April 7, 2011
What amazes me is that the following is taken as good news:
Banks set the pace in London as investors welcomed an end to uncertainty over debt-laden Portugal, which confirmed it had asked the European Union for financial help. Banks were also buoyed by signs that the impact of the UK’s tougher capital regime may no longer be such a disadvantage after two European banks announced plans to raise £11.5bn of fresh capital. [British Investment Digest, 07/04/2011]
Let’s break down this ‘good’ news, shall we?
- We’re now absolutely certain that Portugal’s completely finished – terrific news. I’m sure all the Portuguese are delighted, along with every other citizen of the EU responsible for bailing them out (£250 from every Brit).
- Everyone else is going to have to toughen up their capital regimes because they’re more lax than the UK’s. The process is going to suck up £11.5bn of capital, and take it out of circulation, when it could have been allocated to help real businesses grow. Instead, it will act as a cushion so that bonuses are paid to economically destructive bankers.
Yes, great news if you’re a banker, Eurocrat, or other assorted economic leech. The world would not pass a sanity test.
November 22, 2010
Yesterday the Pope issued new guidance on drinking water in response to the cholera epidemic in Haiti. Previously, the Catholic Church had forbidden the boiling of water, on the basis that it was not taught in the Bible. Health advisers and aid workers had been frustrated by the Vatican’s hardline stance on safe drinking water for decades. “Cholera didn’t exist in the Palestine of Christ’s era,” said one doctor in Port-au-Prince. “We’ve always viewed it as absurd that an old man with a safe water supply and the best healthcare available should dictate sanitary practices to those in developing countries. Cholera is a preventable disease spread by poor hygiene and ignorance.”
But the doctrinal change is causing confusion amongst the clergy. “His Holiness seemed to imply that water should only be boiled when being sold to strangers. It doesn’t say whether water used within families should be boiled or not,” said one priest. “So I’m recommending that married couples continue to drink filthy water contaminated with raw sewage. Unlike Aids, death is often rapid – sometimes in as little as four hours – and excruciatingly painful. Far better for you and your children to die of cholera than to risk breaking Papal edicts and going to hell, or living long enough to think about using a condom during sex.”
November 16, 2010
Check out this brilliant video. It explains Ben Bernanke’s brilliant intervention strategy. Gut-wrenchingly funny.
September 24, 2010
Yesterday saw the opening of the UK’s largest windfarm at Thanet off the Kent coast, capable of supplying up to 200,000 homes with electricity. “The key word is capable,” said an industry source. “On a normal day we expect the 100 turbines to supply enough electricity to recharge the batteries of a remote control, thus saving an unemployed person in nearby Margate from having to get up off his sofa to switch off Jeremy Kyle.”
“It’s a huge step forward for the UK,” said the minister for renewable soundbites, “with only 80% of the money spent on this going abroad, compared with 90% for the even bigger London Array, which will dwarf Thanet. When you add in government grants, subsidies and kickbacks, this is a huge boost to other European economies at a time when they’re struggling. It’s a win-win for the industry. The Swedish owners win with Thanet and the German owners win with the London Array. The advantage of this kind of offshore wind generation is that future profits from this venture go straight overseas without even landing in the UK. It’s great that we can provide a leg up to valuable R&D jobs overseas.”
“The fact is that British windfarms are 50% more efficient than German ones,” said a wind-power lobby. “That’s because British politicians blow so much wind out of their arses. Concerns about noise are over-played,” he added. “Most of the time these turbines don’t even turn. And when the wind gets above about 30mph we have to turn them off anyway.”
July 25, 2010
Well excuse me for releasing this a week later, but this is material which was submitted to Newsjack last week. Sadly, none of it was used. Here it is:
- A group of adolescent gorillas have been observed playing tag by scientists. Shortly afterwards, they mugged a baboon, stole some coconuts and went joy-riding on a zebra.
- Scientists have been giving popular names to endangered British species. A beetle which lurks in the darkness and feeds only off other beetles has been named the Mandelson.
- American bank Goldman Sachs has been fined $550m for allegedly misleading clients over mortgage-backed securities. Senior managers at the bank played down the significance of the fine, assuring shareholders that they’ll earn it back by writing one letter to the US government about its overdraft facility.
Corrections and Clarifications
- We wish to apologise to Premier Wen Jiabao of China. We reported that he said China would not flee the Euro. Of course, he actually said that China would not free the Euro.
- The FBI have apologised to the so-called Barefoot Bandit, who spent two years stealing expensive yachts, cars and planes. They didn’t realise that he was, in fact, a trainee banker for Goldman Sachs.
