Weekly Roundup

The country that went out into the cold….

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Meanwhile Cameron was in Norway this week to discuss trade. Of course this also led to some reflecting on how much of what is said by the UKIP brigade about how much better off we’d be outside the EU (like Norway) is basically bolix. Does Norway have less issues with Immigration? Quite the opposite if anything in fact! There’s been a recent trend of migrants and refugee’s using a loophole to simply cycle across the border from Russia and entering Norway legally. And of course Switzerland also has many issues with immigration, indeed the swiss are actually a minority in their own country in some districts.

Does Norway have less trouble with them pesky EU regulations?….actually, no they just rubber stamp and sign up to anything the EU passes, they have no right of veto or even a right to discuss such measures. But it costs them less money than actually being a member? Well marginally, the estimate is the UK would still end up paying 94% of what it currently pays, once the costs of EU inspection and regulation are accounted for (like Norway, we’ll be paying eurocrats to come over and make sure we’re obeying the EU’s trade rules). And once the inevitable drop in GDP (of 3-14%) is accounted for, one assumes that would probably make the country much worse off.

Meanwhile Cameron’s secret “negotiations” with the EU seem to have come a little unstuck, after several EU leaders claimed they still hadn’t a clue what changes he’s actually after….presumably whatever cosmetic changes he can get to hoodwink the tabloids into supporting a Yes vote one assumes.

Also this week the US again reiterated the point that Brexit would invalidate all US trade deals with the country. The UK would therefore need to renegotiate such deals, and its doubtful they’d get the same generous terms as the EU has managed. Now to anyone with half a brain this should be obvious. I’ve pointed this out myself several times and this isn’t even the first time the Americans have said this, nor that they’ve expressed disquiet at the idea of Brexit.

However, Farage and the UKIP bigot brigade in Mr Men land don’t seem to be aware of this. They’ve been working under the delusion (one could draw parallels to some of the SNP’s pre-independence delusions, such as automatically becoming an EU member and keeping the pound) that somehow the US will reward Britain’s efforts to destabilise the NATO alliance and harm transatlantic trade by lavishing gifts on the British.

Farage even went so far to accuse the US official in question of being a paid stooge of some shadowy pro-EU conspiracy. Now ignoring the fact that, as mentioned, this is not the first time the US has pointed this out. There is also a certain hypocrisy given that Farage himself is in the pay of various shadowy hedge fund types who plan to profit from the chaos Brexit will unleash.

The Hungry for power games

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The Hunger for power games in the US continues, with the first two cannon’s of resignation fired. This came in the wake of the democratic debate, where it became evident that this is clearly a two horse race between Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton, leading to two of the trailing candidates dropping out.

Meanwhile, in the GOP debate, an attempt by Jeb Bush to cut Marco Rubio down to size failed rather spectacularly. Donald “only a few million” Trump (he’s been telling a story about how he had to work his way up because his father would only led him “a few million” to get started) has now slipped in the polls and is trailing Ben Carson, a retired brain surgeon…..who constantly looks and sounds like someone who conducted brain surgery on himself. Basically if you think Trump is bad, wait till you hear Ben Carson.

The GOP debate has to stand in stark contrast to the democratic party debate (the only time anyone brought up Benghazi et al, was when Bernie Sanders said he was sick of hearing about Clinton’s “damn e-mails”). Which means that on the plus side, its very likely that after the Republicans have finished knocking chunks out of each other, they is less chance of whoever they put forward getting elected.

Argie hypocrisy

You may recall how the Top Gear team were chased out of Argentina over a number plate that seemed to allude to the Falklands war? Well the Argentinians are reopening the case. Are they going to put on trial the “war veterans(many in there twenties who fought in a war thirty years ago!) who attacked the BBC crew and burnt their cars? No, they are going after Clarkson for altering the number plate as they attempted to flee the country. Needless to say this stinks of hypocrisy. One wonders what Interpol will make of it when they ring up. “What you want us to arrest Clarkson for a minor offence regarding a number plate? Ya, why don’t we arrest him for being an arse in a denim free zone while we’re at it?

