New Blog for a New Year (Portfolio)


So, I’ve decided to create a portfolio of my new work and showcase it in a new blog. Huzzah!

This new blog features work I manage to get published in a variety of online magazines from MouthLondon to Sabotage Times – exciting stuff eh?

Will also include some freelance copywriting that I’ve started, which of course might not interest you, but I thought I’d tell you anyway.

Please head to http://ryancordellportfolio.wordpress.com (or The Selected Works of Ryan Cordell) for all my work from 2013 and beyond.

Hopefully, you’ll find something you enjoy reading.

Cheers

R.C.

Britain’s Tricky Relationship with Iran


This was the moment that British-Iranian relations re-emerged as a major global talking point. The storming of the British embassy in Iran provided the spark for the latest bout of trouble between Ahmadinejad’s oil-rich state and Great Britain.

Al Jazeera – Britain to expel all Iranian diplomats

William Hague in response closed both Iran’s embassy in London and Britain’s embassy in Tehran where he expelled 25 diplomats. Al Jazeera reported at the time that these events marked “a complete split in diplomatic relations, not cut off completely but [downgraded to] the lowest level”. Whereas the Ottawa Citizen described it as the “worst crisis in decades”.

Diplomatic relations however were already precariously balanced over a somewhat rocky precipice due to a report made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that indicated Iran may be preparing to build nuclear weapons. The Asia Times, who claim this report to merely contain “flimsy expressions of concern”, chastise Britain for leading the charge for imposing financial sanctions on Iran due to the report’s findings. The predictions that Britain’s actions in expelling Iranian diplomats could proliferate throughout the EU were condemned as a “misguided overreaction…unlikely to yield any positive results”. The article is equally critical of David Cameron’s administration as “ill-prepared for reflection on how its own actions may have precipitated the current crisis in relations, and is instead trying to seize the moment and isolate iran in the international community”.

Due to Britain’s actions, Afrasiabi, the reporter for the Asian Times asserts that suggestions Tehran and London could rebuild their relations is somewhat premature and unlikely due to “Britain’s campaign of unbounded hostility toward the Islamic Republic”.

The growing antipathy of the West towards the Iranians and vice versa worsened after the threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, a key route for global oil supplies. Iran’s Press TV reported that Phillip Hammond (wrongly credited as British Foreign Secretary) had “violated international law by threatening to attack Iran if it closes its territorial waters in the Strait of Hormuz”. Britain, and other Western powers however did send a naval presence into the Straits to prevent this potential crisis taking place. The Iranian perspective is that the British are re-exercising their colonial muscles by citing “non-existent portions of the international law in its threats of military action on Iran in case it does not allow foreign vessels pass through its territorial waters in the strategic Strait of Hormuz”. “The international law rules that all ships can enter Iranian territorial waters only upon authorization from Iran”, according to Press TV. They have also used this criticism of British colonialism to describe Britain’s intervention in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and recent tension over the Falkland Islands.

Press TV have since been banned from British television which American political newsletter, Counterpunch question somewhat critically. It’s conclusion is that OFCOM’s decision is “another front” on the war already being waged against Iran. In fact endorsement of Press TV’s removal by some British journalists is considered an example of “the insouciant hackery of some British journalists when it comes to issues of free speech”. British journalists, of course, have taken quite a proverbial beating from the worlds media in recent weeks due to the hacking scandal.

The international response to Britain’s declining relations with Iran has provided somewhat of a mixed bag. What can be demonstrated from this, is that there is support for Iran against British actions and Iran are quite naturally documenting events as oppressive and colonial. Is this a fair assessment? We will only know as things progress, however the steady decline does not bode well for the future of British-Iranian relations which seem increasingly likely to escalate.

 

What to do with the August Rioters


I think the most pressing question concerning the recent riots that shocked Britain is what on earth did the Woolwich Wilkinsons or Wetherspoons do to the hoody clad thugs and looters? Burning the only places in which they can afford to shop and socialise on their dole cheque seems to be somewhat of a counterproductive measure; productivity however is clearly not a strongpoint of any partaker. Although it was suggested that the riots began because of the death of a drug dealer, many soon jumped on the destructive bandwagon over their lack of career options and rising levels of unemployment. I call it unemployability; smashing, destroying, burning and looting local businesses will not help them find a job and has done no favours to their already lacking CV.

