Meme of the Day


tags: EU, Europa, President, European, Union, Beloved, Leader, Brother



More Brooms Needed?

It’s just three months since the fresh start at FIFA HQ but already the signs are not good. First came a leaked document, in the haul from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, linking New Broom President Infantino with improperly selling 2006 Champions League football broadcast rights in Ecuador. The claim being that these rights were sold to two South American front men who then immediately re-sold them for almost three times the price. A common ploy, apparently, for paying disguised bribes and kickbacks.

FIFA2016Infant2Then this month FIFA appointed its first female secretary general to replace the banned Jerome Valkcke. Good move. And who was the high-profile appointee to this critical post? The head of womens football in, say, Germany? A former international player or even a football club owner - like Norwich City’s Delia Smith?

No. It was a Ms Fatma Samoura, a UN official who has represented six different African countries during her 21 years there. But lacking any apparent experience of football or indeed any form of sports administration. Needless to say the reaction amongst football fans was one of incredulity.

Just one day later came the news that FIFA Audit and Compliance Chairman Domenico Scala had resigned in protest against a power grab by President Gianni Infantino over control of independent panels that monitor the governing body.

Then this week saw FIFA dismiss its Deputy Secretary General (Markus Kattner) with immediate effect. The reason - he is accused of paying himself bonuses totaling millions of euros during the time he was Director of Finance.

So FIFA’s tattered reputation is still on the way down - and that’s before all the court cases relating to former officials get started ...

tags: new start, old problems, FIFA, football, soccer, corruption, world cup



EU Referendum Polls 3

One more month nearer to the UK referendum on EU membership and one final check on the state of the Poll of Polls results at

WhatUKThinks_EU_23May2016With the Remain promoters warning of everything from falling house prices to threats of war; from NHS collapse to financial recession, fear-inducing predictions have continued to be the basis of the big arguments. This coupled with the fact that many left-leaning voters who also support leaving the EU are being branded right-wing extremists helps send floating voters towards Remain.

In contrast the Leave campaign does not seem to getting much traction despite such threats as British Army units being commanded by Brussels and Turkey getting full EU benefits without having formal membership. Even the knowledge that the EU is holding back on unpopular directives and delaying cost-increasing budgets has not been used to full effect.

Clearly this continued drift, in the surveys, towards a Remain victory would tie Britain to the EU family for the foreseeable future. While also putting any future questions about Britain’s EU membership off the table for the lifetime of every one of today’s Grandads.

This result in the actual vote would, of course, be both good and bad news. With so many of the rich and powerful on the Remain side the result would confirm that enough voters had done as they were told - and the Eurocrat elite could press ahead with their plans for our future without any effective challenges. That would be good news for them and avoid  Britain being treated as deserters (to quote President Juncker) by the EU’s power brokers for years to come.

The bad news would arrive for us, the lower classes, when the full scale of the Europa Projekt became apparent and when we saw how Britain’s views, and promised safeguards, were out-voted or ignored.

For Scotland this result would leave the SNP in the position of having won the EU vote but lost their best excuse yet for having a second Scotland-UK exit referendum. An outcome that would probably be for the best, since the Europa Projekt is based upon the removal of national boundaries and excluding nationalist politicians. So making it impossible for Scotland to be both an independent nation and an EU member.

However this is just a summary of opinion polls - there could be a very different vote this time next month ...

tags: EU, UK, England, Scotland, Europe, referendum, vote, poll



Greeks Without Gifts 4

All the news reports about Greece this year have been about migrants. But that does not mean that the nation’s financial position has improved in any way. It has simply become old news.

Euro_Greece1But just how bad things still are can be judged by today’s news that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed that the Eurozone accepts major delays in the repayment of Greek bailout loans. Apparently asking that Greece be allowed to defer any loan or interest repayments until 2040 onwards. Considering that the current loans have an interest rate of just 1.5 percent and no one knows where bank interest rates will be in twenty four years time - or what governments will be in power by then - this is a big concession. Almost as bad as writing-off the entire debt.

Certainly the German Finance Minister (Wolfgang Schaeuble) was unimpressed with the plan being reported today as saying that he will not allow that as long as he is finance minister. And it is hard to imagine that any national treasurer would be happy having billions of euros taken out their economy for decades - especially when 2040 is just the start of a forty year repayment period. This, coupled with fading expectations of the approval of more funds for Greece at the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers next week, means that the Greek economy is still in intensive care ...

tags: Europe, debt, common, market, Greece, ECB, IMF, Germany



The Best Laid Plans

After all those hours spent watching this year’s Eurovision Song Contest we should have learnt something. But many Grandads will today be wondering what?

