Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Olympics: A Wonderful Time To Hide What We Are Up To: Chapter 3

Now it is time to bury the decision to go to war.
Day by day the media are devoting 90% of their attention to Olym-pictures and stories. Just the time to slip out the stuff that would normally be listed under ‘light blue touch paper and stand well back.’
Try this one.
“The government has vetoed an order by the independent freedom of information watchdog to release the minutes of cabinet meetings held immediately before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The decision was announced on Tuesday by Dominic Grieve, the attorney general, the only minister to have access to papers of a previous administration, in this case Tony Blair's Labour government.
Grieve said he issued a certificate under the Freedom of Information Act vetoing disclosure after consulting former Labour ministers, his cabinet colleagues, and the leader of the opposition, Ed Miliband.
He described the case as "exceptional" and one where, in his view, the public interest demanded the papers should be kept secret. He says he took into account "serious potential prejudice to the maintenance of effective cabinet government".
The attorney said he also considered the fact that "the issue discussed was exceptionally serious, being a decision to commit British service personnel to an armed conflict situation",(my emphasis) that the issue "remains the focus of both domestic and international interest", and that "Iraq remains very much a live political issue in its own right" with links to the "overall security situation in the Middle East and the perceived link between the terror threat to the UK and military action in Iraq".Guardian Online 31/7/2012
The Reverend Blair, Gods representative on earth - and apparently his chosen holy warrior - is attempting to make a comeback in British politics. It would not do for the lies and deception practiced on the people of the UK to see the light of day right now. What could be better than  a compliant Tory toerag to succumb to pressure from the security services and ensure that Blair’s brazen whoppers remain hidden. And how heartening to see young Milibean supporting the cover up.
Never was it truer to say that they are all in it together.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Recommended Reading

Andrew Jennings has been making a nuisance of himself for many years in the world of big sport. He has exposed the rotten culture at the heart of FIFA and the IOC. He is not on either organisation's Christmas card list. Anyone with interest in the shadier dealings at the heart of our political elite should regularly check Andrew's blog sites: Transparency in Sport and Transparency in Sport blog. His exposure of the corruption involved in awarding the World Cup to Brazil has made him something of a national hero there.  www.transparencyinsportblog.wordpress.com

Pat Farrington is a doughty campaigner who worked in the NHS as a radiographer, hence the title of her blog 'xraypat'    www.xraypat.blogspot.co.uk

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Olympics: A Wonderful Time To Hide What We Are Up To: Chapter 2

On the day of the Opening Ceremony we had news that Academies could employ untrained teachers. Pretty bad. But wait - there’s worse. How about outsourcing the support system for our nuclear weapons? That’s right. Handing over the running and maintenance of the deadliest weapons in the world to a G4S proxy. Even Torygraph readers were not impressed having read the following:
“The MoD has signed a 15-year contract with ABL Alliance to provide support for the Trident weapons system at HM Naval Base Clyde.
Under the new contract 149 MoD civilian posts will transfer to the alliance.
The jobs are in industrial and technical grades, warehousing and logistic support services, while supervisors and managers are also transferring.
Thirty-nine Royal Navy posts will also be seconded to the alliance, which comprises AWE plc, Babcock and Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems (LMUKSS).
The MoD said it decided in May 2011 that the most effective way to sustain the workforce in the future was to use an experienced supplier within the private sector.
ABL Alliance will provide support to the Trident Strategic Weapon System at the Royal Naval Armament Depot (RNAD) Coulport and the Strategic Weapon Support Building (SWSB) Faslane.
The MoD said: "HM Naval Base Clyde has an excellent safety record and we are determined to maintain the highest standards of safety.” Sunday Telegraph 29/7/2012
One of the commentators on the piece expressed the view that ABL Alliance does not even exist yet. He posited the thought that in four or five years it would have current Defence Ministers on its board after they have left office.
A little quote arising from the marvelous opening ceremony points the way forward. A writer on the project said the fact that almost 10,000 people kept the secret didn’t surprise him. “Those volunteers redefined the nation for me. We are told people need to be paid great sums to get results, but those who are motivated by money cock up. Because they’re crap. People who are motivated by things like love, family, friendship and humanity are the ones who have something to offer.” Frank Cottrell Boyce
There are millions of decent people in the UK who are putting up with the follies of a wealthy, greedy, nasty and fundamentally stupid so called elite. 

It is time for a root and branch revolution and put humanity back in charge.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Olympics - good days to bury bad plans

No-one who knows the squit wishing to privatise education should be in any way surprised that the day the Olympics began was the day it was announced that it was ok for Academies to hire unqualified teachers. 
My old dad used to say judge them by their deeds, not by their words. He was right fifty years ago and he is just as right today. Gove (for it is he) talks with all the skill of a snake-oil salesman but he is a deeply untrustworthy loathsome little shit. He has long term plans to hive off groups of schools calling themselves ‘Academies’ to private companies in this rush to outsource everything of value before they are rumbled. 
As G4S have shown, outsourcing lines the pockets of the bosses, leaves workers undervalued and underpaid and provides a significantly worse service. But they do pay big bucks into Tory coffers so that is alright then.
Watch out for more sneaky underhand press releases from this disreputable bunch of self-serving toerags.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Why does anyone bank with Barclays?

