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The financial health of Millennials

Changing Balance Sheet across Generations

The St Louis Fed has published a report on Millennial balance sheets, comparing them to Gen Xers. The average value of total assets was lower among millennials than Gen Xers. Millennials held an average of $162,000 of assets relative to Gen X’s average of $198,000. The report also found that Millennials held a slightly higher level of total debt, at an average of $72,000 compared to Gen X’s average of $67,000. However the composition was markedly different – average student loan levels surged from $4,200 for Gen X to $14,700 for millennials. In short, millennials’ average asset position is lower, while they hold slightly more debt, which leads to an average net worth of $90,000 for millennials and $130,000 for Gen X.

In closing the report notes,

We observe that millennials have been going to school longer and delaying major life events. Thus, it makes sense that they hold lower levels of assets. They have had less time in the labor force, and a smaller share of them have moved out on their own, which contributes to the lower levels of residential assets. However, they have shown a higher propensity to save for retirement and to avoid credit card debt.

EU – 1.3m abortions, 5m births p.a.

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Eurostat statistics on abortion reveal that Germany, France, UK, Spain and Italy alone terminate a combined 760,000 fetuses per annum. Across the EU-28 there are 1.25mn terminations. Without getting into a debate on abortion rights, the pure statistical number points to 20.4% of fetuses never make it out of the womb alive. Every. Single. Year. At that rate over 10 years that is 12.5 mn children that could have added to EU population sustainability do not occur but the EU seems to think embarking on mass migration is the only solution to plug the gap. Is it? Ironically child support is one area the EU is happy to cede control to individual Member States.

The fertility rate across the EU-28 is now 1.58 children per woman, flat for the last decade and down from 2.9 in 1964. Demographers suggest that a fertility rate of 2.1 is required in developed world economies to maintain a constant population (in the absence of any migration). The number of live births in the EU-28 peaked in 1964 at 7.8 million. In 2017 this had fallen to 5 million. There was a brief period (2003-2008) when live births in the EU-28 started to rise again, returning to 5.5 million by 2008 but the GFC sent it down again – as economic hardship tends to cause a decrease in births. So are economic incentives too low to cause a rebound?

France has the best incentives for children and the highest birth rate inside the EU at 2.0 up from 1.7 in the 1990s. Germany is around 1.4 drifting from 1.6 in the 1990s. The lives for child rearing French are eased by cheap health care, inexpensive preschools – for infants as young as 6 months old – subsidized at-home care and generous maternity leave. Mothers with three children can take a year off of work – and receive a monthly paycheck of up to €1,000 from the government to stay home. Families get subsidized public transportation and rail travel and holiday vouchers.

In order to stop the declining working population over time, imagine if Europe hypothetically put the onus back on consenting couples to take responsibility for their actions and makes abortions harder to access without compulsory consultation over options? Why not graphically show the entire process to get some sense of reality for both parties? You can gross yourself on this link.

Perhaps, in today’s electronic world, automatically deducting child support from fathers that run from responsibility might make sense? Why should the state pay for others’ lack of accountability? Even if the child is placed in foster care, why not wire child support to foster parents indirectly via the Ministry in charge of its administration? The population crisis is not going away in Europe. Why not provide more incentives to married/same-household couples?

Mathematically speaking the numbers are huge. Imagine if the million-plus fetuses every year had a vote to be raised with foster parents as opposed to being terminated, what they would choose? Consider the €23bn Merkel has spent on mainly economic migrants in the last 2 years being put toward preventing 200,000 abortions in Germany over that period? €115,000 to avert each one might have been better spent. That is a huge sum of money period.

CM is not advocating control over the womb but surely transparency in policy over individual responsibility is not a bad thing with respect to many issues, not just abortion. What level of economic incentives are required to prevent some couples/women choosing to terminate? Surely that plays a part in deciding to terminate. Consultation services with respect to the subject don’t seem too commonplace or at least structured in such a way as to prevent them.

According to Eurostat, since 1964 the divorce rate in EU-28 equivalents has doubled and the marriage rate has halved. For every eight marriages in 1964 there was one divorce, now there is one divorce for every two marriages.

