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Wisdom of the Slog

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Published on the The Slog on January 30, 2017

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Tired of Trumpophobia and tempted by the New: an Oldie moves on

 

 

 It can be tedious listening to some old fart in a fuzzy photograph pulling out the Experienced Wisdom card. I’m sure many of the radically progressive certainty merchants out there will find this piece just another bit of blah blah from a nasty Baby Boomer who stole all your benefits, and then ruined the future of your children by voting for Brexit.

For those of you with minds still open to the lessons of history and the dynamics of the future, however, you are invited for a little meander around the block of life, liberty and learning. I write tonight because, believe me, the tedium of listening to global Leftlib showboaters all day – on all media in all the colours – was infinitely more enervating than this piece is likely to be. But you must decide.


From 1977 until 1984, I lived in Brixton – in twee ‘Poets’ Corner’ if you were an estate agent – because my wife and I couldn’t afford anything else. I went back there with a chum a week ago, for an informal lunch in a Brazilian restaurant run by an Argentinian. It cost threepence and was terrific.

Brixton has changed bigtime. The place is very Jonty and Katherine these days, but around Electric Avenue and the indoor market are the same cosmopolitan characters selling good value stuff to people not yet doshed by the compromises of corporate life.

In Shakespeare Rd (where I lived, at No 17) there was a mix of Hard Left whites, agrarian Jamaican poor, liberals like us, middle class Barbadan evangelist Christians, Indians, and African professionals – mainly landlords and lawyers.

The following things happened to us in the first six months:

  • We were robbed three times. We couldn’t afford a burglar alarm.
  • The empty house next door was squatted, and turned into a knocking shop.
  • We twice watched – at 3am in the morning – as a pimp knocked seven bells out of one of his ‘girls’.
  • We – and five neighbours either side – were bombarded by the mega-decibel music of one young guy.
  • The car radio was stolen twice.
  • Our insurance premium doubled. We could barely afford the one we had.

The support we got from all our decent neighbours of every culture was a memory that will live with me forever. We got invited to a lot of West Indian weddings, and ate a lot of curried goat. Let me tell you, curried goat is nice.

The reaction of the Brixton Police was to ask whyTF we’d moved there in the first place.

The reaction of Lambeth Council under Ted Knight was to send along a Noise Pollution Officer, and then do nothing. Actually, the Council did do something: they expressed solidarity with Comrade Brezhnev on MayDay, and put up notices everywhere saying Lambeth was a Nuclear-free Zone. I might add that, every winter, our street was also a grit-free zone.

I went along to a couple of Labour Party meetings. I was not and never have been a Labour member, but I went along to listen. Actually, I went twice: on each occasion, they talked about issues and causes thousands of miles away in Africa, Russia, China and South America. These did not strike me as the correct concerns for officials elected to run a community riven with the problems of vice, poverty, misogynist pimps, ignorant cops and loose West Indian familial structures.

The tabloids, as you’d expect, dubbed this Looney Labour.

Without this kind of nonsense, there would never have been Thatcherism.


We lived through two riots in Brixton. My first child, aged two months, needed feeding as we returned the Sunday of the first riot after visiting friends. The police reaction was to declare Poets’ Corner a nogo Ghetto. My reaction was to drive round the road block, and studiously take the numbers of all the officers on duty. I needn’t have bothered.

That night, I walked to the end of Shakespeare Road and onto Railton Road…the much-vaunted ‘Front Line’. I saw several people throwing Molotov cocktails, almost all of whom were white. They probably vote Tory these days. I don’t: I did in 1979, and regretted it immediately. See bold, rust-coloured print above.

Throughout all this period, left-leaning bourgeois friends turned up to our house for supper to lecture me on the institutional racism that caused young black boys to underperform at school. I asked them why this racism didn’t seem to stop black girls from getting on. Radical feminists in particular reacted badly to my questions….and the conclusion I’d reached: that crap fathering was the problem.

Brixton Labour never accepted that truth. I’d imagine they still don’t. But Black community leaders in Notting Hill and south London did, because they knew young homeless boys turned to gang culture in pursuit of a father figure.

Had the issue been left to Labour, nothing would have improved.


The examples I’ve offered so far relate to my big problem with the Left in the West: its inability to look for a good governance solution from the evidence available, and its preference for staring up the dark back passage of ideology for some kind of ridiculously contrived interpretation.

But then, regulars here know that this is also my problem with the contemporary Right and its Nutty Neocon codswallop – which is, without doubt, the equal of every last bit of collective Socialist claptrap. I despise all of them, you see: they’re not so much a waste of space, as a criminal waste of intelligence given over to catechismic devotion.

I do, however, have far more to offer than excoriating dislike. Believe it or not, I can actually be very nice indeed to the open-minded, the genuinely vulnerable, the legally wronged, and the sensibly kind. The proper application of love really does solve every community problem in the end.

Sadly, what gets in the way of everyone trying to practice just that is religious and ideological bigotry.

I’m taking here about those people who beeleeeve. Those who knew evereeething. The people who are always right, until it all goes wrong. After which they creep quietly away to some bunker while we the People deal with the mayhem. Then they reappear afterwards – often slightly rebranded as ‘ecconomic deregulators’ or Greenpeace – to start telling us again why they’re right.

Let me outline some reality again.

  • They don’t know about CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, whether it’s a good or a bad thing, or even what the root cause of its elevation is. Nobody does.
  • There will not be 77 Virgins waiting in Heaven, and beheading folks is not the fast lane towards a US Green Card.
  • Wealth does not trickle down, it gushes up.
  • Socialist ideas of equality do not produce real equality because they are not based on social anthropology.
  • Devil take the hindmost is not the ‘natural order of things’. Senior apes in the wild do not behave like neocons do. (Go on a safari, and see for yourself)
  • Superstates and globalism are unlikely to be the future, because Homo sapiens – in both a citizen and administrative role – cannot cope with the numbers and complexity involved. This is why small communities are better run and less criminal than large urban conglomerates.
  • We cannot ask politicians to be more accountable – and then sign Opposition petitions allowing them to ignore the responsibilities of government.
  • In that context, an expert is only worth listening to if he or she has a track record suggesting discernment of the sky/floor difference thing. Gordon Brown became known as our Greatest Ever Chancellor. But only Gordon Brown ever propagated that conclusion.

Nevertheless, no matter how often religious, ideological and other Groupthink cult mania turn out to be wrong, there is no correlation between that reality and the lemming-like willingness of the wide-eyed to buy their snake-oil over and over again. This is because we are livings things: we die, and our wisdom is not (often) collected and passed on. The Oldies can write stuff down, but the internet will put them down. The internet, my friends, really is profoundly ageist.

We learn from mistakes. Leave everything to the Young, and life will never get better.


So these are some historical learnings to consider. I don’t present them as Golden Rules, merely as a personal record:

  • Politicians with a likeable image usually achieve nothing, and die young.
  • Churchill was a misogynist arsehole, but without him Hitler would’ve won.
  • Fifty years after every war to end all wars, there’s still plenty to fight about.
  • Minority issues rarely solve majority problems.
  • Gender, ethnicity and sexuality count for little if the problem is planetary.
  • Fiddling with the central heating thermostat will not make a hole in the roof go away.
  • With responsibility for lives comes compromise. The alternative is Pol Pot.
  •  The raw material here is people. We’re as far from perfect as ever.
  • Technology can kill Truth and expose it. The choice is ours.
  • Systems are fine but people are finer. One size never fits all.
  • Those with double standards always want double helpings.
  • Ideologists present their values as absolute. They are not: they are passing mores.
  • Philosophy opens minds. Ideology closes ranks.
  • The greatest fulfillment of the greatest number is as good as it gets.
  • The search for Utopia produces Dystopia.
  • Never let the sun go down on a day without learning.
  • Be nice to everyone until they prove you wrong.

Now there is a reason for all this tonight. I planned (as much as I ever plan anything) my recent UK trip around the birth of 2nd granddaughter Rosa; but during that trip I spent time with most of my real friends and family to gather opinion about what I should do next. The best friends are those who tell you the unvarnished truth. And what came back – having pitched an idea for a novel to some of them – was “Stop farting around and write the bloody thing”.

What appears above – and in the 6,360 posts since January 2010 -is everything I want to say to all those who value the individual citizen’s lifespan quality and social contribution above any system, construct, space, belief thing or other bollocks likely to rule or even ruin their lives. There’s nothing of any real substance to add. From here on, I want to try another route likely to be more successful in persuading people that it can be much better. Persuasion has, after all, been the driving force of my adult life.

Blogs will be more infrequent, and Twitter presence diluted. I’m not deserting anyone, just looking for something that works better. I don’t know how many of you like the work of Ritchie Havens, but this is part of the lyric of his song When. It seems pertinent:

My dreams have all been raided/by every kind of greed

my liberties were traded/for nothing that I need

So won’t you tell me when you’re gonna go

Been living here so long, I Just might wanna know.


History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. The history of the Left is one of being distracted by ideology from the needs of the People. In every case, the result has been the triumph of the Right.

Fears of the False Alphas

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Published on the The Slog on January 28, 2017

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Why the False Alphas in power fear citizens who discriminate, discern and decide for themselves

 There has always been a tension between the citizen self as selector of the best future, and the controlling State as guardian of the revered past. Elector naivety and technological advance are combining to destroy contrarian creativity.


I want to open today if I may with a brief observation about the noun ‘discrimination’, and the verb to discriminate.

The history of this noun over the last half century has been one of almost unmitigated negativity. Although in the last two decades it has been replaced by the even more vague suffix ‘ism’, it began life in the race relations industry as ‘racial discrimination’ – that is, discrimination against someone on the basis of ethnicity – skin colour, facial features and so forth.

This has led two generations to be unthinkingly convinced that all discrimination is A Very Bad Thing. By slipping into such a misguided belief, they have allowed the idea to take hold that nothing – no person, no country, no system and indeed no culture – should be “judged”….except, of course, about those things that their own belief systems deplore….and even there, double standards abound and abide.

My point is simply this: among many other elements of genuine tolerance, what the intolerantly correct have forgotten is the diametric difference represented by discrimination against and discrimination between.


The ability to discriminate between truth and lie, persuasion and dictation, original and copycat, silly and sensible, intelligent and wise, genuine and counterfeit, real passion and simulated enthusiasm, social good and political tactic, ideological bigotry and measured governance – or ultimately, empirical and fanciful – is the most important foundation stone of equality of opportunity and civilised fair play. It  underpins everything to do with the best option.

The muddling of ‘against’ and ‘between’ goes a long way towards explaining the contemporary retreat of,  and decline in, the persuasive power of those of us broadly in favour of kindness, compassion, laughter, goodwill and reality in the shaping of communities.

Sadly, it also explains completely the nonsense of “quotas of success” based on gender, age, social class, culture and ethnicity. It promotes the poorly qualified as a sop to indiscriminate equality – and allows those who succeed on the basis of tribal connections based on nepotism, networks, old school ties and so forth to laugh in the face of those with better qualifications being left behind. It dumbs down education by lowering the bar. It patronises those perceived by radical chic whites to be “in need of help” to succeed. And above all, it results in a dearth of competence. But apart from that, Mrs Lincoln, it’s an excellent play.


It is ironic, is it not, that Leftlib fluffy fancy helped produce a mathematically illiterate Tory Chancellor in George Osborne, and a constitutionally illiterate Shadow Home Secretary in Diane Abbott. Neither have any of the qualifications required for good governance, and both of them are obscenely obvious double-standard hypocrites.

It would probably be fair to say that the Left has lost the plot on social equality, the Right retains its plot to remain socially superior…and the Establishment continues to pervert any semblance of equality before the law.

This is why I have seen myself for many years now as both disenfranchised by politics, and yet at the same time above it. It’s why I reject ideological hubris in favour of Benthamite governance to the benefit and fulfilment of the greatest number.

The Left is obsessed with special-case minorities, the Right remains determined to promote the undeserved privilege of monied minorities. A plague on both their houses, I say.

But there is more to my frustration with contemporary Groupthink than a simple desire to be rid of its dysfunctional discipline.


The West’s cultures – especially those pertaining in the UK and US – represent a coincidental copulation between two devilish influences: the insistence on ideological conformity, and the development of increasingly advanced technology.

Homo sapiens has been (for all its flaws) a remarkably successful species. This success is based on competitive selection within tribes, and cooperation between them. Not only do we have powerful survival instincts and unconscious selective drives, the overwhelming majority also have a left brain hemisphere which dominates the emotions while we are awake.

The bad news is that, for much of the time, the uncontrolled drive for greed and power among a tiny minority ensures their emergence as what I choose to call False Alphas. These self-styled leaders do not operate for the good of the greatest number in human society….but their fame, power, oratory and wealth make them highly electable to public life, the most likely to succeed in business and banking, and the most attractive to potential Alpha and Beta partners of the opposite gender.

Be they persuasive as part of a political Party, social movement or religious tendency, the control freakery of such False Alphas insists on unswerving loyalty to a belief system in general, and them personally. The application of “correctness” to several key areas of human life – education, religion, politics, gender relations and commerce – has been an enabling process for the establishment of rigid conformity. I think there is little doubt that it started in politically devised education; but there is no knowing how or where it will end, other than the certainty of tears being involved.

The bottom line is a stronger pull towards the herding instinct than perhaps at any time in the recorded history of Homo sapiens. Referring back to the first section of this essay, there has never been more pressure to stop the natural process of intelligent minds discriminating between what they are told….and what they might, as unique individuals, think. Seventy years ago, George Orwell predicted the emergence of Thoughtcrime. Today’s robotic thinking is but a small step away from such legislation….think ‘non-violent extremist’. Think Theresa May.


It is to our great collective misfortune that this inherent danger has been exacerbated by technology in many forms.

It allows for 24/7 surveillance of actions and geographical location – a capability bound to strike fear into the hearts of intelligent contrarians.

Worse still, it presents itself variously as fun, as positive social behavour, and even “for your own protection”. For the less intelligent or enquiring among us, Facebook and Twitter, Blogging threads, vlogs and so forth are called – surprise, surprise – social media. In reality, they are anything but. Equally, every shop, petrol station, public arena, club, mall, legislature, bank and office building is riddled with cameras.

But while this is the highest profile concern in 2017 – and even now, I would estimate only around 15% of any citizen franchise is worried – there are other dimensions of technology at least as dangerous to the survival of personal liberty.

Uppermost in my mind at the minute are a growing genre of “labour saving/greater efficiency” devices.

SatNav is one. Not only does it, in neuroanatomy terms, cause the orienteering centres to atrophy; it is also developing in a direction via which in-car devices will be two way: you will know exactly where you are…and so will the security services.

Buying online is another. Much easier, cheaper and convenient than physical shopping in most cases: but opening every castle’s front door to those keen to know what you’re buying…from which they can extrapolate why. Would you, today, go to a website explaining fully what paedophilia is and offering scientific books about it for sale? I wouldn’t: such an action could be construed by sovereign blackmailers as more than enough evidence to put you away as “some kind of sicko”

EFTPOS (electronic funds transfer at the point of sale) is a third very real and present danger. Stops the risk of being mugged for your cash, saves all that struggling with change…and increasingly now, no need even for a pin number on smaller purchases: tap the terminal with your magic plastic and hey presto – paying for stuff was never easier. What this process will facilitate, of course, is the eventual disappearance of untraceable cash…and your last chance of nickel-and-dime tax evasion – while large multinational businesses continue to make ‘deals’ that are flagrant tax evasion in return for cash-flow.


