Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind please read, then hang your heads in shame……………….

Whatever your own particular “shade” of politics, it’s impossible not to be impressed or beguiled by Jose “Pepe” Mujica.

 There are idealistic, hard-working and honest politicians the world over – although cynics might argue they’re a small minority – but none of them surely comes anywhere close to the outgoing Uruguayan president when it comes to living by one’s principles.


It’s not just for show. Mujica’s beat-up old VW Beetle is probably one of the most famous cars in the world and his decision to forgo the luxury of the Presidential Palace is not unique – his successor, Tabare Vasquez, will also probably elect to live at home.

But when you visit “Pepe” at his tiny, one-storey home on the outskirts of Montevideo you realise that the man is as good as his word.

Wearing what could best be described as “casual” clothes – I don’t think he’s ever been seen wearing a tie – Mujica seats himself down on a simple wooden stool in front of a bookshelf that seems on the verge of collapsing under the weight of biographies and mementoes from his political adversaries and allies.


Books are important to the former guerrilla fighter who spent a total of 13 years in jail, two of them lying at the bottom of an old horse trough. It was an experience that almost broke him mentally and which shaped his transformation from fighter to politician.

“I was imprisoned in solitary [confinement] so the day they put me on a sofa I felt comfortable!” Mujica jokes. “I’ve no doubt that had I not lived through that I would not be who I am today. Prison, solitary confinement had a huge influence on me. I had to find an inner strength. I couldn’t even read a book for seven, eight years – imagine that!”

Given his past, it’s perhaps understandable why Mujica gives away about 90% of his salary to charity, simply because he “has no need for it”. A little bit grumpy to begin with, Mujica warms to his task as he describes being perplexed by those who question his lifestyle. “This world is crazy, crazy! People are amazed by normal things and that obsession worries me!”

Not afraid to take a swipe at his fellow leaders, he adds: “All I do is live like the majority of my people, not the minority. I’m living a normal life and Italian, Spanish leaders should also live as their people do. They shouldn’t be aspiring to or copying a rich minority.”

Jose Mujica is outspoken and sometimes brusque, but he can afford to be so. Uruguay is often referred to as the most liberal country in South America. As economic and political turmoil threaten to engulf the neighbouring giants of Brazil and Argentina, this country of just three million people certainly feels like a refuge.

Mujica leaves office with a relatively healthy economy and with social stability those bigger neighbours could only dream of. Mujica’s underlying principles are still socialist but he’s a man who has mellowed with age. Some of the most controversial political initiatives from his five years as president – like the legalisation of abortion and cannabis – were done for pragmatic as much as ideological reasons.

 “Marijuana is another plague, another addiction. Some say its good but no, that’s rubbish. Not marijuana, tobacco or alcohol – the only good addiction is love!” says the man who in 2005 married his long-term partner and former co-revolutionary, Lucia Topolansky. “But 150,000 people smoke [marijuana] here and I couldn’t leave them at the mercy of drugs traffickers,” he says. “It’s easier to control something if it’s legal and that’s why we’ve done this.”

Mujica, who is sometimes described as the “president every other country would like to have,” dismisses all the adulation and attention with a waft of his hand but he is not leaving the stage just yet. “I have no intention of being an old pensioner, sitting in a corner writing my memoirs – no way!” he barks at me with a grin. “I’m tired of course, but I’m not ready to stop. My journey’s ending and every day I’m a little closer to the grave.”

Maybe so, but this enigmatic leader remains an inspiration to many and is a reminder that politics is meant to be a humble and honourable profession.

th-1This article should be compulsory reading for all British politicians and in particular Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind who were recently caught in a “sting” by the Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 TV when they offered their services to a “fake” Chinese company for £5000 per day (yes per day!). Rifkind claimed that he had plenty of time on his hands to do the work and that a salary of £67k as a politician was “not enough to live on.”


th-2Straw bragged about “operating under the radar” on behalf of a company in his constituency (and paid by them) to smooth some “contract regulations” with a company in Ukraine.



