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January 29, 2011


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Kay Tie

Let us hope for a Ceacescu moment in Egypt.


The egyptians haven't gone away you know.


The Egyptians are still protesting with massive numbers and still demanding what they have been demanding from the beginning, that Mubarak goes.

While our representatives are still supporting them to the hilt, except insofar as Mubarak is concerned.



For those not able to get to AlJazeera's coverage online today,
the following site is accessible and carrying the live stream from Al Jazeera's English live coverage





At least some internet access is back on now in Egypt.


In Egypt now, it appears the army feel that the protesters have gotten all they should want and have told them to go home.
Pro Mubarak protesters who seemed to make an appearance for the first time last night after Mubaraks speech, are getting more attention, its hard to see if there are meaningful numbers of them.
It seems that today is going to be crucial and carries the highest possibility of real violence breaking out.

So, given that they have won nothing but promises after over a week of this, will the protesters give up?
How long after all can people keep this up without work, with shops running out of food, with the internet and mobile communications still down, with public transport shut down, with the tacit approval of the army withdrawn and with the police beginning to make a reappearance?

Today is dangerous in Egypt.


My concerns are that the longer this goes on, the chance of the protests turning violent or developing a particular political hue go up.

The western governments haven't been helping, firstly by making statements signalling to Mubarak a certain level of residual support and more recently now throwing fuel on the fire by introducing concepts that have nothing to do with the protests, like making demands on the as yet non existent future administrations that they maintain the policies of the last 30 years.
If I wanted to keep things calm and stable, I'd have been ensuring that Mubarak did not think we would help him hold on and not bringing up Egypt's part in keeping the Palestinians in Gaza effective prisoners.

This was not particularly on their minds, but Blair et al, have been busy putting it front and centre.

Kay Tie

I hope you're right, Huw. Fingers crossed for a good outcome.


Listening to Mubarak speaking now.
And what a shock, he's taking the line that Kerry and Obama both suggested today.
So he has no plans to resign or step down, simply saying he will not and did not plan to run again for this role and when his term is up he will sacrifice his career at the tender age of 82.
He also thinks its a good idea to say that they will pursue prosecutions of people who caused violence and committed arson etc.
No mention that I caught of any action against the police who killed a fair few people in the first days of protests.

He is now mixing speaking about himself in both the first and third person.

We'll see what the Egyptians think of it, but from what we've been seeing over the last week, I doubt they will consider it sufficient, the protests are about him, why on earth would they end leaving him in power?


Feel free DG


"available currently marketed products such as "I can't believe it's not democracy" a blend of non democratic elements with that real democracy flavour (can contain some democracy..up to 10% more democracy, more freedoms and more rights than other non democratic products)"

Huw... that's brilliant. May I use your concept to create an image of the "product"?


Now that the politicians have developed a feel for the situation in Egypt
they are moving from plain weasel words of apparent support well not really support for either Mubarak or the protestors but not really the protestors
onto the fertile ground of trying to scare us all by suggesting that if they got real elections, they might choose the wrong people like what the Palestinians did.

The message is, don't look for freedoms, rights or democracy, keep it down to available currently marketed products such as "I can't believe it's not democracy" a blend of non democratic elements with that real democracy flavour (can contain some democracy..up to 10% more democracy, more freedoms and more rights than other non democratic products) but none of the difficulties of actually having your own meaningful choices because you could choose wrongly(Scary Muslims BOOOO!), unlike us western nations who always choose so well.

A fact underlined by constantly carrying the ever so wise man of peace Blair's advice that we have a situation where a man has been in power a very long time and there are quite legitimate protests but don't forget, scary muslims are there TOO!

Then some more on scary Muslim fundamentalists
(the BBC went to great efforts from a crowd of people to find one person among the protesters who said he wanted an Islamic state to highlight this important issue
and then keep replaying it, over and over.


Nice when our politicians and media are in tune like this, it's just like those good old days, just before illegally going to war with Iraq, no attempt to misinform, mislead or scare here.

Did I mention...


Kay Tie

"some of the larger modern ships rely on it to dock into port"

There are plans to land aircraft by GPS. Tractors use it to plough accurate furrows now. It's embedding itself into the infrastructure of a modern nation. European nations spend a fortune to ensure an independent defence industry, and a fortune to ensure independent food, so this is a pipsqueak amount of money to ensure independent navigation technology.

Besides, Galileo will give much more accurate positioning than GPS and open up a whole new world of applications that can't even be imagined today.