In the last year alone, France has cut the amount one can pay a supplier in cash by 90%….and developed an ID card for self-employed suppliers designed to become, over time, an electronic record of all outgoings and receipts – but already issued with an upfront tax demand for €2,500.

In that same year, electorates in Britain and America have dared to flout received wisdom and vote down what the Establishments so clearly want. The reaction of both the neocon and liberal élites to these developments has been to orchestrate “opposition” to the democratic decisions involved. This is reassuring to the duped herds, and frightening for the objectively supine.

More and more of us are supine, distracted, disenfranchised, and cynical than ever before. More and more monied power is being distributed among fewer and fewer False Alphas than ever before. More and more easily updated records exist to control, scold, threaten and smear every contrarian voice. More and more types of tax expenditure and privilege have moved beyond our power to oppose them.

In 2017, 21 out of 28 EU States have overt legislation making it illegal to encourage non-payment of tax.

On every level, our ability to discriminate between élite greed and good governance is under attack and thus being undermined. At every turn, the False Alphas’ ability to discriminate against individual citizens via financial, social and media penalties is being expanded. But the Rule of Law and Equality before the Law are withering on the vile dead wood feared by every discerning cultivator of civilisation.

Don’t be fooled by those who insist that to critique the status quo is to commit a criminal act. To paraphrase JFK, “Ask not what your State can do for you….investigate instead what your leaders are doing to you in the name of the Superstate”.

PROMISES, MEETINGS, BULLSHIT, JARGON, DENIAL, NOTICES, & ILLITERATE RATS

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Published on the The Slog on January 20, 2017

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 London and its environs have a fecundity of notices, promises, processes and bollocks that is all the more remarkable for being devoid of substance. No matter how fake the news gets, it will never be able to compete with counterfeit information.

The Moto services services sign said you’d have to be very keen on being squeaky-clean to join the workforce:

moto

It was, as so often happens these days, protesting too much. Moto aren’t that passionate about lavatories, nor are they that keen on the honesty of their franchisees: the former were distinctly underclass, and the latter underhand. In WH Smith, I bought two books on a buy one get one half price offer, and the total came to £14.99. I think you’ve made a mistake, I said to the smiley girl at the till. Nooooo she said, the cheaper one is half price. I was assuming that, I countered, but 3 isn’t half of 8 is it?
I got a look in return that was beyond blank. It was from a time before paper, division and workings out in the cranium. After taking time to recover, she said, noooooo again, 10 + 4 is fo’een, innit. That’s right I agreed, but you charged me 15 and 9 + 4 is fir’een, innit.
“Hahahahahahahaha,” she replied with an edge of hysteria, “But the fing sez £14.99”. Unwilling to argue with The Fing, I gave her £15 and said keep the change.


The St Giles Hotel in Feltham has a restaurant serving “authentic Italian cuisine”, for example Fish, Chips & Peas, Spaghetti Bolognese and Lamb Curry. The rooms all have air-conditioning which can be adjusted from sub-Arctic to sub-Saharan at the flick of a switch; thus you can die of hypothermia and dyhydration in the same night. The car park ticket machine has been out of order for some time, as indeed has the receptionist who probably isn’t called Igor the Giant Dwarf, but ought to be.

But following a brief look around in Feltham, it was clear that the St Giles is the best thing to have happened to it since the Enclosure Act of 1802, when everyone in Feltham was enclosed there in order to save the rest of the world from meeting them. The name comes from Feld-Ham, which meant Home in Field in King Edgar’s time. It’s still just as exciting today. The shopping centre is called Feltham Centre, and the train station is called Feltham Station. I can honestly say that this was the only time in my life that I got over-excited by a sign saying ‘Hounslow’.

The sole thing going for Feltham is that it’s near to London, a by-product I would normally view as almost as unfortunate as being Feltham, but on this occasion was handy as there were several chums and a daughter I wanted to catch up with.


I drove into Hammersmith, where the Kings Mall car park was full. Eventually I found a metered spot where the card slot wasn’t working but I could pay by SMS. This sounded like a form of frustration carefully designed to maximise the diastolic bp reading, so instead I emptied half my life savings into the coin slot. A ticket came out that said it wasn’t a ticket, merely a receipt. Why it couldn’t be a ticket as well eludes me: perhaps it didn’t run to multi-tasking, but anyway I put it inside on the windscreen as if it was a ticket and walked over to the Tube station.
It has been decreed by the Forces of Lunacy that human beings shall no longer be allowed to sell tickets on the London Underground, but a charming staff member of Indo-Asian origin gave me a seminar on the Oyster machine and so the rest of my life savings went electronically onto the card.
Machines don’t go on strike, but unemployed people are not good for society. Equally, I’m not sure there’ll be enough staff come the Summer to give each of the 2.3 million tourists the hitchhiker’s guide lecture on the Oyster enigma; further, rampant hare-brained technology is on the verge of alienating the biggest baby boom in British history.

There is something about the neocon mind’s inability to GAF about consequences that suggests a major leakage of cerebro-spinal fluid. This has caused the frontal lobes to stop functioning – a tragic condition about which I know a thing or two. On the other hand, the less kind conclusion is that neocons were just born psychotic. The real danger going forward (as they say in the corporate space) is that they have now stumbled across tecchie software designers in the tertiary stages of Aspergers-fortified dementia.
The upside of this is that no technology-based system of dictatorship can ever succeed. In the meantime, pandemonium will soon be ubiquitous.


London is no longer my city. This is normal and inevitable, but no less sad for such an observation. That once upon a time straight line of faded gentility Hammersmith Grove is now replete with trendy eateries, niche retailers and enormous houses taken back to sole ownership by the rich. Fitzrovia has lost all its seedy charm in favour of shops with pretentiously silly names and overpriced resaurants. One of the notable exceptions to that general rule is Cote, and thankfully my chum took me there. But in the evening my daughter and I went to Pizza Express, which is still an excellent quality product served by well-trained staff. However, the price of two pizzas, two beers and a bottle of water – when inflated by couverts and auto-added optional service charges – was truly insane.
Eight years ago I predicted that London under Bojo would become a City State. It is very much that, although in terms of being a charmless cosmopolitan mix married to obscene wealth inequities, it is bang on course for Singapore….which was probably Boris’s model.
Boris is and always has been a great fan of the City, but like most people who’ve never set up, floated or run a business that’s publicly quoted, he doesn’t understand the pernicious effect bourses have on socio-economic values. A chum was giving me a classic example from his workplace yesterday. The company offers products on a monthly contract basis, and recently made a massive, high-profile commitment to hold every contract price for a year. But now the City’s annual results feeding-frenzy is due: Zirp and QE starved investors are looking for dividends and price growth through exceeded targets, and in his company’s case, the barrowboys have set him a loopy target. So now the company needs to renege on its price promise to make the numbers.

First, this adds to the growing sense of business being crooked; second, it damages the brand as a trusted asset; and most important of all, it encourages cheating in society as a whole “because everyone’s at it anyway”. Honesty, promises and manners are three vital pillars of a just society. Crime costs every taxpayer money. But the borrowboys don’t GAF about implications and consequences.
Globalism remains hopelessly overdependent on bourse finance, and bourse short-termism is both thoroughly anti-social and commercially suicidal. Where there should be investment for 90% of custmers and employees, there are only bonuses for the 3%. The LibLeft never talks about this stuff, because the LibLeft thinks a balance sheet is something to do with training acrobats.


At last yesterday, my second granddaughter arrived fit and well to face a world that will probably baffle her a lot less than it baffles me. Inside the hospital, every wall was covered in notices, and every notice was being ignored. There was, however, one notice suggesting that the NHS is quietly diversifying into the veterinary field:

hedgehognhs

Luckily for the new arrival, she won’t be brought up in London. From about 1976 until 1985, I owned London: I was a bubble-dwelling master of the Universe riding high on entrepreneurial endeavour, exploding advertising budgets and low taxes. A member of the communications élite. A man whose views were sought by journalists, and made the centrepoint of major new business presentations. I was full of zip, full of zap, and particularly full of myself.
Just in time – only just in time – I began hunting for the Plot, and realised I’d lost it. I was in limos, on aeroplanes, in meetings, and even on the telly. But I was miles off course, and ploughing through shallow mud in designer loafers.

Eventually, I wound up in the Priory.

That said, I think a lot of Londoners would give anything to return to the relative sanity of the capital city as it was in 1990. Today, online commercial coms are, as a rule, crude, badly produced, self-indulgent, invasive, dishonest, and in media apertures where the entire rate card is based on fictitious monitors of awareness and impact….with little or no reliable ad hoc research to assess their brand-building efficacy. Across all the professions, the quality of advice and client service has plummeted to a place fathoms below superficial, and the process bullshit quotient is such as to cover all but the tallest mountains.
There are pathways through environments and spaces between hubs that lead to outcomes which, in order to be reached, require deep-state critical path analyses of the windows and pit-stops directionalised in a maximal formation towards success.
Meanwhile, on the pavements outside, alienated middleweight executives talk into phones as they speed-walk to the next diary point, ignoring the former service, retail, unskilled ticket collection and petrol-pump staff shuffling along in crappy clothing and man-made fibre bobble-hats or hoodies. Few of the latter can get credit or afford personal technology, and three-quarters of the former maintain a balancing act each month involving maxed-out credit cards and debit overdrafts.

None of this obvious social-systemic dysunction is discussed in the meetings because there’s far too much other ground to cover, far too few executives to do a thorough job, and nowhere near enough hours in the day. It is also vital to be on the move all the time, and so a good 50% of those meetings will be “virtual” conference calls punctuated by connectivity issues caused by crap software they’d like to improve but the executives don’t have the time and the shareholders want their money.
In those rare moments when they get time off from 24/7 smartphone availability, wage-slaves struggle with overcrowded and overpriced transport, pay restaurant prices that would feed a State pensioner for a month, pay to park outside their homes, pay more council taxes for lower and lower service levels, and search in vain for a larger affordable property given that Sophie is expecting another baby, but the flat they’re in needs a new dampcourse.

Londoners are becoming more and more like overcrowded rodents with every year. The rudeness, impatience and aggression while driving truly have to be experienced to be grasped. An expensively dressed and coiffured woman (alone in huge 4-wheel drive Merc) yesterday wanted me to move forward at a crossroads and thus become stuck behind a removals lorry unloading furniture into a vast St John’s Wood mansion. Unless I did that for her greater gratification, you see, she couldn’t turn into where I was. So I, in my little Peugeot 207, reversed to within a millimetre of a parked car to let her get by me.

On passing my vehicle, she wound the window down and yelled, “You stupid f**king c**t”.
And talking of rodents, as we exited the hospital last night, I remarked to my younger daughter how 90+% of visitors still ignored all the hygiene rules – along with the dozens of notices about hand washing. As the words came out of my mouth, an enormous rat shot across the concourse and into a hole it had constructed in an external wall. It was a profoundly allegorical moment.

Remember Kennedy: and then ask, “How long will Trump last”?

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Published on the The Slog on January 15, 2017

 

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 There has never been a new Presidency quite like this one. The inauguration is still six days away, and already the American People have been given a torrent of disinformation about the President-Elect. Will it in time get even worse.


He likes it when hookers piss on him, he is being blackmailed by the Kremlin, he is the creature of Deutsche Bank, he paid bribes to the FBI, he has gigantic debt, he plans to use the US to leverage his company into the world’s biggest conglomerate, he is a Fifth Columnist Hell-bent on destroying NATO, he’s going to deport everyone who isn’t a WASP, and during his media career he groped the entire female population of the USA.
Most if not all of this stuff is utterly risible tosh.

But of course, to write this immediately renders me (under the current Queensberry rules of political news debate) a racistscumfascistbigot….and, naturally, the target of the New York Times and their Orwellian campaign to hunt down “fake news”. If it wasn’t so dangerously concocted by Soros Associates – and naively soaked up by the Progressively Correct – it would all make for the most wonderful off-Broadway surreal farce.

The doctored DNC-issued opinion polls, The Washington Post ‘98% chance that Clinton will be the next President’, the Electoral College drive, the Russian hacking drivel, the Soros-orchestrated demos, and then the Meryl Million have been all been variously wheeled out, launched, run up the flagpole and floated. All of them having careered off the road or sunk, the time has come for the top echelons of what the conspiracists call The Deep State to have a crack. But when they come onto the field, the production genre switches instantly from farce to horror.

What we’re now seeing is an attempt to snow The Donald into the Military-Industrial-neocon nutjob narrative. From what we’ve seen so far – although that too could be just more disinformation – he’s not managing to control the hawks terribly well.

But his problem is that he isn’t yet inaugurated: so even among some of those he’s appointed, there’s a power-control vacuum….and they’re making the most of the chance to cook the goose before the new head chef takes up his post.

The two months following next Friday will define very clearly how well Trump has prepared for the onslaught. There are three possible outcomes: either Trump really is just another cleverly disguised stooge; or he has the radical aspirations and wherewithal to strip the covert State of its power; or he will be given his head, and then terminated if he fails to deliver on what the Hoods want.


As time goes on, it gets easier to believe that something has been going on to take power further and further away from the US electorate since November 1963. It’s over half a century since the young President was assassinated, but with the forward march of film and sound technology since the early years of this century aggregating doubts about the killing, fully 73% of Americans now do not believe the Warren Commission, and over half do not believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.

Since 2012, a third doubt has been added to the original two I always had about the murder:

  1. How could 22 separate witnesses right by the motorcade imagine they smelt cordite?
  2. How could anyone believe that the fatal bullet (it blew the President’s head apart) was from the same gun that went straight through its victims without serious damage?
  3. Why did the CIA hijack the Zapruder film over the post-assassination weekend, and why did the CIA’s film analysis unit tell a serious former Government investigator on film in 2012 that the film in the national archives “is a crude and obvious fake”?

The original 1963 home movie was an 8 mm twin-track film, from which over 14 frames have been removed, and hand-tinting of five others has been undertaken – after the senior CIA analyst edited the real original minimally “to reduce public stress on seeing the more explicit frames”. The original expert insisted in the 2012 documentary, “this is not the original I saw….the damage to the President’s head has been clumsily obscured, and the cranial explosion massively reduced”.

The motive looks damning: to mislead viewers as to the calibre of the gun – and the direction (immediately behind) from which it came.

We will never know exactly who planned the JFK assassination, or indeed who carried it out. But it’s hard to deny in 2017 that Kennedy was blown away by the unelected part of the US. It remains as deadly as ever. I hope Donald Trump has secret service men around him he can really trust.

 

Brexit means Brexit? Not if the Eunatoed States of America has anything to do with it.

