POLITICS CORNER

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 09 Jan 2018, 13:36

Later.... I'm listening to apologists for Toby Young and wondering how any can possibly defend the indefensible. (LINK) It's argued that he's being judged by social media but that is not so. He's being judged on abhorrent views he has made public. How did he ever get though any serious selection process?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 10 Jan 2018, 06:58

Two things excited my political antenna this morning. The most important I think is the current strategy of Kim Jong-Un the Supreme Leader of North Korea. He may be smarter than we think! He is courting South Korea again, not only in terms of participating in the imminent Winter Olympic Games but in general discussions on matters of mutual interest, the first for two years. South Korea has no choice, anything that lessens the tension between the two halves of the country has to be explored. If it isn't there would be a political backlash at home. Problem is of course is that this will be anathema to President Trump. This initiative looks suspiciously like a cunning wheeze to drive a wedge between the US and S Korea.
The other matter is the crashing in flames of Steve Bannon's career at Breitbart after the White House contacted the investors and told them they had to choose between the President and Bannon. A no-brainer as it turned out. Important to recognise I think that this is nothing to do with truth or facts, it is a straight power struggle which Trump has won. However I have no doubt that he will portray it as some sort of proof that the criticism of him in the book is false. In no way does it make me feel any more confident in the Presidency or the course of the US.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 10 Jan 2018, 12:44

Everybody knows that Trump is an ideal target for taunting - he must have been badly taunted at school and what we see now is probably a reflection of that. Putin and Kim Jong Un know they can easily prompt a response from him and draw him into making stupid statements, claims and accusations. And now Trump wants America to change its policy on nuclear weapons and develop smaller ones that can be more readily used. We all know what he's thinking - "They're not letting me near the big button, but I've got this little button that I can keep next to the remote control I use to watch Fox News".

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 10 Jan 2018, 13:11

Back in the 1985 ish days Russia was spending nearly 40% if its national budget on the military and arms research. All this was in attempt to keep up with the Americans in the cold war arms race. Finally the Russians saw the light that they already had enough rockets and Atomic bombs to kill everybody on Earth 1000 times over. I think the Americans are getting a bit concerned about Russia's apparent success in the Easter conflicts and want to draw them into another expensive arms race which apparently they think they can win. It goes without saying that it will be a nice little earner for the billionaire sponsored lobby groups that got Trump into the White House in the first place.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 11 Jan 2018, 04:19

They should all read the last chapter of Vanished Kingdoms, how nations and dynasties hollow out at the core and collapse when they focus entirely on power and self interest and forget the heart of the nation.
I can't adequately express how angry I was listening to Theresa May in PMQs yesterday stonewalling on the NHS..... They have certainly forgotten the heart of the nation.
Later..... News that I am not alone. The NHS providers, ambulance and A&E, have written an open letter to the MOH saying that enough is enough, if funding isn't increased before November, the founding policies of the NHS must be changed because they cannot be satisfied. Our free NHS is in more danger than ever before.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 11 Jan 2018, 10:47

Many of those people who would like to see private health insurance taking over from NHS would get a shock when they found out how much more expensive it's going to become, partly due to the rapidly increasing demand pressure and also because the private services will find they can no longer rely on using NHS equipment and staff.

Plaques, I think the US has finally grasped how the world is changing with regard to weapons. You'll remember I posted a while back about how small nation states are equipping themselves with submarines and with missiles that can sink aircraft carriers hundreds of miles away out at sea. Small, tactical nuclear weapons are taking over too.

The journalist Misha Glenny is warning us of another threat to world order - the growth of organised crime which he described in his 2008 book McMafia and is now a BBC TV drama series. He points to the merging of overt crime with covert crime and gives Enron as an example of large scale crime camouflaged as a corporate commercial firm.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 11 Jan 2018, 13:17

Tizer. Tactical nuclear weapons have been with us in one form or another since the mid 1950s. Initially went under the heading 'Nuclear Artillery' Link. . No doubt the capability of these things is probably 10 ahead of anything that appears in print. The last thing we need is any more of them. We are very good at banning single use plastic bags which unless you put one over your head is reasonably safe to have about. On the other hand we are now well on the way to banning UNNECESSARY plastic use that is if you can wait 25 years and define what unnecessary means. Somehow we have got the priorities between more nuclear weapons and plastic cups the wrong way round.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 12 Jan 2018, 05:05

