Monday, 30 November 2015


What to do about the vote to ask parliament to extend bombing across the border into Syria. I have already said that I believe the PM ‘did not’ make a case for bombing in Syria against ISIS last week in his statement, listening to the debate over the last fours has not changed my mind. The most relevant piece people have said is he has not outlined what happens afterwards.

However, I have thought more about what our allies think about us, when they see the RAF fly across Iraq bombing the enemy and then turning back as soon as the Syrian border appears. You could say a farcical situation, but parliament voted for that in 2013. It now makes me think the only reason that the PM wants to extend the bombing across the border is merely to appease his allies.

I now feel even more strongly against the extension as I see no collateral can be gained and it will not make us [the country] safer.

Another issue mentioned in the statement that I disagreed with last week that has now been shown to be untrue is the figure of 70,000 troops on the ground that are available to mop up the enemy after the bombing campaign has completed.

Firstly the figure is far larger than anyone agrees exist, the smaller figure that does exist have no connection with each other so getting coordination between these troops would be nearly impossible.

One point that has come out of the debate over the last four days is will removing ISIS stop this death cult like cancer that has been growing over the years? Looking at where ISIS came from, al-Qaeda and looking at where al-Qaeda came from, it appears to be a rinse & repeat situation, so I wonder if ISIS are removed from Iraq/Syria what will appear.

Friday, 27 November 2015

The case for war

A twist in the tale.

After the PM's statement in the house of commons, MPs returned to their constituencies to consult and take advice from their staff, parliamentary party and their constituents. As they were doing this the leader of the Labour party Jeremy Corbyn wrote to his MPs telling them that he did not consider the PM David Cameron had made a case to extend bombing in Syria.

He pointed out that the PM had not set out a coherent strategy coordinated through the UN for the defeat of ISIS. He said "In my view, the Prime Minister has been unable to explain the contribution of additional UK bombing to a comprehensive negotiated political settlement of the Syrian civil war, or is likely impact on the threat of terrorist attacks in the UK."

This was obviously meant to guide his MPs to a similar view, but it appears that overnight more rebels than expected have appeared. Does this mean the PM can assure himself of a majority on the vote that might take place next week, or is there so much uncertainty that no vote will take place?

Thursday, 26 November 2015

PM statement

Has the Prime Minister David Cameron made his case for war?


What was he trying to do yesterday? [Thursday 26-Nov-2015]

Convince parliament to vote in favour of instructing the RAF to fly their Tornadoes and use the Brimstone missile to bomb Syria as well as Iraq, which is already happening. The targets would be the same, ISIS. The vote he lost in 2013 was to bomb Bashar al-Assad President of Syria and his troops that were murdering the civilians of Syria.

The PM seemed to be getting ahead in the statement when questioned on the strategy and the ground war, he mentioned 70,000 local troops and it went pear shaped.

The PM said that 70,000 of them  could be a ground force to exploit the coalition's air strikes and support Kurd groups already fighting. He is correct that the Sunni Arab areas under control of ISIS will need to remain under Sunni control after ISIS has been removed. He was given to believe that the Joint Intelligence Committee told him there are indeed 70,000 rebel fighters who could be described as moderate. However these 70k are not all fighting on the same side or for the same goal. They all have their own agenda and it would take too long to get them round a table and agree to one course of action.

All MPs have returned to their constituencies to consider their positions and next week there might be a vote, but it is looking increasingly likely that it will be no again.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Syria ~ Turkey

The public [I am included] are becoming more aware of the situation in this region. It is unstable, it is dangerous, it is complex.

It is the complexity that is stopping politicians from making decisions.

No body really knows who is with who or who is fighting who or who will fight with someone else if they are both against, silly but unfortunately realistic.

The Economist yesterday produced a graphic that shows the complexity people are struggling with. Thousands of people, tens of thousands of people reacted to this yesterday saying "how can we / anyone go in and solve the issues".

Source: The Economist

What do we know today? US F-16 fighter jets have arrived at Turkey's southern Incirlik airbase to join the fight against IS. US drones have already launched raids on IS from there. Turkey says its war on two fronts will prove decisive. Critics say Turkey's strategy - complicated by long-standing problems with its large Kurdish minority - is short-sighted and likely to backfire.

After the incident with the Russian fighter being shot down on the Syrian / Turkish border this makes the West cautious about putting more infrastructure into Turkey as Russia builds up its offensive force in the region. Remember Russia has a land grab programme which facilitates Syria and surrounding districts.

