June 30, 2006
It's going to be hot!
See you there!
The wonders of Google (and gratuitous Friday Cat blogging)
EU Referendum has been running a series of posts debating how wide are Basra's streets and whether their width is a decent reason for HMG not to equip our troops - the story is that they are too narrow for anything but a canvas sided Land Rover - Personally I feel that with a enough horsepower any street can be made wide enough for the proper sort of vehicle!
A quick flyover from the comfort of my home via Google Earth allows one to see Basra looks a lot like Plano in Texas with decent sized streets...(though the locals are probably not so well armed...)
Regarding the horsepower mention, below is a picture of me driving my baby Cat and meeting a badly parked car...
Dave and Tony crying together
There can be no clearer indication of the difficulties currently facing Tony Blair and his government than the results in the Bromley and Blaenau Gwent by-elections.
And the signs are seriously bad, with the party failing to regain Blaenau Gwent and plunging into fourth place behind the Liberal Democrats and UKIP in Bromley and Chislehurst.
But, while it may have been a disastrous night for Labour, there was also a sharp kick in the pants for David Cameron's Tories.
They came dangerously close to losing the once safe-as-houses seat of Bromley to a sensational Liberal Democrat surge
I think Dave has more to worry about than Tony - NuLabour is in meltdown but we knew that already whereas the Tories must be seriously disappointed and surprised at a piss-poor poll with the UKIP taking a lot of traditional Tory votes, maybe Dave ought to start "doing" Europe and the Lib-Dims hanging onto the soppy end - however green and cuddly Dave is he doesn't seem to get the sandal wearers to actually vote Tory.
Tough on illegal immigration
Five Eritreans suspected of entering Britain illegally were given a map and told to find their own way to a holding centre because no immigration officials were available, police said yesterday.
The three men and two women were found in Winchester, Hants in a lorry carrying cacti from Spain.
They spent the night in a police station before officers were told that immigration officials in Southampton would not attend. Police were instructed to give them maps and tickets and tell them to catch a train to the centre in Croydon, Surrey.
One police officer said yesterday: "They were nice and polite but we have not got a clue who they are."
A Home Office spokesman would not confirm whether the group had turned up in Croydon.
I'm sure they did, why wouldn't they?
And they wonder why they fail to catch any.
Police refused to chase a thief who had stolen a moped because the youth was not wearing a helmet, the victim said yesterday.
Max Foster, 18, said officers told him they feared being sued if the thief fell off the moped and injured himself.
The thief escaped on the £1,200 moped, ..
Avon and Somerset police said that aborting a pursuit because the rider was not wearing a helmet was one of the "options available" to officers when "members of the public or the riders themselves could be put in danger".
With regard to the incident on Tuesday, a decision was made to actively search for the stolen moped and inquiries to trace the offenders are still ongoing."
Or he could have said in the immortal words of The Sweet: "Does anyone know the way, did we hear someone say - We just haven't got a clue what to do..."
It is strange how the Avon and Somerset Police have featured here before - the seem to be becoming famous for political correctness and ineffectiveness - are the two connected?
Four out of five crimes committed in the Bristol area remain unsolved, according to figures released by Avon and Somerset Constabulary.
Chief Constable Colin Port said he was pleased the force had improved its detection rate which a year ago was the worst outside London
Avon and Somerset police force has agreed to pay a rejected white male recruit undisclosed compensation after being warned that its recruitment policy might be illegal.
The landlady of a pub who organised a St George's Day archery competition using the dragon on a Welsh flag as the target has been interviewed by police, after a report of alleged incitement to cause racial hatred.
June 29, 2006
'The Fork in the Road – Sorting out the UK’s defence policy debacle'
I emailed my MP with regards to EU Ref's campaign about the Land Rovers and general piss poor provisioning of Her Majesty's Forces.
He kindly replied with a copy of his latest pamphlet:
"I make no apologies for what I am about to say. It will be unpalatable to many both in Government and Opposition who take the view that there are no votes in defence. I write it because after four years as Shadow Foreign Secretary and six months as Shadow defence, necessarily restricted by the doctrine of collective responsibility in relation to spending commitments, I can no longer stand back and watch while the well-being of our armed forces and the safety of our nation are being compromised in the way that they currently are. The sentiments I express here are not so much my own as a distillation of the very strong if private feelings I have encountered amongst serving members of our armed forces and others with a deep understanding of these issues over the past few years.
All governments mislead the public about defence. It is part of the nature of the politics of defence that a programme of disinformation is perpetrated by politicians, refined by Treasury mandarins and ‘loyally’ articulated in public by serving Defence Chiefs. It is a conspiracy constantly to pretend that our defence capabilities are improving and our objectives succeeding when the reverse is the case. Never has that conspiracy of disinformation been as great as it is today. And no Government has been more blatant in advancing it than our current Government.
They would have us believe that they are increasing defence resources, streamlining and improving our defence forces and that those same defence forces are more than able to meet the very substantial military commitments which this government has imposed upon them. Talking privately to our forces on the ground, as I have done recently as shadow defence secretary, makes clear that nothing could be more dangerously further from the truth. Our armed forces are more overstretched, more under-equipped, more over committed and more under-trained than at any time in the last fifty years. In their weakened state they are ever more frequently being asked to respond to unforeseen and unexpected new commitments such as Afghanistan in 2001. This is no theoretical point. It is factual and it goes to the very heart of the safety of our troops in carrying out the increasingly dangerous tasks they are being asked to do.
I think he has secured at least one vote for the next election.
Labourhome and the racist Labour voter problem
I thought I would check out the woeful Labour home, especially as Devil's Kitchen claims to have been banned by them - which would be the expected action of a true nuLabour setup.
In a recent MORI study it was shown that BME candidates secure a smaller share of the vote for their parties than white candidates, sadly this was more so in Labour constituencies.
So that is nuLabour's problem is it, traditional Labour voters don't like Darkies, of course the party doesn't anything to do with these dinosaurs but it can't live without their votes - what to do?
Racism is of course the inherent design fault of socialism - if you bang on about society and sharing within it pretty soon you have to draw up boundaries as to who is within and who is without your society, otherwise you have to share with the whole world. And that is what politicised racism is - socialism in action. Whereas global capitalism doesn't give a hoot as to the colour of your skin just what you sell or buy.
(I think bme is Black and Minority Ethnic - not Body Modification Enthusiast - ugh! - Though I prefer BME.co.za "Market leader in blended bulk explosive formulations for surface mines and also manufactures packaged explosives"
- much more interesting than the wingeing of some nuLabourite...)
We are doomed.
The only omission I can see is my need for a new TV after the last one had something thrown at it because of a BBC documentary on global warming
When the levy breaks....
For years producers of commodity agricultural produce such as beef, lamb, potatoes, wheat etc. have had to pay a compulsory levy which goes towards marketing these items - you may have seen the Beefy and Lamby adverts for instance. The future of these levies was reviewed and they have been reprieved, to quote the NFU -
Statutory levies will be retained on the basis of continued market failure in the sectors concerned.
In other words they have failed up to now so lets have more of them to prevent failure in the future....
June 28, 2006
The Devil's Kitchen shows us a comprehensive fisking of Blair's failures, in the European Parliament...
A future on the boards?
Back on May 5th when a lot of commentators thought it was all over for Blair I said:
An Englishman's Castle: Teflon Tony rides again
Tony will do a quick reshuffle, with the public behind the need for one he can do what he likes. He will present himself as the voice of the common man fighting against the government, lawyers and media -...
And today we read:
Throw in the towel, Tony - Comment - Times Online
Last Friday Mr Blair attacked “the political and legal establishment”. He said that it “didn’t understand”, that it was “in denial”, that it was “out of touch”. And he argued the Establishment was letting down everyone else, “ordinary, decent, law-abiding folk”, and failing to get the balance right between victims and offenders.
(Mr Blair hoped that his remarks might help to change the attitude of the legal profession and liberal commentators to crime and disorder.)
It was a curious speech. But not because Mr Blair was wrong. Many of the things he said were right and needed saying. No, it was curious for entirely different reasons.
First, consider the man making it. Mr Blair is Prime Minister, a barrister, married to a human rights lawyer and best friend of the Lord Chancellor. Who, then, is the “political and legal establishment” exactly?
So why wasn't his speech just greeted with guffaws and people rolling in the aisles? Go on Tony, tell us another - Take my wife for instance, no go on bloody take her... My wife, I wouldn't say she's ugly but when she stopped in the street to ask directions three people posted letters in her mouth....Last time I saw a face like that, the owner of it was being milked!....
There are no safeguards in place.
A FATHER-OF-FIVE from a village near Bradford on Avon will be extradited to the US to face trial on fraud charges in connection with the Enron scandal....
Mark Spragg, solicitor for the three men, said last week there were no safeguards stopping people being extradited to the USA. He warned business people to be extremely careful about any dealings they have with America, saying: "If anything is done which could possible offend against US law, then anybody in the business community is likely to find themselves the subject of an extradition request which will be granted by England straight away. "There are no safeguards in place."
You may well be aware that there is currently an unfair and aggressively policed extradition treaty with the US which has resulted in the dubious imprisonment in the US of one British businessman and the potential imprisonment of several more. Karl Watkin isn't just talking about it, he's organising a dignified demonstration of businesses' concern (that's a march to you and me) this THURSDAY 29th JUNE AT 5pm from the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall to the Home Office in Marsham Street, a short distance away.
As Iain says - spread the word. The US understands the importance of protecting its own citizens and that is why this arrangement isn't reciprocal, for all extraditions to any country, including our Continental friends there should be stringent safeguards in place.
June 27, 2006
When will Blair go?
For a £1.50 stake you could win £500. All you have to do is text the time and date when you expect Tony Blair to stop being Prime Minister to 88010.
We are not looking for the time and date when Mr Blair announces his decision to resign but when he actually resigns. You need, therefore, to think about the time that it might take for the Labour party to elect a successor or you might think that Mr Blair will resign immediately and install John Prescott as interim Prime Minister?
Entries should be texted to 88010 and the message should look like this...
"BLAIR 1312 240707" would mean that you expect Blair to stop being Prime Minister at 1.12pm on 24th July 2007.
Um - worth a think...
Of course I actually hope he continues in office for ages - the government is now paralysed with the ineffective and infighting leadership. And we all know the less governing that gets done the better. I believe that the USA had record growth during the Hanging Chad Interregnum, maybe in our present Blair-Brownian Interregnum we may experience the same.
It's not November already is it?
A series of events are to be held across the UK to mark the first annual National Veterans' Day.
Now I'm all for celebrating and commemorating our veterans but are you as confused as I am about Gordon Brown's new Veterans Day? Apart from the nuLabour need to reinvent all our institutions what has today got over Armistice Day? Or is it because the politicians, especially the Jelly bellied Flag-flapper, have grabbed today whereas Royalty and the Armed Services seem to control the other one? And it couldn't be because today can be a nice sharing day where we don't have to mention beating the crap out of the Boche and Jap, could it?
And I only ever need the slimmest of excuses to reprint a bit of Stalky & Co - Rudyard Kipling's description of how real patriots would have seen today is still true as far as I am concerned.
And so he worked towards his peroration - which, by the way, he used later with overwhelming success at a meeting of electors - while they sat, flushed and uneasy, in sour disgust. After many many words, he reached for the cloth-wrapped stick and thrust one hand in his bosom. This - this was the concrete symbol of their land - worthy of all honour and reverence! Let no boy look on this flag who did not purpose to worthily add to its imperishable lustre. He shook it before them - a large calico Union Jack, staring in all three colours, and waited for the thunder of applause that should crown his effort.
They looked in silence. They had certainly seen the thing before - down at the coastguard station, or through a telescope, half-mast high when a brig went ashore on Braunton sands; above the roof of the Golf Club, and in Keyte's window, where a certain kind of striped sweetmeat bore it in paper on each box. But the College never displayed it; it was no part of the scheme of their lives; the Head had never alluded to it; their fathers had not declared it unto them. It was a matter shut up, sacred and apart. What, in the name of everything caddish, was he driving at, who waved that horror before their eyes? Happy thought! Perhaps he was drunk...
They discussed the speech in the dormitories. There was not one dissentient voice. Mr. Raymond Martin, beyond question, was born in a gutter, and bred in a Board-school, where they played marbles. He was further (I give the barest handful from great store) a Flopshus Cad, an Outrageous Stinker, a Jelly bellied Flag-flapper, (this was Stalky's contribution), and several other things which it is not seemly to put down.
The bed nearest the door
Hospital staff in Lancashire have been told to leave corpses in wards because there are not enough porters to move them at night.
Two porters are needed at Queen's Park Hospital in Blackburn to take bodies away to the mortuary.
But recent staff sickness has meant that on occasional nights only one porter has been on duty at the site.
So when the old boy in the next bed croaks it from MRSA - he only came in for his ingrowing toenail - you will have to spend the night next to his flatulating corpse before you are prodded to ask if you want a bowl of warm Rice Crispies and some soggy toast at 5:30 am - it fits in with the shifts. Of course it is a bit inconvenient for his keening relatives but you can't have anyone else apart from a porter help wheel a bed, can you?
I note the NHS trust concerned has a vacant post - I wonder if the appointee would be prepared to roll up his sleeves or just issues some more targets...
Director of Strategy and Implementation
Not without challenge but with significant opportunity This exciting new role offers you the chance to transform services and improve the patient experience. You will lead a whole system and health economy approach to identify and deliver significantly changed services and ways of working within both commissioning and provider organisations; that deliver the changes in patient care against an agreed...
June 26, 2006
"Major celebrations" are planned to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Falklands War, Junior Defence Minister Tom Watson has announced..
Note the quote marks - I don't think anyone at the BBC can imagine why there should be celebrations...
Britain claimed sovereignty in 1833 but it has remained disputed ever since.
Mainly by the BBC...
This will mark the 25th anniversary of Liberation Day - the day the Argentines surrendered.
Or were beaten..
And next year's Veterans Day, which is staged each year on 27 June, will focus on the Falklands.
Of course the first Veterans Day is yet to happen - as it is Gordons big new idea for this year, so making it sound like a long standing tradition is a little strange.
Stand by for much handwringing by the BBC next year - I remember their coverage 25 years ago and I doubt they have grown anymore loyal in the meantime...
Our Bill of Rights
As The Remittance Man says wouldn't it be a better idea if Tory Boy started defending our existing Bill of Rights before he starts writing a new one with the rights to keep and bear double chocolate cappuccinos and making no laws regarding religions, except those that worship the Earth Goddess and the cult of "Five a Day".
In fact I think the following hardly needs any tidying up to be a suitable text to follow.
