January 2015

Calling you military types

So, Army to have a unit to deal with Twitter:

The Army is setting up a new unit that will use psychological operations and social media to help fight wars “in the information age”.

Head of the Army General Sir Nick Carter said the move was about trying to operate “smarter”.

The 77th Brigade, made up of reservists and regular troops and based in Hermitage, Berkshire, will be formally created in April.

OK. But do they actually mean “brigade”? Something above regimental formation? With a Major General in charge? To do Twitter?

Well, yes

Buried deep in the Ministry of Defence’s latest accounts is the startling fact that Richards has amassed a retirement hoard worth £4 million.

It is thought to be the largest sum ever racked up by a public servant and is likely to raise eyebrows at a time when the Army has been forced to sell off its crown jewels such as the Old War Office in an effort to raise money.

The pot, which stood at £3.99 million last March, includes a lump sum payout of up to £445,000.

The accounts state that he receives a gold-plated annual pension as high as £150,000 before tax. However, a source says that due to Coalition tax changes, his pension will now be £117,107.

The reason
that pension has such a high value is that it’s likely to be paid out for a long time. He’s 62. Actuarially, that’s going to be paid for 20-25 years.

Also, interest rates are currently low so that actuarial value of the lump sum that equals such an income is high.

Bit of a non-story really.

Well, no, not really

Energy companies, a poll showed this week, are now even more detested than the banks. And no wonder. As we reported yesterday, their profits have soared by 50 per cent per household due to falling gas prices, since – on top of all their other sins – they have failed to pass on the benefits to their customers. It’s been calculated that the average annual bill would be lowered by £140 if they reflected all these savings; instead, measly recent cuts have only reduced them by between £9 and £35, depending on the miserliness of the company.

A little over a year ago the Big Six were telling everyone who would listen that “green taxes” were responsible for their high prices. Many, if not this column, swallowed the lie. Their number included the Prime Minister, who reputedly vowed to cut the “green crap”; in practice this meant slashing the only programme that helped poor people reduce their bills.

The energy companies offer fixed price deals. This means that they buy their supplies forward. Meaning that much of what is currently passing through the pipes was bought at the old higher prices.

And recall that Miliboy said that he was going to make them cut their prices? Meaning that they had to buy forward in order to protect against upside risk?


A factory worker has been jailed for four years after he was cleared of having sex with a Shetland pony but convicted of outraging public decency.

Both the perversion and the law.

The judge pointed out that, while the outraging public decency charge was only added halfway through the trial, it actually carried an unlimited sentence whereas the main charge he was cleared of – intercourse with an animal – carries a two-year maximum.

The second charge was added when lawyers in the case realised that Barnfield could only be found guilty of the central charge if he had actually had penetrative sex with the animal and that he would have to be aquitted if this could not be proved.

I don’t think I agree with that. I’m pretty sure that I want whatever the charges are to be set at the beginning of the trial. And if they don’t apply the right ones, well, that’s tough. They’ve got one chance at proving tht liberty should be forefeit only.

Umm, Ritchie

Companies have forgotten how to make money

Well, OK, could be true.

If you want me to suggest a company that has no clue what to do with its money start with Apple.

The company that has just posted the largest quarterly profit in history is an example of a company that has forgotten how to make money.

It’s cash pile exceeds $100 billion.

A company with vast cash piles of retained profits is an example of a company that has forgotten how to make money.

What a Wazzock

So I get told to stop grumbling:

“It should be noted that GDP measures the value of goods and services produced in a country and is not identical to a company’s revenue. “Apple Is Not As Big As Israel, Greece, Denmark Or Hong Kong, Please, Get A Grip,” grumbled Forbes. But just because GDP is different doesn’t mean the comparison isn’t useful; indeed it highlights an important shift in the power balance between countries and corporations.”

OK, that’s told me then, eh?

But then we get:

“Take Nokia, for example, which accounted for a 4% of the Finnish GDP in 2000 and had 41% of the mobile phone market worldwide in 2006. “

Nokia’s 2006 turnover was of the order of 56 billion euros. Or more than 50% of Finnish GDP in 2000. The difference between 50% and 4% of GDP is quite large isn’t it? So, umm, perhaps they’re not all that great as numbers to compare then, eh?

BTW, Apple as a percentage of US GDP. About 0.6%. Roughly you understand.

So Ritchie doesn’t understand how tax works then

If Apple wants to prove itself a leader in every way, and not just in technology, it should now lead the pack of tech companies into constructive negotiations with the OECD in Paris to develop a tax system that truly, and fairly, ensures it pays the taxes it owes in the countries were it earns them.

