Bloody well right, got to keep an eye on the pinkoes!

Journalists from the BBC, Reuters and New York Times were among those spied on by the German foreign intelligence service, according to reports.

Surveillance was allegedly carried out by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) on at least 50 reporters since 1999.

Respected German magazine Der Spiegel reported the findings after obtaining BND documents listing journalists’ emails, faxes and telephone numbers.

The document reportedly showed more than a dozen BBC journalists were being monitored via numbers at the organisation’s London headquarters and in Afghanistan.

What the hell do you think it is that spies do all day?

Find subversives of course, and where are you more likely to find them than among the pinko media liberal types?

Well, except among certain dodgy metals traders of course.

Even the Romans would say Naples isn’t quite Europe

Doctors and nurses are among 94 hospital workers from Naples who have been placed under investigation on suspicion of repeatedly skipping work, police have said .

One supervisor at the Loreto Mare hospital was found working as a chef in a hotel, while an on-duty doctor was spotted playing tennis and going shopping. Two health workers were caught clocking in 20 colleagues each day to make it look like they were on the job.

Bit hyperbolic, but Africa starts 20 km south of wherever your Italian discussing it comes from.

No, Goodbye

EU member states are backing a European commission demand that trade talks can only start once Britain has agreed to pay a hefty Brexit bill, despite fears of a backlash from Theresa May.

The Czech Republic has joined Germany, Italy and France in insisting the UK must come to an arrangement on the divorce settlement, expected to come to about €60bn (£50bn), before any substantive negotiations on a future relationship.

We get to leave, whatever they say. Worst possible terms are WTO, terms we can live with happily. That is, WTO is the default without agreement.

Sure, there are things we desire but perhaps not £60 billion worth. Thus it is all up for negotiation, we don’t have to agree to pay first.

The examples, aren’t they amazing?

The terrible poverty of modern England:

Melissa, a 20-year-old student, has watched her family struggle to pay the bills since she was at primary school. Ten years ago her mum, Elizabeth, slipped a disc, so badly that sometimes she can’t get out of bed. And, just like that, she had to give up her job as a cafe manager.

A few years later, Elizabeth developed a heart problem: her heart would stop for seven seconds, causing her to faint. “She’d often hit her head,” Melissa explains. For long periods, there was no wage at all coming in: Melissa’s stepdad had a heart attack during her GCSEs, and her father had a brain injury.

A family where all the adults are on the sick lives a financially precarious life?

The terrors of modern neoliberalism, eh?

There’s another little joy in this too:

There are now 19 million people in this country living below the minimum income standard (an income required for what the wider public view as “socially acceptable” living standards), according to figures released by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) this month. Around 8 million of them could be classed as Theresa May’s “just about managing” families: those who can, say, afford to put food on the table and clothe their children but are plagued by financial insecurity. The other 11 million live far below the minimum income standard and are, the JRF warns, “at high risk of falling into severe poverty”.

We’ve no back calculation of these numbers. We don’t know how many were, by this standard, so imperilled in 2000, 1980, even 1880. We thus cannot actually tell whether things are getting better or not.

Didn’t we know this?

‘Golden trio’ of moves boosts chances of female orgasm, say researchers

She likes you, she loves you, she’s feeling horny?

Agreed, not quite the experience of Sr. Siffredi of these parts but……

Sadly, that’s not what they say:

A study from a team of US researchers suggests that a combination of genital stimulation, deep kissing and oral sex is the “golden trio” for women when it comes to increasing their likelihood of reaching orgasm with a sexual partner.

Isn’t there a Monty Python sketch where the teacher is trying to give the sex lessons and asks the class about foreplay, having to then shout “What’s wrong with a kiss?”

Still, now we know about Adam Johnson. Just trying to help the young girl out, obviously.

Hmm, perhaps not quite the way it might be done

A British grandmother has bought the apartment in Portugal where Madeleine McCann vanished for half the asking price.

Kathleen Macguire-Cotton, who is in her sixties, is believed to have bought the apartment in Praia da Luz on Portugal’s Algarve for just £113,000.

Identical properties in the Ocean Complex have been on sale for £255,000.

Mrs Macguire-Cotton revealed she is often offered money by passersby to see inside the flat, but has always declined requests out of respect.

I could imagine a pretty penny to be made from organising such “looks”.

Actually, given the publicity, a living or two could be made I would have thought.

So, this Bangladesh place then.

First impressions (from the 30 minute ride from the airport, hey, more than most journalists ever study a place).

The stndnrad of spoken English is high here, higher than in London often is. Among Bangladeshis in London that is. But then tour guides and porters at top end hotels are very desirable jobs in poor places.

Yes, teeming Asia, people, people, people, a la Paul Ehrlich (and this is 6 am on a Friday in a Muslim country).

Something good has happened here this past 30 years or so. OK, yes, many poor. Obviously. Couple of blokes working as porters (not hotel kind, carrying loads outside). They’re poor, obviously, rich people are not barefoot in the middle of town and carrying 40 lbs on their heads.

