Monday, 26 September 2016

Is Lord Grabafee of BHS the nadir of the House of Lords - or the High Court?


What to do about the BHS scandal?

Over 80 stores closed and 11,000 jobs lost and a pension black-hole of £500M. A business sold for a quid by Philip Green styled as Sir Shifty by the Daily Mail, and Lord Grabiner the Chairman, styled as Lord Grabafee by the Financial Times.

The backdrop of Dominic Chappell a serial-bankrupt buying the business for a quid seems as absurd as it is crooked.

For crooked is what BHS seems to be – not just a business deal gone wrong. BHS was producing lavish profits while the sale was lumped in with various other Green property deals.

Fishier than the fish swimming around his super-yachts on his Summer holiday.

And most dubious of all if not downright criminal was secret shareholders not listed in the plc accounts – who were also suppliers to BHS.
A rat’s nest of financial jiggery-pokery it what it seems to be.

But there’s more.

Not content with destroying BHS, Lord Grabiner still sits on the woolsack in the House of Lords, presiding over legislation and policy and issues.

And worse (and how did this ever arise) he’s also a High Court judge – in theory sitting on cases such as BHS.

And worse (how does this go on) he’s also a QC with his own firm of lawyers, One Essex Court, passing cases through to himself and his judicial colleagues.
Something stinks.

Sure it’s Grabiner – he protests only lightly at being billed as Lord Grabafee but the problem is systemic.

Not just within One Essex Court: Grabiner’s colleagues, Leaver or Glick QC (another of the strange conflation of lawyer and judge) and Hollingworth.

Hollingworth is the rather bizarre part-time magician – sleight of hand a speciality no doubt - and a self-confessed High Court fraudster.

His word may be good for rabbits out of a hat or handkerchiefs up his sleeve, but worthless in the courts.

A Hollingworthless in effect.

Glick is perhaps just old and doddery and incompetent rather than out-and-out crooked. Still less than ideal for High Court material though.

They've been caught out they just want to remain silent.

The final absurdity is both Glick and Hollingworth are taken under Grabiner’s wing in his rather disreputable firm - and provided with parliamentary business(!) on tax reviews and so on.

But within the legal profession itself something has gone wrong if the publicly-provided justice system has in effect excluded the public to leave it as a mere plaything and ATM for lawyers.

By that I mean:

• closed courts
• end of jury trials
• regulatory authorities constituted of lawyers and barristers: SRA and BSB rather than normal Trading Standards or Police and CPS investigations
• cod-courts of disciplinary or review tribunals
• barristers termed self-employed yet working in a firm and acting together as employees – a rather strange variant of zero hours contracts
• junior judges and masters who also serve as lawyers – as with Grabiner prosecuting cases they’ve generated for themselves or friends
• a random approach to their own rules – the High Court for example is only supposed to try cases over £100k or serious public interest
• uncapped and unregulated lawyer fees – not just increasing the cost of courts but chilling justice

Simply put are we allowing lawyers too much of a free hand in self-regulation?

Should we be striking off or jailing more of them?

And do the courts need closer scrutiny and oversight?

A judge like Grabiner left to his own devices in court – or the Lords, never mind the BHS boardroom - can cause a lot of damage.

And frankly I’d expect more of Keir Starmer the Keir Hardy of the courtroom, a cloth-cap QC and now MP but also former Director of Public Prosecutions.
What’s he waiting for on legal reform? A Lenin Starmer to come along?

Apart from any of the above points, minor tweaks such as cancelling the death penalty in the Commonwealth nation could easily be done given UK is the Supreme Court for many of those nations.

Why would a DPP and QC and MP perpetuate, that given the UK death penalty was abolished decades ago?

While Norman Fowler the new Speaker of the House of Lords has urged a “get on with it” approach to Lords reform: few doubt it’s over-stuffed at 800 Lords or elderly with more Lords over 90 than under 40, and old-fashioned with hereditary lords.

And bishops – a system found nowhere else except Iran or the last absolutist monarchies in Dubai and Brunei.

Nothing more complex than a combination of voluntary resignations and names out of a hat could reduce the Lords to the size of the Commons before Xmas.

Appointed or elected Lords and tenure is a separate matter – but if jury service is banned after age 75 there’s a useful benchmark.

But surely the disgraceful Lord Grabafee incident highlights the need for wider reform.

Should Grabiner continue to sit as a Lord? Or a High Court judge? Or even a QC or lawyer?

I’m not sure I’d want him preparing legislation or handling court cases given his evasion over BHS and criticism from Parliament.

Why has he not sacked Hollingworth or Glick or called in the regulators given the confessions from fraud?

And if self-regulation of the Lords and High Court is supposed to work why hasn’t the same “get on with it” approach resulted in Grabiner already been struck off?
After Jeffrey Archer and Mountfield has the nadir of the Lords and High Court being reached?

Time for Change
@timg33

Timbits:

• an interesting Transparency International report on local government secrecy and corruption: http://www.transparency.org.uk/publications/counting-the-pennies/ as at TDCC it’s clear the FOI reforms needed reform with details of contracts etc simply refused or hidden. And an interesting point in the report on the cost of public sector workers placed on other duties/suspended rather than sacked

• The Ramsgate Port admitted £500k GIAA/OLAF fraud seem sot have disappeared into the ether with the Pleasurama and election fraud

• Good the Ramsgate Deputy Mayor has bene sacked for the Moslem racism – UKIP in Kent is simply an irrelevance – stale and crooked pensioners and failed Tories led by the nose by the civil servants and pretending they’re doing something


• The first ever UK councillor in Ian Driver fined £23k and threatened with jail over secret council documents - and prosecuted with public funds - is outrageous

• The silence on Thor mercury and Infratil contamination is merely corporate manslaughter allowing the public to be polluted

• Manston runway still not dug up – nor the housing at Discovery Park science park cancelled or focus on vaccines

• Good AMR raised: vaccines in farm animals a key issue for supermarkets and butchers and farmers over the next few months – the good folks of Waitrose already beginning on delivering on AMR-friendly meat

• An improved Ramsgate pedzone and seafront on illegal parking – no cars after 10am on any day needed, and cars clamped and removed if parked on pavements

• Impressed with Thailand’s OTOP and Kenya’s Artisan Fashion programmes – the latter Vivienne Westwood handbags etc with crafts and cow-horn etc

• No news as yet on Kent Orchids and UK-Lao postage stamp designs

* Horrifying the USA admits using phosphorous in Iraq and now Russia using phosporous, napalm and cluster bombs in Syria - war crimes trials must be needed and stockpiles in Egypt, Sudan, Angola etc:

http://videonewsindex.com/play/us-admit-using-white-phosphorus-munitions-in-iraq-russiatoday
http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/russia-accused-of-barbaric-napalm-attack-on-civilians-88ffrk2km

* a fascinating BBC documentary on the Lairg Asteroid impact crater in Scotland and USA crater, requiring far more UK Space research:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3786339/Asteroid-slammed-Earth-1-2-billion-years-ago-bigger-one-killed-dinosaurs.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_Crater#/media/File:Meteorcrater.jpg

Time for Change
@timg33

Misc points:

* July Updates: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/misc-articles-updates-july-2016.html

* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Universities links and Kent-Thai orchids

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex Court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Is China eating Thailand and Britain’s half-time orange?


Chinese investments in UK are under scrutiny at the moment. The new Hinkley nuclear power station and the nuclear industry are the main consideration, thankfully delayed for review by the new PM Theresa May regime on cybersecurity fears.

Certainly China could hack into nuclear technology – it has floors and floors of cyberhackers in PLA buildings and uniforms on various projects. While the Chinese nuclear company CGN – part of the Hnkley consortia - has been arrested in USA for nuclear espionage. And there are even cybersecurity concerns over the new UK electricity SmartMeters – all the lights going off at once everywhere isn’t ideal.

That said, the Hinkley deal is just an awful business arrangement – hugely expensive now and in the future and highly contaminating with faulty technology, and electricity 3x the current rate.

Awful.

UK nuclear technology is fairly awful in general – Sellafield power station from the 1950’s phase of weapons production is still hugely contaminated as detailed in the BBC Panorama expose two weeks ago. And bizarrely UK is attempting to sell a nuclear reactor to Vietnam rather than solar power or other industries.

