Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How long are we going to pretend ....

... that snow is so rare in this country that we cannot possibly be expected to cope with it? It happens every year in most parts and most years in every part of the country. And yet each time roads become unpassable, schools are closed, transport breaks down. One good thing: those pesky teenagers who are taking time out of their studies again today to carry posters given to them by the Socialist Worker party members will find life very hard. I suspect fewer will turn up and many will run home to mummy earlier.

Kareem thanks his supporters

The Egyptian blogger Kareem, whose fate this blog and EUReferendum has followed, thanks his supporters across the world. Others, too, need our support. We are in a privileged position and should use that to help those who are not.

"Keynesian economics is wrong"

Another video from those talented people in the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. It is economic growth, they say, that causes consumer spending not the other way round. Makes sense to me.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Outrageous! This must stop!

By this I mean the people of Switzerland insisting that they must have some say in major policy decisions. Outrageous! How very dare they? This is, as some readers must have worked out, about the latest referendum in Switzerland in which 52.9 per cent voted for automatic expulsion of foreign criminals from the country and 47.1 per cent voted against. Of the 26 cantons only 6 voted against. So, the people of Switzerland have spoken and is there an outrage!

AFP reports
Switzerland was slammed as the "black sheep" of Europe on Monday after voters endorsed a far-right push to automatically expel foreign residents convicted of certain crimes.
Slammed by whom, precisely? Well there is the Austrian news website, which accused the Swiss of voting against foreigners. Well, no, not exactly. The Swiss have no intention of deporting foreigners who live and work in their country. They do not, however, seem to like foreigners who go to their country and commit serious crimes. Shocking of them, I know, and against international law, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Really? International law says you must tolerate anyone and everyone who happens to want to commit murder or large-scale robbery or rape in your country?

The EU, according to the same AFP article, is fulminating. This is going against bilateral agreements that ensure freedom of movement. For criminals? I don't recall that right in the Treaties and is the EU not the organization that is insisting on every tighter Europe-wide controls to fight international crime? Ah yes, but the Swiss are interested in their own country. That is their great sin.

French newspapers are apparently in shock. As well they might be. France, after all, deports people swiftly and quietly without bothering to ask anyone about it or bothering to find out whether they had committed any crimes.

Not only the EU is fulminating but, as EUObserver points out
Human rights groups slammed the result, with Amnesty International saying the approval of this plan represents a ''dark day for human rights in Switzerland.''

The European Network Against Racism (ENAR), a Brussels-based umbrella organisation, said the vote is the "result of a xenophobic and discriminatory campaign launched by the populist Swiss People's Party, making dangerous amalgams between immigration and criminality."

A "second-class" category of Swiss residents will emerge, ENAR warns, which would be a "clear breach of the fundamental human rights principle of equality before the law."

The group also noted it was not clear where the limit would be set - first, second or even third or fourth generation immigrants.
Of course, third or fourth generation immigrants are not exactly immigrants but that, presumably, will be clarified in the legislation that has to follow the referendum. In the meantime, let us for a moment consider what all these tranzis are saying. They are calling on the Swiss government to ignore the people's vote in the name of some nebulous concept of international human rights. They are also saying that it is one's inalienable human right to go to another country and commit serious crimes there. Really?

As Alex Singleton says in his blog in the Daily Telegraph:
Amnesty’s reasoning is that deportations could cause convicts to be sent back to countries where they could face persecution. But this is a ridiculous argument: no one is forcing visitors to Switzerland to commit offences. If people don’t want to be sent back home, why don’t they just desist from rape, robbery, murder and fraud?
Obviously because even to make such a suggestion is to infringe their human rights.

Then there is the question of taxation. The Swiss do insist on having a say on that, as well.
Meanwhile, a proposal to impose a minimum tax on Switzerland's wealthiest citizens, which was also put for vote on Sunday, was rejected with 58.5 percent.

"The bad mood hits foreigners but not the rich," ran the headline in Der Bund of Bern. The Yes to the People's Party initiative showed that "questions of Swiss identity and culture, triggered by rapidly growing social change and migration, bother Swiss people like virtually nothing else."
As I suspected and as the Reuters Factbox explains the vote about taxation has to do with the cantons jealously protecting their rights to set taxation and to compete for those foreigners who come to the country with good intentions, i.e. to make money by undercutting each other's tax rates.

Need I say it? I am shocked, shocked.

Let them go bankrupt

Well, OK, Michael Barone is talking about states like California but his arguments can be applies, mutatis mutandis, to other political entities.

Each to their own

Phyllis Chesler describes an encounter:
I recently spoke at length about Islamic gender and religious apartheid in the Arab and non-Arab Muslim world. This was, perhaps, the first time that anyone had ever focused on this subject at this distinguished Ivy League university.

I described both the level of poverty and illiteracy in the Arab and Muslim world and the absence of a free press, independent judiciary, human rights, and of the increasingly savage persecution of women, infidels, dissidents and homosexuals; about the prisons teeming with thousands of Muslim political prisoners who had been kidnapped and were now being tortured for “thought crimes.”

I described a culture in which women were arrested, whipped, gang-raped, and then either hung or stoned to death for alleging rape or for daring to leave dangerously abusive husbands; a culture that has spawned death-eating terrorists who have exposed Muslim and Arab civilians to permanent, bloody danger; and about how these cunning, brazen jihadists have now expanded their global reach and unleashed their bombs and suicide killers against the entire world.

I argued that, in effect, the demonization of Israel by the media, by governments, international bodies, human rights organizations, and university professors allowed the world to self-righteously bypass, minimize, avoid, utterly disappear Muslim-on-Muslim and Muslim-on-infidel tyranny and torture. Scapegoating Israel is what focuses attention away from the larger suffering in the Middle East and in the Muslim world in general.

And then a young, well-spoken, earnest, curly-headed college student asked this question: “You are talking about diverting attention away from the real issues, right? But, if we focus on the absence of freedom or the absence of women’s rights in the Middle East won’t that divert our attention away from the Settlement issue?”
One can, of course, argue about those Settlements but it is perplexing that a reasonably intelligent (one assumes) and well-meaning young man should consider the issue to be more important that the absence of freedom and the absence of women's rights in the Middle East. Yet he is not alone either in not ever bothering to hear that side of the story or in dismissing it as soon as he has heard it. I can only suppose that deep in his heart this young man (and many others like him) do not think such matters are of any importance when it applies to Arabs or Iranians (who, as it happens, do not mind being called Persians). Because they are not like us, see?

Sums it all up

From Roger Simon's column on Pajamas Media:
The criminality of self-righteous WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange aside, the State Department or other government nincompoops who authored the leaked documents and emails calling Sarkozy a “naked emperor,” etc., deserve to be terminated for extreme doofuss-ness. These days, a school child knows that what you write digitally is forever indelible.

If you have something nasty to say, do it over the water cooler or at a cocktail party, where you can deny you ever said it. Even write it down, if you must, on the back of a business card or scrap of note paper. They can be burned or flushed down the toilet. But for heaven’s sake don’t type it into a computer. There are no shredders for emails and Word docs. Are these people nitwits or do they have the impulse control of a two year old?
Absolutely right. Not that it matters. There seems very little in those leaks that a number of people with expertise had not worked out already though they might not have known the exact vocabulary used. Read the whole piece.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

That budget

The new budget has been "unveiled" by the Commission, still to be agreed to by the European Parliament. As it is proposed, both sides will get what they wanted and the Boy-King has been kicked in the behind.
Revised plans for next year's euro-budget have been unveiled - sticking to a 2.9% increase demanded by EU ministers in the face of continuing efforts by MEPs to win a 6% rise.