The imfamous car sporting the offending number plate, several months prior to filming (indeed this source http://jalopnik.com/more-proof-the-original-offensive-top-gear-license-plat-1644835449 points to DVLA data suggesting its been registered to the offending plate since 1991)

The imfamous car sporting the offending number plate, several months prior to filming (indeed this source points to DVLA data suggesting its been registered to the offending plate since 1991)

Also I don’t think the Argentinians understand how this plays out for neutrals. I mean personally, I can’t fathom why the Brit’s nor the Argie’s want the Islands. There is oil in the seas nearby, yes, but I’d argue this is a separate claim’s issue. But instead the Argentinians constantly choose to come across as them being bonkers mad. Ultimately one is forced to ask the question who should control the Falklands, the nutters who foam at the mouth and scream Malvina’s whenever some mentions the Falklands, or the people who are already there (okay, not very sane either, they seem to have this strange thing for Maggie Thatcher…and sheep!)

Every now and then a retired UK Admiral will pop up and say how its impossible now for the UK to protect the Island thanks to recent spending cuts. However I would argue that the Argentinian behaviour on this issue (not just Top Gear, but their defacto blockade of the Island) has now so alienated neutrals that the fact is, it doesn’t matter. Even if the UK failed to protect the Islands they would likely find their western allies taking the UK’s side. Argentina would face sanctions similar to those Russia’s been hit by, except that Argentina isn’t Russia (no oil) and its economy would quickly collapse. No doubt a US carrier battle group would soon show up to conduct “exercises” (Operation Handball?).

In short the British military won’t have to do anything, it would be just a matter of time before the Argentinians retreated with their tail between their legs. And they would have no one to blame but themselves.

Lording it over

Normally the house of lords is the sort of place you expect to more or less rubber stamp the legislation of a Tory government. However this week instead, they chose to reject Osborne’s attempts to emulate Thatcher’s poll tax by cutting working tax credits.

This is a rare, but entirely justified action by the upper house. The Tories went through the election repeatedly claiming that they won’t touch tax credits, yet blink and they were cutting them within a few months. Obviously if the Tories have now moved so far to the right that a bunch of hereditary rich guy’s think they are going too far, this should serve as a warning of how far they’ve drifted from the centre ground.

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Cameron is now talking about expanding the upper house to stack it with pro-Tory peers. Already the Lords has over 800 peers, even thought the seating capacity of the chamber is closer to at most 400. What’s he going to do, find a few hundred right-wing dwarves? High ho, high ho, its off to cut we go, with a hovel and a pick pig and a racist shit….

While I agree that there is a need for some serious reform of the House of Lords, this means cutting the number of peers and making it more democratically accountable, not stacking it with more old rich guys.

Tampon Tax

Finally, we come to the “Tampon Tax. While pistachio nuts and Jaffa cakes are subject to no VAT (because they are seen to be essentials) tampon’s are instead taxed. If ever you wanted to see evidence of how chauvinistic this government is its this. Presumably its never occurred to Cameron why his wife is always running to the bathroom and a little anxious about once a month or so.

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Bigot Watch

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I came across this very scary “Shop” in Glasgow just off Duke Street. Called the “Protestant Unionist Loyalist community hub” it appears to be a shop that basically sell bigotry (Ulster flags? nazi memorabilia? video’s of Enoch Powell?). The owners claim that they are trying to fight racism against them….which sounds too me like they took banter from Celtic fans regarding Rangers current position in the leagues a little too seriously. The owners are apparently part of a well known crime family who have been at the centre of much sectarianism and fascist activity over the last few years. Why is it right wingers don’t understand the concept of irony?

One could laugh, but this is a growing trend across the UK, where many people are being squeezed by the Tory cuts, they can’t find work and inevitably they blame a convenient scape goat, foreigners or migrants, for all there trouble, much as the Irish and Jews were blamed for similar things in the past.

