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..There's a little Samuel Pepys in all of us..

Saturday, February 28, 2009

That in this era of government bailouts.. of tossing cash to corporations in unheard of chunks.. It is now turning to the private sector to inject funds into the Royal Mail..
According to Gordon.. selling off 30% of the business to the competition.. is the only way to in any way safeguard the Posties pension fund..
One finds it curious, the manner in which our Exchequer prioritise their distribution of public funds..
The likes of the further £19billion pumped into the Royal Bank of Scotland while it flounders, trying to unload toxic investments..
The murmuring around the bar reflects a growing sense of bewilderment.. All these unimaginable sums being poured willy-nilly.. and still someones themselves.. are not seeing an expansion of the distribution of this money, and are about to lose their house..
And to make the picture just that tad brighter..Steve Bundred who heads the Audit Commission which regulates spending by the NHS and local councils.. has warned that even after the worst of this has passed.. we will be looking at a vastly trimmed program of public works..
Even the slowest among us is starting to realise that higher taxes will be a necessity sooner, if not later.. And that disposable income will shrink dramatically..
This is going to be an interesting scenario to watch unfold.. this re-alignment of the public mindset..
And with all of Gordon's rhetoric.. he's speaking to a group of Party faithful in Bristol.. with all his assurances of studies on the go to offer viable changes to the banking system so they once again work for the people.. he is well aware the vast majority of Britons.. even those with what were a matter of months ago comfortable incomes.. are today living hand-to-mouth.. with household budgets tighter than they have been since the 2dWW..
It's going to take more than talk to unravel this knot we've been tied in..

And Barack appears to be holding close to his promise that US troops will leave Iraq..soon..almost of all them anyway..
But one must ask.. is he committing the same mistake George Senior did in the 90's.. when he turned away from deposing Saddam, before the threat of imminent terrorist attacks was even the stuff of dreams..?
It's going to take some time and effort, even after the major fighting has come to an end, to put an effective homegrown infrastructure, and it may well be that Barack's leaving one job unfinished, while rushing into a conflict he, and all the other Western forces, will eventually lose. It may well be that the Taliban will regain power in that benighted country.. but this type of warfare..regardless of the lessons learned in VietNam.. is stacked well in favour of the home team..

Germany's offered Latvia a bit of change.. to help stimulate the latter's faltering economy.. And with Germany itself on the economic razor's edge.. it would seem to be the first signs of the devaluation of the Euro..
Y'know.. when Gordon was Chancellor under Tony.. he sold off a vast amount of British bullion.. to 'diversify' the country's portfolio.. It happened that gold was close to it's lowest point for years at the time of the sale..
And one of the items Gordon bought in this 'divestment'.. was a large block of Euro's..
While dumping them on the market now would certainly precipitate a crash.. one can only hope Alastair is shedding, bit by bit.. that EU currency..
One can only hope..

It will be interesting what the Bank of England has in store for us with it's next interest rate..
Could it be that we are heading towards a 0% mark..?

More, later..

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One must question at times, if those who really pull the strings know what they're doing these days..
Take an overview of what we're facing..
Far from 'globalisation'.. we're being forced into isolationism.. From a society that embraced foreign investment and investment, we're being moulded into individual financial policies which are primarily concerned with keeping our separate economies viable..
This will have a knock on effect right across the board. Conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Africa.. will become essential to the economies of the US..Britain..Russia..and China.. who are the main arms suppliers for all sides in these wars..
Arms sales are exceedingly important.. they're the epitome of a 'throw away' culture.. and sales are guaranteed
It's ironic that this past weekends meetings in Rome of the G6 centered on methods to reduce the effects of isolationism.. when each and every representative knew this trend is bound to become the norm..
And we're fed lines concerning the length of this 'recession'.. from Barack's assertion that we'll see improvement within six months.. to some analysts predicting this collapse could last a decade or more..
One tends to lean towards the more pessimistic outlook..
The G8 meets in February, and one would love to be a fly on the wall at some of the private meetings that will be taking place..
Let's take the state that will be developed for Brazil as an example. That country has basically two mainstays for it's economy, those being oil, are automotive production. With the collapse of the oil market, and the incipient collapse of the automotive industry.. Brazil will once again find itself relegated to 'Third World' status..
Venezuela and Ecuador will follow suit in quick time..
Always a hotbed of political unrest, it might be safe to extrapolate a series of military juntas, each making promises they know they'll not deliver..
If indeed the overall idea is to reduce our economies to rubble.. then the master plan is on track..
But two questions arise..
One being who will ultimately benefit..
The second is who can the man on the street thank for the Machiavellian machinations which obviously took decades to put in place..
It really would be nice to know, for the gods know those we elect to office aren't smart enough to have engineered this degree of catastrophe..

