Something must be done!

The gunman who allegedly killed at least 17 people at a Florida high school on Wednesday was a former student who posted disturbing material on social media and was “crazy about guns”.

Police identified the suspect as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Miami.

The suspect was wearing a gas mask and carrying smoke grenades, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida told CNN.

OK, what?

Any bright ideas on how to disarm a nation of 300 million guns? Even if all ignore that legal bit and the Second Amendment?


Again, I’d prefer the exorbitantly free market ethos of Hong Kong to the Nordic disposition. But it is still true that if you want that Scandi life then you’ve got to do it as they do. Very local government and taxation plus a distinctly less economically interventionist government – that’s the only way you’ll still gain the growth which allows all that welfare spending.

Local churches for local people

Since the 16th century the Leigh family, Austen’s relatives, had owned Adlestrop Park, the great house which is thought to have inspired Sotherton Court, the estate in her novel Mansfield Park.

But the house has been restored and is now owned by the Collins family who are also generous donors to projects including the refurbishment of the church’s five bells.

Now the rector and churchwardens have asked a consistory court to let Dominic Collins install a hatchment, a coat of arms display, in the church in memory of his late wife.

But the idea was opposed by local historian and Austen expert Victoria Huxley, who said it was inappropriate to install a memorial to a family who were not the Leighs.

She wrote: “I was very surprised that someone with a relatively short link to the village (compared to the age of the church) should seek to place their coat of arms in the church, and I do not think that most people in the village have been alerted to this request,” adding: “I feel that only a family which has strong ties over several generations should have such a display.”

Moron. Such hatchments act – to use a modern terminology – as a blockchain recording who were the major landowners in the area. Absolutely every one of them was new at some time, marking the social climbing of some arriviste. Still become that historical record though.

What an ambition, eh?

I would like a world where there was no need for development aid.

To say so is not to come over all Daily Express / Rees-Moggish all of a sudden. I have worked towards that aim for most of this century. This, at its core, is what tax justice is all about.

This is not a discussion of disaster assistance: that is quite another issue. I am talking about development here.

By Ritchie/TJN numbers a complete absence of that offshore dodging would raise some $120 billion a year. Or add 0.5% to government revenues globally.

That’s all that’s needed is it?

What was needed was a mechanism to ensure that the so called developing countries could move on from aid and become the fully fledged, self-governing, democratic and self-supporting states that they deserved to be, that their people rightly demanded, and that anyone who respected them should wish for.

We were quite sure we had two mechanisms to deliver that. One was tax. The other was transparency. We wrapped them together under the banner tax justice. I wish I could say that the rest is history, but it’s not yet.

Strangely, the people who know about these things recommend neoliberal globalisation instead. It’s how China got rich recently, it’s how India and Bangladesh are following….it’s what has produced the largest fall in absolute poverty in the history of our species.

You’ve heard about the difference between charges brought and convictions achieved?

News broke yesterday that Barclays Bank is to be charged with criminal offences. I stress, not the directors or some names individual, but the Bank itself.

The charge does, admittedly, relate to events in the past. It is alleged that in 2008 the Bank lent £3 billion ( I stress, billion) to Qatar so that Qatar could use those funds to buy shares in Barclays that then ensured Barclays would not need to be nationalised, unlike Lloyd’s and RBS.

There was just one problem with this arrangement. It was illegal. Banks may not explicitly lend to assist others to buy shares in themselves.

Barclays, of course, knew this.

Well, no, not quite. The allegation is that the actions were illegal and that this was known.

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

Err, punishment comes after the trial, no?

The power of neoliberals

Richard Murphy says:
February 13 2018 at 10:59 am
I have condemned those who abused when in Oxfam’s employment

I have said Oxfam made mistakes

Helen Evans said the government and Charity Commission did as well

And yes, it is a neoliberal plot

Never knew I had the power to get elderly Dutchmen to shell out for dusky maidens. The things you learn, eh?

Heinz Kiosk

But the question then becomes what needs to be done?

What would be wholly inappropriate to say that this issue is only Oxfam’s. It is not.

And what would be wholly inappropriate would be to end all aid. That would compound the issue.

And what would also be wrong would be to close Oxfam when so many have done so much good there.

Just as it would be wrong to stop charities speaking out. After all, who then would speak for the abused when it is very clear that in this case the government and Charity Commission turned a complete blind eye, unlike Oxfam, when they knew of the issue?

What is required is better safeguarding. All of society has to pay for that.

And what is required beyond that is a change of culture: a completely holistic reform.


But reinforcing the status quo of predominantly white male power inherent within modern capitalism, whose power structures have been copied within far too many charities, is not going to deliver that change. But that is what The Times wants.

White folks, as enriched by capitalism, are the only people who have ever had the luxury of pondering child and sexual abuse. OK, so, perhaps those not-white folks similarly enriched too.


MPs have accused the “big four” accountancy firms of “feasting on what was soon to become a carcass” as it emerged they banked £72m for work linked to collapsed government contractor Carillion in the years leading up to its financial failure.

How much of that is mandatory under the law? What would be a likely audit fee? That is, how much of that £70 large odd is because the MPs insisted?

Obviously this would happen

A bitter public feud has erupted among the family of the late French rock star Johnny Hallyday after two of his children challenged his will, which leaves his entire reported €100 million (£89m) estate to his fourth wife.

