Editor’s Note: Apology
Sorry, our headline today should have read ‘Trump: Arrested Development’. Our apologies to readers who may have been harmed by this inadvertent clickbait, a misplaced colon that could have happened to anyone.
E. von-und-zu B.
“Cities unfortunately have a chequered history of harbouring violent political movements. You can be anonymous in a city, until you decide it’s time to sign your name in blood.”
Follow the money!
I’m British and concerned about our media coverage of the Westminster ‘terrorist’, Masood, because I don’t want you to imagine this was a typical ‘jihadi’ of the kind you need to fear (why Americans are so pathetically fearful I don’t know, your chances of dying in an Islamist terror attack in any year are about 100 million to one. Your chances of being shot to death by another American or your infant kid are just 10 thousand to one. That’s less, by the way. Ten thousand times less.)
You need instead to understand that there is a new current in our overpopulated, socially unjust world. It’s not just ISIS, or whichever demons your government wants you to fear. There are other evil forces who want to pull down your democracy. Like hyenas, the billionaires have evolved special skills to scent weakness; there’s scant morality in their methods. And what they are doing through your ‘social’ media is licensing citizens to act unilaterally, to act out their violent thoughts, to undermine any sense of normality and to provoke overreaction. Islamic jihad is their smokescreen, providing as it does a constant supply of ‘useful idiots’, whose buttons of malcontent are so easy to press.
It was, really, a relatively minor incident. Not, I know, for the victims, their families and friends; the injured. It was far from a normal day in the city. But – four dead, plus the perpetrator. It could have been worse: it has been elsewhere. I don’t wish to sound callous or complacent, but with guns and explosives, or a bigger vehicle and more intent, it would have been a lot worse. But that’s the point: at a higher level of organisation the security services stand more chance of nipping an attack in the bud. I’m sorry, too, that another elderly American tourist was unlucky enough to be among the dead. But out of how many? Tens of thousands. It is so vanishingly rare.
It was amplified by the setting – the Houses of Parliament and its busy concourse, the bridge – the extraordinary scale of the police response – the killing of a policeman, which is, I have to assure you, also very rare in Britain (was he wearing a stab-vest? No-one asks. Is there something strange about the Bogler mind, that so often he asks the questions that don’t seem to engage the professionals?) – the expectation that something would eventually occur (threat level: Severe) (this probably was not it, by the way. Worse is probably lurking out there somewhere) – the cynical anticipation of the British press, who have been just dying for a Paris-size attack to get their teeth into, to boost sales; or a reason to reignite their phoney Jingoism over ’foreigners’ and refugees, who we are being taught we must hate and fear.
But to reiterate, the last severe terrorist attack on London – again by home-grown Muslims – was in 2005, when 56 people were killed as four suicide bombers – British-born – attacked the public transport network. Twelve years ago. In the thirty years before that, you could have been blown to bits instead by the Provisional IRA. Funded by Irish-Americans and the Libyan leader, Col. Gadaffi, they set off dozens of bombs at random across the country for decades, regardless of who they killed.
The Provos came within an ace of blowing-up Mrs Thatcher in Brighton; they blew her friend up, the MP Airey Neave, who survived being a PoW in Colditz castle, outside the House of Commons in the carpark. They blew-up Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, KG, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE, GCVO, DSO, PC, FRS – Prince Philip’s uncle, on a fishing trip. And then there were the Red Brigades, the Angry Brigade – Carlos the Jackal.
Muslims don’t even come close.
Cities unfortunately have a chequered history of harbouring violent political movements. You can be anonymous in a city, until you decide it’s time to sign your name in blood.
Cities, as Mayor Khan almost commented, are melting pots where this sort of thing happens from time to time. It’s unavoidable. The ‘Little Nazi’, Donald Trump Jr, in his puerile ignorance, has seized on this rational comment to prove that Khan, a Muslim, is most probably a terrorist sympathiser. Like his bizarre parent, an elected terrorist who has discovered a new weapon of terror: administrative chaos and confusion; belief in ‘alternative realities’ and a turgid stream of incontinent, rambling bullshit. Plus, a tiny finger on the nuclear button.
