June 30, 2008
82% think the NHS wastes a fair amount, or more, of money.
Barely one in five people believe the Labour party will deliver a better health service over the next ten years, the You Gov poll shows.
The Prime Minister hopes Lord Darzi's package of reforms will transform Labour's fortunes and restore the party's reputation as guardians of the NHS on its 60th anniversary.
The results of the poll show he Tories have a clear lead on health policy with 31 per cent of people saying they would do a better job of running the health service, compared to 23 per cent who think Labour would deliver on the NHS.
Sixty-nine per cent of people said reorganising the NHS is more important than spending more on it, up from 38 per cent in 1998. Only 24 per cent now want more spent on health, down from 59 per cent a decade ago.
Seventy-eight per cent of voters believe the NHS has too many managers.
And despite the billions Labour has poured into health, the new poll shows that public satisfaction with the NHS is dropping.
Some 44 per cent of people said they think "a great deal" of money is being wasted in the NHS. Another 38 per cent said a "fair amount" is wasted.
People have seen through the NHS scam, its the beginning of the end. It is a shame the Tories don't recognise that.
GCSEs Dumbed Down? F*** Off!
Pupils are being rewarded for writing obscenities in their GCSE English examinations even when it has nothing to do with the question.
One pupil who wrote “f*** off” was given marks for accurate spelling and conveying a meaning successfully.
His paper was marked by Peter Buckroyd, a chief examiner who has instructed fellow examiners to mark in the same way. He told trainee examiners recently to adhere strictly to the mark scheme, to the extent that pupils who wrote only expletives on their papers should be awarded points.
Write ‘f*** off’ on a GCSE paper and you’ll get 7.5%. Add an exclamation mark and it’ll go up to 11%
Presumably without the asterisks....
The police are facing a shortage of handcuffs as the biggest supplier prepares to close. The firm, which has been making handcuffs, leg-irons and manacles to shackle humans for more than 200 years, will shut its Birmingham workshops within days.
The company has caused controversy over the years and there have been protests outside its offices in Great Barr.
Another Great British traditional business lost, but no worries because I believe the American firm will continue to supply our needs...
These highly durable handcuffs are available in pink, purple, green, blue, yellow and orange.
(Do they do the fur lined ones as well?)
Labour Party Funding Crisis Update (and Plod interviews Hain..)
Peter Hain, who resigned from the Cabinet over allegations that he had failed to register political donations, has been interviewed by police, The Times has learnt.
A file could be sent from police to the Crown Prosecution Service within weeks. The disclosure contradicts Labour Party officials who claimed three months ago that the inquiry was about to collapse. It is a further embarrassment for the party...The party, which files its annual accounts this week, is averting bankruptcy only because of a written guarantee that at least one union, Unite, will continue to provide funding.
Going, going, gone. Sold to the highest bidder.
Is this Gordon's crunch election?
Glasgow East is a new constituency with old problems. Born in 2005, following the reorganisation of Scotland's constituencies, it now includes the former Ballieston constituency as well as parts of Shettleston which, unfortunately, makes it the poorest and unhealthiest in Britain. This may be Labour's heartland, but if so it is one clogged by unemployment, drug abuse, depression and obesity.The by-election that could bring down Brown - Scotsman.com News
Male life expectancy across the city's East End is 68, five years less than the Scottish average, while in Shettleston it drops to just 63. Women, meanwhile, live on average to 74, which is still three years less than the national average. Across the area, 30 per cent of the population is described as "deprived", while 25 per cent are unemployed, compared with a national average of 5 per cent.
Many in the Labour Party now believe victory for the Nationalists in Glasgow East – one of the safest Labour seats in the UK – could force Mr Brown out of 10 Downing Street.
SNP leaders believe the Glasgow by-election – triggered by the resignation of MP David Marshall for health reasons – is within their grasp given the turmoil in the Scottish Labour Party following Ms Alexander's resignation.
The old saying about you could put a rosette on a donkey and it would be voted in was coined for constituencies like this so the result will strike fear into Labour MPs across the land. And the question the deprived voters have to ask themselves is "what has Labour done for them?"
June 29, 2008
That LGA Disgusting Poster
Research by the Local Government Association found residents in England and Wales were satisfied with services but did not realise who provided them.
It is giving councils posters to counter what it says is an unfairly poor public perception.
It hopes they will help educate people on what their council tax is spent on.
Local authorities have been criticised for using 'disgusting' posters ...
The controversial poster campaign,.....was immediately condemned as offensive 'propaganda' which could breach guidelines on taste and decency and branded a waste of taxpayers' money.
Can't see what is wrong with that poster....
Salad Days Update - Thank you Kim
Kim kindly linked to my College return yesterday so it is only fair I give you the update:
British Rail got me to Oxford only 30 minutes late so I was in time for the pre-luncheon drinks and then into the old hall for:
The Gaudy Lunch
2000 Bourgogne Blanc Javillier
Char-Grilled Asparagus with Smoked Salmon served on Baby Salad Leaves with a Citrus Dressing
1999 Château d'Armailhac
Pan Fried Medallions of Venison with a Port and Redcurrant Jus Lie
A Medley of Roast Vegetables
Tirimisu with Fresh Raspberries and a Rich Chocolate Sauce
1995 Château Liot
1998 Château Chantalouette
Coffee served in the Garden Quadrangle Reception Room
The Chateau d'Armailhac (Pauillac) 1999: (Youthful colour. Obvious and attractive youth on the nose, brimming over with coffee, tarry treacle toffee and blackcurrant aromas. Full palate, with coffee notes again, and firm, fresh acidity. Intense and concentrated, with pure black fruits and ripe, firm tannins. Voluptuous and seductive. Delicious, with lovely potential. A tremendous effort for this vintage. Needs five years but should be beautiful when mature.) was superb. After that it all got a bit hazy.
As I walked back across the quad I was approached by a young Texan honey (Youthful colour. Obvious and attractive youth on the nose, brimming over with coffee, tarry treacle toffee and blackcurrant aromas. Full palate, with coffee notes again, and firm, fresh acidity. Intense and concentrated, with pure black fruits and ripe, firm tannins. Voluptuous and seductive. Delicious, with lovely potential. A tremendous effort for this vintage. Needs five years but should be beautiful when mature.) who was lost.
She was trying to find her way round the college having just arrived for a course. She obviously thought I was safe as I was wearing my State of Texas belt buckle, a present from Kim, so in my best Terry Thomas manner I took off to see the magnificent new organ....
