Monday, 12 November 2018

Nice to see you, to see you nice!

Here's a remarkable and telling photo of Donald Trump with a big cheesy grin on his face to welcome the arrival of Russia's Vladimir Putin at an Armistice Day ceremony in Paris at the weekend.

Trump's reaction is in stark contrast to that of French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Putin goes on to shake Trump's hand warmly, taps him on the arm and give him a 'thumbs up' sign.

As regular readers know, Putin's Russia recently used a nerve agent on UK soil, previously poisoned a Russian dissident with radioactive Polonium, was denounced for the shooting down of civilian Flight MH17 over Ukraine, annexed Crimea and has been condemned for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.

Things have come to a pretty pass when an American president is on friendlier terms with a Russian tyrant than he is with the elected leaders of major countries in Europe. 


Putin's Russia (27/0/18)

The BBC reports that a Joint Investigating Team (JIT) representing the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine has concluded that Russia was responsible for the murder of 298 innocent people when Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.

At the time President Putin denied all responsibility and no doubt will continue to doing so even though there is a clear pattern of Russia's culpability on the world stage:
  • The murder of Alexander Litvinenko with radioactive Polonium in 2006
  • Team Russia's systematic cheating in the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014
  • Large-scale, organised Russian interference in America's presidential election in 2016
  • The attempted assassination of a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia on UK soil in 2018 with a military grade nerve agent 
No wonder Russia is widely regarded as a rogue state these days, even if Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn are both badly out of step with public opinion.

MH17 missile owned by Russian brigade, investigators say

Media caption - Investigators said they had evidence of the route taken by a Russian missile convoy

The missile that downed a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine in 2014 belonged to a Russian brigade, international investigators say.

For the first time, the Dutch-led team said the missile had come from a unit based in western Russia.

All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 died when it broke apart in mid-air flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

It was hit by a missile fired from rebel-held territory in Ukraine. Russia says none of its weapons was used.

But on Thursday Wilbert Paulissen, a Dutch official from the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), told reporters: "All the vehicles in a convoy carrying the missile were part of the Russian armed forces."

He restated the JIT's conclusion that the plane had been destroyed by a Russian-made Buk missile, adding that it had been supplied by the country's 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk.

At a news conference in the Dutch city of Utrecht, the investigators also showed social media pictures which they said traced the route the missile convoy had taken to reach eastern Ukraine.

What happened to MH17?

The incident occurred at the height of the conflict between government troops and pro-Russian separatists.

The plane left Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport on 17 July 2014 and was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia on the following day.

Malaysia plane crash: What we know
MH17: Our special report
Who were the victims?

The plane lost contact with air traffic control about 50km (30 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Media captionIn 2015, the Dutch Safety Board released an animated video showing the flight path of the plane

It crashed in the Donetsk area, in territory controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

Footage was later released by the Ukrainian government suggesting that a Buk missile had been brought in from Russia on the day of the crash, and then taken back across the border the next day. 

What has been said about the incident?

In October 2015 the Dutch Safety Board concluded that the plane had indeed been hit by a Buk missile.

How does a Buk missile system work?

In September 2016, the JIT - which includes officials from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine - reached a similar conclusion in a preliminary report.

It said it had "irrefutable evidence" that the missile had been brought in from Russian territory and fired from a field controlled by pro-Russian fighters.

The investigators simulated various trajectories of the warhead. They showed it had exploded metres above the aeroplane's nose, showering the aircraft with fragments.

On Thursday Russia restated its position that none of its forces had been involved. "Not a single anti-aircraft missile system from the Russian Federation has ever crossed the Russia-Ukraine border," the defence ministry in Moscow said.

Meanwhile Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko promised in a Facebook post (in Ukrainian) that he would "spare no effort to ensure that the actions of the Russian Federation as a state which supports terrorism get an appropriate assessment" in the International Court of Justice.

Putin's Russia and 'Disinformation' (07/04/18)

Image result for nothing to see here,move along + images

While Russia continues to pour out disinformation about the chemical weapon attack in Salisbury, here's how the Kremlin responded to the independent investigation into the biggest doping scandal in world sport - there's ever been.

If you ask me, Jeremy Corbyn supporters and their fellow conspiracy theorists are being had - big time!


Putin's Russia (15/12/18)

Image result for nothing to see here,move along + images

"Nothing to see here, move along", seems to be the response of Putin's Russian into the biggest doping scandal there's ever been.