The Turkish government says it is ready to fight all the enemies of its national interest. But many observers believe it is particularly interested in one enemy.

The question is: Which one?

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Computer games

I have reached an age where PC games no longer interest me or perhaps I should say I am losing interest in PC games rapidly and rather than the type of game released it is probably my age.

There has been an on-going discussion about the effect that time and money spent on games has on the rest of your life. Real scientific data on the subject is sparse, and there is a lot of sensationalism instead and talk of "addiction". As I do not have a statistical study on the subject, I cannot really comment on that.

I am 60 years old, and I have played games since I was a child. Of course not computer games, they were not available then. I was already in my teens when I got the first console, playing Pong in black and white on a television screen. My first "home computer" was The ZX Spectrum which was an 8-bit model with 16k RAM [haha you might say considering today's mega machines]. So my gaming career started with board games and I wonder if I will return to them or a similar type.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Will Germany fall?

Will Germany be the first to fall after accepting nearly a million refugees this year?

Turkey, Palestine & Yemen have all taken more refugees however, they are not coping well and that is hardly surprising as no country can cope with a huge influx of other people.

Germany's politics now seems to be baulking at the idea of taking in a huge number of refugees which would count as a U-Turn by the government, where would that put Angela Merkel?

Personally Angela Merkel will probably survive as there is no one else in Germany to take over, however it is the country and continent this piece is about rather than the leader.

Last week I wrote about Shengen and I consider it is finished:-

It now appears people more in the know than I are saying the same thing, so what is next?

I think it would be a disaster to return to individual borders if Europe wants to remain as a state so what can they do?

Firstly strengthen the outer circle.

Establish just where the outside border of Europe is as a whole [thinking of UK as an example] and place proper strong checks on anyone coming into the zone, this means relying on other countries to run and police these stations, now that might be a problem.

How about setting up a group specifically to deal with this 'outside border'?

Friday, 20 November 2015

Shengen is Dead

Europe either has to create an intelligence force similar to Interpol which is happy for each country to talk to another or the borders close.

The politicians have to decide what is best for their people, they have to reflect on what has happened not only in the last twelve months, which has been horrific, but for the whole millennium. The ideological view can no longer be supported a pragmatic view must now be adopted.

Once the borders are closed more action can take place for instance not letting people back that have travelled to Syria and surrounding countries and have taken part in the conflict there, expelling people who have expressed views that could be seen as incitement.

Most of the actions that need and could take place require either of the first two options to be implemented.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Europe today

A continent in shock or fear!

Just how does the population of Europe feel today?

Last night [Tuesday 17-Nov-2015] a football match took place between England and France. It was technically a friendly, however, if you take into account how much was spent on security you could hardly call it a friendly.

The reason for the expense was the appearance of the heir to the throne [Prince William] and the prime minister [David Cameron].

The reason for the game itself was to show the terrorists [who had recently cause devastation] that the west will not be cowed by the actions of last Friday night in Paris. The evening itself was successful and the final score was a side issue as the whole event was about solidarity and showing that the two nations [England and France] were completely together in the battle to allow democracy and freedom to survive and flourish.

Does this one single event in England make the population of Europe feel happy and safe, no of course not, it is a public show of strength, but what do the people of Europe feel after seeing their friends and relations gunned down while sitting outside a café or dancing at a concert in a hall?

These people were not politicians or celebrities or members of the security service, they were young people of today out relaxing after a day or week at work and they were gunned down for no reason other than megalomania by a group of radical extremists currently calling themselves Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Have we [in the west] established what these terrorists want?

What is their objective, what is their goal, what is their motive, why are they doing what they are doing which is killing anyone who stands in front of them and destroying any object [usually buildings or structures] that they come across. It does not appear that anyone has fathomed what they are about, so how can we conceive a plan to oust them?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I have been watching River [TV series] via BBC iPlayer, six episodes of pure fantasy.

Why should I want something real when at the end of my day I want a release into the unknown, fortunately for me this series was available.

I am sure there are dozens of people who deserve credit for this production, but following Stellan Skarsgård & Nicola Walker through this story over the last six weeks I have been enraptured.

I just thought I would mention it.

Monday, 16 November 2015


Ever since the failed attack on a train in France last August [by two Americans and a Britain] it has been clear that for one reason or another France and it's capital Paris are going to be the target of choice for terrorists.

Intelligence gathering is a hot topic not just at the moment but always because of the clash with liberty, but it cannot be under estimated how powerful a tool against terrorists it is.