Hmm. So here’s HMRC:

Non-resident trading companies which do not have a branch in the UK, but have UK customers, will therefore pay tax on the profits arising from those customers in the country where the company is resident, according to the tax law in that country. The profits will not be taxed in the UK. This is not tax avoidance: it is simply the way that corporation tax works.

He hasn’t even grasped the basics of how the system works, has he?

Murray Worthy, of Action Aid, is an idiot

Murray Worthy, tax campaign manager for the charity ActionAid, said it was time for the tech giant to come clean on its finances and tax payments.

‘The announcement by Apple today of the biggest profits in history is only part of the story. Despite this news, corporate secrecy means we still don’t know whether they’re paying a fair share of tax,’ he told Channel 4 News.

How much tax they pay is in their sodding accounts you twat.

And we know that, on their outside the US profits, they pay pretty much nothing (2% or so) and inside the US they pay 28% or so, about right for a 35% tax rate and the standard deductions. They actually print a report with all of this in it four times a year.

Sorry Zoe, this argument doesn’t work

“I’ve heard if you earn minimum wage in England you’re in the top 10% earners in the world. #stay #humble” The central mystery surrounding Stuart Broad’s sanctimonious Twitter activity (he has since apologised) is how he came to be a cricketer. You would think someone with poor numeracy would be better suited to a sport like football.

It is relatively easy to be in the richest 10% on the minimum wage, if you’re happy to live in a very expensive place. The minimum wage in Gabon is £3,672, or less than a third of our £13,500. On the other hand, a suburban one-bedroom flat there is £63 a month, or less than an eighth the cost of the average suburban one-bedder in the UK (£541). A couple more data points (average public transport, 17p to £2.20) and the picture is pretty plain; someone on the minimum wage in the UK may technically be richer, but could buy a lot less and will ergo struggle a lot more. Money doesn’t mean anything out of context: its value is determined by what you can buy with it. Most people figure this out by the age of about seven.

if this is true then there’s some other things that follow. Like it doesn’t matter that the top 1% own 50% of everything. Because a great deal of that is just average housing in expensive parts of the world. Further, UK inequality is much lower than recorded because prices vary around the country.

You don’t get to have it both ways.

Well, yes, obviously

The world can enjoy higher standards of living and more travel, while drastically cutting emissions to avoid dangerous climate change – but only with sweeping changes to our infrastructure, the natural world and agriculture, a new analysis has found.

The UK government analysis also assumes that billions of people will remain in dire poverty at mid-century, despite efforts to lift them to greater prosperity, as the population rises to an estimated nine billion people.

Of course this is true
. We know damn well it is true. For this is part of the starting assumptions that we use to work out what’s going to happen to the climate. That your conclusion mathes your original assumption is a useful check on your internal logic but it’s hardly startling news.


This is lies!

Pressure to review prostitution laws is coming from an EU anti-trafficking directive that obliges member states to “reduce demand” for human trafficking. Given that at least 70 per cent of trafficking in Europe is into forced prostitution, a lot of people are arguing that the best way to reduce demand for trafficking is to reduce demand for prostitution. And one way to do that is to criminalise the buyer.

Seriously, this is out and out lying.

Sex trafficking statistics are frustratingly incomplete, but a recent report estimated the number of victims in Europe at 270,000.

Total bollocks.

Myria Vassiliadou, the EU anti-trafficking co-ordinator, tells me about a Nigerian woman she met recently in London. This woman was trafficked to Britain where she served up to 20 clients a day. “She was telling these clients that she didn’t want to be there, that she was forced and that she would be killed if she didn’t do what the traffickers said. She told the men and the men would say, ‘I don’t care. I paid for this.’”

Sounds most unlikely really.

Forced prostitution comes in many guises. Some women are kidnapped, others are tricked with the promise of jobs as nannies or waitresses. Others choose to work as prostitutes but have no idea of the conditions that await them. Often, a woman’s pimps or traffickers are people from her own town. They know where her family lives and aren’t afraid of harming them in order to control her. Sometimes it’s the families who pressure girls into prostitution in the first place – unable, or unwilling, to think of another way for a woman to earn a living.

It’s only the kidnapped which meets the definition of trafficked. And that’s bloody rare too, thankfully.

It’s not jihadis that worry me

Every airline passenger flying in and out of Europe will have personal data including their bank card details stored on a police database, under new anti-terror plans.

The move by the European Commission would mean all information collected during check-in would be made available to the security services.

It’s what the fuckers will do to me in the name of protecting me from jihadis that scares the shit out of me.