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

Friday, April 29, 2011

The UN Security Council is to meet this afternoon, to discuss sanctions against Syria, and the government of President Assad.. Thousand have taken to the streets in protest against that regime, and some of them won't be going home again.. Reports are that at least 15 have been shot and killed by government forces in the southern city of Deraa, however the protests have spilled over to many other cities, including the Capital Damascus..
It will be interesting, the reaction from the UN in this case.. As revolutions sweep around the north of Africa and into those countries by the Red Sea, exactly what role the UN can play is moot..
It's a situation that could well dismay those on the Security Council.. the idea of sending foreign troops in to help the rebels is something not even to be considered, yet our Western sense of morality demands something be done, when a government turns against it's own people..
A sticky situation, to say the least..

Yet more destructive weather has left it's mark on the US... 183 people killed as twisters tore through the southern States, an unprecedented weather system has yet to come to an end..
Barack's gone down to see the damage, but while those in mourning may well appreciate the gesture, they know full well even the President can't control the weather.
What they may well be interested in though, is what money the Feds will release for reconstruction, and just how quickly those funds will be available..
Some are still waiting in New Orleans, after more than two years...

More later..

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Interesting.. The Department of Works and Pensions has released figures that show that fully three quarters of those who apply for sickness benefits, are either found fit to work, or drop their claim before completion..
This, in a microcosmic sense, shows the mentality of those on the lower rungs of this society.. That if you can get away with not working by applying for incapacity, then why not give it a shot..?
Again, most fall short of the criteria, or realize they're not going to get it regardless. These are the one's who are on income support, and who will likely stay there despite government 'back to work' schemes.. It's obvious, that if benefits exceed the income one may earn at a part-time or full-time job, then benefits it will be..
We're seeing the downstream effects of the last thirty years of the last century, accompanied by the lack of jobs due to the recession..
Yet not so long ago in Canada, there were university graduates driving cabs, because there was nothing in their chosen field.. A different ethic, worn away worldwide by failure to choose the training for the jobs always there.
A good machinist can find work anywhere.. so can a plumber or electrician.. but 'Blue Collar Jobs' have fallen out of fashion, in favour of pumping out university undergrads with nothing to offer..

Scientists in Europe are concerned about a possible ban on stem cell research right across the board.. They've expressed 'profound concern' about recommendations from the European Court of Justice, to end the harvesting of stem cells from human embryos.. that patents taken out on research which destroyed embryo's should be disallowed..
Now, one must think this to be a 'moral' stance, for it has no basis in reality. Stem cell research and apllication has proven to be efficacious in the treatment of many diseases, the likes of Parkinson's, or Multiple Sclerosis..
Not to say all morality should be abandoned, as in Nazi Germany during the 2d World War, but reason dictates that aborted foetus' be used for whatever beneficial result they might bring..
But, we are a Puritanical group, regardless of how we might deny it.. and we set boundaries that are not always condusive to good sense, or the common welfare..

Now we know the Foreign Office is incensed with the government attacks in Syria... The Syrian Ambassdor's invitation to tomorrow's Royal wedding has been withdrawn..
There had been noises in Whitehall about th invitation being issued in the first place, given the human rights violations taking place oin that country..
But now it's official.. Buckingham Palace has stepped in..
Dr. Sami Khiami said 'it was rather embarrassing...'

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

British GDP grew by .5% for this last quarter, wiping out the .5% drop at the end of 2010.. The Prime Minister says this has reduced the chance of a 'double dip' recession, that some 400 thousand people are back at work, and that manufacuting figures are up.. David cited the cases of Portugal, Greece, and Eire, saying Britain was not in the same situation as these desperate nations..
Of course. the opposition's claiming this is in fact flatline economics.. that this latest rise is in fact, inconsquential in real terms..
One might well think there are no economists at all on the Opposition camp, for any sign of growth is something to be applauded. Yet seemingly Ed Milliband is searching for a specious argument simply to disagree..
The only country that has a higher projected GDP in the Eurozone, is Germany, and whether they meet their original 2.5% growth figure or not, they will certainly post the best figures in our little group...
More, after the reports are fully digested..

The UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, has condemned the use of Syrian government troops and tanks against unarmed and peaceful demonsrators, but as yet, there's been no agreement within the Security Council on what the next move will be..
Meanwhile, hundreds of women have taken to the streets, well aware government forces are using live ammunition, to protest the intransigency of President Assad..
It will be something to watch, how many of these distaff members are shot, killed or wounded in today's marching in the southern city of Deraa..
The Syrian government may well soon be facing UN sanctions the likes of which haven't been seen since the blockade of Cuba..

