Friday, May 31, 2024

The De Niro Verdict

Actor Robert De Niro has done his country a favour by making explicit what the New York trial of Donald Trump was really about, and it wasn’t dodgy accounting:

I love this city. I love this city. I don’t want to destroy it. Donald Trump wants to destroy, not only the city, but the country, and eventually he could destroy the world… I don’t mean to scare you. No, no, wait, maybe I do mean to scare you. If Trump returns to the White House, you can kiss these freedoms goodbye that we all take for granted. And elections, forget about it. That’s over, that’s done. If he gets in, I can tell you right now, he will never leave. He will never leave. You know that. He will never leave.

Trump isn’t running for mayor in New York, but so what. As for destroying the world, we have just learned that the current President has authorised Ukraine to fire missiles into Russian sovereign territory, building on Kiev’s partial destruction of Russia’s strategic early warning system in Krasnodar Krai a week ago. This echoes Lord Cameron’s ‘fire away’ call on 3 May and a similar Franco-German one a couple of days ago.

Take that planned summer holiday now, before these people get us all killed.

De Niro was a prominent diner at the Golden Globes in 2020, where Ricky Gervaise told the luvvies:

So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech. You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.

Maybe De Niro was noisily eating some crisps at this point, for he clearly missed that lesson.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (Republican) swiftly issued a statement on the Trump verdict, accusing the District Attorney, the trial judge and his family of politically motivated bias.

The issues are now much bigger than what to do about the preening, blustering Golden Oaf. The focus is on the danger to social cohesion when the institutions of society cease to be clearly impartial, and the electorate is to be swayed by ignorant and hysterical public entertainers.

FRIDAY MUSIC: More music from Galicia, by JD

Mercedes Peón - Marés Vivas (O Mar de Portozás), Adoro Galiza

If you are wondering what they are doing climbing over the rocks on the coast of Galicia, they are harvesting Gooseneck Barnacles. They are known as Percebes when they are served in restaurants and they are delicious as well as being very expensive.

"Europeans call the barnacles percebes, and in Spain and Portugal, they fetch a pretty penny. Combined with a lack of economic opportunities, this lures fishermen in Galicia, Spain, to Costa de la Muerte—the Coast of Death. As the name suggests, multiple sea-battered men have died among rough waves and strong tides while prying these prized morsels from beneath the water line."

Malvela - "O Pirimpimpín"

"Labregos" - Carlos Valcárcel & Fuxan os Ventos

Fuxan os Ventos - 'Muller' (con Mercedes Peón)

Fuxan Os Ventos O meu amor e mariñeiro

Susana Seivane - Gaitera Celta

See also Luar Na Lubre

Saturday, May 25, 2024

WEEKENDER: The Strange World of Wine Buying, by Wiggia

It’s that time of the year again, en primeur is upon us in the strange world of wine.

Recent facts about over-production, changes in drinking habits and a wider world supply base of wine have finally come together and brought to a shuddering halt the ever rising price for top of the range wines, as in some countries vineyards are being grubbed up sold off and vignerons getting out of the business altogether. This has been in the offing for some years. A change in the drinking habits particularly of the young has meant that certain areas started to grub up vineyards some time ago; the sherry region in Spain started the process a while back when the bulk sherry market collapsed, it resulted in the bigger outfits changing over to producing still wine.

How long that will be sustainable is anyone's guess with an already overloaded market. The grubbing up of vineyards has affected many countries not just France, Australia and the USA: South America and others are also going this route with governments paying owners to leave the land fallow or plant other crops.

This is no different to other agricultural products that are affected by changing markets, weather and the pound in your pocket, but somehow wine is viewed differently by the cognoscenti, though even they are now being influenced, at the moment in a good way, by falling prices in the strange world of ‘en primeur’.

Wiki gives as good a definition of en primeur as anyone:
“En primeur or "wine futures", is a method of purchasing wines early while the wine is still in the barrel. This offers the customer the opportunity to invest before the wine is bottled. Payment is made at an early stage, a year or 18 months prior to the official release of a vintage. “
The above is of course a complete scam. Who pays in advance for a product that is not even in bottle let alone ready to drink? The trade of course: growers, negotiants and sellers make much of the system as a way of getting , if you are lucky, hard to acquire wines, and those desirable small output ‘luxury’ wines for drinking when mature. Burgundy tops the list and ticks all the boxes in that respect.