So what to do with those found guilty? Now, I’m not suggesting Cameron should take the approach of Bashar al-Assad, although I did meet a man on a train from Manchester Airport who suggested shooting them all; a bit too ‘Arab Spring’ I reckon. Perhaps a Stalinist approach is on the cards; rioters disappearing from their beds at night only to be found years later working in the flailing manufacturing sector, all for looting a Krispy Kreme doughnut. In all honesty that would solve their employment woes. Some would argue that the best remedy for all involved would be to hand those convicted of rioting a dustpan and brush and telling them to sort out the mess they created. But they’d only do a half-arsed job; one thing I probably share with the rioters would be a less than enthusiastic approach to spring cleaning (perhaps it could yet be known as the British Spring).

Some rioters are receiving sentences that don’t appear to match their level of participation. But starting a Facebook page encouraging others to join them in smashing up their local town, even if it never happens, is quite simply a crime of stupidity. It’s like running through Heathrow airport recruiting people for your jihad.

The riots were an excuse for a bunch of hooligans to go nuts for a couple of days, maybe find themselves some new toys at a much discounted price. It brought the pyromaniacs and thieves of our society together in a big, uneducated and embarrassing mess. A tough stance seems to be being taken over the punishment of those involved, which will hopefully prevent any further trouble. The true consequences of these riots are yet to be seen however, so I shall keenly follow every update the news has to offer on my new flat screen TV. Just kidding.

X-Men: First Class


I have never before wished so hard that I could move metal with my mind. Forget about reading minds, walking through walls, shooting red lasers from my eyes (definitely forget that one) and even forget about having an adamantium skeleton fitted with blades that protrude from the flesh between my knuckles. With a starring role in the new X-Men film, Magneto takes full advantage of the exposure to cement himself as one of the most awesome Marvel, if not comic book in general, characters of all time. A film without Wolverine, I must admit, seemed a little dangerous due to his popularity and position as the fans favourite. However with a small yet hilarious cameo his absence from the film is by no means lamentable.

Although, not quite as familiar as his co-stars James McAvoy or Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender (who has starred in 300 and Inglourious Basterds) produces a remarkable performance as the troubled Erik, a.k.a Magneto, who cannot bring himself to trust the species that subjected him to a childhood in a concentration camp.

Magneto’s relentless and ruthless search for Shaw (Kevin Bacon) is an awe-inspiring demonstration of his powers with a strength to match his characterisation. Magneto manipulates no less than barbed wire, the metal frame of a bed, an anchor and a submarine to inflict damage on his enemies in his bid to find Shaw and prevent nuclear annihilation. Unfortunately for his enemies most guns are made of metal too.

Perhaps its the Cold War setting that gets me all excited over this film; it’s great to imagine the mutant world helping to diffuse the nuclear crisis with their supernatural methods. War Studies as a course focuses on the Cold War as a turning point in International Relations, so a great deal of emphasis is placed on the nuclear rivalry; the introduction of mutants would certainly make it more interesting at times. The fantasy element of X-Men: First Class is a somewhat refreshing method of understanding the most basic elements of the Cold War. In fact, the mutual paranoia and distrust between the Cold War sides, Russia and America is perfectly and quite brilliantly mirrored by the fictional struggle between humans and mutants; neither side able to trust the other (although some willing to try).

More excitingly for fans of the Comic-book genre, Marvel have at last made a film to rival DC’s The Dark Knight. Although the original X-Men series got progressively better, and was miles better than the Spiderman series, The Dark Knight made them look somewhat infantile. X-Men: First Class provides all the special effects, showcases all the super-powers, involves complex and brilliantly portrayed characters, all with an intelligent story-line. In case you haven’t worked out my opinion quite yet, it is quite simply a triumph for the genre and the franchise. Bravo.

Euthanasia – The Argument


With all the talk of Terry Pratchett’s BBC program in which he travels to, Euthanasia clinic, Dignitas  in Switzerland, I thought I’d discuss the ethical argument surrounding the controversial subject.

Pratchett is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, where not only do you begin losing short and long-term memory but eventually you lose the capability of your bodily functions. Your body forgets how to live. Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness that has symptoms of severe depression (quite understandably considering the prognosis), so euthanasia or  assisted suicide is an option that some may consider in order to escape before they lose themselves completely. Illegal in this country, euthanasia can be carried out in the Dignitas clinic Pratchett visited in Switzerland, but should there be this option? Is it an acceptable solution?

