The New Zealand I fell in love with is gone

Neo-liberalism the source of most evil

The other day I talked to my political correspondent up North and I raved about the ills of these times. I was talking about all the mundane things everyone is concerned about especially during an election period.

Housing or the lack of it especially in Auckland. The “market” running rampant over the years to the point where average income New Zealanders have no hope to ever own their own home as their parents did. Compounding the problem is the government running down their Housing New Zealand stock into a state of disrepair to have the excuse to sell it off.

Education under stress. The favourite pastime for right-wing politicians seems to be teacher bashing. May be because they are one of the very few professions still strongly unionised. Whenever some arbitrary standards are not reached or New Zealand doesn’t score as high as we think we should in (senseless) international comparisons teachers are blamed. The answer is never to assure that children don’t live in damp cold houses or even cars and caravans and come to school well fed and ready to learn. The recipe is always more or better teacher training as if they were the problem.
Auckland alone has currently a teacher shortage of 300 and candidates won’t even apply as they cannot afford to live in Auckland on the uniform country wide teacher’s salary. Skyrocketing house and rental prices force them out of Auckland.

Then there is the critically underfunded health service. We just learned that in Otago urgent heart operations have been routinely delayed sometimes after patients had been already prepared for the operation because of the lack of intensive care unit (ICU) beds. Some have died as the the consequence. In response the health minister insists that there is no shortage of ICU beds in Dunedin.

Seriously underfunded infrastructure especially public transport and rail is making Auckland’s commuter traffic unbearable during morning and evening rush hour. The National Party, which seems to be owned by the roading and trucking industry, has one answer, which is anything but public transport.

Another pinch point is the mental health service especially the world beating youth suicide rate. Last week I listened to a researcher in the field telling on National Radio that our suicide rate in the early eighties was comparable to other similar countries. Since the advent of Neo-liberalism in New Zealand called Rogernomics youth suicides skyrocketed.

I had to take a breath and my friend told me that I was all over the place and had lost him. I reminded him of the thread connecting all these ills, which is their common cause : Neo-liberalism.

And the list goes on through every sector. The neo-liberal dogma of austerity beats the value of human life and a healthy future for the next generations and the planet every time.

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Think that is bad ? You haven’t seen half of it.

When I visited New Zealand then known as God’s-own for the first time in 1981 I fell in love with it. Not only with it’s beauty from the mountains to the beaches and everything in between but with her people. They seemed to be kind, caring and fair minded.  New Zealand had pioneered many progressive social achievements like giving women the vote, creating a welfare state looking after the most vulnerable, social housing, ACC and the universal old age pension  Most of all we prided ourselves of living in a more egalitarian society than the ones most of us had left behind.
I remember the locker room in my local golf club with all the members names displayed with their handicaps. One chap had been appointed to the bench and it had obviously gone to his head. He added the new title to his name “Judge” Smith. Soon there were “plumber” Jones, “nurse” Stewart and “builder” Bob and the guy very quickly got the message.
Those were the times when it was famously claimed that the Minister of Labour knew all the unemployed by their first names.

Then in 1984 the Reagan/Thatcher neo-liberal revolution hit our shores in the form of Rogernomics and all hell broke loose.

Over the last couple of weeks we have witnessed the very worst result of the neo-liberal dogma forced down our throats for 33 years. This is the now entrenched believe that it is your fault if you are poor. It is your fault when the freezing works or engineering company closed and you are unemployed after 20 plus years on the job. It is your fault if you dare to leave an abusive relationship with your children and have to rely on the domestic purpose benefit (DPB). It is your fault if you fall ill and have to live on the sickness benefit. This new neo-liberal mindset applauds the Work and Income (WINZ) staff who are paid bonuses for not paying out benefits people are entitled to and who are acting worse than the Spanish Inquisition.
All is personal responsibility and “there is no such thing as society” (Margret Thatcher).

This ugly new New Zealand mindset came to the surface after Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei confessed at the social policy launch that she had lied to WINZ 24 years ago when she raised a baby studying for a law degree.


Let us disregard the further developments since the Spanish Inquisition dug up the dirt. Let’s look at the public reaction when the story was that she had to chose between equally bad choices to either feed her baby or lie to WINZ and that she did disclose this to highlight the fact that many beneficiaries are facing that very same choice today.

The reaction was split. The right-wing commentariat was foaming at the mouth that a politician and member of Parliament had broken the law 24 years ago. Of course they would do anything to distract from the message that we have a huge poverty problem. On the other side people who live in the poverty trap called benefit see Metiria as their martyr saint. She is the only one who understands their terrible situation and is prepared to speak up for them. All this was to be expected.

However the harsh vitriolic often hateful reaction of “ordinary” people in the letters to the editor on talkback radio and discussions in the pub to a “benefit fraud” committed in the mid 1990-ies is an eyeopener. We have to remember the context of the “crime” when the “mother of all budgets” (Ruth Richardson) had cut benefits by a quarter to give tax cuts to the rich.
Still the neo-liberal brainwash of personal responsibility managed to turn the poor against the poor instead of the rich who had just stolen from them. In the pub on Friday night with a prominent political columnist we were approached by a woman of about the same age as Metiria asking us what we thought about her confession. She really didn’t give us a chance before she unloaded. She had been on a benefit with a small child at the time and never cheated. There were beneficiaries having babies just to stay on the benefit while she had abortions. Metiria had stolen from her. Benefits were not an entitlement, which of course is totally false. This I’m afraid was not just one crazy person but representative of a nasty groundswell in New Zealand’s society if there is anything left of a so called “society”.

The New Zealand I fell in love with over 35 years ago is truely gone. Very sad.

Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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There actually is an Alternative

Light at the end of the tunnel

Of all the unexpected crazy political events of the last twelve months one will prove to be more significant than all the others.
We have seen Brexit, the election of a self-confessed mass murderer who still enjoys overwhelming public support in the Philippines, a Liar in Chief in the USA, a young

political novice coming out of nowhere taking not only the presidency but an overwhelming majority in parliament and in the process evaporating the political establishment in France, a new Canadian Prime Minister winning an election with the promise to legalise pot and the list could go on.
However last week’s British elections will be seen as the most important turning point. It shows the light at the end of the dark tunnel of Neo-liberalism.

There Is No Alternative

Since the neo-liberal takeover of economics around Milton Friedman and his Chicago (School of Economics) boys under Reagan, Thatcher and New Zealand’s Roger Douglas we have been told endlessly that “there is no alternative”. This mantra drove me mad at the time as the economic system is man made and therefore by definition there is always an alternative.