More later, still with the effects of this debacle. This time dealing with the xeonophobia growing throughout the world..

Friday, February 13, 2009

It would seem that Barack's list of potential Cabinet members will soon leave him wondering just who will cause him the least embarrassment.. Republican Senator Judd Gregg is withdrawing as Barack's nominee for commerce secretary.citing irreconcilable
differences with the Democrats take on the economy, and what is needed to effect a change..
That's four so far, who, for various reasons, have called it quits.. and raises the question 'Are there the minds available for Barack to choose from who would embrace his recovery package wholeheartedly and without reservation..?'
Judd was tagged as the 2d Republican to serve a Cabinet post as Commerce Secretary..
And Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, is warning the downturn in global economy is bound to have a knock on effect in terrorist activities..
That while British and American forces have dealt severe blows to the al Q'aida leadership, funding, and infrastructure.. that group is still planning attacks on the British and American.. and now apparently the Indian public..
And with the dispatching of George Mitchell to the Middle East, it must be clear the Bush Administration's last attempt at a lasting cease fire between Israel and The Gaza Strip has failed..
Now, the Palistinians are looking at a right wing Israeli government which, if given a wish list, would wish Hammas and Fatah simply disappear..
With the Palistinians fighting among themselves, and with Israel.. there would appear to be a major problem quickly coming to a head in the area.. and while it's been said before, the West, while continuing to support the preservation of the state of Israel.. should disassociate itself with what is a regional, if not internal matter, for the Israeli's to deal with..
Food for thought.. for if Barack's internal financial plans are going to have an effect, American presence in international fields of conflict must be diminished.
And while there are cries of denial worldwide about economies becoming isolationist.. this will likely be the necessity in a year or two..
For there is a trend starting now, again worldwide in scope, for major employers the likes of Honda..Nissan..Toyota.. to slash their foreign workforce as far as contractural agreements will allow.. Other Japanese companies, the likes of Sony and Toshiba are closing Scottish plants at an alarming rate..
Odd that this journal published this scenario.. this trend.. four years ago.. Odd, that is, because none of the government think tanks didn't pick up on it..
All art of the Game.. all the pieces of the puzzle are in the box.. We've just become inept at handling bad news.. and unwilling to report discouraging trends for fear of being branded a 'scaremonger' or with thinking 'too far' out of the box..
One recalls, when working as the National Business Editor for CKO.. of being threatened with dismissal if ever the 'D' work was included in a story again..
One of the many dangers facing the public.. taking one or two sources for their reporting or anaysis, and forming a firm opinion on an issue from that limited viewpoint..
Can it all be put down to apathy, or laziness on the part of the public..? Or is it more a case of 'My father read the Guardian/Sun/Times/whatever, and that's good enough for me..'
Since reporting brought the horrors of VietNam into our livingrooms, it seems the public has been innured to the issues that face us now..
To quote 'Beyond the Fringe'..
"Oh. Bombs have fallen on Marley Street. Never you mind, we'll put on the kettle and have a nice cup of tea.."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's been the first real test of Baback's charisma and powers of persuasion this week.. His entire Presidential future depends upon his ability to show the American man in the street that he is capable of getting bi-partisan support for an unprecedented injection of government money to re-boot the structure of the US economy..
It's not the deal the president started with.. the Senate and the House have each had their turn at whittling away the actual figures for the final Bill..
The plan now seems to have satisfied both the Senate and the House.. A final vote will likely take place in the House a day after it's gone through the Senate.. The whole process should be done and dusted, as is sometimes said, by the end of the week..
Then we'll get to see the domestic economic skills Barack and his team..

