Wednesday, 14 December 2016

SOME THOUGHTS ON SYRIA: DECIPHERING WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON



(All opinions my own.)

Don't be fooled.

Our UK headlines are currently deluged with stories concerning the break of the siege in Aleppo. And the media are sending some very mixed messages. It's no wonder many don't have a clue what's really going on. On one hand, the media are describing it as "defeat of the rebels", which on a rudimentary level, sounds like a good thing. "Rebellion = bad". Rebels cannot be seen to emerge victorious. (If they were winning, I absolutely guarantee you they'd be called something else.)

But here's the kicker. Those Wahhabist "rebels" include ISIS, among others. The same groups WE oppose and condemn. It's strange how we don't hear their name any more. At one time, you couldn't go a day without reading about something awful they'd done. In actuality, the West has been manipulating/supporting ISIS and other Wahhabist/Shia groups to bring down the "evil" Sunni regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Russia simply stepped in to defend their ally, the democratically elected government, against those we too would consider "terrorists" if they started overthrowing areas of our country, claiming dominion. To many people of Syria, al-Assad and Putin are viewed as saviours.

It's also strange, and to be honest quite sickening, how the media is only now flooding us with images of the death and destruction in Aleppo. It's all I've seen on TV all day. All of a sudden, our press are outraged by these unacceptable casualties, determined to paint the horror of it all. Well... I recall the UK parliament voted to start bombing the sh*t out of Syria before the Russians ramped up their presence. Only now, now Russia and the Syrian government have essentially emerged victorious is the violence so reviled. Because that is what's happened, if you disregard all the spin. Russia and Syria have beaten the West; effectively ended their coup. So when our media describe it as the "darkest day" for Aleppo, what they actually mean is it's the darkest day for them, and their schemes. For the average person fleeing/dying in the conflict, they're ALL dark days. Not just the ones where the West lose.

But it goes some way to explaining why it's only now being painted as a humanitarian disaster. And why the West now stir as much outrage as possible. My fear is this "outrage" might subsequently be skewed as "requiring a response", eg: further escalation with Russia. Or a re-invasion of Syria, who knows? The West went to so much trouble to gain control of the oil... sorry, I mean to "protect" the citizens of Syria. All I can say is the headlines definitely smack to me of a losing side, bitterly tugging at heart-strings to garner support for a renewed military campaign in the pipeline. (Pardon the pun.)

I've attached an interview with al-Assad. It's strange how the UK never gets to hear his voice, or hear his interviews. Or to get some measure of the man. Maybe it's hard to label someone as a one dimensional bloodthirsty tyrant when you discover they're friendly, measured, and a family man. That's not to say family men don't do awful things, or that atrocities haven't been committed in his name. But so have they in Obama's, and David Cameron's. Those same leaders we hypocritically conceive to be "good".

All I'm saying, is don't be too quick to assume everything we're told on the TV is "gospel" truth.

What's that I hear you say? Britain would never support such a dastardly scheme? What, the same country that's just been accused of war crimes in Yemen? The same country that supports the brutal Saudi regime? The same country that's been accused by the European court of human rights of abusing its OWN people, let alone anywhere else? Really?


Friday, 9 December 2016

YES I KNOW I APPOINTED BORIS TO SPEAK FOR US, BUT HE BLOODY DOESN'T... ALRIGHT???



"He said whaaaaaaat???"
Screeched Theresa May, clawing the face of a passing intern, simultaneously kicking him in the groin.

The Prime Minister's man-servant and personal gynaecologist, D'arcy McSavage, paced alongside her nervously, unsure how to reply:
"I'm sorry ma'am, it appears Boris went off script. Some kind of madcap rant. Spooling some rubbish about honest leaders, decency, an end to proxy wars... that kind of clap-trap. Horrifying stuff."
May stepped over the sobbing intern, gleefully pouring hot Earl Grey in his face.
"God damn that f*cking imbecile. Doesn't he realise we're up shit-creek right now?? It's absolutely paramount we profit from as much war and conflict, as much death and mayhem as we can physically get our grubby little mitts on right now. I've told him a million times!"

"Preaching to the choir ma'am. We perpetuate the conflicts, we don't solve them."

"Quite right."

"Shall I get MI6 on the phone? Dispatch the hounds? How about a car crash in a tunnel? We haven't done that since Prince Phill..."

"... No, no D'arcy. There's no need. I'll spank the little albino prick myself. I've been looking for an excuse to try out the new clamp."

"Very good, ma'am."

The Prime Minister of Great Britain poured herself another cup of hot Earl Grey, stirring in the sugar and bat's blood.


"How bad was it? Did the Saudis kick up a right stink?"

"Well, I'm sorry to say they only sent ten sacks of gold, instead of the usual thirty. Along with what seems to be a severed hand."

"Great, just great. Boris-motherf*cking-Johnson. That sanctimonious little prick. Just wait 'til I get my hands on him. He's gonna pay for that."

"Might I make a suggestion, Prime Minister? In retrospect, perhaps Boris wasn't the safest bet for Foreign Secretary. I did try to warn you. Many minions warned you..."

"We refer to them as 'the Cabinet' now, D'arcy."

"Apologies. Many of your 'Cabinet' warned you, ma'am. None of us quite understood what was going on in your head that day. We thought it was a joke. Or you were back on the crystal meth."

"No, no. I appointed Boris because the plebs find him entertaining. They love a good show. Watching him is a bit like watching 'You've Been Framed'. Considering Boris led us into this shit-storm in the first place, he seemed the perfect distraction of wispy blonde hair and waffle, leaving me to my evil schemes. I didn't expect him to grow some balls. Or a conscience."

"What do you plan to do?"

"Don't panic. We do what we always do. Tell the public exactly what they need to hear. That it's nothing to do with us. Tell them... I dunno... tell them: 'Yes, OK. I appointed Boris to speak for us. But he doesn't ACTUALLY speak for us, alright? And we send the Saudis one of those bumper Dunkin' Donuts gift boxes. The ludicrously expensive ones."

"Very good."

"Dear God, even Nigel Farage might be worth a punt after all this. At least he has his reptilian tongue firmly up Trump's arse."


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

TRUMP VS CLINTON - THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS?



I'm gonna air a question that is incredibly difficult, and risky, to discuss - but I think someone should. (Please don't judge me a loon.)