The train was very, very late so Mrs Englishman had to drive out late in the evening to pick me up - she has gone for a walk this morning leaving me in my penitence to look after the Englishettes.
Bootleggers on the Scottish Border
Asda chiefs said there was "nothing to stop" them – and other supermarkets – building new warehouses in northern England and transporting alcohol ordered on the web direct to homes in Scotland.
Asda is the first of the big four supermarkets to break its silence over the SNP plans, announced two weeks ago, which include measures to raise the drinking age in off-sales to 21, and to set a minimum price on all alcohol, with each unit being sold at no less than 35p.
Rob Chester, head of licensing at Asda, said: "There is nothing to stop companies looking at expanding their home shopping network or opening up depots just south of the border and delivering to homes in Scotland."
Paul Kelly, the store's corporate affairs director, added: "The big point here is that these measures will actually hurt the poorest.
"Low income Scottish consumers will pay for this. These plans could create two classes of customer: some who are reliant on the local supermarket because they use cash and others who will get deals over the internet."
He added: "The well-off person in Bearsden will be OK. But a poor family in Dundee will pay. It is about a £10,000 a year person being punished for wanting to have a drink at the end of a week. That is the unintended consequence of what is being proposed."
"Unintended consequence"? I'm not so sure. Nanny always bullies the weakest first.
DEFENCE chiefs are spending £2.5m replacing every flag in the British military in a move which has angered troops still fighting for their lives in warzones with outdated and inadequate equipment.
At least, I hope, they aren't replacing them with the blue rag with the gold stars on it, yet.
...teenagers turn to American-style prom celebrations complete with stretch limousines, dinner jackets and ballgowns. ..
Not everyone is thrilled with the invasion of such an American rite of passage. Gerald Haigh, a former primary school headteacher, worries..: "A friend emailed me to say that outside his local primary school on the night of the Year 6 leaving party, he'd counted four stretch Lincolns, two stretch Hummers, assorted Jags, BMWs and Mercs, all queuing to drop off buffed and puffed sprogs and sprogettes. Doesn't it make you yearn, just a little, for a more
Hurray - the kids have aspirations! They want glitz and fun - how unlike the grumps and the new survivalists
...Sally Hill, 37, a former teacher, wants her two young children, five-year-old Abby and three-year-old Ben, to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, because she believes the Government will not be able to do anything about future oil shortages.
"When you've given up trying to save the world, the next best solution is working out how to save yourself," says Mrs Hill, whose husband, Matt, 40, a graphic designer, shares her sustainable lifestyle on the south coast. They have a wood-burning stove, kerosene lamps and essential supplies in the cellar to prepare for the possibility of food shortages or prolonged power cuts.
She is guided by the impulse that it is better to be safe than sorry, teaching her children how to grow vegetables as part of their education.
Funny how it is always the "former teachers"....
St Tony to Save Us
"The problem of climate change is almost universally understood and acknowledged. This is in itself an achievement. Now is the moment to get serious about the solution."
Is there anything more depressing to read than Oh-god-we thought-we-had-got-rid-of-him Blair making a comeback as a wannabe Al Gore (Cherie must have noticed how much money Al is trousering as a Climate Saviour) and his fatuous ideas and him pushing for more green policies. And why is "Now the moment" - is it because he didn't do them when he was in power as he knew they are election losers, or is it because after 11 years of no global warming if the socialists don't push through there anti capitalist policies now under cover of saving the world from warming it will soon be too late as increasing numbers realise the scam is up?
June 28, 2008
Wendy Goes - Pushed or Jumped?
Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander is expected to announce she will stand down, the BBC understands.
Off in a short while to attempt to get to Oxford by train. It is back to the old college today for some agreeable drinks and a spot of lunch. Old memories will be flooding back, I'm more of a Brideshead Revisited generation Oxonian than a Morsean, so I will wander through the Quads in an effete manner remembering my wasted youth, and the other wasted youths I used to get wasted with. I wonder if any others will turn up for the reunion, and if I will remember them. All the clever bastards went to the city and made obscene amounts of money, I'm sure the college gives them extra special lunches; the ugly northeners went into politics and became Labour MPs, I hope they don't turn up, (though it would be fun to meet up again with Angela Eagle, with whom I was like the fabled little Dutch Boy before she discovered she was a Lesbian). And for the rest of them it will probable be the weekend they have access to the kids and will be ferrying them to football or Ikea, or whatever most fortysomethings do that I have never bothered with.
And then if British Rail works, back to Pewsey for a BBQ at a pub - (they don't do finger buffets in Pewsey as it confuses the polydactyl population). The only part of the cunning plan I haven't worked out is how to get back home to the bosom of my loving family at the end of the day. And how Mrs Englishman is going to to greet me...
Wish me luck...
Stan and Ollie in Downing Street
Reports suggest a Labour revolt has been averted by Mr Darling promising to "fix" the issue.
The Treasury insisted he has "not made any concessions or promises to make any in the future" and said there are "no plans whatever" to abandon the changes.
So it will be a full scale retreat then -
Gordon Brown is facing a £1 billion annual bill for the 1.1 million people who have yet to be compensated for the 10p tax fiasco.
The scale of liabilities piling up for the Government emerges today with a devastating critique of Mr Brown’s personal handling of the issue that has hobbled his Government.
As Chancellor, Mr Brown acted for the “perceived benefit of seeming to pull rabbits from the hat” when he cut 2p off the basic rate of income tax and paid for it by abolishing the 10p rate.
The criticism, from the Labour-dominated Treasury Select Committee,
Darling as the Laurel to Brown's Hardy must mutter "That's another fine mess you've got me into" every time he reads his briefing notes.
Olympic Follies Rob The Royals
The Queen's request for a minimum £4 million annual increase has been rejected by the government.
A £32 million backlog of essential repairs has built up...despite the repeated pleas to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport the Royal Family feared that they would be squeezed out by the rising costs of the Olympic Games whose budget has doubled from the original £4 billion to closer to £9 billion.
"We cannot be optimistic," said the source. "We are going to carry on trying persuade the DCMS. But it is the Olympics. A number of people, including us, have suffered from it."
And will continue to suffer from its prodigious waste, is it really too late to let Paris have them?
June 27, 2008
Ice free Pole first time in
55m, 50m, 20,000, 8 years
North Pole ice 'may disappear by September' - Telegraph By Paul Eccleston
Last Updated: 2:01pm BST 27/06/2008
Ice at the North Pole may disappear completely within the next few months for the first time in 20,000 years.
