Category Archives: Foreign Affairs

Why does Sunak have billions for dormant companies, but not a penny to safeguard our jobs?

Rishi Sunak: he doesn’t want to save UK jobs. Meanwhile his government is funnelling billions into companies run by friends of the Tories – who can’t deliver what they promise.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak has again been urged to extend the furlough scheme that safeguards huge numbers of UK jobs during the Covid crisis – a scheme he is adamant will end on October 31.

The Commons Treasury select committee has urged him to renew support for sectors of the economy that are still suffering because of the pandemic, saying the alternative is mass unemployment and an end to viable firms.

But you can probably see the problem Sunak has in the committee’s own words:

“Effectively targeted assistance to those who need it is important,” the committee says in an 84-page report, ‘Economic impact of coronavirus : the challenges of recovery’.

“The Chancellor should carefully consider whether a targeted extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and/or other targeted support measures might be required and explain his conclusions.”

The problem is that the UK’s current Tory government hasn’t yet had a target that it could hit.

Meanwhile…

Yes, we deserve far better. But we’re not going to get it.

Source: Coronavirus furlough ‘must be extended’ to avoid mass unemployment from October 31 – Mirror Online

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Cheese queen Truss trumpets free trade deal with Japan, selling Stilton to people who are lactose-intolerant

Liz Truss: the queen of cheese, who once warned that Brexit would seriously harm the UK, is now proving it with a duff free-trade deal with Japan. It’s no different from the deal we had as part of the EU, but with added Stilton.

Liz Trust can’t get away from cheese, can she?

The International Trade minister has just announced a brand-new post-Brexit free trade deal with Japan. Hooray!

But didn’t we already have a free trade deal with Japan?

Yes. Yes we did.

But this one has added Stilton cheese!

Let’s review Liz Truss and her association with cheese:

Well, at least now she’s talking about exporting it…

… to a country where most people can’t eat it – and a country where nobody eats Stilton at all:

So Japan has given us the same free trade deal we had as part of the EU, with added Stilton cheese. Not much of a victory, is it?

These people certainly don’t think so:

Oh and wait for it… here comes the punchline…

This is only an agreement in principle; the Japanese haven’t signed the deal yet. In other words, the Stilton may yet come off the (cheese) board.

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Nazanin to go back before Iranian court to face new charges – linked to Johnson’s blunder

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: this wrongly-jailed woman has become a pawn in an international power struggle.


Just when it seemed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s Iranian prison ordeal was coming to an end, she’s being dragged back into court.

And that country’s officials have taken great pleasure in letting us know that her plight is due to blundering Boris Johnson, the UK’s prime muppet.

Johnson was the idiot who blurted out in Parliament – in 2017, when he was Foreign Secretary – that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been “training journalists”.

She had been doing nothing of the kind.

A project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, she had been doing nothing more sinister than visiting her family for the Persian New Year celebration when she was arrested in 2016.

But the Iranian authorities seized on Johnson’s idiotic remark and threatened to use it to add five more years to her five-year prison sentence.

Now – three years after Johnson misspoke, it seems they have decided to follow through on the threat:

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife will appear in court on Sunday accused of “spreading propaganda against the regime” in Iran.

Apparently that’s how they describe the teaching of journalism – which she wasn’t doing in any event.

Of course we all know that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s imprisonment has more to do with the £400 million that the UK government owes to Iran.

It could not be paid before because of international sanctions – but when Boris Johnson’s career was in danger, it seems such concerns evaporated.

How contrary, then, for us to find that the money has not been paid, apparently because Johnson doesn’t want to upset Donald Trump.

Johnson, it seems, wanted to wait until after the US presidential election on November 3 because he wanted to know whether Trump would still be US president before taking action.

So the Iranian decision to go back to court now has put him in a particularly sticky situation.

Will he pay up and get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe back?

Or will he delay, to stay on the right side of Donald Trump?

I think we all know the answer to that. Johnson is the runt of international politics.

When powerful people squabble, it is always the innocents who suffer.

Source: New Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe charges linked to Boris Johnson’s infamous gaffe – Mirror Online

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Victim of its own success: Banksy-funded migrant rescue boat is itself rescued

A ship funded by Bristol street artist Banksy to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean was so successful that it had to call for help itself after it became too loaded with migrants to move.

The ship, the Louise Michel, ended up with more than 200 traumatised migrants on its deck, meaning it was unsafe to move, while it was in the see near Malta.

The Italian coastguard responded to calls for help and took 49 people, and another rescue ship, Seawatch4, arrived to help as well.

But the ship’s 10-strong crew poured scorn on the lukewarm attitude of most European countries who, they said, had been “ignoring our emergency calls for immediate assistance”.

The Italian coastguard finally responded after the crew warned Maltese and Italian authorities: “Don’t let it become a body count. Do your job. Rescue them.”

It seems the UK’s is not the only European government for whom humanitarian aid is a foreign concept.

Source: Banksy-funded refugee rescue boat in distress helped by Italian coast guard

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Is it true that Boris Johnson won’t help free Nazanin for fear of offending Donald Trump now?