That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;
That the pretended power of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws by regal authority, as it hath been assumed and exercised of late, is illegal;
That the commission for erecting the late Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes, and all other commissions and courts of like nature, are illegal and pernicious;
That levying money for or to the use of the Crown by pretence of prerogative, without grant of Parliament, for longer time, or in other manner than the same is or shall be granted, is illegal;
That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal;
That the raising or keeping a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law;
That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law;
That election of members of Parliament ought to be free;
That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament;
That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;
That jurors ought to be duly impanelled and returned, and jurors which pass upon men in trials for high treason ought to be freeholders;
That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void;
And that for redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving of the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently.
And they do claim, demand and insist upon all and singular the premises as their undoubted rights and liberties, and that no declarations, judgments, doings or proceedings to the prejudice of the people in any of the said premises ought in any wise to be drawn hereafter into consequence or example; to which demand of their rights they are particularly encouraged by the declaration of his Highness the prince of Orange as being the only means for obtaining a full redress and remedy therein. Having therefore an entire confidence that his said Highness the prince of Orange will perfect the deliverance so far advanced by him, and will still preserve them from the violation of their rights which they have here asserted, and from all other attempts upon their religion, rights and liberties, the said Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons assembled at Westminster do resolve that William and Mary, prince and princess of Orange, be and be declared king and queen of England, France and Ireland and the dominions thereunto belonging, to hold the crown and royal dignity of the said kingdoms and dominions to them, the said prince and princess, during their lives and the life of the survivor to them, and that the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in and executed by the said prince of Orange in the names of the said prince and princess during their joint lives, and after their deceases the said crown and royal dignity of the same kingdoms and dominions to be to the heirs of the body of the said princess, and for default of such issue to the Princess Anne of Denmark and the heirs of her body, and for default of such issue to the heirs of the body of the said prince of Orange. And the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons do pray the said prince and princess to accept the same accordingly.
And that the oaths hereafter mentioned be taken by all persons of whom the oaths have allegiance and supremacy might be required by law, instead of them; and that the said oaths of allegiance and supremacy be abrogated.
I, A.B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to their Majesties King William and Queen Mary. So help me God.
I, A.B., do swear that I do from my heart abhor, detest and abjure as impious and heretical this damnable doctrine and position, that princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any authority of the see of Rome may be deposed or murdered by their subjects or any other whatsoever. And I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.
The old ones are the best one
I rang an old friend over in Kilkenny and we got onto the World Cup and this afternoon's match BBC SPORT | Football | World Cup 2006 | Italy v Australia. Not having followed the earlier matches I asked him -"How did Italy do?"
"Oh I'm doing diddly well, how about you Sur?".
Trust us - we are from the government.
A recent Home Office "e-bulletin" to police advises them to examine DNA profiles on the database that bear similarities to the genetic "fingerprint" found at the crime scene and which may belong to relatives of the unidentified criminal, the assumption being that "criminality tends to run in families.
It was revealed this year that more than half a million children had been entered on a DNA database created to record known offenders, even though many had never been charged with an offence.
It is only the guilty who have to worry - why not come along to your local Registration Offices where we can just jot down your details and take a few simple measurements. It is all for your own good so we can protect you from the nasty people out there. Dear Leader only has your interests at heart...
Of course this Blairite (as in both Blairs) policy is symptomatic. Coppers have always known who the scrotes are and where they live but have been prevented from pulling them in in case they are practising "profiling" and anyway they have far more important things to do behind their desks. So a hugely expensive technological cockup is being brought in to replace a cheap working solution - and it isn't even if all this surveillance is actually cutting down on crime. As the WSJ said viaMr FM
With Great Britain now the world's most violent developed country, the British government has hit upon a way to reduce the number of cases before the courts: Police have been instructed to let off with a caution burglars and those who admit responsibility for some 60 other crimes ranging from assault and arson to sex with an underage girl. That is, no jail time, no fine, no community service, no court appearance. It's cheap, quick, saves time and money, and best of all the offenders won't tax an already overcrowded jail system.
Not everyone will be treated so leniently. A new surveillance system promises to hunt down anyone exceeding the speed limit. Using excessive force against a burglar or mugger will earn you a conviction for assault or, if you seriously harm him, a long sentence. ..
The government's duty to protect the public has been compromised by other economies. Police forces are smaller than those of America and Europe and have been consolidated, leaving 70% of English villages without a police presence. Police are so hard-pressed that the Humberside force announced in March they no longer investigate less serious crimes unless they are racist or homophobic. Among crimes not being investigated: theft, criminal damage, common assault, harassment and non-domestic burglary.
It may be crass to point out that the British people, stripped of their ability to protect themselves and of other ancient rights and left to the mercy of criminals, have gotten the worst of both worlds. Still, as one citizen, referring to the new policy of letting criminals off with a caution, suggested: "Perhaps it would be easier and safer for the honest citizens of the U.K. to move into the prisons and the criminals to be let out."
All your children are belong to us
Government surveillance of all children, including information on whether they eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, will be condemned tomorrow as a Big Brother system.
Experts say it is the biggest state intrusion in history into the role of parents.
Changes being introduced since Victoria Climbié's death from abuse include a £224 million database tracking all 12 million children in England and Wales from birth. The Government expects the programme to be operating within two years.
Doctors, schools and the police will have to alert the database to a wide range of "concerns". Two warning flags on a child's record could start an investigation.
There will also be a system of targets and performance indicators for children's development. Children's services have been told to work together to make sure that targets are met.
Dr Eileen Munro, of the LSE, said that if a child caused concern by failing to make progress towards state targets, detailed information would be gathered. That would include subjective judgments such as "Is the parent providing a positive role model?", as well as sensitive information such as a parent's mental health.
"They include consuming five portions of fruit and veg a day, which I am baffled how they will measure," she said. "The country is moving from 'parents are free to bring children up as they think best as long as they are not abusive or neglectful' to a more coercive 'parents must bring children up to conform to the state's views of what is best'."
Obviously the chances of such a complex government database being on time or even remotely on budget are as slim as Gordon Brown supporting freedom for England, but eventually they will build a creaky version that will work, appallingly.
I'm sure there are long and convincing reasonings that could be written why this is a bad idea, but all I can come up with is "Fuck off you cock-sucking interfering fascist bureaucrats".
Creative Zen Vision: M and Napster problems - solved
Since I got my nifty Creative Zen Vision: M I have had all sorts of problems getting Napster To Go songs to transfer to it - sometimes one would go and then everything lock up, other times it might manage ten. Creative supply two programs for transferring tracks - neither work. Napster locks up, Windows MediaPlayer 10 very occasionally worked. The forums had no solutions but were united on one thing - don't try Windows Media Player 11 Beta - it is Microsoft Beta ware - it would be crazy to try it.
As nothing else worked I thought it can't be any worse and tried it last night - works like a little dream, music is whipping back and forth to my Creative Zen Vision: M and I'm a happy bunny. The only small problem is that it in default setting also synchronises your pictures and videos onto the player as well - and I'm not sure I want those on there!
So hopefully Google will pick this article about the Creative Zen Vision: M up and help some other poor sucker.
Now back to adding even more songs - I only have 2453 on there at the moment!
One of the joys of having teenagers is that also provide suggestions (if you have any suggestions please add them below, now the machine is working I can add them). No 1 son suggested Rammstein - a German Heavy thrash rock combo. Their sound is reminiscent of massed V12 Maybach HL 230 P30 engines roaring over the rattle of tracks - in fact when I was out on my morning walk with the headphones as soon as their songs came on I turned east and found I had difficulty bending my knees as a I marched....
June 25, 2006
Microsoft in league with the Devil
I was reading this plea:
The Devil's Kitchen: Please stop using IE. Again.
When a security warning came up on my computer - looks like even Bill Gates agrees with the Devil....
Turn up the volume and annoy the neighbours...
Where are you from?
Iain Dale's Diary: My Most Popular Incoming Links has inspired me to look at mine. So thanks to these fine blogs for lending me some viewers:
8 http://www.disney.com ???
June 24, 2006
And a big welcome to...
Welcome to kwaRemittance (The Land of the Remittance Man)
After many months spent infesting the comments of other bloggers I have finally decided to add my tu'penny worth of thought to the blogosphere.
TISWAS -Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile
My childcare tip of the day - Mrs Englishman left me in charge of the angels when she went to feed the pigs - having been plied with wine by the FMs last night I needed peace and quiet so I just gave them a can of shaving foam to play with - has kept them quiet for ages and the eldest tells me confidently that God will clean the mess up...
June 23, 2006
You are rated: Special and legally restricted
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|Created by Bart King|
Putting the rope back in the barn
Well it seems like there aren't enough criminals in Wiltshire to keep me busy - My Jury service this week consisted of one morning in court hanging about while the scrotes were persuaded to plead guilty and so we were never needed. And next week I'm not needed at all.
So that gets me some time to practice my "The Crazy World of Arthur Brown" Chilli for next Saturday's Chilli Cook-off extravaganza - you are coming to it aren't you!
(Yup Chilli has two Ls this side of the Atlantic - but if you can help with some tips or recipes even if they are spelt with one L then I would really appreciate it - thanks).
Where Greenpeace leads the Tory party follows
The UK throws away two thirds of all the energy it produces. That isn't a typo; two thirds of all energy generated in our nuclear, coal and gas fuelled power stations is lost as waste heat. Up the cooling tower chimney. Along the transmission lines. Gone. We throw away enough heat to meet the equivalent of whole of the UK's heating and hot water needs....
Now imagine a system that captures that "waste" heat and distributes it to local buildings or city districts. By producing electricity close to where it is used and using Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants, we could slash our carbon emissions, save consumers money and ensure our energy security....
Decentralised energy essentially means generating energy close to where it is used. These local energy generators can be Combined Heat and Power stations, but they can also include renewable technologies such as wind farms, solar power and energy from greener fuels such as biomass. A decentralised system encourages better integration of a range of innovative clean technologies to get the best possible mix.
...The entire city of Rotterdam runs on decentralised energy, as does over 50% of Denmark.
WE ALL KNOW what Tony Blair thinks about nuclear energy. We even know what Gordon Brown thinks now. Both men seem to see support for new nuclear power stations as a sign of their political virility and their commitment to modernity.
What is far more interesting, though, is how the Conservatives will respond to the Government’s energy review, due to be published in about three weeks’ time. Will they continue with their traditional gung-ho support for nuclear power? Will they reluctantly champion the building of new nuclear stations as a way of reducing carbon emissions? Or will they use this as a powerful opportunity to make voters think about them anew, and reinforce their green credentials?
Our huge power stations — whether fuelled by coal, gas or nuclear — are grossly inefficient: they waste two thirds of the energy that they produce. Most of it rises into the air in the form of heat from the cooling towers. If Britain were to adopt a decentralised form of electricity generation, with much smaller combined heat and power (CHP) stations located in the communities they serve, then the heat produced by the stations could be channelled straight into factories and homes through hot water pipes. These CHP stations waste only 5-10 per cent of their energy.
Then, say the Tories, there are promising new technologies coming on stream. Carbon capture could make coal and gas-fired power stations much less polluting. There is huge potential in tidal power, which is more predictable than that of wind or sun. Add to that the possibility of geothermal power and hydrogen cells, and we look to be on the brink of a revolution in renewable energy
It can be done. The whole of Rotterdam runs on decentralised energy. So does more than half of Denmark.
Did Mary Ann Sieghart share her fee for this article with Greenpeace or are the similarities just the product of research?
Where Kim Du Toit leads the country follows
We have become a nation of women.
Now, men’s fashion includes not a man dressed in a three-piece suit, but a tight sweater worn by a man with breasts.
...Yes, the men are, by and large, slobs. Big ####### deal. Last time I looked, that’s normal. Men are slobs, and that only changes when women try to civilize them by marriage. That’s the natural order of things.
Out there, there is a huge number of men who are sick of it. We’re sick of being made figures of fun and ridicule; we’re sick of having girly-men like journalists, advertising agency execs and movie stars decide on “what is a man”; we’re sick of women treating us like children, and we’re really ####### sick of girly-men politicians who pander to women by passing an ever-increasing raft of Nanny laws and regulations (the legal equivalent of public-school Ritalin), which prevent us from hunting, racing our cars and motorcycles, smoking, flirting with women at the office, getting into fistfights over women, shooting criminals and doing all the fine things which being a man entails.
I want our culture to become more male—and not the satirical kind of male, like The Man Show, or the cartoonish figures of Stallone, Van Damme or Schwartzenegger. We want more John Waynes, Robert Mitchums, Bruce Willises, and Clint Eastwoods. Never mind that it’s simplistic— we like simple, we are simple, we are men—our lives are uncomplicated, and we like it that way
It has been a tough few years for your average beer-guzzling American man. In the name of "metrosexual" fashion they have watched their weight, groomed themselves, and tried to discover their feelings.
But to the relief of many, the American equivalent of the "lad" is making a comeback in this year's crop of films, books and music.
The so-called male renaissance - the "manaissance" - is reflected in this summer's box-office hits where stars with girl appeal are eclipsed by flagrantly unreformed men.
Where Neil Herron leads the country follows
It is apparent that Decriminalised Parking Enforcement across the country is descending into chaos.
NPAS and PATAS in disarray and facing allegations of breaching Article 6(1) of the Human Rights Act.
Local Councils blindly ignoring the mandatory legal requirements of the 1991 Road Traffic Act.
The Court facing allegations of issuing bailiffs warrants without examining ANY of the paperwork.
Over the past few months we have started investigating and exposing 'lawless' local authorities who have shown a blatant disregard for the law and shown total and utter contempt for the motorist.
It was our first intention to prove DPE unconstitutional in order to create a conflict between DPE and the Metric Martyrs Judgment, but examination of the technical aspects of DPE has produced evidence of maladministration, misfeasance and fraud.
The penny is starting to drop for the press and the media that DPE is nothing but a lawless scam and the power mad local authority officials, the 'men with badges' have lost control of all sense of fairness....
"Our parking system is, frankly, a mess. We heard that the administration of parking enforcement by councils was too often inconsistent, with poor communication, confusion and a lack of accountability. This must change."
The Government responded last night by indicating that it would publish regulations next month banning councils from using incentives for wardens to distribute penalty notices. There could also be smaller fines for lesser offences.
Gillian Merron, the transport minister, admitted that enforcement was "over-zealous" in some areas.
She said: "Parking enforcement should not be about raising money but about keeping traffic moving."
The MPs said that ministers must create "without delay" a single system of parking enforcement run by councils rather than the police. Councils were first allowed to take over enforcement from the police in 1991 and 45 per cent of English authorities now control parking.
