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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Garden Golf


Sir Francis Drake was a cool-headed fellow, even choosing to finish his game of bowls before setting sail to defeat the Spanish Armada in 1588. Today's heroes of the blogosphere need to be equally well balanced in their approach to events, finding time for leisure before they deploy their great minds.

With that thought, I went out in the garden this morning carrying my pitching wedge, you know, that short golf club with a big letter P cast into the bottom of the blade, and chipped away at two golf balls trying to land the second one as near to the first as I could. With no one else around to cheer apart from the thousands of onlookers seated in the grandstand in the rhododendron bushes, it was a game that became moderately dull after about ten minutes.

By chance I discovered a third ball, which I had over-hit into bushes a few days ago. The joys of rediscovering a lost golf ball costing less than $1 have to be witnessed to be believed. The moderately dull two ball game assumed a new dimension when the third ball was added. I began to imagine a scoring system to keep the spectators in the stands glued onto this new game taking place in front of their eyes.

Tiger Woods was also around, but he was too busy to join in today. He said he'd try it tomorrow. I pressed on alone.



The first ball I imagined as a kind of a jack as in a game of bowls. The next two balls were aimed as close as possible to it. Once the three were landed, I then chose the ball out of the three which was closest to the other two overall.

I then measured out golf club lengths between the balls. The first length scored zero, so a good shot close to the jack gets no score. After that each full or partial length of the club scored one point, with a maximum of three points per ball. The lowest possible score being zero, and the maximum possible six. I think it would make quite a fun little game for two players, or maybe three.

With two (or more) players, one player hits the jack and the next player hits the two following balls.

If I hit the 'jack' out of bounds, my 'opponent' only had to score the line between the two remaining balls, obtaining a score advantage from my mistake.

The game was then suspended in a shower of rain, but this afternoon my brother's children are coming over and I will definitely inflict one round of this new form of 'Garden Golf' upon them. And who knows? I might be able to attract other players to join me. The below would be nice.....

Now then, back to the serious business of blogging about politics.....except it looks like a Russian Armada cruising the Black Sea on this occasion. The Spanish are doing a lot better these days.

TIPS - Hit all balls away from buildings.

Use a mat if you're worried about spoiling your lawn.

After 30 minutes you are ready to go back and blog once more.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Russian Admiral Talks Of Sinking NATO Ships


The military games being acted out in Georgia and around the Black Sea are getting dangerous. Putin's next objective is undoubtedly Sebastopol in The Crimea, which he was expecting to be in a position to secure as Russian territory, as he has done with Abkhazia and South Ossetia. But with NATO already using muscle to nudge Russian ships away from the Georgian sea-port of Poti, and keep it open for resupply to Georgia, Putin's path to Sebastopol by sea is going to be blocked.

As the statements coming from Moscow below illustrate, the Russians don't believe that NATO will ultimately fight over Georgia or the Crimea, and they are merely trying to send a political message.

The NATO flotilla led by the American destroyer USS McFaul already has exceeded ten warships and will reach eighteen vessels in coming days, Kremlin officials citing Russian intelligence said Tuesday.

German, Polish, Spanish, and Canadian warships are among the members of the multi-national squadron being assembled in the Black Sea, according to Georgian media reports.

Russian admiral Sergei Kasatonov admitted the growing NATO naval formation would soon be stronger than the Russian Black Sea warships off Georgia and Abkhazia's shore, but added the Kremlin could in case of a confrontation deal with the western vessels "using other forms of combat power, including aviation assets."

Kasatonov's comments made in Moscow were among the first public statements by a top Russian official of possible naval combat between Russian and NATO forces in the Black Sea.

The motivation for the increasing NATO naval presence in the region was "primarily political and not military," he added.


The problem for NATO will be when the Russians turn around and decide to put pressure on the NATO Black Sea fleet and the muscling comes from their side, NATO will find itself unable to back down. The resulting potential naval blow up with NATO ships surrounded by Russian aircraft and anti-ship missile capabilities, would be appalling.

If the Russians don't think the NATO fleet will bother them too much, they would however think twice if American aircraft were able to deploy in sufficient numbers into the theatre. The relationship with NATO member Turkey will be crucial.



One of USAFE's 7 primary 'European' airfields is at Incirlik in Southern Turkey, pictured above. The Western world could soon find itself owing its containment of Russia's resurgent power to a number of pilots far fewer than those mentioned by Churchill in The Battle Of Britain.

Oh What A Lovely Recession


I have been in the UK since the end of June until now, staying at my parents. Blogging has been particularly trying, as 'mother' is very keen to talk to her homecoming (53-year old) son (father cannot join in easily), and writing has been carried out as an aside to day-long catching-up chats. A bit of real life has intruded into my blogging 'fantasy environment', with obvious consequences to the standard and frequency of posts. Right now though, she's out for two hours so I'll take my chance.

One topic that seems to be in everyone's minds, understandably given Britain's overall financial astuteness, is the effects of the current recession. Prices are soaring, with inflation, it is claimed, approaching 5%. Unemployment is set to rise by 300,000 or so, while companies and individuals who can, are abandoning ship to low tax regimes, and kinder climates. The government, as Oborne points out in the Mail, is in total denial about the dire straits of public finances, and the IMF is already watching us carefully, and warning. Oborne writes -

More embarrassing still, the International Monetary Fund is starting to take a close interest in the parlous British financial position, just as it did when Denis Healey was Labour Chancellor during the economic crises of the Seventies.

Back in July the IMF issued a fierce warning to the British government to bring its borrowing under control.


It seems as if the big picture spells nothing but doom and gloom.

But on a personal level, how much of all this needs to matter?

Many will be surprised to find with the general picture so appalling, that when they think about it, their own lives seem to have better opportunities than before. If asset prices are falling, for example, many first time buyers will be finding that at last they can afford a house. Others who need to invest could find that shares are becoming a good way to acquire a sturdy nest egg. If you think like a buyer for the future, and not a seller of the past, the world is opening up to you as it hasn't done for a while. This is the strange effect of recessions. Approached correctly, they provide a surge of new opportunities.

Some will lose their jobs, of course, but how many people look back to old jobs lost, without seeing that it was often the best thing that happened to them, bringing them to retirement earlier, or emigration, or a new job in a field more suited to their abilities and interests, or a retraining, or a new beginning of another kind? How many successful businesses begin out of redundancy - businesses which otherwise would never have happened?

That's not to make light of tragic or negative outcomes, but life always contains tragedy, in good economic times as well as bad. We all have to adopt as philosophical an attitude as we can when we've shed enough tears. That's life.

The thing is to get the feeling of loss over with as quickly as possible, and not to dwell there, and to redesign the thinking about the future. That is stage one, realising that there is a future to go to.

Businesses that see sales fall should not be down-hearted. If the product that used to keep you busy has died, now is the moment to find the new one that meets the customer's demand. Or to go online. Or to re-locate manufacturing. Or to put all the effort into finding a new wind, as strong as the one that the business found ten or twenty years before. In the busy times, there was no time to look around and to make big changes. Now you have time and can restart and redesign from the beginning. These chances only come every ten years or so at the most.

People behave better in recessions. When money is plentiful, many become arrogant and won't listen. New ideas are poopooed and rejected. In a recession, ideas are listened to. People will try things out a bit and see if their jobs can be made secure through novel approaches. Business owners are looked to to be strong and not to panic, and are respected, whereas in good times, many regard them as over-privileged or unfairly advantaged. You can pull people together more easily into joint effort when times are tough. You can demand and get superhuman effort, which would not be given when money seems easy and plentiful. Leading people becomes easier, and results seem to happen quicker.