- Apple has issued a fresh denial that the iPhone 4 suffers from a loss of signal. A spokesman assured owners of the iPhone 4 that, if anything, other people can see even more clearly that they’re geeks.
July 24, 2010
BP was once again under fire from US Senators last night over claims that it was responsible for the Challenger disaster on January 28th, 1986. “Those goddamned Limeys must have been responsible,” claimed Senator Ivor Price, whilst stuffing cash into his pockets from special interest groups.
“They almost certainly had a rig in the Gulf area at the time, and the Gulf’s just the other side of Florida. Only an incompetent British oil company could cause an explosion that large. American engineering and management is 100% cotton-pickin’ perfect.”
President Obama stepped into the furore, anxious for fair play and the rule of law to be upheld prior to November’s mid-term elections. “We’re now going to close down the entire US aerospace industry for six months and have BP pay the wages of all the workers,” he said. “I’m also going to hold a gun to the head of Prime Minister Cameron to get him to confess that Britain was responsible for the plan to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“America has 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of the world’s energy and refuses to ratify any agreements on greenhouse gases,” admitted the President. “We therefore think it’s only fair that BP picks up the cost of America’s appalling record of pollution.”
Amongst the other American environmental crimes for which BP will be held responsible are:
- Use of approximately 12,000,000 gallons (US) of Agent Orange from 1961-71 in Vietnam, eastern Laos and parts of Cambodia by the United States military. The Vietnamese government estimates that some 400,000 deaths and disabilities were caused by direct spraying, and as many as a further 500,000 birth defects. The US government has not paid compensation, or attempted to clean up the pollution.
- The 1982 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India. Whilst 3,737 deaths have been confirmed by the government of Madhya Pradesh, other government agencies believe there were c.8,000 deaths in the weeks after the leak and an additional 8,000 in the years afterwards. A government affidavit filed in the US Supreme Court in 2006 cited 558,125 cases of injuries resulting from the disaster. In 2008, 26 years after the disaster, sources said that 390 tonnes of chemicals abandoned at the site continued to leak into the local environment and ground water. In 1999, 17 years after the disaster (and presumably after many victims had died through lack of medical care, or died indirectly through injury-induced poverty) UCC agreed to $470m compensation, which was the sum for which they were insured, plus interest. Their generosity knows no bounds.
Breaking news: Transocean ‘Not to blame. Not.’
On July 23rd Mike Williams, a Transocean employee responsible for the electronic systems on the Deepwater Horizon rig told a federal investigation that the alarms had been ‘inhibited’ (i.e. turned off) to avoid interrupting the sleep of the crew. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jul/23/deepwater-horizon-oil-rig-alarms)
Newshounds may recall the Congressional lynch mob on 17th June trying to get BP’s CEO, Tony Hayward, to admit BP’s liability for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. He was accused of ‘stonewalling’ when he refused to apportion blame prior to an ongoing federal investigation. Last night the White House was quick not to ‘hold a boot to the throat’ of any American company which looked like its deliberate bypassing of safety procedures contributed to the disaster.
July 16, 2010
Last night I had an email from Newsjack, the BBC7 satirical news show. Unknown to me, least one of my submissions had been performed the previous night in front of a studio audience. Unfortunately, my contribution(s) was/were cut from the final broadcast for reasons of time.
I felt that was a huge milestone in my writing life. Sure, I have no broadcast credit – but my writing was considered to be of a standard worthy of broadcast on the BBC. A writer-friend told me this evening that this is surely the highest accolade in the English-speaking world. Too kind, too kind.
I submitted some topical one-liners and a single sketch. I believe it was probably the sketch which made the grade because it was about Blair confessing to Pope Benedict XVI. Rather than let the writing go to waste, I thought I’d share it. You can view the sketch here: Tony Blair Confession. Here are the topical one-liners. I would imagine that in a few years these will be completely incomprehensible:
- Zenna Atkins, Chair of Ofsted, said that schools could learn from private industry in the way they deal with bad teachers. Presumably they’ll be promoted and then given multi-million pound bonuses when pupils fail their exams.
- European space probe Rosetta has flown past the asteroid Lutetia. The 75-mile long rock was easily identifiable because it has the word Lutetia on each end.
- Botox has been approved for headaches. Scientists aren’t sure how effective the treatment is, but people look much better afterwards.
- Roman Polanski is not going to be extradited for sentencing in the States. He’s now sentenced to spend the rest of his life in Switzerland. His lawyers may appeal against the decision.