But the European Commission insisted there were new concessions to MEPs in its latest proposals, in the form of a "contingency fund" of up to 3.5 billion euro (£3 billion) in the event of "unforeseen circumstances".
We shall see if the MEPs will demand a bigger concession.

We need the trade so badly that we can give up everything else

Once the argument about peace in our time in Europe for the last fifty or however many years being all the achievement of the EU has been demolished, which takes about 30 seconds, we are left with jobs that will be lost if we are out of the EU and the trade, which is so important that we can and should give up our parliamentary democracy, common law, right to legislate and to defence to preserve it.

Quite apart from the fact that we are unlikely to lose the trade if we are out of the EU there is the question of what is it worth to us.

Lord Stoddart put down a written question:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the accumulated deficits or surpluses in the United Kingdom's trade with the other European Union countries between 2000 and 2009 in (a) manufactured goods, (b) services, and (c) goods and services.
The answer came via the Minister from the Director of the Office of National Statistics.
The cumulative trade deficit for total goods with the European Union member states over the period 2000 to 2009 was £283.4 billion. Within this, the cumulative trade deficit for total manufactured goods with the European Union member states over the period 2000 to 2009 was £279.7 billion.

The cumulative trade surplus for services with the European Union member states over the period 2000 to 2009 was £23.2 billion.
One cannot help wondering whether some other arrangement for trade might not be more beneficial to the country.

Drivel from HMG

I presume Lord Howell must be rather embarrassed by having his name under this piece of unadulterated drivel. On November 25 he gave a written reply to the following question put by Lord Stoddart of Swindon:
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their assessment of the speech by European Union Council President, Mr Van Rompuy, on 9 November concerning euro-scepticism and member states' ability to survive as independent entities.
Since Van Rompuy had been talking the most appalling rubbish, suggesting that euroscepticism was responsible for all the world's evils since that unfortunate encounter between Eve, the serpent and whatever fruit there was on the tree (Adam came into the story later, mostly in order to blame Eve for all the problems, which just goes to show that he did not know what Van Rompuy knows) HMG might think of some response or reaction.

This is what those gifted officials who write Ministers' responses thought of:
In his Berlin speech, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, gave his view of the challenges facing the EU over the next decade.

My honourable friend, David Lidington, the Minister for Europe, expressed the Government's position in his speech on 12 July, stating that this Government believe that:

"Our common interests are served when the nations of the EU use their collective weight in the world to promote our shared interests and shared value. The Government have made clear in the coalition agreement that they will not consent to the transfer of further competences or powers from the United Kingdom to the EU".
The second sentence of David Lidington's comment is, as we all know, an outright lie. The first one is merely drivel.

More on Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff

A little while ago I wrote about Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff who has been accused of hate speech in Austria because she dared to make certain criticism of Islam. Gates of Vienna gives the text of a speech she made at a conference sponsored by the International Free Press Society. What she says does not make for happy reading and this is what she says about here own case:
As most of you already know, nearly a year ago I was made aware that “hate speech” charges might be filed against me — I had “denigrated religious teachings” by giving one of my public lectures on Islam.

The possibility of my prosecution was not communicated to me directly, but through articles in the press.

It was not until last month that a court date was set for my case. Once again, I had to discover this fact in the press — in NEWS, the same left-wing newspaper that brought the original complaint against me. I was not officially notified of my hearing date until several days later.

The evidence used against me this past week was a transcript of a tape of my lecture, provided to the court by the same socialist newspaper. It included words that were not spoken by me, and words that were not spoken in public, which therefore were not a violation of the law.

But my case is not really about the law. It is a political trial, and like the trials of Geert Wilders and Jussi Halla-aho, it is intended to silence someone who speaks out against the barbaric nature of sharia law.
She also talks about the likely fate of free speech in the EU and its Member States under a combination of the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, a noxious document if ever there was one and the European Arrest Warrant.

What I cannot quite find out at the moment is what the situation is precisely with her own legal case. Presumably it did start on the 23rd but she is not under arrest, which is a good thing. As soon as I find out more I shall post an update.

Farage is really important

In the battle for ratings Nigel Farage has moved ahead of Daniel Hannan. Roger Kimball has devoted his column on Pajamas Media to his speech in Strasbourg and the problems with the EU. He is wrong to say that the man was a British Conservative politician before 1992 but he was a member of the Conservative Party. Otherwise, the piece is well worth reading. I am rather pleased to see that members of the American commentariat are beginning to pay attention and to understand the EU.

And on Sister Toldjah, one of my favourite American blogs.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This has to be mentioned

The Daily Express has become the first national newspaper in the UK to call for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union. (It is phrased correctly in the article though not in the headline.) Quite a bit step forward but still a long way to go. My own prediction, for what it's worth, is that the EU will fall apart before the UK begins any serious moves towards withdrawal. The end may well come very rapidly when it does. Whether the Express stays the course remains unpredictable. But there is one thing I can predict: when either the EU has collapsed or Britain - mirabile dictu - exits there will be many who will take credit: every media outlet that has ever made a critical comment about the EU, however mild; every Tory "eurosceptic" who has ever quietly confided in somebody that yes, actually, this was all going too far; every organization that has dolefully called for a reform; every Tory blogger who has on occasion noted something going wrong; and, not to be forgotten, every trendy chef who has shed tears over the situation with the fish once a year.

Use it or lose it

It is always nice when great men (no, for once, I do not mean the Boss over on EUReferendum) say exactly what one has been saying in one's own modest fashion. Roger Kimball (whom I actually met recently and who turned out to be a delightful dinner companion) writes about democracy, Bill Buckley and Glenn Reynolds in his column on Pajamas Media and says precisely what I have been saying to all who would listen and many who would not: Democracy: Use It or Lose It. I was going to quote but really the whole column is worth reading.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

It is, of course, an American holiday and of especial significance to Americans. But we live in a globalized world (almost as globalized as it was before World War I) and we can all think about it a little. We have much to be thankful for in the West. That is not to say that there are no things we need to be watchful about and others we need to fight for. That is surely true about any society. But one of the things we can be thankful about is that we can fight and we can be watchful and we can, if we try very hard, win.

In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to all American readers of this blog. As before I am linking to the piece the Wall Street Journal publishes every year, The Desolate Wilderness, an account of the Pilgrims' arrival at Plymouth, as recorded by Nathaniel Morton, based on the account given by William Bradford.

I always knew it would be a disaster

No, not those riots by spoilt teenagers but the London Olympics. Everything one hears confirms the view I have held from the moment the possibility of London getting them appeared on the horizon: the whole affair will be a disaster. An expensive disaster that we shall be paying for in the decades to come.

Today the Evening Standard informed us that not only the roads will be unusable because of the "Chaika lanes" for half-witted sports personalities, their attendants and Very Important People like politicians who will be rushing there to watch whatever the performance will be but we shall not be able to use the tube either because the system will not be able to cope with the pressure. Well, of course, it will not be able to cope - it cannot cope with the average rush hour even now. How many times have I said this only to be assured that it will be all right on the night or the two weeks in question? Apparently, I was right and so were all others who said that this would be a disaster for London. Go figure.

Re-writing history

I shall continue to ignore the "gimme, gimme, gimme" riots (so-called) of students (so-called) up and down the country. No, this is not a revolt (though they are undoubtedly revolting) nor a revolution. These people are terrified of change, terrified of losing their hand-outs, terrified of losing their toys, terrified of actually taking some responsibility for their lives. Revolutionaries are not made of such cowardly and infantile stuff. Might as well have a revolution with a bunch of two-year-olds.

