February 29, 2008
The state of my local Hospital
When I was taken ill, I was taken to an accident and emergency department in a hospital not in London but in the West Country. I can tell your Lordships only that it is a miracle that I am still alive. It was exactly as the noble Baroness described the hospital down in Maidstone in Kent. I will not tell your Lordships which hospital I was in, but the wards were filthy. Underneath the bed next to me was a piece of dirty cotton wool, and there it remained for seven days; the ward was never cleaned. It was a gastroenterology ward, with lots of people with very unpleasant infectious diseases. The ward, the tables, the beds and the bathrooms were not cleaned. I was extremely infectious at that time and no precautions were taken with me at all. The staff were furious when my wife wanted my bed cleaned when it clearly needed cleaning. I was just lying there, a pathetic person. It was appalling.
The nurses, who probably are the most important people in this complex area, were what I would describe as an accurate reflection of many young women in Britain today. What do I mean by that? I shall now break your Lordships’ rules and read the next bit, because I thought very hard before I wrote it. The nurses who looked after me—not all of them; we should never generalise and there were one or two wonderful ones—were mostly grubby, with dirty fingernails and hair. They were slipshod, lazy and, worst of all, drunken and promiscuous. How do I know that? If you are a patient, lying in a bed and being nursed from either side, the nurses talk across you as if you are not there. I know exactly what they got up to the night before. I know how much they drank and what they were planning to do the next night, and it was pretty horrifying.
My bed was next door to the nurses’ station, so you could see how the whole place was being run. Actually, you could not: I have seen lots of things being run, but after a week, I could not tell you who was in charge. I had absolutely no idea who was telling who to do what. My view is that nobody was telling anybody.
The man opposite me was dying. I imagine he died two or three days after I left. I do not know what he was dying of because he was not doing a lot of talking. But I do know that he virtually died alone. The nurses thought that he was a nuisance. They changed his bottle, gave him his pills, occasionally fed him and propped him up. But basically this man died alone in a British hospital in the 21st century, and I had to watch him do it, which was pretty unpleasant.
When I fall ill that is the hospital I would get taken to, and it is exactly as he described.
Friday Night is Music Night (Set Me Free Edition)
In other military news today - "thousands of'em!"
Single men, go back to bed, now, alone, turn off the phone, do not answer the door, do not speak to anyone all day, move, now!
Good work by the MSM keeping their mouths shut, and by Prince Harry for going.
"The better part of valour is discretion." Henry IV Part 1 Act 5, scene 4, line 119.
E-day, or Energy Saving Day, is an experimental action by an independent organisation that aims to tackle climate change in a "fun, positive, evidence-based and inclusive" manner. It is made up of many familiar groups, businesses and iniduals including Christain Aid, City of London, National Trust, National Grid, Tesco, us and, oddly, power companies.....and include a candle-lit vigil for the planet, games, a pedal-powered cinema, world premiers for a small number of fun and factual films and an opening address by the Bishop of London at St Paul's Cathedral....Everyone who wants to take part is being asked to leave household electrical items off for as long as possible, or altogether if you don't need them. Lights, mobile phone charges, printers and items on standby are all to be turned off if you don't need them.
Given the number of non-essential household items that are left on, if there is broad uptake of this call to action it has the potential to result in a 1-3% drop in the UK's electricity demand.
So the idea is if we all do it together, we can see the results of working together and get even more people to join in.
The UK's first Energy Saving Day has ended with no noticeable reduction in the country's electricity usage.
No noticeable reduction actually meaning a small increase...The Grid's final figures showed national electricity consumption for the 24 hours (from 1800 Wednesday to 1800 Thursday) was 0.1% above the "business-as-usual" projection. (And despite the blather about cold weather it was a balmy night - over 4 deg at 6:00 here and the weather was already factored into the grid's "business as normal" forecast.)
I think it showed an important point.
We have at one extreme these activists who have seized the media, at the other end us sensible bloggers who maintain a healthy scepticism - see for instance http://www.dailytech.com/Temperature+Monitors+Report+Worldwide+Global+Cooling/article10866.htm
and in the middle the vast majority who don't like being hectored and are happy to pay lip service but are not really concerned.
And as ever you have the deeply stupid and confused politicians trying to jump on the right band wagon.
27 Feb 2008: House of Commons debates
Nick Hurd (Ruislip - Northwood, Conservative)
The Secretary of State has made it clear that the Lisbon treaty does not
significantly change the powers of the EU to show leadership on climate change,
so we do not have much substance to debate. However, this afternoon presents a
welcome opportunity to scrutinise and debate the EU's actions in our name, and
that is crucial.
As a Conservative, I have no hesitation in saying that we must work through
the EU on climate change. There is clearly no national solution to the problem
and we must therefore maximise our leverage in international negotiations, which
means working through the EU and embracing the simple fact that it is, perhaps
timidly, cast in a leadership role on the crucial issue of our age in the
shameful absence of the superpower from the negotiating table. We are in the
Again, speaking as a Conservative I find it easy to reconcile that positive
message with traditional Euroscepticism about single currencies and federalism.
The hon. Member for East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson), who speaks for the Liberal
Democrats, kindly quoted from my maiden speech, in which I simply said that I
felt the climate change agenda presented an opportunity for the EU to redefine
its relevance to the new generation who will pay for it. The evolution of that
agenda is similar in importance and scale to the development of the single
market. That shows the extent of the opportunities for the EU, and I would like
it to embrace them.
(H-t Mark Sparrow & Dennis Ambler)
73 lengths of hempen rope to go, please.
That this House commends the achievements of Fidel Castro in securing first-class free healthcare and education provision for the people of Cuba despite the 44 year illegal US embargo of the Cuban economy; notes the great strides Cuba has taken....
Sharma, Virendra Kumar
James, Sian C
(So with Cuba's wonderful health system why when Castro's bottom gave out did he have to rush to Spain to save his arsehole?)
February 28, 2008
Curing the NHS with cash
The report from the National Audit Office called the new GP contract a "poor deal" for taxpayers which has failed to bring the substantial benefits envisaged for patients.
Overall, the new contract cost the Government £1.76 billion more than expected, mainly due to surgeries achieving higher scores than predicted on performance-related pay.
The report comes after a bitter row over extending opening hours from 8am to 8pm and at weekends, which GPs are currently voting on.
Under the new contract, responsibility for out-of-hours care automatically went to primary care trusts and as a result GPs, including part-time doctors, now work an average of 36.3 hours a week.
The report said GP partners are taking more of the practice income home as salary and are seeing fewer patients on average per week, down from 122 in 1992/93 to 88 in 2006/07.
They earned on average £113,000 in 2005/06, but many took home far more.
Good luck to them, I am glad to see the Tories have come up with a radical answer to the problems of the NHS - throw more, much more money at it! An extra £28 billion a year! Hurray, trebles all round, unless you are a patient that is.....
Where the bloody hell are you? Hiding behind the sofa!
An Australian family whose pet guinea pig, cat and dog were eaten by giant pythons menacing their tropical home fears their children could be next on the predators' menu.
The Peric family watched in horror this week as their much-loved Chihuahua was swallowed by a 16.5 ft long scrub python on the verandah of their home in Kuranda, Queensland....
Mr Douglas, a snake handler at the Australian Venom Zoo in Kuranda, near Cairns, took the python away. He believed it had stalked the Chihuahua over a period of several days.
It would then be released into a national park; there was no question of killing it.
"These pythons used to feed on wallabies but now they feed on cats and dogs in suburbia," said Mr Douglas.
He said Mr Peric's fears for his children were well founded. "A snake of that size is quite capable of killing a small child."
And they banned guns in the country? And they think that is a good thing? I have only been to Australia for one hour in my life, with things like that crawling around I wouldn't set foot outside the airport unless I had at least two heavy lumps of iron hanging off my belt.
The BBC has launched its biggest ever drive to recruit from ethnic minority groups, as it attempts to counter criticism of a lack of diversity.
Just 4.4 per cent of BBC managers are from ethnic minorities, far below its target of seven per cent, set by Greg Dyke, the former director general who described the corporation as "hideously white".
So are is the BBC a bunch of racist bastards?
The UK population has 7 per cent (4.6 million) belonging to non-white ethnic minority groups. (2001-figures)
But we are only talking of managers here, people what have worked for the corporation for some time, we hope.
Due to a high net birth rate and the demographics of international migrants, the UK's ethnic minority population is younger on average than the White population. In 2004, the median age for White people was 40 years, compared to 27 years for ethnic minorities.
So "Suits" who are more likely to be 40 than 27, will quite fairly be whiter than the average.
And then revealingly there are the wishes of the minorities themselves:
36.1% of Chinese students interviewed were studying for business-related degrees, compared with 30.8% of Asian and Asian British students and 14.9% of white students.
White students were far more likely to be undertaking humanities or liberal arts degrees (48.4% of them were doing so) compared with Chinese (23.6%), Asian and Asian British (25.5%) and black British students (38%).
The survey also found that 32% of graduates with a Chinese background rated investment banking as the ideal industry to enter, compared with just 8% of white students.
Chinese graduates tended to favour employers in the financial sector, ranking HSBC as their top choice, followed by the US investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.
White graduates tended to favour public sector work, ranking the BBC as the most desirable employer ....
Good news on Tony Singh
UPDATE on Tony Singh
A shopkeeper who stabbed an armed robber to death in a desperate struggle to defend himself wept with relief after learning that he will not be charged.
Of course he shouldn't have been put the trauma of having to worry he was going to be charged.
Yes we can too, eventually...
February 8, 2008
February 27, 2008
Oh Frabjous eday
Remember the BBC's Planet Relief? 24 hours of being lectured by holier-than-thou greens? It was pulled from the schedules a year into the project, when BBC planners got cold feet. They reckoned their viewers might not be too pleased at having naked propaganda shoved down their throats...
Planet Relief was the brainchild of an environmentalist called Matt Prescott...barely out of University when appointed to head it up.
The justification for the licence fee has always been that the BBC is objective and impartial, and yet here we have Mr Prescott brought in from outside, apparently to use public resources to promote his own (and presumably the BBC's) political views.
Now perhaps I'm leaping to conclusions. Perhaps Mr Prescott has TV experience, as well as being an environmental campaigner. Perhaps his objectivity and is unimpeachable. Let's see.
So what do we know about Matt Prescott?
His Blogger profile can be seen here. He is nothing if not prolific, with fully eleven blogs associated with him. He has a PhD in zoology from Oxford, and organised the Oxford Earth Summit. In 2005 he launched a campaign to ban incandescent bulbs and since graduating has worked for:
- Prof. Norman Myers (a British environmentalist),
- Sir Crispin Tickell,(a British diplomat, environmentalist and academic)
- Roger Harrabin,(BBC environment)
- George Monbiot, (journalist and environmentalist)
- Jon Plowman (Head of BBC comedy)
- Glenwyn Benson (Controller BBC knowledge)
After Planet Relief was pulled, Prescott went back to campaigning - as noted above, he had launched a campaign to ban incandescent bulbs in 2005. The BBC obligingly gave him a slot on their website to promote his views, here and another one here.
Roll forward to today, and Matt's latest wheeze is E-day. This time, we are all going to switch off lights for a day and the planet will be saved. All the usual suspects are involved: Jon Plowman is on the steering committee, and among the list of people thanked for help and support are Roger Harrabin and the following BBC staff:
- Andrew Lane (BBC Weather)
- Andrew Zincke (BBC Worldwide)
- David Shukman (BBC)
- Jonathan Harvey (BBC)
- Kate Forbes (BBC)
- Mark Damazer (BBC Radio 4)
- Mark Kinver (BBC)
- Peter Barron (BBC)
- Richard Black (BBC)
- Sarah Mukherjee (BBC)
- Sophie Stafford (BBC Wildlife Magazine)
- Will Watt (BBC Worldwide)
In addition, occasional BBC correspondent Alex Kirby seems to be heavily involved.
Now, were we especially naive, we might think that all these BBC staff were giving their spare time to support Mr Prescott's campaign. But thirteen people, representing all the major arms of the BBC, is strongly suggestive that the Corporation is giving unofficial support to this campaign which is nothing if not political. Essentially, they've tried to resurrect Planet Relief on the quiet. They've done their bit puffing up E-day, with an online article from Richard Black at the start of the month and another today. They seem to be almost the only MSM outlet which seems to think E-day is news.....
(Snapshot taken after I was thrown out of the pub at 10:30 pm - I think I will leave a couple of extra lights on tonight, apparently this is a 'moral issue'....)
Did the earth move for you?
BBC NEWS | England | Earthquake hits much of England
The biggest earthquake in the UK for nearly 25 years has shaken homes across large parts of England.
People in Newcastle, Yorkshire, London, Manchester, the Midlands and Norfolk felt the tremor just before 0100 GMT
And I thought it was those new blue pills I was trying out.....
Carbon, the basis of profits
LONDON - A UN panel which supervises trade in carbon offsets under the Kyoto Protocol is probing tweaks to the rules as there is evidence of attempts to make excessive profits....."This is a billion-euro market and attracts people not only interested in the environment but in the money,"
And in other news:Climate Exchange up on talk of contract - Times Online
Shares in Climate Exchange, owner of the European Climate Exchange, jumped 178p to £11.80 after its chief executive said that he expected to launch its long-awaited carbon offset contract – known as a certified emission reduction contract – on March 14, having come to an agreement on clearing with LCH.Clearnet last week.
If you have missed out on getting in on Carbon I have some Tulip Bulbs for sale...
Boris facing state trial as an enemy of the people
In the past 12 months, London has seen approximately 150 murders, 2,000 rapes and 94,000 burglaries. But now the police have found a real villain.
Boris Johnson, Conservative candidate for Mayor of London, is accused of purloining invaluable "Iraqi cultural property" in 2003 - to whit, a cigar case owned by Tariq Aziz, Saddam's foreign minister.
Mr Johnson would have got away scot-free but, like all criminal masterminds, he made one vital mistake: he confessed his sin within days to hundreds of thousands of readers of this newspaper, admitting to taking the case for safe-keeping and pledging to return it on demand.
Bang'im up and throw away the key, it's the only way to treat such people who threaten the safety and security of our great city..
As a Met Police spokesman petulantly said: "The Met works very closely with a number of countries, including Iraq, to recover items that are considered culturally significant. In order to establish the origin and potential significance of the item, such items must be submitted to police custody for further examination.
"The MPS treats the theft of, and cultural dealing of, property from abroad very seriously. The steps we are taking are proportionate with a view to repatriating an item which could be of cultural or historical significance to the Iraqis."
February 26, 2008
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Secret report reveals massive MEP fraud - Times Online
A report on the misuse of expenses by MEPs is likely to be kept secret by the European Parliament despite growing calls for it to be made public.
The internal audit exposes money-making scams without naming individuals and shows “embezzlement and fraud on a massive scale”, according to the MEP who revealed its existence.
But parliament insiders said that today’s meeting of the budget control committee would not result in publication because senior figures were afraid of setting a precedent on publishing confidential auditors’ documents.
