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European values?

A growing myth is emerging to mould a new image for Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany. Barack Obama has just wound up a visit to Germany where he went out of his way to say what a stalwart ally Angela was. There is a major effort to somehow build her up as the role model of common values, liberty and the rule of law. However, somewhat typical of the dying Obama administration, he overlooks the inconvenient truth that she was instrumental in preventing Europeans gaining free expression and helped sustain the growing unacceptable European democratic deficit. It was Angela Merkel who encouraged all heads of state in the Union, in an open letter, not to provide the people of Europe with referenda on the introduction of the new European Constitution which had been hacked out in a participatiory vacuum by Giscard d'Estaing. The other heads of state, many recent arrivals from ex-soviet regimes and few democractic inclinations willingly followed Merkel's advice, including Tony Blair. The result was the introduction of the infamous Lisbon Treating which extended the power of the unelected European Commission by introducing a foreign service and majority non-veto voting. Angela Merkel has very weak democratic credentials and cannot be trusted.

Bashing RT...

A journalist from the TV channel Russia Today (RT) at a US State Department presss briefing in Washington, asked the State Department spokesperson, Admiral Kirby, to provide the names and locations of 5 Syrian hospitals he stated had been bombed by Russian and Syrian airforces. As is usual at such briefings State Department officials seldom can produce evidence for the most of the extreme assertions that they constantly level against Russia. In this case Kirby lost control and ranted on about why the journalist didn't ask such questions of the (her) military authorities in Russia. He then went on to say he does not consider RT journalists to warrant the same treatment as the other assembled journalists. When asked why, he said becasue RT is state owned. This type of snide remark coming from a State Department official is a disgrace. RT is not state owned it receives funding from the Russsia state just as does Voice of America, BBC in the UK and Die Velt in Germany.

The State department press briefing have always been run by third rate individuals who think it is smart not to answer the more searching questions that often come from RT journalists and this is a government department that lectures the world about "values" and "transparecy" etc etc.,

Russian propaganda?

Although US State Department and even Hillary Clinton have referred to RT as Russian propaganda the range of independent shows that accept no editorial orientation is impressive including world famous Larry King's "Politicking", Afshin Rattansi's "Going Underground", Edward Harrison and Ameera David's "Boom Bust" to name just a few. The reality is that RT is one of the few media that truly supports independent journalism that promote alternative interpretations of events. It is this that the US State Department does not want because it cuts across their desire to not admit alternative points of view or neutral stands. RT has provided the third party US Presidential candidates with air time which was not provided to the people of the USA by mainstream US outlets, many of which seem to be staffed by State Department stenographers.
Putin's Useful Idiots

An American NGO called the Henry Jackson Society, has just published a document by an Andrew Foxall of the so-called Russia Studies Centre. This document is entitled, "Putin's Useful Idiots: Britain's Left, Right and Russia", demonstrates a lamentable misunderstanding of Russia's policy with repect to so-called left and right movements worldwide. There is no depth to this document with most references being all very recent, most dated 2016 and one or two 1990s vintage. In fact the analysis is plain wrong and reflects perhaps the writer's age and lack of experience with the fundamentals of Russian motivations going back beyond the initiation of World War II. The writer has simply bought into the recent Clintonesque and John Kerry State Department-driven paranoia about Putin. The personalisation of this document, centred on Putin, is typical of the brand of knee jerk journalism that is the US mainstream media today. This cannot be considered to be a serious researched document reflecting the current motivations of Putin.

Any amateur student of history knows that Russia has a well-established habit, like the USA, of funding sympathetic political movements. In fact the USA dedicates somthing like 500 times more funding to foreign political movements and NGOs than does Russia. Indeed, Russia learned some of these techniques from the USA. It is notable that although there is ample evidence of USA funding of foreign political activity as well as regime change supported by bloody wars, the Clinton campaign and security agencies in the USA could not come up with any evidence for Russian interference in the recent US election. Of course even the FBI was accused of acting on behalf of Russia. There is by contrast excessive amounts of evidence concerning USA interference in foreign elections as well as support of the so-called right in Ukraine as well as terrorist groups in the Middle East and of strong political support for Saudi Arabia in spite of evidence of their involvement in the murderous events of 9-11 in downtown New York. One cannot equate this behaviour with anything to do with freedom, democracy and the rule of law but the author of this document does not want to be bothered with such details but simply wants to deliver on attacking Putin.