This, however, is far more important. History has been re-written by all sorts of groups, religious and national, to serve their aims and the twentieth century, as in other matters, saw a good deal of that. Well, this is happening again, as Phyllis Chesler writes. Muslims (relative newcomers on the scene in Palestine) are re-writing millennia of history and destroying archaeological evidence. The UNESCO, readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear, has gone along with it.
This year, on October 21, 2010, Muslims persuaded UNESCO to declare that Rachel’s Tomb is really a mosque. Before then, it was widely assumed that Rachel’s Tomb was most definitely a Jewish holy site. This revisionist counter-claim originated only in 1996.
Well, now, the first step is to shut down UNESCO.

Somebody is saying it

Inevitably it is the Adam Smith Institute that is saying the obvious: cuts do not help until there is some discussion on what the government should or should not do.
Closing quangos or primary care trusts and transferring their work to departments and doctors’ practices respectively will achieve nothing unless the work itself is also eliminated. A dead giveaway is the phrase “working with”. The people being worked with may well be grateful not to be worked with. The Eastern Strategic Health Authority claims to “work with” 46 other NHS bodies.

Rolling back government should be about reducing what government does first and worrying about headcount and savings second.
However, the somewhat laboured metaphor of the three brown envelopes and new management in some private firm or other is too long and not entirely accurate. In fact, one cannot help wondering how much experience Tim Ambler has had in the business part of the private sector.

But I especially disagree with this fatuous comment:
The leaders of the Coalition are exceptionally bright and talented but, Ken Clark aside, have little relevant experience from commerce or government.
Just what evidence is there that they are exceptionally bright and talented if they have no experience in anything of any importance?

Not directly applicable but interesting

The Cato Institute's Director of Tax Policy Studies has produced a plan that would cut spending and balance the federal budget. At its heart is a concept that is lacking in our own government's blunderings and that is downsizing government. Before you cut or abolish you should think through what the government ought to be doing (very little) and what should be done by others (a good deal) or nobody at all (even more).

They WOULD pick the wrong argument

It is entirely reasonable for the Germans, politicians, media and the people, to say that they have had enough of bailing out people: first Greece, then Ireland and who knows what else might be coming their way.

It is, however, typical that they should go for the one thing that actually might help Ireland to get itself out of its mess, just as it had helped to power its economy before the government decided to pump so much money into banks that the huge balloon could not do anything but burst: low corporate tax.

To be fair, Germans had always grumbled about it and the reason is not far to seek. Ireland continued to receive a sizeable largesse from the EU through one fund or another while, or so the Germans thought, "unfairly" undermining the German economy. The answer was self-evident to many of us: stop giving Ireland funds and lower the taxes in Germany.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pirates on trial

Why do we have to read this in a Turkish newspaper? I don't mind, of course, particularly as Hürriyet tends to be an anti-government newspaper but it would be nice to have this item instead of yet another update on Z-list celebrities in the jungle.

It seems that Germany is trying a bunch of Somali pirates though, sadly, all they might be sentenced to is a few years in prison.
Anja Shortland, who studies piracy at the German Institute for Economic Research said that for a Somali pirate to be tried in the West "might be the ultimate prize rather than a deterrent."

"Spending three, five, even seven years in a European or American jail followed by political asylum - you can't do much better as a Somali man," she said.
I am not sure about this suggestion that this is the first pirate trial in Germany for 400 years. Back then there was no Germany though, obviously, there was an Ottoman Empire.

Well, I am shocked

Not all is well in the West Bank, run by the supposedly West-friendly Palestinian Authority (not even Hamas) that is heavily reliant on American and generally Western money. According to the Financial Times allegations of torture have increased recently. This information comes from apparently independent Palestinian human rights organizations and - shock, horror - do not apply to the dastardly IDF.
Claims of torture and abuse by members of the Palestinian security forces are not new. There has, however, been a sharp rise in reported cases, leading Human Rights Watch to remark last month that “reports of torture by Palestinian security forces keep rolling in”. The New York-based organisation also bemoaned the “rampant impunity” of officers allegedly involved in the abuses.

Many analysts and observers fear that life in the west Bank is taking on an increasingly authoritarian hue. “I feel real concern that we are reaching the level of a police state,” says Shawan Jabarin, the director of al-Haq, a Ramallah-based human rights group.

It is a concern shared by Randa Siniora, the director of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, the ombudsman responsible for processing complaints against Palestinian officials. Her commission received more complaints about torture in the west Bank in October than in any month since mid- 2009. “We are looking at a very gloomy situation,” she said. “I am afraid that this [problem of torture and abuse] will become systematic.”

Groups such as al-Haq, which once only documented human rights abuses by Israeli authorities, say they are spending an increasing amount of time on cases in which Palestinians abuse their fellow countrymen.

The deterioration is linked closely to a crackdown on Islamist activists and sympathisers after a deadly attack on Jewish West Bank settlers by Hamas gunmen in August. In an attempt to counter the renewed threat from Hamas, and keen to prove the PA capable of dealing forcefully with its rival, the authority’s General Intelligence and Preventive Security units rounded up more than 700 suspects.
Hmmm. It seems that Israel and the West are still at the bottom of this problem. By the way, can we have a report about how Hamas deals with its opponents in Gaza?

I believe there is a word for this

The word is chutzpah. While some European languages have an equivalent, English does not. So I find myself using the well-known Yiddish one. Tim Montgomerie rather kindly explains to the Republicans (who have just scored a notable victory) what they can learn from the British Conservatives who managed to lose an election against the most unpopular government of modern times.
Britain's Tory Party is popular with nearly all American conservatives at the moment. Modernizing Republicans like the ways in which David Cameron changed the UK Tories, dragging them away from 'old-fashioned' views on candidate selection, the environment and lifestyle diversity. More traditional Republicans are more impressed with David Cameron now that he's in 10 Downing Street. They like his government's welfare reform programme, his emphasis on school choice and, most of all, they admire his plan to eradicate Gordon Brown's deficit.
You mean they like the way candidate selection has been centralized thus ensuring that no grass-roots movement in any locality could have an influence? They like the way Big Society ideas are imposed through bigger government? They like the way the deficit keeps growing and the figures are more horrifying with every month, with foreign aid increasing and more going to the European Union? Do they? Or do they simply not know or care what is going on in Britain? I wouldn't blame them if they did not.

Slightly risque ...

... but funny and accurate. Another gem on Day by Day.

A real danger

I switch on my computer, look at the news and this is what I find: the threat of another Korean War. What goes around comes around, especially for my generation. I wonder if this threat will make some people take their heads out of their fundamenta.

The Boss thinks I am slacking ...

.... and he is right. I am slacking and I am, intermittently, reviewing the situation. But like Fagin I always come back to the same opinion: I think I'd better think it out again.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's that time of the year

The Independent says so therefore it must be true:
North Sea fishermen are throwing away up to half of all the fish they catch every year in what campaigners say is a chronic waste of food.
How long has this madness been going on? How many years have we been campaigning? I have lost count but this time of the year the media wakes up to the "problem". The Fisheries Council is coming and the Total Allowed Catch (TAC) for next year will be set. So, we get very excited and talk about the need to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which requires a qualified majority vote for every change. Then everybody goes quiet for a year.

A Stampede of Groundhogs as the Boss says on EUReferendum. And, of course, the Cleggerons are up in arms and have been since June when they announced that they were going to reform the Common Fisheries Policy though there seems to be some difficulty in explaining who exactly are going to be the countries who will fight with us for a reform.