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe: Boris Johnson has botched attempts to have her released for most of her wrongfully-imposed five-year prison sentence.

Boris Johnson can say what he likes but it is starting to seem that he has some kind of grudge against Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The British-Iranian woman, who was imprisoned in Iran in April 2016 on an apparently trumped-up charge, has been seeking the UK government’s help to release her for years.

But in this effort, Johnson seems to be her nemesis.

In November 2017, as foreign secretary, he told MPs Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been imprisoned for “simply teaching people journalism” – boneheadedly suggesting that she had committed the very act for which the Iranian authorities had imprisoned her.

In fact, Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was a project manager with a charity and was in Iran to visit her family for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. She is not a journalist and has never trained them.

As a result of Johnson’s imbecility, she was dragged back to court and threatened with a further five years in jail.

Soon after, it was announced that the UK would pay Iran £400 million that is owed to that country but could not be paid because of international sanctions.

That money suddenly became available, in the opinion of many, because Johnson’s career was in danger and it might make the Iranian authorities more open to the idea of releasing Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Now we discover that after almost three years, the money has not moved – and that Johnson might be stalling because he fears offending Donald Trump.

What does he have to do with it?

Lawyers for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe say a High Court hearing on whether the payment may be carried out has been delayed until November 3 – the day after the US presidential election.

This suggests that Johnson wants to know whether Trump will still be president before taking any action.

According to The Independent:

Donald Trump has taken a hard line against Iran, including breaking an international agreement on the country’s nuclear programme signed by his predecessor. The US also takes a dim view of its allies working with Iran and has moved to try and section [I think it means sanction] European companies that do business there.

So Boris Johnson is admitting that, as long as he is prime minister, the UK will be an international weakling.

Perhaps he thinks that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has spent so long in prison now – her sentence is due to end in April next year – that it won’t make much of a difference.

One wonders whether he bothered to think of her in prison, while he enjoyed his luxury holiday in the tropics last Christmas – or even if he spared her a thought while he was “glamping” (I believe it is called) in Scotland. It seems doubtful. He is far too interested in himself.

Previous – Tory – prime ministers would have threatened war against any nation holding a British subject prisoner if they felt it was unwarranted, and have done so.

But Johnson is happy to throw his fellow Brits to the dogs so he can suck up to someone he thinks is bigger than he is.

Source: UK deliberately delaying Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe release action ‘for fear of offending Trump’, says her lawyers | The Independent

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Supine Sunak set to axe ‘Facebook tax’ because he’s scared of big, nasty Donald Trump

Rishi Sunak: ‘Please don’t force us to eat your diseased chicken, Mr Trump! Look – we’ll cancel our tax on your tech companies! They can take as much money as they like from operating in our country and we won’t ask for a penny! Will that persuade you, Mr Trump? Mr Trump? Are you there..?’

Could there be a more blatant display of the UK’s newfound powerLESSness in the world?

The UK imposed a tax on tech companies like Facebook last year, expecting to bring in £500 million per year from firms that make more than £25 million each and would otherwise pay very little indeed.

But now Rishi Sunak is reportedly planning to axe it, in the hope that doing so will encourage Donald Trump not to insist on sending chlorinated chicken to the UK.

Sunak doesn’t even have the bargaining power to say he’ll do it on condition that Trump relents on his determination to foist food poisoning on the United Kingdom.

The justification to the rest of us? “Oh, it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”

I don’t know about that. £500 million is a lot of money to most of us.

The whole situation is pathetic.

The Johnson government, in the footsteps of Theresa May and David Cameron, has reduced Britain from Greatness to a state that can only be described as Little.

Source: Rishi Sunak to axe ‘Facebook tax’ on US tech giants deciding it is ‘more trouble than it’s worth’ | Daily Mail Online

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Why is Israel’s latest bombing campaign against Gaza going unreported?

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Heavy damage: this is what Israel is doing to Gaza – and none of your elected representatives has anything to say about it.

I think we know the answer to the question in the headline but let’s establish the facts.

At the time the Morning Star article was published, Israel had been bombing Gaza for eight days, non-stop, in response to – Israeli authorities claimed – two missiles.

Civilian property – mark that: civilian property – has suffered heavy damage, according to the report.

In addition, Israel has forced Palestinian fishing boats out of the sea and cut off the only commercial route into the enclave, stopping crucial supplies of fuel, meaning the energy supply will have to be cut to around three or four hours per day.

This Writer is reminded of an attempt by a noted celebrity who is strongly in favour of Israel’s aggressively-Zionist policies of extermination against the Palestinian people, to paint Israel as the victim.

A commenter to This Site tells us she said, referring to the recent explosion in Beirut:

“As soon as Lebanon happened, I can imagine the types that were ready to say, ‘Israel’s on the border, did they, would they, could they?’ I’m very grateful that Hezbollah said they did it.”

Journalist : “Wait, what? It was an accident resulting from political fecklessness, Hezbollah isn’t even the largest party in the Lebanese parliament, and definitely nobody said they did it. She makes a noise as though we’ll just agree to differ……”

You see how it goes?

