Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Russian Threats to Georgia Raise White Flags In Brussels

In the far-flung days of yore when nationalist or racial jokes were still highly regarded, I remember one which we enjoyed as 10-year old school boys in the 1960s. The nation we loved to make jokes about at that time were not the Irish who were still peaceful, but the Italians. The one that sticks in my mind went like this -

Have you heard about the new Italian tank? It has five reverse gears and one forward gear, in case the enemy attacks from behind.

I don't know if Russians have jokes very much - well they do actually often about the corrupt and inefficient ways of their own state bureaucracies - but if they were to think of one today about foreigners, it must surely be along the same lines as we used to laugh at the Italians, but instead about the EU, or the UN.

Putin has spent months indicating that he won't sit idly by while NATO attempts further expansion into Georgia and the Ukraine, and nor will he accede to the idea of an EU controlled Kosovo imposed on Serbia. He has not threatened war directly, but he has spoken of sending a military force on a 'humanitarian mission' to help Serbs in Kosovo if the situation were to deteriorate there, and he, in similar vein sends 'peace-keeping troops' into Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The hollowness of the advances of the EU into Kosovo, now delayed indefinitely, and the promises of the Americans to support Georgia, are now being exposed. Russians will not shy away from incurring military casualties in any confrontation with the West in its former sphere of influence. The EU on the other hand, is composed almost entirely of countries that show no interest at all in sending troops into harm's way, even in the prosecution of a war such as Afghanistan, while the Americans are already stretched to the limit in maintaining current operations. Putin can safely raise the military temperature in all confrontations such as Kosovo or Georgia and know that he is assured of a climbdown by America or Brussels.

It demonstrates the folly and arrogance of the EU, aspiring to hold sway over a large part of the world's territory and economy, but showing an almost total unwillingness to commit any military forces to back up its political ambitions. The Americans are puzzled by European hopelessness, and assume it is only a temporary phenomenon which will self correct before long. Putin is far nearer the mark, seeing the Europeans as pathetically weak.

The problem will be that Putin will so easily get away with his 'peace-keeping and humanitarian' manoeuvres in Georgia and Kosovo, humiliate the EU and the Americans, which will only encourage further moves from him.

If only Bush and the EU had decided to accept his offers of no further inroads being made into the Russian sphere of influence. Putin would have made a good ally for America in the Middle East. A resurgent and militarily confident Russia, on the other hand could now prove to be a thorn in the side for Europe for years to come, much as it pleases me though to see the EU humiliated and start to get its come-uppance.

See the reports of the Georgian conflict in Russia Today HERE

And latest Putin comments on Kosovo on April 29th.

April 29, 2008 3:32 PM
MOSCOW, Apr 29, 2008 (Xinhua via COMTEX News Network) -- Russia's outgoing President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Russia has not changed its position on the Kosovo situation and still views Kosovo's independence unacceptable.

"We think that the unilateral declaration and recognition of independent Kosovo are unfair and illegal. We cannot accept the opinion that independent Kosovo has simply come to exist," Putin told a press conference after talks with Greek Prime Minister Konstandinos Karamanlis.

If certain members of the international community "had not supplied weapons to the conflict zone and had not promised them independence, that would not have happened," Putin said.

The president also called for the fulfillment of international laws, saying "only in that case small and big states will feel secure."

Gordon Brown Caption Competition

My Caption - Leader of Labour Party Gordon Brown, struggling to rebuild confidence in his leadership, resorts to smacking Balls around.

What's yours?

Monday, April 28, 2008

Russian Opposition Throws EU Kosovo Takeover Into Chaos

The plans to create Kosovan 'independence' were based on the UN withdrawing from Kosovo in June, and on the EU taking over with its contingent of 2200 EULEX officials to administer its newly acquired 'colony'. The intended withdrawal of the UN however, has now been delayed and no new date for withdrawal is being talked about. In fact it now seems that the UN mandate over Kosovo will continue, and the EU one will not even be starting.

The takeover by the EU and the withdrawal of the UN would effectively have undermined Serbian claims to sovereignty over Kosovo, as they are based on UN Resolution 1244, which states that any settlement of Kosovo should be based on recognition of Serb sovereignty. By switching the UN out of Kosovo, and allowing the EU to takeover, Serb opposition to Kosovan independence and the reliance of its claim on Resolution 1244 would have been neatly bypassed.

But now this is not happening.

The future role of the EU is admitted to be 'unclear'. The UN's however is not. Its continued presence in Kosovo must inevitably continue to enforce the Resolution on which its presence is based, 1244.

This represents a colossal victory for Serbia, and an equivalent humiliation for the EU.

Vuc Jeremic, Serbia's Foreign Minister hopes to follow this up by bringing the subject of Kosovan independence to a vote at the UN in September, where only 40 or so out of the 200 member countries have declared that they support Kosovan independence.

Russia Today reports the issues as follows -

The EU admits its plans are being reviewed because of Russia's strong opposition to Kosovo's independence.

They say Russia is using its weight on the Security Council to prevent a transition of power from the UN to the European Union.
Full article HERE.

The BBC does not even mention Russia in its report on the continuation of the UN Mandate HERE.

Another factor not mentioned by either report is that Putin was proposing to send Russian troops to Kosovo on a humanitarian mission. I don't think the EU would have been able to handle that, and so has agreed to delay its attempt to annex Kosovo.

From Serbianna -

UNMIK chief Joachim Ruecker said UNMIK would retain a presence while the existing U.N. resolution remained valid.

"As long as resolution 1244 is in place, we will always have a U.N. responsibility for Kosovo, and the exact shape and form of that U.N. mission is yet to be decided," he was quoted as saying on the BBC website.

The EU operation is due to mentor and monitor Kosovo police, judiciary and prison officials and have anti-riot units. The bloc still aims to assume executive powers by mid-June.

A source in the Kosovo government told Reuters "the international community is in confusion" about to what do next.

"The EU is confused because not all members have recognised Kosovo, and the U.N. is under pressure from permanent members who opposed independence or did not recognised it," the source said.

"There's no clarity, everything's at the level of ideas. But ideas must be clarified before June 15, when Kosovo's constitution comes into effect, or we'll have a legal collision between the U.N. administration and Kosovo's institutions."

The source added Kosovo was worried that there would be no firm decisions even after mid-June, but "everything would be just pencilled in, so each side can interpret things in its own way and pretend to be satisfied." EU foreign ministers are to discuss the Balkans at a meeting in Luxembourg on Tuesday but diplomats doubt there will be much debate on the Kosovo mission.

"There is a sensitivity to discuss this too publicly before the May 11 (Serbian) elections, especially as regards the north," one EU diplomat said.

The parliamentary election is seen as a crucial test of whether Belgrade takes a pro-European or nationalist direction and may be swayed by tensions surrounding the ethnic Serb minority in northern Kosovo. (Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander, Shaban Buza and Ellie Tzortzi; Editing by Stephen Weeks)

Grind Brown Down A Grain At A Time

Janet Daley of the Telelgraph advocates a new approach for Cameron to take in her article 'The Tories Must say How They Are Good For You' HERE. She writes,

He (Cameron) would have to draw attention to the differences between Labour and Conservative philosophy which is precisely what he seems to be avoiding - even though he knows that the electorate now hates Labour and has rumbled the logical flaw in the Brown argument that more money spent always equals improvement.

Mr Cameron will protest that he has presented distinctive policies on some issues, and this is quite true; notably, his determination to do away with the "couple penalty" so that poorer parents are not actually being bribed by the state to live apart, and his proposals for changes to the funding of state schools.

But taken by themselves these are management matters - questions of priorities rather than principles - and they are too technical for most voters to appreciate.

