Monthly Archives: January 2017

What has been killing people in the USA since 9/11?


Yemeni terrorists: 0

Sudanese terrorists; 0

Iraqi terrorists; 0

Iranian terrorists; 0

Syrian terrorists; 0

Gun crime; 528 000.


Note this is people being killed in the USA. It excludes Americans abroad.

A Somali American stabbed some people in a mall last year. In the US he counts as American and not Somali. Only a racist would say his Somali birth should matter more in the US than his American citizenship. When white Christians Americans kill people they are not listed as Irish-Americans, English-Americans or Italian -Americans or whatever. Their faith is not held to count even when it motivates their crime as in the case of white supremacists.

Trump’s policy has nothjng to do with national security and everything to do with xenophobia and stoking baseless fears.

Dreams of the past few days


There was a dream about being in Switzerland.. I remember the very modern dark grey stone walls such as one sees in Zurich Airport. I passed through that airport not so long ago.


In my dreams I have sensed anxiety and uncertainty. Am I coming or going? I long to know and to begone.

Were the British Police brutal?


I have often heard the rumour that the British police commonly beat up those suspected of major crimes. The allegation is that the cozzers frequently compelled suspects to confess to crimes they did not commit.

I have read The Autobigraphy of a Thief by Bruce Reynolds. This career criminal had more than a few encounters with the boys in blue. He only recounted two occasions on which he was in any way mistreated by the police.

In 1946 Bruce Reynolds was cycling in London. He sped past a policeman and said something disobliging to this officer of the law. The police caught up with the 15 year old Reynolds and according to himself they gave him a hiding.

In 1959 Reynolds was a notorious criminal. This career thief was caught committing robbery with violence. The police interrupted this escapade and Reynolds according to himself attacked a police officer. When Reynolds was taken to West End Central he was severely beaten up. Even then he never alleged any broken bones.

Until the age of 50 or so Reynolds almost never worked. He was only ever a felon. He committed hundreds of crimes and was arrested on many occasions. If even he claims only to have been beaten up twice then the reputation of the police deserves to be much better. He said that the police sometimes manufactured evidence against him. He is an unreliable source. Reynolds said he was only once ever wrongfully convicted and that was in the 1980s. Why would he claim that the police fitted him up if they did not? That means they created bogus evidence. He would say that because he wished people to believe that he was so cunning that he could never be convicted by fair means.

On the other hand he got away with hundreds of crimes. He was sometimes wrongfully acquitted.

Despite all this even this public enemy tipped his hat to the police. He said that he had the highest regards for many of the officers who performed their duty honourably.



The nobleman;s drawing room was spacious and airy. The French windows were sligtly ajar and looked onto flowerbeds and landscaped gardens. A welcome fragrant breeze blew in.

The drawing room had a high ceiling and a giant Persian rug covered the dark teak floorboards. Dark silk green curtains were held back by strings. There was a large beige divan in the centre of the room. It was made from an ancient door. An enormous crystal chandelier was suspended from the vaulted and fretted ceiling. Near the edges of the room sat several ornate chairs fashioned form wood. The white walls were hung with tapestries displaying hunting scenes.

Hyde Park on the Hudson


This is a gripping film about Franklin D Roosevelt. The film is set in his upstate New York estate called Hyde Park. There are some handsome shots of the locale.

Bill Murray masterfully portrays FDR. He is in a wheelchair and occasionally hobbles around with his legs in braces. His cigarette in a holder is ever present.

The year is 1939. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (parents of the current queen) visit the United States. It is a low key visit but seen as crucial to curry favour with the United States. The British are aware that a war against Germany is likely to break out and they need all the friends they can get. This is the first visit by a British monarch to the United States.

George VI is understandably anxious to make the right impression. If he acts regally he might rub his American hosts up the wrong way. If he is too approachable he might disappoint them. He is unsure how to play it. His wife is more of a stickler for form and believes in being icily distant. In the end the king decides to be informal. He and Roosevelet hit it off and the king tells self deprecating tales.

The acting is superb. The lines are witty and mostly credible. The portrayals are perhaps not accurate historically speaking. George VI has no stammer and is self-assured and voluble. In real life he was nothing like that. He was also a slender man and a rather bulky Sam West plays him. His wife was a hefty woman and a svelte actress plays her. Murray got Roosevelt down to a T. He has captured his accent, mannerisms and feline cunning.

Much of the story is seen through the eyes of FDR’s distant cousin with whom he is carrying on an extra martial liaison. How can a disabled man do this? He is not shagging her. Mrs Roosevelet is hardly seen.

This is a captivating yet unambitous tale. There is no need for special effects or to have a star studded cast. Murray is the only A lister in the dramatis personae. The film succeeds in retaining the audience’s attention through it lively script and convincing acting. The clothes and the manners of the 30s are a treat to watch.

‘Gideons’ Spies’ by Gordon Thomas – a review.


This book is a history of Mossad. Gideon’s Spies is surely the standard reference text on the subject.