However, it saddens me when I read of stories like "German police stopped a man [5-Nov-2015] on the highway between Salzburg, Austria, and Munich driving a car with a cache of guns and explosives. The man from Montenegro, had programmed his car’s GPS with directions to Paris and he said he wanted to see the Eiffel Tower." All well and good you might think, except that this information was not passed between the two countries concerned.

I will and have moaned about Europe's open border policy which now seems to be collapsing, but if Europe wants to be tighter together it should start with communication.

Friday, 13 November 2015


Last night's question time had the following on the panel

Sajid Javid
Lucy Powell
Paul Nuttall
Paris Lees
Stig Abell

The usual questions were answered and the usual answers were given.

Why does this program run?

Oh yes, because the people think they get a say, the only trouble is there is no one listening to the people.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Europe's open borders

Hungary has completed a fence on it's borders and is now refusing to accept migrants from Croatia.

Croatia has placed police and militia on it's borders because of the treatment from Hungary.

Slovenia has started to build a wall to deal with the influx of migrants from the south and the return of migrants from Hungary's actions.

Bulgaria is erecting a fence between itself and Turkey to halt the progress of migrants.

Macedonia strengthens it's borders with armed police.

Last month Austria announced plans to restrict access to migrants as it appeared to be a crisis in Europe that was not being dealt with.

Today [Thursday 12-Nov-2015] Sweden has announced that it is now limiting access to it's country for migrants by placing stricter border checks as it feels not enough if it's partners are doing their share.

The Schengen Agreement was signed on 14-Jun-1985, how do you think it is doing?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Russian sport

WADA has slammed IAAF over doping in sport and recommends that Russia should be banned from sport.

A 325 page report has been published showing what everyone has suspected, but now comes the time for proof.

The findings by a commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency were far more damaging than expected. It means that two of the world's most popular sports, football [soccer] and track and field are now mired in scandals that could destroy their reputations.

The WADA investigation's findings that Russian government officials must have known about doping and cover-ups, with even its intelligence service, the FSB, allegedly involved, threatened to severely tarnish President Vladimir Putin's use of sports to improve his country's global standing. Russia hosted the last Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and will hold the next World Cup in 2018, unless the authorities step in.

The IAAF responded by saying it will consider sanctions against Russia, including a possible suspension that would ban Russian track and field athletes from international competition, including the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. IAAF President Sebastian Coe gave the Russian federation until the end of the week to respond, which has been seen as very weak.

Perhaps the time has come for corruption in sport to be removed.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Middle East issue

Sunday 8-Nov-2015 2,000 Britain’s have been returned to Britain from Egypt which is 10% of the population of tourists in Sharm el Sheikh. The remaining people have to establish accommodation for the foreseeable future until they are able to fly home.

What exactly is the problem in getting people home?

Okay, so the security at Sharm el Sheikh is crap, the camera system is never monitored, screening is a joke and when you turn up at security a tenor will get you through unchecked. Okay that is how it was, British staff are now on site to deal with those issues, so the fact that 20,000 British tourists have not been flown home is the prerogative of the Egyptian authorities.

Presumably this is because they are pissed off that the British government did the decent thing in protecting it's citizens by stepping in right at the beginning.

Hopefully over three days David Cameron PM put Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Egypt's president in his place by pointing out the poor situation of security in Egypt's airports.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Britain leads

On Saturday 31st October, 2015 a Russian passenger plane crashed in the Sinai desert, reason unknown. Over the weekend the wreckage and bodies from the aircraft were found. It was eventually announced that all 224 people on board had probably perished.

On Wednesday 4th November, 2015 David Cameron PM suspended flights to & from Sharm el-Sheikh and it seemed that the world was against him. The media reported 20,000 British tourists were now stuck in Egypt, this at the same time the PM was seeing the Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in London on a state visit. It started to become very acrimonious.

On Friday 6th November, 2015 in the morning the Russians were still castigating the UK on their earlier decisions, then in the afternoon they also suspend all passenger flights to & from Egypt. They were then followed by the Germans, French, Dutch and Belgians and now presumably by every other country that has flights to Egypt.

It would appear that British foreign policy has been vindicated.

Eurozone is still weak

The ECB [European Central Bank], which wants inflation of just below 2%, has been injecting 60 billion euros a month of new money through its bond-buying program since March to support growth and inflation in the 19-country currency area.