As awful and misguided a policy as the Agent Orange contamination that lingers through DaNang province, and Vietnamese and American families, for generations to come. Hopefully President Obama in Laos has raised the issue there - and highlighted the MAG and USAid and DIFD work that would be of immense value.

The sooner the UK’s 15 ageing nuclear power station are closed as in Germany, Italy and Japan, the better. To be fair to the Hinkley project and EDF, only France has made any great effort to make nuclear viable in the past – although the English Channel power stations on the French and Belgian coasts are also contaminating, as was the dumping of waste in the dark days of the 1970’s.

All of it now relegated to the nuclear dustbin of history.

But if nuclear is kicked into touch then China has another string to its bow.

~~China and Football kicks off~~

And surprisingly for all the fanfares of a global economic power and Golden Era of UK-China relations, China has only invested c.$40BN in UK since 2005 – a sizeable sum but not extraordinary for the world’s largest economy. Parliament details only 156 projects by China in UK in 2015-16, creating just 2,833 jobs and safeguarding another 3,899 jobs.

The UK gives away c. $20BN in DFID charitable aid each year by 2020, for example. And that doesn’t include public donations and fundraising which is even higher.
Rather, China is focusing on pushing its investment not into the wider UK economy but into sport especially football. All as part of its 2030 National Plan marketing activity.

Birmingham City, West Brom, Wolves, Manchester City in UK, and AC Milan, InterMilan and Atletico Madrid abroad, have all taken the Chinese dollar. And now Liverpool is valued at £800M for a possible takeover by China’s Everbright plc.

Interestingly Man City as with the Siamese Foxes of nearby Leicester City has attracted Thai investment with Shinawatra previously, and now King Power. While Reading FC just off the slopes of Microsoft’s Silicon Thames Valley have sponsorship from Thailand’s Carabao drink.

Lord Green the previous Trade Minister and former CEO of HSBC spoke often of the impact of UK football in Asia – none more so than in Thailand – and previous rather fumbled opportunities for sports diplomacy, now being actively reversed in Asia-Pacific.

For what better marketing activity option can there be for Chinese brands (name any if you can) than being associated with Premier League football clubs? Instant brand name recognition and associated values every Saturday to a youthful crowd. Plus regular and repeated television, radio and internet exposure.

~~UK Sports Diplomacy~~

Ambassadors across Asia and the Pacific are now deftly bringing into play a range of football projects eg Arsenal Summer schools, U21, Women’s football and so on, as The Gunners for example are brought up to coordinate the rich array of excellent FA grassroots projects for Sports Diplomacy projects.
While the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United and Chelsea and so on, are being moulded into a more cohesive platform that’s to the benefit of the teams, the players, the Premier League and UK plc.

And 1.3M Kent citizens should cheer on such activity with support through the terraces, supporters clubs, sports shops and football boardrooms whether at Gillingham or Ebbsfleet Utd or Charlton Athletic or Crystal Palace or West Ham or Brighton.

ASEAN and Latin America are two key growth regions for UK economic, diplomatic and cultural value - especially with burgeoning TPP growth filling the ports and railheads and factories and warehouses and shops, that UK could falter on if it doesn’t use all the players in its team.

Just as well, as China’s mandarins have developed a National Plan through to 2050. A BBC World documentary showed over 70,000(!) pitches stadiums planned for reconstruction, 20,000 training centres and summer schools and investment in the Chinese Super League.


Tom Dyer the Chinese National Coach spoke of the importance of youth projects in China and interestingly how every Chinese sports kid wanted to play like Messi. And plans for 50M Chinese playing football.

Woefully, Dyer laughed at “China’s inability to beat even Thailand in World Cup competitions” so far. A little harsh on Thailand given their OK World Cup performances in the Asian competitions.

And there is a rather fizzy and exciting Thai Football League with dynamos such as The Untouchable Thundercastles of Buriram sticking the Isaan ball in the back of the net. Or Chonburi Sharks smoothly gliding through the choppy waters with of the league, and Police United with several arresting performances.

China though are ruling themselves out of the next World Cup or two – but marshalling their forces to reach beyond that as a sporting superpower.
I wouldn’t bet against them, would you?

A 1.2BN population, 1M under 6 years of old now, but being schooled in football, and the world’s largest economy, will be putting just 11 players forward in its national team.

That will hard to beat.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-36015657

Britain has already discovered that a Sporting Superpower is worthwhile but difficult achievement, not just with the Premier League and heft of the other Divisions but the glittering success of Team GB in the Olympics.

China’s success isn’t guaranteed though: if UK with 0.8% of the world’s population can come second in the medal table, even above China. And that, after rather ho-hum previous Olympic performances. While both La Liga and Bundesliga tread carefully around UK teams in Europe.

Greg Dyke the former FA CEO’s rather sensible reforms have been kicked into the long grass for a muddling-along amateurish approach that should be offside in 21st century major UK sports, and millions of dollars in tax and lottery funding and ever pricier season tickets.

~~Future UK and Thailand~~

While if the dynamic UK Sports and Tourism Minister, Kent’s Tracey Crouch has urged spending on UK sports infrastructure such as Olympic pools for all 33 UK counties or opening the expansion of the new Gravesend Cycling park (who know of 42 acres of cycling excellent in Kent?) then as a qualified FA referee she’s familiar with the dynamic Women’s football barely begun in Thailand or ASEAN as yet.

http://road.cc/content/news/59106-cyclopark-europes-largest-cycle-park-opens-today-near-gravesend

Thailand’s dynamic UN women group already calling for female participation and support in sports such as muay thai.
And UK should be developing more non-traditional sports ahead of Tokyo 2002 display sports: isn’t Takraw essentially Keepy-Uppy and Tech Tokyo rich in potential for computer games football and other sports?

UK and Thailand football exchanges and cohesive sports and cultural programmes haven’t yet been brought into play. Thailand schoolkids probably shouldn’t learn some of the terrace songs although it would broaden their language skills and appreciation for the difficult job of the chap in black.
The FA is second to none in exhibitions with say Manchester’s National Football Museum, Stadium Tours whether Arsenal or Wembley or Chelsea, and the rich heritage of the 1966 World Cup from the singing Sixties and UK social changes.

But the FA and clubs are weakly-promoted: Lonely Planet England guidebook places football – any football team or ground - as 17th out of 20 top UK attractions to visit – first is Stonehenge still only 5,000 years young.

The China 2050 National Football Plan ensures China plc is intent on eating Britain’s and Thailand’s half-time orange in football, as well as drinking their cup of Bovril - and taking the football shirt off their back too.

The whistle has blown for kick-off and it’s all to play for.

Time for Change
@timg33

-Princess Patricia Military Hospital for the Canadian military and Canadian Red Cross in WW1, a conversion of St Lawrence College, the alma-mater of the former head of the British Army until 2010, General Richard Dannatt. And one of numerous Canadian bases in Ramsgate and Thanet that would be interesting to details part of the WW1 Anniversary commemorations in UK and Belgium. And to establish firm links with Canadian towns and organisations, say Medicine Hat or Yellowknife or Montreal and the Canadian Army and Red Cross and ice hockey clubs.

- The GPO and Royal Mint issuing various stamps and coins to celebrate the links needed in East Kent too for the rare orchids.

- And good to see Chief Canuck Mark Carney of the Bank of England launching the new banknotes – the Canadian-issued plastic polymer notes supposedly with a hint of maple - at the Turner Gallery recently. If only East Kent’s dynamic Givaudan could replicate the tang of the sea or fish and chips for the UK notes or an East Kent local currency, or the Treasury or local banks a favourable Euro rate for East Kent’s Benelux tourism trade and SME’s.

- Kent’s links with Virginia and Hungary unfortunately still gathering dust, as Chimay etc and become rejuvenated – and what wasted opportunity from the Virginia Ships conference with the then-Senator Tim Kaine now the Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate.

- Interestingly General Dannatt spoke out last week on the scourge of the antimalarial drug Lariam/Mefloquine used by UK troops but causing numerous health problems of hallucinations etc. I took it in India and stopped rather than risk malaria. 11,000 doses still in stock for UK troops is outrageous.

