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The Tom Sawyer Principle (Politics)
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Mick Harper
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Meghan's baby is suspiciously white. I fear there has been 'a bedpan incident' preparatory to the king over the water returning to these shores at the head of an American army. But I've been wrong before.
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Mick Harper
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Pritti Patel was found to have broken the Ministerial Code when bullying a civil servant who is still in post after receiving a six-figure sum in settlement. The PM declined to act on it. Newsnight

This was in a piece on Government corruption and how good (mostly) we were compared with slimeball countries (no names, no packdrill but France and America were mentioned). What Newsnight failed to mention were the two real scandals arising from the Pritti case. They were not the two they were going on about -- trial by internal enquiry and Johnson not sacking Pritt-Sticks -- but these

1. I don’t care how many fits of the vapours the underling suffered being bullied at the workplace, though not so badly as to affect her place in the workplace, it is not worth a hundred thousand pounds of anybody's money. If El Pritto had taken her arm off ... then maybe. And that’s assuming it was a hundred K. The phrase ‘a six figure sum’ is usually wheeled out when you don’t want the real, larger, amount to get airplay.

2. If Pritti-Horrid’s behaviour cost us taxpayers a hundred thousand pounds and it was found to be entirely down to her and nothing to do with the job, why the fuck are we paying it? OK, the minion is entitled to her dosh if that’s what the big jobs say, but we’re entitled to be reimbursed by Pritti-Please out of her wages, aren’t we? If we’re not to be protected by the Ministerial Code we’ve got to have some comeback against these people. Otherwise they'll all be at at it.
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Mick Harper
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The current Watergate series airing on BBC-2 demonstrated one thing: Nixon's crimes were absolutely trivial compared to Donald Trump's. So he had the Pentagon Papers leaker's psychiatrist's office burglarised. So? That wasn't for Nixon's benefit, it was for reasons of National Security and the Feds wouldn't do it. Maybe Nixon should therefore not have done it but, jeez, everybody else's security services would have done it for him. What choice did he have?.

As for the Watergate caper itself, alongside the more workaday dirty tricks American elections are always prey to, it was quite obvious that Nixon wasn't the architect. It was a case of high-ups nodding while low-lifes took leave of their limited senses. If Tricky had held his hands up to it before the election he would have won by four hundred electoral college votes rather than five hundred. And four more years.
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Mick Harper
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Only in America

So the south-east USA is dependant on this one pipeline. Ransom-seeking hackers bring it to a juddering halt. Life as we know it ceases in south-east USA. All because they didn't pay the $5 million ransom?

Kinda. It turns out the ransom-beasts didn't shut down the pipeline, they made it hard for the pipeline company to bill its customers. So the company shut down the pipeline. As their CEO explained, "It is better millions of Americans die gibbering in their cars while fighting for the last litre of gas than us having to go back to paper billing for a bit. We never give in to either blackmail or the American public."
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Mick Harper
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Two strange developments. It turns out the pipeline company paid the ransom after all. Best of both worlds there, eh? Then Biden plods in and gives Putin a clean bill of health. So now every hacker knows it's open season. I've been in the wrong business. I should have been a pipeline repairman.
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Mick Harper
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It is fascinating to watch how, when a bête noire is involved, everyone takes leave of any sense of proportion. This is from Forbes

Facebook is threatening to cease operating in Europe unless the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) stops trying to force the company to comply with European legislation

What dreadful crime have they committed this time? They use US servers to process European data and (hold breath) the Yanks have slightly different rules to the Euros.

We are talking about Facebook, possibly the company that has had the most disastrous impact on the world and democracy in history. A company quite happy to sell its users’ data to the highest bidder, knowing they will bombard them with fake news from fake profiles, or even organize genocides, killings or other acts of violence.

Oh well, fair do's, you might have a point. We have strict rules about genocides in Europe. We're agin' 'em.

