November 30, 2007
Looks like they could suck an hard boiled egg through a straw
Pete Burns and Wendy Alexander - which one is the washed up has been?
The only Teddy Bear to give this Xmas
Our plush bear is a cutie in his own message-bearing t-shirt and festive red ribbon. He’s a great gift. Put a smile on someone’s face. Just grin and bear it!
Soft plush fur
11 inches tall
Red bow and t-shirt included
And now for something completely different.
The bar has broken releasing the flood, the debacle starts.
Harman implicates Brown | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics
Harriet Harman, the Labour deputy leader, was forced to implicate Gordon Brown deeper into the donor scandal last night as Scotland Yard was called in to investigate the affair.
Harman revealed it had been Brown's campaign coordinator, former minister Chris Leslie, who was running Brown's leadership campaign, who had recommended she seek a donation from Janet Kidd, the proxy of David Abrahams, the controversial businessman who has secretly bankrolled the party with £600,000.
It gets better and better. The whole playground is full of kids now running round pointing fingers at each other, and all the time the head prefect, the one who boasted of his micromanagement and knowledge of everything that was going on, expresses surprise and ignorance of the causes of the whole debacle. He obviously never wondered where the money was coming from....
Philology note - My spell checker failed to recognise debacle so I double checked I had it right - I think it definitely ought to be word of the day...
de·ba·cle (dĭ-bä'kəl, -băk'əl, dĕb'ə-kəl)
1. A sudden, disastrous collapse, downfall, or defeat; a rout.
2. A total, often ludicrous failure.
3. The breaking up of ice in a river.
4. A violent flood.
[French débâcle, from débâcler, to unbar, from Old French desbacler : des-, de- + bacler, to bar (from Vulgar Latin *bacculāre, from Latin baculum, rod).]
The Oleaginous One's Error
Hain failed to register donation | UK Latest | Guardian Unlimited
Work and Pensions Secretary Peter Hain has admitted that he failed to register a £5,000 donation to his deputy leadership campaign by Labour's new chief fund raiser.
Mr Hain blamed an "administrative error" for the failure
It must only be an "administrative error" that prevents the orange faced bouffant bag of wind from decorating my local petrol station like Clara Petacci.
November 29, 2007
Gordon Brown and The Home Secretary go the Police Station
Tough questioning to follow....
Hat Tip The Three Line Whip
Mr Brown's Record on Prudence
Northern Rock continues borrowing | Business | Reuters
Northern Rock may have borrowed as much as 29 billion pounds from the Bank of England since its crisis began, after a jump in loans last week, according to Bank data.
Northern Rock is likely to have borrowed 2.7 billion pounds last week, up from an estimated 1.1 billion pounds in the previous week, the latest Bank balance sheet data showed on Thursday.
What's the total going to be, and will we get it back?
Mr Brown's Record on the NHS
More than 90,000 patients die and almost one million are harmed each year because of hospital blunders, research suggests.
Mr Brown said he would be judged on his record for investing in the NHS and education.
Mr Brown's Record on Education...
Britain’s schools fell to 14th place from 4th in 2000 in the latest rankings for secondary school science teaching from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD)
Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) survey
The results of the Progress in International Reading Literacy study, published yesterday showed a rapid decline in reading standards among English children. The study ranked England 19th out of 45 countries and provinces for children's literacy standards - down from 3rd place five years ago.
Personal Data Insecurity
Patients' confidential medical records are regularly being accessed by people who have no right to them, research by the BBC has revealed.
Figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that in the last year there have been several data security breaches in the West.
Confidential medical records should only ever be seen by doctors and nurses who are working with the patient concerned, with the government spending some £13bn to digitise the medical records of every patient in Britain.
By 2010, the NHS Care Records scheme aims to have an electronic NHS Care Record for all patients. The record will detail the key treatments and care given to each of the NHS's 50 million patients.
I'm not that keen on any nosey parker being able to see what I was treated at the clinic for, but I'm told spreading all out personal data as far and wide as possible is all for our own good. It might be easier if they just burnt it to CD and dropped it off in a post box...
Magi from the (North) East came bearing gifts
Fears are growing within the party that David Abrahams, who hid his identity by using four intermediaries, may himself have been a conduit for another mystery benefactor, after senior Labour figures questioned his personal wealth...
The Newcastle-based developer has few publicly declared assets and John Burton, Tony Blair's long-serving agent, said that he had never thought Mr Abrahams "had that sort of money"...
Last year he was pictured shaking hands with the then Israeli ambassador, Zvi Heifetz, who was questioned then cleared over money-laundering allegations. Mr Heifetz was recently appointed as an adviser to Mr Blair in his role as Middle East peace envoy.
Yesterday, a Downing Street source said Labour "had not seen any evidence" to suggest the money was not Mr Abrahams's. He added: "It would be very serious if it were the case. No one is aware of any such arrangement. It will be part of the inquiry."
A former business partner said that Mr Abrahams, who was unavailable for comment, was frugal and could therefore have amassed enough money to fund the donations.
David Abrahams is a man, it has emerged, with a lengthy track record of concealing the truth about the most basic facts of his life, including his name, his age and his marital status.
.. Mr Abrahams came to adulthood in a family well on its way to forming a minor Labour dynasty...in the nudge-wink politics of local government in 1960s Newcastle...
By 2007, the small-time landlord had established himself as a wealthy property developer and the failed local councillor had gained such influence in Labour circles that he was awarded a place in the front row of a hand-picked audience for Tony Blair’s farewell to the Sedgefield faithful.
The same names keep cropping up in the reports as the MSM dig deeper.
Newsnight has some questions we would like to throw at Mr Mendelsohn should anyone bump into him within the Westminster bubble:
1) Why did you ask Mr Abrahams to leave Labour Friends of Israel? There is a public interest in this matter since he was deemed by Labour’s general secretary a suitable donor, and by party officials suitable to be on the front row of Tony Blair’s leaving speech. Was Mr Abrahams’ behaviour in the LFI unsuitable?
And reminds us if the name Jon Mendelsohn is sounding familiar to viewers who have momentarily forgotten his role in the Labour cash-for-access scandal exposed by Newsnight irregular Greg Palast in 1998, you can update yourself here.
Officers Get Tennis Courts; Other Ranks - Buckets, Leaking Roofs For The Use Of.
MoD resurfaced tennis courts but left barracks roofs leaking - Times Online
Nearly £2 million was spent by the Ministry of Defence on resurfacing tennis courts and building all-weather sports pitches instead of repairing leaking barracks’ roofs.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee revealed that in 2006-07, £13.5 million that was earmarked for maintenance work on poor-quality Service accommodation was deferred as part of MoD budget cuts. But “at least £1.6 million” was put aside “for the refurbishment of sports facilities”.
Vice-Admiral Timothy Laurence, chief executive of Defence Estates and husband of the Princess Royal, admitted: “With the benefit of hindsight, we might look back at one or two of those decisions and think that they look questionable, but at the time it was what the customers wanted.” A plan to use a former RAF base as an immigration detention centre has been abandoned because the accommodation is too poor, defence sources have told The Times. RAF Coltishall in Norfolk was closed in December and handed over to the Home Office.
Not good enough to detain illegal immigrants in but good enough for "our boys". Says it all.
The Treasurer's Role
Angry Jack Dromey declares he is victim of concealment - Times Online
Jack Dromey claimed that he was the victim of as Labour’s treasurer faced questions yesterday over how, for the second time, he had remained ignorant of hidden donations.
Mr Dromey was pitched into the row over David Abrahams when it was revealed that his wife, Harriet Harman, had taken money from Mr Abrahams through an intermediary.
In March 2006 Mr Dromey dramatically intervened in the cash-for-peer-ages affair, insisting that he had not known that Labour had accepted millions of pounds in secret loans, and describing them as “absolutely wrong”.
Mr Dromey, party treasurer since 2004.....
Usually when the treasurer of the Bowls Club is found to have not noticed a hole in the accounts and a shiny new car on their drive the phrase is "incompetent idiot or a crook". In this case I don't think we need worry ourselves that Jack is crooked, he just hasn't got a clue as to what is going on in the accounts he signs off.
Insult to Injury
Dear Child Benefit Customer
I am writing to make a personal apology. A copy of some HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) data about families, including yours, who have received Child Benefit has been lost. The copy of the data is likely to still be on Government property. The police are now conducting a search, and there is no evidence that it is in the possession of anyone else. This will not affect your Child Benefit payments.
This data includes your and your children’s names and dates of birth, your address, your National Insurance number and, where relevant, the details of the bank or building society account into which your Child Benefit is or was paid. I would like to offer my personal apologies for any worry or concern this data loss may cause you. And I can assure you that all efforts are being made to ensure that such a loss can never happen again.
....I would like to offer my personal apologies for any worry or concern this data loss may cause you. And I can assure you that all efforts are being made to ensure that such a loss can never happen again.
Thanks Dave, that's all right now is it? In my book a "personal apology" is one that is "Done, made, or performed in person" - are you going to pop round later for a cup of tea and biscuits and actually deliver your "personal apology" or do you think a mass mailed corporate PRspeak missive is one?
Wee Dougie's Sister Funding Investigation
WENDY Alexander became embroiled in a fresh Labour Party donor row last night, as it emerged the Electoral Commission was investigating a donation to her Scottish leadership campaign fund.
Paul Green, 65, a Labour supporter in the Channel Islands, is not allowed to give money to UK political parties because he is not on the UK electoral register. The retail developer, who is behind some of Scotland's highest-profile shopping centres, gave £995 to the fund set up to run Ms Alexander's summer campaign through one of his companies, Combined Property Services, which is registered in the UK.
It is understood that Ms Alexander's team approached him to make a donation...He routed the money through his Glasgow-based firm as a UK corporate donation. The pledge is just below the £1,000 limit, above which Ms Alexander would have had to register it at the outset with the Electoral Commission..
As they were happy it didn't break the rules why ask for a sum they didn't have to register...
November 28, 2007
The Ship of State
Slowly, slowly it is sinking...
Order more torpedoes!
Trouble up north
What is it about Labour’s friends in the North?
Sedgefield - in the North East.
Discs lost - from the North East
Northern Rock - HQ in the North East
Abrahams - in the North East
English Regional Breakup - defeated in the North East
Alan Milburn - represents the North East
and so on...
Still to cheer Gordon up it is PMQs today!
Tony Blair regrets attacking the Tories so hard over allegations of "sleaze" in the final years of John Major's government.
—Matthew 26:52 as Tony's new friends would say.
Permits to Travel under the eye of Big Carbon Brother
Global warming provides a perfect alibi for those who seek to curtail our essential liberties.
Restricting the ability of citizens to travel is clearly an unpopular strategy for any politician to advance but if if comes from the left and done in the name of “Saving the Planet” then it is likely to win sympathetic media treatment and so become a real political possibility.The UK Government is not just interested in using global warming to raise new green taxes and to further hike fuel costs, but it is also contemplating allocating “personal carbon allowances.” The way these work is that you will be granted a fixed amount of carbon to use each year. Each time you travel in a plane, buy petrol, go shopping or eat out would be recorded on a plastic card. The more frugal could sell spare carbon allowances to those who want to “indulge” themselves. But if you were to run out of your carbon allowance, you could be barred from flying or driving.
The government will thus be able to prevent its citizens from traveling both inside and outside the United Kingdom under the guise of managing carbon allowances.
In this way the pursuance of the global warming agenda by scheming politicians can actually represent the greatest imaginable threat to the liberty of the people of the United Kingdom.
November 27, 2007
Don't tell them your biometric details, Pike!
New concerns have been raised over the Government's multi-billion-pound ID project as it emerged that Britain's identity database could be shared with 26 other European Union countries.
The Home Office is taking part in a scheme, codenamed Stork, which aims to make all EU electronic identity networks ''inter-operable'' within three years.
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said this development was particularly worrying following the loss of the nation's child benefit records by HM Revenue and Customs.
He added: ''How are they going to prevent a repetition of the disaster of the last few weeks when sensitive personal data is held by 27 countries?"
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Davis said: "If the Government gives away your bank account details, that's a disaster but at least you can change your bank account. What, precisely, do you do if the Government gives away your biometric details?"
Ask the French what happened when they shared their ID Card details with their friendly neighbours back in 1940. Do you really want all your personal details available to some junior programmer in Donkeyshaggertania or whatever the latest EU member state is called?
Munching Down in South Carolina
Snarls, smears and innuendo for Hillary Clinton as attack dogs get ready for the fray - Times Online
Welcome to South Carolina, the foulest swamp of electoral dirty tricks in America. This state’s primary race has already become the sleaziest leg of the 2008 presidential campaign.
“South Carolina is a do-or-die state again,” said Rod Shealy, a veteran Republican consultant, over a meal of fried pork and beans in his favourite diner, the Lizard’s Thicket. “The attacks are already coming on a daily basis. And with the anonymity of the internet, we’re going to see new lows in dirty politics that would have been unimaginable recently.”
...Nobody is sure who is behind the attacks on Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama, but the claims of lesbianism and Islamic extremism have found fertile ground on right-wing websites. Mr Obama, a Christian, was forced to deny the rumours at a campaign event..
What no denial from Mrs Clinton? But then The Times is carefully claiming it didn't kick off the rumours about Mrs Clinton and is merely reporting them....
Labour Sleaze - The Brownian Version
Gordon Brown has been plunged into a damaging sleaze row as the party donations scandal threatened to engulf two Cabinet ministers.
On a day that saw the resignation of the Labour Party's general secretary, the International Development Secretary, Douglas Alexander, and the Leader of the House of Commons, Harriet Harman, also found themselves embroiled in the controversy.
Now these are the sort of stories that makes it worthwhile having the morning paper ironed and presented at the breakfast table with the kippers. The more you read the more interesting it becomes, and every journalist and blogger worth their salt is happily digging in now; it is open season. Couldn't happen to nicer bunch of people.
Free Speech in the Union
I seem to remember chatting to Joshua Nkomo the last time I attended an Oxford Union event. A man with what might be described as a "mixed" history. I also seem to remember the intense politicking of the Union officeholders in the hope of column inches. Inviting controversial guests was always an easy option.
But then the Union is there to hold debates and provide a platform for a wide variety of views for members to listen and argue with. So the yes it should proved a platform for fascists, communists and even Labour Party members.
I'm glad to learn that the event eventually went ahead despite the protests and the pathetic policing that allowed it to get out of hand - and for the first and maybe the only time I will agree with what Nick Griffen had to say:
"Those people outside are a mob and they could kill. Had they grown up in Nazi Germany they would have made splendid Nazis.
"Any restriction on free speech is dangerous. You start by saying people should not speak and you end up with burning people at the stake. Free speech is an absolute, it is universal."
November 26, 2007
The Jolly Farmer
The farm crunch has been creeping up on the world for 20 years. Food output has risen at 1.3pc a year: the number of mouths at 1.35pc.
What has abruptly changed is the twin revolution of biofuel politics and Asia's switch to an animal-protein diet. Together, they have shattered the fragile equilibrium.
The world's grocery bill has jumped 21pc this year to $745bn (｣355bn), hence the food riots ripping through West Africa, Morocco, Yemen, Bengal, and Indonesia....
Malthus may yet be outwitted. Fuel cells and solar panels may come to the rescue. GM crops may gives us another Green Revolution. The price of oil may crash again, cooling the biofuel craze for another cycle.