- Good that RNLI Margate lifeboat station - unbelievably foolish building on a Blue Flag beach. But part of New East Kent with the collapse of UKIP and Gale and any TDC policies at all. Time for the Manston runway to be dug up and the drinking water site left as a park, and I've put in an offer on the Pavilion to reopen it as a jazz club and Buddhist temple - something more than a mega-drab Wetherspoons mega-boozer and TDC dodgy deals.

- Good to that Kent Police are clamping down on illegal parking in the pedzone and seafront - but more ASBO noise work needed on radios blaring outside etc.

- More later on KORA, Project Gilgamesh and UN Police and the Bridges of Battambang and Kwai revisited.


Misc points:

* July Updates: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/misc-articles-updates-july-2016.html


* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Universities links and Kent-Thai orchids - fab UK-Lao postage stamp

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships, and thoughts on Senegal and Mali

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Ramsgate council corruption - Kent on Sunday letter

Dear Editor



Your Letter of the Week in last week’s Kent On Sunday from Richard Styles, Town Clerk of Ramsgate Town Council: “We welcome DFL’s and work hard to improve” is rather concerning on several points, not least that so much of it was self-serving tripe.



Leaving aside the rather nonsensical debate on sweary-tattooed Locals or DFL’s – how would anyone know one from the other, or particularly care?



And let’s leave aside whether he was writing in his official capacity, with councillor-approval.



The serious point though made by the previous correspondent, is that Ramsgate along with several other Kent coastal towns – as well as the inland Crap Towns - has suffered from the KCC, London councils and central government policy of social dumping from prisons or inner-city estates or drug clinics.



The Howes barracks London council scheme in nearby Canterbury is that policy only magnified and foolishly perpetuated.



A generation or two later on, and the problems of anti-social behaviour, drug crime and so on are more evident than in most small towns. And all that is exacerbated by the lack of job creation programmes and brain-drain, given the 4,000 job losses at Pfizer/Discovery Park, ferry closures, coalmine closures, Dockyard and port closures etc.



Towns such as Gillingham are as desolate and derelict as downtown Homs.



Other seaside towns such as Bournemouth and Torquay are not so far away and have done better in revitalising their tourism offering. While the French and Belgian seaside towns, and inland towns such as Lille or Bruges, literally the other side of the Channel from East Kent, are booming.


Rather than Brexit maybe we need more French or Belgian civil servants? We've paid for them and they speak English?



The only growth industries in Kent are expanding the councils and town clerks, or tarmacking the fields. An unproductive tax for both the private sector and Climate Change.



How can KCC’s £2BN annual budget achieve so little? Plus extra for Education and NHS and Police etc? The empty racism and idiocy of UKIP has proved pointless as the other parties and serves only to further diminish East Kent.



It’s concerning that an unelected official like Richard is adding to the problem, rather than merely watching from the sidelines as usual, in his unapproved letter.



To say that TDC is hard-pressed and its budgets reduced through austerity policies by 40% is laughable excusitis.



TDC is hard-pressed by government and the public with budget cuts, because it is corrupt, idle and incompetent.



Neither the public not government, rightly, trust it with any funds. Those funds it does have, it merely wastes or spends on itself until the corruption and incompetence is self-evident to the most obtuse tattooed local or DFLer.



The recent Ramsgate Port GIAA/OLAF £500k fraud on Richard’s watch, or badly-run elections and the Channel Four fraud investigation, are but the latest examples of corruption.



Richard may just be buttering TDC up though, as so far RTC’s £400k budget is provided via TDC before its £30M tax-fund was reduced by corruption and waste - along Richard’s excessive 30% reserves/slush-fund for failure.



What a waste of tax to have it simply stored away, or spent on 750 staff (hardly a small council) administering nothing.



But for Richard to suggest that RTC is trying hard by putting out half a dozen tree/flower pots and the Xmas lights is ridiculous. What is he doing for the other 364 days of the year beyond writing letters to Kent on Sunday?



The town Xmas tree was derided as one of the worst ever last year along with décor on the cheap of underpants and bra's(!) strung along the street.



While the verbiage of RTC being part of a consortium planning large investments in the town via coastal communities is twaddle – the secured Coastal Communities Harbour St fund has disappeared without trace into the council coffers along with the Pleasurama £3M corruption funds.



Even Chatham’s best Ramsgate MP LocalCraig Mackinlay has stirred to stumps to now protest the Pleasurama farce – again on Richard’s watch:



http://www.kentlive.news/mp-craig-mackinlay-demands-urgent-inquiry-into-thanet-council-s-handling-of-ramsgate-pleasurama-deal/story-29729886-detail/story.html



Excessive town clerk salaries as in Broadstairs for £40k – almost the same as for Paul Carter running KCC – are a wider issue of funding and responsibility failure.



The silence on the Manston–Infratil removed monitors and cancer and Thor mercury contamination though is merely corporate manslaughter.



The problems are not hard to fix:



· full and automatic monthly FOI



· end double-hatters of the same councillors in multiple seats



· party manifestos issued - rather than standing for election to do and say nothing



· councillor questioning of the civil servants activities rather than seaside nodding donkeys



· cap exorbitant civil servant salaries and pensions, expenses, cars etc



· merge some back-office functions as East Kent Council



· develop a cross-channel North Sea Union with Benelux and EU



· fixed-terms/retirement and higher councillor salaries to stop duffers and dead wood continuing: 10 years/under 75 years old?



· reduce the ceremonial stuffed shirts of chairman and vice-chairs and lord lieutenants and so on



· Ramsgate’s £17M in council tax governed by a reformed RTC - and far smaller TDC and EKC, and KCC



· end fossil fuel and tobacco investments and KCC Construction Group



· directly-elected mayors and KCC Leader, and end election fees (what happened to free and fair elections?)



· ban political parties or a cap of 30% of seats at local level



· even the Free Economy of Citizen’s Income as Finland and Switzerland and Utrecht and free utilities



While I’ve volunteered to take on the Grade 1 Listed Ramsgate Pavilion through the Community Fund process – rather than the bent TDC process or more years of dereliction and asbestos or a bog-standard boozer with Wetherspoons.



The DCMS Princess Victoria coronet along with Vincent Van Gogh’s letters should have their natural home in a Ramsgate museum if Richard can be roused from sleeping on the job.



Secretive and incompetent councils like RTC and TDC are too old-fashioned for reform except by P45. While the multi-agency muddle of the public sector buck-passing and low productivity can only be improved through faster reform and a Kent Magnitsky List of corrupt or incompetent officials.



Hence my “Stop the Corruption. Stop the Pollution. Stop the Construction” campaign for KCC Leader 2017 and MP2020.



Can it really take more than 6 months of Special Measures for a failing hospital or school or council to improve – or for Kent, as a supposedly beacon council, to have so many? Or the first-ever councillor (but not journalists) in UK history with Cllr Ian Driver gagged over supposedly secret council documents on Pleasurama?



Richard invariably refuses FOI requests under the 2008 law, on salaries, budgets, activities etc through the 1960 Public Bodies Act – deliberate and wilful secrecy that can only be met by clawback of salaries and pensions when the details eventually emerge.



Whether as a DFLer or Seaside Tattooer, Richard unfortunately is part of the problem not the solution and merely spouting excuses while riding the decline down, and only delaying his demise.



His early resignation would be of more help than his letters.



Tim Garbutt, Ramsgate



Time for Change



@timg33


Misc Timbits:

* fab news on Cambodia railway links almost completed at Thai border after Khmer Rouge sabotage - see @timg33 and UK launching various Cambodia projects
* astonished Grabiner (Lord Grabafee) of the fraudulent One Essex Court firm and BHS scandal still a High Court Judge and Lord - we're not short of either or better
* appalling lawyer scams of pretending to be from Inland Revenue - more later and very dodgy PB Legal
* no news on Broadstairs rape lawyer yet
* horrifying UK drug deaths report last week highest ever: c.1,600 - Helmand/Afgh and Shan/Myanmar heroin and West Africa cocaine routes
* Southern Water abysmal - profit clawback and Board salary cap needed
* fab Daily Mail campaign on improving cataracts NHS delay and surgery - most common UK operation so no excuse ofr - and UK Eye Week with the good folks of Vision Express eye-van, Specsavers and Sightsavers (yes, you too Boots the Opticians and Rotary and Lions) - 39M blind globally and 150k in UK a simple problem to solve
* more later on Lifebuoy CSR Kenya/East Africa, Lucky iron Fish, Toms Shoes and Siobhan Mackenzie kilts/cloth - great brands
* I didnl't see much of the Paralympics but UK 2nd for medals incredible - and Boccia - a sporting superpower

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Thailand’s Corruption list - UK and Kent failing?