However we have to understand that any myth like a religion or ideology and in this case a new economic dogma must be immunised against empirical evidence by either making it god given and consequently unquestionable or part of the law of nature and consequently unchangeable.
Since the neo-liberal experiment started in the late seventies all the evidence proves that it does not work other than making the rich and powerful even richer at the expense of the poor. However we are still told about the “trickle down effect”, which very much sounds like a law of nature as if money followed the law of gravity. The last time I looked at a bank statement 0n-line the big black numbers did not all end up at the bottom of the screen.

As the neo-liberal ideology is a myth it cannot be disproven by evidence and facts. If you point out all the failings over the last decades the answer always is that it needs more time and we have to go harder. There will never be a point when the neo-liberal disciples will admit that their experiment has failed. A belief system cannot be moved by reality.

Elections are won in the centre

The political version of “There is no Alternative” is the myth that elections cannot be won with left or havens forbid “socialist” policies but rather in the centre.

First of all we have to realise that this elusive centre has shifted over the last 40 years. What used to be in economic terms a far “right” position i.e. anti-union, anti-social welfare (for the poor not the rich), anti-regulation by the state, privatisation of state functions for instance is now the centrist position. In other words the centre has moved to the “right”.

Then at the beginning of the neo-liberal revolution the ruling classes created out of the 1983 UK elections the myth that left wing socialist policies/parties/politicians are un-electable. That election was called early by Margret Thatcher during the jingoistic period after the Falkland war. Labour’s loss had nothing to do with their left wing policies. It was the desertion of the neo-liberal wing of the Labour Party forming their own Social Democratic Party which ended all their chances. Such a move under the ‘First Pass the Post’ electoral system is lethal. Thatcher’s policies other than the war were deeply unpopular and the Conservatives actually lost votes.
But the myth created for the neo-liberal agenda changed the political discourse ever since. Now  mainstream parties converge towards the new (formerly far right) centre. They have become so indistinguishable in their policies that voting has become largely meaningless. As a consequence less and less people take part in elections.

Un-electable candidate with socialist policies

There were two un-electable candidates with socialist policies. Last year Bernie Sanders in the US from the tiny state of Vermont almost took the Democratic Party nomination and would have won the presidency if the party establishment would not have stopped him in his tracks.
In the UK the Labour Party neo-liberal establishment was only partly successful in stopping the un-electable Jeremy Corbyn.


We have to remember that his election as party leader a couple year back was an accident. His nomination by enough MPs to put him on the ballot of four was meant to be a joke. Soon the joke was on the MPs who overwhelmingly opposed him and had been trying to unseat him ever since. Corbyn was elected twice within a year by the membership with a large and increasing majority. Still his own MPs kept undermining and sabotaging him. They were supported by their mates in the mainstream neo-liberal media, which from the moment he became party leader dismissed him as an un-electable left wing lunatic because of his socialist beliefs and hugely popular policies like properly funding the National Health Service (NHS) instead of privatising it and renationalising the British Railways.

When the snap election was called not only the Tory Prime Minister but the entire political establishment had miscalculated the mood of the people. They all did not learn any lesson from the Brexit referendum a year earlier when the voter had given the ruling political class a shot across the bow. The Conservatives had an unassailable 24 point lead in the polls. The cynical ploy to call the early election was going to give Theresa May a larger majority and crush Labour to their probably worst defeat ever not to come back in the foreseeable future. The neo-liberal Labour MPs and party establishment believed in the same script and seemed intend on loosing big rather than forming a truly left wing Old Labour – in contrast to Tony Blair’s New Labour – government.

As before the Labour Party membership the British voter didn’t get the memo how they were supposed to vote. They largely ignored the propaganda assault of the right wing media. And worst of all young people registered in record numbers and unlike in the Brexit referendum they actually turned out to vote.

The much maligned Jeremy Corbyn attracted record enthusiastic crowds and instead of losing big he won big, more than 30 seats including Kensington the wealthiest electorate in the land, which always voted Conservative. Labour missed an outright majority by just a couple of points. All this with left wing lunatic socialist policies. Labour’s manifesto hit the soft spot after years of ideologically driven neo-liberal austerity. Even two terrorist attacks just before the election  could not drive the voters into the “strong leadership” camp. The foregone conclusion of a huge win and wipeout of Labour turned into a humiliating defeat.

However the neo-liberal wing of the Labour Party were partly successful stopping Corbyn from – shock horror – moving into No 10. That would have happened if they would have been loyal to their leader instead of undermining him. Must watch Jonathan Pie ! ! !

But that is not a bad thing. The Conservatives still have to deal with the mess they created with the Brexit referendum for their own little party political purposes. It will not last. We can look forward to a socialist win next time around. The people are not buying the neo-liberal myth anymore that elections are won in the centre.

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Thanks Jeremy, you have shown us the Alternative.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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One more reason not to visit Gallipoli

This is again the time of year when some New Zealanders consider to make the pilgrimage to Gallipoli for ANZAC day celebrations.


Two years ago after the centenary I have written about what is wrong with all these ANZAC day “celebrations” in my post under the title “100 years Gallipoli: ANZAC propaganda still working overtime“.

Now and then two things about the continuing ANZAC propaganda irk me most. For one the claim that the poor chaps who lost there lives on Turkish soil all died as heroes. One died sitting on the latrine being hit by a grenade. The next died storming up the hill to take out a machine gun position. Another died leaving the safety of cover to retrieve a wounded comrade (re Willie Apiata). According to the ANZAC propaganda they all died as heroes. This not only empties the word “hero” of its meaning but demeans the real heroes of war.

The other is the lie that this campaign and the Great War for that matter was about that we could live in freedom and democracy instead just a struggle of competing powers for superiority.
General Sir Ian Hamilton the one most responsible for the disaster whitewashing the report of the Dardanelles Commission warned Churchill :
If the people of Australia and New Zealand feel their sacrifices went for nothing, then never expect them again to have any sort of truck with our superior direction in preparations for future wars.

The propaganda has been working like a charm. New Zealanders have trundled along to every jolly war going if Britain or in the case of Vietnam the US asked them to. Helen Clark  was the first New Zealand leader to resist in the case of the second gulf war. The one also based on a lie that time about weapons of mass destruction.

Freedom and Democracy

Besides the recent terror threats the people who peddle or believe the ANZAC lie about freedom and democracy  should this year have even more reason to stay away from Turkey.