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Here we go again.. Foreign Secretary William Hague has vociferously condemned the violence perpetrated by Syrian government troops against protestors setting the stage for yet another appearance before the UN for a mandate to send NATO forces into that country..
with reports of 20 killed in protests yesterday, and the total since March somewhere near the 350 mark, all British and American citizens have been told to leave the country as soon as possible..
The protestors are demanding that President Bashar al Assad step down, calling for open elections under UN supervision..
Hague issued his statement as Britain, France, Italy and Portugal draw up presentations for the UN Security Council.. paving the way for further NATO action..
There is a problem though, for this is not yet an armed insurrection in Syria, merely ptotests against the regime, and who would NATO target should the UN deem armed intervention is necissary..
This Middle Eastern move towards open democracy is problematic for the West, for while we do depend on the oil from the region, it cannot be made to seem that this oil is our reason d'etre for helping..
And as mentioned before, Syria has elements of Hammas, Hezbollah, and al Q'aida actively working, and all oppose the existence of Israel. Should a regeme change take place, it is moot what stance any new government might take.
Rock and a hard place ain't in it...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This is becoming absurd..
Syrian government troops firing on funerals..killing a dozen or so in the process..?
One supposes that governments in that area have done so, with relative impunity, for millennia.. but in this age of Globalisation, and instant communication, this behavior becomes, rather than a simple way to put down an uprising, a worldwide circus with critics crawling from the woodwork..
The Muslim World, is being literally dragged into what we like to call 'the 21st Century.. And, as any culture would, it's making it as hard as possible within the moral strictures of our uber-Calvanistic morality..
Imagine had China not decided to avoid all this brouhaha and effect change at a measured pace.. Understanding the values of being a world class producer is going to put us into a position in which our grandchildren will have Mandarin or Canonese in their curriculae..
Not so with the Middle East..
As the Turks held onto the Divine Port.. so will the Arab States. Refer back a tad, and they were described as 'the Muslim States'... This creed is vast, involving not only Africa.. but worldwide in scope. It must give it's approval to change.. take the divine wind from the sails of 'martyrs'.. and embrace a role in this modern world that while taking some extreme powers away, offers much more in return.
Shame there isn't an equivalent New Testament in the Q'ran..
Would make things so much easier.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

It came about over yet another dinner table debate, this 'moral imperative' we in the West appear to have when there's a conflict in the world, with an underdog to be helped.. The talk spanned history, from the first expansions of the Sumer through the division, then reuniting of Pharonic Egypt... through the West's drive to spread it's message and institute trade worldwide, through colonisation, through the 'looting' of said colonies and the injustices of Western Officials, through the Pax Britannica, the World Wars.. it ran the gamut..
Then it turned to today's 'conflict of the hour'... that being Libya..
"What right do we have in involving ourselves in what's tantamount to a civil war..?" was a common question.. another was "Which among us, actually understands the customs, the people of, the Middle East.. how their diplomats think..?"
"When we say a ceasefire here in the west," said one, "then we mean each side lays down their guns and attacks stop.." And that's quite true, but it only applies to the Western mindset. Historically, that area has been a tribal culture, each owing allegiance to a Liege, and each constantly defending their own small patches of desert.. It is an entirely new train of thought, this 'nationalism', and it's growth is being held back by ingrained tribal allegiances..
Still, the flame is there, and given time, and the opportunity to enjoy a Western lifestyle, there will be enough of the population to forge a Constitution of their own design..
"Nonsense," was the retort.."There will always be a Council of Elders representing
tribal interests, and they regardless of any government being elected, will still have weight.."
The Arab mind, without being derogatory, is a devious one when Western values and morals are applied.. negotiations which should be over in a day or two, stretch on for weeks, while the Arab mind tries to delay the implementation of that which might hinder their cause..
Case in point is Misrata, an important oil terminal that's key to both sides in this conflict. They're into the sixth week of a siege, with rebel forces inside, and government forces without. The fighting there is fierce, with sections of the town being swapped back and forth by the rebels and government forces..
Now the Libyan Interior Minister, two days ago, announced a 'ceasefire', in compliance to pressure from the UN.. yet the civilian death toll continues to rise in that city, including two foreign photojournalists killed by a government RPG..
The idea, from the Arab viewpoint, is appease, and ignore as long as is humanly possible.. to make conciliatory statements which contain at least a grain of truth, while continuing steadily down the path they had just forsaken..
It's nothing to condemn them for, it's simply no more than the way it has always been. This is how they've dealt with themselves, when tribe after tribe had to be juggled about.. They're not lying, from their perspective, but merely pushing their advantage as far as we will allow them. And once those boundaries have been stretched to the breaking point, it is then time to sit down and begin more talks, while the fighting continues..
"And lets not forget, there appears to be a significant percentage of those in Tripoli and the western part of the country, who still like Mohammar, and should their allegiance be respected as much as the hatred of those against the Dictator..?"
Yup, can't deny we've seen and heard pictures of those waving the solid green flag, and yet we in the West are sceptical.. saying that must be a minority.. paid protesters.. For who in their right mind would want to keep such a man in power...?
Again, the Arab mind respects a 'Supreme Pasha'.... a 'Sublime Port'... It's part of their tradition, and they will fight as hard as those who would change the system their great-great-great-great grandfathers lived, and survived by..
"It's all about oil.." was thankfully soon disposed of... such a facile and jejune comment was not to be on the agenda...
Yet at the end of it all.. we see the workings of the Arab mind well demonstrated by the latest development... That announcement from a senior Libyan Government official warning that the tribes around Misrata have now threatened to join in the fight again the rebels.. The government troops, in the event of a ceasefire, will of course be unable to control the actions of a coalition of hostile tribes, and if their fighting continues against the rebels, what blame has the government to carry in this..?
It's all a Game... one played in the Middle East for millennia..
One we in the West, are confused and confounded by..

