Monday, 28 October 2019

Can Trump policies finally fail

When he is not raving about how the deep state is conspiring against him, Donald Trump loves to boast about the economy, claiming to have achieved unprecedented things. As it happens, none of his claims are true. While both G.D.P. and employment have registered solid growth, the Trump economy simply seems to have continued a long expansion that began under Barack Obama.

But now it is starting to look as if Trump really will achieve something unique. He may well be the first president of modern times to preside over a slump that can be directly attributed to his own policies, rather than bad luck.

More recently, the [mini-recession] of 2015-16, a slump in manufacturing that may have tipped the scale to Trump, was caused mainly by a plunge in energy prices rather than any one else's policies.

Now the U.S. economy is going through another partial slump. Once again, manufacturing is contracting. Agriculture is also taking a severe hit, as is shipping. Overall output and employment are still growing, but around a fifth of the economy is effectively in recession. But unlike previous presidents, who were just unlucky to preside over slumps, Trump has done this to himself, largely by choosing to wage a trade war he insisted would be 'good, and easy to win'.

The manufacturing slump is more surprising. After all, America runs a large trade deficit in manufactured goods, so you might expect that tariffs, by forcing buyers to turn to domestic suppliers, would be good for the sector. That is surely what Trump and his advisers thought would happen. But that’s not how it has worked out. Instead, the trade war has clearly hurt U.S. manufacturing. Indeed, it has done considerably more damage than even Trump critics like yours truly expected.

For the past few months he has been trying to portray the Federal Reserve as the root of all economic evil, even though current interest rates are well below those his own officials predicted in their triumphalist economic projections. However, the Fed-bashing will prove ineffective as a political strategy, not least because most Americans probably have at best a vague idea of what the Fed is and what it does.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Brexit Deal

Today has been labelled "Meaningful Monday" after "Super Saturday", so what happened?

The idea for Super Saturday was to allow a debate about the new deal that the PM Boris Johnson had put before the EU last week and it had been accepted by them. Parliament would have the chance to scrutinise this and then vote. 'Presumably' if the vote passed we would leave with a deal, and if the vote failed we would leave without a deal.

However, the first sticking block was the Letwin amendment had to be voted on, and this required the PM to ask the EU for an extension no matter whether the vote passed or failed.

It all comes down to numbers and the biggest faction with what could be called a block vote was the DUP, they had 10 MPs and they would all vote the same way. Would it be for or against?

The day started with rumours of a for vote from them after what had been said during the week, comments were seen to be favourable towards the governments position, however, as the day progressed they held a meeting in a side room and then the rumours were that they would abstain. This made calculating the result very difficult for forecasters. In the end they voted against, and the Letwin amendment won by 322 to 306. as a result the PM called off the main vote until Tuesday, which was changed yesterday to Monday [today].

A lot of MPs spoke against the Letwin amendment during the session, but it made little difference.

Monday, 14 October 2019

North West Syria

Last week Turkey launched an aerial and ground assault on northern Syria targeting Kurdish-controlled areas.

The offensive began Wednesday, just days after President Trump ordered U.S. troops to fall back from their positions on the Turkish-Syrian border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports dozens of Kurds have been killed so far.

Turkey is claiming the death toll is far higher. The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers for abandoning the stateless Kurds who had helped the U.S. fight ISIS. Turkey is also claiming the assault is needed to establish a “safe zone” in northern Syria where Turkey could relocate Syrian refugees who fled over the past eight years of fighting, but the Kurds [and the rest of the world] see the offensive as part of a decades-long attack
by Turkey to crush their attempts at greater autonomy.

The Kurds have been responsible for holding over 10,000 ISIS fighters and their families in detention. While Trump has claimed Turkey will take control of the makeshift jails, there is growing concern many former ISIS fighters will be able to escape during the Turkish assault. At least one Kurdish prison has already been shelled.

What we saw over the weekend was the long-promised invasion by Turkish President Erdo─čan. Many people have said, as there is a consensus all around the world and with public opinion, is the consequences of this will be grave. It is not only that it is essentially threatening a Kurdish genocide, it will create and cause the resurgence of ISIS. It will add to the international refugee crisis.

However, in a shift in alliance, Kurdish forces have announced a deal with Damascus that the Syrian regime will send troops to the area, specifically the border. Now this means Turkey a NATO ally will face Syria which is backed by Russia and Iran.

This is disconcerting.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Brexit position

All day we have heard reporters saying "Our position has not changed" and what they are referring to are EU leaders not journalistic reporters.

For example the German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this morning [Tuesday 8th October, 2019] and used the phrase "We think the chance of a deal for Brexit is extremely unlikely" and the reason is "Our position has not changed".

I do not want to single out the German Chancellor specifically as it stands for all 27 EU countries as they are repeatedly saying "Our position has not changed". Each and every one of the EU members has started to fall behind the rhetoric organised or dictated by someone in Brussels that negotiating is no longer available.

The point is the EU is no longer willing to compromise on the current situation and perhaps they have not been willing to compromise for some time, so when they say it will be Britain's fault we leave without a deal, they are lying through their collective back teeth.

They [the EU] have had the audacity today to accuse Britain of playing games, Donald Tusk tweeted "what’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke, quo vadis?"

If the EU have no intention of negotiating a deal, it will not be Britain that is playing games.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Operation Midland

Operation Midland was a British police investigation into alleged abuse, conducted by the Metropolitan Police in London from November 2014 to March 2016. The operation focused on the investigation of several high profile British politicians, military officers and heads of security over alleged claims of child sexual abuse and homicide, against a number of high profile British citizens, consisting of politicians, military chiefs and heads of security. The eighteen month operation failed to find sufficient evidence to support the claims, and an inquiry into the police investigation afterwards concluded that the people involved had been falsely accused, with detectives and officers having committed several errors in the course of their work.

The Henriques report was initially released heavily redacted. A fuller version of it will be released today and will say the issue of police allegedly misleading a judge to gain search warrants as they investigated prominent figures was the most serious police error of the 43 he identified during his inquiry. Police omitted to tell the court of inconsistencies in the account of the sole witness they were basing their investigation on.

The scathing report accuses Britain's biggest police force of being too ready to believe the extraordinary claims of fantasist Carl Beech and failing to identify the glaring and obvious inconsistencies in his extraordinary allegations. In 2014, Beech told senior detectives that he had been abused by a group including Sir Edward Heath, the former Prime Minister, Lord Brittain, the former Home Secretary, Lord Bramall the former head of the army and Harvey Proctor MP.

The report says there were numerous opportunities to spot his lies in the early stages of the inquiry and shut down the case.

In response, Scotland Yard's deputy commissioner Sir Stephen House admitted mistakes were made but said the force does not agree with everything Sir Richard wrote in his report, however most if not all of those concerned are either retired or dead.