One thing is certain, the parties involved will please themselves whether or not they build more or different nuclear weapons. One big incentive to go forward is that it pumps money into manufacturing and is good for Party Funding.... What chance does Joe Public have short of a general election?
Latest splurge of 'action' by May, ie. announcing a string of aspirations that effectively kicks the can 25 years down the road, is the latest Tory obsession with capturing the 'Youf' vote.
PE this week savages Gove and his proposals on farm payments. Downing Street and the Treasury stick to their line on the NHS even with the latest evidence.
I'm going to go and bury my head in the shed......
Oh, look at Trumps latest gaff, he says he would rather see immigrants from Norway than Africa.....Draw your own conclusions about his racism quotient.
Later, after learning about the 'shit hole' comment which hasn't been denied..... What is this man on??? Disgraceful....
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Pluggy » 12 Jan 2018, 08:23

Nobody pick up on Trump making noises about rejoining the Paris agreement ?. I suspect it isn't to do with Trump or the religious right finding their collective brain cell. UK politics, sh*theap that it is, is pure as the driven snow compared with US politics.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 12 Jan 2018, 11:06

I saw the Paris Agreement news but noted his wording: `The US could "conceivably" return to the 2015 Paris climate accord if an agreement treated America more fairly'. This was further down the BBC page and interested me more:

"In a separate development on Wednesday, New York City announced plans to sell off $5bn (£3.7bn) in fossil fuel investments from its $189bn public pension funds over the next five years. The city authorities also filed a multibillion dollar lawsuit against five major oil companies, seeking damages for "contributions to global warming". New York City said the lawsuit against BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell would help fund protection against climate change. The lawsuit follows similar recent moves by a number of cities in California."

While Baby Brain Trump has tantrums and throws his toys out of the pram the rest of America soldiers on. As well as the NY news there's all the extreme weather in California and the residents there know that climate change is making these events, and drought, more frequent and more intense.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 13 Jan 2018, 03:55

You're right Tiz. And so is Pluggy. I have perfectly sane friends in the US who have exactly the same opinion on Trump and his politics as we have. It's the Invasion of the Zombies that put him in and still supports him.
See THIS for a report on the Trump obscene comments. Disgraceful and he is attracting world-wide criticism. However, reports this morning from the US seem to indicate that he is enjoying being the centre of attention.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 13 Jan 2018, 10:28

It was good to hear Vince Cable on the Today programme this morning criticising the government for continuing to hand contracts to the construction firm Carillion even though it was falling into serious debt and also saying the firm shouldn't be bailed out with taxpayers' money. It subcontracts all the work to smaller firms and Cable was pointing out that it shouldn't need Carillion to get the job done. He was warning about Carillion back in November 2017: LINK

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 14 Jan 2018, 03:36

Vince was quite right, I heard him on Today. He's also right about it being a dreadful warning about the dangers of PFI. God knows it is time this con trick was ended and it's a very expensive way of getting public works done. Same applies to outsourcing in the NHS, Education and Defence as well. Remember Nye's 'Commanding Heights'!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 14 Jan 2018, 09:47

Panic in Hawaii, the Island's Government sent out smart phone text message to say that there is an impending missile strike heading towards the Island. It turned out it was all a mistake. Someone had pressed the wrong button. Human error, well that's alright then? its only a button. The reports then go on to say that the satellites would have tracked it and then launched intercepting missiles, all of which is reminiscent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or Star wars. It then carries on to say that the satellites would then back triangulate to identify the launch point and then with yours truly President Trump could then press his button, which is bigger than anyone else's, and its goodbye to everyone. Is this all black propaganda that was set up to frighten North Korea. Knowing Trump's belligerent posturing it could well be.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 15 Jan 2018, 04:34

Interesting theory P and God knows we have seen even more improbable actions than that!
Henry Bolton, Leader of UKIP says he will not resign after his partner/girl friend tweeted sickening racist comments about the new royal fiancée.... Later, Bolton announces he is ditching the fiancée Joe Marney....
Trump tells reporters he is the least racist man they will ever meet..... So that's all right then.....
Carrillion has just announced that it is now in liquidation. Now we need to take a very close look and learn the lessons. A straight bail out by government is not on the cards as it can't be seen to be underwriting all its contractors. However, this is going to cost the taxpayer money in the short term. I want to see the lessons applied to all PFI contracts.....
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 15 Jan 2018, 10:04

The Daily Mail quotes Bolton's girlfriend as saying: "I'd like to say I'm absolutely devastated by the messages that I've sent and the distress that I've caused anyone by those messages. They were unnecessary, they were reckless, they were overly exaggerated purely for effect. They were never intended to be put in the public domain....".

