GOAT

Those bloody racist Aussies

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Aussies. We love backing underdogs and relish in self-deprecating humour. Being put down in Australian culture is generally regarded as a compliment. Yet when we see bad behaviour, Aussies generally have no issues calling it as they see it.

We care little if we offend those perpetrating crimes. Take our national cricket team where several members were caught cheating in Sth Africa. The backlash was immense. We’d rather lose than cheat as a nation although it maybe the only solution left to wrest back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks after 16 years…..

Of course the satire of Mark Knight’s cartoon about Serena Williams’ temper tantrum got the activists riled up over supposed racist overtones. How quickly CBS made reference to a “white” cartoonist. If he’d been black and drawn the identical cartoon, would that have made it better? Why no complaints at all the other caricatures of Williams? That’s right – not a peep.

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That’s how the victim industry operates – find a narrative and then build concocted evidence to support it. Certain people might owe Knight a debt of gratitude.

Take this example. Author Leslie Honore   gladly used the viral nature of the cartoon to overtly plug her own book. This technically dilutes the nature of supposedly being 100% for the sisterhood in Serena’s corner, does it not? Makes for a great marketing tool though!! Surprised the author didn’t offer a free set of steak knives if bought within 20 minutes. True colours indeed.

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As for Aussies being racist, what will be evident when Naomi Osaka walks on court at the Australian Open in Round 1 is that everyone will cheer her. Not to apologise for the cartoon’s supposed misportrayal of her looks nor to make up for the appalling crowd display in New York but to honour a true bonafide sportswoman. We love everything about her. How could we not?

In all of the controversy surrounding the US Open final Naomi Osaka has oozed class with her sweet, bubbly but calm demeanor. Instead of apparatchiks demanding an open apology to Serena for sexism, equality and racism not once did any of them think to mention Osaka’s restraint or authenticity throughout the “me, me, me” nature of the saga. It was all about the champ! Williams’ prior tantrums were conveniently forgotten. Don’t forget Serena openly threatened Umpire Ramos that the thief would never be allowed again on ‘her court!’ So in that vein, Osaka was not an equal. She was privileged to stand across the net from the Queen.

Sure the racquet smasher with a coach who openly admitted he cheated is worthy of an apology. We should be proud to have the morals of such a role model drummed into kids. If little Johnny or Veronica don’t throw tantrums while representing their school we should put them straight in front of the counselor to work out why they haven’t been triggered. Don’t even start with the 9-yo brat refusing to stand for the Australian national anthem. Thanks Kaep!

If we judge the 23 grand slams and 10s of millions every year in endorsements and prize money for Serena , the global tennis apparatus has done a dismal job trying to beat her into submission if that is truly the claim. She’s got away with murder with her antics for years.

Throughout all Nike must have minted her name over the years as all these racists lined up to buy her clothes. Surprised the loonies haven’t called for cultural appropriation of white kids who wear Serena branded tennis clothing.

Maybe the lesson for Williams here is that playing against someone almost half her age that can blast 200km/h serves can teach her a thing or two about being a truly great champ in all aspects.

Poor old Naomi Osaka must be thinking the woman she once idolized is nothing like the person on the TV she thought she knew. Don’t worry Naomi, we wouldn’t want you to change anything about you!

Even if you don’t end up breaking all the records what better advocate for the game of tennis to have you as a global ambassador than a dummy spitting, venomous prima donna failing to cope with being dethroned. May there be many more kids who aspire to your level of maturity.

As an Aussie, CM speaks on behalf of many here who would openly say “we love you”. You can’t get here soon enough!

Living life to the max (when he could)

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It is hard not to get a bit misty eyes reading my grandfather’s letters. I only wish I had done it earlier. From New Guinea he wrote about how much he grew to appreciate life. Then again he knew he, like his mates, could be offed at any moment. Lt Peterson wrote on 16 March 1943,

”Next time I go home – when God only knows – I will profit from previous mistakes of my previous leavein that this time I’m going to have a hell of a fling in case it’s my last! I have 108 pounds in my paybook and it will be none by the time I get home – I mean you can’t help but save in an operational area because there is nothing to buy, not even a stamp. Our tobacco is issued by the Comfort Fund. Our recreations  -nil. Except talk and letter writing and I pine for the bright lights and life and gaiety. – the flick, – children, -trams, – shops, a pot of beer, – electric light, – steak, fish and chips. I am going to buy some civvy clothes this leave to get the feel of them again. We take life’s amenities for granted too much I think. At least the army has taught me to place a value on things I never gave a thought for…

…At the moment I’m in tip top condition. Lean as a rake as usual but feel extra well. I suppose its the air. Old Nippon is a bit quiet here at the moment- but I guess the big news will break shortly – you’ll know when and are we ready and rarin’ to go?…

…you have no idea how eagerly mail is looked forward to by the boys. As soon as it comes up the track the cry goes up, “Mail’s in!” And you get knocked down in the stampede…