The Religious Argument

According to the devout Christians among us, it is against God’s plan to commit suicide. Despite his granting of freewill to us, they don’t want it used as it denies God’s right to our lives. Some even believe that the suffering process is good as it allows a Christian to better understand the sacrifice Jesus made;  Pope John Paul II wrote that “It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls.” But Jesus didn’t have a terminal illness that caused suffering and degradation over a period of years, did he?

The Medical Argument

Some worry that if euthanasia is legalized it may become a more commonly used procedure on the elderly and sick to save on expensive medical bills. It is widely believed that if Palliative care is working to its purpose than euthanasia is unnecessary as pain should be relieved in more “ethical” ways. How true this is, I cannot say. Does it undermine a doctor and nurses duty to care? Well in my opinion no, if it is truly what a patient – who is still in sound mind – wants then it is  within their right to end their suffering that way, and doctors and nurses will have a duty to oblige to the patients needs.

The “Slippery Slope” Argument

Aktion T-4 was the name of the Nazis’ program that authorised the mass killing of the disabled and mentally ill, starting with children that were seen as “life unworthy of life”. Seen as a drain on the economy and an obstacle to Nazi ideology regarding the superiority of the Aryan race, the Nazis were ruthless enough to order their deaths without their consent. It is this disregard for life, that is argued by many to have led to policies such as. ‘The Final Solution’; the genocide of 6 million Jews. It is this sort of escalation that many are afraid of, at first it would be euthanasia of the consenting patient, but before long the patient may have no say in the decision process what so ever.

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I personally believe that euthanasia is acceptable if the patient is still deemed able of making his/her own decisions. It should not however be down to relatives who could have ulterior motives such as an earlier inheritance; disgusting as it may sound, there are people like that out there. When the choice is taken away from the patient and made by someone else it is no longer euthanasia that is a sanctioning of murder by an outside party. Understandably it must be difficult for a spouse, sibling, parent, child to sit and allow their loved ones to suffer, however they ultimately cannot decide when their loved one can die; the law would be simply too difficult to police. The medical and slippery-slope argument have merit, and these are certainly dangers regarding the legalisation of the euthanasia process, however if sufficient regulations are installed and it is strictly a decision by the patient then I can see little room for escalation in a 21st century liberalised world; relatively fresh from the horrors of the Nazis’ genocidal policies.

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The Queen’s Honour List


Topping the Queen’s honour list today was Bruce Forsyth who will receive a knighthood from her majesty. I can only assume it was for his resilience in refusing to retire from our television screens in a career spanning roughly 70 years. I wonder if his jokes were ever funny? His most recent activity is his job hosting the hit BBC show Strictly Come Dancing, if that had anything to do with Queenie’s decision then co-host Tess Daly should also receive some recognition too, for the ability to laugh at the old man, albeit through gritted teeth. “It’s nice to see you… to see you nice”; he calls it a catchphrase, I call it a lack of originality, and an inability to produce new material. It’s one dimensional to say the least; imagine if hit comedian Michael McIntyre danced around the stage camply at every gig. Oh wait…

Andrew Strauss and Allistair Cook were also awarded with an MBE and a OBE respectively, for their part in the victorious Ashes campaign down under. But let’s be honest who needs such awards when you have a small urn filled with old, burnt wood. Thanks… but no thanks your majesty. Ricky Ponting should get one for captaining the Australia side so terribly, and picking Ben Hilfenhaus and Xavier Doherty when he was under pressure to win.

Among the non-famous receivers are,‘Beverley De-Gale, who set up a charity to attract bone marrow donors from ethnic minorities after her son developed leukaemia. She is appointed an OBE…[and]Ex-soldier David Stuttard, 65, set up an organisation that has improved water sanitation in parts of Ghana and given 50,000 people access to clean water. He becomes an MBE.’ And a dinner lady, who has been recognized for her services  to lunch-time supervision after a 30 year career at the same school. Wow. I can’t quite comprehend how that is MBE worthy; a 5 days a week, 1 hour a day job. In a 40 week school year she has worked a grand total of 200 hours, and in her 30 year career, 6000 hours. If you compare it to a 5 days a week, 7 hours a day job with say, 5 weeks holiday a year, which takes up 1645 hours a year, and over a 30 year period,  49,350 hours. She has had a sweet deal. ‘I’ve worked more times than you’ve had hot dinners’… actually, probably not.

