Free counter and web stats


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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

This article was published in 'The Spectator',  on the 15th of this month.. as in as much we have escaped the various ends of the world, we can perhaps be somewhat thankfull. But a pollyanna essay such as this, could make one despair for the path some journalists take.
But let it be left to you, the reader, to decide what value such efforts deserve.

 " It may not feel like it, but 2012 has been the greatest year in the history of the world. That sounds like an extravagant claim, but it is borne out by evidence. Never has there been less hunger, less disease or more prosperity. The West remains in the economic doldrums, but most developing countries are charging ahead, and people are being lifted out of poverty at the fastest rate ever recorded. The death toll inflicted by war and natural disasters is also mercifully low. We are living in a golden age. To listen to politicians is to be given the opposite impression -- of a dangerous, cruel world where things are bad and getting worse. This, in a way, is the politicians’ job: to highlight problems and to try their best to offer solutions. But the great advances of mankind come about not from statesmen, but from ordinary people. Governments across the world appear stuck in what Michael Lind, on page 30, describes as an era of ‘turboparalysis’ -- all motion, no progress. But outside government, progress has been nothing short of spectacular. Take global poverty. In 1990, the UN announced Millennium Development Goals, the first of which was to halve the number of people in extreme poverty by 2015. It emerged this year that the target was met in 2008. Yet the achievement did not merit an official announcement, presumably because it was not achieved by any government scheme but by the pace of global capitalism. Buying cheap plastic toys made in China really is helping to make poverty history. And global inequality? This, too, is lower now than any point in modern times. Globalisation means the world’s not just getting richer, but fairer too. The doom-mongers will tell you that we cannot sustain worldwide economic growth without ruining our environment. But while the rich world’s economies grew by 6 per cent over the last seven years, fossil fuel consumption in those countries fell by 4 per cent. This remarkable (and, again, unreported) achievement has nothing to do with green taxes or wind farms. It is down to consumer demand for more efficient cars and factories. And what about the concerns that the oil would run out? Ministers have spent years thinking of improbable new power sources. As it turns out, engineers in America have found new ways of mining fossil fuel. The amazing breakthroughs in ‘fracking’ technology mean that, in spite of the world’s escalating population -- from one billion to seven billion over the last two centuries -- we live in an age of energy abundance. Advances in medicine and technology mean that people across the world are living longer. The average life expectancy in Africa reached 55 this year. Ten years ago, it was 50. The number of people dying from Aids has been in decline for the last eight years. Deaths from malaria have fallen by a fifth in half a decade. Nature can still wreak havoc. The storms which lashed America’s East Coast in October proved that. But the speed of New York City’s recovery shows a no-less-spectacular resilience. Man cannot control the weather, but as countries grow richer, they can better guard against devastation. The average windstorm kills about 2,000 in Bangladesh but fewer than 20 in America. It’s not that America’s storms are mild; but that it has the money to cope. As developing countries become richer, we can expect the death toll from natural disasters to diminish -- and the same UN extrapolations that predict such threatening sea-level rises for Bangladesh also say that, in two or three generations’ time, it will be as rich as Britain. War has historically been humanity’s biggest killer. But in most of the world today, a generation is growing up that knows little of it. The Peace Research Institute in Oslo says there have been fewer war deaths in the last decade than any time in the last century. Whether we are living through an anomalous period of peace, or whether the risk of nuclear apocalypse has proved an effective deterrent, mankind seems no longer to be its own worst enemy. We must bear in mind that things can fall apart, and quickly. Germany was perhaps the most civilised nation in the world in the 1920s. For now, though, it is worth remembering that, in relative terms, we have peace in our time. Christmas in Britain will not be without its challenges: costs are rising (although many children will give quiet thanks for the 70 per cent increase in the price of Brussels sprouts). The country may be midway through a lost decade economically, but our cultural and social capital has seldom been higher -- it is hard to think of a time when national morale was as strong as it was during the Jubilee and the Olympics. And even in recession, we too benefit from medical advances. Death rates for both lung and breast cancers have fallen by more than a third over the last 40 years. Our cold winters still kill people, but the number dying each year halved over the past half-century. The winter death toll now stands at 24,000 -- still unacceptable in a first-world country, but an improvement nonetheless. Britain’s national life expectancy, 78 a decade ago, will hit 81 next year. Fifty years ago, the world was breathing a sigh of relief after the Cuban missile crisis. Young couples would discuss whether it was responsible to have children when the future seemed so dark. But now, as we celebrate the arrival of Light into the world, it’s worth remembering that, in spite of all our problems, the forces of peace, progress and prosperity are prevailing."

It only remains to be said, that while optimism is in itself, for the most part, positive.. But it's not too cynical to suggest a dose of realism is a vital ingredient to any analysis..

But let the readers make their own evaluations..