Meanwhile, down the road in Syria, the protests are becoming more and more violent, with reports of 'dozens' being killed in clashes with government forces..
Once again, will we step into a situation that can have no winner..?
A change in power in Syria, will bring about more problems for the west, than the continuation of the status quo... There are too many factions involved in that can of worms.. Hammas, Hezbollah, Iran...
It's all just too much..

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It would seem that Britain has a problem... new government figures suggest some 80 thousand of us are on Incapacity Benefit, because of drug, alcohol, or obesity problems.. and more than a quarter of those hadn't had a proper job in over a decade...
In all though, there are 2 million Brits on that benefit... quite a percentage of the 'workforce', so to speak..
According to our Employment Minister, Chris Grayling,
"It is not fair on anyone for this situation to continue. Far from being the safety net it should be, the benefits system has trapped thousands of people in a cycle of addiction and welfare dependency with no prospect of getting back to work.We have already started reassessing everyone on incapacity benefit and will support people with addictions to help them back to work."
Best of British luck there, Chris...
One would think the first order of business, should be getting those capable and willing to work, back on the job. And that means, job creation. And that means, attracting new business either from within or from without by foreign investment...
After there are jobs to go to, worry about those on benefits who perhaps should not be... After all, the savings to the government of a cull of benefit recipients would add a mere pittance, in relative terms, to the Treasury...
We have more pressing problems to deal with...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, two award winning photographic journalists were killed in Misrata yesterday... Tim Heatherington, a British photographer, was killed by an RPG, while American Chris Hondros was also killed in the same attack..
According to a friend of Tim's, his last Twitter was..."No NATO in sight"..
While it's to be expected a war correspondents life would constantly be in danger, it's served the purpose of letting the world know, that there is no ceasefire, and that Gaddafi's willing to salt the earth in Misrata to reclaim the city..
How much longer..?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just a point to start the day..
There have been formal objections to the British team that's going into Banghazi..their role is to teach logistics and intelligence..
Libya's Foreign Minister, Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, says these 'advisors' will only intensify the fighting, and make the whole situation worse..
Now take this from a Libyan perspective. If the rebel forces learn proper military tactics, and should they be able to coordinate an intelligence chain, they'll keep trying... keeping Mohammar's killing of his own people in the news.. The last thing they want is a force that could cooperate it's attacks with NATO bombing attacks.. and then the situation would get entirely out of control..
Now, what Abdul's suggesting is a ceasefire... perhaps a six month ceasefire... while the country prepares for a UN supervised election, following the map set out by the African Union, which the rebels have already turned down, seeking nothing less than the immediate removal of Mohammar and his family from power..
This is him being reasonable, but it gives Gadaffi's forces time to retrench at Misratah.. now into the sixth week of siege..
To really have faith that such a ceasefire would be held to, would be somewhat naive, for there are always going to be bombs launched, and rockets fired, into Misratah, until the rebels give up, or are all dead..
This town is a must for both sides..

Now, France and Italy are also sending in 'advisors.. Italy's sending ten, and France a'somewhat smaller number'..
These do not represent boots on the gound so to speak, according to the three countries sending in advisors... those being Britain, Italy, and France.. but will simply be there to help organize the rebel cause..
However, there are some voices in Parliament who're saying this could constitute the thin edge of the wedge, and that the next logical step, if the NATO airstrikes can't do their job, is to send in troops..
It's a fine wire the coalition's walking, but the claims of cluster bombs being lobbed into Misratah indiscriminately by government forces, might well be a card to play if foreign troops end up on Libyan soil...
It may become 'a matter of humanitarian concern'...
It's a good excuse...