The strategic importance of GPS isn't always obvious, since it's best known for giving directions via annoying recorded voices. But it's worth knowing that, as well as the emergency response and road pricing applications, some of the larger modern ships rely on it to dock into port, so the loss of it could impact our supply lines, even more so in the future than now.


1&3 only I'm afraid, although it does rather emphasise the point.

2&4 is David Cameron
5 is Hilary Clinton
6 is William Hague
7 is Barack Obama

And a greater shower of weak,mealy mouthed, disingenuous, pathetic examples of the very lowest of the low,
attempting to counterfeit sincerity for the benefit of the general audience while ensuring that the "right" people remain aware that they are not saying anything meaningful in any way.
I'd be embarrassed if any of them were associated with me as friends or even acquaintances, they certainly have no business being in positions of power supposedly representing anyone.



OK - 7 is also from the book.

Now tell which is which. I am intrigued.


Not bad, but not 100% correct Junican.

While it is easy to castigate our current administration for being weak spineless lickspittles (and it is easy)
unable to utter the words
"The time has arrived for Mubarak to step aside"
"The time has come for Egypt to have a democratic government"
"we support the democratic aspirations of the people of egypt and call on Mubarak to relax his claws and allow a national unity government to bring about a free and fair election"
Instead giving us the edifying statement from UK Prime Minister David Cameron's conversation with President Obama, and with King Abdullah of Jordan
"The Prime Minister and President Obama were united in their view that Egypt now needed a comprehensive process of political reform, with an orderly, Egyptian-led transition leading to a government that responded to the grievances of the Egyptian people and to their aspirations for a democratic future,..."

But while Cameron et all follow the US written scripting there seems to be a deafening silence from New/Next or the once and future labour party or whatever brand name the party of the thinking right are planning a promotional event for.
Is there an opposition?
Does the opposition have any views?

It would be nice to know.

I think we need to put out a call,
is there a statesman in the audience?


A guess Huw -

1 3 5 from the book. The rest otherwise.

Honestly, I did not intend to introduce smoking. That quote of mine was taken from another site discussing counterfeiting and smuggling. Frankly, I was being a bit lazy in that re-working the quote to exclude smoking as such would have been difficult and time consuming and so I just copied the lot.


New Game

Which of these are actual quotes from UK or US political figures about Egypt
and which are lifted from Terry Pratchett's novel "Interesting Times"

"Extra Luck to the People's endeavour"

"Evolution and reform so that people who have grievances get those grievances met"

"Advance Judiciously"

"there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched."

"orderly transition"

"clear path toward an open society based on democratic values"

"work with ... government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful"


I've got to say, US and UK weasel words around events in Egypt are quite funny.

Up for top award must be Robert Gibbs
"We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days."


"The French KayTie used the argument that the Americans switched off GPS during the Gulf War. That is poor excuse for wasting £billions for a system that has no commercial value."

A poor excuse?
is that another way of saying
an excellent reason!

Kay Tie

"The French KayTie used the argument that the Americans switched off GPS during the Gulf War. That is poor excuse for wasting £billions for a system that has no commercial value."

It's not a poor excuse: it's an example of the kind of thing a foreign power can do. As we come to depend on GPS, it becomes a piece of critical infrastructure, and that can't be in the hands of a single foreign government. Look at how we are scrambling because China has a monopoly on Rare Earth mineral processing.

The fact that Galileo has no commercial value (in that it can't charge enough to cover its costs) indicates that this is just the kind of thing that a state needs to invest in, for it is certain that Galileo provides some excellent positioning features. Having two systems also gives the redundancy required to allow critical functions like auto landing of aircraft safely (which cannot be done today by other means at many airports).

It is an odd argument: me arguing that this is one of those projects worthy of state funding because it has benefits that cannot be captured by the free market, and you are arguing for cutting wasteful spending (something that was most certainly not a hallmark of the Labour government nor of the current opposition).

Paul Flynn

By far the greatest euro waste is the Common Agricultural Policy that continues to do a reverse Robin Hood. I did a major report on this for the Council of Europe some five years ago. It gets worse. Farmers' incomes have soared with increased prices in the past two years, there are no cuts in their vast subsidies.

Paul Flynn

The French KayTie used the argument that the Americans switched off GPS during the Gulf War. That is poor excuse for wasting £billions for a system that has no commercial value.


Not with you on this Paul, the services that many rely on from this kind of technology cannot be left to other groupings with potentially colliding or even divergent interests to control.