The news today that the man with a lot of the responsibility for fixing the Libor rate has walked off with nearly £9 million takes some digesting. A year ago a rioter was given a six-month sentence for stealing a bottle of water, “As an example”. 
What is sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander. Oh really...
Captains of Industry and High Financiers are seemingly judged by different criteria. They are above the law.
So if the plod and m'learned friends are not going to act, then the least anyone can do who still has a Barclays bank account is to simply transfer it to a much less greedy bank. Draw all the money out, close the account and leave these elevated execrable egregious fools to wither.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Cash in hand - foot in gob.

Oh dear. Just when the hopping, skipping and jumping was about to bring cheer to the plebs, a junior minister opens his mouth and puts his foot in it. Calling plumbers morally wrong for doing jobs for cash reminded the proles just how inept and hypocritical this government is. 
“Defer your tax payments for several years and save billions in tax? Certainly Mr Vodaphone.” 
“Don’t worry about your little 'arrangements' Mr Green, no-one with any clout will notice.”
“Call yourself a limited company to avoid paying the appropriate amount of income tax? What a good idea you thousands of BBC employees - or should that be thousands of budding entrepreneurs!”
This in a week when it was revealed that umpteen trillion is squirreled away by billionaires and corporate giants in offshore tax havens all over the world.
John Major waded into very turbulent waters when he spoke fleetingly of a return to basic values. The ‘Back to Basics’ call was seized upon, particularly by the tabloids, and became a stick to beat his government with as several philandering and corrupt Ministers found out to their cost. Bringing morality into public pronouncements is highly risky. Throwing stones in greenhouses etc. 
Today there are revelations in the Torygraph that many ministers have paid cash for services in their expenses claims. Including Cameron, Clegg and Osborne. Whoops. 
Let the last word on this sorry matter go to a commenter on an online article on the subject in the Torygraph, “It will be a very cold day in hell before I take lessons in morality from this shower of shit.” 

Monday, 23 July 2012

“Two week drug festival on the Thames” Chapter 6

It’s not just me......
“Let us remind ourselves of the claims made for the Games by the pro-Olympians. First, they said that it would showcase Britain to the world. London 2012 has indeed been generating headlines around the globe, headlines such as "No gold medal for security" in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and "London's show of farce" in the Vancouver Province as the rest of the planet has a chuckle at the inability of bungling old Brits to recruit enough security guards even when they've been given seven years' notice. The failure of G4S has been colossal, the company's performance as abysmal as its chief executive's attempts to explain himself before the home affairs select committee. Some questions are still to be answered also by the Home Office and Locog, the private company that contracted G4S and whose responsibility for £2bn of Olympic spend needs a rigorous audit......The next big claim of the pro-Olympians was the vulgarly monetary one that the Games would make a profit for Britain. This is a line that David Cameron and his understrappers have been pushing hard in recent days as they try to justify to an austerity-strapped nation the cost of an event in which £27m will be blown on the opening ceremony alone.
The prime minister says that Britain "will make £13bn" from the Games, a figure calculated by statisticians at the Department of Wild Guesses, the Ministry of Thin Air and the Office of Think of a Number and Double It. The truth is that the Games rarely pay any tangible dividend for the host nation. Construction firms may turn a profit. The panjandrums who run the International Olympic Committee are very happy because they make vast sums from the TV rights. But the host nation almost always ends up well out of pocket after cost over-runs, the security bill and working days lost to Games disruption.
The "legacy" is only for those who are in love with white elephants. The future of the stadium is still moot. The Olympic velodrome is a handsome building for which no one can see a purpose after the Games. There will be some new housing in a previously derelict part of east London, but constructing an Olympic Park was a very expensive way of going about that. New York had regeneration projects as part of its bid and has gone ahead with them anyway – at a fraction of the cost.
As was predictable – and indeed predicted by those of us who examined the effect on previous host cities – the Olympics are having a baleful impact on London. Fearing traffic gridlock and oppressive security, residents flee. Some tourists come to watch the Games, but more are scared away. The Mall, Horse Guards and St James's Park have been in lock-down for weeks.
Every time I step in the London underground, I am assailed by posters and the booming voice of Boris warning Londoners to stay out of town during the period of Olympic occupation. And Lord Coe alone knows what fate may befall anyone caught in the vicinity wearing a T-shirt that is not approved by the corporate sponsors and the authoritarian jobsworths enforcing their branding rights. The siting of surface-to-air missiles in parks and on the top of flats completes the alluring city-under-martial-law look. It is like stepping into a dystopian future in which Britain is run by a military junta headed by Ronald McDonald.
London's shops, restaurants, bars, theatres, cinemas and concert halls are going to have a lean time of it during the siege. Hoteliers, who initially jacked up their room rates in greedy expectation of a Games windfall, are now frantically slashing prices to try to fill the many empty beds. The luxury hotels of Mayfair alone are happy because it is on their five-star beds that many of the VIPs and IOC bureaucrats will rest their pampered heads. Limousines swooshing along Soviet-style "Zil" lanes will whisk the Olympic nomenklatura across the city through traffic lights phased to green while working Londoners fume.
This was supposed to be "the People's Games". Why couldn't the Olympic bureaucrats stay at the Stratford Holiday Inn or take the rail line that they insisted was built? Ah, but that would mean rubbing shoulders with the poor saps who are paying for their privileges.
The most risible of the claims made by pro-Olympians is that the Games will inspire the host nation to become fitter. The heavy presence of McDonald's, Coke and Cadbury among the sponsors gives the lie to any notion that the Games are about promoting healthier lifestyles unless you suffer the delusion that a diet of cheeseburgers, liquid sugar and Mars bars will turn you into a rival to Usain Bolt. Studies of previous Games have found no evidence that they improve the host nation's health. Australians are no more sporty since Sydney 2000. The Los Angeles Olympics didn't make Americans thinner.” Andrew Rawnsley Observer 22/7/12
The Mail on Sunday had a feature on the mega yachts owned by the billionaires who are deigning to grace us with their tax avoiding presence, to take their seats at the 100 metres. It also mentioned the arrangements for the IOC. 