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Lietuva / Ukraine………..solidarity


1964868_10152055765993962_1038573359_nThis does not need any explanation………..

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First female pilot to win Distinguished Flying Cross in Afghanistan

Major Laura Nicholson was the captain of a Chinook launched to rescue and provide urgent medical assistance to a critically-injured member of the US Marine Corps in Afghanistan – the same day she helped save an Afghan mother and her four children


She has become the first female pilot to win the Distinguished Flying Cross in Afghanistan after rescuing a family caught in crossfire between US Marines and the Taliban.

The Army Air Corps officer, 39, defied rockets and rifle rounds to land her helicopter in a war-torn village and save an Afghan mother who had been shot in the head.
During the mission on December 3, 2013, Maj Nicholson’s Chinook helicopter was struck at least three times.

One bullet passed through a 1in gap between armour plates – which are supposed to protect the cockpit – wounding one of her colleagues. At the time, RAF Sergeant Chris Purkiss was sitting just behind her and manning a M134 machine gun.
The impact of the round threw the gunner forwards and he struck an ammunition container perched in front of him.

As Maj Nicholson, from Salisbury, recalled: “When Chris was hit I had this horrible sinking feeling. He’s only a young lad and it was his first tour of Afghanistan. In the back of the helicopter I had the mother and her four distraught children.They had been travelling in a car which had driven between the Taliban and the Marines. The vehicle was riddled with gunfire. I felt responsible for all but as captain I had to let the medics do their job on the casualties and concentrate on climbing back up to a safe height. While Chris was being treated, the co-pilot and I assessed the engine temperatures and pressures for signs of leakage”

“We made it back to our base. Then I had to tell the engineers that we’d broken the helicopter, which was amusing. I also realised just how lucky we’d been to get out of there. The Afghan mother was treated in hospital but I don’t know what happened to her after that.”

The action for which Maj Nicholson was decorated occurred during her fourth operational tour of Afghanistan. In a separate incident on the same day, she also rescued a US Marine who had suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen during clashes with the Taliban.

Attitudes to women in the armed forces are changing, albeit slowly but as illustrated in the above article there is very little that a man can do that a woman can’t.


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Formula 1……….is another “male” barrier about to fall? (let us hope so)

Carmen Jorda has joined Lotus F1 as a development driver, becoming the second female to hold a Formula One back-up position after Williams’ Susie Wolff.

The 26-year-old daughter of former driver Jose Miguel Jorda has been on the professional circuit for more than a decade and competed in last year’s GP3 feeder series. She will join Lotus for a year, working with their simulator programme, as well as attending Grands Prix and tests.


Like Wolff, who was promoted from a similar role to that of test driver earlier this year, Jorda will also have the chance to earn a drive in the F1 car.

“It feels like a dream come true to join Lotus F1 Team,’ said the Spaniard. I’ve been racing since I was 10 years old so it was my dream to drive a Formula 1 car since I was very young. Joining Lotus F1 Team is a big step towards my goal. I will be working to improve myself as a driver as well as helping the team to develop the car by testing new developments in the simulator; it’s such a fantastic opportunity. I know this is just the beginning and the biggest challenge is yet to come but already being part of a team with such a history is a real honour. This is a great achievement, but an even greater opportunity which will lead to bigger and better things.”

Lotus F1 Team CEO, Matthew Carter, added: “We are happy to announce Carmen Jorda as a Development Driver for Lotus F1 Team and we are looking forward to working with her over the course of the season and ultimately seeing her behind the wheel of the car. Carmen will bring a fresh perspective to the team.”

“We have a strong programme for her attending Grands Prix as well as extensive time in our sophisticated simulation facility at Enstone. She is a unique addition to the team and we are looking forward to helping her progress her goals as well as receiving the benefit of her insights and contributions to the development of the E23 Hybrid.”



