Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Who wants to bomb Syria?

There are two groups who want the Assad regime in Syria delivered a mortal blow: the Israelis because Syria is acting as a conduit for weapons from Iran to Hezbollah which is conducting terrorist operations on Israel's northern border, and Saudi Arabia because the Syrian regime is Shia and the Saudis are Sunni and there is long enmity between Saudi and Iran.

Does anyone really believe that the US government will be able to resist the twin pressures of Saudi oil money and the Jewish lobby? Of course not.

And will the UK be able to resist the call to arms from the USA? Again, this is not likely - the UK government has too much to lose if we piss off the Americans. They might stop sub-contracting spying work to us!

So Assad, your butt is toast!

The net result of Western intervention will be to even up the relative powers of the regime and the rebels. This will prolong the conflict, cause more deaths than would otherwise have happened and eventually bring about a Western-hating Muslim Brotherhood government in Syria. Job done!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

We have a very stupid Home Secretary

Seriously, how short do your political antennae have to be before you cannot see that using terror legislation on the Brazilian "partner" of a Guardian journalist is going to blow up in your face spectacularly?

Hom Sec: Dim bulb but not long life
 
Even Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice has said that David Miranda's detention was illegal - the law allows the detention of a person suspected of being in possession of information relating to terrorism, and only for the purpose of obtaining that information.
 
No-one ever thought Miranda had information on terrorism. During his detention he was not asked a single question on terrorism. No, he was detained purely to apply indirect pressure on his homosexual lover Glenn Greenwald who has been in contact with Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower, in Russia.

Note that Greenwald himself was not detained. Why? Two reasons: first Greenwald is a US citizen and second he is a lawyer as well as a journalist. When riding roughshod over the rights of a foreigner passing through your country it is best to pick the confused, non-English-speaking, out-of-his-depth citizen of a third-world country, rather than an American lawyer. American lawyers can be a bit picky about rights and stuff.

But coming back to Teressa May, Home Secretary. Perhaps she was too busy shooting up in the loo to take in what she was being told (insulin - she's diabetic.) She was told ahead of time what the police were planning. All she had to do was say, "No f***ing way!!" Even a one-brain-celled Minister would know that this potato was too hot to hold. 

Instead she has made the government look like a beetle-browed bully, has opened up us the tax-payers for a hefty compensation bill (will she be reaching into her own pocket? I doubt it) and aggravated the Brazilians (ambassador called in for a rocket) who haven't really gotten over the British police shooting dead Jean-Charles de Menezes yet and the Guardian newspaper who aren't going to let go of this bone any time soon.

The Prime Minister may yet have to throw our Teressa under a bus just to pacify all concerned.

Monday, 19 August 2013

David Miranda: This looks bad

David Miranda, "partner" of guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald who reported on the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, was detained by the police for nine hours while passing through Heathrow on his way home to Brazil. Powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 were used.

These powers are substantial. A person may be detained if (a) he is at a port [including an airport] or in [a] border area, and (b) the [...] officer believes that the person’s presence at the port or in the area is connected with his entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland or his travelling by air within Great Britain or within Northern Ireland. [Terrorism Act 2000, Schedule 7, Section 2]

There is a maximum detention period of nine hours and during this the detained person is legally required to answer all questions the detaining officer asks - no right to silence applies. The detained person's property may be taken away and held for seven days. Legally the officer may pull hair out by the roots from the detained person's head; may take fingerprints and photographs and may arrange for a doctor to take samples such as blood and dental impressions.

There is no requirement for terrorism to have occurred or be suspected.

These powers are draconian and are a legacy of the ultra-authoritarian Blair/Brown government. At the moment we do not know why the police chose to subject David Miranda to this treatment - one must suspect that it is an attempt to put indirect pressure on Greenwald himself.

One can only hope that this heavy-handed (but lawful) operation will cause such such a public outcry that the Terrorism Act act has to be revised.

PPI compensation fuels economy

Over the last year or so the banks have been compensating people for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI) on loans that they had taken out. About £10bn has been handled out and the ONS has worked out that this is actually fueling economic growth.

Effectively banks are now taking money from savers, by reducing the savings rate, and giving it to people who had loans, who are spending it.

The interesting thing about this money flow is that the "free" money is being targeted at people who will be inclined to spend it - people who have a history of borrowing to spend rather than people who save and then spend, or just save.

Keynesian economics dictates that when the economy is in recession the government should inject cash to get the wheels turning. Usually the problem with this cash injection is that in a recession many people will feel more motivated to save than spend and cash just piles up under mattresses (metaphorically speaking). This is the classic Japanese problem: the more money you give the people the more they save and the less economic activity actually happens.

But now we have the cash aimed straight at the section of society likely to spend it. Nice!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

The future for Egypt

Supposedly somewhere between 500 and 2000 people have been killed by government forces in Egypt in the last 24 hours.

The protagonists are the "the army" and "the Muslim Brotherhood". It's the Brotherhood which has the thin veneer of legitimacy. Their man, Mohammed Morsi, was elected president last year and was last month pushed out of office and is now "under arrest for murder" in the Cairo Officers' Club. However that does not mean the Brotherhood is the side we should be rooting for.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the spearhead of the Islamic advance across Europe and America. It is the parent organisation of a myriad of smaller groups advancing the cause of Islam: some by lawful advocacy, some by quasi-lawful infiltration of existing political parties, and some by blowing people up with bombs.

America has refused to call Morsi's downfall a "coup d'etat", for the simple reason that they would have to stop sending money to the Egyptian army if the government is deemed officially illegitimate. And without the money the army would lose control.