Another good idea disregarded

Lord Stoddart asked what must be considered an exceedingly pertinent Written Question:
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they consider that, where projects in the United Kingdom are undertaken by the European Union and its logo is on display, a Union Jack together with the message "Matching funds supplied by Her Majesty's Government" should also be displayed when appropriate.
This harks back to the thorny problem of who should show the EU insignia and in which circumstances as defined by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006. Needless to say, HMG has not shown itself to be particularly open-minded on the subject. Said Lord Sassoon:
The Government have no plans to mandate the display of such information on projects in the UK undertaken by the European Union.
After all, why would anybody want to know the details of that famous EU "largesse"?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Some more good news

I do not intend to blog about Prince William and the future Princess. What can one say after saying one wishes them well and, no doubt, there will be a good deal of frenzy on both sides: among those who think this is the greatest and most important piece of news ever and among those who want grumble in disgust or make really stupid jokes, every one of which has been made on numerous occasions. And that's enough Prince William.

The good news is from Egypt where the blogger Karim, whose fate I have tried to follow, has been released from prison after four years and a good deal of mistreatment. OpenMarket. org reports and suggests we all celebrate and remember how fortunate we are to live in a country where criticism of your government does not get you to prison. Au contraire. (I trust nobody is going to comment darkly on the lines of "just you wait and see".) The Free Kareem website also reports the release.


Never did I think I shall see something on the Food Standards Agency website that I would cheer about. But here it is:
Respondents were asked how worried they were about certain perceived food risks such as pesticides, food poisoning, and hormones in meat. British respondents were less worried about all of these perceived risks than their European counterparts but were most concerned about the welfare of farmed animals and the quality and freshness of food.

UK respondents were more worried about the economic crises negatively affecting their lives than concerned that the food they personally eat could possibly damage their health. Only 29% of UK respondents thought that food could possibly damage their health as opposed to 48% in the rest of the EU. UK consumers were also less likely to permanently change their eating habits after hearing that a type of food was unsafe following media stories (only 7% in the UK compared to 11% in Europe).
Of course that will not stop the media from running more scare stories but, at least, ever fewer people pay attention. By the way, the Food Standards Agency is not being abolished. I thought you might like to be reminded of that.

A small contribution

On Friday, October 29 I was due to attend and, indeed, report from a very solemn ceremony in Great Missenden: an ecumenical Mass of Reparation for the thousands of victims who are rarely remembered. These are people of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and other parts of former Yugoslavia who were handed over by the British authorities to the Communists and were almost immediately murdered. Indeed, some stories tell of the British actually seeing and hearing train-loads of people being set down and mowed down just a couple of miles away from where the handing over had taken place.

It is incomprehensible to me why those shameful episodes should not be acknowledged (along with such matters as the prolonged silence on what really happened at Katyn). One needs no apologies. After all, we cannot apologize for what we had not done and were not responsible for. But acknowledgement is reparation. The Great Missenden Mass, which I missed for a very simple reason, a very bad cold meant that I could do nothing but sleep all day, is a start of that process. It is time the truth was told.

In the absence of any account I could have written here are a couple of links. One is an excellent article by former Ambassador to various East European and Balkan countries, Charles Crawford, published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The other by Edward Lucas (at least, I assume that is who E. L. is) in the Economist. Do try to read them both and ignore the stupid comments on both, made by people who have as much knowledge of history as I of nuclear physics. Perhaps, even less.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Tory rebellion (Not!)

They were going to rebel. Honest, guv. They really were going to rebel over the proposed Economic Governance. They were going to show that the new intake and the old intake and the in-between intake are really, really eurosceptic and will fight against any further integration.

It was a fairly ordinary Wednesday in the House of Commons when that rebellion was going to take place and at five o'clock the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Mark Hoban, rose and begged to move
That this House takes note of European Union Documents (a) 9433/10, Commission Communication on reinforcing economic policy co-ordination, (b) 11807/10, Commission Communication on enhancing economic policy co-ordination for stability, growth and jobs - tools for stronger EU economic governance, (c) 14496/10, Proposal for a Council Regulation (EU) amending Regulation (EC) No. 1467/97 on speeding up and clarifying the implementation of the excessive deficit procedure, (d) 14497/10, Proposal for a Council Directive on requirements for budgetary frameworks of the Member States, (e) 14498/10, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the effective enforcement of budgetary surveillance in the euro area, (f) 14512/10, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in the euro area, (g) 14515/10, Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention and correction of macroeconomic imbalances, and (h) 14520/10, Proposal for a Regulation of the15 European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No. 1466/97 on the strengthening of the surveillance of budgetary positions and the surveillance and co-ordination of economic policies; notes the Report from the Task Force on Economic Governance in the European Union; notes with approval that budgetary and fiscal information will continue to be presented to Parliament before being given to EU20 institutions; and approves the Government's position, as endorsed by the Task Force that any sanctions proposed should not apply to the United Kingdom in consideration of Protocol 15 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.
Together these various documents will hand over huge amounts of power to the EU but, presumably, none of it will be "significant" enough to put to a referendum. In fact, these documents are what we have now learnt to call in a short-hand Economic Governance.

Of course, the "take note" debates do not do much except allow people to sound off and to display their stance on the subject. And, indeed, a number of MPs made some very good points. I particularly liked Philip Davies's comment about nobody believing assurances that no more power will pass to the EU (as Mr Hoban kept assuring the Hon. Members) and Bill Cash's reference to Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass.

Then one scrolls down to find the size of that famous rebellion and finds .... that 24 Tory MPs (including the two I quoted above) managed to vote against the government with 15 others. One assumes the Labour Party officially abstained but allowed the odd dissident to wander into the No lobby. Ms Pritti Patel, the pin-up of the eurosceptic Tories, has once again decided to keep her pretty little head below the parapet and wander off to some prior engagement. Mr Halfon has clearly exhausted his ability to rebel by voting for Douglas Carswell's amendment in the last rebellion. This time he voted with the government. But why need one to list these people

So that's that. Another rebellion that never was. How many more before people stop talking excitedly about that wonderful Tory eurosceptic intake?

On another subject

This blog will return to its core themes in a little while but, first, there is an interesting little tale. Yesterday I was taking part in a news/cultural discussion programme on the BBC Russian Service and one item was about the forthcoming Hajj, there being rather a large number of Muslims in Russia most of whom are not fighting the Russian troops or blowing up trains. (In parenthesis, let me just point out that the Russian scorched earth policy against the Chechens has not been a huge success. But more of that another time.)

Young Muslims in Moscow were interviewed and a number of them said that they would like to go on the Hajj but had no money. One or two assured the interviewer that they were ready to do it as it ought to be done, that is on foot and did not think there were any difficulties or dangers attached to that. Comments of that kind made me wonder whether Russian schools have followed the British example and stopped teaching geography.

One young man proudly announced that he had been and had used (as he kept repeating) his mother and his aunt, that is, borrowed money from them. The Imam of Moscow's oldest mosque was unimpressed. You are not supposed to borrow money to go on the Hajj but earn it by legitimate labour. What if you were to die during the Hajj (not an impossible suggestion even now, though the Imam mentioned that as something that happened only in the past)? You would die with your debt unpaid and that, he explained firmly, is against Islam's teaching.