Unless they are subsumed under a larger theme which follows a clear logical path from what-is-wrong-with-Brownism (too much tax and spend) to what-we-want-to-do, the Conservatives will still look to most people as if they stand for nothing very much

It might be said that it was precisely the negative Saatchi campaign that 'Labour Isn't Working' that won Thatcher's first term, and that a negative impression of a government can be enough to persuade people to vote them out. Thatcher only stated in very general terms that she thought Britain could be doing so much better under a Conservative government, and didn't outline a raft of new policy for the electorate to absorb prior to voting. Why should Cameron do so?

Cameron has a powerful seam of anger with Brown and Labour's economic performance to tap into, as Thatcher did. He could run a negative Big Idea - 'how low do we want to go?' - or a positive version of the same thing - ' we can do so much better'. Those are the options for a narrative. It's still a long way until 2010, however and the likely date for a general election.

Cameron would do well to hold his fire, while preparing his message. There is no need to launch any salvoes yet. The recent fits of enthusiasm from Conservative commentators encouraging a launch of new initiatives to capitalise on Brown's collapse, are sadly premature. Better for now just to keep grinding him down, one grain at a time. Newspaper sales will not benefit but in terms of political strategy, there is absolutely no need for Cameron to take any risks at this point.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Conservatives Do It Better

The Telegraph today weighed into the debate about how the Conservatives should be handling the collapse of Brown-led Labour, Iain Martin offering his ideas HERE

The party must square the following circle.

Members of the middle class in their twenties, thirties and forties are considering voting Tory for the first time, but do not want right-wing head-banging.

This group's assumptions about the size of the state, the role of the individual, and the purposes of taxation are undergoing a generational shift. This is at a tentative stage; the wrong signals could easily discourage.

But with other groups the problem is reversed. Aspirational, working-class Britain, the social layer above the underclass, appears to have had enough of crime, rising incivility and Labour interference.

Here, a rallying cry in right-wing rhetoric would seem most appropriate. But what would be the impact on those middle-class waverers?

The Conservatives are trying to bridge this gap, and while polls suggest some success, at some point there will need to be a synthesis, the creation of a single narrative (that ghastly word) explaining the mission.

The idea mentioned yesterday here about using the phrase 'how low do we want to go' would address the need for an overall theme, but it could be expressed as a positive. 'How much better could we be doing?' or even ' We do it better'.

It's easier to sell a positive than a negative.

PICTURE - ideas anyone?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Packaging The Conservative Message

Today Parris joins the debate on how the Conservatives should respond to the collapse of Labour's Big Lie - that Gordon Brown is anything other than a basketcase. See HERE.

Iain Dale yesterday was up for a full-on attack joining in with popular anger about the loss of the 10p in the GBP income tax band, rushing in for the political kill on that very narrow front. Parris' comments are more nuanced, but amount to much the same thing - stating that the Conservatives need to advance - to position themselves for government, and no longer as permanent opposition, moving up not just on a pin-head but right along the whole of the front line simultaneously.

Dale is right that the message needs to appeal as much to the emotions as the intellect, but is wrong to focus in on a tiny detail. Parris is right that the overall manifesto needs coherence, but avoids the issue of emotional appeal. Somewhere between the two lies the answer.

Ideas are needed to package the message, that is for sure. The key to the story for voters, and to any future decision that they will be required to take, to my mind is this - 'how low do we want to go?'

Britain was in 1997 the world's 4th largest economy, and the fourth most competitive in international league tables. See HERE. Today after 11 years with Gordon Brown's hand on the tiller, Britain is in the crawler lane, lying sixth in size behind China and Italy, and 16th in competitiveness tables.

Living standards are collapsing. Peoples' lives are harder than they should be, and hopes of improvement are distant.

Any Conservative message should (in the traditional way) be packaged around the concept of failure/success, hope/despair, loss/gain. 'How Low Do We Want To Go?' gives the essence of the message, and 'How soon can something be done to rescue the situiation?'. It's not Thatcherism re-heated. It's chilled anti-Brownism.

PICTURED - General Montgomery in North Africa....what strategy would he have gone for?

Friday, April 25, 2008

Leave Baying Tory Hounds In Kennels

Tory writers are out in strength advising either full-on attack (in the case of Iain Dale) or at least to up the anti a few levels, to take advantage of Labour's 10% income tax band mess.

But hold on a minute. Why the rush?

People are shocked at Brown's incompetemce. They have been fed a diet of propaganda for ten years informing everyone about the brilliance of Gordon Brown. Now people are paying the price of the Labour Big Lie with hard cash, their shock is turning to anger. Say what you like, their support is collapasing. A new generation is learning the hard way that good management of the economy is not to be found on the left side of the political spectrum. Never mind the propaganda, the game is finally up.

As people come to terms with the situation they find themselves in, they will look around for security and a way to survive Brown's unbelievable mess. The penny will finally drop, and Conservatism will be back in fashion. No need to rush the process. Let people find their way back in their own way and in their own time. Just be there for them in a calm sympathetic way. It will take a long programme of reform and management skill to put the situation back into shape. Cool heads and strong stomachs will be required, and endurance of hard times, not the launch of hot-headed attacks to finish off Brown.

Brown and Labour are dead meat anyway, and don't need killing off. Tory hounds baying for Labour blood might as well stay in their kennels. They are not any help to a nation in grief and distress at the loss of its economic strength.

You can understand the instincts of Conservatives who never doubted Brown's incompetence, who've been forced into semi-silence by ten long years of a media fawning to Brown and his supposed brilliance. But they should remember the old adage and bide their time - Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Labour Party In Crisis. No Cliches Left.

Three Line Whip reports dear old Quentin Davies lurking back on Conservative benches after his dramatic and highly public decision to welch on his Conservative colleagues in 2007 and cross the floor to support his hero, Mr Bean. He was, he said at the time when Bean was inexplicably appointed as Labour leader, 'a man of greatness and conviction'.

Now we see him creeping pathetically back across the political divide in total silence, like a lemon with all the juice squeezed out, hoping for some reason that he won't be placed in the trash can.

The problem is that the cliches to describe the farce that Labour have become have run out.

We've had Labour MPs described as 'cornered rats' by Iain Dale, a 'flock of sheep' by yours truly, as 'ferrets fighting in a sack' by numerous others. Commentators are running out of phrases. Now we're back to 'rats leaving the sinking ship' - from Three Line Whip.

Labour's descent has been so sudden and unexpected. No verbal preparations were carried out, and there is now an urgent need to address the yawning phrasing gap, before writers and bloggers become totally cliche-ridden.

Which other animals, for example might yet be called into play as people attempt to describe the indescribable collapse of Britain's Labour Party after 11 long years in power. Dead ducks? As someone once said, there is nothing deader than a dead duck. Rats, ferrets, sheep are all still alive. Referring to Labour as anything that breathes and has hope of any future is grossly inaccurate. Commentators should move on. This is a funeral, for God's sake.

Pay your respects to the passing of the Big Lie. Express the loss of hopes, for sure. Grieve over the wasted years. Mark the passing of the era, and recognise the death of belief, but please don't see any more life in Labour's corpse. Labour is gone, no more, late.

Donations should be sent to David Cameron's Conservatives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

PM Brown Ignores History

The words of Telelgraph columnist Rachel Sylvester on Gordon Brown are worth repeating....

As Chancellor, Mr Brown slowly but surely redistributed wealth between rich and poor, but he did so stealthily, through hidden taxes and complicated tax credits, because he was anxious about losing the support of the electorate if he was open about what he was doing.

Civil servants know that a sure way of getting Mr Brown to support an idea is to put a graph at the top of their policy paper showing how the poorest stand to gain most.

But when it came to his last Budget as Chancellor, Mr Brown wanted to show off with an income tax cut that would look good to the middle classes - even if that meant smuggling through the abolition of the 10p rate, which would penalise low earners.

The Prime Minister criticised his predecessor for triangulating, but it is Mr Brown who is the master triangulator.