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Published on the The Slog on August 21, 2016

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Mesnip29616HM Sloop Brexit should be sailing the high seas in search of new trading links beyond the European Union and its dysfunctional currency, economic and fiscal policies. But if Theresa MayorMaynot (and the people she represents) get their way, the less than seaworthy sloop of salvation will stay in port, making only occasional day trips to Ostend. Eight macro events may yet foil the plan to sabotage Brexit, but none of them are going to emanate from the Mayflower crew.


When it comes to Brexit, things seem to be moving along very nicely. If you voted Remain, that is. In just 48 hours, it will be exactly two months since The Historic Shock Vote. This is the current state of play:

  • The woman who acts as Commander in Chief is a Remaindeer. The man with his hands on the purse strings is a Remaindeer. The woman in charge of the security services is a Remaindeer who’s only been in the House for five years. She’s supposed to be working out a points system for immigrants in the light of Brexit. The Commander in chief keeps her in a pocket, under a thumb.
  • The Brexiteers have been given the job of squabbling with each other. Thus far, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies are making a fine job of it. To ‘help’ him in his task of securing Brexit, Davies has been given a smaller office with fewer staff than anyone else in the Cabinet.
  • Although it is of course far too early to tell, all the business, trade and employment data since Brexit has been positive; the EU – in stark contrast – faces major political, fiscal and trade crises in Spain, Italy and France respectively. In the light of this, the Pound is falling (what else?) just as all those holidaymakers go away and discover how expensive it is in the US and Europe.
  • Every business medium around the world – with the honorable exception of the Wall Street Journal – continues to treat Brexit as a global economic disaster of inestimable proportions, despite the fact that a first year secondary school kid could do the maths to show that Japan, China and Italy are infinitely more dangerous and immediate problems.
  • Theresa Queen of the Mayflower and her crew have pissed away 57 days during which the official Brexit process has moved forward not one millimetre. Both old and new media are full of trolls declaring Article 50 to be irrelevant, but that is not credible for one simple reason: there is no way a group of control freaks like the EC would have put it in the Lisbon Treaty if there was no point to it. More damning is the complete absence of any logical or halfway convincing reason why the application hasn’t been made. Brexit, after all, means Brexit. Well, so they keep saying anyway.
  • Either way, every time Cap’n Theresa signals to her fleet that Article 50 will probably be triggered around, oooh, March 2019, there’s a leak from the Brexiteers….and then the bumboys at the Telegraph are briefed to reassure the 52% (for we are the 52%) that actually no, it will be done before March 31st 2017. This, as you will know by now, is a date of no importance whatsoever – but nevertheless has an uncanny habit of turning up over and over again.

     

     

     


What’s going on?

Let’s rewind the tape to a Slogpost of January 11th this year, in which I wrote this:

11116Brexitban

I very rarely write statements as definitive as that, because too often they quickly become hostages to fortune. But it was based on sources in Brussels, Westminster and Washington and the information was solid: you will not be allowed to leave.

There was, I suspect, nothing wrong with the information – which two out of three sources described as ‘common knowledge’. Indeed, the Washington source insists that the emails of a certain H. Clinton do (or did) make reference to the facts as laid out before me.

The facts were right, but my interpretation was wrong. I was, to be frank, a bit thick about what they were driving at: I assumed electoral rigging.

Perhaps that was indeed considered, but then rejected as unecessary – I don’t know. Certainly, the result came as a bombshell in Whitehall, where absolutely zero work had been done on what to do if Cameron lost the Referendum.

However, Our Man in Brussels (not that senior, as I’ve said before) remains unshakeable. And in the last 72 hours, he has reaffirmed what he first told me at the turn of the year: “It will not be allowed to happen”.


Among the upper ranks of UKIP and Tory Leavers, there remains a fatalistic clarity about what will (or rather, won’t) happen now.

Pro-Brexit Tory leadership candidate Leadsom has been suitably scared off, and the Conservative grassroots denied their chance to vote for her. The Blair/Campbell PR axis is pulling out all the stops to get at best lukewarm Remain doubter Jeremy Corbyn ousted as Labour Leader, and corporate stooge Owen Smith installed as his replacement.

Meanwhile, the mini-sloop Brexit sits in dock with its anchor firmly attached to the bottom. And apart from the odd cruise trip designed to give the illusion of action, that is exactly where it will stay.

Unless, that is, one or more of the following events occur:

  1. Donald Trump becomes President of the US
  2. Marine Le Pen becomes President of France
  3. Deutsche Bank finally crashes
  4. The Italian banking system collapses
  5. A Japanese meltdown triggers a rates panic
  6. The Fed gives rates another hike in September
  7. The Dutch vote to leave the EU
  8. Brazil defaults on its debts.

As the Buddhists say, all things must pass, everything is connected, nothing lasts forever. I would venture to suggest that the Pieces of Eight above will sooner or later do for globalist neoliberalism and financialised capitalism. At which point, the EU will be swept away, and Brexit – along with Article 50 – will cease to be issues of any importance.

Stay tuned.

RANK BAD SCIENCE

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Published on the The Slog on January 3, 2016

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Uncontrollable Shanghai panics, wealth that won’t trickle down & consumers who can’t consume.

From San Diego to Shanghai, measurable human behaviour is teaching anyone who’ll listen that you can’t base an economic system on skitty narcissists

The collapse of the Shanghai index in China was artificially halted this morning as Beijing’s automatic closedown system came into effect to stop a 7% slump. Commentators are fingering poor economic data for the near-tank, but I don’t buy that. I think three other factors are at work.

The first is that traders have been trade-starved and had time to absorb just how bad things are economically and geopolitically; the second is the Saudi Arabia vs Iran relations meltdown which, if it gets any hotter, does threaten to affect energy supplies. And yes, I know that in a global slump when nobody wants oil anyway that doesn’t make sense, but my view for decades has been that bourses very rarely make sense. Exchanges don’t like instability, and the Middle East now is starting to look like underwater rugby without the ball. The Eurostoxx, Dax and FTSE are all well off, and I’d say its that situation among Muslim sects and energy gangsters that lies behind it.

But looking only at China, I’d say that the third (for me, anthropological) factor is that this new circuit breaker – including a trading suspension clause – only came in this morning: I suspect a lot of traders decided to get out of positions before it was too late. In other words – like most State interventions – it was self-defeating…designed to patch a crack in the dam, it evoked a major attack from 617 Squadron.

°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°°

The Chinese are still novices at this game, but I’ve been saying for years now that neoliberalism in general and an overdependence on bourse-raised funds for business are about the best way dreamed up thus far to destroy genuinely entrepreneurial capitalism forever. Having said that, a new study has just emerged adding grist to the commonsense arguments against neolib growth mania and its privileged megamillionaires.

Far from being put out by some obscure Hard Left University in Venezuela, the study is a major feature in the current issue of Time Magazine. Written up with engaging prose by Maia Szalavitz  (a neuroscience journalist), it adds greatly to the arsenal trying in vain to bomb the nonsense put out by the Greedies.

When Scott Fitzgerald told Hemingway and others that “the rich are different”, Irish author Mary Colum responded by saying “Yes they are, they’ve got more money”. But in the ninety years since then, lots of us have wondered whether they got rich because they’re different….or they got rich and then became different”.

Ms Szalavitz tackles the question head on in the best way – by bringing to light cleverly designed fieldwork to monitor the attitudes and behavioural patterns of the rich. This work and that of others is particularly germain to the myth of ‘trickle-down wealth’, in that recent studies suggest wealthier people are more likely to cut people up in traffic, and behave unethically in simulated business and charity scenarios.

Further, last year, statistics on charitable giving revealed that the poor donate a far higher percentage of their meagre incomes to charity than the rich do. Far from giving them a sense of duty to give back and help, the new study suggests, the rich feel they deserve the level of privilege they enjoy. In fact, five separate experiments led researchers to record much higher levels of both narcissism and entitlement among those of a higher income and social class.

I turns out not to be clinical narcissism disorder (from which I’m sure Julian Assange suffers) because this gets in the way of success, given such people positively repel cooperation rather than attracting it. But it does suggest a kind of overweening confidence which becomes more insufferable still once they’re rich….and once their offspring have in turn chosen to decide they must be special too. It is pretty clear I think that Cameron, Osborne, Hunt, Hannan and Fallon all display this outcome to a tee. And so too, of course, do Tony Blair and Harriet Harman.

Ultimately, it all comes back to my Page One pet-hate: privilege. The attitude and behaviour it engenders I would describe as “Well, I’m here so I must be good….and people treat me as somehow special, so obviously I am”. This can apply equally to the Lord Snooties of this world as it does to the Dianne Abbotts. Wealth, rank, special treatment, private education and the ability to jump every queue while evading any law merely solidify the delusion. See also Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, Piers Morgan, and Boris Johnson.

The good news is that, when forced by the piercing of their bubble to listen to those with other lives, developing narcissists do very rapidly begin to behave rather more sensibly: Szalavitz concludes:

‘Psychologists emphasize, however, that being able to see the world from other people’s perspectives — empathy — is critical to fighting narcissism…..The wealthier certain segments of society become, then the more vulnerable communities may be to selfish tendencies — and the less charity the least among us can expect’.

In other words, Friedmanism, Reaganism, Thatcherism and Camerlot’s Big Society are complete and utter bunk. But – and it’s a very big but indeed, not say a pain in the butt – this change in their behaviour from uncaring materialist self-styled Superman isn’t going to “just happen”. Only the likes of Peter Jukes hammering away at Newscorp, Jan Cunliffe fighting to bury the law of Joint Enterprise, Nicholas Wilson refusing to drown the HSBC’s bottomless ocean of lies, and WASPI’s refusal to accept that they should pay for the elite’s broken promises will make a difference.

Doing nothing will still be the default position for most citizens. If that continues, it will be too late to do something….because by then, the trail of violence will be globally viral: and the real extremists will take charge.

There is no such thing as NVE – non-violent extremism. But there desperately needs to be a lot more NVRR – non-violent radical realism.

Joint digital action and the abandonment of ideological tribalism is absolutely central to achieving this: Socialists and crypto-Marxists still stuck in ‘One More Heave’ mode need to get real, do their psephological sums, and join others of decently socialised bent.

Only then can we make life peacefully impossible for those who act as paymasters to the Greedies….and bring down a Government still supported by only a quarter of those entitled to vote.

The Consumers who can’t consume: How neoliberalism destroys its own food supply

 

 

 

 

We the People Pay

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Publishes on The Slog on November 21, 2015

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ANALYSIS: Terror – who brought it upon us, and who is disseminating it today?

The Slog outlines an authentic step by step guide to how and why insane Jihadism has become widespread terror

rainsBrussels has been on ‘maxumum alert’ to my certain knowledge for three days….all shops are closed and every sporting event cancelled. An attack, we’re told, is ‘imminent’. Imminent is becoming one of those internet words like ‘free’: it’s a tricky one to interpret, given the reality.

Meanwhile, of the ten people besieged in the St Denis raid, er, seven have been released without charge. Spookily, the only persons killed were this week’s Mastermind winner, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, and his girlfriend or perhaps cousin but whom we now ‘know’ haha wasn’t a woman at all. As their coming back to life, regardless of sexual orientation, is not imminent, another trail of information and evidence has been lost: another Osama Bin Laden has been buried at sea.

We know Abaaoud was a mastermind, by the way, because he masterminded the Stade de France attack – you know, the one where they made themselves conspicuous by entering the ground half an hour late, were immediately spotted by security cops, and then blew themselves up…scoring a casualty total of precisely three. Yup, it takes a master of the Universe mind to devise that one.

We’re beginning to see emerging elements in the National State of Emergency declared by Hollande last week. The French National Assembly has awarded the Executive sweeping powers: the bill includes the right to tell ISPs to block websites – without any judicial review or court order. Police will no longer need a warrant to seize electronic devices without a warrant. So gung-ho is the Assembly, several even more draconian moves have been suggested – for example, criminalising the Act of even attempting to load one of the summarily banned websites.

French MPs have already voted in favour of an amendment allowing the Minister of the Interior to block any website “promoting terrorism or inciting terrorist acts” (no legal process for adjudication of promoting or inciting) and confine to house arrest individuals that present “serious reasons to think that their behaviour represents a threat for security and public order”….such to also be decided by security forces, not the Courts. So if I blog “what a pity the Schäuble assassin missed” I could be banged up before you could say lettres de cachet. If Nigel Farage stands up in the Brussels Parliament and suggests “one day that crook Verhofstadt is going to wind up hanging from a lamppost” we might even wind up sharing the house. This could be even worse than I thought.

Across the Channel in Target Britannia,  Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond is saying that yes, Britain really is a target and yes, we’re alert. David Cameron his chosen this moment in particular to tell us that seven “major planned Jihadist atrocities” have been foiled in the UK this year, a statement as unqualified as it is unsubstantiated: will CallMeDave now be arrested by Theresa May as a suspected NVE? We don’t know, but we do know that without drawing breath, the Prime Minister confirmed that his government’s new Strategic Defence and Security Review will involve ‘thousands of armed troops flooding the streets if terrorists launch a Paris-style attack on Britain,  and a huge increase in the number of combat troops placed on high alert for a rapid response to a terrorist attack’.

But I’m afraid this leaves me asking one simple question: who exactly are the ones creating terror here? I mean, that is what terrorists do, right? They create a widespread sense of terror.

Before anyone leaps to a convenient misunderstanding of my motives, I should reiterate my very clear view that has not wavered in nearly fifteen years: pc in Britain, the US and Europe has from Day One turned a blind eye to the fundamentally intolerant, misogynist and aggressive nature of Islam. But if they hadn’t done this, we wouldn’t be in the self-perpetuating state of terror that besets us today….with an immigration policy that allowed in hundreds of extremist preachers and an estimated 15,000 Jihadist activists.

Unbelievably, we’re still at it: a pre-Christmas commercial planned for showing in  UK cinemas has been banned by the chains because it features the Lord’s Prayer. Apparently, ‘the cinemas rejected the commercial, saying that it could offend people of differing or no faith’. Hands up all those readers who think the Jews might have objected.

There is then, of course, the vexed (but entirely glossed over) question of where some of this ISIL worldwide well-drilled and ten-million strong at least headcases bought their weapons in the first place. Just over a month ago, it was revealed that the British government has identified Saudi Arabia as a “priority market” and is encouraging UK businesses to bid for contracts in, among others, security and defence. The Saudis have roughly the same in common with our values as ISIL: they are also known suppliers of weapons to the Jihadists.

ISIL’s other major supplier is Erodgan’s Turkey, whose leader Cameron licked all over in his ill-judged Ankara speech of 2010. Turkey is a member of NATO – a military organisation dedicated to the annihilation of Jihadist terrorism.

And of course, we mustn’t leave out France. Je suis Paris, when all’s said and done. Unfortunately, Syrian Jihadists frequently use the FAMAS assault rifle….supplied to them by France.

As the Independent pointed out two years ago, ‘France was instrumental, alongside the UK, in lifting the European Union arms embargo on Syria which would allow supplies to be sent to the rebels’. This was way back when the ‘bastards’ of ISIL were brave freedom-fighters against Bashar Assad.

Earlier this year, in fact, France24 gushed that ‘France’s booming arms trade has proved one of the few bright spots for the country’s struggling economy’;  Hollande conveniently ignored the advice of experts that ‘the influx of arms to Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries is worsening tensions in a region already ravaged by conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen’.