Furthermore, one cannot simply abandon one's family and leave them in poverty in order to go on the Hajj. So what of the people who cannot afford to do this? Is it not one of the Five Pillars of Islam? It is, yes, but there are all sorts of practical considerations that make the requirement merely to strive to go on the Hajj. Reminded me of Henry IV's vow to go to Jerusalem as a penance for deposing Richard II and having him murdered. Alas, he dies satisfied because he is in one of the royal chambers, which is named Jerusalem.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Another one

You hear a name and suddenly it appears everywhere. I read Phyllis Chesler's article on various unpleasant developments, mostly in Western Europe, this morning and in it there was this paragraph:
And in Vienna, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, a housewife and mother is an Austrian diplomat’s daughter who has lived all over the Islamic world, including in Kuwait and Iran. She is facing a criminal trial later in November of this year for, like Geert Wilders, exercising her freedom of speech in order to tell the truth. But when the truth is true truth and it offends Muslims and their infidel supporters, lawsuits are launched.
Memo to self, I thought, follow this up. As it happens, I didn't have to. For some reason several people alerted me during the day to the fact that Frau Sabaditsch-Wolff's trial will begin in Vienna on November 23.

What is she being accused of? As this clip shows, she dared to voice criticisms of Islam, particularly its political aspect, the oppression of certain groups and the determined Islamization of Europe. You might or might not agree with that last point but what followed was a good deal more chilling than simply people disagreeing.

As EuropeNews explains:
A criminal complaint is being filed against Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff for “hate speech” under Austrian law, essentially the same thing that Susanne Winter was convicted of early this year.

Elisabeth gave a presentation about Islam at an FPÖ-organized seminar, and said some of the usual things that anti-jihad advocates say when they talk about Islam. A left-wing magazine, which had planted someone in the audience, caused charges to be brought against her at the same time as they publicized it in their magazine.

Elisabeth held the controversial Islam Seminar at the FPÖ-political academy. Charges of defamation of a religious group have been filed against the daughter of a diplomat.
I am not that impressed by the fact that she is the daughter of the diplomat but her ideas as expressed in the interview that follows this introduction are perfectly sensible. She prefers Europe to keep to democratic and liberal standards and dislikes the way women and certain minorities are treated under Sharia. She does not want to see Sharia established in European countries and she is not happy by the vicious personal, misogynistic attacks that the Left aimed at her.
You are being accused of Islamophobia. Does this bother you?

A phobia is an irrational fear. My worries are not irrational, but justified. One of these days our politicians will have to recognize this fact. People like me are not right-wing xenophobes.

But what are you.

We are people defending the principles of freedom and equality in a secular society. I criticize political Islam and its political manifestations. No democratic country can take this right away from anyone.

Why do critics of Islam nearly always use polemics?

And what [if not polemics] did the article in NEWS use? There are comments about my body, there is ridicule about how I eat. Sexist attacks below the belt against women making unpopular statements are a manifestation of a male-dominated system. There are many critics of Islam. However, it's always women like Brigitte Bardot or Oriana Fallaci who are attacked below the belt.

Leading politicians have sharply criticized your seminars. Are they all members of a male-dominated system?

These politicians do not know the contents of my seminars. All they know are out-of-context quotes from an article in a glossy magazine.
Here is Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff's English language website.


There is something rather peculiar about the Cleggeron Coalition. Well, there are many peculiar things about it, not least its very existence, but what I have in mind is the fact that its Ministers are even more evasive in their responses than the previous bunch was. At times, they seem to reply to a completely different question from the one asked, as I recorded once or twice before.

Yesterday Lord Fowler asked in the House of Lords "what safeguards exist to prevent too great a concentration of media power in the United Kingdom". No, he was not worrying about the BBC but about the very nebulous threat of the dreaded News Corporation (a.k.a. Rupert Murdoch) taking over some other part of the media. Or more control of it. Or something. The idea that a country that has a tax-funded media that uses those funds to control as much of the scene as possible should be worried about some private competitor is, of course, laughable.

Amusingly enough, Baroness Rawlings was pulled up for making at least one of her replies too long. The House does not like Ministers filibustering and quite right, too. There was a certain amount of toing and froing about Ofcom, which is not going to be abolished, as, indeed, none of us ever believed it would be, though its role is questionable.

Towards the end of the debate, Lord Pearson asked:
Even so, my Lords, will the Government encourage the BBC to fulfil the single promise that it made in the wake of the Wilson report in 2005, which was to explain to the British people how the institutions of the European Union interact and their effect on British life?
Baroness Rawlings's answer appeared to be to a different question:
The European Commission will have a role in this because it is wide-ranging. DG4 is examining whether the merger may result in a loss of effective competition in the market. It must decide by 8 December whether to clear the merger or to proceed to a full second stage of investigation.
Exactly what is going on there?

Good news from the Nordic countries

One does not have to be able to speak Norwegian to be able to understand this headline: Nordmenn skeptiske til EU. Yes, indeed, those pesky Nordmenn are very skeptiske towards the EU and who can blame them as the Commission demands another 50 per cent in North Sea fishing.
The European Commission said cod stocks in the Kattegat, between Denmark and Sweden, in the Irish Sea, and west of Scotland "are no showing no signs of recovery."

"The Commission is therefore proposing 50 percent reductions in these total allowable catches," a statement said.

North Sea cod took a hit in 2008 when a greater proportion of the stock was caught than in any year since 1999, while closures and cod-avoidance schemes had failed to protect it and had had little effect on fishing patterns, it said.

As management of cod in the area is co-managed with Norway, the EU hopes to have talks with Oslo on redressing the situation.
Whereas, if Norway were in the EU they would simply have to obey the rules as they will be passed at the Fisheries Ministers' meeting in December. But, of course, there is no difference between our position in the EU and Norway's outside it, as we are told ad nauseam by various europhiliacs.

So it is not altogether surprising that only 24 per cent of those asked support EU membership for Norway. No matter who conducts the poll, there has been a strong majority against EU membership in Norway since 2005. I don't think they will be applying any time soon.

Meanwhile, across the sea in Iceland, the polls continue to tell the same tale. 60 per cent against, 26 per cent in favour and the rest undecided. Even if all the undecided suddenly decided to be in favour (an unlikely scenario), those against would still outnumber them.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We have a long way to go

The EU Referendum Campaign (most definitely not to be confused with the Boss's domain) has proudly announced the results of the first opinion poll they commissioned. Apparently, 74 per cent of those asked said that the money we send to the EU would be better spent dealing with our own debt. The only thing I can ask is what about the other 26 per cent? Do they really think this is a good way of wasting taxpayers' money?

Going on from there we find that
68% of the British Public want Britain to demand an immediate reduction in our contribution to the EU Budget.
Well, they are not going to get that. Au contraire. Contributions are going up, as we know. The only question is by how much. However, once again, the question of the other 32 per cent arises. Do they not want to reduce our contribution? How very odd.

I am, however, a little puzzled by the statement made by Jon Gaunt, the public face of the campaign.
It's now crystal clear that the majority of British people want the £48 million we send every day to Brussels to be spent here in Britain on vital services. How will Britain feel when an EXTRA £450 million is sent to Brussels next year? Surely David Cameron cannot ignore the will of the British people... it's time he gave us our say on the EU.
So, our options are spending taxpayers' money on EU projects or letting the government spend taxpayers' money on wasteful and inefficient projects of the kind that have sapped this country's will to live and prosper. And then we wonder why the Tea Party Movement has no chance of taking off in Britain.

You can see the actual data here.

Nope, we are not handing over power

Just in case you were wondering, dear reader, about that European Investigation Order that the Cleggeron Coalition decided to opt into, it does not involve handing over power to the EU. Of course not.