Thanks to the Mail on Sunday for the gin palace images

“Mr Rogge had a five-strong police motorcycle escort as he was whisked up the M4 into central London in a chauffeur-driven BMW, using the exclusive Olympic Lane to avoid traffic jams. He was one of more than a dozen or so IOC grandees ferried to the five-star 453-room London Hilton on Park Lane, which has been block-booked by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG).
The hotel has been dubbed ‘Fortress Hilton’ because of the heavy security in place, and staff and guests can enter only after they have passed through airport-style scanners and been frisked by guards.” Mail on Sunday 22/7/12

Saturday, 21 July 2012

“Two week drug festival on the Thames” Chapter 5

Olympic Police state? 
“The former London 2012 "ethics tsar" Meredith Alexander has accused police of an "Olympic-sized overreaction", saying they broke up a theatre performance designed to highlight the problems of corporate sponsorship of the Games and arrested six people on suspicion of criminal damage for spilling custard.
Alexander, who was behind the event in Trafalgar Square in central London on Friday, quit her role as a commissioner of the Olympic sustainability watchdog earlier this year over the awarding of a £7m Olympic sponsorship deal to Dow Chemical. Dow owns Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), responsible for the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal, India, which killed 25,000 people.
Alexander described how 25 police officers moved in after the 15-minute piece of theatre, which was performed to explain objections to sponsorship of the Olympics by companies such as Dow, BP and Rio Tinto.
Police sources confirmed that six individuals were arrested in Trafalgar Square for criminal damage. Alexander said the individuals were led away in handcuffs after green custard used in the show spilled on to the ground.
Three of those arrested were actors in the performance, the other three were in the process of cleaning up the custard, which had been poured over the actors.
Alexander said: "Dow, BP and Rio Tinto are spending millions to tell the public how sustainable they are. We did a 15-minute piece of theatre to reveal the truth and as a result of this piece of theatre 25 police officers turned up and six people were arrested. It is an Olympic-sized overreaction."
The performance – entitled Greenwash Gold 2012 awards – involved three actors representing the three companies having the green custard poured over their heads.”
Guardian online 21/7/12
This event becomes more dystopian by the day. 

The actions of 'the authorities' become more and more despicable.

A little ray of sunshine amid the gloom was the news that Cabinet Ministers are reported to be mightily pissed off. They have been banned from the Zil lanes and are supposed to travel to Olympic events by public transport!  On the Tube! 