And just to round off the survey, the US remains the biggest arms exporter to the Middle East, with €7.5 billion worth of weapon sales in 2014, while the UK and Germany are also major players.

This is how it works. Our governments follow amoral foreign and export policies, we the People pay. Western governments remain in awe of an energy form we should have moved past decades ago, we the People pay. Politically correct idiots ignore the dark sides of immigration, we the People pay. Establishments become completely beholden to the greed of bankers, we the People pay. Those of neoliberal dogma hire the government pipers to play their ideological hymn, we the People pay. Media moguls smear every real opposition to their cosy privilege, we the People pay. Childish fundamentalists with small dicks get cheap arms and gain ground among the disgruntled, we the People pay.

The path along which we are allowing ourselves to be herded is so well trodden – and so easily recognised by even the most inattentive student of history – it is beyond parody. I feel like a man face up under the guillotine, waiting for it to hurtle down.

 

Anecdotage

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Published on The Slog on October 17, 2015

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My great-aunt Lizzie was a mill-girl with aspirations to better herself. Whereas in 2015, ‘aspiration’ is really a euphemism for material greed, back in 1908 it wasn’t. A hundred and seven years ago it meant becoming respectable through marriage. Neither is that attractive as a trait, but in terms of anthropology, the latter is both more natural and not entirely dysfunctional. At the turn of the century before last, it was entirely understandable: if you worked a ten hour day six days a week and would receive no compensation for falling into the machinery as a result of fatigue, then eschewing the need to do that was a highly desirable step in the right direction.

Like most members of my family, Elizabeth didn’t like her given name. When still very young, she opted for Lilly (or Lil) as a suitable nickname, and to her dying day intensely disliked being called Lizzie. One rather suspects that – given the racy success of the Jersey Lilly as Edward VII’s mistress – she saw this as part of her single-handed attempt to climb the socio-demographic mountain put in the Lower Order’s way in those days. The mountain still exists, the main difference now being that, by being a ruthless, chiselling crook, you can jump on the cable car with relative ease.

Oddly enough, her sister-in-law Melinda’s name was Mountain. Melinda – something of a libertine and Free Love exponent – married Lizzie’s brother James (only ever referred to as Jack) in 1909. They married in haste, my Auntie Edna being already on the way. Lizzie detested Melinda, but was very probably jealous of her social position. Like I say, this was the age of three important things in life: position, position, and position. Either way, being pregnant outside the sanctification of The Church was the worst of all positions to adopt.

Melinda was my grandmother. A pro-am pianist, she had umpteen affairs – which may well explain why all three of my aunties looked like people not so much separated at birth as genetically disconnected. But while Lizzie remained protective of a brother who doted on his feckless wife, her main goal remained the same: betterment.

In 1910 she met Francis Mellor, a member by his father’s marriage of the De Trafford family. Although expected to lead the life of a gentleman, Frank was artistic by nature and particularly good with wood. He opened a cabinet-making company and, to the horror of his relatives, became hugely successful. De Traffords, after all, looked down on those ‘in trade’, and were positively nauseous at the thought of a relation being successful in trade. But that reaction was as nought compared to the fainting fit they all had on discovering Frank’s intention to marry Lilly Wall the mill-girl.

Opposition to marriages is a long-standing tradition in my family, and the bottom line on this liaison was that, predictably, my Great-Uncle Francis was cut out of every Will, removed from the Christmas card list, and generally disinherited. But this mattered little to the happy couple: Frank thought his family insufferably stuffy, while Lizzie had no interest in money. Money was vulgar, but position was priceless. They were married in St Margaret’s Church, Prestwich – a Manchester suburb – in 2012.

I did not discover this last fact until eight years ago, but the coincidence is odd because I was confirmed in that Church in 1960. I wasn’t interested in being confirmed; but to be so gave one access to the adjoining youth club. There one could meet girls, and I was very interested in meeting girls.

Frank volunteered for duty in the Great War at its outbreak, and somehow managed to survive four years in the trenches. Back home, Lizzie watched as her brother James/Jack’s marriage disintegrated, but sent her husband only trench foot remedies and chocolate rather than news of imminent social disgrace. Melinda gave birth to my mother on 20th October 1919, and soon thereafter ran off with an Irish tenor with whom she had been performing. As it were. In 1925, she died giving birth to his child, and soon thereafter Jack died of tuberculoisis. At the age of six, my mother became an orphan.

In fact, four sisters aged from six to seventeen were suddenly left with no means of support. So Lizzie and Francis Mellor adopted them. The brood were housed in a large and comfortable house at 50 Smedley Lane, in what was then desirable Cheetham Hill – close to the centre of the cotton capital of Manchester.

As the post Great War depression began to bite at respectability, Frank’s business did alright; but it fell short of the cost of feeding, clothing and educating four adopted children. And so Lizzie applied for and got a waitress job at Manchester’s Midland Hotel.

From this distance in time, it is difficult to explain the prestige that the Midland Hotel radiated. On the very rare occasions when they ventured north, London’s finest – Royalty included – refused to stay anywhere else en route to where they were going…probably a vast estate in either the Lake District or Scotland. For over thirty years – from 1927-1960 – Lizzie waited on the tables of the rich and famous, rising eventually to become Head Waitress.

The perks of this job were a Godsend in depression Britain….and long thereafter. Her tax-free tips alone were enough to feed even the larger families, but in turn Lizzie was invited by the Hotel management to help herself to food and bread rolls (cobs) left over at the end of an evening. It says something about the cash-flow involved in her career venture that – during the worst of the Blitz in winter 1940 – she was able to pay cash for a pair of Ming vases. These she carried home – on foot – rebuffing the cries of ARP wardens to “get in a shelter you daft old sod” in the week preceding Christmas, as Luftwaffe incendiaries rained down from the grey, droning skies.

But the German Führer was no match for Lily Mellor. She owned a parrot, whose only learning was the phrase “That ‘itler, ‘e’s a bugger”….something her mother Mary Anne (by this time also dependent on the Smedley Lane welfare system) opined at least five times a day. For this reason alone, it became necessary to put a black cage-veil over the bird whenever the vicar of St Luke’s church came for Sunday Tea.

Widowed in 1953 – but left with a good pension by Frank – Lizzie nevertheless continued in her role at the Midland. I remember her restaurant jargon very well: each table was ‘a sprig’, and it would have a number of places (‘couverts’). This became, in Lizzie-speak, “She had ten covers to her sprig”. The more places per table, the more senior and skilled the waitress was.

In 1957, The Real Madrid football team enjoyed a celebratory dinner at the Midland after playing a 2-2 draw second leg cup tie against my team Manchester United at Old Trafford. United having lost 3-1 in Madrid, the result meant that Real went through to the Final. [The final was played at Hampden Park Glasgow, and Madrid beat German team Eintracht 9-3]

Understanding my undying devotion to United, Lizzie went right round the twenty covers to her sprig, and obtained the autograph of every single player. These included the legendary Alfredo Di Stefano, Francisco Gento, Raymond Kopa, José Santamaria, Héctor Rial, and goalkeeper Rogelio Domínguez.

The autographs were signed on a menu, and my brother and I treasured it for years. Lord knows what its value was in those days – far in excess of a conker that had triumphed over 50 contestants I’d imagine. I’ve no idea what happened to the fragile signatures, but that reality merely reflects our inability to attribute long term ‘worth’ to something.

Lizzie’s last years were not happy, primarily because she refused to go into ‘a home’, but was unable to accept that, in another family’s home, she could not rule the roost. She stayed with us for some years (they were a nightmare) and then with Mum’s sister Myra (an even worse nightmare) before spending her final months in a Yorkshire nursing home.

Extreme old age never had any dignity to recommend it. In 2015 however, the missing elements are a sense of family responsibility – and any degree whatsoever of State responsibility. I don’t even want to think what that means in terms of my eventual demise; perhaps this is why I prefer to go out in a blaze of indulgence rather than foist the consequences of my incompetence upon others.

Silly Money

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Published on The Slog on October 9, 2015

sillymoneypicAn occasional reminder that it’s all bollocks, and that’s official

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The latest minutes of the Federal Reserve Board were released yesterday, and reaffirmed the firm opinion affirmed at the last three meetings that, while the going was firm and very few economic signals were looking infirm, things had not quite reached the terra firma whereupon a decision to do something could be firmed up. The economic firmament was however looking increasingly affirmative, and while rumours of a miracle remained unconfirmed, it was important to keep the focus firmly on the main objective, propping up Banking firms. The one dissenting voice, Elmer Z. Firman of the Kansas City Cornball Exchange, said the agricultural payroll data gave him cause for concern about the nation’s firmers.

Following the quarterly loss by Deutsche Bank of 5.8 billion VW diesel derivatives this week, embattled commodities giant Glencore PLC admitted that 100 million hitherto undiscovered Elephants had escaped from its Corporate HQ meeting rooms, and were set to stampede through the New York financial district, causing havoc among bankers looking for hard surfaces thirty floors below. A research note from Bank of America Meryl Streep said she would star in the movie already pencilled to dramatise the development, Yet More Dumbos on Wall Street.

The Cross-border Interbank Payment System (CIPS) has been launched in Shanghai. Fan Yeifi (who lives in Shanghai and is a big fan of wifi) said this internationalisation of the Yuan was an impotent millstone for China. Zeng Gang – an anagram working for the Finance Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (FISCAS) – asserted that, once the two organisations were fully merged following the launch, Fiscscipscaps would contain more s’s than any known acronym, be full of acrimony, and short of money.

Ecologically friendly activist group Codpiece is to launch the Flotilla for Fish after it was revealed that the 5 largest purchasers of US Treasuries – China, Russia, Norway, Brazil, and Taiwan – have been secretly dumping T-Bills in the waters off Finland. Codpiece organiser Dirk Wårmbërgs told The Slog: “During the 12-month period ended July this year, 123 zillion Treasuries were dumped off the Finnish coast – the biggest dump by any known species since data started to be collected yesterday. People simply do not understand that piling all this toxic material into the ocean could destroy the hornbacked shrimp population forever.” Asked why the Big Five had chosen to dump off Finland, Wãrmbêrgs replied, “Everyone hates the Finns, they’re a bunch of gobby moaners sucking up to Berlin”.

The global monetary system ‘could collapse into a failed normalisation of interest rates and market conditions’ warned IMF top frock Pristine Lagirdle last Wednesday. She also cited “Policy missteps and adverse shocks, vanishing liquidity, decompressed risk premia, tightening credit cycles and a plague of brimstone boils” as likely to impact upon the situation. The Grand Young Dukes of New York marched all their stocks down the hill, but within hours FOMC outsize frock Yelling Bonnet did nothing, and so the stocks were all marched up the hill again. Interviewed on CNN later, former Fed Chair Bin B’Nanka put forward his latest thesis ‘The Chance Doctrine’, which states that the effect of frocks on stocks could not be neutralised by pulling up socks or taking hands off cocks, but that all would be well just so long as the hollyhocks in the garden had been properly cut back, the clocks turned back in good time, and anti-Warlock powder put down to ward against the evil spirits of the Winter Solstice. Mr Binbanker, who wore a sports jacket back to front throughout the interview, looked relaxed and happy, joking at the end that “everyone should stay long in Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors”.

And finally, the news that the National Bank of Belgium has sold 1083 tons of its 1300 tons of gold over the last fifty years evoked a vigorous denial this morning from serial sovereign rapist and MEP Guy Veryoffentwat that he had hidden it in his coal cellar. “That is a ridiculous suggestion,” he scoffed, “only a fool would let all that lovely gold get dirty. It’s under my mattress”. Mr Verhofsfat has claimed over €31million euros in the last five years for medical treatment to cure his permanent back pain. In an unrelated incident, Frau Doktor Angela Mirakle refused to confirm that all the German gold repatriated from New York had turned out, on close examination, to be 7,000 packs of Benson & Hedges Special Filter cigarettes.

Britain: Hope, Glory & Bollocks

broken-britain2gc2Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on October 5, 2015

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The myth of 21st Century entrepreneurial Britain

Liam Halligan – one of the few hacks at the Torynaff I’m still prepared to read – offers a piece today in which he quite rightly argues that Labour’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn is at his best deconstructing the Tory Party’s utterly mendacious version of how the British economy is faring. But in the midst of such wise thoughts, he drops a clanger like this: (my emphasis)

‘With the relatively moderate Hilary Benn having just been ousted, there’s now a pro-Corbyn majority on Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee. Corbynites are wresting control of the party machine from the more sensible centre-Left

Liam thinks the soft Left more sensible because it buys into the ‘reality’ of the Thatcher economic sea change; and he adds this bubble-dwelling nonsense: ‘the UK today is by no means a place where people “take what they’re given”. The British, on the contrary, tend to go to work each morning, earn their money, often start businesses and strive to improve the lot of themselves and their families. Enterprise and self-reliance are central to this country’s identity, hard-wired into us.’

That isn’t true of the British and it never was; it was only ever true of a tiny band of post-agrarian aristocrats nouveaux in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the independent shopkeeper about whom Napoleon Bonaparte was so hopelessly wrong. The central myth of Thatcherism is that Britain is choc-a-bloc with folks just gagging to be the next Alan Sugar. Today, all the famous entrepreneurial and innovative corporate names from our industrial revolution are gone forever – either sold to unpleasant multinationals or rendered sclerotic by third-rate, third-generation management. If you can see any new mega-groups emerging from a standing start in vehicles, technology, media, banking, energy and all the other controlling interests in 21st century UK life, then you have better eyesight and foresight than I.

The overwhelming majority of Britons today take what they are given because they have no choice, or – even worse – zero discernment about what really matters in life.

The statistics are there for anyone to see: those at the very bottom of society have made a 1.0-2.5% gain in funds, those from the old skilled working class have lost 13% in the last ten years alone, a minority of merchant and retail independents have found lucrative niches selling to the Daft Rich ( but most others have gone to the wall), the old have gone backwards on almost every real measure, and corporations have vastly increased their power. Those individuals ripping off the old public sector and milking the capital research base of former nationalised giants and contemporary multinationals have rocketed into the standard 3 – 5% who spend more on lunch each day than most of those at the bottom get in monthly salary.

Britain’s tiny top slither of 1% shovers and makers have accumulated as much wealth as the poorest 55% of the population. Household wealth in the south-east has risen five times as fast as the rest of the country. Five billionaire families control the same wealth as 20% of the population. The bottom 50% of the country’s citizens own just 9% of the wealth.

Above all, the blindingly obvious piece of history that gives the lie to Halligan’s silly assertions is that Britain was the first nation in the world whose mass workforce of employees (not Grant Shapps clones) organised to create democratically elected socialist administrations with genuine power. France and Australia may offer historians the first Commune and the first socialist Prime Minister, but by 1924 Britain had a minority Labour Government – and the work of Attlee’s 1946-51 team created a State welfare and health system that became the envy of the world.

What has given Britain its stability since Cromwellian and Restoration times is a unique feature: the ability to learn – via various Reform Acts and Rule of Law continuity – how to avoid the mistakes of both revolution and privilege. From 1640 until 1979, it worked to the citizens’ advantage better than in any previous Empire or Commonwealth. Since then we have lost this.