In 2003, a total of 7.1 million penalty notices was issued by wardens working for 75 councils and 33 London boroughs. In the same year, only a million penalty notices were issued by the 313 authorities where the police were still responsible.
The committee said it was "astounded" that, of the 7.1 million fines handed out by council wardens, one in five was eventually cancelled following appeals.
"This is far too high and indicates that the system is malfunctioning," it said.
So congratulations to Neil and the No campaign for pushing this - of course while Parliament now recognises the problem their proposed solution is for more of the same by pushing out DPE nationwide, where it is obvious that the introduction of DPE has caused the problem! Go figure.
June 22, 2006
Farmers, who cannot interfere with sets on their land because badgers are protected by law, have called on the government for a cull of the animals to protect their herds.
This is plain wrong and the BBC should be censured for it! Badgers live in setts - note the double t! The poor word "set" has enough work to do, with it being the word with the most meanings - up-to 200 according to some! So if you are off to bother a badger remember it is "sett" - it's the law!
Protection of Badgers Act 1992 (c. 51)
Interfering with badger setts.
There's the morning gone
I was concerned once to read that a defining characteristic of Autism is sitting on the beach watching sand running through your fingers rather than kicking a ball about - it brought back many memories of shivering on Pendine Sands doing just that. If I had become a mining engineer then I could do it all day, but instead I will just make myself happy with this:
Falling Sand Game
Now where's my special blanket to hug at the same time?
The young people of today don't know what they are missing
Stuff like this - it were never the same after 1977.
"Tales of the Riverbank" , Shep on Blue Peter, Raymond Baxter on Tomorrow's World and now Top of the Pops, and that was just Thursdays on BBC 1. All now gone, my childhood is turning to ash...
Mr Brown's light-touch regulatory environment.
Chancellor Gordon Brown has praised the state of the economy but warned that difficult choices lie ahead if Britain is to continue to prosper.
In his annual Mansion House address, Mr Brown warned that clinging to the past would be "fundamentally wrong". ...
Mr Brown tried to ease fears and said that as well as ensuring a low and stable rate of inflation, he also wanted stable industrial relations, a competitive tax regime and a predictable and light-touch regulatory environment.
NO ONE ever expected the Company Law Reform Bill to be a minor piece of legislation - but no one expected it to grow into the colossus it has now become, either.
The three-volume, 925-clause Bill currently working its way through Parliament is the result of eight years of work, carried out by than half a dozen trade and industry secretaries. ...
A massive 1,600 amendments were tabled during the Lords stages, swelling the Bill to its current 925 clauses. Experts say that once all additions and are amendments made, the final Bill will contain a record-breaking 1,300 clauses.
Yep - that' s the light-touch regulatory environment!
June 21, 2006
Tim Worstall beat me to this -
You will recall the recent addition to the law of the land, that if a place is empty for more than 6 months the local council can come in, seize it, stick some scrote in there (to the delectation of the neighbours of course), take whatever they like in administration expenses and then give you the remainder of whatever said scrote deigns to pay in rent.
I have mentioned it before, and thanks to The Last Ditch last night I read the man behind it's defence of this destruction of liberty - I didn't blog it at the time as the red mist descended and Nursey had to be called to give me the medication - but here it is now:
I can't help but refer to the great 19th Century British thinker John Stuart Mill who's work "On Liberty" discussed the limits of power that the state can have over the individual. His brilliant concept was the harm principle. Briefly it said that people should be free to engage in whatever behavior(sic) they wish as long as it does not harm others.
Seen through this principle the owner of the empty home of course has rights but not unlimited rights. Once it starts harming others whether that be though restricting housing to those that need it, spoiling the appearance of a street or loose slates falling onto playing children the state should and does have the right to intervene.
So poor old JSM is dragged in to support the seizing of property to alleviate a government caused restriction of housing to those who need it. I'm not sure the old boy would approve of that. Wouldn't it be more honest to just admit it is a simple socialist policy and that destruction of the rights of private property are part of the plan?
Hitting the Hippies with Smith and Wessons
Forgetting the solistice was on I drove through Avebury this morning scattering guitar-strumming soap-dodgers and mangey dogs on strings - Plod was out in force but I didn't see this pair of Smith and Wesson equipped officers...
Marlborough police, officers are about to launch the Blues on Twos.
That's what officers who will be carrying out bicycle patrols during the summer solstice celebrations in Avebury on June 21 are calling themselves.
This year the force is providing the pair with brand new Smith and Wesson all terrain bicycles, which are expected to arrive in Marlborough tomorrow.
PC Andy Sexton, who with PC Simon McLaren-Clark will be carrying out the patrols, said: "We tried it out last year and it was a fantastic success because we were able to hit the solstice people from a very community-based level."
I didn't know S&W made bikes, but I do like the idea of hitting hippies "from a very community-based level" - would that be in the solar plexus region?
June 20, 2006
"Ye are Englishmen, mind your privilege, give not away your right."
Jury nullification (in which despite the obvious evidence that the defendant committed the crime charged the jury disregarded the evidence and acquitted in whole or part) has been praised, in that the acquittal reflects a democratic process by which the jury can interpose its own moral or political judgment in defiance of an unpopular expression of governmental action.
By the same process however, it has been denounced as an act of anarchy.
...the Seventeenth Century trial of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, and Bushell's Case which arose from it, played a dramatically inspiring role.
Penn was placed on trial in the Old Bailey Court in 1670 for the crime of "tumultuous assembly," because he preached a sermon in Grace Church Street in violation of the "Conventicle Act" which prohibited any meeting for worship other than those of the Church of England. The Court ordered the jury to find Penn guilty, for if they found the Quakers had met at all, the very meeting by itself was unlawful. The jury, however, found that the meeting had taken place, but refused to find the law had been violated.
Penn, at the time, was only 26 years old, and had to conduct his own defense, as accused persons in criminal cases in those days were not allowed counsel to represent them.
The trial is a dramatic example of the cavalier methods used by judges at the time. The jury consisted of twelve ordinary middle-class men selected at random from the jury rolls of the City of London. The ten judges who heard the case included the Lord Mayor, the Recorder (a Magistrate), and other representatives of government who were motivated to enforce the "Conventicle Act."
As we read the transcript of the trial (which Penn published in 1670 as the Peoples Ancient and Just Liberties, Asserted in the Trial of William Penn and William Mead. . . . Against The Most Arbitrary Procedure Of That Court.), Penn's logic and legal acumen must be admired. He baited the judges so skillfully on the role of the Common law, that they in turn tired to heckle and bully him. Finally, completely frustrated, they ordered that he be locked up in the bale dock. The bale dock was a locked cage, recessed below the floor level, located at the very end of the courtroom. There he could be heard but not seen by the jury.
When the jury returned a verdict of "guilty of speaking in Grace Church Street," the Lord Mayor shouted out, "was it not an unlawful assembly? You mean he was speaking to a tumult of people there?" The jury refused to so find.
The Recorder then angrily responded "Gentlemen, you shall not be dismissed till you bring in a verdict which the court will accept. You shall be locked up, without meat, drink, fire and tobacco. You shall not think thus to abuse the court. We will have a verdict by the help of God or you shall starve for it."
Penn objected: "My jury, who are my judges, ought not to be thus menaced. Their verdict should be free-not forced. The agreement of twelve men is a verdict in law. . . and if, after this, the jury brings in another verdict, contrary to this, I affirm they are perjured men."
At this point while Penn was still talking, the soldiers started to push the jury back to the juryroom and then occurred one of the most inspiring incidents in the annals of English jurisprudence.
Penn called out: "Ye are Englishmen, mind your privilege, give not away your right."
And the jury replied., "Nor will we ever do it."
The jury was kept for two days and nights, without food, water, and heat, but refused to change its verdict. Finally the court ended the trial abruptly, fining each juror forty marks and committing them to imprisonment until they paid their fines.
Bushell, the foreman, and the other jurors obtained a writ of habeas corpus from the Court of Common Pleas. Releasing them from their imprisonment, Chief Justice Sir John Vaughan held" . . for if it be demanded what is the fact? The judge cannot answer it: if it be asked, what is the law in this case, the jury cannot answer it." Although the judgment was later reversed on appeal because the Court of Common Pleas did not have jurisdiction in criminal matters, Bushell's Case established the right of trial juries to decide cases according to their convictions.
I hope the ordinary people of England are still so strong minded in their defence of freedom.
Pardon me my absence - out dispensing justice!
I apologise if blogging is light but I have been called to help administer justice and so will be lining up with 11 other good men and true (maybe) for the next few days. Of course if the slimy defence lawyer of some shell-suited scrote takes exception to an Englishman booted and suited on the Jury then I will be home for luncheon...
Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to get the go-ahead later this month for two "Blair Force One" planes to fly him on official trips, the BBC has learned.
One is likely to be a long-haul plane with 70 seats, while a 15-seater jet will be ordered for shorter flights,
Until now the PM has chartered planes or used the Queen's Flight. The Queen will also have use of the new aircraft.
Oh that is jolly decent of Cherie to allow Her Maj to share the Prime Minister's Aircraft, provided of course C&T haven't got wind of another freebie holiday they need to be rushed to...
lese maj·es·ty also lèse ma·jes·té (lēz' măj'ĭ-stē)
n., pl. lese maj·es·ties or lèse ma·jes·tés.
An offense or crime committed against the ruler or supreme power of a state.
An affront to another's dignity.
The Art of Becoming a Man of the World and a Gentleman
While "advice is seldom welcome" and this is not in the same league as Lord Chesterfield's Advice to His Son on Men and Manners; or a New System of Education. In Which the Principles of Politeness, the Art of Acquiring Knowledge of the World, with Every Instruction Necessary to Form a Man of Honour, Virtue, Taste, and Fashion, Are Laid Down in a Plain, Easy, Familiar Manner, Adapted to Every Station and Capacity. with my sons in the middle of exams and leaving childhood behind I thought it might behove (the British spelling of behoove for my transatlantic friends) me to pass on some of my hard won wisdom.
Thinking back to when I was taking my finals at Oxford I seem to remember learning two things - the first was how to swirl a handgun on my finger so it fell neatly into position - I have never found this a useful skill. The second which I have no regrets in learning was how to tie a bow tie without the use of a mirror. It is a skill that can be usefully deployed at any formal occasion and whilst it may not make maidens swoon into your arms, it will impress them with your dexterity and knowledge of clothing, attributes women look for - and of course it is an excuse for them to demand you start untieing your tie...
So "Learning how to tie a Bow tie really well is the first important step in life."
Iron man, action man? or just a paper shuffler?
THERE is no part of Britain that is not now under threat of being reviewed by the Home Secretary. That was the main message from Home Office Questions yesterday: everything that can be reviewed is being reviewed, and every minute of every day John Reid is finding more things that must be reviewed. It is a bonfire of the banalities and no one knows where it will end.
A familiar story keeps rising in prominence
Top Story in The Telegraph today
Growing anger in England over the power that Scottish MPs wield at Westminster could destroy the 1998 devolution settlement, a powerful Commons committee said yesterday.
The report by the Labour-dominated Scottish affairs committee makes grim reading for Gordon Brown by highlighting how a majority of people in the United Kingdom now oppose a Scot becoming prime minister.
The MPs say that the West Lothian Question - the anomaly giving Scottish MPs a say over English laws but English MPs no similar rights where power has been devolved - is a time bomb that urgently needs to be defused. "It is a matter of concern to us that English discontent is becoming apparent," they said.
The MPs said they hoped the matter would be "comprehensively debated and resolved before "it could undermine the whole devolution settlement".
Worries about the constitutional imbalance have been underlined by the likelihood that Mr Brown, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, will succeed Tony Blair as prime minister within 18 months.
This question is growing legs and starting to run...
The newspaper article continues:
"Resentment at the powers the Scots exercise over English affairs is compounded, many MPs say, by claims that English taxpayers subsidise people in Scotland because the country is thinly populated, making services more expensive to run."
So it is the thin population that is the problem is it? - not as The Devil's Kitchen says "our feckless MSPs" or that because as Mr Eugenides points out "the Scottish Executive are interfering, nannyish bastards" or "tyrannical morons" as Freedom and Whisky says.
And those quotes are only with regard to the thrice denied story - "Scotland is set to become the first country in Europe to ban alcohol for under-21s as part of a radical shake-up of licensing laws.
The controversial crackdown would also see all members of the public limited to only four alcoholic drinks per visit to a pub or club"
June 19, 2006
A380 - a road to ruin, not just to Torbay from Exeter.
A YEAR ago the Airbus A380 Superjumbo soared into the skies above Toulouse on its maiden flight.
Down below, Tony Blair, President Chirac, Gerhard Schröder, then the German Chancellor, and thousands of onlookers hailed the world's biggest passenger jet as an emblem of European integration.
But today the A380 has become a symbol of all that is wrong with Europe - incompetence, misplaced ambition, greed and bickering.
Far from uniting Europe, it is driving a wedge between France and Germany, with Berlin complaining of the French penchant for state intervention and cronyism, and Paris debnouncing Germans' stiffling desire for concensus.
With executives and industrialists facing a series of investigations into the events that made them richer - and ordinary shareholders poorer - the aircraft has also propelled its manufacturer into the greatest crisis of its history.
Nightcap Syndication has further information.
According to a whistleblowing source (known to us but they must remain anonymous) within the subcontracting chain there are other problems with the A380 aircraft that have not yet been publicly revealed. Whether or not the problems already admitted to are solved or not the airplane will not gain an airworthiness certificate for at least another year:
Apart from a small sniffle at my taxes being wasted all I can do is giggle!
Injecting Sense into yummy mummies
“There was no way I was going to let Harry have the MMR — he’s the only child I’m going to have and I don’t want him going autistic on me.”
We need to deal with the hysterical middle-class parents who, in the name of love, risk dragging Britain back to an era of high child mortality. The answer lies in education, education, education: we cannot force parents to become scientifically literate, but we can ensure that their children's attendance of schools, state or private, depends on their having had a complete set of jabs. Only then will the well-clad, well-heeled troops turn round their SUVs and beat a retreat.
I'm with her all the way about stupid middle class women and their belief in mumbo jumbo rather than science until she wants to involve compulsion. My skin creeps at the state injecting my children against my will....
June 18, 2006
Climate change and a greenhouse gas
During my weekly bath I was contemplating, as one does, the role of dimethyl sulphide emissions - naturally produced by marine algae. This gets released into the atmosphere where it forms sulphate particles which seed clouds, making it cloudier and hence cooler. So what about the reductions of in the amount of sulphur we have been pumping into the atmosphere? Here is a quick cobbled together graph of recent "global warming" from 1945 to 1995 ( the coloured line) compared to an INVERSE of the amount of sulphur, or even sulfur, the USA has been emitting. You will note the reduction of sulphur emissions towards in the 80s and 90s. Pretty good fit eh?
