January 13th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…(A lot is the answer)..

One of the violent thugs who invaded the US capital had a taser down his trousers. He died of a heart attack. A policeman died when hit on the head with a fire extinguisher. Another woman was shot dead. Two others died. Police have found bombs and weapons. They have also uncovered plans to execute a number of politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump was, it is reported, delighted with the invasion of the capital and rang Senators while it was happening to encourage them to continue with his putsch. He was impeached again in the House – the first President ever to be impeached twice.

Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have banned him, leaving just Trip Advisor as a platform for sharing available to him. Trump is beside himself in anger and bitterness, lashing out at anyone who is against him. Ivanka is angry, since her father’s antics are destroying her dream of becoming President. His business associates are angry, especially now that the banks and others are cutting off the Trump organization from access to funds, events or revenue. Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jnr have no clue what is going on – no significant change there.

Donald has made plans to fly to Scotland on 19th January to play golf at his club in Aberdeenshire and to avoid the inauguration of the next President of the United States. He has been advised that he will not be permitted to do this, since Scotland is on a full lock-down and unnecessary travel is banned. He could be arrested on arrival for violating public health orders.

One of the lawyers on the call Trump made to Georgia asking them to cheat, lie and practice voodoo – Alex Kaufman – has been forced out as a partner of Fox Rothschild for his behaviour. Another – Ms. Sidney Powell – is being sued for $1.3 billion for spreading falsehoods about Dominion Voting Systems. A third – Rudi Giuliani – is facing debarment from the NY bar and an investigation by DC Attorney General for sedition. A fourth, Lin Wood has been declared “not of sufficient character” to practice law by a judge in the Delaware Supreme Court. He went on to say of his behaviour that “it is exhibited a toxic stew of mendacity, prevarication and surprising incompetence” – a neat summary of the entire Trump Presidency.

Meantime, almost forgotten now, two democrats defeated two sitting US republican senators in the Georgia run-off elections held earlier this week, giving Democrats control of the House, Senate and White House. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler have both conceded their respective elections. David Ossoff becomes the youngest Senator in the US Senate and Rev Raphael Warnock is the first black person to enter the Senate for this great State.

Significant concerns now centre on the 20th January inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The FBI and others are sure there will be an attempt to disrupt the event, possibly by a repeat of what happened at the capitol but also disrupting every State capitol across the US. The FBI actually uses the language “potential civil war”. Mike Pence and Ivanka Trump will attend.

Also in the US, Kim Kardashian West and her husband Kanye West are beginning the process of divorce – she is reported to “have had enough” of his behaviour. She waited until after the Presidential election, in case she found herself as First Lady. Since she isn’t, she’s off. She is also chatting with Melania – they are exploring the idea of cost-sharing legal advice.

Brexit is done – signed, sealed and delivered. Borish is claiming that Britain is Back, despite the fact that we all know it’s not been anywhere.  Not everyone is happy. Fisherpersons in Hull are not, but those in Cornwall are. People who work in financial services are not, but those who work in manufacturing are. It turns out that the “tariff free” deal is not in fact the deal that was signed – there are tariffs on some items and huge amounts of costly red tape. Boris’s Johnson’s father Stanley is seeking French citizenship. What more do we need to know?

In Alberta, most of the government seems to have been abroad or absent over the holidays. The Premier’s Chief of Staff was in London picking up the new COVID-19 variant while many of his colleagues were in Hawaii, Arizona or Mexico. They each recorded messages to the “plebs” advising them to stay at home, stay safe and not to engage in unnecessary travel. In Ontario, the finance minister was caught on a sunny island, returned to Canada and then resigned. We have a hapless, helpless and inept Alberta Premier who took a week to secure resignations and demotions and placed the offenders in his naughty book. Since we’re all in his naughty book for asking questions and challenging him, nothing makes any difference. You can’t change stupid. There will be a serious conversation about where the UCP party goes from here at the next UCP Luau to be held on the Big Island.

After three years, Jodi Whittaker is signalling that she is leaving Dr Who TV series where she plays the 16th Doctor – a role she has played for three seasons. The writing / production team will begin to search for the next Doctor. Jodi is reportedly being considered as Biden’s head of the US Space Force. Ivanka is considering auditioning – she is, after all, a space cadet.

Lewis Hamilton, world champion racing driver, was Knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. Arise Sir Lewis. Sheila Hancock, a great actress, is named a Dame – well deserved.

