Money for nothing

Question: What’s the difference between an “oligarch” and bog-standard “billionaire”?

Answer: Well, nationality for a start. Russians get called “oligarchs”. Rich and powerful non-Russians like Murdoch are just “billionaires”.
My print Chambers Dictionary defines an oligarch as someone who holds power in an oligarchy, which is a mite too self-referential to be truly instructive. Wikipedia defines oligarchy as rule by the few:

a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, military powers or occult spiritual hegemony.

Sorry, I still can’t work out the distinction.

A senior Tory, George Osborne – the Shadow Chancellor, no less, is currently in trouble for allegedly trying to get a donation from a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. Note, he’s not in trouble for hitting on a very rich chap for £50,000. The trouble is just because the potential donor doesn’t have the right to vote in England.

Anyway, Osborne is “sorry”, he “made a mistake”.

That’s OK, George, we’ve all been there. Holidays with the mega-rich. Invitations to parties on billionaires’ yacht in Corfu. The sea, the sand, the sun, the free and easy holiday atmosphere. Maybe too much champagne. What happens in Corfu, stays in Corfu…. Easy mistakes to make.

No wait, my mistake. WE haven’t all been there. I must have been temporarily channelling Peter Mandelson. He was there at the same time. And he’s also been a bit annoyed by the churlish attention that commentators with no romance in their souls have been paying to his own flirtation with the same oligarch.

This row is putting Parliament in a rather embarrassing position, as the major parties increasingly look – how shall I put this, a little slack, when it comes to their sources of income.

The move comes as the Conservative party faces allegations that it took tens of thousands of pounds from an associate of a Ukrainian oligarch and accepted a £1m loan from a dormant company owned and run by Lady Victoria de Rothschild, a member of the banking family.
The Guardian revealed on Saturday that Robert Shetler-Jones, a British associate of Dmitry Firtash, has been funding the office of Pauline Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister. Shetler-Jones also funds Conservative Central Office through Scythian Ltd, which he chairs and part-owns. It has been described as a “non-trading company” and its accounts are overdue.
The firm’s position had already caused concern to the commission because non-trading companies cannot give donations to political parties, although the Conservatives produced a letter from its auditors saying it was still trading.
The Observer revealed yesterday that a £1m loan was given to the Conservative party by Ironmade Ltd, which is owned and controlled by Lady Victoria de Rothschild. According to the newspaper, Ironmade was set up to avoid her identity being revealed.
(from theGuardian)

How impressed am I by all these people with riches so far beyond the dreams of avarice that they can hand over lottery-win-level sums of money to political parties? Anonymously. Indeed, so anonymously that they even work out complicated barely-legal ways to hide their identities. And they want nothing in return…..

Blimey, Osborne wasn’t even trying, if his (alleged) request was for a relatively humble £50,000.

Like his Tory counterparts, Mandelson is aghast at the very suggestion that there is anything remotely shady about hanging round with the Russian mega-rich, either when he was EU trade commissioner, or now that he was (unaccountably) brought back by Brown when the economy started to tank. (Despite having had to resign over business dealings twice before)

He flatly refused to elaborate on the his meetings with his oligarch chum.

Lord Mandelson today rejected fresh calls for him to reveal the full extent of his relationship with Oleg Deripaska, insisting that no conflict of interest arose during his meetings with the controversial Russian billionaire. (from the Guardian)

For instance, he certainly wouldn’t comment on the absurd suggestion that Deripaska may have benefited from the lowering of EU tariffs on aluminium, when his yacht-buddy Mandelson was EU Trade Commissioner.

But Mandelson, who is leading a four-day UK trade delegation to Russia, refused to confirm the number and nature of his meetings with Deripaska, or the length of time he spent aboard the oligarch’s yacht off Corfu in August.

Look, can somebody please introduce me to these Russian oligarchs who are happy to throw around invitations to their yacht parties? I had naively assumed that you don’t get to be a billionaire without demanding something quite lucrative in exchange for huge sums of money. But I was clearly wrong. So I’d like to be one of the first to join in the parting-a-fool-from-his-money fest.

White feathers

In a Guardian interview with Jessica Stevenson, the woman from Spaced who’s now in Dr Who,, she compared women today to the women of the suffragette era.

