‘Anybody here got any student debt?’ asks Bernie Sanders halfway through his speech at a rally in a small university on Monday. He then starts conducting a fake auction. ‘What are some of the numbers you got? You? 35,000. You? 55,000? Who else? A young lady here… 100,000 dollars. You win! I don’t know what you win, but you win!’ The students all hoot and chant. ‘Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!’ Sanders cracks an avuncular smile, then starts talking again about how rich the rich are.
Scrapping the cuts to tax credits. Ring-fencing health care, and spending a few billion on a high-speed rail link from London to Birmingham. Despite all the howls of outrage from the left about austerity, for a country that was meant to be broke, we have a government that still throws around a lot of cash. Where’s it all coming from? If you have been saving for a pension, the answer is: probably from you.
Last week Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, tabled proposals which the government hopes will form the basis of the UK’s renegotiated relationship with the European Union. Politically, the proposals may be just the job: a new commitment to enhance competitiveness, proposals to limit benefits to migrants, recognition that member states’ different aspirations for further integration must be respected, and creation of a ‘red card’ mechanism to block EU legislation.
Last week the indigenous white population of Cologne took to the streets once again to celebrate their annual ‘Crazy Days’ spring carnival. I stepped out of the hotel at ten o’clock on the morning of the designated ‘women’s day’, wondering how the women of Cologne had reacted to the events of New Year’s Eve, and to Mutti Merkel waving in a million-plus young Muslims per year to pep up the flagging gene pool of the 10 million indigenous males aged 20–30.
[audioplayer src="http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/thenextrefugeecrisis/media.mp3" title="Laura Pitel and Migration Watch's Alanna Thomas discuss the second migrant crisis"]
[/audioplayer]In Istanbul, signs of the Syrian influx are everywhere. Syrian mothers sit on pavements clutching babies wrapped in blankets; children from Homs, Syria’s most completely devastated city, push their way through packed tram carriages begging for coins.
I covered another stabbing the other day, a particularly nasty one this time. An 18-year-old was repeatedly knifed in the stomach and beaten over the head with a baseball bat. Witnesses told me he’d been outside his mum’s tower-block flat in Islington, north London, when he was rushed by a group of about ten or 15 boys. He suffered serious head injuries and multiple stab wounds and was soon in hospital in a medically induced coma.
Lately, people only have to look at me to splurge their deepest, darkest secret. Last May, they did a terrible thing. They voted Tory. Now they’re contemplating greater deviance: voting to leave the EU — if only, they say, the campaign was fronted by someone they could believe in. And who do they want? The answer surprised me. Theresa is no temptation, as it turns out, nor even Boris. No, it’s Michael Gove they fancy.
Take a quick look at the UK buy-to-let market and you might find it tough to understand exactly what it is that makes it so very popular. Dealing with tenants is difficult and boring. House prices have a horrible tendency to go down as well as up (Londoners — ask anyone living in the north of England about this). And rents have long been so low relative to prices that getting a worthwhile net yield is all but impossible after costs.
At the risk of sounding like Neville Chamberlain, how bizarre that we should be panic-selling our stock-market investments in reaction to the news of a slight economic slowdown in a faraway country to which we export little and whose direct investments in our own economy created fewer than 5,000 new jobs last year.
Throughout the mini-crash of 2016, it has become received wisdom that a Chinese slowdown is threatening the global economy, spreading contagion to every corner of the globe.
[audioplayer src="http://rss.acast.com/viewfrom22/thenextrefugeecrisis/media.mp3" title="Simon Barnes and the Sea Watch Foundation's Dr Peter Evans discuss whales" startat=1400]
[/audioplayer]Last week a sperm whale was beached at Hunstanton in Norfolk and there was much horrified concern.
A terrible sight, lying there like a small cottage on the immensity of the beach, 46 feet long and 30 tons, surrounded by rescue workers from British Divers Marine Rescue and Hunstanton Sea Life Sanctuary who were dousing the whale with water to try and keep it going, but to no avail.
I had been trying to get to Aleppo for ages, but was unable to do so because rebel activity had cut off the city from the outside world. Syrian government military successes at the start of January meant there was at last a safe road. I hired a driver, was allocated a government minder (very handy at checkpoints), and booked into a hotel. Driving north from Damascus, we picked up a 22-year-old Syrian army lieutenant called Ali, returning to his unit after eight days’ leave with his family.
Back in 1882, exactly 100 years before I was born, the Four Nations rugby competition was formed. It was originally contested between England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and the fortunes of the different teams have varied through the years.
Scotland and England shared early successes, but with the turn of the century came numerous changes. Four became five with the addition of the French — but the team didn’t have the same flair that we know well from the modern game.