Anthony Browne aboard the Arctic Sunrise in the Arctic Ocean
The Observer, Sunday August 20, 2000
The icecap at the North Pole has turned to water for the first time in 50 million years. Scientists aboard a Russian icebreaker have discovered an ice-free patch of water a mile wide at the top of the world.
It is the first time humans have seen water at the pole, and it is the most dramatic evidence yet of the impact that global warming is having. Satellite studies have shown that the ice pack is more than 40 per cent thinner than it was 50 years ago. The last time the pole was awash with water was during the Eocene period, 55 million years ago, when the world's climate grew significantly warmer.
How time flies....
Friday Night is Music Night (The Best From NZ Edition)
BACS Payment Problems 25th June
I have just been informed that all the BACS payments I set up for my business to pay on the 25th June have bounced, as far as I can see for once I have enough money in the account so I rang the bank to find out what was going on - I don't like bouncing payments, it reflects badly on me. I eventually get through a charming help operative who said "problem with the software, thousands of payments on the 25th to Lloyds accounts from Barclays were bounced. Do them again and all should be OK."
No it bloody won't be, firstly it was only by chance I discovered my payments are all now late, I'll probably get charged interest, my suppliers now think I can't pay and worst of all there is nowhere I can point them to to say - "look it wasn't me running out of cash". If there was a fault that affected thousand put a bloody apology up on the website so everyone knows what is going on.
The “right to keep and bear arms” an historic English right
Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court said the “right to keep and bear arms” is an individual right. In his painstakingly detailed historical analysis, Scalia said the amendment was not written to confer a new right, but to protect an existing right that had developed through the centuries in English law.
The Framers, well versed on past attempts of English kings to use their royal militias to disarm potential regional enemies in England, were protecting individual citizens of the newly-organized United States of America against future attempts of governments to disarm them, Scalia said.
Well at least somewhere on the globe the rights of the English under common law have been upheld, pity it isn't here.
UPDATE: More from Wolf Howling: A Constitutional Lesson In British History
This from Justice Scalia's opinion in Heller [citations removed for ease of reading]:
. . . Between the Restoration and the Glorious Revolution, the Stuart Kings Charles II and James II succeeded in using select militias loyal to them to suppress political dissidents, in part by disarming their opponents. Under the auspices of the 1671 Game Act, for example, the Catholic James II had ordered general disarmaments of regions home to his Protestant enemies. These experiences caused Englishmen to be extremely wary of concentrated military forces run by the state and to be jealous of their arms. They accordingly obtained an assurance from William and Mary, in the Declaration of Right (which was codified as the English Bill of Rights), that Protestants would never be disarmed: “That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.” This right has long been understood to be the predecessor to our Second Amendment. It was clearly an individual right, having nothing whatever to do with service in a militia. To be sure, it was an individual right not available to the whole population, given that it was restricted to Protestants, and like all written English rights it was held only against the Crown, not Parliament. But it was secured to them as individuals, according to “libertarian political principles,” not as members of a fighting force.
By the time of the founding [i.e., the drafting of the U.S. Constitution in 1789], the right to have arms had become fundamental for English subjects. Blackstone, whose works, we have said, “constituted the preeminent authority on English law for the founding generation,” cited the arms provision of the Bill of Rights as one of the fundamental rights of Englishmen. His description of it cannot possibly be thought to tie it to militia or military service. It was, he said, “the natural right of resistance and selfpreservation,” and “the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defence.” Other contemporary authorities concurred. Thus, the right secured in 1689 as a result of the Stuarts’ abuses was by the time of the founding understood to be an individual right protecting against both public and private violence. And, of course, what the Stuarts had tried to do to their political enemies, George III had tried to do to the colonists. In the tumultuous decades of the 1760’s and 1770’s, the Crown began to disarm the inhabitants of the most rebellious areas. That provoked polemical reactions by Americans invoking their rights as Englishmen to keep arms. A New York article of April 1769 said that “[i]t is a natural right which the people have reserved to themselves, confirmed by the Bill of Rights, to keep arms for their own defence.” They understood the right to enable individuals to defend themselves. As the most important early American edition of Blackstone’s Commentaries (by the law professor and former Antifederalist St. George Tucker) made clear in the notes to the description of the arms right, Americans understood the “right of self-preservation” as permitting a citizen to “repe[l] force by force” when “the intervention of society in his behalf, may be too late to prevent an injury.”
There seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms. . . .
While the British wrote down the right of individuals to bear arms as against the Crown in the 1689 Bill of Rights, they wrote down no limitation on Parliament circumscribing Parliament's ability to extinguish their rights. Thus Britain lives under a tyranny of sorts today. Without any recognized Constitution, and with Parliament over a century ago having claimed for itself unlimited sovereignty, there are no permanent rights in Britain. Thus today you have in Britian a populace that has not only been largely disarmed of firearms over the past century, but a populace wherein the law abiding among them are prevented from carrying any sort of weapon for self defense. Even carrying the innocuous pepper spray is illegal.
And then of course there is the penultimate tyrannical act. In what amounts to a coup, the current Labour government has broken its promise to the people of Britain, given but three years ago, to give the people a vote in the decision to extinguish the sovereignty of Britain and become a province in a socialist and anti-democratic EU superstate. By this act, and in the even larger sense that this transfer of sovereignty severly and forever more degrades the democratic right of the British to choose their government, Labour evinces utter disdain for the liberty of Britian's citizens. And with that in mind, there is at least one more passage highly apropos from Justice Scalia's decision:
St. George Tucker’s version of Blackstone’s Commentaries, as we explained above, conceived of the Blackstonian arms right as necessary for self-defense. He equated that right, absent the religious and class-based restrictions, with the Second Amendment. See 2 Tucker’s Blackstone 143. In Note D, entitled, “View of the Constitution of the United States,” Tucker elaborated on the Second Amendment: “This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty . . . . The right to self-defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine the right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction.” . . .
I think the appropriate phrase to finish on is the truism, "those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it."
Your Eco Questions Answered
Why not stop being a lazy cow and use one yourself? He probably enjoys the smell and noise of a motor, men do you know, and it has the advantage he can't hear you nagging when it is running.
Jacquiiii Smith - Punish the precriminals before they commit a crime
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, called for a huge expansion of state intervention in family life as a way of preventing young people from problem families drifting into antisocial behaviour and crime.
Ms Smith’s enthusiasm for more early intervention in family life as a way of improving the behaviour of youngsters will revive criticism of Labour’s “nanny state” instincts. But she is unrepentant.
