State funding of political parties

A political group linked to Ukip has lost a legal attempt to restore EU funds that were suspended over fraud allegations, adding to financial pressure on Eurosceptic parties.

The European court of justice rejected an appeal by the Institute for Direct Democracy in Europe for the release of €670,655 (£587,389) in EU funds, which the organisation had been denied, pending an investigation by Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud office.

I know precisely nothing about the details here.

However, look at what happens when the state, and only the state, funds political parties. Here it’s fraud allegations – again, I know nothing – but think of the power that this gives the authorities. Allege fraud, delay grants, party/organisation falls apart and, well, what does truth or reality matter?

But of course this never would happen, would it, the establishment would never be so brazen as to kill off, say, a populist party in this manner.

No, never.

By the way, how’s Vlaams Block doing these days?

Tell ’em to bugger off

UK negotiators have been warned that the EU draft withdrawal agreement will stipulate that Northern Ireland will, in effect, remain in the customs union and single market after Brexit to avoid a hard border.

The uncompromising legal language of the draft agreement is likely to provoke a major row, something all parties to the negotiations have been trying to avoid.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is still, just, a sovereign nation.

In which case bugger off mateys.

The correct answer here is, as I’ve been saying, to lie.

“And sure enough, this is a border, can’t you see it? We’ve road signs and all saying it’s the border.”

And then carry on much as we do right now. Anything less than an artic going through is just local people doing local things*. Larger cargos get “randomly” checked. And we’re done.

*Adjust according to local intelligence.

What a weird thing to fire people for

One of Britain’s biggest charities last night denied claims it had covered up the reasons behind the departure of senior aid workers, some of whom were accused of using prostitutes in Haiti during relief efforts.

​Oxfam is facing calls to review reports that it let three men resign while four men were sacked over allegations which have emerged about their time in the country in the aftermath of a major earthquake, according to an investigation by The Times.

Sure, they say they’ll pay and they don’t, that would be bad. They’ve taken pledges not to have sex except with those they’re married to, might be a moral case there but employment? Kiddie fiddlers, criminal offence under UK law – even in Haiti.

But willing and paid sex between two consenting adults?

Paying for sex is against Oxfam’s staff code of conduct and in breach of United Nations statements on the behaviour of aid workers, which the charity supported. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti.

Why are they all against private enterprise as a manner of alleviating poverty?

Dear God, he even gets this wrong

This new work breaks ground by emphasising more than financial capital, and that is important because many forms of capital drive growth. In the process it also emphasises vulnerabilities: mineral resources don’t last forever for example, whereas high human capital is associated with high growth.

No it isn’t. The currently rich countries have high human capital. The currently poor countries have low. The poor countries grow faster than the rich.

The association is that high human capital is correlated with past economic growth, not high future such.

It gets worse of course:

Measures are useful for three reasons. The first is comparison. The second is comprehension. The third is as the basis for decision making. What this says is that the best investment in the world is in people. And questions immediately follow, not least as to why so many barriers to education now exist in the UK in the form of student debt, and why have we been so opposed to student migration?

The World Bank’s measure explicitly excludes years of schooling as a measure. Instead:

Human capital wealth is measured for the first time as the present value
of the future earnings of the labor force using household surveys for 141
countries. Human capital is often interpreted to include, among other factors,
the years of schooling of the population, the actual learning taking
place in school and after leaving school, and health investments. In this
book the measure of human capital is based on the present value of the
expected earnings of the labor force, a measure that is consistent with the
concept of capital used for other assets. This measure factors in not only
the number of years of schooling completed by workers, but also the earnings
gains associated with schooling (which implicitly factors in the quality
of the learning taking place in school) and how long workers can work
(which implicitly accounts for health conditions through life expectancy,
among others).

The capitalisation of the extra income stream from the education, not the years of it. And given that an arts degree for a male in the UK, on average of course, is a net loser in income for the student that means that a healthy chunk of university education in the UK subtracts from national wealth.

Which is why we have a loan system to fund it. In the hope that the 18 year olds will have enough nous not to do degrees which lower their lifetime income.

