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The Furrowed Brow

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Eddie Mair | 05:10 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2007

The place where you can talk seriously about serious issues that are on your mind. Just click on comment to start the ball rolling.


  1. At 09:22 AM on 04 Jun 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Everybody's too 'furrowed' today to 'brow'-se here, Eddie.

  2. At 09:47 AM on 04 Jun 2007, tom shires wrote:

    What about a place to talk frivolous about serious issues? or serious about frivolous issues?
    What's on my mind right now? Should I have a cup of tea or a coffee!

  3. At 10:13 AM on 04 Jun 2007, Val P wrote:

    My furrowed brow is down to hideous weather causing scary travelling conditions last night. A miserable end to a happy day.

  4. At 10:20 AM on 04 Jun 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Oh, Val, poor you! But glad to see you made it back safely. I got caught in the rain, too, though when we came south from the Land of Sheep, all was serene. Definitely a Norn problem!

    The cake looked lovely - I don't 'do' cake, though, so couldn't partake (my tooth's too savoury, unlike my mind).

  5. At 01:05 PM on 04 Jun 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Serious or frivolous? The new logo for the 2012 Olympics (what's wrong with the five rings?) looks like a load of broken shards that don't fit together. How appropriate.

  6. At 01:23 PM on 04 Jun 2007, Mansilla wrote:

    Have you seen the total garbage written about the olympic logo? Says T. Blair:

    'When people see the new brand, we want them to be inspired to make a positive change in their life '

    You what? Its some purple and yellow zig-zags!

  7. At 02:19 PM on 04 Jun 2007, Penrose Feast wrote:

    Sorry to get a bit 'furrowed' here but...

    An article @ www.telegraph.co.uk, with the headline 'Do we get good value for money from the BBC? ' (link) says "The news budget must be cut by five per cent a year for five years to meet the terms imposed by the Government."

    I would just like to say for the record, and at the risk of disagreeing with our elected administrators, the independent nature of the BBC's news in not only a credit to the nation, but a great service to the world. Mr Murdoch (World President) and chums might not like the fact, but it's true.

    To de-emphasise the BBC's capacity to gather and report news - (I'll say it again) in a context independent of state or multinational corporate media interests - appears to me to benefit nobody but 'The State' or those multinational corporate media interests.

    Do we elect our governmental administrators to make us less informed?

    If fat has to be trimmed from the budget how about spending a little less on finding a lead for Andrew Lloyd-Weber's next west-end revival etc, and a bit more where it counts – on asking questions and finding answers.

    Just a thought.

  8. At 02:58 PM on 04 Jun 2007, Jason Good wrote:

    Why is Dire Media and anagram of Eddie Mair?

  9. At 04:55 PM on 04 Jun 2007, PeteB wrote:

    Do you think i should petition the government to remove 50% of street/road lights and install metal reflectors on the remaining 50%,
    thereby halving this astronomical energy waste and vastly inproving the terrible light polution throughout the UK

    Reposted as it was right at the end of the last brow!!

  10. At 05:10 PM on 04 Jun 2007, PeteB wrote:

    Do you think i should petition the government to remove 50% of street/road lights and install metal reflectors on the remaining 50%,
    thereby halving this astronomical energy waste and vastly inproving the terrible light polution throughout the UK

    Reposted here as it was right at the end of the last brow

  11. At 06:18 PM on 04 Jun 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Here's something that's furrowed my brow:

    For the first time in ages, Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Two Tribes" has surfaced on my iPod's playlist. Coming hard on the heels of Mr. Putin's nuclear weapons threat, the sound of the air-raid siren and Patrick Wossname's narration over the inroduction was quite spooky.

  12. At 06:38 PM on 04 Jun 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    SSCat (11), Funny -- I heard that tune last week for the first time in ages. Are these subtle signs?...

  13. At 06:50 PM on 04 Jun 2007, jpa wrote:


    Brown nose stuck right up the USA again!!!

    I'm not a fan of Putin, but the Russian People must respond to the missiles planned by the Corporate world's leader. Russia's actions are a response. And they and every other country in the world has the right to respond to threats made to them and their world. American missiles and ambitions, supported by her allies, are the greatest threat to world peace and freedom. Nothing matches that threat.

  14. At 09:22 PM on 04 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Mansilla @6 -- the positive change one would make in one's life when one saw this silly-looking Thing that is supposed to have something to do with the Olympics would be to stop looking at it. That would be more positive than going on looking at it, anyhow.

  15. At 10:20 AM on 05 Jun 2007, Robert wrote:

    PeteB (10)

    You should, as well as the light pollution issue, just think of the power that will have to be generated to light those lights. It's something which should be explored further.

    My furrowed brow is all this talk of poor weather when I experienced glorious weather all weekend and yesturday, but all we hear from the good old London based Beeb is well the weather will be better than the weekend!

  16. At 11:50 AM on 05 Jun 2007, jpa wrote:

    With reference to 'the war on terror', please click below.


