Sunday, January 06, 2008

Happy New Year (and Merry Christmas too!)

A very Happy New Year to all readers of this blog. And a very Merry Christmas too to readers in Serbia, Russia, Belarus and Georgia, who celebrate Christmas tomorrow, on the 7th January.

Already, the year has got off to a great start with the humiliating defeat of the neo-cons' favoured Democratic Party candidate Hillary 'The Hawk' Clinton in the Iowa primary. The neocons idea of a 'democratic' election is one in which both leading parties or candidates are signed up to their agenda: like the 2005 election in Britain when the 'choice' was between a pro-war, pro-big business Labour Party led by Tony Bliar and a pro-war pro-big business Tory Party led by Michael 'Dracula' Howard. The PNAC crowd confidently expected a 2008 US Presidental run-off between Hillary the Hawk and either John 'Bomb, Bomb, Iran' McCain or Rudolph Giuliani: now their plans have taken a battering. But elsewhere, the news in 2008 is not so good. Mick Hall has some excellent analysis on the situation in Kenya, while France and several German states have aped Britain by introducing draconian bans on smoking in public places. And, by way of wishing a 'Happy New Year' to its British customers, the rip-off utility company npower has announced price rises of up to 27%. Hasn't privatisation of our public utilities- and our railways- delivered such wonderful benefits to the consumer!
More on that, and other recent news stories, later.


Zhana said...

Thank you very much, Neil.

It's great pleasure knowing you.

My best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas Neil. I hope you keep exposing the truth and have fun doing.

Martin Meenagh said...

Welcome back!

Douglas said...

I'm glad you're enjoying Hillary Clinton not winning in Iowa.

I'm enjoying Hillary not winning in Iowa because I'm not looking forward to spending at least four years parsing Hillary's non-answers.

I'm not looking forward to having my inbox choked with messages saying I need to register my disapproval of a large number of tiny incremental insults to my freedom.

And finally, I'm not looking forward to hearing Hillary's hideous cackle, or her even more hideous rendition of the national anthem, on talk radio for the next four years.

I hope you're tanned, rested and ready for 2008.

Anonymous said...


Bah humbug an all that to whoever is out there, anyway hurrah for Obama, down with scary lunatic Huckabee and long live the smoke free pub!

Incidentally is it that unreasonable for a gas and electric companies to pass on massive price increases to their customers? And would the state run groups have been any better?

Anonymous Pete

Karl Naylor said...

There is no smoking ban in Hungary , though. The health fascists do not have there power here. Maybe Neil might consider moving back to Budapest. I think Hungarians do, however, smoke too much. Surely the best solution was not a blanket ban but to allow the creation of non-smoking and smoking pubs.

John Osbourne , the English dramatist, would have had much to say about the ban. He called pubs mutual tolerance centres. A person does not go to the pub to be healthy. Binge drinking and a miserable deracinated and atomised society will be far more dangerous to Britons than 'passive smoking'.

Anonymous said...

you're an indispensable writer - so PLEASE STOP SMOKING.
The smoking ban is one of the few (if not the only) good things done by European governments in recent years. Tobacco is a far more dangerous addiction that heroin and crack; for some reason the anti-smoking campaigns concentrate on heart-disease and lung cancer, which affect a small but significant percentage of smokers, but virtually ignore Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease which, doctors tell me, affects ALL smokers to a greater or lesser degree - COPD is the current vogue name for it, but it has also been known as Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease (COAD,and Emphysema. It means IRREVERSIBLE lung damage.
YOU NEED TO HEAR THE FOLLOWING: I was always led to believe that my lungs would recover (more or less, anyway) if I stopped smoking, so I put off the day. I had developed asthma, and had bronchitis in the winters, but I could walk or cycle for miles, and run to the top of a 4 story building; then 7 years ago, I had a life-threatening attack requiring admission to intensive care, and basically I've never recovered - since then, I've only been able to walk 100 yards at most, then take a minute or 2 to get my breath back; all physical activities have become difficult and very time-consuming.

It was 2 years after my first intensive care admission, and seven years after my first asthma attack, before a doctor fully explained to me that my condition was irreversible - the best I could hope for was to slow the rate of decline (to the point where I suffocate to death, basically).

So there you have it. Unless there are huge medical breakthroughs, my life is more or less over - there have been a few promising breakthroughs recently (scientists recently managed, for the first time, to get lung tissue to regenerate, using some stem cell procedure) but this condition affects so many people, that you can imagine our rulers making the cost-benefit analysis that the cost of treating everyone, plus the cost of paying them pensions (or whatever) if they don't die, means it is an issue that will be ignored if possible. AND - that is assuming that there is any national health service in future, which looks unlikely; I am sure treatment will be available to the very rich within 5 to 10 years, but the powers that be will want to keep it low profile.

As things stand at the moment, research into bronchial/ respiratory problems is one of the least funded activities in health research, though far more people suffer from bronchial problems than heart disease or breast cancer - why is this?

A smoking ban is, at least, a recognition that tobacco is a dangerously addictive substance which should be discouraged, and a step to removing the 'it's their own fault, why should we pay to treat them' stigma. A predictable percentage of people have great difficulty in shaking of the tobacco addiction - that's what makes the tobacco companies rich; taking away any veneer of respectability from smoking will help stop people becoming addicted in the first place.

DON'T TAKE YOUR HEALTH FOR GRANTED, NEIL! And, rather than campaign against the smoking ban, use your considerable talents instead to CAMPAIGN FOR A PUBLICITY CAMPAIGN RE COPD, AND FOR GREATER FUNDING FOR RESEARCH INTO LUNG DISEASE.

Happy New Year!

Ken said...

Hello Neil, and a Happy New Year to you and yours.

Today is the Orthodox Christmas Day, as you said. It is also the 15th anniversary of the Kravica Massacre.

I have blogged about it, but I'll bet that it doesn't get a mention in the press.

Neil Clark said...

Many thanks, everyone and once again, a very happy new year to one and all.
JmcT: thanks for your very kind post. I hope your health does improve this year.