He wants to be close - but not that close - to America; he receives the Olympic torch but does not hold it, he signs the EU constitutional treaty but avoids the ceremony; he wants to lock up terrorist suspects without trial but for 42, not 90 days. The danger is that he ends up looking inauthentic.

When one minister asked him a few years ago to sum up in a single sentence what his vision was he replied: "It's the progressive consensus."

But consensus is what you need to get somewhere; it is not a description of where you want to go.

One former Labour adviser, Tom Clark, argued over the weekend that the Prime Minister does have "strongly held values" but has failed to get them across because he does not think he can persuade the electorate to share them.

"Brown was never straightforward about what he was doing," he said. "He was profoundly pessimistic about what the voters would tolerate - and as a result said almost nothing in public that he thought might offend anyone."

But politicians need to appeal to what Abraham Lincoln called the "better angels" of our nature.

In the end it would be better for Mr Brown to annoy half the people by saying what he really thinks, than to irritate all the people by trying - and failing - to appeal to all sides.

Brown might remember Lincoln's other famous dictum.

You can fool some of the people all of the time. You can fool all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.

The trouble for Brown is that Blair was a supreme actor and, by manipulating the media to follow the line, was one of the few people who could fool all of the people all of the time.

Brown trying the same game is a bit like Salieri trying to emulate Mozart, or even more so like Les Dawson playing piano for comic effect, except with Brown the audience feels insulted at being asked to take it seriously, when it is obviously so dreadful.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Labour MPs - Rats? Sheep? No - Ferrets.

Iain Dale called them 'Cornered Rats'. I said they were behaving like sheep. We were both wrong. They are undoubtedly Ferrets - Fighting In A Sack.

From The Times
April 21, 2008

A false briefing
Sir, Ed Balls’s extraordinary interview with you (April 18) is most revealing and provokes a response.

His injunctions about the “indulgent nonsense” of “private briefings against the Labour leader” certainly come from one who is well acquainted with this kind of activity. Such things do discredit politics and take us back to the days of faction and party-within-a-party that were so damaging in the 1980s. As he says, we’ve seen it over this parliamentary recess, as I know to my cost from the totally false briefing (to which he refers) that I am considering running as a “stalking horse” against Gordon Brown. I hope that he’ll do what he can to stamp it out.

His references to “disappointment” resonate. It’s certainly true that many Labour MPs, including myself, are disappointed by policy decisions such as the abolition of the 10p tax rate, the over-bureaucratic and insensitive nature of the post office closure programme, and the problems arising from lack of preparation for a Northern Rock-style economic challenge. These all stem from Treasury positions with which he is very familiar. It’s also true that many, including myself, are disappointed with many aspects of his education policies, of which the most serious is the absence of a coherent and focused reform strategy for the 14-19 curriculum, along the lines of Mike Tomlinson’s proposals.

As far as his remarks about “falling for false prophets” are concerned, I would advise him to examine himself and his own role. He should stop attacking others anonymously or in code and look to his own performance and record.

Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"Haggis Is Leading Labour Party To Disaster"

A Labour Party genius has identified the problem at the core of the Party's troubles. Lord Desai, a Professor at a top London institution, after ten years observing Gordon Brown at close range, amazingly has finally concluded that Brown possesses no leadership qualities at all.

(Daily Telelgraph)He added that the PM had recently appeared "indecisive'' and "weak'' and that the Labour party was "down in the dumps''.

The peer compared Mr Brown's leadership style to "porridge, or maybe haggis,'' adding: "It is not very persuasive if you don't already agree with him.

"Gordon is a worrier with an academic approach to solving problems, but that does not always reassure people when they feel uncertain.''

The peer,(PICTURED here just after a static electricity experiment had gone badly wrong) who is Emeritus Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics, predicted the outcome of the upcoming local elections would prove crucial for determining Mr Brown's fate.

Lord Desai's intervention caps a difficult week for Mr Brown, who is currently visiting the USA in a trip which is has been overshadowed by the presence at the same time as the Pope.

Earlier in the week, the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, added to his problems by admitting the Government needed to “sharpen up”.

He said: "We have got to make sure that ... we sharpen ourselves up, that we have a clear message of what we are about.''

Lord Desai has suggested that the Labour Party needs to be re-electrified and thinks the party can achieve this by returning to its roots. All of British industry should be nationalised, he says, including all banks and all building societies, while the Armed Forces should be put under French command as part of the European Rapid Reaction Force.

He's backing David Milliband to remove all the uncertainty that Gordon Brown is currently inflicting on the Party.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Labour MPs - Sheep Or Goats.....?

Iain Dale suggests in his post 'Labour MPs Resemble Cornered Rats' (See HERE) that Labour MPs facing electoral meltdown are starting to threaten Gordon Brown's leadership out of interest for their own survival. Apart from the inevitable bleating of the flock sensing danger, however not one Labour MP dares to step outside the safety of the group and do anything as decisive as go for Brown's jugular, much as that might lay the foundation of a recovery.

No Iain. They're not like rats acting to save themselves by taking decisive action. They're sheep hoping that in the flock, maybe a weaker specimen will be picked off first.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mr Bean Takes Over Western World

Reports of renewed Russian efforts to encourage Abkazia and South Ossetia to establish independence from Georgia show that Putin is pressing ahead with the threats he made at the moment the EU recognised the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. Western media reports do not mention this. See what is being said HERE

They are stating that Putin's moves are a response to Bush's attempts to recruit Georgia into NATO which Putin had requested should not happen. This is however not what Putin said, and there can be little doubt that if the EU had not pressed ahead with an imposed 'solution' in Kosovo, Putin would not have responded as he is doing in Georgia.

Now there are two potential regional flashpoints - Kosovo and Georgia's breakaway republics. There is no way that NATO will fight to preserve the original borders of Georgia, so it is not sensible to be pressing ahead to form political alliances in the face of Russian opposition. Russia would fight to preserve her influence and control of her immediate neighbours, and has stated a willingness to use force in defence of Serbia. Western posturing without military commitment is not helpful.

It seems to be a lack of wisdom which drives George Bush and the EU on to trying to expand their influence into the areas of traditional Russian influence. Russia, if given a chance, would be a good ally in the wars in the Middle East, where trouble can be expected to continue or get worse. Surely Bush should give these priority and be looking to form a cooperative relationship with Russia. The Cold War might be over, but the west is toying with its options and not setting out its top priorities. Surely Afghanistan should be won before any more regions are pushed into instability.

The EU likewise is in denial of the destabilising affect its manoeuvres in Kosovo are the extent that the bad effect they are having cannot even be mentioned. Britain knows that it has a Prime Minister with little ability to think out a strategic approach to problems. It seems though that the whole continent of Europe is similarly affected - as well as America under the George Bush regime. Mr Bean has taken over the western world.

Labour Are Beyond Help

From Bloomberg interviewing Alistair Darling in ChongChing

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour government must "sharpen'' its political program and way of communicating to revive its popularity with British voters, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling said. We have got to make sure that in other areas we sharpen ourselves up, that we have a clear message of what we are about," Darling said in an interview today in Chongqing, China.

Darling is the most senior member of the Brown's ruling Labour Party to call for a change in tactics since opinion polls showed the administration's support slipping behind the Conservative opposition. Labour lawmakers including former Home Secretary David Blunkett and Greg Pope have questioned Brown's decision to raise taxes on the poorest wage earners. With house prices falling and mortgage lenders choking off loans to consumers, Conservatives are making inroads in undermining Brown's record on the economy.

Darling's not even close to the truth. The Labour Party have ratified the Lisbon Treaty assigning all powers to govern Britain over to the European Union. They did that without a holding a referendum which they promised to do at the last General Election in 2005. As a result they have no further right to take part in any future British elections, to carry on the pretence that they are a government, or that they believe in democracy.

The Labour government is a political and economic disaster, which should be buried at the earliest opportunity.

