The Psychopath Test

3286

Poor John McDonnell MP, for being short sighted enough to make an ill-judged joke, during a serious adult presentation, of the many wonderful ways in which the governments beneficence, has ensured abundant prosperity for all.

Mr McDonnell, the MP for Hayes & Harlington (that’s right, he’s a Labour politician who actually did win his seat back at the May 2015 election) mentioned Mao Zedong’s ‘bible’ then symbolically proffered it to the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, and was met with derisory and mocking laughter, poor, poor, man. Would calling the Chancellor -whose total absence of compassion toward the mentally ill and the disabled, has caused many to lose their lives -a self-serving psychopath, have been met with the same mocking response? These days, in this England, possibly.

goung_2300086b

He at least has never been imprisoned, made subject to unwarranted operations, or had his internal organs sold on the black market by the Chinese Police. It is a pity that the Falung Gong, a religious sect that has been persecuted, imprisoned, and had it’s members die in prison as a result of illegal transplant operations, cannot say the same. The manner in which the Chinese treat their own religious dissenters can outstrip the horror of Kazuo Ishiguro’s ‘Never Let Me Go’ in his dystopic world human beings are ‘bred to be butchered’. In Chinese Society you’re okay so long as you toe the line, the instant you get religion you risk losing your job, family and internal organs. You may even find that your right to procreate has been cancelled. Strange then, that the same government that wants to crush it’s heel upon the ‘pious head’ of ISIS, is avidly doing business with a despotic government.

secretive-detention-05

But then how strange is it that the government utilising a legislative program in order to crush our few trade union rights, and all other forms of dissent via the abolition of the Human Rights Act, should choose to do business with a government that hasn’t merely closed churches, but has also taken the extreme step of demolishing them.

John McDonnell’s joke may have been perceived by some to have been poorly timed but then by the 251,000 people who voted for Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North, returned seven times (that’s how many general elections he’s won?), would very likely have considered his comments to be very prescient.

5644

Advertisements

The Syrian Tragedy Versus Oil & Petroleum

syrian-boy-drowns-650-afp_650x400_51441283742

The Syrian oil industry took off in 1968, when the Karatchok oil field began production after a pipeline connecting it to the Homs refinery was completed, although Syria did not begin exporting oil until the mid-1980s. Although Syria is not a major oil exporter by Middle Eastern standards, according to the International Monetary Fund, oil sales for 2010 were projected to generate $3.2 billion for the Syrian government and account for 25.1% of the state’s revenue. 

Before the civil war the two main pillars of the economy were agriculture and oil, but since the civil war? Syria is heavily dependent upon the revenue it gets from its oil which is a pity. Particularly given the fact that ISIS now controls a third of Syrian territory, and as a consequence most of its oil and gas production. 

The Syrian government used to have business links to Anglo-Dutch Shell, the French oil and gas company Total, and the British oil and petroleum company Gulf Sands Petroleum. It also did oil and petroleum business with the American and Egyptian co-owned company Improved Petroleum Recovery (IPR).

Alas, President Assad’s brutal mistreatment of his people has put paid to these links for the time being.

Though not  to his business ties with Russia’s Stroytransgas and Soyuzneftegaz. 

In fact in July 2014 Tass, the Russian news agency reported that Stroytransgas had signed a $264 million deal with a Syrian state company for the first stage of a $2 billion project to irrigate farmland in the country’s north-east. The first stage of the project to comprise the construction of a pumping station near the country’s border with Turkey and Iraq. All this whilst President Assad battles ISIS and sundry other opposition groups for control of the country. impressive. 

syrian-boy-drowns-650-afp_650x400_51441283742

Now you may have noticed that although the focus of this post appears to be oil and petroleum production, the only images so far are of the same dead body. But I digress, so let the blog post continue! The Syrian Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Wealth and Russian energy company Soyuzneftegaz signed an deal on oil and gas offshore exploration in the Syrian capital of Damascus on December 25, 2013. So, Soyuzneftegaz became the first foreign and Russian company which was granted the right for oil exploration, development and production at Block-2 in Syrian territorial waters.

The company believes that oil exploration in Block-2 will take no less than five years, Shafranik said in an interview with British news agency Reuters. Upon results of oil exploration the company will make a conclusion whether commercial oil production is expedient there.

“If there is no possibility of normalising the situation throughout the country at once, the situation should be stabilised gradually in regions where it is possible to conclude an agreement,” Reuters quoted Shafranik as saying.And once the situation in ‘patches’ of Syria has been achieved?

