Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Mancunian Candidate

Greetings from Manchester.

After a few good days in London hitting all our favorite spots we've moved on, taking the train up to Manchester for some business meetings. The Lord and Master is attending meetings and I am watching the riots in Paris. Sky News is on the telly and it's been quite interesting to hear the commentary - the news reader claims that "hundreds of thousands" of "disaffected yutes" have taken to the streets and that the country has come to a halt. It's hard to tell based on the camera angles. Emails are coming into the studio from Paris and people are claiming that none of the images are being broadcast on French TV - that may be because the reporters are on strike, too. Dominique DeVillepin is telling the police that the measure of their success will be based on their coolness under fire. Nickolas Sarkozy, on the other hand is saying the measure of their success will be based on the numbers of disaffected yutes arrested. Oops - they've got the tear gas going. (I'm waiting for the water cannons, myself.)

They are claiming that the French Employment Law has sparked the outrage and I wonder if W's Immigration Law will end up doing the same thing in the US. As you can imagine the news was full of this past weekend's immigration protests. The CNN news readers could hardly disguise the glee in their voices as they showed the footage.

Hmm. I am watching one of the longhaired protesters making the universal signal at the po-lice and you KNOW what that is!

They are reporting 100 arrested. Now they have an on-the-scene report. The protester he is not 'appy. More estimates on the crowd size - according to the French Union over 3 million peeps are on the street. Apparently 40% of the disaffected yutes are unemployed.

The UK is not immune to this type of action: 1 million public sector employees went on strike today over pension benefits. They are increasing their retirement age for some workers from 60 to 65. Thousands of schools, libraries and sports centers were closed by the work action.

All right! There go the water cannons! They don't seem to be too effective. Poor disenfranchised, disaffected yute. Now we have a flaming lib, aka diversity expert who is saying poor, widdle yutes. He is disgusted by France. Voila! Now he is blaming the police. 50 years of government inaction on assimilating immigrants. Deepseeded problems, racism - will their be cars burning in the suburbs?

Off to dinner....
Update: Mancunian is what the people from Manchester refer to themselves as. (as opposed to Manchesterite or Manchesterian) The building above is the Imperial War Museum North. Dinner was at Piccholino's and it was good. It also was packed with Mancunian party people and footballer's wives. Tomorrow is an early call for the the flight to Dublin.

Cheers - see you in Ireland!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Greetings from Eurabia

It sure is nice to be back in London again. I love this town.

Had a remarkably smooth trip via British Airways last night. Man, there's something to be said for traveling in the front cabin. Nothing like First Class to make you feel like a trip across the Big Pond is a hop, skip and a jump. That and a Fast Pass through Immigration and Customs can make your trip a good one. Bless you BA for all you do.

We hopped on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and I have to say that if you are planning a trip to London the Heathrow Express is the way to get into the central city. It was easy as pie and took roughly a quarter of the time it would take a cab or hired car. You can take your baggage trolley all the way to the train if you are worried about schlepping your big bags and the trains are beautiful, clean and frequent. If you got the greenbacks, pay the extra shekels to go First Class. It's not crowded, there's a place for your bags, you can hang your coat, relax and catch up with the news on the strategically placed TV screens. Being a newshound and a basketball fan, catching up with the news and the latest NCAA brackets are important. (LSU rocks! You tell me. Is there another Shaq on the NBA'a horizon? And where the heck is George Mason from?) It is also very reasonable. I think it's even free for some folks with the right kind of airline ticket. Anywho. If you are taking the night flight from North America you can get a good shot of caffeine(coffee or diet coke) and enjoy a DANISH at Paddington Station before setting off to check your bags at your hotel. (You know your room won't be ready and that will fuel you for a walkabout town until you get into your room and crash) Which is exactly what we did.

FYI- March 26th is Mother's Day here in the UK and there were lots of mums out and about.

There were lots of jilbabs, hijabs and Muslim headscarves about too. Interesting given the recent ruling about the jilbab in public schools here in London. The answer to that dilemma being "Just say not to Jilbab" according to the House of Lords. Get a load of this:

The House of Lords yesterday overturned an appeal court ruling that a Muslim teenager's human rights were violated when she was banned from wearing a head-to-toe Islamic dress to school.
The unanimous ruling by five law lords was greeted with relief by teachers' bodies and the Department for Education and Skills, which feared that upholding the ruling would throw schools' policies on uniforms into chaos.

Shabina Begum, 17, argued that banning her from wearing the jilbab at Denbigh high school in Luton, Bedfordshire, breached her rights to education and to manifest her religion, as guaranteed by the European convention on human rights. She lost two years' schooling before moving to a school which allowed her to wear the religious garb.

