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ABC

Sat 12th Jan 2019

Regular readers of outRageous! know at this time of the year, as well as keeping up with T.V. holiday viewing, I hide and hibernate to fulfil my duty as one of several thousands of official voters for the annual BAFTA awards. That means watching just about every film that's had a UK release over the past year. Feature films for the most part, but also documentaries. We're talking in the many hundreds. A labour of love as none of us gets paid.

If I still lived in London, I'd be invited to private screenings arranged by BAFTA and the distributors, and often catered, though I will
never be bought with smoked salmon sarnies on whole grain! Some members, mostly those who've decamped to Hollywood, even receive little gift bags for their efforts. Yet another example of Bafta's pandering to US expectations, but that's another story. These days I make do with hour upon hour of blu-ray/DVDs or net-streamed fare. At least we don't have to pay to view.

Having just made the deadline for the first elimination round, I can now surface for a moment, like a crafty dolphin, for a deep breath before the key 2nd round begins. And what better way to colour in my time than these random thoughts harvested during my cinematic immersion weeks.

A
The telly season began with a tempting bit of Agatha Christie's Poirot, personified by the excellent John Malkovich in The ABC Murders. While overly complex and aIl-too padded as drama, it's the initials that have inspired the narrative of this article. In this case A stands for Alternatives. Given the confusion that divides much of the world, the relevant alternatives refer to the elusive nature of truth.

Most news and current affairs analysts, however eager they once were to explain what so-and-so might actually mean with the baffling pronouncements of the past couple of years, are now admitting defeat. Like self-deluded gem prospectors, they simply cannot sift out the shiny nuggets of truth from the mud of Fake News or Alternative Facts. Their collective squirmings during media and broadcast interviews, at least over here in the UK, remind viewers, listeners, and readers of nothing so much as bait worms being challenged with the physical pain of torture just for some certainty. Oh, we're all aware of the source of the confusion. That big 'king baby in the Oval Office, his chief nappy-changer Sanders-Huckabee, and a succession of middle-aged men of obscene wealth, all of whom have parlayed the Alternatives into more free money for themselves.

B
B severally equals the ubiquitous Brexit bawd and its bastard child Backstop; the implications of the cine Box office; and political
Bully-boys inching up the global power ladder from Brazil's Bolsonaro to his US apologist, national security adviser John Bolton. Of all these, it's Bolton who poses the greatest danger. There isn't a move of consequence all around the world, whether overt or in camera which hasn't got the cheesy whiff of Bolton all over it. Caution! Cheese covered in listeria can kill you!

A wise start to unravel these twisted yarns would be a viewing of Vice, Adam McKay's engaging and insightful examination of how the petroleum industry dictated US policy under the chairmanship of future Vice President Dick Cheney. Just as Cheney ran the Bush White House almost single-handedly from the shadows, so Bolton hides behind everyone to keep his blooded hands from protecting so-called liberty. There hasn't been quite such a bogus concept of liberty since the Nazis claimed only the mass extermination of non-Ayrians could bring about national socialist freedom for the benefit of the workers.

When Bolsonaro was declared the Brazilian President in a much contested campaign and vote [both engineered with John Bolton's assistance], he celebrated the victory as a “positive sign” for Latin America. He's been a rabid supporter of the ultra right, with a top-priority to foment dissonance in every corner of the world that might lead to global conflict. That means war. And, as some of his own supporters admit, it also signals his presidential ambitions.

His credentials appear to render his judgement impeccable, as he scrabbled his way from Maryland's lower middle-class area of Yale Heights to the academic and political heights as a Yale law school graduate. He's been a lifelong dedicated supporter of the Republican tacit agenda, bolstered by his legal practice in an international firm that specialises in advising multi-national corporations when and where to invest profits to avoid fiscal responsibilities. For ten years before his appointment as National Security Advisor he practiced with Kirkland & Ellis, the world's highest grossing law firm; I wonder how much of its $6.1 billion annual revenue he received.

He's been a regular contributor of op ed pieces for The Weekly Standard, espousing extreme right-wing views on current affairs, views gestated by himself as The American Enterprise Institute's senior Vice-president for policy research. It's hardly necessary to check their credentials as a so-called reasonable, so-called independent, so-called think tank to discover their countless anti-democratic affiliations over many decades. That's all pretty much as expected.

Perhaps not so well-known are two Bolton corridors of power sniffings. One goes back to the early 2000s and concerns his growing familiarity with US production of chemical weapons while simultaneously denouncing other target nations from their use in contravention of international treaties. This was parlayed into the UN justification for the Bush/Blair bombing on the basis of WMD. Not only were such weapons never found, but it was later discovered that the so-called evidence for them was
completely fabricated, and sanctioned by Bolton. Extrapolations to the more recent Skripal anomalies await collection.