A warning from the governor of the Bank of England.. Mervyn King was not particularly optimistic about the future, saying that the UK is in 'deep recession' and cutting interest rates may turn out to be insufficient to stimulate public investment and encourage foreign expansion to Britain..
The Bank now forecasts a 4% shrink in the British economy this year..
And the frightening thing is, that among the EU member countries, Britain is considered to be a relatively 'stable' country..
One wonders when the expression 'global depression' will become acceptable..

Ireland.. with a forecast of a 5% drop in GNP for this year.. has announced that they too have had to jump on the bandwagon.. and prop up two of the county's major banks.
From China to India.. from Britain to the United States.. governments are mortgaging their grand children's legacy with an amazing profligacy, with what appears to be a complete lack of concern..
And if the separate governments are saying, as in the US, that we can expect to see some improvement in the credit market by July.. they must think their respective electorates can be drawn into this Pollyanna world. It certainly speaks volumes as to what our legislators think of our collective intelligence..

Zimbabwe's new Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, has vowed to stabilise the country's shattered economy and end political violence as he was sworn in as that unfortunate country attempts to set a system of checks and balances in place..
Ironic.. that Morton was sworn into Office by his long-time enemy Robert Mugabe..
Mind you, it has yet to be seen how well this power sharing scheme will stand..
Mugabe is not going to go quietly into that good night.. He has managed to keep control of the Army.. and Morton's going to be living with his own sword of Damocles inches away from his skull..

And the Game unfolds..

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

There are times these days.. when you simply have to shake your head..perhaps a rueful laugh.. at the folly we the world have indulged in..
Are still indulging in..
As a species.. it's a matter for some amazement that we still exist.
However.. here we are..
Figures to be released tomorrow will announce that over two million Britons are out of work. That does not take into account though, those who are not among the 'official' workforce.. those who have fallen through the cracks in our society, and who've been collecting the dole for literally generations. Now granted.. quite a few of this months addition to the government payroll are due to Woolies closing up shop, but there are a myriad of smaller businesses who have pared their employee list to a minimum. Restauants, for example, are looking at empty reservation books, with waiters merely waiting, and it's the high end of the scale feeling the pinch the hardest..
Simply one of a myriad of problems the High Street is facing.. and will face for quite a while yet..
Barack says 'give us a year..'. Gordon says 'give us 4 more..'.
But the stark reality is, that before things begin improving..they're going to get far far worse.. and the timeframe for a recovery, one would reasonably think, would be closer to eight to ten years minimum..
And things will never be as they were again. Basic changes in the thinking of the consumer will take years to effect, and changes are an absolute necessity if we have any chance of getting on our collective feet again..

Barklay's Bank announced a £6.4 billion profit for last year.. down 14% from last year. Now, for any bank to declare a profit would somewhat deflate the government's bailouts, starting with Northern Rock..
But Barklay's said 'no thanks' to any government money when it was being doled out a couple of months ago.. They managed to weather the storm without crying to the Exchequer. Now, should Lloyds/HBOS or any of the others who took from the public purse show anything in the black.. and if any bonusses are paid out.. one would have fears for the safety of bankers, and politicians..

It is a matter of constant amazement, how our governments make their decisions..
The recommendation from Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs' has recommended that Ecstacy be downgraded to a Class B drug.. it's currently in Class A, along with others the likes of heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, et al..
The Home Office has hastily affirmed that this recommendation will not be considered..
The medicinal qualities and relatively harmless of cannabis aside, the Home Office upgraded to Class B last month, against the wishes of the Council mentioned above..
For a country with such terrible problems with the misuse of, and rife with medical problems caused by, alcohol.. it would seem legislators are at best, confused when it comes to non-prescription drugs..
In being one of the many who suffer from degerative Multiple Sclerosis.. this issue has personal aspects..

