Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Soylent Green

When I read the recent news about the horse meat scandal it always crops to my mind the movie I saw 40 years ago, fantastic, science fiction at the time, but as the years go by, looking more and more like reality. The movie is Soylent Green. Here's a brief synopsis taken from IMDB.

In the year 2022, the population has grown to 40 million people in New York City alone. Most housing is dilapidated and overcrowded, and the homeless fill the streets and line the fire escapes, stairways of buildings, abandoned cars, subway platforms, etc. Unemployment is at around 50%. Summers are oppressively hot and humid with temperatures over 90F during the day and night due to Earth's recent climate change resulting from the Greenhouse Effect. Food as we know, it in present times, is a rare and expensive commodity. Most of the World's population survives on processed rations produced by the massive Soylent Corporation, including Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, which are advertised as "high-energy vegetable concentrates". The newest product is Soylent Green: small green wafers which are advertised as being produced from "high-energy plankton".  
It is naïf to think that the daily mentioned retailers (Tesco, Aldi, Findus, etc.) were totally clueless about the products they were selling, all these burgers, lasagnas, bolognaises, moussakas, with processed minced meat containing 100% horse.
How is it possible none had a taste of what they were selling let alone a test? They knew the wholesale price, they knew that it would be impossible to put it on the shelves at such low price, unless something was not looking untowards. They can reel as much as they like and deflect blame towards Romanians and conspiracy theories... No, it's not only nerds that think about conspiracy theories. Corporations and politicians also ad lib on this theme frequently and conveniently.

The big retailers demand cheap food from producers to put on their shelves. The tendering process always starts from the retailer "Who can make me a burger for 2p a unit? If you can I will order 10 million!!!" It is obvious that someone will supply this at the price requested. It is also obvious that at this price the quality of meat in this product will be bad, I dare say a bit horsey, or not as described. No questions asked, no answers given. It would be interesting (and revealing) to take a peep at email correspondence in the past between Tesco, Aldi, Findus, etc and Comigel and the other suppliers that entered (and lost) this tendering process. It is also interesting how other big UK retailers that sell processed meals like Waitrose, Sainsburys or Marks & Spencer are not suffering from this problem on their food lines.

The love of the British people for horses is unquestionable. There are more horses per capita in the UK then anywhere else in Europe. But horses die. And families that cannot afford burial plots have to decide on how to dispose of the remains, or even the still frail alive being. Thousands of horses, if not tens of thousands, loved like family members, are exported for slaughter or for meat in Continental Europe for dog food allegedly. But like in Soylent Green, British people ended up eating their loved ones. Equally disturbing is the fact that this alert was not triggered in the United Kingdom by the Food Standards Agency but by their Irish counterparts. Some people might be cursing their overzealousness.

2022 is not that far away. Still 9 years to go. Any bets to what "mislabelled" food products we might find on our supermarket shelves? And if you have never seen the movie, now is the time!

UPDATE: Spoke too soon. Apparently Waitrose "has withdrawn its Essential British Frozen Beef Meatballs after pork was detected in two batches." 6:20pm

Saturday, 9 February 2013


At the end of the 19th century a famous Portuguese writer, journalist and diplomat Eça de Queiroz, wrote these words regarding his contemporaries:
"In our democracies the aim of the majority of people is to obtain in seven lines utter praise from the newspapers. In order to get those blessed seven lines in print, men and women will resort to any kind of deeds — even good ones."
These words could have been written yesterday. They could also be adapted to present life in general with the amount of bad news we see on a daily basis... "In order to get those blessed targets, men and women will resort to any kind of deeds — even legal ones." It is the Lance Armstrong principle. In order to win, a race, a conviction, a pip in LIBOR, an investigation to a football disaster, a target in an hospital, a cheaper lasagna, a knighted broadcaster, perverting the course of justice... people will use the law to interpose and nullify (as Martin Luther King said 50 years ago) any sense of honesty or decency. 

