World watch

Tuesday GMT


There’s a lot of things happening of interest around the world, from the Brexit split between the United Kingdom and the European Union to Donald Trump’s young presidency in the United States, from the civil war in Syria and the associated surrounding Middle East mess, to growing tensions around North Korea and China.


  1. Gezza

     /  May 17, 2017

    McMaster Quizzed On Trump Giving Intel To Russians – Full News Conference
    17 min. Fascinating. The story’s changing again?

  2. Missy

     /  May 17, 2017

    I’m baaaaaack. Sorry for the unexpected absence. I am no going to try and catch everyone up with the last few days, but just start from today.

    A funny little story to begin (end) the day with.

    Apparently Berlusconi (yes he is still around) said that Emmanuel Macron is a nice lad – with a good looking mum’ 😂

    Yep, he of the fake tans, hair dye, botox, and girlfriends young enough to be his grand daughter is passing judgement on another politician in the way only an Italian can.

  3. Missy

     /  May 17, 2017

    Today the Labour Party officially launched their Manifesto (as opposed to the leak last week).

    The Key points are:

    * Hitting 1.2m people earning over £80,000 with rises in income tax.
    * Bringing the threshold for the 45p rate of income tax down from £150,000 to £80,000.
    * A new 50p tax will hit all those earning over £123,000.
    * Raising £19.4billion by raising corporation tax 26 per cent – a rise of more than a third.
    * Extra powers for HMRC to chase individuals and companies who avoid tax.

    * No commitment to reduce numbers.
    * Labour “believes in fair rules and reasonable management of migration” and will not resort to “bogus” immigration targets.
    * Scrap income thresholds for spouses of migrants who want to come to the UK
    * Creation of a Migrant Impact Fund to support public services in host communities. It will be funded by visa levies and a contributory element from residence visas for high net worth individuals.

    * Labour “accepts the referendum result” and intends to build a close new relationship with Europe “not as members but as partners”.
    * Retain benefits of single market and customs union.
    * Immediately guarantee existing rights of EU nationals living in Britain and secure reciprocal rights for UK citizens living in another EU country.
    * No “no deal” option at the end of Article 50 negotiations, with “transitional arrangements” negotiated instead to avoid cliff-edge.
    * Scrap Great Repeal Bill and replace with EU Rights and Protections Bill.

    * Railways brought back into public ownership as franchises expire.
    * Under public ownership fares will be capped and free WiFi introduced across the network.
    * HS2 will be completed and will link with a “Crossrail of the North”.

    * Energy market partially brought back into public ownership.
    * Creation of at least one publicly owned energy company in every region of the UK.
    * Central government control of the grid and distribution.
    * Cap average household dual fuel bills at £1,000 a year.
    * Ban fracking.

    Higher education:
    * Tuition fees abolished and maintenance grants reintroduced for university students.

    * More than £30billion of extra funding for the NHS through increased income tax for top 5 per cent earners, increased tax on private medical insurance and halving management consultants’ fees.
    * Pay cap scrapped.
    * EU NHS workers’ rights immediately protected.
    * NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans halted.

    * Move towards creation of a National Care Service.
    * Investment of £8 billion in services over the next parliament, including £1 billion in the first year.
    * Improve conditions for care workers.
    * 15-minute care visits scrapped.
    * Carer’s Allowance increased to be in line with Jobseeker’s Allowance.

    Workers’ rights
    * Creation of a Ministry of Labour to deliver investment in enforcing workers’ rights.
    * Repeal Trade Union Act and introduce “sectoral collective bargaining” through unions.
    * Zero hours contracts outlawed.
    * Unpaid internships banned.
    * Employers stopped from only recruiting from overseas.
    * Bring minimum wage in line with living wage – at least £10 by 2020.
    * Rights for all workers to have access to trade union.
    * Paternity leave doubled to four weeks and paternity pay increased.
    * Protections for women on maternity leave strengthened.
    * Four new public holidays to mark patron saints’ days.
    * Public inquiry into blacklisting.
    Executive pay
    * A 20:1 limit on gap between the lowest and highest paid workers in companies given Government contracts.
    * Reduce pay inequality through legislation by introducing an “excessive pay levy” on companies with high numbers of staff on high pay.

    * “Triple lock” guaranteed throughout next parliament or kept to at least 2.5 per cent.
    * Winter fuel allowance and free bus passes kept as universal benefits.
    * Compensation for women born in 50s who had state pension age changed without fair notification.

    * Invest to build one million new homes, including 100,000 council and housing association homes by the end of next parliament.
    * Rent rises capped to inflation and legal minimum standards in properties for rent.
    * 4,000 homes for people with history of rough sleeping.