Chris Davies, the Liberal Democrat who revealed the existence of the internal audit, said: “I don’t think it will be made public because the poachers are in charge of the game park. MEPs might introduce reforms after the next elections when half of them have changed because it is just too embarrassing for them now.”
The report can be viewed by the budget control committee only on condition that it goes into a sealed room, does not take notes and does not reveal its contents.
Neither of the two biggest groups in the European Parliament — the Socialist group that includes Labour MEPs and the EPP that includes the Conservatives — would declare an official position on publication last night. The Lib Dems and the UK Independence Party will both call today for it to be released.
But Chris Heaton-Harris, a Conservative MEP on the committee, said: “It would be much easier if this discussion was had on the basis of the facts rather than on hearsay. They are worried about parliament’s reputation being damaged but it has already been damaged.”
So Mr Cameron, you claim to be all for honesty and transparency, why aren't your lot clamouring for it to be published, or have they got their snouts too deep in the trough?
Super Ursus arctos
DEEP inside a frozen Norwegian mountain, behind an entrance blown out of the rock and patrolled by polar bears, scientists have been stockpiling the world's insurance policy against a natural disaster.
Hurray the polar bears to the rescue! I knew they had a use, I just hadn't realised they were protecting the giant global seed store against the sin of Onan.
DEFRA funds activists to lobby for Climate Change law
What does England mean to you?
Is it village greens, country gardens, song thrushes, the oak tree, carpets of bluebells, ancient woodland, primroses and hedgehogs – or our bustling towns and cities?
Is it apple orchards, local spuds, rhubarb crumble, roast beef and fish ’n’ chips? Or golf courses, your allotment, fishing, the Six Nations and the Ashes?
Or is it simply home?
Whatever it means to you, scientists agree that the England we know and love is under threat due to climate change caused by rising carbon emissions.
Buckled rail lines, parched golf courses, disappearing wildlife and freak weather – all could happen because of climate change. Everything from sport to gardening, house prices to hedgehogs and farming to fishing might be affected. But it’s not all doom and gloom. A low carbon future might actually be a better place to be. We could be living healthier, more prosperous lives in stronger and cleaner communities. And there are things you can do.
I'm almost in tears with the nostalgia, the threats and the promise of better times, and look at how worthy it is:
Tomorrow's England is generously supported by
So what to do?
We can all be climate heroes.
..this toolkit, with its simple 3-step approach, is
designed to help you communicate climate change
in ways that engage your community in the issues –
and inspire them to take action...The overwhelming weight of evidence now
points to a rapid acceleration in human-induced
changes in the climate, with rapidly worsening
consequences for people and wildlife...
The UK has the opportunity to show real
leadership in combating global climate change by
delivering a strong Climate Change Bill in 2008,
setting reductions in UK carbon emissions by 2050.
You could take this opportunity to lobby your MP and
ask them what they are doing to tackle climate
change and ask them to support the Bill....
Tomorrow’s England is funded by Defra www.defra.gov.uk
Oh - so it isn't a bunch of charities that have got together to ask us to lobby our politicians it is DEFRA funding a bunch of activists with taxpayers' money to push for new laws. Something The Telegraph fails to tell us as it lauds this new report.
February 25, 2008
Soldiers are also to be given morality instruction by Army chaplains who are being trained to provide guidance in ethics and morals. Soldiers who shine in the morality stakes will be awarded with good-conduct chevrons: upside down stripes worn on the left sleeve of their dress uniform. The practice of presenting chevrons to the best-behaved soldiers has passed out of use in recent years.
A simple guide for the goody goodies is here
My prediction is that in these modern caring times we will see a Carbon Footprint, or similar, badge being awarded soon, how much more reassuring rather than horrible "Wound Stripes" and the like.
Is it coz I'm working class?
ALLIES of Michael Martin leapt to his defence yesterday, branding continued scrutiny of the Commons Speaker's expenses and allowances a result of "smear and innuendo".
Supporters claimed Mr Martin, who is in charge of reform of MPs' controversial expenses system, was being subjected to a "witch-hunt".
George Foulkes, the MSP and peer, claimed it was part of a campaign started a number of years ago by "people who went to private schools and Oxbridge who didn't like someone from a working-class background in Glasgow getting into the highest office in the land".
Highest office in the land? I'm sure Foulkes will dismiss me as a southern toff in my dislike of Martin, but he is waving a threadbare rag of snobbery as a defence. The traditional British establishment recognised talent where ever it came from without a worry about snobbery. Talent, hard work and honesty were recognised, as were the phony. Let me give you Field Marshal Sir Colin Campbell, 1st Baron Clyde, GCB, KSI (October 20, 1792–August 24, 1863)...he received the thanks of both Houses of Parliament and a pension of £2000 a year.
Despite lacking the dash which won the United Kingdom so many victories in India, Lord Clyde was regarded as a brave soldier and a careful and prudent leader. The soldiers whom he led were devotedly attached to him; and he commanded unvarying respect.
He was buried in Westminster Abbey. A statue was erected to him in his native town,...
His home town?
Glasgow. He was born to a simple carpenter at Glasgow, Scotland, he was educated at the High School of Glasgow and enlisted at the age of fifteen.
The booming Fairtrade industry is a hollow "marketing device", according to a top economic think-tank.
A report by the Adam Smith Institute says the work of the Fairtrade Foundation does not promote long-term economic development and leaves most third world farmers worse off.
"Fairtrade is a nice idea, and it is great that so many consumers want to help the poor in the developing world. But it is important that we ask whether Fairtrade really helps. After all, 'Fairtrade' does not mean anyone who gives better terms to third-world farmers. It is a particular brand, which competes with other ethical schemes and charities for people's money.
There are a number of inconvenient truths about Fairtrade. Indeed, on closer inspection it may not be that fair at all. It only offers a very small number of farmers a higher fixed price for their goods. Given the way markets work, these higher prices come at the expense of many other farmers, who – unable to qualify for Fairtrade certification – are left even worse off.
More importantly, the Fairtrade scheme does not aid economic development. It sustains uncompetitive farmers on their land, holding back diversification, mechanization and moves up the value chain. In doing so it denies future generations the chance of a better life.
The fact that will surprise consumers most, however, is that only 10 percent of the premium they pay for their Fairtrade products actually gets to the producer. The rest goes to people further along the retail chain.
Fairtrade's success rests on its skilful advertising and its ability to persuade corporations, schools, towns and even nations to 'go Fairtrade'. But when you look at the evidence it is clear that for all its good intentions, Fairtrade is not the only way to make a difference, and it is not the best way either."
You can download the whole report here as a PDF.
Of course to offer your guests non Fairtrade coffee down here in the bleeding heartlands of middle England is akin to admitting you keep a brace of picaninnies chained up in your basement for your debased pleasures. But truth must out.
February 24, 2008
Just like that!
Sir Anthony adopted an uncanny Tommy Cooper voice and said: "Before I start I just want to say this - 'this'.
Sir Anthony then had the crowds in uproar with a comic set that recalled Cooper's finest moments.
Eurovision Song Contest feathers may be ruffled by Ireland's decision to be represented in May's cross-continental competition by a puppet bird.
(Though a little bright and loud for me this morning..)
Christopher Booker's Notebook - Telegraph
A shock-horror report in last week's Sunday Times, based on the latest annual "barometer" from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), showed that the cost of new regulations to UK businesses, according to Government figures, had soared last year by a record £10 billion.
Their total cost since 1998 is a staggering £66 billion. All this, according to the article, could be blamed on the Labour Government. Nowhere did it mention the EU.
But a look at the BCC's press release shows that the origin of these regulations were clearly apportioned between the EU and our own Government. And by far the most costly examples, such as the regulations on working time (£16 billion), vehicle emissions (£9 billion) and data protection (£7 billion), all originated from Brussels.
Of the top 10, eight were based on EU directives and the remaining two both had a strong EU dimension. These 10 alone imposed a total cost of £43 billion.
In other words the suffocating cost of these laws can hardly be blamed just on Messrs Blair and Brown. They emanated from what is now in most respects the true government of our country. One can understand why politicians are so anxious to hide this. But why should journalists be quite so ready to follow suit?
Thank goodness for the few who don't, the blogs and the crossover where we can learn the truth.
Spokes fall off Speakers Spokesman's Speech
Commons Speaker Michael Martin faced a new crisis last night after his office was caught out lying to The Mail on Sunday over his wife's expenses.
Pressure on Mr Martin to step down grew following the sudden resignation yesterday of his £2,000-a-day official spokesman, respected former Whitehall mandarin Mike Granatt.
A speaker needs to pay a spokesman £2000 a day? Hang'em All; Let God Sort'em Out
Government stealing goods and money
Government Robbery is covered by Tim W.
Government extorting money by false pretences
Tens of thousands of householders could have been paying too much council tax for years in a "scandal" that ministers attempted to cover up
Ministers and officials have known since at least 2005 that many homes were placed in the wrong tax bands, with householders paying more than they should. It is claimed that the miscalculations could have affected up to 400,000 homes - and it is still not known how far back the over-payments go.
Although the errors were relatively simple and could have been corrected painlessly, ministers chose to keep the matter secret.
Whitehall documents show that the Government concealed the mistakes,....
If I did that or a company did that the full weight of the law would be down on us.
Government handling of stolen goods.
The British tax authorities have paid an informant for the bank details of scores of wealthy Britons. The records were stolen from one of the world’s most secretive tax havens.
HM Revenue & Customs paid £100,000 for data that it is using to launch investigations of up to 100 British citizens who have accounts at Liechtenstein’s biggest bank.
Revenue men prise open princely tax haven, Liechtenstein - Times Online
Germany sent shockwaves through the world of private wealth management when it acknowledged last week that its foreign intelligence service had paid £3.2m for details of accounts held by several hundred tax-dodging Germans at a bank owned by the royal family in Liechtenstein.
The landlocked principality, which regards the secrecy of bank accounts as sacred, reacted in fury: Prince Alois appealed for sympathy by suggesting that his country, which had stayed neutral through the last war, was coming under the German boot.
“We are under bombardment from a great power,” said the impeccably groomed Sandhurst-educated prince, adding that Germany’s loss of revenue to offshore havens was its own fault for imposing high taxes.
To what depths have we sunk when Her Majesty's Revenue men knowingly buy and use stolen goods, and are proud of it.
Sorry a bit late back from the pub last night...
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION
BANK JULIUS BAER & CO. LTD, a
Swiss entity; and JULIUS BAER BANK
AND TRUST CO. LTD, a Cayman Island
WIKILEAKS, an entity of unknown form;
WIKILEAKS.ORG, an entity of unknown
form; DYNADOT, LLC, a California
limited liability company; and DOES 1
through 10, inclusive,
The Court, having considered the stipulation between Plaintiffs JULIUS BAER & CO.
LTD and JULIUS BAER BANK AND TRUST CO. LTD. (collectively “Julius Baer” and/or
“Plaintiff’s”) and Defendant DYNADOT LLC (“Dynadot”), the complaint, and other papers,
evidence, and arguments presented by the parties, and finding that immediate harm will result to
Plaintiffs in the absence of injunctive relief,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
1. Dynadot shall immediately lock the wikileaks.org domain name....
February 23, 2008
How our secret state operates against families
Louise Mason is finally a mother again, leading a family life for the first time in more than five years.
She presents a calm — if brittle — front as she talks of her ordeal since she was falsely accused of harming her baby and having her children disappear into the care system one by one.
The long battle to clear her name and have her children returned to her has left this 38-year-old single mother utterly drained and emotionless. She pauses before answering questions, chooses her responses with caution, and, even as she insists that she is happy, can barely raise a smile.
Shadowing her happiness is the knowledge that, despite being cleared of all claims, she may never have her middle child — taken from her at four weeks — returned. He has bonded so well with his foster family that she may lose him permanently into enforced adoption....
Social workers put themselves above the law - Times Online
This story is, sadly, not unique. It is symptomatic of the extraordinary power that social services departments now wield over our lives.
Before Louise Mason’s trial in 2004, social workers apparently told her that they would be putting her children up for adoption irrespective of the outcome. That is precisely what they did, two weeks after her acquittal. They clung to their own “guilty” verdict despite the verdict of the jury...
We only know about this case because the High Court judge who heard the appeal ordered that Louise Mason be named, so that she could gain a “sense of justice”. That is how our secret state operates. There are many, many other cases that have never come out. Until the family courts open up to public scrutiny there can be no justice..
The Testing Industry
BBC NEWS | Education | Parents fail comprehension test
If conspiracy theorists ever got into education, one of the first places that they might point their suspicious fingers is the tangled undergrowth of tests, qualifications and assessment.
They might well ask whether the whole baffling system had been created to be incomprehensible to parents.
Anyone with a child in the last year of primary school will already be keenly aware of the Sats tests to be taken in May.
But this week even more fog was pumped into the subject with the debate over a new type of primary school test, a kind of son of Sats, known as the “single-level test”.
The results of a pilot test involving 22,000 children were initially delayed, while officials examined the bewildering finding that younger children had got higher marks than older children.
Although "marks" is not the right word, because in these Alice in Wonderland-ish tests, pupils only take them when they are good enough to pass.
There is no mark, because no one who is deemed likely to fail takes them in the first place.
Pupils have not failed, they have suffered from an "inappropriate entry".
In terms of unnecessary complications, the primary school tests are just the nursery slopes. Secondary and higher education qualifications enter into another realm of the incomprehensible.
The national qualifications framework has nine levels of difficulty. Download the list at level one and there are more than 1,200 different options, including various Key Skills, NVQs and BTEC courses.
Each of these abundant level one options are equivalent to GCSE grades D to G. Hold on, did not D to G use to be an… inappropriate entry?
There will be even more scope for confusion when Diplomas are added to the mix. Will A-levels versus Diplomas become education's first format war? And what about the children who end up with the Betamax version for the rest of their lives?
Qualifications and testing are an industry – and any business has its own jargon. But spare a thought for the pupils, schools and parents who have to make sense of it all.
That's the whole point, the tests aren't for the kids or to provide useful information on how the kids are doing, they are are just tests for the testing industry!
A Pig Farmer writes
Desperate UK pig farmers have doubled the usual number of breeding sows they are sending to slaughter to 7,000 a week because they can no longer afford to feed them following a doubling of wheat prices since last summer.
The high number of animals being culled lays bare a crisis that is devastating the pig industry. Wheat is the main constituent of pig feed, and, on average, farmers are losing £27 per pig due to the massive increase in overheads.
When you buy your bacon for the weekend, buy British. It's as easy as
checking the pack. Then the people who produce it might just get a few
pence of that. If you want to be sure that it is being passed on, then
you are safer buying your bacon from Waitrose, where all pork products
and 95 per cent of the bacon is British.
British pig farms have some of the highest welfare standards in
the world, and British pork and bacon tastes wonderful. Yet we continue
to choose cheaper imports for what – around 10p less per packet? –
almost guaranteeing a future in which British bacon becomes a luxury
food item from a niche specialist, and we have no choice at all. It
doesn't make sense.
