You have to feel for the people of Spain. The people of that beautiful country have experienced wildfires, drought, violent protests, severe economic woes and now intense flooding in 2012.
Heavy rain, in what had been a drought hit region, has caused chaos. The worst hit areas are reported to be the Mediterranean provinces of Malaga in the south and Murcia and Almeria in the southeast of Spain.
At time of writing seven people are reported to have lost their lives. The dead include two young children who drowned in a car. An official spokesperson said "In Malaga province, there are 800 staff working to return things to normal as quickly as possible. The rains are decreasing and seem to be shifting towards Granada and Almeri."
As the flash floods which swept through the affected areas gained momentum a bridge was brought down, cars were swept away and roads become rivers or seas of thick murky mud. The structural damage which will cost a small fortune to put right. Then there is the loss of money to the economy due to closed businesses. All in all a no win situation.
Some of the Spaniards affected have started the big clean up operation. It seems though that they may have jumped the gun. More rain is forecast for this weekend which means they are not out of the woods yet. Not by a long chalk.
Above all the loss of life is the true cost and tragedy of such natural disasters. They cannot be replaced at any price.
The latest massacre in the US has left us wondering if such crimes are on the increase in that country. The majority of US citizens want to protect and keep their "right to bear arms" but at what price? The USA is a vast country with varying laws in each State. This means that gun laws are tighter in some States than others. In an election year both potential leaders of the USA will shy away from tackling the subject of gun crime. There is money in weapons. It is big business. Daring to air views which may come from the heart could add a nail in the political coffin of a presidential candidate. Surely though something will have to be done?
Early yesterday September 27, 2012, an employee was sacked from a Minneapolis sign making company. Later that day he returned to his former place of work, burst in and opened fire. His deadly gun attack killed four people. He then turned the gun on himself. Five deaths for what?
The killer has been identified as Andrew J. Engeldinger, 36. The dead include the owner of the company. The killer however appears to have had some people in mind as targets. It has been reported that when he entered the premised of the Accent company he walked past some people selecting those who he obviously had a gripe with.
Police who have searched the killer's home today found 10,000 rounds of ammunition. That sounds a huge amount to us but look online and it seems that Americans who support their gun policy would disagree. Why though would any law abiding citizen need such an amount of ammunition? If you follow the premise that people own guns for protection then 10,000 rounds of ammunition is a ludicrous amount. It is a tragedy waiting to happen.
In 2012 the US has experienced gun massacres in Aurora, Wisconsin, New York and more. Instead of such tragedies encouraging Americans to turn away from gun ownership it has increased the sale of guns in some places. The Aurora Cinema shootings led to an increase in gun sales as people sought to protect themselves from potential future attacks.
It is like a never ending spiral into insanity. More killings leads to more guns owned and therefore more gun incidents Insanity pure and simple. Whether there have been more gun massacres in the USA in 2012 or not there have been far too many incidents and deaths.
There may be tons of important news out there lately but today PM David Cameron's appearance on the American David Letterman show is making headlines. It sees that he impressed many of the American members of the TV audience with his charm and good nature. Both are qualities he is not renowned for in the UK.
After the event those members of the audience who were asked an opinion on Dodgy Dave Cameron gave positive comments. We well remember former UK PM Margaret Thatcher impressing those on the other side of the Pond. Of course they did not have to live under her damaging policies.
It is odd, isn't it how leaders are often popular in other countries. Many in the UK are still greatly impressed with President Obama but of course we do not live in the US. The same seems true of Cameron in the USA. Leaders of course do have an affect on world affairs and those in other countries but it is each country's leader that directly impacts on their own citizens.
Some in the US were impressed at how Cameron responded to unscripted questioning. They commented that Obama would not allow that. His questions were scripted and rehearsed. We are not 100% sure that Cameron's appearance was not rehearsed or scripted also.
The fact that he did not know what Magna Carta meant was hard to believe. Educated on the playing fields of Eton he would be fully conversant with Latin. Do we believe that he did not know that the Magna Carta was a Great Charter? Do we hell.
It seemed more like a well staged performance rather than an off the cuff interview. As such Cameron would play his part well. After all he is good at acting a part and pretending.