    * Scrap bedroom tax and reinstate housing benefit for under-21s.
    * Review cuts to Universal Credit and limits on payments to first two children of families.
    * Jeremy Corbyn has also pledged to end the benefits freeze – although it’s not in the manifesto.

    * Borrow to invest £250 billion over 10 years on energy, transport and digital infrastructure.
    * Improve 4G mobile coverage and invest to bring uninterrupted 5G to all urban areas, major roads and railways.

    * Lower voting age to 16.

    * Support the renewal of Trident.
    * Keep defence spending as 2% of GDP.

    * 10,000 more police officers for community beats.
    * Conduct major review of counter-terror Prevent programme.

      • Missy

         /  May 17, 2017

        I don’t think anyone expects them to know the cost, they haven’t proven themselves reliable on figures.

        After Diane Abbott’s disaster last week, Shadow Chancellor today could not say what the deficit was, and was eventually handed a piece of paper which had the 2015/2016 deficit which is about £12 billion pounds less than it actually is – it is believed he may have got the figures from Wikipedia.

        The Director of the Institute for Fiscal studies has suggested that Labour would raise far less than they say, and that they have a £30 billion black hole.

        Numbers are not their strong point, either that or they have discovered a magical money tree.

  4. Missy

     /  May 17, 2017

    My comments on the Labour Manifesto:

    The Shadow Chancellor has suggested that anyone earning over £80,000 are wealthy and should pay more in tax, yet Jeremy Corbyn – who earns over £138,000 – says he is not wealthy, because of ‘where he puts his money’. This comes across badly as the leader either disagrees with his Shadow Chancellor on who is wealthy, or he believes that everyone else (i.e.: Conservative voters) who earn over £80,000 are wealthy, but he isn’t.

    On the Tax, economists have said this will backfire, and will end up not gaining the extra tax revenue Labour thinks it will. In France several years ago the highest tax rate was increased, causing many of the wealthiest French people to move their money (and income) offshore – or put in place measures to avoid tax. Many experts believe this will happen in the UK as well if Labour get in.

    I like that they are looking at scanning the income thresholds for British spouses of migrants, however, that could be open to abuse, I think they could keep the income threshold but make it combined (currently the non-EU spouse’s income is not taken into account, only the UK spouse’s income is).

    Not sure about the visa levies, visa’s are expensive enough, I hope I get a chance to meet with my candidate to ask more about that.

    It does appear as though some more moderate elements may have had influence as Corbyn has generally been against Migration controls, so the fact they have anything about that shows some moderating influence.

    Nothing new there.

    As expected Labour will re-nationalise the Railways.

    Interesting Labour will complete HS2, I don’t know much about it, but I understand it is quite controversial, and for many rather unpopular.

    Nothing new, or unexpected.

    Higher education:
    This has been flagged, so not unexpected.

    Nothing new or unexpected here. Pretty much what was in the leak.

    Workers’ rights & Executive Pay
    This seems to be in line with the pro union direction Labour have taken. There were stories at the weekend that suggested this section was a straight copy and paste from a union document.

    Lowering the voting age seems to be a popular policy, my understanding is the Conservatives are the only major party that doesn’t have it in their manifesto, or promotes it. My question to those wanting to do this is, will the also lower the age for military service? drinking? It could be argued that all are activities of adults, as is voting.

    This looks like a case of Corbyn holding his nose and caving in so he doesn’t look weak on security. Some will not be happy there is nothing about the civilian investigations into soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.

    Let’s hope Diane Abbott reads this before her next interview, she might be clearer on the number of extra officers, of course it won’t do much to say how much it will cost.

    • Missy

       /  May 17, 2017

      In a speech yesterday Jeremy Corbyn said that people should retire earlier, and that 68 is too late to be retiring, the question is: Will Corbyn be taking his own advice? Next Friday (26 May) Corbyn turns 68. There are many that are hoping Corbyn does heed his own advice and decides that 68 is too late to be working. I fully suspect that some in the media – and on twitter – will be quick to remind Corbyn of his words.

  5. Missy

     /  May 17, 2017

    Not sure if anyone in NZ has seen – or cares much – but late last night Ian Brady, one of the notorious Moors Murderers, died. He and Myra Hindley tortured and killed a number of young children in the 60’s.

    Not much sympathy for him today though, general feeling is one of good riddance.

    It emerged today that the police tried to get him to reveal the burial location of his last victim before he died, but he refused. That poor family will never know where the body of their loved one is.