Are you more afraid of ISIS than of your own President? You shouldn’t be. If you still think he is Presidential, a safe pair of hands, just watch the press conference following his humiliation over the Americare fiasco, and tell me he knew what was in the hapless weasel, Paul Ryan’s hastily cobbled-together bill. He hadn’t even read it! Pressed on which parts he would improve, because he had just said there were parts he would improve, he was unable to recall a single thing he would improve, but there were things he would improve, and it would be a great bill, you’ll see (the effect of the bill was to deprive 24 million low-income Americans of health insurance, by the way – his idea of the ‘greatest health insurance ever’). He went on to blame the opposition party, the Democrats, bitterly for not voting for it, when in fact it was a rebellion in his own party, the Republicans, that brought the votes up short. What he imagines the role of an opposition party to be, God alone knows.
Is he a complete fool? Does he have dementia, or is this masterly misdirection?
Last Wednesday’s was not a severe attack, it was not an ‘attack on our democracy’, which frankly no longer exists, or our ‘way of life’, which has altered greatly since the Editor were a lad; it was a lone operator, a clearly disturbed man with a violent history armed with a car and a kitchen knife.
The claim by ISIS that he was a ‘soldier’ is pathetic, vainglorious nonsense – they are facing military defeat. ISIS has only a tiny minority following outside its conquered territories, that it is fast losing. The media and the administration will use the incident to smear the Muslim community (I’m not Muslim, by the way, I’m an elderly white atheist). But really it’s nothing to do with them.
Try to understand, this perpetrator was not an ‘immigrant’ or a refugee; like the Paris attackers, perhaps, French-born, petty criminals, but still in their twenties. Masood was a 52-year old, British-born product, as I understand, of a casual mixed-race relationship between an African man and a British woman, single-parented. His leafy middle-class neighbourhood, his sporty schooldays, old friends remembering a good guy they lost contact with – his birth name was Adrian Elms; his stepfather’s name Aoji. He was confusingly married to several women, perhaps not at the same time, with kids.
Masood seems to have become a drifter, rootless and increasingly despairing of his life. He sounds rather pathetic; trapped in his own insignificance. He had a record of minor offences, assaults, mainly connected it seems with being racially abused – a stabbing that got him a two-year stretch. He may have been radicalised and converted to Islam in prison, 12 years ago. That happens a lot in our prison system, which is increasingly dangerously run on the cheap by greedy and uncaring private US contractors.
In 2008 he is found working in Saudi Arabia as a TESOL English-teacher. Maybe that set him off; it nearly did me. (The teaching, I mean, not being in the home of well-funded global terrorism.) He had occasional jobs, but seems never to have settled for long back in the UK and we don’t know how he supported himself here. Police have been raiding addresses all over the country where he seems to have tried living for a time. He was briefly on the MI5 radar twelve years ago as peripheral to a jihadi group, as thousands of Muslims have been, but there was no evidence of activity to justify keeping him on watch. It’s fatuous to blame them. Was his constant criss-crossing of the country deliberate deception? Was he a Sleeper? We don’t know. Where did he get money from, to rent cars for weeks at a time, to stay in hotels and rent apartments? We don’t know. A man of mystery.
After spending a week agreeably in a hotel in the south-coast holiday resort of Brighton, home of arty ex-London bohos, a ‘gay capital’, hardly a place where a fanatical Muslim would choose to vacation, Masood launched his attack using a hire car, and then reverted to a kitchen knife before being shot, as he must have expected to be. The Paris attackers by contrast were armed with assault rifles and suicide vests, and killed 130 people. It’s quite hard to get hold of guns and explosives in Britain. We don’t allow them. Masood took four lives, including, tragically, that of one of our unarmed police who chats to tourists at one of the entrances to Parliament. A good man, by all accounts. More of our police are armed than you might think, Masood was taken down by a security detail of the Defence Secretary, who was nearby. It might have provided more evidence of intent if they had shot only to disable him, but it’s probably what he wanted.