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Government forces have killed at least one, as protests continue in Syria... This killing was in Homs, the 3d largest city in the country, as thousands took to the streets.. Activists have said that about 200 had been killed by government troops over the weeks of protests, aimed at ending the government of President Bashar al Assad.
The government had told it's populace that it would not tolerate an 'armed insurrection'.. yet reports are that while there were protests, none involved were toting weapons..
Saturday there was an announcement that a 50 year State of Emergency was going to be lifted, and several political prisoners had been set free..
These protests put the unrest in Libya almost to the sidelines.. This country is key in bringing together three elements opposed to Israel.. Hammas in Gaza, Iran, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and several other fringe radical groups.. Another factor in this, is the element of stability Syria has offered to Lebanon, and if there is continuing uprisings in Syria, it could affect not only the alliances of the aforementioned radical groups, but the government of Lebanon as well..
Israel's keeping this situation under close scrutiny, for in it's case, it's the Devil you know against the possibility of another they don't...
This movement in the Middle East puts the American refusal to involve themselves in Libya in an entirely different light... There are those who have said that the US is NATO, and without Baracks' support, all will come to naught, and indeed that we should be out of the area completely, leaving the chips to fall as they may.. However, British military personell, at least 10 of them, will be sent to Benghasi to act as 'advisors' to the rebel forces... This move is without the consent of the US, but with the consent of the UN National Security Council...
This shortsighted view may well be typical of many Americans, but even that being the case, NATO itself has an obligation to bring this situation in Libya to a speedy end, so world attention can be turned to other countries in which change is fermenting...

More later..

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Japan's saying it will be nine months before they've finished containment of the Fukujima reactors.. but according to sources on site, that's a somewhat optimistic timeline..
There continue to be leaks, draining into the Pacific.. and still spreading worldwide... the last figures showed the water's around Fukujima were 65 hundred times over the danger level.. and this will continue for months yet to come..
Again one must wonder if this enough radiation to truly have an effect on western States and British Columbia... Alaska is exceedingly close in relative terms, and would be the first to report unhealthy levels.. Of course, the same applies to Russia..
Of course it's all a matter for the currents...and perhaps soon, the courts..

One has to wonder.. David Cameron has stately that the UK 'would not land troops' in Libya.. as the civilian casualty count mounts in Misrata. The UK is having urgent talks with UN officials, about the need for what might amount to an extended mandate..
The rebel Council is somewhat bemused, that NATO fighters haven't targeted the long range cannon and rocket launchers Gadaffi has set against them.. yet there appears to be a mood of caution among NATO command.. Fewer sorties are being flown... fewer government targets destroyed.
Humanitarian groups are saying that not only is there a crisis in Misrata after 5 weeks of bombardment.. low reserves of meds and hospital staff.. That 80 percent of those killed in these attacks, have been civilian..
It is blatantly obvious what the will of the rebels is, and they will stand their ground, with fears of a massacre if government troops enter the city... and wait to see what NATO can do to help them...

An interesting sidebar to the troubles in North Africa... France closed their borders to Italian trains for a while, to stem the flow of migrants from Africa, who had been given temporary travel permits.. which would allow them to move freely among several EU countries.. Italy said the move by France was reprehensible, and a clear infringement of the Schengen Act.. However, France, already financially wobbly, said immigrants should be able to prove the ability to work.. show a skill which would ensure welfare rolls don't swell...
France eventually lifted their restrictions on travel, but it's one of the problems the EU is going to have to deal with... the attitude of those countries most sought out by migrants.. and the weight their presence will have on the citizens of these countries..

Also very interesting is what's happening in the American tonado belt.. 62 touchdowns in North Carolina, following three days of torrential rains.. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Virginia have also been hit with some areas reporting hail the size of grapefruit.. So far, 43 people have been killed as a result of these storms..
Take a step back and look at this past year... tectonic shifts near Japan triggers an horrendous tsunami...Eastern Australia's been flooded out on a couple of occasions.. a failed monsoon in Asia.. It's been quite a start to the decade...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