Silly Senior Lecturer

Many commentators now seem to agree stock markets are heavily over valued. If the correction is not now it is coming.

But still people buy. If ever proof of irrationality was required, or alternatively that there persists a belief amongst many that they can beat the market, this looks like it.

For every seller there is a buyer. Meaning that there are always (well, OK, St Petersburg exchange, 1917) people who still buy.


No Zoe, that’s actually the important question

That is the hot-button pay-gap question of the day – do women choose low-paid sectors because they are more naturally suited to them? Or is this all a gender construct, with the patriarchy putting centuries of graft into persuading one sex that they are hardwired to do the stuff the other sex doesn’t like the look of? Always happy to wade into a fight about gender essentialism, I sometimes forget to reject the premise. It doesn’t matter why women go into female-dominated sectors. The only question that matters is why women’s work is less well-paid.

Idiot is idiot

The much-anticipated launch of Musk’s Falcon Heavy rocket, the most powerful ever launched by a private company, went off without a hitch. Musk successfully sent his cherry-red Tesla roadster hurtling toward Mars, launching what a CNN commentator called “a new space age”.

There is, perhaps, no better way to appreciate the tragedy of 21st-century global inequality than by watching a billionaire spend $90m launching a $100,000 car into the far reaches of the solar system.

Twat. All new launchers are tested with a valueless payload before anyone entrusts anything important to them.

France is a despotism, says Guardian

So it is with his latest scheme, his instruction to the top brass of the US armed forces to lay on a military parade in the nation’s capital, perhaps on 4 July. He’d been nagging the generals about this for a while but, according to the Washington Post, he gave the order at a meeting at the Pentagon last month.

Donald Trump orders Pentagon to plan grand military parade
Read more
No need for us to deconstruct the motive behind this instruction. It came after Trump was the guest at France’s Bastille Day parade, where he stood at Emmanuel Macron’s side and watched tanks, gun trucks and column after column of starchly uniformed soldiers. “We’re going to have to try and top it,” Trump said afterwards. (The actual order to military chiefs was phrased in the language of a spoiled child: “I want a parade like the one in France.”)

Trump’s desire for a military parade reveals him as a would-be despot
Jonathan Freedland

Elsewhere on the Uber gender earnings gap

None of that is external discrimination by customers or the employer in any manner. Yet there’s still that 7 percent gap in earnings, which gives us two important points in that ongoing conversation about gender equity.

If in the entire absence of any form of discrimination we’re seeing a gender earnings gap, then we cannot go around shouting that the existence of a gender earnings gap is due to discrimination. Which rather explodes the rhetoric of that 77-cent gap.

But much more importantly, we’ve got to decide what we’d like to do about this.

Or, as we might put it, men are paid exactly the same as women, men earn more than women.


We’re paying for this research

Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast, in collaboration the University of Manchester and the University of Gothenburg (Sweden), have uncovered new evidence to suggest that the Sicilian mafia arose to notoriety in the 1800s in response to the public demand for citrus fruits.

Arguably one of the most infamous institutions in the Western world, the Sicilian mafia, first appeared in Sicily in the 1870s and soon infiltrated the economic and political spheres of Italy and the United States.

Dr Arcangelo Dimico, Lecturer in Economics from Queen’s Management School, and the research team hypothesized that the Sicilian mafia rose to power due to the high public demand for oranges and lemons following physician James Lind’s discovery in the late eighteenth century that citrus fruits could prevent and cure scurvy, due to their high levels of vitamin c.

I read this a few years back in a book about the Mafia that had been published at least a decade before.


Wibble, wibble, wibble

Love Island finalist Olivia Attwood has shed light on the alleged Love Island gender pay gap, revealing that female stars were reportedly offered less than their male counterparts for the same work after leaving the show.

The women and men who participated in the reality television show, in which single contestants are sent to an island and instructed to couple up and find love, were given a variety of employment opportunities with outside companies after the programme ended.