As a guest contribution I add the unedited thoughts of a learned friend :


With much turmoil reported in Ankara and the rest of Turkey and with some 60,000 people apparently detained and arraigned no matter their rank or profession it must be clear that our representatives of those who fought, were wounded or died at Gallipoli just 102 years ago must now stay at home in New Zealand.

With a president staking his future on a populist reaction of support by which he and they can condemn those arrested we must look to ourselves. Erdogan openly now discusses the death penalty for many of those whom he now has in his prisons when such a penalty does not exist there.  He is doing and threatening things of state importance which cannot be done except by the existing law.  And he is openly in favour with the crowds when he says that the sentence of death must be looked at in respect of the worst of his enemies. There does not appear to be any statute on the books which authorises execution of anyone by anyone else least of all by the state.
We abolished the use of the death penalty in the 1980s. Long before that we declared that retrospective legislation was something which we would not sanction from our Parliament or ask the Queen’s Representative to provide her Assent. Both those constitutional safeguards appear to be at risk now in the land of the repressive Ottoman Empire from which our foe Atta Turk created the modern Turkish state. It is that state which now welcomes us to the Dardenelles and the hills and ravines, ridges and shorelines where the history of the ANZACs began.
However we cannot stand alongside our Gallipoli hosts again until those most serious cornerstones for which those men of ours suffered and died and which seem at risk of deletion by Erdogan from Turkey’s lexicon of laws and been declared to be safe. Our society is one of the Rule of Law, a society which at its core is being dismantled in the very land of Atta Turk.  He promised the mothers of our fallen that they there were now the children of his own land.  Would they want that. Would they have gone so far in order to ensure that the democratic life with its safeguards here would not be lost to history? I think not.
Sadly as present things stand we ought not to have our present day servicemen and young people with all their great intent be seen at Gallipoli. They could only be seen to be supporting a regime and its illegalities of the death penalty and the retrospective legislation which will be required. In our constitutional framework both acts of a captured and compliant legislature would not possible. Nor should they be attack available to President Erdogan who this week is reported as having undertaken an ‘indiscriminate purge’ …and in particular ‘to secular opposition and silence independent media in the country‘.  That is an unwelcome start for any dictatorial plans: First kill the messenger!

Simon Reeves.
7th March 2017

So everyone who believes in freedom and democracy should now stay away from Gallipoli. This would send a real message in support of freedom and democracy.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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How many Lives to balance the books ?

St John Ambulance Service

It always struck me as odd that in New Zealand the most vital of emergency service is not run by the government but an NGO (non governmental organisation). In this case a not for profit charitable organisation, which in regular intervals approaches us with their begging bowl. I do not know of any civilised country where such a crucial part of the health and disaster service is run by a private charity.
Of course as always in these cases there is a long history behind it going back according to their web-site to the crusades. In New Zealand St John started in 1885. In light of recent reports about a Steep rise in reported ambulance mistakes one has to ask if the charitable model as least for the ambulance part of St John’s operation is still adequate for the twenty-first century.


The recent revelations seem to point to underfunding as the main problem. The service is under-resourced and under-staffed. This leads to more and more mistakes being made by exhausted and stressed medics, which have lead in some cases to serious harm or even death of patients.
Of course we hear the usual obfuscation about the steep rise in reported incidents being just the result new reporting procedures. And as always the government tries to wash it’s hands of the responsibility to provide adequate funding as it is not running the service.

Fortunately I live to tell about my own experience. I wonder how it was recorded by St John. Here is a slightly abridged version of what I wrote almost seven years ago.

31 July 2010 was my lucky day

I might not have been so lucky as it was a Saturday. However I live to tell the tale.

The pain in the middle of my chest started slowly at around 12:30 pm. As I had a heart attack before I knew the routine. First the Nitrolingual Pumpsray under the tongue. After 5 minutes the repeat brought no relieve. The pain became more crushing. I had to make the decision to ring 111. The ambulance dispatcher was reassuring. “Have you got Aspirin? Can you get to it? What is the strength? Chew three but don’t drink water. The ambulance is on the way.”

The ambulance arrived about 15 minutes later. The paramedics started their work: ECG, blood pressure, Oxygen, shunt into the arm and more Nitrolingual spray.

One piece of advice to all tough guys out there. You will be asked to rate your pain on a scale from 1 to 10, ten being the worst. Being men we will probably never know a ten but it doesn’t pay to downplay your pain. If you are in agony don’t understate and go for the 8 or 9.

The ride in the ambulance seemed painfully slow as I was increasingly struggling with more crushing chest pain. Then we hit some traffic backlog on the Northern Motorway and instead of asking for permission to turn the flashing lights and siren on as the patient was getting worse we went off the motorway to go through the suburbs to reach North Shore Hospital. This alone would have caused a 10 to 15 minute delay.

And here comes the next problem. As a resident of the Waitemata Health Board area north of Auckland you are inevitably taken to North Shore Hospital even if on the weekends they are not fully open for business. We finally got there and into the A&E room. I was  now struggling  with excruciating pain. The medical staff did all they could to stabilize me with anti-clotting medication and more and more morphine. “Can I have another signature ?” Obviously needed to give the restricted drug. The medical staff got to the end of their capabilities and decided to have me shipped to the catheter lab at Auckland Hospital.

My wife by now as scared as I was desperately tried to cheer me up by pointing out to me how beautiful the cardiologist was accompanying me in the ambulance. She was beautiful alright. However her qualification and the fact that two nurses got with her (and me) into the back of the ambulance and that this time the lights were flashing and the sirens were going was more comforting to me. At least my situation was now taken very seriously.

At the Auckland Hospital the Cardiac Care Unit (CCU) was ready for me. The catheter lab had been fired up. “Where is the radiologist ? We need a radiologist.” He appeared a minute later. The surgeon managed to get the catheter into my coronary arteries. It didn’t seem to be easy. You eagerly listen to the communication between the team. He managed to open up the blocked artery and put a stent inside a previous stent, which had been blocked. At around 5pm it was all over. I knew and told everybody, the medial staff, my family and visitors, that I was a very lucky man. About half the heart attack victims don’t even make it into hospital alive.

I am thankful to our public health system, which really looked after me in my hour of need. However some questions remain.

Why can an ambulance crew not turn the flashing lights and siren on when the patient in the back is clearly struggling and deteriorating ? This seems to be a management and/or communication problem the patient really doesn’t need. During a heart attack they speak of the “golden hour” i.e. every minute counts.

Looking back

I just recently had another look at my heart. My cardiologist pointed to an extended white area on the ultrasound image telling me that this was the scar from my last heart attack. I am wondering if the scar would be smaller if I had reached the hospital 15 minutes earlier.

