Dangerously close….

Four stowaways who allegedly threatened the crew of a cargo ship with armed bars were detained by police on Friday night after an operation to secure the vessel was launched off the Kent coast.

The crew of Grande Tema, en route from Lagos in Nigeria to Tilbury in Essex, locked themselves on the bridge after the stowaways they had discovered broke free from a cabin and started to make their demands.

The men had allegedly demanded the crew sail close to the British coast so they could jump off and swim ashore.

….to piracy on the high seas with violence there. Pity T. Blair changed the law on this really. Using Execution Dock again would provide a notable lesson and warning….

Ghastly, horrible, nonsense

I have changed what I eat because of the now overwhelming evidence of global environmental damage caused by meat and dairy production. It produces more climate-warming emissions than all cars, trains, ships and planes combined. If the world’s diet doesn’t change, we simply can’t beat climate change.


This is an invention of those who would change our diets anyway. Look back to the basic emissions pathways underlying everything. Standard technological advance and economic growth – the A1T scenario – leave climate change as a trivial problem to be ignored. We really don’t need radical anything – and we’ve already done more than enough to bump technology over to this pathway anyway.

The logic works

The world’s first ever no-kill eggs are now on sale in Berlin after German scientists found an easy way to determine a chick’s gender before it hatches, in a breakthrough that could put an end to the annual live shredding of billions of male chicks worldwide.

The patented “Seleggt” process can determine the sex of a chick just nine days after an egg has been fertilised. Male eggs are processed into animal feed, leaving only female chicks to hatch at the end of a 21-day incubation period.

“If you can determine the sex of a hatching egg you can entirely dispense with the culling of live male chicks,” said Seleggt managing director Dr Ludger Breloh, who spearheaded the four-year programme by German supermarket Rewe Group to make its own-brand eggs more sustainable.

We rather expect that abortion reduces infanticide in humans…..

So what?

Doctors have been accused of denying medicinal cannabis to patients on the NHS despite its legalisation by Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary.

Patients are being forced to pay for the treatment privately or travel abroad after being told by doctors they are not entitled to the drug because there is no clinical evidence that it is beneficial.

They’ll not give you antibiotics for a cold either, on the grounds that there’s no clinical evidence that’s beneficial.

It’s not about being homeless

The number of homeless people dying in England and Wales increased by a quarter over the last five years, with 597 deaths recorded in 2017.

Campaigners said figures published by the Office for National Statistics were a “source of national shame” with 115 more deaths last year than in 2013.

The data also showed the average age of the homeless men who died was 44 and for women it was just 42 while more than half of all deaths were because of drug poisoning, liver disease or suicide.

Those rough sleeping regularly have one or more of metal health, drug or booze problems. These aren’t things solved by having more houses.

It’s not really wrong until Julie Bindel supports it, is it?

The latest census on femicide – women killed by men – has shown that during 2017, a staggering 139 women in the UK died as a result of male violence. But nobody joined the dots between these cases except for feminists campaigning against male violence towards women. Despite there being an obvious link between the misogynistic culture under which brutal – and often fatal – male violence occurs, the UK government has never made the connection that these women die because men’s violence towards women and girls is a global pandemic.

The resistance to legally making misogyny a hate crime (currently under review) is partly down to the fact that it is such a huge everyday reality that it seems impossible to enforce. If the police did their job and treated every domestic violence incident as a potential fatality, we might prevent some deaths of vulnerable women and children. But to end the deaths of women relating to domestic violence, there needs to be a robust criminal justice response that intervenes at the earliest stages.

Well, yes, yes and no.

Bayesian probabilities- among those murdered women are more likely to be snuffed by someone they know, among those who might be murdered men more so. Odd that only the one is a scandal leading to the invention of that new campaign about femicide, isn’t it? Almost as if there’s a certain bias on show. We’d never, never, suggest that one gender is only happy when complaining as a result now, would we?

We are equal opportunity snarkists around here

There are many plans for making the world better. Some of them stemming even from lived experience of the real world.

Maybe we should go back to the good old days with less than 5% of the cohort going to university. But I’m not a reactionary, oh no. I wouldn’t insist on Latin for admission. I would insist on a decent standard in maths though, and at least one modern language that is not the applicant’s mother tongue.

A spot of science too? One argument would say “settle for physics”. Another argument would say that a bright boy – or girl – could teach himself much of physics from books, but to learn some chemistry you really need to do some lab, therefore demand chemistry for admissions. A finely-balanced argument I’d say. Views sought on biology.

That one might betray, ever such a tad, some of that experience. Say, the lived wisdom of having taught chemistry at a very selective university which used to demand Latin as an entry requirement?

I wouldn’t want to say myself….

Well, obviously, yes

Student loans must be added to the deficit, the Office for National Statistics has said, as almost eight in ten graduates never pay it back in full.

The new accounting system, which comes into force next autumn, will be a blow for the Treasury as it will leave a £12 billion hole in public finances, according to official forecasts.

The ONS will now split the loans into two parts – financial assets and government expenditure. It marks a break with the current system where student loans do not count as government spending, despite the fact that many graduates do not earn enough to re-pay the loan.

“The design of the system means much of this student loan debt will never be repaid, and is therefore written off by the government,” said David Bailey, head of public sector division at the ONS.

My only confusion is why wasn’t it treated like this before?

Hmm, well,

A former TalkTalk manager is suing the telecoms giant after allegedly learning she earned 40 per cent less than male colleagues doing the same job.

Rebecca Burke, 42, was paid a basic salary of £110,000 as she helped lead the company’s cyber security programme in the wake of a high-profile data breach.

The 42-year-old, who was made redundant in May 2017, claims three other programme directors had salaries an average of 40 per cent higher and were awarded at least 50 per cent more in bonuses.