The independent report was carried out at the request of WADA (World Anti Doping Agency)   and exposes cheating on an industrial scale - not just on the part of individual athletes and rouge coaches, but at the highest levels of the Russian state.

Read the following report from the BBC which includes a link to McLaren's findings in relation to the London Olympics in 2012 and further Olympic events in 2013 and 2014.

Doping is the course of modern sport, from the Olympic Games to professional cycling, yet instead of being part of the solution the Russian Government under President Putin appears to be a huge part of the problem.

Russian doping: McLaren report says more than 1,000 athletes implicated

BBC Sport
The report's author, Richard McLaren (centre), said doping took place on 'an unprecedented scale'

More than 1,000 Russians - including Olympic medallists - benefited from a state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015, a report claims.

At least 30 sports, including football, covered up samples, the report says.

"It was a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy," said the report's author, Richard McLaren.

Lawyer McLaren said London 2012 was "corrupted on an unprecedented scale".

The report also implicates medallists at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow, and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

According to the report, salt and coffee were used to manipulate Russian samples.

The report added the system was refined over the course of the 2012 Olympics, 2013 Worlds and Winter Olympics to protect likely Russian medal winners.

Corbyn's Out of Step on Brexit

Blair McDougall on Twitter mocks Jeremy Corbyn's claim that 'Brexit can't be stopped' and that it's time for everyone to 'move on'.

What a plonker Corbyn is - not least because his own personal views on Brexit are complete at odds with the official policy of the Labour Party and with the views of the great majority of Labour Party members.  


A thought experiment.

“We can’t stop the poll tax because parliament voted for it.”

“Those arguing that Labour should oppose the poll tax need to understand how smug they sound.”

“Listen, I voted against the poll tax but now we’ve got to move on and make the poll tax work.”


Worst Labour Leader Ever (11/11/18)

Jeremy Corbyn showed his true colours over Brexit with the following comment to Germany's Der Spiegel magazine:

"We can't stop it. The referendum took place. Article 50 has been triggered. What we can do is recognise the reasons why people voted Leave."

Now the day after the great EU referendum the Labour leader called for Article 50 to be triggered even though wiser heads (even Tory heads) counselled, at the time, that there was absolutely no need to rush headlong into difficult Brexit negotiations.

So it has proved and Jezza is quite wrong to say that Brexit can't be stopped or that Article 50 can't be revoked.

What a complete fool the man is the worst ever Labour leader. 


Brexit - Then and Now (10/11/18)

Jo Johnson explains his reason for resigning as Minister for Transport and Minister for London over Brexit: 

"What is now being proposed won’t be anything like what was promised two years ago."

We need a democratic People's Vote on the final terms of the government's Brexit Deal or No Deal - the issue is far too important to be left to a vote in the House of Commons.   


People's Vote on Brexit (07/11/18)

Support for Brexit if shrinking right across the country - a democratic People's Vote is the only way to decide if the Government's Final Deal should be accepted.


Where's Jeremy Corbyn? (06/11/18)

Hugo Rifkind doesn't pull his punches with this hard-hitting column in The Times which lays into one of the main Brexit backers, Aaron Banks, who is now under investigation by the National Crime Agency.

Banks now say that he regrets voting for Brexit and all the opinion polling evidence now suggests that a majority of the public support a People's Vote on the final terms of any Brexit deal - or No deal.

So where is Jeremy Corbyn when you need him? 

Because instead of giving voice to the majority of Labour members who support the EU's Single Market and its Customs Union, the party leader has nothing of real substance to to say.    

Arron Banks’s mission is political vandalism

By hugo rifkind - The Times

Whatever the truth about the Brexit backer’s finances, his interventions have sowed xenophobia and division

Arron Banks, a man who claims to have spent £8 million of his own money bringing about Brexit, now says he regrets voting for it because the process has “unleashed demons”. He is right. Those demons include viciousness, divisiveness and xenophobia for political ends. They also include smug stupidity. You will find variants of all these demons, true, across the political spectrum, but there is one man who is the ultimate avatar of them all, and that man is Arron Banks. Perhaps he regrets unleashing himself.
Read the full article via the link below to The Times.


Where's Jeremy Corbyn? (21/10/18)

Jeremy Corbyn likes to think of himself as a democrat, yet the Labour leader could be bothered to get his arse along to yesterday's People's Vote march in London.

Even though the great majority of Labour Party members support the call for a People's Vote on the final terms of Brexit.

What a plonker!