The proportion of births outside of marriage now stands at 40%, from 27% in 2000 to less than 7% in 1964. 8.8 % of the EU-28 population aged 20+ lived in a consensual union (de-facto). In Japan the number of births out of wedlock is 25% according to the MHLW. The dynamics of the traditional nuclear family are fading.

51% of the Swedish population is now single household. 51%! While some is attributed to an aging population, 19 of the EU-28 members has a single household ratio of over 30%. 12 over 35%. By way of comparison, Japan’s single household ratio stands at 34.6% from 27.6% in 2000.

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To further analyse the new ways of living together and to complement the legal aspect, statistics on consensual unions, which take into account those with a ‘marriage-like’ relationship with each other, and are not married to or in a registered partnership with each other, can also be analysed.  Sweden (18.3 %) has the highest rate followed by Estonia (16.4 %), France (14.3 %) and the lowest in Greece (1.7 %), Poland (2.1 %), Malta (2.5 %) and Croatia (2.9 %).

Is employment a factor?  It is mixed. Eurostat reported in Germany, the fertility of non-employed women has increased and that of employed women decreased, while in Spain, the opposite occurred; in Greece, the total fertility rate (TFR) of non employed women fell below that of employed women, changing from a positive differential of about 0.2 average live births.

Is education a factor? Apart from Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland and Norway), Portugal and Malta, in general, women with lower education had higher TFR between 2007 and 2011. Eurostat state the fertility of women across the EU over the same period with a medium level of education dropped by about 9%, while the decrease for women with high or low education was less significant.

Eurostat argues that economic recessions have correlation to falling child birth rates. Apart from the direct impact of economic crises at an individual level, the economic uncertainty that spreads during periods of hardship seem to influence fertility. From this point of view Eurostat believes the duration of a crisis may play an important role and, the duration and the depth of the current recession are unprecedented in some countries. The agency states,

The expected relationship is that negative changes in GDP correspond to negative changes in the TFR, possibly with some delay, thus showing a high positive correlation at particular lags. The correlation with the TFR is relevant in Spain and Latvia without any lag; in Bulgaria, Poland and Romania with one year of lag; and in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Croatia with two years of lag. Taking the overall average across countries, a change in GDP is mostly positively correlated with a change in the TFR within about 19 months.”

Do we cynically argue that stagnant child birth rates aren’t just a factor of societal changes? Perhaps a truer reflection on the higher levels of poverty in the EU since GFC and the harsh realities for a growing number of people behind the growing levels of populism who are suffering greater economic hardship than statisticians are presenting to the political class? Hard decisions must be made before they are made by external factors.

ICE – the facts

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In yesterday’s piece, Child Abuse – the shocking stats, some decided to launch expletive laden criticism on the lack of discourse on the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) treatment of children at the Mexican border, the inference that CM was turning a blind eye to the beastly Trump administration in reporting the extent of child abuse. First, the politicization of children is abhorrent. Where were the media when these same supposed crimes of removing children from (supposed) parent/guardians was occurring since 2013? Reading through the ICE end of year report of 2017 we let the stats speak for themselves. Forgive the preamble.

Recall the one-sided media coverage of the lifeless body of 3yo Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi on the shores of Turkey. Yet the facts were clear – he had not been in any danger. The family had been safe in Turkey for 3 years. His father was trying to make his way to Germany for dental surgery. Aylan’s parent chose to risk his son with no life jacket to make a hazardous trip on an overcrowded boat to seek selfish opportunism. Is it up to the West to take responsibility for the individual choices of people who are not at risk of war zones? Yet the media still used the image to show how callous we were to allow this.

It was only a few weeks ago that Time magazine posted a photo-shopped image of a crying little girl looking up at POTUS. Despite a tongue-bitten retraction tucked at the bottom of a long article to acknowledge the toddler had not been wrested from her mothers arm by ICE storm troopers, we find out the mother had abducted her with the help of people smugglers while abandoning her husband and 3 other kids.  The picture was used to great effect by the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) to raise $20mn via crowdfunding! Even after the lie was outed the group still used it to lift the target to $25mn.  US veterans are committing suicide at the rate of 20/day and people are willing to crowdfund an unethical group by 1000s of multiples. Priorities. Or is it that TDS is that extreme?

Who wants to see screaming kids? No-one. Locked in cages? Even less. Separated? Well there is good reason for that. When even the likes of left-leaning HuffPo admitted in December 2014 that 80% of women and girls are sexually assaulted while trying to make it across the border there is a good reason to question the proof of identity of the supposed parents. Even if 90% of parent/children pairs are legit, what of the 10% that aren’t? Do ICE risk it? Australia had an experience of a mother from Nepal (a democracy not at war) who deliberately poured boiling water on her infant to expedite processing on the mainland. Are these the values of people we should provide refuge to? We should not forget that many people make the journey knowing ALL the risks that confront them yet still attempt it despite the warnings.

To emphasize the danger of lax screening,  multiple kids were found dead after being abandoned once across the border as their usefulness as a golden ticket on compassionate grounds was expended. If that isn’t some of the worst forms of child abuse then what is? Moreover these people are hardly the type that decent Americans would want to embrace with open arms!

In Jan 2016 WaPo noted, “The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, failed to do proper background checks of adults who claimed the children…several Guatemalan teens were found in a dilapidated trailer park near Marion, Ohio, where they were being held captive in squalid conditions by traffickers and forced to work“. So slave labour to repay human traffickers? Let’s encourage more to attempt the crossing?

Then ICE has the trouble of finding the parents/guardians (sponsors) already living (often) illegally to collect their unaccompanied children at pre-arranged court hearings. The media went into a frenzy saying that ICE had lost the records. The truth came out in Feb 2016 that,

“The head of ICE’s removal operations, Thomas Homan, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that 7,643 immigrants who arrived as children were sent home between the 2012 and 2015 budget years…More than 171,000 children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, were arrested at the border during that same time…The number of children caught crossing the border illegally spiked in 2014 [see impacts in NY Times graphic below] and the Obama administration promised that those who were not eligible for protections in the United States would be swiftly sent home… And with an immigration court backlog of more than 474,000 pending cases some cases can take years to move through the court system…

ICE SURGE

…about 40% of immigrants are no shows at court…Finding immigrant children with outstanding deportation orders is also complicated by the fact that they often are no longer at the addresses provided to the government.”We are out looking,” Homan said. “But they are hard to find. A lot of these folks who don’t show up in court, we don’t know where they’re at.”

The pictures of kids in concentration camp style cages were from 2014. Yet don’t let that get put in the way of a narrative to show the nationalist tendencies of the current administration.

While we can express outrage at the treatment of illegal immigrants at the border, the tougher laws have started to resonate with Ana Garcia Carias, wife of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who said, “Stay in the country and let’s look for solutions to support you.” She visited the border and said that she didn’t recommend her citizens go to the US undocumented. If a court system has nearly 500,000 backed up in the system, it seems reasonable to push for a zero tolerance policy to end

So let’s examine the ICE data. 

To contextualize what ICE’s enforcement focus includes with respect to removable aliens we find:

(1) have been convicted of any criminal offense;
(2) have been charged with any criminal offense that has not
been resolved;
(3) have committed acts which constitute a chargeable criminal offense;
(4) have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter before a governmental agency;
(5) have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;
(6) are subject to a final order of removal but have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or
(7) in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

An administrative arrest of a criminal alien is the arrest of an alien with a known criminal conviction. The figures as follows:

  • 2015: 101,800
  • 2016:  94,750
  • 2017: 105,736

Here are some of the reasons of arrest (both criminal convictions and charges) for 2017:

  • Driving under the influence : 80,547
  • Dangerous drugs: 76,503
  • Immigration violation:  62,517
  • Assault: 48,454
  • Larceny: 20,356
  • Burglary: 12,836
  • Fraud: 12,398
  • Illegal weapon possession: 11,173
  • Sex offences: 6,664
  • Stolen Vehicles: 6,174
  • Forgery: 5,210
  • Homicide: 1,886
  • Kidnapping: 2,027
  • Prostitution racketeering: 1,572

An initial book-in is the first book-in to an ICE detention facility to begin a new detention stay. This population includes aliens initially arrested by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) and transferred to ICE for removal. Once again the combined bookings are as follows

  • 2015: 307,342
  • 2016: 352,882
  • 2017: 323,591

The decrease in ICE’s overall removal numbers from FY2016 to FY2017 was primarily due to the decline in border apprehensions in 2017. Many fewer aliens were apprehended at the border in FY2017 than in FY2016—possibly reflecting an increased deterrent effect from ICE’s stronger interior enforcement efforts (which is exactly what they wish to achieve).

  • 2015: 235,413
  • 2016: 240,255
  • 2017: 226,119

In FY2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) conducted 143,470 overall administrative arrests, which is the highest number of administrative arrests over the past three fiscal years. Of these arrests, 92% had a criminal conviction, a pending criminal charge, were an ICE fugitive or were processed with a reinstated final order.

If one views even the short term trend of ICE operations one can see that the extent of the problem is not just a Trump issue. From even before Obama’s time, border related issues have been a festering problem. The press can beat him and his supporters senseless but it would seem he is merely fulfilling election promises. With almost half a million still to be processed in the courts, is there any sense in clogging the legal system with even more to process. Even after the repeal of legislation that prevents parent-child separations, no credit is given by his detractors despite the fact this was enacted well before he took office. Where was the press outrage during the Obama era when all the same sort of ‘abuse’ was going on? Nowhere.

People trafficking is as deplorable an occupation as can be imagined yet the idea of  publicizing open borders fuels their industry as shown in the lead up to 2014. The ultimate irony is now Frau Merkel has instituted border camps of her own as the results of her misguided altruism led to countless human traffickers to benefit from her come one, come all policies.

In summary, Rasmussen Reports notes that most Americans do not want to abolish ICE. The polling firm noted,

“only 25% of Likely U.S. Voters favor getting rid of ICE whose duties include border control. Fifty-five percent (55%) are opposed…Sixty-nine percent (69%) of Republicans and 53% of voters not affiliated with either major political party oppose getting rid of ICE. Democrats agree by a narrower 44% to 36% margin.”

AS CM always says, if people don’t like the laws, then move to change them.

Child Abuse – the shocking stats

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Child abuse is reaching shocking proportions globally. The stats you are about to read show just how widespread the problem has become.The National Institute of Health reports that approximately 80 % of those who attempted suicide had a history of child abuse. About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own childrencontinuing the horrible negative spiral.

We examine the US, UK, Australia and an outlier Japan, where child abuse cases have soared 111-fold in the last 30 years. Over 4,000,000 child abuse cases were reported in the US in 2015. Abused children show much higher tendencies for risky behaviours in later life. CM wrote about the shocking outcome of the independent report on child grooming gangs in Rotherham showing that the police and government were complicit for decades. We also wrote about abuse affecting safety at US schools, including mass shootings.

Warning – the data make for quite heavy reading. 

JAPAN

In 2016, CM wrote a piece on the breakdown in the nuclear family in Japan. The Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare (MHLW) denoted that cases handled for child abuse in 2016 hit a record 122,578 cases, 111x the level of 1989. Part of the problem here would be due to a lack of reporting back then. However the growth in the last decade is still extreme. The MHLW denote over the last decade:

  • Physical related violence fell from 41.2% to 26% (despite doubling in absolute terms).
  • Neglect fell 38.5% to 21.1% (despite an 80% increase in absolute terms)
  • Sexual abuse fell from 3.2% to 1.3% (despite a 50% increase in absolute terms)
  • Psychological abuse jumped from 17.2% to 51.5% (a 10-fold absolute increase)

In the last decade filings of child abuse with the police have surged from 7% of all cases to 45%. Reporting to family or relatives has declined but neighbours remain the second largest factor in reporting abuse.

By prefecture, child abuse per 1000 children looks as follows as at 2016. The national average stands at 7.3 children per 1,000.

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AUSTRALIA

While the rate of growth is high, Australia’s Institute of Family Studies has reported in its June 2017 statistics that in 2015/16 a total of 355,935 notifications of child abuse were made vs 252,962 made in 2011/12. Total substantiations grew from 48,420 to 60,989 respectively.

The rate of notifications has risen from 33.8 per 1,000 children in 2011-12 to 42.0 per 1,000 in 2015-16 (AIHW, 2011, 2017).

  • Physical abuse accounted for 18.3%
  • Neglect  accounted for 24.9%
  • Sexual abuse accounted for 12.2%
  • Psychological abuse accounted for 44.5%
  • 51% of victims were female.

In Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory neglect was the most common type of substantiated maltreatment. Victoria had the largest proportion of emotional abuse substantiations (64.5%) compared to other states and territories, whereas South Australia had the smallest proportion of emotional abuse cases (25.2%).

While there were some gender differences for all abuse and neglect types, girls were significantly more likely to be the subject of substantiation cases of sexual abuse (15.8%) compared to boys (8.5%). The proportion of substantiated cases of harm/risk of harm from child maltreatment related to sexual abuse ranged from 3.4% in the Northern Territory to 16.6% in New South Wales and Western Australia.

Infants (children aged less than 1 year) were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation (16.1 per 1,000 infants), followed by children aged 1-4 years (9.0 per 1,000 children aged 1-4). Children aged 15-17 years were the least likely to be the subjects of a substantiation (3.9 per 1,000 children aged 15-17).

Australian children from remote and very remote areas were most likely to be the subject of a substantiation (16.2 per 1000 and 23.5 per 1000 respectively) compared with children in major cities (6.2 per 1000). Children in lower socio-economic areas were more likely to be the subject of a substantiation than children in higher socio-economic areas, with 6.9% of substantiations occurring in the highest socio-economic areas compared with 35.7% in the lowest socio-economic areas. 

This contradicts the trend in Japan were relatively poorer (tend to be remote) areas seem less prone to incidents of child abuse.

Perhaps the disturbing sign in Australia is the incidence of out of home care (OOHC) which continues to swell in numbers. Between the years 2014-15 and 2015-16 there was a 10.8% increase in children (from 11,581 to 12,829 children) admitted to OOHC. In 2015-16 there were 3,035 more children admitted to OOHC than were discharged.  In 2015-16, the median age of admission to OOHC was 6 years, with 46% of children admitted to OOHC aged under 5. In comparison, the median age of discharge from OOHC was 9 years and 32% were aged 15-17, compared with 8% admitted to OOHC.

Most children who were in OOHC on 30 June 2016 were residing in home-based care (94%). Of these children, 39% were in foster care, 49% were in relative/kinship care, 5% in third-party parental care and 1% were in some other type of home-based care.

USA

The US is a whole other category. While the media screams about the mistreatment of children at the Mexican border how many of them know the extent of child abuse within their own country? The American Society of Positive Care of Children notes,

  • 4 million child mistreatment referral reports received in 2015 vs 3.6mn in 2014.
  • Child abuse reports involved 7.2 million children vs 6.2mn in 2014.
  • 207,000 children received foster care services.
  • The financial cost of child abuse and neglect in the US is estimated at $585 billion (equivalent to the GDP of Sweden or Taiwan)
  • 75.3% of victims are neglected.
  • 17.2% of victims are physically abused.
  • 8.4% of victims are sexually abused.
  • 6.9% of victims are psychologically mistreated.
  • Highest rate of child abuse in children under one (24.2% per 1,000).
  • Over one-quarter (27%) of victims are younger than 3 years.
  • Almost five children die every day from child abuse.
  • 80% of child fatalities involve at least one parent.
  • 74.8% of child fatalities are under the age of 3.
  • 72.9% of the child abuse victims die from neglect.
  • 43.9% of the child abuse victims die from physical abuse.
  • 49.4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year.
  • Almost 60,000 children are sexually abused.
  • More than 90% of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator.
  • 14% of all men in prison and 36% of women in US prisons were abused as children, twice the frequency seen in the general population.
  • In 2016, more than 2,300 children were reported as victims to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
  • Average age of entry by a child prostitute is 13 yo. Life expectancy after becoming a prostitute is only 7 years57% of prostitutes were sexually abused as children.

UK

Government figures show that 3,171 offences have been recorded in England and Wales across 80 platforms in England and Wales since a new anti-grooming law was introduced in 2017 which criminalizes sexual communication with a child. This amounts to almost 9 grooming offences on average per day. The police noted that

  • girls aged 12-15 were recorded in 62% of cases of grooming
  • under-11s were recorded in nearly 25% of cases.