“Then humanitarian aid should be provided, and then we should move on to energy projects, removing obstacles to them including any sanctions slowing down the country’s economic recovery,” he added. Shafranik also dwelt on plans to build an oil pipeline between Iraq and Syria. Shafranik sounds all heart to me (for a businessman) for once he’s accessed the oil he & his company are prepared to contemplate salving the wounds of Syria’s remaining populace. 

dissolution-of-man-nicklas-gustafsson

Don’t you get the impression that although France, the United Kingdom, Egypt & America have lost out on oil and petroleum profits, as a consequence of the Syrian conflict, the Russians as ever, are sitting pretty? That state of affairs must really grate with the Americans, the French and the British. Particularly when one considers the situation in the Ukraine, with Russia’s Gazprom supplying over half of the Ukraine’s gas and 30% of Europe’s gas each year.There’s Chevron, Shell and Exxon Mobil all set to go shale gas exploring (that’s fracking to me and you) in Western Ukraine, when Russia invades the Crimea thereby throwing a spanner in the works. And now it would seem that Russia intends to further consolidate its presence in Syria.

Last week the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth cited Western diplomatic sources saying that Russia was on the verge of deploying “thousands” of troops to Syria to establish an airbase from which the Russian air force would fly combat sorties against Isil.

Those details appear to be backed by satellite images of a Russian base under construction near Latakia, according to anonymous intelligence officials quoted by several American newspapers. Moscow increasingly justifies its support for the Assad regime by pointing to the rise of violent jihadists in Syria. That’s right, just like the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron, Vladimir Putin is mightily concerned about the rise of ISIL in Iraq and Syria. So much so that he has ‘put boots on the ground’ to protect the well-being of President Basher Al-Assad and the Syrian people, naturally.

syrian-boy-drowns-650-afp_650x400_51441283742

And whilst I’m at it, for the sake of decency I should include the Syrian casualty stats; 191,369,000 Syrians are estimated by the UN to have died up to and including August 2014, at least 5,000 of those deaths will have been children. Those who have so far drowned in the Mediterranean? They number 2,600 but the talk amongst nations is not truly about these casualties and it should be.

dissolution-of-man-nicklas-gustafsson

Instead, the conversation is all about the oil and petroleum centred, geopolitical manoeuvrings of the self-same nations (America, the United Kingdom, France) who are supposed to be enthusiastically embracing sustainable energy and the impending Paris World Climate Summit. Cold war politics are firmly back on the menu, and next to that nothing, not the Syrian people, not even the eventual fate of the world counts.

paintings gas masks digital art science fiction airbrushed romantically apocalyptic cheers vitaly s_wallpaperswa.com_21

The Magna Carta…Still Impacting People’s Constitutions All Around the World

 

cheney-waterboarding-buy-book

Magna Carta (Latin for “the Great Charter“), also called Magna Carta Libertatum (Latin for “the Great Charter of the Liberties“), is a charter agreed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons, it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons. Neither side stood behind their commitments, and the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III . In other words the Magna Carta was all about protecting the King & his elite, ring any bells anyone? No?

hague2

After John’s death, the regency government of his young son, Henry III, reissued the document in 1216. At the end of the war in 1217, it formed part of the peace treaty agreed at Lambeth, where the document acquired the name Magna Carta. 

The charter became part of English political life and was typically renewed by each monarch in turn, although as time went by and the fledgling English Parliament passed new laws, it lost some of its practical significance. At the end of the 16th century there was an upsurge in interest in Magna Carta. Lawyers and historians at the time believed that there was an ancient English constitution, going back to the days of the Anglo-Saxons, that protected individual English freedoms. 

tutor

Although this historical account was badly flawed, the political myth of Magna Carta and its protection of ancient personal liberties persisted. Research by Victorian historians showed that the original 1215 charter concerned the medieval relationship between the monarch and the ruling elite. Nothing new there then, we’ve had the Queen’s Speech haven’t we? Stuffed full of goodies like further library cuts, police cuts, benefit cuts and public service cuts (l’or guv! We still have a public service?).

Isolated portrait shot of a beautiful caucasian woman. Holding her face in astonishment.