Thursday, November 08, 2012

It seemed to be an interesting pastime, following the course of the campaigns by Barack and The Oven Chip Man as they forged their way towards these elections just past.. But what was striking, was the lack of difference in their stances.
It was a choice of, as one voter put it, "the lesser of two evils"..
Being the election is now a thing of the past, we must now look at what lies ahead for the US. The next 4 years must see drastic changes to the social safety net system, foreign policy, relations between the White House and the various State Legislatures, and banking policies. But whether Barack will have any more success in this term than he had in his last, is moot. He still faces a constant uphill battle with the Senate and the House, and will in all likelyhood,  have no more success than he's already notched up.
It is singularly definitive, that the Markets in the US have lost ground since Tuesday last, for while a change to a Republican Administration may well have frightened a good number of investors, it's apparent retaining the Democrats has not encouraged much in the way of positivity.
While we in Europe suffer under our own weight of problems, many in the EU look to the US as a bellweather, and what they're hearing is not the resounding ringing of recovery, but the cracked sound of the Liberty Bell.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Now this actually came to pass back in April, but has just come to light..
In Arizona, women are now legally pregnant two weeks before conception, according to a new law, the Orwellian-named, “Women’s Health and Safety Act,” signed yesterday by Republican Governor Jan Brewer. The scientifically, medically, ethically, and intellectually dishonest legislation is designed to reduce the amount of time a woman is allowed to have a legal abortion, and is one of the most draconian bills to become law in America.
The bill was sponsored by extremist Arizona State Rep. Kimberly Yee.. who last month penned an op-ed titled, “No drug test, no welfare.”
Only in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.. Where else could a woman be pregnant without coitus..?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

An interesting circumstance here..
Anders Breveik, the young man who shot and killed 77 people in a park outside Oslo was found guilty of murder, and given a 21 year sentence for his actions. Mind you, it's unlikely he'll ever see the day he walks free again, simply for the fact he'll be continually thought to be a danger to the public.
But, here's the interesting part. Breveik claimed throughout his trial that he was sane.. that his 'demonstration' was political in nature. Yet the prosecution throughout, questioned whether the man was in his right mind. To all appearances, the PF's office was acting as de facto defense..
A verdict of guilt and a prison sentence, however, were not foregone conclusions. Although there was no doubt that Breivik had committed the murders, the question of his sanity dominated the trial. Successful insanity defenses are rare, especially for heinous crimes, but when insanity is claimed, it is almost always the defendant who raises the issue...
Makes sense..
However, Breivik’s trial offered the unusual spectacle – apparently without precedent in Norway – of a defendant who insisted that he was sane, while the prosecution argued for a finding of insanity. Two teams of psychiatric experts hired by the court reached differing conclusions as to whether he had been psychotic at the time of the crime. In essence, the prosecution was attempting to have an insanity verdict imposed over the objections of the defendant, in the face of conflicting evidence about Breivik’s state of mind..
How does one wrap one's mind about such a scenario..?
For legal systems like Norway’s that allow findings of insanity even against the wishes of a defendant, the motivation is clear. People suffering from severe mental illnesses often deny that there is anything wrong with them and hence may reject a defense of insanity. Courts would be faced with the prospect of punishing seriously ill persons whose behaviour was driven by psychosis, rather than sending them to a psychiatric hospital for treatment... Most people share the intuition that it is unfair to punish someone who did not understand the wrongfulness of their actions, and imposing an insanity verdict avoids having to do so..
Breivik’s case shows why that is idiotic.
As horrifying as was his behaviour, he had an overtly political end in mind. Concerned about what he called the “Islamic colonization” of Europe, he sought to kill young leaders of the Norwegian Labour Party, whose policies he believed encouraged Muslim immigration, at their summer retreat on an island in a lake near Oslo. Breivik thought his actions were justified by the legal doctrine of “necessity” to call attention to a situation that threatened the future of his country and of Europe..
This was, obviously, nothing short of an act of terrorism, and it begs the question, 'how far are we willing to excuse the actions of a man bent on political disruption, by labelling them insane, simply because such actions are outside the box'... so to speak..
Political correctness runs amok..

Thursday, August 23, 2012

There is a somewhat futile attempt in the markets, that the Fed will make a move towards bolstering the flagging American economy, by raising the price of oil..
And while this may appear to be a Quixotic move, charging more for the price of a gallon which will hit the consumer, it's this type of thinking which legislators are proven prone to make.
At the pump, the national average for gasoline rose less than a penny overnight to $3.22 /gallon.. about a quarter more than a month ago.
On the surface, it would seem that this trend will only benefit the oil companies, but then, they are the grease keeping the wheels turning.. so to speak..