January 16th

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

The National Rifle Association in the US – the ANTIFA of the right – has filed for bankruptcy protection. Thoughts and prayers. This follows years of corruption by the leadership of the NRA and a growing use of populism, lies and deception to increase revenues. Their new plan is to move to Texas where guns are so common you often mistake them for a Taser.00

Rudi Giuliani, ever gullible (just watch the new Borat movie), has fallen out of favour with his “best” client – Donald (“I Won”) Trump. Trump is both refusing to take his calls or pay his $20,000/day fee. Realizing that Rudi lost over sixty court challenges to the election results and is now likely to be cast-out of the world of lawyering for his incitement of an insurrection, Trump is doing what he always does to trades people: shaft them.

The guy who dressed up as one of the Village People with horns, skins and gloves and painted his face  – Jacob Chansley who likes to be called Jake Angeli – has an interesting defense. He suggests that “he was invited to attend the Senate and House by the President” – not exactly true, but not entirely untrue either. His attorney suggests that Trump owes him a pardon. His name has been added to the list, which is headed up by Don Jnr, Eric, Ivanka, Jared, Melania and the Donald himself.

There are now more troops patrolling or on stand-by in the US capitol than are stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined – 20,000 men and women are assigned to secure the inauguration of President Biden. Just 5,000 are available to support the fragile situation in the Middle East. This is how Trump has made America great again. (He has also enabled Democrats to take control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives).

The “Stop the Steal” campaign has moved from the US to Uganda.  The results show that the sitting 76 year old President Yoweri Museveni (in power for over 35 years) won easily are now being challenged by rapper and musician Bobi Wine (38) – real name Robert Kylagulanyi. Bobi, first time Presidential candidate, who has suggested widespread fraud and voter suppression and is thinking of hiring Rudi Giuliani for legal challenges. Sounds familiar.

In the Netherlands the government resigned over the way in which it mishandled the payments made to families related to COVID-19. They wrongly accused some families – mainly immigrants – of taking money they were not entitled to. The outgoing Prime Minister summarized the situation: “innocent people have been criminalized and their lives ruined”, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Over 10,000 people were threatened with a need to repay up to €48,000 (£42,000 / Can$73,000).

In Britain, COVID 19 patients in London are being taken to Newcastle for treatment – a 300 mile drive (longer if one goes via Barnards Castle). Overall, the lock-down appears to be working as the R rate (the number of people one person with C-19 is likely to infect) is falling below 1 in many parts of the UK (it is below .065 in London), though the UK wide R-rate remains high (between 1.2 and 1.3) – it needs to be below 1. Cornwall and both the North East and West of England remain hot spots.

In Canada, the vaccine roll-out is not going as fast as it should, with shortages now occurring in several Provinces. The population herd immunity is not expected to be secured until, at the earliest, September 2021. Some Provinces are delaying the second injection required by both the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to 90 days rather than the 21-28 days which the clinical trial suggested was the most efficacious. It could be that this is too late to secure the 90% C-19 protection – we just don’t know. (In the UK, some seniors (including Baroness Joan Bakewell) are taking the UK government to court over these delays). Around 20% of the Canadian population indicate that they will refuse to be vaccinated, just 2-3% for medical reasons. The primary reason for their refusal: ignorance and conspiracy theories and a liking of country and western music.

A competition to identify the best name for a business produced some interesting examples: Vlad The Inhaler (e-cigarettes), Planet of the Grapes (wines and spirits), Lino Ritchie (floor coverings) amongst them. My own favourites are Treewisemen (tree services) and Tequila Mockinbird (drinks and canapes) with Surelock Homes (locksmith) coming a close third.

January 20th Inauguration Day

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Jeanne Pouchain (58) was declared dead by a French court in 2017, much to her distress. She is alive and well. The trouble is, the court does not accept that it made a grave error. Since she is legally dead, her bank accounts have been frozen and her heirs (her son and husband), who live with her, are unable to access funds they need to pay bills associated with her being alive. All civil authorities refuse to accept that she is still alive, despite the fact that they tell her this to her face – they agree that she is “no longer dead” but are yet to agree that she is “alive”. Only in France can such a mess persist for so long. French pride is world-class.

In the US other messes persist. Trump is no longer President and is now in Florida – aka known as MAGA Central, still insisting that he won the general election on November 3rd 2020. On his way out, he pardoned Steve Bannon and one hundred and three others. Melania made a short video promoting her new book, not yet written, “I Take Photo’s, Not Organize Coup”. The army fired five guns, but all of them missed. Trump is thinking of forming a new party – Proud Patriot Party (the PPP) – and Bannon has already offered to run it.

Joe Biden was sworn in ten minutes early, just in case Trump tried anything odd at the last minute. Lady Gaga wore all the clothes she owned, making everyone else attending the inauguration feel underdressed. The US has a new administration, thank goodness.

