Monday, 28 January 2013

Tesco, Asda and the High Street

For many decades, some have been prophesying the death of the High Street - first, in the 1970s from too many building societies, then from too many charity shops and, in the last 20 to 30 years, from superstores like Tesco in Stourbridge and Asda in Halesowen.  In the early 1980s we had the rise of Merry Hill Shopping Centre.  In Halesowen, in the last decade, Lidl came and Aldi next to the new Travel Lodge on Earls Way/Whitehall Road.  However, the High Street remains as vibrant as ever, thanks to coffee shops and tea rooms, pound shops and our Farmers Markets in Halesowen and Stourbridge.  The passing of the years has shown that there is room for many small businesses and large superstores in our High Streets up and down the land.

The great thing about Merry Hill, of course, is not the free parking but the enormous car parks that make us get out of our cars and walk for really great distances for those who are normally so wedded and welded to their cars and sofas - no more parking outside the shop you want to pop into and back into the motor and away (except for High Street, Stourbridge that completely destroys my argument!).  All thanks to pedestrianisation and Merry Heaven and the nirvana of economic growth!!

I remember that Oldbury in Sandwell was a real dive in the 1960s and 70s - dilapidated and down at heel until the superstore, Sava Centre heralded the town's revival and transformation.  It, now even has Sandwell MBC's prestigious Council House.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Apartheid sorted; N Ireland sorted; Israel/Palestine sorted when?

Magnificent magnanimity from the South African government led to a peaceful transition from the immoral apartheid state, to majority rule there.

Amazing perseverance from outside politicians and concessions from both sides led to the Good Friday peace agreement and, for many years now, far fewer killings in N Ireland.  Dr Ian Paisley was transformed and even became, almost, best friends with a former IRA commander, Martin Maginnis.  They were even known as the chuckle brothers from all their laughter, such was their similar sense of humour.  Astonishing, astounding but, proves what can be achieved.  Oh, for the miracle of Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas becoming benevolent and bosom buddies!

When will Israel and Palestine, similarly get together?  First, actually sit in the same room in the White House and talk about the weather would be a good start!  Let them indulge only in small talk for the first few meetings.  Better, get them to play funny games together, watch romantic comedies, to see the 'Sound of Music' together or 'Cool Runnings'.  Next, when the're all smiling and happy, sit them down to thrash out compromise, concessions and some amazing mutual magnanimity and self sacrifice to bring, at least, an uneasy peace with justice, some kind of harmony between the peoples; even peaceful co-existence and tolerance, if not actual acceptance.

One problem, I think, is right wing thinking that brought us colonialism, empire building by the Western European nations, leading to one of them going one better than imperialism with their Nazism.  The 1945 victors have since defended their 'colonies' and dependencies - called defending their vital strategic interests around the world (or, more domination to bring democracy, freedom and the blessings of Western Christian culture down the barrel of a gun).  Such foreign policy is not about fairness with peace; not about living within our own borders; is not conducive to compromise and land sharing.  Hence, our ally and friend, Israel continues this white man thinking, this Judeo-Christian tradition, with its perpetual right wing, coalition governments that think like the West with disputes settled by coercion and military might is right - always first and last and only.  Thus, Prime Minister Netanyahu ups the anti with his tendency for a "belligerent stance",  "warmongering rhetoric", and "messianic impulse" (Yuval Diskin, former head of the Israel Security Agency, aka Shin Bet; former Mossad chief Meir Dagan,[124] and the RAND Corporation in the US.  Taken from Wikipedia -

Another problem is that the fundamentalist, evangelical Christians in both Israel and the USA/UK want biblical prophecy quickly fulfilled, Armageddon and the return of Christ to wind things up and themselves taken to be with the Lord for eternity.

"The Jews were the first victims of the Nazis and the Palestinians are the last."  Peter Ustinov

"We either live together as brothers and sisters of the one human family on this one and only planet or, we perish as fools." So far, the latter is looming. But the true, born again believers have nothing to worry about because they will be taken up to be with the Lord!

Monday, 7 January 2013

The UK Independence from America and Israel Party

It seems to me that we get into such a lather about being ruled by Europe and losing our sovereignty that we are already semi-detached from them and much more in union with America and Israel.  For years, we have been fully attached to the United States of Aggression and their well funded and supported, 52nd state, Israel.  The UK is the officially unrecognised 51st state with our special relationship, our common language, films, Christian faith and strong kinship with Israel and the Jews; and, of course, our solid support for every war our American friends fight after they fought and won for us (with the Russians) the 2nd World War.  We still sent armaments to the US during the sixteen years of the Vietnam War, although not troops that time.