Well yes, those small output sites that fit the description have for years been able to name their price and en primeur has become the only way of getting your hands on a few bottles of the supposed elixir. I have to confess, in the past I also fell for this scam and did so with the knowledge that hopefully the increase in prices over time would benefit my bank balance as well as having some luvly stuff (with luck) to sup in my dotage.

Didn’t quite work out like that. Despite having some excellent vintages and the best Chateau wines that I could afford they didn’t really fulfill the investment side. There is an index published monthly of wine movements, yes really, like the Footsie, so you can track the increases or decline in value of your stock in bond.

Cases in bond do not have the charge of taxes against them. You only pay that on taking the wine out of bond; but although they are kept in optimum conditions you do have to pay for the storage and over time that also adds to the cost per bottle or case.

The origins of en primeur can be read here…….

If you read the above you will understand the origins and why it was installed. Sadly all that went by the way side after the ‘82 vintage which despite every year being the 'vintage of the decade', ‘82 was probably the vintage of the century, usual disclaimers.

Many purchased the wines in large quantities and several notable wine lovers or greedy bastards depending on how you view them, made a killing some years later - I’m looking at you Andrew Lloyd Webber as a prime example - selling off their excess purchases for several millions of profit at auction.

The Châteaux having seen their wines selling at much inflated prices upped their own initial prices under the old adage of ‘we will have some of that’ and for a couple of decades that is what happened at every annual announcement of the new vintage. Even poor vintages gained which is puzzling to anyone outside of the world of wine.

During this period the Châteaux in their eagerness to maximise profits even came up with a further wheeze by releasing the new wine in tranches; depending how the first tranche sold they would adjust the price of the second and even third tranche upwards - trebles all round!

So I decided to keep a few choice bottles at home and sell the rest. What with losses and gains I just about ended even, but there is another side to the whole process few ever mention.

Experts (!) will tell you that and admit maturity in wine is informed guesswork. When the wine is bottled by the producer it is for him the finished article, but these experts will try and define what is a likely date for the wine to be at optimum drinking, its 'drinking window.'

Some will mature faster and some take a lot longer, in some cases almost a lifetime. It becomes a lottery. The same experts do tastings at intervals during the wine's life to see how it is progressing, many wine lovers do the same and each failure to open a ‘ready to drink bottle’ means what is left in your case has had the price jacked up. This procedure can often take several bottles which makes en primeur even more expensive and to be frank a pointless exercise, other than proving you have more money than sense.

It is not unusual to read of a wine that has an age of twenty years being still not ready and needing five to ten more, though of course they still do not know, it is still an educated guess.

There was a time when experts were thin on the ground, but not these days. I well remember the first Masters of Wine:it was a real accolade for people to attain, many at the time I could name and all of them could fit into a phone box. Now there are, at last count, 416 worldwide, along with assistants and ever larger numbers of wine critics and experts such as sommeliers, writers and just plain wine lovers; the field is saturated with opinion, what to believe?

The same experts base their findings on cask samples, wine that has not been bottled and often not in the final blend on a points system invented by the American critic Robert Parker. This assumes a perfect wine to be worth 100 points out of a 100, but for a start the scoring begins at 50 and why has never been explained to my satisfaction.

Plus of course all the wine samples tasted come from known sources, they are tested in the cellars of the producer, and reputation is everything in the rarefied world of cru classe wines, so inevitably marks will be based on reputation as well as what is in the glass.

You can add to that no taster could explain from a sample if it was tasted blind what the difference was between a 97 and 98 point wine, it really isn’t feasible but has become part of wine folklore.

I had a personal example of a wine that was given to me by a happy client many years ago. On completion of the job he asked me about my wine collection - he knew nothing. When I presented him with a not insubstantial bill he said he had a gift for me as he was pleased with the outcome.

To my amazement he presented me with a case of Chateau Lafite. Bloody hell I thought, even in the eighties this was not cheap.

