Friday, 21 September 2018

"How embarrassment may be Putin's downfall"

Sven Hughes in City AM, three days ago:

When serving as a British army reservist within Psychological Operations, we used to refer to these subtle divisions as “fissures”.

These fault lines in enemy audiences could be exploited to create great chasms between the authoritarians and the minions that sustained their power. Quite simply, the minions love the sense of associated status they get from being in cahoots with the authoritarian – they don’t like to be laughed at.

The RT interview seemed to reveal this exact fissure – Putin’s arrogance is starting to make even his most loyal supporters feel social embarrassment.

This could be the one silver lining for the west from the Salisbury incident. Information warfare only works when you have the broadcasters and re-broadcasters in place to disseminate your message. One break in the chain, such as a pair of agents becoming an international laughing stock, and the whole propaganda machine quickly suffers a complete malfunction.

An interesting but very bold prediction, I thought.

To my surprise, from the BBC today:

... the cover-up seems to have backfired as badly as the actual operation. Instead of quaking with fright, many Russians are laughing at their spies instead.

"It's not just teasing, it's mockery. I have friends who couldn't believe our lot could be so rotten," Gennady Gudkov admits. "Now they call me, and they believe."

With jokes and memes flooding social media, some commentators suggest a line has been crossed.

"What seemed morally unacceptable before has become the new norm, it's routine," Andrei Kolesnikov wrote on, calling the Salisbury suspects' appearance a "clown show" and their story "obvious, evasive lies".

But he sees another new norm in response.

"Society is laughing at the authorities," the journalist wrote. "State propaganda is becoming genuinely comic and that discredits and weakens those in power."

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Total Irony Fail

Classic piece of self regarding nonsense from Haldane at the Bank of England.  He is blaming 'groupthink' by the Great Unwashed driven by social media for future crises.

It does not occur to the tin eared numpty that he and his cronies are just as vulnerable to groupthink as are us poor plebs.  You only have to read the article and see his ongoing adhesion to punk Keynesian claptrap as believed by every other Central Banker to know that he is not capable of thinking outside his own box.

As for the notion that "...the Bank can learn from “folk wisdom” of ordinary people to help it understand the economy better.  is just a delusion.  In any event if us plebs know more about the economy than the Bank does as this remark implies, just why are they bothering?

Epic fail.

Nobody move or law-abiding citizens get hurt!

From the BBC:

A no-deal Brexit would make it harder to protect UK citizens, a leading police officer has warned. The Home Office has given £2m to police to work on replacing systems such as the European Arrest Warrant.

Sara Thornton, chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council said fallback systems would be slower. She said it could be harder to pursue suspects like those blamed for the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter in March.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has ruled out Britain using the European Arrest Warrant after Brexit. At the moment, it is used more than 1,500 times a year.

UK Police face losing access to 40 law enforcement tools under a no-deal Brexit, such as the Schengen Information System, an intelligence database used 539 million times last year by British authorities to look up suspects and vehicles. The fallback is an Interpol system which is not automated.

For sure, if 'they' want to be spiteful, they will chuck the UK out of these information-sharing and co-operation agreements to everybody's overall detriment, which is 'their' call, not ours.

But as per usual, the argument ignores the big difference between deportation and extradition.

Most people (including me) get much more upset about foreign criminals whom we can't deport than about UK criminals who have absconded abroad whom we can't get back.

Leaving the EU will make it easier for the UK to deport foreign criminals (less of this human rights crapola). If the quid pro quo is that it is harder to get other countries to extradite criminals back to the UK to face punishment here, that is a price worth paying IMHO. Good riddance.

Logic also tells us that even if it is 'harder' for the UK to get other countries to extradite criminals back to UK, if we tell those other countries who they are, they will be happy to deport them anyway, achieving the same result.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

The Sun on top form.

From The Sun:

Witness Felipe Carvalho, 31, was riding home from Islington on his moped when he saw two men arguing in the street where houses cost £1million.

He told the Sun Online: "A man had a large rucksack on and I saw another man shouting at him saying 'give me my phone back'.

"The man then pulled a huge knife out of his bag - it was about 60cm long.

“He showed it to the other guy and seemed to be threatening him. I shouted ‘leave it, it’s just a phone’ but they kept on arguing."

He added: "I tried to help. It’s so sad that a man has lost his life over a mobile phone."

Outbreak of common sense in Wales!

Emailed in by John D, from the BBC:

Wales should slash income tax rates to the lowest in the UK, according to one of the candidates challenging Leanne Wood for the Plaid Cymru leadership.

Adam Price said the basic, higher and additional rates could be cut by 9p and business rates and council tax ditched*. New land value taxes on residential, commercial and industrial residential land would fund the changes**, he said...

The Welsh Government is getting more tax powers next April, including partial control of income tax...

In proposals published on Friday, Mr Price said "introducing a National Land Value Tax on residential, commercial and industrial land (agricultural land would be excluded) could generate £6bn at a 3% rate on current values. This would enable us to abolish business rates, council taxes and lower income tax, at the basic, higher and additional rates, by 10p," he said.***

* His proposals don't mention ditching Land Transactions Tax as well, unfortunately.