I am convinced that proper funding by the government will improve the survival chances of many patients and the ambulance service is just one small example.

Our government is so smug about balancing the books and even posting a budget surplus. However they achieve this by underfunding even the most vital services like health. Think of the rosters of junior doctors, underfunded and understaffed midwifes run of their feet, life saving medications. Think of other life saving services like suicide prevention, women’s refuge and related services. Think of safe and healthy housing, social services to protect vulnerable children. And the list goes on.

And the government is still spinning us a neo-liberal lie like “trickle down” like “the tide will lift all boats big and small” and most of all “there is no alternative“. This time the lie we hear from government and even the Auckland mayor Phil Goff is the promise to do “more for less“.

The government should be asking themselves :

How many lives are we prepared to sacrifice to balance the books ?

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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And the good news is . . . .

The regular readers of this blog will have noticed that since the US election the author has gone numb. But now even my cardiologist encouraged me to resume writing. As a model patient I have to follow doctor’s orders. Lets pick up the thread.

No real change in America

On election day the NZ Herald came out with this front page :

I have it laminated hanging on my wall. I am somehow still in disbelief. On the other hand nothing really changed in the USA on November 9th. The picture just has become much clearer.

Still the country  has a deeply undemocratic constitution designed 250 years ago to keep control in the hands of the establishment and keep the riffraff out. Just to give you some examples look at the US Senate, which makes a mockery of the most basic democratic principle that each vote should count the same. In California you get two senators for 50 million people the same number as in tiny states like Wyoming or Vermont for a few hundred thousands.
Or the so called electoral college gave Trump a decisive victory despite the fact that he got about three million votes less than his opponent.

And still Americans accept this and even go to war to teach and bring democracy to other countries. Many even believe that somehow the constitution was given to them by “GOD”.

And still the country is run by big money via corrupt political parties. For example a couple of years back some freshly elected congressmen even missed their swearing-in ceremony because they were already attending fundraising events for the next election.

And still the corrupt political system is held in place by the undemocratic first-past-the-post electoral system aggravated by Gerrymandering. Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in a short video clip WHY CONGRESS IS WORSE THAN HERPES describes this system correctly as “politicians pick their voters instead voters picking their politician” and “politician draw their district lines so safely that even when congressional approval rating went down into single digits they couldn’t lose” and “the former soviet polite bureau had more turnover than Californian politics“.

And still the USA act aggressively against her former ideological foe. It is if the Soviet Union and communism hadn’t expired over a quarter of a century ago.The US military – industrial complex needs an enemy to keep going.

And still most of the US media disseminate the old propaganda line about Russian aggression like Saddam Hussain’s weapons of mass destruction. Just one look at a map of US military bases around Russia from 1990 to 2017 would debunk the propaganda as lies.

The picture is clear for everyone to see

Since Trump’s inauguration i.e. the angry orange meteor hitting the earth and us with it


we can see clearly that our worst fears have come true. The events since the election have proved what all actual observers of US politics feared. Now it cannot be denied by anyone anymore. Houston we have a problem a threefold problem.

# 1   There is now a leader of the most powerful county on the planet who will not only take his place in the history books but also future psychiatric textbooks. The US professor who wrote the standard text on malignant narcissism  didn’t classify Trump as ill despite meeting all the criteria only because he doesn’t seem to suffer from his condition. All his life he got the lollies feeding his condition like an open carriage ride down the London Mall with our gracious Queen. Its like calling a heroin addict not ill as long as he has enough supply. However we better not wait for what happens if he runs out of lollies eventually and suffers serious rejection, which even he in his alternative factual world might not be able to deny. So far in his mind he could turn around poor attendance and rain at his inauguration or a botched military action in Yemen into the opposite.
However Trump is only the symptom. A boil full of pus on the sick body politics USA threatening to pop anytime.

# 2   The bigger problem are the Trump enablers around him. A criminal gang called the Republican Party or GOP. They not only made him their standard bearer despite all he said during the primaries and without demanding his tax return or that he divests himself from his business interests. They confirm the worst of his cabinet choices. A billionaire secretary of education with the declared aim of destroying the public school system. Or the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) who is against all scientist of his department a climate change denier with the declared aim of destroying the agency. Or a racist white supremacist pig as his top aid and security adviser with no experience in the later.


Not that the Democrats  are or have been Lilly white but the Republicans are taking their unashamed and blatant abuse of power to a whole new level. In North Carolina for instance after they narrowly lost the gubernatorial race the Republican majority in parliament turned around and stripped the office of governor of all its political power. The court had to put a stop to it.

We are actually watching live the biggest heist in human history. Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, private education providers (charter schools) and the health insurance/providers and of course the “wall” building industry to name just a few gorge themselves at the expense of the sick, the poor (many of them Trump voters) and the environment.

That is what the GOP has been all about for quite some time but now their audacity is mind boggling.

# 3   The third problem are the before mentioned Trump voters. There have always been the traditional tribal Republicans waging class war from the top. They seem to be unable to change their vote whatever unqualified sick candidates the party puts up. But they have now been joined by a lower class, angry, often racist, uneducated crowd who have no idea what they are voting for or talking about. They for instance want to get rid of “Obamacare” because they – as they say – still have the “Affordable Care Act” not realising that these are one and the same.

I asked friends from California on their recent visit about what has changed in their day to day lives since the Trump election. Their reply was that people just have become angrier, more openly racist and nastier than they ever experienced before.
For me there are just the scary images of Nazi rallies during the 1930s and the infamous Berlin “Sport Palast” crowd.

Are we there yet ?

World renowned physicist and thinker Stephen Hawking predicts that Greed and Stupidity Will End Humanity Earlier than Expected. The doomsday clock has been moved closer to midnight since Trump’s election.
I have over many years observed where the world is heading especially in regards to climate change and inequality and have come to the conclusion that things would need to get much worse before they would get better.

Even looking at the downwards trajectory from Reagan to Bush II and now Trump I lack the imagination to foresee anything worse. And therefore the good news is . . . . .

We might have hit rock bottom.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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USA/facebook conundrum : Nudity and fake news

Nudity not ok

I have been banned from posting on facebook for 24 hours. I re-posted a political cartoon critical of exploitation including sexual exploitation and hypocrisy.


I self censored the image above so you are not blinded by two cartoon nipples and facebook will allow this blog to be posted. You still might be offended if you fantasise about what you can’t see behind the bar. I bet that your fantasy will be so much more vivid and therefore offensive than the actual hidden detail of the image. As they say ‘radio is better than TV because the pictures are better’.

