Friday, 29 April 2016

Message from Syria

The following statement has been released by Dr Hatem, the director of the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo.

Last night, 27 staff and patients were killed in an airstrike on Al Quds Hospital nearby. My friend Dr Muhammad Waseem Maaz, the city’s most qualified paediatrician, was killed in the attack. He used to work at our Children’s Hospital during the day and then he’d go to Al Quds Hospital to attend to emergencies overnight.

Dr Maaz and I used to spend six hours a day together. He was friendly, kind and he used to joke a lot with the whole staff. He was the loveliest doctor in our hospital.

I’m in Turkey now, and he was supposed to visit his family here after I returned to Aleppo. He hadn’t seen them in four months.

Dr Maaz stayed in Aleppo, the most dangerous city in the world, because of his devotion to his patients. Hospitals are often targeted by government and Russian air forces.

Days before Dr Maaz’s life was taken, an airstrike hit only 200 metres away from our hospital. When the bombing intensifies, the medical staff run down to the ground floor of the hospital carrying the babies’ incubators in order to protect them.

Like so many others, Dr Maaz was killed for saving lives. Today we remember Dr Maaz’s humanity and his bravery. Please share his story so others may know what medics in Aleppo and across Syria are facing.

The situation today is critical - Aleppo may soon come under siege. We need the world to be watching.

Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts,

Dr Hatem

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Labours Worst Day

The week started with a row brewing over comments by one MP Naz Shah as they were thought to be Anti-Semitic. She was the PPS of the shadow chancellor John Mcdonnell and her comments mentioned the transportation of Jews. The calls went out for her to have the whip removed but this never happened until yesterday [Wednesday 27-Jun-2016].

This morning on his way into Millbank Ken Livingstone is confronted by John Mann and accused of being a "Nazi apologist" and advised about his history being misinformed. Livingstone then starts a round of interviews starting with the BBC News, the Daily Politics and the World at One repeating the same stance on each one that over 47 years he has never heard a member of the Labour Party make Anti-Semitic remarks and also that Naz Shah was not an Anti-Semitic.

The candidate for London Mayor Sadiq Khan said "Ken Livingstone's comments are appalling and inexcusable. There must be no place for this in our party"

Currently Labour MPs are queuing up to demand Ken Livingstone's removal in full public view and the day isn't even over yet.

Monday, 25 April 2016

What a cheek

So President Barak Obama threatens us with a ten year wait for a trade deal if we leave the EU after the referendum vote. What happened to the special relationship then?

Exactly, it has always been spurious that the UK and the US have had a special relationship.

Now the cloak of mysticism has been dropped and the truth is revealed that the only reason the US wants the UK to stay in the EU is for personal reasons and no other.

The European Court of Justice has repeatedly undermined the ability of Britain and America to share intelligence and President Obama should simply ask why a new EU intelligence agency will help, especially as the special relationship does not exist.

Looking forward to the vote on the 23-Jun-2016 even more now so that we can show him we will not be threatened.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Europe crumbles

Hungary is fighting against forced immigration from Brussels, it was also the first country to build a fence last year.

Other countries may follow suit in opposing these plans and hold their own referendums, taking the power from Brussels and putting it back in the hands of their residents. Slovakia and the Czech Republic have both threatened to take legal action against the EU’s orders to take in migrants.

Austria has also begun sealing off its southern border, introducing checks on the vital Brenner Cross motorway and pledging the implementation of €1m worth of border patrols and security improvements and last week, 2,000 soldiers in Switzerland’s tank battalion were told to postpone their summer holidays in order to be ready to rush to the border with Italy to block migrants making their way from Sicily.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic have both threatened to take legal action against the EU’s orders to take in migrants and the European Commission President has been quoted with “We are no longer respected in our countries when we emphasise the need to give priority to the EU.” Damming stuff indeed.

A non imaginary line is now stretching from the West to the East across the top of the Mediterranean to stop migrants heading North, where will they go next?

Friday, 22 April 2016

Annus horribilis

During yesterdays celebrations this expression was mentioned and I looked to see what it was about:-

12 March, Mauritius, the last Commonwealth realm in Africa, abolished its Monarchy.

19 March, it was announced that Prince Andrew, Duke of York would separate from his wife Sarah, Duchess of York.

23 April, Anne, Princess Royal divorced her husband Captain Mark Phillips.

8 June, Diana, Princess of Wales’s tell-all book Diana, Her True Story was published after being serialised in The Sunday Times. Written by Andrew Morton, it revealed for the first time the unhappy truths of the Princess's marriage – particularly, the affair between Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles – starting the "War of the Waleses".