Rich countries will not starve. But as Japan's Marubeni Institute warns, they may face a return to post-War food rationing long before the world population peaks in the middle of the century.
Investors who want to take advantage of agflation must tread with care, both for moral reasons and questions of timing. Grains have already had a torrid run for the past two years.
My colleague Tom Stevenson recommends Hugh Hendry's CF Eclectica Agriculture fund. Or there are the big agro-industrial giants such as Bunge, ADM, or Südzucker. Or just buy land.
'Cause you're too shy, shy, Hush, hush, eye to eye...
BBC NEWS | Politics | Concern over secret Labour donor
According to Electoral Commission records, Mr Ruddick, a builder, who drives a Ford Transit van and lives in a former council house in Newcastle, is Labour's third biggest donor.
When he was contacted by the Mail on Sunday newspaper he initially told it he knew nothing about the donations...
He told the paper's reporter: "I can't stand Labour. I can't stand any politicians."
A sensible man, speaks for us all. And his actions have dumped Labour even more in the doo-doo this weekend.
But I gather it is being put about that he was just being used as a friend of a friend, so that is all right then, isn't it?
Property Developers are often shy retiring types who don't like their name's to be linked to politicians. David Abrahams probably just didn't want any false insinuations or rumours starting after having seen how T Dan Smith, also of the North East, made people suspicious of links between Labour and Property Developers.
Two discs are just the tip of the iceberg
Judges’ details ‘posted on unencrypted discs’ - Times Online
This newspaper has been told that there are actually ten missing discs, including the two sent from offices in Washington, Tyne and Wear, to the National Audit Office in London and six lost in transit from tax offices in Preston. The discs were not registered properly or encrypted, leaving them open to fraudsters.
Staff from the Washington office are searching for another disc that contains “limited but sensitive” information related to child benefit claimants. Yet another, with the tax details of several hundred people appealing against previous Revenue & Customs decisions, is also being sought.
A source close to the investigation said: “There are other CDs yet to be accounted for — we have been told of ten so far, but basic checks are being carried out before any formal announcement.”
It looks like they have been leaking like a sieve, and how hard is it to make a copy of a copy of a CD? Much as I would like to just blame the badger faced bungler at No 11 it is actually an indictment of the whole bureaucratic machine. We are not safe in their hands.
November 25, 2007
Running queries on the HMRC database fiasco | The Register takes a look at the technical elements of this case from the database/data perspective.
A Public Service Announcement
This year will be remembered for two things.
First, it was the year when the scientific data showed that the cosmic scare over global warming may well turn out to be just that - yet another vastly inflated scare.
Second, it was the year when the hysteria generated by all the bogus science behind this scare finally drove those who rule over us, including Gordon "Plastic Bags" Brown, wholly out of their wits.
Can't argue about that, as the Americans might say it is the year that the Global Warming scare "jumped the shark". It is a bit early to be doing a review of the year but what two things do you think 2007 will be remembered for?
The Crowded Future of England
The population of the United Kingdom could soar to 90 million by the middle of the century, government statisticians will say this week.
Such an increase, driven by immigration and a rising birthrate, would add 50 per cent to today's population...
The rising of forecasts reflects the surge in immigration in the past two years, in particular from Poland and other new EU states in eastern Europe. Official statisticians now expect net immigration to run at 190,000 a year for years to come.
A baby boom among immigrant women has forced the GAD to raise its birthrate estimates. Women are now expected to have, on average, 1.84 babies each over a lifetime. The average for British-born women is 1.6 and for foreign-born women 2.2.
The highest birthrate in the UK is among Pakistani-born women, who have an average of 4.7 children each. Last year, 22 per cent of births in the UK were to foreign-born women.
As I pointed out before this isn't a UK or British problem , the entire rise in population will happen in England only.
Religious news this Sunday
US is‘worst’ imperialist: archbishop -Times Online
THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that the United States wields its power in a way that is worse than Britain during its imperial heyday.
Rowan Williams claimed that America’s attempt to intervene overseas by “clearing the decks” with a “quick burst of violent action” had led to “the worst of all worlds”.
In a wide-ranging interview with a British Muslim magazine, the Anglican leader linked criticism of the United States to one of his most pessimistic declarations about the state of western civilisation.
He said the crisis was caused not just by America’s actions but also by its misguided sense of its own mission. He poured scorn on the “chosen nation myth of America, meaning that what happens in America is very much at the heart of God’s purpose for humanity”.
November 24, 2007
Expanding my vocabulary
World Wide Words is an essential weekly read to maintain the old English Vocab.
But I feel there might be a better teacher of philology now available on the web....
And there is another 60 videos to catch up on as homework....
(And no they aren't tattoos - just flimsy patterned sleeves.)
Gordon tells the truth about Defence Funding
Meanwhile Mr Brown was 4,000 miles away for a Commonwealth summit with the Queen.
Yesterday, during a visit to a school in Kampala, he said: “I have got nothing but praise for our Armed Forces.
Quite, a bit of cash and equipment would more useful and welcome.
Your one source for news
I am just doing a bit of housekeeping on the Blog and came across a way to share my Google Reader feeds, both on the blog and via the above link.
I think the sidebar is a bit faster to load and a bit tidier but if I have missed anything please let me know.
Jacqui Smith Caption Competition
From the Print edition of The Times
Has Dave has a Damascene conversion?
BBC NEWS | Politics | Cameron targets 'freedom enemies'
Cameron targets 'freedom enemies'
Mr Cameron will attack the "desire to control"
The UK's Labour government and European Union bureaucrats are "enemies of freedom", the Conservative leader is to tell an audience in the Czech Republic.
David Cameron will attack those he says are preparing "a renewed assault on our liberty" and who must be "derailed".
The state is being allowed to "creep further and further into the lives of British people" as a result of an "outdated ideology", Mr Cameron will say.
Mr Cameron will single out what he terms the "politicians and public officials who believe that they know best how to organise our lives".
"They do not mean to harm us," he will say. "In fact, they mean to help us. But their ideas are out of date, their methods have failed and their advance must be derailed.
"In their desire to control, to regulate, to direct, the defenders of the bureaucratic age have over-reached themselves.
"They have gone too far. They have tried to do too much. And it has exposed the historic error of their ways."
Careful Dave, carry on talking like that and you will find me cheering you to the rafters...
“So there are many battles we must fight together, and my message to you today is a simple one - a message that I know you will understand more than most. The battle for freedom and opportunity is never finally won. In each generation, those of us who believe in freedom, in human potential, in the idea that the strength of our society comes from the energy and industry and creativity of our people; those of us who believe in these things must be ready to fight for them because the enemies of freedom are never finally vanquished. They always live to fight another day. Today we can see the enemies of freedom preparing a renewed assault on our liberty. They do not mean to harm us. In fact, they mean to help us. But their ideas are out of date, their methods have failed and their advance must be derailed. I am speaking of the politicians and public officials who believe that they know best how to organise our lives. That they are the experts, so they must have the power. You can find them everywhere – in my country, in your country and in the EU itself. They are the last defenders of the bureaucratic age, an age before the information revolution and our new world of freedom that makes it possible to put real power in people’s hands. But in their desire to control, to regulate, to direct, the defenders of the bureaucratic age have over-reached themselves. They have gone too far. They have tried to do too much. And it has exposed the historic error of their ways.
In Britain, bureaucratic over-reach has seen the Labour Government creeping further and further into the lives of British people. Millions of families sucked into a complex system of tax credits. An army of tax collectors that is now almost as big as our actual army. Fingerprinting children at school. And this week we saw a shocking consequence of this bureaucratic over-reach: a scandal where the government has lost the names, addresses and bank details of almost every family in the country. Are they learning the lesson? Do they accept that bureaucracy has gone too far? Of course not. They are stuck in the bureaucratic age. So they now want to take personal information about everyone in the country and store it on a national identity register. We are seeing this bureaucratic over-reach in the EU too. The desire for harmonisation and homogenisation – on tax, on regulation, on so many aspects of public and private life. It is the last gasp of an outdated ideology, a philosophy that has no place in our new world of freedom, a world which demands that we fight this bureaucratic over-reach and lead Europe into the hope and potential of a new, post-bureaucratic age.”
Gordon gets a warning not to get cocky
Christopher Foster: Why Britain is run badly - Telegraph
For nearly two years, the “great and good group” has been meeting in secret to discuss how to improve the way the country is run. An elite corps from the Civil Service, the military, academia and the City have been working out how to restore public trust in politicians.....
The group is about to publish its conclusions and its organiser, Sir Christopher Foster, an adviser to Labour and Tory governments, has agreed to give his first interview.....
The verdict of the Better Government Initiative, contained in a series of reports to be released over the next few weeks, is damning.
Government departments have “serious deficiencies”; the combined output of Parliament and the executive contain “too many disappointments and failures”; and “emphasis on ‘management’ has led to more bureaucracy at the expense of substance” in the Foreign Office.
He believes a crisis is brewing in the public services because the Government has been trying to micro-manage. “Health, education and the armed services have had constant change, insufficiently discussed and thought through.
“We’ve had nine revolutions within 10 years in the NHS. We’ve gone away from markets, then back to markets. It’s just disruptive and demoralising.”
Sir Christopher blames Tony Blair and his sofa for much of the decline. “He was the worst prime minister since Lord North, he’s lost us a form of government that creaked and groaned but worked reasonably well.”
In his view, Mr Blair saw politics as a permanent campaign. “He was obsessed by the media – he’d have an eye-catching initiative like marching hoodies to cashpoints and that would be it. That’s the wrong way round, you have to work out what the problem is before you come up with endless solutions.” ...
“No one person could run Britain. Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely. People get cocky. They start doing silly things. I hope Gordon Brown understands that.
November 23, 2007
A Million Thanks
Well we did it - a million visitors.
And what drew the millionth visitor, my insightful comments on the West Lothian Question? The sceptical climate change debate? The bashing of Gordon Brown? No, it was just someone looking for Kinky Katie Holmes Pictures and choosing this one...
But enough of this frippery, I have proper good news from No.2 son so I'm off to celebrate.
Down to the Vinegar Strokes
Ten days ago I forecasted it was Ten Days To Go... to the millionth visitor.
It is looking close but there is a fighting chance we will make it before beer time tonight, but only with your help.
766 to go and running at 43 an hour means I won't get to the pub... HELP!
UPDATE 16:48 - Looks more hopeful thanks to Tim Worstall and many other kind linkers. Mr FM is primed to drive me to the pub at 21:00...
Good Morning, Darling!
Another bad day dawns for Alistair Darling as his Commons statements unravel and there are calls for him to resign as Gordon Brown faces meltdown.
You would have thought with all this serious news and the dawning realisation of the actual and potential financial burden his piss poor management of the economy has caused that he would grasp the gravity of the situation and stop wearing the joke Groucho Marx novelty glasses.
The Scotsman can reveal the country's leading court solicitors believe radical proposals to overhaul legal-aid fees will drive the profession to breaking point....
John Scott, whose Edinburgh-based firm faces losing £63,000 a year as a result of the changes, said: "These proposals, if they are followed through, will put thousands of lawyers and legal staff out of work....
Pass me the Kleenex...I can see it now, star studded charity telethons, collecting boxes being passed round, the rubber wrist bands, emotional appeals by starving lawyers.... I'm just afraid I won't be able to reach for my wallet to help as I will need both hands to wipe away the tears of mirth.
Back to the future
For those who do not accept my interpretation that the IPCC wants America to solve global warming by reverting our economy to look just like India's, check out this article from Reuters (ht: Reference Frame)
French towns worried about fuel prices, pollution and striking transport workers need look no further than the horse.
Horses are a possible alternative for vehicles such as school buses ...and aid street sweeping...., say groups eager to pick up on global concerns about eco-friendly transport.
I'm quite happy for essential duties such as delivering Wadworth's Beers to be horse powered...
But school buses? Doesn't anyone think of the injury rate from horse drawn vehicles, and as for aiding street sweeping! It will be back to age of Crossing Sweepers.
Who stole childhood?
Extra tuition and clubs give pupils no rest from learning - Times Online
Children’s lives are becoming increasingly “scholarised” as parents are encouraged to turn the home into an extension of school, research suggests.
As playtimes are cut to make time for more learning and as children increasingly find themselves under adult supervision in breakfast clubs and after-school centres, their opportunities for independence and free play are being diminished.
The research, by Berry Mayall, a professor of childhood studies at the Institute of Education in London,..
Professor Mayall warned that children were likely to “resist” attempts to control their home lives in this way.
Formal teaching at five hinders development - Telegraph
Forcing children to learn to read and write at the age of five can seriously undermine their long-term development, according to one of the world's leading experts on nursery education.
Such an early introduction to formal learning can turn many children off books for life, said Professor Lilian Katz, from Illinois University.
She said boys were often worse hit than girls and insisted schooling should not start until aged seven to give children time to grow up.
The comments came as the Government announced yesterday that £600million would be spent on better playgrounds and toys for toddlers in nurseries.
Early schooling isn't for the kids, it is for the convenience of the parents who get free child care, the teachers who get jobs and institutionalised children, and the Government which believes it should control children from birth to eighteen.
November 22, 2007
Two Jobs Des and Gordo flee a Big Gun Barrage
Flight is the only refuge as the big guns turn on Gordon Brown and Two Jobs Des - Times Online
Amazing battle scenes in the Lords as a debate on defence turned nasty. Actually I think the Armed Forces have declared war — on their own Government. Yesterday it was not so much “we will fight them on the beaches” as “we will fight them on the benches”. The red benches, that is.
The attack was launched from land, sea and air by no fewer than five former Chiefs of the Defence Staff. I believe this is what the Americans call a “surge”. I understand it has been given the codename Operation Destroy Reputations...
They already have the Prime Minister on the run. Literally. For I couldn’t help but notice that Gordon Brown had not only fled the building but the country....
General Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank certainly did. He had been chief of the defence staff from 1997 to 2001. “... He (Gordon Brown) must take much of the blame for the very serious situation in which we find the services today.”
No wonder Gordo was in Kampala. But if the Prime Minister was viewed with suspicion, Des Browne was treated with outright derision. Des’s crime is to have been appointed to two jobs: he is Defence Secretary and also Scottish Secretary. Thus his military knickname, “Two Jobs Des”. There was no sight of him yesterday. I’m sure Des had fled to somewhere safer, like Iraq.
Admiral Lord Boyce attacked Des and his multitasking. “This is seen as an insult by our soldiers on the front line and I know this because I have reason to speak to them a lot,” he said, his words biting so hard that you could see the teethmarks. “It is a demonstration of the disinterest and some might say contempt the Prime Minister and his Government have for our Armed Forces." ...
Oh dear Darling, caught out again
Alistair Darling is embroiled in a cover-up row after Whitehall e-mails revealed that a senior civil servant was involved in the blunders that led to the lost data crisis....
The newly-released internal emails revealed that the catastrophic decision not to filter out the sensitive information, made against the advice of the National Audit Office (NAO), was therefore not a low-level administrative error as the Chancellor claimed.
They also show that NAO officials urged HMRC to send the files 'as safely as possible'.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal the procedure to delete the details - which would have removed much of the threat of identity fraud - would have cost just ｣5,000.
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said that Mr Darling's version of events appeared to be "inconsistent" with the information now being released.
What is the record for the shortest time of being Chancellor? This is the second strike for Darling, add in his incompetent budget review, as dictated by G.Brown Esq. and he has become a liability.