The big problem with the 2008 recession is the overhang of debt, both personal and government debt. That leaves one other area of the economy though which has minimal debt - companies. They have for the most part built strong balance sheets over the last 16 years of growth, and unlike in the 1970s, most now have secure financial positions. They are ready to move on to re-build their markets and re-establish their cash flows.

Even government agencies loading on the regulations seem to understand that the burdens they impose on businesses are not helping the situation, and back up a little. Planners are more likely to approve development schemes, aware of the urgent need for jobs and investment. Again people with money are respected, and the stability they can offer is much needed. They are regarded less with jealousy and are appreciated for the strength they give to the economy.

Yes the government has trashed Britain as much as it could have during the good years creating the worst mess imaginable. What Gordon Brown has done to the country is unforgiveable as people have now suddenly taken on board. But these fools will soon be gone and replaced with a new younger lot keen to make their mark. Taxes will fall. Waste will be hammered, and public services will work happily and effectively again.

And yet to do what needs to be done to make life in Britain livable once more, there will be one big hurdle to make, or the improvements that should be born out of the current changeover-period will be lost. That hurdle is a big one, but a completely necessary one - to get out of the EU. Otherwise it will hold the country down on the floor, and stop the new lot coming in, from being able to do the things that need to be done.

I won't be coming back to Britain to live unless Britain leaves the EU. I loved living here when Mrs Thatcher sorted out the troubles we lived with before her time. Now it all needs to be done again, with an equally determined leadership. I will not live in a country which allows total idiots to run the place, I'm afraid. Cameron will only be seen as a success if he has the strength to address this issue, and get the hell out of the biggest mess Britain has ever been throughout her long history. If we do that, we will do just fine again, but with the EU's tentacles growing over every aspect of life, the things that could happen to make Britain 'Great' once more, will be held in check. It's a tragedy I prefer not to have to see.

There are plenty of other countries in the world where bureaucracy has not throttled people into submission. That's where I'll be, in one of those. But if ever Britain were to shake free once more, and rediscover its culture and its joy, I'd be back. But right now, it's all just too sad to be here. It's not the recession, though. That's a great opportunity. It's the EU, and the pathetic governments that allow it to wreak so much damage to our once proud land. I can't bear to see it any longer. Next week I fly 'home'.

Link To Peter Oborne's Daily Mail Piece HERE



PICTURE - My formidable mother with her third eldest grandchild George, in his final year of a Politics degree at Birmingham University.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Kosovo Refuses To Recognise Georgian Breakaways


I couldn't help laughing at this. Kosovo has decided that it will not recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia. It wasn't so much a 'who cares less?' thought, but the comedy of seeing the pot calling the kettle black. Is that political correctness offended twice in one paragraph? Probably.

Kosovo is unaware that it in fact has not achieved independence at all, and is legally the EU's first colony. In the same way Abkhazia and South Ossetia are merely being absorbed into Russia, and not gaining independence either. All three are merely colonies created by the latest surge of competitive empire building by Brussels and Moscow.

See full report HERE

And see the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (pictured) struggling to explain why Kosovo is different HERE

Thursday, August 28, 2008

EU Guilty Of Gross Irresponsibility


Russia is getting bolder. President Medvedev is raising his pitch to a level which indicates he anticipates success for Russia's confrontational stance vis-a-vis the West. It must be especially satisfying for the Russians to see a glaring split in the reactions from the different members of NATO. Only America seems capable or willing to countenance a military response to Russia's encroachment on Georgian territory, while Germany, with its green energy agenda making it so vulnerable, seems unable to think of anything else but preserving her gas imports.

The British Prime Minister is using British Olympic success as a fig leaf to hide his inability to address any serious issue and make a decision, or even issue an effective statement of his viewpoint. Sarkozy offers nothing but words, which the Russians pretend to listen to, before he flies off back to France, when they just ignore him.

Ten years ago the Russians could only dream that a time might come when they could cock a snoop so easily at American military and EU 'soft' power. But the EU has so reduced the countries of Europe to a state of blanket non-functionality, that even from her relatively weak state economically, Russia can anticipate successfully overturning the post-Cold War balance of power, and rebuild herself as a substantial competitor for regional power.

The three 'leaders' of the largest EU countries are really nothing of the sort. They are all EU-supporting apparatchiks who imagined by dedicating themselves to Big Brother in Brussels, that somehow by combining or pooling their sovereignties, they would thereby become more powerful than if they faced outside threats alone.

Now they are finding out that this is total nonensense, or at least they would be finding out, were any of them capable of facing up to the new reality. In fact all three, Merkel, Sarkozy and Brown are locked into a fixed state of denial. This is the first real test for the EU is facing a serious outside threat and the response so far can only be described as absolutely pathetic, if not risible.

It almost incredible that the continent, once dominated by characters such as Winston Churchill, Charles De Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer, is now so reduced by the throttle of corruption, lies and bureaucracy that our combined futures depend on people of the level of Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy.

Bush still apparently cannot believe that the EU is congenitally completely incapable of defending itself. American policy towards Europe was predicated on the assumption that locking the countries of the EU together would, firstly prevent them from fighting each other, and then secondly enable them gradually to assume responsibility for their own defence, relieving the USA of the burden.

The countries of Europe would have been most unlikely to re-engage in warfare after 1945 with the Soviet threat linking them together in fear, until the Berlin wall came down. Since then, economic growth has made warfare a most unattractive option for modern economies. The EU has not been the critical factor in keeping the peace in the past, but it is fast becoming the strategic weak link which might well cause warfare in the future.

As for managing to get the Europeans taking defence seriously, the EU has achieved exactly the opposite, with defence expenditure reducing in proportion to the sense of national responsibility that the EU has engineered in all its member states.

The moral contract offered by the EU to its members has always been to tell European countries to abandon national thinking and identity, for which the reward will inevitably that there will never be any need to go to war again. Russia has blown these 'soft' assumptions to pieces with its invasion of Georgian territory. Russia has maintained a strong sense of national identity throughout, and now has a great military advantage in being able to motivate its army and its citizens to take part in and support invasions of other countries.

The same larger European countries that should be standing firm against Putin's aggression, and which have been busy humiliating Russia, have allowed their own national integrity and identities to be dismantled, making decisive national action nigh impossible.

In the past, of course the Europeans would begin the wars, and the Americans would be forced to come to the help of the British and the French. This time the story's happening the other way round. The British and the French, joined by their former foe Germany, have all abandonned their sense of national identity, and are expecting the EU to bring about the decisive actions that are required. The problem is that the EU has dismantled the ability of nations to act, but has built no army and military capability to replace them. Putin cannot believe his luck.

This time it won't be Europeans begging America to come and help them, but Americans begging Europeans to help themselves.

When eventually the Americans take on board the lessons of this crisis, they will see that the EU has become an organisation guilty of gross dereliction of its responsibility to its member countries and its citizens.

Such a state of hopelessness is unthinkable to Americans, which is why they cannot see and understand what is going on in Europe.

The details of this sorry story come from Open Europe today - as follows -

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev yesterday raised the stakes in the Georgia crisis with his decision to recognise the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. "We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War," he said.

The US has said that its humanitarian aid mission to the port of Poti would also have a military element. A US diplomat in Tbilisi announced that two guided missile warships would be docking at the port despite the Russian military presence. Mr Medvedev accused the Americans of trying to smuggle weapons into Georgia.

President Saakashvili of Georgia described the Russian declaration as an annexation, and accused Moscow of seeking to provoke renewed fighting that would allow Russian armoured divisions to move around Tbilisi, the capital, and wipe Georgia off the map. Saakashvili told the Times that Russia was trying to build up forces near Akhalgori, only 32km from Tbilisi. From there, he said, they could control the hills around the capital in the same way the Serbian forces ringed Sarajevo in the Bosnian war. Asked if he feared a fresh Russian invasion, Mr Saakashvili said: "If there is no strong reaction from Europe, at any moment."