I wondered how women – so enthused, so galvanised, so passionate – could have organised one of the most successful political campaigns in British history. Compare that with now when they are obsessed with scented candles. Not to say that all women are like that but it’s still depressing that politicised, sophisticated women are few and far between. It’s a direct result of rabid consumerism.

One of my main rants against the world is how so many women seem bent on becoming mindless Stepford wives so there’s less than no argument from me there. Continue reading

Too easy a target

Was enticed to visit WorldNetDaily via a post on Richard Dawkins which reproduced their article on teachers who felt they were being forced to promote atheism.

The article turned out to be as silly as you’d expect. Even more hatstand but with more intrinsic comedic value is Chuck Norris’s article on this very topic. (You can get there from the WND homepage by clicking on his big dumb face in the right column.)

How to outlaw Christianity (Steps 2 & 3)

So even good old z-list action movie stars can see the wisdom in banning religions? Well. that seems a bit extreme to me but I am not gifted with the action hero’s can-do spirit. So, I am prepared to be persuaded, although the Roman empire’s failure to manage this example suggests it may not be the way to go.

No wait, fool. This is a warning of the powerful atheist conspiracy to do just that. Bah. This blog wasn’t even invited. Word must have reached Atheist Conspiracy Central of our weak revisionist tendencies.

Some representative content:

Step 2: Target younger generations with atheism

Atheists are making a concerted effort to win the youth of America and the world. Hundreds of websites and blogs on the Internet seek to convince and convert adolescents, endeavoring to remove any residue of theism from their minds and hearts by packaging atheism as the choice of a new generation. While you think your kids are innocently surfing the Web, secular progressives are intentionally preying on their innocence and naïveté.

What’s preposterous is that atheists are now advertising and soliciting on websites particularly created for teens. The London Telegraph noted that, “Groups including Atheists for Human Rights and Atheist Alliance International – ‘Call 1-866-HERETIC’ – are setting up summer camps and an Internet recruiting campaign.”

YouTube, the most popular video site on the Net for young people, is one of their primary avenues for passing off their secularist propaganda. Another antagonistic and self-proclaimed “blasphemous” site even beckons youth to record their anti-Christian beliefs on it.

Blimey. You think your kids are innocently surfing the web for goatporn or anorexia-promotion sites. You find that they are being suckered into rational philosophy sites. What parent wouldn’t be worried sick?

Thanks for the tip off, Chuck. Chuck Norris! I’m so pleased he has managed to crown his distinguished movie career with a new role as the moral watchdog of the religious right.

My god, the man has pretty well defined z-list acting since the 70s so I had to consult the biog on the IMDB to get the full flavour of his achievements.

Both his parents were half Irish and half Cherokee

Oh come on. Both? Surely the entire current Irish-Cherokee gene pool must consist of him and his bothers. (Wieland and Aaron, since you asked)

His real name is Carlos Ray. This is already a mystery. Why would anyone change the inoffensive Carlos to the ludicrous Chuck? Or Ray to Norris. Norris, ffs. It’s a mere step away from Norbert. Carlos Ray is Charles King in Spanish almost – if you ignore the spelling. He could have chosen that as a nom-de-action-movie if he thought his given name was too Hispanic. (Or Man-who-fights-bad-guys O’Shaughnessy, reflecting his background.) But he went straight for an English-sounding name that seems to have any residual human intelligence sucked out of its very syllables. The human equivalent of the Mazda vehicle called the Bongo Friendee. (Google it if you don’t belive me.)

The only watchable film that he was ever in, to my knowledge, was the one where he fought Bruce Lee in the Colliseum (watchable because of Bruce Lee rather than Mr Norris) This is called Meng long guo jiang, with what I consider excessive pedantry, by IMDB. And he was comically chest-and shoulder-hair-covered in that.

Everything else in the list of his movies brings the old phrase “straight-to-video gem” to mind.

Let’s see the upside here, fellow evil conspirators. If Chuck’s illustrious film career makes him the best-known celeb that the religious right can field to be the star face of a major blog, they really have had to scrape the barrel.

Let’s redouble our efforts to turn the youth to our godless ways.