Witness intimidation now?

Having briefed the staff in the office in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, that an investigation was under way, the main part of the investigation commenced. During the investigation 40 witnesses were interviewed. While the investigation was still in progress, the line manager of one of the suspects leaked an investigation report to an unconnected member of staff.

This resulted in three of the suspects physically threatening and intimidating one of the witnesses who had been referred to in the report. This incident led to further charges of bullying and intimidation against these three members of staff.

Idiot damn stupidity

There is legitimate fear that GDPR will threaten the data-profiling gravy train. It’s a direct assault on the surveillance economy, enforced by government regulators and an army of class-action lawyers. “It will require such a rethinking of the way Facebook and Google work, I don’t know what they will do,” says Jonathan Taplin, author of Move Fast and Break Things, a book that’s critical of the platform economy. Companies could still serve ads, but they would not be able to use data to target someone’s specific preferences without their consent. “I saw a study that talked about the difference in value of an ad if platforms track information versus do not track,” says Reback. “If you just honor that, it would cut the value Google could charge for an ad by 80 percent.”

That is, the value to the advertiser is cut by 80%.

He’s arguing in favour of a reduction in economic efficiency……

Hip? Hippy? Hypocri…….

Feb 17:

Oxfam is to at least temporarily lose its access to government funding as a result of a tiny number of its staff committing acts

Feb 13:

And the result was abusive: Barclays gained from this.

But is there outrage? I have not heard it.

Has there been a call for banks to take the moral high ground, issued by ministers? No.

Has Barclays been threatened with the loss of all its public contracts? No.

Is it ‘coz Oxfam pays (or has paid) me and Barclay’s hasn’t?

So here’s what the actual complaint is

The moguls behind the world’s biggest pornography websites have been entrusted by the Government with policing the internet to keep it safe for children.

MindGeek staff have held a series of meetings with officials in preparation for the new age verification system which is designed to ensure that under-18s cannot view adult material.

Tens of millions of British adults are expected to have to entrust their private details to MindGeek, which owns the PornHub and YouPorn websites.

Critics have likened the company’s involvement to ‘entrusting the cigarette industry with stopping underage smoking’ and want an independent body to create the system instead.

If a commercially minded firm does this work then the work will be done in a commercially minded manner.

Tarquin and Jocasta won’t get a look in as part of the nascent bureaucracy therefore.

How terrible, eh?

Someone should ask Emma Watson

Completely off topic, but I see on the BBC that Emma Watson has donated £1m to something called the UK Justice and Equality Fund, which is a campaigning group on sexual harassment. As this does not appear to be a charity, and is not a registered political party, I assume she will be receiving a big inheritance tax bill from HMRC in due course, just as those donors to the Brexit campaign did?

A comment from Jim on this very blog.

Well, yes, obviously

The problem that Britain has, partly as a result of cultural and governmental promotion of ownership, is that renting is, objectively speaking, second best. You can currently pay more in rent than an owner would in mortgage interest

The owner has to finance and then also maintain, doesn’t she?

Willy Hutton’s mistake

OK, OK, just today’s mistake from Willy Hutton:

Cities have always been the load-bearers of economic and social advance: agglomerations of people are the source of creativity and scientific experimentation; they also create demand and then supply that demand. Cities are ever more important, but they need to be big – at least 2 million in population by some estimates –to create the scale on which diverse economies depend. London’s advantage, above all, is its size, although it has benefited hugely from an undeclared industrial strategy favouring financial services, the creative industries, its transport and, most recently, its education system. Being the capital doesn’t hurt either, while membership of the EU has attracted hundreds of companies to locate their headquarters there.

Birmingham and Manchester, England’s next biggest cities, need to be bigger and governed as regions to capture these agglomeration effects and organise strategies better to support themselves economically and socially.

Yep, agglomeration, all entirely true. It’s people interacting with people which create economic wealth. Great.

But note the elision there. Willy says that’s about governance. That is, he’s insisting that London’s wealth generation is coming from the GLC (or whatever it’s called now), therefore Brum should have a BLC etc.

London was one of the pre-eminent economies of the globe rather before the GLC existed. The economic wealth creation isn’t therefore reliant upon this method of governance.

But we don’t all agree love

Finally, something on which we can agree: charity officials ought not to buy sex. No one, so far, seems prominently to have argued, of the Oxfam employees’ misconduct in Haiti and Liberia, that, providing their female purchases were adult, and not coerced, then their prostitution should rightly be called sex work, that is: a perfectly dignified transaction, from which both sides – say, impoverished survivors of a disaster and benevolent male humanitarians – stood to benefit.

I have actually made the argument. Private transactions alleviated poverty, great!

We have yet, admittedly, to hear from Amnesty International, the human rights NGO, which now doubles as the world’s leading advocate of legalised prostitution. In 2015, a year that will forever be celebrated by its allies in the pimping and trafficking community, Amnesty committed to the decriminalisation of all aspects of “sex work that does not involve coercion, exploitation or abuse”.

That definition rather kills off pimping and trafficking, doesn’t it?

Why not just make all housing cheaper by building more homes of any kind?

Ministers are planning to build just a sixth of the affordable rented homes needed to meet demand, according to a damning assessment of England’s crisis-hit housing market.

Nearly 600 extra low-cost rented homes need to be built every week if demand is to be met, as more low-income families are locked out of owning their own home. However, the government is only planning to deliver an extra 100 a week under current proposals. It means that demand is outstripping new supply by 500 homes a week, according to new analysis by the independent Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) thinktank. It said that this exposed government building plans as “woefully short” of what is required.

Building a new mansion increases the supply of housing buy that one unit that then brings down, infinitessimally to be sure, the price of all other houses as supply increases relative to demand. Do this a few hundred thousand times and we’re getting there.