Just to make sure that the censor at facebook understands the meaning of the objectionable image let me give you my interpretation of what the artist depicted. It shows a privileged white male sitting comfortably being served all sorts of conveniences like lab top computers, smartphones, chocolate, toiletries and even marihuana by crouching poor mostly dark third world figures. The one blond female figure is even exposing her bare breasts. All this while the privileged white male is ironically wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt.
In one image we get the whole story of exploitation including sexual exploitation and hypocrisy.

The Problems with Censorship

The main problem with censorship has always been with the dirty minds of the censors. To prove this point famous 19th century Austrian satirist Karl Kraus once wrote a little piece where he left spaces blank. The story was designed so that the missing words could either be innocent fitting a harmless storyline or dirty fitting a naughty storyline. The dirty mind of the censor at every turn inevitably supposed the naughty version and the piece was banned even if not one objectionable word was uttered. The satirist had made his point brilliantly.

In the case of the facebook bare breast/nipple policy the question is : What is the reason for the blanket ban ? Is it that the sexual exploitation of women is objectionable ? In this case I would wholeheartedly support the policy and for that very reason I posted the image in the first place.
Or is it that Mark Zuckerberg thinks that nudity per se is objectionable and that the human body is dirty and somehow pornographic ? I do not want to open up the whole breastfeeding debate at this point. However I am reminded of the actor Hugh Laurie on a recent US comedy show. When discussing Donald Trump’s obsession with women’s appearances and walking in on naked beauty contestants his therapy recommendation was breast feeding. It had to be consenting adults, which needed to be emphasised in the case of Trump. And I would wholeheartedly agree with that approach as well.

In any case the image should not have been banned by facebook. If it was for an anti sexual exploitation stance it should have been welcomed. If it would be for an anti nudity stance it should not have been banned as many of the old masters in the great art galleries of the world should not be banned. Instead Mark Zuckerberg and his censors should book some breastfeeding therapy.

Fake News ok

Fake news stories on the internet have become a real problem. Facebook as the main player has come more and more into focus. It is claimed with some good reason that it might have had a decisive influence on this years US elections.


Even if Mark Zuckerberg dismissed as “pretty crazy” the idea that fake news spread on his site could have affected the presidential election facebook is now taking the issue a bit more seriously. Reputable PewResearch found that 44% of US adults get news from facebook, which is a staggering reach. If you are responsible for the news of so many people you cannot just wash your hands off the problem.

More and more governments around the world are increasingly concerned about the power of social media to control the “news” content. The German government for instance is demanding access to the algorithm behind the “news” selection the users are fed.

Most of the fake news stories are so blatantly false as the one above that any sensible half educated person would check the date of the publication if it was not the 1st of April. Which brings us of course to the level of education of many including Donald Trump who believe things because they have seen it on the internet. As a product of decades of neo-liberal cuts to education they lack the basic knowledge to asses if a news story is even close to the realm of reality.

Word of the year 2016 “Post-truth”

The Oxford Dictionary has named “Post-truth” the word of the year 2016. It could as well be the description of the state of the US society and politics where the term was used to characterise the election campaign. Observers already call the incoming administration the most anti truth – as in science, as in climate change – ever. Up to 40% of US citizens don’t even care about the truth of climate change as they believe that the world is going to end anyway on judgment day in the next 30 to 40 years during their lifetime.

Instead they care about nipples. Remember the infamous wardrobe malfunction during a Super Bowl performance when Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed for about half a second showing her breast covered with a nipple shield. People went bananas and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tried to impose a record fine of $500,000.- on the broadcaster. A case which got all the way to the Supreme Court.

Please excuse my generalisation. Many friends and family are Americans and I apologise to them. But as this year’s election has proved Americans do not care about the truth while if facebook is anything to go by are being obsessed with female nipples. They just elected the president to suit.

Donald Trump, an unabashed pathological lier with a lifelong obsession with the shape and appearance of women in urgent need of some breast feeding therapy.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber


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“Scary Movie 16” – US Election

I am utterly sick of the US election and can’t wait it to be over. It has become so incredibly ugly and the downward spiral seems to have no end. And I am scared. I don’t want to be held “in suspense” any longer.
The choice for the American voter should be easy even if each appears to have a sour taste.
In any case the outcome has grave consequences for everyone connected to this world. Think of gradual devastation by climate change or sudden by (at worst) nuclear war.

Bread and Circuses

For a long time I have seen parallels between our period in history and the end of the Roman Empire. I even encouraged my son to become a professional in the wider entertainment industry to have job prospects for life. The bread and circuses of the Romans were the last device to keep the masses in the crumbling empire docile.
Looking around us today we see the same things happening. Serious discourse about serious issues like the economy, the environment, politics are displaced by entertainment. You only have to look at New Zealand’s two main TV channels where narcissistic ignorant clowns are hosting current affairs programmes. The ratings indicate that the great unwashed crowd is loving it.

guy body editorial cartoon october 31 2016 halloween paul henry max key obnoxious behaviourguy guy body editorial cartoon October 31, 2016

This is the result of a deliberate policy by neoliberal elites. In the US and other countries following the neoliberal doctrine like New Zealand the public education system has been gradually defunded. Underpaid teachers are under constant attack not the least as they are still unionised. The result is a lesser and lesser educated citizenry, that for instance does not know history and therefore does not understand the context of the problems facing us.
Another example of our neo-liberal government dumbing down public discourse was the scrapping of the state broadcaster’s charter as one of it’s first acts after coming to power. The public broadcaster was turned fully commercial with no more obligation to true in depth journalism and informing the public.
The ultimate result of creating an uneducated ignorant citizenry can be observed by the regression of US presidents from Reagan to Bush junior to now Trump. The trajectory points even lower.

While we are distracted by the media and other circuses the serious problems are festering on.

Climate Change

To start with the big one with the most serious consequence for us all. A Trump presidency would set back the global effort by years. This is of the gravest concern as time is of the essence. Other more localised environmental issues fair no better.
Again the widely uneducated uninformed masses don’t seem to care. How else can a climate change denier who threatens to rip up all the international climate treaties come close to winning the US presidency? And again the media are not doing their job to thoroughly research and report on the issue affecting all of us.

World Economy

The burning economic and political problem of neo-liberalism is never mentioned by name during the campaign. However one of the leading candidates, Bernie Sanders, with his policies on closing the growing rich-poor gap, free public education and globalisation raised awareness and shifted the positions of the finalists.
Like on climate change there seems to be a stark choice on globalisation between the candidates. The outcome will affect all trading nations.