Thursday, 19 July 2012

“Two week drug festival on the Thames” Chapter 4

Olympics and Government
It seems there are others who are equally mithered by the goings on of the IOC and our inept leaders. Here is an extract from Simon Jenkins’s article yesterday.
‘What the Victorians reinvented as a herbivore festival of amateur athletics has become a parody of Hitler's chauvinist hysteria.' The stakes are too low. The Olympic Games were originally held so that young men could prepare for war. Now young men are recalled from war to prepare for the Olympic Games. It is the politics of the nation state gone mad. The commercialism, the heavy-handed security, the ostentatious plutocracy and phony patriotism of the modern Olympics are out of all proportion to the cause. What the Victorians reinvented as a herbivore festival of amateur athletics has become a parody of Hitler's chauvinist hysteria. It starts with flags and anthems, moves on to medal tables and "heroes", and ends as the most important thing on Earth.
This week at least they sent in the clowns. Who can blame G4S? They have done what everyone has done with a nose in this trough. Offered a crazy amount of money to guard a dozen venues for a month "in partnership" with the Games' organising committee Locog, they took the money and ran. There was no threat remotely commensurate with a £1bn security budget, and security anyway devolves on to government. The word partnership is in this case a euphemism for someone else taking the blame.
This week, with teams arriving for what has become a festival of chauvinist public expenditure, Locog's strategy – of not being interviewed or held accountable for anything to anyone – paid off. The home secretary, the defence secretary and the culture secretary all took the stand to defend the delivery company's contractual negligence, on everything from lax security and soldiers' billets to bus navigation. Ministers even referred to Locog as "we".
Early in the London bid process I attended a conference at which the Blairite talk was of holding a "new games", even a "people's Olympics". They would put an end to the International Olympic Committee's self-importance, elitism and expense, showing how any world city could afford to host the Olympics by using existing facilities. There should be no question of the Olympics imposing a "white elephant cost", as on Montreal, Athens and Beijing. Sport would be made to fit the city, not the other way round.
The political ambition of Tony Blair and his team to "win" the games from France blew that to the winds. The IOC's demands for special stadiums, venues near five-star hotels and Guantánamo-style "fortified villages" were conceded. Huge sums were spent on consultants and buildings. The budget soared. London was sacrificed to extravagance and political kudos, and told it was lucky.
The Games were thus vulnerable to Britain's prevailing securocrat paranoia, as well as to the logistical chaos that comes with disrupting a large and busy city for a whole summer. There are guards who speak no English and drivers who have never heard of Tower Bridge. Only now are Londoners waking up to the statutory scope that parliament conceded to the IOC back in 2006. It could command London's police, traffic, advertising and business activity. It could enjoy unlimited access to the British exchequer. A £3bn budget swiftly ballooned to £9bn.
London is now being given a taste of what an unaccountable world government might be like, an Orwellian world of Zil lanes and G4S, private regulators and Locog inspectors roaming the streets, tearing down political banners and Pepsi ads. Not since William of Orange arrived with his Dutch army in 1688 has London's government been surrendered so completely to an alien power.
The cabinet and mayor have seemed so petrified that any disruption to the Games might cast aspersions on London's "brand" (or perhaps on them) that a month of enforced economic recession is worth the pain. The cost in displaced tourism and lost business of hosting the Games must be enormous, and wholly beyond the direct cost of the facilities.
How this can be matched by £13bn of extra business attributed to the Olympic Games by David Cameron last week is a mystery. It is as plausible as Stalin's report of Comrade Stakhanov's daily coal output.” Simon Jenkins, Guardian 18/7/12
Here is what Blair and Jowell surrendered to the IOC. It is from an article in Vanity Fair.
“The full stipulations of the Olympic contract, which were made public in December 2010 by an East London activist and researcher named Paul Charman, following two years of Freedom of Information requests, contain tens of thousands of binding commitments. To comply with its terms, London must designate 250 miles of dedicated traffic lanes for the exclusive use of athletes and “the Olympic Family,” including I.O.C. members, honorary members, and “such other persons as may be designated by the IOC.” (These traffic lanes are sometimes called “Zil lanes,” alluding to the Soviet-era express lanes in Moscow reserved for the politburo’s favorite limousines.) Members of the Olympic Family must also have at their disposal at least 500 air-conditioned limousines with chauffeurs wearing uniforms and caps. London must set aside, and pay for, 40,000 hotel rooms, including 1,800 four- and five-star rooms for the I.O.C. and its associates, for the entire period of the Games. London must cede to the I.O.C. the rights to all intellectual property relating to the Games, including the international trademark on the phrase “London 2012.” Although mail service and the issuance of currency are among any nation’s sovereign rights, the contract requires the British government to obtain the I.O.C.’s “prior written approval” for virtually any symbolic commemoration of the Games, including Olympic-themed postage stamps, coins, and banknotes.” Michael Joseph Gross, Vanity Fair
The message to average Londoners seems to be, piss off and leave us your city to do with as we want. It also seems to be the case at other venues too. Reports from Weymouth show that any possible view of the sea has been restricted by locog to avoid anyone getting  a free view of the sailing or some rowing events. 
When you can’t see the sea for free, it is time to tell them where to stuff their games.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