Lord Tebbit asked about it.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the decision to opt in to the European Investigation Order to which future amendments will be made by qualified majority voting rather than unanimity transfers any power from the United Kingdom to the European Union.
What a silly question. As I said above: of course not.
The UK's decision to opt in to the draft directive for a European Investigation Order (EIO) and thereby participate in negotiations which will be subject to qualified majority voting (QMV) does not constitute a transfer of power from the United Kingdom to the European Union. The treaty on the functioning of the European Union provides an appropriate legal base under Title V for the Union to legislate in this area. This is subject to protocol 21 to the treaty providing for the UK to decide to opt in to the proposal. In taking the decision to opt in to this measure a number of factors, including the benefits of participating in the more effective arrangements which the measure proposes and the prospect of achieving the right outcomes for the UK through negotiations, were considered.

Any new measure proposing amendments to the EIO after the current directive has been adopted would be subject to the UK's JHA opt-in and the UK could therefore choose whether or not it wished to participate in any future amended version. The UK will consider these decisions on a case by case basis.
I wonder if it is true. There seems to be a slight discrepancy between the last paragraph of Baroness Neville-Jones's reply and what she said last time.
I can further explain that, in line with Article three of Protocol 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union concerning the position of the United Kingdom (and Ireland) in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, the UK is able to opt in to a draft directive within the three month opt-in period, but that the Government cannot then subsequently reverse this decision (to opt in). This means that the UK will be bound by any text that is agreed after qualified majority voting (QMV) in the Council of Ministers.
I am not at all sure that the UK will have an option of not participating in any amended version in the future though, of course, an attempt to form a blocking minority in the QMV vote will always be a possibility. The reality of such a minority is far less of a possibility.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And another thing

Well, several other things but let us look at one of them first: that pesky EU annual budget. There were several Written Questions in the House of Lords, one from Lord Taylor of Warwick (rather surprising, that) and a couple from Lord Stoddart of Swindon.

The answers are really interesting. There is a good deal of blah about the unacceptability of the European Parliament's proposals of increasing the budget by nearly 6 per cent and slightly fewer references to the original promise of freezing the budget. We are now terribly proud of the fact that we were co-signatories of a letter with "Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Czech Republic, Denmark, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, Estonia and Malta" that demanded an increase of no more than 2.9 per cent, curiously enough the figure suggested by France and Germany.

Let us now have a look at Lord Stoddart's second question and the answer to it
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the decision by the European Parliament to increase the 2011 European Union budget by 5.9 per cent will require the specific agreement of Parliament.
By Parliament Lord Stodart means the one in Westminster. And here is the answer that explains a couple of things
On 20 October the European Parliament adopted its position in relation to the draft European Union budget for 2011 proposed by the European Commission. It proposed a 5.9 per cent increase in the budget from 2010 levels.

On 29 October, the Prime Minister and 12 other EU leaders signed a joint letter saying that the European Parliament's proposals "are especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure. The Council has proposed an increase in EU budget spending of 2.91 per cent for 2011. We are clear that we cannot accept any more than this". The European Parliament and the Council are now meeting in a conciliation committee to try to reach agreement on a final budget for 2011.

The European Commission's draft budget and the Government's approach to annual budget negotiations are subject to parliamentary scrutiny. This is an important process, enhancing transparency, accountability and the Government's formulation of policy towards these negotiations. The final EU annual budget agreed at the end of the process does not require specific parliamentary agreement.
In other words, as this blog and EUReferendum keep saying, there is no agreement as yet on next year's annual budget. The conciliation committee is still discussing it. And, secondly, once the EU annual budget is agreed on it will be scrutinized but no "specific parliamentary agreement" will be required. We can scrutinize but we have to accept and pay up.

Let me get this straight ...

The UNWRA exists solely to campaign on behalf of Palestinian refugees or people they deem to be refugees, spending a great deal of time, money and energy on attacking Israel. Yet they turn to Israel when they need protection against Palestinian Islamists in Gaza who seem to feel murderous against UNWRA. Fascinating.

By all means, let's give them some more money

Same old, same old. The Court of Auditors has once again refused to sign off the EU Budget for 2009. Are there any improvements? Apparently yes but some things have become worse:
Are there any improvements compared to previous Annual Reports? Yes, as Mr Vítor Caldeira, President of the European Court of Auditors, says “the estimate for the most likely error in Cohesion spending was significantly lower than in previous years; and, for the budget as a whole, the Court's estimate of error has fallen over recent years”. This reduction outweighed, in its significance and effect on the overall level of regularity, an increase in the estimated error rate in Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Here is the Report in full. On pages 11 and 12 you will find the following paragraphs:
IX. In the Court’s opinion, ‘Revenue’, commitments for all policy groups and payments underlying the accounts for the policy groups ‘Economic and financial affairs’ and ‘Administrative and other expenditure’ for the year ended 31 December 2009 in all material respects are legal and regular.

X. In the Court’s opinion, payments underlying the accounts for the year ended 31 December 2009 for the policy groups ‘Agriculture and natural resources’, ‘Cohesion’, ‘Research, energy and transport’, ‘External Aid, development and enlargement’ and ‘Education and Citizenship’ are materially affected by error. The supervisory and control systems are partially effective in preventing or detecting and correcting the reimbursement of overstated or ineligible costs.
By all means, let us give them some more money. And we shall.


TOTUS is back.

Jumpin' Jive

Fred Astaire thought they were the greatest and who am I to disagree. Cab Calloway with his orchestra playing Jumpin Jive in Stormy Weather then the unbeatable and unbelievable Nicholas Brothers come in.

Monday, November 8, 2010

And here are those figures (more or less)

Lord Pearson of Rannoch (now Head of Fund Raising in UKIP, a position that is really more suited to his talents than being Leader) asked a Starred Question this afternoon:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their latest estimate of the net cost to the United Kingdom of membership of the European Union.
Lord Sassoon gave some figures, which are based on the assumption that the rise in next year's budget will stay at 2.9 per cent, which is bad enough.
My Lords, the UK's net payment to the European Union budget is projected to increase from £3.8 billion in 2009-10 to £8.6 billion in 2014-15. The main reasons are the increase in the size of the budget and the disapplication of the abatement to non-agricultural spending in the new member states. Both were signed up by the previous Government for 2007-13. We are very concerned about those growing contributions, and we are working hard to moderate them.
What exactly he means by working hard to moderate them remains a mystery. The rest of the debate was interesting enough to read, particularly Earl Cathcart's contribution:
My Lords, as individuals, I do not believe that any of your Lordships would continue paying good money to the bank which looked after their money, their savings, and perhaps their mortgage, pensions, life policies and investments if the auditors refused to sign off the accounts because of fraud, theft, mismanagement and embezzlement, yet Britain continues to pay good money to Europe, although the auditors have refused to sign off on the accounts for 14 years for those same four reasons. Why do the Government not pay our great contributions to the EU into a bank account in London, draw down on that to make a payment to the British people as necessary and then pay only the net amount to Brussels if and when the auditors are happy to sign off the accounts? That might concentrate a few minds.
Naturally, the answer to that is "well, that is quite a good idea but there is nothing we can do about it".