How refreshing for Thailand to take the lead on producing the next list of 20 corrupt officials.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/politics/New-list-of-corrupt-officials-30294425.html

And also PM Prayut’s firm use of S44 to remove the Bangkok Governor Khun Paribatra on corruption allegations.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-3757875/Thai-junta-suspends-Bangkok-governor-graft-probe.html

And an open way in dealing with the fire engine corruption amongst other such issues.

A sharp contrast to the murk surrounding Freedom of Information – and more effective EIR at the EU for scrutiny of any European public sector costs and policies - at Kent Fire Brigade, and purchase for fire engines and fire station build costs. Can a garage for two fire engines really cost $12M?

In contrast, UK is dragging its heels - and still only 10th in the Transparecy International corruption rankings.

Only in the last month has the dynamic Eric Pickles MP been appointed as an Anti-Corruption minister. Astonishingly, UK having no such specific role for hundreds of years.


~~Corruption in London~~

Eric’s first piece of business after rolling up his sleeves, was to take a large bite out of the most notorious local government corruption in London with Lutfur Rahman which has dragged on for the best part of a decade.

Rather being removed from office, as with BKKGov, and a report on notorious electoral abuses eg postal votes allowing people to vote numerous times and fairly normal ballotbox stuffing.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-32428648

It’s depressing that electoral corruption has its natural home in the UK electoral system with Rotten Boroughs -now the name of the Private Eye satirical magazine’s regular column on local government corruption.

And a namecheck to the original UK Rotten Boroughs 200 years ago where the Industrial Revolution left large towns without MP’s, but tiny villages with numerous MP’s, all to be bought and paid for by the local Lord.

The last vestiges of such archaic systems are still working their way out of the Mother of Parliaments with only 92 hereditary Lords left (but 800 in UK) – and bizarrely the only election in the Lords is to replace the ageing 92 hereditary Lords as they die off.

While The Lord Grabafee scandal of Lord Anthony Grabiner QC of the notoriously fraudulent One Essex Court barristers was exposed in a parliamentary enquiry over Sir Shifty Philip Green of BHS: the 88 year old High St staple of 163 shops closed, 11,000 over staff sacked and sold for $1 in an $800M pension scandal.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37207481

A closing of the ranks and whitewash as extensive as it is breath-taking.

In the Glick-Hollingworth One Essex Court, High Court case, one judge dubbed The Crying Judge, starting to tear up at the sight of the corrupt invoices and refused to touch them presumably for fear of DNA contamination, and the Teacups Judge urging "you'll never get Glick".


~~Corruption in East Kent~~

And here in East Kent my “Stop the Pollution, Stop the Corruption Stop the Construction” MP campaign has resulted in the Gang of Four senior civil servants and councillors sacked, and one jailed.

The Toxic Three of KCC leaderless and drifting in the face of the Infratil, Manston airport monitors fraud and corporate manslaughter- 6 airports in Europe and NZ closed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-24913958

Only Wellington Airport with the fraudulent directors Steve Fitzgerald, Marko Bogoievski, Kevin Baker, et al still in place – Asia’s most dangerous airport?

https://infratil.com/about-us/people/

Certainly it must be worrying for both BA and Thai Airways flying their tourists and citizens into an airport run by such fraudulent and reckless, if not murderous directors.

The tally of cancer victims from the removal of airport monitors, with the assistance of the councils, and faking of air pollution data is still to be accounted for.

Or just a few miles away the Thor Mercury, Margate scandal is not dissimilar to Klity Creek or Flint, Michigan or Minamata Japan and even Bhopal.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/12/15/thailand-clean-klity-creek

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/20/health/flint-water-crisis-charges/index.html

https://www.verywell.com/minamata-disease-2860856

A Margate banned factory, illegally remaining open, polluting and killing its workers and residents – as in Cato Ridge, South Africa.

http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/thorchem.htm

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/mercury-poisoning-victims-win-pounds-13m-in-landmark-case-1266578.html

Or the brazen TDC 0% salary fraud of senior councillors and civil servants publicly declaring no pay rises, then secretly awarding themselves 10% increases. Not one fined or jailed yet.

The British Way seems to be to accept it, and eventually pay them off anyway.

While Pleasurama BVI and Panama tax haven corruption for Kent’s largest seafront site is breath-taking as a senior councillor and civil servant pension payday.
And just last month OLAF the EU fraud organisation called in for £500,000 of funds stolen by civil servants over Ramsgate Port becoming bankrupt, yet the names censored by GIAA auditors of Whitehall.

http://www.publiclawtoday.co.uk/local-government/procurement/402-procurement-and-contracts-articles-news/30054-auditors-call-for-referral-to-police-over-spending-of-2005-08-erdf-funds-by-council

And just this week, the clerk of UKIP MEP fined and given a suspended jail sentence for fabricating invoices for the UKIP election.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/565950/Janice-Atkinson-Ukip-MEP-invoice-undercover-sting

http://www.kentonline.co.uk/thanet/news/ukip-aide-avoids-jail-for-102081/

Janice herself was booted out of UKIP for racism and notorious for being filmed by BBCTV describing a Thai citizen, bizarrely a member of her own UKIP party(!), as “a tingtong from somewhere”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/11045955/UKIP-race-row-These-revolting-slurs-show-a-darkness-at-the-heart-of-UKIP.html

While Chief Constable Pughsley is allowing the longest-ever police investigation into the 2015 Conservative election fraud exposed by Channel Four television of party loyalists being bussed around the UK to bolster falling party numbers and supporters – in excess of UK electoral laws.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-36429681

Shouldn’t UK and Thai politicians and civil society and media form a Thai-UK partnership, say as a part of NACC or ACT, in rooting out corruption and flagging up problems sooner rather than later?

https://www.nacc.go.th/main.php?filename=index_en

As well as a version of the Spanish Operation Captura for criminals abroad as say Viktor Bout of Ostend airport gunrunning arrested in Phuket.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/world/asia/17thai.html?_ro

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/10991892/Viktor-Bout-husband-father-arms-dealer.html

https://crimestoppers-uk.org/get-involved/our-campaigns/international-campaigns/operation-captura/

The blatant and frequent Ostend airport gunrunning into Africa and cocaine and blood dimands back into Amsterdam and London, and Antwerp, still not tackled by the ineffective and idle CAA unable to request a list of banned or late flights for any airport:

http://www.ruudleeuw.com/ostend.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kam_Air

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3040370/Torture-beatings-murder-Inside-new-brutal-blood-diamonds-scandal-fuelled-pure-greed-Africa-s-mines.html

Even a spot of Iranian sanctions-busting:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3040370/Torture-beatings-murder-Inside-new-brutal-blood-diamonds-scandal-fuelled-pure-greed-Africa-s-mines.html

The KLM and Cargolux illegal overflights and resulting asthma and cancer tumour effects still unaccounted for.


http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent/news/kent-suffers-severe-weather-pollution-15183/

http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/manston-cancer-and-schtumgate.html


~~Corruption Reform~~


The UK is still only 10th in the latest Transparency International league table of corruption – far lower than other nearby European nations such as Denmark.
I’ve called for a Magnitsky list – named after the horrific Sergei Magnitsky scandal of a Russian lawyer exposing police and civil service fraud in Putin’s Russia - as detailed in Bill Browder’s Red Notice book.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8272606/Who-was-Sergei-Magnitsky.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/11453125/Bill-Browder-why-I-fear-for-my-life.html

A concern here in East Kent as Crimea is twinned with Margate.

Sadly, with East Kent, the home of parliament with Pugin, the creator of the Palace of Westminster a resident and former PM Ted Heath, the UK’s corruption list seems to grow daily.