Part of me wonders whether Trump actually would be a better option than Clinton. I simply pose the question.

I do not say this out of any notion whatsoever of approval, agreement, or belief in his policies. At all. He is a f**king monster. However, it is also my sincere belief that America have been offered two monsters: one of them is simply better and more practised with deceit and subversion.

Anyone who's followed me will know I was predicting literally years ago that Hillary Clinton would be the next US president; and that all else around it was virtually distraction. That's because I believe she IS the establishment. She IS the existing system that's brought the world to where it is, and these people don't make a single move without thinking at least ten ahead. No-one in this world knows better how to manipulate the little people than the existing powers-that-be, make no mistake.

Here is a woman who in the last few days, before even becoming president, has vowed to remove Assad from Syria at all costs. Even since the UK became actively involved, Russia has joined the fray - firmly defending their ally (which is why the focus has shifted to ISIS). If the new US president insists on pursuing this meddling with the Syrian government, an active ally of Russia, she will very possibly be forcing us all into World War III. Seriously. And if you think it's far fetched, you might want to read into NATO's manoeuvres recently in Poland, a little operation called "Anakonda".

Would Trump's presidency be a cataclysmic disaster? Yes, most likely. If he did half of what he's mouthed off, would it be traumatic, and make life incredibly difficult for some (as it questionably has with the Brexit vote, but probably worse)? Undoubtedly. It's an utterly deplorable and terrifying proposition.

But as terrifying as World War III? I'm not entirely convinced. Whereas one of Trump's supposed "things" is he's had enough of the US meddling abroad, even cites admiration and "respect" for Putin. If that avoids mankind stumbling into an even worse disaster, is his idiocy worth the cost? Or will it just lead to war with someone else, or a complete breakdown of relations with the Islamic world? Is a calculating maniac better than one with the temperament of a toddler? I really don't know any more. It's like choosing whether to be battered to death with a kitchen iron, or a mallet.

As if these arguments alone were not worthy of consideration, Hillary Clinton has a whole heap of skeletons in her closet, and far darker ones than even "the Donald". Which aside from political scandals, and seemingly paltry issues concerning emails, include things like what's addressed in this video.

A video which made my jaw "hit the deck".

I admit, the footage is a bit wannabe "cinematic", and has the flavour of a bulls**t conspiracy video. I have not had time to fully fact-check every account, or to confirm all of the accusations made, so I'll reserve some judgement. But it provoked a reaction. Enough to make me look into the matter more. And here is an account which tells a more two-sided version, for sake of balance.

Either way, Hillary DID get this child rapist off with a plea bargain, and it is another very ugly looking side to a very ugly looking dice. I'm sure many of us could not do that, no matter our vocation.

If the "conspiracy" video is accurate, or even close, I really need say no more.

What a choice. Can the rest of the world not elect Bernie Sanders??

(All opinions my own.)

Image via Wikipedia Creative Commons.

Monday, 1 August 2016

NATION THAT RULED WAVES, CONFOUNDED BY SHIPS ON WATER


A nation of people that once prided themselves as "rulers of the waves" now sit scratching their heads - utterly confused by the sight of ships floating on water.

The British Royal Navy had merely stopped for a collective day-out on Portsmouth Pier, to sample the local cuisine and attend a biannual convention on dogging etiquette. After taking the time to compliment local residents for their alcoholism, and their ability to breathe underwater via genetically evolved gills, servicemen and women returned only a few hours later to find the entire nation losing their minds.

Local "hoodie" Steve, was literally confounded:

When I gets in the bath yeah, I sink to the bottom, innit? It's like science and sh*t. But these mahoosive floating things, they didn't sink. It was f**kin' freaky mate.

Other passers-by stood glued to the spot, transfixed by the sight of the boats bobbing around in the water.

19 year old mother of three, Sally commented:
It's flamin' witchcraft I tell ya, like somethin' out of a film.
Those across Britain who understood "it's just what ships do", were instead utterly petrified by the idea we might not be able to nuke any given country at a moment's notice.

The UK has never reduced another country to cockroaches and sawdust before - but many Brits apparently remain keen to "give it a go".

Simon, an outraged Daily Mail reader, demanded to know of his audience at the local Wetherspoons:
Is this what they call protecting us from ISIS? What about North Korea? This is exactly why I voted for Brexit!
Militant right-wing warmongers were pleased to know, Britain resumed its position threatening the rest of the world with apocalypse the very next morning.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

THE POST THAT FACEBOOK BLOCKED

Fortunately a friend thought to take a screenshot, where I failed to.
24 hours later, the likes/shares had over tripled.

On Friday 24th June, I like many of the nation, was mortified.

After a full day of being around people openly discussing their views on the referendum result, and then getting home to see countless Brexiteers goading upon social media, both directly and passively (telling people to "move on" a mere 18 hours later was incredibly patronising, however nobly intended), something in me snapped. So I wrote a fairly visceral response on my personal Facebook page, not perhaps observing the same politeness and/or courtesy I would normally aspire to.

After years of writing and discussing political events on social media (and since late last year, this dedicated blog), the reaction quite literally blew my mind. It was nothing short of incredible. By the morning of Monday 27th, the post had been liked by around 27.2k people, and shared by 18k. I received hundreds of friend requests and follows, and the same of messages - a fair bit of hate mail amongst them, but mostly it was people thanking me and commending me for what I'd said, sometimes writing at length to tell me of their own experiences. It was very moving. Some of the messages can be seen here.

I also sadly lost a fair few friends, and clashed with a few more too - something that saddens me immensely. But that's the whole point of having principles: you don't alter them dependent on the company you keep, or who's listening.

For an aspiring writer and political commentator, one cannot hope for more than to be heard, or for our ramblings to be valued. Although I'd be lying if I didn't admit some of the unpleasant stuff unnerved me, the words that these kind, emotionally battered people across the UK and beyond offered in turn renewed my confidence, and gave me faith that perhaps all the hours of writing and pondering are not completely in vain. It was something to be grateful for amid all the insanity and fear.

Then Facebook took it down.

Unbelievably, the idea they'd do such a thing had not even occurred to me, so I hadn't even bothered to take a screenshot. (The best I have is a screenshot taken by an acquaintance of several years, a very sweet girl named Rebecca, taken almost two days prior to being removed.)