** On a political level, it is better to say the Land Value Tax would fund those public services which increase land values, which is the fair way to fund them and which in turn would enable income tax to be reduced.

*** Something has got lost in translation here. Rhys ap Gwilym's original proposal worked on the basis of total council tax, business rates and income tax (basic and higher rate) revenues in Wales at £4 bn a year, so the LVT revenues required to replace council tax and business rates, and reduce income tax by 10% would be less than £4 bn, not £6 bn.
Sobers of course runs with the messed up numbers in the comments, knowing full well that they are messed up. He also ignores the distinction between land value and total value including buildings.

Suffice to say, on a fiscally neutral swap, more than half of people would be better off, as wages are distributed more evenly than land ownership.

Total required revenues from LVT on housing (assuming revenues from LVT on commercial = same as revenues from Business Rates) = £2.7 bn.

£2.7 bn divided by 1.34 million households/homes is average £2,000 per household/home (up from current average just under £1,000), not Sober's wild overestimate of average £4,100 per household/home. So all tenants end up better off; a single earner who owns an average value home earning £22,000 or more; or a two-earner couple which owns an average value home earning £17,000 or more each.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Prolong The Chaos!

Gina Miller has set up a new site called End The Chaos "to give people the facts on Brexit" or some such slogan.

I dutifully watched the first video,which purports to explain WTO Rules. It states that if the UK chooses to trade under WTO rules it will have to impose a standard level of tariffs on imports and it will have equal and opposite tariffs imposed on exports from it.

Which is of course complete nonsense and lies from start to finish. explains it correctly. A country which is a member of the WTO can impose whatever import tariffs it likes, (subject to WTO overall upper limits, which the WTO is gradually reducing).

The actual WTO rule is that a WTO member must apply its tariffs equally to imports from all other countries. There's an exception if a country is also in a regional free trade area, in which case a country is allowed two tiers - a lower tier for imports from members of that FTA and a higher tier for imports from outside. (Quite where bilateral free trade agreements fit into this is anybody's guess).

What tariffs other countries or FTAs choose to impose on exports from the UK is entirely up to the other countries or FTAs.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Life copies satire

Kj, on Facebook, 5 September:

Hey UK Labour-supporter, let me offer a humble suggestion:

If someone is accusing Jeremy Corbyn and portions of the party of being anti-semitic, you ought to just reply "no I don't believe that's true, the track record shows it etc." and leave it at that.

If you instead run with it and end up hammering the point that these suggestions are nothing but the work of the Israel lobby, and part of an elaborate scheme to discredit any opposition set in motion by a cabal placed in multiple levels of the political system - maaaaybe it's time to take a step back and think about how and why you ended up with that conclusion in this particular matter...

From the BBC, 14 September:

A trade union leader has been recorded suggesting that Israel "created" the anti-Semitism row in the Labour Party.

In a recording published by the Independent, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka suggested the country had created the story to hide what he called its own "atrocities".

Friday, 14 September 2018

Well there's a surprise...

From The Times:

Taxpayer cash pouring into the housing market under the government’s Help to Buy scheme is creating a bubble that risks leaving a generation of homeowners stuck in negative equity, an investigation by The Times has found.

Analysis of house prices in ten towns and cities across Britain has found that homes available under the scheme cost an average of nearly 15 per cent more per square metre than comparable properties that are not eligible.

Experts say the figures show that housebuilders are using the higher budgets of Help to Buy purchasers to ramp up prices and profits, while young people are being left in overpriced homes that they will struggle to sell.

Taxpayers have pumped more than £8 billion into the Help to Buy scheme...

Nobody move or the house prices get hurt!

They were really ramping up the propaganda yesterday (giving me raw material for this series for a whole week). This is clearly co-ordinated, by whom or what we might never find out.

From Sky News:

Bank of England governor Mark Carney has warned ministers that a "no-deal" Brexit could see house prices crash by a third, Sky sources say.

Briefing Theresa May and her top team in Downing Street, Mark Carney laid out three different scenarios the Bank believes could come to pass if Britain leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

The worst case scenario would see Britain go into recession, a slump in the value of the pound and a crash in house prices.

Sky's political editor Faisal Islam said a source characterised the governor's comments as "not a prediction, a worst case scenario", adding Mr Carney's comments were received "respectfully" by those around the cabinet table.

It's well-tailored though.

Brexit = food prices will rise! That's bad!

Brexit = house prices will fall! That's bad!

Nope, the former is clearly bad (unless you're one of these obesity crisis wankers); the latter is A Very Good Thing Indeed.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Nobody move or the car drivers get hurt!

From the BBC:

UK drivers may have to get an international driving permit if they want to drive in some European countries after a no-deal Brexit.

The government says that after March 2019 "your driving licence may no longer be valid by itself" in the EU, in its latest no-deal planning papers.

It also warns that Britons travelling to the EU may need to make sure their passports have six months left to run.

That's it, chaps. They've got us game, set and match. Let's have a second referendum and vote 'Remain'. But wait...

International permits cost £5.50 and are available at some post offices.

Ah, right.