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Vacancy: Concertmaster at the Vienna Philharmonic (and in line with our diversity policy we particularly welcome applications from women and people of different ethnic backgrounds)

The job has just gone online. It’s open to men and women and all auditions except the last are behind a screen. The sessions are mid-June, peak of the asparagus season. The winner will join the State Opera orchestra, with a probationary period on the Vienna Phil.

It will be interesting to see how many women and non Europeans apply for this post given the Vienna Phils notorious past reputation for discrimination against women, Asians and god forbid someone with a black skin.


The Vienna Philharmonic (a very fine orchestra) need to be dragged, if necessary, kicking and screaming into the 21st century and told to stop their blatant discrimination against gender and race.

They have been warned numerous times about their practice and threatened with withdrawal of funding from the Austrian government but it would seem all to no avail. Yes, occasionally they sprinkle a few women into the orchestra (noticeably at the New Years Concert televised live throughout the world) but mainly for PR purposes.

They now have a chance to demonstrate that their selection processes are “open and transparent” but I am not holding my breath.

It is worth noting that in its 170+ year history the VPO has only ever been conducted by one woman. Simone Young was actually the first woman to officially conduct the Vienna Philharmonic and she is unquestionably the first woman conductor they have chosen themselves.

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I’ll have what she’s having………………..



Seen in a well known chocolate shop recently!


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Not another bloody Red Nose Day………..and “luvvie” fest!

I see from the incessant plugs on TV and radio that we are to be subjected to the ritual exhortations to give money to fund “good causes” in the UK and abroad, the latter seems primarily to be Africa.











Out of interest I went onto the official Red Nose website to try to find out what % of the money was spent in the UK and how much abroad. It is interesting to look at where the bulk of the money went and between 2009 – 2013 the top ten African countries supported were:-

  1. Uganda – 37 grants £29.7m
  2. South Africa – 24 grants £21.4m
  3. Kenya – 28 grants £17.6m
  4. Tanzania – 18 grants £14.2m
  5. Zambia – 15 grants £13.0m
  6. Ethiopia – 13 grants £10.4m
  7. Sierra Leone – 13 grants £8.0m
  8. Rwanda – 4 grants £5.5m
  9. Ghana – 11 grants £4.5m
  10. Zimbabwe – 6 grants £4.3m

I don’t know whether the “luvvies” who prance around on TV begging us for money have realised that we are still coming out of a massive economic depression, money is tight for almost everyone and more importantly all the money raised should (in my opinion) be spent in the UK.

I have always held the view that a countries first responsibility is to its own people, not sending money to countries where often the money is siphoned off by corrupt officials or goods sent are hijacked by local criminals and sold at vastly inflated prices on the black market.


Before you donate any money you might want to have a look at this website which identifies the 20 most corrupt countries in Africa http://www.richestlifestyle.com/most-corrupt-countries-in-africa/

(source Transparency International) and see if any of these feature in the “reports” from celebrities swanning off abroad and then breaking down in tears………………

We have a NHS in crisis because of lack of funding, cancer treatments are often a lottery, research into heart disease is often dependent on the admirable work of the British Heart Foundation in raising funds and with an ageing population there is significant need for research into Alzheimer’s disease and supporting “carers.”

300px-NHS.svg Old people are living on minimum incomes, afraid to turn the heating on because of sky high bills, for which we can thank the thieving and heartless energy companies.

So, if we are going to have a Red Nose Day lets ask that ALL the money raised is spent on UK causes.

It is worth noting that despite the millions of pounds poured into various African countries over many years (who remembers Band Aid 1986?) very little seems to have changed. Zimbabwe was once known as “the breadbasket of Africa” so rich was it in natural resources. Now it has been brought to its knees because of the corrupt Mugabe regime, and it would seem that South Africa is going down the same path towards a virtual one party state.

See also blog: https://kindadukish.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/3872/





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