Yep, I'd been fairly rude to people who were taunting Remain voters: I'd called them "smug assholes" and had told them to "fuck off", and I did so quite deliberately. I also later described many of us as being "fucking outraged". That was it. Nothing else. Nothing obscene or gratuitous, not even the suggestion that ALL Brexiteers were prejudiced or xenophobic (the most touted criticism I received), I just simply wouldn't back down from my assertion that many are, or that those moved by other motives had been grossly misled. And I stand by that.

Ok... hardly courteous I'll concede, but I'm pretty confident there's far worse out there in public cyberspace that remains uncensored. And probably worse in just about any school playground up and down the country. I'm an adult for God's sake, and I can swear if I deem it appropriate! The fact there are hate-groups out there peddling their filth on social media, but my words should have been censored, is just straight up preposterous - but also incredibly worrying.

To be honest, I think it was perhaps exactly because it was such an abrupt/guttural response that it resonated. Those on the Left tend to argue more with reason, ethics, and cogent argument: tip-toeing around those of different opinions, attempting to remain respectful to all. We do not often offer such "fighting-talk", and those on the Right are certainly not as used to having it flung at them.

I've reposted here, and it has still provoked a reaction - but with no where near the same accumulative audience - not even the same playing field. Facebook quite literally decided to snuff out a political ideal gathering momentum, without tangible cause or justification. There's a lot more to say about this than I have time to offer right now, but I wanted to make note of this quite significant event on my personal blog (which I've been neglecting of late, in favour of mainstream social media), and to put another copy of the post out there (in case it's taken down again).

Here it is:


"To all the smug assholes now telling us we need to "get with the programme", "accept the result" and essentially "stop moaning", I have some words for you.
Fuck off.
Sorry, I can't be bothered to put it any more eloquently.
This is not some meagre general election, or a minor political disagreement. You have changed the world for the worse. You have categorically reversed progress, threatened the security and future cultural opportunities of our children, doomed this country to insular Tory government, and informed the world in no uncertain terms that we, the people of Britain, really are nothing more than arrogant, xenophobic supremacists and football yobs with outdated delusions of colonial grandeur. Nice one.
You have given resurgence to right-wing nationalism, you will possibly have broken Europe up into competing states (eg: the cause of centuries of war) and you've probably broken up our very own Great British union as well. Yet somehow have the nerve to call yourself "patriots".
On top, you've condemned the people of Gibraltar to a very uncertain, tense future too. (If you don't know why or what I'm referring to, you really shouldn't have been allowed to vote in the first place.)
But what I maybe take most offence at, is you've allowed an absolute monster of a man, Nigel Farage, to stand up and tell the people of Britain that we the rational and non-xenophobic... we who see people as human beings and not a country of origin, that WE are neither "decent" or apparently even supposedly "real" people. Whether you share his views, whether or not you yourself are racist etc, it matters not - the result is the same, and shame on you for allowing such a thing to happen. I for one cannot forgive that.
No - we're not going to just "be quiet". We are fucking outraged. The only difference is we're expressing our fury with words, as opposed to the violence and bigotry your side would no doubt have demonstrated if common sense had actually won the day. (I suppose the only saving grace is we've at least avoided that bit.) I actually dared to hope the tragedy of Jo Cox's murder might've woken "decent" people up to what was really going on here - but sadly not.
To the many friends I've made across Europe over the past few years, and European friends over here... to my friends in France and Germany (two of my favourite places in the world), Poland, Spain, Portugal etc, I apologise on behalf of my ignorant nation. I apologise for the fact we have learned no lessons from history, and I apologise for the fact we have told you you're not welcome in our country. Please believe that not all of us in Britain are so small-minded and full of misplaced bitterness/arrogance. If anything, please feel sorry for us: for the fact our nation is so easily manipulated and brainwashed by right-wing propaganda and subterfuge.
Btw, if you don't like this status, please feel free to delete me. (In fact, I think I'd prefer you did.) I don't care if it means losing 52% of my friends list. I am proud to stand by what I believe in, and will not "tone it down" to appease people who have violated my country and its humanitarian ethos. I am only standing here today because once upon a time, Britain actually WAS a noble and virtuous place, taking in Europeans fleeing for their lives - it certainly isn't any more."

Thursday, 16 June 2016

THE MARTYRDOM OF JO COX: A WAKE-UP CALL FOR BRITAIN?

RIP Jo Cox, 1974 - 2016
This is one of those terrible moments when something so awful has happened, I've instantly felt the need to commit thoughts to paper (or the 21st century online/screen equivalent), for fear my head might otherwise explode.

Only within the last hour have I read of the horrifying attack on MP for Batley and Spen of West Yorkshire, Jo Cox. The level of violence against this young wife and mother was just atrocious, utterly harrowing and beyond redemption, and in the last few minutes we've now learned she has in fact died from the inflicted injuries.

This is merely days after yet another gun massacre in America, at a gay club in one of the world's leading tourist destinations - Orlando. Prior to that, a few days before, a young singer from a U.S TV talent competition was shot dead whilst signing autographs for her fans. In recent weeks, we've seen passenger planes "disappearing" and getting shot down, nightclubs and music venues attacked by madmen - it's easy to understand why a good many people simply switch off to it all, and don't want to know. ("There's nothing I can do about it, so I'm going to enjoy my life - not rant or be miserable about things I can't change" is the type of argument often levelled at us, the implicitly criticised "ranters".)

However, sometimes there is. A misinformed and uninterested, spoon-fed populace has a moral and ethical responsibility to educate itself of the policies carried out in their name. In the same way, sometimes the misery and woe around us might seem senseless, but sometimes it isn't - sometimes it's a veritable symptom of what we, the populace, have mitigated and allowed to happen. The murder of this poor young woman in West Yorkshire today stands out in such respect, not only because it was truly heinous, but because it's the first assassination of a British politician in a very long time. (I believe there have only been about eleven in the whole of modern history.)

There is a lot going on in the world today. So many tragedies, so much violence, so many pressing issues. Such is always the case, but recently (certainly in the past few months), to many it seems the Western world is quite literally sliding to madness. Respectable, intelligent and well-meaning people we all know and associate with on a day-to-day basis are suddenly arguing in favour of dangerous and egocentric lunatics like Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage; it's hard to just sit back and watch that happen. It is giving strength to very sinister geopolitics. I can only imagine opposers of Hitler and his National Socialist party in 1930's Germany probably felt something similar, watching those around them shout and cheer in adoration of policies they recognised might take their nation to the darkest of places.

