Back To The Head Banging

I guess we all feel a severe onset of head pain from time to time, the result of perpetually bashing our literary brows against the rock solid insanity of political arrogance and moral ineptitude. While it’s probably unnecessary to seek professional help at these times, the equivalent of a dose of Tylenol is prescribed in the form of a break, away from the seemingly endless cycle of violence and bloodshed heaped upon us by those egocentric politicians with their petty wars and constantly regurgitating international squabbles.

Hence the absence of Sparrow Chat articles over the last week. It’s been a time of relaxation, physical exercise, enjoyment of the more positive virtues, and the planning of ten days away across the ocean among the hills and mountains of my beloved Wales; a trip not destined to occur until June, and marred only by the fact my lovely wife will not be accompanying me on this occasion. Spending a week of that time hill walking with a lifelong friend will be some measure of compensation.

Since my last posting on March 16th, the news has varied little from the routine that has dominated our lives these past four years. Iraq, four years on, is the centerpiece of a week long series on BBC World, so far illustrating the utter worthlessness of the joint US/UK invasion as a means of freeing the Iraqi people from tyranny and providing them with the joys of a democratic capitalist society. The vast majority of those Iraqis still remaining in their country, with the exception of the Kurds in the north, are utterly pessimistic of any improvement over the next twelve months. Even the Vice President, Tareq al-Hashemi, has hinted that talks to bring all sides around a negotiating table are unlikely to succeed while the American occupation continues. For Iraqis trying to get out of the country – over two million are already thought to have fled – trying to get hold of a valid passport is both highly dangerous and next to impossible.

Summing up Iraq four years on, John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor and Iraq expert, says:

“The most common sight, apart from police and army roadblocks, are the black banners on walls and fences announcing people’s deaths. And the most common feeling you come across is a kind of slow-burning, gloomy anger. These things represent a major failure of the hopes and expectations which many Iraqis entertained four years ago…….”

The rest of his article, from Monday 19th March, can be read HERE.

Probably the most pessimistic news out of the Middle East this week has been the refusal of both the US and the EU to recognize the new unity government of Palestine. It was no mean achievement to reconcile the various factions, and Palestinian leaders should be given some measure of reward for their efforts. As should the Palestinian people, who have been forced into even more suffering and hardship for daring to exercise their democratic right and elect a government of their choosing. They desperately need the finances so harshly withdrawn when Hamas came to power. Israel is, of course, refusing to acknowledge the unity government and still holds millions of dollars in taxes – the property of Palestinians – until Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

Condoleeza Rice’s refusal to release funding and work with the Palestinian government comes as no surprise whatever. The US continues to link arms with Israel in demanding the Palestinians dance to their tune. The European Union’s acquiescence to American demands is sickening in the extreme and leaves one wondering how long this body will continue pandering to the whims of US arrogance and aggression.

Two days ago the Norwegian deputy foreign minister, Raymond Johansen, pledged his country’s support for the new government in a meeting with the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya. Mister Johansen said afterwards:

“We hope that all the European countries, and even other countries, will support this unity government………We hope that this unity government will work hard in order to fulfill the expectations from the international community.”

Mister Johansen was immediately snubbed by Israel, who refuse to have anything to do with the new Palestinian government. Norway is not, of course, a member of the European Community.

On a final note, I am not flying American Airways to the UK in June. I have chosen my usual carrier, British Midland. The case of James Yates from Ohio makes me glad I did. Yates was one of three pilots on an American Airways flight from Manchester, England to Chicago in February 2006, when he was stopped at the security gate for being drunk after a night “on the town”. This week a British jury found Yates “not guilty” of “carrying out an activity ancillary to an aviation function while over the drink limit” after they were told he only went to the airport to tell his captain he was unfit for work and would not be joining the crew. It may have been easier to use a telephone, but the jury obviously accepted his explanation, and so might I – had I not read THIS BBC ARTICLE from June 2006 stating that in an earlier court hearing Yates denied being “unfit for duty”.

British justice, it seems, has a very short memory.

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6 Replies to “Back To The Head Banging”

  1. Hello, my friend,

    Many years ago, I walked from Cardigan to Aberystwyth. Up the Leek. Morrises forever!

    Have a great trip!

  2. Jerry – I’d almost given you up for lost! When are you going to light that “Floodlight” again? Cardigan to Aberystwyth is quite some walk – best part of sixty miles, even via Aberaeron on the A487. Continuing up that road through Machynlleth brings you to Dolgellau and the Mawddach Estuary, my favorite part of Wales – the giants chair of mighty Cadair Idris. It is here we will spend our week walking the hills.
    Keep in touch, good friend.

  3. Good to see you up and rolling again. I too will be taking a trip, but sadly not to Wales. My daughter is doing this online thing where one uses a pedometer and records the number of steps taken daily. Then at night she logs them in and can see how far she had gone on a pre-chosen walking trail. She will be in virtual Wales by the end of this week. I poked my head in her room and told her you were going there in June and maybe you could have a coffee! In the virtual world sense! She laughed.

  4. I have spent many happy hours walking & running up and down the mountains of north wales. Tryfan,the glyddrs, the ogwen valley..happy days of youth.;hope you have a great time… getting a passport in england is now set to be as difficult what with private interviews and a detailed form to fill in which wants to know your bank details? mortgage details etc etc Big brother is here….. They really want it for the ID database…… scary……

  5. I am happy for you and yes, getting a drunk pilot would suck pretty bad. I was listening to Booknotes and the author was talking about how the more experienced pilots get the long runs (like country to country) and the newbies get the multiple short hops. As the most dangerous parts of flying are the take off and landings, the inexperienced handle those more. Thought that was interesting. Like school – the worst schools hire the new teachers.

  6. PM – tell your daughter to stop off at the island of Anglesey, on the north-west coast of Wales. I’ll meet her for a cup of coffee in the cafe at the tiny village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Yes, it really exists! Here’s the website:

    AP – ah! such memories. I, too, spent much of my youth hanging precariously off Tryfan, or Glyder Fawr. Great days! Did you ever stay in Williams’ barn, by any chance?

    Flimsy – I shall remember your words on my short hop from Bloomington to Chicago, O’Hare. 😉

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