The reality is that, so long as employers are paying out the minimum wage and acting legally, migrants are not at any particular advantage over locals (and if employers aren’t then the solution is a crack down on dodgy businesses, not migrants). Indeed given how getting a job can often be a factor of who you know rather than what you know, the reality is that migrants are at a distinct disadvantage to locals.

Also, its often been pointed out that the hotspots for racism and UKIP tend to be the places most migrants are avoiding, largely because such places (such as East Glasgow) are employment black spots and the migrants are willing to move to where there are jobs. By contrast it is our local PUL morale officer who are they types who are most likely to be sitting on benefits, not making any serious effort to find work and being responsible for crime in their local area.

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One has to wonder if maybe all of these different racist group should just merge together to form up one singular party the UKADMRULRBRAAEPFP (UK Angry Daily Mail Readers Unionist Loyalist Racist Bigot Remember Agincourt Anti-EU Popular Front Party).

The party will have no manifesto, after all who can think straight when you’re that angry, its symbol will just be one of the Mr Men purple with rage…..a suitable symbol given how racist the Mr Men are (think about it, they’re all different colours and have something wrong with them accept for the one white guy whose Mr Good….well okay, there’s Mr Nobody too, but he’s meant to be Jeremy Corbyn. Then all the women are “little miss….”, so sexist too!)

Kids Kompany

This week saw more revelations about the demise of the “charity” Kids Company, with a report released by the NAO. Towards the end KC, a charity that operated out of a handful of London Burroughs (and may have actually only been helping at most 2,000), was receiving twice the amount of money given to Bernardo’s, a charity that operates nationwide.

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Why, you may ask, didn’t the civil servants step in to do something? Well they did, on several occasions, only for ministers to go over their heads and award the money anyway. And it is alleged they did this because the charities founder bullied minster’s into awarding more cash, by threatening to shut the charity and generate lots of negative publicity at an inconvenient time for them. And she was also quite prepared to push buttons such as accusing minsters, or the PM, of racism and putting kids on the street.

And one has to worry about the London centric nature of KC. While other charities that worked for kids in the most deprived parts of the UK have been squeezed by Tory cuts, just when they are needed most, a London based charity has cash thrown at it by the bucket load, which it promptly wastes and nobody does anything about it.

While it has to be acknowledged that KC was also funded by the previous labour government, it was under the Tories, thanks to direct action of Cameron itself, that the funds given to this charity exploded. Rising from around £10 million to £46 million when the charity collapsed. Needless to say this does raise serious concerns about Cameron and his judgement. To bring up a question asked to Miliband during the campaign, if Putin and Miliband go into a room, whose going to come out in one piece? Well if Cameron can’t handle a fat child snatcher, I don’t rate his chances against Putin, or Merkel and the EU for that matter, as being terribly good.

And yet still there are a lot of unanswered questions. No legitimate charity would allow itself to become that dependant on one source of funding, particularly for a charity expanding as it was. Nor would they be that sloppy with cash. And its difficult to believe they could blow that much cash on just a handful of kids (£23,000 a kid!). And there are all sorts of stories of the miss-spending by the charity, for example £132,000 spent on the relative of a staff member. One has to wonder if it was a scam all along, which raises even more worrying questions as regards the PM.

Weekly Roundup

Getting it wrong on the refugee crisis

The Tories have looked on the growing crisis over refugees not as a humanitarian crisis that they need to pull their weight on, but as a cynical opportunity. They’ve been suggesting that the masses of migrants proves that there is a need to restrict the movement of people across EU borders.

However this amounts to muddling up two distinctly different issues. Internal migration between EU countries by workers, which the British benefit from, being able to travel to other EU states for work (or retirement in Spain or Southern France) and external migration from outside the EU.

Certainly some of those coming across the Med are not refugees but economic migrants and yes they are exploiting a lack of EU co-ordination on this issue. However the solution is more co-operation by EU states on this, a common policy on migrants, and agreement to share migrants and a firmer policy towards returning non-refugee’s home, particularly if they break the rules (such as breaking into the channel tunnel or arriving illegally by boat). So in many respect’s the Tories and UKIP have got it ass backwards.

