Friday, 18 August 2017

Is Germany seeking to revive the Afrika Korps?

Tripolitania and Cyrenaica are the scene of a new battle, this time not between the Commonwealth and Rommel's forces, but between the French and Italians. At stake is millions in revenue for various factions of people smugglers and Libya's oil and gas. Italy and its Eni SpA oil company, backing Fayez Sarraj, are promoting holding and clearance centres in Libya for African economic migrants, with Italy and the EU paying the running costs and Sarraj's tame smugglers charging African migrants a ransom migrant tax. Against them are France and its oil company Multi Total, backing General Khalifa Haftar who has his own tame people smugglers and controls the main oil port. Oil and sub-saharan Africans are now Libya's main exports.

The old regions of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica are the key to understanding Libya. Tripolitania to the West is home to a Maghrebi culture, common to Tunisia and Morocco, whilst Cyrenaica is home to a gulf arab culture, the Mashriq. Libya, in common with most ME nations, is not a natural country.

Into this mess wades German Interior Minister de Maizière. He wants a new EU armed force to operate far in the south of Libya, in the desert, stopping Migrants from reaching the coast in the first place, der Spiegel tells us. One can see the attraction of a desert campaign to the German mind; the French and the legion etrangere have recent experience whilst North Africa was the only Wehrmacht operational area not fouled by German war crimes and atrocities, and Rommel and the Afrika Korps one of the few 'clean' units. What better foundation for the Franco-German contribution to the EU army to build upon?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

EU game plan to foment UK-Irish conflict - but we're not playing

Five-and-twenty ponies, trotting through the dark—
With brandy for the Parson and 'baccy for the Clerk.
Laces for a lady and letters for a spy,
And watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by!

I can remember my usual border crossing , back in the day when one crossed from the land of the Punt to that of the Pound, with ease. It was a small B country road that ran through a village;  tractors and trailers chugged unhindered from nation to nation carrying sheep, cattle, fodder or other goods and only gradually did the mix of national number plates become polarised as distance from the border increased. Never once did I encounter a barrier or a check. The border was completely open and it served everyone well. The porosity meant a great deal of smuggling of course - but as this brought wealth and benefits to all (except the respective national tax authorities) no one minded very much. 

The UK's offer to maintain the Irish border in this state is a sound one. You can be sure they are not creating an open door for Islamist terrorists. Anyone flying from Brussels to Galway who then travels to the mainland by ferry will be intercepted. Henna-bearded Islamists claiming to be there to visit the Catholic shrine at Knock will be so welcome at mass that the Garda will escort them there and back. Sudanese killers claiming to be there for the November brown trout season on Loch Corrib will be given frozen Mayflies. Islamism is as hateful to Catholic Ireland as to us - if not more so. You can be sure there is already a high degree of co-operation between us. 

And if this route was a feasible entry point for economic migrants of the sort clustered around the Channel ports they would already be using it. 

In the event of vileness, spite and viciousness from Brussels over Brexit, the natural anarchic independence of spirit of the Irish and stubborn bloody-mindedness of the Brits will ensure the EU is flouted, ignored and humiliated by an open border that neither the British or Irish governments have any interest in closing.  

All of which is exactly why Herr Barnier, Herr Juncker and Herr Verhofstadt will now do everything they can to force a hard border on us both. Just as they fomented conflict in the Balkans that set the region ablaze, just as they provoked a bloody civil war in Ukraine and just as they have destabilised nations around them, the unelected clerks in Brussels will do their utmost to stoke UK-Irish conflict.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Herr Barnier stomps his little boots

The Empire's frontman, Herr Barnier, is reported to be stomping his little boots in frustration at Britain's continued refusal to submit to EU commands. This alone is reasonably positive news. Better still is the initial reception of the UK's paper on a transitional period and the Irish border. This was published after a careful official leaking of the £36bn settlement figure whilst Mrs May was on holiday, making the point that whatever the EU say, the figure is linked to at least a transitional trade deal. So when Herr Verhofstadt went to print declaring the paper 'rubbish' before even reading it, it's fair to think that he was responding to the leaked figure (on which he can't comment) as much as to the UK's eminent reasonableness. 

Meanwhile pundits are forecasting a change in the exchange rate wind by the end of the year, with the € unable to maintain its overvalue. A few more fipronil egg scandals (in the UK we put it on cats to stop fleas), a bit of Greece, the termination of a sick Italian bank and a return to €1.30 would shrink that €40bn offer down to £30.7bn, or allow our team to increase their offer to the Herren to €47bn without busting the leaked £36bn figure. Of course if the goes the other way towards parity no loss - it was only a leak. 

All in all, I remain cheerful. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

With apologies to Sunderland ...

I was looking back on posts made here about ten years ago, to see what I had written about the great crash. The astonishing thing is that the blog has been going for this long - 4,560 posts, 3m pageviews, 30,000 comments. Anyway, I'm not sure I said much about the great crash except to savagely excoriate Gordon Brown, but I found the following. It made me chuckle, so perhaps worth another outing:-

Many of you will be familiar with the London conference hotels that cluster in the hinterland between the Euston Road and Oxford Street; bland, anonymous 80s-ish foyers, conference rooms equipped with audio and projectors for the ubiquitous Powerpoint presentations, and kitchens equipped to dish out a 20 minute lunch. I would usually rather have a fork thrust in my eyeballs than spend a day in one of these places, but a couple of years ago, despite every ingenious effort on my part to escape, I was obliged to do so. These things are perennially popular with Northern middle managers for some reason; pompous, inflated little balloons of men who fiddle incessantly with their testicles and whose requests to ".. bring us a black coffee, will you, pet" to the Lithuanian staff are met with incomprehension.