She said work was already under way in which agencies identify early the people and families who will end up engaging in violence. “I believe it is about identifying families in which you are going to intervene at an early stage, where you will expect certain behaviour and if that does not happen there will be sanctions.”
She said she “fundamentally disagrees” with the “nanny state” charge: “It is part of the role of government not to wait till crime has been committed but, for the good of the wider community and the families themselves, to step in earlier."
I get it now, stereotyping is good, the all wise and knowing state and its "agencies" know who is going to turn into a criminal - precriminal is a term I expect we will be hearing more of - and of course should deal with them. It is even better than the fit ups that the Government is and has rushed through Parliament to bang up people for crimes that have been committed; we can now expect laws to bang people up for crimes they might commit in the future. What a wonderful brave new world we will live in.
Council Not Meant To Run Schools Anymore - Says Council Supremo
Private companies should be allowed to run state schools at a profit and be free to dismiss teachers who are not up to the job, the head of the Local Government Association (LGA) said yesterday.
They should also be able to “sweat” the most from their assets by hiring out their buildings and grounds in the holidays, Sir Simon Milton said.
In remarks that brought condemnation from teachers’ unions, Sir Simon said that the role of councils should be to buy education services on the open market from a variety of providers, including for-profit private concerns.
“I have no difficulty with that idea,” he said. “My view, and the LGA’s view, is that councils are not meant to run schools any more.”
The LGA! The bloody LGA are saying this, oh the tide is turning, now why can't the Tories be as bold?
Wendy or Gordon to go first - your bets please.
WENDY Alexander last night became the first party leader in British political history to face suspension from the parliament in which she sits, after being punished for breaking the rules on donations.
Ms Alexander, who has endured almost a year of questions over her ability as leader, knows the punishment will hang over her all summer while the parliament is in recess.
She has already been criticised inside the party for her failure to land blows on Alex Salmond in the chamber and for her extraordinary decision to support an independence referendum.
This latest blow will only add to the sense within the party that Ms Alexander is very much on her last chance and that any further controversies will cost her the leadership.
One Labour source, who is not an MSP but a committed party activist, said he did not want her to stay on in the long term, but he did not believe she should go now as there was no-one lined up to take her place.
Doesn't that sound familiar? So who is your money on? Wendy or Gordon to go first? I must check out politicalbetting.com to see if there is a book running.
Ignorance of the Law a valid excuse if you are in the Labour Party
Metropolitan Police detectives have spent the past six months investigating a series of donations made by property developer David Abrahams and have handed their final file to the Crown Prosecution Service.
A senior Whitehall source disclosed that the police had uncovered strong evidence.
However, he said: "These laws have been terribly drafted and no-one has ever been prosecuted under them. It will be a close decision for the CPS on whether to bring charges but they are likely to err on the side of caution and drop the case. The same problem applies to all the suspects."
Prosecutors are unsure as to whether someone who was, or claims to be, unaware that what they were doing was illegal can be successfully prosecuted. It is also not clear whether the CPS could justify that a prosecution is in the public interest.
" claims to be unaware that what they were doing was illegal" is a valid defence? I must try that one next time Plod knocks on my driver's window, how far do you think it will get me?
And "not in the public interest"? If trying to ensure that our leaders aren't a bunch of crooks isn't in the public interest then I don't know what is.
Happy Anniversary - Yabba Dabba Doo
Gordon Brown marked his first anniversary as Prime Minister with the humiliation of seeing his candidate, Richard McKenzie, lose his deposit after securing just 1,066 votes.
(I hadn't noticed the resemblance before...)
June 26, 2008
MEP pig sticking - Update 2 - It is Now Censored
The original exposé has now been removed from Youtube, I wonder why....
UPDATE 3 - It seems to be back now, maybe it was a proxy problem...
MEP pig sticking - Update
YouTube - Response to RTL TV
Kathy Sinnott MEP makes a heartfelt reply about how unfair it all is and how she worked all night and had a ten hour flight and..., I couldn't hear the rest as I laughed too loudly!
And only 12 people have bothered to watch it, and nobody has commented ..yet!
A spot of advice please. As an old fart, I get annoyed when children address me by my first name alone. For young children of good friends an honorific "Uncle Tim" seems more appropriate, or even as the FMlettes charmingly put it "Mr Tim". Otherwise I'm happy to be "Mr Englishman" or "Sir".
Am I alone in feeling thus? Should I just shrug and accept it as I have to when NHS staff do the same thing or should I be rude and turn my back as I do to salesmen who try it?
MEP pig sticking - an excellent sport
It is not often German TV has me laughing out loud, German humour being what it is, but this cruel hunting of MEPs as they try and claim their daily attendance allowance at 7:00 am before buggering off for the day had me guffawing. The cornering of Hiltrud Breyer, of the German Green Party, as she tried to go to ground in the lift was especially sweet to an old huntsman.
Olympic Cash, now the Scots want it too
WESTMINSTER is facing a wave of pressure from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to give the devolved administrations a share of Olympic regeneration funds.
The SNP insists that for Scotland, this would be worth £165 million alone in Barnett "consequentials", or more than £40 million a year until the 2012 Games.
Eh? Much to my disappointment London has got the games - do you notice that, London? The Games are awarded to a city not a country, and unless I'm very much mistaken London isn't in Jockland. Or do the spongers just want a bit of every cake that is eaten anywhere in the Kingdom?
How a VC winner is treated in modern Britain
A Gurkha who won the Victoria Cross delivered dozens of his medals to Downing Street in protest at the treatment of his fellow soldiers.
Tul Bahadur Pun VC, 87, a Second World War hero who is now in a wheelchair, handed in medals including an MBE as part of a demonstration to promote the rights of more than 2,000 Gurkhas to stay in Britain.
Mr Pun's protest came only days after he himself was refused treatment for a heart condition at an NHS hospital.
He was then told he owed the hospital thousands of pounds in unpaid medical bills.
Mr Pun, one of only 10 living VC holders in the UK, was close to tears after he was humiliated at a cardiology department at West Middlesex Hospital in London.
The war hero, who lives on just £135 a week, was forced to leave the hospital on the anniversary of winning his VC in Burma on June 23, 1944.
After examining his passport hospital officials said he was not entitled to treatment and would have to pay back the NHS for previous medical help because he had been "misleading" over his immigration status.
Mr Pun, who is blind and almost deaf, said: "I could not sleep worrying about having to pay thousands of pounds for the treatment I have already had. I have not misled anyone. The British Government allows me to live here."
