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Friday, September 18, 2020

FRIDAY MUSIC: Cathars, by JD

"Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" ( "Kill 'em all, God will know his own.")
- Arnaud Amaury, Abbot of Cîteaux.

First a potted history of the Papal Crusade, followed by some music:


There is a painting by Velazquez of Pope Innocent X in the Prado and he has a face of pure evil and yet he told Velazquez he was more than pleased with the representation. You have to stand in front of the painting to see and feel the malevolence of the man; chilling.

That Pope was about 400 years after Innocent III who ordered the Crusade against the Cathars. The only depictions of the latter are stylised being before the Renaissance invention of perspective so it is impossible to tell what he may have been like but his deeds speak volumes. 

Why were medieval Popes so bloodthirsty? Not very Christian, were they!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Biden and Pelosi: butt out of Northern Ireland!

Interesting that Joe Biden should echo  Nancy Pelosi’s dogwhistle references to the threat of reigniting Irish terrorism  mere days after Americans commemorated 9/11; clearly, unlike for Tony Stark , irony is not his strong suit. Unless it was a joke: I guess he’s a riot in the right company - though he has been a little slow to dissociate himself from the wrong company .

Or maybe it was the memory thing; for a month after the Twin Towers bombing, Joe was ruffling feathers  with his remarks about Afghanistan and the Muslim world’s perception of America as a ‘bully’ that thinks ‘we can do whatever we want to do’. Subsequent events showed that the US does often behave like a man looking for a gas leak with a lit match, and this latest attempt to interfere in our internal affairs continues the pattern; perhaps Joe’s new enthusiasm for interventionism is a bending with the wind.

On the other hand, Pelosi is consistent: she was making the same minatory noises in her address to the Dublin Parliament last year, and lamenting ‘our late friend, the extraordinary Martin McGuinness.’ Only the coronavirus cancelled the annual green-dyeing of the Chicago River - American political paddywackery is still fertile ground for American audiences, catering to illusions about ‘a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing.’

For the rest of us, the porter-beer-and-Noraid sentimentality is dangerous. I remember (anyone got the videoclip?) Gerry Adams on Gay Byrne’s Late Late Show in Dublin on RTÉ in 1994, where an audience member called Adams a ‘murderer’ and received a lethally restrained lecture from him on politeness; marginally a better reaction, I suppose, than GA telling Peter Hitchens he should be ‘decommissioned’ . Still, as long as the bangs are far away from New York and Oklahoma, Washington is happy to light the fuses.

For what, though? 1997 excluded the moderates to get a deal like that between Chicago gangster fiefdoms. The successors of the ‘Chuckle Brothers’ are unlikely to throw it all up for the sake of cross-border management that is much more technically doable now than when Ireland and the UK entered the EU simultaneously in 1973 to circumvent the practical difficulties.

Is it just to save money on the phone bill? Supposedly, Henry Kissinger asked (not so, according to the FT ) ‘Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?’; the answer in 2009 was Cathy ‘gosh’ Ashton. Now, the US Secretary of State will have to replace the handset and redial +44-(0)71… for a second discussion. How inconvenient.

The Daily Express puts it succinctly: ‘Butt out, Pelosi!’ and ‘Stay out of it, Joe!’ .

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

My post now on 'The Conservative Woman' - "EU Withdrawal Agreement? It's a gas!"

Saturday's post on the UK's revison of the Northern Ireland protocol has been republished today on The Conservative Woman, only omitting my sideswipe at Nancy Pelosi and the US's selective approach to international law and peace*. Click the link to see the usual catfights in the comments:

*Which the Daily Express has done anyway, as I found out when I Googled 'Nancy Pelosi Noraid':

And I have to put this up: George Galloway melting Senator Norm Coleman at the hearings of the U.S Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations relating to the Oil-for-Food Program. I know Galloway is a 'colourful' character but in this performance (May 2005) he is Cicero reborn. Magnificent. We need more such orators to check the corrupt power-seekers.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The 2016 Referendum was NOT 'advisory' - my letter to The Spectator

Sent today, in response to last week's letter from Tim Ambler at the Adam Smith Institute:


Notwithstanding post facto revisionism from some elements of the political and legal establishment, I beg to differ with Tim Ambler ('Referendum Risk', Letters, 12 September) when he says 'the Brexit referendum was advisory.'