Junican, while it was subtle the way you did it, I still suspect that people might suggest that you are shoehorning smoking into a subject that it doesn't really have any major connection with.

As far as being "dead against smoking" goes, from what Patrick and KayTie have said you are correct, they are
However, as I have mentioned on other occasions I do actually smoke.
I just don't believe there is good cause to tantrum and whinge because non smokers are finally being treated with a modicum of respect.
This is a time when most smokers do not even smoke in their own houses and amongst the minority who do, they restrict the rooms they smoke in yet you somehow think that there is widespread anger at the ban on smoking in public places, there isn't, not only do the majority of the population support it, the majority of smokers do too.

I would quite agree with you however that they have pushed tobacco duties up to too high a level, a fair bit past where the price was a discouragement and into territory where they are actively creating crime by making smuggling overly profitable.

But as always you take something that might be a reasonable point and then over egg it, dress it up in hyperbole before launching into full fledged fantasy.

The i before e convention is not terribly useful as there are an awful lot of exceptions to it.
Just ask Keith, Sheila but perhaps it would be hard for me to come up with sufficient evidence for you to weigh.
So, I will leave it at that.


Why highlight only this one event? The EU has been wasting out money since long before the Lisbon Treaty. Remember the scandal of Greek olive groves? The ‘mere’ fact that this one event (galileo) needs to be highlighted because it is costing billions is no excuse for not observing the multiple cock-ups and frauds which, individually, may cost only (only!) millions, but add up to billions.

That is a problem which your select committee cannot handle, isn’t it? And so you avoid it (not that I blame you!).

I know that Kay Tie, patrick and HewOS are dead against smoking (honestly, this is not directly about smoking as such!), but I think that it worth our while to consider the wider context of money-wasting initiatives – that is, the unintended consequences. And so I quote this post which I made elsewhere:

“”Do you not think that Tobacco Control is beginning to fall apart under the weight of its own contradictions? I mean, at what point did a little tube of paper full of dried leaf become worthy of a five year prison sentence [In Bhutan.] When did a packet of twenty of these tubes become ‘worth’ eight euros in Ireland? Eight euros! A little box made of paper with some paper and dried leaf inside!

And don’t say that it is the duty which has driven up the ‘value’. I know that. What I am saying is that, as far as you and I are concerned, duty is not relevant. To you and I, the price we pay is the value.

Can anything be more attractive to smugglers than that? Buy them legitimately for £1 a pack and sell them for £4. Ireland has hundreds of little ports, and a few clever little subterfuges can easily avoid customs. Making a big noise, via the magistrates courts and the MSM, about one person bringing in a few sleeves of fags is no longer frightening.

I would also like to know how it is possible for tobacco to be ‘counterfeit’ (anyone notice that this word disobeys the i before e convention?!). It is probably cheaper to buy the real thing than to buy substitutes or grow your own. In any case, no intelligent ‘counterfeiter’ would risk killing anyone when the real thing is so cheap.

But is it not true that the word ‘smuggling’ has ceasing to be a ‘nasty’ word? Are we (lots and lots of smokers) not beginning to regard smuggling as heroic? Once the idea that the word ‘smuggling’ is no longer a nasty word, ANY smuggling becomes a good thing in that it is one in the eye for the zealots and the thieves masquerading as politicians.

Tobacco Control is also bringing to our attention the nature of ‘duties’. Apart from taxation, what are they for? Why do they exist? What is the reason for ‘fuel duties’ or ‘alcohol duties’? (In actual fact, the origin of duties is connected with the need to raise tax for the Napoleonic (?) Wars – in particular, at the time, regarding the import of wines.)

At the moment, only a few people are asking these questions, but the ideas will proliferate. Think about this – if there was no fuel duty, how much more competitive would our goods be in the world economy?””

It is right that you should highlight the waste of money that is Galileo, but there are many other ‘projects’ which are also a total waste of our money. For example, what is the reason for the Met Office and the University of East Anglia duplicating stuff about Climate Change? And how many other organisations involved in this matter are we wasting money on? Why are we wasting money on the discredited body known as the IPCC?
People are beginning to notice these things. It will not go away.

Kay Tie

The argument for Galileo is not about showing to the US we in Europe can do something better, it's that a piece of critical infrastructure like GPS cannot be allowed to be controlled by one nation. How can we (for example) have road pricing depending on GPS when the Americans could switch on SA in a moment and degrade the accuracy, killing the road pricing system instantly.

Do you seriously believe America would not use this sword hanging over Europe in negotiations over trade, foreign policy, etc?

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