The DNA register, the fight is on.
A senior police officer called for a new nationwide DNA database....
European judges could strip the profiles of more than half a million people from the national DNA database on privacy grounds — undermining its growing value to police as an investigative tool.
As two sex killers caught by the database were jailed for life yesterday and a senior detective joined calls for a universal register, the European Court of Human Rights will hear a case that could mean 560,000 DNA samples being destroyed. Two people charged with offences but never convicted will ask the court next week to remove their records from the database. If they succeed, 13 per cent of the 4.3 million profiles collected since 1995 would have to be destroyed.
BBC NEWS | UK | Mandatory DNA database rejected
There are no plans to extend the DNA database to contain information from all people, the Home Office has said.
Looks like Plod is pushing hard for the DNA register, a couple of swabs is so much easier than going out into the cold and looking for other clues. And why should the innocent worry about being tagged and bagged, if they have nothing to hide, etc etc.....
Aussie Rules for dating
SHOULD you pretend to be your best mate so you can have sex with his girlfriend?
The answer might be self-evident but the AFL believes its players need to be instructed on how to handle this and other scenarios, and is producing an interactive DVD designed to improve player attitudes to women.
In one scenario, a player is called by his mate's girlfriend into her bedroom, as she thinks the player is her boyfriend. The player is asked: "Do you: (a) go and hop into bed and pretend to be him or (b) do you walk away?"
In another example, a player is with a girl who has had too much to drink. "Do you: (a) get her some water, (b) call her a taxi or (c) take her back to your place for sex?"
In a third scenario, the player's mate and his girlfriend are having sex. "You can see them. Do you: (a) watch or (b) not watch?"
Jeez, Bruce, those are easy, go for touchdown every time.
South African Crime News
An unlucky thief had his world literally turned upside down on Friday night when he became impaled on palisade fencing.
The man was apparently trying to steal goods from informal traders in Cathedral Street here when his plan went awry.
ER24 paramedic Katya Evans said that emergency services personnel arrived at the scene on Saturday morning to find the unfortunate man hanging upside down with one foot still impaled on the large metal rods, and an unlit cigarette hanging from his pursed lips.
"He had been trying to climb over the fence and both his feet had been impaled," said Evans.
"During the course of the evening he had managed to free one foot.
According to by-standers at the scene, the man had been "hanging from the fence for nearly 12 hours".
She added that firefighters had assisted paramedics in getting the foiled thief down.
"Sometime during the night someone had obviously felt sorry for him and given him a cigarette.
"It appears that no one was kind enough to offer him a light."
No that is heartless....
February 22, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night - Nobody Does It Better
That should cheer the Devil up, and perplex you as to who it is.....
Stern lecture on Climate Change
Climate change is the greatest market failure the world has seen. It requires large-scale and international action....at least 80 per cent reductions by 2050 for the UK (relative to 1990)...Reversing the trend to higher global temperatures, more extreme and variable local weather patterns, increasing costs of natural disasters and potentially enormous population movements requires an urgent worldwide shift towards a low-carbon economy. Sound policy and international collaboration can deliver strong and clean growth for all at reasonable cost. Weak or delayed action will eventually choke off growth and is a far more costly option....But we should go farther......
I wonder if he has a theory about the death of Diana as well.
The reason beer is going up, but spirits don't in price and taxes.
the price elasticities of demand for beer, wine, and distilled spirits are -0.3, -1.0, and -1.5, respectively (Leung and Phelps 1993). (3) These estimates suggest that beer consumption is relatively insensitive to price changes, whereas demand for wine and distilled spirits is very responsive to price.
So you can put the price of beer up, wear a halo for "doing something about binge drinking" safe in the knowledge that sales won't suffer. But don't touch the price of spirits!
Half marks to the QCA
A-level candidates can gain top grades in some subjects merely by using common sense and recounting anecdotes about their own lives, exam chiefs say today.
A report by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the exam watchdog, finds pupils taking subjects such as sociology and media studies are "less impressive" than those taking more traditional courses.
Well they must be last people on earth to realise that then. Universities, employers and pupils all know a Micky Mouse subjet when they see one, the only people who don't are the teachers, most of whom only have Mickey mouse degrees...
Modern Policing; all logos, concepts, mottos and core values.
Police spend £120,000 on a new logo - The Scotsman
THERE can surely be few more distinctive sights than a police car with its lights flashing, or a beat bobbie in full uniform.
But one Scottish police force has decided it is simply not recognisable enough.
Officials at Lothian and Borders Police have come up with a new logo to tell people who they are – and have spent £120,000 in the process.
...One officer, who did not want to be named, said: "It is a waste of money. We read in the papers they cannot afford to pay police pensions, yet they are willing to spend all this on a new logo.
"Senior officers say they want us to have a more distinct corporate identity. But we already have an identity – we are the police, we wear a uniform everyone recognises."
The force paid tens of thousands of pounds to designers and consultants who concluded that the public did not recognise their existing logo – a traditional crest bearing a Saltire composed of blue and white checks.
Instead, the force has splashed out on a simple logo which carries the words "Lothian and Borders Police", with a curved design intended to combine the concept of protection and the force's geographical area.
A new motto, "work with us", will also be adopted by the country's second largest force, as part of what police say is an attempt to give themselves a "new tone of voice", that will include adopting a new set of core values.
Bing! I'm a winner at Marketing Bullshit Bingo, I just knew "core values" was going to be in there, along with the rest of the guff.
February 21, 2008
Benn's Farm Subsidy
Hilary's father Tony, the second Viscount Stansgate, has now retired to the family seat, Stansgate Abbey Farm on the Essex coast. From this satellite picture it appears to be a working farm. Guido wonders if the family farm benefits from CAP subsidies?
Data obtained by farmsubsidy.org reveals farm subsidy payments to MR AW BENN totalling GBP £122 355 (€195 352)
The government has refused to release any address information for MR AW BENN.
Just a coincidence of name, surely?
Northern Rock - unbelievably it gets worse!
Gordon Brown was last night accused of losing control of Northern Rock after it emerged that £47 billion of the bank's best mortgages have been sold on to a little-known offshore company based in the Channel Islands.
To compound the problem, Northern Rock is alleged to also have an agreement to continue supplying top-quality mortgages to Granite once existing loans expire. If it fails to meet its obligations, Northern Rock may lose up to £5 billion, according to the Conservatives.
Yesterday, opposition parties accused the Government of leaving the taxpayer open to huge losses following Northern Rock's nationalisation.
George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: "The way Northern Rock and Granite will operate under nationalisation leaves the taxpayers saddled with all the bad debts, with Granite taking the best mortgages.
"This is further proof that under the government's plans, the taxpayer comes last."
Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman wrote to Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, demanding an explanation.
He said: "After five months of Government indecision it would seem that in the rush to nationalise Northern Rock ministers have forgotten about the 40% of the company's best assets.
As long as those North Eastern Labour MPs keep their jobs who cares, eh?
Last one to leave please turn out the lights.
Britain is experiencing the worst "brain drain" of any country as highly qualified professionals settle abroad, an authoritative international study showed yesterday.
Record numbers of Britons are leaving - many of them doctors, teachers and engineers - in the biggest exodus for almost 50 years.
Any surprise giving the state of the country?
Tony Singh - Salute a hero before he gets banged up.
A shopkeeper could be charged with murder after an armed robber who tried to steal the day’s takings was stabbed with his own knife during a struggle.
Tony Singh, 34, described as a hard-working family man who often works 13-hour days, was ambushed as he shut his shop on Sunday evening by Liam Kilroe, 25, a career criminal who was armed with a knife.
Kilroe, of Billinge, near St Helens, who had convictions stretching back nine years, was in breach of bail conditions at the time of his death. He had failed to appear in court to answer charges that he carried out armed robberies at a shop and post office with an imitation firearm. In one raid a postmaster was hit over the head with a handgun but the robbers fled empty-handed. In a second robbery, at a general shop in Croston, Leyland, they forced a woman behind the counter to open the till at gunpoint and hand over £8,000.
Mr Singh fought back and, after a fierce hand-to-hand struggle, Kilroe was seen by witnesses to stagger away clutching the knife to his chest. Kilroe was taken to hospital, where he died, and Mr Singh was detained by police. He is now waiting to discover whether he will be charged, and is on police bail until February 29 pending further inquiries.
Lancashire police confirmed that papers had been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will decide whether Mr Singh should be charged with one of three offences: murder, manslaughter or assault.
They should be deciding whether Mr Singh deserves a medal, a large reward for cleaning the gene pool a little or both. And what was the dead angel doing out on bail anyway?
Euro MPs, thieving corrupt bastards try to cover up their thieving corrupt practices to prevent voters knowing what thieving corrupt bastards they are.
A secret European Parliament report has uncovered "extensive, widespread and criminal abuse" by Euro-MPs of staff allowances worth almost £100 million a year.
Senior Euro-MPs and European Union officials have tried to hush up an internal audit that found severe problems and endemic misuse of funds worth at least £98.4 million a year, more than £125,000 for each of the 785 Euro-MPs.
Such is the extent of the abuse found in a sample group of 167 Euro-MPs that "terrified" parliamentary authorities have shrouded the report in secrecy and security.
Harald Rømer, the secretary-general of the European Assembly, was asked late on Monday night by Hans-Gert Pöttering, its president, and a group of senior Euro-MPs, to take measures to ensure that there was no "collateral damage" from the report.
"We want reform but we cannot make this report available to the public if we want people to vote in the European elections next year," said a source close to the decision.
Just when you thought the rotten stench of the EU administration couldn't get worse, it does.
The red mist is starting to descend....
Looks like a tie guys!
February 20, 2008
The good news is scientists have finally found the elusive G-spot. The bad news is only some women have them....
Dr Jannini accepted his study was too small to help determine what proportion of women has a G-spot, and is planning larger trials to answer that question....His initial findings would suggest a large proportion do not - a conclusion supported by previous questionnaire-based research which found 70 per cent of women do not orgasm during intercourse...
He added that there was no reason for women who suspect they do not have a G-spot to despair.
"They can still have a normal orgasm through stimulation of the clitoris. One clear finding is that each woman is different. That is one reason women are so interesting."
Typical Italian man! You make up your own jokes, I'll just sit here parting my eyebrows with my tongue and smiling!
Dry times ahead - I'm digging a well.
Water bills across England and Wales are set to soar by up to 10 per cent from April...
The price of a cup of tea is forecast to reach a record high while the cost of a pint of beer could soon hit £4, industry experts warned yesterday....
The end of the £5 bottle of wine could be in sight because of poor harvests and rising costs, experts say.
Boar hunting is to return to pockets of English woodland in an attempt to keep down their numbers.
A selective cull was sanctioned yesterday, 400 years after the last native wild boar reputedly met its end on the hunting lance of King James I....
Some boar hunting or stalking is already taking place on private land. Shooting experts believe that farmers will start to charge individuals to hunt on their land.
Three years after the ban on hunting with hounds in England and Wales, boar hunting will help to boost the rural economy. Charlie Jacoby, the editor of Sporting Rifleman, said he believed that boar hunting would take off. ...
— No licence is required to hunt boar in Britain. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation recommends using a minimum .270 calibre rifle and advises marksmen to aim for the heart and lungs
(Unfortunately because of the old war wound I can't join in, so I will be off to get a firearm variation...)
Jacqui's CD Blues Volume 12
Wanted murderers and rapists were allowed to commit crimes for a year after prosecutors lost a disc containing 4,000 DNA profiles, it has emerged.
Police chiefs were co-ordinating a manhunt across England and Wales to try to catch the suspects. Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, is expecting to be briefed about the unfolding scandal by Friday. The problems began last January when Dutch prosecutors sent a CD containing the DNA profiles of 4,000 suspected rapists to the Crown Prosecution Service in London.
The Dutch were keen to see if any of their wanted criminals were in Britain. However the disc was lost and only turned up last month.
Last week the CD was finally checked against the UK's DNA database. The results showed 15 of the suspects were in the country and 11 had committed a crime in the past 12 months. Whitehall sources said that the crimes committed were serious assaults, which could include sexual assaults, thefts and burglaries.
What is it with the Home Office and data discs? And just being naive why doesn't someone invent a protocol for transferring files over the interwebby thing instead of using Postman Pat - or would that drag us out of the 1970s where the current bout of policies is miring us?
That Northern Rock business plan in full
Northern Rock has more than 800,000 mortgage customers in Britain, of whom a spokesman said the "vast majority" were on fixed-rate deals lasting between two and 15 years. It is writing to customers when their fixed-rate deals are due to expire, telling them to "act now to avoid paying more than you need".
The extraordinary letter says: "We are unable to offer you a competitive deal at this time, therefore we suggest you contact an independent financial adviser who will be able to help you find the best deal available to suit your monthly budget.
"In the meantime, if you would like any help to find a new mortgage lender, or would like to obtain a redemption statement, you can contact us."
Experts said Northern Rock had recently changed its prices, making its mortgages less competitive – typically offering 6.49 per cent for a two-year fixed-term deal, rather than the market-leading 5 per cent. But it is also offering one of the best savings rates in the country, including a one-year fixed-rate ISA which pays 6.2 per cent.
Borrow at over 6% and lend out at 5%, I don't need £90,000 a month to spot the flaw in that.
And remember the savings that 6.2% is paid on are 100% guaranteed by the government up to £35,000 (it looks as though up to 6.45% is available via the website)
Statutory disclaimer: I'm not offering investment advice but I 'm off to look down the back of the sofa for some spare cash.
February 19, 2008
Castro - the missing final reel
Now that is how the story should end....
We own a bank!
'No timetable, no guarantee of success…but no option' - Scotsman.com News
NORTHERN Rock will be in public ownership for years to come, its new boss has warned,
Northern Rock deal could cost us each £3,500 - Telegraph
The cost of the Northern Rock crisis has reached the equivalent of £3,500 for every taxpayer as experts warned that the nationalisation rescue of the bank was bound to fail.
I always thought it would be more fun and rewarding to be the owner of a bank....
Nurse - the medication!
The alleged plot involved Prince Philip, Prince Charles, British, French and American security services, the French judiciary, ambulance staff, pathologists, newspaper editors, two former Metropolitan police commissioners, the Princess’s sister and brother-in-law, the former British ambassador to France, and the Princess’s lawyer, among others, and it was sanctioned by Tony Blair.
The motive was racist...
Hey Mo you forgot to include me - I've still got the white fiat in my barn...
NORWICH A grenade, dead cats and dogs, a doctor’s stethoscope and a Samurai sword have all been dumped at a recycling complex.
Steve Jenkins, contracts manager at the centre, said: “It’s a big problem and has a very serious impact. We need people to think and to be sensible about what they are doing.”
Hang on a minute, you are the guys who tell us to recycle everything, what else are we meant to do with them?
Laura Norder Roundup
After more than 10 years in office, for the Government now to come up with an "action plan" to tackle violent crime is almost beyond parody.
