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The International Writers Magazine
: Summer Recess

PIN THE TAIL ON THE DONKEY
James Skinner on oil, peace and why no one gives a damn -

‘I want that wimp out of Najav. He’s screwing up my electoral program!’ ‘But Mr. President, that would have the whole Shiite mob up in arms and out of control,’ answered Condy as the US 7th cavalry was once again trying to come to terms with the chaotic situation still reigning in Iraq. Ever since George uttered the infamous words, ‘mission accomplished’ about a year ago, the Middle East continues to spurt like a never ending volcano eruption. International terrorism is far from under control.

The Pentagon, CIA, FBI and all the other intelligence agencies around the world have been acting like Mexicans in a ‘Piñata’ game. Although they keep bursting the swinging Islamic fundamentalist vase with a baseball bat, Al Qaeda cells continue to sprout up and spew all over the world. One arrest in Holland, three others in Pakistan, five in Britain, and so the game, ‘Pin the tail on the donkey’, goes on. In other words, nobody seems to know where the ass’s arse is.

So what else has been going on in the world since all us Hacks took a sabbatical? Quite a bit, that’s for sure. How about starting with holiday time itself. Whilst the USA is known as a hard working ‘take-as-little-time-off-as-possible’ nation the whole year round, Europe just shuts down for six weeks. From around mid- July to the end of August, most of the northerners head south towards the warm waters of the Mediterranean and the southerners fly off to exotic far away places. The politicians just close the government offices and throw away the keys. Even Tony Blair, dressed up as Indiana Jones pranced off to Italy with his family to be the guest of Sylvio Berlusconi who greeted him as Captain Kidd at his Sardinian hideaway. World affairs could wait.
Or could they? Let’s move on. How about the oil issue?

Now here is a real Lulu to write about. If you ask the average man in the street if he knew the difference between Brent and Texas West I’m sure he wouldn’t know what you were talking about. To be frank, neither do I, except that we’re referring to different prices of crude oil. Nevertheless, the stuff that keeps the world going round is going up and up and, hell it could blast the roof off any possible economic progress. The Russians are taking Yukos the oil company to court, result, price goes up. Iraq keeps blowing up, result, price goes up. China and India spend too much, result, price goes up. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela wants to become the new Allende, you guessed, price goes up. And so it goes on and on. But then it’s holiday time and most economists are basking in the sun and don’t comment.

There is one side effect though. Pumping oil is one thing, burning off gasoline, the final product is another. The offshoot is that we continue to pollute the planet. Effect? Hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones are more vicious than ever and turn up in the least expected places. Florida devastated by ‘Charley’, Bangladesh under water and Cornwall, Hackwriter’s birthplace, hit by overflowing rivers thus adding to the statistics of homeless and ruin. That’s not all, if it doesn’t rain it dries up and bush fires season begins. Acres and acres of precious forests have gone up in flames in America and across Europe. The bottom line is earth temperatures are going up, the icecaps are melting and the sea is rising. All thanks to bloody oil! But as Humphrey said to Ingrid, ‘we’ve always got Athens’.

Once again, world centre stage sports are focused on the elitist of competitions, the Olympic games. The gathering of thousands of athletes this summer in Greece, from all countries and walks of life competing in the most disparate of sports deserves special mention as our summer holiday broadcast. From running to sailing, gymnastics to tennis, swimming to rifle shooting, every conceivable human physical challenge that has been designed and developed over of the years is represented. And then there is the emotion, both as spectator and participator. Years of disciplined training, diet watching and strict coaching culminating in a final burst of energy to either rise to the podium of honour for a gold medal or watch by the sideline as a fellow competitor is crowned with laurels. Awesome to say the least. Anyone who can still remember Jesse Owen at the Berlin event in 1936, more or less snubbing two fingers up Adolph Hitler’s nose as he blasted the world record in his famous long jump, knows the feeling. Those who saw the Oscar winning film ‘Chariots of Fire’ about the 1924 Olympics in Paris will remember the thrill, the stress and the psychological pressure as Adam Abrams eventually took the gold for the 100 metres. Alas, bygone days! Let’s get back to reality. What else have we got? Ah yes, the up and coming US elections.

Brother can we write pages and pages on this one. John Kerry has been firmly entrenched as the Democratic candidate whilst George Bush is still to be ‘officially’ nominated at his own convention. So? It’s not who is going to win in November but on what final issue? As US and world economics appear to be slowing down, this, social programs and national security seem to be bouncing around like Ping-Pong balls. Both candidates are trying to figure out which one will be the key to the White House. But with the body counts in Iraq about to hit, if they haven’t already, the 1000 mark, it’s Iraq that is going to influence Americans in their final voting choice. So George wants to cut back by 70,000 troops around the world in 10 years. Big deal. So John says George screwed up in Iraq by alienating world allies. Again, so what? The main point is that it doesn’t matter a ‘hill of beans’ who wins, the world situation is there to be resolved, somehow by whoever sits in the Oval Office. George or John, your signatures will have the same effect and your people want their boys back safe and sound regardless of where they are. Which brings me on to the next bit of military news.

Remember the new Spanish prime minister carrying out his election policy by bringing back the troops from Iraq? Well, he’s now sending them off again, but this time to Afghanistan. Might be a different country and a different government, but the bullets are the same ones and they’re for real! Another quaint deal is that although he has snubbed at Uncle Sam and ‘Old Blighty’ he’s made new friends with the Arabs. One of the deals is to go hand in hand with Morocco and send a joint ‘peace-keeping force’ to Haiti. He also wants the King of Spain to act as special ambassador (as if he doesn’t already) to ‘patch up things with our Muslim brothers’. Pope Paul and his ambassadors in Spain have told him to ‘watch it’. So what does he do? He rules out ‘religious education’ in the new school curriculum. Exit Catholicism and enter Islam! No one in Spain has bat an eyelid. They’re all on holiday!

Finally a bit of authentic drivel. Spain’s new government is made up of 50% female ministers. This is probably unique in the annals of democracy and is worthy of certain praise as an example of tackling the equality issue that is so in vogue in today’s world. In fact it is ‘Vogue’ the fashion magazine and our dear lady ministers that have been the latest controversial news rage in the tabloids of the Spanish press. These power pussies had nothing better to do during their holiday time than to pose as models in different expensive attires before the cameras of the illustrious ‘glossy’ and appear on the front page of the recent issue. What can I say? I’m not a male chauvinist nor woman basher. I thought, however, that I would join the band wagon by suggesting to the government that the remaining 50% male ministers should try a similar fan raising trick. How about dressing up in soccer outfits and signing autographs outside the Madrid stadium similar to what David Beckham does at the Real Madrid football club? Viva España!
As I said, everyone is on holiday and nobody really cares! Neither do I!
© James Skinner. August, 2004.
jamesskinner@cemiga.es

How and Why Terrorism is winning by dividing the West


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