He was originally refused entrance to the UK by British officials in Nepal as it was claimed he did not have strong enough ties with the UK.
But in June last year the decision was overthrown by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, and he now lives in a home in Hounslow, west London.
What an utter, utter disgrace, I wish it hadn't been his medals he had deployed in Downing Street.
Will Brown be saved by grateful greens for increasing our fuel bills?
Today is the test of whether the Brown tenure is fixable. This morning he will launch his "green revolution"; the most ambitious change in energy policy in 50 years. Wind turbines will become "as familiar as pylons", according to a No 10 insider. Offshore wind production will increase by 30 times; 35 per cent of UK electricity should come from renewable sources (up from five per cent). New nuclear power stations will be built. Greenhouse gas emissions could be down by nearly 20 per cent within 12 years; oil use should drop by seven per cent...
Maybe Brown hasn't gone far enough. There's still a row in Cabinet between the greens (David Miliband and Hilary Benn) and the non-green John Hutton...
But Brown's speech isn't just about climate change. He will argue, correctly, that the economic future is green. Back-sliding Britain has a chance to get ahead; renewables will create 160,000 jobs. The package also answers other criticisms. It's a big idea; it's principled; and it was assembled with minimal Prime Ministerial dithering. The fightback starts today.
Householders will be warned today to expect five years of higher home energy bills to pay for a green power revolution.
John Hutton, the Business Secretary, will outline plans for a massive shift away from fossil fuels to wind, solar and tidal power, but will add that the change comes at a price. “We think there will be a cost,” he told The Times yesterday....But he said that it was a necessary price to pay if Britain was serious about addressing climate change and switching to green technology.
The biggest challenge, he said, would be attracting companies to make the cumulative £100 billion investment and beating competition from other European countries rushing to do the same thing. If successful, it would lead to the creation of 160,000 British jobs. “We're in a race for this investment,” he said.
June 25, 2008
Wednesday Night is Music Night - Unsigned Edition
has three names for any London record executives who fancy getting off their A&Rse to get promoted to having their own parking space and one of those secretaries who gives you blowjobs.
Johnny Ryder – he has a song called Where's The Revolution Gone? It would be perfect as a soundtrack to some thought-itching Cameron Crowe film. Sign him.
Purplemelon – we've banged on about these louche longhairs before and shall continue to do so as they are quite simply the band with the greatest potential to be the biggest English hit in the States since the export of gin. If you can't see it, you shouldn't be in the record business. Sign them.
Rachel Barror – aka A Girl Named Raye – there are three words for Rachel; hot as fuck. Other words include Irish, original, provocative, Blondie-incarnate, girl-empowering, so very different, own songs, potentially teen iconic and starring in a hair commercial near you. Sign her. Actually, sign her first because she is homeless. A PR dream.
You heard them here first.
Another Hansen Poll
This poll will gauge reader perception to the issue that Dr. Hansen of NASA has recently raised that I cover in my post here. One vote per computer, and please spread this permalink to the poll far and wide to get a good mix of input across the blogosphere.
Why Brown is stuck in office
Unions are to demand new rights to strike as the price for keeping the cash-strapped Labour Party afloat.Quite - What I said.
Repealing the ban on secondary industrial action is among a swath of left-wing policies that unions want to see in the Labour manifesto. The pressure on Gordon Brown comes as he is relying on the unions to help to avert Labour’s cash crisis, when they are in increasingly militant mood.
To sum up: Brown goes now - wealthy donors save the party, return to Blairy days, but Labour will still lose.
Brown stays - the unions save the party and resume control. Labour might lose but there are two years to sneak through some laws.
The unions and left wing MPs want the lameduck PM to continue in office as he is a puppet in their hands, the right wing faction are happy for him to continue because he has lost the next election anyway for Labour and don't want their man to be contaminated by failure, he can "save" the party after the defeat.
The Bayeux Tapestry, one of France's national treasures, was, historians now believe, actually made in Britain and should be repatriated.
Quite with every Greek and Aborigine wanting our marbles and shrunken heads back it is about time we asked for some of our stuff back from the light fingered Froggies
Wanted Dead or Alive
Police have defended the issue of a photofit of a suspected robber which does not show his face.
Detectives are hoping to capture a villain who robbed a 98-year-old woman of her life savings.
Scum, the photofit looks reasonable enough to me, anyone who looks like it should be shot on sight. No point in taking any chances.
June 24, 2008
20 Year Anniversary Poll
Climate Research Unit - No UK Climate Change Info Since 2000
The aim of CRU is to improve scientific understanding in:
- past climate history and its impact on humanity
- the course and causes of climate change during the present century
- prospects for the future
Fair enough - lets have a look at their Information Sheets
Introductory material on a variety of climate-related subjects intended for the interested layperson.
Remember one of their three aims is to " to improve scientific understanding in...the course and causes of climate change during the present century".
It's 2008 now so why is CRU Information Sheet no. 4: Indicators of climate change in the UK "last updated: July 2000" and CRU Information Sheet no. 3: UK Weather and Climate (CET/EWP) "last updated: June 2000"?
Answers on a postcard please.
Teaching Parents To Eat
Parents cleaning out their child's lunchbox at the end of the school day could be in for a nasty surprise — a scolding note from teacher alongside the half-eaten sandwiches and empty crisp packets.No, I won't have children telling me what to eat | Mick Hume - Times Online
The School Food Trust wants teachers to send out warning letters to parents who fail to comply with school healthy-eating policies. And in advice that could be seen as patronising, the government-funded body suggests further that they send congratulatory letters to those who pack healthy lunches for their children.
Once upon a time, not so long ago, parents were supposed to educate children in the ways of the world. But the Government appears to have turned that arrangement on its head. Now it is deemed the job of children to teach parents right from wrong.
A Department of Health survey reveals that a third of parents say that their children know more than them about healthy eating campaigns. This will come as little surprise to those who are aware of how sermons on eating five portions of fruit and vegetables, recycling everything and never bullying a fly have replaced religious indoctrination in our schools.
For Dawn Primandproper, the Health Minister, the survey proves that children can teach ignorant adults a lesson. “We welcome the fact that children are absorbing our five-a-day messages and can teach their parents to eat more healthily.”
Gordon's Second Year - starting badly and going to get worse.
“We're all doomed,” a Cabinet minister says. “We might as well ring the removal vans to take us out of office.”