…excuse me for a moment. I’m about to partake in half a huge succulent pawpaw with lemon all for nothing…like some? It was delicious indeed…

a lot of blokes to save razor blades are sporting mutton chops and side levers with waxed moustaches – it gives ‘em something to do. Cripes some of ‘em look funny…

…Sgt Wilcox is now telling me about his past girlfriends- all virgins of course-but it is going in one ear and out the other as I write. Capt “Doggy” Reid after having been staring into a hurricane lamp for the last past hour just made us laugh. Usually the quiet type, he hasn’t said a word since meal time, but just stood up and said , “Japanese Bastards!!”and went straight to bed. It sounded funny as hell. He has been daydreaming about his missus and leave – it’s a morale thing

tell Jim to lay in a stock of plonk and we’ll down it like nobody’s business!”

It would appear from reading all the other letters that the troops were feeling far more confident they’d win against the Japanese. This is perhaps his cheeriest letter with battle hardened experience behind him. It reads much like the pre battle stationing in Palestine. Truly powerful stuff.

 

Ticking off one from the bucket list

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Watching MotoGP live in Italy has always been on my bucket list. The rivalry between the Italians and Spanish riders has always been intense. I can only imagine images of Christians being fed to lions at the Colosseum in terms of atmosphere.  I’ll report whether otter’s noses are sold at the stands. Misano is the home circuit of 20yr veteran racer Valentino Rossi who won the race last year.

Today I managed to visit Rossi’s home town Tavullia, a stone’s throw from the Adriatic Sea and the Misano Circuit. The entire town is wrapped in “46” paraphernalia.

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He has a restaurant, bar, VR46 store, fan club and even sells da Rossi olive oil to his loyal minions. It was flooded with fans on Friday.

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He even lives there and trains on his moto ranch.

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It’s easy to see why Yamaha pay him €12mn a year with €10mn in endorsements from Dainese and Monster Energy.

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He’s a marketers’ dream. He also invests in the next generation of Italian riders via the VR46 Riders Academy and no doubt takes a nice clip out of them in management fees  – Baldasarri, Bulega, Migno, Bagnaia, Antonelli, Marini, Di Giantonio, Morbidelli and so on. He puts back into the sport  which many other riders don’t. This is why Rossi is so pivotal to the crowds at MotoGP  as he embodies the sport. He is so popular the Spanish crowd booed an all Spanish podium where the Spanish King had just crowned the Spanish world champ in Spain.

His rival and team mate Jorge Lorenzo is headed for Ducati next year, which looks to be a massive mistake, even suggested by KTM’s CEO. I agree. Lorenzo can’t ride in the wet and the Ducati is an untamed beast compared to the well sorted chassis of the Yamaha M1. It will be even worse in 2017 when the winglets are banned as the Ducati has front end stability issues.

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Lorenzo broke a cardinal rule in the Japanese team. As the championship went to the wire Lorenzo looked to get his senior (Sempai) sanctioned by the officials on a technicality to ensure he could win the 2015 title. At the last race, Yamaha knew either Rossi or Lorenzo would win the title but decided to cancel the victory celebrations if Lorenzo won (which he did) because of the disrespect to Rossi. Yamaha knew it was Rossi alone in 2004 that put them on the map. Yamaha had a rubbish bike and Rossi hated the control within Honda. Rossi wanted to show that it was the rider and not the bike, contrary to Honda’s arrogance. His then rival Max Biaggi said the Yamaha was rubbish and needed a Honda to win. Rossi not only won the  last race and the championship in 2003 with Honda he became the first ever rider to win the first race and championship on a new manufacturer. He won four more titles with Yamaha – 2004,2005, 2008 and 2009. Yamaha never forgot what he did for them.

I look forward to heading to the Colosseo tomorrow.

 

Vulcan 607 – a real tale of being an underdog

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Want a great read? Here it is. Vulcan 607 is the true story of the RAF bombing the Port Stanley airfield in the Falklands War in what was called Operation Black Buck.  If you want to learn about execution of a plan when you don’t have all the tools at your disposal this book shows what can be achieved. It should be compulsory reading for millennials to show them life is not always simple and requires more than an app and WiFi. This was the longest ever bombing raid at the time. It involved using what was left of a knackered air force tired aerial tankers and Vulcan bombers close to be put out to pasture due to their age. No satellite GPS positioning, no fancy digital. All done with slide rules and a calculator the night before the raid.

You had to hand it to the pilots who after the raid (figuring the hard part was done flying thru enemy defences) had to air-air refuel in hurricane winds and an electrical storm. The air tankers had to refuel themselves and refuel the Vulcan bomber. Some of the fuel passed through five aircraft before being burned by the attack aircraft. All this was done in total darkness.  Mid-air refueling was as easy, according to one Vulcan pilot, as “sticking wet spaghetti up a cat’s arse”

Before the raid, budget cuts meant few parts were available. Many missing parts like refueling valves (which had been filled with 20-year-old cement) were scavenged from other Vulcans that had been donated to museums and the bomb racks were reclaimed from scrapyards. A seal for a new radar-jamming device was improvised from corks from a home-brew beer kit and another crucial component was discovered in the engineers’ mess, serving as an ashtray. Having broken a refueling probe during refuelling practice they managed to find the only one left in an old supply depot as the maker had gone  out of business.