Even more bizarre is the pledge by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, to reduce serious violent crime by 2011. Why 2011 and not 2010 - or next month, for that matter? Is it not part of the normal police job description that serious violent crime is tackled?
Setting these fatuous targets rather than focusing on good, common-sense policing of the streets is at the root of the problems we face today.
The proposals would mean that any under-18s found by police with alcohol would receive a criminal conviction, which would have to be declared to future employers....Campaigners warned against criminalising teenagers just for having one can of lager or bottle of wine on their way to a party.
High-profile plans to tackle knife crime with airport-style scanners have been called into question after it emerged that each police force will be given just two of the new metal detectors.
There were also concerns it might be difficult to force people to walk through the scanners on the street if they did not want to, because of stop and search rules which require them to fill out a consent form first.
The report also revealed plans for a new European database of dangerous offenders.
Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister, said the project would aim to alert the authorities at home and abroad when a violent criminal moves from one country to another.
A bunch of authoritarian gimmicks, nibbling away at our freedoms but doing nothing to tackle the real problems, and slipping in a bit more European data sharing on the side.
February 18, 2008
Spliffy answer to the food "crises"
David Cameron is to warn of Britain's vulnerability to a "global food crunch" as he sets out a package of measures to support home-grown farming.
With increasing competition for farm produce from the growing economies of China and India, the growing market for biofuels to provide "green" energy and the threat of global warming, the Tory leader will say that the era of abundant food supplies may be drawing to an end....
And he will say that British farmers must "reconnect with their customers" by wooing them away from the supermarkets with organic box delivery schemes, farmers' markets and local shops.
"These three things, I believe, will help us face down the ever-growing threat to our food security," he will say.
Dave, why do you come out with such tosh? Organic food boxes, ruddy faced yeoman selling misshapened carrots and the corner shop are all jolly nice but in the scheme of the global food business are so insignificant it is insulting to mention them as "cures" for a the "problem".
Though as you are talking to my trade union we don't see it as a problem, as NFU president Peter Kendall will argue that Britain has a "moral duty" to the rest of the world to step up its production of food and biofuels. Keeps the prices up and land prices have soared so trebles all round.
Monday Morning - Dig, Dig, Dig
As you face a day in the office envy me my freedom to choose my own work in the fields - this morning it is digging out the septic tank overflow, by hand....
(A slightly different version - the ending is great!)
Easter-egg wars between high street stores and supermarkets have broken out once again this month. Cadbury said its recommended sale price for its best-selling eggs - all containing between 180g to 195g of chocolate - was £3.15. Yesterday these products were on promotion at Woolworths (£1) and Tesco (four for £3). Easter is the biggest chocolate-selling period of the year after Christmas.
Thanks to the Guardian for telling me that people buy chocolate at Easter, what would we do without professional journalists and their research? And look what those naughty naughty supermarkets are doing! Cutting prices, I forget is that bad because it is forcing kids to become fat, making the supermarkets obscene profits or putting the hand crafting chocolatier out of business. Whatever, it must be stopped!
Set your alarm - maybe.
the last total eclipse of the Moon to be fully visible from Britain and Ireland for more than seven years is due to take place overnight on Wednesday.
The Moon will start to turn a deep shade of red on Thursday morning. It will begin to grow dim at 12.37am and will become totally eclipsed from 3.01am until 3.51am. Lunar eclipses occur when the Moon, Earth and Sun are exactly in line.
Robin Scagell, of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: “Make the most of this show. There won’t be another one fully visible until September 28, 2015, and that will be the last until 2029.”
There was a time when 3 in the morning was a reasonable time to go to bed, then there was a time when it was a reasonable time to be getting up to catch some business flight, now it is just a time where I might look out the window as I shuffle across the landing as old men do in the middle of the night.....
A "lost generation" of young people stuck in a cycle of unemployment and benefits dependency is exposed in a damning dossier on youth poverty released on Monday...".When Labour came to power the number of young people living in poverty was falling. Today it is rising again, and is higher than it was in 1997.
"Together with the fact that unemployment among young people is also higher than it was 10 years ago, the reality is that the Government has run out of ideas when it comes to dealing with the challenges facing many young people."
I beg to disagree Labour still stick to their core ideas - shovelling money at the state sector to create crappy non-jobs and fudging the figures to reduce the headline figures. It is only as the money runs out and the new categories to put the unemployed into become stale that the problem emerges. Which is why they are so keen to enslave the 16-18 year olds into education to keep the numbers down - it will be zero under the new scheme. An only grumpy old carpers like me will wonder if the kids are actually doing anything productive.
Norhtern Crock - the fiasco has just started
It was clear from the start that some form of nationalisation would inevitably end the Northern Rock saga. But yesterday's announcement, far from ending this fiasco, threatened to push the Gordon Brown even deeper in the hole he has dug....
He should have announced that Northern Rock would be nationalised not to keep it in business, but to close it down; that the bank would stop lending new money or accepting new deposits as of tomorrow; that all the company's retail deposits would be shifted immediately to the National Savings system, while all the wholesale bonds would be replaced with Government gilts. The company would then be put into run-off, with the Treasury recouping its money gradually as existing borrowers repaid their mortgages over the years.
Nationalisation, in other words, made sense only as a necessary legal stepping-stone to the orderly liquidation that Northern Rock required as soon as it ran out of money in September. ...
To judge by previous provisional and inchoate Treasury announcements, at least since Mr Darling became Chancellor, there can be no presumption that Government legal and financial “experts” have thoroughly checked the compatibility of yesterday's announcement with EU rules on state aid. And even in the unlikely event that the Commission does approve this unprecedented state subsidy, the Treasury's problems will only just have begun.....
If the Government tells the European Commission that Northern Rock was a fundamentally viable company, capable of long-term survival without state support, then the same argument will be used by Northern Rock shareholders to accuse the Government of unjust expropriation and of deliberately engineering the company's failure. And behind, in the long queue of potential litigants and self-avowed victims of Government incompetence and conniving will stand the citizens of Newcastle, deprived of their largest charitable institution, as well as the Northern Rock workers, who sooner or later will surely lose their jobs.
All in all, what Mr Darling announced yesterday was a financial and political disaster of almost unimaginable proportions. The Northern Rock saga did not end yesterday; the fiasco has only just started, with the Government now officially in charge .
February 17, 2008
Darling's Toon Army
Alistair Darling nationalises Northern Rock - Telegraph
The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, has announced that the beleaguered bank Northern Rock will be brought into temporary public ownership....Corporate trouble shooter Ron Sandler has been appointed executive chairman of the newly nationalised bank, which he said would continue to have a "key role to play in the North East".
The North East? Hmmm let us just remind ourselves why my Darling has spunked away billions of pounds of taxpayers money, let us look at a constituency map of the North East.
Professor Julian Le Grand - Tit
A reader writes:
Did you not pick up the £10 license fee to smoke. Dear old Tom in our local
pub, gave up coming to the pub after July. He was a veteran of Dunkirk and
of D-Day 1. He used to enjoy coming to the pub in the evening and smoking
his pipe of Digger Shag. But not anymore. He died last week of boredom,
stuck in his house because he could not go down the pub to socialize. 80
pubs a week close now. The families don’t come in. Our local closes at 10.
0’clock on Fridays now. Because no one is there.
An Englishman’s Castle notices this?
I did notice it and Professor Julian Le Grand's plan for a smoking permit has rightly received a proper kicking all over Blogistan. There is little I can add to help heap odium onto his obnoxious head except to make an exception to my general rules on the blog and be gratuitously offensive to his sensibilities.
(Apologies if it upsets you as well.)
Ashcroft of the VCs to the rescue
Nine Victoria Crosses stolen in New Zealand were recovered after a reward of £120,000 was offered for their safe return.
The VCs were among 96 medals, including two George Crosses and an Albert Medal, taken in a raid on the national Army Museum in the central North Island town of Waiouru early in December.
The entire haul has been recovered in "mint condition" as a result of the reward, police said. Two-thirds of the reward was put up by the British peer Lord Ashcroft, who has a collection of around 150 VCs.
Hopefully an arrest and a good kicking, though not necessarily in that order, will also soon be reported.
Bien Peasant - A definition
Supermarkets are like tower block housing: what once looked like the future now feels mired in the past and what once felt thrilling and new now seems tired and passé....
Far from quickening the consumer’s spendthrift heart, the sight of yet another out-of-town monolith makes it sink like a stone.....
Who really wants to live cheek-by-jowl with some monstrous new supermarket development? Who is really being helped here? The supermarkets themselves may speak proudly of job creation and of helping the local economy, but what about people’s quality of life? What about the disfiguring ugliness of these buildings? And, most of all, how are small local businesses supposed to deal with what is effectively a death warrant?
We are complete imbeciles when it comes to supermarkets: we still think, by and large, that they are doing us a kindness by existing. I don’t say this wearing an eco-warrior, anticapitalist, down-with-big-business hat, but rather as a consumer with a family who has, until recently, relied heavily on the weekly supermarket shop. I realise I am speaking from a fortunate standpoint: I can afford to pay a little more for organic and locally sourced ingredients, ....
I note that "bien-peasant" doesn't seem to have a definition on the web - may I suggest we have found one. (though why it should be peasant not paysanne I don't know.
When the hunting law was introduced, it was feared or feted as the end of a country sport. Now, three years later, it appears to have left the pursuit's opponents deeply wounded, while hunting goes from strength to strength.
The number of protesters has fallen by almost two-thirds despite claims that hunts are routinely breaking the law, and reports that more foxes are being killed now than before the Hunting Act was signed into law....
....the League Against Cruel Sports, which spearheaded the introduction of the Hunting Act, is selling its £1.2?million offices in central London and seeking cheaper premises.
February 16, 2008
The Wiltshire Cure for EU caused job losses
Trowbridge museum is looking for memorabilia on the town's Bowyer plant which is due to close next month as part of a review by owners Pork Farms.
An exhibition looking back at the pie company's 200 year connection to the area begins on 15 March.
Pork Farms is closing the factory and investing in a Nottingham plant to be able to continue producing Melton Mowbray pork pies under EU laws.
If we can't carry on making Pork Pies down here in Wiltshire how about stopping all those bacon producers claiming to use a Wiltshire Cure unless they are in Wiltshire.
X rated Tea Time
Schools could be told to stop serving hot tea to under-16s on health and safety grounds.
The Government-funded School Food Trust said restrictions may be added to guidelines on drinks approved for consumption in state schools.
In a consultation document, it said hot coffee and tea had "minimal" nutritional benefits and posed potential safety risks.
"Should tea and coffee sales be limited to adults and children 16 and over?" the consultation asked.
And for once they have found a teacher to speak sense...Mick Brookes, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "I can understand the anxiety about young people eating appropriate food but this nannying really has to end.
''This just cuts into people's civil liberties."
Des Browne - if he was a decent man he would resign
BRITISH troops are being sent to their deaths because they do not have basic equipment to fight the enemy, a coroner who investigated the death of an officer killed in Afghanistan has warned.
Captain James Philippson, of 7 Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, died in a firefight where the British troops were "totally outgunned by the Taleban", an inquest heard yesterday. His death was squarely blamed on the Ministry of Defence, rather than the enemy fighters, by assistant Oxford coroner Andrew Walker.
In a separate inquest yesterday, the Wiltshire coroner, David Masters, demanded a review of armed-forces spending as he delivered his conclusions on the deaths of Lance Sergeant Chris Casey and Lance Corporal Kirk Redpath, killed in Iraq.
And what has our part time Defense Secretary to say about it? Of course he should resign, but the concept of honour and responsibility is alien to the Scottish Raj that rule us. Sending troops to their avoidable deaths is far more serious than not declaring a few donations.
Tracking what you print
A little-noticed system that allows printed documents to be tracked by government agents...is baked in to many popular color laser printers and photocopiers, including those made by Brother, Cannon, Xerox and HP, according to this list compiled by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. It embeds almost invisible tracking dots onto documents that uniquely identify the machine that printed them.
The enables the tracking of currency counterfeiters, but the EFF has been warning for years there's nothing that prevents government spooks from using them for broader types of surveillance....According to the EFF, printer manufacturers added the technology at the direction of the US government, most likely the Secret Service.
And to think we used to point at the USSR's compulsory registration of typewriters as an indication of how unfree and bad it was.
February 15, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (We have all the time in the world edition)
Pile it high and sell it cheap, but not in out town.
Shoppers to pay for superstore shake-up - Times Online
Supermarkets are to face public shaming and huge fines if they use their size to force down prices paid to their suppliers, the Competition Commission will announce today.
The commission will recommend the appointment of a statutory regulator to judge pricing disputes between retailers and farmers, dairy companies, abattoirs, food processors and packers, The Times has learnt.
As part of the revolutionary proposals – dubbed “Offshop” – a competition test will be put in place before planning authorities can grant permission for a new store. Councils will have to take into account whether one supermarket chain is dominating an area – so-called “Tesco towns” – before granting the go-ahead for a new store.
However, supermarkets have threatened to pass the cost of the new controls on to customers in higher prices, at a time when the cost of living is rising.
So public waged and pensioned pen pushers who have never striven to compete for business in their lives will out judge the commercial acumen of Tesco and please their masters the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker on the Council . And there is surprise that the consumers will have to pay for all his anti-competitiveness, in the end who else is there to pay? Dickheads.
A Degree of Fame
PROFESSOR Chris Rapley CBE, director of London's Science Museum, was awarded the 2008 Edinburgh Medal for his work on climate change.
The prestigious award, made as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival, is presented each year to men and women of science and technology whose professional achievements are judged to have made a significant contribution to the understanding and wellbeing of humanity....
Professor James Lovelock, of Gaia theory fame, believes that by the end of this century humans will be forced to live in small areas near the poles.
....with the melting of summer Arctic ice and the acceleration of loss of ice from Greenland and bits of the Antarctic... I've got this sneaky feeling that he may have been more right than we appreciated at the time.
I think the evidence is moving his way, although I suppose I don't wish to believe (that]. He was saying the climate system had gone through a tipping point. There is growing evidence that he might just be right, that we might have already committed ourselves to a different planet.
On the other hand, you have got to be careful not to overdraw the "hope budget" and make people feel that this is hopeless. We're still obliged to take action....
I think there's still a huge amount of confusion out there as to what the evidence really is...
There have been so many examples in the history of science where something that has seemed to be absolutely rock-solid has been proved to be wrong....
If tomorrow, I woke up and I was the discoverer of the killer fact that showed (theories on climate change are] all wrong, nobody would be more pleased than me.
But my judgment of all the evidence is that would be incredibly unlikely to happen. I'd love it if it was me because I'd be really famous then.
...the surface of the Earth is a lot warmer than it would be if there wasn't a thing called the greenhouse effect and (our carbon) is a player – it's not the main player, but it's an important player.
The greenhouse effect overall is about 30C, so if you tweak by pushing it up the way we have, it's not surprising you might see a degree or so of warming.