But one group is not about to take defeat lying down. The wealthy donors who have contributed to the Labour Party over the past ten years did not get rich by backing losers. They are used to hiring and firing people in their professional lives and they are unsentimental about their politics too...One potential leadership candidate claims that three of the party's longstanding backers have telephoned him to say that they would start giving again if Mr Brown stands down.
All this matters because the Labour Party is heading for financial meltdown... Labour has until Monday to submit its accounts to the Electoral Commission. It is touch and go whether the auditors will sign them off. The party could still ask for an extension, rather than be declared bankrupt.
According to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission, large individual gifts to the Labour Party have almost completely dried up. More than 90 per cent of donations in the first quarter of this year came from trade unions. Party sources say that there have been some contributions in the past few weeks - including around £250,000 from Sir Ronald Cohen, the venture capitalist. But attempts to renegotiate a series of multimillion-pound loans after the cash-for-peerages affair, are not going well. One wealthy man with a loan outstanding has made it clear that he does not want to be “taken for granted”.
“He's invested in something, he can see it going wrong, he wants to know how it's going to be put right,” a friend said. Even Lord Sainsbury of Turville, one of Labour's most loyal and generous benefactors throughout the Blair years, now makes loans rather than gifts. The trade unions would certainly bail the party out but Mr Brown would be reluctant to find himself beholden to the brothers.This puts the donors - or potential donors - in an extraordinarily powerful position.
It also puts the unions in a powerful position, much as Gordon will be reluctant to take their money he will have to, and with inflation rising they will want their members to be repaid with ever higher pay awards, and the public sector strikes are starting...
The Truth That Dare Not Speak Its Name
A CONSERVATIVE candidate was suspended yesterday after defending Enoch Powell and praising Ian Smith, the former prime minister of Rhodesia.
The move followed comments attributed to Philip Lardner in a Sunday newspaper.
He said Mr Powell's warnings about immigration had "in a small way come true".
Mr Lardner, Tory candidate for the Westminster constituency of North Ayrshire and Arran, also described Mr Smith, who was prime minister of Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe – during white minority rule as "a British hero who came from the Empire and fought for his country". He added: "I am confident Ian Smith was a good man."
Paul Hutcheon contacted me on Friday out of the blue and I showed him the courtesy of making time on a Friday evening to discuss the current situation in Zimbabwe. I suspected, and indeed told him I suspected he could 'shaft me' if he wanted, but that I was willing to trust him and trying to be honest about my views and beliefs on that subject. Oh what naivety!...
Saying Enoch Powell was "in some small way" right about mass immigration is hardly inflaming race relations, but merely acknowledging a truth as obvious as the world being round.
I said Smith was a hero partly due to his having been shot down three times in a Spitfire whilst voluntarily serving his Queen and Country. That makes him a hero in my book, and anyone who knows anything about Smith knows he was not a 'Racist'.
I did not 'attack' immigration - Paul Hutcheon asked for my opinion on it and I gave him an honest answer which he has used in isolation. No wonder politicians (and in my case 'would be' politician) do not give straight answers!
I gave a 40 minute explanation of my opinion on the history of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia's troubles and why Mugabe is such an evil tyrant, and the missed opportunities which existed in 1972 and 1976 for gradual change to majority rule. He has used nothing of this, and planned to stitch me up all along. The Sunday Herald should be doing the condemning, not David Cameron, and Paul Hutcheon should be ashamed of himself. He is obviously so devoid of genuine journalistic talent that he needs to fabricate stories from nothing to get into print and keep his job.
At least I can look myself in the mirror and face God knowing I try to be a man of honour and tell the truth, as I see it - that's democracy and freedom. As for Paul Hutcheon? I wouldn't lower myself to the level of humanity he inhabits to make any comment about him. I'm content for the readers to make their own mind up about this....
SCOTLAND'S biggest solar panel system has been completed, promising to slash hundreds of thousand of pounds from the cost of running Europe's busiest court.
The roof of Glasgow Sheriff Court has been transformed by the installation of hundreds of 3ft by 2ft solar panels, which will provide up to a fifth of the massive building's energy demands.
At a cost of £500,000, the electricity-generating system will save about £20,000, at current prices, from the court's annual fuel bill.
With an estimated lifespan of 40 years, the solar panels will save the taxpayer an estimated £300,000. But with fuel prices likely to rise in future, the savings may be much bigger.
Capital and interest repayment at 6% interest - £33 230.76 pa according to BBC - Homes - Property - Mortgage calculator, all to save £20k a year using their best case scenario.
Kenny MacAskill, the SNP justice secretary, claimed...
"This project is a good example of the kind of low carbon technology that will make a significant contribution to Scotland's future prosperity and help build increased, sustainable economic growth."
Well good luck to you building prosperity on such "investments".
June 23, 2008
A mobile phone advert apparently portraying Barack Obama as a monkey has provoked a new row about racial depictions of the Democratic candidate.
I presume these are the same people who complained about George Bush being portrayed as a chimp....
English Schools (Only) to Indoctrinate Britishness
More than 500 schools in England will focus on the subject of Britishness as part of a government initiative.
Is it only being English schools being forced to follow Gordon's British line? Yes, no irony here, nothing to see, please move along.
Council Spies Bait and Switch
Councils in England have been urged to review the way they use surveillance powers to investigate suspected crime.
Under laws brought in to help fight terrorism, councils can access phone and e-mail records and use surveillance to detect or stop a criminal offence...Figures released by councils under the Freedom of Information Act show that thousands of people have had their telephone and e-mail records accessed.
But Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton has written to councils warning overzealous use of the powers could alienate the public.
They should not be used for "trivial offences" such as dog fouling, he adds.
Sir Simon urges councils to use the powers only for complaints about more serious matters such as fly tipping, rogue traders and housing benefit fraud.
The powers were brought in for Terrorism - flytipping isn't terrorism, housing benefit fraud doesn't kill people just because you want the councils to stop using them against dogfouling doesn't mean that it then becomes "necessary and proportionate" to use them against other petty criminals. It is the bloody bait and switch at work, if we stop beating you with an iron bar that makes it alright to thrash you with a stick.
And the weather forecast is...
An Englishman's Castle: And the weather forecast is redux:
Meteorologists predict that this month there will be temperatures that could, on occasions, beat the Mediterranean average for June of 80F or 26C.
This will be especially true for the North, which is expected to enjoy a month of warm weather. Southerners will have to dodge the occasional thunderstorm.
However, July and August will be cooler and wetter for everyone.
A Met Office spokesman said June would be "as good as it's going to get and we're not expecting it to get any hotter"....
