Belgian MEP Louis Michel was recently ranked the second worst MEP on Data Privacy issues by the LobbyPlag.eu website for submitting 158 amendments that damage online privacy. But Louis Michel had never heard of those amendments. He’s famous in Belgium, has been a mayor, a minister, and a respected liberal leader. His son is the current leader of the Belgian French-speaking liberal party (MR, Mouvement Réformateur). Hugely popular, Louis Michel easily won his bid to become an MEP 2009.But recently, it has been revealed by the above website that Louis Michel has proposed 158 amendments against Data Privacy which look heavily influenced by industrial lobbies. Upon closer investigation, he replied that he has “never seen, never known, never physically signed any of those amendments”.
When those amendments were proposed, he was travelling in Mali.
Some underling has now been blamed for “exceeding his remit”. Some of us aren’t convinced. This isn’t the first time it’s happened. And given that quite a few MEPs sign in at 9 am and then bugger off to visit la maitresse for the rest of the day, I’d imagine it’s quite an easy stunt to pull. To be blunt, somebody stole Monsieur Michel’s identity.
It’s clearly very easy indeed to do that in Brussels. Just as easy, in fact, as unelected EC “ideas” slipping through the net to become Law. Here’s a corker:
‘(b) Juveniles convicted of committing crimes listed in paragraph (a) will be required to undergo a rehabilitation programme designed to instill in them a culture of tolerance.’
Thought crime, throught crime, thought-thought, thought-crime.
And one for bloggers to worry about:
“(ii) There is a related issue of Internet abuse through the spreading of intolerance. However, initiatives to bring about a legal regulation of cyberspace are currently being debated in a wider context. It is too early to speculate how the matter will be resolved.”
If they’re not slowly removing safeguards, getting round fences or censoring everything in sight, they’re removing your ability to invest. More and more stock market trades are now moving off-piste and into dark liquidity pools. The rationale – dark markets have in fact become so efficient that the costs of execution and market impact are lower than at the display markets – is all well and good, but dark pools are also a licence to commit the perfect crime – at will, 24/7.
But that’s OK, because at least you can catch up with what your kids are doing on Facebook. Sure, it’s a commercial advertising data-collection medium, but at least the people are real. Aren’t they?
Recently, Facebook got into hot water with investors when it was revealed that as many of its 1.18 billion active users 14.1 million (and likely orders of magnitude more) were fraudulent. Things are even worse at Twitter, where Italian security researchers Andrea Stroppa and Carlo De Micheli found that of the social network’s 232 million monthly active users about 20 million are fake and for sale, while Jason Ding of Barracuda Labs said 10% of more of all Twitter accounts are fake.
And of course – just like Obama’s paid website trolls – these fakes “directionalise” opinion. Remember Nixon and his crooked write-in campaign during ’72? Here’s the update:
In 2013, the State Department, which has more than 400,000 likes and was recently most popular in Cairo, said it would stop buying Facebook fans after its inspector general criticized the agency for spending $630,000 to boost the numbers. In one case, its fan tally rose to more than 2.5 million from about 10,000.
Various other, more expected account “paddings” come from a recent check on Facebook showed Dhaka was the most popular city for many, including soccer star Lionel Messi, who has 51 million likes; Facebook’s own security page, which has 7.7 million likes; and Google’s Facebook page, which has 15.2 million likes.
Again: no surprise. “Since Facebook launched almost 10 years ago,” says Associated Press, “users have sought to expand their social networks for financial gain, winning friends, bragging rights and professional clout. And social media companies cite the levels of engagement to tout their value.”