However, if the Tories think they can use this to argue for changes to internal EU travel, think again. The Germans, who have taken in far more than any other EU state are very clear that unless they see some movement on Cameron’s part to take on his fair share of the burden, then the British can forget about any form of renegotiation.

The UK reported to the UN over disability cuts

And speaking of human rights violations, the UK is now being investigated by the UN for possible human rights violations over its welfare reform policies. It is alleged that these are discriminatory towards those with disabilities, who have suffered disproportionately worse than any from the recent cuts to welfare. Figures released last week by the DWP that thousands of claimants died within weeks of being declared “fit for work.

So on second thoughts, maybe the Syrians shouldn’t come here. If IDS and Osborne keep this up we might have the disabled and unemployed sneaking onto trucks to Calais to try and claim asylum from a British government, who discriminates and persecutes them!

Shot on Camera

Of course a shocking story over the last week was the shooting death of a journalist and cameraman live on air, in the US. This inevitably lead to more calls for Gun control, which politicians, afraid of the gun lobby, promptly ignored.

Of course the usual reaction of the gun lobby is to suggest that the solution to a crazy person with a gun is to encourage more carrying of guns by people to defend themselves…like in the wild west, how did that one work out? Indeed, studies have shown that regions with concealed carry laws have higher rates of gun crime.

But returning to the wild west, there-in lie the problem, in those days many towns far from encouraging the carrying of firearms actually had quite strict laws against the carrying of guns, often requiring for example that guns be deposited at the sheriff’s office as people came into town (he’d issue them with a receipt). The infamous gunfight at the OK Corral came about when Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday (who had been deputised by the town council) attempted to enforce local gun control laws.

Unfortunately, that was then and this is now. And now the gun lobby will hide behind lawyers and lobbyists rather than settle things “like men” as it were. Perhaps the Ok Corral would have worked out differently if the Clanton’s had their lawyer in tow?

Oddly enough thought, the Republicans seem keen on allowing guns in some places…but not others, such as Republican rallies, the G. W. Bush library and (irony of ironies) all Trump hotels and golf courses.

Osama Bin Corbyn

You know your opponents are getting desperate when they start making stuff up. Take Carmichael and his Ferrero Rocher” allegations against Nichola Sturgeon.

Well now there’s ludicrous claims regarding Jeremy Corbyn and comments he made after Bin Laden’s assassination. He said at the time that it was a tragedy that Bin Laden wasn’t captured and brought back for trial in New York. However, it was implied by the right wing media that he said that Bin Laden’s death was a tragedy (leaving out the second half of the sentence). Quite clearly Corybn’s opponents have been going over his past with a fine toothed coob looking for anything that might be used to smear him….even if its not true!

Of course, there are many who would agree with Corbyn, and not necessarily the usual leftie tree hugger types. But in reality it was no surprise really that they killed him. Given that Bin Laden used to work for the CIA, the US didn’t want him showing up in court and pointing this inconvenient little truth out and dishing out the dirt on the US.

Old big nose is back

And speaking or right wing hatchet jobs, Rebekah “Sideshow” Brooks has apparently got her old job back. So much as predicted, the Murdoch’s have gotten away with this scot free, despite admissions by Brooks herself to bribing police.

A shed load of rent

As the London property bubble continues there’s been a new trend in London, the renting out of shed’s as converted “studio” flats. One prospective tenant showed up at a apartment to find his “double bedroom” was a shed in the lounge. Meanwhile wholesale “social cleansing” continues across the city. Hence why there is an urgent need for measures to ease the problem, such as rent controls and greater building of social housing.

Crisis management and the euro

It’s funny how the G20 we’re meeting in Cannes. It was sort of like a horror film plot, just when you thought it was safe to go into the equity markets, out comes that Greek sea monster Papandreou! >:-[ Beware of Greeks bearing…democracy! Personally I don’t see what the issue was. Its normal for European countries to have referendum’s over controversial issues and this latest bailout would have led to a loss of some sovereignty and a long period of economic austerity for Greece. It would also have resulted in yet further opportunities for the spiv’s and speculators in the markets to profit from Greek’s losses.