I also include a graph of atmospheric CO2 concentrations to compare as well. Now I don't claim any rigour in this analysis, it is simply something worth remembering when CO2 is fingered as the only culprit, there are many other suspects out there and we simply don't know how they work together...
Is this German Humour?
Just checking who has linked to me last week I find this: Technorati Search: www.anenglishmanscastle.com
Wo die Gewehre sind, weiß heute keiner. Allerdings abends oft auf ARTE zu sehen. Feuer, Messer, Schere, Licht... England Engländer geben 5 Pfund Trinkgeld, wenn "We are so (lang ziehen) sorry" gesagt wird. Dann gleich noch mal 10, wenn ein kurzes "Stillgestanden"...
MY Action Comic German and Google's Translation service fail to make any sense of it - but I feel it is a wind up not a bunch of nasties - am I right?
How Blair is killing our soldiers
This is an unusually long post, but I make no apologies for it. In my view, this is a vitally important issue – quite literally a matter of life and death. Please bear with me – at the end of the post, I am asking for direct action from all our readers
You can get the address details of your MP here - including email addresses.
Not my Castle anymore
The government came under fierce attack yesterday after quietly bringing in measures to give councils the power to seize the homes of the dead from bereaved families.
Ministers were also accused of "burying bad news" by publishing details of the rules while the nation's eyes were trained on the World Cup.
The measures, released by Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, on Friday afternoon, give local authorities the power to confiscate homes that have been vacant for six months and rent them out to the homeless.
From next month councils will be able to break into, alter or refurbish the properties and let them out to tenants of their choice for up to seven years.
Robert Whelan, of the think-tank Civitas, said the "outrageous" confiscation of property ran "right against the ancient common-law principle of private property, which is as fundamental as habeas corpus.
"The right to private property is the Englishman's right to his castle". Labour was "behaving more like a dictatorship than a democratic government", he said.
Yvette Cooper, the housing and planning minister, said, however, that it was an outrage that empty properties were not being used to tackle housing shortages.
Her "outrage" versus the fundemental rights of free born people everywhere - I know which one I back!
I don't think I know a family which has inherited a family home which has settled all the scores and actually sold a house within six months. I blogged about this back in March and included this material from the Government...
The Housing Act 2004 contains provisions about the occupation of privately owned empty homes. The device for securing occupation of empty homes is known as an Empty Dwelling Management Order. Once the legislation has been commenced, an Empty Dwelling Management Order would enable a Local Housing Authority, in certain circumstances, to take management control of a dwelling in order to secure occupation of it. The legislation is intended to operate alongside existing procedures for securing occupation of empty homes..... When an EDMO is in force, the LHA takes over most of the rights and responsibilities of the relevant proprietor and may exercise them as if it were the relevant proprietor. A relevant proprietor is not entitled to receive any rent or other payments from anyone occupying the dwelling and may not exercise any rights to manage the dwelling whilst an EDMO is in force.
June 17, 2006
It could have paid for more than 3,300 new teachers, 250,000 laptop computers or replenished understocked school libraries with 10 million new text books.
Instead, £100 million of public money has been wasted on a reward card scheme, intended to encourage teenagers to stay on at school, which has been officially evaluated as a flop.
Ministers decided last week to cut their losses and axe the Connexions Card - but not before it has earned Capita, the private company that runs it, more than £66 million....
"This is yet another example of an untested, ineffective project that has been allowed to run for years despite failing to produce results. Just think of the number of maths teachers or text books that could be bought with this kind of money."
The Connexions Card was launched by the Department for Education and Skills six years ago to give 16- to 19-year-olds an incentive to stay on at school by giving them "loyalty points" that they could exchange for discounts on CDs, clothes and tickets for events.
Early evaluations in 2003 warned of its lack of progress, but ministers continued to back the scheme, even after the final assessment report last year concluded that there was no evidence that it had improved teenagers' motivation or led to more staying on.
Less than four per cent of youngsters had redeemed points with the card. Just 54,788 had used it by the end of 2004 - spectacularly failing to hit the target of 1.7 million.
While the scheme was questioned by critics, Capita was picking up £66.14 million. Under the contract, the company is due to receive a further £41.48 million, but officials refused to say last night how much of this would be paid.
Beverley Hughes, the children's minister, said: "Cardholders will have until the end of August this year to earn points and until the end of February 2007 to redeem them. We will be winding it down because the card has served its purpose."
Official figures released last week show that the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who are not in education, employment or training increased from 10 per cent in 2004 to 11 per cent last year - about 220,000 young people.
You can't blame Capita for taking the money - that is what they are in business for! But it is symptomatic that this sort of fiasco is so common with this Government that no one really notices or comments on them now.
So todays Maths question is if it costs £66 milion to reward 54788 pupils with a few DVDs, would the kids have prefered £1204.64 in cash instead each?
June 16, 2006
How soon we forget and cover-up
15 June 1996: a sunny morning in Manchester. Saturday shoppers were filling Market Street and the Arndale Centre buying Father's Day presents. The country was hosting Euro '96 and the nation was gripped with football fever.
Then, at 09:43, came the first warning. It was coded message: 'You've got one hour to clear the city centre.' The IRA had packed 3,000 lbs of explosives into a lorry parked on Corporation Street.
When the bomb went off, it exploded at 2,000 feet per second. The sheer power of the blast shattered the city centre around Marks and Spencer and the Arndale shopping centre.
Thanks to a massive operation to evacuate the city centre, no-one was killed although, 200 people were injured, some seriously, mostly by flying glass and debris.
Professor Richard English of Queen's University in Belfast has studied the activities of the IRA for a number of years and wrote the book 'Armed Struggle - The History Of The IRA.'
He says it's known who carried out the attack and spoke to Inside Out's Andy Johnson:
"One of the strange things about many incidents in the Northern Ireland troubles has been that while informally, quite a lot of people know who is responsible for certain actions, in a formal sense, convictions have not been pursued. That is the same with the Manchester bomb of 1996.
"Broadly speaking, it’s known which unit of the IRA produced this bomb. Some of the names of those involved are known, but they have not been brought to justice. There are two explanations which people have offered for that: one is that the kind of acquisition of informal evidence that you can pursue as a journalist, or as a commentator is one thing, but getting people to tell you on the record the kind of things they’ll tell you off the record is different for obvious reasons in a place like Northern Ireland.
"The other explanation, I think is slightly more complicated, and it’s this. During the peace process period the British government and the British authorities were keen, above all that the IRA shift from something like war to something like peace. In the process of doing that, getting into a second ceasefire from ’97 onwards, with Sinn Fein, the politicians becoming more important than the IRA, there was a desire not to rock the boat.
So it's all about keeping the peace process on track...
"Prisoners were released after the Good Friday agreement, people who had often done murderous and appalling things. There was a sense that you could almost forget the past atrocities if the future was going to see Republicans be political, rather than being violent. That’s not to say people wouldn’t want to pursue a conviction, but for example, under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, if the people who had carried out this bombing were prosecuted then they would be eligible for release fairly quickly anyway. In other words, there’s a sense that there’s something like an amnesty for IRA actions has informally been accepted in Northern Ireland. In that context, there’s no real urgency to try and reach prosecutions for things like this, to reach convictions, because it’s almost as if you’ve put a line through what happened in the past in order to reach hopefully a more peaceful present."
Greater Manchester Police has conducted a review of the investigation into bombing of Manchester city centre in 1996.
Deputy Chief Constable Dave Whatton said: "The Manchester bomb had a tremendous impact on the lives of people in the area, which is why we have thoroughly reviewed the case. A team of officers from GMP's Anti-Terrorist Unit carried out a detailed analysis ahead of the 10th anniversary of the incident.
"In consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, we have concluded that at this time there is no realistic possibility of a prosecution. This has allowed us to release new material that we have held for the last 10 years.
"Any speculation about individuals alleged to be linked to the incident is unhelpful as there is insufficient evidence to substantiate charges.
(You may want to compare the photo to ones taken from Canal and Church Street in New York five years later - and the subsequent reactions... )
I just wish he'd shut up, frankly
Asked on BBC2's Daily Politics programme about Mr Blair's announcement of new measures to curb the early release of offenders, Lord Ramsbotham, a former chief inspector of prisons, said: "I just wish he'd shut up, frankly.
"One of the problems that there has been recently is announcement after announcement from the Prime Minister that he's going to do this and that and the other. More people are going to come in for longer, but unfortunately all that's doing is crowding the system even more than it is."
He said the Home Office had three priorities - arrest people more quickly, sentence them more severely and reduce prison overcrowding. "They are mutually conflicting," he said.
Could hardly have put it better myself.
Marxist influences revealed today.
The Queen was in playful mood yesterday as she addressed a grand lunch given by the Lord Mayor of London to celebrate her 80th birthday, and the 85th of her husband, attended by the Prime Minister, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Sir Cliff Richard among 350 distinguished guests.
Appreciative laughter filled the gold and white Egyptian Hall in the Mansion House, the Lord Mayor's official residence, when, in a reference to her own advancing years, she repeated one of the late screen comedian's aphorisms: "Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough."
Which is far better than the extraordinary letter young Blair wrote - 22 pages of uninvited advice to Michael Foot like some star-struck teenager's gushings!
Mr Blair wrote. "I actually did trouble to read Marx first-hand. I found it illuminating in so many ways; in particular, my perception of the relationship between people and the society in which they live was irreversibly altered."
A NEW £2 coin marking the Union between England and Scotland 300 years ago will be issued next year, when Gordon Brown hopes to be taking over as Prime Minister.
The Chancellor, who as a Scot misses no opportunity to emphasise his Britishness, has secured the Queen's approval for the coin commemorating the unification of the countries into Great Britain in 1707.
Alex Salmond, the leader of the Scottish National Party, joked that the coin was to be called a “Brownie”. “That’s full of brass, not very popular, soon to be devalued.” He added: “It’s going to become a collector’s item as the Union passes into history.”
Jack Straw, the Leader of the Commons, replied: “I am utterly clear that he will be passing into history a long time before the Union.”
The old Jelly-Bellied Flag Flapper is at it again - but it is going to be a sore temptation for him when the collection plate comes round at the kirk - should he show loyalty to the union or is £2 far too much to be prised from his fist....
Google - my part in their victory
I note that Google UK has 77% of the UK market, according to recent traffic analysis by Hitwise.
- In April, Google's first-quarter profits rose 60% to $592m (£333m) from $372m the previous year. Revenue was up 79% to $2.25bn.
When I was a humble marketing guru I had to pull up our spend on Google advertising for a Board Meeting - the directors were a little surprised at the invoice. At $3 billion it certainly helped Google revenue targets but threatened a cash flow problem for us...
June 15, 2006
Must read new blog
Labour AchievementsOver the course of this summer, Labour will be trying to highlight 40 of their achievements since 1997. I thought I'd help them out...
Does anyone do fact checking when it comes to bashing the Marines?
A US corporal was forced to apologise for writing and singing a song to fellow Marines about him shooting dead an Iraqi child.
A video of Joshua Belile performing Hadji Girl at a base in Iraq surfaced on the internet as President Bush met US troops in Baghdad. In his song, Corporal Belile describes shooting a girl and watching blood flow from her head.
Has anyone on the MSM who has rushed into commenting on this video actually read or listened to the lyrics first? They aren't difficult. Guy falls in love with a girl, follows her home to an ambush, he grabs her as a shield, she gets shot so he returns fire at her brother and father. I note the BBC now has a much fairer account up - obviously someone there has bothered to study the lyrics.
Thanks to Michelle Malkin here are the lyrics of "Hadji Girl"
I was out in the sands of Iraq
And we were under attack
And I, well, I didn't know where to go.
And the first think I could see was
Everybody's favorite Burger King
So I threw open the door and I hit the floor.
Then suddenly to my surprise
I looked up and I saw her eyes
And I knew it was love at first sight.
And she said
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I can't understand what you're saying.
And she said
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
Hadji girl I love you anyway.
Then she said that she wanted me to see.
She wanted me to meet her family
But I, well, I couldn't figure out how to say no.
Cause I don't speak Arabic.
So, she took me down an old dirt trail.
And she pulled up to a side shanty
And she threw open the door and I hit the floor.
Cause her brother and her father shouted
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
They pulled out their AKs so I could see
And they said
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
So I grabbed her little sister and pulled her in front of me.
As the bullets began to fly
The blood sprayed from between her eyes
And then I laughed maniacally
Then I hid behind the TV
And I locked and loaded my M-16
And I blew those little f***ers to eternity.
And I said
Durka Durka Mohammed Jihad
Sherpa Sherpa Bak Allah
They should have known they were f***ing with a Marine
PLAYGROUNDS must be made more adventurous with an added element of controlled risk if children are to get the best out of them, one of Britain's leading experts on play will say today.
David Yearley, of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, says that an over-concentration on safety in recent years has resulted in the spread of "boring" public play areas, which posed risks of a different kind.
It is when children become bored with spaces that they are supposed to play in that they turn instead to play in really dangerous places, such as along railway lines, river banks and on roads, Mr Yearley is due to tell the society's play safety conference.
Mr Yearley also said that over-cautious parents who continually reined in their children could be as much to blame as the equipment for playground boredom.
“As a parent, I want to protect my child from harm. However, if you protect them from any kind of risk, they never build up their ability to assess risk themselves. Then they fail to take that ability into adulthood for tasks such as driving that do involve risk assessment,” he said.
Around 40,000 British children aged under 16, out of a total of 12 million, are injured each year while playing. Playground accidents cause one child death every two to three years.
I have long held a belief that there ought to be a measure of how many kids there are with broken arms. When I were a lad every class had someone in plaster, now it is very rare to see one. My theory is that there is an inverse relationship between broken arms and kids having fun ( to a degree) and that the number is a good indicator of how fulfilling childhoods are. I would guess about 1 child in 30 per annum would be a sensible number to aim for.
June 14, 2006
An Englishman in his Library
No it isn't your humble author - it is a photograph I found in an old frame I was reusing - I thought I would post it and the details of who it was in case anyone out there in Interwebby Land wanted a snap of an ancestor. On the back was written:
John Frederick Marchant
59, Berners Street
Died April 6th 1940
Born March 27th ?
Son of William Marchant and Maria Marchant (nee Potbury of Sidmouth Devon)
So if he is a relative of yours give me a shout and I will send it on.