What would happen if those 410 million users were to find, from one day to the next, that they could no longer access Facebook? The answer is very simple: they would find any number of alternatives.

But that's rather the point, isn't it? Anyone can set up a Facebook-type operation but it won't have four hundred million Europeans which, in a social platform over here in Yerp is a bit of a handicap.

Facebook, please make good on your threat, close down your offices and leave Europe tomorrow. I guarantee you will not be missed.

Facebook, take no notice. As usual.

Signed
A European who doesn't even use your wretched services.
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Mick Harper
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And talking of bêtes noires being given a hard time, let us not forget that David Cameron was one of our better recent prime ministers. I appreciate you don't believe me but you will if you use an old AE trick and place him in order of 'bestness' in the following list of recent prime ministers:

Johnson, May, Brown, Blair, Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Heath, Wilson, Douglas-Home
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Mick Harper
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Poll results showing that fifty million Americans agree 'broadly or wholly' with QAnon about a paedophile ring running America was greeted with predictable cries of mirth and scorn on CNN, but I had to smile. The same poll showed that two hundred million Americans 'broadly or wholly' agreed with QAnon that the Creator of the Universe impregnated a Jewish woman with his only begotten child. CNN didn't mention that but I know which one I find more likely.
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Mick Harper
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Like everybody else I only need professional assistance when it's a Sunday followed by a Bank Holiday. I am not saying bank holidays should be done away with in an era of lockdowns, I am saying they should be done away with. Christmas is the only 'collective' one, the only one anyone notices for any reason other than it's a day off, so why should everybody collectively have a day off? Everyone will bitch about not having days off but wouldn't they rather have their own days off?

Think about it. You can have six days off (not counting Christmas) a year whenever you fancy it. (Usual caveats apply.) It would massively improve productivity because all the Monday morning sickies will now be voluntary days off, rather than sickies plus national days off.

Doesn't apply to me. I told the authorities I would always be having tomorrow off when I was quite a young man. More fool them that they said, "Fine by us, Mick, have you got enough dosh? Nice place to live? Anything else we can do for you? We don't want to encourage the habit so I'm afraid you will have to provide a signature every two weeks. You might be on a beach somewhere? Oh, all right then, don't bother, we'll call you self-employed. We can soon say you're a bit mature for today's thrusting dynamic jobs market anyway. I'm afraid that means signing a form but we permanently up your dosh to sweeten the pill. We didn't get where we are today without massaging the unemployment figures. We're actually quite grateful to people like you who know how to work the system, year on year, without us having to do very much our end. That way we can concentrate on the hard cases. No, you're not getting a CBE for services to the Ministry of Work and Pensions, you cheeky bastard."
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Mick Harper
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What a ludicrous 'special' about Jeffrey & Ghislaine in Britain on Channel 4 News. Dear old Cathy Newman actually boasted they had expended vast resources on the making of it -- as if that is justification in itself. I watched but I didn't hear of a single crime being committed. Not one. Channel 4's problem is that the age of consent here is 16 and it is legally assumed, rightly or wrongly, that females (I don't even know the correct term these days) that have passed that birthday are expected to take their chances the same as as the rest of us in the sexual minefield that is life.

There were a few mentions of rape and there were a lot of mentions of grooming but one can understand the Metropolitan Police's reluctance to get involved. Not because a member of the Royal Family was involved but because British courts, rightly or wrongly, assume that turning up to events that might involve anything from meeting a member of the Royal Family to being jetted off to a Caribbean paradise island in exchange for, at worst (or is 'at best', it's difficult to say) a bit of 'heavy petting' as we used to call it, with quite handsome men, is not going to cut tremendous amounts of mustard with a British jury.