One 'Thought for the Day' contributor (on Radio 4's 'Today') said we have attacked or bombed or occupied 23 countries since the end of the 2nd World War.  Caroline Lucas MP related part of the full list on 'Any Questions' and not one other panelist disagreed with her.  If our friend and ally, Israel is included, it is even more than this, of course.  Leonie and Emily, Yr 11 pupils at Lambeth Academy, seemed to think that the UK in its time, had NOT invaded only 22 out of nearly 200 countries in the world!!  (Radio 4's 'BH' on 20 January 2013 in an amusing piece called 'Teenagers Fight Back')

After all that, not surprisingly, the White House would like us to stay in the EU to continue to represent the Anglo-American world view and to keep Europe on side (the US/UK side). ‘Today’ 10 Jan 2013

The European Courts of Justice and of Human Rights, alone makes our membership of the European Union worthwhile.  Officially leave the EU and we lose them both.

Europe has a transport system that is much better than ours.  We would do well to learn how they do their superb railway system, instead of ours being like the poor American rail network.  Chief Executive of Network Rail, Sir David Higgins said on 'Today' on the 8 January 2013, "We still have a Victorian rail network ... we have 500 Victorian signal boxes."  The McNulty Report of 2010 stated that our rail costs are 40% higher than four European nations; a shocking statistic that came out in the same interview.

In Birmingham and the Black Country, we have 38 miles of unused and underused double track rail lines around our own New Street Station that is the UK's no 1 rail congestion bottleneck!  Yet again, we model ourselves on America instead of Europe and get into such a state about being members of Europe.  This is all complete madness yet, we have no insight into our insanity!

Let those four European countries run our rail network to bring it up to their standard of excellence.  It does not mean being ruled by them but having the humility to be shown how to do things better by Europe and not by our good friends in America.

All this shows that we need more union with Europe, not less!  Let us distance ourselves from America's bad examples and learn from our immediate neighbour, Europe.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

We have to be honest and face up to these 9 observations on the Faith!

God is wrong in having 'Rules for Waging Holy War' in Deuteronomy 20 v 1-20.

He is mistaken about homosexuality being immoral.  I believe I am right in saying that Christians, Muslims and Jews did nothing about changing the law to prevent homosexuals being imprisoned.  Now, all of them accept the new law without a murmur of dissent being heard.  Homosexuality is not unheard of in the animal kingdom, of which we are part, as the human animal.

God shows favouritism in having one nation out of 193 nations as his one and only Chosen, Special and No 1 nation who is the apple of His eye (Israel).  For the surrounding Arab nations, Israel is seen as part of the all powerful, all domineering, War of Terrorism Western powers.  The West is noted for its centuries of Christianity and, unfortunately, its Scriptures command the faithful to pray only for the peace of Jerusalem - certainly NOT Mecca or any other city!  Thus Israel is identified even here, with the West in the heart of the Arab and Muslim Middle East.

God has missed out the most obvious and much needed command that should be the first and foremost viz: "Thou shalt embrace non-violence and never embark on attack, aggression and dominating other countries." The last one, domination, in defiance of temptation 3 that Jesus rightly rejected.

The Lord's Commandment no 6 is not strong enough with "Thou shalt not murder."  It let the people of Israel off the hook to allow them to wipe out the inhabitants of the holy land - the land that God promised them and them alone - as now.  Hence, we have in the Bible how the people rejoiced that, "King Saul has slain his thousands but David his tens of thousands."  No wonder the modern people of Israel are so ready to attack their neighbours, of course in self defence and, so desperate not to kill women and children.  However, Israel always seems to end up killing many more of them than their enemy kill Israelis. Over ten times more in both the November 2012 attack on Gaza and the 2008/2009 war on Gaza when 1,400 Palestinians, unfortunately and quite unintentionally, of course, ended up dead.

All God-fearing Jews, Christians and Muslims should see this behaviour, above as morally deviant.  Perversely and shamefully they do not, viewing instead, homosexuality as being morally deviant.

God is wrong in having Kings and Queens over past centuries who all appointed themselves as having the authority and power of God on earth; together with Presidents and Prime Ministers down the years.  Two of them, since 7 October 2001 with the War of Terrorism, who both believed they were doing God's will in attacking first Afghanistan on 10/7 (2001) and then Iraq in March 2003.

God is prejudiced in disallowing women from positions of leadership in His church.  Yet, His Son was forgiving, compassionate and sympathetic to women - even those caught in adultery and, prostitutes, too.

It is unacceptable for God to promise one nation, Israel all the land from the cedars of Lebanon in the north to the deserts of Sinai in the south; from the rivers Euphrates and Tigris in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west (Joshua 1 v 4).  It all the more encourages that nation's expansionist tendencies, the growth of illegal settlements on the West Bank and in east Jerusalem; and, the flouting of UN resolutions.