War and international Conflicts

It seems that Hillary Clinton poses a greater risk to world peace than her counterpart. This is explainable by the fact that as a woman in a men’s world she cannot possibly be seen as weak. From her record she rather seeks confrontation than walk away from a dangerous situation.
We have seen 25 years of US led Western aggression against Russia. After the end of the Soviet Union and their dream of world revolution there was hope for co-operation and a so called ‘peace dividend’. We meant to save on military spending as the “communist threat” had disappeared. However the Western military/industrial complex or arms industry did not want a bar of it. Against all promises made when Gorbatsjov allowed German re-unification Nato expanded eastward right to the Russian border. New weapon systems directed at Russia were deployed. Former Soviet republics were enticed to join or align with anti Russian alliances. And right now we are in the midst of an anti Russian/Putin propaganda war.


In Georgia and Ukraine where Russia was defending it’s self-interest direct confrontation between the two nuclear superpowers was avoided. Now in the Syrian war where both US and Russian airforces are operating on opposite sites there is a risk of direct confrontation and military exchange. Even more so as Clinton threatens to impose a no-fly zone.
The threat of a nuclear war is real. Remember at the last direct confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis only the cool heads in Moscow saved us from nuclear armageddon.

Candidate Trump’s approach to international security seems be more isolationist more like the Mafia business model. If you want protection you have to pay for it. Otherwise the US are not interested.

US government & political System

For a very long time the US political system has moved away from a democracy. As former US president Jimmy Carter noted ‘The U.S. Isn’t A Democracy, It’s An Oligarchy’.

Former President Jimmy Carter speaks during a forum at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014. Among other topics, Carter discussed his new book, "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power." (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Former President Jimmy Carter

A system that declares corporations to be persons to be allowed to influence the political process when they are not allowed to vote is deeply flawed.
One candidate claims that the elections are rigged and he is correct on so many levels from  election finance to voter suppression in many federal states to blatant gerrymandering. All of which generally favour the Republicans.

The US neo-liberal political system is broken, not fit for purpose, kaputt. Against all evidence to the contrary it relies on the fiction that there is an informed rational electorate able to make decisions in their interest. I have been saying all along that not Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are the problem but the American electorate, which in great part has gone crazy with justified anger. Filmmaker Michael Moore in TrumpLand (last night on TV One) explains it well. Democracy cannot work if you use you vote as an “anger management tool”. 

We should not even be talking about Trump in political terms but instead in medical terms like in Narcissism named after the Greek mythological figure Narcissus.
Imagine the day after the election a crazed candidate unable to accept that he lost is arrested running down New Yorks’s 5th Avenue trying to shoot someone to prove his prediction that he will not lose even one vote by shooting someone in broad daylight. Then the term “Trumpism” will be coined for people suffering from the mental disorder that they are “winners” who cannot ever accept losing. Think of Monty Python’s Black Knight.

Imagine the very real prospect of a man in the oval office influencing the world economy and climate  with his finger on the nuclear button  who is not able to believe that he could ever lose.
We must be in “Scary Movie 16”.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Being British

English – German Friendship

We recently went on a trip back to Europe and my old “Fatherland” Germany.

First we stayed with very good old friends in Düsseldorf. The main topic of political conversation besides the refugee crisis in Europe and especially in Germany was the Brexit. My friend, an ex high-school English teacher, heads the English-German friendship society in this biggest federal state in Germany. Her feelings about the Brexit can best be described as sadness and disbelief.
What so many Germans had worked for after WWII, a united and peaceful Europe, and what Europe got the Nobel Peace Price for only a few years back was discarded by the British voter. In WWI the worst the German propaganda could come up with was calling the English a nation of petty little shopkeepers. And the shopkeepers might even be right that the Brexit might not lead to an economic disaster and some might even be financially better off. And Europe is definitely imperfect and a work in progress. What I however fear for is the idea of a peaceful Europe with open borders. The British gave this a serious blow.

One really has to wonder if this wasn’t the intention of the British all along. The English “Yes Minister” TV series  already suspected it a long time ago with it’s sketch “Why Britain joined the European Union“.

One good reason for Brexit

I follow politics not only in New Zealand but Britain, the USA, Germany and the wider world. We all deal with more or less the same issues and problems. I was very interested in the Brexit debate and had thought that I heard all the arguments. The more surprised I was to hear one single coherent argument for Brexit I hadn’t come across before. We were on the train from Düsseldorf to Berlin in a very lively conversation with a young German woman who spoke excellent English when a man from across the aisle joined in. I could hear that he was English and he told us that he had lived and worked in Germany for quite some time. When I asked him about Brexit I was surprised to hear that he had actually voted for it. And he gave me his reason I could not argue with.
He said that the British politicians and bureaucracy had been bad, inefficient and rotten for a very long time. They had got away with it by always blaming everything going wrong on Bruxelles. So he voted for Brexit to finally take that excuse away. So the British politicians have to take responsibility and be accountable for their own actions.

Anglo-German Club

One beautiful old institution in anglophile Hamburg is it’s iconic Anglo-German Club.

It is a traditional English club, where the (male) club members rule and ladies are admitted into the club rooms only in the evenings. However since I last visited over three years ago a minor revolution has happened. Members don’t have to wear a tie any longer and ladies are allowed on to the beautiful terrace during the day.
A very good friend had suggested and arranged the club as a venue for a dinner party celebrating a significant birthday. We had an appointment during lunchtime to organise the event. It was one of this year’s hot September days with the temperature at 30 degrees. I was just wearing a kaki safari shirt. A (female) friend was already waiting for us on the terrace. The lady at the reception insisted that I took a jacket she offered, which I did not even have to wear but just put over the chair next to me. There is obviously still a jacket rule, which in true British constitutional tradition on hot summer days is stretched to suit. One might call it ridiculous or charming depending on one’s point of view.

In the event I greeted the – I’m sure mostly republican – guests who were hopefully a little impressed by the various prominent pictures of our majesty and ended with the traditional toast to THE QUEEN. They all joined in in good humour. My wife as a rational person not being able to defend the monarchy found it a bit ridiculous. I told her that I was happy for her to start the revolution. She as a natural born New Zealander had never unlike myself actually sworn an oath of allegiance to our Queen and her heirs.

Being British in the (ex) Colonies

On our way back we stayed for three days in Hong Kong a place I never had visited before.
We had the good fortune to meet with an expat New Zealand friend who has lived there for over 15 years and is now married to a very cosmopolitan professional Hong Kong Chinese lady. They invited us into their home and were able to give us some of the information and history your normal tourist does not get.
It was the weekend of China’s national day celebrated with big fireworks over Victoria Harbour just outside our hotel window. Our hosts told us that only about half the Hong Kong Chinese found the mainland Chinese national day remembering Mao coming to power a cause to celebrate. Even after almost twenty years since Hong Kong returned to China still a special territory under special rules many don’t feel very close to their mainland ‘communist’ brethren. This was confirmed in conversations with some of the hotel staff asking them if they watched the fireworks. Their reply was that they saw it only because they were working that night but otherwise didn’t celebrate ‘their’ national day.
Another interesting piece of information was about all the amazing infrastructure. The new airport, wonderful bridges and tunnels and the train system. We were told that these were the legacy of the colonial rule. The British had obviously decided that before they left they would empty the coffers and spend all the money on these big projects to leave the treasury bare for when the Chinese took over.

When we left for home we had a not unusual little hiccup at the security check-in. Even if we had come via Hong Kong before this time nail scissors and a metal toothpick out of my vanity bag were deemed unsafe and were to be confiscated. However a friendly security officer pointed to the rules and suggested, as we still had time, to check the items in as luggage and got me back quickly to the airline counter.

p1030416Even if I thought this to be ridiculous coming back through security I thanked him for his friendly assistance . His reply was that he was British.
He could have fooled me looking exactly like any other person of (Hong Kong) Chinese ethnicity.

All these different experiences leave me puzzled about what it means Being British.

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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Barbie & Ken – America’s Choice 2016

US Elections 2016

Anybody who does not live in a cave and has contact with any media at all cannot avoid being exposed to the circus of the US election campaign 2016. However this year’s spectacle is unlike any other we have witnessed in living memory. The rule book has been tossed out the window. There is only one certainty, which is that there is no more certainty. The situation America finds itself in today nobody predicted only twelve months ago.

Especially the political elite did not see it coming.

The Republican Party (GOP) has been hijacked by a crass narcissistic buffoon easily demolishing a bunch of dismal and/or even scarier contenders.

The Democrats had to resort to cheating and electoral fraud which kept the heads of the highest officials’ rolling just to keep out an ‘independent’ and self-declared “democratic socialist” senator from the tiny state of Vermont from stealing the nomination from the anointed one. The candidate backed by Wall Street and the party elite. She who happens to have lived in the White House already for two terms.

Which as an aside brings me back to comedian Raybon Kan‘s observation and questions:
It doesn’t surprise me that the first woman to run for US President is a former First Lady.
This is American feminism.
Would it have been possible for another woman to become the candidate ? Would it have been possible for a woman who hasn’t already lived in the White House for eight years ? Would it have been possible for a woman who had to climb the political ladder herself, without having a two-term President-husband as a sherpa ?

The party conventions

Everything seemed to be wrong with the party conventions this year. It was the reverse from what we would usually expect from the two parties and their traditional bases.

The GOP (Grand Old Party) conference is supposed to showcase it’s glorious history and represent the rich and famous Americans, the decedents of the plantation (and slave) owners, Wall Street banksters, old money industrialists and old boys from the ivy league universities like Harvard, Princeton and Yale. After all the GOP is the conservative right wing Tory party of privilege and power in American politics.
What we saw instead was a mostly older blue collar, downtrodden and deprived, frustrated and angry mob. Their only privilege left after suffering 35 years of Neo-liberalism other than being mostly male was the colour of their skin, white and too often red-neck.

The Democrats on the other hand are supposed to be the “left wing” party of the working people, trade unions and lesser educated and privileged. What we saw instead were the young college kids from the Sanders camp and the glorious multi millionaire stars from Hollywood and the music industry. It was their convention, which had class and style.

However both conventions created their own if totally different excitement and probably high ratings for the commercial TV channels.


The GOP met first in Cleveland to formally seal the nomination of non-politician Donald Trump. And this is the most benign and still accurate attribute I can find for him.

This convention was extraordinary by the almost total absence of GOP political bigwigs like the prominent leading national politicians or former presidents. The list of speakers and appearances from the entertainment industry was distinctly second rate. Instead we saw and heard a lot from the Trump family.


A political junkie friend of mine who has fast internet and was watching proceeding live ringing me three time a day got all exited about what he described as the Trump Barbie Dolls on stage. He is however convinced that the American electorate would not buy it/them.
And then there was the speech of the candidate’s present model wife and First Lady hopeful Slovenian born Melania. They let her blatantly plagiarise passages from a 2008 speech by the present First Lady. And to make matters worse they let her be recorded claiming that she had written the speech all by herself. How cruel was that ?

The whole thing was a gloomy apocalyptic affair. Scare the bejesus out of America to make them vote for the only candidate to save them and “Make America Great Again“.


The Democrats had the advantage of going second, which they almost blew with an e-mail scandal, which on the eve of the convention claimed the scalp of party chair Wassermann Schultz .

However they recovered from initial dissent by emotional aggrieved Sanders supporters. Bernie himself came to the rescue with his speech. For me the best speech of the whole convention happened already on then opening day by the real First Lady Michelle Obama.


One could only feel sorry for the rest of the party grandees who had to follow her. Unlike the week before at the GOP the Democrats were all there and held rousing speeches that sounded even more positive in contrast with what had gone the week before.

One other most powerful moment of the convention attracted much coverage mainly because trump in response again put his foot in big time by attacking a gold star family, which used to be sacrosanct. A Pakistani immigrant lawyer who had lost his US army captain son in Iraq gave Trump in the words of John Oliver the middle finger with a pocket edition of the American constitution.

Khizr Khan, whose son, Humayun S. M. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving in the U.S. Army in the 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, offers to loan his copy of the Constitution to Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, as he speaks while a relative looks on during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Khizr Khan

It only got worse for Trump claiming in a TV interview with George Stephanopoulos that he also made sacrifices by working very very hard being a “successful” businessman.

Under normal circumstances this should all add up to a slam-dunk victory for Hillary in November.

On Reflection

On reflection I’m still scared about the possibility of president Trump in the White House.

The warning from Noam Chomsky rings in my mind.
I’m just old enough to have heard a number of Hitler’s speeches on the radio,” he said, “and I have a memory of the texture and the tone of the cheering mobs, and I have the dread sense of the dark clouds of fascism gathering” here at home.
He remembers the mood in 1930s, where after harsh reparations and the great depression  the people in Germany turned to Hitler as their saviour. Chomsky says that he has never seen the level of anger and fear in his lifetime after the country suffered 35 years of Neo-liberalism. This left people with two alternatives either to turn to some radical progressive solutions on the left or turn to demagogues and fascism on the right.