People in parts of Britain have been warned to expect gales of up to 65mph.
Forecasters said the UK should brace itself for "unusual summer weather" with high-wind storms and heavy rains.
Thousands of primary pupils were prevented from making Father's Day cards at school for fear of embarrassing classmates who live with single mothers and lesbians.
The politically correct policy was quietly adopted at schools "in the interests of sensitivity" over the growing number of lone-parent and same-sex households.
The making of Mother's Day cards and crafts, in the run-up to Mothering Sunday, remains generally permitted.
But the Father's Day edict follows a series of other politically correct measures introduced in primary schools, including the removal of Christian references from festive greetings cards.
It's a wise child that knows its father, and these days the ever benevolent state and its agents, the teachers, prefer it to be them rather than any poor sap of a man who might be biologically related.
Brown reverts to "It's all Thatcher's fault"
Approaching his first anniversary in power and with Labour trailing the Conservatives in the polls, Mr Brown's speech is calculated as an appeal to Labour's core vote. However, it will spark accusations of hypocrisy...It will also be seen an attempt to distract attention from Labour's record on social mobility with the Government set to miss its own targets on reducing child poverty.
He is getting desperate, reaching for that old battered copy of how to win as labour;
Rule 1: Blame Thatcher
Rule 2: Blame Thatcher
Rule 3: Blame Thatcher
James Hansen - He's Lost it
James Hansen, one of the world's leading climate scientists, will today call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer.« Watts Up With That?
Hansen will use the symbolically charged 20th anniversary of his groundbreaking speech to the US Congress - in which he was among the first to sound the alarm over the reality of global warming - to argue that radical steps need to be taken immediately if the "perfect storm" of irreversible climate change is not to become inevitable.
I suspect he’ll be calling for the jailing of bloggers like myself next. I think Mr. Hansen has lost all sense of reason, and his last shred of credibility.
You say Potato, I say Potatosaurus
Azmina Govindji, from the British Dietetic Association, said many people considered potatoes to be a vegetable...More than a third of those asked said that they believed that a baked potato counted as a portion of vegetables. Another five per cent identified chips as a vegetable.
Silly old me, of course potatoes aren't vegetables, they are animals.
June 22, 2008
Weighing in to the Nanny State
BUSINESSES will be encouraged to monitor the weight of their employees as part of a £56m Government plan to tackle Scotland's obesity epidemic.
Workers will type in their weight every morning – using Government-provided software – allowing occupational health staff to spot significant weight gain and offer early help...
The Government's new anti-obesity strategy is being launched today by the public health minister Shona Robison.
Robison said: "Obesity is one of the problems that, like climate change, does not have a simple solution and requires a new way of thinking....
It was a fucking warning, not an instruction manual you halfwitted authoritarian pokenose; I suppose Nanny will want the state of our bowel movements every morning to be added to the national database as well.
Not as green as we are cabbage looking....
The majority of the British public is still not convinced that climate change is caused by humans - and many others believe scientists are exaggerating the problem, according to an exclusive poll for The Observer.
The results have shocked campaigners who hoped that doubts would have been silenced by a report last year by more than 2,500 scientists for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)...
'It's disappointing and the government will be really worried,' said Jonathon Porritt, chairman of the government's Sustainable Development Commission. 'They [politicians] need the context in which they're developing new policies to be a lot stronger and more positive. Otherwise the potential for backlash and unpopularity is considerable.'
Nearly two thirds .. said they were cynical about government policies such as green taxes, which they see as 'stealth' taxes.
If the grammar school-baiting Ed Balls succeeds in his struggle against selection in education, the class war will have been won – at least in part – on the playing fields of Eton.
The schools secretary has revealed that as a child he lived briefly at the Berkshire public school when his father, Michael, taught there in the early 1970s.
He was fiercely opposed to grammar schools, organising the campaign against the 11-plus in Norfolk. This did not stop him later educating his son privately at Nottingham High School.Balls, despite his privileged education, has gained a reputation for trying to close off attempts by the middle classes to dominate the best schools in the state system.
I hadn't realised that Ed Balls was the product of the private, £9000-a-year Nottingham high school and then Keble College, Oxford, where his dad had also been educated. No wonder he is opposed to any parent trying to improve their child's chances in education by using money, influence or faith - they might turn the child in the obnoxious little creep that he has to face in the mirror every morning.
Put it on expenses.
Members of parliament could receive a standard allowance of £40,000 a year on top of their salaries to pay for a second home in London, under proposals to be finalised this week.
Under the new arrangement, MPs would be spared the scrutiny that comes with submitting individual receipts for the running costs of their properties.
Critics argue that if the proposed reform is adopted it will amount to rewarding MPs for their recent abuses of the system.
The committee has drawn up two other options to restore public confidence in the expenses system. One would also impose a £24,000 ceiling, but this would be calculated on a per diem rate linked to an MP’s attendance at the Commons.
The third option would be to retain the current system where MPs submit individual receipts to the Commons expenses department before they are reimbursed, but with closer scrutiny.
That third option, outrageous! That is what the rest of the workers have to do, you spend your own money on company business, you keep the receipts, you claim the money back after the bean counters and the taxman have taken a long hard look at the claim. You can't expect MPs to be subject to that sort of scrutiny, can you?
I'm waiting for the first MP to announce that when he submits his expense claim he will copy it to his website, that is the sort of openness we need to restore trust.
Gordo's Awayday to the Sand
GORDON Brown flew to Saudi Arabia last night in a bid to urge oil-rich nations to invest some of their trillions of dollars in profits into nuclear and renewable projects in the UK.
Brown wants them to help countries like the UK reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by sinking some of the profits into new wind farms and nuclear projects across Britain.
A conference on oil prices where Gordon will be the only foreign head of state. We will be spending 13 hours travelling so he can make a 10 minute speech - the bulk of which was released to the Sunday newspapers - which will allow Gordo to tell people he is 'doing something' about oil prices. We haven't even arrived and the Algerians have already issued the draft communique. Gordo's press briefing will apparently be before the conference has even started.
This is getting sad, he really is losing the plot, he is so impotent and unable to actually do anything he is reduced to the old trick of flying around being "busy" doing things that his advisors have deemed are safe, things he can't cock up, won't hurt anyone and are totally pointless.
Forvik - my kind of place
The owner of a tiny island in off Scotland declared its independence from the United Kingdom on Saturday, saying he wanted the territory, population one, to be a crown dependency like the Channel Islands.