There was sadly a catch: he had gone to a very well known established wine merchant's in the city and told them what he wanted to buy, not knowing anything. They managed to sell him a case of one of the worst vintages by Lafite probably since the war:1972, one of several during that period that were below par, described by one of the few people I ever took notice of in wine,(the late Michael Broadbent, the taster for Christies auctions who had probably tasted more top class Bordeaux than anyone alive at the time) as ‘drinkable.’

You can gather by all this that I am more than cynical when an expert tells me this is another vintage of the decade, but people are taken in by this annual blurb and lay out not inconsiderable sums to get on the fine wine ladder, but not for a large part of the production it seems. Good.

Friday, May 24, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Tejedor, by JD

Tejedor is a folk music group from Avilés, Asturias, Spain, consisting originally of three siblings (José Manuel, Javier and Eva Tejedor). Eva left the band in 2010, being replaced by Silvia Quesada on vocals. Tejedor's members play traditional Asturian styles of music using traditional instruments such as bagpipes, flutes, accordions and guitars.

In 1995, the three siblings began a new stage in their musical career, after more than a decade fully dedicated to the traditional music of Asturias and after having won more than twenty awards in both national and international competitions, Tejedor began to compose their own repertoire.

Their first album, Texedores De Suaños, was produced by Phil Cunningham and features musicians like Michael McGoldrick, Duncan Chisholm, James McKintosh and Kepa Junkera.

"Xota la Punta" - Tejedor


Tejedor: Andolina

Tejedor + invitados - La Danza. Lorient, Grand Theatre 2012

"Seique Non" - TEJEDOR

Monday, May 20, 2024

START THE WEEK: More Pointless and Unaccountable Local and not so Local Authorities, by Wiggia

As with all other bad news these days, there is a daily drip feed of governmental nonsense fed to the masses. Birmingham council, now bankrupt through their own mishandling and inadequacy have issued a statement on how they intend to go forward; naturally there is no mention of anyone or group being held responsible for the financial disaster that has befallen on Birmingham, as is the pattern in all government layers no one is ever responsible for anything.

Commissioners, intervention and improvement

In September 2023 the council issued 2 Section 114 notices as part of the plans to meet the council’s financial liabilities relating to equal pay claims and an in-year financial gap within its budget.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities appointed commissioners to exercise certain functions of the council as required and begin the improvement journey for Birmingham City Council.

We need to find over £250 million worth of savings over the next 12 months and there will be considerable changes as a result for residents.

Challenging decisions lie ahead, we need to get our finances back on track to a healthy position and implement a programme of improvement – a reset must start now, beginning with the 2024/25 budget.

An improvement journey has begun on the path to become a financially sustainable and well-run council.

Ah, an ‘improvement journey’ a new phrase from the inadequates who cannot run a bath never-mind a local authority; still, a change from ‘lessons will be learned.’

Meanwhile a new twist to our local (Norwich, UK) Northern Distributor Road saga. It has taken ten years to get this far; in China the whole road would have been completed in a month, yet still the bats seem to be winning over people, the new estates north of the road are getting outline planning and thousands of people will event.ually if this road is not completed. be using two small village routes to connect to the A47 It is madness and as usual the costs have skyrocketed. Also it gives time for the Greens and the eco zealots to find other ways of delaying the project and ruining inhabitants' lives while favouring a few bats that will move as they did when we lived in Suffolk under another scheme that they tried to stop using the bat plan. It is already a watered down project but will still give respite to the rat runs of which there are only three.

Planners and highways need to co operate on these projects rather than pretend they do. The time lag before any action is taken is measured in decades in this country and all parties blame each other. It was always thus.

We have a new Police & Crime Commissioner - you know. the position that pays a £100k + a year for someone who we don’t want, don’t need. don’t know but is foisted on us. This time along with national politics the vote swung to Labour and a woman named Susan Taylor won. Her CV was so short it needed a magnifying glass to find. Evidently she was a local councillor, not in the area which allows her to stand.