“Two week drug festival on the Thames” Chapter 3

So what about the drugs?
Way back in the first Olympics of the modern era in 1904, the winner of the Marathon was helped across the line by two doses of strychnine and brandy given to him by an assistant. He collapsed as he crossed the finishing line - another dose would have been fatal. 
Ever since then so called sportsmen and women have looked for ways to assist their performance. 
Cheating was initially the first choice of the less than noble. It still has its place in the festival of running and jumping (see below) but drug taking has become the way to elevate a good performer to the level of the extraordinary. So much so that of the eight finalists in the notorious 100M final at Seoul in 1988, six have either tested positive for taking performance-enhancing substances or admitted doing so to various commissions set up to investigate the scale of the problem. It was not just Ben Johnson. Dennis Mitchell claimed that a beer and sex session had raised his testosterone levels inordinately high. The testers disagreed. The ‘Mr Clean’ of US Track and Field, Carl Lewis tested positive 2 months before the event and should not have even been there. 
The lengths people will go to to cover up their calumny is quite remarkable. One athlete was found with a condom hidden inside his shorts filled with a relatives ‘clean’ urine to confound the testers. Another went so far as to have ‘clean’ urine inserted into his urethra via a catheter just before a test. 
One of the more difficult concepts to grasp is that certain individuals are prepared to risk death to achieve fame. Taking EPO, sometimes referred to as ‘blood doping’ improves stamina. It is much favoured by cyclists and athletes involved in endurance events.  A consequence of taking EPO was the requirement to wake up regularly through the night to maintain a reasonable heartbeat. Otherwise as the heart naturally slowed down during sleep it could stop. Taking EPO also significantly increases the risk of thrombosis and stroke. 
Given such desperation and readiness to risk death in pursuit of flawed glory what can the authorities do?
Well they can connive. The Moscow games of 1980 were notorious for having no positive tests. A new phrase entered the sporting dictionary, the sink test. This is where a test is taken simultaneously (or synchronised) and one sample is kept separate to prevent contamination and fiddling. In Moscow it simply meant that positive tests were poured down the sink. This happened again towards the end of the Los Angeles games where several positive tests taken after the finals were similarly ‘sinked’. Didn’t want to upset the sponsors.
They can also go even further. The East German swimming team were fed a diet of steroids as part of their training regime on the orders of their communist bosses who wanted a validation of their egregious system. The cost in the failed health of so many athletes was a price deemed well worth paying. The recent remarkable improvements in many Chinese athletes were put down to being fed a ‘special soup’.  Oh yeah. 
One of the saddest effects of all this is what it does to decent sportsmen and women who try to do their best without chemical assistance. To train hard and well; perform at your best and then be beaten by rivals you know to have been on the sauce must be galling. Marion Jones had a remarkable Olympic record especially after she married a man who had ‘previous’ for taking enhancers. She was finally stripped of her titles several years later. To be recognised as the true champion as an afterthought in a newspaper column is not quite the same as standing on the dais and receiving due acclaim. 
Incredible improvements are a sign that all is not well. A sprinter knocking a second off his best time; a thrower adding twenty metres and a lifter raising many kilos more than before, are all clues that the pharmacists have been involved. The trick these days is to take masking drugs to obscure the presence of the enhancers. Or to take things under strict guidance so any trace has disappeared by the time the testers get at you. This explains why many major stars develop minor injuries prior to major events. It keeps them away from the testers. They avoid lesser events on the pretext of being injured and suddenly roar back into form at the major event. 
Having been a great fan of athletics in the days of David Hemery, ‘Lyn the Leap’ and Mary Peters, it now leaves me cold. Every record, every ‘great’ performance carries with it the question, “Are they clean?” My dissonance has not been helped by all these ‘my body is a temple’ merchants strutting their stuff either. Are those muscles rippling like frogspawn all their own work or has Dr Feelgood been doing his stuff? 
And it isn’t just the people! There are several examples of horses being artificially helped in the equine events. 
As for cheating much of this revolves around events requiring judging. Any event where a human being sits and decides who has done something better than someone else is prone to corruption. Boxing had a gold medal fight where the American landed 93 punches on his South Korean opponent and received barely 30 punches in reply...and lost. It was in Seoul. The judges were sacked but the Korean kept the gold. Gymnastics has had its share of bloc voting and don’t even ask about Ice-skating, Judo, Synchronised swimming, Diving, Wrestling and Trampoline.
So what to do? Recognise the trend, accept the inevitable and declare the Games to be open to all enhancements and skullduggery? Or continue as we are now and spread a veneer of fairness and decency over the cesspit that is major corporate sport?
Faster? Certainly.
Higher? Definitely!
Further? Not for this sports fan.