Subsequently we got the usual guff of how much we get out of the EU - far more than we put in, apparently, - though it all seems to be access to the market, which we would retain even if we were not in the EU. After all, other countries are not banned from trading with the EU if they want and they might not want.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked a couple of pertinent questions:
My Lords, is the Minister aware that we run a consistent trade deficit with the EU of about £40 billion a year? Could he say in relation to our net contribution, given the extra £450 million agreed by the Prime Minister at the recent quarterly meeting—or perhaps the £900 million which we will have to pay if the European Parliament has its way—how much we will then be paying?
The answers were a little less pertinent:
My Lords, in answer to the first part of the noble Lord’s question, 40 per cent of the UK’s trade goes to Europe, so it is a critical trading partner. On the potential increase of our budget contribution for next year, I should say that it was only thanks to the work of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister that the budget was put on to the agenda of the Council of Ministers and, thanks to the work he did with a number of other member states, the ridiculous proposal of a 6 per cent increase has been thrown out of court. The Council instead discussed the 2.9 per cent increase which we believed to be the absolute upper limit of what should be acceptable for next year.
If we keep running a deficit then perhaps that trading relationship is a little less critical than HMG pretends it is. As for the famous victory at the European Council, I hate to disagree with the Noble Minister, but it did not happen. The annual budget, as I keep saying, is still being discussed. Indeed, an interesting article on EUObserver tells us that even if the European Parliament backs down on its demands for an almost 6 per cent increase, there will be hidden payments, which are likely to raise the Budget contributions well above the famous 2.9 per cent (which was not, in any case, Cameron's original aim).
But Ms Jedrzejewska, who is responsible for drafting the Parliament's position on this matter, says that if the Parliament agreed to the 2.9 percent figure, more money would have to be added in "ammended budgets" throughout the course of next year.

"It's not an honest proposal and people who wrote the letter know it will be more in the end. They are just postponing payments," she said.

This tactic – already seen this year with no less than 10 amending budgets – increases the lack of transparency of EU accounts, which only leads to more lack of understanding from EU citizens, she argued.

"On one hand member states are asking us to cut payments for 2011, but on the other they are demanding supplements for 2010," Ms Jedrzejewska said.

Listing the extra expenditures already agreed for next year, she mentioned: compensations for banana producers agreed by EU member states and the World Trade Organisation, which would be worth €80 million; the France-based nuclear fusion project (ITER) project, for which international funding to the tune of €1.5 billion still has to be found; and the new EU diplomatic service which will need at least €34 million extra funds in 2011.

Not included in the draft budget is the humanitarian aid to Pakistan, for which the European Commission has not tabled a figure yet, or extra aid for the Palestinian territories, amounting to some €100 million.
Can't wait to hear how that will be spun by the Cleggeron Coalition.

Journalism in Russia

The BBC reports that Anatoliy Adamchuk, from the Zhukovskiye Vesti suburban Moscow weekly was attacked and badly beaten just days after one of the more or less independent newspaper Kommersant's Oleg Kashin had been severely beaten outside his home. Mr Adamchuk had been reporting about children protesting about the cutting down of the well known and very popular Khimki forest being arrested. Mr Kashin had been reporting on the building of the motorway across the forest and the protests against it. The motorway has now been put on hold by the government, which, presumably, means that the mess created by the uncompleted construction will remain there as a dangerous eyesore.

President Medvedev announced that Oleg Kashin's attackers will be punished. As I recall every time there is an attack on a well known person, particularly a journalist, investigator or human rights activist, he promises to find and punish the attackers. We are still waiting in the cases of Politkovskaya, Estemirova and numerous others. Here is an account of a vicious beating doled out not so long ago: the victim was another activist who has been trying to prevent the destruction of the Khimki forest, Konstantin Fetisov.

The Russian Union of Journalists has demanded greater protection from the government (which must have made those who wrote the press release smile) and proper investigation of all cases as well as punishment for the criminals. (Statement in Russian and in English of a kind) The statement also refers to the various cases when journalists were prevented by officials from carrying out their duties, often through dubious accusations and arrests.

I wonder how their pension funds are doing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Better assure everyone of my existence

Over on ToryBoy blog Jonathan Isaby has produced another one of those "where, oh where are the right-wing female bloggers" postings. He had been accused of not linking enough to female bloggers and decided to look around, finding that there were none or very few and all of them either stalwart Conservatives or cloggers, that is bloggers on newspapers. Then everyone else piled in discussing why women do not blog or are not right-wing or both or neither. Some people named a number of other right-of-centre female bloggers and one kind reader linked to his blog (for which much thanks).

The idea that Jonathan Isaby somehow knows all the bloggers out there on the right in Britain or anywhere else is laughable. None of us know them all. I could reel off a few but I would never pretend that there were no others. Then again, I am not ToryBoy.

It occurred to me that what with one thing and another I did not comment on the only two British political stories of the last few days (unless you consider the His Bloviation, the ArchDruid of Canterbury making a fool of himself a story): election of Nigel Farage as leader of UKIP (reprise) and a judge deciding that Parliamentary candidates are not allowed to tell lies about their rivals for fear of having the election annulled.

OK, let's get the ArchDruid out of the way. Why the Grauniad should think his extraordinarily stupid intervention should be a set-back to Iain Duncan Smith's plans is a mystery. Why should anyone care what His Bloviation says? If he really thinks that the unemployed are that through no fault of their own then surely doing community work will enhance their battered self-esteem rather than sending them into despair. Surely it is not having work that takes away that hope and self-esteem.

Nigel Farage. I don't need to link to the story as it was everywhere. I have made my views clear a while ago: I do not suffer from the widespread Nigelitis but I do think that this is a smart move either for the party or for Mr Farage; they are now seen as being symbiotically linked and unable to do without the other. Mr Farage's performance in Buckingham was lamentable and, while he is an excellent communicator on the media, he falls a good deal short of being a good manager or leader. All we can hope for is that he will not engineer the departure of two of his rivals and that he allows the structures that Lord Pearson put into place to continue.

Phil Woolas. Well, naturally, we are all glad to see the back of him but are we all that glad with the situation in which elections will be second-guessed in courts on the basis of whose electoral literature was acceptable or otherwise. Where will that stop? Shall we reach a position in which electoral literature will be published and simply sent to special courts who will then decide on the truth, honesty and decency of every candidate's output, pronouncing that candidate the winner?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sorry is not a word in their vocabulary

It is usually the Boss on EUReferendum who links to James Delingpole but just for once I am doing so as well. To be honest, I have never had much sympathy for the Prodigal Son or his sappy father and a good deal of same for the much peeved older son.

Delingpole is right: given the appalling damage greenies have inflicted on developing countries it ought not to be enough for them to say laughingly that well, actually, they were a tiny bit out in their estimation for the media to fawn all over them. So courageous. Tell that to the people who suffered from those policies, assuming they are still alive.
Well bully for Lynas and Brand. But why, pray, do they deserve any credit for reaching conclusions that those of us who aren’t blinkered eco-zealots reached years ago?

What about the hundreds – perhaps thousands – of starving Zambians who died in the 2002 famine when, thanks to the misinformed campaigning of green activists like Lynas, the Zambian government refused to distribute US foreign aid packages of GM food?

What about all the honest, decent scientists and agricultural engineers and nuclear workers whose career path was stymied as a result of green hysteria?
What about the brown-outs and power shortages and energy insecurity this country is going to suffer as a direct result of the Greenie anti-nuclear hysteria which prevented us replacing our old nuclear power stations?

What ABOUT those millions and millions that Rachel Carson inadvertently massacred with her entirely unfounded claims about the effects of DDT on birdlife?

Green campaigners like Brand and Lynas have not only caused massive damage to the global economy – the biotech and nuclear industry, especially – but they have also almost certainly contributed to numerous deaths in the Third World. And we’re – what? – supposed to cosy up to them now and go: “Well done, lads! You’ve seen the light! Here’s a bung and a nice promo video from your mates at Channel 4?”
And, of course, they are still bleating about AGW and getting nice well paid jobs at our expense.