The reality of such loss is apparent in the myriad symptoms we see in today’s far from United Kingdom: wealth inequality, extreme views about gender and equality ‘correction’, acceptance of socially irresponsible profit, the rise and rise of the unapologetic greedy arsehole, alignment with a blatantly fascist EU, wholesale abandonment of the Rule of Law, flagrant perversions of equality before the Law, tabloid cruelty, and above all the headlong rush towards sociopathic corporatocracy.

The only defence the repressed in society can fall back upon now is media-distracted apathy and the revival of extreme Left ideology that failed before. It failed for the same reason that extreme Right ideology will fail in the immediate-term future: denialism about the realities of Man the social animal – his frailties, wiring, bigotries, fears and preference for family life over corporate and State denialism.

I confess to tiring of writing about this. And I absolutely despair when a Conservative Conference tweeter tries to tell us that Britain is Great because there are no French Rolling Stones or German Beatles.

Did the Greeks DESERVE to get Greeked?

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on July 16, 2015

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GREECE: Applying a needle and thread to the idea that somehow “the Greeks deserved it”

“Rape ‘er? Are you kiddin’ mate? She was f**kin* gaggin’ for it”

I really don’t know how to define or rationalise this post other than calling the piece “getting it off my chest”.

I was directed to Richard North’s site this morning and read a lucid, well documented column from a powerful eurosceptic voice. But something throwaway towards the end got right up my nose and evoked the comment thread that follows.

Maybe at times I get too sensitive about Greece and what’s being done to it. God knows, I’m more aware than most of the infuriating nature of the place at times. But if you sympathise with this summary, I’d deem it a great favour if you’d pump some internet oxygen into it.

‘Oh dear. Just when I thought that, at last, an article about endemic Greek corruption was going to reach the right conclusion, it turns into a vague apologiae for Troika gangsterism.

I have been a regular visitor to Greece and enthusiastic Grecophile for 45 years. I have probably written more on the injustices inside (and done to) Greece than any other Western blogger. So allow me please to expand and correct here and there.

1. As you point out, Franco-German to Greece export & banking corruption is every bit as disgusting as that of the Greek élites. I don’t see anyone punishing Germany. Or France.

2. 80% of Greeks approve of tax evasion because history has taught them that their payments go into the same back pockets of bureaucrats and bent developers as everything else that the ordinary Greeks produce with such thrift and passion.

3. The entire medical sector is about 6-7% of the Greek population. Every doctor and dentist I’ve ever met takes bribes… even when the treatment is free on the State. None of these people have suffered a jot from austerity, and over 90% of them vote Nia Dimokritia. Pharmacies cheat the system because they too are an élite mafia. Ordinary Greeks don’t benefit from this corruption, they pay through the nose for it. It is the corrupt pols who refuse to regulate it.

4. Despite all this obvious evidence of WHERE the corruption problem lies, Troikas 1&2 chose to deal with precisely those people fostering it…who of course heaped the cost of austerity onto the people who are not the problem. But the EU is every bit as corrupt as they are: Herr Doktor Schäuble prefers to deal with those of like mind to himself.

5. When at last the vast majority of Greeks woke up and elected a government determined to root out and destroy the pre-1789 style privilege of the élites on their backs, the EU, EC, ECB, and Eurogroupe gargoyles worked overtime to turn down every proposal they made and destabilise that Syriza régime. This would seem quixotically deranged behaviour for a group of people allegedly in favour of “reform”. Here they were, presented with the most idealistic, honest and popular Greek political party for more than 40 years…but as the IMF correctly reports, EU fiscal blackmail in the final fortnight (all of it illegal under EU Law) took Greek debt unsustainability from the surreal to the impossible.

What exactly makes you think either Tsipras or the toiling classes he represented ‘deserved’ that level of depraved sociopathy?

6. Cornered at last, the IMF’s Christine Lagarde has blown a massive hole in this ridiculous wall of Brussels-am-Berlin sanctimony. The aim of these three bailouts is now clear for all to see: it never was nor indeed could ever be debt repayment. To use the French term, it was a summary and gratuitous execution pour encourager les autres. And at a level even more base than that, it was a full-frontal attack by federalist fanatics on the sovereignty of a nation…a nation I observe, year in year out, working much harder than any Nordeuropeans of my acquaintance.

https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/new-troika-perfidy-revealed-by-reuters-the-smoking-gun-with-creditor-dna-all-over-it/

SHORING UP THE SHANGHAI & GANGING UP ON GREECE

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on July 9, 2015

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Tell me: is there a decent hero on the planet?

Market control in a supposedly neoliberal world, fortunate glitches in a nervous Stock market, and bullying hypocrisy from the squandered marbles army. There is little or nothing worth saving in any of it.

The Shanghai index’s collapse was ‘stemmed’ during Asian trading earlier today. Much relief all round, but there are two reasons not to be joyful about it: first, the market is still around 55% higher than it was a year ago, when the property market collapse pulled novices into stocks…so logic would suggest it has further to fall; and second, it is not market sentiment that has stopped the rot, but more draconian Beijing regulation. 50% of all China stocks are now suspended, and yesterday the government ordered a blanket ban on anyone with more than 5% of a company’s stocks from selling for the next six months.

So this is not a rally, it’s a dam. In the US yesterday, a glitch came to the rescue of NYSE traders already nervous and gloomy. Nobody I spoke to believed the hiccup was either accidental or satisfactorily explained.

“There’s definitely an issue if we see a further correction in the Chinese stock market,” said Russ Koesterich, BlackRock’s chief investment strategist, but then he added a tell-tale bit right at the end about the EU (my italics): “Greece is going to be a negative in the short term. If you don’t see a deal on Sunday, you’re going to see a negative knee-jerk reaction on Monday. I don’t think a ‘Grexit’ is priced in,” he said. However, he did not see Greece as a major problem for the market longer term, “since Europe is backstopped by the European Central Bank.”

In recent days, more and more people with their brain functions intact are starting to gen up on the real Greek debt canvas that’s been gradually painted over since 2009 by ham-fisted cover-up artists called Draghi, Schäuble, Dijesslbleom, Schulz, Samaras et al. I’d refer those who missed it to the Daniel Hannan demolition job The Slog performed on June 17th this year   in relation to his woeful ‘analysis’ of Greek debt and surplus, because Point 4 therein is an important reality that the daubing history-changers would prefer you didn’t perceive. This is that the ECB could this afternoon write off two-thirds of the entire Greek debt without any harm or cost to anyone anywhere at any future time.

A central bank configured like the ECB can put a zillion quadrillion Swiss francs of debt into its ‘negative assets’ column and forget about it, because the ECB cannot go bust. The surreal accounting system behind the euro ensures that the Central Bank can be blown up by a direct nuclear hit, but its viability as a financial institution will remain intact. The markets and the first Troika were perfectly well aware of this, as are the hypocrites working forTroika2.

The Greek debt is not being forgiven for a number of reasons – lending market dislike of written-off debt, fears about default contagion, a German determination to contain all resistance contagion, and a continuing belief that the euro’s cadaver is not dead, it is simply resting. That’s it: there is no fiscal or economic logic to any of it. Club Med is being destroyed by austerity to show the markets that European debt will be repaid come what may – even if the entire region has to starve and degenerate into Civil War in order to achieve that goal….a goal that is mathematically unachievable anyway. The situation really is that surreal, and its practitioners that profoundly deranged.

Degrading and depriving millions of EU citizens for the sake of a fiat currency with no Sovereignty to guarantee it, and no way to opt out of it – because it was designed by hubris-fuelled idiots keen to offset any and all responsibility for unsound fiscal governance.

That’s what we are looking at here: a policy that is blatantly unconstitutional under the Rome and Lisbon treaties, and one that demands the bill be paid by the waiters, not the troughing borrowers. In exactly the same wicked and lawless manner, the Berlin FinMin is now lobbying for any failed Greek banks to be the subject of bailins whereby entirely innocent citizens will lose such savings as they have left…precisely as Cypriot citizens and foreign retirees lost theirs. For Mr Dijesslbleom has his template, and that template must be used.

Meanwhile, the odiously irresponsible Troika1 lenders got away with their margins largely intact from the early stages of this ripoff – because they either sold on their investments to vultures, or the vultures themselves paid 10cents on the Dollar and received only a 40% haircut. Goldman Sachs (which conspired with the original right wing Greek government to deceive Brussels about the scale of the debt they were busy selling to the fat cats) in turn has never been brought to book for that heinous crime.

So to sum up, the German position as of last night was a flat refusal to accept any devaluation of a debt that can never be repaid, but which could be largely vapourised by one push of an electronic button. Some call this intransigence; I call it insanity…the insanity of fanatics who refuse to accept defeat. The same mentality, if you will, as those SS officers who – with the Russians two streets away from the Reichschancellery in 1945 – walked around calmly shooting any citizen unwilling to resist the Soviet advance.

Francois Hollande – the Socialist President of France – and his FinMin Muscovici have now fallen in with the eurogroupe Schützstaffel tendency… fully aware of the fact that France played a central lobbying role in designing and then exploiting the irresponsible nature of the euro’s format: since EMU came into being, the French have failed to hit a single deficit target they were set by the Commission. No bat-pummelling for the French, though: bullies, after all, never take on anyone approaching their own size.

There remain for me this morning three other targets for ire. First, Tsipras – for offering to continue with a 3-year bailout. That’s not so much a red line as a red rag to all those tired and tortured bulls who voted for Syriza in January. Second, the European Parliament, whose behaviour towards Tsipras was horribly reminiscent of Mussolini’s fascists shouting down Haile Selassie’s speech to the League in 1936. And finally, a disgraceful British Labour Party too ideologically constipated and europhile to align itself with the People.

‘Forward with the People’ a famous Labour paper used to say. What a truly reticent, flappy-bottomed shower of pampered fluffies they are.

Death of the Euro

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on June 29, 2015

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Vindictive eurocrats, a happy Mario Draghi, a predictably exposed Christine Lagarde, and a wise but powerless DSK

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O Lucky Man

HOW THE AMERICAN PENCHANT FOR REGIME-CHANGE DELIVERED US INTO DYSTOPIA

It hasn’t taken long today for the strutting “We can handle a Greek default” faux-confidence to evaporate among the engorged egos of the euroélite. On the whole it is becoming hourly more obvious what small, mean-minded and vindictive goblins the eurocrats all are. Juncker’s petty little address – laced with self-pity, riddled with fantasy but devoid of remorse – reveals this rubber-spined brothel-creeping bitch as a man with neither dignity nor style.

Dijesslbleom’s response was made of similarly flimsy dissembling: the classic over-promoted prefect blamestorming his way from topic to topic, condemning an elected Member State government for having spotted the game plan – humiliation piled on top of debt slavery – and proclaiming the Great Offer “removed from the table” in a pathetic tone of how very dare they.

But what we’ve seen today is precisely what would’ve happened had Varoufakis walked out of the ambush set for him, three weeks in on February 19th, after the Muscovici solution had been de-tabled by the Draghi/Schäuble/Drizzleloon axis of Wehrmacht diplomacy.

On February 19th, The Slog opined (  https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/berlin-outright-rejection-of-syriza-loan-extension-proposal/  ) that a Greek walkout would’ve ‘vastly increased the cost of sovereign borrowing’. So far today, Portugal’s 5-year bond yields have leapt by 17%, default insurance rates in Europe have careered off the scale, Eurobank stocks fell 5%, and the euro has zoomed back down to 1.40 versus Sterling.

The usual suspects – notably Reuters and the WSJ – put a brave face on this, showing that German Bund yields fell and there was a flight to US Treasuries. No shit, Sherlock? What the Hell else did they expect to happen? No doubt egged on by Yannis Stournaras and his bumboy Hugo Nixon  Dixon, Reuters in particular talked of Greek stocks and bond yields in meltdown and liftoff respectively. No shit Sherlock? What the Hell else did they expect to happen? But none of that matters to the real Greeks, whose concerns now involve how to make the meagre amounts of cash available to them buy enough food for the week. If you’re skint already, markets and borrowing rates come very low down in the importance hierarchy.

However, one person tonight is, I suspect, a happy man….for he is not a politician, bureaucrat, nervous derivatives player, ordinary citizen or health practitioner, but a central banker.

As I’ve been saying for eight months now, Mario Draghi has all the bases covered. Greece may be proving truculent and using some silly plebeian ruse to give Brussels-am-Berlin the finger, but so what? He has a cheap currency, oodles of not yet dry QE euros to make it cheaper still and bail out exposed eurobanks, and more ability than any other European to do WTF he wants without fear of electorates, Brussels or Jens Weidmann. Mario has what every psychopath craves: absolute power and zero responsibility.

The flight back to US Treasury bonds ticks all the Wall Street boxes for the time being, and keeps him in good odour with Washington. So too does a euro still edging steadily towards $ parity…. and thus in line with the Dolleuro scenario. That working title for the buck-in-Europe strategy may have ghastly onomatopaeic echoes of Delorean, but this is of little concern to Supermario: even if that never comes off, as of tomorrow morning Greece becomes Europe’s Argentina, and he has lots of ways to wield further the baseball bat in order to make life even more unbearable in a nation for which he has little fondness anyway. True, he is ‘owed’ some €120bn by the Greek government, but what is that other than an entry in the ledger, to be transferred to the ‘negative assets’ column available to all those living in the Swiftian land of Oxymoronia, aka the Central Banking system?

In short, whether the euro implodes or succeeds against impossible odds, to Draghi’s mind he is the laughing sandboy: quids in, on the crest of a wave, on the up and in the pink.

In and to his mind, that is. But Mario had an unpleasant reminder last month of how radicals can penetrate security and then jump on his desk. He did look very scared indeed when that happened.

That said, he is way ahead of Lagarde the Lowgrade lawyer, another over-promoted chancer who now finds herself staring forlornly at the glaring blot on her IMF copy book. For the IMF is an instrument of American foreign policy, not a central bank; and the very first default write-off in its history is about to happen on Fifi’s watch.

Perhaps Dominique Strauss-Kahn can gain a certain contentment in the autumn of his largely destroyed career from Chrissie the airhead’s dénouement as the engineless aeroplane. We cannot be certain about that: but going back to another Slog obsession from 2011, as time passes it becomes clearer and clearer exactly why DSK was moved out of the game by the corporatocracy.

Think about it: DSK wasn’t only an IMF boss unimpressed by the idea of collaboration in US hegemony, he was also a shoe-in French Socialist Party candidate about to be handed the falling off a log job of defeating Nicolas Sarkozy. Without the invented New York hotel maid sex-assault smear, M. Strauss-Kahn would’ve gone from being a pain in the State Department arse at the IMF to being a cancer in the Eunatic/US imperialism, and a man who would without question have resisted the siren calls of the Draghischäuble on pretty much every issue.

Cynics may wish to shout me down on this one, but Google DSK News, and you will be rewarded with more sagesse in half an hour than has emanated from the Troika over the last five years. The latest of these can be found at  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/strauss-kahn-suggests-temporary-halt-203519636.html#HGXf0F2 where the silly sex pest but brilliant economist can be heard appealing for a temporary end to Greek debt repayments.