Robert Mugabe received a knighthood in 1994, but don’t worry, Gaddafi’s name is not featured on 2011’s list. Although the current list doesn’t show any signs of decorating any future maniacal dictators (or present for that matter) you simply don’t know. There’s still life in Sir Bruce yet.

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The Story of Ben Freeth


As a white Zimbabwean your life is difficult enough, but as a white Zimbabwean actively challenging the Mugabe regime in the worlds media, you are lucky to still be alive. Ben Freeth, a Zimbabwean farmer, has done exactly that. Freeth and his family are among those suffering under Mugabe’s ruthless land seizure policy that has affected over 2,000,000 farm workers as he strips them of their land in an attempt to nationalize it. And what has this achieved? Nothing short of a crippled economy and soaring rates of hyperinflation. In 2009 they had their farm taken away from them;  since then it has, ‘not been watered, fertilised or sprayed by the farm’s new owner, who is a minister in the Zimbabwean government’. No wonder Zimbabwe is in such a dire state economically; this land seizure is a policy of  racial discrimination not economic benefit.

During this terrible period, where him and his family have lost their livelihood they have also had to endure death threats, arson attacks, in which both Freeth and his father-in-law’s house were burned to the ground, and an abduction where he was almost beaten to death by governmental forces. One can see the true extent of the horrors facing white farmers in Zimbabwe in a letter sent by Freeth to his son, Joshua

My dear Joshua,

You were born on the eve of the farm invasions and you are now four years old. As your Daddy, I have important decisions to make for you – decisions that will affect the rest of your life. As a family, we live in a country where 85 in every 100 white farmers have been removed from their homes since you were born. We live in a time where inflation is the highest of any country in the world and our economy is the fastest shrinking. We see our friends and our skilled people leaving all the time and they say, ‘We are leaving for the sake of our children.’

Maybe it’s stubbornness; maybe it’s the inherent fighting spirit passed on to me by your grandfather; but deep down I believe it’s God’s will for us and I say, ‘We are staying for the sake of the children.’ It may sound perverse given what I have said about the country that we live in, but I wish to explain.

At only three months, you had your first run-in with the darkness. They smashed up our car with axes and rocks and tried to kill Mummy and you and I but God got us through that. Your Daddy’s been beaten with sticks and kicked in the dust by a CIO (Central Intelligence Organisation) man and a crowd and God got us through that. Your Daddy then had another smash-up in his car with war veterans and, by a miracle, God got him through that.

Your Daddy’s been shot at and abused; he’s dealt with beaten farmers and beaten farmers’ wives and beaten farm workers; and looted properties and butchered animals and even bloody butchered farmers murdered in the name of land reform. He’s had his job and his car taken away from him and the farming hierarchy has shunned him but God got us through that. He has been arrested and he has seen broken men coming out of prison and broken families spread out across the continents but I still say with your Mummy, ‘We are staying for the sake of you children.’

We have undoubtedly been more fortunate than most. We still have our home – for today. We still have our family around us – for today. We still have an income – for today. And, for today, when I see you go off in the morning with the shepherd – your hair the same colour as winter grass, head bobbing up and down behind the sheep, a little wild figure at one with the veldt – I feel so privileged to know that you are growing up in such an environment, learning to know and appreciate the real things away from the invasive world of cars and noise and shoebox flats.

When I say we are staying for your sake, I say it because as you grow up, you will face challenges of a nature that you will not face in other places and you will know hardships which, so long as we face them right, will make you real. You have seen death and heartfelt grief already and you have felt dust and wet earth and sun and rain and you know already the joys of growing things and hunting things and of being part of real life – the raw life that comes from being a son of the African soil.

For some, this impassioned reality is simply too much. After a time, they grow tired. The harsh extremities become just too much. The constant fight for our very survival eventually wears them down. “Goodbye,” they say. “Goodbye to all that. We would rather not be part of it.” And off they go to a land of security and progress and hardly ever come back because they know they have left their hearts behind and it would be too painful to become reacquainted with them.

From the cosy world of material security, it is an unthinkable madness that anybody should choose to stay here; but as one octogenarian couple said to me while in the process of being forcefully evicted out of their home of 50 years recently, “We do not deserve to have our home or our country if we are not prepared to fight for them.”

