Crisis

Egyptian TV host defends the West’s attitudes toward Islamic terror

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Not many will have seen this video because the mainstream media is loathe to publish anything remotely balanced these days. Egyptian TV host Youssef Al-Husseini launched a scathing attack on Islamic terrorism post the Finsbury Park mosque attack and said “The terror attack that unfortunately took place [in London] was a vehicular attack. This time, it was near a mosque, if you follow the news. How can anyone decide to carry out a terror attack near a place of worship – near a mosque, a church, or any temple where God is worshipped? In all the previous vehicular attacks, at least in 2016 and 2017, the “heroes” were, unfortunately, Muslims. And then people wonder why they hate us. Why do they hate us?! If they didn’t, there would be something mentally wrong with them. [We] use weapons all the time, slaughter people all the time, flay people all the time, burn people alive all the time, run people over all the time, and plant explosive devices and car bombs all the time. Why do you still expect them to love you?”

As written on the day of the London mosque attack, it was an unquestionably despicable act. This tit-for-tat terrorism serves no purpose other than to trigger further escalation on both sides. No sooner had a white terrorist run down a group of worshippers outside a mosque than another depraved individual tried to detonate a suicide vest in Brussels’ Central Station supposedly yelling “Allahu Akbar“. The sad aspect of terrorism in the West today is that it is happening on such a regular basis that many people are becoming numbed to it.

However the mosque attack was the such a bad turning point. The UK government is ill equipped to deal with it now. Should they mobilize the full compliment of 80,000 British Army soldiers and 27,000 reservists to guard the 2,000-odd mosques in the UK? Is putting barricades on footpaths a real solution? Do Brits want to see tanks parked outside Westminster or Trafalgar Square? Should x-ray machines be installed at every train or bus station? Is that a sustainable solution to the problem giving birth to vigilantes? People want action, not politically correct hand-wringing. They are sick of being told to suck it up and embrace ‘stronger together’ and ‘diversity is our strength’ or ‘terrorism is a fact of any big city’ style pandering. The majority of people are tolerant but there is a tipping point of common sense where they stop believing we win acceptance from jihadis by denying our own identities. Governments prefer to take the soft approach which only offers a safe haven to the activities that end up devastating even more innocent lives.

The idea peddled by limp wristed governments that Muslims need special protection only makes it worse. ALL citizens of any denomination, race or background deserve to feel safe. Yes, everyone knows it is a radical minority that is causing the problems. There is a paramount need to work with the Muslim community to root out those that only bring more distrust. No, it isn’t a license to condone bigotry either. However unless they feel we are ‘truly’ standing behind them rather than virtue signaling from the safety of a smartphone nothing will get better. That is an absolute. The further governments repress  the freedom of people to openly express their feelings the worse it will get.

We are taught from the earliest age that two wrongs don’t make a right. The rise of vigilantism is a natural reaction to governments that stick to the politically correct dialogue and skirt around the issues by trying to gag people whether by law (Canada’s M-103) or threat. Politicians cannot win the will of the people by shutting them up. They have to listen. Because the government isn’t listening militia will spawn and do what they deem necessary for the public interest, The last thing government needs is the widespread growth of people taking the law into their own hands. There are two things that ran through the mind of truck attacker Darren Osborne – he’d either be killed or be locked up for a long time after committing his terror. That is a pretty big price to pay but one he obviously thought worth paying.