And then the vastly well-paid, alt-right motormouths of patriotic moonshine, the publicity-sucking Farages and the Morgans, the rabid fuckbitch Hopkins, inevitably weigh in. It’s all the fault of Tony Blair; libtards; multiculturalism; prison-averse judges; flip-flop politicians; Remoaners; the Facebook generation; the soft-option; decent human beings who stupidly cling to a belief in civil society. Bring on more POWERS! Build more PRISONS! Bring back HANGING! Sell more PAPERS! Op-ed pus merchants, who said nothing, felt nothing, were out to lunch when Remain campaigner, the MP and mother of two Jo Cox was hacked to death in the street and her white supremacist assassin gaoled forever. And then publicly attacked her husband, like the bestial dog-fucking cowards they are.
We like to pretend that ours is an open, democratic society, symbolised by the myths of our unarmed ‘Bobbies’, warm beer and red buses. But the training, the assumption is always, ‘suicide bomber’. Barbaric religion. Other. And everywhere you are, you’re being watched.
Something needs to change. But demonising a whole section of the population isn’t going to change it the right way.
Nor is ignoring what is happening elsewhere in the world. Without wishing to make false comparisons, or justify suicidal protests – and, by the way, Masood appears not to have made it clear what exactly he was prepared to die for, but it wasn’t religion – Muslims are dying in droves, and for what? Two hundred civilian dead in US bombing raids this week on supposed ISIS positions in Mosul might convince your incompetent, out-of-his-depth President that he’s a great military leader, but we’re not fooled. Thousands dead in Saudi war-crime attacks and kids starving in Yemen – no Comic Relief going there, I fear. Hundreds of brown-on-brown deaths in suicide bombings on harmless Islamic sects considered ‘haram’ by purists and paid agitators in Pakistan.
Instead of focussing your fear and loathing, your righteous anger on strangers, America, understand: this religious stuff is just distraction. Smoke and mirrors.
Follow the money, is my motto.
You’re being fucked.
And we’re being Foxed…
British TV viewers are being deprived by the curiously lacklustre performance of the BBC of so much exciting news about President Trump and his international business activities.
You may very well not know that his organisation is under investigation for sanctions-busting, in connection with a deal Trump did in New York in 2014 with an Azerbaijani billionaire to lend his name and tasteful design expertise to a project to convert an unfinished tower building into a ‘luxury’ hotel in an insalubrious neighbourhood of the capital, Baku. A project that netted him $4 million, but was hastily abandoned when Mr Trump arrived in the White House.
There seemed to be some discrepancy between what was paid for the project, which was overseen by Ivanka in fastidious detail right down to its endangered tree-wood panelling, and the original cost. A bewildering trail of contracts pointed to a connection between the Mammadovs and an Indian family connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – a ‘state-within-a-state’, financing Hezbollah and other Shi’a groups abroad, and listed in part as a ‘terrorist organization’.
Writing in the New Yorker earlier this month, journalist Adam Davidson exposes a web of connections and an unexplained failure by the Trump Organisation to carry out due diligence on the spectacularly wealthy Mammadovs, who were notoriously corrupt even by the standards of former Soviet republics, now largely family dictatorships.
Such a failure could expose Trump executives to lengthy prison sentences.
“The available evidence strongly suggests that Ziya Mammadov conspired with an agent of the Revolutionary Guard to make overpriced deals that would enrich them both while allowing them to flout prohibitions against money laundering and to circumvent sanctions against Iran.”
Davidson reports that the man who signed off the contract, Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt, is now employed at the White House as the President’s special representative for international negotiations.
But let’s not hold our breath. According to a report in the Irish Times, following a story that Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev has also been massively enriching himself and his family:
“The United States has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the Aliyevs’ Azerbaijan, including millions for military and security training. Azerbaijan’s government is one of the largest buyers of influence in Washington DC and, together with its lobbyists, spent at least $4 million in 2014 alone burnishing the country’s image.”
Nor is the USA the only country up to its withers in the well-oiled strategic arse of the Azeris. Mrs May’s pick for International Business Secretary, the man chosen to replace all the business we expect to lose in Europe, post-Brexit, is ‘Dr’ Liam Fox – frequently known as ‘the disgraced former Defence Secretary’, and the author of a little-known book, Rising Tides. (Cover price £20. 13 copies available, used, from Amazon at £0.1p)
From the Amazon blurb:
“The world has changed more and faster than any of us could have imagined. While that may be accepted in terms of global business and financial markets, and to some degree the worldwide web, people including their political leaders may have been slower at grasping what these new interconnections mean for the way we operate in this new era.”
‘Dr’ Fox indeed has not been slow to grasp the new ways of doing interconnected business in the new era. From The Guardian, August 2016:
“The register of MPs interests shows that the oil-rich dictatorship of Azerbaijan, via its London lobbyists, paid Dr Fox £5,700 for the right to translate Rising Tides into an Azerbaijani Turkish edition. The generosity of Azerbaijan’s rulers did not stop there. On 1 February 2015, the regime flew him and an aide to Istanbul to launch the book and put them up in a luxury hotel. The cost of the four-day trip was £3,579.94.
“It wasn’t his first overseas promotion. The Azerbaijani press reported that Dr Fox was in Baku in September 2014, where he was received by no less a magnifico than President Ilham Aliyev… The Panama Papers showed that the Aliyevs and their accomplices (the Mammadovs, in a joint conglomerate called ATA Holdings – Irish Times) controlled assets worth $490m via offshore accounts.
This was, of course, through the busy Panamanian law firm of Mossack-Fonseca.
Where too we find the name of Paul Manafort, Trump’s now oublietted campaign manager – who in 2016 was found to have set up a number of offshore companies to decontaminate the assets of his Ukrainian employer, the exiled dictator Viktor Yanukovitch, who seems possibly to have paid him £12.7 million for the work.
It is indeed a new world we live in. ‘Dr’ Fox needs to be careful however who he chooses as Britain’s new friends: US authorities may be watching carefully to see where the web of sanctions-busting connections goes next.
Duck, you’re not covered
Five weeks ago, there were protests coming close to rioting in seven French cities, every night for a week and sporadically thereafter, following reports that a young black man had been gang-raped round the back of a street protest in Paris, by police with batons.
These evenements were widely reported in online websites such as The Telegraph, The Express, The Mail, New York Times, Breitbart News etc. and on US TV. From The Telegraph, for instance:
“Police fired tear gas to disperse about 400 protesters, but smaller groups then went on a rampage in other parts of the capital, smashing windows and overturning dustbins in near Place de la République and in the Marais, another popular area for holidaymakers.
“Disturbances also erupted in the northern city of Rouen, where 21 people were arrested. Nearly 250 people have been arrested around France since unrest began in the Paris suburbs after police were accused of assaulting a black man on February 2.”
So, not an insignificant series of events. But despite keeping at least four ‘correspondents’ and editors on permanent station in Europe, including Katya Adler in Brussels and Lucy Williamson in Paris, it was only on the fourth or fifth night that the BBC bothered to mention it.
Again, two nights ago there was a shooting outside the train station in Lille, in which three people were injured, including a 14-year-old boy. Widely reported on US media, it turned out to be gang-related violence and not a terrorist attack. Even so, to begin with there was no way of knowing who might have been responsible, yet the BBC failed to report it at all.
They are still reporting in the news police operations, which have been wound down, to investigate any possible accomplices of Masood, the lone Westminster attacker, days after the last of the suspects has been released. The current affairs slots are still filled with increasingly boring speculative pieces about Masood, his history and motivation, about Britain’s security and our anti-radicalization programmes providing, as Simon Jenkins has sagely pointed out, endless publicity for the IS.
And indeed, the BBC is currently reporting another nightclub shooting, this time in faraway Cincinnatti, in which one person is so far known to have died and others injured; although they report that it is not thought by local police, who say there’s always trouble at the venue, to be a terrorism-related incident. It’s another gun-crime related incident, of which there are thousands in the US every year.
The report appears second on the bulletin-board, beneath the main story about Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, calling for a ban on encryption of messaging apps, so the police have access to them. This follows a report that Masood sent a coded message shortly before his suicide bid.
Good luck with that.
I’m still trying to work out what strange biasses are operating in the BBC’s increasingly inaccurate and dysfunctional ‘cross-platform’ news operations; where the toll of dead and injured in the Westminster attack seemed to blow with the wind. Was it five dead, four, three? Twenty-nine injured, 40, or 50? All these figures were wildly thrown out, sometimes at intervals of only minutes, depending on who was doing the reporting; and still are being.
Get your stories straight!
Or tell the Tory MPs moaning about your post-referendum ‘negativity’ about their beloved Brexit to fuck off and mind their own sodding business. Until, that is, Theresa’s got the dirty business out of the way on Wednesday.
The son-in-law also rises
Now, see what I said about how the BBC covers Washington politics in the Trump era?
“Mr Kushner, 36, told the newspaper the “government should be run like a great American company”. He is a property investor and media executive who is married to Mr Trump’s daughter Ivanka. He already advises the president on foreign relations, and is said to have been influential in helping President Trump choose staff for his campaign and in government.” (BBC report, 27 March: “Jared Kushner to be questioned over alleged Trump-Russia ties”.)
You fuckin’ shittin’ me? As Americans are wont to ask?
The sickening deference shown to ‘Mr Kushner’ – a little plastic rat under investigation in the Senate over relations with one of Putin’s banks – ignores what just happened last week. ‘Mr Kushner’, it seems, finally managed to offload No. 666 Fifth Avenue (yes, I know!), a piece of real estate that he lost a packet on when he acquired it in 2007 just before the banks hit the skids. Running a great American company can be hard on a fourteen-year-old, especially in the shadow of his bigly successful dad-in-law.
What was unusually odd about the deal was that half the dough didn’t appear to be tied to the property, but seemed to be more about a large ‘bung’ that neatly covered Kushner’s $400 million loss. CNBC quotes Bloomberg:
“A deal with Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group has brought in $400 million dollars for the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The $4 billion deal for a New York City office building located at 666 Fifth Ave. includes the large cash payout to the Kushner’s real estate company Kushner Companies.
“Some real estate experts consider the terms of the deal’s agreement unusually favorable for the Kushners.”
Given that it also paid off a large slice of his mortgage, you can say that again. It’s always useful being married to the favourite daughter of the President of the United States, especially when he says scary things about China.
‘Mr Trump’ is himself also reported to owe rather a lot to the Chinese. The Mother Jones website has been keeping track. In addition to the £364 million he owes Deutsche Bank – a marker thought by some to have been picked up by the Russians – we find this:
“According to his own public disclosure, Trump, as of May, was on the hook for 16 loans worth at least $713 million. This list does not include an estimated $2 billion in debt amassed by real estate partnerships that include Trump. One of those loans is a $950 million deal that was cobbled together by Goldman Sachs and the state-owned Bank of China—an arrangement that ethics experts believe violates the Constitution’s emolument clause, which prohibits foreign governments from providing financial benefits to federal officials.”
And to reinforce ‘Mr Kushner’s’ authority in advance of the Senate hearing, ‘Mr Trump’ just promoted him – again. In addition to multiple portfolios including China and ‘Middle East peace’, the plastic rat – a successful, Chinese-financed New York real estate mogul connected now to a sanctioned Russian bank, VEB, and its KGB-educated chairman, Sergei Gorkov – has been put in charge of a new office called the Office of American Innovation. With not one minute’s experience in government, he’s got a brief to ‘reform’ the United States government.
Interesting to see what emerges. Some Russian ideas, maybe.
Please, BBC, stop grovelling to these monsters. It’s beneath you.