Flood, fire, Farepak and financial distress

If we ever needed further proof that western governments only care about their wealthy citizens this was it

Sections of Los Angeles are currently ablaze and, keen to help the good folk of the region, the US government has extended aid to the area almost immediately.

Compare that to the plight of the victims of the New Orleans floods. A delayed government reaction. Accusations of looting and rape. No immediate airborne response.

Could that be anything to do with the difference between rich, successful white people and poor, working class black people?

And for those who think the British government are any better, look at the treatment of the Northern Rock and Farepak cases.

Last year thousands of citiznes, who had to save throughout the year for a plentiful Christmas, were devastated by the collapse of Farepak.

The government did nothing. The victims will only receive a few pence out of every pound they saved and will not see any money until 2008.

And the Rock savers got their money guaranteed. The Bank of England put more than £10 billion to help keep the bank afloat.

Surely a few million could have saved Christmas for the Farepak unfortunates.

Lets face it people. It’s not what your country can do for you, it’s what you can do for your country.

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Why is no-one helping the Burmese?

What is going on in Burma? And why is no-one doing anything to help?

In front of the eyes of the whole world the Burmese army is slaughtering peacefully protesting monks and their supporters – and while these atrocities are being caught on video the west is sitting on their hands.

And even more insulting to the plight of the protestors, the west are shifting the responsibility on China.

When an oppressive regime is slaughtering its citizens it is not up to the neighbouring nations to step in – it’s the world’s problem.

As always the selfish western nations, chiefly the US and the UK, are reluctant to get involved for one simple reason….

No-one from our side has died.

If a British citizen, or an American for that matter, gets caught up in this mess then there will be action.

Then the police of the world would walk the beat and start twirling his truncheon.

Obviously the life of a westerner is more important.

Look at the tsunami coverage – it wasn’t about how many people died, it was how many British people died and how many American people died.

It makes you wonder why we have the United Nations if they can’t be used in a situation like this.

The situation reminded me, for some reason, of 9/11, where an oppressive regime had its hand in the death of a number of its own people.

However, when American lives are lost the west falls over itself to provide relief and condolences.

Overpriced and overcrowded: Why I hate the railways

Not being able to drive has put me in the awkward position of having to use public transport. I don’t mind the bus and I’m sure I could handle the tram but I absolutely despise the train.

Every week I pay £86 for the privelege to wait in the rain and turn up for work late. To get in on time I have to fold myself up and squeeze into spaces that would cause a contortionist problems.

Putting it at its simplest, trains in the UK are scandalously overpriced and dangerously overcrowded. And they’re never on time.

Ruth Kelly has said the government are willing to pledge millions to improve the service by 2030. 2030? It’s a damning indictment of the state of the railways if it will take more than twenty years to fix.

A good start would be to make trains cheaper. Maybe the franchises should be charged less or the government should subsidise it, either way it should cost less for the current state it is in.

Somehow they need to adress the problem of overcrowding. On the tube, where there is no standard of human conduct, people faint becasue they are packed in so tight.

There are no easy answers, all I know is that the service needs immediate improvement.

Maybe we, the rail passengers, should start a union. Lets make placards, chant catchy slogans and refuse to pay our fares.

Or maybe I’ll just call the BSM.

Pay-as-you-go roads scheme driven forward

According to a BBC survey 74% of the public are against the proposals for pay-as-you-go roads that will charge motorists by the mile. However, the Government has still pressed ahead with plans to do just that.

Draft legislation, the Local Transport Bill, has been published that will allow interested local authorities to implement the scheme on a trial basis.

It is easy to understand why there is so much oppposition to the plans. One of the reasons for the state of the traffic on British roads is the very poor standard of public transport. With trains and buses being over-priced and rarely punctual who can blame people for using their cars instead.

The scheme will just be another excuse to raise tax revunue from motorists. The very same motorists who pay through their teeth for petrol, MOT and insurance.

The war on Iraq: The day the legacy died

The 27th of June will mark the end of an era.

Tony Blair will step down as Prime Minister and is likely to be replaced by Gordon Brown and the protracted Labour leadership issue will finally be resolved.

However, Blair may not be fondly remembered for one fundamental reason: Iraq.

Blair and New Labour swept to power in 1997 and promised that ‘things could only get better’ and domestically it did.

Cast your mind back over the Blair decade and there are numerous changes that were made for the good.

The Human Rights Act, the lowering of the homosexual age of consent to sixteen and the ban on foxhunting are just a few and in addition the economy has thrived under chancellor Brown.

As leader as a major world power mistakes will be made and there have been decisions that have been less than astute: the introduction of university top-up fees, the cash for honours scandal and the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes will all leave a stain on his legacy and rightly so.

However, due to the massive failure of his foreign policy, most of his good work will go unrewarded. The war on terror was a huge mistake but the decision to ally himself so closely with George Bush and the war in Iraq sealed his fate.

All leaders should be judged on all the major decisions that they had to make not just one issue but Blair will remain synonymous with the war, especially because he flew in the face of so much opposition.

It was his decision and it was his fault and even though he says he honestly believed he was doing the right thing I am sure he regrets it.

If not for Iraq, Blair may have gone down with Atlee as one of the greatest Labour prime ministers of all time.

Now he may just be remembered as George Bush’s lap dog.

Government of the ‘living dead’

I think that David Cameron’s assessment of the Labour government was spot on. They are certainly the ‘living dead’ .

They were handed the embarrassment of a crushing defeat in the local elections but this isn’t the real problem.

The labour government has stagnated because of Tony Blair. He has tried to cling to power to build a ‘legacy’.

The truth of that matter is that by refusing to name a date and let Gordon Brown mount his leadership challenge for months he has ruined his legacy.

We have had ten years of Mr Blair and foreign policy and top-up fees aside he has done his utmost to clean the mess that the Conservatives left the country in.

But his time was up a while ago and this fiasco will certainly affect the way that he is viewed in the history books.

Personally, I feel sorry for Gordon Brown.

He won’t be in charge for very long.

Fertiliser Plot: The need for a 7/7 independent inquiry

The end of the fertiliser bomb plot, in which five men were jailed for life, is yet another reason why there must be an independent inquiry into the 7/7 attacks.

It transpired during the trial that members of the fertiliser plot had met with those responsible for 7/7, most notably Mohammad Sidique Khan, who was followed by police on numerous occasions.

The truth of the matter is that with the intelligence available to the police and MI5 more could and perhaps should have been done.

The public understand how difficult it must be to co-ordinate counter terrorism intelligence effectively. However with the successful scuppering of the fertiliser plot it is easy to see why many think that 7/7 may have been avoidable.

The public faith in those who protect us must be dwindling especially after the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes and the only way to restore confidence would be to show us that they are doing all the can to protect the nation.

Transparency then is surely the key. With the inquiry looking unlikely it seems as if poor use of intelligence is being swept under the carpet.

With 52 people dead surely it is time for the Government to answer the most important question of all: How could this have happened?