They’re also 6 foot and more tall.

That would be a hell of a surprise to anyone who had come to Bengal at any time in the past four millennia or so.

There are much more formal studies than my quick glance out there but there’s a definite difference in heights among generations. Think back to that WWI with the British soldiers and officers thing. When the 50 year old hotel porter is 5 ft, the 20 year old porter porter out there 6 then something’s happened. That something being a significant reduction in mal- and under-nutrition between the generations.

Hell, not saying it’s perfect, not at all, but the direction of travel has been in the right direction. Tall poor people is a hell of a sign of that.

They use British 3 pin plugs.

Tee hee


I fear you have misunderstood those graphs.

The falls are in the value of traded goods and services, not the volume.

You’ll find these falls in value correlate well with the inverse of the dollar strength.

That is, you are looking at exchange rate effects.

Richard Murphy says:
February 22 2017 at 1:51 pm
Nit what the WB says…

Darren says:
February 22 2017 at 1:57 pm
It’s exactly what the WB says. Read the graphs again.

Trade has only “fallen” in terms of dollar values, due to the strength of the dollar. Trade volume is up.

He’s a professor you know….

You know? I think Oxfam are lying here

Oxfam said that despite rapid growth in gross domestic product (GDP) – which averaged at 5% between 2000-2016 and caused the country to be included in economics Civets list of fast growing emerging nations – “poverty reduction slowed to a near standstill”. Based on the World Bank’s “moderate” poverty line of $3.10-a-day, some 93 million Indonesians are living poverty.

I think if we used absolute poverty then we’d find a very large reduction in it over that time.

You’d think they would know this

Surprise new costs for the long-troubled Airbus A400M military jet sent the European planemaker’s profits plunging last year despite a rise in commercial aircraft deliveries.

From the Seattle Times. Isn’t Boeing up there somewhere?

You’d think they would recognise those propellers in their own picture of the plane…..

Important travel information

If you were to drive from Usti nad Labem to Tegel airport you just get on the motorway and stay there. It does help if you join it going north.

At some point you’ll insist that you’ve missed it. Bugger, and just how bloody big is Berlin anyway?

It’s at exactly that point on the road that the Germans start putting up the little signs saying “This Way to Tegel”.

Clever people the Huns.

That Nobel awaits

He’s right: economics cannot forecast something as important as a financial crisis. But what he did not add is why not, which is down to methodology. Economic forecasts are rational mathematical models. And most assume that behaviour tends to the mean: in other words, if there isn’t usually a crisis (and there isn’t) then there won’t be one coming up either.

Of course I simplify. We know that there are crises. We know that they happen on average every seven to eight years, and that means we’re overdue for one. We know that stock market highs, increasing debt and weak economic fundamentals (wage and trade stagnation, both of which look to be on the cards) at the same time suggest fundamental imbalances that can trigger the crash. So just by standing back and using human judgement we can say the chance of there being a crisis in the next five years is very high indeed. But economics can’t say that. Because it isn’t programmed to do so. Which just shows how far from reality it is. And what a useless exercise conventional approaches to economics represent for society as a whole.

So why not incorporate that human judgement into predictions and both make a mint and scoop the Nobel?

Well done Spud, well done Sirrah!

Trade is falling and the UK’s set to make things so much harder for itself

The World Bank published a new survey of world trade yesterday which included this chart

That World Bank report stating that world trade grew 1.9%. Which is a slower growth rate than before but not in fact a fall in trade.

Would you allow the Spud to drive a car when he cannot distinguish between acceleration and speed?

Quote of the Day

“There are basically two ways to fight the US military: asymmetrically and stupid.”

HR McMaster

Little thing that interests me here. McMasters is, in that picture, wearing only 6 ribbons. Which is about what you might expect on a seasoned British officer (campaign medals etc without any gallantry awards, around and about these days, no?) but that’s a pittance for a septic. Gongs get handed out for learning how to fold the paper before wiping.

So what’s the story? Does he have some unusually low number of gongs for an American officer of his age and rank? Is he wearing some special short list to not show off? What?

OK, looking at Wikipedia he’s got a much longer list than he’s wearing in the picture. So, what’s the story there? You only wear the important ones with the posh uniform?

Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

The Met Office is warning of significant disruption from gale-force winds and heavy rain in much of Britain as the balmy start to the week is due to be blown away by Storm Doris.

Doris? A storm called Doris?

Names are very strongly associated with fashion and thus the age and class of the person with that name. Commonly, a name will start out as a Royal one – or more recently very well known in some other manner – and then move down the classes over the years.

Yes, OK, Doris Day, Doris Lessing, but the current position of the name in the British iconography is about right for a great grandmother of no great status or position in life (other, of course, then being the matriarch). It’s just difficult to think of a Storm Doris, what, a storm of teacosies and chilblain plasters?