I accept that it may have been conceived as such at the beginning of the campaign, but its nature changed when politicians of all stripes assured the voters orally that they would consider the result as final, and then the Government itself did so in writing, under its own imprimatur*: 'This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide.' As part of what was effectively a contract between the Government and the people, that clarifying explanation formed part of the agreement and turned the vote into a binding plebiscite.

I leave aside consideration of whether we were ever legally part of a European Union into which we were led by falsehoods, subterfuge and legal ambiguities; but this decision was open and clear, and must stand.


Sunday, September 13, 2020

SOMETHING FOR THE WEEKEND: A Load Of Rubbish, by Wiggia

I mentioned in an earlier piece how despite all that was going on the climate fraud has continued to be promoted, this time on the back of the Coronavirus; it has become a tidal wave of statements, articles, tweets etc. from the ‘woke’ climate activists and all those celebrities that believe they know what is good for the rest of us.

We also have had the first results of the ‘Citizens' Assembly’ - 108 people from all walks of life selected to give their insight into how we should tackle climate change. It was said when they set this assembly up that it would represent us and the results prove it is just a seal of approval for what the ‘experts’ wanted in the first plac:, the only people who put themselves forward were the woke.

It comes in various forms, either collective - 'the world has to change', the clarion call of the Greens and XR (the latter have another agenda, though) - or individual initiatives, some well meaning, some naive and some downright stupid.

Yet all will agree with one another regardless of political undercurrents because it is the right thing to do and from this they never deviate in their pronouncements as to the way forward.

I have never disagreed with the obvious intentions about cleaning up the planet and our own back yard, that should be a given in anyone's book, but the zeal in which even our eating habits for example are attacked takes for me away any suggestion I could ever get behind any of the movements that wish to change our lifestyles simply because ‘they’ believe we should all follow their diktat.

I came across this little video the other day in which there is nothing said that is not true or you could sanely disagree with….

When you look around these days you conclude that anyone who claims they wish to save the planet should really get on with cleaning up our own back yard.

I remember when I first started to venture abroad in the mid-Sixties finding places on continental Europe that resembled rubbish tips by the roadside and not believing what I saw (especially in Italy where local mafia ran rubbish collecting and had turned it into an art form in moving people's waste to beauty spots where it became, err people's waste) and thinking, 'thank God we are not like that.'

But times change and as the video describes other factors have come into play, not the least immigration and different cultures who don’t see rubbish as any sort as a problem and I include in those groups ‘travellers’ who do as they like where they like, something that has never ever been stamped on despite words being uttered in Parliament.

In this case at least there was a sense of justified retribution, a rare event.

I recall visiting my old mum a few years ago in north London. Because of traffic problems I came in  to town via Cricklewood, never an inspiring area but typical suburbia. I had not been to that part for several years before that but the change was not one anyone would want: every house it seemed had piles of plastic rubbish bags outside, many split open and the contents strewn across the walk way. Whole streets were like this. Why, I asked myself, and the answer was there before me: the whole area was now like somewhere in the Third World - no sense of communal responsibility.

I originally lived in Essex not far from the notorious - or is it infamous? - Dale Farm camp site, near enough to see and hear what went on but fortunately not near enough to be affected. I also lived near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk where the travelling ‘community' twice trashed the purpose built site provided for them and then complained of not enough official sites and that is why they camped where they did!

Going briefly off topic I see that an advert had been placed in the local paper advertising static caravans at Dale Farm for rent; you really couldn’t make it up.

That is in the past but they as a group like the other groups or cultures have grown since then by significant amounts. The area round where I live now has ongoing battles with illegal camp sites or  invasions of private property, yet they never result in criminal charges, for reasons we have all become inured to.

A recent trip down the nearby A47 a couple of days ago saw at one end of a field caravans that had not for the first time come straight off the dual carriageway through an entrance for tractors and harvesters and just set up camp as they do; but at the other end by pure coincidence there was an enormous pile of waste including white goods and everything else that must have been 12 feet high and forty feet long.