Of course “the markets” saw things differently. One can imagine the reaction of the MotU (and their underlings, the leaders of the G8) to the news that the great unwashed of Greece we’re going to get a say in everything 88|. The people? What have they got to do with any of this? Indeed I recall a line in Judge Dredd (apocalypse war series) when East Meg One attacks Mega City one, the East meg judges realise that many millions of their citizens were about to be killed, one of them saws that this is alarming news and they should go on telly to explain to the citizens why this attack is necessary. But the other East Meg Judges, say no, the people (who are about to be on the receiving end of nukes) have nothing to do with this! Life intimidating art I think!

There is also an element of a clash of cultures here. As anyone who has ever been to Greece will know, the Greeks thrive on chaos. Nothing ever goes according to plan, there’s a lot of running around in a panic, frantic phone calls, but they always seem to muddle through in the end (look at the 2004 Olympics, that turned out great in the end, even thought they missed many construction deadlines). Of course the Germans are the complete polar opposite. They always do everything according to a strict schedule and plan. The Russians during WW2 claimed that you could set you’re watch by the Germans (at exactly 6am every morning the artillery started firing, 7am on the dot, the Luftwaffe showed up….). Tell a German friend to meet you somewhere at 18:05 and they will be there at exactly that time (to the second!)…of course you’re Greek buddy will come running in at sometime past seven, but that’s okay because the concert was late starting anyway so he only misses the opening act. So you can imagine the reaction of Merkel to the possibility that the deal struck a few weeks ago mightn’t be the “final solution” to the crisis (okay that was cruel of me! :no:).

Of course the terrible thing about this “Greek Tragedy” is that it is so easily solved, as I point out in prior post and the Beeb discusses here (comparing the Eurozone to a boat at risk of capsizing) this crisis could be easily solved if the eurozone countries chose to do so, by the ECB simply buying European debt, a moderate level of Quantitative Easing (read print more money) or the issuing of Euro bonds. But all of these issues have been ruled out due to the sensitivities of German taxpayers. Unfortunately those German taxpayers need to realise that they are in the same boat as the Greeks and will go down with the ship if the eurozone implodes. Already growth is slowing in Germany as a consequence of this crisis.

I should note that I’m not exactly happy with the idea of any of the options I mentioned above either (I believe I described QE in a prior post as effectively a Default on ones debts by the back door). They would erode some of my savings (in a euro bank account), but its important to get this crisis solved. Given the choice between two scenarios (collapse of the euro and a deep recession with the spiv’s profiting yet again at the expensive of governments or savers winding loosing a tiny portion of their savings) I know which of these two I’d prefer to see happening. The Beeb has a summary of the likely outcomes of a default, or Greek Eurozone exit here. If there’s one thing this crisis has proven it is that the Austrian/Underpants Gnomes school of economics is wrong. Cut public spending at a time of recession and, as we’ve seen in Greece and Ireland, you’ll wind up with an even deeper recession and a bigger deficit due to reduced tax receipts. While some austerity (Greek public sector workers retiring later for example) will inevitably be necessary, the key to solving this crisis is pushing money back into the economy to drive up growth (by governments increasing spending funded by higher taxes on the wealthy). Of course that doesn’t bode well for the UK as its likely that the Tory cuts will force Britain back into recession, although the Tory’s will now inevitably blame the Greeks for that of course!

If the euro fails, it will be a failure of leadership on the part of European governments, rather than anything fundamentally wrong with the economics, deficits or the European style welfare state. And speaking of that leadership, let’s be clear about why Italy is in trouble; one word starts with B, is over sexed, stuffed with brown envelopes, and goes bunga, bunga! One can understand the market scepticism of Italy with someone like that in charge of the country :**:. Berlusconi needs to go now. And if he refuses to go, maybe it might be necessary to do what they did to Caesar. But rather than senators with daggers, just get all his ex-wives and girlfriends to ambush him in parliament and batter him to death with their handbags (et tu Ruby :>> ), that should sort out this crisis!