Added to that legacy is his recent chairmanship of The Gatestone Institute at which he disseminated false anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim information, particularly concerning Iran, about which his views verge on the criminally rabid. Amid the current governments of headless chickens and ill-prepared tyros, Bolton's canny stockpiling of facts and implications in various postings at The United Nations and US legal and policy Departments, make him so dangerous.

Bolsonaro's recent call out of federal troops to “stop violence” as a response to angry but peaceful protests against his proto-fascist regime has been praised by Bolton. Both advocate national armed forces comprised of private militias. At least one of them is aware of a growing, less uber-right resistance against military recruitment. Guess which one?

And, as for his behind the scenes meddling in Syria, including both open and covert alliances with Israel and the UK, as well as the wider implications for Yemen, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, the several resignations of the Pentagon's Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney and some of his juniors has pointed the finger unwaveringly at Bolton. We may not know the whole story, but the mantra needs to be that it's never about what it seems to be about.

C
C multi-tasks under a canopy, a vertible Collection of C-words. Here are just a few: Congress, corruption, conservation, cuts [taxes versus services], cooperation, compromise, choice, confrontation, and community.

To release western governments from their current political stalemates, especially in the US and the UK, there are growing calls for cross-party cooperation. Re fl ecting pressure from their constituents, elected representatives increasingly feel minded to consider replacing mindless exchanges of confrontation with a taste of compromise.

But voices gurgling up from the Washington DC. Swamp and its Whitehall equivalent, regard such an attempt at rationalism as anathema. For centuries political control by the back-room boys has depended on covert manipulation as a prime diversion. Set 'em fighting against each other while you slip in some uncontested legislation. If you're found out later, you'll get your knuckles rapped, pocket the profit, and no real harm done. And if your legislative faux pas get passed along to the opposition that replaces you, leaving them with no choice but to enact your agenda but without the resources to do so, well that's a win-win and no mistake!

Readers will know how passionate I am about conservation issues. Over the years my research has taught me the difference between the public relations green-wash from both governments and corporations, and the genuine initiatives from grass-roots communities determined to do whatever they can to help save the planet for the benefit of everyone. Except when you examine many of those initiatives "whatever they can" turns out to be barely enough.

I'm familiar, as you may be, with many of the arguments pro and con, the contradictions mooted by this vested interest and that. And, like you perhaps, I'm baffled by the barriers we're allowing to be erected by those in control to a more rapid progress of delivery for the common good.

Yes... Hurrah for California, pledging to become a plastic-free state. And equal cheers to Manchester and the surrounding North in their brave fracking ban. At least the latter can point to demonstrable geologic differences between the UK and some US and Canadian fracking areas. Months of local protests against franchise-holder Cuadrilla, have, in the face of several earthquakes, forced the company to abandon current fracking plans. For now, at least. One of the likely Brexit consequences will be at least a re-evaluation, if not a resumption of the company's targets, including hefty pay-outs to shareholders, namely Anglo-American
equity affiliates and Board members.

Perhaps the discrepancies are highlighted in various speeches and interviews being given by California's Governor Brown in the waning days of his office. He concludes capitalism needs tempering, which is a good start, in my book! But he hedges his bets with ever-more complex justifications. He points out the jump his state has on much of the developed world, including China. He quotes current 40% of renewables supplying electricity. He says, "The world is asleep when it comes to climate change. What's missing is the political imagination to get off our carbon dependency." But he underpins these fine words with the justification to sanction further production of oil and gas, since that is the primary source of California's revenue. Hmm, he's saying California is just a little bit pregnant. Isn't he?

Here are two of the most baffling things that trip me up in my attempt to understand how we the people are being conned at every turn. First - and I've made this point before - is the indisputable fact that the UK is surrounded by tidal waters. So why, although various projects do exist around the country, why do I never hear tidal and/or wave power cited as the most effective solution to our renewable energy needs? Quiet. No unsightly turbine blades. Not weather dependent. No nasty waste products. No threat to birds. Capable of supplying all the country's demands. Probably cheaper than anything else.

And two, which is the biggie. In all the discussions and analyses by pundits both well and ill informed, and ridiculous vox pop ad absurdum reductions of all the above issues... why is there never a serious follow-on to the most obvious next step. An admission that capitalism does not, in Governor Brown's words, need tempering. It needs to be entirely scrapped. It is the problem. The inter-tangled trio of government by dictat, corporate elitism, and unchecked military force has rendered the system unable to be reformed.

No wonder the US has shut down. No wonder the UK hasn't a Brexit clue. No wonder the ultra-right are packing their silk knickers for a seat with Elon Musk. Marx - Karl not Groucho - did of course foresee that capitalism held within itself the seeds of its own demise. What we're experiencing, dear readers, is the throes of that empiric destruction.

Dunno about you but I'm getting ready to watch more movies!

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