Shame he is no good at running the UK.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, wanted in Sweden for alleged sex crimes, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He belives that he will soon be extradited to the USA should he give in and allow himself to be moved to Sweden. With that in mind he has no plans to go anywhere. His voluntary incarceration in the Embassy has already lasted 100 days. It now seems that it could last ten years unless the stalemate is broken.
Ecuador have granted Assange asylum in that country but are unable to transport him there. If Julian steps foot outside of the embassy he faces immediate arrest.
This means that the UK is spending a great deal of money and police officer time in order to ensure that he does not manage to flee the UK. When you consider the amount of wrong doers who often escape the law the situation is farcical. For the UK government it has either become a principle or they are working on behalf of the US administration. There are no other conclusions we can draw.
Yesterday Assange spoke by video link to the UN. He again reiterated his belief that it is the US who are his biggest threat. He is in a no win situation. Either way he faces a long period of voluntary incarceration, a life almost on the run in Ecuador or extradition to the USA and or Sweden and jails terms. With no assurances that he will not be extradited to the USA in the future being made Assange will not surrender.
UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague is to meet with the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino.at the UN in New York. They will discuss Mr Assange and how both sides can forward in this matter. That will not be easy. The UK is sticking by its statement that Assange will be arrested should he leave the embassy and Ecuador maintains it has made a firm commitment to Julian.
UK PM David Cameron is out of the UK. He is in the USA allegedly promoting the UK. After the long Summer recess and with the up and coming Tory conference you may have thought he would be in the UK working hard to address problems at home. On the agenda at the UN there will no doubt be Iran's nuclear capabilities and Israel. Let's hope that deals are not done which will take the World one step closer to war.
Today he is addressing the UN on the Middle East crisis. The West, having thrown its weight by so many rebels in so many ME countries, is now left with a destabilised region. A vast area that will be a melting pot for terrorism and hate if we are not careful. Perhaps we should have thought of the long term when we interfered.
It is expected that today Cameron will offer advice and financial help to areas of the Middle East. Whilst we all have a vested interest in making sure that the Middle East is a safe and secrue region of the World the UK needs to concentrate on the home front for once.
Austerity is the name of the game in the UK and most people will face further cuts to their income and negative changes to their way of life. The UK already contributes vast sums of money to countries such as Pakistan that have ample money to spend on nuclear weapons. A farce through and through.
Yesterday Cameron pledged UK aid to countries around the World asking other countries to honour commitments already made. As each country faces financial challenges this does not sit well. It also leads to sneaking suspicions that we are not as poor as leaders are making out. Once again when it suits we have money to waste. No doubt if some countries withdraw aid the UK will offer to fill the gap. Another farce.
Cameron used fine words to answer those who say the UK cannot afford to continue supplying aid, "I think it is important that countries that make promises keep those promises. "To those who are sceptical, I would say it is not only a moral obligation that the better-off countries have to tackle poverty in our world when we still have over a billion people living on less than a dollar a day, but it's also in our interests that we build a more prosperous world.
"If we don't, the problems of conflict, the problems of mass migration, the problems of uncontrollable climate change are problems that will come and visit us at home. "So I think it's the right thing for us to do morally, and it's right to keep our promises, but it's also in our self-interest to do so."
Egyptian assets stolen by former President Mubarak are still frozen in Banks in the UK. These cannot yet be handed over to the ew government. Cameron is expected to discuss the release of these funds.
Later today Cameron will become the first serving UK PM to appear on the Letterman show. His appearance will no doubt reinforce the Downton Abbey view that some Americans have of we Brits.
Perhaps then he will finally return to the UK and do the job that he is paid to do, that is help the UK get out of its financial mess.
An Apple shortage, and we mean the fruit not a certain manufacturer's gadgets, has led to a bump in price. In the UK regulations in place usually limit the quality of apples that can be sold. This can result in many perfectly tasty and edible apples being rejected. Some will be used as a by product or cooked for pies, for example.
In 2012 with a shortage in the supply of apples the regulations are being relaxed.
The advice is do not simply reject apples on sale in supermarkets and the like if they merely have a blemish on the skin. It may only be cosmetic and the apples could be just as fresh, tasty, good for you, sweet and juicy as a perfect apple.
Without this relaxation of the regulations consumers will face empty supermarket shelves, as far as apples go, and inflated prices. We do wonder though if selling slightly sub standard fruit this way will leave a shortage in the fruit for juices, pies and by products.
