show, a concrete umbrella might be the must have accessory.

Secret Ingredient
I’m not normally one for celeb stories, but one can’t ignore the Nigella Lawson story. I always wondered why she always looked so cheery in those programmes on TV as well as why her recipes didn’t quite work out the way people wanted. Clearly they were missing a key ingredient! Needless to say one best be suspicious of any use of lines of white powder in future programmes she does ;D.

Jokes aside, I highlight this story as it shows this duality that exists, where it is accepted that many celeb’s, bankers, footballers, politicians and journalists regularly do drugs without the slightest interference from the cops. Yet any of us pleb’s try it and they get several years in prison.

Consider indeed the tragic story of a billionaire couple who openly turned their Belgravia mansion into a drug den. Yet not once did they get pinched by the police, even thought one of them (Eva Rausing) ultimately ended up dead, likely of a overdose. If its okay for a celeb to use drugs, then clearly that has to apply to everybody. If the intend it to ban them on safety grounds, then this has to be applied to everyone. And everyone means everyone!


One thought on “Pre-Christmas stories of the week

  1. I’m less bothered about Nigella’s icing suger being mistaken for cocaine… atleast she’s shot of that bastard husband!

    I think there ia alot of media propaganda about recession over in Uk and Ireland… we have little growth and if you took QE away well then there’s another story…


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