Is that a clear enough message for you, Alistair?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Lower Property Prices - Yes Yes Yes

Am I the only one who cannot wait for British house prices to crash?

For a start, my IHT potential liabilities will tumble.

Next, building contractors who I need to carry out repairs will have to quote prices that are reasonable.

Meanwhile I just let buildings degrade and old walls fall over.

Young relatives might stand a chance of being able to buy a house.

Employees or partners will not spend all their days feeling depressed that they don't own a 1000 acre estate.

Conservations might become interesting once more, as property bores shut the fuck up.

How low can prices go - 20, 30 , 40% down - oh please yes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taking A Break

Had the flu for over a week. Sailing trip on offer so I'm taking the chance. Blogging expected to be intermittent at best. Words are coming out in a strange order! I need to re-energise.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Philippines Bows To EU Pressures

The EU is dangling the carrot of a 'Free Trade Deal' in front of the members of ASEAN (Association Of South East Asian Nations), but at the same time it is making the prospect of allowing some of the poorest people in the world access to her markets, into a bargaining chip to demand improvements to the legal systems of ASEAN countries.

The Philippines is the first on the EU's list for such an overhaul, and is receiving a visit from Meg Munn the Minister responsible for delivering the EU's 'Joint Assistance Mission' this week.

The Philippines might imagine, as the EU is attempting to improve the legal processes within their country and the way that violent criminals are dealt with, that the EU must itself be whiter than white in all aspects of its dealings with organised criminals.

It would no doubt come as quite a surprise in Manila to hear that in fact there are EU member states where the government is run by the most violent criminals in their countries, and that these are involved, inter alia, in human trafficking. See HERE. (PICTURE - Madeleine McCann abducted in Portugal)

Before the EU sets off around the globe demanding that the highest judicial standards be imposed on others, you would think it might consider getting its own house in order first.

In fact the EU does little to challenge the organised criminals that operate within its own borders, and child abduction, for example is a big business, which the Police do little to stop. The subject rarely even gets into the media - except in notorious cases such as that of Madeleine McCann, who as a 4 year old, was abducted in Portugal last year. The Police there accused her own parents of killing their own daughter to try to silence them.

(Madeleine's wrongly accused parents)

Child abduction is so common in Brussels the capital of the EU, that you see notices at most tram stops from parents searching for their missing children.

The Philippines it would appear generally has far higher standards of caring amongst its citizens and government than the uncaring, bureaucratic and monolithic EU. It is the Philippines which should be demanding improved standards of behaviour and governance from the EU, not the other way around.

But as a trade deal is important for the Philippines, they will no doubt keep quiet about the greater sins being committed on the other side of the world by the EU, with its shocking lack of care for its most viulnerable citizens.

Also see Others Pay Price For EU Foreign Posturing HERE

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Senator Obama, Don't Meet The British Prime Minister. He's Jinxed.

Following on from his cringingly embarrassing appearance on American Idol, promising the gift of 20 million mosquito nets to poor Africans, British Prime MInister Brown, he of the swastika emblem and the one minute grin, is about to continue his 'charm' offensive of the USA with a personal visit this week.

He is promoting his 'Progressive Governance' campaign - which has the single objective of making the IMF into a supranational economic supervisor with enhanced powers to prevent another credit crunch from happening again in the future, which all sounds like common sense.

The only problem is that the idea has its origins in a behind-the-scenes deal between members of the secretive Bilderberg Group, which includes George Bush, McCain and the Clintons as well as Blair and Brown and many European leaders, not to mention many powerful media folk such as Rupert Murdoch.

How will it be possible for the American electorate to object if their economy is performing poorly when their interest rate and the level of their currency is going to be set not by a decision of their own bankers, or Treasury Secretaries but by an international body, supervised predominantly by the EU?

Barack Obama is the only contender for the Presidency who is not party to these secretive arrangements, and the Brown visit will no doubt have it as a key objective to favour the Clintons over him, and make a Clinton-favouring statement if he can. Bill Clinton recently attended the Progressive Governance Summit in London.

If I was Senator Obama, I would avoid meeting with Brown, who has a long established habit of jinxing everything he handles. Even the week he's chosen to visit the USA seems to be the wrong one. He's picked the same one as the Pope, who will eclipse any significance Brown hoped to attract to his new economic governance programme.

America will soon see why the long-grinning Brown has become known in the UK as Mr Bean. Avoid.

Obama's campaign of common sense should rise above the cluttered thinking of yesterday's intellectuals, and the Bean-like behaviour of its servants.

PICTURE - The 'not the swastika' emblem of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Progressive Governance Campaign. See story HERE

UPDATE - an example of the hopelessly confused thinking that permeates the Bilderberg Group, and that lies behind the British Prime Minister's belief in his misguided Progressive Governance campaign. - from - yesterday.

Let's turn to the U.S. personage that conspiracy theorists most often mention as being at the epicenter of whatever elite plan is reputed to exist. This would be David Rockefeller, the 92-year-old multibillionaire godfather of the world's financial elite.

The lengthy Wikipedia article on Rockefeller provides the following version of a celebrated statement he allegedly made in an opening speech at the Bilderberg conference in Baden-Baden, Germany, in June 1991:

"We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine, and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subject to the bright lights of publicity during these years. But the world is now more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government which will never again know war, but only peace and prosperity for the whole of humanity. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in the past centuries."

This speech was made 17 years ago. It came at the beginning in the U.S. of the Bill Clinton administration. Rockefeller speaks of an "us." This "us," he says, has been having meetings for almost 40 years. If you add the 17 years since he gave the speech it was 57 years ago-two full generations.

Not only has "us" developed a "plan for the world," but the attempt to "develop" the plan has evidently been successful, at least in Rockefeller's mind. The ultimate goal of "us" is to create "the supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers." This will lead, he says, toward a "world government which will never again know war."

PICTURE - Clinton listening to the British Prime Minister at the recent Progressive Governance Summit in London.

See 'International Monetary Government' HERE

Friday, April 11, 2008

Others Pay Price For EU Foreign Posturing

Henry Kissinger wrote in a much-quoted article in April that the progress of the EU has reduced nationalism and patriotism to the point where many EU countries are not willing to go to war, and accept the casualties that are an inevitable part of that. The dangers of being a powerful economic bloc with no military capability are obvious.

With the EU's newly discovered post-Lisbon willingness to interfere in matters a long way from Europe's borders even as far away as the Philippines, and its inclination, for example to increase the powers available to the IMF to supervise national governments, including that of the US, it is very likely that differences can only grow between the EU and the US, ultimately leaving the EU vulnerable to military pressure. In time, other countries that do not shy away from military casualties, such as Russia will be able to exploit this to advantage.

The strains of the situation are already apparent within NATO, with Canada and Australia expressing anger that France and Germany are unwilling to deploy enough forces into Afghanistan, or permit them to do any of the real fighting.

If the biggest problem for the countries of the North Atlantic is the EU's unwillingness to match its ambitious rhetoric with fighting troops on the ground, it is interesting that a similar lack of understanding or interest about military realities is causing trouble for the EU in another region of the world. The EU is attempting to coerce the Philippine government into adopting new measures for improving the country's human rights, under its EUJAM (Joint Assistance Mission) programme.

The EU alleges that 'political activists' are being killed extra-judicially.

The Philippine Armed Forces (AFP) have been involved in a low level war with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its New Peoples Army (NPA) for around forty years. The CPP/NPA has been responsible for multiple murders of mayors and other officials around the country, and operate in ways little different from organised criminals, making demands for money and killing as part of 'business'. In view of the nature of the 'war', the AFP feels that what the EU calls extra-judicial killings, what the AFP calls its 'order of battle', are an appropriate response.