Régime change has for many decades been the MO of choice for the United States. Over and over again – in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Asia – for more than half a century now, America has meddled in, muddled the realities of, and then left behind a trail of dysfunctional destruction for the citizens in, pretty much everywhere from Andalucia to Zaire.

At long last, new alternatives to this hegemoni horribilus are emerging. But the world desperately needs contrarian US politicians to start educating the American populace on the subject of how a once all-powerfully missionary Church needs to withdraw peacefully into more benign and less interventionist role. There is, after all, no percentage in gaining control of a world ruined by GM lunacy, energy blindness, unsustainable inequity, and nuclear exchange.

HEADING FOR DISASTER

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on May 18, 2015

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HEADING FOR DISASTER: A FAILING BRITISH ECONOMY, AN UNREPAYABLE DEBT, & AN UNREPENTANT POLITICAL CLASS

GEORGE, THERE ARE GOING TO BE TEARS WELL BEFORE BEDTIME

oscuntPrecisely as the right-wing Institute for Fiscal studies predicted before the Election, George Osborne is now under pressure (from the Institute of Directors) to “slash spending”. The IoD has gone one on from “cut”: perhaps next time the verb will be “decimate”. And then “obliterate”.

Note that few if any of the IoD’s members will suffer a jot from the cuts. Also note that the IoD is specifically ruling out tax rises….which would, of course, hit most of their members very hard indeed.

The Chancellor has promised yet another budget in the summer (we might just as well make them quarterly and have done with it) and has said it will be “a budget for working people”. This is another little weasel phrase invented by the Aussie spin doctor Lynton Crosby; what it means is “people in a full-time contractual private sector job”. As only 22% of us are these days, it isn’t going to be terribly good news for the unemployed, the State retired, or indeed the NHS: get out of that, Jeremy Hunt.

I think a few more people need to take time out here and study what exactly is going on rather more fully. In a nutshell, it is this: because the ConDem coalition spectacularly failed over the last five years to (a) wipe out the UK deficit (b) diversify the UK economy out of financial services and (c) gain new export contracts beyond the EU, those people out of jobs as a result of that failure, or on benefits, or ill will be asked to cough up. The business organisation members who aided in this abject failure, however, won’t be asked to cough up. They’ll just see their salaries and bonuses continuing to go up.

So, Government screws up and business acts as its accomplice; labour force, the ill and the poor foot the bill.

Sorry to repeat the question for the 50th time, but you see so far I haven’t had an answer. As a neoliberal economy is based on eternal consumption and a ready supply of credit, how are lower incomes and dried-up banks going to produce more consumption?

They can’t, period. But still the financial press calls the UK’s Q1 slowdown ‘disappointing’ (to whom – idiots?) and still the talk of China being ‘back on course’ gets blown off course every time data emerges from Beijing….a deceleration rate of 5.2% YOY being the latest one last Friday.

Look around at the overall situation and think: until very recently we had a situation where people were paying governments to borrow money off them. Banks are still offering ‘savers’ virtually no interest on their savings. There isn’t a Western economy booming anywhere: not one. But not a single Western bourse is reflecting that fact: not one. Every week another lunatic (usually German) insists that the eurozone is turning the corner. No it isn’t: it’s in the ER room with severe brain damage being kept alive by experimental drugs.

A 2% rise in interest rates – just 2% people – would move US debt management expenditure from 2 in 5 of all tax dollars to $2.50. In 1976, the UK’s deficit to gdp ratio was 6%…but we had to call in the IMF to avoid insolvency – because interest rates were a staggering 14.25% average during the year.

The latest UK projected deficit in 2015 is 4.8%. BUT that’s with near-zero interest rates. Just a rise of 1.5% would would take our deficit higher than it was when we nearly went bust under Labour. An even remotely normal level at 4% would double it. At that point, bond yields would go into orbit around Saturn.

When the Conservatives came to power in 2010, the national debt was £900bn. It’s closer to £1.6trillion today…80% higher in five years.

No matter what any politician tries to tell you, our current woefully negative trading account means that the UK National Debt is as unrepayable as that of Greece. The big difference being that we have far, far more to lose than they do.

There is no way further spending cuts can have any effect on that, because the welfare and health bills for government aren’t the real problem. The real problem is an unreformed economy ludicrously overdependent on financial services, and a Conservative administration with almost no commercial experience in its ranks to switch to high-margin manufacturing and retraining of the workforce to make stuff.

The money saved by Osborne was a minute part of even the deficit reduction. In relation to the debt, the best analogy I can offer you is that more expenditure cuts now would be like putting one pipette into the Pacific in an effort to stem rising sea levels. The idea that austerity on the one hand is part of the cure for long-term British commercial and business failure is obscenely infantile.

The Conservatives know this, but don’t know what to do except take away our right to resist. The Labour Party doesn’t even understand it in the first place. Nigel Farage probably gave up on this piece after paragraph six. And Nicola Sturgeon cares not for any of it just so long as she gets independence for the Scots.

That is the depth of our political crisis in 2015. Only a drastic change in socio-economic culture, education and our Constitutional processes can even begin to change it.

How to Vote

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on May 7, 2015

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ELECTION DAY: SOME PLAIN ADVICE ON HOW TO VOTE

slipptnet

Vote ‘none of the above’.

If, however, you cannot bear to let go of the right others ‘gave’ you, then here’s some supplementary counsel. Many readers will have followed the half-dozen posts I’ve put up before this The Big Day. Below is a slightly different approach, in which – based on your circumstances and outlook – I offer some specific suggestions and observations in a purely unofficial capacity.

Are you retired, English or Welsh, on limited means and spent most of your life as an employee?

Don’t vote for any of them. You’ve been around the block a few times and seen some eleven previous “elections”. In which case, by now you’ll know they’re all bombastic clones with no life experience and about as much point in life as an ocean-going sieve.

However, if you haven’t sussed this by now, vote UKip. It’s tailor-made for you.

Are you Scottish?

Vote SNP. Everyone else is, so why not join in? Jump off the cliff – 14 million Lemmings can’t be wrong. The sooner you all bugger off the better. And you can f**k up Westminster on your way out.

After all, as the mealy-mouthed Sassenach Establishment has been daft enough to give you the power to do this, then as the French say, “Il faut profiter”. You’ll get on very well with the French once you’re in the EU – Auld Alliance and all that.

It’s a no brainer, Jammy: Vote SNP.

Are you poor, jobless, working for near-zero money on zero hours ‘contracts’, looking after an old person at home, on benefits, or the owner of a fatal disease?

Don’t vote Conservative. They think you’re all scroungers and are convinced they could live on eight groats a month so why can’t you? Their neoliberal system and banking mates have screwed up royally and somebody has to pay, so it’s you. And me. Well, everyone except their mates, really.

Don’t vote UKip. People once thought nobody could be as bad as Hitler, but then along came Stalin to prove them all wrong.

If you really think you should, vote Labour. It won’t make a lot of difference, but if enough of you do it, even Teddy Testicles might feel duty bound to make some token gesture….if he’s not too busy selling your bank to a hedge fund via his brother. Or tweeting about footie.

Are you a sort of middle of the road Nicey who’d like everyone to behave well and not fib?

Don’t vote for any of them, but especially, don’t vote Conservative.

Here’s a brief personal example why. Thanks to the tripartite incompetence of British civil servants, French civil servants and a French doctor, after 15 months I’m still not in the French health service. Now, it transpires I need a birth certificate to prove that my passport and driving licences aren’t faked. I ordered one from a private UK supplier via their express service (3 days delivery). Twelve days later, there’s no sign of it. So I Googled ‘Birth certificate private supplier complaints’ and discovered that four years ago the Advertising Standards Authority, the Trading Standards folks and a plethora of other critics slagged them all off as sheisters, embezzlers, and phoneys attempting to look like the official service.

Well, four years on they’re all still there, up to exactly the same tricks. So don’t vote Conservative, because they unreservedly approve of this sort of thing. Especially Grant Jones and his twin sister Miss Haps.

Are you in prison, 16 years old, insane or a horse?

If so, you can’t vote anyway so nerr-nerr-ne-nerr-nerr. But you should actively campaign for Labour, because they want everyone of all ages, species, occupations and delusions to get the vote, on account of them almost always voting Labour.

Do you believe every last discredited theory about CO2 and enjoy being ordered about by people who want to include newts in the European Human Rights Act?

Vote Green. They’re the perfect match for you. But Labour (see above) run them close.

Don’t whatever you do vote Conservative. They believe by contrast in every discredited, amateur and ill-investigated idea put out by James Delingpole. Which is even worse. Also they want to frack the shit out of Britain. Worst of all, the biggest advocate of digging up Britain in order to help Texas is Daniel Hannan – the only man on earth who hates both the EU and David Cameron….but is a Tory MEP.

So don’t vote Tory. Oooooh no.

Are you a go-getting cheat who lies on the internet, manipulates Libor rates, fiddles company popularity contests, takes a 10-hour nap every day, covers up for paedophile MPs, shags media whores, or suffers from Columbian Marching Nose syndrome?

As you are already in the Cabinet, it would be churlish note to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat. In fact, my advice is vote as many times as you can in that manner, as otherwise the dead heat result is just as obvious as Piers Morgan’s addiction to mobile phone messages.

Are you Russell Brand?

Don’t vote for any of them. Or do vote for one of them, because it’s an emergency. It won’t make any difference roight, so vote Labour ‘cos that’ll help deal with the emergency, roight? Or perhaps not. However, on the other hand…

That Russell, eh? He’s mustard, and no mistake. And also an infantile, irresponsible cock whose cock is enormous because it’s where he keeps his engorged ego.

Well, I think that about wraps it up. Have a great Election Day and remember to Vote against everyone busy undermining your rights.

Growing Old

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on May 2, 2015

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Growing old is not primarily about forgetting; it’s about forgetting whether or not you did something.

Growing old is about watching people make the same mistakes you did – and feeling powerless to stop them.

Growing old makes you realise that feminism is a curate’s egg, but ageism is ignored.

Growing old leaves us constantly surprised…especially when we look in the mirror.

Growing old is about realising that you’re cool when you no longer care whether you’re cool or not.

Growing old for blokes means feeling stiff in the mornings, except in the place you’d like to be.

Growing old for women means wondering why wrinkles only work for blokes.

Growing old is about the young Queen you remember from 1953 now having great-grandchildren.

Growing old for Prince Charles is realising that Coronation Street is 55 years old and shows no signs of dying.

Growing old brings a surfeit of wisdom, and a lack of the energy required to express it.

Growing old brings a new wonder every day…for example, why the fuck is Grant Shapps not in prison?

Growing old brings the realisation that you are planting trees for other people.

Growing old means being able to give children back to their parents.

Growing old gracefully is almost impossible; growing old disgracefully is much more fun.

Growing old involves coming to terms with that nagging pain in the joints, and activists who are a permanent pain in the arse.

Growing old is about making way for the new.

Greek Deadline Fatigue

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on April 24, 2015

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Greece: Deadline fatigue is in danger of boring us all to death

I went for a long lie down in a cool room this afternoon after a morning full of chores, followed by a lunchtime laying gravel, and then bordering it with rocks the size of Earth-threatening asteroids.

All of this, I’m here to tell you, was less tiring than Deadline Fatigue – a new board-game for all the family invented by the Eurogroupe-Varoufakis-IMF Toy Company.

I’m up and about again now, preparing dinner while lighting the fire-pit outside because the weather’s gone a little grey and chilly here. Things also seem to have gone a little chilly in the ‘tough’ negotiations between sound economics on the one hand, and Jeroboam Drivelclown on the other. Tough or not, this ridiculous paint-drying championship could have been predicted from Day One.

I shrink, as always, from the limelight; but as it happens, The Slog did piss off just about everyone at the outset by suggesting there were no grounds at all for optimism on the subject of compromise.

I posted this gentle mickey-take on the chances of building bridges between Frankfurt and Athens last January 28th. What followed was obduracy after obduracy: the Draghi/Schauble ambush of Yanis Varoufakis in late February, and the rise and rise of their Dutch bumboy Dieselbang…with Pristine Lowgrade joining the ‘non’ tendency despite a Varoufakis attempt to charm the charmless.

The timeline, as one looks back now, really is almost funny: Greece must default on February 26th, then March 11th, then March24th, then April 14th. Reuters might just as well have had a daily column called ‘Another day, another deadline’.

All this week we’ve been fed with spin about ‘rapid progress being made’, but today’s free-for-all presser was nothing more than a statement of the obvious: the two sides are no nearer a compromise today than they were almost three months ago to the day.

The following realities need to be borne in mind in this poker marathon:

1. The weak card in the Syriza hand is without doubt that they have a mandate to tell Brussels to piss off, but not to take Greece out of the euro.

2. Over 50% of all Greeks believe they could be kicked out of the euro, although legally this is an impossibility.

3. The weak card in the Troika2 hand is that – despite what the markets might suggest now – the reality of a Greek default within the eurozone is that discontent contagion will swiftly follow….and whether or not that’s reflected immediately in bond yield spikes is neither here nor there. The markets would have to be deficient in all the primary senses not to spot that rebellion on such a scale spelt the end of the euro.

4. If Troika2 really was comfortable with the idea of Greek default, they would’ve engineered it by now: you are a boxer and you have the other guy on the ropes….do you just tickle him under the armpits and spin things out until the bell goes for the end of the round? I think not. Bear in mind that twice now, Draghi has continued to drip feed ELA funds to Greek banks. It is a very odd general indeed who plays to keep his enemies in the game.

5. Far away to the West, we are a little over 12 days away from the UK General Election. Nigel Farage is very excited because a new poll in the constituency he’s fighting – Thanet – puts him nine points clear…when just two weeks ago he looked in danger of losing. This is Nigel looking very excited:

nigelexcited24415Nigel gets excited by almost anything…a media crew, a flood, a camel hair coat, a pint of Old Scrotum and so on. But if there really is a Ukip surge about to take off, while it is highly unlikely to deliver more than four seats in total, this will nevertheless represent a third front opening against beleaguered Brussels-am-Berlin: not only an austerity rebellion in Greece and euro rebellions in Italy and Spain, but suddenly an EU rebellion in Britain. Marine Le Pen in France may very well intensify in the nightmare in two years time.

I do think now that the time is long past when anyone can credibly raise an argument to say that Master Tactician Yanis Varoufakis knows exactly what he’s up to, and every step is carefully planned: as I have written before, Yanis overestimated the leverage available to produce a compromise, and Troika2 drastically underestimated the unwillingness of the Greek electorate to buy into any more “serves you right” bollocks.

I still believe that in late February Varoufakis should have revealed the Eurogroupe perfidy and walked away from the ambush. But all this is now water under the bridge. The reality is that if a deal were to be reached now, it would have zero credibility in the markets, and a Syriza having done that deal would have zero electoral credibility at home.

Yanis thought it necessary to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Syriza was holding an olive branch, whereas the Troikanauts were wielding baseball bats. I suspect this was the truth: but it’s not the way the Western MSM have portrayed it.

