Tsk, there’s a right way to do these headlines

Kashmir remains cut off from rest of the country due to heavy snowfall
Srinagar received two cm of snow during the last 24 hours and the mercury settled at the low of minus 0.8 degree Celsius, an official of the Meteorological Department said.

The right way being:

Snow in Srinagar – India Isolated.

Come along folks, there are certain standard headline jokes which must be used whenever possible.

Silly, silly

Cate Le Bon: ‘Guitars were inspired by female bodies. Why are they uncomfortable for women to play?’

They’re not. There are myriad guitar shapes out there (for electric ones at least, acoustic are rather determined by the sound box shape).

All of which is quite apart from the fact that there is indeed a difference between men and women. Those male rockers sling the guitar down low and wave it around as a penis extension. Women tend to cradle it like a baby. Nowt to do with tits of course. But, you know, men and women are different?

Opinion is divided here

He had been well on his way to becoming a professional footballer when a meniscus tear put paid to his dreams and he fell into a state of depression, alcoholism and chain-smoking. Now, more than 42 years on, Martin Schulz is presenting the fiercest opposition yet to Angela Merkel’s attempts to win a fourth term as German chancellor.

The 61-year-old, who is returning to his homeland after 23 years in the European parliament – acting as its president since 2012 – is seen as offering the Social Democratic party (SPD) the best chance in years to reverse its fortunes, following a period of falling membership and poor electoral performances.

Although his chances of ousting Merkel in September are slim, Schulz’s challenge has been widely interpreted as a step towards undoing voter disenchantment and limiting the number of protest votes going to the rightwing populist party Alternative für Deutschland.

That he’s ghastly is not one of these things which divides people. Rather, has he actually stopped drinking?

This is desperately sad but…..

What actually is the solution?

Amandeep Kaur, 29, a Hermes courier from Leicester, was in the back of an ambulance rushing her seriously ill son to hospital when she first felt the pressure to get back to work. It was two weeks before Christmas, one of the busiest periods for Britain’s booming parcel delivery industry, but Kaur’s six-year-old, Sukhmanjeet, had collapsed at home and she could not make her deliveries. A few hours later, with her son about to undergo surgery, she rang her manager.

“I said my son had had a cardiac arrest and I can’t come in,” she recalled. “I don’t know how long for, but he is my priority right now. [The manager’s] response was ‘Oh, it has come at a very busy time’.”

Even as her son’s condition worsened, she felt pressured to get back to work as soon as she could or risk losing her round.

Over the coming days, Kaur said she called her manager with updates about her son, but as a self-employed courier with no employment contract, she felt her job was under threat.

One one occasion, she said, after Sukhmanjeet had a leg amputated, “the response was ‘OK, I can try and help you for the next few days, but I can’t make any promises [going] forward’.

“[The manager] was saying ‘Come back in two days or there’s nothing we can do. We need to give your round up because it is a busy period’.”

Her son died on 19 December 2015.

They, the employer, need someone to do the round. She’s self employed and cannot do it.

Kaur said she went back to work 10 days after her son’s funeral, which she said was far too early.

“I was told there were conversations happening at the depot that they couldn’t keep my round for too long,” she said. “I was under pressure. I wasn’t ready.”

So, umm, actually, they did keep her job open then?

Have to admit I wouldn’t do this

Squatters have taken over a £15 million mansion owned by a Russian billionaire in one of Britain’s most expensive and exclusive streets.

The group has allegedly been in the Grade II listed building in Eaton Square for three days.

The property, which was built in the early 1820s, has believed to have been empty ever since Russian oligarch Andrey Goncharenko bought it in 2014.

You never know how much an oligarch has been tamed. Quite how much that important distinction between here’s how we do things at home and here’s how they do things there has sunk home.

On the one hand, Sberbank, close to the heart of the Putinist state. On the other, came up through Troika Dialog, so maybe Bernie Sucher trained him well.

Just not a risk I would take really.

Memo to the White House

True, Donald might well enjoy this but still:

The White House said this week the UK and US could become even “closer” when Theresa May meets Donald Trump on Friday.

If that is to be the case, they might have to start by spelling her name correctly.