Most watched YouTube video here this week
Whilst I'm on the subject of posting music videos...
No, it isn't me enjoying naked Japanese nubiles but my young daughters who like the fluffy pink Aceeed groove...
Left Over Turkey? Here is the ultimate leftover turkey recipe.
About 1 lb cooked turkey breast
One leg and thigh of the turkey, preferably undercooked and pink.
Instead of the turkey, a boiled or roasted chicken (with the brown meat a little underdone) or a brace of stewed or roasted pheasants can be used.
1 rounded tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 rounded tablespoon mango or peach chutney
1 tablespoon Worcester sauce, or half a tablespoon anchovy essence
A quarter-tablespoon Cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons corn oil
3 oz butter
6 oz double cream
This recipe is from Jane Grigson's 'English Food'. One of the most delicious dishes of eighteenth century cooking, indeed one of the best of all English dishes. There is no better way of using up the
Christmas Thanksgiving Turkey with the glory it deserves.
First pull the breast meat apart with your fingers into pieces about 1.5" long and the 'thickness of a large quill'. Follow the grain of the meat, so that you end up with somewhat thready-looking pieces. Take the brown meat off the bones, and divide it into rather larger pieces than the breast meat. Slash each one two or three times.
Mix the devil sauce ingredients together, chopping up any large pieces of fruit in the chutney. Dip the pieces of brown meat into it, and spoon the devil into the slashes as best you can. Arrange in a single layer on the rack of a foil-lined grill pan, and grill under a high heat until the pieces develop an appetising brown crust. Keep them warm.
For the pulled sauce, melt the butter in a wide frying pan, and stir in the cream. Let it boil for a couple of minutes, and keep stirring so that you end up with a thick rich sauce. Put in the pulled breast, with any odd scraps of jelly, and stir about until the pieces are very hot indeed. Season with lemon, salt and pepper. Put in the centre of a serving dish, and surround it with the devilled bits. Serve with good bread or toast. Not a dish to be eaten with two vegetables: keep them for afterwards, or simply serve a salad.
Tonight we sing the old songs - For Mr FM - Turn up the Bass
What a show from Rammstein! What's not to like?
See below for Sex, Fairytales and Nature walks, unless you have a prior appointment in Poland.
And the incredible 'ohne dich' video.
This summer I waved the Englishettes off at the Mayflower steps in Plymouth, England to a better life in the USA. Go to the land of freedom, the guarantor of of our liberty, the last great hope in the world. A land where young people can create their own future. Imagine the fecund coasts, the awesome mountains, the endless prairies and mighty forests. The energy and creativity of the cities, the honesty and homeliness of the small towns and idyllic ranches. Go and grasp this chance, and when you join those happy denizens of a better land give thanks.
"As long as we can get home in time for chips at dinner", was the response, but maybe when they are older...
The Jelly-bellied Flag-flapper gets his motto
Maverick streak makes mockery of hunt for a British motto - Times Online
The people have spoken. After a ground-breaking experiment in popular democracy, readers of The Times have chosen a national motto for Gordon Brown’s New Britain.
Or have they? For, the suggestion that attracted most votes in our poll on Comment Central, a Times Online blog, is perhaps better described not as a motto but as an anti-motto: “No motto please, we’re British”.
In other words, a resounding raspberry to Gordon Brown’s search for a statement of British values that underpin his constitutional reforms.
In truth, the entire outcome makes grim reading for Mr Brown. The two most earnest mottoes among the top ten, submitted from the minority who appeared to treat the exercise seriously, were never in the running....
My faith in the British is restored, who can resist a bit of Kipling at this:
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...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. 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.
Badger Faced Lie?
The big banks were on a collision course with the Government last night after they disputed Alistair Darling's explanation of the delay in announcing details of the data protection crisis.
Mr Darling told BBC Radio Four's Today programme yesterday: "I spoke to the banks, they said they needed some time to put in place protective measures. Indeed, some of the banks wanted a lot longer but that simply wasn't possible." That followed his statement to MPs on Monday, in which he claimed that the banks were "adamant" that they wanted "as much time as possible".
The British Banking Association said: "The BBA did not ask for any more time. As soon as we were made aware of the security breach, banks put in place security measures to secure customer accounts.
"None of our members asked for any extra time. Clearly, everyone involved would have liked as much time as possible but banks unanimously agreed to go ahead without delay."
The Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) which manages how money moves around the banks, added: "We certainly did not ask HMRC for any time, or the Chancellor. We found out on Friday and were given a deadline of Monday to sort the information out. There was no request for a delay from us.
A spokesman for Lloyds TSB said: "Categorically, we did not ask for additional time." Barclays said: "We did not ask for any delay."
Maybe it was his friends at Northern Rock who asked, he wouldn't have been just not telling us the bad news in the hope that Postman Pat would come up trumps in time would he?
"Don't believe a word I say"- Gordon Brown and other Scottish news
It has often been asserted that there must be examples of other states in the world that have multi-layered democratic structures which create the same anomalies as the West Lothian Question; and, therefore, that they could provide the answer.
So, is there a Lower Saint Lawrence question in Quebec or a Tarragona question in Catalonia? Alas, no - or rather not really. ....
It seems, therefore, that there is not an off the shelf solution we can borrow from overseas.
Charlie Jeffery, professor of politics at Edinburgh University, says: "There is a spectrum of possible models from other countries which is worth looking at, but in the end the UK has got to find a bespoke solution, and the most important part of that is finding a solution for England.
As he is from Scotland might he I suggest that he looks for the solution for England closer to home, like give England the same rights as Scotland? Oh no, I forgot;
"England, because of its size and power, is much more of a problem than the West Lothian Question."
Call to scrap Barnett Formula
CONTROVERSY over the way public funds are distributed across the UK erupted yesterday during a heated political debate.
Graeme Stringer, the Labour MP for Manchester Blackley, called for the Barnett Formula to be scrapped and replaced with a needs-based system, during a Commons debate he initiated.
Mr Stringer accused his own party of "unintentional dishonesty" in the way it highlighted the Barnett Formula when campaigning in Scotland.
It had been publicised north of the Border, but kept out of Labour's manifesto in 2005 because it was more advantageous to Scots than in the rest of the UK, he said....
Stewart Hosie, the SNP's Treasury spokesman, warned the government not to cut Scotland's share of funding. "This debate is not about Scottish funding, it's really about English frustration at Gordon Brown," he said.....
Mr Brown also inadvertently waded into the controversy yesterday during Prime Minister's Questions, when he appeared to misunderstand how the population-based formula works. He told the Commons the "Barnett Formula is based on the needs of each different part [of the UK]."
When quizzed later, his spokesman replied that the Prime Minister was not expecting "his comments to be subjected to a literal interpretation".
So Gordon Brown is upset that we take the words he says in the Commons as meaning what they say.....
November 21, 2007
Blegging for numbers....
It stands at 996,570 visitors - at the current rate of visitors it should get 1704 over each of the next 24 hours - which would mean I need an extra 22 visitors to reach the million mark before I go down the pub on Friday night.
But what if the expected numbers don't turn up? or I'm missing the extra 22? Do I face a dry evening or the ridicule of my peers? I'm blegging you not to let it happen; one last push of visitors is all I ask to make me a happy man, you'd do that for me wouldn't you, just a little link.....please.....
*And of course I know these numbers are only indicative and don't really represent the numbers of visitors, but it is a milestone...
Defending the Queen's Subsidy
Plans by Brussels to cut European Union farm subsidies worth ｣56 million to Britain's wealthiest and largest landowners, including the Queen, will benefit "lawyers and accountants" not taxpayers, officials have said.
Under the EU's Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) some of Britain's richest people and largest landowners pocket large sums of money to subsidise farms on their estates.
Proposals floated yesterday will cut all individual farm payments above £70,000 by 10 per cent, those above £140,000 by 25 per cent and those over £210,000 by 45 per cent.
Britain will oppose the cuts because the Government fears that farmers or landowners seeking to minimise the cuts to subsidies will find ways to break up ownership of large farms, leading to a decline in agricultural productivity and a bonanza for lawyers.
"Support for the farm subsidy fat cats goes against the grain of Gordon Brown's belief in targeting welfare state benefits at the people in greatest need," said Jack Thurston of www.farmsubsidy.org and a former agriculture adviser to the Government.
The subsidies are payments per acre for public environmental "goods", they are there to make our green and pleasant land greener and pleasanter. And it is undeniable that large estates are better able to afford the implementation of green practices, they are also more efficient in producing food. So a payment per acre should remain per acre and the undisguised socialist envy prompting this discriminatory proposal should be stamped on.
Name, Rank and Serial Number Only
THE head of a Celtic supporters' trust has provoked outrage by defending the singing of pro-IRA songs by the club's fans during matches.
Dr Jeanette Findlay, who is a research fellow and economics lecturer at Glasgow University,who chairs the Celtic Trust, which represents supporters and small shareholders, claimed chants about the IRA were "songs from a war of independence".... I don't call those pro-terrorist songs. What history tells us is that it is facile to say that politics and sport will ever be separated."
Mr Campbell said he was not referring to songs such as The Fields of Athenry, but to "actually chanting: 'The IRA'."
She replied: "Many of those songs are songs from what was essentially a war of independence going back over a hundred years." ....
The controversy came on the day the Scottish Government launched its Kick Out Bigotry campaign.
I don't remember her coming to the defence of Donald Findlay, the mutton-chopped, bombastic QC and fervent Rangers fan who starred in the infamous video of the side-burned ‘blue nose’, his tie askew, slurring out ‘The Sash’ at a post-match celebration provoked uproarious laughter in households up and down the country. At another event the QC told an audience of around 140 fans at the Larne Rangers Club: "It's very smoky in here tonight - has another f****** Pope died?"
But Findlay was forced to resign as Rangers’ vice-chairman and then suffered further indignity when he became the first rector at St Andrews to be denied an honorary degree from the university
November 20, 2007
Stephen Fry backs the wrong horse
Stephen Fry » Blog Archive » Getting Overheated
...the one overwhelming fact about the great climate debate is what’s at stake. Not scientific reputation, not the fortunes and comforts of capitalists and their populations, not pride or reputation but our very civilization.
So let’s break it broadly down to three responses to such a cataclysmic prophecy of doom.
There is Response A. Type A believes the preponderance of established scientific evidence. ...
Then there is Type B. Type Bs do not believe this. They think the evidence is wrong, misinterpreted, flawed, misrepresented, unconvincing, not to be acted upon.....
Type C says: “I cannot possibly know. I hear this from one side and that from another. Both seem convinced, both seem to be marshalling impressive technical figures to their side. I cannot make a judgment.”
Obviously there are views that shade between the three categories but in essence you either believe, deny or sit on the fence.
The consequence of these responses runs something like this: A, the believer, will, or at least should, attempt to do something about the threat they believe in: I mean, look what’s at stake, how can they not?....
B meanwhile will carry on as if nothing is different, for as far as he is concerned, nothing is. Bs only wish they could survive long enough to see the smug self-righteous sorrowful smile wiped from A’s face when in a hundred years it is made plain that there never was any great threat to the climate, to the environment or the ecosystem and that at worst it was a conspiracy of anti-capitalists and at best a muddled, credulous screw up.
And C? .. Well they, of course, are functionally exactly the same as B. They do not know. Case isn’t proven, so why should they vote for massive changes to the way the world does business, massive alterations to the convenience and pleasures of our way of life, just on a 50/50 hunch?
Ah, but that’s the point. It’s what’s at stake that matters in a bet like this.
If B is wrong and there really is a threat of the kind A claims, then not doing anything about it will destroy human habitations, make extinct many species, and fundamentally alter our habitats around the planet.
But if A is wrong and actually there is no threat, then acting as if there was will have what consequences? It will have saved fuel bills all over the world, reduced noxious emissions which, even if one doesn’t believe in global warming, are unpleasant pollutants in anyone’s reckoning, and slowed down the day when we find that the fossil fuels have run out. Action would have given us more time to find alternatives. To be fair, it will also have slowed down world growth and inconvenienced all of us in our personal lives and if A Types do turn to have been wrong they may well owe the world an apology and it’ll be red faces (and a brake in the inexorable rise in world economic growth and fuel mineral use) all round.
But surely that’s a small price to pay for backing a losing horse when the stakes are the planet itself?
Doing nothing risks everything and gains comparatively little, doing something risks comparatively little and gains the whole world. Surely you’d have to be an idiot not to back the believers in this instance.
Calling Tim Worstall! He is the man who can explain far better than me the true "costs" of backing the "believers" and the true gains of "doing nothing". They are not "little", they are not just about slipping on a warmer Cardigan in rather nice house as you turn down the thermostat a notch, they are about life and death and a decent life for millions of people. If you really care for humanity and its future, you need to be damn sure before condemning the poor to misery that it is the best and only option.
When Junk Science collides with Deference to Authority
Over here in Blighty the battle against Creationism has been won, odd pockets of resistance flare up but the scientific consensus, the education system, the political parties and churches are all Darwinian. As are the sceptics, to be a creationist isn't the mark of an enquiring mind, an individualist but of a fundamentalist religious nutter. So the sceptics all gather round the climate change debate.
Not so in the States where "Authority" is not clear cut on Evolution, and it is all hands to the pumps to push the scientific truth of it. Sceptics line up side by side with the "scientific consensus and method" in the battle against ignorance.
The Al Gorian school of Climate Change is backed by most of the "Authorities" on both sides of the pond. In the UK because there is no history of the "sceptical" and "scientific" community manning the barricades together, shoulder to shoulder in defence of truth against the creationist authorities, there is no surprise in them taking opposite sides of the road with regards to "Climate Change". The vehemence and anger shown by the US biologist blogging community to the climate sceptics has shocked and saddened me. In the UK even the Conservative Party is solidly Green, so sceptics can't be rightly or wrongly identified with the big right wing party. Scepticism is the badge of the individual who rejects the "Deference to Authority" argument and demands proof rather than relying on faith. It is a pity that all scientists aren't sceptics, because without scepticism there is no science.
But enough words, here's my first stab at the obligatory graphic; where do you fit in?
Breaking News - Secret Tax Data "Lost"
I've just heard that the financial details of 15,000 Standard Life customers have been lost by HM Customs & Revenue. On top of this HM Revenue & Customs have lost more personal data in a much wider breach of security. It is scant consolation that the Chairman of HM Revenue & Customs has taken responsibility and resigned. I suppose it is too much to ask for a Treasury Minister to take responsibility too.
UPDATE: Unbelievable. They have lost 7.5 million records relating to child benefit.
Confidential details of 15 million child benefit recipients are on a computer disc lost by HM Revenue and Customs, the BBC understands.
Chancellor Alistair Darling is to give a Commons statement on "a major operational problem" at 1530 GMT.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson said he understood ministers had been aware for nine to 10 days.
UPDATE - BBC NEWS | Politics | Darling admits 25m records lost
Two computer discs holding the personal details of all families in the UK with a child under 16 have gone missing.
The Child Benefit data on them includes name, address, date of birth, National Insurance number and, where relevant, bank details of 25m people.
Up to 25 million now, any advances?
Is this the death of the ID Card scheme? The shocking fact isn't that the CDs were lost in the post but that a clueless junior staffer was able to download them and burn them to CD without any authorisation.
Pig-Hoo-o-o-o-ey! As Lord Emsworth would say.