EUobserver notes that in an interview on France's LCI channel, Russian President Medvedev dared the EU to impose diplomatic sanctions at next week's EU summit. "If they want a degradation of relations, they will get it," he said. "The ball is in the European camp." On the Arabic Al-Jazeera network he spoke of using "military means" against a future US missile base in Poland.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner accused Russian troops of "ethnic cleansing." Germany continued to sound a calmer note throughout the day, indicating that suspension of EU-Russia treaty talks is not on the cards. "We will not solve conflicts if we do not talk to each other," Chancellor Angela Merkel said on a visit to Lithuania. Ms Merkel's visit to the Baltic states and Sweden is aimed at promoting a new Germany-Russia gas pipeline - Nord Stream - which Germany calls a "strategic European project," but which the Baltic states fear will strengthen Russia's energy leverage against eastern European countries.


UPDATE - Dan Hannan and EUreferendum are both demanding a return to an independent foreign policy for Britain.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Brown Has Destroyed Britain's Wealth


Trade Unions are poised to be back in power in Britain as they haven't been since Margaret Thatcher confronted them in the Miner's Strike in 1984. The largest Union, Unite has given the Labour Party £11 million to keep it from bankruptcy as its private donations have dried up. But the terms of the donation are that Brown must implement a Trade Union friendly legislative programme and policy regime, or be pushed out of office.

The top rate of Income Tax would be pushed up to 50% in such an arrangement of desperation by Gordon Brown. With Employers' and Employee's National Insurance already being 24% of pay, effectively Income Tax by another name, it will now cost a company £100,000 to put £28,000 into the pocket of senior staff, or nearer £22,000 if holiday pay, pension contributions and other necessities are taken into account.

In such circumstances, it will become almost impossible for co-called 'wealthy' people to survive. Wealth, it might be remembered is defined by having a taxable income of £34,000 a year. What family with children living a middle class life style can survive with fuel and food inflation at over 10%?

The Unions will be making it illegal for people to raise a middle class family by working for a living.

The genuinely rich will not bother earning income in Britain, in any case. Capital Gains are taxed at 18%, not an effective 70% as Income would be. They will move their efforts yet further into making Capital Gains, for example selling businesses rather than running them longterm. The Unions hate the Private Equity operators, criticising their unwillingness to invest in their businesses, and yet the Unions' own policies will make everyone with any sense into a short term quick buck, low tax operator.

Two million people left Britain between 1997 and 2007, mostly those with higher income and wealth. The numbers between 2008 and 2018 will no doubt be double that, once Gordon Brown surrenders to the unions to save his own skin. Capital too is already fleeing, with financial companies finding now that Switzerland and Dubai are cheaper than London.

Gordon Brown received a golden inheritance from the Conservatives in 1997. It has been well and truly squandered. See Union story in the Telegraph HERE

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brown Hides Off Camera At Olympic Party


If this photo can appear showing the happy scene at the British Olympic launch party just before Boris''Ping Pong Is Coming Home' speech with the whole party visible, how come the BBC managed to film the whole of Boris' speech with all the other people on the stage not in vision - bar Seb Coe awkwardly positioned behind him and Lord Colin Moynihan off to Boris' right? See below video.

I've nothing against Colin Moynihan, but if there was room for two faces to be filmed at this historic moment, surely it was the face of the Prime Minister that should have been in camera shot.

The smiles from Tessa Jowell, Gordon Brown and Seb Coe don't look all that relaxed, to be honest, while Colin Moynihan and David Beckham, on the other hand, look like they're having a blast.

Brown was no doubt completely underwhelmed being upstaged by Boris, and the BBC had been requested not to keep him in camera while Boris spoke to billions around the world.

See below how Brown and the others were kept out from the BBC camera angle, creating a most unnatural result. David Beckham was made invisible throughout the whole scene.

Why? I think we know why.

Video - hattip to Daily Referendum.

Blogging Is For Fun


Whenever blogging seems a chore, it's best not to bother. The list of former bloggers grows ever longer with Daily Referendum now claiming to be throwing in the towel. The reason, Steve Green explains, is that he's spending up to 12 hours a day doing it!

Why not just stop for a while, Steve, and then when you feel inclined, start again?

For me blogging began as a way to cope with an illness, which left me housebound for a while with nothing to do. It was fun to leave dreadful comments under other peoples' posts - on Iain Dale, or Order Order especially, and occasionally Political Betting. Then it became fun to write at more length on my own blog, attracting around 40 readers a day to begin with, and explain why the media was giving such a poor representation of events.

Richard North later invited me to join the Umbrellog, and give vent to my eurosceptic and -polemic views as part of the Umbrellog nursery operating under his wing. The numbers of readers can now be from 100 to 300 a day, although once in a blue moon you can get thousands coming in, if you hit the spot with a blog post.

But it's not about numbers.

There is a more serious side to blogging, in that those who control the media use their influence to win favours from politicians, and vice versa, and that the game very soon can begin treating the viewer, listener, reader as a total mug, who is expected to believe the rubbish they come up with. The professionalism of North on Eureferendum in exposing the nonsense, is akin to Booker. They totally decimate the credibility of the governments which bring out the programmes which waste billions and jam up the country's economy. Where else can you read analysis of this quality in any other media?

Richard North, however, also gets a bit downhearted writing his blog EU Referendum, as he was hoping that the promised referendum would eventually take place in the UK, but it never did. He thinks that we are powerless to influence events now, and wonders what else he can do to bring an end to the EU's trashing of Britain.

How else can we stop them, though Richard, except by writing blogs and letting them know we can see what they are up to, and how blatant are their lies? I think that Richard and Steve are setting too high a standard for themselves, and at the same time underestimating the importance of what they are already doing.

If, for example, bloggers had been active by 2003, I doubt Bush could have pulled off his Weapons Of Mass Destruction lies about Iraq, as the blogosphere would have collectively risen up and found him out in time before he was able to con the British into joining him. The dodgy dossier from Alastair Campbell would have been torn to shreds by millions of bloggers across the globe. As it was, a sole BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan tried to expose the government. He and his bosses were sacked, and their source, David Kelly murdered. I doubt that that could happen so easily now.

Governments have had to go into hiding, relative to how Blair was arrogantly operating, seemingly untouchable by any exposure of truth, just five years ago. Now there are no more Alastair Campbells boastfully controlling the media from government offices, and 'sources' are far more likely to be able to get their stories told without being 'eliminated'. The 'narrative' game has become too diverse, and not so easy to control, primarily in my opinion due to the internet and the blogs. All Campbell had to do was fix Murdoch and the BBC.

Back in 2003, a million people took to the streets of London to demonstrate against the Iraq war, but Blair completely ignored the demonstrators. But when the blogs are raging and finding out the lies, it's not so easy. Blogs are there every day of the week and don't go silent, unlike demonstrators who last at most four hours before going home.

The reason too that Gordon Brown cuts such a pathetic character is that he cannot control the media as Blair did. It is even possible to argue that the moment he 'lost it' was because he allowed the rumour mill - the blogosphere included - to run away out of control. Had he been able to take measured steps all negotiated with the media with a controlled narrative, he could still have appeared to be a strong leader making bold decisions, not a headless chicken running around in a farmyard, as he was when exposed by his sudden panic. It is the immediacy of communications in the internet age that tripped him up.

UPDATE - As for Daily Referendum it seems as if Boris Johnson's speech in Beijing has inspired him to get back into action. You have to ask yourself too, would Boris Johnson have become Mayor Of London without the near wall-to-wall support he received from bloggers, and fear of the disappointed reaction in the 'sphere had he been overlooked. We are definitely a part of the media jigsaw, and one of growing impact.