One bizarre recommendation by this individual is a that politicians should be required to register the fact that they will participate in coverage by such media organizations as RT. This is a MacCarthyism excess. RT receives funding from the Russian government in the same way as Voice of America in the USA or BBC in the UK. Most US mainstream media are essentially stenographers for US government output, especially in the case of foreign affairs and State Department output so that on these stations it is difficult to get alternative point of view across. A self-imposed or funded censorship creates enormous bias in news coverage, indeed, the experience of Bernie Sanders during the primaries, provides ample evidence of this. RT has a range of programmes that are managed by people who would not accept any editorial orientation from RT. For example Larry King and his program "Politicking", Ameera David's "Boom Bust" and Afshin Rattansi's "Going Underground"". These are all programs that provide a rational and alternative view of opinions and all off them grill interviewees from any side.

Finally, to highlight where this document goes wrong, like the USA, Russia provides "support" to people whose ideas are potentially against the interests of the country. Such people, mainly on the right, are seduced into misunderstading of provision of platforms, and even funding, signifies support for their basic philosophies; it doesn't and never has done. It is largely designed to raise their profile and expose them so as to line up domestic opinion against them. This succeeded in the case of the National Front and most other ultra right wing UK parties to the benefit of the UK population.

In disagreement with Stalin, Leon Trotsky pointed out the danger of the right (Fascists) and Stalin made him pay the ultimate price. However, the lesson arising from the Nazi fiasco caused Russia to finally understand Trotsky's analysis at a great human cost. The recent Ukraine events saw the US State Department support of neofascist paramilitary units. There were calls for NATO expansion into Ukraine. NATO, however, had demonstrated its willingness to alter its etablished defensive role willy nilly to pursue a proactive regime change in Libya, under the guise of an innocent "no flight zone". This created a significant change in the perception of the stablity of NATO as a reliable adversary alliance both within the UK as well as in Russia. The evidence is there for all to see that NATO's intervention resulted in chaos and the spread of ISIS and a major European immigration crisis which Muammar Gaddafi had predicted and had prevented. This led, naturally, to the Crimean outcome in light of the important Russian naval base and ethnic make-up of Crimeans, mainly Russian speakers. Ukrainan events at the time was showing TV coverage of Ukrainan neo-fascists clubbing members of Russian ethnic groups to death. This is not to argue that what has occurred is right it is simply to point out that there were good reasons for this move in strategic terms as well as in terms of the security of the population in Crimea. When the West acts in a way that does not demonstrate a consistent strategy there is a problem of predictability resulting in instability. The only way to stop this growing global chaos is to take decisive actions.

In such a world there is a need for balanced rational analyses to identify options for possible soltions. The shallow nature of this journalistic publication devoid of objective analysis with rights reserved by a UK registered charity calls into question why this organization has a charitable status when it is wasting money on such polemic that contributes nothing to the debate.

British government isn't following a logical pathway to Brexit

The recent exchanges in Parliament have pointed to the failure of the British government to publish information on scenarios and options including on the need for more transparency on the potential impact of any policy changes on segments of the community. Theresa May keep insisting that showing one's hand weakens the Brexit negotiations. Philip Hammond's recent replies to the Treasury Select Committee followed a similar vein bordering on sophistry. On the question on whether or not EU nationals can remain in the UK the government's position is a disgrace, they clearly intend to make such individuals pawns or bargaining chips. The government should demonstrate leadership, common sense and humanity by declaring such people can remain. On the status of UK citizens in Europe it is unlikely that the EU would then treat them in another way and in any case there are other bases for bargaining, if negotiations descend to such depths, using other means.

In the 2007 publication, "The Briton's Quest for Freedom - out unfinished journey...", one of the recommendations was to introduce a requirement for governments to prepare Decision Analysis Briefs (DABs) to accompany any new policy proposal or changes in existing policies. DABs are exactly what are required now as transparent statements of the distributive costs and benefits of any government decision; a basic requirement of the provision of objective information in a democracy designed to support constituency comprehension and to be in a position to engage in dialogue in support of decision-making.

