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Friday, 22 March 2013

Beware the FSB

The use of offshore companies including Arivust Holdings in Cyprus by Russian government officials, including many from the FSB, to stash their stolen taxes is well known. When Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky exposed a €175 million tax theft by tax department husband and wife team Olga Stepanova and Vladlen Stepanov he was promptly murdered. 

The EU in this case has been the irritant the Kremlin has tried hard to disregard. Von Rumpy's Human Rights Council's working group has been carrying out its own investigations into Magnitsky's murder, and the fragrant Catherine Ashton's External Action Service has been dogging the steps of the stolen taxes from Russia into EU banks and then into property. The Russians have treated Ashton's enquiries as risible; in response to requests, Russian interior ministry spokeswoman Irina Dudukina said the state cannot trace any of the funds in the Magnitsky-exposed tax fraud because a truck containing the relevant documents had "exploded."

However, a haircut on Cypriot accounts will be taking money directly from the pockets of Russia's most senior corrupt officials - and the FSB are involved up to their necks. 

With no fear of carrying out high-profile international assassinations to underscore their point, they may be considering how much the West would care if either, say, Catherine Ashton or Herr Von Rumpy were tied to a chair and thrown into a swimming pool ...

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Tyranny of Gas (2)

As I write, the temperature's dropping and the heating's dead. It's really all my fault. My 12 year old range cooker was feeling it's age but still soldiering on, until an oven element went. A new one was £26 and I could have fitted it by removing the oven door and removing a panel. Instead I stupidly opted to replace it with a new cooker. Oh, regrets. You see, not wanting to risk the validity of insurance policies or anything else I called in a Gas Safe bod to make the mechanical gas connection - a simple 1/2" BSP fitting - and you can guess the rest. At the testing stage, he found a minor drop in pressure at the boiler (within acceptable limits), started poking about with the boiler and found something else - an incorrectly routed pressure relief valve. Formal caution issued for boiler. Then re-testing pressure drop, he found a 1/2 millibar pressure drop on the pipework from the meter. You're allowed a 4 millibar drop with appliances connected - but zero with appliances capped. Another caution, meter capped off. So I now have to put my hands in my pocket for a horrid new condensing boiler and a replacement supply pipe. 

Words cannot describe my frustration. So, reader, if anything goes wrong with your gas cooker rebuild it in-situ, every single part if necessary, except the one single gas connection that must be preserved intact at all costs to keep the installation valid. The entire gas related industry is just one huge mutually beneficial con, a scam that even I have fallen victim to.

'Dismal economics'

'Dismal economics' is the general verdict on Boy George's election-focused budget; the Speccie gives us some graphics to illustrate quite how bad things really are. Meanwhile in the Eurozone things are hardly better; they're knotting and splicing like frenzied creatures to keep the masts upright as shrouds part all over. At a local level, there's a severe outbreak of 'I really can't be arsed' as firms, contractors, suppliers just seem to be going through the motions of doing business - somewhere the stress, the urgency, the pressures seem to have been lifted and things are coasting. Don't ask me why this seems so universal, but it does. Reps who once would have stalked with the tenacity of piranha fish make follow-up calls as though it's just a way of passing time; estimating departments have become positively Mediterranean in their speed of response.

Has the entire country gone on strike and I missed it?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Toynbee's triumphant turds

The Rubicon, it is true, flows through Emilia-Romagna to the east, which allows Lady Toynbee of neighbouring Tuscany to be sniffy about its flow. Toynbee, champion of crooks, spivs, deviants, druggies and third-raters everywhere, the queen of the D-list, defender of the faithless, protector of liars, cheats, fraudsters, thieves and hypocrites in Parliament, is naturally in ebullient mood today as she awards medals all round. 

Miliband tops Lady Toynbee's honours list, for exhibiting preening self-love above and beyond the call of party leadership. The second round of medals - 'For Meretricious Service' - go to the twenty Tory rebels who would rather keep their first-class freebies and crystal grapefruit bowls on expenses away from the curious gaze of the public. There are more medals all round; the Murdoch Star goes to all MPs outraged at seeing Neil Kinnock's head in a light bulb and seeking revenge; another cohort get to wear a bronze polished turd on their medal ribbon for getting a mention in Hansard from this historic debate. Already the united general staffs of the joint front benches are planning a new campaign - this time against IPSA, to reverse the reforms made after Toynbee's chums' Rotten Parliament and restore a proper secrecy to Parliamentary fraud, corruption and peculation. 

Be in no doubt. This is legislation by and for the wealthy, the privileged, the metropolitan political class and the whole exploitative kleptocracy. And be its justification as shallow and muddy as Toynbee's laboured prose, the Rubicon has been crossed.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Press finds its balls

In December 2012 Fraser Nelson set the ball rolling by committing the Speccie not to co-operate in any Parliamentary regulation of the press. The Guardian - torn between its desire to support the luvvies wing of Common Purpose and remembering that it, too, is supposed to be a newspaper - reports that the Sun, Telegraph and Mail may all boycott Parliamentary regulation. Meanwhile all devote much column ink to defend the freedom of the press, and none more effectively so than the Sun, which manages to include not only quotes from both Churchill and Hitler but Ralph Miliband. The Sun's editorial is a delight:
IT is the year 2024.
Ten years after the 2014 Regulation of the Press Act, MPs are fiddling expenses on an industrial scale. But Sun readers have no right to know.

Our Boys are fighting another war with shoddy kit while their families live in squalor on MoD bases. But Sun readers have no right to know.

Indeed in 2024 you know nothing of any Government failings or the personal activities of MPs, peers, judges, celebrities or sport stars.

Such stories fall foul of Privacy Czar Lord Grant, the Labour Peer once known as Hacked Off Hugh, who can veto them under draconian amendments to the 2014 Act which ended 300 years of Press freedom.
Let's see what the day brings.