20 August, scandalous pictures of the Duchess of York being kissed on her feet by her friend, John Bryan, were published in Daily Mirror.

24 August, intimate conversations between the Princess of Wales and James Gilbey from a tape recording of their phone calls were published in The Sun, causing "Squidgygate".

13 November, the affair between the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker-Bowles was confirmed by a transcript of a recording of their phone calls published in the Daily Mirror, causing "Camillagate".

20 November, just four days before the Guildhall speech, Windsor Castle – one of the main royal residences – caught fire and was seriously damaged. Huge public outcry was aroused against the prospect that the cost of repairs might be on government expenses.

26 November, after lengthy discussions and under enormous public pressure, it was announced that the Queen would start to pay income tax and capital gains tax in 1993. This became the first time for a British monarch to pay income tax since 1931.

9 December, John Major, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced to the House of Commons that the Prince and Princess of Wales had decided to separate.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

EU Referendum

Two months to go and the subject could not be hotter.

Last night Nick Robinson reminded us what had happened before in 1974 and the years following. He gave us an idea why we voted the way we did, and what the main topics of the day were at that time. He reminded me why I voted to join the EEC, why I thought it was a good idea and the information that I had been given allowing me to make my decision.

Do I now feel betrayed or misled? No. But I do see how a lot was done without public knowledge and how it is the politicians that make the mess concerning the European Union and how the people have very little to say.

So what did I learn last night and has it changed my mind to vote leave this time?

It started with the 1951 European Steel and Coal Community of West Germany and France, ECSC, later joined by Benelux and Italy. March 1957 brought the Treaty of Rome, and the European Economic Community, with the original six nations. January 1963, at a press conference in Paris, de Gaulle clearly said "Non" to his erstwhile close colleague Harold Macmillan.

Labour held a referendum in 1975 under Harold Wilson which now turns out to be a way to hold the fractious Labour party together rather than a vote on Europe. In 1992 the Conservatives had Maastricht and the treaty led to the creation of the Euro. Then there was the Lisbon Treaty and this was pushed through the back door of Westminster quicker than I can say Nick Robins...

Today, we can say that the Lisbon Treaty is the most important document in the European Union [EU]. It is the newest treaty, the most up to date, and it dictates how European institutions work.

Is today’s EU Referendum going to be much of the same? Possibly if the politicians have their way, they keep saying it is the people's choice, however, if they do not like the answer they will just ask a different question.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Oil still dominates

Oil prices have been persistently low for well over a year and a half now, but as the April 2016 World Economic Outlook will document, the widely anticipated “shot in the arm” for the global economy has yet to materialise. We argue that, paradoxically, global benefits from low prices will likely appear only after prices have recovered somewhat, and advanced economies have made more progress surmounting the current low interest rate environment.

Since June 2014 oil prices have dropped about 65% as growth has progressively slowed across a broad range of countries. This outcome has puzzled many observers who had believed that oil-price declines would be a net plus for the world economy, obviously hurting exporters but delivering more-than-offsetting gains to importers. The key assumption behind that belief is a specific difference in saving behaviour between oil importers and oil exporters [consumers in oil importing regions such as Europe have a higher marginal propensity to consume out of income than those in exporters such as Saudi Arabia].

World equity markets have clearly not subscribed to this theory. Over the past six months or more, equity markets have tended to fall when oil prices fall, not what we would expect if lower oil prices help the world economy on balance. Indeed, since August 2015 the simple correlation between equity and oil prices has not only been positive, it has doubled in comparison to an earlier period starting in August 2014.

One obvious problem in predicting the effects of oil-price movements is that a fall in the world price can result either from an increase in global supply or a decrease in global demand. But in the latter case, we would expect to see exactly the same pattern as in recent quarters, falling prices accompanied by slowing global growth, with lower oil prices cushioning, but likely not reversing, the growth slowdown.

Of course, it would be wrong to conclude that central banks can enhance the benefits of current low oil prices by raising their policy interest rates. On the contrary, all else equal, that action would harm growth by raising real interest rates, and the BoE [Bank of England] has absolutely no intention of raising interest rates.