The similarities are all too disturbing, even for a rudimentary student of history. The right-wing media have whipped the UK populace into a frenzy, and what seemed unthinkable in recent years has suddenly become a populist movement gaining alarming momentum, for a host of allegedly "justified" reasons. The populists of 30's Germany... they too sought to be "unshackled" from the restrictions of Europe, they too blamed all their economic problems on foreigners, and immigrants. They too insisted Germany knew better, that they were superior, that they could stand alone, that their "powerless" leaders should be able to make decisions without being subject to the international community. And like National Socialism in 30's Germany, the movement's success has soared upon the shoulders of an outspoken "celebrity" politician's astute, almost Machiavellian opportunism (please see previous article: http://macs-mouth.blogspot.co.uk/2016/02/boris-johnson-affable-face-of-ambition.html). Boris Johnson's affable face on all this has proved catalyst to a populist landslide of "nationalism" that threatens to derail our economy, and renege on a mere 71 years of peace, prosperity and cooperation between Britain and mainland Europe. The importance of that cannot be overstated, and no potential repercussion dismissed as hyperbole.

Of course, if you point that out to those of the Brexit bandwagon, they condemn it as "sensationalism" - and will possibly go on to argue some cod-Patriotic dross about how our forefathers "fought against the corruption of Europe in the Second World War". (Yes, yes we did - you shortsighted cretins. We rooted out the weeds, and then we joined with them - that was the point of it all. We formed a greater international, European community. Now you want to tear that apart. Not because there's a tyrant annexing countries or murdering minorities or anything like that, but simply because you feel "there's too many bloody foreigners over here", and have been mindlessly herded into believing EU membership is the cause of all our economic problems.)

Jo Cox was a devoted Liberal, left-wing inclusionist and activist, as is her husband Brendan Cox. They were at the forefront of their local "Remain" campaign, and accounts suggest she was savagely murdered on the street by a far-right "Britain First" supporter: only days before this referendum that could change the world and international community as we know it. That is significant, and don't let any Brexit supporter tell you otherwise. This awful murder is very much a product of nationalist stirrings within this country, and whilst nobody would or should ever suggest all Brexit supporters condone such nationalist-inspired violence, those who do, will be voting for Brexit. In the same way, nobody would suggest all Brexit supporters are racists or national supremacists, but one thing is also true - all racists and national supremacists will be voting for Brexit.


Jo Cox's last Tweet, before her murder on June 16th, 2016.
Her Twitter page is filled with similar pro-remain sentiment.
Hopefully this horrendous incident will be Britain's equivalent of a rebellious teenager waking up the morning after a frenzied party, looking around in a moment of epiphany only to realise they're chucking their life away hanging out with ne'er-do-well, drug addled losers who'll inevitably drag them down to their level.

We should never blame an entire ethnic/cultural/political group for the actions of isolated terrorists, but neither should we acquiesce to their demands - even inadvertantly. At the very least, decent rational people should perhaps take stock and examine whether their own choices should share any common ground with such hate and malevolence. In other words, whatever the different reasons, justifications and/or motivations you may have Brexiteers, make no mistake - your decision will be pandering to people such as this "Britain First" psychopath. You follow and cheer the same voices, with the same mentality and same mindset - the only difference is they own newspapers and seats on the government. Many of you are our friends, family, our loved ones: we don't wish to offend you or imply you're terrible people - so we just tip-toe around the issue. But how or why your attitudes coincide is almost immaterial now, the point is we absolutely cannot and must not let divisive, aggressive nationalism have its way.

Though I doubt it would be of much consolation to Jo Cox's husband, children, or her family and friends she leaves behind, I cannot help but pray this horrible event might somehow shock the system and serve some greater purpose - perhaps prove the turning point and thunderous wake-up call Britain needs, finally impeding our steady spiral to division and potential disaster.

If it is, the late Labour MP Jo Cox will be nothing short of a 21st century martyr.

Monday, 30 May 2016

BRITAIN... UNDER MOBSTER RULE?



Roberto Saviano - a man who recognises true "corruption"
World-renowned expert on the Italian mafia, Roberto Saviano, has called the UK the most corrupt country in the world, and stated Brexit may make the situation "even more disastrous."

No shit.

Even so, half the British public are currently stumbling blindly into disaster, calling for the UK to be handed over to Eton's equivalent of The Krays. It's the one bit that no one seems to be discussing or acknowledging as a problem, though it quite literally terrifies me. I for one believe the EU could be the last line of defence for rights and civil liberty in this country.

If Brexit goes ahead, by the time the British public realise the enormity of what they've done, it will be too late. The UK will become little more than an isolated capitalist dictatorship; an overcrowded island of suppressed, insular and ill-informed people not able to travel freely within Europe or reside outside the UK without formal permission. An island at the mercy of Rupert Murdoch's propaganda machine and Theresa May's "Snooper's Charter", with no outside authority at all. Quite simply, no one to appeal to.

An island with very few resources, just privatised (sold-off) assets and celebrity culture, dependent solely on finance - on low-paid workers, foreign investment and military industrialism. Any fiscal savings from Brexit would be negated by a highly insecure geopolitical marketplace, and any such savings would never ever make their way into the taxpayer's purse any way! They'd line the pockets of the rich, like everything else. But perhaps more important than anything is that we'd become an island on the doorstep of countless foreign neighbours who'd despise us, and unilaterally punish our economy any way they could. Make no mistake about that.

However much out-campaigners try to frighten us with tales of Albanians and Turks arriving by the train-load, the UK is not part of the Schengen "free-movement" zone of mainland Europe. The UK is in fact able to control its borders better than any other leading EU nation, and is one of the richest to boot. If we proclaim to the world that our xenophobia and suspicion of foreign neighbours has won the day, even in spite of preferential treatment, it makes a very deliberate and irreversible statement that I doubt shall go down well on the continent at all.

Take a second to actually envisage what environment that could hypothetically create for the next generation of this country?

Europe has been at peace for less than a hundred years: a drop in the ocean of European history. So as much as Brexiteers try to belittle the suggestion as sensationalism, if we cause a domino effect that destroys this European Union, there will inevitably come a fallout, and very possibly a reckoning too. If on the other hand the EU doesn't fall apart, instead we've actively created the German led super-state that Winston Churchill/Tony Benn/Margaret Thatcher etc feared so much in the first place! And instead of having a voice and a seat at the table, we'll have upended that seat in a childish, arrogant tantrum of nationalistic superiority.