Many consumers may say so what to a shortage of apples? Well this blogger scoffs one each day on the daily bus ride home from work. Apples are good for your teeth and you. They have few calories and plenty of vitamins.
If the only apples available in your budget are imperfect ones try stewing them. Simply wash and peel. Chop or slice and cook with a little sugar. The amount of sugar will depend on the sweetness of the apples. Once "stewed" serve hot with rice pudding or custard. Chill what is left and serve with ice cream or on breakfast cereal. Use these apples in pies, tarts and "crumbles" also.
The reason for the shortage of apples is mainly the strange weather of 2012. In the UK a very dry Spring followed by a very wet Summer has led to many crop shortages. In the USA drought and extreme heat is the culprit in some States. Wherever the food shortages are in 2012, it is mostly the weather that is to blame.
Expect the prices of many food products to increase sharply.
In the UK there is an additional problem of skill shortages in the Apple growing industry. We have become dependent on economic migrants working in our Orchards, for example. Those from Bulgaria and Poland may soon opt to stay in their home country as the industry improves there.
In Europe the value of the Euro, wild fires and other economic woes are also creating crop shortages.
What price religion? In some parts of the World it is exclusion or hatred but in Germany the price of religion is an additional tax burden. This is now resulting in a mass exodus from some religions.
The Catholic Church in Germany has been hit hard. With recent accusations of child abuse by some priests some Catholics are opting to turn their backs on the Church. The bonus is that they will pay less tax.
According to the BBC "The levy was introduced in the 19th Century in compensation for the nationalisation of religious property." Personally this blogger believes that a faith which gathers taxes in such a way goes against the teachings of Christ. He after all turfed the moneylenders out of the Church. Priests in Germany maintain that the revenue they receive is put to good and charitable use
Christian faiths such as Roman Catholics are power houses of wealth. That too must go against the grain of Christianity. It has always struck this blogger as the height of hypocrisy.
In Germany Protestants, Catholics or Jews who are registered officially as belonging to this faith pay an additional tax. The special church tax. An example given in the BBC news report claims, "If your tax bill is for 10,000 euros, then 800 euros will go on top of that and your total tax combined will be 10,800 euros." Hardly chicken feed then.
Around 30% of the German population are said to be Catholics. The church has been pushed into action as many have opted to leave the faith. This means that the taxes are no longer paid. In order to force the issue the church is now threatening a range of measures.
A German Bishop's Decree agreed by the Vatican threatens that there are no half measures with the Catholic faith. You are either a fully paid up member or you are out in the cold. Those who refuse to pay the tax may find that they will:-
On Tuesday September 18,2012 two female police officers were gunned down in the UK. UK Tory PM David Cameron was one of many people who offered praise and sympathy to the police. Many words were spoken. A day later the new Tory Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, had an altercation with police officers on duty in Downing Street, home to the PM. The words that were spoken have been disputed but it is fair to say that Mr Mitchell overstepped the mark.
David Cameron was quick to give him a dressing down and make sure that Mitchell apologised. This led to an insincere and meager apology. Far from heartfelt it was a man going through the motions. Since then this storm in a teacup has dragged on. It has now become a rather more important matter.
It boils down to many things. The fact that this verbal abuse was hot on the heels of the murder o f two police officers. The words that some claim were said were more than just rude, bombastic and offensive. The fact that a man recently promoted appeared to want to flex his career muscles. The fact that the words are disputed.
There have been calls for Mr Mitchell to be sacked.These have been rejected. There have been calls for an inquiry into what was said and by whom. These too have been rejected by PM Cameron.
Instead the government has opted to concentrate on how the press managed to get their hands on the official reports of the incident. Yesterday one Tory politician, David Mellor was on British TV as good as accusing the officers involved of supplying information to the press for money. He was on dodgy ground doing so.
The altercation was seen and heard by tourists in the vicinity and so it could be any number of people who reported it to the Press. Accusations that it was a police officer for money are serious allegations.
People have been debating whether swearing or using offensive words at police officers is breaking the law. There seems evidence to suggest that it is not. However would this be the same should a vagrant swear at a police officer or if an officer swore at the PM? It has to be one law for all.
We would have thought that at the very least Mitchell would have been cautioned or arrested for disturbing the peace, or similar.
Mitchell now believes that having apologised to the officer involved he should be able to draw a line under the affair. He will not however clarify what he said. The PM may want to know how the Press got hold of the information but that is irrelevant.