The president’s press office sent out a memo highlighting Mr Trump’s Oval Office meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday. However, the release sent to media organisations dropped the h” in all three mentions of her full name.

“In the afternoon, the President will partake in a bilateral meeting with United Kingdom Prime Minister, Teresa May. A joint press conference between the two parties follows,” the first misspelling in the initial email read.

Useful hint:

On the right is Teresa May, a glamour model (not porn star, flaunting assets rather than recording the details of penetration) of a certain comfortable age and a certain comfortable shape. On the left, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May.

We Brits think the difference worth noting. Only one of them is in a position to fuck the country, the other is only about sex.


Multi-millionaires are enjoying a “cosy” relationship with the taxman and receive a level of help and support that is not given to ordinary taxpayers, MPs say in a report.

Twisted, twisted, logic.

The MPs said that “HMRC’s approach to dealing with the very wealthy suggests that they get help with their tax affairs that is not available to other taxpayers”.

Phone calls and discussions with them are not routinely recorded – unlike those between HMRC staff and ordinary taxpayers – leading to the impression of an “overly close and inappropriate service to the wealthy”.

The MPs were concerned that around one-third of these individuals are under investigation at any one time, and is investigating cases with a potential value of £1.9 billion.

Yet since 2012, HMRC issued just 850 penalties totalling £9 million to them, an average penalty of £10,500 each.

The original concern was that these very rich weren’t paying enough, or rather not the right amount. So, specialist unit to deal with the very rich. Now the complaint is that there is a specialist unit dealing with the very rich. Further, the complaint is that most of them are obeying most of the law most of the time, which is why there are few prosecutions.

Thus we must change the system.

Figures showed that the tax take from this group of high net worth individuals fell by a fifth, equivalent to £1billion, over the past five years and while sums paid by ordinary tax players jumped by £23billion.

How have the taxes which weigh upon those groups changed over this time?

Jeebus, who knew?

Researchers from the London School of Economics found that by playing sport in a team participants not only gain the health benefits of exercise, but can boost long-term happiness.

Rather a Chesterton’s Fence thing there, no?

Given that most human societies have had some form of team sport…..

Trade was always the worry, wasn’t it?

Mexico may be forced to pay for the building of a wall between itself and America through an aggressive 20 per cent tax on all its exports to the United States, the White House said last night.

As Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto refused to fund the estimated $15 billion cost of the wall, and cancelled a visit to the US next week, President Donald Trump vowed to renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

He said: “The US has a $60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico. It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning.”

His spokesman Sean Spicer later said there were plans to “tax imports from countries that we have a trade deficit from, like Mexico”.

He said: “If you tax $50 billion at 20 per cent of imports, by doing it that way we can do $10 billion a year and easily pay for the wall just through that mechanism alone. That’s really going to provide the funding.”

Mr Trump has discussed the proposal for a 20 per cent import tax on Mexican goods with Republican leaders in Congress, and wants it to be part of a comprehensive tax reform package.

That’s Americans paying for the wall then…..

Steve matey, don’t feed ’em

Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s combative chief strategist, said his administration considered the media to be America’s real “opposition party”.

In a rare interview with the New York Times, Mr Bannon said: “You’re the opposition party. Not the Democratic Party. The media is the opposition party.

That’s what they already believe anyway.

And until you’ve worked with some US media types you never do quite get it. They, entirely seriously, consider themselves the Guardians of the Republic, the protectors of all that is good and holy. The problem with this being that they never do manage to see the beams in their own eyes. The American press is very much more left wing than the country as a whole, hugely, vastly, D rather than R. Thus their ideas of what are good and or holy, need defending, are rather different than the norm.

Hey, maybe they’re even right in all of that, but they’re not representative.

To give an example, black lives matter and all lives matter. Someone who says the latter is not going to get the same sort of hearing as someone who says the former.

The Curajously Incompetent State

The reason that government should know everything about what we and companies do is because:

The Dutch market regulator mistakenly published the details of hundreds of previously private short selling trades by international hedge funds, including bets against Dutch banks by George Soros and the positions of Renaissance Technologies’ enigmatic Medallion fund.