Anyway, on this day the conference kitchens had excelled themselves. The buffet lunch was a massive stainless steel bed of crushed ice on which were laid salver after salver of living and dead water-creatures; oysters, green-lipped mussels, sea urchins, sushi and sashimi, several varieties of Nethrops, a poached salmon, nestling in beds of crisp lettuce from which the fluorescent glow of lemons shone as artistic highlights. In the queue before me a knot of Northern balloons worked their fingers frantically in their trouser pockets. "I can't eat that; it's bloody raw fish" "Lewk, George, there's some crabsticks there" "Where?" "There, in the corner by those slimy things" "Have you got any bread, love?".

If you visit the pages of the Sunderland Echo to gauge the reaction of that place to the news that Policy Exchange thinks we should stop spending our tax subsidies here, you will be presented with a recruitment video for the local Barclays call centre. A call centre worker steps from a limo of the kind favoured by suburban hen-parties to the corporate HQ; the camera pans lovingly around the corporate gym and the cafeteria, the chilled shelves of which will be reassuringly devoid of raw fish, and the shot closes with the monstrous sign over the corporate front door that reads "Through these doors walk the loveliest people in Sunderland. And you're one of them". You just know that as the head-balloon stood inspecting the newly-erected sign and counting his testicles that he longed to add a comma and 'pet' to the final sentence.

I suspect that Barclays confines its Northern middle-managers to their own call centres and an occasional two days at a London conference hotel. If these little bundles of wool-polyester pomposity were ever allowed into the bank's docklands tower to meet the teenagers with iPod earphones slung around their necks and take-away sushi boxes littering their desks who earn six times their own salary, it would have the same effect as a drunk with a cigarette at a children's balloon party. Scraps of wool-polyester and bits of limp testicle would lie scattered from Bow to ExCel.

And the adage that you can take the man out of Sunderland but you can't take Sunderland out of the man holds true. It would be cruel and unusual punishment indeed to take these fish from their small ponds to resettle them. The piece in the Sunderland Echo uncannily parrots the Onion in quoting "We have the Winter Gardens, the Glass Centre, the Aquatic Centre, the football team – and the only way is up". Alright, pet.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

BBC - Just Lies, no Secrets

If you rely solely on the BBC for your news, you could be forgiven for understanding that the civil disturbances rocking the southern US were protests by pro-Trump white supremacists against something unspecified. With a headline 'Charlottesville: Virginia governor tells white supremacists: 'Go home'', you need to read down past the emotive picture to the tenth paragraph to get a clue as to what the protests are about. To get an idea of just how distorted the BBC's coverage is, try the story in the New York Times 'White Nationalists Wield Torches at Confederate Statue Rally' 

It's not just Virginia. In New Orleans the white Mayor is overseeing the removal of Confederate statues which, it is alleged, promote white supremacism. There can be no excusing the vile treatment of black people in the southern states, from the lynchings and corrupt disenfranchisements to segregated buses and the evils still prevalent during my youth. But one needs to understand that not everyone with some regard for the losing side in America's divisive civil war is a racist white supremacist, and not everyone who thinks that book burning and statue destruction are wrong is a violent nationalist.

The figures of one notorious white slave-owner seem safe for now; no one is tearing down statues of George Washington. Yet.

General Robert E Lee was greatly loved by his men, even in defeat. One needs to understand the place he still holds in the respect and affections of many southerners to begin to understand the complex emotions invoked in tearing down his statue in Virginia. All of which is of no interest to the BBC, who have just used the story in their agitprop war against those who disagree with their own values and worldview. 

But those of my age will recall a different BBC screening the Dukes of Hazzard, a comedy programme about, as the BBC would explain now, white supremacists. Only they weren't, of course. It was also about their car, General Lee. It was rubbish, but objectively more accurate than the BBC news you are reading today. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The power of lightning

If there's one thing that the Alps do well it's thunder and lightning. As a big noise fan, I generally delight in the ear-splitting, crockery-rattling great peals of thunder like some monstrous carronade barrage rolling down the valley. And you get used to the outages; all power cables are above ground here, so one banks on losing power for a few minutes during a corker.

Sunday's storm was particularly spectacular - fierce, prolonged and right overhead. A lightning strike on the road about 150m away tore a 1m hole in the bitmac, a 3m trench to a pine tree and blasted off all the bark from one side but without a single scorch mark. We lost power three times, at worst for two hours. But hey. We have oil lamps.

The internet was not quite so robust. The problem with running blistering fast interweb over 4G mobile networks is vulnerability - and after gamely surviving the worst of the storm on Sunday, the internet died at about midnight and only came back yesterday evening. Two days without the internet showed just how dependent I am on it. Which is possibly a good reason to lose it from time to time. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Italy acts whilst sclerotic EU dithers

In just the same way that Austria, Hungary and a few of the Balks acted independently of the EU to close the Balkans route for economic migrants last year, Italy is now taking unilateral measures to block the NGO 'taxi service' from points three miles from the Libyan coast to Sicily. The first NGO taxiboat, The Iuventis, operated by a German NGO, has been seized. The Italians have implemented three new requirements; first, migrants picked up should be landed at Libyan, not Italian ports. Second, Italian police and security to be on all NGO vessels to monitor whether, as alleged, the taxi boats are in radio contact with the smuggling gangs, and rendezvous are being arranged to transfer migrants. Finally, ship to ship transfers at sea are banned. 

This is against a background of noises from Austria that she will move armoured vehicles to the Italian border, and stringent French border closures on all entry points from Italy to the West. Hungary is also making determined efforts to pushback against the Soros-funded undermining of European national identity and his suspected covert funding of the Libyan NGO taxi boats. 

And what has the EU been doing whilst all this has been done? Nothing. Nada. Rien.