There has been a statement made by Andrew Murray, the Chairman of the 'Stop the War Coalition'.. made on the 18 of March this year, to the effect that the Arab League was behind the move to oust Mohammar, and comments have followed by those who share the sentiment that this war should be ended.. that the West has no place, regardless of UN approval, in the attacks on Libya..
In regards to the statement by Murray, he implies that the 'other Arab despots' are merely trying to cement their own positions in power...
What absolute tripe.
To go on with Murray's article, he states boldly that "Attacking Libya and sponsoring the Gulf oligarchies invasion of Bahrain, to prop up the threatened monarchy there.. under the noses of the US Fifth Fleet, are of a piece. They represent a concerted effort by the Western powers to first control, and then bring a halt to the Arab revolutions, leaving the essentials of Imperial power in the Middle East in place."
Again, what absolute tripe...
But, for those interested in reading Murray's thoughts.. go to
The position Murray's taken denies the will of the Arab peoples themselves. They want outside help in removing those selfsame oligarchies, or turning their form of governments into constitutional monarchies..
They have specifically asked for NATO airstrikes to increase in Libya, and are expressing their dismay at the fact there's not more being done.
And as for the US.. Barack's desperately trying to keep his country at a distance, limiting their involvement.. The President has diminished US involvement, to the point at which Britain and France have had to figuratively 'poke' the other NATO allies, the likes of Canada and Italy, to increase their involvement...
Far from being an intrustion into Arab affairs, this action in Libya was started by the Libyans themselves, and they sought help, and it's been provided as far as the limitations imposed by Resolution 1973.
And far from discouraging other Middle Eastern countries to revolt, the coalition has merely stood back as far as other countries are concerned, waiting for the populace to make their wishes known..
Murray also states that Britain's involvement is merely to protect BP's oil interests in the Middle East, specifically Libya, and that, also, is risible..
Those who would stop the wars around the world, are pitching at windmills, and not taking into account the wishes of the peoples of the individual countries involved.
Contrary to the thoughts of some, this is not a movement towards a 'New World Order', but a movement towards allowing self rule for those who have never had it.
We take a lot for granted here in the West, primary among which is 'democracy'.
If there is anything we can do towards allowing those who do not have this privilage to acquire it, we should be pursuing their individual causes with all our resources..
The latest news is that Mohammar's now using cluster bombs against the 'freedom fighters'.. contrary to a ban agreed to by more than 100 countries...
What more proof do we need, that those who are under armed, under trained, yet overly enthusiastic, need our aid in deposing a Dictator who's ruled with impunity for 41 years...?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Japan has responded to the recent disasters, by downgrading it's growth figures for the first time in six months..
In addition to the obvious problems at the Fukujima Diiachi Plant, the rolling blackout caused by decreased power source is affecting manufacturing and export.. Supply lines are down.. with parts of the infrastructure severely damaged..
What this will mean for North America, is further cutbacks in automotive production, leading possibly to temporary layoffs.. It also affects the balance of trade between North America and Japan.. with only two of the Eastern ports open, and three closed due to contamination..
It's surprising to some, the interdependence between Japan and the US and Canada... it's always been a steady stream of raw materials going and finished parts coming back.. but not so at the moment...
The downstream effects of all this, in all three countries, will be hard felt...

Just a couple of days ago, the African Congress called for NATO to 'step down' it role in the Libyan civil war... Yet today, a new 'coalition group, which includes the Arab League and the newly recognized 'freedom fighters' representatives has issued a statement that Mohammar has run his course, and should bow out of the picture.. There's also been a call from both the rebels and France, for increased NATO involvement in this conflict.. implying that countries the likes of the Netherlands and Italy should be more aggressive in their contribution..
This new 'coalition' has left the door open for even more support for the rebels, and while not saying outright that they should be supplied with arms, materiel, and money, that such would not be a bad idea...
One can be sure, as said before, that French and British arms are finding their way into rebel hands.. and the next logical step would be to send in 'advisers' to organize the rebels into a true fighting force...
Does VietNam ring any bells...?

Monday, April 11, 2011

It would seem the African Union has, at least in theory, succeeded where Western diplomats could not... Jacob Zuma, the President of South Africa, says he's sat and had talks with Mohammar about this situation, and that there's to be an 'immediate ceasefire' while some deal is worked out..
Just whether Mohammar will deal with this cease fire... The UN certainly had no effect..
The leader of the opposition party, Guma al-Gamaty who's based in Britain, has said there could be no deal brokered by anyone, if it included Gadaffi or his sons remaining in power..
However, the AU delegates will head to Benghazi on Tuesday to talk with the leaders of the 'freedom fighters'..
Jacob said the details of the plan would be released within days, but the ceasefire must start now.
Tell that to those in running gun battles in Benghazi today. Mohammar will stall the system for as long as he can, while he tries, by force, to regain control.
In his eyes, it's all, or nothing, and he won't settle for nothing...

This might be the first laugh of the day..
The British and Dutch governments are going to sue Iceland for defaulting on repayments made when 'IceSave' collapsed..
Depositors here and in the Netherlands were given full rebates for the Icelandic bank which went bust...
The sum they're looking to recoup is a mere 3.5 billion Pounds..
The suit itself could go on for at least a year... and then will there have to be further litigation to recoup costs...?
It's a Three Stooges act.. with only Hal Roach missing...