So our decision to stay has not been taken lightly. We have taken it knowing that things are going to get worse; that the people in power will continue to persecute us because of the colour of our skins; that when this storm is passed it won’t take long for the next one to brew up; that our decision to confront evil will continue to have consequences.

Our decision has been made knowing that when we become tired, God will give us the strength to go on, and that somehow in the groping darkness that this storm has plunged us into, we have a responsibility before God not to be overcome by it, but rather to be a beacon of light if ever we can. I write this with a prayer that you will some day understand.

With all my love, Daddy

Freeth’s courageous decision to stay and fight against this cruel repression is truly inspiring. He has even received an MBE for his bravery in exposing Mugabe’s terror campaign, which includes a film, ‘Mugabe and the White African’ secretly shot in Zimbabwe. He has appealed to world leaders, including Obama to increase pressure on the corrupt and repressive Mugabe regime.
At the 2005 World Summit, decisions were made in regards to the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect. Surely Mugabe’s actions towards a whole ethnic group, the white farmers in Zimbabwe, constitute crimes against humanity.
Responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing
and crimes against humanity

138. Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from
genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This
responsibility entails the prevention of such crimes, including their incitement,
through appropriate and necessary means. We accept that responsibility and
will act in a ccordanc e with it. The international community should, as
appropriate, encourage and help States to exercise this responsibility and
support the United Nations in establishing an early warning capability.

139. The international community, through the United Nations, also has the
responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful
means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect
populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes agains t
humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely
and de cisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the
Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation
with relevant regional organiz ations as appropriate, should peac eful means be
inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations
from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. We
stress the need for the General Assembly to continue consideration of the
responsibility to prote ct populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic
cleansing and crimes against humanity and its implications, bearing in mind
the principles of the Charter and international law. We also intend to commit
ourselves, as nec essary and appropriate, to helping States build capacity to
protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and
crimes against humanity and to assisting those which are under stress before
crises and conflicts break out.

The West’s response to Gaddafi’s state terrorism demonstrates the transparency of their true motives. Mugabe’s regime has been killing, abusing and torturing their own people for years; surely if intervention is to occur in Libya then it should also occur in Zimbabwe, among many others abusive states. It becomes hard to deny ulterior motives, such as oil, when you consider the the wider scope of other state atrocities around the globe. Gaddafi’s firing on peaceful protesters in Tripoli earlier this year is fundamentally no different to Mugabe’s attacks on innocent white farmers over the last decade; not to mention the terrible economic situation in the country which leaves Zimbabweans dependent on food aid.
If we have a responsibility to protect, we can’t ignore those who do not having anything to offer in return. It’s understandable that the West cannot protect all the people suffering under corrupt regimes at one time, but Mugabe’s regime has been this way for so many years it’s startling to think that nothing has been done. Freeth has suggested deploying a peace-keeping forcein Zimbabwe in order to police and prevent the atrocities he has been subjected to. However with the UN peacekeepers spread out across 14 separate operations including

Africa

  • UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO)
  • African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID)
  • UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS)
  • UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI)
  • UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL)
  • UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO)

Americas

  • UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)

Asia and the Pacific

  • UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)
  • UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP)
  • UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)*

Europe

  • UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP)
  • UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)

Middle East

  • UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF)
  • United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)
  • UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)
it seems unlikely that they would deploy any in Zimbabwe. Reporting the problems in Zimbabwe has certainly cooled in recent years, as the world seems prepared to turn a blind eye and concentrate on other African nations such as, the Ivory Coast, Sudan and the Congo. Yet for those farmers in Zimbabwe they at least have a hero in Freeth who seems willing at any cost to remind the world of the monster, Robert Mugabe.
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The Worst of the Worst?


As a follow up from my previous post, who in your opinion is the worst dictator of modern times?

The Dictators


Peep Show – Series 4, Episode 1  ‘Sophie’s Parents’ (2007)

Sophie: [Picking out a T-shirt with Mao Tze-tung on it] What about this? 
Mark: You do know who that is, don’t you? 
Sophie: Yeah, it’s Chairman Mao, isn’t it? 
Mark: Exactly, the man was responsible for the deaths of 60 million people. I don’t want him on my chest. 
Sophie: 60 million, that’s more than Stalin, isn’t it? 
Mark: It’s not a competition, Soph. Although if it was, Mao would probably win. 