Magna Carta still forms an important symbol of liberty today, often cited by politicians and campaigners, and is held in great respect by the British and American legal communities, Lord Denning describing it as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot” go figure….

wpid-1375975988009.jpg

In the 21st century, four exemplifications of the original 1215 charter remain in existence, held by the British Library and the cathedrals of Lincoln and Salisbury. There are also a handful of the subsequent charters in public and private ownership, including copies of the 1297 charter in both the United States and Australia. The original charters were written on vellum sheets using quill pens, in a particular style of abbreviated Latin. So there we have it boys & girls! The history of the Magna Carta! At some point in time I feel certain I’ll get around to the history of ‘extraordinary rendition’ (see below),

belly512

Which I shall in turn be following up with an analytical explanation of the practice of waterboarding, something which its victims and Britain’s esteemable government agents would know all about, apparently…..

waterboard-standalone-prod_affiliate-56

The Magna Carta, a very british tradition betokening the greatness of…..british tradition…unlike say, the introduction of closed material proceedings…………

RIP 13

IMF agrees $833mn emergency loan to Iraq

6a00d8341d417153ef01a3fd1e4519970b-800wi

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it plans to provide Iraq with an emergency financial assistance of $833 million. 

The IMF has announced in a statement that the emergency loan will be meant to help Iraq with its war on ISIL terrorists as well as the effects of the low oil prices. It has further added that its Executive Board will meet to approve the initiative in July.

“The Fund is ready to assist Iraq in its efforts to tackle the economic impact of the conflict with ISIL and the decline in global oil prices,” the IMF said in its statement.

It further emphasized that the Iraqi economy contracted 2.1% in 2014 “mainly because of the violence”, and might grow only 0.5% this year. Also, weak oil revenues, the Fund added in its statement, are expected to increase Iraq’s budget deficit and decrease its foreign assets.

“We welcome the steps taken by the authorities to address these urgent challenges and support their request for IMF emergency assistance.

Iraq’s 2015 budget called for roughly $102 billion in spending, to be financed by $67 billion in oil revenues, $13 billions in customs and other tax revenues, and $22 billions in debt.

However, the IMF has warned in its statement that Iraq’s budget deficit is serious.

“Mainly because of the violence, the economy has contracted by 2.1 percent in 2014 and is projected to achieve only a modest recovery of 0.5 percent this year, despite solid growth in the oil sector,” the Fund said in its statement that was released on Friday.

“With low oil prices, export revenues have contracted, pushing the current account into a deficit expected to reach 8 percent of GDP in 2015. As a result, foreign assets have declined in 2014 to US$67 billion and are projected to fall further this year”.

cartoon-2(256)

deficit expected to reach 8 percent of GDP in 2015. As a result, foreign assets have declined in 2014 to US$67 billion and are projected to fall further this year”.

Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Corruption in Space! (apologies, getting carried away there)….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shocking isn’t it? David Cameron is preparing to warn fellow world leaders at the two-day G7 summit that starts in Germany on Sunday, that the Fifa bribery scandal must be a trigger for international action against corruption.The prime minister will criticise what he will call a widespread “taboo” in pointing the finger at corrupt institutions, and will say the Fifa scandal has shown how focusing on an organisation can provide the impetus for cleaning-up operations. I’m so glad our prime minister has decided to speak up about the sharp practices of Fifa, now that the Americans have beaten us to it.

1432744298_848470_1432744814_album_grande

I hear that Nicky Morgan has even gone so far as to supply him with a ‘Smartboard’ to display his Powerpoint Presentation on, so that as he lectures Europe on ‘transparency’ ‘moral probity’ and ‘business ethics’ he can look every bit as convincing as he sounds (joke!). Seriously though, 

“In the last fortnight we have seen the stark truth about Fifa. The body governing football has faced appalling allegations that suggests it is absolutely riddled with corruption. And Blatter’s resignation this week presents an opportunity to clean up the game we love. It is also an opportunity to learn a broader lesson about tackling corruption,” he (the Prime Minister) will say.

dc10626f340f820bc5b8ac4d642f84a5

The stark truth about Fifa? Kind of like the rancid underskirts of the dark truth about HSBC that we were all exposed to so recently? Now, can anybody remember what that particular truth pertained to? Because I assure you the French authorities can, in March of this year they requested that HSBC’s Swiss private bank be sent to criminal trial over a suspected tax-dodging scheme for wealthy customers.The recommendation followed a lengthy investigation by local magistrates into alleged tax fraud involving 3,000 French taxpayers.

hsbc_getty4

HSBC’s Swiss arm also helped 8,844 wealthy Britons avoid millions of pounds in tax.These allegations of ‘historic’ tax avoidance at the bank related to files leaked by a less than sane whistleblower (he had to be less than sane to have torpedoed his career in this way) dating from 2005 to 2007. France prepped itself to prosecute these fraudsters and our Prime Ministers response was? “The period in question – 2005 to 2007 was not under our watch,the party opposite (Labour) was in Government”.