Why else do those in positions of influence read the blogs?

I was credited with writing Harriet Harman's reposte to William Hague in the Commons, when she was handling PMQs during Brown's holiday. He had asked her about her leadership ambitions. She replied that there wouldn't be enough airports for all the men who would be rushing to leave the country...a phrase I had commented with on Political Betting that morning.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

America Will Prefer Russia As Its Ally


As the repercussions of the Georgian invasion and occupation by Russia are taken on board, it is the Ukraine which feels the most threatened. Putin is making moves in the Crimea, it appears, issuing large numbers of Russian passports (see previous two blog posts). These will enable him to claim that there are substantial numbers of Russian citizens in The Crimea in need of his 'protection'. In any case, the pro-Russian Soyuz Party holds the majority in the Crimean Parliament, and the Crimea is far more pro-Russia than the rest of the Ukraine, having been Russian territory until the 1950s, with two thirds of the population being ethnically Russian.

Soyuz claim that the Russian language is being deliberately outlawed and replaced with Ukrainian, and that many Russians are being threatened with expropriation. It would not be difficult for Putin to put together a convincing-sounding reason why he needs to send in his armed forces, to 'protect' his 'citizens' and their 'human rights'.

If the Crimea is successfully occupied by Putin, and Ukraine were allowed to fall back under Russian influence and control, if not actual occupation, it would be the end of the dominance of the EU in Central and Eastern Europe, and its programme of 'soft power'. The US would too be pushed back to a much reduced sphere of influence. The Ukraine borders Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, as well as Romania, which borders Serbia, and Russians would be able to more easily influence events and resist American and EU programmes in all these countries, pressuring Poland not to cooperate with US or EU military plans, and more easily threatening to intervene in Kosovo.

The loss of Georgia to western influence is a setback, and it presages the loss of control of the supply of oil from Central Asia which travels through Georgia in the one pipeline, which was previously outside Putin's grasp. But the loss of Georgia alone does not completely change the fundamental picture. The loss of The Ukraine however would be catastrophic to the idea that influence comes from the West, and that Russian power can be ignored, and that she can be drawn into playing 'soft power' games.

Putin is clearly not interested in soft power, and is looking exclusively at how he can deploy 'hard power' initiatives to break the influence of America and the EU. Were he to make moves on the Crimea, which he appears to be preparing the ground for, he could from there manipulate events in the rest of the country, and turn military presence into political control.

Putin will no doubt press on until he meets determined resistance, and only then will he stop. The West can hand him the Crimea, if it likes. But if it does, the USA and the EU should not be surprised to find themselves having to put up a fight over Kosovo later in the piece, as, once Putin has secured the Ukraine he will have direct access to nearly all of the countries that were previously Warsaw Pact. Romania would not be strong enough to stand in Putin's way.

The tragedy for the US and NATO is that they have all their forces committed in the Middle East, and are not in a position to face down Putin at this early stage of his
expansion of influence. By the time the West decides that it has to resist him, they will face a more powerful opponent militarily and politically, his 'victories' being hailed as heroic across Russia.

One good outcome for Europe is that the pathetic nature of the EU and its inability to function coherently in foreign affairs, or any other way, as described on EUreferendum (See HERE), will be finally and brutally exposed. From there American policy of relying on the EU as its key ally will also be undermined. Europe will become a political, military and economic backwater, as the rest of the world surges ahead, and starts to impose itself on the weakening older powers of previous history.

THE ROLE OF CHINA

As for the USA, a recent report by one authoritative forecasting body, the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, China will be equal in economic size to the USA by the year 2035. But a mere 15 more years after that, it will be double the size of the USA in dollar terms, not in PPP. China's growth no longer depends on exports and is now substantially driven by internal demand, the report, written by Albert Keidel, and not available on an internet link, indicates. The world's balance of power will be strongly affected, and Russia will feel particularly vulnerable.

Russia and the USA longterm have far more in common in needing to contain China's expanding military capabilities, than either of them need complicated entanglements in Europe. The games being played by Putin are very short term in significance and are a distraction, designed to show that Russia can again flex its muscles, which will be taken note of in other parts of the world.

The USA should not get drawn into a war with Putin, but learn the lesson finally, and accept that Europe is congenitally incapable of defending itself, and acting coherently, and that it is not worth expending American treasure and blood defending a continent that will not defend itself.

Once the dust settles, and the bodies are buried, it is far more likely that the USA and Russia will be the most significant alliance looking into the future. The sooner Putin's short-term games are complete in Europe, and the EU is finally humiliated as it is bound to be, the USA and Russia should start exploring ways to cooperate in the Middle East and Asia. Fighting over the past is a waste of time, and putting oil as the only strategic objective is also to miss the point. Getting ready to meet the future, and the surge in China's power and influence is not.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Ukraine Knows That It Will Be Next


CLICK ON MAP
An article in The Telegraph outlines the ways that pro- and anti-Russian ethnic tensions within the Ukraine are building. The Ukrainian President issued a decree restricting the movement of the Russian fleet during the Georgian crisis, and this could also be taken as a provocation by Putin. The Ukraine, in any event must know that it has to be next on his list.

From the Telegraph's article -

Miss Timoshenko has also been critical of a presidential decree restricting the movements of Russia's Ukraine-based Black Sea fleet in its waters.

"This unilateralism on both sides causes problems," said Mr Nemyria. "The president took unilateral action in his announcement. There must be a mechanism to cover this issue but if it's not workable and not enforceable, it could act as a pretext for the other side."

Russia's intimate relationship with Ukraine stretches beyond the origins of its empire. The two nations share an ethnic Slavic make-up and the Orthodox religion. Ukraine has successfully steered west since 2004 while Russia under Vladimir Putin has become steadily more autocratic, both at home and abroad.

With at least 17 per cent of Ukrainians claiming Russian nationality on census forms, a ready constituency for Moscow lives in Ukraine. If inter-ethnic frictions build, Russia would have a reason to intervene as it did in Georgian.

So far Ukraine has avoided ethnic clashes. Mr Nemyria, a native Russian-speaker, claims that the handling of communal tensions is one of the great achievements of its independence.

However, there are signs that distrust is mounting. Ukrainians increasingly insist on speaking the national language, a development that has left many Russians excluded from both national affairs and small-scale social events.

At a riverside disco in Kiev, Tatania Lytvyn, a 32-year-old IT consultant, visiting from the Russophone city of Donetsk, partied inconspicuously yesterday in a showcase venue for Kiev's newly prosperous elite. But during a prize giving announcement in Ukrainian, she was suddenly dismayed.

"It's become really hard for us. Everything is pressure to use Ukrainian and people get really mad if we don't," she said. "But who cares about Ukrainian? Who learns that language?

"Russian is known all over the word. It's disgusting but what can we do."


To read the whole article describing the growing political and ethnic tensions inside the Ukraine, which Putin will be trying to find a way to exploit, see HERE.

And for the method that Putin is using to prepare for his intervention in The Crimea, that is, the mass issuing of Russian Passports, see All Eyes On The Black Sea.

President Yushchenko appeals to NATO to come to Ukraine's help urgently - article in British Times HERE

All Eyes On The Black Sea


The brutality of the Russian occupation of Georgia is quite shocking. The Russians in and around Gori are murdering people(Chechens and Cossacks), burning houses, destroying property and raping women and girls, as reported on the BBC, but not much emphasised. The reporting focuses on the higher level negotiations with the Russians about when they will carry out their promise to withdraw from the Georgian territory they have occupied.

The assumption seems to be that the Russians will carry out their promises, but Russian actions in general don't seem to match many of their words. What if withdrawal is not in Putin's mind, and the next step is not withdrawal but an advance into further territory.

