Archive for March, 2013

A Bloody Marvelous Day

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I may be accused of being myopic, but the realization that we annihilated England by 30-3 is unfathomable to those who are not Welsh. Well I guess the Scots and the Irish completely understand our emotions but then Celts are of a singular mind.

It was not just the result; it was the occasion. England were undefeated in the Six Nations. entering the final game, and according to BBC pundits they merely had to show up at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff and claim their first Grand Slam in 10 years, the mythical Triple Crown and the Championship.

After all who were they playing? They were playing a nation living in the past; a past when they reigned supreme in the seventies with Gareth, Barry, Phil, Gerald, JPR, and Merve the Swerve. We mustn’t forget Dai Morris, Basil Brush or Ripper Wheel.

I must admit that the modern game bears little resemblance to the panache of the seventies. The only similarities appear to be the shape of the ball and the dimensions of the pitch. Nevertheless the rugby on display particularly the second half was breathtaking.

What made it more compelling was the prospect of selection for the Lions tour to Australia in the summer. Prior to the game the media, had penciled in more than 10 Englishmen to make the Lions team, and based on their performances this season they had made England as one of the favorites for the World Cup in 2015.

From the kick-off the tackling and hits were ferocious from both sides, but Wales had a distinctive edge in the scrums where Adam Jones was a colossus at tight head closely followed by Captain Gethin Jenkins and the marauding blond Viking Richard Hibberd at hooker.

Even so Wales only led 9-3 at half-time despite having most of the possession, and quite rightly the English pundits (the three stooges) on the BBC panel predicted that we would see a different England in the second half and they would finish the stronger.

We did witness a “different” England in the second half. Wales began turning possession and pressure into points and on the hour mark England replaced their front row which sent a message to the Welsh crowd and the team that England were beaten and bowed into submission.

Alex Cuthbert scored two tries created by the awesome Welsh back row. Wales gambled by selecting two open side flankers who many thought could not play together. Warburton and man of the match Jason Tuperic were the difference makers. Tuperic played like an” All Black “and there couldn’t be higher praise. Wearing his distinctive blue skull cap he ran and distributed like a three quarter and tackled like a man possessed.

When handing out the laurels we must not forget the contribution made by Leigh Halfpenny at fullback. His courage and tenacity under the high ball reminded me of the legendary JPR while his goal kicking was supreme.

At the end of the day (I’m running out of clichés) this was a magnificent team performance and Wales did not have a weakness. The Lions selectors could not be criticized if they penciled in the names of the fifteen Welsh players for the first test against Australia in the summer.


Sequestration, Emeritus, St. David’s Day

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Picture if you will a power struggle of monumental proportions taking place in one of the world’s largest and richest corporations. The CEO and Chairman has just resigned. It is rumored that his resignation was triggered by scandals at the bank owned by the Corporation, and allegations of sexual misconduct at the highest level of the Corporation.

The Corporation is allegedly filled with internal strife among its most senior officials. The press has been eager to publish lurid stories of intrigue and conflict, and has been used as a tool by competing sides in the Corporation to influence the selection of the next CEO and Chairman.

Rivalries between departments, vendettas between individuals, naked ambition, calumny, backstabbing and intrigues are endemic. You may be wondering what giant corporation he is talking about. Could it be Exon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Wal-Mart, or General Electric? It’s none of these conglomerates because I’m referring to the Vatican which represents ecclesiastically over a billion Catholics.

Pope Benedict did the unthinkable by resigning last month. The first pope to do so in over 600 years citing ill health and fatigue which is not surprising since he is 85 years old. Here is the remarkable thing you are seldom told about a papal death or resignation: every one of the senior office-holders in the Vatican – those at the highest level of its internal bureaucracy, called the Curia – loses his job.

A report Benedict himself commissioned into the state of the Curia landed on his desk in January. It revealed that ‘The Filth’ – or more specifically, the pedophile priest scandal – had entered the bureaucracy. He resigned in early February. That report was a final straw. The Filth has been corroding the soul of the Catholic Church for years, and the reason is the power-grabbing ineptitude and secrecy of the Curia – which failed to deal with the perpetrators. Now the Curia itself stands accused of being part of The Filth.

Benedict realizes the Curia must be reformed root and branch. He knows this is a mammoth task. He is too old, and too implicated, to clean it up himself. He has resigned to make way for a younger, more dynamic successor, untainted by scandal – and a similarly recast Curia.

The Curia are usually quickly reappointed. This time it may be different. It involves scores of departments, like the civil service of a middling-sized country. It has a Home and Foreign Office called the Secretariat of State. There’s a department that watches out for heresy – the former Holy Inquisition which under Cardinal Ratzinger dealt with, or failed to deal with, pedophile priests.

The Curia is a big operation. It maintains contact with all the bishops of the world, more than 3,000, in 110 countries. The Curia oversees the hundreds of thousands of priests who care for the world’s 1.2?billion Catholics. The flow of information, and money, in and out of the Vatican is prodigious.

Last autumn Benedict ordered three trusted high-ranking cardinals to investigate the state of the Curia. This was the report that was delivered to him just weeks ago. It was meant for Benedict’s ‘eyes only’ but details of a sex ring and money-laundering scams last week reached the Italian weekly Panorama. Then the daily La Repubblica ran the story.

The timing of the report has coincided with fresh allegations of priestly sexual abuse in Germany. Meanwhile, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland have been accused of covering up pedophile abuse.

I’m sure there are thousands of priests around the world who are sincere in their beliefs and genuinely want to help people and spread the word of God. But when did the Cardinals become so corrupted and egotistical that their faith has evaporated only to be replaced by the pursuit of power and unimaginable wealth and riches?

What is Sequestration? Sequestration is a term used to describe the practice of using mandatory spending cuts in the federal budget if the cost of running the government exceeds either an arbitrary amount or the gross revenue it brings during the fiscal year.

Simply put, sequestration is the employment of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts in the face of annual budget deficits. In other words it reinforces the general consensus that Obama’s presidency is utterly inept.

I just celebrated St David’s Day in Atlanta by setting off a few rockets kindly given to me by a Southern gentleman who was sympathetic to my plight. I don’t begrudge extensive celebrations in America on St Patrick’s Day (after all there are over 42 million Irish Americans) but spare a thought for another Saint on March 1st.  It’s not publicized very much but six presidents have Welsh ancestry including arguably the greatest President, Abraham Lincoln.