Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Jail the bankers

Just when you thought it could not get any worse we discover a massive systematic fraud has been running on a  global scale. Barclays have been fined almost £300million. Other banks are in the frame. 
What the hell is going on?
From the sub-prime mortgage scandal (and the correlated collapse of major parts of our economy), through the miss-selling insurance fraud, via the aggregation of bad debts and tax avoidance now into fixing the LIBOR rate, scandal follows scandal, crime follows crime. And all the time the bonuses roll in.
And no-one goes to jail.
Where are the criminal charges? 
Why are bastards like Diamond and Goodwin not in jail?
When is Cameron going to wake up to the fact that all the under 25’s in the UK blowing their housing benefit on booze could not do one iota of the harm these rotten, greedy, selfish, corrupt, criminal 'Masters of the Universe' have done to our society and culture. 
The financial sector in the UK is riddled with criminality. 

Some would argue we need a Leveson-like Inquiry into banking. Others would like to see a series of dawn raids and an appointment with Inspector Knacker.
Time for action.

As a first step - anyone with an account with a robbing bank should move it to one that is at least honest.

How Things Work (Volume 2)

  • Utilise public money from taxes to supplement poor wages - call these handouts ‘benefits’
  • Pay your workers the absolute minimum - make vast profits - thanks to tax payer’s subsidies.
  • Contribute regular large donations to the Tory Party to preserve the system.
  • Salt away vast profits generated by subsidised workers in offshore tax havens.
  • Contribute another load of cash to the Tory Party to preserve the system.
  • Claim even more taxpayers money to take on unemployed ‘job seekers.’
  • Lay off some of your subsidised workers and replace with ‘job seekers.’
  • Make even bigger profits.
  • Contribute some more to the Tory Party.
  • Applaud as a Tory Prime Minister launches an attack on those on ‘benefits’
  • Consider.........Isn’t life grand for the well, wealthy and well-connected?

Monday, 25 June 2012

Frances Maude cracks down.......

“Frances Maude cracks down on the 'sickie' culture in Whitehall. All departments in Whitehall are to be forced to publish quarterly sickness absence rates for all their staff in a bid to help the public purse.” Daily Torygraph 24/6/12
Here is another suggestion. How about expenses-fiddling millionaires pay up when they are caught with their hands in the till? That should save a bob or two eh Frances? Or  resign from the Commons and stop polluting our eardrums with cant and humbug. 
Or, even better about you do both you loathsome piece of ordure. 
And take the egregious ‘Minister for Murdoch’ with you.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Braveheart or cravenheart?

It is in the detail that the clues emerge. ‘Wee ‘Eck’ Salmond is pushing hard for independence, painting a rosy picture of milk, honey and North Sea oil. His refusal to meet with the Dalai Llama last week did him no credit. He succumbed to the pressures put on by the Chinese bullies. He did this, we are led to believe, out of concern for Scottish jobs. Mmm, sounds familiar - ah yes - it was the same line he used to slide under the sheets with Murdoch.
A journalist who has studied the threats of the Chinese, suspects there is a formula applied to small countries who dare to meet with the non-violent spiritual leader, or otherwise upset the regime. Their exports are proscribed for twelve months. Scotland’s smoked salmon industry is currently benefitting because Norway awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chines dissident, Liu Xiaobo. 
Even huge states sometimes adopt the pre-emptive diplomatic cringe towards China. Much to their shame. So perhaps it is not surprising that Salmond left his values at home. 
Not surprising  -  but very disappointing.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Jimmy Carr - what a star!

Thanks to investigative journalists at the Times, Jimmy has been exposed as a star turn tax avoider. His use of the K2 scheme meant he paid barely 1% income tax on estimated £3m earnings. As someone who has poured scorn on the rich and nasty he is getting quite a shoeing from the chatterati. 
Cameron has opened his gob before his brain and declared Carr to be ‘morally wrong.’ Oh - er! He is heading for ‘back to basics’ territory with this one. As someone who has consorted with alleged criminals, brought well-known tax avoiders into the heart of government, encouraged wealthy donors to gain ‘access for cash’ and has done sweet f.a. to rein in the bankers, he has a long l - o - n - g  way to go to gain the moral ground. Danny Alexander has had a similar brain by-pass when he weighed in too. He has  clearly forgotten his capital gains tax avoidance which emerged during the MPs expenses row. 
And as for the Daily Torygraph? Owned by tax-avoiding Barclay brothers in Jersey. The Guardian? Saving £30m a year by use of offshore tax arrangements. Or how about Vodaphone who lunched the tax chief and then were given years to pay the billions they owe? Or Goldman Sachs who did the same? Or the BBC employees who call themselves a private company and avoid paying taxes? Or the civil servants who do the same? And so on and so on.... 
Jimmy Carr has just tweeted that he made a big error in judgement and has opted out of the scheme. Do not hold your breath waiting for the other parasites to follow suit.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Is Murdoch a liar?