Grace and favour showdown looms as Speaker fights for pension perk - Times Online
Michael Martin, the Speaker of the House of Commons, is fighting an attempt by Gordon Brown to scrap the “grace and favour” pension that comes with his job, The Times has learnt.
Mr Brown — already embroiled in a pension battle with Lord Falconer of Thoroton — has now opened a second front in his attempts to end generous pay-outs to the State’s most senior servants.
Outgoing Prime Ministers, Speakers and Lord Chancellors are paid an annuity equal to half their salary — currently between £64,000 and £94,000 — regardless of how long they have served. The money, which comes directly from the public purse, is justified on the ground that it helps to “protect the dignity of the ‘Three Great Offices of State’ ”.
Tony Blair became the latest to draw the grace and favour pension when he stood down in June this year. It is believed that the annuity will form the mainstay of his income until he can start drawing his parliamentary pension in about ten years’ time.
As I lean over the gate watching my Gloucester Old Spots fighting and squealing over the last apple in the swill trough my mind sometimes is drawn to Westminster....
Today I will mainly be reading from the Castle's Library:
And a couple of pictures of the happy couple serving their country from it:
On the stump
Heather Mills launched her new vegan campaign yesterday by asking: "Why don't we drink rat's milk?''
The estranged wife of Sir Paul McCartney posed the question at the launch of a campaign by animal rights organisation Viva, which claims that dairy and meat products are a major cause of greenhouse gases.
The campaign includes a billboard images of Mills beside the slogans, "Hey Meaty, you're making me so hot!'' and "You haven't got a leg to stand on!''.
Sometimes the idea of wearing a pork chop as a medallion around your neck becomes even more attractive as it would ward off this nutter as effectively as the old silver cross saw off Béla Lugosi. If Macca had regularly chewed down on a decent rump steak think how much money he would have saved!
Rough winds do shake the Darling...
Taxpayers may be forced to pay for the Northern Rock crisis, the Government has admitted for the first time.
Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, refused to guarantee in Parliament that the £24 billion of public money propping up the bank - the equivalent of £1,000 for every taxpayer - would ever be repaid in full.
Mr Darling, who previously said he expected the money - which amounts to half the annual education budget - to be paid back with interest, would only say he was looking for the "best outcome for the public purse".
Best outcome for Brown's best friends - see Guido passim - and Labour MPs in the North East more likely. This is a massive expensive Government cock up, heads should roll. But then with Gordon only inserting a finger puppet into his old job what do we expect?
November 19, 2007
Monday Morning Music - Turn it up loud
I always wanted to be a drummer and hang around with musicians...
Pulling a Sicky
Almost two thousand people who are too fat to work have been paid a total of £4.4 million in benefit, it emerged last night. Other payments went to fifty sufferers of acne and ten incapacitated by leprosy.
...The complete list of the 480 different illnesses and complaints for which people received incapacity benefit in February were released by the Department for Work and Pensions. More than £2 billion was paid in 2006-07 for mental health complaints, including £518 million to those with what are described as “unknown and unspecified” diseases.
Overall more than £1.1 billion was paid to people suffering from a depressive episode plus a further £276 million to the estimated 116,000 claimants with “other anxiety disorders” and £122 million to the estimated 50,000 suffering from a “reaction to severe stress”.
A total of 15,600 people received benefits for “malaise and fatigue” and a further 8,100 for “dizziness and giddiness”. The figures disclose that 4,000 claimants had headaches, 2,700 migraines and 1,890 suffered from eating disorders. About £100,000 in benefits went to those with acne and a similar amount to 60 people with “nail disorder”. Nausea and vomiting cost £2 million in benefits for 900 people.
Makes me ill just thinking about our tax money being shovelled at these malingering lead swingers, do I have to go work this morning now?, especially as I'm feeling a touch of "nausea" from enjoying a proper weekend..
Labour Scotch MP Demands English Regions
GORDON Brown is facing demands from his Scottish MPs to take action over the so-called "West Lothian Question", with some calling for the resurrection of English regional assemblies as the solution, The Scotsman can reveal....
To date, Scottish Labour MPs have largely stayed out of the debate, but some have now gone public with demands for action, increasing the pressure on Mr Brown to do something.
Ian Davidson, the Labour MP for Glasgow South West, said there were two related issues that had to be looked at: the balance of devolution and the financial settlement, which gives Scots about £1,500 more per head than England. Both were being used to stir up anti-Scottish opinion in England, he said.
He went on: "I think the proposals that we had before for regional assemblies seemed to me to be a way forward.
"The 'English votes for English issues' proposal is a recipe for some degree of chaos. We should be looking for some way of devolving power to the English regions. The first time we had a referendum for the Scottish Parliament, we didn't get it - so just because the referendum in the north-east [of England] went against the plan, it doesn't mean it should be rejected completely.
Fuck you, you slap headed porridge wog. You want to carve up and emasculate your southern neighbour for your own narrow political and nationalist motives. Read our lips, it is none of your fucking business how the English rule themselves, all we want is the chance to do so.
Start lining the animals up in twos
The flood associated with the story of Noah's Ark led to the spread of agriculture across Europe, researchers have discovered....
Prof Chris Turney, of Exeter University, the lead author of the paper in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews, said: "As these communities moved west, they would have taken farming with them across Europe. It was a revolutionary time.
"It also teaches something about what we can expect for the sea level rises expected by the end of this century."
Oh good, I'm glad someone else has done the maths on how whether the Noah's Ark plan will work.
I note though that The Devil is less impressed by the cheery thought of Porto Banus being drowned...
November 18, 2007
On This Day 700 years Ago
Tell had been promised freedom if he shot the apple. On November 18, 1307, Tell split the fruit with a single bolt from his crossbow, without mishap. When Gessler queried him about the purpose of the second bolt in his quiver, Tell answered that if he had ended up killing his son in that trial, he would have turned the crossbow on Gessler himself.
Freedom from tyranny comes from the barrel of a
Now prove you are cultured - try not thinking of ....
A fiery horse with the speed of light! A cloud of dust and a hearty ‘Hi-Yo, Silver!’ ....
Sic transit gloria mundi
THEY are on the front line of the war on terror, but German pilots facing the Taliban are insisting they stop at tea time every day to comply with health and safety regulations.
Today's Lesson is taken from The Second Book of Samuel, Chapter One Verses 19 - 27:
1:19 .... how are the mighty fallen!
1:20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.
1:27 How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!
The boy is mine
Rising tensions between Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, have threatened to open a new rift at the heart of the Government, it emerged last night.
Relations between them, already rocky after Mr Miliband was forced to tone down a speech about the European Union, are understood to have worsened after comments by Tony Blair began to circulate at Westminster.
Mr Blair went out of his way to praise Mr Miliband, his one-time protégé, who earlier this year considered standing against Mr Brown for the Labour leadership, before pulling out and receiving his plum Cabinet post.
During a visit to Mr Miliband's South Shields constituency last week, the former prime minister said he was very proud of Mr Miliband's achievements and refused to deny that the Foreign Secretary had been his chosen successor.
A source close to Mr Brown denied there had been any briefing against Mr Miliband and insisted last night: "Gordon and David are working together very productively indeed."
They sound like a couple of school prefects arguing over a junior fag, "he likes me more than you..".
As the Brown Leadership unravels expect more of these petty tiffs, especially as Blair enjoys his revenge cold and comes not to praise...
Who leaked and why?
Police phones tapped over honours inquiry leaks - Times Online
DETECTIVES involved in the cash for honours inquiry had their telephones tapped to find out whether they were leaking information to the media.
While Assistant Commissioner John Yates and his team were investigating Tony Blair and his aides, other police officers were watching and listening to the detectives.
The extensive bugging was carried out amid allegations by Sir Gus O’Donnell, the cabinet secretary, that Scotland Yard was leaking information about the progress of the inquiry.
The leaks included newspaper stories that police were investigating an attempt by some Downing Street figures to pervert the course of justice, and a claim - later shown to be wrong - that Downing Street had a secret e-mail system that had been hidden from police.
Scotland Yard said the bugging operation was the key reason it remains so confident that No 10 was wrong to accuse the police of leaking.
Met officers have accused O’Donnell, the country’s most senior civil servant, of trying to put pressure on them throughout their 17-month inquiry....They say he made at least six calls to Paul Stephenson, the Met’s deputy commissioner, at critical junctures....
O’Donnell told a parliamentary committee last week that he was “puzzled” by suggestions that people connected to Downing Street had tried to hinder the investigation.
Quite, an absolute "puzzle" worthy of Miss Marple herself. Nothing odd about the investigation at all.
White male discrimination
Doctors’ revolt at anti-white bias - Times Online
ONE of Britain’s most eminent consultants has claimed white male doctors are being denied bonuses because of politically correct “reverse discrimination” by the National Health Service.
David Rosin, a former vice-president of the Royal College of Surgeons, says female and ethnic minority consultants are being given preferential treatment to meet artificial quotas.
Rosin, also a former president of the Association for Cancer Surgery, failed to get the top “platinum award” award 10 years in a row despite being backed in his application by the royal college and his NHS trust.
He said: “When I asked a previous president [of the Royal College of Surgeons] why I had been unsuccessful, the answer came back immediately: ‘What do you expect? You are not black, you are not female and you have all four limbs.’ ”
Stand back for the fireworks to start - "you can't say that!"
What's pink and wet and hairy on the outside? - Alex Salmond
TO lose one spin doctor is unfortunate, to lose two is careless. Scottish Labour's media operation was in meltdown last night after the party lost its second top spin doctor in as many months.
Matthew Marr, press adviser to party leader Wendy Alexander, quit his £60,000-a-year post after becoming "tired and emotional" at a glittering awards ceremony and loudly describing Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, as a "c***".
Now that is a proper awards ceremony, I wish I had been there, I would have poured a couple more large ones and encouraged him to say what he really thought!
American readers may care to read Kim's magisterial etymology of C*** and how it differs here to there.
November 17, 2007
That Referendum - the results are in.
BBC NEWS | Programmes | Politics Show | The poll with a unanimous result
No pub. No school. No village shop.
So what has the village of Fittleton got that you cannot find anywhere else in the West?
Answer: a public vote on an EU Treaty referendum.
There are 199 registered voters in the tiny Wiltshire village of Fittleton, and on Thursday 15 November 2007, they had their say on the Great European debate.
Do I need to tell you what the unanimous result was?
IPCC AR4 - The Summary
“Climate Change 2007”, the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), is about to be released, stand by for a tsunami of doom.
4 oz (110 g) shredded suet
2 oz (50 g) self-raising flour, sifted
4 oz (110 g) white breadcrumbs
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
ｼ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch ground cinnamon
8 oz (225 g) soft dark brown sugar
4 oz (110 g) sultanas
4 oz (110 g) raisins
10 oz (275 g) currants
1 oz (25 g) mixed candied peel, finely chopped (buy whole peel if possible, then chop it yourself)
1 oz (25 g) almonds, skinned and chopped
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
grated zest ｽ large orange
grated zest ｽ large lemon
2 tablespoons rum
2ｽ fl oz (75 ml) barley wine
2ｽ fl oz (75 ml) stout
2 large eggs
I was feeling rather smug having made the pudding, boiled it for eight hours in the bottom oven of the Aga. It smelt wonderful as it cooled down to be stored ready for Christmas - obviously the Jack Russels thought so as well as mistakenly the Larder door was left ajar and they helped themselves to it. They are feeling rather poorly this morning having eaten it all.
My advert goes into the Gazette first thing Monday morning.
The worthless pelts of two thieving mutts.
What sort of country has to provide 7.5 million training places to improve the skills of its workforce? One with Mickey Mouse schools, of course. I tried to detect some shame on the part of the Government yesterday when it announced this scheme. Half the places are to improve the most basic skills of all, numeracy and literacy. What a mess.
For decades, lies have been told about our education system and its products. ...Isn't it time the lies stopped, and the Government owned up to the severe failings of the education system?
This is where the Marxist drivel taught in teacher training colleges for the past 40 years or so has got us. ...
Labour cannot see educational excellence without wishing to destroy it. I rejoice that Buckinghamshire is promising to open a new grammar school, and hope other local authorities will follow suit - and that the Tory party will shut up on the subject. At a time when the failure of our schools is so manifest, central government cannot be trusted to put the problem right. Only by others taking the lead and doing so will the Government be shamed into retreat - and the day might yet dawn when people leave school able to read, write and count.
Government isn't the solution to the education crises, it is the problem. Give the power back to the parents and keep the man in Whitehall a very long way from the kids. When are we going to see a proper School Voucher campaign?
November 16, 2007
Seeing the wood for the trees in historical temperatures.
You may be familiar with the much publicised "Hockey Stick" graph of historic temperatures. Stirling work at Climate Audit has and is showing that its heavy reliance of tree ring records is suspect. So if we take the tree rings out of it - and the following paper gives good reasons why we should what would the "Hockey Stick" look like?
Loehle, C. 2007. A 2000-year global temperature reconstruction based on non-treering proxies. Energy & Environment 18(7-8): 1049-1058.
Historical data provide a baseline for judging how anomalous recent temperature changes are and for assessing the degree to which organisms are likely to be adversely affected by current or future warming. Climate histories are commonly reconstructed from a variety of sources, including ice cores, tree rings, and sediment. Tree-ring data, being the most abundant for recent centuries, tend to dominate reconstructions. There are reasons to believe that tree ring data may not properly capture long-term climate changes. In this study, eighteen 2000-year-long series were obtained that were not based on tree ring data. Data in each series were smoothed with a 30-year running mean. All data were then converted to anomalies by subtracting the mean of each series from that series. The overall mean series was then computed by simple averaging. The mean time series shows quite coherent structure. The mean series shows the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and Little Ice Age (LIA) quite clearly, with the MWP being approximately 0.3ｰC warmer than 20th century values at these eighteen sites.
Refreshingly the sceptics at Climate Audit are subjecting this paper to the same analysis as they give to any other paper, if it stands up to this rough housing then it really will be significant.
Will this stop us being beaten round the head every time we breathe with the Hockey Stick "evidence"? Don't bet on it.
Close the door on your way out please
Britain is experiencing the greatest exodus of its own nationals since before the First World War while immigration has reached unprecedented levels, new figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed.
Last year, 207,000 British citizens, or one every three minutes, left the country while 510,000 foreigners arrived to stay for a year or more.
Since Labour came to power in 1997 1.8m British people have left...
Can't think why.
Miliband - What I really really believe...
David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, was humiliated by the Prime Minister yesterday when he was forced to remove pro-European passages from a speech and drop his policy initiative on European defence.
Resonant address slips into trap of delusion | Bronwen Maddox: World Briefing - Times Online
It is hard to make a speech about the European Union’s goals and not, at some point, seem to move beyond ambition to delusion. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, failed to avoid that pitfall entirely yesterday, when he portrayed the EU as a tool waiting to be deployed in the service of his own favourite causes of climate change and the righting of distant injustice....
If a minister is going to plant key quotations in the media precisely to get his speech more attention, then it is daft to excise the most ringing phrases in the final text, and it is comedy to produce two versions of a 20-year vision within 24 hours.
24 Hours, when Gordon orders you to change your view you can do that in 24 minutes, eh Admiral West?
Anyway I thought the Miliboy was at home changing nappies, or was that just to get out of breaking bread with the Arabs? Obviously Big Gordo ordered down to the headmasters study for some "advice" and sent him squeaking home with his views "corrected".
The Bin Bugs are back
...the Government, keen to avoid huge EU fines for failing to recycle enough rubbish and to reduce the amount dumped in landfill, yesterday unveiled proposals for trial pay-as-you-throw schemes.
Joan Ruddock, the waste minister, invited up to five town halls to apply to start imposing what she called "incentives" on households to collect their waste.....
everyone could face higher council taxes as town halls struggled to fund the new schemes – potentially involving "spy in the bin" microchips in wheelie bins.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs estimates that start-up costs for pay-as-you-throw schemes will be up £200,000 per council, with annual running costs between £200,000 and £500,000. If the schemes were rolled out across Britain, Defra says they could cost up to £60 million a year on average...
Too good a chance to mulct us more to pass up. Whilst I won't welcome the increase rubbish dumped in my gateways I will welcome the debate it opens up of only paying for council services I actually use, the rumbles are starting...
November 15, 2007
English for beginners
Previously I posted on "Ladies of a certain persuasion" - on editing it I thought predilection was a better word, but then partiality, predisposition, proclivity, proneness, propensity and penchant all raised their hands as being more suitable. I can't make up my mind - what does the panel think?
I am the man, the very fat man,
Barley prices have increased by nearly 40 per cent compared to last year
I can't find out how much barley is used per pint but it is the square root of bugger all. The total malting barley requirement for the UK is 1,850,000 tonnes which includes producing whisky, vinegar, and even lager. At £200 a tonne that means the whole market is worth £370 million
The UK beer market was worth £20.14bn in 2005 - and prices have gone up 15% since then. So if we estimate that beer takes half the malted barley, and that imported beer takes 15% of the market than we are left with £20 billion of beer using £200 million worth of barley.
Hoping I have got my decimal points in the right place I make that to be 1% of the value - in other words 2.5 pence, a tanner's worth in a £2.50 pint. So don't come the price of Barley as the price increases.
All together now...
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
And what do I care if it makes them ill,
If it makes them terribly queer
I've a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
And I waters the workers' beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
I am the man, the very fat man,
That waters the workers' beer
And what do I care if it makes them ill,
If it makes them terribly queer
I've a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
And I waters the workers' beer
Now when I waters the workers' beer,
I puts in strychnine
Some methylated spirits,
And a can of kerosine
Ah, but such a brew so terribly strong,
It would make them terribly queer
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer
Now a drop of good beer is good for a man
When he's tired, thirsty and hot
And I sometimes have a drop myself,
From a very special pot
For a strong and healthy working class
Is the thing that I most fear
So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
And I waters the workers' beer
Now ladies fair, beyond compare,
Be you maiden or wife
Spare a thought for such a man
Who leads such a lonely life
For the water rates are frightfully high,
And the meths is terribly dear
And there ain't the profit there used to be
In watering the workers' beer
Bonjour, Welcomme, Buenos días
Bloggers from across the world will be able to widen their audiences from today, after Google launched a free translation service.
Anyone wanting to reach foreign readers can simply download a piece of software from translate.google.com and add it to their blog or website.
There, done, over on the right - I might have to tidy it up as it seems to be looking a bit strange but anyway it finally nails any need for an English bloke to learn any foreign languages, not that I ever did...
George Clooney it ain't
I understood the niche marketing for their £19 suit, "for your first court appearance". I suppose throw-away dinner suits would work for rugby club dances as I don't think any of mine ever survived one but even so acres of cheap polyester shining under the glitter balls makes me glad to be too old for all that.
Railways should have died with Brunel
History was made yesterday as the first Eurostar train left St Pancras. With a top speed of 186mph, it arrived in Paris two hours and 15 minutes later.
And it still is a 19th Century solution to a 21st Century problem. You still have to get to some god-forsaken part of London, previously only visited for contacting Ladies of certain persuasions, for the privilege of spending the equivalent of Chad's GNP on a ticket for a train that leaves at a time that suits it rather than you; "check in" so long before you could have driven to Dover in the time; face the prospect of Gordon's new railway station strip searches ; spend three hour cooped up in a metal tube with consumptive mobile phone addicts, drinking brown sludge for £5 a paper cup which slops down your trousers as tourists with backpacks push past, and for what? You end up in France, if you are lucky!
Misery as rail strikes bring France to halt - Telegraph
Calling Bill Oddie
The issue is being addressed today when the Scottish Homing Union (SHU), which represents 3,700 pigeon fanciers, meets Mike Russell, the environment minister, to ask for a cull of sparrowhawks. The SHU says it has lost a fifth of its members in the past four years after sparrowhawks targeted their lofts. Prize pigeons worth up to £100,000 have been killed.
Fanciers say up to 70,000 prize racing birds are eaten alive every year in Scotland and are calling on the Scottish Government to license the trapping and humane culling of sparrowhawks.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland opposes any cull.
Tricky thing nature, red in tooth and claw, yet another point of friction of where our interests interact with it. We like to believe we are disinterested observers and can just watch it all be lovely as long as we don't interfere, we aren't, we are part of it.
November 14, 2007
Time to get the cheque book out.
The following message was sent on 14th November 2007 to all those who signed our original PledgeBank pledge:
Hello, you have received this message because you signed my pledge, "I will refuse to register for an ID card and will donate £10 to a legal defence fund but only if 10,000 other people will also make this same pledge" back in 2005. In fact 11360 other people also did. Thank you all.... Now is the time to call in the legal defence fund part of the pledge.
Please send your donation, by cheque made payable to 'NO2ID' to:
NO2ID (Legal Defence Fund)
19-21 Crawford Street
London W1H 1PJ
All other donations welcome as well.
Either a fox or a lion
Train passengers face routine airline-style bag checks and body searches as part of a new counter-terror crackdown announced by Gordon Brown.
He conjured up visions of ''Fortress Britain" as he unveiled a succession of security measures at airports, railway stations, sports venues and other public places.
More than 250 busy railway stations, airports and seaports as well as 100 ''sensitive" installations like power stations and electricity substations will be given extra security.
This could include screening luggage at major stations like London King's Cross or Manchester Piccadilly using mobile checking devices that can be moved around the country.
More buildings will be defended by barriers to stop car bomb attacks, extra blast-proofing, vehicle exclusion zones and metal detectors.
New security guidance is being sent out to sports venues, pubs, clubs and bars, shopping centres and tourist attractions together with thousands of cinemas and theatres, restaurants and hotels.
Advice will also be given to hospitals, schools and places of worship on how to keep visitors safe.
Some 160 counter-terrorism advisers will train civilian staff to identify suspect activity....
...let a ruler have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.
One ruler of the present time, whom it is not well to name, never preaches anything else but peace and good faith, and to both he is most hostile, and either, if he had kept it, would have deprived him of reputation and kingdom many a time.
A Proper Englishman
Doctors talking "Bollocks"
SaltSensibility: Salt Scare Without Foundation
Three weeks ago, at the GMA/FPA and CSPI Salt Conference, Michael Jacobson of CSPI categorically stated in his opening remarks, “The debate on sodium is over. There is no longer a debate whether salt is good or bad."...This attempt to stifle discussion and pronounce, as if by imperial fiat, that there was no longer any debate concerning the benefits of salt reduction in the diet backfired.
When the audience, which was composed of professional food scientists, nutritionists, dieticians, epidemiologists and policy makers split into working sessions to consider all that was said, they concluded that the benefits of salt reduction to health outcomes had yet to be proven scientifically ...
Almost as it on cue, within two weeks of the Salt Conference, two peer-reviewed medical journal articles appeared, both demolishing Michael Jacobson’s assertion that “the debate on sodium is over.”...
“The absence of a relationship between salt intake and mortality in our study corroborates the findings from the large Scottish Heart Health Study among almost 12,000 middle-aged subjects with 24-h urine samples.”...dismissed the theory that salt can cause strokes and heart attacks as, "an argument of hope over reason...."
Dr. Peverly criticizes " those doctors and politicians who have for years promoted the nannying theory that we should be forced to eat less salt in our diets. The obvious lack of a correlation between elevated blood pressure and salt intake should have been good enough for them."
He goes on to describe Public health minister Dawn Primarolo, who was recently quoted as saying that a low salt intake was an essential part of a healthy diet.
"Ms Primarolo’s only qualification to spout off on this subject is a six-year pre-MP career as a ‘mature student’, so I would always have regarded her pontifications as profoundly suspect…"
Delving deeper, he states: " However, my remit is a wider one. This is further evidence that it is us, the medical profession, who don’t know what we are talking about. I never fell for the bollocks about salt, but I have been as guilty as the rest of spreading disinformation and inaccurate advice about a whole manner of other medical subjects. It is becoming embarrassing."
Kinnock Loses General Election - again!
Denmark turns to the Right again as leader's gamble pays off - Times Online
Denmark’s right-wing Government won a third term in power last night after the Prime Minister’s surprise decision to call a snap general election narrowly paid off.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s coalition won 89 seats, compared with 81 for the left-wing grouping led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the daughter-in-law of Lord Kinnock of Bedwetty
A tearful Ms Thorning-Schmidt vowed to continue as leader of the Social Democrats and beat Mr Rasmussen next time. “I am confident that our campaign has made its mark and many Danes showed us their trust today. It was not enough,” she said.
Not even a letter of support from Alastair Campbell, the former Labour spin-doctor, could earn the extra few seats she needed to become Denmark’s first female Prime Minister. The 40-year-old former MEP is married to Lord Kinnock’s son Stephen.
It might be early but a foaming pint of celebratory Carlsberg seems to be in order, if only to be able to read that headline yet again.
You can't trust shoppers not to buy the wrong stuff
Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary told the justice committee at the Scottish Parliament: "We do need to change our bevvy culture in Scotland.
"Alcohol is not just an ordinary commodity to be picked up unwittingly and thrown in a supermarket trolley along with a pint of milk and packet of tattie scones.
"That means it should not be promoted or sold as such."
Poor old Kenny, bottles of "Heavy" just jump into his trolley when he isn't looking, this drink just gets every where, we need to save the shopper from it. so the Scottish Government plans to restrict the display of alcohol in stores. The changes will bring an end to techniques such as "cross-merchandising" where, for example, beer is placed next to barbecues. Supermarkets will instead be forced to sell alcohol in separate areas, specifically marked out in a store plan. . They will get onto having to have permits and ration cards for it next year.
The people would say Non - so we won't ask them.
Referendums on the new European Union Treaty were "dangerous" and would be lost in France, Britain and other countries, Nicolas Sarkozy has admitted.
"France was just ahead of all the other countries in voting no. It would happen in all member states if they have a referendum. There is a cleavage between people and governments," he said.
"A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK."
He is planning to use his turn at the EU's rotating presidency, in the second half of next year, to call for new European powers in highly sensitive areas such as defence, which will dismay Mr Brown.
The president said: "Now we have got to resolve the political issues and to broach them without fear. We have got to debate them without taboos. Budgetary policy, trade policy, monetary policy, industrial policy, taxation, all policies, any policies."
Any policy except giving the people democracy and the right to choose their leaders.
The covenant is breaking
'Britain doesn't care about its soldiers'
The covenant between the Armed Forces and the British people is under growing threat from the poor conditions and lack of understanding shown to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Chief of the Defence Staff warns today.
Now the flags have been folded and poppies discarded it is easy to forget again the troops and their sacrifices. Let's try not to. Remind the politicians to honour the covenant at every opportunity.
November 13, 2007
Ten Days To Go...
If my forecast is correct there will be gallons of free beer and dancing girls at the King's Arms that Friday night. - And for you as well if you work out what it is for......
No more Nanny State - its being rebranded; Hello "Stewardship"
A report by the well-respected Nuffield Council of Bioethics concludes that the Government and industry are not doing enough to prevent binge drinking or obesity and should promote healthy lifestyles through stricter measures and deterrents.
Lord Krebs, who chaired the report committee, said yesterday: “People often reject the idea of a nanny state but the Government has a duty to look after the health of everyone and sometimes that means guiding or restricting our choices.”
The central concept of stewardship differed from the nanny state by being “more sensitive to the balances between public good and individual freedom,” he said. The report concludes: “The stewardship model provides justification for the UK Government to introduce measures that are more coercive...
So that is the new Krebs cycle, take an unpopular idea, shine it up with a new report based on an unsupported premise give it a new name and make it exactly the same as the old idea, but more so.
I can see we are going to get very tired of the word "stewardship" from now on as it joins "stakeholders" and "sustainability" in the lexicon of our rulers.
What do points mean?
Police are letting dangerous criminals slip through the net because they are too busy concentrating on minor offences in order to meet government targets, a former chief constable has warned.
Peter Neyroud, the chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency, claims that catching a murderer now carries no more importance than arresting someone for stealing a pint of milk.
Second rate management theories imposed by second rate managers on inappropriate areas of public service - it is not just the Police that are suffering these Blairite notions. And of course it is the poor bloody subjects who suffer the most.
Winter of Discontent
...Families are already struggling to cope with the effects of the credit crunch. Petrol prices exceed £1 for a litre of unleaded fuel, while mortgage payments and credit card fees are also rising.
Now the price of groceries is increasing as weekly staples shoot up in price in supermarkets. The cost of a pint of milk has reached an all-time high of 33½p and sliced bread costs a record £1.20 in big stores, a far cry from the 9p loaf that was available 15 years ago.
The company that makes Hovis said yesterday that it was raising prices by a further 4p a loaf, on top of the 12p by which they had risen in recent months, as it attempts to recover soaring wheat costs.
It is starting to hurt people in the wallet, just as Gordon wants to take out more tax, the councils are demanding more rates and incoming skilled labour is keeping wages down. The pressure is building.
(As an aside as a farmer the rise in the price of wheat is wonderful but the cost of the wheat in a loaf of Hovis has only risen by about six pence in total so their blaming the much larger rise on us poor old sons of the soil is a bit off.)
A 66-year-old man shot himself in both his legs Saturday afternoon while trying to loosen a stubborn lug nut with a 12-gauge shotgun...
The man had been repairing the Lincoln Continental for two weeks, and had removed all the lug nuts on the right rear wheel except for one.
"He's bound and determined to get that lug nut off," Wilson said, who did not know how long the man had been trying to free the lug nut.
"Nobody else was there and he wasn't intoxicated,"..
Haven't we all been there when faced with an awkward nut....
November 12, 2007
Continuation of the previous post, hat tip to a commenter...
BBC NEWS | UK | UK 'landfill dustbin of Europe'
Monday, 12 November 2007
The UK is the "dustbin of Europe", according to a new study.
A NEW study no less...
Households sent more than 22.6 million tonnes of rubbish to landfill in the most recent year in which comparable figures were available across the EU.
Council leaders warn that an area the size of Warwick - 109 square miles - is already used as landfill..
Gosh, rings a bell...
BBC NEWS | UK | 'Dustbin' UK tops landfill table
Sunday, 7 January 2007
The UK dumps more household waste into landfill than any other EU state, according to figures.
It disposes of more than 27m tonnes of waste in this way each year - 7m more than any other country, the Local Government Association (LGA) says.
This makes the UK the "dustbin of Europe", it says.
An area the size of Warwick - 109 sq miles - is now landfill
How things have changed since January!
Councillor Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA's Environment Board, said: "For decades people have been used to being able to throw their rubbish away without worrying about the consequences. Those days are now over."
Paul Bettison, chairman of the LGA's environment board, said: "For decades people have been used to being able to throw their rubbish away without worrying about the consequences. Those days are now over."