The Law comes into effect today in France, that bans the wearing of the Islamic women's head-dress, the burqa..
It's interesting what the various Muslim Communities consider proper dress codes for women.. A Turkish woman, for example, will wear a scarf over their heads, believing the face can be uncovered.. A Yemeni woman will wear a complete niqab, leaving only a slit in the cloth for them to see from.. And there are some Communities who have completely discarded the old interpretations, and women wear what they want, as long as it's demure..
But the interesting part of all of this, is the lack of impact this has had on the Muslim Community in France. A few straggling protesters are walking about in front of the Paris High Court, but the French seem so much more pliant in accepting laws which diminish their personal freedom.. It's almost a tacit agreement between those who enforce the Law, and those who break it, that the infraction will likely be ignored.. Yet reports are that two women have already been arrested, likely from among those staging a pallid protest..
Seems the French make Laws, simply to make Laws.. An exercise designed to keep up the appearance that Lawmakers are a busy bunch, working to protect the general public's interest..
Belgium has an even more stringent Law before their Parliament, but with the state of Belgian politics in general, it could be a while before it's Tabled..

Yet another tremor has shaken Japan, in the Fukujima Prefecture.. this one weighed in at 7.7 on the Richter Scale, and workers scampered from the damaged nuclear plants as yet another tsunami warning was issued, then lifted..
It's been exactly a month since the original quake and tsunami, and many are waiting with 'bated breath for "the big one" to hit the island..
The damage these quakes have caused, both in Japan and to all those they trade with and supply throughout the world.. will eventually be measured in the trillion dollar range.. and the loss of jobs and production in all downstream operations..

Some more government restrictions on our banks... Banks have several sectors within their infrastructure, and one of which is 'retail banking'.. the money available to the national business structure..small business loans in particular... This new report recommends that there be a "ring fence" around a certain percentage of any banks capital.. the investment section would be left with the rest.. but venture capital for local business would likely be in jeopardy....
It's been suggested that a tenth of the entire worth of a bank should be ring fenced, others are calling for something closer to 15% would be safer...
The entire report from the Commission will be published in September, but their idea, they say, is to protect the public.. to make the lender responsible for any losses, not the taxpayer..
Not going to be a popular move with the banks..
But what was interesting that the Chairman of the Commission threw out the remark that this could lead to a 'global banking system..with essentially two arms.. one dealing with venture capital and investments, the other dealing with retail banking..
a "global banking system"...?

Just a brief mention here of a somewhat delecate subject..
The Polish Government has quietly decriminalised cannabis... Not legalised, but made the use of the drug no longer a criminal offence..
How long will it be, before we shake off the weight of the US, and follow suit, joining Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, and now Poland...
How long will our government support organised crime...?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Iceland's become the second country to default on loans... this time not to the IMF, but to Britain and the Netherlands, for funds supplied by those countries when 'Icesave' failed in 2008..
It actually went to a referendum, as to whether this money should be repaid... 58% voted 'no'...42% said the money's owed, and we should honour the agreement..
This will now go to an international court, and with 4 billion Euro's at stake, the arguments will be vitriolic...

It's going to be somewhat of a lottery as to which Eurozone country will fold it's hands, and say it can't meet the interest payments on it's bailout funds..
With Spain's economy teetering on the edge, it must become questionable to the IMF as to just how far it's resources can be stretched..
If all of Europe's flagging economies fail, and in those France is included, then what can be the future of a single currency? The idea originally was to allow free trade and passage of workers between the allied countries, but this has nor come to pass.. As the economies of those nations which were prosperous before the fall of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack begin to flag, and as automotive plants shut around the US and Canada for lack of parts from Japan, what will the CEO's of these various big companies, let alone those of the downstream industries, be planning..?
Britain, thankfully, did not join in accepting the Euro, but the Pound Sterling is losing ground against the Euro, in an attempt to make British goods more affordable for those on a strapped continent.. Eventually the Pound will have to take it's place as perhaps the most stable currency in Europe, and that's going to hit British industry, hard..
Germany's a step away from pulling out of the's voters not at all pleased with the amount they're pouring into 'recovery loans', most of which will remain unpaid..
And while the IMF is a coalition of 140 or so countries, those members the likes of Canada and the US are steering clear of offering funds to European nations under the gun.. It's original mandate was to provide aid to countries hot by natural disasters, or insurrection.. not to bail, out banks which now find themselves far overextended in insecure debts..
It's amazing, that banks throughout the Eurozone, including Britain, are still handing out year end bonuses to anyone connected with an institution which was forced to ask for government money.. The taxpayer is starting to wonder why these sums are not being fed back into the Exchequer, to help bring down the rate of quantitative easing.. The man on the street is feeling the pinch, because Portugal, Greece, and Eire are either defaulting, or asking for even more financial aid..
One wonders how long this can go on...