In a recent media briefing session in Portsmouth, provided by Navatec.com and part of the Decision Analysis Initiative 2015-2020, sponsored by the George Boole Foundation (GBF), the role of decision analysis and decision analysis briefs was explained. One of the main impacts of good DABs is that they change priors. Priors are the up front assumptions that people hold before a negotiation starts. They have the immediate effects is dispelling false impressions simply because all "realistic" options or scenarios are spelt out. If negotiators' hands are hidden there is often the paradoxical outcome of failure to get the best "deal". The May government had taken up a combative stance with respect to the forthcoming EU Brexit negotiation seeing it as a potentially negative process. Again this shows a lack of leadership. The UK needs to show leadership and statecraft of the highest level by demonstrating conviction of the case supporting our demands by showing from where such conviction emanates. By demonstrating, in particular, the advantages of leaving the EU in a transparent manner the UK would secure a stronger position. This is exactly what the EU Member States don't want to see since this will only encourage the Euro-skeptics and political oppositions in Member States. On the other hand if the EU negotiators act to attack any advantages to be gained from leaving then this will also reduce the support for the EU experiment on the part of those in Europe who are tired of the massive democratic deficit. At the moment the advantage lies on the UK side but the prevarication of the government shows a lack of understanding of this fact or maybe lack of capability to undertake the analyses required across the full range of government portfolios and economic sectors.

The required skills to carry out such analysis probably do not reside within the government nor ministries. However, part of the briefing provided by the GBF event included reviews of the many very powerful techniques that exist to carry out decision analysis including the building of realistic determinant models (cause and effect models), how to determine required data and data quality and how to embed estimates of probabilities of critical events. These models can then simulate complex scenarios and generate revealing outcomes in terms of distributive costs and benefits. A factor of importance in these advanced techniques is that there needs to be a participatory development in order to secure the best options and this, in the case of the UK, requires measured and objective contributions to the process by the Labour party as well as the Scottish National Party and others. Since the May government does not appear to understand the potential of Brexit we have a state of affairs where the government demonstrates an amateurism that arises from its narrow partisan focus. One of the take-aways from the GBF media briefing was the significance of logic in decision analysis procedures. Indeed, this is why the GBF sponsors such events to demonstrate the outstanding advanatges of applying the logical procedures developed by George Boole the English logician whose logic is used to design complex digital chips, program computers and manage the internet. Let us hope this state of affairs will change and that the government might follow a more logical pathway to Brexit.

The best way to predict the future is to create it

The title to this section is a quote from Peter Drucker the management guru who died in 2005. Drucker concentrated on the business unit but his insights remain important for the macroeconomy as well as human action in general. The current chaos in the fields of foreign affairs and economics are essentially caused by perceptions that are not based on fact, that is, evidence, and yet governments are taking decisions based on visions and assertions.

In "diplomatic circles" the oft heard statement that "all options are on the table!" normally means that as a last resort, violence and aggression will be used to secure what some countries desire. Economic sanctions are in fact an act of war that cause the populations of target countries to suffer. No country has the right to undermine the standards of living of people of another nation as a basis for changing the policies of governments over which the same people have no real influence. Democratic principles will seldom cause populations subjected to sanctions to overthrow governments. In western "democracies" the electorates are similarly unable to secure governments that reflect their will. We all suffer from a leadership incapable of predicting the future and even less able to create one that is motivated by the common human conscience that desires peace and goodwill for all. This is the leadership crisis embodied in the political party systems.

The USA and now European are increasingly aping of the Israeli model that has been imposed for over some 65 years, a policy model of intentional destruction, of the dispossession of the Palestinians, economic sanctions, ethnic cleansing and extra-constitutional looting of the land and natural resources of others; a case study in criminality, the perversion of power and decadence of leadership. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria are examples of the substitution of mindless destruction for any attempt to create viable peaceful futures. Syria has exposed the hypocrisy of the "war on terror" becoming one where terrorists are fully supported by the USA, its coalition and middle eastern states some of which are implicated in the 9-11 atrocity and which launched this terrible period of inhumane destruction.