The country is contemplating the integration of former NPA rebels by offering them employment in police or military services, and there is a bill before the House of Representatives to that effect at the moment. But the war with the Communists drags on decade after decade, and is little different from many other local wars around the globe - except where else in the world are there any communists who still believe in their cause?

The best way to bring long-running local wars to a conclusion is not through Human Rights programmes as the EU is trying to impose on the Philippine government, which facilitate the life of the criminal elements, but by increasing the level of a country's wealth to the point where war doesn't seem such a profitable business any more, and is not the only option. Northern Ireland is a good example.

The EU could do more to bring peace to the Philippines by opening up its markets to Philippine products which are currently blocked by the Common Agricultural Policy and other blocking devices. The EU, however is using Human Rights as the excuse to keep its borders impenetrable to the Philippine's poor for another period of at least two years.

Where the EUJAM might be helpful to the Philippines is by pushing for a family planning programme, (which it is doing). Given the strength of a previous influential European organisation, the Roman Catholic Church, family planning remains a subject out of bounds to any Philippine government. If the EU could rectify this European sin from the past, which has inflicted excessive population growth on the Philippines, that would be a worthwhile contribution to this struggling country.

But barring trade with poor countries like the Philippines in the name of taking sides in a small-scale long drawn out dirty war, seems the height of folly. Ineffective posturing seems the EU's preferred role when it comes to warfare, wherever it finds it.

UPDATE - Human Rights programmes in war zones can have strange results. The requirement to bring prosecutions usually results in the accused being of the kind less likely to take reprisals. In the Balkans, for example, prosecutors were so frightened of the Alabanian war criminals, according to Carla Del Ponte, they chose to focus on Serb and Croat offenders, and leave the Albanians alone. Those who are capable of living in peace were prosecuted. Those who carry on with war get away with it.

It would not be surprising to find equally inappropriate results from an HR programme in the Philippines. The EU's belief that the wrongs of warfare can be put right in a courtroom will again be challenged, possibly assisting the biggest thugs to predominate as they are doing in The Balkans, according to Carla Del Ponte in her book just published.

See 'EU Attempts Partial Colonisation Of Philippines' HERE

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

International Monetary Government

The story that broke last week about British PM Gordon Brown badging his new Progressive Governance programme with a thinly disguised Swastika (See HERE) grabbed the attention of major bloggers around the world. for example gave the story top billing. The story was viewed as being a bit of an eccentric manoeuvre, but the curiosity of the swastika took all the attention away from what Gordon Brown was actually saying.

Bureaucratic power grabs don't usually declare themselves in advance, except in the most coded language. But on this occasion Brown is making it entirely clear what he intends. Just read his words.

The swastika sign was being used as the symbol for Brown's proposed new international body whose declared task is nothing less than to bring about a restructuring of the post WW2 world order. The 'restructuring' is being presented as being essential as a response to the credit crunch, which is being blamed squarely on the United States, and the inadequacy of international economic supervision.

What Americans and others don't seem to be yet taking on board is that Brown's Progressive Prosperity has its origins in the European Union, and is an attempt to curtail the independence of the US to run its own internal economy.

Once the EU has estabished the IMF with enhanced powers, the intention is that It would be in a position to act in a supervisory role over the US Secretary of The Treasury, and in effect control the acts of a Greenspan or a Bernanke, and of course all other countries.

Gordon Brown explains -

Speaking at the start of the Progressive Governance conference of centre-left leaders and politicians, Mr Brown said that the old institutions established in the aftermath of World War II were now unable to cope.

"We now have to reshape our global rules and global institutions for this new era," he said.

"We are facing a global financial crisis which is probably the first truly global financial crisis of the modern world.
"We have to reform our global financial institutions. It is absolutely clear that the national supervision that we have is inadequate and we need a global agreement."

The prime minister said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) needed complete re-structuring so it could act as an "early warning system" for the international economy.

No doubt he'll be hoping for a job running this new supranational body, and Americans will be delighted to have a Nazi-badged British ex-Prime Minister carrying out a supervisory role over them - not. The swastika denotes orderliness and control, and the colours and the spiral imposed over the top of that denote energy and creativity. It's the ultimate example of a pictorial 'We Know Best What's Good For You'.

The only question to my mind is whether Americans will see what's coming and railroad the attempt to limit their economy's freedom of action. With Bush in his weakened political state, and McCain yet to establish authority, the EU sees this as the ideal moment to unpack the swastika and target the freedom, independence and sovereignty of the United States.

The Lisbon Treaty permits the EU to act as a single sovereign state and intervene in whatever it sees fit around the globe. The EU aspires to nothing less than world leadership. Bringing the US down a peg or two is number one on the agenda. People were aware that Europe would be changed by Lisbon, but what is becoming clearer by the month is that the world could also be changed if EU ambition succeeds.

However those the EU wishes to embrace and take under its wing should be mindful that the EU's record of economic success is lamentable. Its growth rate is poor and its inflation and unemployment levels high.

The credit crunch happened because Asia needed markets and was prepared to lend to get them. China and Japan continued buying US Treasuries shoring up the dollar despite the level of the US fiscal and consumer debt. They were investing not for commercial but for strategic reasons. They in turn required the US to use the money to keep the US consumer market going as long as possible, which it did. And it carried the growth of the world for a decade.

Whatever the fallout from the credit crunch, and it will take a while for the world to absorb, it will be exactly the wrong reaction to now place the world's economy into an EU-inspired straitjacket

Clinton seems to be going along with the new world order. Maybe he too is hoping for a job. I wonder what Senator Obama makes of it. Should America be welcoming an army of unelected bureaucrats to come and run their economy for them, swastika logo and all? It could be the thin end of the wedge.

See BBC Report HERE

Meet the new Head of the IMF HERE. Socialist, Eurocratic, French. No wonder the EU is using Gordon Brown as the 'face' to sell the new world order to the Americans and the English speaking world. Americans still believe Britain is the most influential country in the EU, according to polling.

(Under a Bilderberg deal, America keeps control of the World Bank while the IMF has been allocated to EU influence and leadership. What America might not have realised is that 'International Monetary Fund' will in EU hands become 'International Monetary Government')

UPDATE - US Teasury Secretary Paulson recently back from China joins the IMF promotion game. See HERE

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

EU Attempts Partial Colonisation Of Philippines

Since the Lisbon Treaty was signed, the EU has assumed a new role acting as if a sovereign power in the realm of foreign affairs. The first manifestation of the EU acting in this way was the effective 'colonisation' of Kosovo in February, where the EU facilitated and gave full support to the declaration of 'independence' by Kosovo from Serbia, despite strong opposition from Spain, Holland, Cyprus, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.

Previously unanimity would have been required for the EU to act in this way, and it would have been unable to ignore any internal opposition. Since Lisbon this is not the case, and a majority of countries can commit the EU on an interventionist course of action.


(Picture above - Jose Rizal - Philippine National Hero whose writing inspired the actions that brought an earlier era of colonisation to an end)

The EU now finds itself able to use trade bargaining to make political demands on countries that wish to gain access to the EU's internal market, which with the rising Euro is now bigger than the USA. If Kosovo was the first 'experiment' of the use of the EU's new powers gained at Lisbon, and Serbia in turn is now being coerced to comply by the threat of exclusion, then amazingly the Philippines is becoming the next EU target for partial colonisation - (which is where I am living).

People who imagined that EU power stops at EU borders are getting a rude awakening.

The Philippines has many problems, the biggest of which is undoubtedly corruption which runs all the way from the bottom where police fine motorists a few dollars for infringements without issuing any paperwork, all the way up to Malacanang Palace where the President is suspected of taking multi-million backhanders from Chinese government-owned commercial operators. It is corruption which hinders investment, and keeps the country's growth rate down, with poverty and hunger at shocking levels.