This ‘truth’ was later proven to have been sort of, kind of a lie. What is more Conservative MPs blocked a parliamentary committee’s attempt to scrutinise the former HSBC boss & (then) trade minister (now, Peer) Lord Stephen Green over the tax scandal at Britain’s largest bank. And what was America’s response to all this patent dishonesty? The US Department of Justice is considering criminal charges against the bank and its clients.

usdojseal

Well, maybe that case was just a glitch on the corruption front so lets examine another more exemplary example of Prime Minister Cameron’s moral probity. Lets look at, ooh, I don’t know…..tax avoidance, tax havens…..and Tory Party Donors!

Isolated portrait shot of a beautiful caucasian woman. Holding her face in astonishment.

Now…let’s see, on the top ten list (courtesy of political scrapbook) we have…

#1 Michael Farmer (£818,000) — See our story from yesterday. And bring sunscreen.

#2 Michael Davis (£509,000) — “Mick the miner” trousered £75m when his Xstrata mining company was sold this year. While the company’s registered office is in London, it is headquartered in the Swiss tax haven of Zug. The business which bought out Xstrata, Glencore, is not only based in Zug but also faces allegations of using suspect insurance practices to avoid tax.

#4 David Rowland (£438,000) — A former Conservative Party treasurer, David moved from the tax haven of Guernsey to the UK specifically so he could donate to the Tories.

#6 James Lupton (£255,000) — The current Tory co-treasurer works for Greenhill, through which he is a partner in Greenhill & Co. International LLP alongside the company’s vehicle based in the Cayman Islands. Lupton also holds a stake in Vestra Wealth, which offers its clients advice on “tax-planning vehicles”.

#7 Andrew Law (£247,000) — The chairman and CEO of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Caxton Associates. One of its main investment vehicles is Caxton International, headquartered in Hamilton, Bermuda.

#8 Stanley Fink (£228,000) — The “godfather of the UK hedge fund industry”, whose Man Group has two principal subsidiaries in Switzerland. The majority of its subsidiaries operate from tax havens.

#9 JCB Research (£187,500) — JCB is owned by digger magnate Anthony Bamford (who had a peerage blocked in 2010 after the taxman raised apparent concerns). This most British of manufacturers is actually controlled by a holding company based in the HagueTransmissions & Engineering Services Netherlands Bv.

#10 Flowidea Ltd (£144,950) — Controlled by Henry Angest, a critic of the UK’s“punitive tax system”, which may have something to do with the fact that its parent companies seem to be based in Jersey and the Bahamas.

All these guys have donated generously to the Tory Party & all of them are registered in tax havens & are therefore avoiding paying their very United Kingdom taxes. If that doesn’t wreak of corruption it should send up a whiff of dishonesty at least.

The Prime Minister’s response? Well, there hasn’t been one, though I suppose that there will eventually be a peerage or two.

PIC SHOWS: Sabina Interpol is searching for two Austrian teenaged girls who they believe have been tricked into going to Syria to fight on the side of Islamic rebels. The teenagers vanished last week. The first their parents knew was when they started getting messages posted on social media networks saying that they had gone to fight the

Meanwhile on his next visit to the world stage (G7 Summit), our esteemed Prime Minister will also be discussing England’s role in the the fight with ISIS in Iraq & Syria. Ever the ‘reluctant interventionist’ David Cameron will (apparently) assure President Obama that England intends to remain fully engaged on the global terror front. ISIS will I’m sure be awaiting his first statesman-like foray onto Iraqi soil (even as I await his eventual admission that England has wound up being pulled into the Syrian conflict) with bated breath…..I can’t wait.

Whisky Is For Drinking, Water Is For Fighting Over

mark-twain

The author Mark Twain once remarked that “whisky is for drinking; water is for fighting over” and a series of reports from intelligence agencies and research groups indicate the prospect of a water war is becoming increasingly likely. 

In March, a report from the office of the US Director of National Intelligence said the risk of conflict would grow as water demand is set to outstrip sustainable current supplies by 40 per cent by 2030.

“These threats are real and they do raise serious national security concerns,” Hilary Clinton the former US secretary of state, said after the report’s release.

By 2030, 47 per cent of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Environmental Outlook to 2030 report. Some analysts worry that wars of the future will be fought over blue gold, as thirsty people, opportunistic politicians and powerful corporations battle for dwindling resources.  