Calling Tech Support
Troubleshooting a Hewlett Packard Office Jet
5110x All in One Printer
Buff Hoon defends Europe
A new mission to explain the value of the European Union to the British public is to be announced by Europe minister Geoff Hoon.
Years after successive Tory and Labour leaders vowed to put the nation at the heart of Europe, Mr Hoon is effectively saying it is time to put Europe at the heart of Britain.
He will say it is now vital to revive interest in what the EU does, adding: "An inability to see how events in Brussels affect life and work in the UK is magnified by the effect the continuing debate on the future of Europe has on the British public.
"My aim is to restart the debate in this country - and in particular to rekindle interest in the European Union.
"We need to show the British people that the European Union can and does make a difference to their lives.
Nothing there I can disagree with, restart the debate and show how the EU effects us - what we have been saying for quite a while. Bring it on!
Your Licence fee at work,
The BBC is expected to cause fresh controversy over its commercial activities by producing a glossy weekly news and current affairs magazine.
Given the working title Newsbrief, it would compete with The Economist, The Spectator and the New Statesman.
Seeing the last two at least have over the years been bottomless pits for money I think we can be sure that this new magazine - and why do we need a new one? - has a reasonable chance of swallowing up some of the licence fee that the BBC mulcts from us. And of course it will have to be completely politically neutral....
Getting it right
The £200m showpiece stand at Ascot is ready for business - after a mere 20 months. It has been delivered on time and on budget.
I drove past the new stand and through the new underpass at the weekend - what a fantastic looking building. Just shows what can be done by private enterprise. While Her Majesty has taken a close personal interest in how Douglas Erskine-Crum, a former brigadier in the Scots Guards, has been keeping this project running on track the various Government leaders that have been helping out with Wembley Stadium, Bath Spa and the Dome have not been - they are too busy ensuring our Olympic stadia will be ready....
Does crime pay?
When the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was set up three years ago to track down and seize the proceeds of crime, it was inundated with almost three times the number of cases it had expected.
This plethora of possible targets ought to have enabled the agency to help the Prime Minister to fulfil his ambition of doubling the unlawful assets recovered every year. Tony Blair hoped that this would be ploughed back into policing. Yet so far, a body that costs about £18 million a year to run has delivered nothing approaching that figure. It recovered assets of about £4.1 million in 2004-05 and around £4.3 million in 2005-06.
Parliament, in its zeal to outwit wrongdoers, may also have overreached. The ARA can apply to the civil courts to freeze assets even if the police have insufficient evidence to secure a criminal conviction. If a crime is suspected, and no legitimate explanation can be given about how the owner amassed his or her assets, they can be removed. This creates both practical and ethical difficulties. Suspects whose assets are frozen can delay proceedings for months while they try to mount a defence on legal aid. And there must be real questions about a law that abandons the presumption of innocence in the minority of cases that deal with individuals who have not yet been convicted.
So another one of Tony's totalitarian knee jerk schemes is an expensive flop - what a surprise! Is there anything this Government has set up that is competently run.
MEAT-EATERS have been told that avoiding mutton, goat and some sausages is the only way to reduce the risks from a new animal brain disease.
Britain's food watchdog admitted yesterday that it could not rule out a risk to human health from the brain disease atypical scrapie, which is similar to BSE.
The advice from the Food Standards Agency raises the most serious concern about the safety of the meat since the discovery of "mad cow" disease in cattle. The new disease is similar to classic scrapie, a brain-wasting disease that has been known in sheep for more than 100 years, but which has never posed health concerns in human beings.
Scrapie was actually first identified in 1732 and has probably been around a lot longer. There is no hint that this "new" type of scrapie is any more dangerous or is in fact new but as ever you can't prove a negative so the Nannies are grabbing at this bit of news - see story below...
Broccoli? No thanks.
Children inherit their taste for meat and fish but acquire a liking for vegetables or desserts, researchers say...
Dr Lesley Walker, the charity's director of information, said: "The more we know about this, the better we can understand what leads to bad eating habits, which bring them a whole range of health problems including cancer."
Research has shown 12,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year if no adults were overweight.
So we naturally like steaks and bacon but have to be programmed into eating our greens! Of course all this means is that the nannies will now redouble their efforts into forcing us to eat more grass because they now know it is not in our nature to do so and so reprogramming us to conform to this brave new world is even harder than they previously thought.
"like crap through a goose"
The US marines have launched a probe into a video posted on the internet that apparently shows a serving marine singing about killing Iraqi civilians.
A spokesman described the video as "clearly inappropriate" and contrary to the standards of the marines.
In further news an investigation is going to be launched into the "clearly inappropriate" views on Germans reported to have been said by an other American soldier..
"My God, I actually pity those poor bastards we're going up against. My God, I do. We're not just going to shoot the bastards, we're going to cut out their living guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun bastards by the bushel. Now some of you boys, I know, are wondering whether or not you'll chicken out under fire. Don't worry about it. I can assure you that you'll all do your duty. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them. Spill their blood, shoot them in the belly. When you put your hand into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friends face, you'll know what to do. Now there's another thing I want you to remember. I don't want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We're not holding anything, we'll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose, and we're going to kick him in the ass. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time, and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose. "
General George S. Patton - England, May 31, 1944
June 13, 2006
New Google Earth
The latest version of Google Earth is being released in beta form and you know you can't resist trying out beta stuff on your computer - in fact it looks very good and hasn't crashed my machine, yet....
If you have time this evening
13 June 2006 The Welfare State We're In - Launch of new revised and expanded paperback
Venue: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 12 Great George Street, Parliament Square London SW1P 3AD
6:40pm book signing
7:00pm James confronts his critics
8:00pm reception & book signing
Anyone may come. If you have the time, please RSVP here
The paperback edition of the book with many updated figures, a special preface and two extra sections (one titled 'The NHS: so did it get better?') has just been published. The link to the relevant Amazon.co.uk page is here.
Won't even lie straight in coffin
Charles Haughey - -yet another tax dodge...
Calling Dr. R. Quincy, M.E.
Misty 69 gives us an "customer's" view of our wonderful NHS - must read, and go and wish the best!
Paying twice for a rubbish service
HOMEOWNERS face paying a second tax for their household rubbish to be collected as part of a range of proposals to reform council tax, The Times has learnt.
I already pay £2000 a year to my local council and as far as I can see the weekly collection of a couple of bags of rubbish is about all I get in return - of course I see where the council spunks away money left, right and centre, subsidising yummy mummies to be pampered in luxurious leisure centres - why do I have to pay for that? - forward planning, making up grandiose schemed that will never happen, why am I paying for some planners' wet dreams? - Educational services, preventing half the money the taxpayers spend on education ever reaching the schools - building libraries, but not for books but so the feckless can borrow DVDs for less than Blockbusters...
So now having spent all the money on useless bloody projects they want to come back again for more money for the one service that used to be half decent. How nu-Labour, how Gordon Brown!
Blair backs Blair
TONY BLAIR declared his full backing for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner yesterday
So Sir Ian, you might as well start looking through the Sunseeker catalogues now and booking a long summer holiday - his "full backing" is as reassuring as a kiss from your Sicilian Godfather.
June 12, 2006
Another mess for the Boy Miliband to sort out
Whilst farmers in England have been growing more and more desperate as the government fails to honour its promises by paying them on time, or even close to time the staff responsible for sorting out the payments seem to have had other matters on their minds...
Civil servants on Tyneside are under investigation amid allegations staff romped around naked in offices and had sex in toilets.
One person at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) in Newcastle has been sacked after officials began an investigation.
The antics emerged after some members of staff were caught on CCTV cameras.
The RPA is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and administers millions of pounds in agricultural payments to farmers.
The agency said it was investigating claims that staff leapt naked from filing cabinets, had sex in office toilets, held break-dancing competitions during working hours and fought in a reception area.
Thank god it wasn't John Prescott in charge otherwise it would have been worse!
Balance of Trade
As a side note for you students of economics consider this - I noted in passing yesterday that every thing I was wearing, my new cotton shorts, shirt and pants from Matalan combined with my sandals from Lidl, brought from the far corners of the earth to a local retail store, cost less than the three pints of Wadworth's IPA,produced just down the road from me, that I drank...
'The fact is, it's tax.'
'The fact is, it's tax.' Blimey, O'Reilly, you never said five truer words - Comment - Times Online
Tony O’Reilly’s view is that the main reason for the Irish economic “miracle” has been the low level of corporate tax in Ireland. He is working to persuade the UK Government to reduce the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland to that of the south; that is, from the UK’s 30 per cent to the Republic’s 12.5 per cent. He comments that the Irish miracle is not “because the pubs are great, the golf is great and the climate is, well . . . the fact is, its tax.”
This is, indeed, one of the political truths that politicians ignore at their peril. O’Reilly’s “the fact is, its tax,” is just as valid as Bill Clinton’s “it’s the economy, stupid”. Of course, from the British point of view, there can be no question of cutting the Northern Ireland rate of corporation tax without cutting the UK level. If 12.5 per cent is good for the Republic — and it is — then indeed it would also be good for Northern Ireland. If it would be good for Northern Ireland it would be equally good for England, Wales and Scotland. Not only good, but essential.
Most politicians have little understanding of tax. They think it is easier to tax business because global businesses do not have votes. They do not realise that Ireland has found that lower tax rates produce higher yields. The result is that Conservative tax policies are inadequate, Liberal Democrat policies are self-defeating, and Labour’s are complex and perverse.
Politicians do not appear to understand that global businesses are free to arrange their tax affairs on a global basis.
The latest information is that the outflow of international companies from Britain is accelerating. There are at least 40 major companies in the pipeline to move; the sums involved run into hundreds of billions of pounds. Last year Royal Dutch Shell consolidated its holding company in the Netherlands — that represents a capital value of more than £110 billion by itself. This drain will do far more damage to the UK economy than merely loss of tax revenue, though that is considerable. The real loss is the benefits these companies provide to our economy while they are here.
Sir Digby Jones, as Director-General of the CBI, has stated: “A lot of our biggest businesses are now looking at whether they want to be domiciled here because of the tax system. They are looking instead at Holland, Ireland . . . Estonia, even. That was never on the radar screen before. I fear that the Chancellor, in going after a few million of extra tax, will lose the Exchequer billions by driving companies out of Britain.” That is not just silly; it is suicidal.
A firm producing environmentally friendly fuel is being put into liquidation after being fined for pollution.
Global Commodities, which had planned to lead the UK in bio-fuel production, was fined £17,000 in March for noise pollution and £24,000 last month for polluting a drainage ditch with oil. Its chairman, Dennis Thouless, blamed over-regulation for the closure of the company in Shipdham, Norfolk, which has been making 200,000 litres of bio-diesel a week from old cooking oil.
The Americans were now "10 times in front of us, not because of technical knowledge but because we have bureaucrats sitting on our backs".
It's not just the taxes that is discouraging entrepreneurs - i know I've been there.
June 11, 2006
Remember Трофи́м Дени́сович Лысе́нко
Luxuriating in my scented bath anointing myself with the oils of Araby and enjoying a decent hock I was perusing a tome on Michurianism - the official Communist genetic theory based on the "hogwash" of Lysenko. The parallel of how this ideology was propagated by the State because of its ignorance and its usefulness, combined with the persecution of those scientists who dared to question its scientific basis brought to mind the current "debate" on anthropogenic climate change.
It seems to me that there is a very clear "party" line on this and that anyone who strays from it will be denounced as a "denier" and face ostracisation from power and position. A quick Google shows I'm not alone in noticing this parallel though it doesn't seem to have been developed as much as it should have been. And surprisingly, to me at least, it is both sides who accuse the other of Lysenkoism....
One day we will look back on the effort to deny the effects of climate change as we now look back on the work of Trofim Lysenko.
Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist who insisted that the entire canon of genetics was wrong. ...Lysenko’s hogwash became state policy. He was made director of the Institute of Genetics and president of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. He used his position to outlaw conventional genetics, strip its practitioners of their positions and have some of them arrested and even killed. Lysenkoism, which governed state science from the late 1930s until the early 1960s, helped to wreck Soviet agriculture.
No one is yet being sent to the Guantanamo gulag for producing the wrong results. But the denial of climate science in the United States bears some of the marks of Lysenkoism... the official policy of climate change denial, like Lysenkoism, relies on a compliant press.
There is no scientific consensus behind the UN's explanation of climate change at all. It is the 21st century equivalent of Lysenko's politicised pseudo-science of the Soviet era. And what support there is tends to come from scientists in the pay and/or influence of governments.
Over the past two years, a man named Bjorn Lomborg has been given authority over environmental research, and a great deal of influence over environmental policy, in Denmark. In much the same way that Lysenko rose to power by challenging the legitimacy of an emerging scientific field, Lomborg has achieved a good deal of his power by challenging the legitimacy of environmental science, which like genetics in the 1940s, is still in the process of early development. And like Lysenko in the Soviet Union, Lomborgís influence and authority are not derived from scientific work, but from a kind of technical activity, namely the manipulation of statistics to question the contentions of environmental scientists ñ in Denmark, as well as abroad.
It is now two years since Anders Fogh Rasmussen brought his neo-liberal party to power in Denmark, and already the damage to environmental research and to environmental policy due to the teachings of Bjorn Lomborg are starting to be felt. For in those two years, Lomborg has become one of the most influential advisers to those who make environmental policy in Denmark, at the same time as almost all legitimate environmental scientists in the country have effectively lost their influence over environmental policy.
June 10, 2006
An apology to some American Friends
The lorry burst into flames on the anti-clockwise carriageway shortly before 10am...
The clockwise carriageway reopened at about 3pm and the anti-clockwise carriageway shortly before 6pm.
Spent yesterday evening with some very nice Americans who had just arrived in England and then spent their first afternoon stuck on the M25. They very extremely charming about it but incredulous how long it takes us to clear an accident - why don't they just bulldoze the wreck to one side? That is what happens in the States. Of course here the lost opportunity costs of all those poor souls on th motorway count for nothing compared to the importance of the various agencies who have to measure and examine and think about the crash before anything can be done about it.
Another question for Sir Ian Blair
Scotland Yard was facing fierce criticism last night after two brothers arrested in a high profile anti-terrorism raid in east London were released without charge.
As I said nearly a week ago "My bet is these two guys are going to walk free" .....June 5, 2006 06:32 AM. The police had made it obvious by their briefings by then what the outcome was going to be, so why did Sir Ian Blair and team hold onto them for so long?
June 9, 2006
Kennet Council Rubbish a local Hero
DEVIZES resident Phil Oliver is prepared to go to court after being told he had committed an offence by handing in a bag of household rubbish at Kennet District Council's offices.
Mr Oliver, of Cornfield Road, took his bag of rubbish to Kennet's offices at Browfort in Bath Road, Devizes, when it went uncollected due to a one day strike by refuse workers and Unison members in a row over pensions.
Kennet said his action in depositing the litter was a criminal offence and ordered him to pay a fixed penalty notice of £50.
"I was a bit fed up because rubbish from bags ripped open by cats had blown into my garden. I rang Kennet to find out when the rubbish would be collected and received a curt response that it would be the following week.
"I was a bit miffed by this so I took my bag of rubbish and went to Kennet's offices. I asked to see the manger of the refuse department and was told he was not in.
"I then gave my bag of rubbish to the receptionist and asked that she give it to the manager with the message that he should make suitable contingency plans for such events and not expect the rate paying public of Devizes to put up with rubbish all over the streets for a week. I was quite polite about it. I went straight from work and was wearing a shirt and tie."
Kennet Council said: "The council will not tolerate waste being dumped. This case of illegally deposited waste was passed to the legal department for consideration under the Environmental Protection Act."
Collecting the rubbish used to be the one and only service that Kennet Council could do efficiently - but they can't even do that now as they have far better things to spunk our money away on now. I hope he holds out against Kennet - and next time they fail to collect my rubbish I will be taking the tipping trailer into Browfort myself.
A real cost of the SWRA Quisling talkingshop
THE predicted cost of the council's Bourne Hill office project has already rocketed by £2m but senior councillors and officers argued this week that it was still the most efficient and cost-effective option for its future accommodation.
Outlining the business case for the scheme which is now projected to cost £13.7m and is set to rise by £50,000 each month until work gets under way ...
However, rapid increases in building costs have already seen the bill rise by more than 15 per cent and, if the plans get called in by the secretary of state and snarled up by a public inquiry, the price will soar.
The council is now waiting for a decision from the government office for the south-west on whether it can proceed with its plans, which could see work start in early 2007 and staff working in their new offices 18 months later.
The swell of public protest against the project was expected....
I'm glad it isn't my council tax that Salisbury Council is enjoying spending..
Holding Councils accountable to the Law
Neil Herron continues his campaign to ensure that councils obey the very laws they rigorously and pernickitaly enforce on motorists.
Neil Herron states, "Yet again we have caught out another local authority playing fast and lose with their legal responsibilities. Many have cut corners in their attempt to introduce Decriminalised Parking Enforcement, but the law is a two-way street and it is not just the motorist that must obey the law. This is a very serious matter in which the misrepresentation of the legal situation with the inference that a criminal offence has been committed and means that Blackpool have made a catastrophic error and all drivers must be refunded."
Ben Durkin states, "I find it staggering that local authorities such as Blackpool, who are in charge of hundreds of millions of pounds of public money are knowingly extorting money from motorists in this illegal manner. It makes you wonder what else is going on. Personally I wouldn't trust them to run a bath."
Been about a bit?
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?
made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.
The yellow ones are place I can picture as having stopped or stayed in - some maybe only for a Burger King when driving, other brought back other memories. I'm surprised it is so many. Angelsey is on the list this summer, and maybe I ought to check on some of the other North Wales ones as most were visited late one night after we had been drinking in Oxford and with a bit of stimulation thought it would be a good idea to drive to North Wales to see the sunrise...
June 8, 2006
Chris Gaskin - an apology
In a previous post I mistakenly implied that the views of the blog Balrog "An Irish Republican perspective on life" were from "south of the border".
My error was pointed out by Chris Gaskin a writer on the blog; "a Law student attending Queens University Belfast. (sic - it has an apostrophe as it is the university of Our Most Gracious Majesty) ...(who) works part time as a Barman in the 26 counties. (and is) a staunch Irish Republican who supports the establishment of a 32 County Secular Socialist Republic." So my apologies are due.
I am surprised he is offended by being identified as having Southern Irish views seeing he states:
Am I the only one who finds it funny when he talks about dragging the reputation of the British nation through the mud?
It has no reputation worth saving FFS!
It has a long history or brutality, oppression, domination and conquest. All you have to do is to look at the countries around the world where there has been war and strife about borders to see what the Brits created, Israel/Palestine, India/Pakistan, Ireland.
It's about time that the British woke up and realised that their "nation" has blood flowing from its fingertips after centuries of war, injustice and colonisation.
Britain is not a peacefull (sic) nation and it never has been, a bit of reality might scare them half to death.
Of course I'm glad he prefers to be identified as an Ulsterman, but it would be nice if showed a little more gratitude to the state that has paid for his education and way of life....
God Bless you Sir!
THE Prince of Wales is to set up his own training programme to promote traditional methods of teaching English and history in state schools.
Prince Charles renewed his attack on modern teaching methods yesterday, saying that they had robbed children of their cultural inheritance by promoting misguided notions of equality and “accessibility”.
He announced that he was joining forces with Cambridge University to establish the Prince’s Cambridge Programme for Teaching to “re- inspire” teachers over the value of literature and history.
“For all sorts of well- meaning reasons, and for too many pupils, teaching has omitted to pass on to the next generation not only our deep knowledge of literature and history, but also the value of education,” he told teachers at the fifth annual Prince of Wales Education Summer School in Cambridge.
“There is a need to revisit the fundamental principles that drive our educational beliefs; to reinspire teachers; to question the notion that equality and accessibility are best served by reducing the range and quality of work that pupils undertake; and to put a stop to the ‘cultural disinheritance’.”
The old boy may be seen as a bit of a crackpot but on some issues he is not only spot on but also gets things moving. I hope this becomes as successful and as influential as his Prince's Trust and Poundbury initiatives.
The NHS budget crises - A Modest Proposal
DOCTORS should be allowed to help to kill terminally ill patients with or without their consent, a leading professor of medical ethics said yesterday...
And I don't think this is some Swiftian satire, rather just expressing the growing belief that the system knows what is best for us.
I have no objection to the unspoken and common practice of Doctors "easing" patients they know and understand but like so many things it is best left unformalised, otherwise we will stray in areas of quotas, targets and forms...
Knee Jerks in Parliament
The Government takes more notice of scare stories than of evidence, a Lords committee has said
THE ban on smoking in pubs was an over-reaction to the threat posed by passive smoking and symptomatic of MPs' failure to understand the concept of risk, a House of Lords committee has said.
The Lords Economic Affairs Committee accused the Government of kneejerk reactions to scare stories about health, saying it did not weigh the risks. Ministers placed insufficient weight on available scientific evidence and relied instead on "unsubstantiated reports" when formulating policy.
Couldn't have put it better myself, though I think my verdict would have included a few more uses of the word "fuckwits" than their noble Lordships did.
"culturally authentic and accurate"
The BBC is hiring a "diversity tsar" to ensure that its channels and programmes are "culturally authentic and accurate".
Mary Fitzpatrick begins work next month ...(at I believe £70 k pa)
Jana Bennett, the BBC's director of television, said that the move was to "put audiences at the heart of what we do". She added: "To meet audiences' expectations in a changing world, we need our programmes to reflect fully and accurately the diversity of the UK population."
Miss Fitzpatrick said her job would not be about "quotas or box-ticking, but focusing minds on the fact that audiences are hugely diverse and they rightly expect to see themselves and their life experiences reflected on TV".
So "culturally authentic and accurate" - what is she going to do about Balamory -
The whole of Scotland is 98.4% white with the area around Tobermory, where it is filmed, even more monocultural (figures not online). You will notice the make up of the main characters above, the supporting cast is also as ethnically diverse.
So to be "culturally authentic and accurate" they would have to do a serious culling of characters! Remember the whole of the UK is 92.1% white, does that seem to be the proportion you see on the BBC?
If the BBC wants to project the UK as a culturally diverse and exciting place, if it wants to pretend that that Scottish fishing villages are as cosmopolitan as Islington - fine. Just don't come the "culturally authentic and accurate" lie to me, or with my money.
June 7, 2006
A view from south of the border
An Irish Republican perspective on life
Twin Towers and Haditha? What's the difference?
No comment needed.
A reader points out this article
Shootings continue daily and knife crime has reached epidemic proportion. Here Dr Sean Gabb from the Libertarian Alliance explains why he believes we need more guns to make us safer
The current debate on armed crime is depressingly predictable. Everyone agrees something must be done.
Just about everyone agrees this something must include laws against the sale or carrying or simple possession of weapons. More controls on weapons, the argument goes, the fewer weapons on the street: therefore lower levels of armed crime.
Now, this whole line of thinking is nonsense. ....
I think the other reader of this blog can probably recite the argument that follows, if not please refresh your memory of it. But outside the Blogosphere it is rare to hear it, and especially rare to read it in a newspaper.
A sure fire money making opportunity
Are you an animal lover; and also an atheist, agnostic, jew, muslim, or other non-Christian? If so, you might qualify for the JesusPets Partner Program!
JesusPets will pay YOU to take care of dogs, cats, and other pets. To qualify, you must agree with this statement:
The JesusPets Partner Program Statement
I love animals, and am willing to care for pets after the Christian Rapture.
I am not, and never have been a born-again Christian.
I believe it is immoral to have sex with animals, and have no desire to do so.
I believe it is immoral to consume common domesticated pets (note: this includes goldfish!), and have no desire to do so.
If you agree with, then please contact JesusPets to join our international community of JesusPets Partners...
What is JesusPets?
Who is going to care for your pets after you are raptured into heaven?
Imagine being taken to streets of gold while your dog starves to death walking around in his own feces trapped in your small house or apartment, subject to fire and earthquakes or even being eaten by heathens searching for any remaining morsel of food. Do you want that to happen?
With the imminent collapse of the global economy and rampant godlessness, even the community shelters will not have the resources to care for your poor, hungry animals. So you need to make preparations.
That’s what JesusPets is for. We are assembling a community of heathen pet-lovers to care for pets that are “left-behind.”
The bell knolls for Redmond
Google Spreadsheets - Sneak Peek - I have been playing with this - an online, shareable, spreadsheet application - so far looks very good.
So Google is providing mail, calendar, spreadsheet - word processing coming soon (Writely); maybe it is time to buy the Lidl special offer laptop
and forget about buying Microsoft Office...
Notwithstanding the source of the clause
CENTURIES of parliamentary tradition will be swept away next week with a new-style Bill offering a "plain English" translation of the usual impenetrable legal language.
The English system of common and case law is blamed for the complexity of legislation. Meanings of words are carefully prescribed in law with particular vocabulary used to convey specific meanings. That makes it hard for those outside the legal profession to grasp the meaning of a Bill.
The arcane language survives because the courts are responsible for interpreting legislation, and it is the language they understand. But, experts say, legislation is increasingly baffling and governments in centuries past produced clear and concise Bills. Several Victorian laws were shining examples of plain English. The 1861 Offences Against the Persons Act, for example, states: “It is an offence to cause a riot.”
Bad habits crept in during the 20th century. Oliver Heald, a barrister and the Conservatives’ constitutional affairs spokesman, said that Harold Wilson was the worst offender, famous for “massive tomes” of regulatory legislation.
Tony Blair’s predilection for sweeping “framework” Bills, which can be easily topped up with secondary legislation, has added to the complexity.
The Campaign for Plain English called it a “great step forward”.
Lawyers, who make a living out of explaining complex legislation, could be the big losers.
I came to mock but the more I read I think that unbelievably for once Ms Harman may have done something good. It is not ripping up our common heritage but rather a small attempt to return to our glorious past where the common man could understand the Law and Bible in the common tongue - a principle many have fought the executive for over the years.
Light finger licking good
A suspected car thief who bombarded police with bricks and tiles during a rooftop siege was given a Kentucky Fried Chicken takeaway meal by officers to ensure his "well-being and human rights".
Police sealed off an area around the three-storey house in Gloucester yesterday after the 26-year-old man began dismantling a chimney and throwing objects at cars and passers-by.
A spokesman for Gloucester police said: "He has been demanding various things and one was a KFC bargain bucket. Although he's a nuisance, we still have to look after his well-being and human rights. He's also been given cigarettes."
Any toe-rag on a roof chucking bricks at me wouldn't be treated, if that is the right word, to a KFC meal but something rather smaller, pointier and somewhat harder....
France's government and state railways have been ordered to pay compensation for deporting Jews during World War II. ...
The court found that the French state and the rail company, SNCF, had been complicit in crimes against humanity.
The government and SNCF have been ordered to pay compensation of 60,000 euros ($80,000, £43,000) to the family.
Campaigners have called a landmark decision, but the SNCF says it plans to appeal.
"The SNCF had no choice. The (Nazis) told the SNCF by letter that they had to do everything the German authorities wanted, and if someone refused, they would be shot," ......
Records show that the SNCF billed the French state for the journeys and carried on demanding money for the transfers even after France had been liberated.
Mr Lipietz said the judgement was recognition that the wartime state and its railways had done rather more than what had been asked of them by the occupiers.
It is easy to point the finger at collaborators but can anyone really be sure how they would have reacted under the same pressure and temptation to betray their country? Especially when you note this case was brought by a member of the European Parliament...
June 6, 2006
On this day 62 years ago
"The smoky foreground was not inviting. The rising tide slopped round bodies with tin hats that bobbed grotesquely in the waves. Wounded men, kept afloat by life-jackets, clung to stranded impedimenta. Barely clear of the creeping tide, soldiers lay with heads down, pinned to the sand. Half-way up the beach, others dug themselves into what amounted to certain death-trap... "I am going in," said Curtis. He gunned his engines and bumped over the shallows. "Stand by with the ramps!" Four able seamen sprang to the gangways. "Lower away there," and the brows ran sweetly down at a steep angle. The command craft had a comfortable landing. On these occasions the senior officer, stepping cautiously (rather than attempting a headlong dive), is first off the boat. Surprisingly, it is as safe a place as any. The water was knee-deep when Piper Millin struck up "Blue Bonnets", keeping the pipes going as he played the commandos up the beach. It was not a place to hang about in, and we stood not on the order of our going. That eruption of twelve hundred men covered the sand in record time... As we ran up the slope, tearing the waterproof bandages off weapons, the odd man fell, but swift reactions saved casualties...
More from his excellent autobiography March Past on this site.
The Lord Lovat, known to his friends as "Shimi" Lovat, was born Simon Fraser in 1911. He was educated at Ampleworth College and attended Oxford University. He joined the University's Cavalry Squadron and, after graduation in 1932, was commissioned into the Scots Guards. His father, who had founded the Lovat Scouts during the Boer War, died in 1933, and so Simon Fraser succeeded him to become the Seventeenth Baron Lovat, and the twenty-fifth chief of the Fraser Clan. His service with the Scots Guards continued, however when the Second World War began it was obvious that Lovat was destined to join a much more unorthodox fighting formation. In 1940, the Army requested volunteers for the newly formed Commando units and Lovat was amongst the first to apply. The tendency towards the special forces would seem to have been in Lovat's blood because his first cousin was no less a man than David Stirling, who later famously founded the Special Air Service in North Africa. For their exploits during the War, both Stirling and Lovat were personally singled out by Adolf Hitler as "dangerous terrorists", and orders had been issued for them to be executed in the event of their capture.