‘Anyone who is a member of staff of a local council that falls wholly or partly within the police area in which the election is to be held - including anyone employed in an organisation that is under the control of a local council in the police area for which the election is to be held. ‘

So not local then, and apart from being a member of a road safety group, no real job and nothing that could be vaguely aligned with police or crime.With an office costing £1 million a year it will be yet another burden for the tax payer with no justification for its existence.

The turnout was 21% and she got under half of that, so less than 10% of the electorate voted for this pointless position.It is the same nationwide; why do they persist in keeping it going, why?

Up north something that many said would happen, not politicians of course, has happened: a Trojan horse Islamist disguised, badly, as a Green candidate won a council seat.If this had been a product presented as a Green candidate they would be charged with misrepresentation; and are the Greens that desperate to get onto councils.Maybe they are as this shows……..

Still they have plenty of backup: the fragrant Melissa Poulton, described by a Conservative MP as a bloke in a wig, I couldn’t possibly comment, but the Greens do seem to attract a larger share of the ‘unusual’ than the other parties… the leader of the Greens Caroline ‘several homes’Lucas is the MP for Brighton, yet the bins are not emptied and travellers set up camp on seafront green spaces with full permission.

Our local Green candidate reminds me of a certain Alfred E Neumann of MAD magazine fame…

Perhaps it is all getting too much for me and I read t0o much into it all, if not we are all doomed, doomed I tell ya!

I often along with many others wonder why we put up with the pathetic overpaid and under qualified public servants - in France for instance a liberal spraying of public offices with merde does not go amiss. This story of jobsworths from Cambridge County Council is self explanatory: an annual flower display giving a lot of pleasure to the inhabitants of Chatteris, not the most glamorous towns, has had this year's flower display reduced by the council on health and safety grounds. The last paragraph from the council spokesman is one of the most condescending utterances put out in the public sphere. The spokesman should instead of the now defunct award winning hanging baskets be replaced by the same spokesperson hung by his own proverbials.

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: "It's great seeing the creative ways that communities across the county make use of streetlights with festive displays.

"As streetlights are directly connected to the local power grid, to ensure everyone's safety any group wishing to display items from a streetlight needs to get in touch with the council so we can make sure essential independent safety training is completed for everyone's wellbeing.

"We look forward to hearing from Chatteris in Bloom."

Another local council affair has been branded as ‘vexatious’ by the council involved. I have no knowledge of the niceties but much is self evident and an auditor upheld 27 0f the complainant's 32 complaints. As so often with local councillors, not unlike more senior politicians, when the going gets tough they look for reasons to silence or ignore the complainant. This you can read here…

and make your own mind up if he has a point or is just a meddler with time on his hands.

Having crossed swords with a local councillor a few years ago over a speed camera issue on our then rat run village street, I can appreciate the frustration when one sees nothing being done, in my/our case after the money had been provided and the action approved, and ridiculous replies follow unanswered questions.

I was accused of pestering the said councillor over the matter despite only sending two. yes two emails over an eighteen month period. When I suggested that if he considered being pestered at that level as being too much for him he might be better employed elsewhere an answer was not forthcoming.

After I moved, the speed cameras were installed ten years later , but on a long village street they installed them over a short stretch each side of a pinch point, and they have no legal right to even fine anyone however fast they are driving, so the whole episode was a total waste of £60k that could have been used more productively elsewhere.

When it was pointed out the error of the placement they replied (not to me) that the village had after a long period of demanding something was done ’got what they wanted’ and the matter was closed.

You really couldn’t make it up, why do we have these incompetents in any form allowed to make decisions on anything?

George Carlin was right when he said they can’t blame me for voting for a wrong un, as I don’t vote. I have joined that ever growing club.

PS the councillor I had a spat with has retired and his place has been taken by a woman who has never had a proper job and now her husband is now a councillor despite the fact he has never worked and has ‘health problems.’ What could possibly go wrong!

It is good to know that at the top things are different, our elected members are on top of issues that affect us all and can be relied on to put in their views on these matters on our behalf, or not as the case might be…

From X: 

  - Just about sums up our political class.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Direct Democracy? No: AV

Many people feel that the political system isn’t working for the people; that the major parties agree with each other too much and against our interests.