The EU however, has chosen not to prioritise corruption, but human rights. There is evidence that a number of extra-judicial killings of political opponents are being carried out by members of the Philippine armed services - even though there are far fewer of these than there used to be. The EU wants to introduce an 18 month programme with the rather titillating-sounding name EUJAM - standing for EU Joint Assistance Mission.


Corruption however is as rampant as ever it was, and if the Philippines is ever to provide its citizens with a decent standard of living, it will have to address that issue above all others a priori.

Until recently the airwaves were filled with an investigation into a case where the Philippine government had been about to buy a national broadband system from Chinese ZTE, and the bribes being offered spilled out from behind the curtain when one individual in the know blabbed. They were shockingly large sums.

There have since then been multiple street demonstrations demanding Arroyo's resignation. Many believed that the President could not possibly survive the resulting enquiries and media interest, and there was hope that at last a President might be made to pay for corrupt practices, which would have had a cathartic effect on all corruption throughout the nation, and signalled the vital sea-change the country needs.

But two events have conspired to save Arroyo. The first has been the spiralling cost of rice, which is the Philippine staple. This has provided Arroyo with multiple media opportunities to be seen declaring war on rice hoarders and profiteers. In a poor country the price of rice assumes far greater significance than government corruption, and it has seized the media'a attention.

But now Arroyo has been granted a second political get-out-of-jail opportunity provided by the good old EU - the chance to be seen as the President fighting to protect Philippine sovereignty against outside interference, which she is seizing with both hands.

From The Daily Tribune April 8th 2008
Malacanang (i.e The President) quickly responded to the EU's report, as it yesterday warned the EU not to interfere in the laws of the country and for it to respect the sovereignty of the Philippines.

Britain, might I add, is embarrasingly as far as I am concerned, taking the lead role in all this, with Meg Munn, the senior British Foreign Office minister, fronting the EU's campaign here in the Philippines and arriving next week. Arroyo has agreed to meet her when she arrives, to demonstrate her 'transparency', but it seems likely that Arroyo will find the waging of a campaign for Philippine sovereignty will be politically highly expedient. It may well reflect her own feelings on the matter in any case, as she is not exactly a shrinking violet!

As yet, in the local media there is more incomprehension about what the EU is up to than anger or hostility, but I expect that that will soon change. Filipinos are a proud people and they will not take kindly to what will be seen as bullying tactics from an outside power. If Filipinos smell an injustice to their nation, or that they are being patronised, they can react surprisingly strongly. Foreigners wrongly imagine them to be exclusively a quiet compliant lot.

British Ambassador Peter Beckingham (Pictured to right) , when he met with the head of the European Commission Delegation to the Philippines, another Brit Alistair MacDonald this week. On the left is the Czech Ambassador Ludva. (Why is the whole EUJAM programme being run almost exclusively by Brits?)

Beckingham who maintains good relations with all he comes into contact with, now finds himself required to issue instructions to the Philippine government as to how it should be running its own internal affairs, and will no doubt be expected to take the coming flak on behalf of PM Gordon Brown.

To see The Philippine Inquirer report of yesterday, click HERE.

As well as offering the carrot of greater trade links, the EU is also coordinating a move to oust the Philippines from the UN Human Rights Commission, as part of the same political programme, as detailed in today's Inquirer.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Argentina Eying Second Falklands Conflict

With the British Army bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with our navy reduced to a fraction of its 1982 capability, the Argentine President and Vice President have opened up a war of words against Britain's continuing 'occupation' of the Malvinas (Falklands) Islands.

The Argentine government is under stress and needs a distraction. It has imposed an export tax on soya beans in an attempt to keep food prices down for poor people, who as elsewhere in the world are being driven to desperation by rapidly rising food prices. In turn farmers have reacted angrily and are reducing supplies to the cities of meat. There are alternative riots to join - either about food prices, or about inappropriate government intervention against farming ( as farmers see it).

The Argentine government wants to take peoples' minds off its food troubles, and if anyone reading this remembers 1982 and President Galtieri similarly in desperation and in need of shoring up support, it will set alarm bells ringing.

Vice President Julio Cobos said in the southern city of Rio Grande that "we must recover this territory that is ours, that belongs to us." And President Christina Kirchner (pictured) recently denounced "this shameful colonial enclave in the 21st century."

If an emergency occurs, I cannot see Gordon Brown reacting like Thatcher and sending a task force, or ordering the sinking of ships like the General Belgrano (pictured). With Democrats and anti-war in the USA in the ascendant, the white flags this time would undoubtedly be British.

Britain's EU colleagues would no doubt take the Argentine side, but make conditions as to a human rights agenda before offering full support, (as the EU is already doing in the Philippines, which is being coerced to take part in EUJAM (EU Joint Assistance Mission) in order to secure an EU trade deal. See HERE.

Since Lisbon, the EU is fast beginning to see itself as a self-appointed world government, and is looking to orchestrate and interfere in the internal affairs of many countries of the world. Maybe Brussels overtures are behind the new Argentine moves on the Falklands. It wouldn't be beyond the realms of possibility.

See full AFP report on the Argentine situationHERE

Sunday, April 06, 2008

BBC Stage-Manage Abuse Of Olympic Torch In London

What a farce. The BBC Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq who has got form for her inappropriate political interventions (see HERE) has now managed to take part in a stage managed grabbing of the olympic torch in London. She stopped running, turned to the supposed unexpected demonstrator looking almost delighted and not a bit surprised when he grabbed hold of the torch. It did all look ever so slightly arranged.

Her long-running Blue Peter career, even outstripping Valerie Singleton's marathon session as a presenter on the show, has established her as a presenter, but really her acting skills are lamentable. It was so blinking obvious. If she wants to go into politics why doesn't she do the decent thing and stand for election as a Labour candidate, instead of making a mockery of herself, and London's ability to manoeuvre a single torch through its streets without mishap, even with hundreds of police in attendance?

The BBC piece above covering these 'shocking' events, abusing the tradition of the olympic torch (all in fact planned, executed and and performed by BBC employees) finishes up with a long quotation from the venerable Konnie about how so much good can come out of the western media dragging the Chinese olympics down to the level of a Whitehall farce.

If it wasn't so embarrassing, it would be exactly that.

UPDATE - The real reason there's rioting in Tibet - see HERE. And it's got little to do with Konnie Huq's BBC inspired nostrums.

Fat Lady Sings On US Presidential Contest

The pollsters (apparently) don't know it yet, but America's comics do. They have decided who the next President is to be -

See who it is HERE.

When the comics invest all their energy into mimicking one individual, that's the surest sign that the game's over. These guys know who will be earning their dollars from them for the foreseeable future.

It's as good as the fat lady singing.

UPDATE - The rats are starting to leave the sinking ships of the also-rans. See HERE

Serbia Better Off Outside The EU

Russia's attempts to keep Serbia within its sphere of influence, and to prevent her from being pulled via NATO and the EU into the western camp, are seeing new initiatives. Serbia is already a useful car manufacturing hub, producing the Yugo hatchback, the FIAT Punto and the OPEL (General Motors) Astra which sell in Central Europe and the Russian market.

If Russia offered Serbia a free trade deal on cars and other goods, which is now being considered, Serbia could overnight attract billions in foreign investment, as it would provide a good route into the Russian market for many more western and other manufacturers, including Volkswagen Chinese and Indian car makers, who are all interested in securing the Serbian national car maker Zastava which is being privatised this month.

From Serbianna April 3rd -

Russia has been Serbia's main ally in its diplomatic struggle to reverse the February 17 declaration of independence by Albanian-majority Kosovo. Moscow and Belgrade have also signed an energy deal as a sign of closer ties.

The tender for Zastava will be called in April.

Zastava, maker of the iconic Yugo hatchback, has been recovering after being damaged during the 1999 NATO bombing campaign to drive Serb forces out of Kosovo.

Last year it clinched deals with Italy's Fiat to assemble and sell Punto cars for the Balkan and Russian markets and with General Motors for the production of Opel Astras.