And, with elections upcoming in the States, the Romney-Ryan proposal to reshape Medicare by giving future beneficiaries fixed amounts of money to buy health coverage is deeply unpopular in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin, according to new polls that found that more likely voters in each state trust Barack to handle the issue.Keeping in mind of course, that the odds of him getting anything past the insurance lobbies in both Houses is about the same as it was when the man first took power four years ago.
The Medicare debate was catapulted to the forefront of the presidential campaign this month when Mitt announced that his running mate would be Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, who is perhaps best known for proposing a budget plan, supported by Romney, to overhaul Medicare to rein in its costs.
Best of luck with that albatross, Mitt.

And the madness continues.. Troops and tanks swept into a restive town near Damascus on Thursday in an assault aimed at crushing opposition to President al-Assad, whose struggle to keep power has dragged Syria into an increasingly bloody civil war.. according to opposition sources, artillery and helicopters hammered the Sunni Muslim town of Daraya for 24 hours, killing 15 people and wounding 150, before soldiers moved in and raided houses.. About 100 people, including 59 civilians, were killed in violence across the country, says the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.. Some 200 were killed on Wednesday..
Seems if we in the West were truly interested in removing al Assad, a Black Ops team would have been sent and been home by now..
But then, in diplomatic circles, better the devil you know..
We elect such hypocrites..

Sunday, July 29, 2012

"To the extent that the size of these sovereign premia hamper the functioning of the monetary policy transmission channel, they come within our mandate.... We have to cope with the financial fragmentation, address these issues.... Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro.... And believe me, it will be enough." And these words from the President of the European Central Bank.. Mario Draghi appears to have given the markets some degree of assurance..
But.. it must be remembered that moves the ECB may be planning.. the likes of buying Spanish and Italian government debt.. are limited strictly with the continued growth of Germany, in particular.
And it must also be taken into consideration, how long the German people themselves will allow Angela to prop up 'member economies', which if not for their hard work would be in deep depression.
While the € is enjoying inflated worth today.. this week.. for perhaps the summer..
The magic bullet.. the cure.. remains unknown.
Regardless of rhetoric from the ECB..

It's a concern that many on this island are sweeping under the rug, so to speak, as we revel in the Olympics..
We needed this.. The Royal Jubilee.. these games..
It will soon return to being.. grey.. again..
We'll soon be stoically going about our day routines, with the summer of 2012 becoming part of the fabric of fond memories, which keep most of us sane..
Bright side of life, and all that..

Friday, June 15, 2012

In what is an obvious move to curry favour of a volatile demographic, Barack has entered into law a significant change to American immigration policies.. Those 'illegals'.. in Florida and California coincidentally.. who are between 16 and 30, will be granted what amounts to landed immigrant status..
Legalized.. so to speak.. That's 800 thousand potential votes in two swing States..
Yet in this speech of emancipation, we were given what perhaps could been seen as yet another sign of the End Times.. the 2012 Prophesies..
For in the sanctity of the White House itself.. a reporter writing for an insignificant slightly right wing newspaper.. dared to interrupt the President.
We'll hear callings out in Church next..
The Daily Caller's Neil Munro.. somewhat implausibly claims that he never meant to cut off the president and thought he was finished speaking.. "I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States," Munro said in a statement on the Daily Caller's website.. "A reporter's job is to ask questions and get answers," said the site's editor in chief, Tucker Carlson., and"Our job is to find out what the federal government is up to. Politicians often don't want to tell us. A good reporter gets the story.. We're proud of Neil Munro."..
One has to wonder though, whether Neil has his White House Press Credentials renewed..

And just to bolster the heavy thoughts of those who do believe this way of life is perhaps under threat.. a couple more..
Health officials have confirmed that an Oregon man has the plague after he was bitten while trying to take a dead rodent from the mouth of a stray cat.. The unidentified Prineville man, was listed in critical condition on Friday.. He's suffering from a blood-borne version of the disease that wiped out at least one-third of Europe in the 14th century .. that one, the bubonic plague, affects lymph nodes..
One of the Horsemen there..
And as far as suffering's concerned.. 24 year old Aimee Copeland, developed necrotizing fasciitis after cutting her leg in a fall May 1 from a homemade zip line over a west Georgia river. Her left leg, other foot and both hands have been amputated.. On Tuesday, Copeland's condition was upgraded from critical to serious..
But on the other hand.. there is still something left of the human spirit.. This weekend, thousands of people are expected at a long-planned fund-raising event outside Atlanta to help the family with medical expenses. The two-day benefit concert in Aimee Copeland's hometown of Snellville begins at 5 p.m. Friday and continues through Saturday night..
Not a sparrow falls.. some say..

