It’s Don Pacifico time

A death sentence handed down in Bali to a British grandmother found guilty of drug trafficking has been condemned by the UK government.

Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire said the government objected and that appeal options were open to Lindsay Sandiford.

Sandiford, 56, was arrested at Bali’s airport in May 2012 after 4.8kg (10.6lb) of cocaine was found in her suitcase lining during a routine check.

She faces death by firing squad.

Any chance?


Hacktacular: The Guardian adapts The Daily Mail’s online strategy


What prompted this headline? One throwaway line uttered as a joke to an interview to another publication: [1]

“I can’t say I love the idea of a banker liking our music, or David Cameron,” the singer told Dazed & Confused. “I can’t believe he’d like [2011’s] King of Limbs much. But I also equally think, who cares? … As long as he doesn’t use it for his election campaigns, I don’t care. I’d sue the living shit out of him if he did.”

I know the discovery of adulterated food, a helicopter crash and a kidnapping in Western Africa mean today is a slow news day, but does this really need to be on the front page?

Sean Michaels has bills to pay I’m sure, but this is a new journalistic low. And is, in case you were wondering, precisely the Daily Mail’s online business model but replicated for a Guardian audience.

Look at it this way. The Daily Mail may have a reputation as a conservative hate rag, but online it is a font of celebrity gossip and paparazzi shots, this has made the Daily Mail the biggest English language newspaper website. The Guardian attempting a similar technique here. But instead of an almost completely fabricated account of Kim Kardashian’s view of the Chipotle restaurant chain, you have a completely misleading story about Radiohead’s view of the coalition. It is the same form but with different content.

It’s quite cute in a way.


[1] Link works but with http:// replaced with hxxp:// because you shouldn’t reward linkbait with links.

Worse than fiddling while Rome burns

A central bank is never doing nothing. Every announcement tells you not just about policy now, but about likely policy in the future. By announcing that rate cuts were not even discussed at January’s meeting the European Central Bank is offering forward guidance that would make Nero seem empathetic.

The Eurozone is blowing up. Unemployment is increasing across Europe and this is in large part because of contractionary policy from the ECB.

Eurozone unemployment rate

However, and I still can’t quite believe it, inflation remains stubbornly close to the ECB’s target of 2%, even in pain-racked Spain (see HICP in the below table for FT Alphaville).

The ECB has done all sorts of unconventional things. For example, it has publicly demanded certain styles of reforms in certain countries (insert: free market and Southern Europe), radically overstepping its supposed mandate. Likewise, it has threatened intervention in the bond market of certain countries to push down yields where they have cooperated, so-called Outright Monetary Transactions, for countries that play along with the ECB’s plans.

What they have not done, in a continent savaged by depression is cut fucking interest rates in the last six months. They have another 0.75% before they reach 0, but they are not willing to do so.

Am I losing my mind, or is the main conventional tool central banks have to fight off depression and suffering interest rates? In the UK and the US, to a certain degree central banks have become “mute.” Their interest rates reach the floor and they can go no further, but this isn’t the case in the Eurozone, they’ve never run out of ammunition, they’ve never been stuck at zero unable to go lower.

Let that sink in.

Maybe they couldn’t have lessened the suffering much (although really they could), but they could have lessened it a little but they have decided not to. Suffering in the Eurozone is a policy choice. I think it is because some people think suffering is good for the soul and Southern Europe has sinned.

If you’ll permit me to flit between classical Rome and Greece, Nero while of fiddled while Rome burned but at least he stuck to the old Greek dictum “first, do no harm.” I wish the ECB would do the same.