Eurovis2Certainly the Swedish hosts laid out a spectacular show; one of the best. And the presenters managed to carry off their multi-talented performances in all three live shows with few, if any, glitches. And right up to the final round of scoring things looked set fair. Australia were well ahead in the jury voting and the UK entry was about midway down the field - a situation that seemed to fairly reflect the quality of the songs and their performances. But then the scores from the phone-in votes hit the fan and everything fell apart. Britain’s placing went down like a burst balloon. Poland went from having just 7 points at halfway to suddenly having 229 points and eighth place. Australia’s substantial lead over everyone else evaporated as Ukraine was given a massive 323 points for reasons that were clearly unrelated to the appeal of the song. Favourite Russia finished third.

So this Grandad didn’t learn anything new from Stockholm. Most countries still vote with a strong political bias, Britain is still Johnny No Mates and Russia is still a bear to be baited. Sweden tried so hard to create a musical Utopia - but in the end their dream was an illusion. Just sing c’est la vie ....

tags: song, contest, BBC, UK, Eurovision, political, divisive



You Cannot Be Serious

Tonight sees the first part of seven and half hours of live TV coverage this week marking the culmination of the Eurovision Song Contest for 2016. As usual Britain hopes that its entry will attract enough votes to avoid the final being another night of national embarrassment in front of a huge audience. And this year, to be fair, the British entry has shown some signs of doing a little better. Better than recent years that is.

Pretentious_moiHowever the Swedish producer of this year’s contest, Christer Björkman, has put the blame for Britain’s attitude - amongst both the public and any potential performers - down to Terry Wogan’s commentaries. Björkman claimed that Wogan’s commentary style had raised a generation of viewers believing this was a fun kitsch show that had no relevance whatsoever.

And it is true that Wogan would snipe at the acts and the political manoeuvring in the voting but they were all light hearted, amusing comments.

When he retired from the role in 2009 Wogan himself said Eurovision is an exciting, camp, foolish spectacle. You can't top it. It is fun, light entertainment. It is the biggest of its kind anywhere in the world. It is not about politics or asserting your place in the community, not even about national pride. It is not an opportunity to show your neighbours how much you love them. It is about picking the best popular song in Europe. He described the annual contest as a triumph of appalling taste... Everybody in the UK knows it's rubbish. I think I have brought the British public along with me and we now share an interest in it. Many of you may have heard my comments and don't think I take it seriously enough and you are right, I don't. But I am a friend of this contest, possibly its oldest friend. How do friends behave to each other? They tell each other the truth. They don't indulge in idle flattery.

The Eurovision director of the time, Bjorn Erichsen, critised Wogan for not showing the contest enough respect, saying Terry Wogan is a problem because he makes it look ridiculous. I know he is very popular and maybe that is the reason why a lot of people watch. Views pretty much repeated last month by the current producer. But coming too soon after Terry’s death for some, Björkman’s comments seem to be those of a producer painfully aware of the show’s lack of mainstream music credibility.

So for a contest where the best entry for 2014 was a bearded Austrian drag artist - a camp, foolish spectacle seems to be a fair and accurate description.

tags: song, contest, BBC, UK, Eurovision, winners, dreamers



VE Day

On this day. Grandad’s real page from history for 8-May-1945; provided by the Dundee Evening Telegraph-

tags: Victory in Europe, Lest We Forget, anniversary



Not Here?

Grandad’s web page of the day

tags: Top, Gear, BBC, missing, no plans



EU Referendum Polls 2

Another month nearer the UK referendum on EU membership and another check on the latest Poll of Polls result from

WhatUKThinks_EU_29Apr2016And it looks like Project Fear is having an effect - with a 1% shift to the Remain camp putting clear water between them and the Leave voters.

Hardly surprising with so many experts and twitterati circulating negative stories - some with very dubious claims - about what would happen if Britain dared to deviate from the route laid out by the Europa master plan.

One claim was that the English Premier League would loose all its European players if the UK voted out. Another was that the UK would not be allowed an entry in the Eurovision Song Contest. Yet another was leaving the EU would mean the end of the cross Channel booze cruises to Calais. All were untrue. But since when has that mattered when feeding propaganda to the masses?

The Leave supporters have been fighting back. But are vastly out numbered in the corridors of power - with even neutral civil servants at HM Treasury putting out pro-Remain economic projections. And with so many UK political leaders, except Forage of course, telling us that we have to stay in the club - or face a terrible future - the gradual swing to Remain continues.

But there is still that sickening feeling that we are being manipulated into buying the political equivalent of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI). Something we don’t need and will regret ever agreeing to. However in the case of the European Union policy there are no national cancellations or refunds allowed.

tags: EU, UK, Europa, referendum, vote, poll



Interesting Times

GeorgeDragon2016B_234Today is Saint George’s Day and this year it marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. It also falls just a few days after the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth; now England’s longest reigning monarch. And just to add a bit more significance it marks two months before the UK’s once in a generation vote to remain in or leave the European Union.

This one-off alignment of three separate aspects of Englishness - the monarchy, Shakespeare and Saint George - has generated a feeling that Britain is at a critical point in its history. A point where the destiny of the nation - and every one of its citizens - hangs in the balance.