A tribunal claim has been brought against TalkTalk on the grounds it breached equal pay law and dismissed her unfairly.

The three male comparators weren’t made redundant.

Which makes it slightly difficult, no? We might argue that the worst of the four was fired, the worst of the four got the least pay before the firing. The discrimination here is?

As The Guardian finds out, this capitalism stuff is tough

The Guardian delays pay rises in struggle to break even


The Guardian is attempting to avoid the full impact of staff pay rises this year as managers struggle to meet their pledge to end a long run of heavy losses.

The news publisher is in the final year of a three-year turnaround plan and chief executive David Pemsel and editor Katharine Viner are aiming for its operations to break even for the first time in two decades.

But of course all employers should be providing good jobs, at good pay, the capitalists and their profits be damned, no?


A US federal judge in Texas ruled on Friday that the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is unconstitutional, a decision that was likely to be appealed to the supreme court.

US district judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of 20 states that a change in tax law last year eliminating a penalty for not having health insurance invalidated the entire Obamacare law.

I think Obamacare was a bad idea, badly implemented. That it might be unconstitutional could also be true – it was such a kludge that it wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Gonna be fun.

The positive money fools

So, why did Northern Rock go bust then?

Because it expanded its loans faster than its deposit base. That’s what we’re told at least:

Had Northern Rock instead expanded its lending – and created the type of money used by the public – at the same rate as other banks, it would have found that its daily inflows of central bank reserves roughly matched its outflows (since the payments from its customers to other banks would be cancelled out by payments from other banks to customers of Northern Rock). It is unlikely that it would have become so dependent then on interbank lending to be able to make its payments. The very reason why Northern Rock went bust was the sheer speed at which it was creating money through issuing loans, which created a massive outflow of deposits which had to be settled by securing the reserves from somewhere.

Well, no, not really, because those deposits created by its own lending, they were heading out the door too – recall those lines waiting for their money back?

Still, their correction of my argument does end up confirming my argument.

Banks don’t create money, they create credit. It’s central banks that create money. The entirety of their confusion coming from money pus credit equals one measure of the money supply.

As a guide to their level of accuracy:

It’s worth considering who’s most likely to be accurate: a Daily Telegraph journalist and the commenters on his blog, or the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and other banking officials quoted here.

They think I work at the Telegraph. Hmm…..

What a change this is

The Army and Capita have introduced some “significant changes” in the last year, but none have resulted in enough soldiers being recruited, according to the NAO.

The report found that it took up to 321 days for new recruits to go from starting an application to beginning basic training, and that many drop out of the process while waiting

Used to be you drank the free beer, signed up and were marched away with the hangover. Grab ’em as soon as they say yes that is.

OK, we might want a bit more of a consistent desire rather than a transient one these days. But still, nearly a year?

Others around here know much more about this than I. So, what’s the basic problem here? Is it Crapita? Or is something deeper wrong?

All belongs to us

The tax policy gap is the tax not paid in a country as a result of the decision made by a government not to tax a potential tax base, such as wealth. Additionally it is the value of the tax reliefs, allowances and exemptions given by a government for offset against a source of income that might otherwise be taxable.

Seriously? A potential tax base is all incomes of everyone. Not taxing all incomes at 100% is therefore a tax policy gap?

The definition of tax avoidance has also changed, no?

Tax avoidance is taxpayer determined behaviour where the taxpayer decides to submit a tax return and declare their tax liabilities based on an interpretation of the applicable law of the jurisdiction that the taxpayer knows may be unacceptable to the tax authority of that country. They do so knowing that the risk of their potential misinterpretation of the law being discovered is limited and so the chance of appearing to reduce their liability in ways they claim to be legal, whether that is true or not, is sufficiently high for them to justify the risk of doing so. The scale of this issue is related to the complexity of the tax system and the degree of uncertainty that might exist as to the proper interpretation of the tax rules that it creates.

No, that’s an attempt at tax evasion.

I stress that tax avoidance does not ever include making use of tax reliefs and allowances provided by the law of a country: the cost of these is included in the tax policy gap.

Therefore Vodafone wasn’t avoiding tax, was it? Because the law in place at the time specifically stated that the money piling up in Luxembourg was not taxable in the UK.

He’s changed his definitions. Which means that his numbers or the tax gap should be much lower. But will they be?

In that case not agreeing with a tax authority’s interpretation of tax law is not wrong. Disagreement can be honest.

Well, yes, Vodafone, Boots, Starbucks…..

Does tax avoidance dishonestly appropriate property belonging to another? I would suggest not. I would say it knowingly exploits uncertainty in the law to secure a pecuniary advantage, but that most of those doing it will have secured an opinion from a professional adviser before doing so that the action in question was legal, even if it had an uncertain consequence. And those opinions (which will not be publicly available, but which will be in the possession of the tax avoiding taxpayer) will be more than enough to show that the tax avoider had no intention of being dishonest, precisely because they had gone out of the way to make sure that they had an opinion to say they were acting legally, even if with dubious ethical intention.

And ain’t that a change? It wasn’t long ago that asking for a legal opinion was proof perfect of avoidance. For why ask if you’re not trying to avoid?

I don’t think so Miss

Why I’ve decided it’s OK to accept an MBE from the Queen
Ms Dynamite

T’ain’t Brenda who decides who gets the MBE. Nor near all gongs – it’s politics which does. The Victorian Order is hers, so also, umm, Companion of Honour? Or is it Order of Merit? There’s a committee at Number 10 which decides on the rest.

And you’re going to be very lucky indeed if it’s Brenda who pins the MBE on you. Might find it’s a more minor royal, possibly even as Deputy Lord Lieutenant.

And, umm, yes, we do expect the English to know these things.