The BBC News staff are on strike. Or so I am told. As I never listen to the Today programme I would not have noticed. News is available from many other sources and the BBC spin on things is not essential. What I cannot understand is why this should matter to anyone.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Back to real life

And what passes for politics over on this side of the Pond. Daniel Pipes reports on an interesting new development in Germany.
As a reminder of how freedoms have eroded in Europe in this age of Islamist terror, a political party that resists Islamization and supports Israel cannot come into existence in broad daylight. So, like the other 50-plus attendees, I learned of the event's time and location only shortly before it took place. For good measure, the organizers operated undercover; the hotel management only knew of a board election for an innocuously named company. Even now, for security reasons, I cannot mention the hotel's name.
The party, Die Freiheit, has a number of policies:
Freiheit robustly supports Israel, calling it "the only democratic state in the Middle East. It therefore is the outpost of the Western world in the Arab theater. All democratic countries must show the highest interest in Israel's living in free self-determination and security. We explicitly commit ourselves to Israel's right to exist, which is not open for discussion."

However clear these passages, as well as the rejection of Turkish accession to the European Union, they comprise only about 2 percent of the Basic Program, which applies traditional Western values and policies generally to German political life. Its topics include German peoplehood, direct democracy, the family, education, the workplace, economics, energy, the environment, health, and so on. Offering a wide platform makes good sense, fitting the anti-Islamization program into a full menu of policies.
Of course, it is known by the MSM as the anti-Islamic party and the concentration of reporting (if there is any) will be on that. But it will be interesting to see whether a new party, dedicated at least partly to the concept of freedom, makes any headway in Germany.

Links to stories on the mid-terms

Here is one to start with, via Instapundit: far from hampering the Republicans, the Tea Party Movement has helped the party back to victory, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Glenn Reynolds says "told you so". That's usually true. He also kept advising people not to get cocky and he was right.

This is an interesting take on the process. I heard from various friends about the many issues they were voting on, not just who goes to Washington or the State House, but here is the list of what the voters of Oklahoma decided on yesterday. Get that? THE VOTERS DECIDED ON A NUMBER OF ISSUES. Could we all start bellowing that at people who snootily tell us how primitive the American political system is. Yes, they seem to believe in "government of the people, by the people, for the people". Justin Juozapavicius of Canada Business seems to think that the 11 state questions simply clogged the ballot paper. After all, it is hardly the people's business whether judges use international or Islamic law or whether they stay with what had been intended since the founding of the Republic, American law.

Washington Post acknowledges that "Conservatives are back". According to Rush Limbaugh, they never went away and the man is laughing. Read this essay in The American Spectator about the campaign mounted against him and against anyone who stood up for those principles. Well, as the song goes
But ho, ho, ho.
Who's got the last laugh now?
Of course, it's never the last laugh, not in democratic politics, no matter what the Left think when they win.

From sea to shining sea

Well not quite, since bankrupt California and bankrupt New York State have decided to stay with the politicians who have bankrupted them and that, too, is democracy. We can only hope that they will reap the rewards of their decision and be allowed to fail. However, across the country many are rejoicing. The House has gone Republican though the Senate has stayed Democrat as quite a few predicted, anyway. State legislatures have gone Republican, 37 Gubernatorial positions are in the GOP's hands. Some of those supported by the Tea Party, like Rand Paul, have won; others, like Christine O'Donnell, have lost. But, there can be no question in anybody's mind: the Taxed Enough Already movement has made its mark and is there to stay in American politics. Those idiots who snigger at the idea of a grassroots movement being strong and becoming stronger are showing their colours.

There is no need for me to analyze any of this in detail. This will be done by people who know much more than I do and from time to time I shall link to some of the analysis. Here is a very good article in the Wall Street Journal that gives real data.

But I should like to say, loud and clear:


That is all. God Bless America.

Couldn't really ignore this

The very sad news of James MacArthur's death came my way on Friday when I was not really up to any blogging. MacArthur, the adopted son of the legendary Helen Hayes first hove into view as far as I am concerned when he fluttered many a young girl's heart in The Swiss Family Robinson. As a matter of fact, he had a very impressive career but, no doubt, he did suffer from the Danno problem. After all, the famous phrases with which Jack Lord (quite a guy) as Steve McGarrett used to end most episodes of Hawaii Five-O: "Book 'em Danno. Murder one." has become a classic. Can't find a tape of those iconic words being spoken but here is the introduction to set pulses racing:

Yes, yes, I know there is a new version of the programme being broadcast and it is receiving some good reviews but, please, could you leave me my prejudices?

In the meantime

While we are all glued to the sight of real democracy on the other side of the Pond, here is something to keep everyone entertained. Over the week-end I watched The Pajama Game with Doris Day and John Raitt, he of the very fine voice but little acting talent. Still he is a hunk, which was very important.

The person who stole the show, however, was Carol Haney, dancer, choreographer and dance director as well as Broadway star who, sadly, died at the age of 39. Here is a wonderful clip of her and two others, performing Steam Heat, supposedly at the end of a union meeting. Bob Fosse's choreography is terrific.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Compare and contrast

Apologies for along absence, caused by a nasty bout of cold, which prevented me from attending a Mass of Reparation for those Slovenes and others murdered by the Communists in Yugoslavia in 1945 after they had been handed over by the Western allies. More on that and other matters, as they say, later.

I would, in the meantime, call attention to an interesting discrepancy between the statement made by the Boy-King of the Conservative Party who is, by some freak of historical irony, our Prime Minister about the European Council that ended on Friday and the Conclusions produced by that Council. (Here is the discussion in the Commons, in which Cameron is seen as floundering somewhat.)

Most of his statement is taken up by the question of the rise in the EU Budget for 2011 and subsequent years. To be fair, his conclusions are remarkably vague:
So before the Council started we began building an alliance to take a difference approach and insist on 2.9 per cent.

I made phone calls to my counterparts in, Sweden, France and Germany amongst others and then continued to press the case during the Council. Twelve other Heads of Government agreed with me. We issued a joint letter which makes clear that a 6% increase is – and I quote – “especially unacceptable at a time when we are having to take difficult decisions at national level to control public expenditure”.

Furthermore, the joint letter goes on to say that “we are clear that we cannot accept any more than” the 2.9% increase being proposed by the Council.

Mr Speaker, let me explain what this means. Either the Council and Parliament now have to agree to 2.9 per cent or there will be deadlock, in which case the EU will have to live on a repeat of last year’s budget settlement handed out in twelfths over the next twelve months an outcome we’d be perfectly content with.
With a great deal of self-satisfaction he says:
Mr Speaker, if you look at the published Conclusions, language on the budget formed a very prominent part, even though it was never originally on the agenda.

I do think this is an important step forward.
Even that would be a matter of opinion but, in any case, he is, once again, giving hostages to fortune. For the Budget does not occupy much or, indeed, any space in the published Conclusions. There is a great deal of discussion of the matter of Economic Governance, on which Mr Cameron is even vaguer than on the subject of the Budget. It is in connection with that little problem that the Conclusions state:
Heads of State or Government stressed that, at the same time as fiscal discipline is reinforced in the European Union, it is essential that the European Union budget and the forthcoming Multi-annual Financial Framework reflect the consolidation efforts being made by Member States to bring deficit and debt onto a more sustainable path. Respecting the role of the different institutions and the need to meet Europe's objectives, the European Council will discuss at its next meeting how to ensure that spending at the European level can make an appropriate contribution to this work.
Section II is about the Seoul G20 Summit, Section III is on the Cancun Conference on Climate Change and, apparently, the British Government would like to see binind UN legislation, according to the PM's statement. A couple of sentences about Summits with Third Countries and .... that's it. Budget? What Budget? Well, I did point out that it was not on the Agenda and, in any case, was not for the European Council to discuss.

How shocking that the Prime Minister should be misleading Parliament in this way.