It might cut tremendous amounts of dosh out of Epstein's estate but I don't even think that is a major motivation. When that somewhat exciting life is no longer available, I suppose the next best thing is Channel 4 News. But in exchange you are going to have to say all the things that Channel 4 News wants to hear after it has spent all that money. Don't worry, they will groom you until you are word perfect.
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Mick Harper
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The Yanks have just declared a new Bank Holiday (as we would call them). It's called Juneteenth Day and commemorates the freeing of the slaves. No complaints about that, but it is 'political' i.e. not something ordained by tradition. Like the last one we came up with, May Day, the first Monday in May to commemorate ... er ... the freeing of the wage slaves, I suppose. Which I did oppose but largely because we already had Easter Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday in quick succession but, as I pointed out, nothing between August Bank Holiday, then the first Monday in August, and Christmas. Why can't we free the workers on, say, the first Monday in November? We could even call it Guy Fawkes Day if we wanted to be traditional.

But I'm telling you all this because of the AE dictum: beware people giving you things owned by other people. And for me it all goes back to the first book I ever wrote Landlord vs Tenant which was all about the government taking money belonging to landlords and giving it to tenants. Which since there aren't many of them but a lot of them was wildly popular but meant that from now on there wouldn't be any of them willing to rent property to any of them which was, to put it mildly, a bit inconvenient. We've been trying to cope with the total dislocation of the British housing market ever since.

A public holiday is essentially the government taking money from employers and giving it to employees and given how many of each there are, tend to be very popular. If you add 'playing to the base' to governments wanting to curry favour generally, I see no reason why we shouldn't eventually have 365 of them. That way we can abolish weekends.
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Mick Harper
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Today's Quiz

AstraZeneca have agreed to give their vaccines at no profit to all poor countries in perpetuity and to other countries as long as the pandemic lasts. Yesterday they received the world's thanks. Was it in the form of:

a) the Nobel Peace Prize
b) the Benefactor of the Year Award
c) a right slagging from Newsnight because it is only the fifty-eight poorest countries in the world and AstraZeneca decides when the pandemic is over.
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Mick Harper
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Further to the above but one, I absolutely loved this

White People Should Have to Work on Juneteenth
America’s newest national holiday deserves exclusive access
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Mick Harper
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The Americans are quite endearing in their parochial way. One of their number, Courtney Withrow, has been wondering what they speak over there in that Yerp of theirs

What’s the most common choice for a second language in Europe?
https://courtneywithrow.medium.com/the-rise-of-euro-english-1bf0bf80dfb8

And after dismissing the obvious ones you thought it might be
It’s not French, German, Spanish, or Italian.

It turns out to be their very own.

It’s English. In Europe, English is the most widely spoken non-native language.

Hatty, can you stick that in the archives, well worth knowing. But, Courtney, how did this all come about?

It started with the politicians and bureaucrats from all over Europe who come together at the EU institutions in Brussels

and busied themselves making feature films, telly progs, you name it, we were soon up to our eyes in it all. I remember saying to the lady wife, what did we do before we joined the EU? 'We had a bit of sex, that's what we used to do,' she said rather bafflingly. Women, eh? Always changing the subject.
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Mick Harper
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Came across a terrific new Traveller wrinkle. When a field isn't being used (usually because the owners have bought it for speculative purposes so no tears need be shed) Travellers round up some horses, put them in the field and place a large concrete block behind the gate to prevent access. The horses are left to their own devices (apparently rainwater and grass is sufficient). Meanwhile an application is made to the Land Registry to get ownership of the field re-assigned to the Travellers under a derelict-land clause, instancing the fact that feral horses have colonised it.

I couldn't follow the ins-and-outs but suffice it to say that the owners had to spend tens of thousands of pounds on legal fees ending with a squad of horse bailiffs (yes!) removing the horses with police standing by. Dozens of people, including vets, were last seen milling around at a 'secure stabling facility' faced with the task of looking after for life a bunch of the mangiest-looking horses you've ever seen, with the owners continuing to pick up the tab. You can see why the scam works, the owners would probably have been better off giving up at the first hurdle.

There was never the slightest suggestion that the Travellers should maybe be prosecuted for something or other.
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