The point is, did Mitchell behave in a professional way as a representative of the country's government showing respect for the law officers of the land? We think not.
Pakistan Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour is at the centre of the latest row related to the anti Muslim film, The Innocence of Muslims. In the last couple of weeks protests around the World, notably in the Middle East, have led to violent disorder and deaths. US embassies around the World are on high alert but the mobs' anger is not only directed at the USA. Other foreign embassies have been under attack. The anger will not abate easily.Minister Bilour's words will do nothing but pour oil on troubled waters.
He has offered a $100,000 reward to any person or persons who kill the " 'sinner who spoke nonsense about holy prophet'; and he has invited Taliban, al Qaeda 'brothers' to join him in 'blessed mission' " He is not acting in his official capacity but as a concerned individual. The Pakistan government have not sacked him from his role and are not likely to do so.
This latest twist in the saga will cause problems for President Obama. The GOP have a faltering election campaign and are jumping onto such news to bolster their hopes of winning the election. Of course if Romney where already in the White House the situation would be no easier. For now though it is shamelessly being used as campaign fodder.
Those Muslims who have tried to explain the thinking behind the reward remind us that countries such as Pakistan bear no relation to the West. It is no good saying "in the USA or UK he would be arrested for inciting murder". Pakistan is not the USA nor the UK. We should also remember that behind closed doors and out of earshot many contracts to end a person's life are signed, sealed and delivered in the West.
On September 18, 2001, George W Bush declared that Osama Bin Laden was wanted, Dead or Alive. The reward for information leading to his capture or his death was $25m. He may have been the man believed to have been behind the 9/11 attacks and other terrorist organisations but he had not stood trial. He never did. He was "taken out" by US Navy Seals in 2011.
In the West we will of course say that situation was totally different to the anti Muslim film. Well it is for us but not for ardent Muslims. We often fail to recognise that whilst for us we would possibly be prepared to die for our loved ones, in the case of devout Muslims they would die for their Prophet Mohammad. He is valued above all others in their lives.
It may be that anger at the film is being manipulated and extended by those wth a hidden agenda. Many spring to mind. The diabolical film though has certainly ruffled many feathers. 55-year-old Egyptian born, Coptic Christian, Californian man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is believed to the man who made this film. He is also known as Sam Bacile. He may not have acted alone. His whereabouts are now unknown and his family are in hiding.
More Here at Huff Post
In conflicts it is so often the young and the old who suffer most. Yes, all generations suffer but those at either end of life are the most vulnerable, and least able to protect and nourish themselves. In the case of young people there are additional concerns.The children of Syria are a prime example. Living in an unstable country many children are lacking basic education, nourishment and care. Those in their formative years will be learning little apart from hate and an unsatisfied need.
Whatever is going on in Syria, be it a revolution by the people, an uprising by a minority of citizens or a created conflict by outside forces, there will be many losers. A protracted period of unrest is not productive to anyone.
By the time this conflict is resolved the infrastructure of Syria will be wrecked, buildings destroyed, lives lost, and hearts hardened forever, We will have sympathy for the children living through this terrible time in Syria's history but once they become violent teenagers or adults we will not. Yet in many cases they will have grown into the type of person they are because of this conflict.
We are already seeing in Libya and Egypt that once dictators are ousted it is not plain sailing. Without knowing who is going to take over interfering in such civil wars in merely destructive.Yes foreign forces such as the US, the UK, Germany or whoever may feel happier knowing that Gaddafi, for example, has gone but are the people really any better off?
Today Sky News has carried a report on those who have fled the conflict in Syria. More than 250,000 Syrians have fled the country. At least half of the Syrians in refugee camps are children. That is a sad and sorry state of affairs. They may be away from the direct harm of conflict but their lives will not be good.
In Islahiye, Turkey, 4,500 children are reliant on the Turkish authorities for the basics of life, that is water and food. Their lives for now are played out in a "tent city" behind a barbed wire fence. Whilst it is good that these refugees have shelter it is a prison. The adults are not allowed to work. They can only leave the camp for a few hours each day..
Not all children though have parents with them. There are some children who are alone. Orphans whose parents have died in the conflict. The longer the Syrian uprising continues the tougher it will be for these children. They have already had to grow up fast.
How will they cope with adulthood, assuming that they survive.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog