The US Circle

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Just about to do the final Podcast for the US circle. What a pleasure watching these 12 episodes. The joy of watching Shubham telling us that social media is the bubonic  plague of modern times.  The guy who doesn’t know flirting or emojis. I felt a distinct connection with him and sent him an email immediately!!

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Boris the submariner

Today Boris explained to Dan Walker that he was surfacing through the ice as a submarine. Bizarre. Colourful and typically Boris! “The submarine is crashing through the ice floes. The conning tower is emerging through the ice floes right now. Here I am. I gave two press conferences yesterday. I want to be as available as I possibly can.” (not on holiday as you can see)

About extradition from the US: “I’ll be clear with you, the chances of America responding by sending Anne Sacoolas to this country are very low. That’s not what they do,”

Brexit: “Bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”/ with trade deals “epically likely”

About FLYBE: “It’s not for government to step in and save companies that simply run into trouble.People will understand that there are limits commercially to what a government can do to rescue any particular firm. But what we will do is ensure we have the regional connectivity that this country needs. That is part of our agenda of uniting and levelling up.”

Harry and Megan: absolutely confident they will manage “much more easily without running commentary from politicians”

The North: giving “people the chances to exploit their talents.”

Iran nuclear deal: “If we’re going to get rid of it, let’s replace it with the Trump deal. That’s what we need to see. President Trump is a great dealmaker by his own account and many others.”

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Alex Hobern from The Circle Series 1

Last week, I went to see Alex who won the first season of the Circle. We made a few videos each, the first part of mine I have just uploaded here.

Alex tested me on acronyms and I was fairly useless. It follows on from an exchange I had in the Circle with Woody. Alex’s video is here:

 

Here is my drawing of Alex:

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No time for a mistake

The destruction of Boeing 737-800

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On Friday, Mike Pompeo said “We do believe that it’s likely that the plane was shot down by an Iranian missile.” Now, it seems, he was absolutely right.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded a public admission.

The President said he “deeply regrets this disastrous mistake.”and records that a human error “led to a big catastrophe and innocent people were killed.” Indeed, we also have the name of the man who made that error, one of the Revolutionary guard, Amirali Hajizadeh who has reportedly said, “I wish I was dead”.

But admitting a mistake is only the first step. The rest, which can take some time, is about putting right the mess created. I fear that President Rouhani may not go very far towards fixing what he has done wrong, and already he is scattering blame in the direction of the US and the Ukraine. This is regrettable. 176 people died when the missile, apparently, hit the cockpit of the plane. It is impossible for Iran to remain haughty about this scale of “mistake”, yet the language used does not seem nearly apologetic enough. And it is not enough to hang some boffin out to take the blame. In the end, the way this news has seeped out, dribbled out, is testimony to a regime absolutely out of control. The level of disaster here cannot be excused as “a mistake”. This goes well beyond “a mistake”, even “an unforgiveable mistake”, though that single adjective is a sign that Iran recognises this may not be a story it can ever spin. Nor, of course, in this case, would it be a time to press the crowds out on to the street…

Here is what is reportedly said: “Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 had taken a sharp, unexpected turn that brought it near a sensitive military base”

and

“Human error at time of crisis caused by US adventurism led to disaster.”

The regime is also preparing its excuse with expressions like: “human mistake and misfired”

Now, of course, would be the time to start releasing Western prisoners and to making overtures towards peace. Let’s watch this space and see what happens. My suspicion is that very little will happen soon.

Meanwhile, the new President of the Ukraine says that he will “insist on a full admission of guilt”

International pressure seems to have brought about the revelation some 72 hours after the “accident”. Indeed the official stance until today was expressed by the Iranian ambassador to the UK, Hamid Baeidinejad, who specifically ruled out a missile strike on the aircraft. Twitter has been full of indignation about Iran’s tardiness: “I don’t know what to do with my rage and grief. I’m thinking of all the ‘human errors’ in these years that were never revealed because there was no international pressure.”

The most striking and most discordant note, however, has been made by a spokesman, the head of the foreign relations committee in the Russian senate, a building I used to walk past every morning and evening: “The admission of error,” says Konstantin Kosachev, “although not immediately, and expression of condolences is sufficient to be accepted. With this, the incident should be closed.” I wonder what that suggests? That he is worried further probing will identify the missiles as made in Russia (maybe SA-15), or that further questions might then be asked about the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 by Russian backed Ukrainian separatists?

 

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There are now street protests in a number of universities calling on the supreme leader to resign, calling various officials “liars”. Maybe this is the beginning of the end? Let’s hope so.

 

Boris’ Gambit

Just got out of “the Circle” to find Boris in the middle of an extraordinary Saturday sitting of parliament! I worry that he has now decided to send a message to Brussels without signing it. What worries me most is that this supremely intelligent and confident man is potentially heading down the spineless path of his predecessor, Mrs May. I would urge him to avoid hiding like her behind bureaucratic nonsense and to do all he can to discourage his advisors and alies from embracing a Jesuitical approach to Brexit.

If something must be done, then it must be done clearly and not fudged. We must take proper responsibility for whatever we do. My own wish, of course, is that the Brexit referendum should never have happened at all and that, had it done so, the Remain team should have presented a better case and a more united front.

But having had the Referendum, and having seen the lacklustre efforts of Cameron and Corbyn to rally support for the status quo, I feel we should still have made more of an effort to press ahead against the Brussels’ bullies and show, firstly, that what was done to Greece by the Bureaucrats will not be done to Britain and secondly, that life beyond the EU was viable. Sadly, no one could have forseen the May premiership- all evasion and weeping, a sorry state and Boris must pick up the pieces.

The latest defeat is a noble first stab towards doing something.

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David Cameron

 

 

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Why Cameron is wrong

I was annoyed by Gove a few months’ ago and now it is Cameron who makes me mad! Astonishing! Conceited and determined in like manner but in this case just to sell books, Cameron dishes the dirt and in the process finally fesses up to his schoolboy demeanours, just about, that saw a serious number of older boys expelled from Eton, and the whistle blower blacklisted and forced to move out of his house and bunk up with one of the beaks because of the bullying presumably orchestrated to support Cameron who has always been able to wriggle out of a tight spot and has always been able to charm friends in high places. Till now. The problem with charm though is that it is a form of magic and in the end, it masks something hollow or just plain wrong and dirty. This is Morgan le Fey not Merlin we are talking about and for the record, for all his cleverness at the dispatch box, I think Cameron is hollow. He is also demonstrably a bad loser.
Now he says that the leave campaign “left the truth at home”. That may be so and we may also have got the wrong result but the reason is because Cameron and his cronies put forward a weak and uncharismatic campaign where greed and an arrogant image of what this toff thought we wanted eclipsed any talk of duty and responsibility.
Across the channel Europe is tearing itself to pieces and Cameron’s response was to invite us to do the same to ourselves! What madness! If the leave campaign was appalling, and so was the remain campaign and Cameron must shoulder that responsibility. He played the game by rules laid down by Farage. This is why people often said they could not make up their minds. More than that, he gambled twice with other people’s lives and twice risked “the uncertainty and division that followed” a referendum. What madness and what conceit. Now when a gentleman would keep mum he rakes up this mud again and dirties the pond with more excrement of his own making. and as for the cannabis’ admissions- about time and probably the thin end of the wedge but for now, time for Cameron, to hang his head in shame, hoard the cash from the gutter-press memoir, come out of the garden shed and join Gove in the list of smug hypocrites who had the experience and opportunity to do better. This is not a man who deserves any future office or honour. As Bercow once said, “he can take it from me that he is finished.” The exit door opens – time to make good on his promise to go.