But the law lords said there was no right to be educated at a particular school, and she could have moved earlier to a single-sex school where the garment would be unnecessary or to a school where it was permitted.

Shabina had worn the shalwar kameez (tunic and trousers) for her first two years at the school, but when she was nearly 13 she went to school in a jilbab. Shabina, who was represented on legal aid by Cherie Booth QC and the Children's Legal Centre, said after the judgment: "Obviously I am saddened and disappointed about this, but I am quite glad it is all over and I can move on now. Even though I lost, I have made a stand."

Not for nothing, what is Cherie Booth doing? Is she nuts? Once again, did bra burning feministas torch their Maidenforms so they could clothe their daughters in burnooses? (burnoosi? I don't know what the heck is the plural of burnoose?) I know I didn't....

It's been a little weird here since I arrived. Okay, it might be me reading too much Mark Steyn, but it seems like Eurabia has definitely arrived. Not for nothing, the hotel tv has the usual BBC channels and it has CNBC, MTV and CNN (horrors), but it also has Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Abu Dhabi TV...you know that my comment card will be asking why they don't at least carry Fox News. Hey, fair and balanced, you know?

THen when we stopped into the lobby bar for a nightcap it was loaded with Middle Eastern types. I have no problem with that. But there were only five women in the bar and I KNOW I was the only honest woman there. It just weirded me out to see many groups of these guys, drinking, smoking and hanging out with hot blonde babes talking about their wives at home - saying things like (FYI-Dinah is a world class eavesdropper); "I will always respect her - she is the mother of my children" while swilling expensive cognac, smoking Cuban cigars, fondling their prayer beads AND THE HOT BLONDES in their HOOCHIE MAMA clothes at the same time. (I swear to God this was what was happening) Paging Cherie Blair...

Needless to say being a wife herself, Dinah was giving them the dick eye....

Now before you say 'Dinah, what kind of flophouse are your staying in?" Dinah will tell you it is a 5 star hotel in Knightsbridge, the only one with a pool on the roof. It's not your basic hot sheet operation here. During the day, it seems like a normal family establishment, at breakfast this morning there were lots of families (with their nannies-also an interesting phenomena), but at night it takes on a totally different character.

It could be me and the jet lag kicking in though, too.

Other big news in the papers here: The Ungrateful Hostage - Norman Kember. Get a load of this:
The row has exposed an unbridgeable gulf between the peace campaigners who want Western forces out of Iraq and the military. The CPT arrived in Baghdad in October 2002 with the motto "Getting in the Way". It was the first Western group to publicise the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, promotes close ties with Muslim leaders, and refuses to use bodyguards in Iraq.

It has also said it would not welcome any armed attempts to rescue its members. Jan Benvie, 51, a Scottish schoolteacher on standby to travel to Iraq for the CPT, said she and Mr Kember had signed "statement of conviction" documents asking not to be rescued by military force. "I don't want my life to be bought with the price of somebody else's life," she said yesterday.

I say Norman and his friends should pay for his rescue.

I also say, the jet lag is kicking in big time. My Lord and Master is out cold and I think I'm going to have to say good night as well. I hope I don't read this in the morning and say 'what was I thinking?'

Cheers - Dinah

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dinah Does Denmark

Exciting news from the land of the walking wounded, dear readers.

As you read this, I am getting ready to jump on a plane for London. From there I will travel to Manchester, Dublin and last, but not least, Copenhagen. Wicked awesome, eh?

My Lord and Master had a business trip and decided that taking along the old ball and chain would be a good birthday present for said ball and chain. His business affairs will take him to England and Ireland. The trip to Denmark is for sammenhold!

So my next missive will be coming to you from London. (I am hoping my shoulder will hold up for all the luggage hauling, photo snapping, glad-handing and typing that will be coming)

And yes, my Mohammed-in-his-exploding-turban T-shirt is included in the suitcase.

Can you tell I'm getting jazzed?

Here's a few linkys to read in the meantime:

Brussels Journal: Europe’s Ailing Social Model: Facts & Fairy-Tales
USA Today: Google Goes Jihadi and joins the S&P via the SF Chronicle

Cheers - Dinah

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dude - where's my bourse?

Yesterday was the day that the Iranians were supposed to have launched their Petroleum Bourse. This was supposed to shift demand from US dollars to euros, bankrupting the Great Satan's treasury and bringing our evil economy to their knees.

Except it hasn't happened yet and I haven't been able to find out why.

There's this from the Globe and Mail: Iranian Oil Bourse hits the wall - opening postponed.

