EGYPT/ELECTION –  5 opposition leaders have called on voters to boycott the presidential election in March. Most challengers to President Sisi have been arrested or been forced out of the race.

RUSSIA/ELECTION – Around 250 were arrested during yesterday’s protests against President Putin.  Among them was opposition leader Alexei Navalny who has been banned from participating in the March presidential election.

MALI/VIOLENCE –  At least 14 Malian soldiers have been killed after gunmen attacked a military camp in the Timbuktu region. This follows the murder of 26 people in a village on Thursday. The country is suffering an increase in violence, some of it perpetrated by groups with links to ISIS or al Qaeda.

SAUDI/CORRUPTION – Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released from detention (in a 5 star hotel). He was among dozens of senior officials and businessmen taken into custody in November during an anti-corruption drive launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salam.  Prince Alwaleed appears to have been released after reaching a financial settlement with the attorney general.


The big set piece this week is the U.S. President’s State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Amid the bombast of telling us what a stunning success he has been over the past year we can also look for clues as to future direction. It’ll be interesting to see how many female members of Congress wear black in support of the ‘me too’ campaign. Mr Trump may also be called to give evidence to Special Counsel Robert Mueller about connections with Russia but this is unconfirmed

A big week for UK PM Theresa May. She’s in China to see President Xi and to drum up some decent trade deals to prove there is life after Brexit.  But she’s also fighting for her political life

Estelada flag.

with more than murmurings emerging from Westminster about party plots to oust her.

And a big week for Carles Puigdemont. The Catalan leader needs to be back in Barcelona by Wednesday at the latest if he is to be named President. On the other hand, returning to Spain may see him arrested…tricky.


Mon –    Israelis PM Netanyahu in Moscow to see Putin on the same day Moscow hosts the oft postponed Syria National Dialogue meeting.

Mon –  Will Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont show up in the Catalan parliament?

Mon – EU foreign minister’s meeting – Brexit and fishing rights in UK waters top the agenda.

Mon – Pakistan and China inaugurate 1st phase of the Gwadar Free Zone.

Tues – President Trump’s State of the Union address to Congress.

Weds – Kodak launches a cryptocurrency – ‘Kodakcoin’ to protect photographer’s rights using blockchain technology.

Weds – USA diplomats meet EU counterparts in Brussels pushing for a new position on Iran nuclear deal.

Thurs – North Korea’s athletes expected to arrive in South Korea for Winter Olympics.

Thurs – U.S. Sec of State Rex Tillerson scheduled to begin week-long visit to Latin America. He’ll be in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru. Talks to focus on Venezuela.

Thurs –  Arab League foreign ministers meet in Amman, Jordan. Top of the agenda – Jerusalem.

Thurs – Capetown to restrict water usage to 50 litres per person per day in alleviate water shortage. (An 8 min shower uses 86 litres) City could run dry by May – a first.

Sun –  Protests planned in Greece over Macedonia’s official name.

Sun –  Shedloads of brand new adverts play on America TV after companies pay huge sums of money for 30 second slots. Superbowl 52.





1 Comment on "Things We Lost In The Mire – 5"

  1. Interesting to see the prominence given to the leaked economic reports from Whitehall economists today and some of the coverage accompanying it. I would say that whoever leaked the papers really fails to understand what motivates leave voters.

    Lets be honest, nobody who voted leave is going to take a blind scrap of notice of these forecasts, and you can’t blame them really?. I heard a journalist describe the people who wrote them as experts, but can you truly describe people with such a consistent record of failure as an expert. If a GP misdiagnosed cases at the rate at which the UK’s economists mis-forecast then they would be struck off. If engineers miscalculated at the same rate then our infrastructure would have fallen apart long ago with many deaths resulting. Expert is in my opinion the wrong word and it denigrates true experts who ought to be heeded. On this particular occasion they haven’t helped their credibility in the slightest by stating the the UK would be worse off while still within the single market AND enjoying the the added bonus of a trade deal with the USA.

    The truth is though that even if people did have confidence in these forecasts, it is the sort of news that strikes a chord with remain voters, not leave voters. In the Ashcroft poll after the referendum, only 6% of leave voters thought the UK would benefit economically from leaving the EU. In contrast a fear of being worse off was the main reason that remain voters voted to stay. It betrays what has been readily apparent over the last 18 months, which is that there is an unshakeable belief in the remain camp that leave voters didn’t understand what they were voting for and if only they could be educated they would change their mind. It is the same wishful thinking that saw multiple articles about hordes of people changing their mind in the wake of the result and wishing they could vote again. The world is as it is, not as we would wish it to be, wishing that leave voters were somehow hoodwinked and will somehow change their mind when confronted with reality isn’t going to make it so.

    I am on record here before the vote as saying that I saw the country being worse off in the short-medium term, that the pound would crash, that exports would benefit but prices would rise, yet I still voted to leave. Even if I believed economic growth would be 8% less, I would still vote leave tomorrow, as would every person I know who also voted leave. The most popular reason given by people for voting leave was to return decision making to the UK, the second was to control immigration, that is what motivates the leave vote, not GDP growth, from which they don’t see any obvious knock on improvement to their own situation.

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