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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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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Wounds Still Healing


Remembering the Rwandan and Bosnian Genocides

Two of the major flashpoints in the history of UN sponsored humanitarian intervention, occurred within a year of each other. The Rwandan genocide which began in 1994, lasted 100 days and saw an estimated 500,000 – 1,000,000 people die, or approximately 20% of the population massacred mercilessly on an unprecedented scale. This was a targeted campaign against ethnic Tutsi’s and moderate Hutu’s, which involved the most abhorrent violence, sexual abuse, and torture.  The Bosnian genocide of 1995 saw Bosnian-Serbs undertake a campaign of ethnic cleansing, in the attempt to eradicate the Bosnian-Muslim population. Most famously was the massacre at Srebrenica; despite being declared a safe enclave by the UNPROFOR (United Nations Protection Force) the peace-keepers were unable to sufficiently protect the town, leading to the towns capture and then the targeted killings.

On the 26th May 2011, somewhat paralleling the closeness of the aforementioned events, two of the leaders responsible for these genocides were captured. Ratko Mladic, former leader of the Bosnian-Serb army and Bernard Munyagishari, a militia leader, accused of inciting and masterminding the massacre. The latter did not receive as much media attention as Mladic who has long been viewed as the most wanted man in Europe and will now potentially face a trial for war crimes at the Hague; providing his health does not deteriorate too badly. As far as closure, or comfort, is concerned the two leaders will hopefully be brought to justice 16 years after their crimes.

The wounds and scars left by the events of 1994/5 are certainly still in the process of healing. Many Serbs don’t consider Mladic a war criminal; the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13564139)  make note of one Serbian resident who claimed, ‘”I feel sorry for Mladic, he was a real Serb.”‘ On the surface, the capture of Mladic anaethsetises the pain, but the underlying wound is still very much felt when people are unwilling to accept the man as a modern-day monster. The ethnic and racial tensions appear very much present in modern day Serbia, if that resident’s statement is anything to go by.

In terms of Rwanda, the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13566368), again claims that one of the suspects equal, in terms of their involvement, to Munyagishari, is thought to be in Kenya, protected by their government. The effects of the 1994 massacre are huge; proliferation of HIV, children of the rape victims having to grow up in broken families, even other African nations have been affected by fleeing perpetrators, most noticably the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Economist presented a startling statistic for the DRC itself, that every minute, 48 women/girls are raped; hiding Rwandan war criminals do not help the vulnerable state, already plagued by its own problems. Even though Munyagishari has been captured many still havn’t been brought to justice, leaving Rwandan memories still somewhat vivid.

Is enough being done? One cannot be sure. If the operation to find these criminals and bring them to justice mirror the efficiency to which the UN dealt with the war crimes, then sadly no. The Bosnian and Rwandan genocide will always be remembered more for what the UN didn’t do, rather than what they did. They reduced numbers of peacekeepers in Rwanda days prior to the massacre despite the planning of it being almost common knowledge and were essentialy held at ransom by Russian and Chinese veto over what to in Bosnia; it was only after NATO acted independently that anything was done. It is both important and great news that these murderous criminals have been caught, but it does serve to provide a poignant reminder of past mistakes and oversights in the UN, and problems and tensions that are in many ways still present now within Serbia and Rwanda, as well as all the surrounding countries that have been affected.

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