Iran Daily News has a little bit more info - saying that the Iranian bourse will be up and running by April;

The country, which also holds the world’s second largest gas reserves after Russia, has planned to put an end to the greenback monopoly on oil trades by expediting efforts to establish an oil bourse by April.
Once the much-publicized oil bourse is established, the long-sought objective of replacing the US dollar with the euro in OPEC transactions will come one major step closer to reality. The oil bourse, which will be established as envisaged in the Fourth Five-Year Plan (2005-2010), has received support from both the Parliament and the government in Iran. It will enable oil-rich Iran to regulate prices at home without having to follow other countries’ dollar-pegged trading system.
There's this from The Age that pretty much lays out the Iranian plan to economically destroy the US, although in typical LLL fashion it is all George W Bush's fault. (Rove you magnificent bastard!) Bush's Iran plan a timebomb with explosive results

The Final Call, the mouthpiece of the Louis Farrakhan organization, has put their own spin on the bourse, blaming the US evildoers, of course and siding with the poor widdle UN. Shocka!
UNITED NATIONS (Finalcall.com) - Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow, Middle East/UN Affairs expert for the Washington-based Institute of Policy Studies, told the Inter Press service back in December that “2006 would be the crucial year” in determining whether the United Nations could “reclaim its role as an independent actor on the world scene, or whether the virulent United States choice of either sidelining or undermining the global organization would prevail.”

But a funny thing has happened on the way to the bourse - Middle Eastern financial markets are the ones that are in turmoil, not the Great Satan's.

For years Middle Eastern financial markets have outperformed many in the world. Over the last few weeks they have taken a hit. The Dubai Financial Market has lost about 40% of its value since since the beginning of the year. Saudi Arabia's Tadawul index fell 5% on Tuesday, bringing it down about 20% since it's February high. Kuwait has seen it's stock exchange fall 7% last week and is down about 13.2% since December, causing investors to take to the streets.

Some ME governments have intervened in limited ways, for example, Saudi allow Expats to invest in their stock market The article neglects to mention that Prince Alaweed bin Talal, a close bud of the country's ruling elite, has also pledged to inject as much as 10 billion Saudi riyals ($2.7 billion) into the market to help stabilize it.

You won't feel so sorry for the investors though when you take a look at the run up these guys have been having. The Tadawul has risen nearly 600% since 2002. It doubled in value last year. Kuwait's price index has risen 749% since 2000. In the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Securities Market and the Dubai Financial Market have more than quintupled.

Can you say valuation problems? Can you say fundamentals?

Good thing the Iranians have another trick up their financial sleeve...are you ready for it????

This will take the world markets by storm- Iranians plan Persian Carpet Bourse.
Update: From the Asia Times:
TEHRAN - March 20 was to have been the day that Iran was attacked by either the United States or Israel, according to countless doomsday predictions. The fateful date has come and gone, and there has been no replay of "shock and awe". March 20 was also meant to see the inauguration of the Kish oil bourse, on which Iranian oil will be traded in a basket of currencies, including the euro. But because of "technical glitches", according to the Ministry of Petroleum, the launch has been postponed, with no new date set.

This too, just in from the Asia Times:
According to a March 14 story in The Independent of London, the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, said it was looking to move a tenth of its dollar reserves into euros, and the governor of the Saudi central bank condemned the US move blocking Dubai Ports World from taking over the US ports as ''discrimination''.

As an example of the dollar's imperviousness to reports of petro-switches, the UAE announcement had almost no effect on world currency markets, whose traders are skittish enough to respond to slight rumors of wheat blight in the Caucasus to shift in and out of currencies with lightning speed. The US dollar, which spent last week strengthening against the euro before the threats by the Middle Eastern central bankers, fell slightly against the European currency by a quarter of a percentage point to a one-week high of $1.1945 - before it retreated later.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

A toast to freedom of speech-

Hello dear readers-

The shoulder is mending and it's slowly getting easier out here to be a gimp. Alas, it is also time for a trip back to the farm and you know what that means...no internet access.

In the meantime here's a little something that struck my fancy from Robert Burns, noted poet, faithful Freemason and feisty Scot.

It seemed very apt for those trying to suppress our freedom of speech today.

Here's freedom to him who would speak.
Here's freedom to him who would write.
For there's none ever feared,
That the truth should be heared,
Save he who the truth would indict.

Cheers - Dinah

Monday, March 06, 2006

It's Hard Out Here For a Gimp

Sorry readers. The shoulder is still fugazy and typing remains a pain. Hope all is well with you. Maybe next week I'll be back in the blogging saddle. Until then, happy trails and stay well.

Cheers - Dinah