It’s also true that the mansion gets occupied, meaning one smaller and more affordable house becomes free for occupation. After all, that is how it works. Cheaper housing tends to be the older stuff, no?

Whose pension comes from the EU?

“Even contempt for ‘experts’ cannot obscure the evidence that the Johnson-led Brexit vote has already damaged and will inflict future harm on the NHS,” Kinnock said. “Meanwhile – vitally – Brexit has already diminished, and will continue to depress, the revenues on which the NHS depends.

“If Johnson really wanted the extra NHS spending, which is sorely needed, he wouldn’t be using the issue as a ploy to feed his lust for the Tory leadership but would be working to end Brexit.

“The truth is that we can either take the increasingly plain risks and costs of leaving the EU or have the stability, growth and revenues vital for crucial public services like the NHS and social care. Recognising that, we should stop Brexit to save the NHS – or, at very least, mitigate the damage by seeking European Economic Area membership.”

No, they’re getting this wrong again

Fathers now take more time off work to care for sick children than mothers, a new survey of parents reveals.

Traditionally it was mothers that stepped in to look after their youngsters when they were ill but a change in social and working attitudes has been attributed to a rise in fathers taking on the role.

A study by health app firm Evergreen Life revealed that a higher percentage of men are now taking time off work to care for their children.

This will be used to show there should be no gender pay gap because fathers more than mothers etc. Missing that mothers tend (as always, tend, this is about averages) to organise life so that time off isn’t needed for the little germ factories that is a nest of young ‘uns.

There’s sharing information and then there’s sharing information

Ken Livingstone, John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn were part of a group of at least 15 senior Labour figures who shared information with Eastern bloc agents, it is claimed.

Jan Sarkocy, a former Czechoslovak spy, described the MPs as “great sources” to himself or his colleagues in the KGB.

The new claims come after he said on Friday that the Labour leader had shared information with the Communist Czechoslovak regime.

My own opinion – based upon no evidence other than just this is what I think they would have done – is that they were over the line. That line between “Here’s a newspaper article” and into “I desire that the system be smashed, here’s some good info.”

But it does depend upon where you draw the line. A generous drawing of it, a too generous one, would have me myself as an agent of the Americans, Brits, Russians and N Koreans all at the same time. That there were some really taking Moscow Gold is known fact. That all were not so. Most I would think would fall under the Tony Benn exception. Regarded by the Soviets as too dippy to be reliable.

Are we supposed to snigger or shout in rage?

The widower of murdered MP Jo Cox has quit two charities set up in her memory after sexual assault allegations from his past resurfaced.

Brendan Cox denied sexually harassing two women while he was married to the late politician, but accepted “inappropriate” behaviour, saying: “I made mistakes and behaved in a way that caused some women hurt and offence.”

He has left posts at More in Common and the Jo Cox Foundation after the Mail on Sunday published accusations made by a former colleague while they both worked at charity Save the Children in 2015.

Sigh

Henry Bolton has been ousted as Ukip leader after members voted overwhelmingly to back a vote of no confidence in him.

The motion, which was issued against him by the party’s national executive last month, was backed by activists 867 votes to 500 at an extraordinary general meeting.

But in an act of defiance, Mr Bolton suggested that he could pursue legal action against individuals in the party over his treatment, having made similar threats to senior party figures on Friday evening.

Quite why an unemployed man would sue over an unpaid job is a little beyond me.

As to the party itself, my party. No, think it’s over. Sad, but there it is. Having won the cats in a sack tendency is just too strong.

Expect less pretty actresses to get film roles

More than 190 of Britain’s leading female actresses are demanding an end to sexual harassment ahead of the Bafta Awards.

For today’s definition of sexual harassment crosses over the line into comely young females using their being comely and young to gain work.

No, I do not mean that it’s just fine and dandy that every young woman who wants to strut their stuff on screen has to watch the producer toss off into a palm plant – and certainly not that rape is just dandy nor fine. But comely youth is something valuable and it’s absolutely certain that one or two have sold it over the years. It might even have been the marginal wannabes doing the selling but still…..any bird who has been to the screen test interview with an extra button undone on the blouse has been doing exactly that.

Illogic

So what is Galloway’s argument? Patient readers must plow through nearly half the essay — though many lovely charts will aid the journey — to find out. Before getting to his casus belli against the SVTAJKSSM, Galloway first runs through a series of “valid concerns” to whet the appetite for antitrust destruction: The Four are really, really big. The Four are addictive. “Google is our modern day god.” The Four don’t pay enough taxes. The Four are destroying massive numbers of jobs.

But destroying jobs is the very point of economic advance.

Owen on housing

Neoliberalism is a con, a fraud, and Britain’s housing crisis vividly illustrates why. The populist promise of neoliberalism has always been about extending choice for the individual. In a properly functioning society – which sadly we do not have – young Britons would be able to choose between a comfortable council house on a secure tenancy, a privately rented home with an affordable rent and security, and home ownership. All of these options have been trashed.

Hmm, as a fully paid up neoliberal I know what I propose to deal with that.

The Tories built this system of endemic insecurity,

Well, no, they didn’t.

The post-war Labour government committed to building council housing to a higher standard than private housing: that pledge must be revived. Local authority-backed mortgages should be promoted on a mass scale; and both stamp duty and an unjust council tax system should both be abolished in favour of a progressive land value tax.

In the private sector, Labour is right to commit to an inflation cap on rent rises and three-year tenancies: but local authorities should be granted the power to impose rent controls, too. Homes which are left empty should face compulsory purchase orders, and then be transformed into council housing. Companies and trusts that aren’t based in Britain should be banned from buying up homes, too.

That’s not what I would do, no.

What I would do is blow up the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and successors. You know, the Labour law which causes the problem in the first place?