Hundreds of thousands had gathered to mourn the death of the crooner they called “the French Elvis” at his funeral last month in which President Emmanuel Macron delivered a eulogy that moved many to tears across the country.

But weeks after the huge show of national unity, “Johnny” came back to haunt France after his 34-year old daughter, the actress Laura Smet, announced she was challenging the will because it failed to leave her anything.

Nothing causes family rows quite like inheritance, eh?

To defend Oxfam

And does he really think the world would have been a better place without the work development agencies have done, including the lobbying that has, for example, resulted in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and country-by-country reporting that are designed to hold the world’s multinational corporations to account when no one else has been able to make that demand?

Kiddie fiddling’s not so bad when the people doing it support the idea of mine. Invented by me.


The practice is called wigging: stuntmen don wigs and women’s clothing to resemble female actors while filming risky action scenes.

Camera angles, special effects and editing preserve the illusion that it is a pulchritudinous star leaping off a building or driving through a window rather than a man in drag.

Audiences may not know or care but stuntwomen do because it means less work for them.

One is now mounting what is believed to be the first legal challenge to wigging. Deven MacNair, a Los Angeles-based stunt performer, is planning to sue a production company and Hollywood’s acting union over a male colleague performing a stunt in drag instead of giving the job to a stuntwoman.

“The practice is so common,” she told the Guardian on Wednesday. “It’s historical sexism – this is how it’s been done since the beginning of time.”

The answer is to insist that the act of donning a wig makes one a woman. For in this modern age there is no other definition is there, just the claim?

No Telegraph, really, just no

Thousands of government websites have been hijacked by hackers to mine cryptocurrency, in a process known as “cryptojacking”, it has emerged.

The sites, including the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Scottish NHS helpline and the Student Loans company – along with hundreds of other central and local government sites – appear to have been running a power-pinching program that uses visitors’ computers to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

No, the websites aren’t hijacked. They’re infected. They’re not using the servers to mine, they’re using visitors’ computers.

Sigh. You’d think the young shavers would get this part of the world right, wouldn’t you?

They’ve gone quite rigid with the shock

Time for an Epipen methinks:

Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit stories have enthralled generations of children with their tales of warm camaraderie and gentle mischief.

But a new film adaptation of the much-loved classic has prompted a furious backlash and calls for it to be withdrawn from cinemas because the protagonist and his furry friends deliberately pelt an allergic man with blackberries.

Allergy UK said the film, due to be released in the UK next month, “mocks” allergy sufferers and trivialises a life threatening condition.

Carla Jones, the charity’s CEO, said: “Anaphylaxis can and does kill. To include a scene in a children’s film that includes a serious allergic reaction and not to do it responsibly is unacceptable, as is bullying.

“Mocking allergic disease shows a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of food allergy and trivialises the challenges faced by those who live with this condition, particularly parents who live in fear of their child suffering a life threatening reaction.”

No such thing as bad publicity as long as they spell the name right, eh? Wonder how much the film’s producers paid for this?

Chomp, chomp, chomp

Ministers have launched an investigation into claims that foreign aid officials brushed off allegations of child abuse committed by aid workers.

Priti Patel, who ran the department until November, writes in the Telegraph that the Oxfam prostitution scandal is only “the tip of the iceberg” but that her own officials had “dismissed” her concerns when she raised them.

Oxfam, one of the world’s largest charities, is facing mounting criticism over its handling of sex allegations, but has denied it tried to cover up the use of prostitutes by workers who were supposed to be helping victims of a major earthquake in Haiti in 2011.

Oooh, look, the left is eating itself.

Not thatr I actually know this but my guess so far. Save the Children told on Oxfam and the tarts in Haiti. Oxfam then told on StC and Jo Cox’s widower. So StC told on Oxfam and Chad. And someone’s now stirring further.

An interesting assertion

The assault by shadow chancellor John McDonnell came as he pledged total, “permanent” and cost-free renationalisation of water, energy and rail if Labour won power at the next election.

The logic goes like this. Government can borrow more cheaply than the private sector (well, most often, not always).

Buy the companies with the cheap money, the dividend income more than covers the interest costs, free money!

Well, OK. But did it actually work out that way last time around? Actually, no, it didn’t. The nationalised industries were less efficient. Less profit that is, for any given level of charges and or quality of service. We can tell this because both profits and levels of service have risen since privatisation.

At which point the question becomes well, what’s the balance between that lesser efficiency and the cheapness of financing? Past experience of nationalised British companies doesn’t favour the financing side of that equation, does it?

Good question

Interestingly, it comes from one of the commenters, not the Senior Lecturer:

Here I think, we get to the nub of the issue. Assuming we are intent upon taking this forward.

Let us ignore what precise figure we will accept as ‘full employment’. The number is not arbitrary, but by for example, raising the pension age, or the school leaving age it can be shifted substantially at a stroke. Also there will always inevitably be a degree of churn at any given time and that is not only inevitable, but necessary.

In terms of developing policy it is pointless to speak of ‘full employment’ without considering what we are going to accept as ’employment’ and how its ‘fullness’ might be achieved.

An extremely useful definition is to look at it the other way around. As Marx said, if we’ve got full employment, no more than frictional unemployment, then labour compensation should rise in line with productivity.

Thus, if labour compensation is rising in line with productivity we’ve full employment…..we quite obviously haven’t had in recent years, we’re about there now.