When the Normandy invasion drew near it was recognised that a large number of Commando forces would be needed to operate under a single command, and so Lovat was promoted to Brigadier and given charge of the 1st Special Service Brigade.
The real cost of those NHS waiting lists
A DELIVERY driver's life was saved when his colleagues paid for a brain scan that revealed a life-threatening tumour.
Gary Harris, 38, had been put on a three-month waiting list for an NHS scan but was later told by doctors that he would have died within two weeks had he not had an emergency operation to remove the tumour.
All 60 employees at Park Furnishers, Bristol, paid £12 each - a total of £720 - to cover the cost of having the scan done privately because Mr Harris was convinced that there was something seriously wrong....
Last week staff at Park Furnishers were handed a note with their payslips from Deryn Coller, the company director. At the top was written: “Last month you saved someone’s life.” He also added £20 to everyone’s pay to thank them.
NHS hard at work
A CONSULTANT who claimed he was left to play sudoku while operations were cancelled has quit his job in disgust.
Gynaecologist David Penman, 45, said yesterday he faced disciplinary action for speaking out, instead of raising his concerns with bosses.
He quit four days before the hearing was due to go ahead and is now serving his notice.
Mr Penman, who earned £66,000 a year at hard-up Medway Maritime Hospital, in Gillingham, Kent, said: "I admit I flouted the code of conduct - but what's the crime in that?
"My line managers, who I'm meant to raise issues with, are only following orders from above. The issue I have is with the Health Secretary and Tony Blair.
"Blair and the government are deliberately attempting to hide waiting times from the public.
"What's the point of raising concerns with my managers when these policies come from the top? Blair is using people's lives for political purposes."
In March, Mr Penman claimed that urgent operations were being delayed for months because his hospital did not have the cash.
He said then: "At a day care clinic I'd normally see six or even patients. But my boss ould only let me see one....
Blair is the man at the top and it's his decision to set these ridiculous financial targets which everyone in the NHS follows.
"It's also suspicious that in the financial year we had a general election most NHS Trusts have run out of money from trying to rush through operations in the lead-up to that election."
Ah so the managers reputation is more important than getting operations done. Pity he didn't stay a nd shove a copy of the UK Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) up his manager's nose - "The Act came into force on 2nd July 1999. It encourages people to raise concerns about malpractice in the workplace and will help ensure that organisations respond by
addressing the message rather than the messenger; and
resisting the temptation to cover up serious malpractice.
Through protecting whistleblowers from dismissal and victimisation in the following circumstances, the Act promotes the public interest.
The Act applies to people at work raising genuine concerns about .., danger to health and safety.
Wider disclosures (e.g. to the police, the media, MPs, and non-prescribed regulators) are protected if, in addition to the tests for regulatory disclosures, they are reasonable in all the circumstances and they meet one of the three preconditions.
Provided they are not made for personal gain, these preconditions are that the whistleblower:
reasonably believed he would be victimised if he raised the matter internally or with a prescribed regulator,
reasonably believed a cover-up was likely and there was no prescribed regulator; or
had already raised the matter internally or with a prescribed regulator.
Where the whistleblower is victimised in breach of the Act he can bring a claim to an employment tribunal for compensation. Awards will be uncapped and based on the losses suffered. Additionally where an employee is sacked, he may apply for an interim order to keep his job.
Gagging clauses in employment contracts and severance agreements are void insofar as they conflict with the Act's protection"
It needs repeating - often
A sober and sensible reflection on the big issue at stake with Europe.
GORDON BROWN is not always right, especially when it comes to his tendency to micro-manage. But he is right about protectionism. It is a bad thing. We should do all we can to tear down trade barriers. At the same time, we must hope that Bruce Wasserstein, whose top-notch reputation and experience suggest he rarely mucks up, is wrong about Europe having left it too late to embrace globalisation. Sadly, however, it is far from certain that Mr Wasserstein's comments are wide of the mark.
It is as well to be be clear just why protectionism is a bad thing and globalisation is good. Liberal economic values promote technological and social advance. More is invented if people are given the freedom to think and work for themselves. More physical things — be they widgets or wonder drugs — come out of the ether of the human imagination. Just as importantly, economic liberalism encourages development of smarter methods. Services are provided more quickly and less frusratingly if people are given economic room for manoeuvre. On the social side, economic liberalism is generally a good thing because if people are trading together they are less likely to behave objectionably, or bellicosely, towards one another.
Immediate benefits often come in terms of improved living standards. But the insurance that free trade brings against physical danger and a decline in living standards should be seen as the chief advantages.
The trouble is that the bounty is rarely distributed evenly and that encourages ill feeling. The net effect of free trade may be positive for the majority, but it can make things worse for a minority. Thankfully, the minority is often set at a disadvantage only temporarily. But the minorities on the Continent of Europe are powerful enough to ensure that the forceful arguments in favour of economic liberalism are sublimated. And the more they are sublimated, the greater the aggregate pain that will be suffered.
Greater numbers of people will be hurt as sublimation continues. Perhaps it is because the sufferers are largely out of sight in the Third World that the EU authorities can get away with protectionist policies. But as Mr Brown is acutely aware, Third World populations have precisely the same rights as anyone else to share in the benefits of economic liberalisation.
PC Dragon at work
The landlady of a pub who organised a St George's Day archery competition using the dragon on a Welsh flag as the target has been interviewed by police, after a report of alleged incitement to cause racial hatred.
Angie Sayer, 50, of the New Inn in Wedmore, Somerset, said she used the Welsh flag as it was the only large picture of a dragon she could find.
She pinned it to the target in the beer garden, and locals in fancy dress used home-made bows and arrows to "slay the dragon".
Officers interviewed her for two hours. "It's lunacy to even suggest I'm a racist," she said.
"It was supposed to be a bit of a giggle."
Police said they would not be taking further action.
As far as I can see they average about 7 crimes a month on that beat and only solve one (16.9%) - actually that 16.9% includes those taken to court and found innocent a nicety that the police ignore. So obviously the excitement of a real "racial hate" crime and an arrestable person got them rushing down the lanes with bell on the Wolseley ringing..
June 5, 2006
The Great South West Chilli Cook Off
FREE MARKET FAIRY TALES ANNOUNCES!
The Great South West Chilli Cook Off
Help Required - OK, so it was late on Friday night¦ or more correctly, early on Saturday morning. The pub was still full of stout bulldogs & gentlemans refreshments had been taken when we came up with the idea of a Chilli Cook Off in the pub garden in a months time. What more could you want for - a*se rattling chilli accompanied with pints of finest foaming.
This of course brings me to this mornings request, your humble correspondent needs a killer recipe for the Napalm Death Chilli from Hell. Any ideas?
And if you have any ideas for me as well that would be great - otherwise see you there!
Doing their job
THE rules of engagement for armed police are under renewed scrutiny today, after it emerged that the officer involved in the shooting of a suspected terrorist told independent investigators that it was an accident.
The armed officer who led the raid on a suspected chemical bomb factory in East London said that he did not deliberately fire the shot that injured Abul Kahar Kalam, but that his gun went off during a struggle on a staircase.
His evidence is at odds with that of Mr Kahar, 23, who said that there was no tussle and the officer from the SO19 firearms unit did not issue a warning before he was hit as he emerged unarmed from his bedroom, dressed in pyjamas.
His brother, Abul Koyair Kalam, 20, told his lawyer that he denies strenuously reports that he was responsible for the lone shot being fired after grappling with the police during the 4am raid.
The police emphasised that this was an MI5-led operation. They were concerned that the intelligence services appeared to be relying on a single informant. They have until Wednesday to question the brothers without special permission from a magistrate.
Sir Ian Blair, the beleaguered Metropolitan Police Commissioner, is under pressure to give a public assurance on the tactics used by his armed officers. Crown prosecutors are expected to decide by the end of the month whether to bring charges against his officers over the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian who was mistakenly shot as a terrorist on July 22 last year.
It is understood that investigators from the Independent Police Complaints Commission were told that there was a struggle in the darkness during last Friday’s raid and that the Heckler & Koch sub-machinegun went off and the bullet lodged in the ceiling. A Scotland Yard source told The Times: “The officer is insistent he did not pull the trigger.”
The safety catch was off and the officer was wearing gloves and a bulky chemical and biological protection suit after intelligence warnings that there could be lethal materials hidden inside the terraced house...
The lawyers for the two brothers are demanding to know why 250 officers raided their home. Both men deny any involvement in terrorism. Mr Koyair told his lawyer: “I am angry this happened to me but pleased police are doing their job.”
That whirring sound you hear is the sound of backpedaling as stories are retracted, blame is being shifted and Sir Ian Blair is scratching his head yet again. My bet is these two guys are going to walk free with a cheque for compensation, I may be wrong but that is the way the briefings are going at the moment...
The knife amnesty at work...
A young woman severely injured in an attack by a friend's bull mastiff said she owed her life to the two men who wrestled with the dog and stabbed it to death.
A clear cut message from the knife amnesty - hand your knife in to the police now.
Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said, "The message of this campaign is simple - if you think you're protecting yourself by carrying a knife, you're not...
Spend and waste Brown - the figures
The number of tax rises under Labour has steadily ticked up to 80, taking the UK tax burden close to record proportions.
The rising tally of new taxes under Gordon Brown, counted by The Daily Telegraph, is the latest illustration of how families are paying more of their incomes to the Government. If Mr Brown maintains this strike rate he should comfortably exceed 100 by the end of this parliament.
The news follows hard on the heels of Tax Freedom Day, which this year fell on Saturday - the latest date since the early 1980s....
Christine Frayne, economist at the IFS, said: "The tax burden is demonstrably higher than it was in 1997/98. About half of this increase could be attributed to fiscal drag."
Professor Peter Spencer, chief economist at the Ernst & Young Item Club, said stealth taxes were extremely damaging. "A thousand pounds less here, a thousand pounds there - it all adds up."
He said the tax-credits system that replaced some tax reliefs had already proved itself to be "an absurdity". Government figures last week showed £1.8bn was overpaid in credits last year, much of which must now be recouped.
"Fiscal drag is the real killer here," Prof Spencer said. "It's everywhere: income tax, inheritance tax, stamp duty. It's working with a vengeance in middle Britain.
"Taxes are going through the all-time high they hit under Geoffrey Howe.
"The really worrying question is: if he's [Gordon Brown] borrowing that much money when the times are good, what's going to happen when all those good stories abate?"
High taxes, high regulatatory burden, decreasing freedom of action - and he believes the good times will continue to roll...
June 4, 2006
U or non-U?
To check the social standing of your surname, go to www.spatial-literacy.org/UCLnames/Surnames.aspx
After clicking on "1998", tapping in your name and pressing "find", click through to "geographical location" - status can be found in the "social demographics" box
The academics have adapted their research to create a “snobs online” database that enables anyone to type in their surname and find out what proportion of the population is above them on the class ladder.
A glance at the cabinet shows that Tony Blair has outshone the mass of Blairs in the country, who rank below 86% of the population. John Prescott, who has risen from the working class to become a croquet-playing deputy prime minister, has a surname outranked by 78% of the population.
The database also allows users to check how many people share their surname and the parts of the country where they live. The social status of first names has also been analysed, although this cannot yet be checked by users of the internet database. The academics found that Rosamund, Piers and Giles are near the top of the pecking order, while Kayleigh and Dwayne have least cachet.
Category of surname - English - Nickname; Creature; Bird
Mosaic type with highest index # Sepia Memories
Index of top Mosaic type * 210
% of people with a more rural name 6
% of people with a more high-status name 2
Cultural, Ethnic, Linguistic categories of surname British
So I think that means I have an English name which only 2% have a posher one and only 6% a more rural one. Sounds fair enough to me!
And I belong to the Sepia Memories group - which seems to expect me to be a doddering old boy living in a bungalow on the coast with a set routine -
" Although likely to be nearing the ends of busy lives spent working and raising families, they are not yet giving up on their enjoyment of life and believe in keeping busy and mentally alert. Their age affords them a certain amount of freedom to enjoy life without worrying about the future unduly, and their free time means they can do things on the spur of the moment if they so choose.
Their day may well start with the delivery of their favourite newspaper – the same title they have probably taken for years. More than just a source of news, this provides amusement in the form of crosswords and other puzzles, competitions and so on. Magazines may play a similar role. The radio may be switched on, for companionship as much as anything, and this does mean that these consumers are kept well in touch with contemporary events and trends. Television viewing may centre around informative programmes, light entertainment and Songs of Praise.
As is to be expected, the focus of much consumption activity is on improving daily life and the quest for comfort and pleasure. This starts with careful eating habits, for example, avoiding additives, eating plenty of fibre and sticking to light meals. Thriftiness is one of the characteristics of this generation and careful consideration will be given to expenditure. However, years of ‘looking after the pennies’ has paid off for many, and they can afford to treat themselves when they want to – and they may well do so." Source
Not quite - yet....
June 3, 2006
One to try on with her indoors...
A wedding ring, which many men constantly wear on the fourth finger, may initiate a variety of sexual disorders and eventually end up with partial or even complete impotence. A recent research work conducted by Belarussian scientists revealed that widespread beliefs of losing strong virility after many years of wearing the wedding ring on the ring finger are based on certain scientific reasons.
”Any educated person probably may remember the so-called right hand screw rule from the course of physics: when the electric conductor moves into a closed circuit, the self-induction EMF (electromotive force) with a certain vector occurs in it. Similarly, the nerves in human fingers can be compared to the conductor, while the wedding ring acts like a closed circuit.
”If a finger is placed in the ring circuit, the latter intensifies the flow of specific energy in the finger. Some people may probably know that the so-called kidney meridian passes the fourth finger. The energy flows to the Swadhishthana charka (Self or Own Abode) which supervises the urogenital system and the sexual sphere to a certain extent.
”If a man takes his wedding ring off periodically, the positive effect of the energy current on the sexual sphere manifests itself explicitly. However, if a man wears the ring all the time, the situation may change for the worse."
Shades of Dorneywood
It is time to get the croquet lawn rolled ready for a long hot afternoon. Bloody hard work these old Victorian rollers - I know one fat fucker who I bet never sweated rolling the lawn at Dorneywood - it would have been a much better way for him to work off some of that surplus energy. My advice, stick to the gardening, it is much safer...