To quote Al-Husseini again,

What have the Muslims shown [the West] other than the bombing of their capital cities? What have the Muslims shown them other than vehicular attacks? What have the Muslims shown them other than shooting at them? What have the Muslims shown them other than burning them alive in cages? They burn other Muslims alive as well. They all claim to have a monopoly over Islam. What have the Muslims shown [the Westerners] to make them love them, and welcome them in their countries?…

…The Muslims are constantly whining, lamenting, and wailing: The West is conspiring against us. Fine, let’s assume that the West is conspiring against you and only sees your negative image. Where is your positive image? The Muslims of the Abbasid state presented a positive image. They exported scientific research through the so-called “Muslim” scholars, most of whom, by the way, were not from the Arabian Peninsula. None of them were from the Arabian Peninsula. They were all from North Africa, and from what are now called the former Soviet Islamic republics of central Asia…

…What have the Arab countries contributed to the world? Nothing. What have the Islamic countries contributed to the world? Nothing. What have they contributed in the field of scientific research? Two, three, four, or ten scientists in the course of 1,435 years? C’mon, man! Let’s forget about 435 years and keep just one millennium. Ten important scientists in 1,000 years?! Who invented the airplane? The missile? The space shuttle? Centrifuges? Quantum mechanics? The Theory of Relativity? Who? Where did the most important philosophers come from? Not from here. And you still expect them to love us?! And then you say: “Terror-sponsoring countries like Britain deserve…” Nonsense! People do not deserve to be killed, slaughtered, or run over by a car.”

Al-Husseini makes some very valid points yet why does the media not choose to highlight his stance? The irony of those who have seen his video clip is the social media comment section. Even those who take quite a strong stance on diversity and tolerance joked along the lines of  “is he still alive?” Doesn’t that sort of truly reveal the inner feelings of people rather than the public perception they seek to portray openly for fear of recrimination? We should applaud Al-Husseini’s bravery to speak out like this. His comments are exactly the type of bold response that throws the West’s constant rolling over into the dustbin. We can be sure Al-Husseini’s comments are heartfelt and a wish for all to climb out from behind the protection of identity politics and embrace ‘reality’.

Since Osborne’s truck attack, Tommy Robinson’s book ‘Enemy of the State’ is now the number one selling book on Kindle and paperback. So UK government, are you sure you understand the mood of the nation? They are more than likely to back Mr Al-Husseini’s views than yours.

Repossession by remote

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A growing number of car loans in the US are being pushed further down the repayment line as much as 84 months. In the new car market the percentage of 73-84-month loans is 33.8%, triple the level of 2009. Even 10% of 2010 model year bangers are being bought on 84 month term loans. The US ended 2016 with c.$1.2 trillion in outstanding auto loan debt, up 9%YoY and 13% above the pre-crisis peak in 2005.

Why is this happening? Mortgage regulations tightened after 2008 to prevent financial lenders from writing predatory loans, especially sub prime. Auto lending attracts far less scrutiny. Hence the following table looks like it does with respect to outstanding accounts on loans

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Sub Prime auto loans, at all time records, make up 25% of the total. Devices installed in cars let collection agencies repossess vehicles by remote when the borrower falls behind on repayment. This lowers risk and allows these long dated loan products to thrive. Average subprime auto loans carry 10% p.a. interest rates. More than 6 million American consumers are at least 90 days late on their car loan repayments, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

While it is true that $1.2 trillion auto loan book pales into insignificance versus the $10 trillion in mortgage debt at the time of the GFC, a slowdown in auto sales (happening now) isn’t helpful. The auto industry directly and indirectly employs c. 10% of the workforce and slowing new and used car sales will just put more pressure on prices further lifting the risk of repossessions

It is worth reminding ourselves the following.

Last month the Fed published its 2016 update on household financial wellbeing. To sum up:

“44%. This is actually an improvement on the 2015 survey that said 47% of Americans can’t raise $400 in an emergency without selling something. The consistency is the frightening part. The survey in 2013 showed 50% were under the $400 pressure line. Of the group that could not raise the cash, 45% said they would go further in debt and use a credit card to pay It off over time. while 25% would borrow from friends or family, 27% would forgo the emergency while the balance would turn to selling items or using a payday loan to get by. The report also noted just under a quarter of adults are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to the high cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being largely unprepared, indicating no retirement savings or pension whatsoever. Welcome to a gigantic problem ahead. Not to mention the massive unfunded liabilities in the public pension system which in certain cases has seen staff retire early so they can get a lump sum before it folds.”

If only this perpetual debt cycle could be stopped via remote. Someone else’s problem one would suggest.

Tesla – when the plug is pulled on subsidies

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It seems that the removal of generous electric vehicle (EV) subsidies in Denmark shows the true colours of those willing to buy a car in order to signal their willingness to save the planet. While Musk has been one of the most effective rent seekers around, it seems that if consumers aren’t given massive tax breaks they aren’t as committed to ostentatious gestures of climate abatement. In Q1 2017 alone it seems that Danish sales of EVs plummeted 60%YoY. In 2015 Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen announced the gradual phasing out of subsidies on electric cars, citing government austerity and evening up the market. Tesla’s sales fell from 2,738 units in 2015 to just 176 in 2016. The irony of the Tesla is that it is priced in luxury car territory meaning that taxes from the less fortunate end up subsidizing the wealthy who can afford it!

Naturally if internal combustion engines (which by the way are becoming more efficient by the years as new standards are introduced) are taxed the same as EVs then it is clear they’d sell many more. Do not be fooled – car makers have not heavily committed to EVs for a very good reason – brand DNA. That is why we see so many ‘hybrids’ which allows the benefits of battery power linked to the drivetrain, which outside of design is the biggest differentiator between brands.

While many automakers missed the luxury EV bus, Tesla has opened their eyes. The three things the major auto makers possess which Tesla doesn’t are

1) Production skill – much of the battle is won on efficiency grounds. Companies like Toyota have had decades to perfect production efficiency and have coined almost every manufacturing technique used today – Just in Time, kanban and kaizen to name three.

2) Distribution – the existing automakers have been well ahead of the curve when it comes to sales points. Of course some argue that there is no real need for dealers anymore, although recalls, services (consumables such as brakes) and showrooms are none-the-less a necessity.

3) Technology – The idea that incumbent auto makers have not been investing in EV is ridiculous. Recall Toyota took a sizable stake in Tesla many years ago. Presumably the Toyota tech boffins were sent in to evaluate the technology at Tesla and returned with a prognosis negative. Toyota sold Tesla because the technology curve was too low. Toyota invests around $8bn in just hybrid technology alone per annum. Tesla spent $830mn last year as a group across all products. A ten fold budget on top of decades of investment in all available avenues of planet saving technology gives a substantial advantage.

Tesla is a wonderful tale of hope but it rings of all the hype that surrounded Ballard Power in fuel cells in the early 2000s. Ballard is worth 1% of its peak. As governments around the world address overbloated budgets, trimming incentives for EVs makes for easy savings. Now we have a good indicator one of the electric shock that happens when the plug is pulled on subsidies.

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Mulligan democracy?

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One disturbing development in politics is the promotion of mulligans. The idea of ‘that is the shot I would have played if I had another chance’. Sadly some people think that is fair game and even worse, democratic. The lead up to the Brexit referendum almost a year ago saw “leave” and “remain” go at it. Months of campaigning, panel discussions and other forums were largely irrelevant. Both sides accused each other of lying and spreading falsehoods but ask yourself in the history of politics – if you believed everything that came out of a politician’s mouth you’d be lying to yourself. To host a second referendum would basically say ignore democracy until you get the result you want. Maybe like a modern day prep school sports event – everyone is a winner at St. Barnabus’.

People were well aware of the issues of Brexit going in. The idea of people being too gullible is frankly condescending in the extreme. Many long standing Labour voters went for “Leave”. They weren’t voting Tory by stealth. They took a view. It wasn’t just about immigration. They were feeling pain in real time, the valid threat of their future economic security. The higher unemployment rates and withering opportunities aren’t scare stories from politicians but here and now. For example the people of the Midlands didn’t need stats, Farage or Boris to sway them. Just like those that voted Trump – they were feeling the pressure of harsh economic realities that weren’t reflected in rosy government stats that were waved in their face as a testament to their superior leadership skills.