Where's Jeremy Corbyn? (24/06/18)

A good question from one of the Peoples' Vote marchers as Jeremy Corbyn is posted missing even though the vast majority of Labour members support a vote on the final terms of Brexit.

Equal Pay and 'Shaking Up' Glasgow

I heartily agree with this reader's comment on yesterday's post about 'Equal Pay and Shaking Up Glasgow'.

Show us some leadership and people of Glasgow will be behind you x


I suspect the comment is aimed at the City Council's political leaders, especially those who are fond of claiming that senior officials always act under the direction of elected politicians.

If so, the Council's declared commitment to 'openness and transparency should trump the vested interests of its senior officials every time.


Equal Pay and 'Shaking Up' Glasgow (23/10/18)

Here's an interesting post from the blog site archive which features an initiative from Glasgow City Council leader, Susan Aitken, aimed at 'shaking up' Glasgow.

Now I absolutely agree with Susan Aitken about the need for more openness and transparency in decision making - and I'm sure many other people do as well, from all political persuasions and none.

But what puzzles me is why Susan Aitken would agree to bring in a 'Transparency Tsar' from outside the Council, yet decide not to do the same thing over a much more important issue such as equal pay.

I have to say I find this very strange because the senior officials/advisers who played a huge role in getting Glasgow into this terrible mess and advised the last Labour council - are, by and large, the same group of senior officials who are still advising Glasgow's SNP-led council in 2018.

So if Susan Aitken and Glasgow City Council want to find a solution to this long-running equal pay dispute, why don't they shake things up a bit and bring in some 'new blood' which doesn't have so much baggage and such a terrible track record from the past?  


Shaking Up Glasgow (24/11/17)

Glasgow City Council has called in the Improvement Service to help make the council a more 'open and transparent' when it comes to making important decisions. 

Now that's a good thing if you ask me, although I have my doubts about the ability of the Improvement Service to turn things around because if you ask me this 'quango' does not have much of a track record in Scottish local government over the years.

I've written about COSLA and the Improvement Service many times on the blog site during the long fight for equal pay and I'm re-publishing some of these posts from the blog site archive.

So, whether the Improvement Service helps to improve anything remains to be seen - all I can say is that Glasgow City Council remains as secretive and uncooperative as ever when it comes to explaining how the interests of traditional male jobs were 'looked after' under its WPBR pay scheme.

Which is why my FOI campaign in Glasgow is beginning to crank up into top gear.

Shake-up set to make Glasgow City Council 'more open'

By Stewart Paterson @PatersonHT - The Evening Times

Susan Aitken

A SHAKE-UP of how Glasgow City Council comes to decisions, to make it as open and transparent as possible, is being planned.

The man charged with reviewing past decision of Labour run administrations, by new council leader Susan Aitken, has set out the remit of his Review of Governance.

The council said it wants to be “world class” in openness and transparency allowing the public, community groups and the media to be engaged in how the decision making process works.

Colin Mair, chief executive of the Improvement Service, has been appointed to lead the review and he will recommend changes for how councillors and officials go about their business.

The Evening Times revealed last month how Mr Mair would delve into previous decisions to uncover any practices that are considered out of step with the transparency aims of the new council administration.

His role has been dubbed a “transparency tsar” to remove any cloak of secrecy over decisions of the council that affect citizens.

Labour said it had no problems with its decisions being put under scrutiny.

He has now produced the proposed remit of his review which is to go before councillors this week for approval.

Mr Mair will also review the “whistleblowing” arrangements for council staff and the public to raise concerns.

In his report to councillors he said: “Given the financial challenges of the next five years, the administration is fully committed to engaging openly with communities of place and communities of interest in addressing the challenges and opportunities facing the city.”

“It wants the council’s decisions to be fully explained and for sufficient information to be available for citizens to challenge, or campaign against them, if they wish to do so.”

Mr Mair’s remit will be to “review past governance and decision making” and to learn lessons for the future.

He will advise on what structures the council should adopt to ensure it is open, transparent and geared up for community participation in the decision making process and open to scrutiny.

Mr Mair will also make recommendations to councillors and council officials on their role and relationship and responsibilities.

He said he will examine the council’s communication methods with the public and the media and how open it is.

It is proposed that an all party group of councillors will oversee the review and a final report by Mr Mair will be submitted to the full council for approval.

He will hold face to face meetings with community groups, voluntary organisations, businesses and the media to gather suggestions and recommendations.

He said there will be a social media platform set up to allow the public to raise their individual concerns and to make their own suggestions for how the council can improve.