With a slowdown in China and energy prices continuing to fall, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Tuesday policymakers would review the monetary stimulus and may beef up the program at the bank's next meeting in December.

The BoE [Bank of England] also wants inflation of just below 2% and of course uses sterling not the Euro, found services companies rebounded more strongly than expected last month, suggesting economic growth picked up speed as the final quarter began.

While no change in policy is expected from the Bank of England when it meets on Thursday, economists think it will raise rates from record lows in the second quarter of next year. If we were in the Euro we would not have the ability to make these decisions for ourselves, so hopefully we will remain were we are.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Prime Ministers questions

PMQs [Prime Minister's Questions] is a constitutional convention in the United Kingdom, currently held as a single session every Wednesday at noon when the House of Commons is sitting, during which the Prime Minister spends around half an hour answering questions from MPs [Members of Parliament].

Prime ministers have answered questions in parliament for centuries but in 1881 fixed time-limits for questions were introduced and questions to the prime minister were moved to the last slot of the day as a courtesy to the 72-year-old prime minister at the time, William Gladstone. Since then there has been several changes until we get to the current system.

PMQs have been filmed since 1989 by the BBC [British Broadcasting Corporation] and shown on it's own channel and at times on BBC2. It has gained popularity because of the bear pit action for the 30 minutes where the public can seen both sides fighting each other without exchanging blows, however, recently it appears that the public no longer has a taste for the rowdiness as it detracts from the purpose of challenging the government over current affairs and issues.

Yesterday was particularly prominent when the leader of the opposition was having trouble asking the Prime Minister questions with the racket from the government benches. The speaker intervened as always but the usual 30 minutes was extended to 39 and the PM was heard to say "this is getting longer" as he left the chamber.

Well if is too difficult for the PM to manage his benches he will have to expect longer PMQs.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


Some people say gamers are addicted to their games, they let everything in life go by as the importance of the game takes over, but addiction is a very harsh word, perhaps we should use fascination, a much softer approach.

One important difference is that fascination, by its very nature, doesn't last. We lose interest in that game that was so very important to us last month. We might then actively seek out another game to be passionate about, but it isn't as if we got fascinated by any game we try. Unlike an addiction our fascination with some game can easily be cured by simply not playing for a week, because we lose that fascination rather quickly. We come back from a holiday and find that we lost all interest in a game that was highly important to us before the holidays.

Losing that fascination was easier when games were mostly played on desktop computers and consoles. Mobile games are less easy to get away from. But until our phones and tablets get a lot more powerful, mobile games aren't quite as intricate and pretty as PC and console games. People do get hooked on Angry Birds or Candy Crush Saga, but more easily if that phone or tablet is the first gaming platform they own. And many mobile games have game mechanics that prevent you from playing for hours, and if not your phone battery is making sure you don't.

Less than a third of people are really engaged in their work, people get bored with their marriage, and the safety of modern life means we are less often worried about really important things like our physical well-being. Games become very important to us because there isn't really much competition for our attention. This can be an illusion, and by neglecting real life we risk to lose stuff we took for granted.

In the majority of cases fascination with a game is not as bad as addiction, we need something in our life which we control and passes.

Monday, 2 November 2015

China's consumption

The Di Mei shopping centre in downtown Shanghai is a surprisingly depressing place to shop. The underground mall is located in one of the most shopping-mad cities in China, and yet it is run down and starved of customers.

Rising vacancy rates and plummeting rents are increasingly common in Chinese malls and department stores, despite official data showing a sharp rebound in retail sales that helped the world's second-largest economy beat expectations in the third quarter.

More importantly, the struggles of Chinese brick-and-mortar retailers amplify a policy conundrum; these malls, built to reap gains from rising consumption, are instead adding to China’s corporate debt problem, currently at 160% of GDP - twice as high as the United States.

China is currently the site of more than half the world's shopping mall construction, according to CBRE, a real estate firm, even though it appears that many of these malls will not produce good returns for their investors. A joint report by the China Chain Store Association and Deloitte showed that by the end of this year, the total number of China's new malls is projected to reach 4,000, a jump of over 40% from 2011.

Real estate analysts note that much of the surge in retail space construction came at the behest of local governments, who were rushing to push real estate development as part of attempts to stimulate the economy. The result has been malls built in haste and managed poorly. Less foot traffic means cash flow of mall owners and developers are getting squeezed - a potential hazard for an economy growing at its slowest pace in decades.

Not surprisingly, shoppers are voting with their feet.