No one knows the future but Shakespeare did at least provide the inspiration for future struggles ...

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage; ...

I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

King Henry V; Act 3 Scene 1

tags: icons, hereditary, St George, national, patron, monarch, bard, referendum



Long To Reign Over Us

Grandad’s web page of the day

tags: Birthday, Queen, 90, longest, monarch



Out Of Step

Today is Healthy Homes Day - according to; who are reporting on a planned Energy Union that the EU are trying to move from an objective into practical reality.

man58_160Back in February 2015 the EU said that an interconnected Energy Union would make it possible for shortages in some nations to be made up by others and bolster energy security across the bloc. Since then regional and national governments have been asked to focus their climate change efforts on energy efficiency and especially in relation to the renovation of buildings. The EU is also aiming to make it easier for building renovation programmes to have access a multi-billion euro Juncker Investment Fund [is this the same as the EU fund that was announced in 2014 by JCJ?]

Existing EU directives already require that all new structures be nearly zero-energy buildings by 2021 but implementation by many countries has been poor or non-existent. And a year ago every EU country, except for Malta, was prosecuted for failing to fully translate the EU’s Energy Efficiency Directive into national laws. The EU Commission has since said that enforcement of energy efficiency legislation will be tougher in the future and that there will be revisions to the related directives this Autumn.

So just as the UK closes its Zero Carbon Hub our masters in Brussels decide to get tough on countries that are failing to legislate for and enforce their zero energy objectives ... Plus ça change ...

tags: carbon reduction, ineffective, housing, saving energy, EU rules



Better Together?

Back in October 2015 the EU's Motor Vehicles Technical Committee proposed giving car-makers the green light to exceed the current limits on nitrogen oxide emissions by 110% from September 2017 and then by 50% from January 2020 onwards. Now that proposal is set to be written into EU law - despite a petition from a group of 20 European cities signed by over 125,000 people.

MadInHat1So we will shortly have the crazy situation where the EU executive is prosecuting member states whose air quality is not up to standard while authorising car-makers to increase the level of pollution their vehicles can legally emit.

Currently the EU is prosecuting Germany, Portugal, Italy, Spain and the UK over their excessive nitrous oxide levels - while also targeting more than half of the 28 EU members for excessive concentrations of particles produced by diesel engines and industrial emissions. Conditions that were almost entirely created by major car and truck makers - many of whom are European.

Meaning that the EU is attacking the victims - the regional and national authorities not responsible for building these vehicles - while giving motor makers the go-ahead to legally sell vehicles with higher pollution levels.

This mad hatter approach has been made worse by the fact some (all?) car makers have been easily fooling the misguided EU emissions checks for years. A process that is still under-reporting emissions by using unrealistic test conditions that are much removed from real-world driving.

tags: EU, UK, Europa, policy, Eurocrat, pollution, vehicle, madness



Higher Notes

With just four weeks to go before the next Eurovision Song Contest all the songs from all the countries are competing for air time and media exposure. And this year’s UK entry, Joe and Jake, have been doing a bit better than many UK entrants in recent years.

JoeJakeCDIn fact they even made the charts! It was an unofficial iTunes chart, in 69th place and for just two days - but it was a start. And tonight’s scheduled appearance on the Graham Norton Show could be a big enough boost to get You're Not Alone back in the charts again.

However after so many failures over the decades the UK is still sitting around 30th in the betting as at this morning. Which is a bit harsh considering that there are only 25 songs in the final this year. And the mystic signs are good - BBC executives did not choose the entry this time, fewer copies of the promo CD are for sale on eBay and our forthcoming EU referendum might just encourage some Euro voters to be a bit more generous this time around.

Even so the chances of Joe and Jake equaling Katrina and the Waves (1st in 1997) or even Jessica Garlick (3rd in 2002) are still very slim ...

tags: song, contest, BBC, UK, Eurovision, try again



Zero Achieved

Back in April 2015 - and before that in March 2013 - Grandad highlighted the lack of an obvious results or steps towards a Government commitment of all homes being zero carbon by 2016. A lack of progress and watering down of targets that none of the major UK parties sought to correct in their 2015 election manifestos.

Nearertozero_180Then during the recent Easter break came a low-key press release headed - Zero Carbon Hub has today announced it will cease operations on 31 March 2016. So finally putting this fading quango out of its misery.

Given that the news did not come out until 30 March and that parliament was on holiday, cynics might suggest that the closure was timed to slip by as quietly as possible. But the real issue is that a useful and practical objective - providing homes with little or no external energy demands - has been set-back by ineffective, or even misguided, government involvement. A lack of achievement that must also be put at the door of the major UK house builders.

So Grandad will just have to try to reduce heat losses from his present home instead ... and another hippie ideal fades away.

tags: carbon reduction, ineffective, housing, saving energy, lost interest


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