In Russia, the Putin government arrested opposition leader Alexey Navalny as he arrived back in Russia from Germany. The police claimed that he fled probation related to a 2014 conviction of fraud and is being held for thirty days pending a trial. He could be imprisoned for up to 3.5 years. Putin says that he is not concerned about Navalny, which is why he tried to have him killed. Several European leaders have condemned the arrest, as did outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompousman.

The successor to Angela Merkel (Mutti) has been chosen. He is Armin Laschet, whose body shape is almost exactly the same as the outgoing Mutti. He is a centrist who won in a runoff election against a more right wing member of the Christian Democrats. Mutti has been Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and is widely regarded as a steady pair of hands. The concern within the CD party is that it is her, not the party, that kept winning control of government. We will see.

A new version of Noel Coward’s stage play Blithe Spirit has been released, starring Dame Judi Dench as Madame Arcarti. An over the top production, with former Downtown heart-throb Dan Stevens in the leading male role of the hapless writer whose late wife is returned to the land of the living through the mystic medium. A rare but utter farce with over the top production values. It could well be the model for Trump’s new political party.

Jason Keystone Kenney

Jason Kenney, who occasionally acts like the Premier of Alberta, is upset that the President of the United States, having promised to do exactly what he said he would do, has cancelled permits for the Keystone pipeline between Alberta and the US intended to carry oil sands bitumen. As someone who rarely consults with those who are impacted by his own decisions, he is upset by the lack of consultation over this decision. He is also upset that a politician honours promises made – something he also does not do often.

Part of the reason Kenney is upset is that he made a decision to both allocate $1.5 billion in cash to the company building the pipeline and also provide government support for an additional $6 billion in loan guarantees. He saw it as a “sound” investment that would generate 2,000 construction jobs, $7 million in property taxes and $30 billion in royalty revenues. Almost all commentators writing in March 2020 thought this was both a high-risk investment – all democrats running for nomination at the time the investment had been made had promised to cancel the permit – and against the UCP policy commitment not to “play” the markets with the hard-earned cash of Albertan’s. It was essentially a bet on Trump winning re-election as President of the United States.

More significantly, Kenney misread the industry sector and its appetite for more investment in unconventional oil. The “new green deal”, which Biden has committed to, is more than political rhetoric. It has the backing of major investment houses, banks and many in the energy sector who are rapidly transitioning from oil and gas to greener energy systems. The US is now committed to securing a 100% clean energy economy and net-zero emissions by 2050. What about this commitment does Kenney not understand?Oil and gas is no longer seen as a solid investment opportunity by many. Oil and gas companies occupy less than 3% of the Standard & Poor 500 (they used to be 15% in 2010) and money is pouring into green energy companies like Tesla, Ballard Power Systems, Boralex and Innergex Renewable Energy have all risen dramatically.

Oil and gas is not going away, but it is less likely to be the driving force of the Alberta economy going forward. Time to get serious about strategy.And that is the problem. Kenney is not a strategic thinker. He is an unpopular populist, not able to naturally build alliances and partnerships, to engage in a meaningful conversation aimed at changing direction. Oil and gas jobs are not coming back and thinking that they will – still the view in many communities in Alberta – will get us nowhere.

When I was a therapist one of my clients told me that “if only everyone could change, then I could be the person I have always wanted to be”. It seems to me that Kenney is saying “if only Trudeau, Biden, the EU, investment bankers, pension fund managers, the UN and others would change then I could be the Premier I have always wanted to be”. Not going to happen.

His own decisions – cancelling the oil by rail contracts, placing a $7.5 billion bet on Keystone, giving away $4.5 billion in tax cuts, creating a pointless war room, opening an inquiry into foreign-funded anti-Alberta oil and gas (most of which is owned by foreign investors) while at the same time encouraging AIMCo to make risk investments which failed and cost Albertan’s $4 billion – have all boxed him in. Time for this $20 billion loser pretender Premier to recognize that he is not able to lead Alberta to its next stage of development and get out of the way. The trouble is that he has disabled leadership contenders and has run an administration where loyalty and fielty are more important than doing the right thing.All he is left with is posturing, shouting and complaining. Not a sign of leadership at all.

EndNote: There is one pipeline under construction. The Notley-Trudeau Trans Mountain expansion pipeline between Edmonton and Vancouver on which good progress is being made.

January 22nd

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Canada’s Governor General has quit amidst accusations of creating a toxic work environment and bullying subordinates. Prince Harry has ruled himself out as a possible successor as has Prince Andrew – “Canada doesn’t have Pizza Express”, said Andrew, “there would be nowhere for me to go”. Canada is also too near the US border for the Prince’s liking. The Prime Minister needs to have a GG in place – he will call an election sometime soon and has to be able to hand in his government’s resignation to somebody. Ryan Reynolds fancies the part if Donald Sutherland decides not to take it. Betting has started and strong money is backing an indigenous female leader, like Marion Buller – the judge who headed up the inquiry into missing indigenous women.

Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a Q-Anon Republican, has formally filed an article of impeachment against President Biden alleging the abuse of power over his “corrupt actions” as Vice President related to Ukraine. She also wants to see Hunter Biden imprisoned. Not even Ted Cruz or Josh Hawley support this nonsense. Twitter has suspended her account and there are moves by some of her constituents to have her recalled. She is new to Congress, but not to fantastical thinking.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is one of many Q-Anon supporters who are struggling with the post-Trump new reality. They generally thought that the deployment of troops around the capitol was a signal that Trump was about to declare martial law, arrest and execute many in congress and declare himself President for life.  When he flew off to Florida and walked away from the job he hated and didn’t do well (the Presidency), they were shocked. Even the My Pillow CEO was stunned, but then he is asleep half the time and lives on another planet the rest of the time. The Q and his friend Anon have vanished and their followers are lost sheep waiting for a new conspiracy to follow. The old one – that Washington was run by an elite group of pedophiles who ate children and were evil but wanted to rule the world – seems to have run its course.

Sen Mitch McConnel, who hates being called Moscow Mitch (“Я просто ненавижу это” he says), is trying to cut a deal with Sen Chuck Schemer on Trump’s second impeachment Senate trial. “We wait till he’s dead and then we try him”, was his first offer. The wily Democrat countered with “let’s wait till Melania divorces him and then we can hit him when he’s down”. But wily Mitch was having none of it. Mitch is suggesting that they wait until Feb 5th to start – by then Rudi Giuliani will have lost his NY license to practice law and will not be able to defend him. Trump has hired a new lawyer – Cousin Vinny (Frito Pendejo was not available).

Britain is considering paying each person diagnosed with C-19 around $850 (£500) as a way of compensating them for having to self-isolate. Knowing how scammers work, I can just see the abuse of this system. Eighty people in a single home each receive the payment – all signed off by a family friendly doctor who gets a % of the take. No wonder Borish Johnson is poo-pooing the idea.

In Alberta, Jason Kenney is ramping up the rhetoric trying to distract from his inability to engage in meaningful strategic thinking and sound governance. He is building a bully pulpit that he intends to drive around in, using the free gas the oil and gas industry supplies so that he can defend his poor decision making abilities. After squandering of some $18 billion of Alberta taxpayers funds since coming to power, he is upset that politicians are doing what they promised to do and doing so in real time.

January 31st

Let’s take a walk around the world and see what is happening…

Italy has had over sixty governments since the end of World War II. It is about to get another one. The Prime Minister has resigned as his rag-bag coalition fell apart. The President of Italy has asked him to try and form a new government. If he succeeds, it will be the third government led by Giuseppe Conte over the last decade. Italy’s governmental musical chairs seem to have no real impact on anything that happens in Italy, confirming the view that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.

President Biden continues to sign executive orders and to govern as best he can while he awaits his various cabinet appointees to be confirmed by the Senate. His thrust seems twofold: undo the damage President Trump did and assert his green economic credentials. He is also treating C-19 as the most serious threat to the US since the cold war and is acting accordingly.

Former President and Chief Conspiracy Theorist Donald J Trump has lost his entire legal defence team just days before his second impeachment trial. They quit because he wants to use the trial to argue that he is the legitimate President of the United States and that he did in fact win in November. He is considering asking his Cousin Vinny to represent him.

Russians are increasingly finding themselves on the street protesting against Putin and the detention of Alexei Navalny, the opposition activist. Over 3,000 have been arrested over the last two weekends. The protestors are carrying toilet brushes to advance their cause. (Navalny claims that Putin is spending 700 Euro’s per toilet brush in his luxury black palace and is pocketing most of the money).

The EU lost the plot this last week, claiming all sorts of nonsense about vaccine supplies. They seemed to forget that they had signed the Brexit deal and screwed up big time. The key problem – the EU failed to procure sufficient vaccines and then pretended to be offended. They went as far as to try to impose a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland – something that is both anti the EU’s own position about Ireland and against the Brexit agreement.

Football legend Frank Lampard has been sacked from his job as manager of Chelsea FC. The owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, felt that he was not producing the results he needs to see so, despite his legendary reputation as a Chelsea player, he’s out. As a Chelsea player, he worked under nine different managers in thirteen years. The new manager is Thomas Tuchel.

Dry January is about to end. I stayed completely dry – no sparkling wines, mainly Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño and Pinot Gris/Grigio with the odd glass of Viognier.