As Mark quite rightly states, it is not a competition and dictators shouldn’t really be celebrated, however there is something strangely fascinating about a deranged despot. A key component of the dictator’s résumé is the development of a cult of personality; creating a heroic and respected public image to add legitimacy and justification to their method of rule. In many ways this propaganda allows the tyrant to take on the position of a deity of sorts; this puts them in a position above politics, and above the law. This creates an environment in which genocides, extreme human rights abuses and state-sponsored terrorism is almost a forgone conclusion. This “personality” which paves the way for such abuses of power, remains present long after their crimes, but in the sense of outside interest in what, how and why these leaders acted in the way that they did, and in some cases, continue to do so. This is not a competition more a gallery of some of the most evil people in history, their raving lunacy and distorted world views.

Let’s begin with…

Pol Pot

Leader of the Khmer Rouge, the communist party of Cambodia, Pol Pot envisioned a world where his native Cambodia could just start again. In what has been termed the “Year Zero” campaign, Pot managed to kill-off up to a 1/5 of his own population. The Khmer Rouge were ruthless, and there are some true horror stories of their systematic massacring. Torture, murder, and enforced famine came to represent the rule of this communist party. In trying to create an agrarian society, the regime murdered anyone who had the potential to undermine it; this included intellectuals. Now as we all know, if you wear glasses you are a genius (remember this was before Gok Wan) therefore Pol Pot’s regime became famous for seeking out the spectacle wearers in society and murdering them (so much for not hitting a guy with glasses); but surely you’d just take them off!

Kim Jong-Il

‘Supreme Leader’ of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il is a man of many talents; composer of operas and a part-time puppet movie star. Yet he is still more concerned with foreign policy and further development of nuclear weaponry than feeding his starving people. Since the famine of the 90’s North Korea rely on food aid from places such as the USA and South Korea; yet are willing to attack their southern neighbour, as demonstrated by last year’s shelling exercise off the coast of South Korea. With well into the millions dead from this state-created famine, Kim will find it difficult to pull too many strings on the international stage , regardless of his fledgling nuclear capability. Who know’s what the future holds for this playboy leader with his increasing belligerence and inability to care for his population, how long before his strings are cut?

‘Papa Doc’, François Duvalier


Despite somewhat resembling an older Carlton Banks, Duvalier is an example of a classic dictator with an exotic twist. Fluent in internal repression and murder of opposition, ‘Papa Doc’ was also responsible for bringing back the art of voodoo. Not content with simply jabbing needles into a doll-like effigy of his Haitian population or dangling it above a naked flame, he also ran a ruthless militia that murdered up to an approximate 60,000 Haitians. Him and his son, ‘Baby Doc’ (how cute…) are widely recognized as the reason behind Haiti’s vast loss of it’s academics and intellectuals who fled the country after realizing the corruption of the regime.

Slobodan Milošević


Not only guilty of having the most unattractive name (with a face to match), not only in dictatorial history, but in general, he also has the blood of thousands of Croats, Slovenes and Bosnian Muslims on his hands, after the conflicts in the Balkans over the 90s. When most the Yugoslav People’s Army refused to fight in his war, he enlisted the help of thugs, hooligans and criminals in the attempt to keep Yugoslavia together in a particularly brutish way. He essentially operated the conflict like a mafia boss. His sanctioning of genocide, war crimes and forced deportation and movement of people  in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia  meant he was at one stage the most wanted man in Europe.

Muʿammar al-Qaḏḏāfī 

Despotic leader of Libya who blamed the recent protests on Al Qaeda drugging his population has been a known tyrant for years. After the PANAM flight 103 came down over Lockerbie, Gaddafi became an enemy of the west for sponsoring terrorism. Yet relations improved with several trade agreements (largely weapons) during the Tony Blair premiership. The recent conflict in Libya has thrust him back into the spotlight; claiming that he can’t leave because he doesn’t have an official title, he has been bombing and shooting his way through the anti-government rebels. He is currently adding to his war crime CV after rumours that he is using rape as a weapon of war begins circulating.