  17. At 07:53 AM on 06 Jun 2007, tom wrote:

    Why can't the USA and Russia compromise. Build the shield in Russia with joint ownership. Then we can all be protected from Israel,Iran,India,Pakistan, China,South Korea, whichever is deemed the most likly culprit to frighten us into putting very large amounts of money into the pockets of the arms industry.

  18. At 09:25 AM on 06 Jun 2007, tom wrote:

    olympics logo. Am I right in assuming that if people/companies use one of the unofficacial London logos without the rings is used,then no fee can be charged by the Olympic committe for its use?

  19. At 01:37 PM on 06 Jun 2007, Robert wrote:

    I have heard on some lgos that there is support for the Princes and their argument with Channel 4. Do people not see the president that if successful what this could do to censorship? Would the princes do the same again, say if they are successful, for someone else's family members if a picture was proposed for a paper/media?
    I can understand their feelings which is only correct to feel how they feel but what they are doing publicly is almost is abuse of their position being public figures.

  20. At 01:47 PM on 06 Jun 2007, Jan wrote:

    Today I had my faith in human nature restored. I read an article in The Telegraph by Zia Haider Rahman tiltled 'Time to confront the Musmlim conspiracists. Mr Rahman a writer and human rights lawyer discusses the fact that a 'quater of British Muslims beleive the Government and security services were involved in the July 7 suicide bombings, in London, according to a poll for Chanel 4 news'.

    I find this particularly interesting because as a Jewess living in Manchester in the early 1970's I worked with people of many nationalities etc. However, when it came to light that I was a Jewess I found that people of Arab origin would refuse to work with me. Some actually, resigned their positions and left the building immediately. I always found this behaviour hurtful because eventhough I was brought up in the Jewish community I was not taught to hate for the sake of it. I found their behaviour irrational.

    Mr Rahman points out that in British Muslim communities 'conspiracy theories abound, many of them piggy-backing on an underlying notion of an American-Israeli bogeyman'. Mr Rahman notes that politicians in this country tend to consider this behaviour part of a lunatic fringe. Mr Rahman does not agree with this and from my experience I have to agree with him. One of the saddest consequences in all this is that the media BBC included have jumped on this notion of an American-Israeli bogeyman and attempt to portray it as fact. Many people accuse the BBC of Anti Americanism and Anti Semitism. I agree with that totally. PLEASE READ MR RAHMAN'S COMMENT IT IS ENLIGHTENING.

  21. At 02:04 PM on 06 Jun 2007, Robert wrote:

    Please ignore the typos of my furrow brow but the point I am definately furrowed about is why the Prince's have done it so publicly. They could have done the same action that they have done without the need for a single press release.......

  22. At 12:08 PM on 07 Jun 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Re: BAe Systems "secret payments" back in the news again.

    The BBC "Have Your Say" forums seem to back Celebrity Prime Minister Tony Blair in saying we should drop the whole subject, although a significant number of them seem more concerned about the possibility of the French getting the contract instead, than security or diplomatic issues.

    What does everyone think? Is it OK to ignore domestic law and international treaties when jobs and/or foreign alliances are at stake?

  23. At 03:16 PM on 07 Jun 2007, Jo wrote:

    TSS Cat (22)

    No! No, it's not Ok to ignore domestic law and international treaties! Lose the rule of law and we have anarchy!

    Ignore the rule of law and any requests we make of developing countries to reduce corruption and bribery can simply be ignored by them.

    The bribes are in effect subsidies and therefore mean that BAe is not a efficient as it should be..which impacts not just on the competitiveness of the goods that they sell to Saudia Arabia but also on the goods they sell to us. Their desire not to compete leads to shoddy goods for all.

    If we want to protect jobs (which I don't think we should be doing as I believe passionatley in fair trade - if we don't think we have the comparative advantage then we shouldn't be in the business), then I can think of far less noxious places to spend the money than lining the pockets of the Saud family.

    Saudi Arabia is a country that treats half it's population as nothing better than possessions of the other half. Where women are not allowed to drive and not allowed to travel without the position of their nearest male relative - yet our government would rather break its own laws than upset the sensibilities of their ruling family.




    I picked up the bait and got cross, didn't I?

  24. At 05:44 PM on 07 Jun 2007, Paul wrote:

    If you are dealing with people who have different business practices you surely, have to comply with them in order to gain the business. This arms deal was huge financially so it does not surprise me that huge commissions were paid to an agent/s. If the government deemed it was against the national interest not to proceed with fraud proceedings there is good reason for it and what about all the jobs that would have been lost? Where was the media outcry when whole communities were being destroyed by Thatcher's policies?

    On a lesser scale we have dubious practices here. For example, for many years people have entered the NHS as consultants not based on ability but on family ties. We have a press who regularly think that trial by media in some cases is the rule of law. Perhaps we should take a closer look at our own practices before we condemn others.

  25. At 06:26 PM on 07 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    So Paul (24), business is more important than morals? You could go far in Politics or business!