Like it or not, any student of history would probably admit that's exactly the sort of geopolitical event that can one day lead to armed tensions and conflict. Only this time, Britain has no empire/colonies to balance the scales: just a really low rate of corporation tax (that invites wolves from every nation to the door).
"If Brexit goes ahead, by the time the British public realise the enormity of what they've done, it will be too late."
To my friends who currently support a Brexit, if any of you are reading this, I understand your grievances, and even agree with some of them. I really do. It is not an easy choice we must make, but perhaps it is unfortunately a case of choosing the lesser of two evils. Lamenting that we should never have entered in the first place is categorically not the same as walking out, potentially toppling the economies and relations of countless other nations in the process.

Please look beyond the issues of immigration, the smokescreen of supposedly weakened British sovereignty (nonsense), and the jumbled incoherent figures constantly thrown about by both sides. Instead, start to consider the long-term geopolitical and social implications of an isolated Britain under Tory rule: a Britain none of us would be able to escape from, or appeal against. A Britain tied economically to either America, China, India or Russia by default, surrounded by European nations who'd hate us. Is that really what you'd prefer, Britain? Because from where I'm sitting, it doesn't seem a very smart move for our economy, or our security.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

TAKING ON TONY BENN [OPINION]

I never saw myself disagreeing with the late Tony Benn, a man whose principles I deeply respect.

As the European referendum approaches, both sides are ramping up their campaigns to persuade the British people in advance of June 23rd. Although I understand many of the pro-Brexit reservations, including opposition to unlimited immigration, I like many am generally in favour of unity: building bridges and working together for the greater good of a mankind without borders - not putting up walls to segregate, or keep out those we see as undesirable.

I was recently accused of being a "sensationalist" for saying the majority of those leading the Brexit campaign are some of the most odious, deeply oppressive and insidious people in our political sphere today, and provide more than enough reason for us to remain in. That may perhaps simplify a complicated debate, but I do believe the Brexit "clientele" speaks volumes.

However, today on Facebook, a friend named Marcello presented me with a conundrum. Marcello and I share a great deal of political sentiment, so I was surprised to see he'd posted a video encouraging Brexit - featuring a man whose ethics and beliefs I deeply respect. That man was the late Tony Benn.

Here is the video:

https://www.facebook.com/euroscepticvideos/videos/1698006607125190/

I believe when presented with a coherent pervasive argument that contradicts your own position, you must either bow to its reasoning, or argue laterally why you think it flawed. So I'll opt to attempt the latter.

In relation to the great man's comments, I think there are a few dimensions that need to be considered. I agree with his description of the EU as an "empire"; in fact I've philosophised for a long time that it's a modern day Roman Empire, albeit one conquered by trade deals and stock markets instead of testudo formations. It makes no difference to the conquered what nationality their conquerors are, or whose soldiers are slaughtering their families, a foreign emperor's or the local governor's. Violence is violence. In the same way, what does does the nationality of he/she who writes the laws really matter? Surely we should rather examine whether those laws are oppressive or fair and equitable, and judge whether we want them or not on that basis? I for one don't care if the laws come from Brussels if they're making the UK a better place.

This notion of empire-building only has such awful connotations because empires were historically forged by violence and oppression, at the point of a sword or bayonet. Long term though, ultimately the flip side to empirical conquest is that it's often advanced mankind as a species, and provided great progress and security for normal citizens. There is nothing to fear in a title alone, it's how that title is used. To be part of a greater union, much like a trade union, can affect better conditions for all within its fold. That's a principle I tend to agree with.

Britain faces a stark choice, as it has for the past century and more - to ally with its neighbours in Europe, or a superpower across the Atlantic. The difference is that now, unlike in the early 20th century, that superpower is now a completely corrupt entity. It's no longer "land of the free", it's a military industrial complex intent on global financial domination. What's more, that same superpower is in decline, and would be willing to do a deal with our neighbours and completely sideline us if it proved to their benefit. If a union or "empire" of financial ties and common markets can ensure peace in Europe where religions and colonial muscle-flexing failed for so many centuries, I really do consider it a small price to pay. So should we all. The younger generations of today may have never known a Europe at war, with death and destruction on the very door step, but my parents' and grandparents' generations certainly do.

If Britain abandons the EU, we will either be completed isolated (and most likely despised), or have no viable alternative but to jump into bed with the U.S, Russia, or China. We will be forced to do pretty much whatever it takes to guarantee good diplomatic ties with at least one (or perhaps all) of them: that's just "realpolitik". None of those powers seem to me to be any more "democratic" or "humane" than Europe, nor do they offer any geographical frontline defence to us in the UK either.

We have far more in common culturally with Europe - or we really should do, any way. I say that as someone who's spent a great deal of time in both Europe and the United States: I certainly know where I felt more comfortable, generally speaking. China and Russia are different cases entirely, and what worries me is our UK government have been bending over backwards to the Chinese for a while now, pursuing policies overtly detrimental to us but seemingly characteristic of "appeasement" to an aggressive superpower. It's almost like the UK is hedging its bets with regard to future alliances in a very uncertain world.

Even if we ignore wider geopolitical/financial repercussions of a Brexit, Tony Benn here talks about his love for "democracy". And the simple fact is, I doubt Tony Benn would EVER have predicted a British government would be as oppressive and dictatorial as to completely disregard any notions of democracy - certainly not in the way this Tory government have since 2015. The man sadly died in 2014 when Britain still lived under a coalition; he did not live to see the snake in the grass rear its head.

"In Britain you vote for a government and therefore the government has to listen to you, and if you don't like it, you can change it." 

These are Tony Benn's exact words, and his fundamental reasoning why our politics were supposedly superior to Europe's. Except there's one colossally large fly in the ointment: that being that the post 2015 Tory government doesn't listen. At all. They simply change the rules, and make jibes and run smear campaigns if they're met with opposition. They're taking steps to silence any and all dissent, including the power of trade unions. They are quite literally re-drawing the political map and rigging the democratic process to ensure a continued grip on power for generations to come. They've sold out the UK's assets and democracy to corporate/capitalist interests to a much much MUCH greater extent than the very European neighbours we now consider disassociating with. It's a preposterous hypocrisy. We of all countries are considered the nation of shop-keepers/merchants and bankers, even pre-dating Napoleon and his famous indictment. (Damn those pesky French and their notions of "liberté".)