1410379733000-ISIL-g3_still

Dangerous warnings

Governments and military planners around the world are aware of the impending problem; with the US senate issuing reports with names like Avoiding Water Wars: Water Scarcity and Central Asia’s growing Importance for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan

With rapid population growth, and increased industrial demand, water withdrawls have tripled over the last 50 years, according to UN figures.

“Water scarcity is an issue exacerbated by demographic pressures, climate change and pollution,” said Ignacio Saiz, director of Centre for Economic and Social Rights, a social justice group. “The world’s water supplies should guarantee every member of the population to cover their personal and domestic needs.”

“Fundamentally, these are issues of poverty and inequality, man-made problems,” he said.

Of all the water on earth, 97 percent is salt water and the remaining three per cent is fresh, with less than one per cent of the planet’s drinkable water readily accessible for direct human uses. Scarcity is defined as each person in an area having access to less than 1,000 cubic meters of water a year.

The areas where water scarcity is the biggest problem are some of the same places where political conflicts are rife, leading to potentially explosive situations.

As recently as 1989 Senegal and Mauritania fought a war over grazing rights on the River Senegal. And Syria and Iraq have fought minor skirmishes over the Euphrates River. UN studies project that 30 nations will be water scarce in 2025, up from 20 in 1990. Eighteen of them are in the Middle East and North Africa, including Egypt, Israel, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. 

keep-calm-tuesday-is-soylent-green-day-1Contents courtesy of Al-Jazeera

 

Awareness of Tragic Limitations

Foley1

The Arab Spring has now degenerated into a brutal Arab Winter, the political vacuum created by hopes for democratic rule have been filled by fundamentalist regimes. And we can only look on in horror as ‘Extremistan’ comes to the Middle East. Western journalists and aid workers are kidnapped (because they supposedly represent the oppressive forces of the west). Put on screen (via YouTube), and then beheaded whilst a jihadist presents his intellectual justifications for each murder in impeccable English. Such psychotic behaviour should make people think twice about joining up with these extreme ‘Islamic freedom’ fighters. But conversely, the number of people travelling from the West to Syria is surpassing those who turned up in Afghanistan.

124797

An extraordinary Jihadi recruitment process is taking place in U.S, France, Belgium, Netherlands, U.K, Germany, South Asia, Africa & Austrailia. With people from more than 57 nations now taking part in the Syrian war. YouTube & Twitter & Facebook accounts encouraging people to join the jihad and talking about the beauty of being a jihadi, abound. The seductive draw is such that it is possible to wave your child off to University one minute, and find that they’ve travelled out to join ISIS the next. The reported total of Britons killed in the conflict now stands at 25. With the most notable case being that of three brothers, two of whom aged 17 and 18 years respectively, have died in Syria,in the past year. The third son, refuses to return home to his family stating that,’he was praying for his ending to be the best martyrdom in the front lines’. The whole world is supposed to believe that this is what espousing Islamic beliefs is all about, not family, not the care of parents and especially not the protection of women and children, just this obsessive and inevitably nihilistic jihad.

191492991

Is there a moral imperative for jihadists to hide behind? Well yes, Assad has slaughtered his citizens with chemical weapons, starvation sieges and the onslaughts of his soldiers on the ground, civilians have needed to take up arms. 9.3 million Syrians are refugees in other countries, the majority of them are refugees in their own country and those who have left the country count themselves lucky to be alive. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah could use their influence as allies of Assad to nudge him towards negotiations with some of his more moderate opponents. But, neither Assad or his opponents are battle fatigued, and then there is the problematic emergence of ‘the state of ISIS’.

Iraq has experienced violence within the country since 2003 but they have experienced nothing like ISIS, who have emerged as a potent force within Iraq’s borders, flying in the face of all political rationality. They are not indigenous citizens whose grass roots work in Syria or Iraq has given them a military and political mandate. They are not the product of the disaffection of a political or military elite. Supposedly a religious order, with the weaponry to back up the creation of their ‘Caliphate’, they have a military strategy that is working in the midst of the chaos that has been wrought by both the Iraq war and the Syrian civil war.

Their Islamic beliefs are simplistic, straight down the line and highly attractive to all those who aren’t Christian, secular Muslims, moderate Muslims, liberated women, gay or espousing the values of the west. Ironically, it is believed by some western analysts that sooner or later there is bound to be an uprising against the fanaticism of ISIS. But they’re forgetting how reassuringly welcome even a harsh caliphate can seem, in the face of despotic oppression and social anarchy.

IRAQ-UNREST-RAMADI