Monday, 16 July 2012

“Two week drug festival on the Thames”. Chapter 2

Who else is coming to London?
The Observer came out in a big leading article with some real mush that the Olympics will be a force for good in Britain....Before it did this it set the scene admitting there were a few problems. This included the tax-free zone mentioned last time plus a few other nuggets
“The commercialisation of the Games is not of London’s making - it’s a pact that any bidding city signs up for. The IOC insists that the candidate cities must sign a  contract, described as an “epic masterpiece in micromanagement”. It stipulates IOC transportation in exclusive Zil traffic lanes in 500 air-conditioned chauffeured limousines and accommodation in 1,800 four- and- five-star hotel rooms. ....
..What the contract does not do is confront the IOC’s continued association with corruption. Last month, for example, 27 Olympic officials were caught selling tickets for London 2012 on the black market.” Observer 15/7/12
In a passage resembling the ‘what have the Romans ever done for us?’ the leader article admitted there are caveats, “including profound concerns about security; the IOC’s “vanity” modus operandi; excessive commercialisation and inequities such as highly restricted ticketing that has locked out many ordinary people.” ibid  The leader then went on to paint a jolly picture of Olympic joy and wonder.
A little bit of research reveals that the Observer have been somewhat coy with their assessment of the IOC. For instance, Cameroon’s representative on the IOC is Issa Hayatou. He is also a member of FIFA. He is reported to have taken a $1.5 million bribe to support the Qatar bid to host the World Cup. They don’t do chickenfeed these boys. The Russian member, Vitaly Smirnov has been on the committee since 1971. He is alleged to have been very lucky to have got away with the Salt Lake City bribery scandal which resulted in the resignations of several of his IOC colleagues. Senegal’s member Lamine Diack is another under investigation for bribery. Tinpot Royals with their fingers in the till also feature. Princess Nora of Liechtenstein's family own the giant LGT Bank in Liechtenstein. They were found out when a former employee stole 1,400 account details thereby exposing a vast network of tax evasion, money laundering and assisting organised crime. Prince Albert of Monaco runs a tax haven as does HRH the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.
Squeaky Coe was very pally with our next denizen’s father. Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr is an IOC member for Spain. He is the son of Juan Samaranch Sr who not only sold the Olympics to the likes of McDonald and Coca-Cola when he was head of the IOC, he was also a fully paid up member of Franco’s Fascist party - photo’s of him giving the nazi-style salute still exist. He was a Minister in Franco’s government when human rights abuses were still rife in Spain shortly before Franco’s death. 
Talking of human rights abuses, there are some noxious ‘guests’ of the IOC with appalling human rights records such as President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan who has been condemned by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for locking up journalists and political opponents and organising state-authorised violence. He is a dove when compared to his near neighbour, Islam Karimov, who has been President of Uzbekistan since 1990. Craig Murray, who was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from 2002 to 2004 described widespread torture, kidnapping, murder, rape by the police, financial corruption, religious persecution, censorship, and other human rights abuses. This included the case of Karimov's security forces executing prisoners Muzafar Avazov and Khuzniddin Alimov by boiling them alive in 2002. Unfortunately for Murray, Bush and Blair needed this nasty piece of work to help them with the ‘war on terror’. So Murray was recalled from his post and dismissed.
You could not make it up. 
These lowlifes will be occupying the Zil lanes while decent folk struggle to commute to work.
The Observer may be sanguine about the IOC and their noxious guests but readers do not agree. ‘Comment is Free’ responders to this guff-fest made many angry attacks. One correspondent wondered if the positive spin put forward by the paper could have anything to do with senior editorial staff having access to free tickets and corporate hospitality.......? And does this apply to most of the mainstream media?
A comment which has received the highest approval rating to date concluded with, “Fuck off with your London Olympics”. Although a Londoner complained shortly afterwards that this was a tad unfair, seeing as he and his neighbours had to endure all of this corporate disruption at close hand whereas the rest of Britain could look away.
He could have added that he was also at risk from being killed by the use of a badly-aimed  ground to air missile....or from the bits falling to earth after it had blown a target out of the sky. 
All this for running, jumping and chucking things?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

“Two week drug festival on the Thames” Chapter 1.