Child abuse figures in the UK according to the NSPCC reveal

  • 1 in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused
  • Over 8,000 contacts to the NSPCC’s helpline last year were concerns about sexual abuse
  • There are an estimated 137,000 women and girls affected by FGM in England and Wales
  • 1 in 14 children have experienced emotional abuse by a parent or guardian.
  • Over 19,000 children were identified as needing protection from emotional abuse in 2017.
  • 6.9% of children said they had experienced physical violence at the hands of a parent or guardian (3.7% said severe physical violence).
  • The NSPCC’s helpline responded to over 11,000 contacts about physical abuse in 2016/17
  • Over 6,000 children were identified as needing protection from physical abuse last year

The message is clear. The incidence of child abuse continues to rise to sickening levels. Perhaps the EU sums up its problem to an even more shocking degree:

“Few studies have been done on neglect, but analyses of worldwide research shows that prevalence is also high − 16.3% for physical neglect and 18.4% for emotional…They show a prevalence rate of 9.6% for sexual abuse (13.4% in girls and 5.7% in boys), 22.9% for physical and 29.1% for mental. Applying these figures to the population of children in Europe suggests that 18 million children suffer from sexual abuse, 44 million from physical abuse and 55 million from mental abuse.”

Maybe part of preventing neglect starts with the very basics:

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So when we see media reports wailing about injustices which are relatively tiny in the grand scheme of things, perhaps we can reflect on the real problems that are right in front of our noses. #LetsEndChildAbuse

Israel to deduct terrorist salaries from PA transfers

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No sooner had Australia announced it would no longer give money directly to the Palestinian Authority (PA) than the Knesset put into law a previous bill that sought to deduct terrorists’ salaries from the roughly $130 million in monthly tax revenues Israel collects on behalf of them. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said,

The Palestinian presidency strongly refuses to accept this severe decision, which damages the foundations of the relations since the Oslo Agreement to this day…If this decision is implemented, it will prompt important Palestinian decisions to deal with it.”

How is it that even with the Oslo peace process coming into effect in 1993 that the PLO carried out 4,000 attacks till 1999. The Israelis so desperate (under Ehud Barak of all people) for peace gave the PLO 95% of their territorial demands yet they still kept up the attacks killing more than 1,000 Israelis, a total exceeding the previous 25 years combined. So the foundations of the Oslo Agreement remain flakey at best. 

What Abbas’ spokesman is technically saying is that they openly admit to spending money on terrorist salaries (nothing new) when their very own people want monies to be allocated on services (education, sanitation, water, electricity, healthcare) that benefit the whole. The press doesn’t report the 1,000s of Palestinians treated in Israeli hospitals.

While Israel remains an open, democratic and multi-ethnic society the PA has proven itself to be an intolerant, corrupt and self-serving dictatorship which has little interest in serving its constituents as the comptroller of its first ever audit revealed. International aid money lined the pockets of the leaders of the PLO. The French money laundering authorities discovered that Arafat’s wife’s bank account had amassed $3bn over 20 years. It is ironic that most of the original founders of the PLO didn’t live in the Palestinian Mandate when Israel was created. Arafat was born in Egypt. 

At the time of the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, 90% of Palestinian Arabs lived in Transjordan. At the time there was no movement to create a Palestinian state. It is somewhat ironic that no Arab outrage ensued when Jordan annexed the West Bank (what we know as the occupied territories) in 1950 blatantly disenfranchising the Palestinian Arabs in the process. Even then they never fought for self-determination. In fact it wasn’t until the PLO was first established in 1964, a time the West Bank belonged to Jordan, that they started to pursue it.

The irony of many leaders in Palestine is the blatant hypocrisy. In 2014, during the last conflict, former Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh sent his daughter across the border to Israel for emergency medical treatment. On what grounds does a father trust his daughter to his mortal enemy to save her? Yahya Sinwar, a prisoner in an Israeli jail for murdering 12 Israelis was given life saving surgery after being diagnosed with cancer. He was released in a prisoner exchange in 2011 and took over from Haniyeh as leader of Hamas yet swears “we will tear out their hearts” of the very people who saved him.