As mentioned before on This Site, violence by either side in a conflict is abhorrent. But it behooves the better-equipped antagonist to respond to outbursts from a weaker foe in moderation – and that simply isn’t happening.

Every day – if we know where to look – we can find accounts of atrocities carried out by the euphemistically-named Israel Defence Force.

But we don’t see these reports on our national news because anyone reporting them would instantly be labelled an anti-Semite by people like the celebrity mentioned above.

It’s time that changed.

Much of Twitter seems to agree with me – those on the right side of history, anyway:

This thread shows what Palestine is being put through and why it is wrong:

And this response to the same tweet asks a question I think we’d all like to see answered:

It’s true. Who’s the foreign secretary now? Dominic Raab? Still? Oh well – where’s his condemnation of the Israeli government?

What about Keir Starmer? Does he really have nothing to say? Perhaps he’s too busy accusing Labour members of anti-Semitism for sharing a Vox Political post, or victimising people in some other way to get involved in the realities.

There’s only one way to get change, and that is to demand it – in a way that threatens the muttonheads in power.

Will you speak up for Gaza? Or are you afraid the nasty big boys (and girls) will call you a name?

Source: Electricity cut to three hours a day in Gaza as Israeli bombing continues for 8th day | Morning Star

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Ice Cream giants take on Priti Patel over refugees. But are their motives really so pure?

Yes, it’s great fun watching Priti Patel losing whatever’s left of her sanity shouting at Ben & Jerry’s.

The ice cream manufacturer took a side in the debate over asylum-seekers taking to boats in attempts to get into the UK:

And Patel ill-advisedly responded:

It seems the company has a history of political activism, and recently made quite a hit by supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

But a lot of political commentators should have done a bit of research before voicing wholehearted praise for the purveyors of ‘cookie dough’ ice cream (my personal favourite, although I have to try to source it from other makers now).

Steve Topple, of The Canary is the only journo (I’ve seen) who actually understood what’s going on:

That’s exactly what this is.

It is impossible for me to support Ben & Jerry’s making a stand in support of refugees because Ben & Jerry’s has a factory on a former Palestinian village of Qastina, that was destroyed by Israeli troops in 1948. When that land was stolen, it undoubtedly turned a lot of people into refugees. Yes, it was a long time ago but I hope nobody is stupid enough to try to make a point out of that.

Ben & Jerry’s also sells into illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – land that has been occupied by the use of armed force, its rightful owners displaced.

It is unacceptable for a firm that is complicit in the creation of so many Palestinian refugees to claim the moral high ground over the issue of refugees coming to the UK – much though This Writer would wish the opposite to be the case when the other disputant is Ms Patel.

Still, we can always enjoy the fact that she’s #ShoutingAtIceCream – just for the absurdity of it:

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The Tories want you to hate asylum seekers, so you forget that the UK caused the strife they’re fleeing

The UK is in a terrible state, thanks to the Conservatives, and what’s their solution? “Look at those filthy refugees trying to invade our country!”

The way the authorities – and the media – have treated this situation is a national disgrace.

For example: Priti Patel.

She seems to think international law is an annoying burden because it prevents us from shooting innocent people out of hand.

It turns out she was told back in November that her policies were causing asylum-seekers to use more dangerous routes into the UK:

“A policy that focuses exclusively on closing borders will drive migrants to take more dangerous routes, and push them into the hands of criminal groups,” the report said.

She wasn’t interested then – possibly because the report’s advice was to provide more legal routes for asylum-seekers to enter the UK, and to address their reasons for wanting to leave their own lands (This Writer has suggested the same).

Her own attitude is far more ruthless. She wants to keep them out and doesn’t care what happens to them as a result. Hence her own comments:

Notice that she uses the word “shameful” in her thread, to divert attention away from the fact that it is her own attitude to other human beings that is the real cause of shame here.

And look where her actions led: reporters for Tory sockpuppets the BBC treating a life-and-death situation like a spectator sport:

Did you notice that the people on the boat said they were from Syria?

The UK bombed Syria in 2018, after it was claimed that that country’s government had used chemical weapons to attack its own people.

Those weapons were manufactured using materials exported to Syria by the United Kingdom.

Now, I don’t know the personal situations of the people on that boat, but it seems entirely likely that the UK is the reason they have been fleeing their own country.

If you approve of this behaviour by your country’s leaders then you are a jingoistic, sabre-rattling racist.

Fortunately, the evidence I’ve seen suggests that few people do. Most of us appear to have reacted with disgust – both at the government and at the BBC. Here’s a sample:

Protest all we like, it won’t make a difference.

The simple fact is that this is part of a cycle of hate that the UK electorate has supported with its votes – not just for the past 10 years but for decades before that.

And you can’t even guarantee it won’t happen if you vote for a different party…

We turned our backs on our chance of a better world when we rejected Jeremy Corbyn – twice – at the ballot box.

So if you want to resist this brutality, you need to find a way of making it hurt the people who matter.

Good luck thinking of ways to do that…

Or perhaps you’d rather just shout at the telly and vent your spleen on Twitter? It is easier, after all.

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