It is common knowledge that a mile of the same stretch of road is regularly strewn with rubbish, some in bags, some loose, and it is always on a Monday morning that you see it. This is not crisp packets thrown out of a car, it is wholesale dumping of rubbish and yet nobody has ever been caught, even on this major A road.

The rate of prosecutions is very low nationwide, around 0.3% against the number of reported incidents of fly tipping, so it is still easy money for those involved, and those who don’t care have little need to worry about getting caught, another of those laws that are sensible on paper but almost impossible to enforce.

Various reasons are put up for the rise in dumping rubbish. Council tip charges are one, and it is a valid point for many of the councils most affected by this blight are those that have the highest charges; the same councils will spend a lot more than the lost charges clearing up the illegal waste, but fail to see the connection.

My own council were very good in taking rubbish from our homes. Anything that could go in a bin was accepted and very reasonable token charges were made for items left at the gate to be picked up, things that many people would find impossible to get to the recycling centre because of the size; but that changed, and there are queues at the tip now and you have to book a slot in advance, are only allowed a certain amount of items and cannot return within two weeks. In a society where immediacy is the norm that is a very short-sighted approach to the problem, but it is normal for councils now in the majority of areas they run.

Though mine is nowhere near the worst of councils, ‘austerity’ means they now charge more, meaning people can’t be bothered and dump, so the cycle of fly-tipping, clearing-up and recycling continues and increases, for which we pay through our taxes.

The dumping of commercial waste is a whole different ball game, yet you can see by the prosecution figures above they are no more likely to get caught than the casual disposer of waste.

None of the above excuses the appalling amount of general waste just left on the pavement, thrown out of car windows or left on footpaths and country lanes. The recent return to normality showed we really had returned with this example of the state of the beach at Brighton, ironically the home of the Greens, when the crowds went home:

Why anyone would want to stay on a beach like that is beyond me. Rightly, much is made of the amount of plastic dumped, much of which sadly gets washed into the sea, a worldwide problem. I suppose the only difference from years ago is that it was broken bottles then, not plastic, that would slice through your foot if you trod on one hidden in the sand, so one small advantage today.

So in reality it is still human beings who are the problem. We have become lazy and the don’t care attitude to so many things today manifests itself in the rubbish that is discarded. There used to be a Keep Britain Tidy campaign in an effort to make us dispose of rubbish respectfully; was it a success? It seems not.

An example of the sheer laziness now prevalent was after the recent storm. I had a fence panel partially blow out on a side of my property that has a footpath alongside. We have a gate onto the footpath and I went out to do the repair. I am not going to exaggerate and claim I was knee deep in detritus but there were about ten items discarded in that stretch from the gate to where the the fence problem was: crisp packets, coffee cups, plastic tops and sweet wrappers. Why? There is a rubbish bin at the entrance to the footpath twenty feet away that is regularly emptied.

Even attempts to cut back on plastic bags usage, by selling 'bags for life', has foundered as anyone spending a weekly shop of say £100 soon got used to an extra 10p and treated bags for life in the same way as the free ones. Again in the past I remember being sent to the grocer's with a wicker carrier and all the veg and fruit going into the same bag; no one died!

Same with wine carriers, now abandoned as no one ever used them more than once - did they ever think anyone would. The only good thing some supermarkets have done in that area is let you use the empty wine boxes, which at least means they have been used twice.

We live in a throw away society. Much of this problem is blamed on rampant consumerism and our contempt for the landscape etc. Not really; that may be a small part for sure, but the major issue is we have just become a nation of people who to large extent don’t give a monkey's about throwing rubbish anywhere, that is the real problem.

As with so many issues today, apathy wins.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

EU Withdrawal Agreement? It's a gas!

I've read that you can't reason someone out of a position that reason didn't get them into; but I submit that at least you can annoy the heck out of them with your own sweet reasonableness.

So: the British proposal to renege on that part of the Withdrawal Agreement that applies to Northern Ireland has galvanised the complacent EU negotiators, not to mention the treacherous element among Tory grandees; rather like the gas that finally forced the Alien from his hiding-place in Sigourney Weaver's escape capsule.