Savour this headline before it is banned
The Old Spot Inn, in Dursley, Glos
Not too far from me....
Eng Lit note: J K Rowling grew up near Dursley and used the name for Harry's step family.
February 14, 2008
Feb 14th - Roses
Denmark - a beacon of freedom and bravery
DENMARK'S 15 leading newspapers today reprinted a cartoon which depicts the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban.
The papers said they wanted to show their commitment to freedom of speech after yesterday's arrest in Denmark of three people accused of plotting to kill the cartoonist.
"We are doing this to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we always will defend," said the Berlingske Tidende.
The cartoon was also broadcast on national television, and even newspapers that were originally against the publication of the caricatures are now backing the campaign to defend freedom of speech, says the BBC's Thomas Buch-Andersen in Copenhagen.
Oh, to see the same strength of belief here. All we get here is the pathetic Mrs David Mills simpering to prevent anyone upsetting the kleptocracies that are running this summer's fiesta of fascism, failure and doping:
Any call for a boycott of this summer's Beijing Games would be counter-productive, the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell has said.
Her comments come after a group of Nobel Prize winners, international athletes and politicians wrote a letter to the Chinese president.
Ms Jowell told The Times newspaper: "The world has known for the last seven years that Beijing would host the Olympics.
"Most progressive governments accept that there are wholly unacceptable aspects of Chinese policy but that did not stop the International Olympics Committee (IOC) awarding them the Games.
"A call for a boycott doesn't serve any purpose and it would be a great pity.
Angela Eagle Obfuscates
Motoring and business groups have united in condemning the Government after it denied it had enjoyed a multi-billion pound windfall from the soaring price of oil.
Ministers provoked further anger by rejecting pleas to shelve a planned rise of 2p per litre in fuel duty.
Motoring groups said the rising price of oil is benefiting the Treasury by as much as £4billion.
But Angela Eagle, a junior Treasury minister, said: "The Government rejects the notion that there is a windfall, as any increase in VAT receipts from the retail fuel sector is not by design."
Angela, of all the slippery excuses we have heard from NuLabour that is the most brazen;
An unexpected profit from a business or other source. The term connotes gaining huge profits without working for them — for example, when oil companies profit from a temporary scarcity of oil.
If it wasn't "unexpected" it wouldn't be a "windfall" - and when the privatised utilities made "windfall profits" Gordon was quick to grab them to waste on his welfare to work scheme.
Taxing us into recession
"The higher level of energy and food prices is a genuine reduction in our standard of living relative to where it would otherwise have been," he said.
"This is because of the higher prices that all of us are having to pay."
Inflation has risen to a seven-month high, according to official figures, driven by significant increases in petrol and food prices.
Fuel inflation is running at 19.3 per cent, the highest since records began in January 1997.
Ruth Lea, an economic adviser at Arbuthnot Banking Group, said the Governor's warning underlined the plight facing many families.
"Quite simply, we are getting less bangs for our buck," she said. "Our standard of living is falling. Our incomes are not going as far.
"For a large number of people, the cost of living is not rising at two per cent — it is increasing at close to six per cent or seven per cent. Then on top of that you have taxes digging into their incomes — particularly council tax."
She said that when new tax rates take effect in April — with the lowest 10p rate being removed — those who were feeling the worst effects of price increases would be "clobbered again".
It is time to apportion blame. Petrol price at the pump is 2/3rd tax, food prices are driven a bit by China wanting to eat wheat but largely by the biofuel decrees and the CAP and the tax increases are driven by the bloated and wasteful Brownian government. He will try and blame Global problems but a combination of his imprudence and the EU are the the real cause. Luckily he has the sacraficial Darling to take the blame this year so he can Balls up the Chancellorship for the next election - but if he thinks that will work he is dreaming.
February 13, 2008
I noticed the otherday that Google was flagging up Mr Worstall's tabloid edition as having the potential of harming your computer - I meant to rdrop him a line about it but forgot - sorry!
Here's the explanation:
"...the malware from Pay-Ads.com is so bad that within a day or two of adding their ads they will in fact get you banned from Google.
So, just a note to people out there. You do not want to add Pay-Ads.com to your site because they are scummy thieving bastards, OK?"
Unique Learner Number
Every child in school numbered for life - Times Online
All 14-year-old children in England will have their personal details and exam results placed on an electronic database for life under a plan to be announced tomorrow.
Under the terms of the scheme all children will keep their individual number throughout their adult lives, The Times has learnt. The database will include details of exclusions and expulsions.
Officials said last night that the introduction of the unique learner number (ULN)was not a step towards a national identity card.
The new database — which will store a “tamper-proof CV” — will be known as MIAP (managing Information Across Partners). To be registered on the new database every 14-year-old will be issued with a unique learner number. Unlike the current unique pupil number now given to children in school but destroyed when they leave, the ULN will be used by government agencies to track individuals until they retire. Ultimately, it will create a numbered database for every citizen aged 14-plus in the UK.
The MIAP is part of a push for more government departments to share information on ordinary citizens with each other. The new Education and Skills Bill to raise the education leaving age from 16 to 18, for example, contains sweeping powers for local authorities to access information from schools, health agencies and social services to track young people between the ages of 16 and 18.
Haven't we been here before?
Unique Learner Number as previously deployed.
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
The new Bill of Rights will not be legally enforceable, the Justice Secretary Jack Straw is set to admit...
Instead of new, legally protected rights he wants to explore how the Bill could enhance national pride, without being "justiciable" or enforceable in court.
He will say that if economic and social rights are part of the Bill but are not legally enforceable "this would not in any way make the exercise worthless".
"A Bill of Rights and Responsibilities could give people a clearer idea of what we can expect from the state and from each other, and provide an ethical framework for giving practical effect to our common values."
Roger Smith director of the civil rights group Justice, said: "Any politician using the words Bill of Rights creates the expectation that they will deliver a major constitutional settlement, not some fuzzy statement that has no legal force."
A pottage of platitudes which will enrich the lawyers and enrage the people. I hope he remembers to include all his favourite things along with respecting the flag and Mum's apple pie.
Dougie Alexander the old romantic gets it right
Romantics should buy their Valentine's Day roses from Kenya to support the troubled country, a minister has claimed.
Douglas Alexander, the International Development Secretary, said buying Kenyan stems would help an economy under huge strain as a result of political turmoil.
But he was immediately challenged by critics who said people would do better to buy local or organic, and preferably not buy roses at all
For once an Int Dev Sec gets it right - trade is the best help we can give, so yah boo sucks to the carbon footprint carpers, though I will still get mine from the Petrol Station as usual...
February 12, 2008
Happy Birthday Charles, Abraham and Freddie
"Have a Go Hero" jailed.
Jail for fed-up father who drove his van at armed thug in a fit of rage - Scotsman.com News
A FATHER was jailed for three years and eight months yesterday after he "lost it" and drove a van at a knife-wielding thug.
A court heard 47-year-old Stephen Armstrong's life had been made a misery by vandals, and he was terrified when the drunk confronted him with a knife and a baton. He believed it was connected with the painting of gang slogans on a fence near his home.
He drove on to a pavement and hit the 22-year-old, who was seriously injured and spent six weeks in hospital.
A judge was urged to show mercy to Armstrong, a father of eight who had stopped working to care for his ill wife, and Lady Smith said she accepted there had been "serious provocation". But she went on: "However angry you were and however justified your anger, what you did was certainly not justified at all.
"You quite deliberately used your van as a weapon…
Yes and he should have reversed back over him again, several times.
It was only six months ago that Gordon Brown was praising another Scot who took the law into his own hands and gave a terrorising scumbag a good banjoing. And now we have a decent man jailed for nearly four years ...
Armstrong, lived in a respectable residential area where people took a real interest in their families and property.
Unfortunately, steps at the bottom of the cul-de-sac had become a meeting point for "all sorts of ne'er-do-wells, hooligans, drug-takers and drunkards" from other areas. Mr Smyth said these people, mainly boys, had made life a misery for the residents, and there had been dozens of reports to the police about antisocial behaviour.
On 11 April, Armstrong learned that 6ft-high slogans, including "Welcome to Hell", had been painted on a fence, and he caught two boys, one of whom he knew. He went to that boy's father, and the father immediately ordered the boys to paint over the graffiti.
"We have an individual trying to deal with the vandalism and he does so in a perfectly sensible and civil manner. There's no bullying, ranting or raving. On the contrary, he seeks the assistance of the father of one of the boys," Mr Smyth said.
"It is quite clear that anyone in that situation is facing a risk…of violence, repercussions, retaliation and so forth."
The following evening, Armstrong was about to go shopping in his van when he saw the second boy with the 22-year-old man in his street. He heard a bang on his van. He got out to remonstrate, and the man took out a knife and an extendable baton from the back of his trousers and swung them at Armstrong.
Mr Smyth said it had been a reasonable inference that the pair, one of the vandals from the day before and somebody armed with lethal weapons, were there to cause trouble.
He said: "He was shocked and terrified. (The man] smashed a window of the van and moved off. The accused was shaking with nerves. He got into the van. He indicates he lost it for that moment…fear, rage, shock, all produced this momentary act of recklessness. This is a very human reaction to an event about which he had not the slightest warning. He was going about his lawful business. He did not seek trouble."
Lady Smith said the victim had suffered a broken leg and collar bone and a punctured lung, and had been
She told Armstrong: "In the cold light of day, you realise the appalling nature of what you did and you have shown genuine remorse. I take account of the extent of the provocation…there seems no doubt he presented weapons at you and he deliberately broke the window in your van. You were entitled to be angry and affronted, but not entitled to respond by wielding your van as a weapon at him. You were not entitled to subject him to this terrible assault."
Mrs Armstrong last night questioned how the family would cope with her husband behind bars.
She said: "I have really bad arthritis and so Stephen takes care of everything – all the bills, the kids, taking them to and from school and to their football.
"He gave up his job – he had been an electrician and a publican – when my arthritis got really bad. He's just a great guy, and it's just not fair."
P-p-pick up a cheque
The prospect that a research grant will go extinct as a result of climate warming is rising inexorably, scientists say today...
A decade ago, Yvon Le Maho of the CNRS Institut Pluridisciplinaire Hubert Curien, Strasbourg, and an engineer began a study of the claiming and living of such grants on Possession Island in the Crozet Archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean that continued over the course of nine years.
.. Using a mathematical model, the scientists calculate that there will be a nine per cent decline in the grant for every 0.26ºC of sea surface warming, suggesting that their bank balance is at high risk under current global warming conditions, which predict an average increase of 0.2ºC per decade for the next two decades.
They conclude that there is a "heavy extinction risk" given current global warming predictions of a 0.4ºC rise over two decades, which cuts the chance of survival from 95 per cent to 80 per cent.
And I beheld, and lo a black horse!
The UK is to be hit by regular malaria outbreaks, fatal heatwaves and contaminated drinking water within five years because of global warming, the Government has warned the NHS....
A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said: "Our work is based on what is likely to happen if we do nothing to prevent it - and it could well be that we see an increase in diseases such as malaria.
"Malaria has been seen in these islands in the past, and it is not impossible that it will return...Based on scientific advice that UK temperatures are expected to rise by up to three per cent by the end of the century, it includes the warning of a "high" risk by 2012 of a severe heatwave leading to 3,000 immediate deaths, followed by a further 6,350 fatalities from conditions such as heart failure and skin cancer.
Hospital admissions due to breathing problems caused by rising pollution are also likely to rise "significantly", by at least 1,500 a year.
While the authors say the UK has proved able to cope with major heatwaves in the past, with no serious increase in fatalities in years with hot summers, such as 1976, temperatures on the scale of those experienced in France in 2003, which resulted in 14,000 premature deaths, would have an impact.
In 2000 the same report said:
The UK has the highest cold weather excess mortality in Europe,with an estimated 60 000-80 000 cold-related deaths.The determinants of this excess and the contributory role of temperature per se have not yet been fully quantified.
Nevertheless,assuming that temperature plays an important role in mortality,we estimate that by the year 2050 excess cold weather deaths will have declined significantly,perhaps by 20 000 per year.This estimation assumes that other social and material conditions do not change.
The UK has an excellent reputation for providing safe drinking water and good sanitation. This record and the measures upon which it is based are likely to prevent a significant increase in water-borne diseases as the UK climate changes.
In general,levels of air pollution in the UK are falling and will continue to fall for some time. This decline, coupled with climate change, is likely to lead to a decline in air pollution-related deaths and illnesses. It is likely, however,that a small increase in levels of tropospheric ozone will occur and that associated deaths and episodes of illness will increase.
Oh FFS. We survived a sweltering summer in 1976, back in the dark ages, but we won't be able to now, we will lose the ability to drive malaria from our shores like we did in the past and the water companies will forget how to treat the water. Well maybe we will if we have to live in yurts and eat seaweed, the simple answer is technology and scientific progress.
February 11, 2008
That Rocking Horse Picture
I tore this out of The Sunday Times yesterday but I can't remember what story it was illustrating, maybe you know...
The Perils of Drinking
INTELLIGENT people are at higher risk of suffering from alcohol problems than their less gifted friends, a study by the Medical Research Council has found.
The findings, published in the American Journal of Public Health, have surprised the researchers, who expected clever professionals to know enough about the damage caused by alcohol to avoid overindulging.
Last year we also learnt the richer people drink more and that people who live in "hazardous drinking" areas live longer:
Maybe there is something more than a correlation going on here. My own thoughts are that if you are bright and understand what is going on around you in this country the only way to view the future with any sort of equanimity is through the bottom of a glass.
Gordon's young chums
Mr Purnell, 37, Ed Balls, 40, his wife Yvette Cooper, 37, Mr Burnham 38, David Miliband 42, his brother Ed, 37, Ruth Kelly 39, and Douglas Alexander, 40, will be encouraged by Mr Brown to make an impression with the public and to show that they have radical ideas
By coincidence this week Mr FMs Lynching Tree has gained a few extra nooses
BOA Constrictor clause loosened
BRITISH Olympic officials backed down yesterday over a contract with athletes it was claimed would gag criticism of China at the Beijing Games.
Initially, BOA bosses denied trying to gag competitors,...But Simon Clegg, the BOA chief executive, later conceded that the contract would need to be amended to make its intentions clearer.
"I accept the interpretation of one part of the draft BOA's Team Members Agreement appears to have gone beyond the provision of the Olympic Charter.
"This is not our intention, nor is it our desire to restrict athletes' freedom of speech, and the final agreement will reflect this," he said in a statement.
The U-turn came after the response to the move was unfailingly critical.
H't to Gallimaufry for the headline
Guess who rents out the seabed for wind turbines?
The Crown Estate will earn windfall profits of at least £100million a year from Britain's booming offshore renewable energy industry.
The estate, which owns the foreshore and seabed around the UK, has already signed contracts worth tens of millions of pounds with operators of offshore wind farms.