Local media reported that several foreign firms were interested in the plant, including Volkswagen, as well as Chinese and Indian car makers.

The advantages of being outside the tentacles of the EU's bureaucratic regulatory monolith are considerable, and if Serbia could instead establish global trade links by acting as a manufacturing base with free trade access to Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, it would provide Serbia with a unique competitive advantage and a secure future. Slovakia has become the base for manufacturing cars and many other product groups within the EU. Serbia could replicate that success story by remaining outside the EU, and be focused on non-EU markets.

The EU has given Serbia a gift of 165 million Euros as a pre-election sweetener to try to keep Serbia in the EU's camp, when the people vote on May 11th to choose their future. The attractions of the Russian sphere, however with its growing military, economic and political strength must be more than tempting for many Serbs, as the EU is now far from trusted after its grab of Kosovo, and its other political manoeuvrings against Serbia's national interests.

Serbs are beginning to realise that the EU for them might well not be the only or even the best option. It is surely preferable to remain part of a bloc where Serbia is regarded as heroic, than to be trying to sell products and services throughout the western economies where Serbia's name has been propagandised to 'leper' status. Isn't it better to be a welcome big fish in the middle sized Russian pool with its associations into India and China, than to be a despised minnow in the EU ocean? Europe is falling back fast in the world's growth stakes, but Serbia has a choice and need not be held back.

See 'EU Will Be One Sixteenth The Size Of Asia by 2050' HERE.

(Zastava also produce guns including a highly effective sniper rifle -pictured)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

EU Sleeps While Russia Rearms

The world's media reports on the complex NATO negotiations in Bucharest and those between Putin and Bush at Sochi. They covered in depth the problems of the missile shield in Central Europe, the granting of permission of non-military supplies to be sent in and out of Afghanistan and the accession of Georgia and the Ukraine to NATO.

What scarcely gets a mention however, and in fact is not mentioned by the BBC at all is that Russia has used the siting of the missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland as the excuse to abandon the previous agreed limits to conventional forces.

CNN at least mentions it -

Russia, of course, sees it differently. It fears the missile sites could be turned into offensive weapon sites. In consequence, to the alarm of some NATO members, it has scrapped an agreement on conventional force levels in Europe and threatened to target missiles on countries which house missile defense installations for the U.S.

Putin played the friendly gent in Bucharest, but his nervous presentational style and awkward body language showed that the apparently cooperative stance he was taking, was not necessarily entirely genuine.

Russia Today phrases the same story with Putinian inner rage exposed - as follows -

TITLE - The ‘absolute nonsense’ of CFE treaties

The status of the CFE (Conventional Forces in Europe) treaty has also been raised. Russia wants a new and ratified version to be adopted.

Putin said the current uncertainty was not caused by Russia.

“Russia has often been criticised for not being co-operative. But why should we be co-operative if national security is threatened? We did not quit the treaty on anti-missile defence. After this the old system of international relations was abandoned”.

China Today also carries some stronger anti-NATO Putin rhetoric -

NATO decided to keep its door open to Ukraine and Georgia, though it failed to launch the Membership Action Plan (MAP) for the two former Soviet republics.

Russia voiced its strong uneasiness and anger at this, as President Vladimir Putin challenged "the existence of the (military) bloc" on Friday.

He said his country did not believe that NATO's existence was not against Russia.

The circumstances have greatly changed since its creation, he noted, "Against whom does NATO exist?" he challenged.

On the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), NATO urged Russia to return to it, while Putin said his country was ready to do so if there was a compromise from Western nations.

"We are ready to return to the treaty but expect a mutual step," he told the NATO-Russia Council meeting on the last day of a three-day NATO summit.

Russia imposed a moratorium on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) in December 2007 in protest against U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe and NATO's ongoing expansion.

For an assessment of how far Russia might in future present a military threat, see HERE. The problem will be that the EU (like the BBC) is not looking at Russia realistically, and is not maintaining the military capabilities of its main countries like France and Germany, who are exposing themselves to possible future aggression by showing themselves so unwilling to spend money or fight, as in Afghanistan.

Whatever Putin's gameplan is, it seems that he will find his way far more easily to achieve regional dominance, because the EU and its member nations are allowing themselves to become military minnows, living in a state of make-believe about the nature of the world, believing that economic power alone will be enough. The EU is, in any case creating the next Soviet Union. It will no doubt collapse in due course as all previous international unions or empires have done in the past.

Thanks to Putin and the effect of the EU, the balance of military power in Europe will in time become extremely unequal.
Alarm bells should be ringing in Brussels, but appeasement is the prescribed course to be taken. Putin cannot believe his luck. His profession of an end to the cold war is correct. It's not that Russia is giving up the aim of establishing international power through military means, however. It's that the West and especially the EU is choosing not to notice.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Path To Sub Prime Safety Mapped Out

The Wall Street Journal lead in its April 4-6th edition, is about the subprime crisis, and it reveals some interesting statistics. The Federal Housing Administration had been intended to assist moderate-income earning people to buy a home by requiring of them a mere 3% downpayment. However sub-prime lenders took over most of this sector, predominantly from Q1 2005, by requiring a 0% downpayment, creating a new class of borrowers who had nothing to lose. In 2007 FHA 3% downpayment loans enjoyed a decline in foreclosures, while subprime losses soared. The notion that sub-prime borrowers cannot afford their monthly payments, however is negated by another statistic from the Boston Federal Reserve which shows that

homeowners who've suffered a 20% decline in home prices are 14 times as likely to default as those who have enjoyed a 20% gain.

Because the subprime borrowers have nothing to lose, they can simply walk away from their mortgage, when the property price pushes them into a capital loss, leaving all the losses with the lender. It is interesting that even a 3% downpayment is enough to stop the walk-away effect which is now crippling the 0% sector.

In amidst the sub-prime gloom, it is easy to forget that not all Americans are directly affected. The Mortgage Bankers Association tracks 46 million mortgage borrowers, and they declare that 42 million mortgages are still being paid on time. Only 4 million are in potential default at the moment. That number should be added to the 1,000,000 or 1,250,000 who have already been foreclosed, giving a maybe 5,000,000 or so total problem to deal with. The problem for the banks is that the property price could still have quite a bit more to fall, and the numbers motivated to walk or default would accelerate.

The problem of foreclosure could affect up to 10,000,000 homes in the end of the day, if the worst forecasts are realised. That said, more than 20 million homes are owned outright with no borrowing, and 35 million houses are rented, giving the USA almost exactly 100 million households total.

Measures now being considered by Congress are aimed at stopping the subprime crisis ratcheting into a deeper spiral of falling prices triggering further walkaway foreclosures, pushing the losses from the level already pencilled in by banks like Lehman Bros who have been quoting $400 billion towards the much more devastating figure of $1 trillion. The banks have been just about able to cope with the scale of the collapse so far but only with fairly inelegant measures such as the rushed J.P.Morgan takeover of Bear Stearns. If the financial world had to now absorb a second tranche of $500 billion or so, it is likely that the scale of the losses would crack open the system.

The measures proposed by House Financial Services Chairman, Barney Frank (Pictured), are designed to remove the risk of further losses from the banking system and borrowers and ensure that they are carried by tax-payers.

Instead of foreclosing, lenders would have to write down the value of the loan to 85% of the current appraised value of the property, and lend with any further losses to be covered by the government under a federal refinancing plan. This will cap the losses faced by the banks and enable them to start moving ahead without the uncertainty of maybe years fo subprime losses bleeding their balance sheets, making it impossible for banks to lend to each other, out of fear.

If the $1 trillion subprime loss becomes reality, the first $500 billion will be carried by the world's banks. The second $500 billion will be carried by the US government, and therefore taxpayers. However bad the implications of that are, the losses of a collapsed economic system would far greater. It simply cannot be allowed to happen. The US government has the reassurance from China that it will play any role that is required to maintain the stability and functionality of the world's financial system, on which all countries depend.