But is ‘direct democracy’ the answer?

It was practised in ancient Athens, where all the voters (free men) could be accommodated in the assembly and hear the arguments. They were a small, homogeneous electorate and faced the consequences of their decisions, collectively and personally; especially as to warfare, which is why they had physicians to keep them healthy and trainers to keep them fit and skilled in fighting. As slave-owners they were experienced in organisation and command, and had ample leisure to discuss political and philosophical ideas. What was their average IQ, one wonders?

All this does not map well onto our present circumstances.

There was a weakness even in Athenian democracy. Then, as later in Rome, one of the most valued skills was oratory. While Socrates was executed for using logic to reveal socially subversive truth, Gorgias the public persuader lived to 108, becoming so wealthy that he had a solid gold statue made in his honour. However the greatest orator Demosthenes convinced Athens to resist Philip and Alexander, thereby nearly getting his city razed, like Thebes; he ended as a fugitive, killing himself to escape Macedonian revenge.

Today, the game is still a persuasion process. British voters are balloted on the basis of opinions offered them by the mass media, who also curate the facts. Journalists who investigate too conscientiously risk incarceration in a maximum security jail.

It is also a mistake to think that because our representatives are jointly against us on certain issues, their opposition among the people is united. Allowing the populace to determine multifarious policies would be a recipe for Bedlam, especially in matters where the feeling in some factions runs very strongly, as for example re ‘Palestine.’

However, there are times when the people should have a determining voice. Brexit was one, and just see the response of our governors and administrators! Had Lord Cameron foreseen the outcome he would surely not have offered the choice; as it is, the Establishment has worked assiduously to vitiate the instruction we so impertinently gave them.

Another occasion is when initiating national military conflict. My MP refused to agree with me that the 12 January UK/Ukraine ‘Security Agreement’ was tantamount to a declaration of war on Russia. Maybe subsequent developments could alter her opinion, for Cameron again, now Foreign Secretary, told Ukraine (3 May) that they should feel free to launch the missiles our country has given them into Russian territory, which they have not been slow to do, so making ourselves a target for retaliation. Traditionally war is a royal prerogative, but in an age when defeat may entail not merely a change of ruler but the incineration of the subjects I would argue that we have a right to be consulted.

Curiously, citizens seems less interested in democracy when it is closer to them: the turnout in local elections is lower than that nationally. Sadiq Khan has been re-elected to the mayoralty of London despite presiding over soaring violent crime while proving himself an enthusiast for Net Zero and turning Londoners into each other’s censors. His validation is based on a minority of votes cast, themselves constituting a minority (40 %) of the electorate. Perhaps voting should be compulsory, as in Australia.

Yet does everyone have the capacity to participate meaningfully? According to Professor Peterson, ten per cent of the population have an IQ lower than 83, a level that US military research concluded made them useless for training. That’s not to say that intelligence precludes idiocy, if some of our students and the banner-waving element of their middle-class elders are anything to go by.

There is also the question whether people can be counted on to vote for what benefits the country as a whole, rather than themselves. Much thought goes into constructing policies designed to gain the support of those who are more likely to vote and be influenced by considerations of personal gain or the reduction of factors that frighten or irritate them.

Likewise the political parties seem motivated more by their desire to survive than to serve, which is why Labour became ‘intensely relaxed’ about the rich and the Conservatives failed to conserve national assets such as the postal service.

Nevertheless some kind of electoral reform is indicated. Diversity may be a strength but only if it is underpinned by something that holds us together.

That something could be what was rejected in 2011: the alternative vote. The referendum was influenced by the two main parties who feared a diminution of their own support in favour of what (mistakenly?) the electorate perceived as a middle-ground choice, the Liberal Democrats.

It is worth revisiting that system because of a growing sense that the current arrangements lack popular legitimation. When I looked into General Election data I found that in 2005 out of 650 Parliamentary seats only 220 were won by candidates who enjoyed an absolute majority of votes cast; and in 2010, only 217 seats. How many of even those few earned the support of more than half of the total of registered voters?