The British Disease of secrecy, even extending to watered-down Freedom of Information laws – the EU’s EIR laws far stronger in insisting on transparency and accountability for public funds. Most government seems to only function with secrecy to cover up the incompetence or corruption.

Less blatantly, the revolving door of military officials joining the arms manufacturers they used to regulate coming under scrutiny – a licence to print money and bullets, as Germany is urging a ban on all EU arms exports.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37376317

While Grabiner and colleagues such as Ian Glick being QC’s, and horrifyingly, judges as well – in effect sitting on their own firms’ cases. The new Justice Secretary Liz Truss MP handed the brief to fumigate the Augean Stables of the High Court with Judge Smith of the BA Suitcase case declared mentally unfit and sacked.

http://www.legalcheek.com/2016/08/top-judge-scalded-for-shocking-and-disgraceful-behaviour-mentally-unfit-to-face-disciplinary-inquiry/
No doubt the first of many.

UBS, Barclays and Deutsche Bank and Lloyds and even the UK arms of the Olympus cameras are facing corruption allegations and charges.
http://business.time.com/2012/07/09/libor-scandal-the-crime-of-the-century/

While Sports Direct the UK’s largest seller of football shirts and boots facing a £1M fine and shareholder revolt for fiddling the minimum wage and zero hours contacts. Surely Wetherspoons pubs with its zero-hours contracts is next in the firing lane?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/sports-direct-scraps-zero-hours-contracts-barrage-of-criticism-a7227811.html

New cases around the effectiveness of Bar Standards Board and judges such as Justice Mann are waiting in the wings. It’s concerning for ASEAN as many of the Commonwealth nations such as Singapore or Malaysia, and indeed New Zealand as with Infratil, still rely on the UK Supreme Court and its judges as the final legal arbiters.

Crooked UK judges and barristers and lawyers and fraudulent decisions can ricochet through ASEAN’s courts and policies.


~~New Corruption Cases~~

The UK’s High Court is spectacularly old-fashioned and out of touch – actually slipping backward in having almost no women or BME ethnic minorities. The vast majority of judges are elderly, white lawyers form Eton and Oxbridge. Not so much the 1% as the 0.1% sat in judgement of everyone else.

While the archaic 18th century practice of MP’s and councillors, also sitting as magistrates in local courts still persists in Kent.

Private Eye magazine has already stepped forward with various City and government frauds around LIBOR etc to be investigated by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office eg:
*GPT Special Project Management corruption in Saudi Arabia: allegations of bribes by the UK MOD and companies such as Airbus to gain and continue arms sales (East Kent’s MP Jonathan Aitken was jailed over the similarly hushed-up Al-Yamamah arms case).

http://www.private-eye.co.uk/

https://deceptioninhighplaces.com/the-ministry-of-defence-and-detecting-bribery-in-saudi-arms-deals/

The case being particularly shocking as the arms sales involve hundreds of MOD clerks and soldiers over several years being seconded to Saudi princes on UK tax-salaries. And the arms sales likely to be used mainly as a slush-fund front for bribes.

https://www.controlbae.org.uk/press/release2008-07-30.php

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financial-crime/10955861/SFO-arrests-Airbus-staff-in-corruption-investigation.html

* ENRC corruption in Kazakhstan and Central Africa
* Rolls Royce corruption in Indonesia, China, Brazil and Nigeria
* G4S and Serco: UK prisons and electronic tagging contracts
* GlaxoSmithKline: corruption in China, Europe and Middle East
* Tesco: fraud of overstated profits
* BHS and One Essex Court (again): fraudulent invoices and secret shareholders
* Two more LIBOR trials in 2016 – LIBOR affecting exchange rates for every nation including Thailand
* Contamination scandals over UK nuclear sites eg Sellafield and Dungeness here in East Kent
* Magnitsky (again): Bill Browder presenting further invoices for property purchases etc to Parliament by blacklisted Russian officials
* White collar crimes from the Lough Neath and Anti-Corruption Summits still to be detailed with the weakness of UK’s tax havens, Land Registry fraudulent property sales etc

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/207543/180613_LOUGH_ERNE_DECLARATION.pdf

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/522791/FINAL_-_AC_Summit_Communique_-_May_2016.pdf

UK could well do with taking lessons from Thailand in its handling of corruption cases and judicial reviews and prudent and measured use of S44.

Surely their are some simple reforms:

* central government edict and review of FOI - indeed scrap the law for EIR: mere duplication
* ban doublehatters eg councilors and MP's in multiple roles suc as magistrates
* fast forward High Court and BSB/SRA reform
* sack fraudulent judges and QC's as Grabiner and Glick
* Jail and sack more local government officials - and claw back salaries and pensions - such as Howes and Berry, Button and Sproates in oovering up Infratil etc
* A review into Thor Margate and Cato Ridge
* Extradite Infratil's directors - and suspend Wellington gflights

So far in UK it’s fine words but hot air.

Time for Change
@timg33

Misc:

* Good news from the EU Bratislva Summit (the first one without Brexit-UK and a pledge for free wifi in Every European town centre and 5G by 2020 - the USA achieving this in 2017 so when will UK achieve it? It's little more complicated than flicking a switch

* Facebook's aim of 100% internet coverage everywhere confirms that technology issues are only 5-10% of the problems - surely time for always-on emergency internet and phone connections say £5 a year and free SMS?

* Silence on Kent and South East hospitals in Special Measures an delays on cataract operations etc - the most popular and routine operation If the NHS can't do that what's the point of it without P45 reform?

* Also Parliamentary reviews of bank overdrafts/charges - easy to cap and standardise those and a review of FTSE350 pay and governance given the LIBOR frauds etc

* Disappointing Hinkle approved but I just cant see it being built and by 2030 if UK will have nay nuclear power stations: not one built for the last 20 years so a junk and radioactive technology ending

* More on KORA, Project Gilgamesh and Surin school charity later

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Liam Fox and lazy and fat British Business and exports?


Liam Fox seems to have slipped back in time to the 1970’s sitcoms for his ideas on business. The free trade world of Terry and June or Leonard Rossiter’s Sunshine Desserts seems to have informed his views on fat, lazy businessmen playing golf on Friday instead of exporting.

All good knockabout stuff for the good doctor to amuse Young Conservatives down in London from the farm to hear what a great success Brexit will be.

Or perhaps to tee them up for the bad news as Brexit unravels.

But there is more than a grain of truth in what Liam says.

Peter Hargreaves, founder of financial services company Hargreaves Lansdown, also backed Mr Fox, saying:

"We have a lot of very good entrepreneurs in Britain, but there's no doubt that there are also some in boardrooms who don't deserve to be there - they're idle, incompetent and ineffective."

And let’s face it, British Business – or certainly British Big Business – has not done well recently.

The 2008 Recession drags on with no end in sight. Nor any government policies, except the vagueness and vagaries of Brexit.

The unacceptable face of British Business is writ large in Philip Green and Lord Grabiner of One Essex Court and BHS scandal of secret shareholders and financial jiggery-pokery. The latter as with Glick QC, a High Court judge too, and advising parliament on tax!

All of it little more than fraud, instead of solid retailing, destroying a stalwart of the High St.

Even Terry-Thomas would balk at such bounders.

Or Mike Ashley and Sports Direct, or Hermes courtiers, betting the company on short-changing the minimum wage. Shareholder revolts over excessive CEO pay for low performance are now routine.

The £14BN Mastercard scandals of illegal store fees, and secret currency exchange fees to rip-off consumers and SME’s this week suggests nothing has changed in many large companies.

Delays in reforms on the nodding donkey NED approach of most City firms rubberstamping exorbitant salaries for managers to plunder great corporations not of their making, and still just token women on the Boards, is from the 1970’s.

Even the only LIBOR criminal jailed so far, Tom Hayes, expresses concern that his bosses weren’t questioned under oath of their rip-off policies, something that One Essex Court or Sports Direct senior management must be less than keen on.

White collar criminals such as Hayes or Fitzgerald of Infratil tarnish business here and abroad.

In my MP candidacy role, and 25 years in the advertising business, I’ve only seen the rampant corruption in public sector and City and High Court. Certainly not in most businesses. And I don’t even know how to play golf.

Dynamic brands such as Lucky Iron Fish, Lifebuoy soap CSR in Kenya and Doitung in ASEAN and Scotland’s Vivienne Westwood, Siobhan Mackenzie, are perfect for UK exports and JV’s.