More and more tricks, with more and more sheisters pulling them. But at the same time, our legal defences against them are being removed. Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph last Monday:
‘…..one reason why this dramatic stand-off between judiciary and the executive is attracting so little public attention – or sympathy [is because it is] being framed in terms of the impact on lawyers’ incomes, at a time when most people are feeling the pinch. Why should the legal system be immune from the pain felt elsewhere? The criminal justice system does not exist to provide its practitioners with a guaranteed, taxpayer-funded living, even if that might be a benign outcome for those working in it. The Government’s critics are on stronger ground when they argue that the reforms will cut off access to justice…’
But who’s framing the debate by capitalising on a hatred of rich lawyers? Why not ask Lord Bell….he might have a few ideas, allegedly. How ironic that the few underpaid lawyers are being used in this way – ie, the ones really concerned about justice. Or put another way, what utterly sociopathic cynicism.
It could be worse of course: we could be living in Japan. There, the new State Secrecy Protection Law massively expands the definition of official secrets. All writers, journalists and TV reporters convicted under it can be jailed for up to five years. It’s nothing short of neo-fascist, but as Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (ironic or what?) has a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament, it sailed through without touching the sides….helped by an opposition that’s been in disarray since he came to power in December 2012. Hold the thought in those italics.
Abe’s is in fact on a mission to change Japan’s constitution, laying more stress on citizen duties, and rather less on civil rights. He’s also busy “redefining” Japan’s wartime history with a less apologetic tone. I don’t remember hearing many apologies in the first place, but given the Sino-Japanese sabre rattling going on, one can see where this is going.
Now I’m the first to point out where the Left’s past muddle has itself constrained genuine liberty (nobody does Thought Crime bollocks like the Left) but at the moment this simply isn’t the case. The EU may continue the pretence of being broadly social democratic, but in recent years the Right has made considerable gains. Either way, the name of the crypto-fascists in power makes naff-all difference if the folks really doing commercial deals and bending the rules are genuinely fascist bureaucrats – and stupid to boot.
If you take the situation in the German Bundesrepublik for example, the SPD there is somewhere to the Right of Blair’s New Labour, amply demonstrated by the ease with which it has now formed a Grand Alliance with Frau Doktor Merkel’s CDU conservatives. This is how the Bundestag looks today:
The two largest Opposition parties are outnumbered three to one by the Coalition. The Opposition as a whole is split eight ways. The Left suspects the Greens, and the FDP aren’t best friends with the CSU.
Angela Merkel is today more powerful than Hitler ever was, for several reasons: surveillance has advanced vastly since the Nazi era, the economy is in much better shape than Adolf’s, there is no Hjalmar Schacht fiddling the economic numbers to disguise rearmament, she enjoys a warm relationship with Moscow (surprise, surprise), there is almost no international disapproval of her regime, and the Americans are allies, not enemies.
To all intents and purposes, Germany is a One Party State united behind the increasingly obvious agenda of a German-led EU. As Geli was (until a week before the DDR disintegrated) a hardline Jugendführerin in the Communist Youth League, don’t expect her to be any less Stalinist than Japan’s Abe when the chips are down: lest we forget, at one point three years ago her
head spook Finance Minister Wofgang Schäuble forbade the Greeks to hold an election….a faux pas that had even Sarkozy spitting teeth.
In France, Marine Le Pen is clearly on a roll. A local by-election win in mid-October left her socialist and conservative competitors trailing, and 42% of recently polled voters had a higher opinion of her than for Socialist President Francois Hollande. The next European Parliament vote put Le Pen’s FN party in first place; and I can tell you that secret Conservative Party polls in the UK have shown that Nigel Farage’s UKippers may well score a spectacular result in the same election there.
There are many of course who would point to some very clear liberal water between LePen and Farage, but they shouldn’t lose sight of the real alliance now forged between her and Geert Wilders’ Dutch Party for Freedom. On November 13th last year, they held a press conference in The Hague to announce that they’ll be cooperating in the elections for the European Parliament next spring – and hope to form a new Eurosceptic bloc.
How comfortable Nigel might feel sitting in that bloc remains to be seen. But I hope that, by now, the point I’m making in this essay should be abundantly clear: while the Centre to Risible Right neoliberal nutters are engaging to push their shared agenda, the Centre to Loony Left remain as they ever were…..chucking custard pies at each other.