  26. At 08:10 PM on 07 Jun 2007, paul wrote:

    Hi Ed (25). I think in this case we are talking cultural differences. I have a friend who lives in Egypt for 6 months of the year. In Egypt you get to see the dentist according to the 'bung' you give the receptionist on the day. In this country if you rely on the NHS you remain in pain because working practice these days dictates that situation. In other words, if you don't have the money you stew. Which system is more morally bankrupt.

    It is common knowledge that the arms trade works by commissions to agents. The Saudi's are offended by our critisism because that is quite simply how they work.

    Tony Blair also made it clear that there were other considerations. I'm not anti-Blair, anti-American, anti-this, that and the other simply because the BBC hold those views. So I trust in his comments on this matter.

  27. At 09:14 PM on 07 Jun 2007, Jo wrote:

    Paul (26)

    But it is ILLEGAL; that's more than a 'different business practice'.

    It is harmful, both to our economy and to everyone else's.

    I've actually spent time living in Egypt myself and your friend who only spends half the year there is lucky that they a) have the money to spend on bungs and b) they can actually leave when they choose to as most Egyptians don;t have that luxury!

    I have many friends, in order to put their paperwork together to leave the country (for example, they need various certificates from their form of NI to get a passport, more to confirm that they have done or are exempt from their national service) have to give bungs here, there and everywhere.

    Corruption is endemic in Egypt and is very harmful to all Egyptians; it's not just a case of 'different business practices'.

    So where does it stop? Should I presume you have no problem women being put to death for adultery in Saudi or Iran because of 'different cultural practices' as well, or have you drawn the line before that?

    I think I heard that Oxfam reckon half their aid money is actually siphoned off through corruption (need to check figures) ; that is the cost of corruption. Even if the morality of it is set to one side - it is bad economically.

  28. At 10:26 PM on 07 Jun 2007, Paul wrote:

    Jo (27). I think you broaden your response too much and are too emotive. If the Government of this country state that it was not in the national interest to treat the Saudi arms case as fraud then I trust their reasons for taking that decision. It would be refreshing to see people commenting on the problems this society faces rather, than always pointing to the things you mention in other countries. We also, have deep levels of poverty and deprivation and in case you haven't noticed there is an increasing culture of 'honour killings' in this country.

  29. At 10:47 PM on 07 Jun 2007, RJD wrote:

    Paul (28)

    If the Government of this country state that it was not in the national interest to treat the Saudi arms case as fraud then I trust their reasons for taking that decision.

    WHY? Blind trust. No accountability. Totally without any explanation. Should we get rid of Select Committees, etc. Would you be happy if the Government deferred elections for 10 years? What is the limit of your trust? Sorry, your standpoint needs a bit more justification.

  30. At 11:34 AM on 08 Jun 2007, Ken wrote:

    I agree with Paul. RJD (29) Why do I agree. Because I don't think these decisions made by the Government were made over a cup of coffee. I expect that in making such a controversial decision wide and comprehensive consultation with all concerned was necessary and I trust in that.

  31. At 12:39 PM on 08 Jun 2007, Ruth Lee wrote:

    Ken (30) Yes. Also, the arms deal happened during the Thatcher years. It seems to me that the 'cultural differences' alluded to by Paul (26) are current. In other words, this Government has to deal retrospectively with a situation and take into account the cultural/business differences of the Saudi's as they stand now.

  32. At 02:37 PM on 08 Jun 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'm with RJD and Jo, but it seems that the arms trade (despicable to my mind) is more important than international law, morality or any other ethical constraint.

    We might have known.

    All hail The Economy!

  33. At 05:39 PM on 08 Jun 2007, Ruth wrote:

    Why is it when one comments on a valid issue some people draw on emotive language in order to stiffle comment?

  34. At 06:38 PM on 08 Jun 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Possibly too late now ... but a friend has suggested we look at this petition


    and consider signing it.


  35. At 08:42 PM on 08 Jun 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Paul (@28) wrote

    'If the Government of this country state that it was not in the national interest to treat the Saudi arms case as fraud then I trust their reasons for taking that decision.'

    'Anyone who cas confidence in the Government has the social awareness of a cockroach'. [Colin MacInnes]

    Have you failed to notice that lying about what is or has been going on is the norm for governments? Or did you believe the 45 minutes story, and the Saddam is in league with al Qaeda story, and the 'I wasn't stealing that money I thought it was ok to buy my floozy a first class train ticket with public funds and I meant to put it back honest!' story and the 'the Olympics are going to cost 2.6 billion' story and the 'the NHS computer is going to *work*!' story and... and... and.. Oh, and the 'we'll hold a referendum on electoral reform' story

    It occurs to me that you must live somewhere else.

  36. At 03:08 PM on 13 Jun 2007, turbino wrote:

    Why when cycling do i feel compelled to squash underwheel beetles and worms upon the road yet will swerve to avoid a landed butterfly?

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