Monday, June 11, 2012

Now it's no news to those who have been following the progress of the EuroZone, that Spain has accepted €100 million in bailout monies..
But what might be of interest, especially to those States gasping for breath as their economies implode, is that the Spanish may consider taxing Church properties.. Although they have rented it out to a restaurant for the past five years, the owners of one building in Aspe have never paid property tax. Nor have they ever paid tax on the apartments that house two of their employees. . Last week, the city’s government voted to partially rescind the exemption that these have enjoyed, with the landlord of those three properties and another eight more in town, has long enjoyed since a 1979 treaty with the Vatican.. Of course said landlord is the Church of Rome..
The same provision holds for other recognized religions and non-profit organizations like the Red Cross, yet because Catholicism is the dominant religion in Spain, and because the Church’s holdings there are so vast .. Laica, a pro-secularism group, estimates that were it not for the exemption, the church would annually owe 2.5 to 3 billion euros in property taxes.. critics have long argued that the arrangement is part of the preferential treatment granted the Catholic Church..
It's an option that could well be studied by such as Greece, and Italy, and even France..
Certainly it's not too much for those who exist on faith, to contribute to the continuing existence of those who hold to these particular faiths..
Charity begins.. they say.. at home..

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It would seem that we're not through meddling with the Middle East yet.. As the violence against those protesting the government of President al Assad continues, and frenzied attempts by foreign 'neutral diplomats' appear to have less and less impact, the reaction ranges from the French stance that 'violent intervention could be a possibility' to the Russian's saying they would veto any such a move in the Security Council, the 'Arab Spring' continues in that strife ridden country..
After all this time, it would seem that perhaps the West should let this scenario run it's course.. let those in Syria deal with their own problems.
Gods know we have enough on our own plates to keep us occupied..
UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan says the six-point international peace plan for Syria was not being implemented "as it must be".. but this effort to rein in that particular government is reminiscent of Cervantes.. and we have neither time nor resources to be tilting at such windmills..

We have among us now, a man who was a Labour Cabinet Minister, Allan Millbank, tasked with examining 'social mobility' among professions the likes of medicine and journalism.. to name just two..
Allan says their is a widening gap between the 'haves and the have-nots' in many professions.. and he wants the government to remedy the situation..
Just how, he does not explain.. but it might be put forward that increasing the literacy rate, and improving our education system, might be a good start.
Long has it been said that 'you can't make a silk purse from a sows ear'.. No more can you make a doctor, or a journalist, or a machinist for that matter, from those who haven't the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. We have lowered the bar about as far as it will go in an effort to prop up the old standards of education in this country.. and we have come to the point whereat we accept the lowest common denominator as the norm. Until schooling becomes a competitive process again, we will pump out those with little to offer, even when equipped with National Certificates or Degrees. One must accept there are those who are capable of no more than manual labour, and there are those who will excel in higher learning... Until that becomes commonly recognized within our society, there will always be those who, by using the system with cunning, reach positions beyond the scope of their incompetence..
Perhaps we should start by examining those in the Commons itself..

Barack now knows who he'll be up against come these next elections.. Mitt Romney has won the Republican nomination as their candidate..
But.. It's unanimous... A panel of renowned astrologers predicts Barack will win re-election in November.. That's the word from the last day of an astrology conference in New Orleans that also forecast earthquakes, explored the impact of lunar cycles on American stocks and demonstrated how to use planetary charts to find a job..

And finally, for the now.. author Sir Terry Pratchett is to have a pig named in his honour after winning the 13th Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction..He won for his 50th book Snuff, which has become one of the fastest-selling hardback novels since records began.It is the first time the 64-year-old has been chosen by judges, having missed out on three previous occasions..
It's about bloody time, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It has been said recently that the most toxic drug available to today's youth, indeed to the general population, is mass media. There are cogent arguments to defend this stance.. we are selectively fed the news which will direct us, either emotionally or physically, towards a certain end.
To wit.. the number of television programs developed over the past couple of years dealing with the supernatural.. Not merely confined to spectres or ghosts, these include 'superhero's' long confined to the pulp paper of comic books.. or if you will, 'graphic novels'..
And the hero, while finding him/herself in perilous situations, always wins..
It's as though we're being prepared to endure unusually hard times, with the strength one would expect from a taciturn Batman, or an indefatigable Superman; with stolid faith that by our endurance, our sacrifice, we will endure..
While it has always been, that we have been misled, even blatantly lied to by those 'in control'.. it is disturbing that we are being presented with basically the same tripe that our ancestors put their children to bed with.. entertained and informed by those bogymen who walked the imaginations of those millennia..
A disturbing trend, aimed at the lowest common denominator, and having some great deal of success..