The UK export targets are certainly in need of a boost: the target on doubling the c.£490BN exports to £1TN by 2020 is just trickling along to £512BN since 2010 – the doubling of exports at that rate will be achieved by 2034.

Even Terry and June repeats could have ended by then.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/10439497/Can-British-business-double-exports-by-2020.html

But let’s suppose Liam is right and British Business is too fat and lazy to export, and Leonard or Joan Collins, have collared him at the 19th hole, or sat next to him on his next flight, and bought him a Cinzano, and given him some pointers, here’s what I think they’d say:


1. Less of the same old faces – surely British Business abroad should be more than Burberry and Rolls Royce? Every piece of research points to SME and startup business for growth and jobs and taxes. Companies such as Rolls Royce are marvellous – but they can promote themselves. And if British manufacturing is mainly sandwiches and microwave meals then there is work to do.

2. Less of the arms industries – schemes such as Sangcom or AlYamamah are just bungs-for-bullets schemes. They do nothing for UK exports or – wider UK business. Quite the opposite. And the UK arms industries are rife with the corporate welfare of BAE which employs few jobs and all on tax. And in a declining market with Germany calling for an EU arms exports ban.

Surely the Saudi princes could be tempted with some more Burberry – and hi-speed rail cross the Arabian peninsula between Kuwait and Mecca and the millions of Hajj tourists? We’ve an Admiral for every ship and all the ships tied up in port with the ratings on holiday on the rates.

https://deceptioninhighplaces.com/arms-trade/summary-of-britains-biggest-arms-deals-with-saudi-arabia/

All of which reflects badly on British business.

3. Shouldn’t UKTI/DIT be on track with railways as a Great British invention along with the internet and television and cinema and USA. Shouldn’t Network Rail be developing the international rail contracts that stimulate the steel industry and supply chain eg HS1-3, ASEANRail or AfricaRail. Britain did build many of the world’s railways in the first place. Partnerships with Hitachi or Mitsubishi as with HS1 and HS2 and HS3 would make sense too as part of Meiji reform.

4. Cars: get the motor out of the garage and on with the string-backed driving gloves, Liam. Much of the UK car industry is German or Japanese – the Nissan factory in Sunderland is producing more cars than the entire Italian automotive industry. Where is the plan to capitalise on this record year with say Landrover and VW for a JV in the Latin American markets?

5. More broadly why doesn’t every UKTI/DIT and FCO official have a copy of not just the UK Strategic Industries plan but also the Growth Markets eg Vietnam and Thailand. I’ll buy you a Campari and soda myself, if you can find a copy anywhere the voluminous and interminable Government websites. Lorraine Chase herself might fork out for a Campari too if Luton airport and the other UK runways and airline allocations are sorted out soon?

6. Shouldn’t the UKTI plans be developed into UK Export plans for each nation and their requirements eg Thailand and an emphasis on Education by increasing students to 17,000 as in Malaysia, or Retail in Kenya’s shopping malls? It's all a bit too random at the moment for a National Plan.

7. Graphene: another Great British invention invented here and then frittered away (just a Taiwanese lightbulb after 5 years?) or monetised in USA. Couldn’t UK Government take a leaf out of USA’s playbook as with DARPA and make markets – so, develop say 5 key products before Xmas eg phone battery, Panasonic DNA bathroom mirror etc etc.

8. Martin Sorrell is banging the drum for Great British Advertising with calls for improved digital infrastructure and wifi too – why aren’t those notes being heeded? Just today Juncker of the beastly EU is calling for free wifi in all of Europe's town centres before 2020. Why isn't raising that - and doing it?

While Brent Hoberman of Lastminute.com has called for an innovative export policy with FTSE 350 companies to detail their support of SME’s – if the large corporates are simply going to push to the front of the queue for export deals, why would any smaller companies spare the resource? Why would anyone be charged for Trade missions already funded from tax if the national focus is on exports?

9. Israel’s StartUp nation should be bedtime reading for every UKTI official and Embassy, with Eric Pickles going round to test them – not just the specifics of the Israeli IT economy but the MOFA promotion of the activity with books and translations etc etc.

10. Shouldn’t the excellent GREAT campaign be rolled out further? Advertising on UK television is rather wasteful if not downright silly, but combined with point 6 there's the potential to develop specific niche markets eg Cuba and agricultural equipment.

11. As with the great success of the UK launch into Cuba why not enlist Kent’s Rolling Stones again – Stones in the Desert of North Africa? Certainly UK Music is just a backdrop at the moment rather than an effective export tool – where is the New Islands Records to promote say Khmer Blues rather than reggae? A missed opportunity for both UK plc and UK Creative Industries with Kent’s Beatles and the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper fast-approaching.

12. Space, 2020Tokyo, Creative industries, Sporting Superpower, Film – all neglected on Liam’s watch so far, and space precludes detailed free pointers. These and the other 8 ideas I’ve left behind the bar of the 19th hole next to Liam’s engraved tankard.

What is this? Liam’s expecting insults and then free ideas on the rates?

Liam’s expansion of UKTI coverage to more USA cities is a sound point - the UK can't go wrong in encouraging for USA trade - but bickering with Boris and turf wars of red tape don’t help UK plc – rather a bonfire of both red tape and the vanities around it is needed.

And today’s announcement that the Treasury are awarding themselves pension pots of 54% of their tax-salary is outrageous. There must be savings there to boost exports?

While only just beginning to hire a DIT Permanent Secretary last week on £160k suggests too much holiday and not enough business in Whitehall over the Summer. Although Ken Clarke urging you to take as long as you like on Brexit seems the better policy.

Brexit is looking feeble, and with more bureaucracy with DIT lawyers and accountants as trade negotiators to rewrite the EU contracts and maybe knock 10% off at best? Does retyping every EU contract but calling it the UE count as Brexit?

And somebody is employed to come up with pussy gags at the FCO for Pawlmerston or Larry at Downing St and Gladstone at the Treasury? Japan’s Kawaii culture and Supermario Abe may be viable as part of economic strategy but the UK just has fat cats on the internet if that's the best we can do?

We really are going back to the 1970’s if we have Mrs Slocombe’s pussies on the rates rather than driving exports.

Liam’s the right man for the job of UK exports - and as a GP, he must be aware that the worthwhile aim of a 24/7 NHS is derailed so far, because the Sir Lancelot Spratts of the hospitals are clogging up the golf courses rather than unclogging arteries or cataracts in the empty operating theatres?

Let's hope can change that too.

Time for Change
@timg33

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Garbutt: The Economist letter: Wonga and Kenya pricecaps

Dear Editor

The Economist last week in “Cut Price Logic” page 14 and “Ceiling Whacks” page 68 seems to be overly-taxed in explaining the new Kenya interest rate cap, in not one but two articles.

To describe it as “crude meddling in the market” seems excessive given you cite the World Bank and over 76 nations with similar policies in place including such flimsy economies as Germany, Japan, USA and UK – even 35 out of 50 USA stares with their own specific laws on interest rate caps.

It’s scandalous that The Economist arguing for Wonga payday loans with interest rates over 1,000% (and the UK allowing it for so long) moves beyond free trade to price gouging in a monopoly/limited market.

While the UK before introducing weak price caps on the outrageous payday loans had regulation only on a 25% limit for microlenders and credit unions for distress purchases such as baby clothes or food.

Surely the Economist should be arguing for a UK and EU-wide cap of say 10% as in Germany? As part of my “Stop the Corruption, Stop the Pollution, Stop the Construction” campaign in East Kent I’ve urged this – and the Free Economy of capped utilities, train fares in similar monopoly markets.

http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/

The free market can operate under that cap.

While a maximum salary is a viable counterpoint to excessive 123x CEO salaries and moving the Minimum Wage to a Living Wage – Citizens Wages as Switzerland, Finland and Utrecht – and end zero hours contracts to say a minimum 8 hours per week, and 4 day week and standard holidays.

And UK Treasury reform on sneaky fees on electricity meters, rentals and now bank overdrafts is sensible. The investigation into secret fees to SME’s and consumers for currency exchanges, or Mastercard’s £14BN of illegal store fees, is mere criminality - as well as messing up The Economist’s tables at the end of the magazine.