The Russian Black Sea fleet is currently positioned on the coast of Georgia, and could easily return to base carrying troops from there to be used in the occupation of territory of The Crimea, for example, forming a bridgehead for a more general advance into the Ukraine. Of all the possible objectives available to Putin, the Port of Sebastopol, where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based until 2017, has to be high on his shopping list.

Putin will need to fabricate his usual sickening excuse for going in to 'protect Russian citizens', so some kind of incident would be manufactured or orchestrated first. It would seem almost impossible that Putin will bring his army back to base now, when he will be salivating over whether he can get away with any more military gains.

The only question will be, as Putin makes his advances, whether the West will make a military response. If they only carry out diplomatic efforts to contain Putin, he will get Medvedev to agree with Sarkozy or whoever, and then completely ignore them both, acting as if in a diplomatic vacuum. (One might be tempted to draw poignant historical parallels)

By coincidence there is also a NATO fleet operating in the Black Sea near to the Crimea off the coast of Bulgaria and Romania, carrying out a long planned exercise. See IHT report HERE.

EXTRACT -

NATO warships entered the Black Sea on Thursday for what the alliance said were long-planned exercises and routine visits to ports in Romania and Bulgaria.

'The move is not linked to the tensions over Russia's invasion of Georgia, which lies on the eastern shore of the Black Sea, about 900 kilometers (550 miles) from the Romanian coast,' said officials at NATO's military command in southern Belgium.

Three warships — from Spain, Germany and Poland — sailed into the Black Sea on Thursday. They are due to be joined by a U.S. frigate, the USS Taylor, later this week.

They are "conducting a pre-planned routine visit to the Black Sea region to interact and exercise with our NATO partners Romania and Bulgaria, which is an important feature of our routine planning," said Vice-Adm. Pim Bedet, deputy commander at allied maritime headquarters in Northwood, England.

However, the move risks increasing tensions with Russia which has deployed ships from its Black Sea fleet to the Georgian coast.

The NATO flotilla includes Spain's SPS Adm. Juan de Bourbon, Germany's FGS Luebeck and the Polish ship ORP General K Pulaski. Romanian and Bulgarian ships will join them for exercises during a three-week deployment.


If Putin's next moves are on The Crimea, they could be inconvenienced by this little fleet. It could create a nasty stand-off or trigger a major incident. If that happened I imagine Putin will be far better prepared than NATO's forces, having devastating firepower at his disposal (as in the picture above). But if NATO backs down a second time, Putin will only be encouraged to make further moves. Somehow I don't think he's bright enough to quit the military game while he's ahead.

Is this how Putin will carry out his intervention in the Crimea? From the IHT -

Ukrainian lawmakers are investigating reports that Russia has been granting passports en masse to ethnic Russians living in Crimea, a tactic Moscow used in the Georgian breakaway republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia to justify intervention to protect its citizens.
Full article here HERE.

CLICK ON MAP.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Piffle To Putin


The polls are giving the Conservatives ever larger majorities, the latest from Yougov showing 48% to Labour's 24%.

What do people backing Conservatives want or expect? An end to the agony that is Labour, probably. A revival in the economy, doubtless.

But if government spending is entrenched, protected by Labour Laws, Union activism, and regulations lined up row upon row to stop any government from making any decisions, there will be little Cameron will be able to do, even if he has a 400 seat majority.

Britain is half dead now. It would take 100 Margaret Thatchers to bring her back to life - not a me-too Blair ever mindful of treading a delicate politically correct line in the media. Someone has to stop pretending all is fine in the woodshed first if they are do anything about it.

With Russian tanks threatening to run a trail westwards, the world could soon be shocked out of its complacency. Or maybe the credit crunch will bite so hard that people get the message. Britain needs some real leadership again.

Gordon Brown is beyond doubt completely unequal to the task of leadership in this time of crisis. It is quite awful for Britain that we have to endure his weakness any longer. He only encourages our enemies to greater acts of defiance, the more they see they can get away with it with impunity.

Britain will need to dig deep to survive - whether it be from the clutches of the EU's bureaucracy, or from Russian nuclear terrorism. Majorities will make little difference once people are genuinely fearful, and evil acts colour their minds. Only leadership will count.

People might say of Cameron, 'cometh the hour, cometh the man'. But in all honesty I see him as already out of era, as part of the weakness that is allowing the march of evil to advance further and move faster. He should be crying out about defence spending withering while wars are being fought, and about Brown recruiting hundreds of 'diversity' officers to staff his client state, and suppress the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit of the British people.

Boris Johnson is a voice, challenging the Conservative Party's current orthodoxy, yesterday claiming that the 'broken society' is 'piffle' in his Telegraph column. Only under a leader who speaks it like it is, such as Boris, will Britain achieve a worthy future, where words like 'piffle' stand tall above the carefully constructed phrases of political correctness, such as - diversity - unfair dismissal - health and safety - occupational health - sexual or racial equality - phrases which are granted total power over all situations, which transfer no real meaning, only fear of unreasonable legal consequences.

They could all be handled just perfectly with one swipe of Johnson's pen. 'Piffle' could apply equally to the wretched lot of them, for all the good they do. But without clear leadership, and with legions of slimy bureaucrats and lawyers buried in the woodwork wreaking their effects, all these entrenched programmes will continue to hold people down, and stop them taking responsibility for themselves, let alone their being counterproductive to the interests of those people the programmes claim to serve.

Boris Johnson is the only voice in politics that speaks with freedom of the soul. It is only if people remember that their souls can be free that they will be able to fight back against the stultifying effects of the bureaucratic night that has descended. Johnson in his style of writing, gives us back what we once had and refuses to bow down to the noxious constructions of government and EU lawyers. He tells you what he sees.

Only in such a spirit will we be able us to survive and rebuild our economy and our country. As servants to political correctness, being made slaves to the thoughts of others who are powerful over us, our country's wealth-creating vigour and our peoples' willingness to fight for their survival will die. 'Piffle' is the ideal single word to tell you that Johnson doesn't buy into the orthodoxy, and that his mind is slave to no one.

That refusal is the basis of real leadership.

The Mail asks if he will be a future Prime Minister HERE

PICTURE - Boris Johnson eyeing the proposed London slavery memorial. 18th August 2008.

and lower - on his way, economy class, to receive the Olympic torch in Beijing in front of billions, upstaging Gordon Brown.

MUST READ - 'Who do you think you are, Boris Johnson?' by Rentoul in the Independent HERE

AND ANDREW GILIGAN'S MORE NUANCED CRITIQUE FROM THE EVENING STANDARD HERE

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Back With Medical Types Again

Today was spent in medical consultations. Some encouraging. Some less so. And all hellishly expensive. Blogging is coming lower in list of priorities currently.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Will Russians Advance On The Crimea Next?


The response from the West to Putin's occupation of Georgian territory is to engage in ineffective diplomacy. Medvedev agreed to withdraw Russia's forces, but they are still in Georgia with no military force capable of rejecting them in sight. Russian forces took particular trouble to take Poti the main Georgian sea port on the Black Sea, which they still hold.

The Western media is convinced that somehow their cameras and interviewers and news-readers are going to persuade Vladimir Putin to stop his advance into the territory of other countries, and that the supranational game, at some moment yet to be arrived at, will embroil the Russians, and bring them to the negotiating table.

But there is another possibility. Putin's main effort and concerns have to be directed where he can see the most strategic advantage. The Americans are completely bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the EU-obsessed Europeans are congenitally incapable of coherent action of any kind at all. Putin in weighing up the situation, must see that he can achieve a lot more territory yet for what will probably be very cheap moves militarily.