The only honourable path ahead for Tsipras and Varoufakis now is to say, “Right – do your worst: we are not going to accept your neoliberal crap thinly disguised as “reform”. We will default inside the eurozone: let’s see how you like them apples”.

The Battle of Yesterday vs Tomorrow

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on April 19, 2015

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ANALYSIS: Why the standoff between Greece and the EU is really the first major battle in the war between Yesterday and Tomorrow

2day2morrow19415As the days drag on towards some kind of dénouement to what is rapidly becoming the silliest, longest and most empty threat of a death sentence in political history, I continue to be amazed that the Western media are reporting the Greece-eurogroupe ‘deadlock’ as if it was a purely technical matter.

There are only two elements of the ‘crisis’ that concern me: the emotional dimension of an at times infuriating but fundamentally sound culture I’ve loved for over forty years being pelted by a salvo of Brussels sprouts, controlling sauerkrats, and past-sell-by date Frankfurters; and the former politics student’s fascination with the factions and rivalries on both sides.

If you’re a Python nut like me, then you will remember the Life of Brian sequence where Graham Chapman innocently asks the anal splinter-group leader Michael Palin if “we” are the People’s Group for the Liberation of Palestine, and Palin snaps back, “Are you f**king mad? We f**kin’ spit on the PGLOP. We, my friend, are the People’s Army for Palestine Liberation. There’s a world of difference”.

Sadly, a great deal of contemporary in-fighting between Middle East opponents of the US, Israel and NATO have proved in the 36 years since that movie how madness will eventually – somewhere – become reality. But it is also one of the strongest arguments against large States like Europe, China, the US and Russia that the citizens reach a point where a substantial minority no longer feel any affection for the much-vaunted body. For them, it’s more of a cadaver: a giant corpse they simple cannot remember as the flower of their youth.

More and more, this anthropological reality both colours and muddies European affairs.

The current impasse/standoff/crisis/negotiation is not – let’s get this straight for starters – a conflict between the EU and Greece. It is not even a war between national liberty and superstate dictatorship.

Rather, it’s the first battle in what could be a long war between yesterday and tomorrow. And be aware: the battle is no way as simple as ‘EU yesterday vs Greek tomorrow’: this is a battle in which there are more false flags, civil wars around the edges and power struggles going on than in the emerging Nazi Party of 1931.

*********************

Let’s deal quickly with my first concern: although depicted as the punishment of corrupt Greek politicians, backhanding officials and tax-evading taverna owners, none of that is even closely related to the facts. Far from punishing Nia Demokratia, PASOK and their serially unpleasant leaders, the Troika has insisted from Day One that it will only deal with these gargoyles. This is the same principle as hanging the war criminals at Nuremburg….up to but not including rocket scientists the victors wanted on their sides.

Germany largely benefited from corrupt officials (especially during the various insane arms deals with Greece) rather than suffering in any way; and precious few of those Fat Crats have been brought to justice….although Syriza is now on the case.

And finally, small businesses evade tax in Greece because the tax system is corrupt, not through greed in many cases: they know that every pol and bureacrat wants a kafelaki (small envelope). And people evade the Troika taxes today because they see them for what they are: a disgraceful attempt to pick the pocket of the vagrant in the gutter. I live in France now, and I’ve visited Greece between forty and fifty times in the last half-century; everything I see related to le noir francais is exactly the same as in Greece – except for one thing: it’s a far bigger problem in France.

I’m told by some that the desire to evade tax became an act of patriotic resistance during the Ottoman hegemony over Greece, but that was a long, long time ago: more accurate, I think, is the phrase used to me over and over again: “It’s a national sport”….and the trophy is nothing more than sticking it to the depraved elites that have been sitting on real Greeks for decades.

The punishment meted out by the Troika fits not the crime, but the greed, geopolitical ambitions and cynical control freakery of its three prongs – Wall Street, the US/EU, and Berlin/ECB interest groups. This is far from empty conspiracist assertion: the investment banking firms and Hedge Funds got clean away with a fat profit during the initial bailouts, Schäuble stands accused of conspiring with Venizelos to exaggerate the size of debt hole in 2010, a German-controlled and run concept of Fiskalunion has emerged directly from this totally unnecessary mess, the federalisation of the EU has been accelerated, and above all the euro was saved to die another day.

Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal are on Calvary at the moment, but they’re dying to cleanse a worthless currency of its flaws, not to save anyone’s soul. And no amount of crucifixions from here to Warsaw via Budapest are going to remove the euro’s flaws.

Greece is saddled with an obscene debt and carpet-bombed economic structure because Schäuble wanted to convince the markets of eurozone viability, Trichet’s borrowing controls were hopelessly lax, Goldman wanted to sell credit, Sarkozy was terrified of the effect on his banks, and Berlin wanted – plus ca change – to run Europe using the best alternative to military force: the munnneeee.

There is little difference in general substance between QE and Zirp killing economies across the globe, and ClubMed austerity killing most of the ezone economy: except of course, the one in Germany. Gott in Himmel: perish the thought that such a thing might occur.

*********************

Nobody in the neoliberal owned and controlled press is ever going to accept that version of events, no matter how empirically databased it is. But no other explanation can explain the consistent actions of those in charge of the fiscal policies involved….policies that cannot possibly be related to sound economic actions – or even sound minds.

The mistake many observers and commentators make is to get the motive for the Greek tragedy wrong: get it right, and everything makes complete sense. Read the MSM account, and none of it does.

However, as I pointed out at the start of this mini-essay, there’s no simple tug-of-war going on. The best analogy I can summon up for the moment is to see the EU/ECB/Berlin attack on Greece as akin to Abe Lincoln deciding to attack Samuria-Shogun-Meiji fractured Japan just after the first Battle of Bull Run.

The two ‘sides’ in 2015 square up as follows:

EC vs Eurogroupe vs Frankfurt vs IMF vs ECB vs Berlin vs Paris vs UK

vs

Syriza vs KKE vs PASOK vs Nia Demokrita vs Golden Dawn vs To Potami vs ephiles vs ephobes

Without getting into too much detail, Jean-Claude Junker’s power base is the EC. Inside that, he has an anti-austerity rebuilding fund of allegedly €350bn, whose purpose he has kept deliberately vague. He befriended Alexis Tsipras, and could shaft the eurogroupe royally if he decided to invest it in Greece on a bigger scale than at present. This is because the eurogroupe’s attempt to wrest power from Juncker gets up his nasal orifice – and threatens the Cyprus-style tax evasion racket he runs in Luxembourg.

But the Frankfurt Bundesbank hardliners think the eurogroupe and its ally the ECB will have a disastrous effect on money supply and inflation via QE…plus (they assert) it was a mistake to let the US-controlled IMF and its mathematically dyslexic boss Christine Lagarde loose anywhere in Europe. In Berlin, however, Schäuble wants to have total control over the reins of euro-fiscal policy, and so would do anything to vapourise ECB boss Mario Draghi…while Chancellor Merkel (whom Schäuble dislikes, but who has the electoral appeal he lacks) has similar doubts to me about what Draghi’s really up to: is he working for the euro, or is he working for its replacement, the Dolleuro?

Paris, meanwhile, is infinitely more guilty of fiscal vandalism than Greece (as are Germany and Holland) but is no longer avoiding the consequences of its soi-largesse with quite the ease it was. The French Establishment has been rattled by some of the fiscal disciplinary methods imposed on France after the March eurogroupe summit: but Berlin must beware of pushing too many French voters towards the undiluted anti-EU nationalism of Marine Le Pen’s Front Nationale.

And last but not least, dear old Blighty stuck out there in the island limbo of “Ukip if you want to, but we’re wide awake, and we want out”.

You may think the Sceptred Isle doesn’t count, but I would suggest you’re wrong. At the moment, the Eunatics face threats on four ClubMed fronts, interference from the US, and an allegedly weak Putinesque Russia which suggests that it isn’t either weak or stupid. The last thing the EU elites need is to roil the markets with a secession request from Britain in 2018….even if it is only England by then.

This does, I think, go a long way to explaining why Draghi has of late switched tack, and begun persuading his ‘colleagues’ that the time is not yet quite right for the Greeks to default. Much smart money had been targeting April 26th as the moment of truth for Athens. But yesterday the ECB boss told a Washington audience that he “won’t even contemplate” the possibility of a Greek default on its debt repayments during April, because such an event would throw the eurozone into “uncharted waters.” This from the man who six weeks ago claimed that Greek default would be no more than a gnat-bite on the bum for eurobanks…because this time, the system “is prepared”. Yeh, right: that must be why he arm-twisted the ELA into coughing up the liquidity to help Greece pay off the last IMF kilo of flesh, sorry, installment.

Far more money is now being placed on a Greek default on or after May 9th. And spookily, that just happens to be two days after the UK General Election finishes. I think it would be safe to say that – were a Greek default to throw everything into European bond-spiking confusion before April 26th – there would be a massive Ukip surge, as well as potential pressure on the UK’s George Osborne in terms of borrowing rates. The continued UK national debt explosion is, after all, the Chancellor’s Achilles heel.

So there you have it. Or rather, you don’t: because twixt you, me, the gatepost and the other girls, trying to discern 8 x 8 possibilities producing 64 possible outcomes (when any new left-field factor could make that 4096 scenarios) is the original mug’s game.

Much better, I’d opine, to stick to the basics. And I’ve remained consistent about these since this rapidly dwindling time-window began last February 24th.

Those who would rather have a meteorite collide with Earth than give up on the euro project have far, far more to lose than a nation of 11.5m people who would (in my view) be much better off deserting the euro. But there remains that Greek inferiority complex pride thing of not wanting to be the catalyst of destroying a single market that acts as an economic and political bulwark against American multinational domination of the Globe.

I think that viewpoint to be muddled, but then I’m not Greek, or foraging in the Athens garbage cans. My gut feeling is that Varoufakis underestimated the Cosa Nostra nastiness of those with whom he must deal, and Troika2 underestimated the fatigue of the Hellenic population at large with being made a scapegoat.

Either way, a lot of very sour derivative bets placed on euro success cannot be allowed to trigger an omni-directional bazooka aimed at Wall Street. Sorry to repeat myself, but I still think the high face-cards are in the Greek hand.

Exposing the Euro Clowns

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on April 10, 2015

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EXPOSED: The reason why none of us can be sure what’s going on in the EU v Greece yawn

merkmario1pt

When there is only cacophony, nobody can follow the tune

I’ve posted many times before about why a neolib minority constantly dissembles to confuse: there is so little ‘truth’ behind their ridiculous socio-economic and fiscal theories, they have no choice but to do what they do.

The same thing applies to the European Union, the ideas behind which – non-sovereign federalisation and yet a single currency ambition – make no anthropological, banking, libertarian or Bond market sense at all.

But there is another reason why second-guessing what comes next in the EU has been an impossible task in recent years: the people allegedly running it (another Slog hobby-horse this) are split along several crucial dimensions. So apart from the banking lies and the let’s-rewrite-history school of mogul-lapdog tabloid journalism, we have this factor added to the witch’s brew: if they don’t know what’s going to happen next, how the hell are we supposed to speculate with any accuracy?

We are now, little by little, beginning to see the odd glimpse of holey stocking beneath the holy, long skirts of sanctimony pumped out by the various power points in Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris and Brussels. Even better, we can catch these glimpses…..and view them alongside what the BSDs – preparing for what they think is to come – put out their agenda in the media they own and/or influence.

This morning offers a classic example of this. The Americo-Austropathicus threat Rupert Murdoch puts out this version of the immediate future in his Times newspaper this morning:

‘….Eurozone countries are secretly drawing up plans to expel Greece from the European Union’s single currency as they prepare for the country to be declared bankrupt next month.

A memo drawn up by the finance ministry in Finland, which is closely allied to Germany, has revealed preparations for a Greek exit from the euro.

The document warns of “very difficult political decisions” this spring amid predictions that Greece will be bankrupt next month unless the eurozone agrees the next tranche of aid for it within the next three weeks.

Greece has been given until next Friday to come up with…..’

Here the message ends, the rest of it hidden behind Roop’s paywall – which continues not to get many people paying to climb over the wall. This is slightly different to the Telegraph, where the Barclay Twins peddle their corporate bias completely free, but both readers and journos are climbing a Berlin Wall in a desperate bid to get out.

But the tone is clear: Greece is a disaster area, they’re all scrounging mongrels, so like dogs they shall be kicked out of the house. Except of course this can’t happen legally without treaty change….so here we see more Turdcock readying the ground for something illegal that will be accepted by the Sleeple because they, er, read it in a quality newspaper recently or something and what should we download from Netflix tonight?

Here, Murdoch is doing the will of ECB boss Mario Draghi….because he agrees with what Mario and the Goldin Sacks lads see as the future.

But this is just one power centre. Wolf Street pointed out yesterday in another smart piece that the Jean-Claude Drunker view of the world is quite different, because he leads the EC – an unelected bedlam of corruption which is seeing its power rapidly eroded by the ECB and Berlin, plus the odd Weidbombe thrown in by Frankfurt.

This time, the road being followed conjures up an entirely different future…one in which the FuhrerJuncker’s Luxembourg will be left alone to pull every tax-evading bank stunt in the book, but those in the commercial sector will be asked to return to some vague version of recognised value.

We’ve been here before, but the subhead is ‘Clubmed banks no longer able to disguise loan made in 2002 to Tartan Paint Co Venezuela sa as an asset’. This is going to cause all kinds of mayhem in Greece, Italy, Portugal and especially Spain – where the practice has been used to suggest the banks are still solvent, when of course we all know they’re broke.

More importantly, although the ECB pays lip-service to reforming ezone banking accountancy, the EC policy will put it on a collision course with Mario Draghi.

But we don’t want to leave it like that, good God no – get a grip dear reader: this is the EU, where disaster must be meticulously planned to ensure that it moves from probable outcome to racing certainty.

And so we move on to Wolfgang Schauble the Secret Wheelchair Weapon…and Jens Weidmann, the Bundesbank’s Big Banana. While they share the ECB-Eurogroupe-Troika’s general approach – “Let’s blame Greece and show the markets we’re safe” – the Dutch Donkey Dijessilbloem is hated by the ECB because he’s a threat to their power….and despised by Weidmann as a fiscal lightweight. Dieselboom also has a tendency to blab, a trait which doesn’t endear him to Wolfie.

Where the two Germans chiefly differ from the rest of the pack is that they believe in fiscal and currency discipline – and of course, the ulltimate right of Berlin to run the Fiskalunion. Also their heads are stuck in 1923.

Two days ago, Weidmann went public again to say he did not think Greece should issue any more Treasury Bills – to help stave off the bankruptcy forced upon Greece by a Berlin-exaggerated problem and a Wall Street/Troika inspired infinite slavery repayment ‘programme’ – and he did not think QE was necessary. In short, real monetarism rules, OK.

I’m sorry to labour this point, but these are thus the three ‘strategies’ being proposed by ‘A United Europe’:

1. Greece should be kicked out (ECB)

2. Banks should be telling the truth about their balance sheet fraud (EC)

3. We should stop QE now and get Greece back in the programme at all costs (Germany)

Now, what we are not going to get is a debate followed by a decision, because this is The Fourth Reich, and we don’t do discussion…we do divide and rule. Also we have a crypto-Queen in Berlin who never makes any decisions until one eventuality or another is crystal clear. (The real sign to watch for is Frau Doktor Merkel moving her Chancellery fridge down into the bunker. Or Moscow. Or Frankfurt. Or Washington. Those wanting to have it all must “get on their bikes”).