Saddam Hussein

Invasion, torture, rape, chemical weapons and non-existent nuclear weapons; Hussein’s rule had it all. Allied with the US, initially against Iran, he then proceeded to invade Kuwait, where he committed terrible war crimes and initiated the first Gulf War. Not content on just killing Kuwaitis, he began a programme of gassing Kurds within his own nation. Once the strongest power in the Middle East, Hussein saw it transform into a nation ravaged by war. He consistently went against US sanctions, which led to the spread of famine and disease leading to a vast infant mortality rate. Hussein remains the only dictator to have lived in a hole.

And now the Big Dogs…

Mao Zedong

The Chairman, whose cultural revolution and “great leap forward” removed any bourgeoisie elements in society, characterizes Mao’s ruthless human rights record.  As many as 50 million people were killed under Mao’s regime which ran from the mid 50s to the mid 70s. The People’s Republic, was ironically not a great place or time for “the people” as millions starved in the largest famine in human history and countless others disappeared. Modelling his nation industrialization on Stalin’s Russia, he also modeled his sheer disregard for human life in his own country on the despotic Russian.

Joseph Stalin

Whether it was the mass movement of ethnic minorities among Russia’s territory or the purging of his own people, Stalin is widely considered to be the most ruthless dictator in history.Anything between 20 and 60 million people were killed during his tyrannical rule of the USSR. Whether or not he killed more or less than Mao, he started the trend for Communist repression. Paranoid, Stalin would murder or detain anyone who bad-mouthed him. If opponents weren’t murdered they were sent to labour camps, slave labour in his Gulags allowed his prolific industrialization process to materialize. Rumour has it that on his death bed, those around were too scared to proclaim his death in-case he was to wake up; the cult of fear around the man, was incredible. Startling really, when you consider he looks a bit like Mario.

And last but not least…

Adolf Hitler

Although he didn’t kill as many as Stalin or Mao, he is widely considered the most evil man in history for the level of hatred present in his war crimes; in which he systematically slaughtered Slavs, Blacks, Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, among other minorities. Single-handedly ruining the reputation of moustache wearers everywhere, he also started World War II and ran his nation and occupied nations (in the war years) through the Gestapo which sent Jews and the like to concentration camps. Upon the failure of his Aryan race in the second world war he was pressured into finding a solution, that solution was genocide. He may not have killed the most people, but the nature, and hatred involved in his crimes make him one of the most evil men in history. Plus it’s rumoured he had a urine fetish. Dirty bastard.

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There are too many maniacs in history and in the present day to list them all; take the Bahraini princes or Saudi Arabian kings who suppress women and rule their country medievally with little sight of democracy. Fascism and Communism have also thrown up their fair share including Mussolini, Franco, Castro, Tito or Kim Il-Sung. As with all these leaders, despite their horrendous crimes they remain a source of intrigue and fascination for many.

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Germany’s Bean-Sprouting Lies About Spanish Cucumbers


The recent E.coli outbreak has left 24 dead, 2,400 hospitalized and has cost Spanish farmers a massive 225 million Euros a week. Worst of all, the outbreak did not even originate in Spain despite German claims. Authorities initially considered the Spanish cucumber harvest to be the origin of the recent health-scare. Despite protests from Spanish farmers, the  accusations had a significant knock-on effect, as many Europeans avoided Spanish produce.

The Spanish are now calling for reparations to recompense for their significant losses during this period. Germany are somewhat familiar with the notion of reparations; however more in the context of Versailles than vegetables. Germany are being threatened with court action if a compensatory settlement cannot be reached. They also face a court battle on several fronts; with no Schlieffen plan to combat this issue they could potentially owe not only Spain money, but Holland and Sweden too. Who knows, Britain could make it a full-scale vegetable World War recreation if E.coli related deaths increase in the UK. But more importantly as, Spanish delegate Francisco Sosa-Wagner, stated, “We need to restore the honour of the cucumber.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13683270)

According to, The Telegraph, “bean sprouts have been responsible for well over 40 food borne illnesses around the world caused by either E.coli or Salmonella bacteria in the last 35 years or so”. Not only are they constantly being mistaken (and not in a good way, but a disappointing way) for noodles in Chinese food but they truly are the vector vegetable; spreading the deadly bacterium, as a mosquito spreads malaria.

Beware the conniving, disease-ridden, German bean-sprout but drop your prejudices concerning the humble, stoic and and all-round respectable cucumber.

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