Do Popes shit in the wood and are bears catholic? As Rupe said at Leveson, on oath, “I have never tried to influence any Prime minister.” And he would know as he has had access to all of them from Thatcher onwards. 
People who claim that he used his malign influence to promote his empire thereby making even more vast sums of money using the threat of the muckraking talents at his disposal are simply bitter.  
John Major’s recollection of the way Murdoch threatened him with his papers if he did not change his policy on Europe is clearly wrong. 
Alistair Campbell’s revelation that Blair had a phone call from Murdoch three days before the Iraq War began is simply an attempt to flog his diaries.
The long denied secret meeting between Thatcher and Murdoch back in the eighties which just happened to steamroller Murdoch’s takeover of the Times and guaranteed Thatcher an easy ride with his papers is merely circumstantial.
For as the man himself said, “I have never tried to influence any Prime Minister.” And he was speaking on oath - so it must be true - mustn’t it?

Thursday, 14 June 2012

“I don’t remember, I don’t recall”

The lyrics of Peter Gabriel’s song are particularly appropriate for the Leveson Inquiry proceedings. It is quite remarkable just how often selective amnesia strikes our political elite. Every time the questioning gets a little close to home out trots the ‘I don’t recall’ refrain. This from the bastards who took us to war in Iraq and Afghanistan and who were looking to grease the Murdoch wheels. Alistair Campbell, an otherwise impressive witness, suddenly developed dementia when the dodgy dossier and weapons of mass destruction reared their heads. Crystal clear about virtually everything else but on this doozy.....
Today the disease struck Cameron when asked whether he discussed the character of Andy Coulson with Rebekah Brooks. [Cartoonist Steve Bell nailed Coulson this morning, describing him as ‘Shifty the shithouse rat.”- allegedly!] A text from Rebekah to Cameron before a conference speech said, “they were in this together” which will not be a comfortable thought for him as she and her co-accused work their way through the legal process. 
Campbell and Cameron have not been alone in the dementia ward. They have had plenty of company. 
By way of contrast there is John Major who quite clearly rebutted Murdoch’s bullshit that “He never sought to influence anyone,” when he told of being threatened at a small dinner party. He remembered that very, very well as he said, “It is not every day a Prime Minister is threatened.”
An ex-Secretary of the Labour party has just been on the World at One saying there are more important and urgent matters to deal with than Leveson. In this he is joined by several Tory toerags who wish the whole thing would just quietly go away. One Tory with a difference is Norman Fowler who said this issue goes to the heart of our democracy. What Leveson has revealed is the extent of corruption at the top of our society. If Peter Watt and his Tory toerag chums are sanguine about that then it tells you all you need to know about him and them.

"I don't remember, I don't recall,
I got no memory of anything at all"

Thanks to Steve Bell for keeping us sane.

Monday, 11 June 2012

“No-one was available for comment”

Yet again this morning a problem affecting people’s livelihoods was raised on Radio 4. And yet again when it came to putting the case for making people poorer/unhealthier/unhappier  there came the all too familiar refrain, “We asked DEFRA (in this instance) but no one was available to comment.” 
It is quite insulting to us as citizens to be treated so contemptibly by our political elite. This process of having no-one available is quite deliberate. It happens over and over again. Heaven forfend if a spokesperson from the ministry of minutiae happened to come forth with frank and candid views about the state of the nation’s paperclips. Nothing can be said until Dr Spin and the Spinnerettes have woven their rosy view of the latest calamity. It is deeply insulting to the thousands of civil servants employed at our expense to work in ‘communications’ within each state department. The Home Office (as was) had 3,500 staff dedicated to communication. 
There is such control of the message these days by the spin machine it extends to MPs as well. An hour before the last Prime Minister’s Questions held before the Commons had yet another break, all Tory MPs received a message from Dessie Swain, the PM’s Private Secretary. The contents were leaked to the Torygraph: 
“I anticipate lots of LoL gags so let’s have a protective wall of sound. If Ed even grudgingly acknowledges anything positive in to-day’s unemployment figures then instantaneously bring down the roof ‘yereyereyere…”. Notwithstanding the unemployment figures I anticipate the main attack will be ‘recession made in downing street … eurozone avoided UK double dip … etc’ so can we have lots of positive endorsements of our strategy using local examples of export success/expansion.”
So not only do we have government ministries treating us with contempt, we also have the image of Tory backbench MPs being so inept they have to be told how to disrupt and behave in the Commons. More fool them if they become nodding dogs or a ‘protective wall of sound’ .....pathetic.  NewLabour were prone to trying to keep everyone ‘on message’ to the point of treating their MPs as clones which had the effect of sometimes provoking even further awkward questions. 
The “No-one was available for comment” line is a matter for Leveson. How are we expected to know what is being done in our name, if the people who do know are stopped from appearing in or on our media and telling us?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Any Questions from Toryshire?