Sunday, May 20, 2012

There have been times the Muse has simply disappeared..
Then, there are times that which might be reflected could simply illuminate the ennui which has enveloped most of those on this Island..
We have the 2020 Commission recommending a straight 30% tax rate, right across the board, as if we live in some Utopian State wherein the rich would give up their havens to the chant of 'the good of the many outweighs that of the few'.. We have a former Chancellor of the Exchequer saying European finances are "in tatters".. and that being Europe is our largest market, we are "dangerously exposed"..
Now those are not comments to inspire hope for better times to come anytime soon..
Greece appears to be the albatross around Germany's neck..
The two parties that had dominated Greek politics for nearly four decades .. the conservative New Democracy and the Socialist PASOK party .. were punished by anti-austerity voters in the polls, losing huge numbers of seats in Parliament. The Coalition of the Radical Left, known as Syriza, finished in a strong second, dramatically reshaping Greece's political landscape. But no party won enough votes to form a government.. This new unified radical leftist party Syriza fouled nearly all of the coalition plans, saying it didn't want to form a government with anyone who supported the memorandum of agreement between Greece and international lenders.. Those lenders .. the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund .. have given Greece billions in bailout loans, but the money has come in exchange for painful austerity measures that have devastated the economy.. a deep recession is now in its fifth year, the unemployment rate has reached 21 %.. and tens of thousands of businesses have closed.. And the prospects of improvement under any regeme, are doubtfull..
And oh joy, yet another former Soviet bloc country is pushing for entry into the EU..
Opposition leader Tomislav Nikolic, a former ultranationalist last in power when Serbia was bombed by NATO in 1999, declared victory in a presidential run-off today and pledged to keep the Balkan country moving towards the European Union.. At least, while struggling economically for the moment, Serbia has an infrastructure.. There is profit to be made, if there is capital investment in existing manufacturing..
Now.. Nepal's parliament was elected in 2008 with a mandate to write a new constitution but lawmakers have missed several deadlines to agree a federal structure and decide which system of governance the country should adopt.. the Supreme Court has ruled that no more extensions will be allowed if the assembly again fails to draft the constitution by a week today.. Parliament could be forced to make way for fresh elections if there is no agreement.. And to further tip the weights of karma.. security has been beefed up at the residence and monastery of Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.. following recent confirmed reports of possible threat to his life.. According to a report received in October 2011, the Chinese intelligence agencies have stepped up their covert efforts to collect all inputs on the status of the Dalai Lama's health, as well as garner samples of his blood, urine and hair..
Now really..

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Ahhhh.. one can always count on the French to bring a smile..
President Sarkozy faced off in fine style with his opponent in Sunday's run-off vote, Francois Hollande..
It was only missing the commentary usually heard at big-time wrestling matches..
 Sarkozy fired the label "little slanderer" at Hollande.. Hollande countered with an inside blow saying Sarkozy ran from his responsibilities.. Sarkozy defended his financial policies, saying he kept the country out of recession.. Hollande said 'nonsense..the country's going through a serious crisis and can't attract foreign investment..
Tell the truth, it could have been an exchange heard in any of the EU member countries.. Britain included..

It seems somewhat odd that we're hearing less and less about the upcoming American Presidential elections.. It's almost as though those editing our papers and newscasts don't think it has any importance, in light of what we're facing over here..
It takes a bit of digging to keep abreast of Barack's second whack at the pinata..

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The 'stiff upper lip' those on this island are known for, may soon begin to tremble, just a bit.. Following the news that we had slipped back into recession, come figures today which show the rate of inflation is up to 3.5%, a figure which will impact all, but most of all those on fixed incomes.
It's the price of a weekly shopping which has bumped it's way up, and up, and up.. and with the losses incurred in countries the likes of Spain and France over the last harvest, there seems to be little hope for a return to 'normalcy' for us..
When we factor in the cost of fuel, both for home heating and transportation, we find that we here are paying the highest rates in Europe. This has, in some large part, the rates the government peels off the top in taxes.. but our leaders, whether considered competent or incompetent, have set us on a path which will, hopefully, avoid the problems currently affecting those on the Continent..
Yet it can be seen in the faces of those on the busses or trains, or those queuing for petrol.. there is a resentment beginning to show.. a line between the eyebrows which was not present some months ago..
However, as the much maligned Machiavelli points out in 'The Prince', a State which claims to be a democracy will always lay the blame for difficult times on those in power, whether or not that blame is deserved.. The simple fact bears repeating, that it would matter little which Party held the reins.. that which keeps the ship of state on an even keel is in large part dependent on the state of affairs current with our trading partners..
And when it comes to the larger picture, we're all in the same boat..
And it's leaking badly.. with no safe harbour in sight..

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

One has to wonder what is happening behind closed doors as far as 'justice' is concerned in this country.. Now we're all aware of the obscene powers handed the Homeland Security authorities in the States, but developments here as proposed by the Prime Minister, would allow for closed hearings for those accused of breaches of national security..
For once, the LibDems have voiced outrage at such plans, but it would seem this system of trial has been in effect for some time now, and the Prime Minister is merely trying to broaden the scope of this infringement of basic civil rights..
These trials have been called, to this point, 'closed procedures', in which the accused is appointed a special defender, and refused the right to their own choice of lawyer.. Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said proposals were "a common-sense solution to a genuine problem".. But from this perspective, it smacks of a Star Chamber, and is diametrically opposed to British Common Law.. The LibDem leader, Nick Clegg, is insisting that the powers cannot apply to coroners’ courts and that judges, not ministers, must have the final say on whether they apply in a small number of civil proceedings..
To take one step further, such proceedings should never be allowed, regardless of what the government might claim to be in the interest of National Security.
To take any other stance, would be opening the door to 'back-room trials', in which defendants would lose their right to a 'fair and open trial'.
Unacceptable, under any circumstance.