Major changes to the social and political landscape of the UK since 2010 demonstrate despite pretences otherwise, a UK government clearly does have the power to alter our society and allocate funds when/where they see fit. It's exactly because they've done so, that we also know they cannot in any way be trusted to protect the less fortunate in our society, or uphold the best interests of the British public. Not their privacy, their justice, their health or education services, or the average household's financial security. What in God's name makes the Tories more trustworthy than the EU commission? Even if you're deeply sceptical and believe both entities to be oppressive in nature, surely some counter-balance is a good thing? Better that the Tories are accountable to someone? (Look what was unleashed when they no longer had the Lib Dems to rein them in.)

The EU, for all its faults, is government to a far greater and contiguous body of people. There's many more bodies to demand their rights are observed. Many of our EU laws imposed in the UK have been for the equitable protection of citizens, including civil and consumer rights. Those big and notoriously exploitative corporations that supply our housing, our energy, water, our communications and food (eg: the type typically with a Tory on the board of directors), do you trust them? Because most of them have only been put in check by EU laws, not UK. We are the realm more under the whip of big business and money than any other in Europe, if not the world. I definitely wouldn't trust these Tories to observe any human and/or civil right above the lure of corporate profit - after all, it's profit that usually ends up in their pockets.

On the contrary, I fear they'll send us all back to the workhouses if given the chance.

Monday, 18 April 2016

HELP THE AGED ROCK SINGER [COMMENT]


A lot of people are slagging off Axl Rose: joking his voice is in no way good enough to be performing with Guns N'Roses these days, let alone fronting AC/DC as well.

Please guys, don't condemn an aging rock singer for having a lesser vocal range than he used to, bad dress sense, a "dad bod", and an increasing propensity for personal injury.

Ahem. Just a thought.

If anything, take the piss for the fact:
1) he's a colossal bell-end, and split up a great band that should've had countless more albums over the past twenty years, and
2) he wasn't the greatest singer in the first place - just distinctive. Much as a chainsaw slicing through a live goat sounds distinctive.

I do frickin' love G'N'R though.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

THE COURAGE OF CONVICTION [OPINION]



https://www.facebook.com/itvnews/videos/10153687093977672/?pnref=story

Dennis Skinner, you are an absolute hero.

I was genuinely moved to see this: an old man from the generation that saved this country from fascism, defying the angry fools and bullies chanting around him; risking his own career and defying a tyrant, all in the name of justice. I cannot applaud the man enough. What courage and conviction, how amazing.

Compare that to the snivelling subterfuge of our Prime Minister. (I certainly know which of them I believe the more decent, honourable man.)

I'd also like to point out the absolute vomit-stained hypocrisy of Skinner's ejection. John Bercow has sat back for almost a year, allowing the Tories to behave like jeering idiots: rambling on with their filibusters, shouting down and insulting those who would challenge them (most notably Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP), belittling them, and behaving in a way inconceivably inappropriate and unfit for leadership of this nation. But one seasoned politician dares to speak his mind (in his allotted speaking time), and he is literally thrown out of the House of Commons - for no more than use of a word that is neither particularly offensive, or in any way obscene.

Now that IS obscene.

Apparently it's ok for our PM to label an entire political party as "terrorist sympathisers" though. It's ok for guffawing Tories to shout over the leader of the opposition, constantly interrupt him, making jibes such as "who are you?", "wear a tie" etc; it's also alright for John Bercow to actively belittle and insult a junior minister (as he does in this clip around 1:06), implying no less vitriolic a slur than Dennis Skinner has just been reprimanded for?!? It's utterly preposterous, and hypocritical to outlandish proportions.

‪#‎ResignDavidCameron‬

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

SOCIALISM'S PITFALL: IDENTIFYING WITH THE HIPPIES? [OPINION]


"Parliament under a Corbyn government, May 2020"


Today it was announced that Jeremy Corbyn has accepted an invitation to speak at this year's Glastonbury Festival.

It's an interesting move, but I'm not convinced it's the most tactically sound.

Whilst it's great he's embracing youth culture and stirring those who might typically be disenfranchised from politics, it's also the Left's stereotyped association with artists/hippies/druggies and general bohemian-types that makes half the country vote Right!

There's really nothing in this world as synonymous with that bohemian spirit as Glastonbury. So when those voters see inevitable footage of thousands upon thousands of people (fitting that exact description) soaked to the skin in a concoction of mud, rain, sweat and their own excrement chanting Jeremy Corbyn's name and going bat-shit crazy in a mosh-pit, make no mistake - it will terrify them to their very core.

The Right wing media will use it to crippling effect. I can predict the headlines now: certainly there'll be pictures of revellers in highly compromising and inebriated states, dancing around like idiots or behaving recklessly (a bit like the one I've posted), splashed on a front page with a tag-line to the effect of "these are the people who vote for Jeremy Corbyn, you don't want to put them in charge, do you????"

Worse still, it will be quite effective.

The Labour Party should perhaps be careful that in the process of pursuing new voters, they don't totally alienate those who already do, or mainstream Britain as a whole. Even a traditional Tory voter finally wising up to the evils of this government might be very put off by the decision, and swayed back to the Conservative camp. (My late mum, an educated woman born in the era of WWII, would certainly have been one of them.)

Matters as personal as cultural taste and musical identity should perhaps be avoided in politics for that very reason. Picture an upper class politician, addressing the more privileged audiences who might attend something like the English National Opera or Ascot: would that not be equally loathsome for some? By showing specific allegiance to a particular group, you alienate those at the other end of the spectrum. At least, that's what happens when politics become irrevocably tribal. Effectively we're forced to support one of 2-4 competing football teams, and as with football, voters usually pick their team according to where they live, who their family/friends support, and who they more identify with. They'll then stick with that team, even if they consistently lose - or take on weak and unpopular players/managers. The last thing it's usually to do with is competence of the men on that particular team, or a genuine admiration of footballing skill.

In the same way, political identity is influenced almost entirely by instinct and social convention - as opposed to pesky concerns such as what's morally correct or prudent in any given situation. True democracy would be voting on governmental policy on a case-by-case basis, decided by a populous and politicians unencumbered of the title either "Montague or Capulet". Back in the real world though, Jeremy Corbyn will be construed as identifying with one against the other.