I would submit that the odds are now on some kind of deal between the Conservative and UKip Parties in the UK before the next election. Whatever Cameron may say in public, as I pointed out some days ago, he can’t mathematically have any expectation of carrying a clear majority in 2015. The game-changer on this question could well be UKip’s performance in this May’s EU elections: a low turnout for the main Parties can only help Farage, and if the popular vote support he can garner becomes clear in the result, it isn’t going to take the Huntist-Shappsist tendency long to work out how many seats would be handed to Labour under our mad FPTP electoral system.
In short, the Tories and UKip will probably form a loosely cooperative alliance in English constituences. So here too, the forces of resistance will be facing, very probably, a more united Right…just to be clear about it here, an infinitely more reactionary, and avowedly neoliberal, Right.
The other main influence likely to swing an election, of course, is the media balance. In the UK context, things are looking truly terrible. It is now widely known within Hackland that the Independent is in serious trouble, and its Russian owner a tad fed up of pouring monied water into a sieve. The Guardian’s continuing la-la-land coverage of current events is reducing its circulation month by month. The Mirror has seen a slight recovery from its 2012 disaster, but last year ad revenue losses for the group were disturbing. It is now at last showing strong growth in digital readership…but at a much lower margin of profit.
The Dacre Mail, by contrast, is a continuing success story, with the brand unbelievably stealing the top circulation spot from The Sun…although comparatively speaking, the Murdoch tabloid is still miles ahead of other Redtops. The Barclay Brothers’ Daily Telegraph remains the most read “quality” newspaper, and despite it’s problems, The Times’ market share is 50% higher than the Guardian and Indie combined. Together, the Times and Telegraph have 3.5 times more readers than the Guardian and Indie.
In terms of share of voice, what I might call the anti-neoliberal alliance is massively outshouted – and following the Co-Op fiasco, Labour and the LibDems are in an infinitely more parlous state than either Camerlot or the Faragistas.
Finally, don’t forget: the gains made in Scotland by the SNP (given the risible Tory share north of the border) are far more of a threat to Labour. Indeed, if Scotland did secede, we would likely see a “business friendly” (aka amorally corrupt and greedy) Parliamentary majority in perpetuity.
Thus, even with an open mind about forming an alliance against Friedmanite insanity and econo-fiscal drivel, it’s a dim outlook for those Brits still of sound mind. But here we are – with just fifteen months to go to the next General Election – and thus far the sole success has been to persuade Ed Balls to stop behaving like a feral rottweiler towards the Liberal Democrats….with Nick Clegg still saying he thinks Mr Balls is quite the nastiest piece of work he’s ever come across.
This degree of inflexibly ideological braindeath is just the sort of passepartout the likes of Michael Fallon and George Osborne are happy to see endure. It is tragic, but I’m starting to realise (grudgingly) that it’s incurable. When it gets to the stage (as it did three nights ago) that someone I thought to be an ally finds me beyond the pale because of an imagined interest I might have in golf, then there is no hope.
But seemingly, the Left ineluctably sees the game of golf as a disgusting middle class symbol of how the Uberbau grinds the downtrodden proletariat into the mud. And nothing is going to change that view. My own angle on golf is less political: it is a game played largely at the amateur level by tediously smug farts who very probably go to the Algarve every year for their holidays.
I have no desire at all to be one of their number, but I really must insist on one irrefutable assertion: compared to a pan-global victory for greedy, warmongering ideologues, I really don’t think golf matters a flying f**k either way.
FFS people, wake up and come out of the stockade. If you fail to do so, then you will only have your narrow, oudated fixed view of the world to blame for the otherwise impossible triumph of those who prefer money to families, exploitation to liberty, racial labels to empathy, and Might is Right to the Rule of Law.
I’ve said my piece on this more than enough times. Now I’m going to shut up and watch you all fire dum-dum bullets through your feet of clay.