£13 billion (and counting) has been spent to host the corporate bonanza known as the modern olympics in London. A benefit of the G4S security fiasco has been that it has disturbed the rose-tinted olympic bliss bathed in by 99% of our servile, craven, uncritical and ultimately corporately whoring media. 
At long last there are signs that a more critical gaze will be turned on several targets.
The first images that greet arrival at Euston are McDonald’s promoting their ads and  “proud to be an Olympic Sponsor.” How risible can it be to have a company with such a long track record of persuading the stupid to overeat unhealthily as ‘an Olympic Sponsor?’ Ditto Coca-Cola.
Other corporate giants with a less than honourable history include Samsung, the giant South Korean electronics company. The head of Samsung is Lee Kun Hee who was found guilty of tax evasion on a massive scale some years ago. He was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and his conviction meant he would lose his place on the committee.......so he was pardoned by South Korea’s president. This meant Lee Kun Hee could continue to lobby hard for the Winter Olympics to come to Korea. 
Welcome to the realpolitik world of global sport. In a nutshell you see how it works. A little closer to home there is the delightful Guy Drut who was convicted for election fraud in France but as an IOC member was pardoned by President Chirac to keep his seat on the committee. 
Not convinced? Step forward Dow Chemical. The US giant took over Union Carbide, the company who so despicably were responsible for the worst chemical disaster in history -  25,000 died. They ran the factory at Bhopal in India. Dow washed their hands of any responsibility for the aftermath of the disaster - although it could be assumed that they bought Union Carbide with their eyes open - an ability denied to the thousands of victims who suffer on with numerous ailments including blindness. Groundwater in the Bhopal area remains seriously contaminated badly affecting some of the poorest and most benighted people on the planet. Dow continue to wash their hands of any liability yet were quite happy to stump up millions for a vanity 'wrap' around the stadium.
Still feeling chipper? Try Lloyds Bank. As in B A N K.   As in B A N K E R S! Not forgetting that the CEO of Locog used to be European Chief Operations Officer for Goldmann Sachs, the well-known tax-avoiding finance organisation. 
While we are on about very filthy lucre consider this. All large scale sporting events have the capability of making vast sums of money for the governing bodies - untaxed! FIFA and the IOC demand that host countries provide temporary tax havens. Despite the vast amounts paid by taxpayers in the UK to stage the games, nothing will come back from the 18 Olympic partners. 
FIFA have been dragged through the Swiss Courts over their financial malpractice. They stand as among the most corrupt organisations in the world. The slimeball who heads this nest-feathering bunch is one Sepp Blatter. He will be enjoying the ‘Olympic Only’ lanes as he is a member of the IOC. Despite revelations last week he will be ‘meeted and greeted’ as an ‘honourable guest’ of Squeaky Coe and Locog. 
Blatter is in good company. The dedicated fast lanes will carry some of the most reprehensible people on the planet. 
All here at our expense and as our guests. 

To be protected by G4S. Every cloud as they say.......

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Has BBC Sports lost its integrity?

Hidden away in a specialist magazine is an article by Andrew Jennings. For those of you who find the name unfamiliar he is the man who has done more than anyone to expose the wrongdoings at the International Olympic Committee and FIFA. He is a dogged and excellent investigative reporter. Within the article, ‘Spinning the Olympics’ is a tale to concern anyone who cares for the BBC.
Mike Lee was voted PR Week’s Public Relations Professional of the Year in 2005 and awarded an OBE in that year’s New Year’s Honours list. Mike spun for the Labour Party, the Premier League and UEFA before joining Lord Coe’s London bid to stage this summer’s Olympics. Off the back of London’s success he launched Vero Communications, helping win the 2016 Summer Olympics for Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 Winter Games for Pyeongchang, South Korea. Mike’s mission is, he says: “To tell the most compelling, creative and true story to help our clients win, whatever their goal.” There’s a positive, upbeat book recording how Mike won it for London – The Race for the 2012 Olympics. Mike is named as author but it was written for him by David Bond, now the BBC’s sports editor, and Adrian Warner, now BBC London’s Olympics correspondent. On page 21 the book tells us: “Inside sport he [Lee] had become recognised as a loyal and trusted operator who was prepared to get his hands dirty and work tirelessly to promote and defend those he represented.”
Mike Lee was on the payroll of Qatar’s bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In January 2010, nine months before the vote, he brought former Argentine star and Qatar “ambassador” Gabriel Batistuta – plus translator – to London on a brief promotional visit. BBC Sport interviewed Batistuta for their website. There was deep scepticism among fans and football officials about staging the World Cup in Qatar’s scalding heat. “I’m sure the climate won’t be a problem,” insisted Batistuta, “I played there for two years and played a few matches in the heat but it was possible to play.
“Currently there are stadiums that enjoy a cooling system and you can choose the temperature at which you play the match,” he explained. “So, as you can imagine, in 10 years’ time the technology would have improved so each of the stadiums that will be used will have it.” Batistuta was selling Qatar’s bid hard but he wasn’t an independent, unbiased source – he was being paid millions of dollars to read Qatar’s script. A year later at a House of Commons select committee hearing, Tory MP Damian Collins asked Mike Lee: “Seven million dollars was spent on hiring Gabriel Batistuta?” Lee replied: “That was a report. It’s never been proven or substantiated, but I am aware of the report. I think it is true.”
The BBC website headline “Batistuta backs England 2018 bid” wasn’t to the Qataris’ liking. Bid chief executive Hassan al-Thawadi, sitting in his office on the 26th floor of the Qatar Olympic Committee Building in West Bay, Doha, read it and hated it. “He was screaming,” says someone who was in the office at the time. Hassan sent a message to Mike Lee: get the headline changed. For most who don’t like something the BBC reports on, an online form can be filled in or a complaints line called. A reply might be received in ten days. For Mike Lee, OBE, husband of former BBC Governor Heather Rabbatts, it’s not like that.
Barbara Slater, the BBC’s director of sport, confirmed to me by email: “Mr Lee contacted the BBC shortly after the article was published on the BBC Sport website. We do not have a written account of that conversation but the journalist concerned does recall Mr Lee being unhappy with the report.” A few minutes later one of Mike Lee’s colleagues, John Zerafa, was emailing Doha, triumphantly: “We’ve got it changed... The header is much better we think. Realistically the BBC won’t move any more. ‘Batistuta keen to avoid Qatar v England in 2022 Cup bid’.” The original headline, “Batistuta backs England…”, remained, but as a link in the BBC search engine. “The journalists involved with the story have no record or recollection of changing the headline,” said Ms Slater. “It is common practice to have slightly different headlines on summary and full articles, in particular as there is space for more characters on the latter. The two headlines are entirely consistent with each other and accurately reflect the content of the interview with Mr Batistuta.” Andrew Jennings, British Journalism Review (Vol 23 No.2,2012)
So there you have it. A wealthy sheikh blows his top that he is shelling out squillions for his vanity project and Qatar does not even get a mention. He rings his fixer who promptly puts the squeeze on someone at BBC Sports and lo! There is a change. To a quite magnificently ludicrous headline, ‘Batistuta keen to avoid Qatar v England in 2022 Cup bid.’ 
Run that around your brain for a few moments and ponder. What on earth does it mean? More seriously, what the hell went on? Were Qatari dollars laid out to ease the vanity? Who was the spineless/gutless/clueless/brainless (pick one or more) toerag who changed the headline? What did the BBC do about it? Or are they so far up corporate sports collective arses they cannot tell shit from sugar? Or even worse......are some of these so-called journalists in the corporate trough?
If like me you find the whole thing disturbing, do not sit back and wait for the good fairies to sort it out. Hit the keyboard and write a stinging letter to the BBC. Use the quoted bits above to add weight to your missive. Here are some of the questions I am asking: 