Rents from the siting of wind turbines are only the beginning of a vast new commercial opportunity for the Crown Estate. In addition to a huge expansion in offshore wind power and the development of tidal power, the estate will profit from the laying of subsea cables and an emerging industry in storing carbon captured from coal-fired power stations.
Rob Hastings, the Crown Estate's marine director, said that the group, which manages land and assets owned by the Queen but pays most of its revenues to the Treasury, charges offshore wind operators an annual “rent” of just under 1 per cent of the value of the electricity generated.
The Crown Estate has full ownership of the seabed for 12 nautical miles around the UK and further rights out to the extent of Britain's continental shelf, at 200 miles.
At least someone will profit from them I suppose, though it seems the money will circulate as pointlessly as the blades from the Treasury to the operators to The Crown and back to the Treasury....
The Best of the Breed
An 84-year-old huntswoman and "stalwart of the countryside" who campaigned tirelessly against the hunting ban died Sunday morning after falling from her horse... while out with Norfolk's Dunston Harriers for whom she was acting hunt master.
"There aren't many of us who get our dying wish but that was Sheila's," said family friend Helen Yallop. "To be following the hounds, in the hunting field, it's what we'd all wish for."
Margaret Wilkins, whose daughters grew up hunting alongside Mrs Castle, said: "We are all terribly sad but Sheila would not want that. Instead, we will plan a huge hunt meet next week to remember her the way she would have wanted. She will pass into local legend."
Scanning the papers full of the dross of humanity who pass for our leaders and role model celebrities it is sometimes hard to forget the stoic yeomen of England still exist. So mourn the passing of, and give thanks for one such woman. We need more of them.
February 10, 2008
What profiteth a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?
British athletes will be banned from competing in this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing if they criticise China's totalitarian regime.
The gagging order has been imposed by the British Olympic Association. Competitors who break the rule will not travel to the games or, if they are already in China, will be put on the next plane home.
Is there any doubt that the Olympic movement is the most morally, financially and ethically corrupt scam in the world? No wonder London has welcomed it to its blackened heart.
It's the Tudor's Fault
Minister warns of ‘inbred’ Muslims - Times Online
A government minister has warned that inbreeding among immigrants is causing a surge in birth defects - comments likely to spark a new row over the place of Muslims in British society.
Phil Woolas, an environment minister, said the culture of arranged marriages between first cousins was the “elephant in the room”.
British Pakistanis are 13 times more likely to have children with genetic disorders than the general population.
But maybe we shouldn't be blaming the rural Pakistanian heritage for this disaster, maybe we should look closer to home...
Cousins are the only genetic relations who are allowed to marry. It was originally illegal, until King Henry VIII changed the law to allow him to marry his own cousin.
But then he was Welsh, wasn't he?
Dr Jim Hansen the silenced self-effacing climate change scientist with a worldwide reputation for accurate and high-quality research.
Climate scientist they could not silence - Times Online
The White House ordered that Dr Jim Hansen was to be denied the oxygen of publicity forthwith. He was to be banned from appearing in newspapers and on TV and radio. He was effectively to disappear.
It was the kind of treatment that might be reserved for terrorists, criminals or, in a totalitarian regime, for political dissidents.
Hansen, however, was none of these things. The director of Nasa’s renowned Goddard space science laboratories was a dry, rather self-effacing climate change scientist with a worldwide reputation for accurate and high-quality research.
Apparently this was in February 2006 on this earth not in some nearly parallel universe, as you might have thought.
February 9, 2008
The Devil's Love Blondes
The Devil, being a young whipper snapper, is impressed by Kim Wilde. I won't allow anyone to best me on admiration for Marty's daughter; I watched bleary eyed one Saturday Morning as her first video was premièred and clutching the remains of my student grant I hotfooted it down Cornmarket to Woolies and bought it, setting her on her career. But Madam Kim is only, and exactly, six months older than me and so played no part in L'Education des Adolescents, unlike the blessed Debbie Harry.
As an educational service to such youngsters let me present Kim's memento mori to the early 1980s - this is how it was...
Your land is my land, my land is my own.
Plans to give open access to the entire English coastline have been unveiled.
Everyone will have the right to walk a new 2,500-mile pathway round the coast under the proposed scheme.
It will create the first ever 'right to roam' at the edge of thousands of privately-owned beaches, golf courses and farms.
David Miliband, who will open up the scheme for consultation, said: "We are an island nation. The coast is our birthright and everyone should be able to enjoy it.
"I want families to have safe and secure access to walk, climb, rock scramble, paddle and play all along our coastline.
This socialist seizure of private property rights, without compensation, has at last found a champion to resist it:
...signs outside the imposing house on the Blackwater estuary in Essex clearly state "no public footpath", "private garden" and "please do not trespass". Stansgate Abbey Farm, the country home of Hilary Benn's (the Environment Secretary who has promised to open up England's coastline to walkers) father, Tony.
Bringing civilisation to the natives
While expats have been able to buy PG Tips for years in New York from a handful of twee specialist English food stores, ordinary supermarkets will now stock Britain's biggest selling tea brand across America
The problem remains is that my dear American friends are only trusted with wussy 110 v electricity. A hamster in a wheel could boil a kettle faster. Even here the coffee supping Europeans have weakened our jolt juice from a proper 240 v to an armflapping metrosexual 220 v. Without a proper amount of umph in your socket the water only simmers, you need a full James Wattian rolling boil, the water spitting and hissing as it is poured over the precious tea leaves. So I am afraid the Septics are going to be disappointed again as they wave a bag about in water that isn't hot enough to bathe in. Just don't go chucking it all in the harbour again, please.
February 8, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (ooooooh edition)
I'm of an age that I was incredibly lucky in that in one week Blondie released this, puberty happened and I realised I never needed to listen to a concept album ever again....
The Primary Failure of Schools
Children in England start school lessons earlier and sit more tests but still perform no better than in other countries, researchers say today.
They find school "stressful" as they are subjected to academic lessons in English and maths at the age of four.
In countries such as Sweden and Finland, where children do not start school until seven, pupils often outperform English children by the age of 11.
English primaries are also bigger than in most other countries - with an average of 224 pupils against 128 in Scotland - and make pupils sit exams more often, at a younger age and in more subjects.
In a further conclusion, today's report shows that English schools focus more lessons on politically correct themes such as "diversity, tolerance and multi-culturalism" than in other nations.
A study by Glasgow University said this was "especially evident" in RE, history, geography and citizenship. France and Japan were more prepared to celebrate home-grown values in the curriculum.
In a damaging conclusion, it is claimed more parents educate their children at home or in alternative Steiner schools because they believe schools are "too constrained by the imperatives of performativity".
Apart from wanting to shoot anyone who uses the word "performativity" it sounds like the report is on the right track, and the cause is the Government managing the education process, not allowing parents and teachers to do so.
Whitewash Wendy - The Video Special
IT WAS a simple statement of only a dozen short paragraphs. But when it appeared on computer screens at 2:30pm yesterday, it caused shouts of joy and celebration among embattled Labour MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.
Alexander addresses a press conference yesterday, less than 24 hours after her mauling at the hands of Salmond over the Budget Picture: Jane Barlow
The Scotsman offer a video "Wendy Alexander: Labour leader reads a statement after the Electoral Commission come back with a report into illegal donations for her leadership campaign" but that smug face and the whitewash means there is a more appropriate one:
Worstall proven right again
People used to mock Manchester United because they had fans in Chertsey and Richmond. Now they have fans in Ouagadougou and Kowloon Tong as well – and so do most other clubs in the Premier League. In recent months I have discussed intimate details of life in the Premier League in Zambia, in Kenya, in France and even in Italy, a place that prides itself on its own football.
The league has become England’s great export to the world. Where the British once sought to buy hearts and minds with beads and mirrors, guns and sewage pipes, we now supply the sexiest brand of football in the world.
As Worstall says: Exports are just the dreary shite we have to do to be able to buy the imports.
And League Football is one huge bunch of dreary shite that we are all better off if it is exported, preferably for good.
Scoot, Muck and Dizzy and Roly too, Hillary and Obama join the crew
Have you heard the Barack Obama slogan "Yes We Can" that has caught on like wildfire since he used it repeatedly in his speech after his narrow defeat in New Hampshire? Every rally you go to there are "Yes we can" placards held aloft. Obama's addresses are interrupted with cries of "Yes we can". There’s an impossibly-cool "Yes we can" Obama video (see below).
Seems Hillary Clinton has heard the slogan too. In the "Morning HUBdate" sent out by her campaign, there was the following paragraph: "Yes, We Can"... Not an original thought in her life!
February 7, 2008
Three Cheers for the ArchBish
Iain Dale's Diary
There's one law for everybody... I think that's a bit of a danger...
Dr Williams argues that adopting some aspects of Countryside law would help maintain social cohesion.
For example, Farmers could choose to have footpath disputes or horse dealing matters dealt with in a court at The Red Lion.
He says Fox hunters should not have to choose between "the stark alternatives of cultural loyalty or state loyalty".
Why the fuck should us out here in the sticks have to obey the laws made by the metropolitan elite which are discriminate against our culture and our heritage? The gibbets will be erected as quickly as the border posts once we get the say so that we can set up our own laws and courts. Pikey Pete won't come round stealing scrap twice and having a Permatan will get you classified as a game species with no closed season. Oh my joy is unbounded as I think of the glorious future... - sorry, what? It isn't for the indigenous English with our old customs rooted in the countryside he is proposing it for? It is for the Mahometans? Didn't know they were part of the CofE now, but then so much has changed it is hard to keep up. We pay out tithes from 855 to 1977 to keep the Bishops in fat and gold and what fucking thanks do we get? Does he suggest destroying the whole basis of common law and justice to keep the countryside happy, does he buggery? But wave a few green flags and rattle some chains against some radiators and the old beardy can't prostrate himself quick enough.
Thomas Crapper, eat your heart out
You and Yours (a daily consumer affairs magazine on BBC Radio 4) ran a feature on Britain's planned "eco-towns", last Monday . [podcast available here]
The feature began with a group of school children being given a tour of an eco-house.
TOM WALLIS: Okay. We're in the bathroom now. And as you remember, this is the eco-house, so everything in this house is good for the environment. Okay. So you'll be able to see that this toilet is totally different to the toilets you've got at home. That's because it uses no water at all. This is actually a compost toilet.
JESSICA ROSE: Tom Wallis is giving a group of school children a tour around Leicester's eco-house. It's been built by an environmental charity and it's packed full of green technology to give visitors ideas about how to make their homes more environmentally-friendly.
TOM WALLIS: So this toilet doesn't use any water at all. Actually, when you go to the toilet here, it's all stored at the bottom. And every so often you have to give it a little stir. And then, once in a while, you have to take it outside and bury it in the garden. And that'll turn into really good compost for feeding your flowers.
JESSICA ROSE: But the government want to go further than one eco-home. It wants to build ten new green towns called 'eco-towns'.
So what is it these children are being asked to look forward to? This story epitomises the inability to create positive ideas about the future. All that can be promised is crappy little houses for crappy little people, which are all about 'reducing impact', not the possibility of exciting new towns and cities offering new opportunities and way of life. What is being created are eco-slums, where only the basic needs of the inhabitants are met. They may even have to throw their own shit out of the window, just as in the old slums. Gardyloo? Not in our back yard.
The World is running out of........
As a mining engineer, one particular bugbear of mine is the classic “the world’s going to run out of oil/coal/unobtainium/phuloshite in the next X years” article. The latest case is today’s article by Magnus Linklater in which he makes the statement that world uranium supplies will start running out by 2010. I realise that such doomsday stories are grist to your mill and sell copy, but you really are doing yourselves a great disservice by simply quoting numbers without understanding them. Especially those issued by the press officers of certain environmental NGO’s or others with agendas of their own.
But instead of using my blog to just rant and rail about MSM stupidity I have decided to try and do something constructive for once. To this end I have spent some of my own time, entirely free of charge, creating a handy reference guide to mineral Reserves and Resources for you to cut out and keep.
Gordon pisses £10 billion down the tube
Taxpayers will have to pay £2 billion to rescue the failed privatisation of London Underground, the Government admitted yesterday.
Ruth Kelly, the Transport Secretary, had to raid the Government’s contingencies fund to settle the debts of Metronet, which ran nine of the twelve underground lines but went bust in July.
The scale of the public liability for Metronet’s failure will be a severe embarrassment to Gordon Brown, who forced through the controversial Public Private Partnership of the Tube when he was Chancellor.
The payment also exposed the fallacy of the Government’s claim that it was transferring risk to the private sector. The five companies that owned Metronet – Balfour Beatty, Thames Water, EDF Energy, Bombardier and Atkins – had to pay only £70 million each towards the debt because they had won guarantees from the Government that limited their liability.....
A Department for Transport spokesman said: “It’s a riddle of contracts, to be honest. They don’t yet know what the total cost to the public will be.”
The £2 billion payment comes on top of the millions of public money used to set up the partnership.
Tony Travers, a public policy expert at the London School of Economics, said that between £6 billion and £8 billion had been spent on the Tube PPP in the past 5½ years, with little to show for it. .
Oh Prudence! And you thought you were being so clever, just like when you sold the gold. And the big boys in the playground stole all your sweeties again leaving you with nothing. Maybe you just aren't up to it.
Wendy loses Scotland for Labour
The First Minister started the final, crucial day of Budget deliberations delivering an ultimatum to his opponents: reject this and face a snap election. He ended it revelling in the humiliation of his Labour opponents. They had begun by criticising the Budget, then added an amendment and finally abstained on the whole package, including their amendment....
Labour's baffling voting behaviour cast further shadows over Wendy Alexander, the party's embattled leader, who is still awaiting the judgment of the Electoral Commission on an illegal donation to her leadership election campaign fund.
A preoccupied Ms Alexander hurried away from Holyrood, leaving it to her deputies to explain Labour's strange approach to the vote. There were some suggestions Mr Salmond's threat to call an election had frightened Labour off from voting against the Budget
Labour running scared of an election? No, never. Wendy's woes are having their impact in Scotland, Gordon won't be pleased, I have a feeling she will be spending more time with her
lawyers family soon.
The American view on our troops
it's hard to see how the Brits could let their forces get into this shape:
British troops “desperately” need 400 of the jumbo 0.5in calibre heavy machine guns – the weapon most acutely missed.
The Army has also run out of the 7.62mm GPMG and Minimis.
The crisis is having a crippling effect on training in the UK – with all available spares being rushed to war zones.
Almost HALF the Minimi Light Machine Guns used at Catterick and Brecon are also out of commission.
The report adds: “The original spares package was inadequate and usage has been far above that expected. As a result stocks are very fragile.”
Tory MP and ex-Army officer Patrick Mercer said last night: “Thank God the Army have still got their bayonets – it looks like they may be all they’ll have left. This could have been dealt with months ago.
And the response is very
Last night an MoD spokeswoman insisted: “We have enough guns for operations.
“We recognised a need to increase overall supply and took steps to address this.”