The Radio 4 programme this week came from the Tory heartlands of Aldborough, a village near Harrogate in North Yorkshire. The programme had a wider range of panelists than is usual (see below). Matters took off when the topic of the exploited jobseekers at the Jubilee came up. The Smurghers (smug burghers) erupted with waves of derision and anger when Salma Yaqoob thought that Lord (!) Prescott had been right to challenge the government about the matter. Quite clearly in the view of some present, these were feckless scroungers who should be grateful for the chance to stand under a bridge in the small hours, get thoroughly soaked and chilled to the bone while helping control the masses at the royal shindig. And all for the prospect of a non-job with yet another company making a fortune out of government grants.
Similar outrage was expressed when Alan Johnson identified the collapse of Lehman Brothers as the start of the financial meltdown. This does not square with Tory mythology that it was all the fault of NewLabour, conveniently ignoring their demands for even less regulation, and that de-regulation began in the 80’s - when their beloved Thatcher was in charge..........thereby unleashing greed in the board rooms.
Despite the programme being broadcast from the parish church there was little compassion, tolerance or understanding on show. The Daily Hate must sell well in the area. 
[Douglas Murray (Eton and Oxford), David Davies (Tory MP - ex Shadow Home Sec) Alan Johnson MP (working class, ex Home Sec) and Salma Yaqoob (British born leader of the Respect party)]. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

CIA, Obama and drones: a ‘no brainer’

For a US President in election year, the use of drones to kill Al Qaeda leaders seems a no-brainer. No American servicemen are killed with the resulting footage of grieving relatives and flag-draped coffins - the footage that the Bush regime suppressed. (They did not want the voters to see the true cost of their imperial engagements.) Drones are relatively cheap compared to launching manned fighter bombers and they are reported (by the CIA) to be extremely accurate. 
There are other points of view. Gregory Johnson is a lecturer at Princeton who told a BBC interviewer, "Look at Yemen on Christmas Day 2009, the day the so-called underwear bomber attempted to bring down a flight over Detroit. On that day al-Qaeda numbered about 200 to 300 individuals and they controlled no territory. Now today, two-and-a-half years later, despite all the drone strikes al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has tripled in size, it's now around 1,000 members and it controls significant territory.
"The more the US bombs, the more they grow."
“He says drones strikes have killed women and children and al-Qaeda are adept at using this to recruit people for revenge.” BBC Online 5/6/12
And what about our ‘ally’ Pakistan? They know what is happening on the ground.
“The Pakistan government says that, while the CIA-run pilotless drone campaign has advantages, it fuels anti-American sentiment in the country and is counterproductive because of collateral damage.
Drones are a sticking point in talks between the US and Pakistan aimed at repairing ties damaged by a series of events, including the recent imprisonment of the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA hunt down Bin Laden.
According to reports from North Waziristan, which American government sources did not contest, US-operated drones launched three attacks along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan between Saturday and Monday.
Reports from Pakistan said nearly 30 people were killed during the sequence of strikes, including four suspected militants on Saturday.” Guardian Online 5/6/12
It will take weeks, possibly even months, for the claims to be verified. 
“Mr. Obama is the liberal law professor who campaigned against the Iraq war and torture, and then insisted on approving every new name on an expanding “kill list,” poring over terrorist suspects’ biographies on what one official calls the macabre “baseball cards” of an unconventional war. When a rare opportunity for a drone strike at a top terrorist arises — but his family is with him — it is the president who has reserved to himself the final moral calculation.
“He is determined that he will make these decisions about how far and wide these operations will go,” said Thomas E. Donilon, his national security adviser. “His view is that he’s responsible for the position of the United States in the world.” He added, “He’s determined to keep the tether pretty short.” New York Times 29/5/12
The nature of this ‘kill list’ is debatable. Clive Stafford Smith reported back from a recent visit to Waziristan. It is important to stress that Waziristan is in Pakistan and therefore supposed to be on the side of the allies. It is on the border with Afghanistan and is therefore on the front line. The tribal elders there had a very different view of the so-called efficacy of drones. Many civilians die. This flies in the face of claims from the White House that great care is taken to protect civilians. 
Stafford Smith also had an insight into the way the CIA obtained information on Al Qaeda. They pay informants. There in a nutshell is a major problem. The money an informant can ‘earn’ by targeting a suspect is relatively huge. The informants are often asked to place a tracking device to the vehicle or house of the target. The drone is launched and an 18 year old sat at a computer screen in West Virginia locks onto the signal and the missile is launched. Bingo! Result! Or maybe not. Clive Stafford Smith explained that it is not easy to gain access to the leaders of Al Qaeda. They surround themselves with security. It is much easier to target someone you fell out with over land, a relationship or flock of goats, plant the homing device and claim your reward. Just as with the insidious use of rewards for rendition, many innocent people are swept up on the say-so of dodgy criminals.
Obama is reported to be fiercely bright. He will know that any gains made by the use of drones is very short term. Turning your allies against you and spawning thousands more recruits for Al Qaeda does not make any rational sense. It is a no-brainer: short-term some benefits; long term awful. So what on earth is he doing? His motivation in looking tough on terrorists and terrorism could not have anything to do with an upcoming election could it?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Rule of Law, Monarchy Showbiz and Lockerbie