Disregarding Barack's 'open mike' disclosures of a couple of days ago, Mitt Romney has taken a stride closer to the Republican presidential nomination by winning primaries in Wisconsin, Maryland and Washington DC..
Apparently he hasn't been told the outcome of the next election is a fait accompli..

Thursday, March 29, 2012

For those old enough to remember rationing, following the Second World War, the scenes at petrol stations across southern England will be reminded of the interminable queues they themselves endured for food..
This time, it's gasoline. With Unite members threatening strike action from petrol haulers over the Easter holiday, thousand, literally thousands, of cars are lining up to fill their tanks. The problem has reached such a level, that Dorset Police have asked Petrol stations to close, because those lining up on the roads are becoming a hazard.
Now, Labour's Ed Milliband has called this a catastrophic blunder by the coalition government.. saying the Conservatives in particular, are to blame for their tax regimen on gasoline. Yet, oddly enough, one BP station which is suffering lines and lines of cars, is charging some 5p a liter less, than a Texaco just down the road, which is not being mobbed by motorists. This would suggest that the Gas Companies themselves have some leeway in adjusting their prices.
Since 2010, the price of petrol has risen from an average of £1.10/liter, to today's £1.53.. £1.60 for diesel. It must be said that this is a direct response to increased VAT, but this, again, is part of the austerity program the LibDems and the Conservatives wrote out to bring this island back on an even economic keel.
Just whether these plans are having any effect is moot.. one economic think tank claims this morning that we're back into 'recession'.
A disturbing development in all of this, is the 'news' being broadcast.. we're not being given the whole picture, nor are be being informed of the long range plans to end this virtual collapse of the EU, and what markets we here are developing to replace those in Europe who will certainly face 'bankrupt governments' in the not so distant future..
This petrol panic is only the beginning of what may prove to be a long, hot, summer.
More later.

Monday, March 26, 2012

It begs the question.. What does Barack Obama know, that we don't..?
Caught with the old 'open mike' ploy, the President's private comments to Russia's Prime Minister Medvedev indicated some assurance that while this next term would be his last, he would come through this upcoming election..
That would be an historical oddity, all considered..
Be that as it may, it would seem Barack is planning on a 'more flexible relationship' with the Russians..
Perhaps plans to re-establish relations with Cuba are on the cards as well..
And projections lead one to believe American unemployment figures will not bring welcome news..
The mind boggles.. Not with what might be, but what at least one man believes will be..
It's as though the long-touted 'back-room boys' have dismissed Mitt Romney.. It might well be remembered that Mitt took a failing venture, the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics after scandal left the games on the brink of disaster.. The challenge of the games was confounded after the events of 9/11 complicated security precautions, but Romney and his team re-evaluated budgets, attracted new donors and pulled off a successful Winter Games..
Mind you, the same might be said for Boris Johnson..

And, with Easter just more than a week away, the fuel truckers are threatening to walk away from their rigs.. and that, while their on the highway over the Easter holiday..
Petrol prices are ridiculous.. that's a given..
Diesel's even more expensive..
But it will be difficult for the average Brit, who find himself stuck in a tailback fifteen miles deep while trying to make it to Gran's for an Easter roast, to rejoice in the inequality exposed by the act of civil disobedience..
Now the Trade Unions have traditionally supported The LibDems, but dissatisfaction with the direction the Party has taken while harnessed to the Tories has prompted a slight direction shift towards Labour.. and that Party, at least in one poll, currently stands 10 points above the Conservatives at 43%.. So now Ed Miliband finds himself behind the eight ball.. Does he condemn the strike, or does he support it..?
Pessimistic estimates warn that as many as 90% of forecourts.. gas stations.. will run dry before the great migration home..
That's the way to increase public awareness..
One must never underestimate either the cunning, or the overall stupidity, of elected officials.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It is something of a surprise to learn from our media, that our exports exceeded our imports over the months of December/January.. and many bankers and economic analysts are proclaiming this as a sign that we're reaching a balance which hopefully will bring our economy back on an even keel...
However, the facts for the man on the street is, that because of overwhelming rains in Scotland, leaving green crops to rot in the ground, and underwhelming rain in England, which has caused produce to wither on the vine so to speak, the price of vegetables, bread, and as a consequence most other commodities purchased in the weekly shopping, are going to rise.
This, coupled with unrelenting taxation on petrol, is pinching the average income to the point of creating the necessity for a family to have a double income..
Now, the banks have been pushed by the Central Bank to start a policy of offering mortgages with only a 5% equity deposit.. and one must seriously consider the wisdom of such a move. It was this trend which started the slide in the first place in the United States, and forced the bankruptcies of the now fabled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack..
It might be well said these days.. that we're still being led by the nose to a false recovery by the machinations of our politico's.. Time will tell, but for those looking for a return to the 'good old days'.. it's not bloody likely.. Not in our lifetimes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yet another dinner conversation.. This particular one revolving about 'conspiracies' and politics, a debate concerning 'those who pull the strings' in this world of ours..
Up sprang the old saws.. the Illuminati.. the Artichoke Club.. the Bilderberg group.. much of the old mumpsismus floated through the brandy and cigar stages of the meal..
It is a constant surprise.. that those of some intellect still believe there is a group, or groups, of the super-wealthy, who pull the government's of this world by the nose.. especially those who espouse claims of a 'Zionist Conspiracy'..