The pass to radical progressive change as represented by Bernie Sanders has been blocked by the machinations of the Democratic Party establishment.  Now the turn to the right and strong man authoritarianism/fascism might be the even more tempting option. Will we see history repeat itself ?

Then I listened to Chris Trotter in a left – right discussion on the radio waxing lyrically about Bill Clinton’s excellent “I met a girl ” convention speech, which reminded him of the great US novel “To kill a Mockingbird”. His right wing neo-liberal opponent mocked him and implicitly Clinton by expressing his disdain for having had to study that novel at school. If government ministers hold such a dismissive attitude towards intellectual mastery and appreciation of culture and history what will ordinary voters be capable of doing ?

Whatever happens in November the fact that Donald Trump in the latest polls is scoring in the 40s % is scary in itself. The highest vote Hitler ever got in democratic elections  was in July 1932 with 37.27 %.

But my concern lies on a more basic or profane level. May be the American people actually go for the Trump Barbie Dolls. After all the makers of the iconic toy have spend millions in developing that product exactly tailored to the American taste.


 Barbie & Ken – America’s Choice 2016

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber


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The world gone mad or is it just me ?

A mad world out there where ever we look

The year 2016 is shaping up as one of the craziest in living memory. And mine goes back to World War II.

images-1Bristol Mural

That was the opening sentence of this blog a week back, which seems like a very long time ago. Since then I repeatedly had to take a breath to watch another madness unfold. First (Theresa) May-Day in London with the appointment of Boris Johnson as foreign secretary. Then the terrible deadly truck attack on Bastille Day in Nice and for the end of the week the attempted coup in Turkey as the overture and excuse (“gift of god”) for the full blown fascist takeover of that formerly democratic country ruled by law.

But for now back to my original line of thought observing the events of the year.

Politics in the USA

2016 saw so far the most remarkable presidential election campaign anybody can remember. In the Democratic Party primaries an unknown self declared “socialist” – in fact just a traditional New Deal social democrat – Senator from the tiny state of Vermont gave the shoe-in establishment candidate with the Clinton name recognition a run for her money. He pulled enthusiastic crowds and filled stadiums with mostly young people being the oldest candidate in the field.
On the Republican side we will this week witness the nomination of a narcissistic buffoon reality TV star and self declared billionaire who never was anywhere near government or political office. He succeeded with xenophobic policies like building a wall and Mexico paying for it, banning all Muslims from the US and registering the ones already there and the slogan “Making America great again”.

However both surprisingly successful candidates tapped into a deep widespread anger and frustration about an American reality after almost 40 years of neo-liberal ideology ruling the country. The foremost US intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky, who in his own words is old enough to remember the Great Depression has never seen so many people so angry. He sees two alternatives for these left behind, frustrated angry people of either turning to progressive policy solutions of the “Left” or to seductive propaganda slogans of the “Right” and again Fascism. The later is a very scary prospect after the experience of the last century, which unfortunately too many have forgotten.

Britain and Europe

This headline we never stopped using during the decades of Britain’s membership in the European Union (EU) really says it all. The British always went to Europe when they crossed the Channel while the French, Dutch and Germans never left it when they went the other way.
The most hilariously accurate depiction of the British government’s attitude towards the EU stems already from the eighties’ sitcom “Yes Minister“.

I do not want to argue about the economic merits of the “Remain” or “Leave” campaigns. I do not dispute the many shortcomings of the EU edifice where the Neoliberals have also taken over for the benefit of the big corporations. Just last week a BBC headline reads “Ex-European Commission head Barroso under fire over Goldman Sachs job” covering the usual revolving door scenario between top politicians and big business.
However the EU won the Nobel Peace Price a couple of years back for a very good reason keeping the peace between European nations for over 70 years unprecedented in history.
Now in the UK a majority instead of seeing some rational way out of their predicament under Neoliberalism have in their anger and frustration also fallen for the lies of the demagogues and the slogans like “Independence Day” to give the elites the fingers and shooting themselves in the foot. We must not call the 52% majority racists but the xenophobic undertones are unmistakable. Just look at the Brexiters’ new best friends on the nationalistic far right all over Europe. Chomsky’s worst case scenario seems to come true in Europe as well.

Refugees, Middle East, Terrorism

The European nations are struggling with the arrival of millions of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. They don’t seem to make the connection between this crisis and their own actions in those regions like bombing the shit out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and others for years and years. Why are the Europeans surprised by the tsunami they caused. The mostly Muslim new arrivals of course lead to an ever more xenophobic reaction by the people struggling economically fearing competition for jobs and resources. These fears are nurtured and exploited by the far “Right”.

To top it all off the world is now witnessing more and more terrorist attacks from Florida to France from Turkey to the rest of the Middle East.
These attacks are one thing. Even more worrying is the default knee-jerk reaction of the Western governments. At a time when not much more was known about the attacker in Nice than his name Mohamed born in Tunisia a French government minister declared that in reaction they would step up the bombing of Syria and Libya. As no evidence of religious fervour or political radicalisation was found it was claimed that it must have happened very quickly. May be it happened on the run-up to the attack when the truck picked up speed before hitting the crowds. Almost a week later we read in the paper that prosecutors admit that for the moment there is no evidence of ideological motivation.
But the damage is done and the bombing will all but guarantee rather more than less terrorist attacks to come.

The fear of terrorism now permeates many aspect of our lives.
I am planning a trip to Europe and from one agent was offered reasonable airfares with Turkish Airlines, which he tried to sell me as the best European airline of 2015 with an excellent lounge at Istanbul.  I declined saying that I would not go near it as I would think that any terrorist would have the repressive Turkish regime on top of their to-do-list. A week later the attack on Istanbul airport happened and now the attempted coup. The travel agent is not dismissive of my concerns anymore.



Since the Climate Summit last year in Paris month by month all previous heat records have been broken. This was not unexpected for anyone who takes climate science and science in general seriously. The crazy thing is that nobody who should be dealing with the crisis like our governments seems to take it seriously and start doing something about it. There are either the ‘science sceptics don’t trust experts’ brigade. Or the ‘we don’t want to face the facts and stuff the future generations’ cynics.

Either way nothing is happening on the climate front other than vague promises of future technologies and the magical invisible hand of the market to fix the problem. Some still have the unshakable believe that with our superior brain we will find a solution to the problem just created by that very same brain.

Among all this I got the news that my very first grandchild is on the way. It will be born into this crazy world. Still I am over the moon.

The world gone mad or is it just me ?

by  Dr. Hans B. Grueber

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