The "army" is actually a cypher; it does not refer exclusively to the armed forces. The "army" represents a section of Egyptian society - the urban, educated, middle-class section of society to be precise. These are people who lived just fine under the long military dictatorship of Mubarak and Nasser before him; who have connections, relatives who are officers for example; who have access to army clubs and army hospitals and army schools for their children. The other half of Egyptian society, the Islamo-fundamentalist side, the Brotherhood, the ones who shout Allah Akbar while they riot, are the uneducated dross. As always Islam recruits the lowest elements, the gammas and the deltas. Of course, what these people lack in education they make up in numbers. In a straight vote they win.

But it is important for Egypt that they do not win. In true democracies, when the voting is over and the winner inaugurated everyone gets behind the new leader and tries to make the best of the situation, in the certain knowledge of two things: 1) there will soon be another election and governments can change, and 2) the government knows that one day it will be out of office and if it does anything too outrageous there will be an accounting then.

When the Brotherhood comes to power though they are not magnanimous in victory. They use the power to grind their enemies further into the dust and they have no intention of submitting themselves to a future democratic process. The Brotherhood takes the view that temporary power should be used to assure permanent power.

In that kind of environment you cannot have democracy because democracy requires a willingness to give up power, which in turn requires that the departing leader and party have confidence that they will not be persecuted and will have the opportunity to seek power again in the future.

Morsi in office was clearly bedding himself in. Top generals were sacked; a purge of the civil service was carried out, and he rewrote the constitution to give himself more power. Democracy was leaving the building. The fact that he fairly openly endorsed the killing of Jews and reneged on a promise to appoint a Christian as vice-president did not help his cause.

The coup, when it came, was "Made in America". It would not have happened without a nod from the US administration. The army needs its annual $1.5bn donation. The good things it gives its people are not free. The Brotherhood is strong in America, but not stronger than the Jewish lobby - so the green light was given when asked for.

Arabs are in fact completely incompatible with democracy. There are no democratic Arabs nations. This is not a criticism of Arabs though, they are as they are, but democracy is a European invention and does not work for Arabs. Time and time again we see that Arabs can only live peacefully under a "strong man". When Saddam Hussein was removed from Iraq the country did not embrace a democratic future - it turned to self-destruction. The same happens to any Arab nation which has its strong leader removed. We should not bemoan the lack of democracy in an Arab nation - their options are only tyranny or chaos. Tyranny is the better choice. This is the nature of the Arab. Remember that Islam teaches that man-made law is forbidden, only God can give law to man. And Islam is not the word of God - it is an Arab-made religion; made by them, to suit them. Its tenets are not alien to them - they are exactly what the Arabs want.

The choices in Egypt are now: Western-friendly military dictatorship, or Islamic theocracy. And which ever side wins will expunge the other. If the West is tentative in its support of the army the Brotherhood will not be broken in spirit, nor wooed over by bribes and a full-scale civil war will erupt.

This would naturally bankrupt the nation whose most significant earning power comes from foreign tourists visiting their pyramids and beaches, Westerners do not holiday in war zones.

The army may sound like the bad guys, but they are the better option.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Look carefully Obama

You see Mr President, this is how it is done....

Prince George's birth certificate - click to enlarge

Guardsman attacked by "mixed-race" men chanting "Lee Rigby"

An 18-year-old soldier with the Coldstream Guards has been attacked in Exeter. So far known only as "Alexander", he was walking through an underpass when eight "mixed-race" men approached him and asked if he was a member of the armed forces. When he said yes they attacked him with kicks and punches, all the while chanting "Lee Rigby".

Location of attack


He did manage to get away, but the ringleader was trying to get a screwdriver out during the attack and it seems the intent was murder.

In this incident there has been no permanent injury or lasting harm. But this is getting serious. Do our soldiers have to travel in groups just to be safe now? Or perhaps they have to be confined to barracks permanently? Neither is practical or would be acceptable to them.

Obviously getting Islam out of the UK is the real answer, but until then perhaps the MOD should consider supplying soldiers with personal protection weapons and requiring them to go armed whenever off base.

That it should have come to this is ridiculous though.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Trouble in Trappes

Events in Trappes have not so far impinged on the British media consciousness but they are the talk of France. Probably this is due to journalistic indolence rather than any serious attempt suppress news. Also, waiting for a royal baby is far more productive than reporting the collapse of law and order in the country next door.

But we should pay attention to France, simply because they are slightly closer to the edge of the cliff than us. What happens in France today will happen in the UK in a few years' time.

Trappes is basically a suburb of Paris; a collection of towns about 15 miles from the centre of Paris. A couple of weeks ago a muslim lady from Trappes was minding her own business, walking along the street in a full-face, illegal-in-France, veil, a respectful few paces behind her husband when a policeman decided to ask to see some ID and her face. The husband took this badly and attempted to strangle the policeman. Some other policemen then arrested the man and took him to the local "commissariat" (police station) in Trappes. Not unreasonably, you might think.

Illegal full-face veil

However the local muslim population decided to spring him from jail and that night 300 of them surrounded the station, throwing stones and burning cars. A rather coy BBC report referred to youths rather than muslims. The French interior minister sent in the infamous French riot police to protect the station (successfully) and the man in question was later released on bail.

Nighttime rioting then spread to other towns in the area. The French government tries hard not to publish provocative numbers but it seems that so far 21 police officers have been injured; 256 cars have been burned and 337 fireworks/petrol bombs have been launched at police. (The fireworks are reported as "tirs de mortiers" which means mortar rounds - but this should not be taken literally, yet!)

All this because one woman was told to take off a burqa which is illegal in France anyway.

A low-grade civil war has been rumbling along in France ever since 2005 when two "youths" hid from police in an electrical substation and were killed, triggering three months of rioting.

The good news is this can never happen here in the UK because burqas are not illegal here. In fact in UK they are more likely to become compulsory before they ever become illegal!