What we will get is all three being followed at the same time. And this must involve a continuing QE blast alongside Greek forced exit from the eurozone (breaking the Lisbon Treaty on at least five counts) but still in the EU plus a contagion outwards towards Italy and Spain accelerated by the EC’s search for Beyond Basel III to come into force plus the German financial and fiscal power centres trying to effect the exact opposite on all fronts.

There are thus in turn three potential (ie, realistic) outcomes:

1. Chaos

2. Draghi & the Eurogroup cut off the EC’s balls, leaving Juncker as a very loose but fully-loaded cannon, and with a very high voice.

3. Merkel sides with the 1923 Tendency, and leaves the eurozone.

Many other related events will of course follow – and the above trio of troubles aren’t mutually exclusive. But my view remains the same as it was by the end of 2010: the euro is dead, and the EU is eating itself. Only Mario Draghi launching a putsch to get himself declared Supreme Emperor of Europe could stop the process.

That isn’t going to happen. Draghi’s view of chaos is “bring it on”….because down that road lies US domination of all european transactions. For in this, the epoch of Western decline, that is what the Looney Tunes on Wall Street, inside the State Department/CIA axis and in Texas want.

The bottom line: anything could happen, and nothing will change on the road to global corporatocracy.

Yet.

But eventually, top-down will collapse…as all flawed administrative processes do. And after the chaos, things will very slowly get better.

I end where I started. With too many factions wanting different things from the Greece deadlock – external and internal – the reason no clear interpretation of outcome is possible swings on the surreal 3D hinge of there being no united Sovereign, and little or no commonality of aims between the factions.

A320: Controlled Flight Into Terrain?

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on Mar 27-28, 2015

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A320 LUBITZ CRASH EXCLUSIVE: The A320’s history of unexplained descents into terrain.

a320PTThe tabloidisation of the A320 Lubitz crash should at least be questioned more closely. Either through media incompetence or other motives, Andreas Lubitz is being misrepresented…and so is the Airbus family history.

This is not The Slog suddenly going wacky: it seems to me very likely that Andreas Lubitz flew his plane into a mountain by locking the pilot out of the cockpit. From the outset, this tragedy looked odd, but these days I have learned to let the dust settle before asking pertinent questions. Perhaps now is the time, however, to question just how open and shut the case is:

1. The A320 itself is billed as ‘an exceptionally safe aeroplane’. But the family of A319/320 does in fact have 60 crashes behind it. And some of them bear similarities:

* On 3 May 2006, Armavia Flight 967, using an Airbus A320-211, crashed into the Black Sea while attempting to conduct a go-around following its first approach to Sochi Airport, Russia. All 113 passengers and crew on board lost their lives.

*On 28 July 2010, Airblue Flight 202, an Airbus A321 flying from Karachi to Islamabad, crashed in Margalla Hills in Islamabad, Pakistan. The weather was poor with low visibility. During a non-standard self-created approach procedure below Minimum Descent Altitude the aircraft collided with terrain after the captain ignored a total of 21 cockpit warnings to pull-up. 146 passengers and six crew were on board the aircraft. There were no survivors.[26] The commander, Pervez Iqbal Chaudry, was one of Airblue’s most senior pilots with more than 35 years’ experience.

* On 5 November 2014, Lufthansa Flight 1829, an Airbus A321 was flying from Bilbao to Munich when the aircraft, on autopilot, unexpectedly lowered the nose and entered a descent reaching 4000 fpm rate of descent. The loss of altitude had been caused by two angle of attack sensors having frozen in their positions during climb at an angle, causing the fly by wire protection to assume the aircraft entered a stall while it climbed through FL310.

* On 28 December 2014, Indonesia AirAsia Flight 8501 crashed into the Java Sea between the islands of Belitung and Borneo, killing all 162 on board. The cause is under investigation…but I’m sure we all remember that one.

* On 24 March 2015, Germanwings Flight 9525, using an Airbus A320-211, flying between Barcelona and Düsseldorf crashed near Digne in the Southern French Alps, killing all 150 on board.

All these incidents involved what Boeing first coined as Controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) in the late 1970s. CFIT describes an accident in which an airworthy aircraft, under pilot control, is unintentionally flown into the ground, a mountain, water, or an obstacle. The pilots are generally unaware of the danger until it is too late. The term was coined by engineers at Boeing.

2. If Lubitz was really that depressed, why was he allowed to fly? The truth is, he wasn’t. “He flew into a mountain because he was depressed/had split up with his partner” simply doesn’t hold water: follow the timeline back, and you will see that Lubitz had made a full recovery from his depression. He took a break from training six years ago because he was responsible enough to realise he needed to get his head straight.

3. When I retreated to bed at 10.30 pm CET last night, several news sites were claiming that he was ‘a recent convert to Islam’. Those reports have abruptly disappeared. Who raised that allegation? Again, it isn’t true. Germany’s Christian press claimed yesterday ‘All evidence indicates that the copilot of the Airbus 320, in his six-months break during training as a pilot with Germanwings, converted to Islam and subsequently of his own accord decided to carry out this mass murder. A radical mosque in Bremen is in the center of the investigation, in which the convert often stayed…’. Really? Lubitz took a six-month break to get treated for depression some time ago during his training. All Germanwings pilots are trained in Bremen. As far as I can ascertain, the Mosque there is not at the centre of the A320 investigation, and Lubitz never went there.

4. Yahoo, CNN and the Independent are now stating as a fact that ‘Lubitz deliberately crashed the plane’. The evidence looks strong, but why prejudice the enquiry? Most extreme in this reporting, of course, is Bild, the German tabloid which acts as a sort of German Sun written by failed cryogenic monkey experiments. This morning it labels the co-pilot a mass-murderer: another monster created, tomorrow’s Saturday, lets find a stock shot of a fat Greek.

bildThis is very much the German way at a tabloid level: write off anyone German who seems to have done something awful as an abhorrent exception. Herr A. Hitler from Linz has been similarly written out of history in the two-dimensional manner, with the added “And anyway, he was Austrian”.

The day before yesterday, CNN treated us to an hour of Merkel, Rajoy and Hollande united in photo-op sorry, grief. The big-hair anchor-lady noted with counterfeit sincerity that it was “truly good of these three leaders to come personally to the scene”. It takes a special kind of cynicism or naivety to come up with a line like that.

*  *  *  *  *

My point here is not to kick off yet another conspiracy theory. It is rather to log once more that the mass media obsession with reporting without interpretation has in recent years crossed two lines:

First, their irresponsible rush to judgement condemns and demonises people about they know almost nothing, acting as a kangaroo Court of Opinion before the legal process has even started. Jimmy Savile was the worst example of that to date.

Second, by so doing they also create healthy suspicion about ulterior motives for blaming the corpse. Dead men, as they say, tell no tales. But Newscorp had a clear motive for starting the All DJs are Perverts mania of 2013/14: who we wonder, might have a motive for trying to wrap this one up in four days flat?

Media superficiality in assessing the psychographics of Andreas Lubitz simply muddies the waters further:

“He was one of the best,” the report quotes a retired Lufthansa pilot identified only as Dieter, “He was someone very reliable, he was one of the best pilots we had. I am 100 per cent sure they did the best they could. That’s what I think because I knew him very well, he was one of the best, he had a lot of experience, he had more than 6,000 flight hours behind him.”

However: only 350 of those hours were as a pilot…the rest he was just cabin crewing. And almost without exception, odd brainstorms and mass shootings are accompanied by lots of neighbours saying how quiet, polite and normal the killer was.

I’m just concerned (as an occasional depressive myself) that an attempt has been made by both the media and Lufthansa to make his depression seem contemporaneous with the A320 crash: it clearly wasn’t.

Now overnight, the ‘clue’ found at the Lubitz apartment has morphed into a significant clue. The Dusseldorf Polizei confirmed this morning that they had found “something which will now be taken for tests. We cannot say what it is at the moment but it may be very significant clue to what has happened. We hope it may give some explanations.”

The cops actually took away three large removal packs of material. I understand a line of enquiry unrelated to terrorism is now being followed up. But perhaps fearing a pc backlash, the media seem to be ignoring the likelihood that Andreas was gay: a number of German sources are suggesting this today. He had worked his way up to co-pilot from having been a cabin steward – and he had a housemate, who left the Lubitz flat with police last night, and has not as yet been identified:

lubitzhome It was the French prosecutor Brice Robin who has right from the off described Lubitz as having been “on a suicide mission”. The evidence for this is indeed strong: an analysis of transponder data by air tracker Flightradar24 showed that the plane’s autopilot had been manually reset from 38,000 to below 100 feet, immediately following which Lubitz began a steady descent at high speed.

But the A320 family history makes that less compelling than it at first looked. In order to dramatise the ‘pilot lockout’. the media latched on quickly to ‘the fact’ that the pilot, on trying to get back into the cockpit, resorted to an axe. The only evidence offered for this is that “there was an axe on the plane”.

*  *  *  *  *

This is just another incident in the long history of newspaper journalism in which conclusions are multivariately jumped upon, but no conclusions can then be reached because the conclusions are too disfigured to be identified. Also, nobody seems to be pursuing the issue of who was on the flight. After a suitable time for condolence and funerals, I think the media should have a look in detail at the passenger list. Germanwings is a budget airline and therefore this is unlikely to reveal much in the way of powerful folks flying incognito. But the time has long gone when a Sovereign prosecutor’s word can be taken as read – either between the lines, or otherwise.

On balance, I think Andreas Lubitz had a coup de foudre. But for me, the jury’s out until others more technical than I can say yea or nay to the A320 family’s history of Controlled Flight Into Terrain.

AIRBUS CONTRARIAN VIEW: DID ANDREAS LUBITZ HAVE DOUBTS ABOUT THE A320’S AIRWORTHINESS?

LUBITZa320As the Lubitz thing sounds increasingly conclusive, the evidence behind the conclusion looks increasingly flakey.

His girlfriend says he was planning something massive by which he’d be remembered. But she isn’t identified, her name ‘Maria’ is a not her real one….and the story’s in Bild. “It didn’t make much sense at the time, but now it does” she claims. Her boyfriend was a pilot and planning something horrific…but it didn’t make sense? Well, right then. But hold this thought: she told Bild, “He would wake in the night screaming ‘we’re going down, we’re going down’”.

The sick note looks odder and odder. While the German prosecutor followed his French colleague by mouthing off to the media yesterday about Lubitz “hiding his depression from his employer and colleagues”, the Dusseldorf Polizei contradicted their employer by refusing to say what the sick notes were about (or why Andreas had been to a hospital) but that they were “nothing to do with the decision [Lubitz] took”. Well if they aren’t germaine to the case, then why not tell us what they were for?

The Wall Street Journal takes a leap and asserts that the sick notes were from a psychiatrist; but the source is ‘a person familiar with the investigation’, which means it could be the A320’s designer, or Leutnant Schmidt from the Bremen vice squad. In the same piece, the Journal says ‘another person familiar with the investigation’ thinks Andreas didn’t have a terminal illness, while the Daily Mail says the notes were from doctors not psychiatrists, and although he was teased about being a gay former-steward, he shared his flat with the girlfriend who two days ago was a boyfriend, and if it was the girlfriend with whom he’d split up, why was she still at the flat?

A senior Lufthansa Director meanwhile says Lubitz had “slipped through the net with devastating consequences” – an odd thing to say for two reasons. First, all his co-workers said he was “happy and enjoying his career”; and second, the Director just landed Lufhansa squarely in the Dock to face 149 suits for causing the death of loved ones by negligence.

I’m trying to retain a balance here, but the sheer weight of contradictory information makes it almost a full-time job. This sort of thing often surrounds “media management” these days when very fat men in large boardrooms have things to hide. I still believe that by far the most likely solution is that Lubitz had lost his mental balance (it now seems he was taking medication, but we don’t know what for) and had made up his mind that the minute his colleague slipped out for a pee, he’d do the deed. But exactly why? And what deed?

I suspect what’s required here, for the time being, is to examine some of the motives behind the announcements:

1. Airbus is primarily a Franco-German-Spanish co-production. This might help explain the early appearance of the French, German and Spanish leaders at the scene. Its exports make a massive contribution to the eurozone economy, and it employs some 58,000 people. Significantly, Airbus pioneered fly-by-wire on its A320, and the A380 is the largest fbw aircraft in the world. Fbw basically means replacing the conventional manual flight controls of an aircraft with an electronic interface. In the light of this week’s disaster – and the 320 family’s history of controlled flight into terrain (see yesterday’s Slogpost) – this might explain why aircraft manufacturers – and airlines who bought large fleets off them – would rather face 149 lawsuits than doubts about the fbw auto systems that are now wired into Airbus planes’ DNA.

2. The rush to blame Lubitz is equalled only by the unwillingness to take into account the obvious motives for blaming pilot error. In December 1997, a Silk Air Boeing 737 flying from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Singapore suddenly dived vertically for more than 30,000 feet into a river and 97 people were killed. America’ National Transportation Safety Board investigated, concluding that the crash resulted from deliberate action by one of the pilots. The Indonesian Transportation Safety Committee said the evidence was inconclusive, and a private legal action in California tried to reverse the NTSB’s ruling – claiming that a mechanical flaw, inherent in the 737’s design, had caused the crash.

The crash of EgyptAir Flight 990 in October 1999 on a flight from New York to Cairo neared its desired cruise level, but then inexplicably dived vertically into the Atlantic near Nantucket Island, killing 217 people. The NTSB determined that the Egyptian captain had deliberately pointed the nose down and killed everyone on board. The NTSB’s verdict was disputed by the Egyptians, who also blamed a design flaw had been responsible.

In perhaps the most infamous case of all, the 1958 Munich air disaster that killed nine Manchester United players was persistently blamed on Captain Thain, a man later proven posthumously to be entirely innocent. The owners of Munich Airport had been clearly negligent in sweeping ice from the runway, but lied throughout five enquiries until eventually the evidence came to light.

3. Why would Andreas Lubitz – a man for whom flying had been everything since the age of seven – have nightmares about “going down”…unless he thought there was something wrong with the 320 series fbw system? And why – if his sole intent was the world’s most selfish suicide – would the radar track show he tried to level out towards the end of the dive? Far from trying to kill himself, was he trying to demonstrate something?

Without repeating myself too much, I think he meant to do what he did, but the why part remains a puzzle. The police, Luthansa and the Sovereign authorities have made strenuous efforts to be judge, jury and executioner in this case, laying the blame on depression and deceit by Andreas Lubitz. But they do seem somewhat vague when the questions get more probing. The greater likelihood is that the co-pilot coup de foudre verdict will emerge as the most likely: but the evidence is far from conclusive. Were I a young newshound on this one, I’d be asking whether Herr Lubitz had raised any doubt about the A320 fbw systems. On the outside possibility that he might have been a whistleblower, not a murderous suicide.

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