I am angry today, angry because Frances Andrade died in total obscurity, while the Crown Prosecution Service was playing numbers and tactics to win another case, another victory at the expense of the victim. Frances Andrade lived a life of betrayal, first by her school, then by her school teacher. These failed to protect her, covering up each others actions. She managed to survive that betrayal for 25 years. Then she was betrayed again, this time under the umbrella of securing Michael Brewer's conviction, totally ignored by those who should have cared for her and to whom she deposited her trust. They were oblivious that their actions would be a step too far and something could be detrimental to her welfare. Indeed it was, and in the end they got their phyrric victory. Who will want to stand in court now after the disclosure of this disgraceful outcome? Of course the CPS and others are now coming out with the standard legal excuses, that they followed all procedures, did everything right, this was unforeseen, she had a past of suicidal tendencies, to justify their Pontius Pilate's stance, as if this argument does not give even more weight for their lack of care and disregard! Even the judge that presided to court, Martin Rutland, is coming with another standard excuse saying "the barrister who questioned her could not be criticised. Speaking at the end of the trial, praised all counsel for their conduct in the case, including Kate Blackwell QC, defending Michael Brewer, who cross-examined Mrs Andrade." What else could he say? That he permitted his session to go out of control by allowing the defense to ask inappropriate and slanderous questions to the victim? And why did the prosecution not make any objection to the treatment Frances Andrade was being subjected to? Bizarre judge that allows this to happen in front of everyone and then instructs the jury to record not guilty verdicts in five! counts due to "insufficient evidence". Is it not up to the jury to evaluate the validity of the evidence put in front of them? If not, what is the point of having a jury to start with? But this judge already did this before where he ORDERED the jury to come out with a non guilty verdict. Ordered a jury!

Probably an inquest will be made to the circumstances of Frances Andrade's death. Presided by a judge with a verdict of "misfortune" or "accidental" written all over. All legal, let's all have a good night sleep, all of us with the notion that we all had a good day's work. Pity it is not an honest one.

Maybe an enquiry will be made about this event, by a judge (who else) as the judiciary does not have an IPCC equivalent. And maybe once again for the nth time David Cameron will appear on our TV screens saying the same words we should now get used too "... and for this we are extremely sorry!"

Monday, 4 February 2013


The famous phrase "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" by William Congreve has been fully applied today. Chris Huhne got the full blast of it this morning as he found no option but to plead guilty on an original miser speeding offence of £60.00. His scorned wife blew the whistle a couple of years ago, when found out he was having an affair and suddenly vividly remembered her civic duty.  She had "been coerced" to sign a declaration regarding a speeding offence that took place 10 years before!!!

Funnily enough, the sanctimonious brigade, including media, police and the rest jumped on this "horrific" fact to give Mr. Huhne a well deserved punishment. If he gets a custodial sentence (as some media are already mentioning it is worth life imprisonment) Mr. Huhne will become technically a political prisoner for a mere £60.00 fine. Perversion at its best.

Today he came clean, literally, pleading guilty and by doing so, becoming cleaner than all characters involved in this now sordid process that led him to this stage.

In the meantime the Metropolitan Police has now been involved in a Guardian story that reveals they used false identities to infiltrate action groups in the 80's, 90's and 00's. That is nothing new, even the process of using dead children to obtain false identities is described in Frederick Forsythe's "The Day of the Jackal", a spy novel written in the 70's, where the presumed contracted assassin Charles Calthrop, visits a few graveyards to obtain names and dates from children. As a trick, it is as refined as phone hacking.

What puzzles me is the mention of using this subterfuge to issue "fake" passports. My question is... how fake were they? Did the Metropolitan Police have a printer, some glue and a photobox? Did they ask the Foreign Office for some "blanks"? Did they ask some underworld professionals to come up with the goods? Some police members declared their discomfort on using such ruse, but having their concerns dismissed as this was for "a better good". Unfortunately the "better good" argument has been used by almost every cause and person, from Pol Pot to Assad, from Stalin to Hitler. "Better Good" could be the banner for the Roman Inquisition and other special treats mankind has found in its tribulated History.

A simpler way would be to go to the nearest Post Office, get a Passport request form, fill it up with the details of the dead child, add a photo plus the birth certificate, having it signed and confirmed by a high status member of the community (no shortage of them at the Met!!!) and send it to the UK Passport agency. A few weeks later a passport would be landing at the address given. Would be as "fake" as any real one.

That leads to the question? The officer that has countersigned the request form on Paragraph 10 "forgot" (as Chris Huhne wife did on hers) to read the Caution statement:

"It is a criminal offence to make a false statement to help someone get a passport."

More over... if any convictions were obtained under this set up, the counter signatory has "perverted the course of justice". I wonder how many we will find out... to make some company to Chris.