Turds do take time to polish

I have sat on the Supreme Court Brexit decision for a day or so. Some things need time to ferment before it’s best to comment.

The result being:

And that is precisely why all opposition parties are required to now demand a plan from a government that got us into this mess. And to say there will be no progress, no Article 50 notice and no negotiations until we know what the plan is. This is not defying the will of the people. It’s upholding it.

We have always been at war with Eastasia, no?

Shock, Horror, Ministers Obey Law!

Free tickets for the gravy train: Whitehall committee that NEVER says no to ministers cashing in
Acoba is Whitehall committee that scrutinises post-government appointments
However, it has not knocked back a single minister or civil servant in eight years

So, the rules are laid out, whatever they are, good or bad. Ex-ministers and ex-civil servants have been obeying these rules, whatever they are, good or bad.

Shock, Horror!

I’m reminded of Ritchie’s Lament that so few were prosecuted after the Swiss Banks opened up the books about British citizens and their accounts. The idea that this proved that almost all were in fact obeying the law wasn’t something he could contemplate.

Well, obviously, which idiots don’t know this?

The gathering of discarded timber in urban areas for fashionable wood-burning stoves and an ignorance of fire techniques is contributing to Britain’s air pollution crisis, it has been claimed.

People living in cities who grew up with gas-fired central heating but have now turned to “cosy” wood-burning stoves need to be educated on the use of appropriate wood, academics and industry leaders say.

Their warning comes after Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said that the capital’s “filthy air”, which on Monday exceeded the pollution levels of Beijing, was creating a health crisis.

Previous studies have suggested that levels of particulate pollution surge at weekends as people light up stoves.

This is simply so friggin’ obvious. What’s happened, everyone become morons or something?

Nonsense at home

A proposal to create a park-and-ride site on water meadows on the edge of Bath has been backed by the city’s Conservative cabinet despite claims that the project would put its world heritage status at risk.

During a special meeting on Wednesday evening, opponents claimed it was a costly white elephant that would wreck the meadows and precious views of the city. One leading Tory councillor even called the project “evil”.

But following a meeting lasting almost four hours, the cabinet concluded that an 800-space park and ride to the east of the city was necessary to cope with growing congestion and decided the site at Bathampton Meadows was the best option.

Very, very, bad option. Pave over Landsdown racecourse (it’s only the Welsh who go to it) and stick a funicular down Weston Hill.

There, solved, done and dusted.

Ritchie’s knowledge of Brexit

Brexit questions, 3: How many trade deals has the UK signed in the last ten years? How long did each take to conclude, on average?

None, trade deals were an EU exclusive competence.

Jeez, this man……

Brexit questions, 5: What value of tariffs do we collect now on imports to the UK? Which countries give rise to the top 10 payments? Are we planning new trade deals with any of them? What will the impact on revenue be?

Tariffs are sent to Brussels. They come off the other amounts we must also send there.

Brexit questions, 11: How much will the cost to business be of having to manage multiple trade deals and tariff arrangements?

Not a lot. Large exporters already send to 50, 90 different jurisdictions. We’re adding one more, the EU.

International political economy my arse.

An excellent piece by Brad Delong here

I often don’t agree with him and I don’t with all here.

But this is an excellent piece:

Adding up the effects of the much-maligned trade agreements
The relative decline in employment in manufacturing since World War II is the biggest structural change, or evolution, to hit the American economy over the past half-century. Politicians, with their preference for truthiness over the facts, attribute roughly all the 22 percentage point decline since 1971 in the manufacturing employment share to NAFTA, to China’s entry into the WTO, and to a few other scattered “corporately backed unfettered free trade agreements.” But — I really would like to drive this home — the worrisome part from trade is not the decline in the manufacturing job share from 30 percent to 12.2 percent, but the “excess” decline from 12.2 percent to 8.6 percent. That worrisome part of the decline of the manufacturing job share is, roughly, only one-sixth of the total decline: 3.6 percentage points. And the amount of decline attributable to the two big bad trade agreements is only one-tenth of that: 0.36 percentage points.

In sum, we can attribute a mere one-tenth of the excess reduction relative to Germany in the manufacturing job share to NAFTA and to China joining the WTO.