The BBC, it's the unique way it's funded that makes it the leading news provider...
Is only six inches a problem?
BBC NEWS | UK | Britain now 'dustbin of Europe'
Households sent more than 22.6 million tonnes of rubbish to landfill in the most recent year in which comparable figures were available across the EU.
Council leaders warn that an area the size of Warwick - 109 square miles - is already used as landfill.
109 square miles = 282 308 704 m2.
Density of rubbish - 481 kg/cu.m
22.6 million tonnes = 46 985 447 cu.m
46 985 447 / 282 308 704 = 0.166432867
Look guys I think the problem might be that you are only filling the landfills to 16 cm depth, that is six inches in real money, no wonder it is spread out all over Warwick. It is either that or the alarmist report is rubbish
Dipping in the Sporran
MAJOR manifesto commitments by the SNP government cannot be met unless £1 billion extra is found for Scotland's local authorities, the finance secretary John Swinney was warned last night.
EVERY household in Scotland will be £10,000 a year better off within a decade, Finance Secretary John Swinney claimed yesterday.
Don't you just love this Governmental accounting. Of course some people are already benefiting by more than £10,000 of public largesse...
SCOTLAND'S best-paid public servants pocketed salary rises of almost five times the rate of inflation last year, it emerged yesterday.
Bouyant Forecast on Sea Levels
A global warning for UN chief from the ice floes at the foot of the world - Times Online
Scientists welcomed Ban Ki Moon to Antarctica with a glass of Johnny Walker Black Label served “on the rocks” with 40,000-year-old polar ice. But the researchers delivered an alarming message to the UN Secretary-General about a potential environmental catastrophe that could raise sea levels by six metres if an ice sheet covering a fifth of the continent crumbles.
The polar experts, studying the effects of global warming on the icy continent that is devoted to science, fear a repeat of the 2002 collapse of the Larsen B ice shelf. The 12,000-year-old shelf was 220 metres (720ft) thick and almost the size of Yorkshire.
“I was told by scientists that the entire Western Antarctica is now floating. That is a fifth of the continent. If it broke up, sea levels may rise as much as six metres,” Mr Ban said
Um - how much did the level of his scotch rise as the floating ice cubes melted? Quite. You would have thought he might have remembered Archimedes before opining on sea level rises as he did. And how many metres did the sea rise from the collapse of Larsen B? Not even the level of a decent finger of scotch.
Olympic Officials Take Gold
Ten officials responsible for organising the 2012 London Olympics are each earning more than £175,000 a year, according to new analysis which shows the soaring costs of public sector pay.
The top officials have picked up generous bonuses despite repeated increases in the budget of the Games, sparking fears that the costs are not being adequately controlled.
So apart from plastering London with pictures of Lisa Simpson giving head and turning the randomiser button on when preparing their budgets, what exactly have these public servants actually achieved yet that deserves a bonus?
November 11, 2007
Five War Epitaphs
I.. COMMON FORM
If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.
II. THE BEGINNER
On the first hour of my first day
In the front trench I fell.
(Children in boxes at a play
Stand up to watch it well.)
III. THE REFINED MAN
I was of delicate mind. I stepped aside for my needs,
Disdaining the common office. I was seen from afar
and killed …
How is this matter for mirth? Let each man be judged
by his deeds.
I have paid my price to live with myself on the terms that
IV. ‘EQUALITY OF SACRIFICE’
A. ‘I was a Have.’ B. ‘I was a “Have-not.”’
(Together) ‘What hast thou given which I have not?’
V. THE COWARD
I could not look on Death, which being known,
Men led me to him, blindfold and alone.
November 10, 2007
When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping
It's been a crappy week so I went off shopping with Mr Free Market - now I have a smile on my face.
'My Boy Jack' (1916)
“HAVE you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.
“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind—
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.
Then hold your head up all the more,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
Whether it's the health of the planet or of its human inhabitants, it seems we have to learn every generation about the pain and suffering inflicted when we act on improperly-understood "science" -- and, thus, the need to employ a cautionary, evidence-based approach to basing public policy on boldly-asserted scientific truth.
An article in the current American Thinker deals with global warming,...
Trofimko Lysenko is not a household name; but it should be, because he was the model for all the Politically Correct "science" in the last hundred years. Lysenko was Stalin's favorite agricultural "scientist," peddling the myth that crops could be just trained into growing bigger and better. You didn't have to breed better plants over generations, as farmers have been doing for ages. It was a fantasy of the all-powerful Soviet State. Lysenko sold Stalin on that fraud in plant genetics, and Stalin told Soviet scientists to fall into line --- in spite of the fact that nobody really believed it. Hundreds of thousands of peasants starved during Stalin's famines, in good part because of fraudulent science.
The account continues on global warming, but my point is the broader one: politically-correct science may not be scientifically-correct science and relying on PC science (junk science) risks disasters like that engineered by Stalin. That's true for environmental science. And it's true for nutrition science.
Appropriately the next item on the blog is another must read as well, if only the art grad science journalists would!
Give me an A
A-level reputation in severe decline...now even an exam board chief doubts their value - Times Online
The reputation of A levels has been dealt a blow after the head of an exam board expressed doubts about their value. Simon Lebus, group chief executive of the Cambridge Assessment board, part of Cambridge University, said that examiners, regulators and politicians had all been wrong in failing to address declining public confidence in “A-level currency”....He cited research from Dr Robert Coe, of Durham University, showing that A-level results for pupils of the same ability improved by two grades between 1988 and 2006.
The A-level pass rate has risen for 25 successive years, reaching 96.9 per cent this year, with nearly one in ten candidates achieving three A grades.
The Government and examination boards have emphasised that improvements to A-level standards are the result of better teaching and learning, even though opinion polls have shown that nearly half the public believe that A levels have become easier.
"A" level students work incredibly hard and are bright, and it is insulting to them that their achievements are now in a devalued currency. It means that they are being insulted and put down because the Government want "everyone to be a winner". It's a bit like boasting of climbing Snowdon, but now being allowed to take the train. Their pride is being stolen by the system and that is unforgivable.
Divorce Court News
WESTMINSTER will examine a proposed ban on Scots MPs voting on England-only matters at a committee hearing next week.
On Tuesday, the justice committee begins hearings on the aftermath of the devolution settlement, amid calls for Scots MPs to be barred from voting on measures which only affect England, such as in education and health.
The debate on why Scots MPs can vote on matters that affect only England, while English MPs cannot vote on devolved matters, has intensified in recent weeks.
A restriction on Scots MPs' voting rights would disqualify not just Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, but his Chancellor, Alistair Darling, and Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, from voting on key policies.
Of course any recommendations it makes will not be Tory ideas for Gordon to borrow.
Voting with their feet
A growing proportion of middle-class parents are giving up on state education after 10 years of Labour rule by paying to educate their children in the independent sector, official figures have disclosed...
The increases are despite an estimated 40 per cent rise in private school fees over the past five years, which analysts feared was pricing many middle-classes parents out of the independent sector. Head teachers said many families were making sacrifices to send children to fee-paying schools because it was hard to get them into good state schools.....
"The overwhelming majority of parents are clearly satisfied with the state education system," said a Government spokesman. "New research from Keele University shows that nine out of 10 are happy with their children's schools.
It's strange and I know the plural of anecdote isn't data, but I only ever seem to meet the one in ten when it comes to secondary schools...
November 9, 2007
Opposing this legislation is not anti-gay. Rather, it is pro freedom of speech. ...
If, as is suggested by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, the burden of proof is on the accused to prove they didn't mean something in a hateful way, it will create a legal minefield. If someone calls a homosexual a ''poof", it can be meant in a number of ways, as this week's Ofcom ruling in favour of Channel 4 has shown. It can be meant in a hateful way but it can also be used as an affectionate term, believe it or not.
Having said that this legislation should be opposed by the Opposition, I have few expectations that they will do so. Tories will seek to amend the proposals but in the end political realities will dictate that they will not go into the ''no" lobby. A ''courageous" abstention will probably win the day.
In some ways I find it hard to criticise such a stance. Ideological purity may be a wonderful thing, but it can be terribly self-indulgent. It invariably results in losing elections. Politics is the art of the possible and sometimes serious politicians are forced to adopt policy positions while holding their noses. This may be one of those occasions.
I'm saddened, but not surprised, that Iain believes that it is right that the Tories should abandon our freedoms and liberties and their principles in order to maintain a point or two in the opinion polls. Power at any price, eh? No wonder the electorate hold politicians in contempt.
Catholic Church to join Tony Blair "within weeks".
He decided to remain an Anglican because of the potential complexities of conversion while in office.
Some lawyers believe the 1829 Emancipation Act, which gave Roman Catholics full civil rights, may still prevent a Catholic from becoming prime minister.
Clauses in the Act state that no Catholic adviser to the monarch can hold civil or military office.
Mr Blair's conversion will be controversial in the Catholic community because as an MP Mr Blair voted for abortion at up to 24 weeks which was publicly condemned by the late Cardinal Thomas Winning of Scotland. He also supported civil partnerships for homosexual couples.
All four of the Blair children were baptised as Catholics and the family used to attend Mass at St Joan of Arc Church in Islington when he was opposition leader.
After becoming prime minister he stopped doing so in public on the instructions of the then leader of Catholics in England and Wales, the late Cardinal Hume.
But he continued to attend private masses with Fr Michael Seed...
The Tablet reported that Mr Blair was invited to be received into the Church in Rome but his advisers discouraged the idea, believing it might seem like Catholic triumphalism.
I don't claim to be well versed in sky pilot matters but it seems obvious that Tony Blair put his ambition and desire to be Prime Minister ahead of his belief that the Catholic church is the one true way to salvation. Now if you believe that kissing the right ring gives you access to everlasting pleasure in heaven then risking losing that to continue to be Prime Minister (and does anyone really believe he would have been chucked out for being a left footer) seems to be a pretty bad bargain. Aren't avarice and vanity sins in Rome?
Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
NONE of the 17 commuters who witnessed the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes heard police shout a clear warning before opening fire, in stark contrast to evidence given by eight officers.
The report also stated that while police were allowed to return to base, refresh and confer, civilians were expected to make statements in the immediate aftermath of the trauma at Stockwell station without being allowed to speak to each other.
However, the report stated, all the passengers were clear on one point: "It is perhaps significant that none of the 17 witnesses recall hearing the police officers shout 'police' or 'armed police' immediately prior to the shooting, whilst the eight police officers on the train recall either shouting or hearing this.
"Those officers have been interviewed under caution concerning allegations they conspired to pervert the course of justice."
Sir Ian Blair was criticised yesterday for blocking an independent inquiry into the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, but the embattled Metropolitan Police Commissioner insisted again that he would not resign.
Do you think I'm going to criticise the Plod? They were happy enough to gun down someone even though no officer "made a positive identification" so do I want to walk around with "Target" printed on my forehead?
Adjusting the data against climate change auditors
Steve McIntyre's self-financed blog Climate Audit has done a lot to ensure accountability and responsibility among the well-financed and trendy ranks of climate scientists. It is fitting that his blog should win this years Best Science Blog award. Results so far are tentative, pending review.
Results at close of play - number of votes and percentage:
Bad Astronomy Blog: 18806 36.1%
Climate Audit: 20098 38.6%
Now several hours later after the polls have closed:
Bad Astronomy Blog: 20683 37.6%
Climate Audit: 20638 37.5%
Obviously some adjustments are ongoing....
Visiting a chiropractor for a bad back is a waste of time and money as spinal manipulation will not cure aches and pains, says a study.
Researchers looked at the difference in recovery from lower back pain after a variety of treatments, including painkillers and manipulation.
They took 240 volunteers who had visited their GP with lower back pain and gave them anti-inflammatory drugs and spinal manipulation or a fake treatment.
There are two reasons why I still go to a chiropractor - firstly it works for me, he knows the exact spot to tweak. And secondly last time I had a serious back problem I couldn't get to see a doctor for a minimum of three days ( I gave up) which I would have needed to do to get a appointment to then go and see a specialist which would have been any length of time in the future you care to mention. My chiropractor made time to see me immediately, and that was £30 well spent. But then he isn't part of the NHS.
It might be that a naked oriental girl walking up and down my back in high heels would also hit the spot, in which case I would use her. It wouldn't be classified as medicine but as the patient I'm only interested in the outcome. The only problems are it would cost more than £30, it doesn't seem to be available in Devizes and Mrs Englishman and the Taxman might not believe it is an essential expense....
November 8, 2007
A Lib Dem Press Release
David Cameron’s alliance with Czech President Vaclav Klaus exposes the shallowness of his commitment to the environment, the Liberal Democrats said today.
The Conservative leader is meeting with Mr Klaus before the Czech President delivers a speech entitled ‘The Problematic Side of Global Warming Alarmism’ at Chatham House.
Commenting, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne MP said:
"David Cameron’s alliance with Vaclav Klaus’ party shows how shallow his credentials to tackle climate change are.
"Cameron has failed to build the important partnership with green Christian Democrat leaders like Angela Merkel, while striking poses with a Czech conservative who denies the need to tackle climate change at all.
"Nothing could underline more the Tories’ abject confusion about using Europe as a key tool in the fight against climate change."
Best news I have heard about Cameron for ages - keep it up Dave!
Sacrificing Liberty for Security
Moves to increase the period that terrorist suspects can be held without charge will go ahead despite all-party opposition to the plans, Jacqui Smith told the Commons last night.
The Home Secretary said that, while she was still trying to secure a consensus on a package of antiterrorist measures, she was not going to wait until further attempts were made to inflict atrocities and bring panic to British streets.
Earlier, Ms Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There is a strong chance in the future we will need more than 28 days." She added that the terrorist threat was "serious, sustained and growing".
However, when questioned on whether there had been any cases so far where the 28-day limit had been insufficient, she admitted: "There has not."
Ms Smith was unable to say how long suspects should be held, but Downing Street clarified the government's position by saying ministers wanted a maximum of up to 56 days.
politicalbetting.com asks "Could Davis claim his fourth home secretary scalp?"
.This inflamed DD, who turned on her, teeth bared, like a dog with the hair standing up on the back of his neck. “She seems to have managed to pick this number out of the air!” he cried, referring to 28 days. “The highest number in the free world! The highest length of time for people to be held without charge in the free world!”
One day a nun was standing on the side of the road waiting for a cab...
The right to crack jokes or be rude about homosexuals could fall victim to new government laws to stamp out "homophobic" behaviour, Rowan Atkinson, the Blackadder star warned yesterday.
Atkinson, who mounted a successful campaign in 2004 to water down legislation aimed at criminalising expressions of religious hatred, has returned to the fray to defend the art of gay leg-pulling.
His concern is that Labour ministers are so obsessed with creating laws to stop people being rude about each other that they are putting in danger the right to free speech ..He said the Government measures, which could be expanded to cover hatred against disabled or transgendered people, seemed to be "infinitely extendable".
"Witness the fact that the Government has invited two additional groups - the disabled and transsexuals - to 'make the case' for the proposed legislation to be extended to them.
"I am sure that they could make a very good case, as indeed could all those who can claim that they cannot help being the way they are. Men, for example, or women. Or people with big ears."
Atkinson added: "The devil, as always, will be in the detail but the casual ease which some people move from finding something offensive to wishing to declare it criminal - and are then able to find factions within government to aid their ambitions - is truly depressing."