The West believes that Putin will pay a price politically for being involved in brutal warfare, but as Chechnya showed, such is his speciality. The Russian people understand that warfare has to be brutal, while those in Western Europe imagine that war can still be done nicely, once all the war criminals are captured and put on trial at The Hague. The political equation for Putin could well be the opposite to that imagined by Western politicians trying to portray him as a 'brute'. For Russians, recapturing lost territory and prestige might prove to be immensely popular.

Putin, in these circumstances, is looking at the military and political equivalent of an open goal. It will surely be too much to resist.

Taking a map would indicate to anyone that the key strategic point for Putin to try to get hold of next, in the near proximity to Georgia is The Crimea. The Crimea once Russian, became part of the Ukraine in 1954. This was no real problem for Russia until the Orange Revolution took place in 2004 and Russians who owned many prized pieces of land there have since been worried about political expropriation. In strategic terms that is as nothing compared to the potential loss of the Port Of Sevastopol, the base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet, under an agreement which ends in 2017. If the Ukraine become part of NATO, the loss of Sebastopol would become inevitable.

If Putin were to wait until the Ukraine became part of NATO, he would face military consequences if he seized Sebastopol, with NATO countries committed to fighting him. But as the Ukraine is only talking to NATO at this stage with nothing definite arranged, Putin could seize Sebastopol and make it effectively Russian territory once more, and probably face only token Ukrainian resistance.

The Ukraine depends totally on Russia for its energy needs, and Putin has already demonstrated that he is willing to cut off the gas. Within The Crimea the pro-Russian party is still popular, and resistance locally might also be muted.

Putin could progress to The Crimea by land, which is not an easy route requiring passage through narrow gorges, but an approach by sea would also be possible from Russian Black Sea coastal ports. By seizing Poti, and destroying the Georgian navy, potential resistance from that quarter has already been neutralised.

Whether Putin does keep his army marching west or not is unknowable, but the thought must be in his mind. If he has any strategic notion, it will be The Crimea that is in his mind's eye and the potential future loss of the Port Of Sebastopol that would motivate him to take further risks. He could tidy up Georgia's oil pipeline later.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Was Mladic's Father Murdered At Srebrenica?


Given all the efforts being made by the EU to force the Serbs to hand over war criminals such as Karadzic and Mladic, the world could be forgiven for imagining that the Serbs were the only side to commit war crimes in the Balkans. What is being overlooked, however is the other side of the story. There were equally barbaric acts committed by Albanians, Croats and others, but these for some reason have been going unpunished at the Hague Tribunals, with witnesses intimidated or mysteriously dying or disappearing.

There can be no justification for the kinds of acts that were carried out at Srebrenica in the Balkan Wars by Mladic, where thousands of Moslem men and boys were rounded up by The Serbs and machine gunned to death in the football stadium. As far as the world's media were concerned, these acts were committed by Serbs as if they had come from nowhere.

But if you try to understand why a man like Mladic could find committing such acts to be justifiable to his own conscience, you could ask a little more about his background and life's experiences. It turns out that in WW2 his father fought as a partisan and, when he was captured, that he was tortured and murdered by the Ustase.

The NAZI-supporting Croatians murdered millions of Serbs, gypsies and Jews during the war, and yet unlike the Serbs who are being hunted and condemned as criminals for relatively lesser acts of imitation, the Croatians and Albanian murderers have been allowed to live and work unchallenged, many treated to this day as national heroes.

Take Franceticu (pictured) who commanded The Black Legion. There has been a memorial plinth saluting him as a hero on public display in Croatia up to the present day, and yet he was responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Serbs. The Black Legion operated out of Srebrenica in Bosnia. Is it possible that Mladic knew that his father was murdered there, and he saw his actions in Srebrenica as justified revenge for the loss of his own father?



UPDATE - background to the hunt for Mladic HERE. His father was from Bosnia and was murdered by Croatian Nazis when he was 2 years old.

And also, why did General Morillon foresee the Srebrenica Massacre? Find out HERE. It appears that there really are two sides to the story.  Had Srebrenica been ordered up and produced as the propaganda requirement of the Clinton administration, which needed a massive media horror story to justify the intervention that the OWG had already decided upon?  Morillon knew that the event was being orchestrated to order.

EXTRACT - But why did Morillon suspect that “something terrible could happen” in Srebrenica? What happened in Srebrenica before its fall in 1995 that would lead him to this conclusion? This part of the Srebrenica story is suppressed and stringently censored by the US government and media and the historians and the news services. This is the story that is covered-up by the so-called West. What happened in Srebrenica in 1992 and 1993? This is the untold story of Srebrenica.

Why was Morillon concerned for Srebrenica? What happened to warrant his fears and concerns? In the BBC article “UN General ‘foresaw Srebrenica’”, February 12, 2004, it was reported:

He told the tribunal that he feared that attacks by Muslim forces in which Serbian civilians had been targeted, had enraged the Bosnian Serbs and would result in fierce retaliation in the city.



He feared or he knew what was afoot?


Srebrenica Revisited 2011


http://the-tap.blogspot.com/2011/05/srebrenica-revisited-clinton-demanded.html

ECB Manfully Fights Inflation


The European Central Bank must be trying to break the record. The eurozone is plunging into a recession of unknown duration and depth, and yet the ECB has just raised interest rates. It says that it will not be cutting them until inflation is under control. In fact, says the FT journalist talking in this interview, the ECB are quite pleased to see a recession as it will help to crush euro-inflation.

This is extraordinary. While growth roared and credit expanded, and inflation across the eurozone has been at least double the official rate (ask anyone who lives there or holidays there) interest rates were kept low at around 2-3%. Now the eurozone has crashed into a long expected recession and credit crunch threatening the survival of banks and businesses alike, the ECB has raised interest rates, and says it will be keeping them higher.

I've heard of the phrase 'countercyclical investment'. This is the opposite. 'Cycle-reinforcing' economic management. No wonder the dollar is surging where the government has cut interest rates as far as it dared to help the ailing US banking system to survive, and where people are buying the bargain-basement deals on offer.

Once the story of the credit crunch gets to be told, it will primarily be a European narrative. And not only an economic one. The coming Eurocrash will bring the end of euro-optimism and eurobelief, and maybe the end of the euro too. Prices are tumbling in Europe across a range of assets - shares, property and (this month) commodities - but who will be aggressively buying to bring the downwave to an end? Not many with interest rates at 4%, I'm afraid.

If I was Irish and had just seen my NO vote against Lisbon being ignored by the EU, and was now being expected to face high interest rates during a recession after low interest rates during a boom, I would be seriously thinking of getting out of the EU and re-establishing national common sense economic management...not just quitting the euro, but the EU.

The same could be said for Italy, Spain , Greece and others that desperately need lower interest rates to stop a crash from dragging them yet further down the plughole.

In the UK, the problem as John Redwood so capably points out in his blog John Redwood's Diary is that government spending is out of control. The government should be cutting interest rates here too, but cannot as its borrowing is ballooning into the stratosphere with no sign of it stopping. The downturn will be far nastier as a result.

Please listen to a Gordon Brown speech from the 1990s promising 'no more Tory boom and bust' - and then cry for the idiots who believed him and voted for him no less than three times. See here No More Boom And Bust - An Epitaph For Gordon Brown. He's like an ocean liner locked on an unstoppable course with engine on maximum revs while the iceberg approaches.

He began as Stalin, then became Mr Bean. Now along with his euro-buddies, he has undoubtedly become The Titanic.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Kosovo Folly Freed Russia's Hands


There are few political voices left in Europe that tell it like it is. There are still one or two though, who seem to have some overall vision of events, and are not fixated solely with accruing status and influence inside the corrupt world of EU bureaucracy. One of those voices which speaks pure common sense and shows no fear of the hideous mess that the EU is making of Europe's future, is Vaclav Klaus, President of the Czech Republic.