Japan says it has..temporarily at least, stopped the pumping of radioactive water into the sea.. and this has China and South Korea breathing a little slower as the threat of contamination of their waters diminishes...
However, they're still pumping water into the reactors to keep the frozen rods cool, and liquid nitrogen to avert another hydrogen explosion which would send the radioactive waste airborne..
Japan's economy is so intertwined with that of so many countries, that this disaster, the worst since Chernobyl.. will have even more knock on effects globally...
We're knee deep in it now.. and the future does not appear to be positive...

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Seems there is another blog entitled The Path Less Taken..
It deals with matters religious, predominately the happenings in the Roman Church..
If it's what you're looking for, you're at the wrong one..

More later..

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Eurozone is scratching their collective heads, as it's pondered what can be done for Portugal..?
IMF funds seem, for the most part, are being contributed by economies that themselves cannot afford to lend.. Germany in particular, Britain for another..
Yet, to maintain what's becoming a very fragile hegemony, it's expected some 70 billion Euro's will be handed to Portugal, after the next elections in June.
Greece has already defaulted on it's loan.. Ireland has a 0% projected increase in GDP, and is suffering with interest payments, and national unemployment...
Is the IMF simply throwing good money after bad in it's Portugal injection... should this tenuous coalition under the single currency be allowed to fall..?
It's under consideration..

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

You'll recall that it was in the Ivory Coast this pan-North African 'freedom' movement started, and still today, while they've had their election, they have troops and armed gangs roaming the streets of Abidjan. The man who insists he won the election, President Laurent Gbagbo, is hiding in a bunker within his Presidential Palace, while troops loyal to the Internationally accepted President, Alassane Ouattara, are verily at the gates..
This is the scenario which was bound to develop, and while Laurent has gone on State television and stated he was no martyr.. he was not prepared to die.. but he would not give up the Office of President, regardless of it's pretence..
The same could deveop in Yemen.. in Libya.. in Bahrain..
In effect, these countries are in civil wars which will lead to a Military rule, until such time compromises can be worked out and the people can get a fair whack at electing a fair government..
Oh wait, they've already done that.. and we're back to square one..
One belated tip...hold on to your cocoa holdings.. while the markets down, there will be a rise in the index... It's a poor crop this year, and supplies are only just beginning to flow again..

It would appear that China and India are the two economies among the Asian group, projecting more than seven percent growth over the fiscal year..
Yet as we posted earlier, figures are easily manipulated to give a false picture.
Take China, in real growth, GDP, it's projected that it will remain at zero percent.. which considering the state of the world economy, is exceptional..
India's GDP is expected to fall by at least three percent...
So when they say 'growth', they're talking about expansion of their capabilities both at home and abroad..
But both need foreign investment.. Eurozone or North American companies who can expand the Chinese and Indian workforce..providing much needed commodities and services to the 'new middle class'... and bringing their technology with them..
It's going to be a very short time, in the overall scheme of things, before China and India start overwhelming the productivity of the West.. for once they've seen it done, they can copy it as many times as their internal economies allow..

It had to happen sooner or later.. Portugal has asked the IMF for a bailout, and they'll find the interest rates they'll be charged to be even higher than those on debts from Eire or Greece.. one must wonder what the reaction will be from the German and French peoples, when they find themselves taxed to pay another government's debts..
More on this...

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

A new and somewhat interesting approach from the Libyan government.
That while political reform could be granted the peoples, that there could be elections, but Mohammar must stay in power as a 'unifying factor'.. tying tribal factions together and maintaining a figurehead for the entire country.. The concern is, according to government spokesmen, is that a situation such as those in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, not occur in Lybia। That removing Gadaffi would create a power vacuum, which could lead to further violence as tribal factions line up to take control.They have also asserted government forces have not been targeting civilians in retalliation for their opposition to the Gadaffi regime, but have only been fighting 'armed militias'..
What tripe..
Evacuees have been reporting 'massacres' of civilians by government troops in the coastal city of Misrata.. that hospitals are full of the wounded, and dead still lying in the streets..
This has been going on for almost two months now.. and one might think we're all getting sick of it.
Meanwhile Said Gadaffi, Mohmmars son, is ridiculing rumours that his family will leave Libya and take asylum in any other African nation.. that there's room for a compromise, local elections, set wages.. a better standard of living for the average Libyan man of the street..
He's underlined the possibility of chaos if his father leaves, projecting a civil war without Mohammar to hold the country united..
Still, the fight to oust the man continues..

More later.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

When will this insanity finally come to an end...?
A 25 year old Police Officer was killed in Omagh no less, by yet another car bomb..
This sectarian violence inspires the most virulent senses of outrage..
And that this has been going on for decades...
Utterly contemptible..