What might have escaped many is that in the last few months terrorists have burnt more than 30,000 dunam (7,400 acres) of land near the border with Gaza. Israel’s honey industry has almost been wiped out. Israel is under pressure to do something to stop such destruction. Iran is the biggest headache for Israel at present. Despite digital diplomacy, the last thing the country wants to invite is a conflict with Iran-backed Hamas.

However do not be surprised if some skirmish kicks off on the border in coming months to contain the fire bombing of farmland. It will have nothing to do with cutting out payments to terrorists and martyrs although don’t be surprised if that pretext is used.

Israelis truly want peace. Yet the PA will only accept one which requires the destruction of the Jewish state. Ask yourself whether you would sign an agreement with that as a clause? Exactly.  Even Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, said several months ago,

In the last several decades, the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given…It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the table or shut up.”

Staring at the dictator – redux

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In Feb 2017, CM wrote a piece titled ‘Staring at the Dictator’ which highlighted that winning hearts and minds comes from sensible and reasonable dialogue. Not from widespread activism where the sole purpose is to shut down debate. Hasn’t the left learnt that physically and verbally bullying people senseless and mocking them for their supposed ignorance doesn’t work? Yet they still keep screaming the same hypo-ventilated bile, as Robert Reich has below. Nothing would make CM happier if democracy does its job in any country. If we believe he speaks for the majority, he has absolutely nothing to fear. No need for protests of any kind. Yet he shouldn’t blame the constituents for overthrowing bad governments who believe in divine incumbency. Blame bad policy.

If Democrats hadn’t treated the last election as a coronation then perhaps Hillary Clinton may have got her wish. Things had obviously become so bad at the grass roots level that the establishment was rejected. Even after all of the p*ssy grabbing allegations had been brought to light, Trump still won. His vulgarity was on the ballot. His “no one respects women more than I do” lie after this revelation in the 2nd debate was broadcast to 100s of millions. It was also on the ticket. Despite his supposed racist demagoguery, he got a higher proportion of black and Hispanic voters than either McCain or Romney. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. These are facts, as much as we may not like what they portend.

The #whitelash arguments don’t rub either because the same people voted a black man in twice. Clinton didn’t lose because she was a woman. She lost in part because she ran on the basis she was a woman. Surveys may show that Republican voters don’t want a female president however should Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley run in 2024 she would win their support on the basis of her strength, not her gender or her Native American/Sikh heritage. Ability should be all that matters. Clinton’s constant griping 18 months after her loss shows just how poor a president she would have made. It is so bad even Rasmussen reports that a majority of Democrats don’t think she would have been any better than Trump. Take that!

If Trump loses legitimately (assuming he runs) in 2020 then so be it. In the last 1.5 years in office, American citizens have had plenty of time to weigh him in their own minds, regardless of the media’s relentless onslaught of over-the-top sensationalist click-baiting. If citizens feel he has delivered in areas that affected them on a personal level, they’re probably on balance willing to vote for the same again unless the alternative offers something better. At the same time they have had plenty of time to weigh the Democrats. They’ve seen first hand the bitterness at the State of the Union plastered on the faces of Pelosi et al. They’ve heard Maxine Waters call to her supporters to gang up on the staff in the current administration. They’ve seen countless Hollywood celebrities chant vile hate from celebrating the decapitation of the President, calling Ivanka a “feckless c*nt” to hoping 12yo Barron is ripped from Melania’s arms and caged with pedophiles. Democrat supporters have gone so far as to shoot GOP politicians. CM is quite sure that however horrid the President may be, these are hardly the types of antics that will sway opinion of the swing voters to join the self-appointed ‘righteous’ like Reich. And no, not all Democrats think like this much like many Republicans don’t endorse stupidity from their own. It lets down both sides.

Republicans or swing voters do not respond well to being called intolerant, cruel, racist, misogynist, xenophobic or climate sceptics without fact or basis. Since when does one consciously vote for others over their own needs? It isn’t selfish. If one is buried under onerous tax legislation, red tape or financial destitution do they vote to put the interests of others above their own? No. As a long term Liberal Party (aka conservatives) voter in Australia, the current party has ‘left’ me. I didn’t leave them. They did not win my vote last election. It must be earned. They don’t represent my values. It didn’t take tribal beltings to force me to a conclusion. Nor negative media to discover it. Yet somehow the activists believe that constant bleating will cause me to change my mind.