Price caps and such legislation are widely used as they round off the excesses of capitalism for a fairer society and banking system that works for all.
The third Economist article on page 69: “The holdout: Bahamas cocks a snook at the war on tax-dodgers” and the 16 UK tax havens, is more accurate on the task of bank reform.

The bank industry with its LIBOR crimes and the unacceptable faces of capitalism with the BHS scandals of Philip Green and Grabafee Grabiner of One Essex Court or Mike Ashley of Sports Direct and no doubt Wetherspoons, and its zero hours policy, is symptomatic of more and deeper reform.

The Economist writers belief that price gouging so far could be avoided through “transparency about fees, more sources of funding and credit scores is patently bureaucratic nonsense arguing only for the unfair status quo not free and fair trade.

Kenya with a 4% cap above base rate is leading the way in bank reform and leaving UK in its wake, and from these articles the only cap that fits the Economist is that of a dunce.

Tim Garbutt, Ramsgate
@timg33


Misc points:

* July Updates: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/misc-articles-updates-july-2016.html

* Working on a misc issues: Magellan Anniversary - Spain and LatAm, Almeria Univerisites links and Kent-Thai orchids

* Also Solomon Islands cruise ships

* Benelux strategy: Panasonic and Phillips - DNA bathroom mirror

* One Essex court and Inns fraud: Grabiner, Glick, Hollingworth, Leavor etc




Saturday, 10 September 2016

Plastic and littering contaminating UK and Thailand


I’ve written previously on celebrity chefs and their important work for UK tastebuds and the wider economy. Jamie Oliver for example and his sugar tax work. And it was good to see the dynamic Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall sharpening his knives again and writing in The Sunday Times last week on plastic and the food chain.

Chefs and plastic? Tupperware boxes?

Well, not quite although there is the excellent news on the microbead plastics ban in shower gels and face creams and cosmetics. The UK washing 80 tons of these plastics literally down the drain and into the sea. Even into Arctic pack-ice. And, of more concern into fish. Which of course we eat and the plastic is in us as easily as if we’d eaten the bar of soap or drunk the shower gel.

A sobering reality given the mercury poisonings of Minamata in Japan and Thor mercury in Cato Ridge and Margate – the latter still, as with the Infratil missing monitors scandal, without acknowledgment let alone clean up by Kent’s politicians and civil servants.

The UK parliament has acted promptly to call for a ban on microbeads. The Daily Mail as UK’s 2nd largest circulation newspaper has created one of its famous crusading journalism campaigns on the perils of microbeads. And Tesco has urged its suppliers to end microbeads cosmetics etc by 2017.

http://www.beatthemicrobead.org/en/industry

Worldwide over 12M tons of plastic waste are added to the oceans with forecasts that by 2050 the oceans will host more plastic than fish. And worryingly only 4% of plastics in the oceans are microbeads, so the problem is huge.

Hugh is also rightly campaigning on coffee shops such as Starbucks and Costa and Café Nero to recycle the 2.5BN plastic cups we use every year just in UK. As a keen Starbucks fan I was astonished to see its company spokesman promise a small reduction in its home-use cup charge – and that subsequently withdrawn a few months later after Hugh and the BBC camera crew had gone.

And only inaction on removing the plastic liner from its cups that’s technologically feasible today.

And is it so outrageous for the coffee-cup plastic lids to be sterilised or washed in the dishwasher and reused, just as china cups are?

It’s simply astonishing that in the 21st century only 30% of plastic packaging in Europe is recycled with the rest dumped in landfill or incinerated or exported.

The UK uses over 13BN plastic water bottles each year, about 200 per person and less than 25% are reused or recycled.

And Hugh is right that the manufacturers and retailers of products need to do more than describing “in theory” recycling practices. Clarifying in the company report both the theory of recyclable plastic, and the actuality, is not difficult and certainly no more unpalatable than a mouthful of microbeads.

Khun Wasant Techawongtham writing “Time to end our rubbish behaviour” in The Bangkok Post also makes various interesting points on rubbish and recycling. Koh Samui with over 250,000 tonnes of rubbish, 73,000 tonnes of rubbish each day in Thailand – with 28M tonnes unprocessed.

In Kent the story is not too bad: KCC have produced an excellent plan to reduce landfill sites to just 5 smaller sites before 2030. Although care must be taken to ensure the carbon-free doesn’t mean burying waste or exporting it to dumps in the Third World. KCC has form on that to some extent with Kent County Council computers being found dumped in Ghana.

Recycling has improved dramatically in recent years – but questions over how the rubbish s recycled still remain if it’s sorted by households but all simply dumped into the back of a dustcart.

The two waste mountains that blight Kent at St. Pauls Cray near Bromley – over 5 storeys high and 18,000 tonnes – have at long last been agreed to be removed by the Environment Agency and KCC after causing outbreaks of flies and fires described by Khun Wasant at the Phraeska landfill site.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2668507/18-000-ton-waste-mountain-thats-caused-stink-cul-sac-three-years-Environment-Agency-legal-battle-site-owners-rubbish-removed.html

Thor mercury is a lingering scandal here in East Kent: the banned factory not only remaining open for 30 years after the ban(!), for polluting and killing its own workers, but pollution to the site increasing and now spreading beyond the factory gates to the surrounding housing estates and even QEQM hospital.

http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/thorchem.htm


Thor circumnavigated the ban by opening a similar factory in Cato Ridge, South Africa, now notorious for polluting the water supply and killing its workers. While Minamata in Japan named Minamata disease for mercury poisoning. Shocking abuses of governance and corporate well-being as bad as Bhopal or Traifgura or Flint, Michigan.

http://www.iol.co.za/mercury/decades-of-toxic-waste-not-cleared-up-1227577


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7734058

In my Kent MP role I will not only ensure no Kent waste exports, and faster closure of landfill as well as landfill-mining of existing sites, but also increased recycling for medical products eg tampons, condoms and plasters that should be incinerated, or even eaten by biobugs, and GPO Post Office-style recycling factories to sift rubbish into reuseable products.

And a clear plan to recycle all household waste and coffee shop cups before 2020.

I will support the new Hillsboro Law with its duty of civil servants and politicians beyond their job or organisation to reveal the truth on such coverups and calamities.

While a Thailand-UK partnership would be ideal given Liverpool’s John West seafood is owned by a Thai corporation and Thailand’s fisheries a key part of Thailand’s economy. No doubt for public health and protection of the seafood industry, Thailand’s cosmetics and toiletries and retail industries will also be as diligent on a microbead ban as in UK.

And the Thai Royal Navy has been active in its series of advertisements in The Economist on its efforts on fisheries management and human trafficking. With my advertising hat on, and my fun Tim's Thai Typos campaign on big brand mistakes, the ads are so badly designed and written though it provides a negative impression of their work and even if it is the Navy.

Whle surely UK and Thailand should more fully cooperate with the work of Khun Kunying Chodchoy, President of the Thai Environment and Community Asscoation and her Magic Eyes litter campaign cited by Khun Wasant?

The Ta Vises Hen Na campaign funded by Bangkok Bank could be expanded from their branch here in London and the UK’s $1.5BN Keep Britain Tidy litter campaign - with British Council support for the stage play at the Thai Cultural Centre?

http://www.iol.co.za/mercury/decades-of-toxic-waste-not-cleared-up-1227577


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7734058

And extending the Rajabhat teacher training colleges work by Khun Kunying into the provinces.

While the latter should surely be ideal to mix with the innovative Khon Kaen University work on Isaan-Thai-englsih signage, translations and exchanges – even the Isaan tartan patterns and weaving.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Signs-for-the-times-in-Isaan-30294844.html

https://www.britishcouncil.or.th/en/programmes/arts/upcoming-ongoing-activities/craft-design-innovation-programme


The British Council is the UK and Thailand's secret weapon for dynamic arts and education work, and in already active in supporting Scotland’s oft-neglected schools, and ideal for Kent’s 4 universities too, especially Kent University and CCU (Canterbury Christchurch University) both based in Canterbury here in East Kent.


https://www.britishcouncil.or.th/en/programmes/arts

The UK's Thai Eye programme sounds ideal for Magic Eyes?

https://www.britishcouncil.or.th/en/programmes/arts/upcoming-ongoing-activities/thai-eye-exhibition-and-creative-education-programme

I can't recommend British Council Thailand highly enough as a Great British Thailand organisation, and hope their sparkling Shakespeare work could be developed with the Magic Eyes stage play and Khon ballet.