Added to this crap:
Under plans being considered by the Army, some newly-enlisted soldiers would spend just 14 weeks on a combat infantry course instead of the normal 26-28 weeks, according to a national newspaper.
The move has been proposed because all of the battalions due to replace 52 Brigade in Afghanistan next year are currently at least 100 soldiers below required strength, the paper said.
The Ministry of Defence would not comment in detail on the report last night, although it admitted training had been “adapted”.
An MoD spokesman said: “There is no question of training being compromised.
“We have adapted our training in terms of our operational requirement and we are taking action in terms of the manning challenges.”
Which statement should be greeted by a hearty chorus of "Bullshit!" You can't cut training by that much and say it's been 'adapted'; you're gutting it. And troops will die because of it.
An influential group of MPs warned on Monday that the huge strains on Britain’s armed services were driving out experienced personnel and undermining morale.
The Defence Select Committee said the forces’ performance was “deteriorating” after five years of running at full stretch in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It warned that recruitment continued to be a problem for the military, with neither the army nor the RAF likely to meet their target strengths this year.
Gee, you short people on equipment and supplies, work them into the ground, treat them like crap and you can't meet recruiting goals? Gee, I wonder why.
Kim once(hell, several times) noted that it's kind of sickening watching what's happening in Britain; that's an understatement.
(Firehand says what I wanted to say better than I could so I have nicked his post in full - I hope he doesn't mind....)
February 6, 2008
Failure to grass on the Council's say so.
Kate Badger was charged with 'knowingly causing the deposit of controlled waste, namely an apple core, on land which did not have a waste management licence'
She denies that charge and a second charge of failing to provide information about who actually did throw the apple.
Let's just pass over the nonsense of the council chasing an apple core thrower (alleged) through the courts and look at that second charge: failing to provide information about who actually did throw the apple.
WTF? Is it a criminal offence now not to grass up your friends?
If a person fails to provide relevant information, prosecution will normally be pursued. If the information is of vital importance to the Council's activities, an injunction should be sought requiring the offender to provide the information. Where the information is required by way of a formal notice, failure to comply with the notice will normally lead to prosecution.
Didn't there used to be a right to silence, or did I dream it?
Windmills to save us from the imminent Uranium Shortage
“Time is running out!” “Ten to 15 years left to save the world!” “Disaster threatens!” “Ecosystems on the brink of extinction!”...3C rise in the world's temperature, leading to a global drop in cereal crops, putting 400 million more people at risk of hunger, and up to three billion at risk of flooding, without access to fresh water supplies. The outcome would be the destruction of half the world's nature reserves and a fifth of its coastal wetlands. Goodbye Norfolk, so long the Western Isles, pity about the Thames Estuary...
As The Times has been reporting this week, a block has been imposed on a number of wind farm developments, because the MoD is worried that they may interfere with its radar systems.
What sort of crazy logic is that? Which is the most dangerous threat to this country - the launch of a Cold War-style attack on Britain by the Russians, with the MiGs gaining a few seconds advantage from turbine clutter on our radar screens, or the imminent disappearance of the polar icecap and the engulfing of the East Coast by the North Sea? The world's scientists say it is the latter. The MoD's boffins say it is the former. And on their say-so we await, in suspended animation, as the icebergs melt....
Worst offenders are organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage or the many environmental lobby groups that routinely object to applications which, they claim, pose a threat to a passing eagle or the lesser-spotted whimbrel...
I do not claim that wind farms on their own are the answer to global warming. But they are certainly part of it. However inefficient and unreliable, they are currently the only show in town, the only known supplier of renewable energy on any scale that is available here and now, rather than in 15 or 20 years' time. Nuclear energy? Of course, but on its own it can never fulfil the world's needs. Read David Fleming's pamphlet The Lean Guide to Nuclear Energy and worry about what happens when the world's endowment of uranium ore begins to run low some time after 2010, leading to an ever greater reliance on fossil fuels.....
Now Magnus is normally a sound sort of bloke, but it is as though he didn't put enough water with it last night when he scribed this panegyric to the windmills. But in amongst the guff was the surprising claim that we are running out of Uranium ore in the next ten years; I wonder if readers with their ears close to the mining industry could correct me on this but my understanding was that there was lots of it around:
It is estimated that 4.7 million tonnes of uranium ore reserves are economically viable, while 35 million tonnes are classed as mineral resources (reasonable prospects for eventual economic extraction). An additional 4.6 billion tonnes of uranium are estimated to be in sea water (Japanese scientists in the 1980s showed that extraction of uranium from sea water using ion exchangers was feasible)
UPDATE:World Electricity - consumption - 16.33 trillion kWh (16,330,000,000,000)
A nuclear 1000 megawatt power reactor, (after its initial fuel loading of uranium), has an annual requirement of around 27 tonnes of fuel.
Assuming the plant works flat out for 250 days a year
(16,330,000,000,000/ (1000*1000*24*250))*27= 73 485
75,000 tonnes of Uranium a year needed to produce all the world's electricity.
4.7 million tonnes at least easily available - I think that works out at over 45,000 years worth.
( Please point out to me if I have got a decimal point in the wrong place.)
A black-and-white issue — polar bears v oil - Times Online
A confrontation between big oil and environmentalists opens today in Alaska when America invites bids for millions of acres of polar bear habitat in the Chukchi Sea, where 15 billion barrels of crude oil lie waiting to be tapped. Bidding will get under way days before a ruling on whether the animal, the poster child for the ravages of global warming, should be added to the list of endangered species...
Pictures of exhausted and emaciated polar bears clinging forlornly to shrinking ice floes have become icons of the global movement to halt climate change. Populations are in sharp decline, a trend that environmentalists blame on the shrinking of their sea ice habitats because of man-made global warming. Critics say that the global polar bear population, at 25,000, is far from extinction and question the human hand in their decline. The US Geological Survey, however, estimates that two thirds of polar bears will die off by the mid-century if sea ice continues to melt at the expected pace.
Listing an animal under the Endangered Species Act compels the US Government to protect it. If the polar bear were to be added to the list, it would create an extraordinary political and environmental precedent. The factors that have propelled other species on to the list include hunting and habitat loss. If the polar bear were to be listed as endangered, it would recognise for the first time global warming as a factor in the threatened extinction of a species and, environmentalists say, compel the Government to halt climate change.
Being the well informed reader you are you will know that Polar Bear numbers are way above the number estimated in the 1950s and about the same as twenty years ago, you will know they survived warmer periods in the thousands of years they have been on earth , you will know that the pretty pictures of bears on melting floes show them "waving not drowning" and yet the constant media barrage is of their threatened status. They being whored to sell green extremism.
Watching me, watching you.
Every breath you take, every move you make, a camera will be watching you - Times Online
Walk down any high street in Britain today and you will instantly be under surveillance. All around you, lampposts and shopfronts bristle with CCTV cameras, many of them privately operated and unregulated. They are watching you in case you are bent on shoplifting or engaging in violent disorder.
The man on his knees rifling through the pile of rubbish by the kerb is not, as you might have thought, a tramp but a fly-tipping investigator from the town hall. He and the officials in the council offices down the road have the power, should they chose to use it, to recruit informants to spy on fly-tippers, dodgy stallholders and housing benefit cheats.....
Organisations such as MI5 and MI6, GCHQ and the Serious Organised Crime Agency use bugging and tapping as everyday tools of their trade. But surveillance and interception are also increasingly used by police forces across the country. The rural West Mercia Constabulary, for example, recently advertised for “substantive constables” to fill posts in its Covert Authorities Bureau.
As you go about your daily activities, you can be followed by men or women from the Office of Fair Trading, the Health & Safety Executive and the Rural Payments Agency. The Charity Commission, the Food Standards Agency and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain can seek authorisation to conduct surveillance operations against those they suspect of wrongdoing.
Every one of the 474 local authorities in the country has the same right and can seek permission to examine your phone records, text messages and e-mail history.
Sir Christopher Rose, the Surveillance Commissioner, reported a rise in the number of local authorities using their powers of surveillance. “Covert activity is still most often used by departments that deal with trading standards and with antisocial behaviour and by those that administer benefits"....
How did this happen? Why among all the western countries have we allowed ourselves to be so spied upon? It is not as though we weren't warned, it wasn't as though we didn't hold our liberty dear, but somehow we frittered it all away.
Chocolates by candlelight
...four tubs of Cadbury Bourneville dark chocolate and a stack of white dinner candles were the unlikely ingredients assembled yesterday to save St Kilda from ecological disaster.
Sounds like the ingredients for an evening in front of a roaring fire on the sheepsking rug with a young popsy, which also normally used to end in disaster...
Some of my best friends
AIRLINES have been labelled unethical by one of Britain's biggest investment firms, which plans them to blacklist them alongside arms dealers, pornographers and animal-testing laboratories.
Concern over the millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide produced by commercial aircraft has prompted the Edinburgh-based Standard Life to cease investing in carriers such as British Airways, Ryanair and EasyJet on behalf of tens of thousands of customers of its ethical funds.
Must ring my broker to buy some BA shares, they must be good value now.
February 5, 2008
Survival kit for the urban jungle
Special packs containing lollipops, flip-flops and condoms are being handed out to late night revellers in Swindon...The goodie bags also contain a bottle of water to counteract dehydration and a personal attack alarm...
Councillor Colin Lovell said: "This project is a demonstration of the holistic approach we take when dealing with the night time economy in Swindon to ensure it is a safe place to enjoy."
Not quite the "holistic approach" I take when packing a bag to survive a night in Swindon, I would tend to favour something a bit more robust than lollipops and flip-flops. Can you guess what the flip flops are for?
The Buggers are out of control
The Justice Secretary has said the first he heard of the matter was at the weekend, despite Tory claims that they brought it to the attention of Number 10 in December. Downing Street has also denied any knowledge of shadow home secretary David Davis's letter.
But an MoJ spokeswoman said: "Ministry of Justice officials became aware in December of issues concerning visits to Woodhill Prison by Sadiq Khan MP."
Mr Davis questioned why ministers had not been informed. "After the lame excuse from Number 10, it is now becoming apparent that the Government did know about this very serious issue - at the time I wrote my letter," he said.
"It is beyond belief that the department would not flag up to a minister that the Wilson Doctrine had been broken within the department.
"It now appears that Mr Straw is in as little control of his department as the Home Secretary is of hers."
The Background to the "Wilson Doctrine"
The Wilson Doctrine is a ban on the tapping of UK MPs' and Peers' (but not members of devolved legislatures) telephones introduced in 1966 and named after Harold Wilson, the Labour Prime Minister who established the rule.
Anatoliy Mikhaylovich Golitsyn CBE (Russian: Анатолий Михайлович Голицын;born August 25, 1926 in Piryatin, Ukrainian SSR) is a Soviet KGB defector and author of two books about alleged long-term deception strategy of the KGB leadership. ...(He)claimed that Rt Hon. Harold Wilson (then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom) was a KGB informer and an agent of influence. During his time as President of the Board of Trade in the late 1940s, Wilson had been on trade missions to Russia and cultivated a friendship with Anastas Mikoyan and Vyacheslav Molotov. He continued these relationships when Labour went into Opposition, and according to Mitrokhin Archive, his insights into British politics were highly rated by the KGB. An "agent development file" was opened in the hope to recruit Harold Wilson, and the codename "OLDING" was given to him.
Joseph Kagan was a Lithuanian born British businessman, best known as the inventor of that 1960s British cultural icon, the Gannex raincoat, , and his association and close friendship with the Labour politician and Prime Minister Harold Wilson. in 1940. Joseph soon reached an accommodation with the Soviet authorities and was allowed to remain in charge of the family firm. Unfortunately as a Jew he was unable to reach such a similar understanding with the Nazi forces when they invaded Lithuania in June 1941..Although Kagan was later to claim that he was penniless when he arrived in Britain, his father had already acquired a textile mill at Elland in Yorkshire and transferred part of his business to Britain in 1940.
Kagan Textiles was paying Wilson £100 a month in 1963 "for consultations and technical advice ... in respect of Gannex sales to the USSR". As a member of Wilson's entourage Joseph was a regular visitor to Downing Street whenever Wilson was in residence, and also made regular, if somewhat erratic, contributions towards the running of Wilson's political office as well as providing financial assistance to enable Wilson's private secretary, Marcia Williams to buy her own flat close to Downing Street in 1967. In return for such favours Joseph received a knighthood on 7th August 1970 in Wilson's resignation honours' list and was further honoured by Wilson when he was created the Baron Kagan on the 30th June 1976 in the infamous Lavender List.
He was convicted of theft and false accounting, fined £375,000 and spent ten months at Rudgate open prison in Yorkshire.
The ease with which Joseph had earlier reached an accommodation with the Soviet authorities back in Lithuania in 1940, suggested to some that he had been recruited as a Soviet agent. Whatever the truth behind this particular suggestion Joseph was later placed under surveillance by MI5 thanks to his friendship with a fellow Lithuanian, Richardas Vaygauskas, who was a KGB agent based at the Soviet embassy in London from 1969 until he was finally expelled from Britain for espionage in 1971. MI5 being naturally concerned that he might be passing on information obtained from his close association with Wilson.
Harold Wilson himself always denied that Kagan ever had access to any 'official secrets', whilst others explained away Joseph's friendship with Vaygauskas on their mutual love of chess and Joseph's concerns for his relatives who remained back in Soviet controlled Lithuania. These are of course precisely the sort of issues a KGB agent would have exploited to have obtained information from Kagan regarding tidbits Harold Wilson's personal views and attitudes, although whether or not the KGB ever obtained anything useful from him (or even tried to) is not known.
February 4, 2008
Back to the Future
Filling out my day book to try and recall what I have frittered the working hours away on I was suddenly struck with a thought - what I need is not some fancy electronic organiser but a book like thing with a page a day, plus some blank pages for notes and somewhere for phone numbers etc - put it all in a leather cover with a clip and I would be sorted. Bugger me I have just reinvented the filofax! Luckily a quick rootle in the office found my old battered one from when I was a thrusting young thing in the 80s, last used 1993. New diary pages ordered off eBay and away we go!
Pah to all you Apple worshipping techno geeks!
And flicking on the old 405 line television I was pleased to see Patrick Moore still gazing skywards through his monocle. Just what I need I thought as my left eye is fine but the right eye, my shooting eye, is as duff as a Gordon Brown joke book. A quick Google and I find the chappies at Budgetspex can do you a prescription one for £25. Got to be worth a try..
...the status of victim is popular among the dwindling numbers of climate-change deniers, largely because they cannot fall back on the comfort of facts.
There, consider yourselves admonished for questioning the consensus, the Konnie Huq of science writing has spoken, all resistance is futile.
Wendy Woes, Harman next?
Scottish Labour leader faces new inquiry into donations | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics
The Scottish Labour leader, Wendy Alexander, has refused to resign after it emerged that prosecutors are to launch a new investigation into her failure to declare nearly £10,000 in donations. She brushed off the investigation as a "distraction", insisting she did nothing wrong....10 donations of between £950 and £999 last autumn...She refused to explain why neither she nor her campaign aides had declared the donations when she first received them, and had waited more than two months before approaching the Scottish parliament's standards office for advice.....She was also pressed yesterday to explain why those donations were needed, as she went into the leadership contest unopposed.