CIA "covert" operation becomes a very public joke ;-)

In an intentional constituent-aimed media interview on NBC's "Meet the Press", the Vice President of the USA, Joe Biden, hinted that the CIA is preparing a "covert" Cyber attack on Russia. How silly can you get by broadcasting a covert operation in advance? According to Ibn Nr this sort of nonsense is to try and communicate that things are so bad that the US is "going to have to react". This is to add credibility to the assertions of Russsian hacking. This fuzzy hint by the Veep is to try and convince the US electorate that Russia really is attacking the Democractic party's range of databases many of which are not operational and the records are offline on paper in dusty filing cabinets. Concerning the Podesta emails and the damming confidential statments made by Clinton to her support groups, the most logical explanation is that these were leaked by Democratic party operatives or IT personnel reacting to the unconstitutional treatment of Bernie Sanders by the party in support of Hillary Clinton. The Russian dimension is a convenient diversionary tactic by the Democracts which has no evidential base, designed to fill the media with the imaginary Russian bogey man "fear factor" rather than the content of these damming documents. The well known endemic political bias in the majority of US mainstream media can be left to do the rest by hiding what is in fact going on from the US public thereby undermining transparency, in contradiction to the fundmental aims of a free press.

Apeurope authorizes detailed study on the costs & benefits of Brexit

During the Apeurope Annual General Meeting held on 10th October, Group correspondents registered their extreme frustration at the absense of evidence-based positions, on all sides, during the recent European referendum. With the decision to leave the European Union, this lack of clarity continues. The vascillation and delays by all British polictical parties in defining any coherent position is alarming and the posturing of the European Commission officials and some heads of state of Member States is unacceptable. Therefore, in the continued absense of any positive government or Commission action the Apeurope Board has authorized a study on the "Costs & Benefits of the UK leaving the European Union". This study will analyse the sector and foreign trade partner potential opportunities, gaps and impacts arising from the new options that now exist with BREXIT. This has the objective of providing a basis for identifying mutual benefits to the remaining European Union's members and to the UK.

Salt & Vinegar option under BREXIT

Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, assertion that no BREXIT is better than hard BREXIT and that leaving will only leave salt and vinegar. This exposes a behind-the-scenes effort on the part of a wide range of interest groups to try and reverse the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

What is not being accepted is that no one has quantified the benefits of remaining. In the 1980s UK European Commissioner Cockburn commissioned a study called "No Europe". This was supposed to calculate the benefits of being in Europe. The initial study came up with no benefits so the study was repeated, again coming up with no significant benefits. This report was a source of embarrassment and was therefore binned by the Commission. However, the fundamental message of the report was not lost on those who had read the report, especially some members of the UK Conservative party. It should be remembered that Cockburn was a UK Commissioner proposed by the Thatcher government. The bottom line here is that many in Britain know that the European Commission has no bargaining position if a country wishes to leave the EU because it is not possible to quantify the benefits of remaining. Any "hard exit" will prejudice European exporters to the UK. This means trying to punish, or threatening to punish the UK, bordering on economic sanctions, will only hurt Europe. This is why there is a panic in the European Commission.

The return of the UK fishing grounds
will be a major economic and social benefit

On the question of foreign investment in the UK drying up with BREXIT, some recent confidential corporate executive conclaves are concluding that the UK's prospects are better outside the EU because the economy will grow faster than the EU as a result of the incremental growth in UK trade with non-EU countries. The organization of negotiating teams, with many members coming from British Commonwealth countries, is impressive and there is a large build-up of trading profiles being prepared, not with the EU, but with a long list of global partners. Whereas the UK started BREXIT with weak negotiation resources the current capabilities have already surpassed the somewhat sclerotic approach associated with the EU Commission typified by secrecy and a very poor public image such as their poorly handled TTIP negotiations.