Beyond depressing, so far beyond you can't even make a joke about it.
Gods Wonderful Railway
A sign of the times: brazen contempt for you and me | Heather Brooke: Thunderer - Times Online
After you read this you'll see them everywhere - like a newly learnt word that crops up all over the place when previously you could swear you'd never seen it before.
Signs of disrespect (SODs) are found in all the worst public institutions. “D*n't t@ke !t out on our staff,” shouts one in lurid purple and yellow on the Underground. They are everywhere, from hospitals and council offices to the security queues at Heathrow and Gatwick.
When you see one of these bossy, passive-aggressive signs threatening the public with prosecution or arrest, you quickly know two things about the institution you're dealing with:
1) They're lax about punishing those who break the law. After all, action speaks for itself, only inaction needs PR.
2) Customer service is diabolical or non-existent. People are loath to resort to violence and generally do so only when all other avenues of protest are shut. These organisations have pushed people to their limits.
But instead of sprucing up their act (which would require effort and a change of attitude), these institutions menace the public into accepting their unacceptably poor standards.
Yes, it's often said that the British are a nation of yobs. But what's more striking is the sheep-like docility with which the average British customer accepts jaw-droppingly bad service.
Two bloody hours I wastes at Paddington last night as they tried to find a "train manager" so we could depart. Of course I didn't complain to the poor bloody staff stuck on the train with us, it is fucking incompetents in the offices who ruined 600 people's evenings who ought to feel the wrath of my ire. The sooner they concrete the whole bloody lot over the better, preferably with the senior management underneath.
November 7, 2007
The King, Queen and Darling
The future of Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, was under threat last night following a public split over the Northern Rock crisis with Alistair Darling, the Chancellor.
Mr King used a wide-ranging interview to suggest that the Chancellor could have prevented the run on the bank had he acted on options presented to him in the week leading up to the crisis.
So for pointing out, respectfully and subtlety, that Gordon's Darling didn't have a effing clue what to do he is being threaten - how nuLabour. The fact is that Gordon can't let go of the Treasury and his stopgap Chancellor isn't being allowed or isn't capable of running the department himself.
Save the Spotted Dick
Traditional puddings such as spotted dick, treacle tart and jam roly-poly are disappearing from the dinner table.
They are now a rarity on restaurant menus and diet-conscious diners have made some of the stickiest sweets endangered species, according to new research for Premier Foods.
It shows that the average British household eats a traditional hot pudding less than once a year
Now that is grim news - even if you don't steam your own spotted dick which can take hours the microwave means it is a dish that can be heated up in seconds - so no excuses about lack of time please.
Recipe below - of course.
The 1961 edition of Mrs Beeton says that you can use either beef or mutton suet in pudding but that beef is better. Pre-shredded animal or vegetable suet is available in packets in shops. However, if you’re feeling a yearn to be especially authentic, then ask your butcher for the suet. To prepare it for cooking you’ll need to remove the skin and fibrous tissue. Sprinkle it liberally with some flour and then shred or cut it into flakes before chopping it finely. More flour comes in handy if the suet gets sticky and starts sticking to the knife.
170 g currants
340 g plain flour
2 rounded tsp baking-powder
1/4 tsp salt
140 g finely chopped suet
a dribble of milk to mix
Sift together the flour, baking-powder and salt. Mix in the currants and the suet and then add enough milk to make a soft, but firm dough. If you slip with the milk and the mixture feels too sticky, use a bit more flour to get the consistency right. Form the dough into a roll and place it in a well-floured pudding cloth or a large piece of baking parchment. Roll it up loosely and tie it firmly at both ends so it looks a little like a Christmas cracker.
You can either steam the pudding over a pot of boiling water for about 2 1/2 hours or you can drop it into the pot of boiling water and simmer it for 2-2 1/2 hours. If you’re going to do the latter, I’ve been advised that using the pudding cloth (or a clean tea towel) instead of the baking parchment gives a much better result. Serve hot with lots of custard. Perhaps wise to also wait a couple of hours before going swimming or indulging in any other strenuous exercise. A nap might be a good idea.
The Queen's Speech
So the Old Queen and Her Majesty announced the government's plans:
The Queen's speech: transcript - Telegraph
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons My Government will take forward policies to respond to the rising aspirations of the people of the United Kingdom; to ensure security for all; and to entrust more power to Parliament and the people.
So quite clear then this is the United Kingdom government's plans.
A Bill will be introduced to ensure that young people stay in education or training until age 18,
Whoops, first measure announced is England only, as are the plans to expand building of affordable homes (England only) and the right to tackle congestion by introducing road charges (everyone but Scotland). The pressure is building on Brown's Scottishness.
November 6, 2007
Tonight I have mainly been making mincemeat
Mrs Beeton's Mincemeat
1 1/2lbs lean beef
3lbs beef suet
2lbs moist sugar
2oz candied lemon peel
2oz candied orange peel
1 small nutmeg
1 pottle of apples [a pottle is 4lbs]
the rind of two lemons, the juice of one
½ pint brandy
Stone and cut the raisins once or twice across, but do not chop them; wash, dry and pick the currants free from stalks and grit, and mince the beef and suet, taking care the latter is chopped very fine; slice the citron and candied peel, grate the nutmeg, and pare, core and mince the apples; mince the lemon peel, strain the juice and when all the ingredients are thus prepared, mix them well together, adding the brandy when the other things are well blended; press the whole into a jar, carefully exclude the air, and the mincemeat will be ready for use in a fortnight.
(Actually I only make half the quantity and buy my suet and mince pre minced, and Waitrose raisins and currants seem free of grit and useable straight out of the bag, no stoning, cutting or sorting - progress!) - The meat goes in raw and is preserved by the other ingredients.
Do make it - you will never touch the commercial stuff again.
The Enslavement of the English
In addition to my diatribe yesterday on educational conscription, something has just occured to me - this law will apply only in England. Only English children will have to stay in school until 18. Only English children will be deprived of their liberties and their freedom.
As such, when this law comes before Parliament, not one MP for a Scottish or Welsh constituency had better vote. This does not apply in their constituencies, so I do not want to see them force two years of extra schooling onto English children but not those in Scotland and Wales.
That they even could do it illustrates the issues with our current devolution system.
Another angle on denrochronology.
Climate Audit is doing stirling work re-examining tree ring data to see what they tell us about the past climate. There has been quite a bit of discussion as to how damaged bark areas affect subsequent ring growth. To help you visualise it here is one of my logs.
Click for larger version
As you can see twenty years ago something happened to the tree and the resultant rings are uneven. If you imagine coring the tree from different angles you can see how very different data would be obtained. From some places it would show a definite increase in growth, and hence warmer temperatures, and from others a constant or decreasing rate.
The battle to deal with climate change needs to be fought like "World War Three", the head of the Environment Agency has warned.
"This is World War Three - this is the biggest challenge to face the globe for many, many years. We need the sorts of concerted, fast, integrated and above all huge efforts that went into many actions in times of war.
"We're dealing with this as if it is peacetime, but the time for peace on climate change is gone - we need to be seeing this as a crisis and emergency," she said. The Environment Secretary also called on individuals to take "small steps" such as changing their lightbulbs and walking more.
Yes that is how we defeated the Hun, changed our lightbulbs.
Wartime emergencies justify wartime measures, which is why Governments love them. Ask yourself one question, how have you or your family suffered so far from climate change? Can you name one thing?
This is where I live - it is a 360 photo from the hill above my house, can you spot it?
Of course I'm an environmentalist, of course I care about the environment. If I see you dropping litter then you better be well lubed up as I will insert it back into you; nail something to a tree and you will believe that Easter has come early as you do your Jesus on Calvary impression; and poison my children with your pollution? You better like the taste of the hospital food you can be fed through a straw.
But I will not be beaten back to the stone age on the unscientific guesses of a bunch of half wits. They lost when they preached International Socialism, let's make sure they lose again under their new disguise.
The Queen's Speech
Local communities trying to block the plans will be warned that they will be "letting down" future generations by opposing development.
Don't you hate that pathetic teacher talk - Tracy, you have not just let yourself down, but you have let the school down, your mum down, your granny down... Tracy, now that isn't a very nice gesture to make is it....
Ministers will also announce a new Immigration Bill, drawn up in the past few weeks
in other words hasty measures cribbed from the Tories, which will then not work.
demand a doubling of the time suspects can be held without charge from 28 days to 56 days.
Let's keep increasing this, just because we can.
The speech could also usher in new rules for the funding of political parties in the wake of the cash-for-peerages scandal.
Despite the collapse last week of cross-party talks on financial reform, Mr Brown remains keen to reduce the main parties' dependence on wealthy donors. That could mean all parties getting millions of pounds more in taxpayers' money.
Many Labour MPs are also urging a change in the law to stop Lord Ashcroft,
Funny how wealthy donors no longer open their cheque books to Lord Levy, wonder why. And of course the big one
Climate Change Bill
Will propose putting legally-binding targets on government ministers to reduce Britain's CO2 emissions.
Of course no government can bind another, and if the Minister fail to reach the target will they be publicly dragged down Whitehall to the block - of course no, it is just a sound bite.
When in Rome
Italy is within its rights to expel European Union citizens deemed dangerous to public safety, the European Commission said yesterday.
But the EU emphasised that it may expel only individuals, not citizens, of a particular country. The emergency measures, allowing the Italian Government to remove EU citizens with criminal records or those considered a security threat, were introduced last week as a response to several violent crimes allegedly by Romanians.
So it can be done with a nod and a wink unless it is Britain which naively believes in obeying the Laws of the EU (More of course at EUReferendum)
November 5, 2007
For science's sake your vote is needed.
Vote for the Blog that Changed US Climate History ｫ Watts Up With That?
Vote for best science weblog here; and if so inclined, click on Climate Audit. Voting is permitted once every 24 hours. Vote early, vote often.
And if that isn't enough go an read some of the Pharyngula: Commentsto see how the auditing and scepticism of the holy book according to Algore is received. Vote to show them.
And I nearly forgot it is my wedding anniversary as well...
The great reading row. Just watch my lips | Carol Sarler: Thunderer - Times Online
Much bickering in the playground resulted from the publication of the largest inquiry into primary education for 40 years when it came to the disagreeable conclusion that – despite the £500 million poured into beefing-up literacy – government investment has had “almost no impact” and schooling standards have barely improved since the 1950s. “S’not true!” squeaked Lord Adonis, the Schools Minister. “Tis, too!” retorted teachers. I tend to believe the teachers; nobody can know better the rigours of the cat on the mat.
The problem with such internecine wrangling, however, is that it serves to consolidate the view that the whole matter is for the State and nothing much to do with the rest of us.
...When I started school in the 1950s I already read fluently, as did most of the rest of my, admittedly white, middle-class contemporaries; being taught to read was as much a part of home preparation for the wider world as was learning to handle a spoon.
Today, according to one head teacher friend, only about 35 per cent arrive at school with “some words”; almost none is able to tackle a book. Some of this is can be blamed on indolence or lack of aspiration in the parents; too much, though, is the result of not daring, rather than not caring. So hammered are parents by the professionalisation of what was once a simple passing down of family skills, so in hock are they to educational fashion .. that they are made helpless by the fear of getting it “wrong”.
But there can be nothing worse than haranguing the best-intentioned of parents, belittling their amateurism and having their children arrive at school wholly, but needlessly, illiterate because Mum was just too scared to suck it and see.
Schools play only a part in how children learn, but the whole education system has been captured by the spurious "professionalism" of teachers with the connivance of the State, telling parents to leave those kids alone, let only the professionals teach them. All your children are belong to us....
Those who can't do, teach; those who can't teach, run the schools.
Education | How to be top | Economist.com
What works in education: the lessons according to McKinsey
THE British government, says Sir Michael Barber, once an adviser to the former prime minister, Tony Blair, has changed pretty much every aspect of education policy in England and Wales, often more than once. “The funding of schools, the governance of schools, curriculum standards, assessment and testing, the role of local government, the role of national government, the range and nature of national agencies, schools admissions”—you name it, it's been changed and sometimes changed back. The only thing that hasn't changed has been the outcome. According to the National Foundation for Education Research, there had been (until recently) no measurable improvement in the standards of literacy and numeracy in primary schools for 50 years...
Why bother, you might wonder. Nothing seems to matter. Yet something must. There are big variations in educational standards between countries. These have been measured and re-measured by the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) which has established, first, that the best performing countries do much better than the worst and, second, that the same countries head such league tables again and again: Canada, Finland, Japan, Singapore, South Korea.
Schools, it says*, need to do three things: get the best teachers; get the best out of teachers; and step in when pupils start to lag behind. That may not sound exactly “first-of-its-kind” (which is how Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's head of education research, describes McKinsey's approach): schools surely do all this already? Actually, they don't. If these ideas were really taken seriously, they would change education radically....
The quality of teachers affects student performance more than anything else.
A bias against the brightest (teacher trainees) happens partly because of lack of money (governments fear they cannot afford them), and partly because other aims get in the way. Almost every rich country has sought to reduce class size lately. Yet all other things being equal, smaller classes mean more teachers for the same pot of money, producing lower salaries and lower professional status. That may explain the paradox that, after primary school, there seems little or no relationship between class size and educational achievement.
...You might think that schools should offer as much money as possible, seek to attract a large pool of applicants into teacher training and then pick the best. Not so, says McKinsey. If money were so important, then countries with the highest teacher salaries—Germany, Spain and Switzerland—would presumably be among the best. They aren't. In practice, the top performers pay no more than average salaries.....
....Having got good people, there is a temptation to shove them into classrooms and let them get on with it. For understandable reasons, teachers rarely get much training in their own classrooms (in contrast, doctors do a lot of training in hospital wards). But successful countries can still do much to overcome the difficulty....
Lastly, the most successful countries are distinctive not just in whom they employ so things go right but in what they do when things go wrong, as they always do. For the past few years, almost all countries have begun to focus more attention on testing, the commonest way to check if standards are falling. McKinsey's research is neutral on the usefulness of this, pointing out that while Boston tests every student every year, Finland has largely dispensed with national examinations. Similarly, schools in New Zealand and England and Wales are tested every three or four years and the results published, whereas top-of-the-class Finland has no formal review and keeps the results of informal audits confidential.
But there is a pattern in what countries do once pupils and schools start to fail. The top performers intervene early and often. ...
None of this is rocket science. Yet it goes against some of the unspoken assumptions of education policy.
The rate for the job
MPs demand an inflation-busting pay rise - Times Online
MPs face a battle with Gordon Brown to secure an above-inflation pay increase when the official recommendations on parliamentary salaries are published this month.
Ministers have already received a report from the Senior Salaries Review Body, which helps to set MPs’ pay and allowances every three years. It recommends that MPs receive an increase to the basic salary of £60,277 of more than the current rate of inflation, according to an official who has seen it.
The scene is now set for a clash with backbenchers from all parties. Some want their salaries raised to about £100,000, arguing that MPs have fallen far behind equivalent professions.
I will allow you to imagine what other "equivalent professions" are - the ones I can think of involve carrying a shovel or wearing fishnets...
As The Devil's Kitchen points out
One of the arguments advanced for the really rather generous remuneration received by our lords and masters in the House of Commons is that they would do very well outside of politics and we need to attract the best.
What we actually seem to end up with is the mediocre and the idiotic, so it is hardly surprising that they are near valueless once they have run their electoral course.
Politicians who lose their seats struggle to make a living in the real world, research has found.