There's a lot hanging on Barney Frank, and the US Congress, and the White House who can veto any proposals if it wishes. And the offer of Chinese money in the background can only help to bolster up confidence.

British Prime Minister Adopts NAZI Symbol

You could hardly credit it, but the Downing Street website put out a new image yesterday, with campaign message - Promoting Prosperity - Progressive Governance Summit with campaign logo as below. It was spotted by British blogger Iain Dale as being based on the swastika, and he commented in his post 'Government Removes Swastika Logo'. that the image would be removed within hours - which it was.

Mr Brown's troubles seem to deepen by the week, as his position in polls sinks ever lower. In parliament, he was ridiculed by his opponents as being not so much like Stalin, as he had been once described, but Mr Bean. The badge stuck, as Brown's government has lurched from crisis to crisis in rudderless fashion.

The latest PR folly complete with swastika opens up the possibility that Brown will be likened to another comic character from British TV - who became famous in the BBC programme Allo Allo, a spoof version of German occupied France in WW2.

Equally as incompetent as Bean, and equally selfish and bad-tempered, the one-legged Flick (2nd from left) makes a good parallel for Brown as he progresses into a more authoritarian phase in his Prime Ministership while his enemies close in around him. To quote Iain Dale, you couldn't make it up!

Downing Street denies any swastika similarity. What do you think?

UPDATE - The Nazification of Britain proceeds apace. See HERE

UPDATE - April 7th 2008 - America should also be concerned.

The swastika sign was being used as the symbol for Brown's proposed new international body which, inspired by the credit crunch (which is blamed squarely on the US), is heralding a new era of international financial supervision dominated by the European Union, which would appoint the IMF with enhanced powers in a supervisory role over the US Secretary of The Treasury and those of other nations.

Gordon Brown explains -

Speaking at the start of the Progressive Governance conference of centre-left leaders and politicians, Mr Brown said that the old institutions established in the aftermath of World War II were now unable to cope.

"We now have to reshape our global rules and global institutions for this new era," he said.

"We are facing a global financial crisis which is probably the first truly global financial crisis of the modern world.
"We have to reform our global financial institutions. It is absolutely clear that the national supervision that we have is inadequate and we need a global agreement."

The prime minister said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) needed complete re-structuring so it could act as an "early warning system" for the international economy.

No doubt he'll be hoping for a job running this new supranational body, and Americans will be delighted to have a Nazi-badged British ex-Prime Minister carrying out a supervisory role over them.

For BBC Website Report, see HERE

See Don't Meet The British Prime Minister Senator Obama. He's Jinxed HERE

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Dubious Accounting Will Not Solve The Credit Crunch

Various media cover the presentational steps being taken by financial organisations to put their sub-prime losses into a separate account from the rest of their businesses. UBS (Union Bank Of Switzerland) managed to find a further $37 billion of sub-prime losses incurred yesterday to place into this book-keeper's extra column. The extraordinary thing was that markets took this news as a positive, and an indication that the sub-prime losses were now starting to be more known and quantified and therefore less threatening than they once were.

The FT states that Lehman Bros, recently rumoured to be in sub-prime distress was now optimistically hoping to sell off the illiquid assets that it is holding, even though at this stage these assets are probably worthless. Only if the market for sub-prime debt eventually recovers might Lehman be able to find a buyer, and for the foreseeable future there is not much chance of that happening. See the FT article which just about admits that the moves being taken and positively spun are pretty much worthless. HERE

Extract - Lehman Brothers, which has been forced to deny rumours about its financial health over the past few weeks, is believed to be one of the banks considering a spin-off, or sale, of some of its assets.

“We want to continue to move illiquid assets off the balance sheet,” Erin Callan, chief financial officer, told CNBC this week. The bank declined to comment further.

Other banks hit by the credit crisis, including Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, have said they want to take steps to shrink and de-leverage their balance sheets.

The planned creation of “bad banks” comes as US and European lenders are also discussing the creation of a common fund to buy devalued assets.

According to people familiar with the matter, banks are discussing a joint proposal to regulators to set up a fund, which would absorb US subprime assets and other troubled securities, as a way of restoring confidence in the banking system and ending the pressure to recognise mark-to-market losses.

However, bankers say the prospect of a co-ordinated solution remain remote because of the difficulties in getting banks to agree on the terms and the scope of a common fund.

Similar disagreements among banks this year led to the collapse of talks to create a “super-SIV” to buy distressed mortgage assets from banks.

Under UBS’s scheme, the bad assets will remain on the bank’s balance sheet because the Swiss bank will initially retain full ownership of the new fund. However, UBS is expected to sell all or part of it to outside investors, or to spin it off, according to people familiar with its plan.

The FT is also trying to make a news story about the British property market possibly being about to swing heavily south. The story has also been positioned in political terms as reported HEREon Conservative Home in Today's Tory Diary, by George Bridges, David Cameron's ex-director of campaigns, who has written in The Spectator that a collapse of the British property market would hurt Labour's marginal constituency voters predominantly and possibly influence them not to vote for Labour. Labour's support is already falling away as the cost of living in Britain soars, with rising mortgage payments only part of the story.

The FT dramatise the position of the UK property market by starting their graph in 1995 when UK property prices were at a low point after all the fallout with the ERM exit crisis, and showing how prices have moved from 3 times average household earnings then to nearly 6 times now. In fact they are about 5.5 times, and 4 times is about average over the last 25 years, so as incomes still continue to rise, property prices in the UK might fall 20% in total, which is not all that dramatic.

Just for a moment compare the UK's position with that in the US. California saw property prices at around 12 times average earnings six months ago, while 6 times earnings is the US longer term average position. US property prices in all probability have far further to fall than British ones do. Furthermore the numbers of houses in trouble dwarfs the problems in the UK. In 2007, Britain had 27,000 repossessions while in the US there were 1,000,000 foreclosures. Q1 2008 has seen a big increase in the numbers and a figure of 1.5 million or 2 million foreclosures is not impossible this year. The scale of the problem is on another scale altogether.

The losses to be absorbed by the financial organisations that have underwritten the sub-prime risks will not be known until it is seen how many homes are foreclosed, and how much further US property prices fall. In my estimates made in earlier posts on The Tap, I felt that $1 trillion would be nearer the mark than the $400 billion, estimated by Lehman Bros as the total sub-prime losses.

There is the further complication to take into account that, incredibly so many of the mortgages held by the banks have been badly recorded to the point that when the banks go to court, the judges are not permitting the foreclosures to go ahead, as the banks don't have sufficient proof to get a court order of foreclosure. Obviously if this aspect proves to be a bigger factor than is yet known, the sub-prime losses will balloon towards an unbelievable figure. See report on this HERE

The scale of the problem is in any case such that smart accounting by financial organisations will not be able to obscure or absorb the losses. It will take intervention by governments across the world to maintain the confidence of financial markets. Only governments can draw on sufficient sums of money to address problems of this kind, and ensure that confidence is maintained. Clearly it is easier for the governments around the world with large financial reserves to deploy to handle this kind of situation. By being willing to buy banks or shares in banks or financial assets that are practically worthless in the short term, the Chinese and other sovereign funds are uniquely positioned to assist.

The US Treasury are aware of this and it is not surprising to find the Henry Paulson The Secretary of The US Treasury in Beijing today meeting with Hu Jintao the Chinese President to discuss Chinese American economic cooperation.

As reported on Xinhua -

China would intensify communication and coordination with the U.S. on macroeconomic policies, continuously lift the level of bilateral economic and trade cooperation and make joint efforts with the United States to maintain the growth of the world economy and the stability of the international financial system, Hu said.

Full article HERE

See my earlier post 'Will China Save The US Economy?' HERE