There's spluttering about international law and the implications for the Good Friday Peace Agreement, and Nancy Pelosi is bloviating about endangering a future US-UK trade agreement. I wish that America had been similarly concerned about its threats to peace in the Middle East, its waging of aggressive wars that should have resulted in trials at The Hague, and the destabilising of the Arab Street that has pushed millions of refugees in Europe's direction. So much for international law. However, I note that President Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize; this must bring him into additional conflict with the Bomb Party that thinks it has a divine right to rule America in its own interest.

I would also note that the proposed WA alteration is not to an existing state of affairs, but to one that was going to apply after the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised. As a groundling, it seems to me that the EU used Northern Ireland to create as much inconvenience as possible and that modern technology is perfectly capable of sorting out customs and excise issues without the need for Checkpoint Charlie.

Further, to the extent that the agreement hastily and foolishly entered into by our bluff, attention-limited PM qualifies our complete break with the power of the European Union, I would argue that it is ultra vires in the context of the people's decision - the binding plebiscite - of 2016. Parliament does not have the competence to surrender our country's sovereignty, as such eminent people as Lord Justice Laws and the late Tony Benn MP have observed.

M. Barnier has spent much of the last four years pushing at an open door, so it is no surprise that his negotiating muscles have atrophied; but he must now wake up to the reality of a Government that, if it does not mean what it says, may soon fall at the foot of the Northern Red Wall that to the surprise of the commentariat temporarily loaned the Conservatives a crucial margin of political legitimation.

Finally, for those who babble about Little England (not knowing the original meaning of that term), a medicinal spoonful of fact to break their delirium: I give below a list of sovereign countries that are not EU member states and have smaller populations than ours. Is it proposed that some competing empires should gobble up all of them?