Whose land is it anyway?
Yet again the principle of private property which underlies our freedoms and prosperity is waved away as inconvienient...
A new public right to roam on all beaches, foreshore and coastal land in England is being called for by a Government quango. It would include dunes, cliffs, banks, barriers and flats.
There would be no right of appeal against the proposed blanket right, nor any compensation to the owners of private beaches, hotels, nature reserves, wildfowling clubs or golf courses for any loss of income or capital value....
David Fursdon, the president of the Country Land and Business Association, said: "It is nonsense to suggest that the public is deprived of access to the coast. This half-term week, as usual, the roads have been clogged up with people doing just that: heading for the coast.
"We are happy to see improvements to access at the coast but this proposal is the sort of conclusion that might have been reached by the Bolshevik politburo, with the same lack of recognition of the legitimate rights of rural business people and property owners. The coast means different things to different people and some have invested heavily in residential, environmental and business assets that derive their value from seclusion and tranquillity. Taking that away without even addressing the issue of compensation is not only unreasonable but a sledgehammer to crack a nut."
Kate Conto, a spokesman for the Ramblers' Association, said that mapping had proved impossible under research carried out by the agency. Under the proposals, which the ramblers endorse, the extent of access land and the responsibilities would be set out in a code of practice, as in Scotland.
"There would be exclusion zones around property - that means 20 metres."
Oh that is bloody generous of her - she is prepared to keep her bunch of technicolour cagoul wearing beardies 60 odd feet away from someone's private retreat.
Remind me what is the "season" for Ramblers and how does the Boone and Crockett Club score them...
June 2, 2006
Another hard day at the office
I had a long text to read and absorb this afternoon so it was out to the Dew pond in the garden with a cold drink, the MP3 player and Blackberry and the new boat to relax in. Two hours of relaxing study! If only it was always like this..
Outrageous Swedish Models - Pictures that would be banned in the UK
Looking round the web this morning I stumbled across these outrageous pictures of some models from Sweden (no- I'm not pulling your leg with railway models or similar, these are real humans) posing in some amazing action shots out in the countryside. They are too risky for showing in Britain so I will just give you the links if you are broad-minded enough!
A chance for you to sneer at me.
Graphic: the 100 albums of all time - Newspaper Edition - Times Online - Well I think I have seven of those on my new MP3 player!
I have got it about a tenth full so far with a thousand tracks. In the good old days one could rifle through someone's LP collection and cast an eye across their Penguins to be able to judge a chap. With MP3 players and iPods it is harder, though you will have noted how every leader has had to declare what is on his iPod so that it can be deconstructed.
I worry what my nearly random collection tells of me, and what people would think. I know my valued friend Kim would be pleased to see I'm renting Leif Ove Andsnes and the Berliner Philharmoniker - Piano Concerto No. 2 In C Minor but would be horrified that Songs for Swinging Lovers is on the playlist.
Maybe the Harry Cornick Jnr would redeem me, but would bore the pants of No 1 son who has donated Green Day to the mix.
The vast numbers of Ramones' thrashings sit uneasily with Gershwin. Does Bic Runga deserve to be along side Avril Lavigne? Do Eric Coates and Marc Bolan happily share a bill? And can The Pogues powershare with the Protestant Boys East Belfast Flute Band's "Let it rip"?
Of course as I have been stuffing tracks on I have rediscovered past gems - Ragbone by Duane Eddy is fabulous and unlike his normal twangy style - and also that other old CDs haven't stood the test of time - I'm afraid a little bit of The Clash goes a long way - whoops that is Mr NBC offended now!
Napster's rent albums by the month - all you can eat for £15 - means it is easy to try out different records so I would welcome your suggestions, though anyone suggesting either Madonna or Coldplay will get to hear some Wagner coming towards them...
Now Playing - "The Theme from 633 Squadron"
Rules is rules
HE WAS born before the discovery of antibiotics and survived the Depression and two world wars, yet staff at a day centre run by Age Concern decided that it was too much of a risk to let him eat a slice of home-made birthday cake.
The Madeira cake was baked for the 96-year-old man by Elaine Richards, a retired district nursing sister and a member of the Women's Institute.
But when Mrs Richards, who is in her 70s, tried to deliver the cake to her elderly friend, who does not wish to be identified, her contribution to the birthday fare was rejected because of food and hygiene rules.
She was told by staff at the day centre in Barnstaple, North Devon, that only shop-bought cakes were acceptable.
Andrea Scott, from Age Concern, apologised for upsetting Mrs Richards, but said that food regulation guidelines had to be followed to protect people in her care.
“ If I let one person do this, it will open the floodgates,” she said.
“We don’t know where these cakes come from, but if something went wrong then we could be sued. It’s not about ingredients, it’s about having things from a shop.”
She added: “I did apologise and I am very sorry for her but I had to abide by the rules.”
WHAT’S IN THE MIX
Elaine Richards’s cake ingredients: 9oz (255g) flour, 6oz unsalted butter, 6oz sugar, milk, three eggs, candied peel, lemon zest
The shop equivalent: wheat flour, egg white, sugar, vegetable margarine (hydrogenated vegetable oil, water, salt, emulsifier (E475) colours (E100, E106B flavourings), glucose-fructose syrup, humectant, vegetable glycerine, vegetable and hydrogenated vegetable oil, emulsifiers: E471, E475, egg, baking powder (raising agents E450, E500) colour (E170), wheat flour, salt, invert sugar syrup, skimmed milk powder; preservatives: E202, E200, flavourings, soya, flour, stabiliser: E415, dried egg white, colours E104, E124
As I face my decrepitude the thought of being incarcerated in one of these "caring" homes run by hatchet-face harridans enforcing stupid rules is too much to bear..
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
(from Kipling's THE YOUNG BRITISH SOLDIER - see below)
THE YOUNG BRITISH SOLDIER
When the 'arf-made recruity goes out to the East
'E acts like a babe an' 'e drinks like a beast,
An' 'e wonders because 'e is frequent deceased
Ere 'e's fit for to serve as a soldier.
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
So-oldier OF the Queen!
Now all you recruities what's drafted to-day,
You shut up your rag-box an' 'ark to my lay,
An' I'll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
A soldier what's fit for a soldier.
Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .
First mind you steer clear o' the grog-sellers' huts,
For they sell you Fixed Bay'nets that rots out your guts--
Ay, drink that 'ud eat the live steel from your butts--
An' it's bad for the young British soldier.
Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .
When the cholera comes--as it will past a doubt--
Keep out of the wet and don't go on the shout,
For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
An' it crumples the young British soldier.
Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .
But the worst o' your foes is the sun over'ead:
You must wear your 'elmet for all that is said:
If 'e finds you uncovered 'e'll knock you down dead,
An' you'll die like a fool of a soldier.
Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .
If you're cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
Don't grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
Be handy and civil, and then you will find
That it's beer for the young British soldier.
Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .
Now, if you must marry, take care she is old--
A troop-sergeant's widow's the nicest I'm told,
For beauty won't help if your rations is cold,
Nor love ain't enough for a soldier.
'Nough, 'nough, 'nough for a soldier . . .
If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em--you'll swing, on my oath!--
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er:that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier.
Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .
When first under fire an' you're wishful to duck,
Don't look nor take 'eed at the man that is struck,
Be thankful you're livin', and trust to your luck
And march to your front like a soldier.
Front, front, front like a soldier . . .
When 'arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
Don't call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
She's human as you are--you treat her as sich,
An' she'll fight for the young British soldier.
Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .
When shakin' their bustles like ladies so fine,
The guns o' the enemy wheel into line,
Shoot low at the limbers an' don't mind the shine,
For noise never startles the soldier.
Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .
If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it's ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!
Sacrificed to the God of Modernity
OXFORD UNIVERSITY is to press ahead with proposals to end almost 900 years of self-government.
A "white paper" published yesterday set out plans to reduce the size of the governing council from 26 to 15, with a majority of members coming from outside the university for the first time in its history.
Business leaders, politicians and other public figures would be invited to join the council,...
Mr Lambert made clear that Oxford’s collegiate structure was an obstacle to changes that were necessary if the university was to maintain its world-class status and contribute fully to the British economy.
The working party has sought to ease acceptance of the reforms by stating that Lord Patten of Barnes, the Chancellor of the university, would chair the new council “in his personal capacity” for the first five years.
No surprise to see Fatty Pang's greasy fingers all over the plans for another sell out of a great British institution. Now the Traitor Ted Heath is roasting down below Chris Patten has inherited that special place in my heart, and I keep my opinions of him always to hand as I do that length of well-oiled hempen rope with his name on it.
After 900 successful years you could argue the system works very well but in this new exciting era we live in nothing, absolutely nothing, is deemed good enough not to be mauled over by consultants and experts and redesigned and refocused and all the rest of the management-speak bollocks. You only have see what an outstanding success nuLabour's constant tinkering with our institutions has been...
I have in my hand a piece of paper...
The Government signed up to a European Evidence Warrant yesterday that gives foreign judges the power to send British police into a British home and seize evidence in connection with suspected crimes committed in other European Union nations.
British and EU officials hastened to present the new warrant as an important tool in the fight against terrorism and organised crime. It was agreed in Luxembourg by the Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith.
A British official said: "This isn't about the British police kicking your door down on the whim of a foreign judge. These are warrants for serious crimes and, just like British warrants, there has to be a solid case behind them."
All criminal offences can be used to justify the issuing of a warrant by another EU nation, not just terrorism, murder or other serious offences. In cases of relatively minor crimes, British police can refuse to carry out a raid if the offence in question does not exist in British law.
The usual spin - only for terrorism, serious crimes...but no it is for any crime that any magistrate on the continent thinks you may have committed. And do you really think the police are going to refuse to carry out a search if they have been ordered to do one?
Of course it would be unreasonably xenophobic to say that the justice system in some EU countries is full of crooks, in fact I am sure there are some honest magistrates out there but do I feel safer in my home now that Pedro can order the Rozzers to storm The Castle?
The independence of Britain just dissolved a little more...
(The only bright spot is that several of our Mediterranean friends are all excited about charging Tony Blair with "War Crimes" - I hope to see some Greek Magistrate ordering a rootle around Cherie's sofas ASAP..)
June 1, 2006
Blogburst - nominate Brian Haw as an Icon of England
Please spread the word and also visit Icon Nominations - Icons of England to nominate Brian Haw.
Brian Haw's one man protest vigil in Parliament square, whether you agreed with him or not, typified the tradition of peaceful English protest and freedom of speech.
Hunting nuLabour's Icon
ICONS A Portrait of England is announcing today that it will include "Foxhunting and the Ban" in its next round of national icons to be released at the end of July. It is another step in the creation of an online collection that aims to provide a snapshot of the life of the nation in the 21st Century.
The news follows intense lobbying and voting on the ICONS site in favour of choosing Foxhunting as an icon. But there were thousands of votes against as well, reflecting the strength of feeling in the country in support of the Government's ban in 2005.
Jerry Doyle, Managing Director of ICONS said: " In England, whenever images of horses and hounds gathering on village greens come to mind, so too, inevitably do images of hunt saboteurs and scuffles with the police. Nowadays foxhunting and the ban are inextricably linked in the popular imagination. This is the way ICONS and its advisory board has decided to include "foxhunting and the ban" in its collection...
We are releasing news of our decision as soon as possible because of the level of public interest in the issue. It was important to give everyone a chance to have their say and to decide the best way to cover this issue.”
Voting figures as of 28 April 2006 relating to the Foxhunting issue include: Foxhunting 24,395 For and 11,907 Against (67.20% in favour) ; the Fox 303 For and 206 Against
Voting is still open on these nominations and you can make comments as well if you wish to record your point of view.
Ah, how lovely and inclusive and also how to whip up a bit of interest in the project!
JOHN PRESCOTT has moved to save his flagging political career by giving up the use of Dorneywood, the grace-and- favour country residence that he insisted on keeping despite losing his department in last month's reshuffle.
The Deputy Prime Minister bowed to public and political fury over his retention of his lavish perks and said farewell to the Buckinghamshire estate where he was photographed last week, to his intense embarrassment, playing croquet.
After receiving strong advice from his closest friends that he needed to make a gesture to the public and the Labour Party, Mr Prescott telephoned Tony Blair yesterday morning and told him that he would do what Mr Blair asked him to do when he carried out his reshuffle - give up Dorneywood.
You can hit the public, grope your staff, waste billions of pounds, be totally incompetent and you will be forgiven, but the first whiff of being a toff by playing a game of croquet and that is unforgivable. There is no snobbery like working class snobbery!
I predict that no one else takes over Dorneywood until Prescott has left the cabinet, like Blunkett he will just take a long time to move out...
Welcome to Britain
THOUSANDS of illegal immigrants are being issued with national insurance numbers every year even though officials know that they have suspect immigration documents.
Staff in Jobcentres have been told that they have a duty to issue an NI number even if they realise that the applicant has forged documents and no legal right to work, official papers seen by The Times reveal.
The NI number, which employers regard as a prerequisite to work, can also be used to claim various benefits.
Of course for an employer you have to check the passport or birth certificate as well as the NI card to give someone a job legally, but I doubt many do. we had always assumed that an NI card meant something, but now we learn: "“The important point for us is that national insurance numbers are an internal reference number that lets us link an individual with their social security, or their child support, or their tax or their contribution record. It is not proof of identity, and it is not supposed to be proof that you are entitled to work."
Yet another shambles for "Dr" Reid.
I thought John Reid was going to win the stupidity of the week award last weekend when he slipped off for a bit of French leave rather than get on with the job, what is it with these people? But then I witnessed a rabbit run twenty yards out of a field of wheat and head-but Mr FM who was standing there with his shotgun looking for rabbits. So the rabbit just beat Reid in stupidity stakes, but only just.
THE macabre tale of a Suffolk craftsman who sold handcarved gallows to despotic regimes such as those in Zimbabwe and Libya gripped the world's media...
BBC and Sky News sent crews to the village of Mildenhall to film him inside his pet-food shop. Amnesty International accused him of making “a mockery of the UK’s efforts to oppose the death penalty around the world”.
Glowering behind his bushy beard, Mr Lucas posed defiantly next to gallows outside his shop, and explained that he had been selling execution equipment for ten years. “It is for law and order, not for bad people to get hold of. You are safer on the streets of Libya and African countries than you are here,” he told reporters.
But now it is the veracity of Mr Lucas that hangs in the balance. His business partner has come forward to claim that the story is an elaborate hoax.
I thought there was something odd about that story when I highlighted it, but with him being from Suffolk anything could be true.