There is a poorly appreciated fact surrounding the UK regulatory environment for financial services and a long established flexibility in the way the UK-based financial sector handle just about any challenge, sets London apart from any other world financial centre. This has its drawbacks but remains a well known, but seldom admitted, reality. The European Commission dreams that BREXIT will result the global financial centre migrating to Frankfurt, or anywhere else in mainland Europe, but according to traders this is unlikely to come true for the foreseeable future. At the moment European centres do not have the right combination of capabilities, experience and regulatory environments or, frankly, any track record to contemplate substituting London as the global financial centre.

Donald Tusk does not appear to understand that the British have a preference for eating fish and chips with salt and vinegar and this tradition will continue after BREXIT.

The Whale in the coming BREXIT talks

In some of the preparatory exchanges concerning the Apeurope Study "Costs & Benefits of the UK leaving the European Union" one delegate pointed out that one of the most shocking give-aways by the Heath Conservative government, when the UK entered the European Union in 1972, was the UK's fishing grounds, amongst the most productive on the planet. This had a significant negative social and economic impact on the British fishing industry. BREXIT provides the damaged UK fishing industry and the UK fishermen the opportunity to regain their former prominent contribution to Britain's Agricultural, Fisheries and Forestry sector by supplying the UK with home-caught fish.

The current catch value, official and unofficial, is around £500 million. Much fish coming to the UK market goes through large EU-based factory ships who simply sell fish caught within these waters to UK fishermen or land the fish for port-side markets. With BREXIT the national fishing communities' income could double to around £1 billion.

The re-establishment of British sovereignty over the former UK fishing grounds would be a major tangible benefit of BREXIT. In preparation to this major benefit it would make sense, in terms of managing the total manageable catch (TAC) to come to agreement with Iceland on management and to only permit EU vessels to fish under license paid to the UK treasury. License income would be used to monitor fish stocks and prevent abuse arising from unacceptable catching practices such as avoiding catching and killing very young fish needed to grow stocks for the sustainability of the industry.

This could become the Whale in the BREXIT negotiation fish tank when discussions get going. Several countries, France and Spain and indirectly The Netherlands, have much to lose with this aspect of BREXIT. The solution, of course, is for EU Commission and other Member State heads to stop their talk about punishing Britain for BREXIT but to come to a satisfactory settlement of things like this; there are many more to come and Emancipation News will be setting these out here.

US foreign policy is a ridiculous "Show Time" for gullible media; little credibility remains

The sheer hypocrisy of the histrionics of the USA UN ambassador and the lack of logical argument of the US State Secretary and the absurd off stage statements by leading US military figures is ridiculous. We witness a bunch of mavericks playing a high stakes poker game while the Commander in Chief, so-called, seems to be ignored. No one believes that the US attack on the Syrian army was a "mistake" as John Kerry claimed. This attack could be "called off" because it was already "mission accomplished". The terrorist attack on the humanitarian mission was immediately blamed on Syrian and Russian air attacks while the US ignored the drone evidence provided by Russia on the local terrorist vehicle pulling a howitzer. The biggest problem that runs through the US narratives and bluster is a complete lack of evidence to back up accusations relating to Russian actions in Syria, cyber attacks on some disparate Democratic Party servers and events in the Ukraine. However, the evidence that does exist supports the emerging truth that the US foreign policy is barbaric, currently protecting rapists and beheading terrorists who run a sex trade based on innocent women, selling them through online sites by having their so-called "moderates" iter-mingle with these terrorists in civilian areas to protect them from attack. The latest show by these hypocrites has been in the Security Council of the UN to demand "investigations" into war crimes. The burning alive of innocents by US repeated attacks on the hospital in Kunduz in Afghanistan and the recent attack by Saudi Arabia killing 150 individuals in the Yemen are war crimes.

White Helmets in Syria alleged to be phony NGO, involved in staged propaganda, funded by UK government, with HQ in Turkey

Journalists who have recently visited Syria report that the White Helmets who feature in many media in the West saving children following "attacks by the Syrian government or Russians" are closely embedded in the terrorist groups and only work in the areas occupied by the same. It is alleged that they have a budget of something like $100 million and employ about 3,000 individuals who are involved in staged, heavily edited, videos designed to accuse either the Syrian government or Russians of atrocities. It is further alleged that the White Helmets and heavily armed off camera, have been involved in killing Syrian Civil Defence personnel and raiding and stealing their equipment and mopping up after beheadings and executions by the terrorist organizations. These allegations are so serious that the British Government needs to be asked to explain why they waste public funds on such an organization closely involved with ISIS and Al Quaeda and others and organized to mislead the British public with distorted propaganda.