Gideon’s Spies has pace and verve. Thomas holds the reader’s attention by  providing enough background detail and political analysis. There is plenty of action without it being overly dramatic. This book recounts many a daring mission without glamourising them in crass manner worthy of  Boy’s Own. The book describes from the key personalities in the Institute for Special Tasks. This includes politicians with whom Mossad interacted. Both Israelis and foreigners. There is room for some of the Institute’s enemies.

Gideon’s Spies is divided into chapters that are thematic rather than chronological. Despite this the book does not lose coherence. It is always easy to follow the thread.

Gordon Thomas plainly got close to the Institute. They trusted him and they opened up to him which is why he had so many on the record interviews. Why did the Institute give this to him rather than to anyone else? Plainly they believed that he would portray them in a positive light. Indeed he shares their assumptions. Their enemies are described as terrorists. The Institute’s people are never described as terrorists despite doing the exact same thing as their foes. Is deliberately killing an unarmed person terrorism? One might argue that depends who does it and under what circumstances. A government is permitted to kill people in certain situations. Palestine has a government. G Thomas is too uncritical of the Institute. He pulls no punches  on noting its failures but he never judges it to have been morally at fault. Thomas’s shortcoming is in being too friendly with his sources. He has lost his detachment. He is mainly a journalist and ought to know better.

This book is written in a gripping style. It could hold its own against a novel. There is always sufficient information but the book is never bogged down in excessive detail. The writing is lucid and descriptive. There is some analysis and Gordon Thomas treats us to his own opinion. He uses the academic practise of referring to himself in the third person – the author.

Thomas places it all in historical context. The title alludes to the Biblical Gideon who led spies into Canaan. The pre History of the modern  Jewish State is looked into as this provides some much needed background to understand the Institute.

Netanyahu comes out of this book badly. He is seen to be volatile and childish. When his political career was floundering due to his marital infidelity he tried to restore his standing by ordering the  assassination in a man in a friendly country.  The experts counselled him against it as doomed to fail and liable to alienate Jordan. Like an ignorant hothead he ordered it to go ahead nonetheless. Israel ended up with egg on its face.

Gideon’s Spies is highly recommended for anyone who wishes to understand the world of espionage. Thomas places it in its correct setting. It is not just about military affairs. It overlaps with political and economic spheres too.

Overall, this is a magisterial book. It is a page turner and packed with scintillating information. Its betises are trifling compared to its magisterial sweep and vivid style. I was left eager for more.


Could Trump improve the American economy?


I abominate Trump. He wants the USA to pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. He wants to end NAFTA. The president cannot do this only Congress can. However, the president’s proposals are likely to be followed by Congress since it is mostly Republican.

For over 25 years the USA had been pursuing free trade policies. Protectionism has been largely abandoned. This has co incided with the loss of tens of millions of manufacturing jobs. Blue collar Americans have found it harder to secure jobs. Their jobs have been short term and less well paid than before. Their benefits have been cut back. Companies have outsourced to countries that will produce the same goods for a fraction of the cost.

In other lands workers have fewer protections. There are few environmental laws. The environment can be polluted with impunity such as in China.

Working class Americans found their jobs under threat from illegal immigrants. People working in the USA illegally were able to get informal employment and be paid in cash by unscrupulous employers. This undercut American workers. Many decry Trump’s plan to deport all illegal immigrants. It seemed excessive to me. Someone who had lived in the USA for over 20 years without committing a crime ought to be forgiven. Trump back tracked on his policy of kicking out all undocumented workers no matter how long they had lived in the United States. He later said it only applied to criminals. Those who denounced his plan to boot out illegal immigrants ask yourself how you would feel if your job was under threat from illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants are not bad people. They have broken the law in a minor way. I have worked illegally and do not consider myself to be wicked. It is a victimless crime. However, laws need to be upheld. I could not object if I were deported. I do not judge people for immigrating illegally to the United States. If I were them I would do likewise.

This has all seemed to be calamitous for working class Americans. They can buy  goods more cheaply than before. If they have money to spend that is. Trump’s central message is that the US can pull back up the drawbridge. The United States can charge tariffs on imports. This is supposed to restore jobs to the United States. The trouble is that other countries will retaliate and charge tariffs on American exports. The US does not have a large export sector for goods unless these are very high tech.

Will Trump’s plan to bring back blue collar jobs work? I suspect not. I am no economist. Most economists say it will be catastrophic. They are more likely to know than him. The US survives on trade. If it reduces its trade it will hurt itself. Are Americans willing to pay much more for goods than they do now just to keep their countrymen employed? I think not. This is a very consumerist society.


Most Republicans in the Senate and the House are more economically savvy than Trump. Trump made billions. Partly by outsourcing and owning businesses outside the USA. Congress will be under pressure from lobbyists not to go against free trade. Trump will probably not get his way on protectionism. Even if he did then it would surely not work. It would take a long time for any benefit to be felt. In the meantime there would be huge dislocation.

Perhaps I am dead wrong. Maybe Trump’s policies will be passed. It is possible that they shall bear fruit. Time will tell.