What would be nice is to see properly supported factual (not subjective rhetorical) evidence that 63mn Trump supporters are as one when it comes to all the claims they make. I would love to see the arguments in all their gore should they exist. Not a one off event. Happy to see where my own arguments hold deep flaws.  Many Trump voters detest him on a moralistic level yet are happy to champion his achievements if they feel they get a direct benefit from them. So often claims are made to undermine his followers. Every time (and often) these assertions prove to be baseless, the journey to sway the other side to see reason gets thwarted even further. Time magazine issuing a confession over the photo-shopped cover of last week ended up at the bottom of a long article. It just shows just how unapologetic they are. Kathy Griffin was sorry until she wasn’t again. Talk about self serving.

To the comments made by Robert Reich today:

“My friends, this is a dark hour. Intolerance, cruelty, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and environmental destruction have been let loose across the land.

Trump controls the Republican Party, the Republican Party controls the House and Senate, and the Senate and Trump will soon control the Supreme Court.

Republicans also control both chambers in 32 states (33 if you count Nebraska) and 33 governorships. And in many of these states they are entrenching their power by gerrymandering and arranging to suppress votes.

Yet only 27 percent of Americans are Republican, and the vast majority of Americans disapprove of Trump. The GOP itself is now little more than Trump, Fox News, a handful of billionaire funders, and evangelicals who oppose a woman’s right to choose, gay marriage, and the Constitution’s separation of church and state.

So what are we – the majority — to do?

First and most importantly, do not give up. That’s what they want us to do. Then they’d have no opposition at all.

Second, in the short term, if you are represented by a Republican senator, do whatever you can to get him or her to reject Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, or, at the least, postpone consideration until after the midterm elections. Urge others to join with you. 202-224-3121

Third, make a ruckus. Demonstrate. Engage in non-violent civil disobedience. Fight lies with truth. Join the resistance. Participate in http://www.indivisible.org and https://swingleft.org.

Fourth, vote this November 6 for people who will stand up to all this outrage. Mobilize and organize others to do so. Contact friends and relations in “red” states, and urge them to do the same.

Fifth, help lay the groundwork for the 2020 presidential election, so that even if Trump survives Mueller and impeachment he will not be reelected.

Finally, know that this fight will be long and hard. It will require our patience, our courage, and our resolve. The stakes could not be higher.”

Perhaps what Reich fails to get is that he is almost backhanding his own supporters in his rant. It is more than likely that a majority of Republican (and no doubt many centrist Democrat) voters want the liberal left to give up because it has become nothing but white noise. The more they protest the more tuned out they become. Control of the Supreme Court? I encourage you to read the cake shop transcript where Associate Justice Sotomayor shows without a doubt she is a political activist, not a judge. It is embarrassingly obvious. The Supreme Court is only supposed to apply impartiality around current laws (or those at the time of the legal action), not make a song and dance about wish lists and try to piece a verdict around how nice it would be if things were different. She was trying to argue 2018 laws around a 2012 issue. One doesn’t have to be a lawyer to work that one out.

To the assertion that a handful of billionaire funders lean the GOPs way, he should reflect that most of the billionaires in America reside in blue states. In today’s world, the big corporations win more by backing Democrats because more onerous regulation benefits their ability to squeeze out the smaller competition thanks to red tape. Laissez faire? You’ve got to be kidding.

Perhaps in closing, the most compelling argument Reich makes is the one which stands out above all others – “we, the majority.” If he wants to stop Trump, he just needs the majority to vote on the shared basis of his beliefs – case closed. No need for protests. After all he says that Trump’s base is so small. If almost 3 years of negative spin on the sitting POTUS has failed to convince the majority, nothing will. Screaming in public may seem therapeutic to the masses but should the GOP win the mid-terms then Reich will prove just as out of touch as he was prior to the election.

Silence is golden. Let democracy take its course. Let us see whether the Russians consolidate their pick in the mid-terms…Putin has even more reason to ensure America sees more “red.”

The dogs of Cyber War

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At a cyber park in Israel, even dogs are seen as incubators of innovation. He roams the office and is seen as a valuable colleague. You can’t help but smile when you see him.