While Remainers can whine about ‘fake’ figures of how much the EU takes every week from the UK, immigration or the number of regulations that affected Brits, financial markets proved over the 12 months since the vote that the ‘Leave’ outcome didn’t crash the economy or skewer asset prices. In fact the idea of a potential Corbyn Prime Ministership sent the pound and markets into panic. If he was to get in then Macron will get his wish of a financial center in Paris. Investment money would vanish out of the UK. It isn’t an idle threat but a reality. Capital is global.

Some argue that had the people who thought ‘remain’ would be a foregone conclusion bothered to vote then the UK would have stayed in the EU. Maybe. They were given a democratic opportunity to exercise a choice and they didn’t. Many of the 1,000,000 new voters who signed up since Theresa May called the snap election who didn’t do so before the referendum had a choice a year ago. Do we give them a free hit? How do we truly instill the realities of a true democracy if we have to attach L-plates to beginners? It doesn’t matter one jot if there were enough dormant or eligible voters to defeat the referendum if they don’t show up on game day. Is the Premier League football FA Cup given to the team that won the most games til the final but doesn’t show up because of their for and against stats?

It is an important question because the lesson should always be that people must take their vote seriously every time. Even John Cleese is understanding this. If they can’t be bothered when they have a chance to vote then  that is self inflicted and we should have no sympathy.

Theresa May gave voters a democratic chance to give her a mandate and she got thumped. There were two parts to this. Some young voters were surely lured by the offer of free education and a chance to reject Brexit by the back door. Theresa May was too arrogant to think the population would roll over and give her carte blanche to carry out her plans along with a biting austerity budget for good measure. A refusal to do a debate vs Corbyn, a slapdash manifesto and dreadful performances when she appeared sealed her fate. Corbyn came across as the warmer candidate and simply campaigned better. Still an election and a referendum are two different beasts. Just because more voted for Labour than expected doesn’t mean they want an end to Brexit. They did it to send a message to May.

Still the idea we propose a second referendum is a bad idea for democracy. Unlike elections, referendums are yes or no.

Don’t buy the argument that people were sold a pup. That the elderly are bigots, racists and have no concern for their kids or the youth. That the youth should have twice the vote of the elderly because they’re on the planet for longer or the elderly should have their voting rights cut. Saying people are stupid is not a valid answer. Why not have an IQ test for voters to determine voting rights??  If lessons aren’t learnt through bitter experience then why bother holding elections or referendums at all. If anything this election showed through the higher turnout (68.7%) that the lesson is being learnt and the electorate has told politicians they won’t be taken for mugs.

The referendum was held, Article 50 was passed as an Act of Parliament and our Dear John letter was handed to President Tusk. The UK would be a total laughing stock to divorce and then ask to remarry again. Corbyn will undoubtedly have a much stronger say in negotiations and has a vested interest to ruin what little legitimacy May has left. She is left with a divided party created by her unwillingness to listen. The Tories are toast with her at the helm and the DUP alliance smacks of desperation. A Diet Coke Brexit is pointless. We’re in or we’re out.

The Conservatives won the popular vote despite the shambolic display although Labour took 60% of the votes from UKIP. What we can say is that politics is not like it used to be. The electorate is fickle. Loyalty is no longer a given and abandoning core party principles will see politicians punished at the polls. May must step down for the sake of the Tories. as the HMS Tory takes on water under Captain May, more will seek to abandon ship until she walks the plank.

This miscalculation by May will go down as one of history’s biggest political failures. Do not be surprised if we do get a second referendum but be very worried about the precedent it sets for the future. Democracy is at stake and even arguing that it is in the interest of the people to take a mulligan on this issue is effectively saying their votes don’t matter. That referendums have no meaning. Of course the Remainers will cite opinion polls that give them the answer they want to hear but as we all know polls are useless these days. May had the biggest lead and highest popularity in living memory yet got this result.