Not to mention of course, there may be a good many attending Glastonbury who have no interest or political stance whatsoever; people who actively want to escape tedious complications of the real world. That is their right. There might even be the odd Tory voter present - they're liable to be found in a VIP area somewhere away from the commoners, wearing a monocle and scoffing on pheasant pate. And one could possibly argue even misguided/pitiless agents of the damned have the right to not have politics forced down their throat at a music festival.

Therefore, maybe we should just keep it simple, and leave music festivals for music fans. They're one of the few sacred things left. I say that as both a devoted music fan, and a self-confessed Left-leaning political ranter.

Monday, 28 March 2016

THE IMBALANCE OF WESTERN MEDIA [OPINION]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jGRgI-b_c4

This link is to a news report from "Russia Today". Russia, eg: the supposed "great enemy", the war-mongering militant nation that allegedly bullies its smaller neighbours, threatens world peace, and persecutes minorities (including LGBT people).

Some, or all of these may be true - and yet RT often demonstrates a frankness and basic humanity I'm yet to see in Western mainstream news media. I've seen several examples of it, this particular report is not just a flash in the pan. Also in stark contrast, RT welcome journalists of extremely varied backgrounds and opinions, and unlike Western media (certainly the more Right-wing stations, and more so in America) those journalists are actually allowed to speak at length without the constant interruptions of a host who wishes to aggrandise him/herself, or steer the programme in the direction demanded by producers. Eg: say something they don't like on Fox News, they will simply talk over you, or cut you off. I for one was brought up to believe that only wrong-doers need fear or suppress the truth; ergo a news service that censors its guests or picks and chooses which arguments are put forward, has a clear agenda, and is almost certainly unreliable.

Whatever your thoughts, I hope most of us would agree there is something fundamentally wrong with terrorist atrocities in the West being considered important/newsworthy, but the lives of those lost in the Middle East and Africa (every single day) somehow matter less. And if you agree with that much, the next question is obviously "why do our news channels not cover those stories?" The reason is simply the Right-wing press WANT you to feel that way. They want Westerners to feel we are more important and somehow higher up the evolutionary scale, even if only on a very subtle/subconscious level. And it's worked! In fact, it's worked so well, and we've become so insular and selfish within our capitalist/celebrity driven cultures, we no longer give a crap what's happening to people up the road or in the next borough, let alone people from another continent. Those who do care are usually powerless to enact any change whatsoever any way.

Of course, the single greatest cause of the imbalance is our media's desire to inspire fear, with tragic news closer to home. Fear is the singular best friend to austere and unpopular, warlike governments. After all, a populous in fear needs strong, unapologetic "leadership" to take "decisive" and often objectionable action, whereas a calm/relaxed populous will naturally begin to lean more Left-wing. Happiness paves the way for tolerance, but fear can be wheeled out to justify just about any oppressive action, at any given time. In essence, it really is as simple as that.

Pointing out this imbalance doesn't diminish the significance of horrific terror attacks such as those in Brussels or Paris last year; it only illustrates how and why we are reminded of certain tragedies every single day, whilst others are omitted. The answers to such simple questions can often make analysis of complex/shadowy geopolitics a lot more straightforward - you find yourself less easily distracted.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

BREXIT AND BORIS JOHNSON: THE AFFABLE FACE OF AMBITION [OPINION]


Amid the vast collection of political and social catastrophes thrust upon us by this Conservative government in what's unbelievably been only ten months, I admit I wasn't concerned about Britain exiting the European Union. Much like the issue of Scottish independence, I simply never believed it would happen. Whatever sham of democracy was held up and dangled before the Scottish people, I simply knew the government of Great Britain (and the former British Empire) would not just "give back" virtually half its territory and resources, least of all under a Tory led government. If you think of it through the eyes of a cold shrewd tactician playing a board-game like Risk, it's the equivalent of deliberately losing, throwing away your cards. And that is how they see it, make no mistake.

Similarly, I never really believed Britain would exit the E.U; I thought even its discussion was merely to satisfy the emerging xenophobic element within our country. Those poor fools who cling to ridiculous belief that all our problems are caused by foreigners, benefit cheats and lazy people (nothing at all to do with the elites who've stolen all the wealth), and that life would be so much better without the oppressive "dictatorial" voice of Brussels ruining our quintessentially British society. I cannot hide my contempt for such naivety. In what way have our government not got enough power? David Cameron's government have broken every promise they ever made, sold off half the state, and destroyed the lives of thousands upon thousands of the most vulnerable in our country, all in less than a year. What on Earth could possibly make anyone honestly believe these Tory tycoons will make life better for us, or fairer? If ever there was a government already believing it's accountable to no-one, who can throw any pre-conceived rule-book out the window, it's these guys. Thank heavens they are still currently accountable to another political body; certainly with regard to pesky issues like human rights, workers' rights, religious freedoms, and environmental/economic policies. The political coup by this Conservative party has been swifter, bolder, and more ruthless than anyone could have predicted, so God help us all if they're truly left to do as they like. In fact, in a Tory Britain of the future, I'm not sure I'd even be fee to share these thoughts and opinions.

However, it's not the pros and cons of "Brexit" I'd like to discuss - it's that I believe yet another carefully planned political manipulation and borderline subterfuge has taken place, one I'm convinced will reverse everything predicted. In the same way the political media machine went into overdrive in the eleventh hour to manipulate the 2015 General Election, the likelihood of Brexit has now dramatically increased virtually overnight, and not because of newly revealed information or a tide of anti European sentiment, national pride etc. No, I believe it's quite possible we will exit from Europe - but mostly down to the astute political aspirations and machinations of one man: Boris Johnson.

This jumping aboard the Brexit bandwagon is little more than a clear bid by the affable blonde buffoon to be the next leader of the Conservative party, and in all probability, our next Prime Minister. It is well known that a good majority of hard-line Tories are in favour of us leaving the E.U, and David Cameron's vested interest in seeing big business/finance get their way (and Britain staying in) is rumoured to be splitting the party in two. Normally I would welcome such news, but whereas the Tories would also be typically closing ranks to present a united front, even a decisive split in the party doesn't phase them now - not in the new age of "one-horse-race" UK politics. Boris Johnson has stepped up to lead this rebellion having shown little advocacy for the Brexit campaign until now; on the contrary, having championed the multiculturalism of London, the importance of our economy and trade ties, our love of freedom... yadah yadah yadah. In other words, he's practically u-turned at a time of critical weakness for David Cameron simply to make a name for himself, and to be seen as the viable "alternative".