Plastic, litter and recycling is certainly less than ideal with Thailand's Cuisine Culture resulting in thousands of food plastic bags blowing across streets and fields. The UK certainly less than perfect compared to Netherlands or Germany in street cleaning but the new UK plastic bag tax is a roaring success with a 90% reduction in plastic bags. And as an aside may be useful for the Thai bamboo and cloth industries for hessian bags? Why shouldn't Tesco/Lotus sell Magic Eyes bamboo/cloth shopping bags?

But on the wider environment and fishing, the UK has been active on the Pacific with a Marine Zone around Pitcairn Island only now bested as the world’s largest, by President Obama launching the Midway marine zone this week on his way to Laos.

As an aside, more later on UK colonies and frankly what seems a paedocracy in Pitcairn and Falklands - Kent social services recently purged of shockingly weak child protection, and concern snow over Calais Jungle child refugees inaction.

And Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has raised before the wider malaise in the UK fishing industry with dead fish being thrown back now ended – but a wider failure to with only Ramsgate and Hastings maintaining fishing fleets in the South East. Most fishing boats – even Hull, Grimsby and Newcastle now based in Scotland.

The North Sea is now almost bio-extinct – the recent crop of dead whales on Kent’s coast, even the famous Pegwell Bay, starving to death for lack of fish.

Surely the UK and Thailand should be active in ocean reseeding with fisheries? At the very least fishermen would be paid twice – once for sailing out to restock ocean pens and once for catching fish them on the way back.

While more could be done on the Pacific Plastic Patch of rubbish drifting on the Pacific Ocean currents – a patch the size of Texas. Surely in its last few months as chair of the UN G77 Group Thailand, with UK, should be urging action on the Plastic Patch – and for the Pacific navies from Chile and Mexico and USA and Canada to join in the clean-up?

The absurdity of Royal Navy ships tied up in UK port for lack of anything to do and the sailors given a summer holiday on the rates is outrageous tax bloat and waste. And almost a crime against humanity with over 3,000 refugee deaths in the Mediterranean this year form the Broken Nations of East Africa, and Charlie Elphicke MP calling for the reinstatement of the Royal Marines Dover Patrol, to prevent Channel refugee crossings from the chaos of the Calais jungle.

And how outrageous with the various EU navies and dozens of ships that a charity ship has to be deployed.

Quite frankly much of the Royal Navy would be both cheaper and of more use on litter patrol.

Chief Constable Pughsley of Kent Police is already considering a ban on recruitment from the Royal Navy, to reverse the effects institutional lethargy, heavy drinking, emphasis on fancy uniforms, aversion to walking about, and surfeit of tattoos and below-decks antics.

I will be urging HMS Kent a Type 23 newer Royal Navy ship is assigned to a regular Asia-Pacific tour of duty with the Commonwealth and other Asian allies - surely the Thai and Canadian and Chilean navies should be active eon this issue too?

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/our-organisation/the-fighting-arms/surface-fleet/frigates/hms-kent

At least then Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and celebrity chefs, and Khuns Wasant and Khunying could declare Kent and Asia ship-shape in terms of dealing with the plastic and litter problems.

Time for Change
@timg33

Misc:

* Thanks to Michaels Bookshop in Ramsgate for photos of Princess Patricia Military Hospital for the Canadian military and Canadian Red Cross in WW1, a conversion of St Lawrence College, the alma-mater of the former head of the British Army General Richard Dannatt. And one of numerous Canadian bases in Ramsgate and Thanet that would be interesting to details part of the WW1 Anniversary commemorations in UK and Belgium. And to establish firm links with Canadian towns and organisations, say Medicine Hat or Yellowknife or Montreal and the Canadian Army and Red Cross and ice hockey clubs.

http://thanetonline.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/princess-patricias-canadian-hospital.html


* the GPO and Royal Mint issuing various stamps and coins to celebrate the links needed in East Kent too for the rare orchids.

* And good to see Chief Canuck Mark Carney of the Bank of England launching the new banknotes – the Canadian-issued plastic polymer notes supposedly with a hint of maple - at the Turner Gallery recently. If only East Kent’s dynamic Givaudan could replicate the tang of the sea or fish and chips for the UK notes or an East Kent local currency, or the Treasury or local banks provide a favourable Euro rate for East Kent’s Benelux tourism trade and SME’s?

* Kent’s links with Virginia and Hungary unfortunately still gathering dust, as Chimay and Conflans become rejuvenated – and what wasted opportunity from the Virginia Ships conference with the then-Senator dynamic Tim Kaine now the Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate and keen harmonica player.

* interestingly the General Dannatt spoke out last week on the scourge of the antimalarial drug Lariam/Mefloquine used by UK troops but causing numerous health problems of hallucinations etc. I took it in India 20 years ago, and stopped preferring to risk malaria.

Mistakes happen etc - but 11,000 doses still in stock today for UK troops is outrageous:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37183873

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/31/former-head-of-army-says-i-would-not-take-lariam-as-he-apologise/


• the BBC Panorama programme on safety failures at Sellafield nuclear plant was terrifying – even parliament being lied to by the Sellafield management on the dangers of the concrete pool of radioactive sludge, silos of radioactive waste and Magnox reactor with a the most dangerous safety leak as recent as 2013.
• The only bright spot in the programme was Sellafield closing in the next 4 years - but then 100 years of cleanup
• With radioactive waste travelling from Dungeness here in Kent by nuclear train through London upto Cumbria and safety breaches at Dungeness too, the sooner the 2nd reactor is also closed the better
• An investigation into Channel waste dumping in previous years and the leaks at the French and Belgian reactors is crucial too – and the sabotage claims at Douel reactor.


• two beautiful bits of retail merchandising if you’re into that sort of thing:

-the good folks of York St Flowers with a beautiful almost Zen-like display of Kent orchids – perfect for Ramsgate in Bloom, stationmaster’s basket and the Battle of Flowers long-neglected. An interesting article in The Spectator last month with Paul McCartney describing how Kent’s The Beatles originally developed the Sgt Pepper album cover with Peter Blake as a council flowerbed clock. TDC council struggle with a display of dogdirt and cancer victims. Has it really been 15 years of corruption and dereliction of duty at Pleasurama and Thor mercury? Are the councillors and civil servants really hoping to just keep shtum and pick up their paycheques an pensions as though nothing has happened?

- Pilgrims Hospice charity shop with a striking display of 1970’s pottery – Grayson Perry’s Alan Measles cat would be purring with delight at the clay shapes thrown

* And the dynamic ladies of Thomas Cook and Thomsons have been busy – a superb £25 deposit and interest free payments for your holiday in the former, some neat trips to Great British Cuba and Great British Spain too. And Thomsons smooth as silk with a cruise ship event – perfect for Cuba and the Caribbean and also developing the great British Commonwealth cruise ship tourism trade with Fiji and Solomon Islands etc along with Papua New Guinea and the Australian Great Barrier Reef

* Silence on Sir Shifty of BHS and The Lord of Fraud Grabiner of One Essex Court still on their holidays, with Glick QC and Guy Hollingworth, probably Britain's most corrupt firm of barristers. Surprising too that their colleagues such as Peter Leaver QC and slippery clerk Darren Burrows are keeping shtum in effect aiding and abetting blatant white collar crime that should have them fined, struck off and jailed as wit the previous Clerk forced resignation.

* Silence too from Judge Mann, The Wee Grey Scot, The Teacup judge and The Crying Judge – a High Court of sleaze and shambles.

* Good that Sports Direct undergoing reform after parliamentary complaints and shareholder revolts over zero hours contract etc - as with Wetherspoons the unacceptable face of British business.

* Eight Days a week documentary this week and Kent Police Blue Blowers brass band tuning up for Sgt Pepper on the Eastcliff Bandstand visited by Jeremy Corbyn Labour leader, the UK's Redshirts if you will, last week.

* More on KORA and Project Gilgamesh later.