Rebels too old for a cause

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The average age of motorcyclists in Japan is 53 years old and continuing to climb as younger riders looking to obtain new licenses continues to drift. Between 2010 and 2016 the Japanese National Police Agency (JNPA) noted that large capacity motorcycle license holders (ogata – classified as 400cc+) have fallen by nearly 1,500,000. While mid-size (chugata – classified as below 400cc) have risen around 715,000. Female riders have shown a similar pattern of 178,000 fall in ogata licenses and 147,000 increase in chugata respectively. While there are still 9.175mn men and 625,000 women willing to get out on the highway with large capacity bikes, the trend is alarming. More frighteningly, new graduates aren’t lining up either. 30,000 fewer students lined up to get a mid or large size bike license between 2014 and 2016 representing a 12.3% dip. Latest report found here Motorcycles in Japan – Analogica KK

14m Japanese pensioners behind the wheel. 1.6m over 80yo

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The Japanese National Police Agency (JNPA) has recorded 6 million extra pension aged drivers in Japan over the age of 65 in the last decade. The total is now 14.2mn. The number of 80yo+license holders has reached 1.6 million. Over the last decade the total number of licenses has not changed much but the age composition is definitely skewed to the elderly. I was waiting at the front door of the Roads & Traffic Authority the day I was able to apply for a license. It seems that Japanese kids are not as excited to get freedom on four wheels. There are 6.8mn fewer driver’s licence holders aged under 40 over the last decade.

The worry for the police is the growing incidence of traffic accidents involving elderly drivers.

Comey testimony proves media can’t stop playing the man rather than the ball

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Comey admitted in his testimony that he was never pressured by Trump to end any investigations. Damn and blast. The media has done another collective Rachel Maddow “we’ve got his tax returns” backfire. So insistent on trying to seek revenge they forgot the old Chinese proverb, “before setting out on revenge, first dig two graves.” So eager are they to play the man they overlook basic check sheets to find balance. Trump may well be a loose cannon at times but the media is the pot still calling the kettle black.

While I long argued Trump would win the election I’ve been an advocate of trying to seek balance to the one sided argument against him. It doesn’t mean I think he is ideal.  I disagree with many (not all) things he has done and petty things (like his attitude to Merkel) are certainly not fitting the most powerful office in the world. Trump derangement syndrome is none-the-less real. The media attack dogs never seek to do moral equivalence with their beloved Obama over the same supposed crimes of leaking sensitive info or whatever. I do think Trump is Turnbull-esque in lacking judgement as well as constant cabinet reshuffles but the most twisted irony is that financial markets would seem to want him there using any wobble on the back of an impeachment scenario as an excuse rather than admit the hyper asset bubble blown for 8 years.

The mainstream media now preys on clickbait. Thinking the number of clicks, likes and shares are endorsements and can replace quality content (as much as they self appraise it’s high value added factual). In fact the revenue numbers of media outlets who continually rant  is telling. Fairfax in Australia has had two rounds of layoffs in the space of 12 months and The Guardian is openly begging for donations.

The media is surely going to keep launching salvo after salvo to try get him out of office. As stupid as they keep suggesting the ‘orange baffoon” is he keeps getting their measure. I issue a caution though. The deplorables that voted him in want him to get on with the job. With all these distractions the quest that they hope will get them under the “have not” hole is pushed further into the future. Getting an impeachment to stick and force a resignation is not high on a have not’s priority list. They need help as I argued at the time of the election. Whether Trump can provide it is a moot point but they voted for change and the “haves” ought to be careful how they indirectly impact the “have nots”

The screaming, carrying on and promoting blood sport may end up creating proper civil unrest. It’s simmering but the media as usual is oblivious to it all. In any event the last thing the world needs is instability in the world’s largest economy at this point in a peaking cycle.