10 donations just under the limit she thought would mean she had to declare them...some coincidence....
Don't know much about history - what a wondeful world!
A fifth of British teenagers believe Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character, while many think Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur and Eleanor Rigby were real, a survey shows.
I'll admit my ignorance, I always get King Arthur and King Alfred mixed up so on a snap question I might of got that wrong - I blame the teachers. But a country which doesn't know its own history is a dangerous, depressing and deluded place and that is modern Britain.
Windmills a danger to Britain
Ambitious plans to meet up to a third of Britain’s energy needs from offshore wind farms are in jeopardy because the Ministry of Defence objects that the turbines interfere with its radar.
Giving evidence to a planning inquiry last October, a senior MoD expert said that the turbines create a hole in radar coverage so that aircraft flying overhead are not detectable. In written evidence, Squadron Leader Chris Breedon said: “This obscuration occurs regardless of the height of the aircraft, of the radar and of the turbine.” He described the discovery as alarming.
The discovery has left ministers with a dreadful dilemma. Britain is relying on a huge increase in wind power to help to reduce carbon emissions and so meet targets to prevent catastrophic climate change. But the defence of the skies has become all the more urgent since 9/11 when terrorists shocked America by commandeering four commercial flights.As on one hand the whirlygigs will do bugger all to prevent catastrophic climate change, and on the other hand enemy aircraft are a proven threat to health and happiness, it shouldn't make it a hard choice. But I think I know which way Ministers will go, but they won't allow any near the Houses of Parliament...
President Bush has claimed that the CIA foiled a massacre plot to crash aircraft into the towers of Canary Wharf in East London. If the RAF has to be scrambled to save Britain from such peril, every second of advance warning will count.
The revolution in the Ministry of Defence’s thinking on radar air defence was disclosed by Squadron Leader Chris Breedon in his evidence opposing a new wind farm in North-umbria. “Traditionally, the primary role of the Air Surveillance and Control System has been to detect aircraft approaching the UK from overseas. However, equal, if not more, importance is now given to monitoring UK airspace to detect, track and respond to any aircraft which is giving concern.
“The significance of the low-level radar cover has risen markedly as a result of the terrorist events of September 11, 2001. The MoD is extremely concerned with any proposed wind turbine development which would have an impact on the . . . system.”
Put simply, the operators are less worried about looking for enemy aircraft approaching from overseas. The real threat is over our heads. The full results of the tests remain classified.
Franco German Humour
Our humour is faulty – let’s bring on Basil - Times Online
The Germans cannot see the funny side of French humour. And the French are appalled at German jokes. So how does Arte, the television station created to forge Franco-German cultural bonds, programme comedy?
Enter John Cleese, Rowan Atkinson and Joanna Lumley. According to Arte’s executives, only British humour bridges the Franco-German border and attracts viewers in both countries.
And judging by the tired old jokes The Times prints, they really do need help...
Si quelq'un te dit que l'argent n'est pas tout c'est probablement ton chef
If someone tells you that money is not everything, they’re probably your boss
Es heißt ja, dass es Pflanzen gut tut, wenn man ab und zu nett mit ihnen
redet - also gehe ich in den Garten und beleidige das Unkraut
Plants grow very well if you speak kindly to them every now and again. Which is why I sometimes go into the garden and insult the weeds
Attention: Si tu places à côté une statue de Jeanne d'Arc, tu risques la
prison pour possession d'héroïne
Warning: anyone with a statue of Joan of Arc risks prison for heroine possession
February 3, 2008
Has Global Warming Stopped?
Philip Stott asks Ooops! Has Global Warming Stopped?
Since 1998, ‘global warming’ appears to have - wait for it - stopped. The data is taken from the UK Met Office’s ‘HadCRUT3’ dataset, a globally-gridded product of near-surface temperatures, consisting of annual differences from 1961-90 normals. The full data set is available here, covering the period from 1850 to the present.
Zero tolerance for w***ers and jobsworths
The leaked manual for inspectors checking on rubbish put out by householders even gives hints on how to tell if a resident is getting angry.
The inspectors should look out for “changes in breathing patterns, the throbbing vein in the temple, the opening and closing of their fists.”
If they are shouted at, the leaked manual advises them to say: “I am not prepared to carry on this interview whilst you are calling me a w***er and a jobsworth.”
The inspectors will dish out fines if people leave their bin lid open or put out rubbish on the wrong day.
The manual shows councils are braced for a backlash. It also suggests that “waste put out at the wrong time can count as fly-tipping”. Inspectors are told to use surveillance and “communications data” to target families who break the rules.
The manual declares: “It is recommended that a policy of zero tolerance should be adopted.”
Yes, I intend to show zero tolerance of state snoopers who believe in tapping our phones and spying on us in their green zealotry.
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi
So am I, but even for an Englishman, being of a certain age, God is in his heaven and the natural order of things is restored when the red shirts are running; This is sheer poetry;
The old ones are the best ones
Nice simple headline which will warm Middle England's cockles over the marmalade this morning. Don't worry about the details, just keep banging out these lines and all will be well.
Real Men Like Short Fags
A quick fix for outdoor smokers - Times Online
NIPPING out for a quick smoke is about to become even quicker. Philip Morris, the tobacco giant, is planning a “snack-size” cigarette for the smoking-ban age.
The compact cigarette will be shorter than existing brands but just as smoky: it will deliver the same potency while taking less time to puff.
It ain't hard to make fags shorter and have more umph, just cut the filters off. Maybe we will return to those halcyon days when real man's smoked Woodbines
An early brand of cigarette, enjoyed by the labouring classes of Northern England from the 19th Century onwards....
Despite the remarkable success of Woodbines they were still only smoked by the labouring classes. The “lah-di-dah” demographic, with their fast cars, long fingers, and disposable incomes preferred other, newer brands, like Lambert & Butler, or Regals. These brands were seen as having an aura of sophistication and class. Market research by Woodbines Cigarettes Ltd. found that that most people associated the filter on these brands with refinement.
Woodbines Filters were launched in the summer of 1961, with limited success. Worse, previous
addictsconsumers of regular Woodbines were changing brands mostly to the even stronger Capstan Full Strength brand, feeling betrayed that “their” cigarettes had gone posh, and sold out its working class roots. It was in vain that Woodbines executives pointed out that the filters were, in fact, made of asbestos dipped in creosote. Regular gasperssmokers also complained that the filter interfered with the bitumen taste, and prevented the coal dust from entering the lungs. Although bored economic historians have guessed that the influx of cheap foreign competitors at this time caused as much harm, it was believed that this decision had wounded Woodbine Cigarettes Ltd. Sales slumped, profits nosedived and crucially the image of the product was tainted, perhaps beyond repair...
Spot the biggest scammer
Cyber-savvy town gets rich on eBay frauds - Times Online
HUNDREDS of people in the poor Romanian town of Dragasani have grown rich by conning eBay online auction customers with deals that seem too good to be true - and often are.
With few local jobs available in this industrial town in Romania’s Valcea wine-growing region, defrauding eBay customers has became a popular career path for many of Dragasani’s young people.
The scammers have even put the new town hall up for sale on eBay, the mayor admitted last week. “I mean, who would want it?” he asked.
Despite growing concern about online frauds, the European Union has poured £150,000 into computer training courses in Dragasani over the past three years in “special recognition” of its IT skills.
February 2, 2008
Graham Watson "a luxury the planet cannot afford"
"Once again, the anti-Europeans have shown what a waste of time and money their presence in Parliament is."
I'm sure the Lib Dim Watson would like them to be removed from the Parliament so that no dissenting voices are heard, but I have a feeling their presence is far less a waste of time and money than the presence of Mr Patio Heater Banner and the rest of the simpering yes men.
Where does oil come from? Update
Many years ago I posted: An Englishman's Castle: Where does oil come from?
It is still one of my more popular posts in terms of readers and requests, such as this one from Hayley:
hi im duin a skwl project on oil and need 2no where it cums from can u help me???
For her and other scholars the theory that oil was and is being formed by abiogenic processes has had another boost;
An article in Science today seems to suggest that the abiotic theory is correct. In a fairly dense article entitled "Abiogenic Hydrocarbon Production at Lost City Hydrothermal Field,"
researchers Proskurowski et al., find evidence of the abiogenic
formation of short-hydrocarbon chains in an area where hydrocarbons would not otherwise be able to form by the biogenic theory.
Hat tip Coyote Blog
It starts today
England a daunting test for the new Wales - Rugby Union News - Telegraph
"The edge is still there," Ashton said yesterday. "The edge is still there because it's England-Wales, one of the biggest of the Six Nations fixtures."
The first England-Wales game Ashton watched, on a black and white television set, was the 1963 game in Cardiff. England won that day. It was to be 28 years before they managed it again.
England might be vulnerable, but Wales will have to deliver an exceptional performance if they are to end their own barren spell.
Rural areas staggering under council taxes - Telegraph
Rural communities are hardest hit by council tax, which takes £8 in every £100 people earn in some areas.
Hundreds of thousands of people from Devon in the South West to Northumberland in the North East are paying four times as much council tax - in relative terms - as people in other parts of the country, research by The Daily Telegraph shows today.
In some metropolitan areas, especially in London, locals have to pay no more than £2 or £3 for every £100 they earn. The figures, which compare the average Band D council tax in each local authority with the average salary in each area, highlight the postcode lottery of the tax, which has become an increasing burden for millions of families over the past decade.
That is 8% after Gordon has robbed us of 50% in tax and NI, and we don't even benefit from the daily rubbish collections and the outreaching lesbians - time to sharpen the pitchforks.
Groundhog Day Climate
Human impact brings Earth to dawn of new epoch - Times Online
Human impact on the world has been so comprehensive that it has ushered in a new geological epoch, which scientists have called the Anthropocene era.
The Earth is still officially in the Holocene epoch, which began 11,750 years ago with climate changes that marked the end of the last ice age but geologists now suggest that a successor to the Holocene has started because of the changes wrought since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Jan Zalasiewicz and Mark Williams, of the University of Leicester, led calls for the change after identifying a range of profound impacts. Among the biggest that they highlighted were global temperatures, a transformation in erosion and sedimentation patterns, ocean acidification, changes to the carbon cycle and global temperatures..
So bad they noticed it twice! This is why the climate research which shows the temperature over the last couple of thousand years is so important - the AGW bandwagon needs our present warm period to be "unprecedented" - but if the peasants in the Middle Ages and Iron Age man also enjoyed similar halcyon days, despite practising green living, then a central plank of their alarmism is shown to be rotten.
Tony Blair casts himself as a candidate for European president - Times Online
Tony Blair is speaking remarkably fluent French these days, as listeners to France’s main radio station discovered yesterday.
The former Prime Minister, who once boasted solid schoolboy French, has suddenly mastered a new political vocabulary and held his own against the country’s toughest interviewer.
For 20 minutes facing Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, a veteran inquisitor and boss of the Europe-1 station, Mr Blair showed off his French which has become suspiciously slick of late.
The reason for the timing of his resignation as our Glorious Leader is becoming clearer, though Mike Smithson would bet against Tony getting the job - Gordon is not going to like it.
February 1, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (Early Britpop edition)
The last refuge of scoundrels - teaching teachers.
History and citizenship lessons should stick to the bare facts rather than encouraging loyalty to Britain when covering subjects such as the Second World War or the British Empire, the Institute of Education researchers said. Teachers should not instill pride in what they consider great moments of British history, as more shameful episodes could be downplayed or excluded....
The authors added: “It is hard to think of a national history free from the blights of warmongering, imperialism, tyranny, injustice, slavery and subjugation, or a national identity forged without recourse to exclusionary and xenophobic stereotypes.”
Dr Hand, the co-author of the report, said: “Gordon Brown and David Cameron have both called for a history curriculum that fosters attachment and loyalty to Britain, but the case for promoting patriotism in schools is weak.
“Are countries really appropriate objects of love? Loving things can be bad for us, for example when the things we love are morally corrupt. Since all national histories are at best morally ambiguous, it’s an open question whether citizens should love their countries.”
Liberty is found in the small joys of life
Liberty is found in the small joys of life
But we don't care. Just like everyone thinks Ben Franklin was quite antiquated and quaint in pointing out the danger of giving up a little liberty for a wee bit of security, no one cares what Alex de Tocqueville had to say about freedom:
"It must not be forgotten that it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life. For my own part, I should be inclined to think freedom less necessary in great things than in little ones."
Quite - I couldn't agree more, and talking of small joys of life I am
drooling still looking at the photo Becky has illustrated the article with....
Climb every mountain
Mountain bikers are scouring Essex for a suitable Olympic venue for their event after the one chosen by organisers of the 2012 Games was deemed too flat. London Olympic organisers want to keep the event – which became a part of the Olympics for the first time at Atlanta in 1996 – in Essex. They had previously ruled out the Chilterns for being too far from the Olympic Park in East London.
Essex’s highest point is just 148 metres (485ft). Experts in the sport say that the minimum requirement is for a height difference of about 300 metres from the lowest to the highest point of the course.
How about the pile of taxpayer's cash, that must be high enough.
Obama, Clinton, Romney....
If I calculate correctly, this column should bring internet readers in by the million.
Twice daily this newspaper provides its writers with an update of the most searched-for buzzwords on Times Online, in the United Kingdom and throughout the rest of the world? This handy fact sheet points us in the direction of what words and expressions might generate the most number of hits, and could therefore be subtly inserted into our work in sentences such as “.....
A wild boar has been shot dead at a school after it became aggressive while children were being dropped off at the gates.
The adult male, which had entered the primary's fenced off conservation area, began stomping its feet and charging after a Forestry Commission ranger was called to assess the situation...
Peter Knight, the head teacher of the primary, said: "No child was present when the animal was destroyed and we will be holding a special assembly this afternoon to explain to all the children what happened.
"We did try to avoid this situation, but the safety of our pupils, staff and parents has to be priority."
What the kids would really like is not a soppy explanation but a raging fire with the boar slowly turning on the spit above it.
Tories at their best
In some ways, this episode showed the Tory party at its worst. A baying throng took over Conservative blogs, howling for a ritual execution. Cameron is known to read blogs and might have been affected by what he read on Monday evening. Perhaps conservativehome.com claimed its first political scalp this week. Virtually every one of the hundreds of comments called for Conway's head. The vitriol had to be read to be believed. It was the same on my blog. If these people do represent the Tory grassroots, the grass had been well and truly uprooted. The message was clear: up with sleaze we will not put.
Although it made uncomfortable reading, this reaction demonstrates that the Conservative Party has changed. The membership won't put up with any sign of wrongdoing and doesn't hesitate to tell the leadership so.
I disagree - I think it showed Tories at their best, passionate about upholding standards. And a great contrast to the nuLabour machine.