It is all very well saying how things should be and building political castles in the sky; what will drive change is the politicians feeling the carpet move under them. When mayors and devolved-assembly leaders and unelected globalist Prime Ministers become micromanaging petty tyrants riding exotic hobby-horses and their voters break up into mutually severely antipathetic factions they will need to point to a process that validates them better than what we have now.

They will also need to do more to encourage voter participation, if they wish to stave off anarchy, which is what will happen as apathy and a sense of helplessness turn into movements for direct action. The self-gluers and art-gallery soup-throwers need to be shown that they most emphatically do not have public support.

Abstention is a dereliction of duty; so is ‘None Of The Above’ which if it disqualified all the candidates on the ballot paper would merely result in the well-supported political protégés being parachuted into other constituencies.

We need more choice. Yet without AV even this could be gamed. Our (is it too much to say treacherous?) Tory Party is undermined by the Reform Party, and (ditto?) Labour by George Galloway’s Workers Party Of Britain; First Past The Post could end with even smaller percentages for the victorious candidates. Splitting and tactical voting could be key strategies, as in the 1990s when fakers put themselves up for ‘Literal Democrat’, ‘Conversative’ and ‘Labor’; or when Nigel Farage agreed not to contest Conservative seats in 2019.

With AV the losers in earlier rounds see their votes pass on (if indicated on the form) to winners until at last one candidate has a genuine (50% + 1) overall majority.

Ah, say the critics, but you’ll end up with a handful of minority parties and coalitions. To which we respond, on the issues that affect us most we seem to have a uniparty already; and the parties who wished to be major would work harder to occupy the centre ground, rather than use a FPTP landslide as an excuse for constitutional revolution, as ACL Blair did in 1997 with his 43.2 per cent support (* 71.3 % turnout = 30.8 % of total registered voters.)

It could be a cure for licensed dictatorship and wild top-down enthusiasms.

Friday, May 17, 2024


Last weekend Bruce Charlton posted this old TV ad for Guinness - 

Yes, I remembered it but not for the dancing man with his giant glass of the black stuff. It was the instantly recognisable music of Perez 'Prez' Prado. I was going to build a post around that but then I was thinking of all the other latino bands in a similar style and so it has evolved into a Cuban/Purto Rican music born from the slightly seedy and dubious Havana night life of the fifties prior to the Castro revolutionof 1959. The nightclubs have long gone but the music lives on and appears to be thriving again in the US.

"In the 1920s, superwealthy Americans began to vacation in Havana during the winter months. The Depression and World War II brought a lull to the fast action. By the late 1940s and early '50s, however, Havana had ramped up its nightclub business to meet the demands for entertainment, gambling and vice. Movie and recording stars as well a celebrated writers visited and roosted there.

"During this period, American organized crime moved in to operate Havana clubs, racetracks and casinos, primarily to launder money obtained illegally in the States. Corruption, payoffs and exploitation became the norm as organized crime paid off the police and government officials. All of this activity and abuse at the expense of average Cubans ultimately led to the Castro revolution and regime in January 1959."

You can read more here of how Havana became a suburb of Las Vegas -

This is the original, I think, by Cuban band leader Perez 'Prez' Prado from 1958

Perez Prado - Guaglione (1958)


"Cuba no Aguanta Más" Arturo Sandoval

Tito Puente • “El Mambo Diablo” • LIVE 1963 [Reelin' In The Years Archive]

......and bringing things right up to date this is the incomparable Sheila E, The Percussion Queen!

Sheila E. - Bemba Colorá ft Gloria Estefan & Mimy Succar

The joyful exuberance of these musicians is the polar opposite of the politicians whose only function appears to be to spread misery and fear, angry apes playing 
"such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.”

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Eurosingalong, by JD

Having listened to Leo Kearse on GBNews this evening (11 May) talking about the events inside and outside the venue in Malmö, I wonder if this is a suitable response and/or acceptable commentary on the current eurosingalong farce?

.... from the days when life made more sense and when a song contest was about singing -
This is the UK entry for 1961; The Allisons, 'Are You Sure' (finishing second)
ESC 1961 15 - United Kingdom - The Allisons - Are You Sure?