He can see that the recognising of Kosovan independence by the West, which was declared in February this year, was a colossal mistake which has done more to destabilise the world than any other individual political act since WW2. It enabled Vladimir Putin to tear up the rulebook as to the sovereign power of nations, and invade Georgia and maybe others still to come.

The EU detests national sovereignty and insists on reducing it and belittling it to its own advantage, whenever it can. If the dangers and inappropriateness of ending the free existence of democratic sovereign nation-states had not for some reason been realised before, there can little doubt of them now. Vaclav Klaus as so often before is not afraid of telling the clear truth as he sees it.

This report comes from Associated Press -

PRAGUE, Czech Republic-Czech President Vaclav Klaus says the world's recognition of Kosovo's independence freed Russia's hands in the conflict with Georgia.

Klaus says when many Western powers decided to recognize Kosovo's break from Serbia in February, it "gave Russia a strong justification for its actions (in Georgia)" after fighting broke out last week over the separatist region of South Ossetia.

Klaus also said Friday he was worried that the precedent of Kosovo will have long-term consequences in other parts of the world with separatist-minded regions.

He also rejected the idea that the Georgia-Russia conflict is a strong argument for the installation of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic as part of a missile defense system.


If there is one political leader in Europe who dares to speak up for the truth and for ending the dangerous drift towards war, then maybe there will be another. David Cameron is to visit Georgia this week. Will he be uttering EU-friendly platitudes, or will he too see that the security of nation-states is the basis of the international system, in the same way that he sees families as being the individual units of society?

The EU, by destroying our nations, is destroying our security. The drift into chaos needs to be stopped. Who will provide the new Churchillian voice that gathers the human spirit together to rebuild a peaceful and functioning international world order? The tinkering with our countries by bureaucrats that understand nothing but the advancement of their own careers has gone on too long. They are dragging us closer to war by not having any clear notion as to what must be done.



Maybe Klaus will inspire a new leader to come to the fore. There is a sore need for one to emerge and stop the drift. If Cameron doesn't start shouting loud for the preservation of the democratic and sovereign nation states of Europe, maybe another Conservative leader can use his position of influence to join the debate, Boris Johson, Mayor of London. If the Mayor of London does not have the right to speak for the preservation of nations, then who does?

More recent news on Vaclav Klaus stopping EU regulatory nonsense in his own country using the Presidential veto.HERE

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wake Up Economist! The EU Is Pathetic.


The poor old Economist magazine doesn't know its arse from its elbow when it comes to
trying to form a coherent opinion about the EU. Normally it is blissfully content puffing up the arrogant nonsense emanating from its buddies in Brussels, advocating Eastern expansion of EU influence at every turn. But when that same eastwards drift finally gets a bit of traditional Russian 'treatment', demonstrating the EU's appalling strategic weakness, including its lack of military power, the Economist is at a loss.

The mistake made by the EU, George Bush and NATO has been to stroll eastwards, ignoring Russian sensibilities at every turn, inviting Putin's anger and setting him up with the opportunity to strike back and humiliate the West.

The Economist (quoted in Open Europe) argues that

"the hard truth, for Georgians and others, is that pleas for military backing from the West in any confrontation with Russia are unlikely to be heeded." It calls for the EU to drop negotiations on a partnership agreement with Russia, and for NATO to admit Georgia and Ukraine.

It's really incredible that a supposedly intelligent magazine for intellectuals, academics and others who enjoy thinking deeply about events, can be quite so blinking ridiculous. The reason the Russians have engaged in a military response in the Caucasus is precisely to halt the push of NATO, the EU and America into Russia's hinterland. If the EU were to send in enough forces to make the Russians withdraw, then they would be entitled to further stir up Russia's anger by advancing their political structures further east.

But adding further insult is only going to get more unprotected civilians killed by the Russians. If the Economist doesn't realise that, then they should close down their publication immediately, as they are propagating not merely nonsense but dangerous nonsense.

The EU cannot see that it itself is the underlying cause of the bloodshed in Georgia, by being so weak and unable to do anything to protect Georgia. Without being willing to fight, there is no choice but to make an agreeement with Russia at some point. Medvedev however, made a deal with Sarkozy, but Putin completely ignored it. It is hard to see how any deal with the Russians can be made to stick with Putin in control.

If the EU isn't willing to go to war, and it quite plainly is not, then it has to take on board that Putin is willing to do so, and will simply ignore negotiation that is not backed by threat.

The Times seem to have made the right connections. Also from Open Europe -

Gerard Baker argues in The Times, "we should never forget what Mr Sarkozy and his EU officials got up to this week. There can be no clearer indication of the perils that threaten the West if the EU gets its way and wins more clout in the world. This, remember, is the same EU that wants to take over foreign and security policy from member states, an institution that is always eager to pump itself up at the expense of democratic institutions in those member states, but which crumbles into puny submission when faced with authoritarian bullying overseas."

No wonder more and more people turn to blogs for their information and opinions, when publications like The Economist which should be offering sound strategic advice are clearly riddled with the same corruption of the mind that seems to beset our government in London as well the part of it that resides in Brussels. The Times as part of the Murdoch stable, used to be hawkish as to further expansion eastwards by NATO and the EU, but seems to have, at last,learned some common sense.

Britain and other countries must get out of the EU. It is downright dangerous drifting in ignorance, like The Titanic, towards World War 3.

Blogging Takes Back Seat

Not much writing this week as I'm selling various properties and renting out another which makes me very busy just for once. Luckily after so much medical help these last two years, my nervous system seems able to take a bit of stress, and I have to say I really enjoy being busy once again after living a half life as a blogger for just over two years. I stopped real work with heart troubles on February 9th 2005, aged 50.

I find the real estate market in the rural areas is still pretty lively given that so much gloom and doom is preached, but prices in London have slid down a lot in a year, where I am renting and not selling.

The £ is falling quickly so I cannot buy as much foreign currency as I expected, and gold too is falling fast this month. My advisers tell me that the forward sellers have paused on gold for a while and that it should find a floor and shoot back up at some point.

With the recession biting in trading and manufacturing business, the next two years will decide for many people what they must do to survive into the future. My company is migrating to a worldwide internet based sales strategy.

I am moving a few assets overseas away from sterling into Asia where the economies have as lot of catching up to do, and there are many interesting business and investment opportunities.

With so much of my thinking going into clearing out houses and flats and seeing lawyers and accountants, blogging is taking a back seat. But I'm enjoying it!

Next week I hope to meet Richard North for the first time. We have spoken many times by phone, but it will be interesting to meet him face to face.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Eurozone Heads For The Buffers


The crazy fools who are determined to ram the Lisbon Treaty down the throats of Europe's citizenry, are all pumped up by Putin's little parade around Georgia last week. Here at last, they hope and believe, is the raison d'etre for European political unification - Vladimir Putin and his severe inferiority complex.

There are two problems about this curious notion however. One is that the EU has no armed forces, and is unlikely to acquire any soon. The paltry few it has negotiated from willing countries like Britain will not be enough in quantity to make any difference in any serious military confrontation. The other problem is that the misplaced idealism behind European integration is about to face its severest challenge - to date - not on the military but on the economic front.

The EU might be able to carry on pretending that it can provide security against Russian aggression, to Albanians, Ukrainians, Poles and Georgians but in reality it cannot and will not. But what will be impossible to conceal is the gradual dawning of reality about the hopeless state of the prime European project to date - the so-called single currency.

As always Ambrose Pritchard Evans, writing in The Telegraph understands the problems best. He describes the background, and he explains how the growing stresses will inevitably over time split the Euro asunder. Here are the juicy bits from his article -

Germany's economy shrank by 1pc in Q2 (2008). Italy shrank by 0.3pc. Spain is sliding into a crisis that looks all too like the early stages of Argentina's debacle in 2001. The head of the Spanish banking federation today pleaded with the European Central Bank for rescue measures to end the credit crisis.