Although ITV offers an equal prize for winning the show, regardless of gender, stars have allegedly found that other companies they have worked with offered women less money.

The jobs on offer included nightclub appearances, paid sponsorships on social media, media appearances and partnerships with brands.

Ms Attwood claimed that women were offered less money for these roles than the men who participated in the reality television show.

Different slebs are worth different amounts for sleb appearances.

Shock, Horror.

Kerry Katona will turn up to the opening of an envelope, Daniel Craig will not, their prices are different. Ho hum.

Does he keep the anonymity if found guilty?

The alleged fantasist who sparked the Westminster paedophile investigation has been charged with child sex offences.

The man, who can only be identified as Nick, was arrested last year and has already appeared in court, charged with multiple offences relating to allegations of making and possessing hundreds of indecent images of children. He has also been charged with voyeurism.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges, which allegedly took place between 2015 and 2016, and is expected to stand trial later this year.

Isn’t it something of a breach of civil liberty for someone anonymous to be convicted? You know, justice must be seen to be done? One of the points being that no one can just get railroaded, we’ve got to know who is being punished for what?

The Anglo Saxon Wave for Brussels

Brussels is demanding that Theresa May submit to powers allowing the European Union to ground flights, suspend single market access and impose trade tariffs on the UK during the Brexit transition period.

Under the proposals, the EU would have unprecedented legal powers — without the oversight of European courts — to punish Britain unilaterally if it breached the terms of the transition.

Oh Aye?

A five-page legal text drafted by the European Commission and seen by The Times yesterday will infuriate Tory backbenchers who regard transition arrangements as reducing Britain to a “vassal state” after Brexit. The text calls for “a mechanism allowing the union to suspend certain benefits deriving for the UK from participation in the internal market where it considers that referring the matter to Court of Justice of the EU would not bring in appropriate time the necessary remedies”.

About time we told them to simply fuck off and die, eh?

For those are, quite literally, dictatorial powers being demanded by an unelected bureaucracy. For the temerity of our having decided to leave their embrace. Better to bugger off and rely on the courts than that, eh?

Sure, why not?

The earliest Britons were black-skinned, with dark curly hair and possibly blue eyes, new analysis of a 10,000-year-old Somerset skeleton has revealed.


The results show, contrary to popular belief, that the founding generations of Britons owed more in appearance to Paleolithic Africans, from whom all humans descend.

Scientists said they show that commonly understood racial categories are historically only “recent constructions”.

Sure. Lighter skin is an evolutionary adaptation to northern climes.

Dr Yoan Dieckmann, from University College London, who took part in the project, said: “The historical perspective that you get just tells you that things change, things are in flux, and what may seem as a cemented truth that people who feel British should have white skin, through time is not at all something that is an immutable truth.

“It has always changed and will change.”

And yet that’s a different point. Isn’t it now? Something of a logical leap from “early Britons were black skinned” to “mass immigration ain’t no thing.” Note that my comment is purely about the logic on display, not the assertion itself.

What in buggery?

Google and Facebook could be forced to help fund quality news publishers after Theresa May said the decline of print journalism was “dangerous for our democracy”.

The Prime Minister announced a wide-ranging review of the media industry to “preserve the future of high quality national and local newspapers in the UK” to counter the rise of so-called fake news.

The Government wants search engines and social media sites to pay traditional news providers their “fair share” of the vast digital advertising revenues reaped by the likes of Google on the back of content they do not pay for.

Mrs May is prepared to legislate, if necessary, to force online platforms to share some of their profits with news-gathering organisations.

Gillette should pay to retrain barbers? Red flag makers taxed to pay for farriers?

What is this stupidity?

Yes it was, and?

Half a century ago, Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation took BBC viewers on a tour de force of Western culture, setting a standard for arts broadcasting and educating a generation along the way.

This year, the 21st century version of the landmark show is to turn a critical eye to the history of British civilisation, questioning whether it is built on “looting and plunder” and who, really, are the barbarians.

Anyone want to try and name a non-autarchic civilisation that wasn’t built upon plunder?