Oh, so it's OK to say such terrible things about someone else as long as `they were never intended to be put in the public domain'? And does she really expect us to believe that she's `absolutely devastated' by the messages she sent? She'd probably get along well with Trump.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As well as Carillion in trouble we've now got GKN likely to be split up and `streamlined'. It's got a fascinating history - take a look at this web page and scroll down to read the history... GKN If nothing else, read the bit 1852 when Chairman Sir John Guest died and his wife, a mother of 10 children, took over the company. She even learnt to speak welsh so she could communicate with the workers.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 16 Jan 2018, 05:00

That reminds me of our own Elizabeth Bracewell. Never underestimate a determined woman!
The list of famous company names taken over and extinguished by Carillion demonstrates clearly what can happen when the ethos, the driving force, of a company is ripped out and replaced by bean-counters manipulating money. Bit like Norman Davies' theory about the dissolution of kingdoms and nations when there is a vacuum at the heart of them. Doesn't augur well for this government and the UK! Concrete Bob (Macalpine) must be spinning in his grave.
Incidentally I don't believe assurances from Liddington that the taxpayer won't pay. Anyone who takes over these contracts has the government over a barrel. It's going to be expensive and corners will be cut. Then there is the knock-on effect on small struggling contractors who will lose their cash flow. Estimates of 20,000 job losses are flying about. Not necessarily an exaggeration.
A secondary question is where were the auditors in all this?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 16 Jan 2018, 08:54

By going into administration Carillion have given the administrators one big headache. If they have been subcontracting work out to a multitude of other firms which in turn may have other contractors, ad infinitum. Then there is the terms of the contract eg: (Most contracts have "assignment" clauses, which means that if the company changes owners, the contract will apply to the new owner. Without such a clause, the company might be able to get out of the contract. Some contracts contain anti-assignment provisions that prohibit the contract from being assigned to a new party.). If there has been long term contracst the future profit may have already been absorbed in the 'assets' or strung out to be taken later. Finally someone has to put a value on the work in progress and the capital equipment. All this points to the fact that these are very large complex firms which may have reached the point where they are too complex to run.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by PanBiker » 16 Jan 2018, 09:23

It's a classic case of eggs in one basket. In my view all capital infrastructure projects which would cover road, rail, power, hospitals and schools should be run by publicly owned companies and not solely for profit. If there was any justice in this world this government should fall. They sanctioned many of the projects knowing that the company was going to fail it's a bloody disgrace.
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tizer » 16 Jan 2018, 12:35

Well, three good posts there! And I can pick a comment out of each that I would underline...
Stanley wrote:
16 Jan 2018, 05:00
A secondary question is where were the auditors in all this?
That's one of the first things that struck me too. Why do the auditors always manage to wriggle out of the trouble?
plaques wrote:
16 Jan 2018, 08:54
If there have been long term contracts the future profit may have already been absorbed in the 'assets' or strung out to be taken later.
I understand that this indeed is the case.
PanBiker wrote:
16 Jan 2018, 09:23
It's a classic case of eggs in one basket.
Too right! Not only in terms of the government putting so many of its contracts to Carillion, but also the simple fact of having companies that are too big being responsible for so much of `running Britain'. Why do Brits put up with it? I do hope that Labour will sort out its internal troubles and get on with the proper job of being the Opposition, otherwise I can see Britain facing the Trump/Mussolini/Hitler option. It might sound far-fetched, but look at America.
------------------------------------------------------------------

Later in the day...
`Carillion: Not alone in hitting problems'
"Lightning seems to strike the same place remarkably often in Britain's construction and support services sectors. For some, Carillion's demise will seem like a bolt from the blue. But look back 20 years and you find a surprising number of companies which struck similar problems, although not always with fatal consequences. Amey, Jarvis, Connaught, Rok, G4S, Balfour Beatty, Serco, Mitie - and many others - have had to own up to accounts that were, to use a euphemism, optimistic. Most lived to fight another day. Carillion did not. Talk to executives in the industry and they easily find the common thread. Companies that are built up quickly through acquisitions - as Carillion was from the combination of parts of Tarmac, Wimpey, Mowlem and Alfred McAlpine - have an extra struggle first to understand then to integrate their disparate activities. Industry experts spoken to by the BBC also think that Carillion overpaid for its acquisitions, leaving it with less financial fat to fall back on when the going got tough...." LINK