It was said that should Alex Salmond succeed in his push to remove Scotland from the Union, there would be a massive migration to either the south, or to countries Scots have traditionally emigrated to.. Canada, the US, Australia.. anywhere but this land which would surely fail should it go it on it's own..
Truthfully, it's the one plank in Salmond's platform that gives so many pause..
Eventually, the talk turned to 'who would replace him ?'..
And the answer is obvious. It matters not which Party is in power, be it Conservative, Labour, or New Democrat, they would all find themselves riding a log flume on a single tree, so to speak. A long fast journey with no control whatsoever.
For it matters not who stands on which side of the Chamber.. those 'in control' will have the same problems their predecessors had, the same economy, the same lack of foreign investment, the same dwindling foreign markets, the same dilemma's faced by any country, worldwide.. Any party seeking power these days, is looking to be fated the same as the Conservatives and LibDems in power today.
They're going to be toasted when first elected, then roasted when they, in due course, make decisions which will certainly prove unpopular, and those decisions must be made and implemented, if we are to survive in this horrendous economic climate.
This is not the era to seek political office, for those who would work to get you elected, will revile you when you 'betray' them by implementing inevitable austerity programs and raise taxes, yet again.
It's a lose/lose situation.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It would seem European Finance Ministers are an utterly fearless bunch..
Yet more billions of Euro's will go to prop up Greece.. and regardless of the depth of the Greek austerity program, that country and it's creditors are looking at a debt the size of which will take literally decades to repay..
France and Germany are spooked. The prospect of one of the member countries being forced to withdraw from the Union and give up the Euro is giving Angela nightmares..

A taxi driver this evening made it all so simple..
To quote:.." Europe..? It's uttly f*cked.."
Perhaps lacking in erudition.. direct, and to the point though..

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Yet another of the interminable Scottish days, when the slate of the sky seems to weigh as heavily as do those on the roof of a swaybacked cottage.. This is the time of year that brings on the feeling that one can almost sense the true isolation a closed sky affords..
It would appear that public opinion has, for once, had an effect on at least one of our bankers.. The Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland has decided not to accept his bonus for last year's work.. Sir Philip Hampton announced he would forgo the £1.4million the Board had opted to award him.. Now this RBS statement came amid continued controversy over the bank's decision to award Stephen Hester, its Chief Executive, a £963,000 bonus.. a bone caught in the public throat when the fact the bank is 82% owned by the taxpayer.. Hester has not declined his whack of the pie..

Now this was only to have been expected..
As Spanish unemployment breaks through the 5 million barrier, the new government of Mariano Rajoy has begun to put pressure on the European Union to ease Spain's deficit targets, which are sending the country tumbling back into recession..
Rajoy's government is demanding greater 'realism' from Brussels as it struggles to rein in a deficit that ended more than two percentage points, or €20billion, above its EU-set 6% target last year..
EU officials are unlikely to greet his message with enthusiasm after continued wrangling in Athens over a deal with private creditors and a torrid day on the bond markets that pushed Portugal closer to needing a Greek-style rescue.. Brussels indicated that talks in Greece would take at least another 48 hours..
Just what they might manage to come up with before Monday's EU Ministers conference, is moot..