Saturday, February 07, 2009

A busy day in Washington.. with the Senate rehashing Barack's economic recovery plan..
The key vote on the $Am820 billion recovery program is on Monday.. and while it's expected to pass the Senate.. Barack needs some Republican support. He does hold a majority in the Senate.. but because there is a proceedural wrinkle, he needs 60 votes from the Opposition..
And much to Barack's dismay, no doubt, his initial plans have been pared away in key areas..the likes of health care benefits for those now out of work.. and there have been pointed questions about plans the likes of a $Am500 tax cut across the board for the man on the street.. Comparisons with the six hundred dollar bonus handed out last year by the Bush administration. Just how far towards getting the public to return to the auto showrooms the proposed tax reduction on purchases is being looked at.. the 100 billion proposed to have been doled out to individual States to renew their infrastructures, has been scrapped..
Now these are programs Barack had counted on.. thinking that his vision of putting America would be embraced by a united Senate and House..
It's so much more complicated running a country..
Now.. on the international front.. Joe Biden's pitching concilliation around like confetti at
The new Vice-President's looking to push a 'reset button' in it's relations with several countries.. Russia and Iran in particular.. He's speaking this weekend in Munich at a conference of international leaders and security experts..
Watch Joe and Hillary over the next few months..
They'll no doubt soon be mediating between India and Pakistan.. with Joe insisting that there will be no real inroads towards wiping out terrorism without the full involvement of Pakistan, and India calling on the International Community to class Pakistan as a terrorist base..
This on the heels of an announcement from a Pakistani terrorist group.. saying they had killed a Polish geologist kidnapped some months ago..
Ahhh.. it's what keeps diplomats and politicians looking so young..
And..keep in mind.. that nothing takes place in the Middle East without the knowledge..and tacit approval of, or outright complicity with.. the Saudi's..
Should any progress be made.. it will be with the Saudi's pulling the strings..
And, the Foreign Relations team is going to have to keep a close eye on South America.. Ecuador's kicking an American diplomat out of the country for 'meddling with police and internal affairs'..
Raphael Correra's kept reasonably close ties with the US.. but that's certainly not the case with Ecuador's neighbours..
As said above.. it's a lot more complicated...
Where to begin this early morning..
It's been a hard start for Barack.. with some of the people picked for key posts found wanting..
But it would appear that the Senate will pass his economic recovery plan..slightly modified.. over the next few days. That will pump $Am780 billion into the economy and likely will bring down the frightening job losses reported not only this week, but for the past several months.
A rebuilding of the American infrastructure..roads..bridges..train tracks should be shiny and new within a few years, with the idea of a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage resussitated and the public crying for new versions of Leave It To Beaver and the Andy Griffith's Show..
Now, this does not take into account the wheels already in motion around the world..
But if it gets even a running start, it certainly going to be a boon for Canadian and Japanese steel industry..
Some of that money is going to trickle into other economies, at least for a while..
But just where this 780 billion is going to come from is, as yet, say the least..
A new 'Victory Bond' appeal, perhaps..?
Something has to be pulled from a hat, and quickly. Unemployment now over 7%.. jobs disappearing at unprecidented rates..
This new President had better get a settled Cabinet in place, before the baby completely disappears down the plughole..

Some disturbing thoughts about the Chinese economy..
While the official stance is 'we're all right, Jack'.. it would seem some of these 'official' figures disguise a drastic slowdown in the world's 3d largest economy..
Again.. the downstream will affect manufacturers globally.. and a diminishing Chinese market will do no good for either the British or the American recovery..
It's the way the Chinese define 'growth'.. Beijing uses a method that compares growth in one quarter with a full year earlier and says its economy expanded by a healthy 6.8 percent in the final quarter of 2008.
But the pundits say that compared to the previous three months.. the system used by most other major countries.. China's growth fell to as low as 1 percent or possibly zero.
Again.. not good.

Now.. a glance at xenophobia as.. contrary to some forecasts.. migrant workers continue to flood in..everywhere..
Now we're not talking about the US/Mexican borders here.. but workers who, following EU agreements.. are working quite legally throughout Europe..
Britain had three days of strikes in the energy sector because of the numbers of British jobs being done by other folks from around the EU..
More direct in, say Rome, where an Indian worker was beaten to death then set alight.. or in Athens, where a Bulgarian migrant worker was doused with sulfuric acid..
That's what jobs are starting to mean.. that while the EU was dandy while we were in economic stability.. we're nearing the point of 'Italy for Italians' and 'Greece for Greeks'..
The system is starting to teeter a tad, and when the Euro finally drops like a stone.. and it will.. 'free market' will fly away..
Interesting times.

