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

Monday, August 01, 2011

The vote comes later today in the States.. but Barack seems confident Republican and Democratic leaders have struck a deal to raise the US debt limit.. Under the proposal, which is set for debate and votes in Congress today, the US debt ceiling would rise by up to $2.4trillion from the current $14.3trillion..
The US government deficit will be cut by a similar amount over 10 years, and a special bipartisan committee will also be set up to agree on future spending cuts..
Party leaders are explaining this compromise deal to their membership this afternoon.. and while this is still likely to be a tough sell.. with some Republicans and Democrats in the House remaining opposed to different aspects..
A number of conservative Republicans, including first-time Congressmen, are likely to vote against the plan, while some liberals in the Democratic party will be disappointed by the prospect of cuts to benefits..
But this is still likely to be a tough sell, with some Republicans and Democrats in the House remaining opposed to different aspects..
A number of conservative Republicans, including first-time Congressmen, are likely to vote against the plan, while some liberals in the Democratic party will be disappointed by the prospect of cuts to benefits..
But.. according to analysts.. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi is expected to ensure enough Democrats vote for the bill to help smooth its passage..
We'll know whether Barack's managed to strike a deal later today..
One thing for sure, it's not going to be the deal that Obama originally was aiming for.. The original plan was to strike a deal allowing a borrowing limit rise until at least the next election..
But as it stands, it would appear the economy.. the recovery.. unemployment.. will all be active issues when next politicians start the hustings..
And that does not bode well for Obama's chances at a second term..
This agreement is a bit like the Fire Department trucks arriving after a home's roof has been engulfed in flames.. It's encouraging that a deal is in the offing, but the damage caused already in the debate over raising the government's debt ceiling, Obama has seen his approval rating fall to a new low.. his political adeptness questioned.. and his liberal base enraged over compromises he made on line-in-the-sand issues such as protecting Medicare from cuts..
House Speaker John Boehner.. a Republican representing Ohio.. has been weakened as well.. He not only was forced to retreat from a legacy-making grand bargain, but he also had to pull his own plan from the House floor for revisions demanded by conservative Tea Party members..
Washington itself has looked to many American voters and international investors like a bickering, dysfunctional family.. unable to address the nation's considerable and looming problems in a timely way..
And the question is now being asked by many.. 'is this any way to run a country..?'

Assessing whether Norway's confessed mass killer Anders Behring Breivik is insane, as his lawyer asserts, will take months of observation.. interviews.. and analysis ..and experts say it's hard to fake mental illness..
Forensic psychiatrists who analyze the minds of murderers point to clear patterns of behavior that can date far back into the man's past, and may give vital clues to Breivik's mental state when he killed at least 76 people in a shooting spree and bomb attack on July 22..
Breivik's lawyer Geir Lippestad has already said "this whole case indicated that he is insane," but experts point to some key factors that might suggest a different view.. "The insanity defense is about whether someone understands what they're doing, and if they do, whether they realize it is legally wrong," according to Seena Fazel, a clinical senior lecturer in forensic psychiatry at Oxford University..
"If you think when you're attacking somebody that you're actually attacking a piece of bread...and if you had no idea what you did was legally wrong...then people would consider that as part of an insanity defense," he told a briefing in London..
And while this metaphor might be somewhat obscure.. it indicates Breivik was likely quite sane when he committed his attacks..
Breivik's copious writings -- some of which appear in diaries and a 1,500-page "manifesto" in which he wrote of himself as a righteous crusader on a mission to save European "Christendom" from a tide of Islam -- suggest he planned his attacks months in advance, gradually gathering the tools and the expertise he needed..
His diary entry on April 27 reads.. "I made the order for the fertilizer which were to be delivered a week later. Prior to making this order I had officially registered my company as an agricultural entity..".
The ability to plan his movements and his attacks, is going to make an insanity defence somewhat difficult.. Premeditation is usually a sign of coherent thought.. and his statements following his capture would indicate he was well aware of the effects of his actions..
Fin Larkin, a consultant psychiatrist familiar with making assessments of offenders' minds, said they "have to be pretty patently mentally unwell" to successfully claim insanity..
"It's not impossible...but it's actually quite difficult to fake,"..
Larkin, who works in the personality disorder section of Britain's Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital, which has housed and treated some of its most notorious killers, said psychiatrists making such assessments take as their starting point that everything the defendant says is a lie..
"They've often got strong motivation not to tell the truth, they may be very well researched, they may have planned things for quite a while, they may be good mimics who have spent time with mentally ill people," he said..
Experts say that while there are some common factors that often crop up in the backgrounds of mass killers.. a difficult childhood.. a lack of empathy.. sadistic behavior and difficulties forming and maintaining relationships.. these on their own offer few clues for a mental illness diagnosis..
It's going to take some time before it's decided whether or not Breivik was insane when he made his plans and carried them out..
But to a casual observer, the man was as sane as any Jihadist..

According to a numbber of MP's.. Turkey must get a firm handle on it's immigration policies before it can be seriously considered for membership in the EU..
The Home Affairs Committee said thousands of migrants were entering the EU illegally through Turkey into Greece - many of them aiming for Britain..
It was also concerned about human trafficking and drug smuggling..
Should Turkey be admitted to the EU.. the Eurozone would border on Middle Eastern countries the likes of Libya.. Syria.. Iraq..
And that is a source of some concern.. Turkey could become a conduit for immigrants from known terrorist regimes..

The Workplace Retirement Income Commission says 14 million people in Britain are not saving into a workplace pension scheme at all.. Millions of people face a "bleak old age" because they are falling through the cracks of private sector pension provision.. Pensions Minister Steve Webb described the report as "a wake up call"..
Lord McFall, the Labour former chairman of the House of Commons' Treasury Committee, was commissioned to investigate the state of the sector by the National Association of Pension Funds..
The review, which was funded by, but independent of the NAPF, found that workers would not bother to save for a pension unless they were getting a better deal..
"Too many people are stuck in a complex, costly and inefficient system that relegates the consumer's interest to second place. On top of that, they simply are not saving enough to secure a decent retirement," said Lord McFall..
"People need to get more bang for their buck or they are not going to bother with a pension. Instead, they will end up spending today, ignoring tomorrow and scraping by in poverty on the state pension. The complacency of many in the pensions industry is alarming.."..
The review did not study public sector pensions, which are subject to plans for significant changes by the government which will come into effect next year..

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