That timing is of great significance. Osborne and Cameron are deeply unpopular (with good reason), and if there's one thing the men behind the curtain know, it's that when cracks in an old wall start to show, a new lick of paint will temporarily disguise them. Putting a new face on the Tory party to publicly "relent" on the most deplorable of their recent legislations would actually be a pretty smart move right now. Boris Johnson is a (somewhat) beloved clown, and as the U.S have shown us in recent months - there's really no limit to how far a blonde fop famous for making a twerp of himself on telly can go. Such is the world we live in. The popularity of celebrity culture and reality TV is far greater than that of politics, so merging of the two makes the latter far more palatable for the gormless/easily led in society.

The truth is, even I like Boris Johnson. Well, I say "like", what I mean is he amuses me. I even read his book on Winston Churchill recently, and he's quite an entertaining writer. First and foremost, he's a man who became famous not for political skill, but for being the veritable bumbling buffoon of the established political/gentry class. It was endearing, and he certainly seemed harmless enough. I still maintain it was his hosting of the BBC's "Have I Got News For You" that actually catapulted him to becoming Mayor of London: an office I doubt in his wildest dreams he'd ever thought he'd realistically occupy. Again, that is the new way of things. A well-known recognisable face and character the population feel they know personally are far more effectual tools than ethics or genuine ability - that sure worked for Boris.

However, that is why I believe the man to be so dangerous. I've said it for some time. He is the affable/friendly face of a deeply oppressive regime, able to distract the masses from the horrors his party enforce - with tomfoolery and a bumbling, Hugh Grant-like Britishness. In short, he's one of the best weapons and propaganda machines an inhumanly boring and uninspiring Conservative party currently have at their disposal. Worse still, he doesn't really stand for anything other than his own ambition and being in the spotlight - he'll be very easily manoeuvred by the "Dark Lords" and Tory heavyweights, simply to retain their favour in his climb to power.

Some of history's most inhumane leaders are said to have been kind, warm and charming in person (Adolf Hitler being the first that springs to mind). Of course, that's exactly how they get to where they are, and is how they're able to manipulate populations to close their eyes and ears to evil done in their name. I really can't imagine anyone better than Boris Johnson with that aim in mind. (If Mr Bean tells us we're off to invade another country, it couldn't possibly be for ignoble reasons, right?)

One particular detail really sticks in my craw. In a recent article in The Guardian by Michael White (that echoes many of these sentiments), the author flippantly mentions that Boris Johnson currently earns a yearly salary of £275,000 for his column in The Telegraph. That is of course before his salary as Mayor of London, or before any of the fees brought in by public appearances and endorsements (for which he will have an agent, like any other "celebrity"). Also before the great wealth and "old money" his family are already blessed to have. That just disgusts me. We have a country and economy falling apart, where all but the elite are squeezed, and the least fortunate are literally being starved and killed off. The average citizen only earns about £25,000 for working full-time as a slave to the system, just to survive, and here's a guy who earns over ten times that for his less important, "part-time" job, peddling Tory propaganda. Eg: he's about as out of touch with real issues facing real people as you will ever find, and lacks any notion of empathy whatsoever (like the rest of his ilk).

For all the many many Tory slights, I wonder what Jeremy Corbyn would do with such extravagant wealth? For God's sake, his followers clubbed together to reimburse him for a push-bike, and he donated the money to charity! Perhaps he'd see to it so the grotesquely wealthy are made to "make do" for a little bit, and not continue fleecing average people? Perhaps he'd demand that the pot be distributed a little more fairly?

That is of course, why he terrifies them so much.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

ONE MINUTE TO MIDNIGHT [OPINION]


http://www.thecanary.co/2016/02/13/isis-sideshow-really/

It's no exaggeration to say this article by Carlyn Harvey made me feel sick to my stomach, perhaps more than any other I've ever read (and I read a fair bit of alarming stuff). This is not a struggle half the world away: this could be war coming to our very doorstep. Recent actions by NATO explicitly fit a narrative that supposed "left-wing conspiracy theorists" have been shouting for a long time now: that the conflict in the Middle East is as much about Western encirclement of Russia as anything else, and we've actually been on the road to a new Cold War (or worse still WWIII) for some time.

People may not want to believe it, but Western portrayal of the Syria crisis is nothing more than propaganda. Our involvement is for financial/economic and strategic benefit, nothing to do with humanity or democracy, and first and foremost it was an attack on a regime firmly allied to Russia. Isis/Daesh are (or at least originated) as Western funded/trained insurgents intended to cripple the Assad regime from within - there's more than enough evidence of this. Knowing that full-well, Russia joined the conflict to actually take down Daesh (not pretend to, like everyone else). Faced with that, Western stratagem became to destroy the region entirely - leaving it useless and insignificant. That's why the EU suddenly rushed in guns blazing, and why citizens were not consulted by their supposed democratic representatives: Russian involvement demanded a different and immediate response.

The Ukraine crisis was/is essentially the same Western/NATO mission to destabilise/threaten Russia, but on a different front. Same technique though, almost exactly. And all of it was predicted years ago. I wrote something back in December that included a YouTube video interview with academic Sam Ramidani in 2012 (http://macs-mouth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/a-prediction-from-three-years-ago.html); please watch it and see for yourself how every single domino is falling exactly as forecast.

When I recently heard of the reignition of the Alexander Litvinenko story, and the UK government's "out of the blue" condemnation of an assassination that pretty much the rest of us accepted was a Russian political assassination almost a decade ago, I became edgy. Why now after all?

But the real warning light I've been waiting for with baited breath is early-stage forecast of U.S aggression towards Iran: the last of Russia's allies in the region, sharing its border - being also the gateway to India and the Far East. I've been praying to hear nothing, then a few days ago I read how Iran have announced they intend to no longer trade oil in U.S dollars, but Euros. Eg: EXACTLY what Saddam Hussein did, and what some say was the real cause of the Iraq war. It should be a huge news story, but media coverage has unsurprisingly been extremely thin.

Then a few days later, this? It's not coincidence. I really hope I'm wrong, but it genuinely seems to be approaching one minute to midnight.