Rank           Country                                                             Population
                      United Kingdom                                           66,796,807
1                    Thailand                                                           66,550,992
2                    South Africa                                                   59,622,350
3                    Tanzania                                                          57,637,628
4                    Myanmar                                                        54,817,919
5                    South Korea                                                   51,780,579
6                    Colombia                                                         50,372,424
7                    Kenya                                                               47,564,296
8                    Argentina                                                        45,376,763
9                    Algeria                                                              43,900,000
10                  Sudan                                                               42,817,375
11                  Ukraine                                                            41,762,138
12                  Uganda                                                            41,583,600
13                  Iraq                                                                    40,150,200
14                  Canada                                                             38,167,415
15                  Morocco                                                          36,011,955
16                  Uzbekistan                                                     34,403,054
17                  Saudi Arabia                                                   34,218,169
18                  Afghanistan                                                    32,890,171
19                  Malaysia                                                          32,683,570
20                  Peru                                                                  32,625,948
21                  Angola                                                              31,127,674
22                  Ghana                                                               30,955,202
23                  Mozambique                                                 30,066,648
24                  Nepal                                                                29,996,478
25                  Yemen                                                              29,825,968
26                  Venezuela                                                      28,435,943
27                  Ivory Coast                                                      26,453,542
28                  Madagascar                                                    26,251,309
29                  Australia                                                          25,661,448
30                  North Korea                                                   25,550,000
31                  Cameroon                                                       24,348,251
32                  Niger                                                                 23,196,002
33                  Sri Lanka                                                          21,803,000
34                  Burkina Faso                                                  21,510,181
35                  Mali                                                                   20,250,833
36                  Chile                                                                  19,458,310
37                  Malawi                                                             19,129,952
38                  Kazakhstan                                                     18,773,648
39                  Zambia                                                             17,885,422
40                  Ecuador                                                            17,565,560
41                  Syria                                                                  17,500,657
42                  Guatemala                                                      16,858,333
43                  Senegal                                                            16,705,608
44                  Chad                                                                  16,244,513
45                  Somalia                                                            15,893,219
46                  Zimbabwe                                                       15,473,818
47                  Cambodia                                                        15,288,489
48                  South Sudan                                                  13,249,924
49                  Rwanda                                                            12,663,116
50                  Guinea                                                             12,559,623
51                  Benin                                                                12,114,193
52                  Haiti                                                                   11,743,017
53                  Tunisia                                                              11,708,370
54                  Bolivia                                                               11,633,371
55                  Burundi                                                            11,215,578
56                  Cuba                                                                  11,193,470
57                  Jordan                                                              10,765,960
58                  Dominican Republic                                    10,448,499
59                  Azerbaijan                                                      10,095,900
60                  United Arab Emirates                                 9,890,400
61                  Belarus                                                             9,408,400
62                  Tajikistan                                                         9,313,800
63                  Honduras                                                        9,304,380
64                  Israel                                                                 9,249,225
65                  Papua New Guinea                                     8,935,000
66                  Switzerland                                                    8,619,259
67                  Sierra Leone                                                   8,100,318
68                  Togo                                                                  7,706,000
69                  Paraguay                                                         7,252,672
70                  Laos                                                                   7,231,210
71                  Serbia                                                               6,926,705
72                  Libya                                                                  6,871,287
73                  Lebanon                                                          6,825,442
74                  El Salvador                                                      6,765,753
75                  Kyrgyzstan                                                      6,578,400
76                  Nicaragua                                                        6,527,691
77                  Turkmenistan                                                6,031,187
78                  Singapore                                                        5,703,600
79                  Central African Republic                            5,633,412
80                  Congo                                                               5,518,092
81                  Norway                                                            5,374,807
82                  Costa Rica                                                        5,111,238
83                  Palestine                                                         5,101,152
84                  New Zealand                                                  5,030,847
85                  Liberia                                                               4,568,298
86                  Oman                                                                4,527,934
87                  Kuwait                                                              4,464,521
88                  Panama                                                            4,278,500
89                  Mauritania                                                      4,173,077
90                  Georgia                                                            3,716,858
91                  Eritrea                                                               3,546,000
92                  Uruguay                                                           3,530,912
93                  Mongolia                                                         3,336,978
94                  Bosnia and Herzegovina                            3,281,000
95                  Armenia                                                           2,963,000
96                  Albania                                                             2,845,955
97                  Qatar                                                                 2,749,215
98                  Jamaica                                                            2,726,667
99                  Moldova[s]                                                     2,640,438
100               Namibia                                                           2,504,498
101               Gambia                                                            2,417,000
102               Botswana                                                        2,374,698
103               Gabon                                                              2,226,000
104               North Macedonia                                        2,076,255
105               Lesotho                                                            2,007,201
106               Guinea-Bissau                                               1,624,945
107               Bahrain                                                             1,592,000
108               Equatorial Guinea                                        1,454,789
109               Trinidad and Tobago                                   1,363,985
110               East Timor                                                       1,299,412
111               Mauritius                                                         1,265,475
112               Djibouti                                                            1,108,567
113               Eswatini                                                           1,093,238
114               Fiji                                                                      889,327
115               Guyana                                                            787,000
116               Comoros                                                          758,316
117               Bhutan                                                             748,931
118               Solomon Islands                                           694,619
119               Montenegro                                                  621,873
120               Suriname                                                         587,000
121               Cape Verde                                                    556,857
122               Brunei                                                               459,500
123               Belize                                                                419,199
124               Bahamas                                                          389,410
125               Maldives                                                          383,135
126               Iceland                                                             366,700
127               Vanuatu                                                           304,500
128               Barbados                                                         287,025
129               São Tomé and Príncipe                              210,240
130               Samoa                                                              202,506
131               Saint Lucia                                                       178,696
132               Kiribati                                                              120,100
133               Grenada                                                          112,003
134               Saint Vincent and the Grenadines        110,696
135               F.S. Micronesia                                             104,650
136               Tonga                                                                100,651
137               Seychelles                                                       98,055
138               Antigua and Barbuda                                  97,895
139               Andorra                                                           77,543
140               Dominica                                                         71,808
141               Marshall Islands                                           55,500
142               Saint Kitts and Nevis                                   52,823
143               Liechtenstein                                                 38,749
144               Monaco                                                           38,100
145               San Marino                                                     33,607
146               Palau                                                                 17,900
147               Nauru                                                               11,000
148               Tuvalu                                                               10,200
149               Vatican City                                                    825