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Tripps » 16 Jan 2018, 19:24

I just remembered that Lord Andrew Adonis who resigned at the end of the year on a highly principled stand against the Government's handling of Brexit, had been "Infrastructure Tsar", since April last year. That's to do with the kind of stuff Carillion do isn't it? Did he know the company's end was coming, and didn't fancy the interviews, or, if he didn't know - why not?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 16 Jan 2018, 22:13

Right on cue, Boris starts a diversion with a £350M+ statement on NHS funding. Link.. Just when the government is coming under attack for the Carillion cock up another dead cat gets thrown on the table. The Tories used to pride themselves on their business credentials but are now being exposed as totally incompetent of looking after tax payers money. No wonder Boris is prepared to act the buffoon if it takes people minds away from the real issues.

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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 17 Jan 2018, 03:37

"The Tories used to pride themselves on their business credentials but are now being exposed as totally incompetent of looking after tax payers money."

I think we've seen through that one! BTW, Boris says that the £350million should have been £430Million.
Meanwhile. in another part of the forest.... What's going on in Brussels? Tusk saying we can still change our minds, Farage flying over for talks, Cabinet saying they are of one mind, but no concrete facts! The other thing that caught my eye was John Prescott going to the heart of the enhanced Northern Powerhouse..... No power, no money all in the future, perhaps..... a bloody fraud.
Much optimism being expressed because the inflation rate has fallen .01%. As it's largely due to cheaper air fares it isn't going to do the poor much good. The price of essentials like food, transport and energy have gone up more than the overall reduction so don't expect cries of relief from the food banks!
See THIS for a BBC report on Ben Bradley's blog in 2012 when he said the poor should have vasectomies to stop them breeding. He's vice chair for Youf now and says he has matured and he realises that the remarks were 'inappropriate'. They were a bit more than that and what we need to know is has be changed his opinion?
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by Stanley » 18 Jan 2018, 05:18

Carillion is looming large in Westminster. Corbyn has got hold of it and is running a proper opposition attack on the Tories. He's on a good wicket of course and it makes me wonder if he is being very clever and following Sun Tzu's advice in 'The Art of War', picking his ground carefully before he goes into battle. I hadn't realised that Chris Grayling was in charge of the decision to give part of the HS2 contract to Carillion. You all know my opinion of this man, is this yet another example of his trail of destruction? Thatcher's adherence to Chicago school and neo-liberal economic theory is at the root of many of our economic ills. Privatisation had been firmly embedded in government policy but this has opened up the whole debate on who should control the commanding heights of the economy. Light is being shed on this now and includes the banks and the auditors. Private Eye has banged on for years about the dodgy accounting used to 'prove' that outsourcing is a good deal and the links between the advisers and the beneficiaries of these deals. Also coming under scrutiny is the revolving door whereby government officials and politicians get lucrative jobs on retirement in firms who have benefited from such arrangement or indeed the accountancy forms who creamed off the fat fees from supervising these deals. High time this happened!
Later.... see THIS report in the guardian on the cost of PFI, it is not a good deal! Schools can cost 40% more and at least one hospital 70%. Even the Daily Mail is piling in on this one.
May meets Macron today and pays £45million more for border security at Calais and will promise to take more migrants. This may seem like a sideshow to Brexit but gives a flavour of what other members will be looking at now they are in the driving seat on the next set of negotiations. It ain't going to be easy!
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Re: POLITICS CORNER

Post by plaques » 18 Jan 2018, 08:56

Pendle Council (Conservative) once proposed that the Colne / Foulridge bypass could be financed though PFI. The cost would be paid in installments later with minimal immediate capital costs. BUT the payback would be relative to the amount of traffic over the next 10 years. A totally unknown factor especially if the road was extended into Yorkshire. Could have been rather expensive if it had been taken up.
This link takes you to a PDF download which lists all the PFI contracts. You will have to download the PDF and then view. Sorry but I don't know have to get it simpler.
link

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