It has been a strange and disturbing few weeks in the world but between the lines there is a story sometimes amusing and at the same time disturbing. This is a story that highlights the extreme cultural differences between middle aged English Man and middle aged American Man.
Mild mannered, middle class, BMW and power washer owning suburban English man reacted badly to the following headline; EU ban on high-power vacuum cleaners comes into force, hitting five of the seven best-rated products.
The EU directive is tied up in the member countries commitment to clean up our environment and although the headline is shocking it hides the true message. Manufacturers have to design better, more efficient products. A bit like changes in the rules for Formula 1 cars mean they dont use massive petrol guzzling V8 engines. Natural evolution and great design has evolved the small, ultra high revving frugal but ultimately powerful engines that carry the cars round the tracks of the world at amazing speed. Vacuum cleaners need to go the same way. This change in the law will force manufacturers to make fester, leaner and more efficient cleaners.
Unashamedly riotous and provocative headlines prompted a veritable rush on the shops to buy the last remaining stocks of high powered vacuum cleaners, rumor has it that the 2,200 watt Miele s8330 is selling for more on ebay now than you could buy them in the shops a month ago, I should have stocked up!
While this story played out in England the middle aged American man was suffering an equally terrible, but much more disturbing loss as UN sanctions placed on Russia began to bite. Intended or not by Obama and his administration the ban on imports of some Russian goods came to a head when Americans realized their beloved AK47 assault rifle was made in Russia and was now a victim of the war in Ukraine. It was announced that there will be no more imports of Russian made arms to America [the hypocrisy of this will become apparent soon] and so a rush began on the gun shops of every American town as the last of these iconic machine guns was snapped up.
And now for the hypocrisy. While America has used sanctions to ban the import of Russian made weapons the Europeans have continued to supply Russia with weapons ranging from hand guns to war ships.
On the 23rd July, just a month ago, the Guardian reported “UK arms export licenses for Russia still in place despite claims of embargo”
More than 200 licences to sell British weapons to Russia, including missile-launching equipment, are still in place despite David Cameron’s claim in the Commons on Monday that the government had imposed an absolute arms embargo against the country, according to a report by a cross-party group of MPs released on Wednesday.
A large number of British weapons and military components which the MPs say are still approved for Russia are contained in a hard-hitting report by four Commons committees scrutinising arms export controls.
Existing arms export licences for Russia cover equipment for launching and controlling missiles, components for military helicopters and surface-launched rockets, small arms ammunition, sniper rifles, body armour, and military communications equipment, the committee says. They also include licences for night sights for weapons, components for operating military aircraft in confined spaces, and surface-to-surface missiles.
The French also have two battle ships on their way to Russia, the orders were not cancelled as that would make 1,000 French men and women unemployed.
Like I said, a strange and disturbing few weeks in the world.