After this year's Eurovision Song Contest's self righteous extra-curricular performers and their noisy farce perhaps we need a Eurojoke contest in which the competitors all shout and insult each other.....
Something like this for example -

Friday, May 10, 2024

FRIDAY MUSIC: Asleep at the Wheel, by JD

"Founded in 1970, Asleep at the Wheel has been part of the American roots music landscape for more than 50 years. Although the band got its start on a farm in Paw Paw, West Virginia, Asleep at the Wheel became a cornerstone of the Austin, Texas scene upon its arrival in 1973. Inspired by Western swing and honky-tonk country, the band has accrued 10 Grammy Awards. In the fall, a career retrospective recorded with the current lineup -- and a few special guests -- will carry the band back onto the road, where they’ve remained a staple for five decades."

Asleep At The Wheel - "Hot Rod Lincoln" [Live from Austin, TX]

Asleep At The Wheel Performs "Bump, Bounce, Boogie" on The Texas Music Scene

Asleep At The Wheel - Route 66 (Live in Studio 1A)

Asleep At The Wheel - Cherokee Maiden

Asleep at the Wheel - 'Half A Hundred Years'

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Taboom! When will nuclear war become normalized?

Unless there is a swift change of direction, we shall soon enter an age of atomic wars. When the first tactical nuclear weapon has been used it will break the 79-year-old taboo.

‘I thought at first I was still reading Littlejohn,’ said my wife as she read the next Mail printout I gave her today - the one reporting Moscow’s furious reaction to David Cameron’s 3 May authorisation for Ukraine to use British-supplied missiles inside Russian territory.

Do our leaders truly understand what they are doing? The last UK Prime Minister to have served in the Armed Forces was James Callaghan, who ended his premiership 45 years ago. The present one and his former-PM Foreign Secretary have not, as my late ‘Forgotten Army’ father-in-law would have said, seen so much as an angry char-wallah. Yet they seem determined to endanger the people of this country, risking Russian retaliation on our own soil.

Britain’s ‘escalation’ as the Kremlin has put it merely extends an official strategy. On 12 January Rishi Sunak signed an ‘Agreement on Security Co-operation’ with the President of Ukraine which states that we are jointly ‘determined to end forever’ Russia’s attacks and are committed to ‘Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its borders, which have been internationally recognised since 1991.’ In last Friday’s visit Cameron also pledged £3 billion a year in aid to Kiev for ‘as long as it takes.’

Britain is not alone in this. France agreed a ‘security cooperation’ pact with Ukraine on 16 February, ratified by the Assemblée Nationale on 12 March. The preamble echoes ours in asserting that Russia’s aggression was ‘unprovoked’ and committing France to helping Ukraine restore her 1991 borders and to deter ‘any future aggression.’

Both outsiders appear to be doing even more than offering money, matériel and moral support. Allegedly UK special forces were seen inside Ukraine over two years ago. On Saturday (4 May) former US Assistant Deputy Secretary of Defense Stephen Bryan reported that France has now sent combat troops in-country; this was officially denied by the French though Brussels-based commentator Gilbert Doctorow says the first detachment was sent over a month ago and Russia has already killed seven Légionnaires there.

Where will it end? At what point do we cross the line from NATO faux-neutrality to open warfare with Russia?

War has been this country’s unnecessary and ruinous love since 1914. According to Peter Hitchens’ tweet a month ago, the Anglo-Belgian 1839 Treaty of London ‘absolutely did not oblige Britain to go to war’ and ‘Great Britain had already committed itself to the war before a single German boot trod the soil of Belgium.’

Similarly we used Poland as our pretext for entering World War Two. We had previously given verbal assurances to the Polish government but only made a formal treaty on August 25, 1939, six days before the Germans invaded their country. The Secret Protocol made it clear that Germany was specifically and exclusively the ‘European Power’ we committed ourselves to oppose.