How bad Fed decisions triggered the financial crisis

Criticisms have been leveled at banks for selling mortgages to people who were at risk of defaulting. Central Banks have a responsibility to monitor any such exposure as a fundamental input to interest rate policy. The Fed had maintained an interest rate range of between 2% and 5% up until 2005. It is evident that with this history, if people buy into loans at 2% there is always the risk that interest rates will more than double if rates go up to 5%. If mortgagees are fully stretched at 2% they will default at 3% or 4%. This is clear. In spite of the well known growth in mortgage lending during 2002 through 2004 when interest rates were reduced to less than 2%. However, by 2005 Fed had doubled rates up to over 4% and then in 2006 raised rates to 5.25% in June a 300% increase over June 2004 (1.25%). This massive rise cause the precipitation of the sub-prime mortgage defaults. The contagion was spread by mainly US banks creating derivatives from the sub prime mortgages and mis-classifying then as AAA and purposely dumping these on the markets where a large number of European banks fell into the trap of purchasing them without looking at the fundamentals already in train. It is notable that the LIBOR rates began to rise in early 2008 as some banks saw this as an illicit means to serve their interests in increasingly precarious times.

In the end the lax extra-constitutional financial authority arrangements in relation to bank regulations and the lack of oversight of the derivatives grey markets by Central Banks, set the conditions a financial disaster caused largely by poor management standards, no checks and balances deployed by central banks and the corporate greed of banks. Unfortunately a lack of political leadership did not resist the call for bank bail outs ending up with governments arbitrarily confiscating money from their constituents to compensate banks and bankers for their inept management decisions. The public have paid the price that bankers should have paid. The price is austerity policies while banks are provided with cheap money which is not flowing to investment and the real economy. This disastrous "monetary policy" of quantitative easing has led to falling investment and real incomes and the levels of financialization increasing causing asset bubbles and stock market booms as a result of corporations purchasing their own shares to benefit executive incomes. The associated share prices have no relationship to the fundamentals of corporate performance. The massive over-exposure of the financial markets to derivatives that rely on low interest rates to generate a margins has created a "sub-prime financial sector", now more in debt than in 2005/2006. This is why central banks are unable to raise interest rates. Central banks now understand the lessons of 2004 through 2005 but don't want to admit it. A move in interest rates from 0.25% to 1% would represent a 300% rise and this would cripple many major financial institutions and cause yet another financial crisis.

Britain's unusual social transition that could become a revolution

In the last year Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the unexpected leader of the Labour party and a referendum on the EU resulted in the BREXIT vote to be closely followed by the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as the expected leader of the Labour party with an increased mandate. Given the dreary media coverage of Jeremy Corbyn and general criticism leveled against him it is worth noting that since his first election the Labour party has amassed a membership larger than all of the other UK political parties put together. The Labour party has become the largest political party in Europe. The unusual aspect about this transition is that in Europe, party growth has been taken up by parties who have been set up as alternatives to the conventional parties. In Britain the growth and expression of resentment against conventional parties has been a embodied by a rejuvenated Labour party returning to its roots. It is not certain how long this drive for membership will continue but is very significant. Even if it is claimed that people only joined to vote for Corbyn therein lies an important message, either way, Jeremy Corbyn is gathering a general approval. The more this process continues the weaker will become Corbyn's main rivals in the form of Blairites and others in the Parliamentary Labour party who see politics purely in terms of affording them power and status; they need to pay more attention to the swell of the social movement that is contributing to the increasing numbers of members of the Labour party. There is a need to switch emphasis from elitist and exclusive think tank cliques and secretive "cabinet" or sofa style decision-making involving a handful of politicians leading to top down impositions on the majority. There is a need to return to the old English idea of the constitutional debates involving the people and that ranged in the 17th Century giving rise to the to bottom up identification of constitutional principles that have never been bettered. At the moment, it looks as if the only political party likely to deliver this revolutionary approach is the currently expanding Labour party.