We hear a lot from our politicians about the ‘Rule of Law’ and how vital it is. As the events unfolding at Leveson have revealed there is prima facie evidence of corruption in high places. The focus of the Inquiry has shifted onto the actions of our rulers. It has not been edifying. 
We are told by the commentariat that the Inquiry is not playing big down the Dog and Duck. This from the same commentariat who enjoy bubble-dwelling status. There are many of us appalled at the casual ease with which rules and regulations are subverted or ignored at the behest of a powerful family. Tom Watson had it right when he described NewsCorp as the Murdoch Mafia.  
Sadly this is not the only example. The Herald revealed on Friday that a document which could have cleared the Lockerbie bomber (Megrahi - who died last month) has been suppressed for years. “The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) team that investigated Megrahi's conviction discovered the existence of the document during their four-year investigation which concluded in 2007. Their 800-page report explains that their investigative team were allowed to access the document in Dumfries police station but they were prohibited from removing the notes they made on it and the document itself.
The commission was only able to access the document after signing up to a special agreement not to divulge the contents and was told by the Crown that "a conclusion was reached that the documents did not require to be disclosed in terms of the Crown's obligations".
The SCCRC then ruled that the contents were sufficiently disturbing for a court to have believed the conviction could have been a miscarriage of justice. The failure to disclose the document was one of the six grounds on which the case was referred back for a fresh appeal in 2007.
To date, only the Crown, UK Government and SCCRC team know the contents of this closely guarded document.”
In an associated leader the Herald reveals, “UK ministers signed a Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificate to prevent disclosure.” It seems this was signed in 2007 but does not specify who the Ministers were who would have been involved. The Blair government ended in June 2007 with the Brown regime taking over. Ministers changed posts or resigned with the change. This begs so many questions. Who signed what and why being amongst them. Why did they collude with a previous regimes cover up? For how much longer must we put up with ‘national security’ being used as a blanket to hide things under?
There has been not one peep of this shattering revelation in the national media. They are too busy covering the showbiz event of the year. The Romans used bread and circuses to control the masses. Our leaders use the Royal family. Many of the citizens (note, not subjects) of the UK apparently approve of a system where your worth and status as a person depends upon whose loins you came from.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Cameron and Hunt

Oh dear! Call Me Dave is not having the best of times. His decision not to refer Hunt to the independent advisor on the ministerial code has bought some time but little else. Among the further revelations at Leveson yesterday was the involvement of slobberychops Osborne in the Murdoch machinations. Cameron and his chums were not only close to the Murdoch empire, they were acting as lubricants to smooth their acquisition of BSkyB.
An impartial observer reflecting on the timeline of the events of the 21st December - the day the news about Vince Cable’s entrapment emerged, would think that replacing one biased Minister with another, equally biased but opposite, was a bad idea. Such is the arrogance and venality of our ruling elite. They had no idea then that their cosy arrangements would be exposed by the Millie Dowler revelations. 
They are still struggling to catch up.
When the expenses scandal broke, Cameron gained credit for taking control of matters unlike Brown who had to be brought up to speed. In this matter, as with so many recently, his judgement is in doubt. There are even articles doubting his intelligence and ability in Tory papers. 
There is another view. Cameron is to appear at Leveson in June. Emails and texts will be published. All the time he is attempting to govern the country there is a constant refrain  in his head muttering, “You are going to get found out, you are going to get found out.......”

Thanks to Steve Bell (Guardian) and Blower (Telegraph)