The word from our Foreign Minister, William Hague, is that this conflict in Libya will not end in a 'stalement'.. although just what more can be done to oust Mohammar without foreign troops on the ground is unknown.
The problem being, the 'freedom fighters' are disorganised.. fragmented.. poorly armed..They need military leadership to coordinate their attacks, which are, at the moment, seemingly at the whim of those driving the trucks they have their weaponry mounted on.
If the West is going to oust Gadaffi, then it must come that we go at the venture wholeheartedly.. If not, then we are looking at a conflict that will continue for some time, and likely end in the defeat of the rebels..
It's a case of having the bowel movement, or getting off the pot..

Friday, April 01, 2011

Seldom has an absolute act of idiocy had such repercussions..
Evangelical Pastor Terry Jones burned copies of the Q'ran outside his church in Florida.. He made no secret about it, and due to the First Amendment to the American Constitution, there was absolutely nothing the Law could do to stop it..
This is reminiscent of the splinter Evangelical family, who pickets the funerals of soldiers..
But the Law is the Law, and while it also guarantees the right to religious freedom, it also guarantees the right to free speech and assembly..
That that protects the American equivalent of Al Q'aida.. organisations based on hate and condemnation of those who disagree with their particular doctrine..
Vilification reflects on those who vilify.. and little more can be said..
But this act of hatred against Islam, has resulted in the deaths of seven UN workers.
Collateral damage has such a callous ring to it, and the deaths of seven civilians, as repored by a doctor in Tehran falls into that category exactly.We've even killed our own troops before by mistake, more than many on occasion.. and Mohammar himself is responsible for far, far more..
And again, it begs the question, if those who were killed while being human shields around military installations, then they must be aware some will die. Again, as they chose to serve with their lives, makes them combatants..
A quandary..

Meanwhile in Syria, there have been spontanious protests spring up in a number of cities..protesting the killings of ten protestors over the two weeks of unrest..
So far today, government troops have managed to kill three more..
It's somewhat incomprehensible for the Western Mind to imagine what life in these countries is, has been for centuries, a tribal culture.. and the importance of the setting aside of these various tribal differences cannot be ignored.. It's a major step in a fundimental change in 'national' identity..
Now, whether it will be a permanent change, or merely a moral truce, is moot.
One would hope for the youth movement swing towards patriotism, for Syria's right to popular government.. But who can say what sway tradition plays in this part of the world, how much it will be brought to the fore in the establishment of a new 'popular' and stable government..
Friday is planned as the 'Day of the Martyrs'.. which would indicate the protestors must be aware of the possibility they would be killed, and in some numbers if necessary... a figurative sacrifice of the front ranks of all the marches..
One wonders when the UN will turn it's Security Coulcil's eye on that situation..
There's been a moral precident set, wherein the west is bound to help those attacking what's seen as a corrupt regime..
What have we stepped in here...
Syria itself has oil, but's peak in the 1980's has been followed by a steady decline.. In 1980 the per capita average wage was over 12 Syrian Pounds.. Today, it's 3.70, with inflation somewhere near 120 percent.. Again, what's driving these people to rebel... the motor of the whole shebang, is a drive for better living conditions, and a Western style of life, if not government..
It's the French and/or the American Revolutions in countries that had, until there was global instant communication, no idea what they could have themselves.. education.. and power..
The Ivory Coast was among the first to rebel, and form a government(sic).. and they still fight running battles.. A quiet change, as is being seen in Egypt, is not going to be the norm throughout these nations involved in Civil Wars..
But 'the Day of Martyrs' has such an emotive kick to it..

More later while the digestion process continues on the ultimate value of yesterday's London meeting..
It's interesting, the American take on the 'defection' of Moussa Coussa, spelt, by the way with only one 's' in both names.. The CIA is taking the man and draining him of all information, from the Lockerbie bombing, to the release of Abdul Al Magrahi from a Scottish jail. Certainly, it would appear, that any deal that might be cut will depend on what information on Mohammar's Inner Circle might be wrung out of the former diplomat..
The British take is by far more subdued.. less angry and more pleased such a high official in the Gadaffi regime has decided to resign, and defect..
Mind you, there's also a Scottish Court that wants to talk to Coussa, concerning Lockerbie.. and that Court will likely take precidence over an extradition request from the US..
However, there remains a chance that Coussa will stand trial(s), in order of precidence...

And just a sidenote here.. prescription charges, the fee one pays to the distributors and payed on to the NHS, have been abolished in Scotland as of today. We now join Wales and Northern Ireland who've also abolished prescription charges..
In England, the pharmacy will charge £7.40 per item, plus the cost of the medicine itself.. and there are as yet no plans for the government to fund such a as the rest of the Island has opted for...

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