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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Archbishop says 'sorry' for Agincourt

In a bizarre speech in Normandy today, Archbishop Justin Welby apologised to the French for the killing of several hundred French prisoners at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. On the 600th anniversary of the battle, Archbishop Welby said
"On that day in October English soldiers brought death and destruction on a scale and with a ferocity it is impossible to imagine,’ he said. "Much debate surrounds this most controversial aspect of the battle. Whatever the arguments, events here 600 years ago left a deep wound and diminished all our humanity. So as a follower of Karl Marx I stand here among you with a profound feeling of regret and deep sorrow."
The grovelling apology mystified the French, who until now have largely understood the actions of King Henry V at the battle and no criticism has been levelled at England.

Welby's staff have also criticised the BBC's coverage of the anniversary, claiming it glorified an English victory at a time when the nations of Europe needed to unite in a European Federation:-
"English churchmen worked tirelessly to promote understanding and cooperation between the European churches and to encourage the political institutions of the European nations to work for the common good and focus on what they shared, not what divided them. That history  is an enduring argument for continuing to build structures of trust and cooperation between the nations of Europe"
Welby also defended the Church's tax avoidance schemes, particularly the use of exemptions from capital gains tax to use income from investments to fund current expenditure, and the Church's investments in arms companies BAe and Babcock. 

Archbishop Welby is 19. 

Friday, 13 February 2015

Another pause in Ukraine

The most informative maps of the conflict are to be found not in any of the MSM but on Wikipedia. Putin's gains become clear when you look at the extract below;

The red and blue areas are urban industrial concentrations, the pink and yellow bits are beet fields. Putin has secured every single town of significant size except Mariupol; Luhansk, Horlivka, Makiivka and Donetsk are all in rebel hands. Putin also dominates the Sea of Asov and controls all entry and exits. 

The rebels have set up their own nascent civil infrastructure and agreed on a common flag; there will be no going back to being parts of Ukraine just like all the rest. They have industry and the wealth producing bits whilst Kiev has the beet fields and the pensioners.

There will be a bit of tidying up today and tomorrow before the ceasefire boundary is set and then hopefully the final boundaries of the new autonomous region will fall out over the next few months as the shooting war remains on hold. If Putin is satisfied with what he's gained, and Ukraine bites the bullet and loses this tiny fraction of its territory not to Russia but to autonomous control than we can all breathe a sigh of relief. Not least the poor sods who have to live there. 

Only the ghastly warmongers will be unhappy; expect to hear much protest from armchair warriors in the UK and US urging more death and intensified warfare. They're prepared to fight to the last Slav for their values.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

In a Blue Fink

Miliband appeared to accuse Fink of tax evasion (illegal) in the Commons
Fink threatened to sue for defamation if this was repeated outside the Commons
BBC is now signalling that Miliband will accuse Fink of tax avoidance later today
Accusing someone of tax avoidance is no more defamatory than accusing them of driving close to the speed limits. Avoidance is not illegal.

Since both parties are still up to their eyes in peerages-for-donations and other peculations, corruptions, crookednesses and vilenesses it really is like watching bald men fighting over a comb.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

2% for Defence? - Haldane 2015

Around a century ago the army made a series of deep reforms that came out of the experience of the second Boer war. These left us with a standing army capable of forming an expeditionary force, with 'twinned' territorial units at home re-supplying and training, and with the militia and yeomanry for home defence. Arguably, without these reforms we would not have been able to slow the Germans at Mons, Paris may have fallen and the war may have been over by October 1914. 

Times and needs change, and without apportioning numbers I'd suggest we need to look for the following capabilities;

An Expeditionary capacity - capable of both independent deployment and of forming part of a NATO deployment, useful both on the European plain against armour, in asymmetric conflicts, police actions, and across a variety of operational environments from desert to arctic. 
Reserve / training capacity - More closely integrated TA (as is happening) plus far greater use of university cadets, bursaries, shared apprenticeships, work-service sharing etc - offering defence roles, training and experience to all members of the UK workforce 17-47. Tesco van drivers who can pilot a tank.
Militia / Yeomanry - A revival of the traditional bodies used for home defence, also deployed in civil areas for public re-assurance during periods of terrorist threat etc., independent of the Police and under the command of the Lords Lieutenant and not the MoD under an integrated home defence strategy. Service to 65 years. 

The Air Force - Less independent role and more to establish air superiority where ground troops are operating, to support them with ground attack, for resupply and rapid deployment of ground troops, global deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with both surveillance and offensive capacity

The Fencibles - Revival of volunteer, part-time coastguard service assisting HMRC and for inshore coastal defence, policing small boat traffic etc - Service to 65. 

Not definitive and I'm definitely open to argument on everything - but clearly we need a new aim and purpose for defence rather than just nibbling at out-dated structures to achieve 'austerity' armed forces. If this can all be done for 2% of GDP, great. If it takes more, we must find it.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Of course banks are incorrigible crooks - why are we surprised?

After the scandals over the crooked and criminal manipulation of the Libor rate, the Spiv miss-selling of insurances and a protection racket on bank charges, criminal mismanagement and account distortion and a host of other malfeasances, misdoings and plain criminal acts in the pipeline or yet to be found, we already know that banks are as crooked as an Alpine road. Their greed and scandalous corruption almost destroyed the world's economy in 2008. So why is anyone surprised that they are up to their eyes in criminal tax evasion?

If this were any other sector of business, governments around the world would have closed it down by now and thrown its directors and managers in prison. Yet despite the depth of the bent rackets run by the banks, hardly a single banker has been jailed - only little countries such as Austria have jailed their bent bankers. In the UK they get knighthoods.

If any other evidence is needed of the criminal collusion between the global corporates, the banks and the political class I can't think of it. There is no probity or rectitude remaining in banking, big business or government. The whole kit and caboodle is fit only for the dumpster.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Islamist protest against free speech

Let's be very clear on a couple of points. Firstly, there is absolutely no moral equivalency between drawing funny pictures of the Moslem prophet Mohammed and slaughtering journalists for doing their job. Secondly, drawing, publishing or reproducing cartoons of Mohammed is not a hate crime; it is the unlawful reaction to such exhibition or publication that is the crime.  

There is hope that this message has got through to the mainstream Muslim community in Britain, for yesterday's London 'demonstration' by the Moslem Action Forum was attended by barely 1,000 - the sort of figure that PETA or the flat-earthers get. They claimed to have a petition with 100,000 signatures, but didn't say how many were by different people.

These hard-line Islamists are utterly opposed to free speech and western democratic standards - and as the women were separated from the men, one wondered at the debate they must have held about whether to keep the women at home and only have 500 on the street or to allow the girls out (carefully segregated) to make better pictures.

I'm sorry if they hate our freedoms so much, but there it is. As the Moslem Mayor of Rotterdam said, if they don't like it, they can fuck off. And as our Prime Minister said, there is no room in the UK for Islamism.