The study said employers have little use for former MPs - and some take more than a year to find a job.
And those who do manage to find work often complain that they do not earn as much as they did in Westminster. Others sulk about losing the perks of the Commons.
So, they are, as we have long suspected, utterly shit. And what chance do these people have when so many of them have never had any real job?
Being a simple sort I wonder if the pay is so bad why do so many want to do the job? Simple supply and demand seems to indicate they are too well paid already.
November 4, 2007
Lomberg review reviewed.
Cool It: The Sceptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming by Bjorn Lomborg review | Reviewed by Richard Girling
Lomborg’s view is that the cost of fighting climate change cannot be justified by the likely benefit, and that there are more pressing problems for the world to throw money at. .... His calculator tells him that applying the Kyoto protocol would cost $23 for every tonne of CO2 saved, and would return only $2 worth of “good”. “Maybe,” he wonders, “we could have done more good for the world with those $23 elsewhere?”
A platoon of “top-level economists” helps him demonstrate that money would be better spent fighting disease and malnutrition, providing sanitation and clean water, and dismantling trade barriers....
A pretty good summary - but it is too much for our tree loving writer...
In any perceived conflict between present and future, the present will always win – that is the nature of politics. It takes an economist to argue that one global crisis should be competitively costed against another and that the bottom line is bingo.....
Lomborg makes a valuable contribution to the economics of good intention – we need to know we are not in for a cheap and easy ride. But he rests his case on a relatively modest rate of global warming (2.6C by 2100, against the 7C feared by some climatologists), and skates over the fact that the bleakest predictions come from the scientists with the longest CVs, who are neither idiots nor enemies of the free world. There remains only one answer to how much we should be prepared to pay to avert the risk of catastrophe: whatever it costs.
Oh dear Lord, what is the point of such a review? "Whatever it costs?" just in case, without reservation or cavil. I don't know what it is like in Mr Girling's world but out here money isn't infinite and spending has to be prioritised, and future benefits discounted to present day values. That is true for the weekly trip to Waitrose, and for the planet. And if you can't grasp this simple point and that Lomberg is trying to make campaigners to wake up and realise that then the review is a waste of dead trees.
We know where you have been - reminder
Network operators are bound by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), which requires them to store not only the details of every call you make and receive, but also where you were at the time. They keep this information for 12 months and make it available to the authorities on demand.
Do you really want to carry that 'phone with you all the time?
Remind me again why we pay for BBC Radio.
Just a Girl in short shorts talking about whatever: Desert Ghost Radio
Zooming out of a 2,700 watt transmitter outside Globe, Arizona in the Pinal Mountains, and spreading over the northern Sonoran Desert are free form waves of eclectic side B classic rock. Since this type of subterranean rock and roll knocks the socks off this pseudo-punk, post- riot grrl rawker, I am thinking it just has to be a Boomer wet dream.
One oddity is that for the five years the broadcast has been streaming into the eastern side of the Valley of the Sun, and down Tuscon way, there has not been a single commercial.
You will also never hear the blather of a DJ—just the call letters KCDX every hour to keep the FCC content...
It is now streamed on the Internet as well as into the desert air. You can take a listen here.
Maybe it is just some generous hippie sitting atop a Desert Mountain, with a giant iPod shuffling all the tunes he downloaded from Napster, back in the outlaw days, and is now sharing them in the old fashioned pre-peer-to-peer network way...
And it does cost a bit to operate Desert Ghost Radio. One guy I talked to,who knows a bit about radio, estimated the yearly cost would be at least $200,000.
BBC Radio 2 has a service budget of £37.4 million in 2006/07.
Given the choice I think I will listen to the music without the blather, pity I still have to pay for the other....
BraunJugend und Balls
TEENAGERS who refuse to work, attend training or go to school are to be issued with on the spot fines under government proposals. Any who still fail to comply would then be taken to court where they could face further penalties.
The measures are designed to enforce a new law which will be outlined in this week’s Queen’s speech. It will say that all teenagers must remain in education, training or employment until they are 18.
The change will be phased in by raising the age to 17 in 2013 and to 18 in 2015. Details of the new “age of participation” will be outlined by Ed Balls, the children’s secretary, in a television interview today and in a speech tomorrow.
According to Balls’s department, if they refuse to attend, they will be given a formal warning, in which the “local authority will clearly explain their duty to participate and the consequences of not doing so”.
Yep, old enough to marry, be buggered and join up (not necessarily all three at once though) BUT YOUR LIFE BELONGS TO THE STATE
Paying the price of serving
"It is a command responsibility to ensure that our officers and soldiers are made aware of the need to provide adequately for their dependants, and that they are informed of the types of cover available to them. Grateful for your help in this matter." leaked Ministry of Defence (MoD) document
So make sure your troops buy Insurance as sure as fuck they can't depend on the Government, oh, and the price of insurance has just gone up...
Scares and politicians
By Christopher Booker and Richard North
What more do I need to say apart from "must read".
November 3, 2007
My sort of Firework Party
The Libdem leadership story in a nutshell
Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics
Mr Hughes said.. in good hands with either of the contenders .. he declared his preference for Mr Clegg, he had "greatly impressed" him on the ..bench. ...prosper and flourish .. get across urgently the real need... liberal values... the norm. ...regretted the absence of a female."
" ...delighted to have Mr Hughes's backing... devotion ... party ...commitment ..diversity ... immeasurable," Mr Clegg said.
MSM reporting good news from Iraq!
Rising trade and safer streets – now Baghdad needs a decent electricity supply - Times Online
"things are getting back to normal.”
Bloodshed in Iraq, still high by most standards, has dropped significantly since August thanks to the impact of a joint US-Iraqi security plan that has resulted in a huge rise in the number of American and Iraqi forces on the streets
US anti-gay church that demonstrates at military funerals fined $10.9m - Times Online
The grieving father of a dead US soldier has won nearly $11 million (£5.2 million) in damages against a fundamentalist church that disrupts military funerals in the belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality....
It was unclear whether the plaintiffs would be able to collect the damages awarded. Before the jury began deliberating the size of punitive damages, District Judge Richard Bennett noted that the size of the compensatory award “far exceeds the net worth of the defendants”, according to financial statements filed with the court....
Forget trying to get the cash I think they should just drive on over to Westboro with a wrecking ball, drum of petrol and a box of matches, and just raze the whole bigoted establishment to the ground.
November 2, 2007
Honour The Covenant
THE father of the youngest soldier seriously injured in Iraq yesterday said the Ministry of Defence had added "a degrading insult to injury" by offering his family £57,000 compensation.
Jamie Cooper, now 19, was warned he could face a lifetime in a wheelchair after shrapnel sliced through his stomach during a mortar attack in Basra last November.
He has since suffered further setbacks after catching a series of infections at Birmingham's Selly Oak Hospital.
The Royal British Legion is calling on Government to honour its life-long duty of care to those making a unique commitment to their country. Here's how we would like you to help.
LONDON'S police chief has dismissed demands for his resignation after his force was found guilty of breaking health and safety laws in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said it was a one-off incident on an "extraordinary day" and that no individual was to blame. "Sometimes that's what happens,"....
Yep, seven dumdum bullets at point blank range into the head can be interpreted as an offence against health and safety, but accidents happen so don't blame me seems to be his attitude.
Notes to Editors
1. Section 2(1) of the HSW Act states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
2. Section 37(1) of the HSW Act states: " Where an offence... committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of, or to have been attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate or a person who was purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate shall be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly."
3. The maximum penalty in the Crown Court for contravention of Section 2 and 37 of the HSW Act is an unlimited fine.
But not for one of the Government's own; taking responsibility, being personally culpable, doing the decent thing, these terms simply don't compute....
Beer Better Than Water - Official!
HAVING a beer after exercise could do you more good than drinking water, a new study suggests.
Beer can help someone who has sweat regan liquid better than water, the bubbles help to quench thirst and the carbohydrate in beer help replace lost calories, Spanish researchers say
Sometimes it is worthwhile not questioning "medical" research too much and just accept its recommendations. This typing is bloody hard exercise I tell you, off to the fridge for me!
November 1, 2007
1st November passim
The number of drivers caught by speed cameras has fallen for the first time, according to government figures which reveal that widespread complaints about excessive enforcement have finally forced a retreat by police and local authorities.
The Australian approach has a bit more subtlety ...
But even that can cause problems....
When a woman wiggled her finger at Simon Jardak as he drove along a road in Sydney three months ago, he saw red.
Instead of shame-facedly taking his foot off the pedal and slowing to a sedate pace, he hurled a bottle at the woman through the window of his car.
"She started doing that hand gesture, you know, the RTA one," Mr Jardak told a Sydney court.
"And it offended me… because of, you know, she implied I had a small penis."
Yep, sounds like it works then....
(I have found it also works whenever I see a politician or campaigner lecturing me on how to live - they are just compensating for having small dicks. (True story - I know a blustering ex-army officer who likes ordering people about - a girl once told me she wasn't sure if he had made love to her or not as it was "so small she couldn't feel a thing". I have job keeping a straight face whenever I meet him.... )
Summertime and the living is easy...
Last weekend Britain was hit by a disaster. This disaster will cost between 100 and 160 lives, double the toll from the July 7 bombings. It will raise Britain's carbon emissions by up to 3 per cent, equivalent to almost half of all aircraft pollution. It will weaken London's position as the capital of European business and finance. And it will bring misery to families up and down Britain, probably aggravating the biggest crisis in the country's public health. Why has this disaster not dominated the media headlines since Sunday, when it suddenly struck the country? Because supine British voters have suffered it so often that they now accept it as an inevitable act of life....
The outrage I have in mind is the changing of the clocks....
....But if the case for harmonising British time with Western Europe's is so compelling, why hasn't it happened? The answer is clear. Government and opposition parties have all been terrified of a backlash from Scotland, where public opinion believes (incorrectly) that dark mornings are more dangerous than dark evenings and regards any talk of time change as a Sassenach plot. But now that the Scottish Parliament exists to legislate on precisely such issues, this is excuse is surely not good enough.
Choosing the right timezone is a genuine case of collective action. It is not something that people can do for themselves and it offers a clear opportunity for politicians to make improvements in citizens' lives without imposing new costs on the economy or constraints on society. This is exactly the kind of pragmatic and effective government initiative that politicians of all parties should be trying to implement instead of meaningless promises about economics, foreign policy, health and education that everyone knows they cannot fulfil.
The refusal of successive governments to do anything about this points to the wide divergence between the perceived interests of Britain's political parties and the people they supposedly serve.
But the failures of past politicians can present opportunities to the new generation. The Tories, in particular, could make huge political capital from the time zone issue. By adopting European time as a manifesto commitment they would gain justified popularity in England, whereas in Scotland they have nothing to lose. By embracing CET the Tories could show that they understand the concerns of ordinary families trying to bring up children and also prove that they can work with Europe when the policies are right. Best of all, the Tories could back Gordon Brown into a corner over CET, just as they did with inheritance tax.
If Mr Brown opposed the time change, he would suffer a haemorrhage of support from English voters. If he supported it, he would yet again be seen to be aping the Tories and would risk a collapse of Labour's Scottish vote. Either way, this would be a sure-fire political winner.
I think even hard bitten libertarians would agree that setting the time is a governmental competence, though having competing time zones within a country would add to the general gaiety of the nation. So we should support this suggestion and the Tories should grab the idea - except for one important difference. Drop any talk of it being CET - "European" time, that very phrase kills the idea dead, just call it "British Summertime and Double Summertime", doesn't that sound more appealing?
Enjoy your bacon sarnie this morning with a clear conscience
Millions of people are at risk of getting cancer unless they slash levels of alcohol and red meat in their diets, medical experts have warned in a landmark study.....
I have actually downloaded the report , all 537 pages of it. It is a vast data dredge. I have failed to spot any Relative Risks which approach 2 - (an increase of 100%) - In epidemiologic research, [increases in risk of less than 100 percent] are considered small and are usually difficult to interpret. Such increases may be due to chance, statistical bias, or the effects of confounding factors that are sometimes not evident. [Source: National Cancer Institute, Press Release, October 26, 1994.]
Of course if we want to really save "10,000 deaths a year from cancer" according to a report four years ago by Professor Karol Sikora we just have to improve our healthcare to the European average for cancer treatment. That is 10,000 that die because of the NHS and the unique way it is run. And as he says in response to this report;
THE World Cancer Research Fund has dramatised the "bullet points" and has exaggerated the risk by saying, for example, don't eat bacon and processed meat. Small amounts of these won't do you any harm - it's only harmful when you eat a lot of fat, with no fibre, no fruit and no vegetables.
It is true that people who eat a lot of meat and fatty meat - the sausage-and-chips culture - eat less fruit and vegetables and that is probably why they have a higher risk of cancer. It's not the meat itself that is doing it.
There is nothing new from this report and it has created an awful lot of stress amongst people, and cancer patients now feel that if they'd only eaten more sensibly in their lives they wouldn't be in the situation they're in.
Yesterday in my clinic I had patients asking exactly that and it is not really very helpful. A third of all cancers are dietary related but the message is very complicated. We've all got to eat and it's a matter of balancing foods that are good for you, such as fruit and vegetables, and the foods that may be bad.
This report is scaremongering without really any data whatsoever and that upsets people. It is not going to change people's lifestyles. It will make people worry unnecessarily. ..
The moor is my castle
A mother said farmers have been given "a licence to kill" after magistrates cleared a former army marksman of animal cruelty for shooting dead her son's Dalmatian puppy.
Terence John Blackburn, 73, of Myrtle Farm, Cross Roads, Keighley, shot Bandit, a nine-month-old puppy belonging to Sebastian Beckett, 14, after seeing two white dogs chasing his... pregnant ewes - seven of which later died - into woodland at his farm. He shouted and screamed at the dogs and they ran off, the court heard.
... then (he) took a rifle and three shotgun cartridges back to the Denholme farm.
Why do I have feeling at this point that the reporter hasn't got a clue - rifle, shotgun carts...
Mr Blackburn's solicitor Robin Frieze asked the farmer why he had shot the dogs. He replied: "For the simple reason that I knew they would go back for my sheep."
Mr Blackburn, who has been a farmer for nearly 60 years, said it was the first time in two decades he had had to kill a dog. He said: "It is shocking. It is not our job to kill livestock, it is our job to keep them alive. I don't know a farmer who loves shooting a dog. It is not the dog's fault. It is the owner's."..
The magistrates decided that the RSPCA had not proved that Mr Blackburn had broken the law when he shot the dogs.
Chairman Glynis Wilkinson said Mr Blackburn "genuinely and reasonably" perceived the dogs to be a threat to his sheep and their unborn lambs.
Following the verdict, Sebastian Beckett's mum, Dot Hardaker, of Ogden Lane, Denholme, said: "I am utterly gutted. The magistrates have given farmers a licence to kill as far as I am concerned.
"I am proud of my son for wanting to tell what happened that day. He was very brave but now he is very upset."
Dot Hardaker points out:.. the puppy was on a lead and the dogs had been out of my sons sight for only 10/15 minutes..
the facts, they were out for 30 minutes..
I would like to state catagorically that my dogs were never near sheep, indeed the nearest sheep of Mr Blackburns were in a field over 50 acres away as stated in his statement, the dogs had been playing and bouncing about on the moorland which is adjacent to my back garden unsupervised for just over 10 minutes.