The slow-burn damage of the over-valued euro is becoming apparent in every corner of the eurozone. The ECB misjudged the severity of the downturn, as executive board member Lorenzo Bini-Smaghi admitted today in the Italian press. By raising interest rates into the teeth of the storm last month, Frankfurt has made it that much more likely that parts of Europe's credit system will seize up as defaults snowball next year.

As readers know, I do not believe the eurozone is a fully workable currency union over the long run. There was a momentary "convergence" when the currencies were fixed in perpetuity, mostly in 1995. They have diverged ever since. The rift between North and South was not enough to fracture the system in the first post-EMU downturn, the dotcom bust. We have moved a long way since then. The Club Med bloc is now massively dependent on capital inflows from North Europe to plug their current account gaps: Spain (10pc), Portugal (10pc), Greece (14pc). UBS warned that these flows are no longer forthcoming.

The central banks of Asia, the Mid-East, and Russia have been parking a chunk of their $6 trillion reserves in European bonds on the assumption that the euro can serve as a twin pillar of the global monetary system alongside the dollar. But the euro is nothing like the dollar. It has no European government, tax, or social security system to back it up. Each member country is sovereign, each fiercely proud, answering to its own ancient rythms.

It lacks the mechanism of "fiscal transfers" to switch money to depressed regions. The Babel of languages keeps workers pinned down in their own country. The escape valve of labour mobility is half-blocked. We are about to find out whether EMU really has the levels of political solidarity of a nation, the kind that holds America's currency union together through storms.

My guess is that political protest will mark the next phase of this drama. Almost half a million people have lost their jobs in Spain alone over the last year. At some point, the feeling of national impotence in the face of monetary rule from Frankfurt will erupt into popular fury. The ECB will swallow its pride and opt for a weak euro policy, or face its own destruction.

What we are about to see is a race to the bottom by the world's major currencies as each tries to devalue against others in a beggar-thy-neighbour policy to shore up exports, or indeed simply because they have to cut rates frantically to stave off the consequences of debt-deleveraging and the risk of an outright Slump.


The sooner reality dawns on the continent of Europe, and people realise that the EU and its works are little short of group insanity, the earlier the continent can awake to the real threats it faces from around the globe. With the EU out of the way, it will again be possible for independent nations to act in unison as they did before when faced with threat - effectively.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sleep Apnea Cure Could Save Billions


I'm busy with things medical once more, this time with being treated for sleep apnea. I first remember being told I stopped breathing during sleep about 20 years ago, so it is not surprising that this condition has gradually got worse since then.

The cure is to wear a mask into which pressured air is fed which forces you to breathe when you stop, the amount of pressure being worked out by the machine to match the records it keeps every second of every night. The results are quite astounding, as people who don't breathe much during sleep become starved of oxygen and suffer the effects of hypoxia.

I've had my machine two weeks and although I still have a few teething problems with using it, it is amazing how much energy I feel after years of living on half power or less.

Apnea is thought to be a contributory factor in many other conditions, including stroke, and heart problems. As it can be cured so easily and so cheaply, it is extraordinary that the NHS places little emphasis on it. It would save the country billions, as the longterm debilitating illnesses it causes are expensive to treat.

For details of how serious sleep apnea is, see HERE. Maybe David Cameron might suggest to the NHS that they take a more serious view of this matter. A significant number of road crashes are caused by it, if it is left untreated.

EXTRACT FROM LINK -

The symptoms of sleep apnea can develop so gradually that a person may not realize they have become ill. When persons begin to benefit from treatment for sleep apnea, it is common for them to realize only then how poor they had been feeling for years beforehand.

DOCTORS

One quick way to decide if you might have sleep apnea is to check your oxygen body/tissue level. This is a very quick and easy test using a simple device which grips a finger. But most doctors will not carry out this simple test - LINK. Because if they do and you are low (I was 11% out of the normal 60% - i.e. nearly out completely and near to final collapse with heart rate clinging on at 35), then they will have to explain why your oxygen is low and that can take time, and increase costs, using up resources which they don't have. They prefer to wait until symptoms are serious and quicker to diagnose. But why wait?

Another patient in the same hospital I was in, had oxygen body tissue level of 58%, only down 2%, but was suffering serious health effects even at this level, which were wrecking his quality if life. You need 60% oxygen in your body tissue to be healthy. He did not have sleep apnea, but used oxygen breathing anyway, and found he could handle his condition if he took oxygen when he sensed an attack coming on.

Get the oxygen test done privately. The NHS in Britain will not help you.

If you are low, doctors will want to test you further to find out why you are low. This can take years. It might be best to just get an oxygen concentrator and breathe air with high density oxygen for at least two hours a day - at a low setting 1 litre if used during sleep (up to 5 hours) or up to 4 litres if awake, and see if you improve your condition. These cost a bit - maybe $3000 but could save your life, and greatly improve its quality if you are suffering poor health. Over a period of months your oxygen level will rise (if it's down) taking stress off your heart and giving your cells increased energy. I use a Devilbiss oxygen concentrator 5 litres capacity. That along with a CPAP gave me my life back.

If you have sleep apnea, you need a CPAP or other device, as well as oxygen, and can get a sleep specialist clinic to analyse what you need in that regard. But no one in the health provision business seems to bother with oxygen. I had visited a specialist after years of seeing doctors, who screened my nervous system and it was him who found the lack of oxygen and the sleep apnea. But his approach was explained to me as experimental and not orthodox medicine. It should be.

As 8% of the population suffers sleep apnea, mostly undetected, and there are many serious health and social consequences if it is not treated, this is the biggest gap in health provision in the world bar none.

You don't need to be old to suffer from it, or fat. One reason mine was not diagnosed as the profession believes sleep apnea affects size 17 necks and up in men. I was still quite slim, but had severe sleep apnea with one minute breathing stops every 5 minutes when on my back.

Doctors will skim over this. You cannot afford to.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Italians Consider Quitting The Euro.


Tim Hedges writing from Italy on his blog (also in Spectator Coffee House) tells us that Italians are considering 'temporarily' quitting the Euro. The Italian Euro, with serial numbers beginning with an 'S' is heavily weighed down by the Italian government's stratospheric levels of debt, and costs an extra .5% per annum to borrow compared to German Euros, which have serial numbers beginning with the letter 'X'. This interest rate gap is rising, creating a growing split of value.

Tim Hedges sums up Italy's predicament as follows -

Growth is the lowest in the eurozone. Italy’s debt costs €70bn a year in interest and despite being in the euro it has to pay more than half a percent above what the Germans pay. This spread is widening...

One suggestion has been for Italy to withdraw, perhaps temporarily, from the euro. It could allow the New Lira to decline against the euro (it would be hard to stop it), giving a boost to Italian business and devaluing the debt...

Proponents of the strategy point to the boost given to the UK economy by Britain’s exit from the exchange rate mechanism in 1992, with sterling’s accompanying 20% decline. The difference of course is that post-Thatcher Britain had deregulated and reformed its Labour market. A boost to business via a more competitive exchange rate went straight to employment and growth.

Should Italy leave the euro? Only with a series of strict reforms to make sure it wasn’t just another devaluation. Will it?

Berlusconi is the only person who could take such a step and, in the face of a worldwide downturn, he just might.


The recessionary tide drifting across the continent of Europe is only just beginning if forecasts are correct. With banks unwilling to lend to their customers or each other, the economies of Europe will be hitting periods of lower growth not experienced for decades. The coming months or possibly years will put the Euro through strains that it will probably be unable to survive. Italy, according to Tim, might crack first.