    • Gezza

       /  May 17, 2017

      Yes, it was covered on 1Ewes last night & is in papers here today too. It was noted that he hasn’t had the level of vilification the Press gave Myra Hindley though he was every bit as deserving of it. They reported he had tried to stop feeding himself but was force fed, and that he had tried to get himself transferred to a Scottish prison where he would have been able to starve himself to death but that he was refused. Good riddance to an appalling animal of a human being.

      • Missy

         /  May 17, 2017

        There was some discussion on the radio this morning about the fact that Myra Hindley was vilified more than Brady in the press, and it was said that it was most likely because for some reason society – especially at the time of the murders – was more horrified by a woman doing something like that than a man. The presenter said she is generally agains the death penalty, but would happily have had it brought back for these two.

        The police and others are saying he should be buried in an unmarked grave, apparently his wishes are that he is cremated and his ashes spread on Saddleworth Moor (the location of his victims). A sick human being.

        As you say good riddance, the only sad thing about his passing is that he has never said where his last victim is buried and that child’s family have now lost all hope of knowing where he is.

        • Gezza

           /  May 17, 2017

          I was going to add the swine should’ve been given a knife in the guts years ago, all he ever did was play mind games with the police, but as long as he remained alive there was always the hope he might give up the location of Keith Bennett’s body before he met his maker. I don’t believe there’s a hell, but for people like him, there should be. I only hope his last hours were as horrific for him as those of his victims.

          • Missy

             /  May 17, 2017

            Sadly I don’t think his last hours were anywhere near as horrific as they were for his victims – despite dying horribly of lung cancer. Though if it is any comfort he was (for want of a better word) harassed on his deathbed by the police pleading for the information regarding Keith Bennett’s body (thanks G, I had a mind blank on the boy’s name).

            The Coroner is apparently not going to release his body until he gets a guarantee it will not be cremated and his ashes spread on Saddleworth Moor.

  6. Missy

     /  May 17, 2017

    The person who has been appointed to lead Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign was a member of the Communist Party up until the end of last year, he is also a former chairperson of the Stop the War coalition, and has apparently praised North Korea and called for NATO to be defeated. He was Len McClusky’s right hand man in Unite Union.

    Corbyn has described him as a democratic socialist.

    Like many communists and socialists he comes from a privileged background.

    Guess he has all the credentials.

  7. Gezza

     /  May 17, 2017

    Aljaz tv just showed a video clip of Trump demonstrating his usual close attention to detail by frequenty & consistently mispronouncing his name, saying it as it is spelt in English – i.e. Erdogan instead of Erdowan – at their joint press conference.

    • Gezza

       /  May 17, 2017
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  May 17, 2017

      America didn’t become great by worrying about silly foreign pronunciations.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  May 17, 2017

        (If he wants it pronounced Erdowan the idiot should have spelt it like that. That’s the American way.)

        • Gezza

           /  May 17, 2017

          I guess that’s how the ignoramuses on Fox News pronounce it. 😕

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  May 17, 2017

            I would bet that’s how 99% of Americans pronounce it.

            • Gezza

               /  May 17, 2017

              Most of the others in Trump’s 1% set would probably know better if they were hoping to do business with him. Turk meets turkey there.

        • Gezza

           /  May 17, 2017

          Well, Erdogan certainly *owned* that Press Conference.

      • Gezza

         /  May 17, 2017

        I haven’t watched it all yet, Al. Have you? Hope there’s translation for Erdogan’s comments.

        Comey’s back the front pages again, Aljaz just said:

  8. I think this is an important piece of advice from the Pope to a Spanish journalis

    …(An) interviewer from the Spanish daily El País told the Pope that “the whole world is tense” over the election of President Trump, calling him a xenophobe filled with “hatred for foreigners.”
    The Pope said that the new president deserved to be judged by his actions, not by “prophecies” of what he may or may not do.
    “I think that we must wait and see,” Francis said. “I don’t like to get ahead of myself nor judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will have an opinion.”
    The Pope said it is “most unwise” to be afraid of something that might happen. “It would be like prophets predicting calamities or windfalls that don’t take place. We will see. We will see what he does and then evaluate,” he said. “I prefer to wait and see.”
    I am not Catholic, but respect the Pope’s advice as a gentle man of faith. I am following his advice as well. The other Pope (Alexander) said “Know then thyself, presume not God to span, the proper study of mankind is man:. In other words, be aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, and prejudices before you judge another’s actions.

    • Gezza

       /  May 17, 2017

      The Pope talking about whether it is wise to believe prophets. Comedy gold. 😀