Friday, February 06, 2009

There is absolutely no doubt that there is a viable threat of terrorist action by any number of extremist groups, but the direction Western governments have gone in combating the problem even has the House of Lords questioning just how much personal freedom exists anymore..
In the US, the Homeland Security Act has given security services powers which one doubts was the goal of the Founding Fathers when they signed the Constitution..
One might say, these days, the Constitutional Rights of the man on the street have been bent and twisted into something utterly unrecognisable.. perhaps the same words on that old parchment, but certainly not the same intent..
The Lords are concerned. There are more than 4 million cameras watching us 24/7.. the UK's DNA database is the largest in the world on a relative per capita basis, with 7% of the population on file, compared with 0.5% in the States..
Taking liberties with Civil Liberties is not the purpose of a democracy, but more reminiscent of that which we we told took place in Stalinist Communist regimes, and should perhaps be of more concern to us than the protection we're blanketed with offers any sense of security..
Watch..look around you when next you stroll down the High Street..
Even in a small town such as Ayr, in relatively quiet Scotland, you picture will be recorded more than 250 times over a half-hour stroll..
It is now a case of 'quis custodes custodiets'..
It is a disturbing trend.. and one which the Lords is serving us well in examining..
More on this..
But in the meantime.. think on Gitmo, and the Gulags..
Perhaps it's time our security services follow the general rules of transparency which we demand of other departments within our government.. in spite of the certain cries of 'National Security'..

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Binyam Mohammad..
This one former British resident.. not a citizen though, has been held by the Americans for more than 4 years.. shifted from a 'secret' CIA compound in Morocco to another similar detention center in Afghanistan, before landing in Gitmo, is about to be released with no charges laid..
But..he has made allegations that while he was in custody he was subjected to torture.. shackled and hung..cut with razors.. by both American and British interrogators..
This has all come out in a High Court ruling.. and MP's are now demanding there be disclosure of secret documents presently in American hands, concerning the treatment of this one man..
More disturbingly is the inclusion in the High Court report, that the US is applying pressure against the release of information concerning the treatment of this man.. suggesting that if we continue in our demands.. we'll get no information at all, and the traditional cooperation between British and American security services..
This is not acceptable.
It, simply through omission of information, suggests both security services have something to hide.. some actions they have committed which would tarnish the squeaky clean image of American and British treatment of prisoners of war..
But most disturbing is that this rift between Britain and the US should happen at the very beginning of Barak's Presidency..
It does not bode well for the traditional British/US relations, with the ultimate losers being the British man on the street. The American Intelligence community is vastly larger than ours, far better funded, and apparently under less scrutiny than the British.
Mind you, it begs the question, what are our people doing out there, figuratively speaking, under the radar..?
Nick Clegg, the leader of the LibDems, went so far as to say the withholding evidence and the concomitent threats of intelligence sharing as "..nothing short of blackmail.."
Harsh words, for a President who's main focus is meant to be on repairing his own country's economy..

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Let's be realistic, and have a look at what's going on around us..
A third of those who were last year living in their own homes, are now living somewhere else.. perhaps reduced to the Dole from what two years ago appeared to be a stable carreer..
Now consider. This scenario is not merely confined to some third-world country.. but the very members of the G8..
Poverty's not confined to 'the other side of the tracks' in North American towns anymore.. It's fingers have stretched over the lower-middle class.. and is threatening the middle and upper levels, as large companies 'suspend' operations, the downstream effects will be hitting small business like a tsunami..
Barack's recovery funding plan goes to Congress, and odds are it'll be accepted, with some strategic abstentions and 'Nays'..
Can the man actually envision the reprecussions should this plan prove to be 'underfunded'..? That pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it is an endless job, unless there's a change in the bucket..a plug in the hole..
Or is Barack working towards replacing the bucket entirely.. After all, the one leaking like a sieve, has been the same one in use since 1776..
A 'New America'.. where 'Yes, we can..' means something again..
A lot's expected from the new American Administration..
Best of luck..

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