On 29 January I wrote to my MP about Sunak’s 12 January pact, calling it a ‘de facto declaration of war, war with the world’s most heavily-nuclear-armed State’; to her credit she took the trouble to reply (on 7 March), saying:
‘I don’t think that this is a de facto declaration of war between the UK and Russia. It is an agreement for the UK to support Ukraine’s operations to restore their sovereign boundaries. From my reading, it is consistent with the Opposition’s policy towards the conflict and support for Ukraine’s freedom and sovereignty, which translates into protecting the eastern borders of NATO and Europe from Russian aggression.’
I think she is wrong, it goes much further than mere arm’s length ‘support’; but if I am right it is possible that one or both of us may not be around much longer for me to tell her so. Sixty-three years ago, on 2 July 1961, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev told UK Ambassador Sir Frank Roberts six atom bombs could 'put Great Britain out of action' - and nine, for France. Armaments have progressed since then.

Declaring war is by tradition a royal prerogative, but now that it could result in the complete annihilation of our people surely we should have the right to be formally consulted. Since we had a referendum on exiting the EU, could we please have one on this matter?

Saturday, May 04, 2024

WEEKENDER: WHO Climbdown, by Wiggia

Via Twitter/X:

UsForThemUK 🌟


‼️Updated IHR Amendments Just Published‼️


A briefing to follow, and link to the text below. Headlines here:

Massive climb down from the WHO Working Group on almost ALL substantive concerns that we and others have raised over the past 18 months.

🎯 The WHO’s recommendations remain non-binding. Article 13A.1 which would have required Member States to follow directives of the WHO as the guiding and coordinating authority for international public health has been dropped entirely.

🎯An egregious proposal which would have erased reference to the primacy of “dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms” has been dropped. This proposal marked a particularly low water-mark, and should never have been suggested.

🎯Provisions that would have allowed the WHO to intervene on the basis of a mere ‘potential’ health emergency have been dropped: a pandemic must now either be happening or likely to happen, but with the safeguard that to activate its IHR powers the WHO must demonstrate that coordinated international action is necessary.

🎯Proposals to construct a global censorship and ‘information control’ operation led by the WHO have been dropped.

🎯A material dampening of the expansionist ambitions of the WHO: provisions which had proposed to expand the scope of the IHRs to include “all risks with a potential to impact public health” (e.g. climate change, food supply) have been deleted. The scope now remains essentially unchanged, focussed on the spread of disease.

🎯Explicit recognition that Member States not the WHO are responsible for implementing these regulations, and bold plans for the WHO to police compliance with all aspects of the IHRs have been materially watered down.

🎯Many other provisions have been diluted, including: surveillance mechanisms that would have given the WHO a mandate to find thousands of potential new pandemic signals; provisions which would have encouraged and favoured digital health passports; provisions requiring forced technology transfers and diversion of national resources.

The published document is only an interim draft, to be put before the IHR Working Group during this week’s final negotiations, so it could yet change.

That said, on the basis of this draft this is a profound victory for people power over unaccountable technocracy.

Never forget the Covid inquiry is due to finish in 2026. It is just not a long time away but a deliberate ploy to avoid awkward and legitimate questions actually making the headlines, or hoping that by then anyone who was accountable will be long gone or forgotten; no one will be held to account for the mandatory nonsense that caused and is causing deaths for years.

Sweden for instance has had an inquiry and the result last year. Why do we believe that it needs so much time here? Only the lawyers gain financially, everyone else pays for a pointless exercise in legalise.

I have said it before, if inquiries were to become an Olympic event we would be top of the medals table.

What is equally worrying is the lack of response to the WHO statement from a government that judging by the silence is not concerned about a decision on something that was deemed so important they put the petition against it out to grass. One can only take it that they have become so inured during our membership of the EU to having laws and rulings made for them.

Perhaps we can now focus on getting our politicians weaned off becoming ‘global young leaders’ under the direction of the benign uncle Klaus, who makes the whole thing sound like cub scout badge attainment.

The trouble is I do not trust either of these organisations to stop in their progressive ideals, any more than I trust Lord Cameron to stop travelling around the world making statements about ‘we must’ and ‘we will’ at every opportunity on behalf of, well himself.

His renegotiation skills are as we know legendary……….

We are going through difficult times, but I am pretty sure with safe hands like those below at the wheel, things can only improve….. 

Meet Jared Bernstein, Biden’s chief economic advisor:’