So next time your staff complain at what they don’t have, perhaps worth considering what can be done against the odds if one tries.

Hillary’s French Connection to ISIS?

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Wikileaks part 2 has the hallmarks of muddying an already grotesque election. The leaks show Hillary Clinton had served as a lawyer and director to French conglomerate Lafarge and has been receiving donations for decades. Emails with Lararge show that they have been funding ISIS. Among the allegations:

Documents obtained by several investigations reveal that Lafarge has paid taxes to the terror group to operate its cement plant in Syria, and even bought ISIS oil for years.

Lafarge also has close ties to Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Apart from being a regular donor to the Clinton Foundation, Clinton herself was a director of Lafarge in the early 1990s, and did legal work for the firm in the 1980s. During her connection to Lafarge, the firm was implicated in facilitating a CIA-backed covert arms export network to Saddam Hussein.

Emails discovered by Le Monde reveal that Lafarge – which merged with Swiss cement maker Holcim in 2015 – had made “arrangements […] with the jihadist group to continue production until September 19, 2014.”

Most of these emails seem to have been first obtained by Zaman al-Wasl. Lafarge’s Syria operations ended on that date when Isis took over the firm’s facility in Jalabiya.

Documents show that Lafarge’s Paris headquarters were fully aware of the business deal with Isis. The company even sent a representative into Isis territory “to get permission from Isis group to let employees past checkpoints,” reports Le Monde.

A “pass stamped with an Isis group stamp and endorsed by [Isis] finance chief in the Aleppo region” confirms Lafarge’s deal with Daesh to allow the free circulation of its goods.

In February 2015, Isis were driven out of the Jalabiya region by Kurdish forces.

Lafarge has declined to address the allegations, stating only that the firm’s highest priority was to protect the safety of its employees in Syria.

However, instead of ending its Syrian investments when the conflict began as most other international firms had done, which would have been the safest option, the firm struck a lucrative business deal with the jihadist terror group to maximise profits from its local cement operations.

The article goes on to say:

Among its earliest benefactors was former First Lady and current presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton.

From 1990 to 1992, Clinton served on Lafarge’s Board of Directors. Under her tenure, Lafarge’s Ohio subsidiary was caught burning hazardous waste to fuel cement plants. Clinton defended the decision at the time.

Then just before her husband, Bill Clinton, was elected president in 1992, Lafarge was fined $1.8 million by the Environmental Protection Agency for these pollution violations. Hillary Clinton had left the board of Lafarge in spring, just after her husband won the Democrat nomination. A year later, under Bill’s presidency, the Clinton administration reduced Lafarge’s EPA fine to less than $600,000.

In the late 1980s, according to an archived investigative report in the American Spectator, Hillary Clinton was connected to Lafarge when the firm was involved in facilitating CIA support for Saddam Hussein’s secret weapons programme.

Of course at the moment they are allegations and proving Hillary Clinton had the inside track on all dealings by Lafarge is a moot point. However this type of sensationalist leak with headlines likely to be the only things people read into the scandal, once again paints a very bleak picture of her already non-existent trustworthiness.

Tales out of school. When I worked as a defence analyst in the UK I got to meet many interesting people from military and national security apparati. One of my greatest recollections was talking to one chap on during Operation Desert Storm where most of the enemy weapons stockpiles they found in Iraq had “Fabrique en France” stamped on them. The illegal arms trade is a huge industry and there is no way on earth that security agencies like the CIA were in the dark over French weapons supplies.

The question remains how does Hillary Clinton wipe fingerprints clean from the smoking gun. She can deny til the cows come home but her credibility is already shot and Trump will use every opportunity to connect her to ISIS, elites, fraud (you name it) which takes air from her campaign.

Trump’s recent brain snaps don’t do him any favors but one imagines Assange is leading Clinton into a trap of denying any allegations before publishing emails reveling the divisiveness.

Things may seem dirty now but I think this is the end of the beginning not the beginning of the end.

Trump may still do this. I’ve never witnessed an election so unorthodox and with so many moving parts from rising poverty, slowing economic growth and two candidates mud wrestling in a sewer. Applying conventional metrics and polls are dangerous follies and the bounce that Clinton got after the DNC reveals the same complacency. Perhaps the best gauge of worry from the Democrats will be Obama’s appearances to denounce Trump. But if Clinton is shown to have blood on her hands over ISIS then will Obama really believe his “there has never been a more qualified person to hold the office of President, not me, not Bill, than Hillary Clinton!”? I could interpret that four ways –

1) Obama’s narcissism to include himself as one of the greats

2) his word is meaningless

3) the bar for President is clearly set extremely low

4) all of the above