  • Are the facts regarding the changed headline substantially correct?
  • If so, what kind of investigation went on to determine the chain of events?
  • Who was the principal investigator?
  • Who had the telephone conversation with the PR company?
  • Who actually changed the headline?
  • Did money change hands? Or was it a favour? Or a pre-emptive cringe?
  • What happened to them? Was any form of disciplinary action taken? 
  • If so what?
  • If not why not?
  • What was the outcome of the investigation for the sports department?
  • As a senior BBC Executive were you aware of this incident?
  • What will you be doing to make the sports department more robust and less prone to churnalism?
For the record I am sending letters to George Entwistle, the designate DG; Lord Patten, the Chairman of the BBC Trust; and to Barbara Slater (so she knows the senior cheeses know....) and to Andrew Jennings so he knows he has support.
We will see what they come up with. It will not be quick. These things never are. Behind the scenes though the wheels should be grinding. Let us see what emerges and then if necessary revisit the issue using Freedom of Information.
White City
W12 7RJ
Director of Sport
Media City
M50 2EQ
BBC Trust Chairman
BBC Trust Unit
180 Great Portland Street

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Diamond's soft ride

Despite making a convincing claim to be one of the most loathsome people on the planet, Diamond had an easy ride from our MPs. They were neither rigorous nor forensic. Anyone with any doubts about the need for a judge-led inquiry into the skullduggery of the banking industry should have watched the performance of the MPs this afternoon. 
No contest.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Just how bad is it going to get?

Can we trust our MPs and Lords to look into the wrong-doings of the bankers? Are they people of probity and honour? Are any of them tainted by the culture?
Well this matter ought to be considered directly and indirectly. An excellent study was made of the salaries earned by MPs before they entered the House compared with the salaries they made as they left. The research was done at the height of NewLabour and Conservative MPs emerged as more successful than their political counterparts. Tory MPs appeared to use their time in Parliament to acquire non-executive directorships and part-time positions which supplemented their income. As a great many NewLabour MPs shared Tory attitudes towards money-making this situation may well have leveled up recently. Whilst this has been much to the politicians benefit it has not been to our (the citizens) benefit. The Expenses scandal ran across all parties and showed the extent to which the greed culture could be found in  backbenchers and Ministers and Shadow Ministers. Many of the worse culprits are still in power acting as though butter would not melt in their mouths. And some of them are on the Treasury Committee!
Not all of them were tainted. The Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee is a ray of hope. He has a reputation for being honest and emerged well out of the Expenses scandal. He has a number of old lags on his Committee who milked the system for all it was worth though. How much credibility will they have? 
Then there are a couple of newcomers on his Committee who may well be out of their depth. When faced with such venal bare-faced liars most people would be out of their depth. 
And in the background simmering away is the knowledge that the Tory party have been largely bankrolled by these bastards. Labour have not been clean either with ‘Cash for Honours’ and even the LibDems have had their brush with Brown to taint them. How much will they bite the hand that feeds them? 
We need the approach of poacher turned gamekeeper. Not only with the bankers - but also with the tax avoiders too. 
Our political elite had better realise that our patience is running out. Talk of revolution is in the air.