Might be interesting to keep an eye on Nigeria..
An Islamic fundamentalist group calling itself 'Boco Harum' has killed over a thousand in it's fight to force the country into a 'true Islamic State', governed my strict Shari'a Law.. Spokesman, Abu Qaqa, says "We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to their knees.. Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released [from prison], we will only put aside our arms.. but we will not lay them down. You don't put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside."
Now there's a statement which we in the West would do well to remember..
Shari'a law is already in place across 12 states in the Muslim-majority north.. But few believe the group's radical ideology has traction in Nigeria's mainly Christian south, which is also home to millions of Muslims, yet has so far been out of the group's reach.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Seems that Greece is getting closer to some sort of an accommodation with it's creditors.. the European Union's Economic Commissioner, Olli Rehn, said 'they were very close'.. Of course, the last thing the EuroZone wants is Greece to default..again.. Such a scenario would almost certainly rattle the house of cards the European Union has become.. We should know by the weekend whether or not a deal can be reached.. at least by the time EU Ministers meet next Monday..
It would seem the only solution to this problem would be to drastically reduce the amount of interest Greece is paying on the trillion or so € it has 'borrowed'.. and should that come to pass.. watch Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy looking for a similar concession..
In fact, Spain's unemployment figures show there are some 5 million Spaniards on the dole.. That's 22.8%, the highest figure in 17 years.
Not encouraging..

Now.. in the States.. there are figures that would seem to indicate their economy grew by just over 2% this past quarter.. But let's not start thinking their problems are beginning to shrink.. These 'growth figures' are a direct result of manufacturers stockpiling their product, instead of offering them for sale.. This cannot be kept up, and we'll be looking at much lower figures in the very near future.. New car sales were up some 14%.. but that has to do with Pre-orders finally being filled following the tsunami in Japan. Don't look for GM or Chrysler to be posting higher sales figures..

Just yesterday we mentioned the public was entirely unhappy with the £million bonus handed the man at the helm of the Royal Bank of Scotland.. Now, it's become an issue for the Commons, and yet another bone for Labour to chew..
Mind you, this 'bonus' is not due to be paid for three years, and will be determined by the share price of the bank at that time.. But still, for those on fixed incomes who are struggling to maintain their utilities bills with their grocery bills.. such an 'incentive' is preposterous..

Grey. It's still grey.
Interesting to note, that while crime seems to be on the increase.. the number of Bobbies in England and Wales has fallen, and will continue to fall 'til 2015..
This due of course to government funding cuts, and truth be told, it's the old coppers who are taking the brunt of the redundancies.. Those who have served for 30+ years, and quietly being shuffled out the door..
Still.. they're keeping the numbers up in Scotland and Northern Ireland.. Might be an indication of where they're needed most..

Now what's really rankling the man on the street today, is the announcement from Royal Bank of Scotland.. That Chairman of the Board Steven Hester is to get almost a £million for his part in 'strengthening the banks position and bringing it back to, almost, respectability..
Yet, RBS is owned by the public, at least 82% of it is..
The public is wondering why that million wasn't used to pay down the bank's debt..
Needless to say, banking institutions are not well thought of these days on this Island..

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not that much has changed.. there's an ice warning out for most of the Island this morning..
We've been expecting to hear from the government.. and we're not that overwhelmed with the expected announcement that our economy will shrink slightly, or to be more precise, that it had shrunk over this past quarter..
Seems we're at the point, where we just want the government to do something that would show us at least a glim of the light at the end of the trouble. But it would seem that most are canny enough to realize that it wouldn't matter which Party had the reins.. we would still have to endure what fumbling economists come up with to recommend to the Exchequer and hope for the best.
It is of no help, that we're reminded at least three times a week, that emotionally, we're close to the edge.. We're still surprised that we hear, regularly, that some husband has run amok..killing his wife and children before turning the weapon on himself.. People are aware the trick is to walk the tightrope without looking down..
The problem being that there are those who have been walking the high wire for years, and who now find what was once a short fall, has now become an abyss..
We're becoming more insulated. News filters through from the US when Barack does something extraordinary.. We still get reports on what's happening in the EuroZone.. But for the most part, our news consists of local or national stories.. written with the decided twist towards inspiring some brief relief, however fleeting..
There are fewer gathering along the rail at the local these days, with pensions buying less and less for more and more.
But this is Great Britain.. and for the vast majority, it's still an attitude of a 'stiff upper lip'..
There's always the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics to look forward to..
Bread and circuses..

Monday, January 02, 2012

A new year.. and we face the same problems. In fact, things are going to get worse before they improve..
As our Prime Minister looks to the upcoming Olympics and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee to help boost our prospects, reports from think-tanks around the country paint a somewhat gloomier future for some.. Caps being set on housing benefits will leave some of those who depend on the social safety net out in the cold..literally. These changes to the system come into effect over the next few months.
Happy new year.
Mind you, the effects will be phased in as Council tenants come up for their annual rent review.. small comfort for those, especially in Scotland, where those on benefits outweigh those in gainful employment..
And for those who have work and use rail transport to get them to and fro.. will find their fares 11% more expensive, as of today. Passenger Focus Chief executive Anthony Smith points out "report after report.. the government's own McNulty review into the rail industry's costs.. show we have a very inefficient rail industry. The industry costs a lot to run. Those costs are being dumped on passengers, year after year, and we can't keep on doing this.."
Ahhh.. but we will..

Search This Blog

Blog Archive