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2019 Jan 19 - US Government Shutdown

With Theresa May continuing to run down the clock, let's take a look at America where a government shutdown has been going on for several weeks, long enough that even drum soloists have started to look at their watches and question how much longer it has to go.

Normally budget disputes are solved by both sides coming together and agreeing to get the next year funded on the condition that certain additional chunks of money are set aside for wasteful but politically important job creation schemes. Most famously was when Alaska Senator Ted Stevens became very cooperative after persuading congress to set aside an extra $223m to construct a bridge to Gravina Island which was home to 50 Alaska residents.

This time around however, President Trump has demanded $5bn dollars are set aside to build part of the wall with Mexico and the Democrats have said that there's about as much chance of that happening as there is of Disney building a theme park based on the Human Centipede franchise.

Things have descended fairly quickly with the president refusing to allow house speaker Nancy Pelosi to use a military vehicle to travel abroad and adding that she should perhaps fly commercial out of her own pocket, especially galling given that unlike the president she doesn't own a jet of her own, never mind one with her name written down the side in huge lettering in case she forgets where she left it.

For now, things don't appear to be going anywhere and the president has said that the shutdown could last for months or years, like that half-used jar of dill everyone has sitting in the spice rack, years after the Oregano long since went.

I digress. For now the distraction of the moment is talk of a new round of negotiations with North Korea, an autocracy where I imagine the population pray every day for a government shutdown. And who says the Americans don't do irony?
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2018 Aug 25 - Manafort and Cohen Guilty

America has given us baseball, jazz and just as importantly (and depressingly) a culture in which top lawyers are treated like Babe Ruth and Louis Armstrong rolled into one and this past week saw more legal drama than a whole series of Perry Mason as the investigation into the 2016 election cracked up a notch.

Paul Manafort, the president's campaign chairman was found guilty on 8 counts consisting of tax fraud, bank fraud, hiding foreign bank accounts, and now faces 240 years in jail. That's a ......

2018 Jun 16 - World Cup and US-China Tariffs

The world cup has kicked off, or at least the ball has been kicked, the cup itself remains safely in the cabinet, much like David Davis in spite of his threats to the contrary. The football tournament though, that's being held in Russia over the next couple of weeks. If you're an England fan it's not long to wait until that moment when they fail to win and Gareth Southgate is forced to inevitably resign over his sole responsibility for England failing to be the best team in the entire world, no ......

2017 Mar 10 - Knights Who Say N.I.

Some years budgets can be really exciting with sweeping tax cuts or dramatic gestures but this week it was fairly dull asides from the furore about the tax rise for self employed people.Why self employed people, I asked myself, then I read at article saying that George Osborne is set to earn £650,000 this year and I wondered if Phillip Hammond and Theresa May were setting up an elaborate trap for their predecessors. I’ve not looked at the detail of the budget but I’d be keen to know if ther ......

2017 Jan 21 - Trump's Inauguration

Last week I finished watching the HBO show “Westworld” and this weekend I started watching the final season of America.

Yes, this weekend, Mr Trump finally became President Trump, and that was really about the end of it. No major crowd trouble, no gunmen, no Miss World flash mob for the new emperor. After signing some papers with a gold felt tip pen and checking that Obama had remembered to redirect his mail, they all had a meal and went home for the most part. I was hoping that maybe Trump ......