"Forvik owes no allegiance to any United Kingdom government, central or local, and is not bound by any of its statutes. There will be no income tax, VAT (value added tax), council tax, corporation tax, or any of the other taxes instituted by the British government. I also invite anyone from any country in the world, who supports these aims, namely to become free of liars, thieves and tyrants in government, to become a citizen of Forvik,"
Where do I sign up?
UPDATE - here
June 21, 2008
The right to face your accuser - to be cancelled
The government has vowed to change the law to allow anonymous witnesses in some court cases
The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in relevant part: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right ... to be confronted with the witnesses against him."
The Confrontation Clause has its roots in both English common law, protecting the right of cross-examination, and Roman law, which guaranteed persons accused of a crime the right to look their accusers in the eye. According to the Bible, Acts 25:16, the Roman Governor Festus, discussing the proper treatment of his prisoner, Paul, stated: "It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man up to die before the accused has met his accusers face-to-face, and has been given a chance to defend himself against the charges."
Silly old Americans, silly old Romans, silly old common law, we don't need these protections and rights anymore here because we can trust the state to mete out justice without being hampered by silly old rules, can't we?
£100 billion cost to do something about climate whatever.
The goal is to meet the EU target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020.
But at a time of consumer anger over fuel prices, the plan concedes that green power will cost more.
The plan will also call for 3,500 new wind turbines to be erected across the UK, the Guardian newspaper reported.
The total price tag for the proposals is pegged at £100 billion...
Robin Webster, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said the plan was a positive step. "Harnessing the UK's natural abundance of wind and wave power, and developing a comprehensive energy efficiency programme will create thriving new industries and generate thousands of jobs."
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said the plans for solar panels on seven million roofs and other steps to reduce the use of fossil fuels make sense regardless of the price of oil or the state of the climate. "We'll create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and use less gas, and in the long run our power bills will come down. Even if climate change didn't exist these proposals would be sensible."
Later in the same essay Bastiat outlines something which makes him lose patience and indeed, such loss of patience was the cause of my own outburst above.
But I lose patience, I confess, when I hear this economic blunder advanced in support of such a project. "Besides, it will be a means of creating labour for the workmen."
Economists have, again, known of this error since at least 1850 and it's the error of looking at only what is seen and ignoring what is unseen. Creating new jobs to do means necessarily taking people away from the other jobs that they would have been doing without our grand new scheme. The creation of jobs is thus a cost of our scheme, not a benefit.
But enough of that; do I detect the tiniest bit of doubt about climate change creeping into Greenpeace's statement - is the fact that there has been no temperature change for the last 11 years starting to worry them? Are they moving to Plan B where we should carry on with their madcap schemes, "just because" without even trying to find a justification?
Give Me the Child Until He Is Seven, and I Will Show You the Man
Nurseries across the country are adopting the project, which will see teachers explaining to children as young as three that people across the world live different lives but everyone has a right to food, water and shelter.
Staff will also be expected to ensure that children are treated as independent human beings, and have the "right" to choose their toys or have a drink of water whenever they want.
It is an extension of a Unicef scheme already in use in primary schools, in which pupils analyse the responsibilities of fairytale characters and sign a joint declaration with teachers of how people should be treated.
The move comes amid growing concern about the Government's "nappy curriculum", a set of 69 learning targets for under-fives...
Poor little mites aren't allowed to play anymore, it is as though Pyongyang set our education policy.
Wouldn't you love to hold the ring for those two, though I bet they fight like a pair of girly men, all scratching and flailing hands like an epileptic Duracell bunny.
Free Olympic Party - So who is paying?
Today I was invited along with other media representatives to a venue just off the Mall to hear more about London's plans for 24 August.
There is to be a free party for 40,000 people in front of Buckingham Palace....
Not much has been given away.
I don't suppose as a proper journalist as you munched on the very agreeable snacks and downed the booze you actually asked Sebum Coe to define the word "free", did you?
News From the Divorce Courts
Brown has courage for one election only
The Prime Minister has pledged that he will step down at "some point" during the next parliament should he beat the Conservatives in two years.
That must be in the same world as the one where Scarlett Johansson has a catfight with Keira Knightley over which one gets to take me home from the pub....
June 20, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (Swing those hips edition)
From 1946 starring Thelma White and Her All-Girl Orchestra. Thelma also appeared in the cult movie REEFER MADNESS.
Today is the Longest Day (or shortest if you are down-under)
June 20th 23:59
Happy Solstice to all my Hippy Readers, they will all be gathering near FM Towers to
create a target rich environment celebrate at Stonehenge tomorrow on the wrong day.
And to my few curmudgeonly readers, happy muttering about how the nights are drawing in and it will soon be winter.
Happiest Day of The Year - Today!
The £9.3 billion budget for the London Olympics could significantly overrun due to a series of "formidable" challenges facing the organisers, the public spending watchdog warns today
Apparently the feeling of optimism caused by the combination of lighter evenings, the prospect of holidays and memories of childhood summers is at its peak on June 20.
According to the research this has been worked out using the equation O+(N xS)+Cpm/T+He. ...
Be still my dancing feet! I'm just so happy! But at least there is one bit of good news for us farmers:
GLOBAL food prices will continue to soar for the next two years, producers and analysts warned yesterday, as the Scottish Government launched an inquiry into improving affordability.
The nation's farmers and manufacturers, in Edinburgh for the Royal Highland Show, told The Scotsman they could see no chance of "agflation" easing in the near future.
And even more good news:
Homeowners face having to pay a specialist to inspect their trees under a safety regime drawn up by one of Britain’s most respected watchdogs.
The British standard for tree safety inspection would require all trees to be checked by a “trained person” every three years, with a still more rigorous “expert inspection” by an arboriculturist every five years.
Tree owners will also be obliged to conduct a “walk-by” inspection themselves once a year.
The drive to make all trees subject to inspection is being led not by the Health and Safety Executive - which opposes the move - but by the British Standards Institution (BSI).
The new British Standard would cover trees growing anywhere near where the public had access, or within falling distance of man-made structures such as other properties. It also covers areas where “branch shedding or whole tree failure could potentially cause severe harm or loss of life”.
But critics say that the BSI is overreacting and fear that a tree standard would spawn a new industry of tree inspection - a bonanza for arboriculturists ...at about £70 a time, or more if they had to climb the tree..
With the public's right to roam over millions of acres, and public access to forests this means nearly every tree in the Kingdom, even at the back of your garden there is a chance a trespasser might be felled by a branch and you would be at fault.
Oh, happy days for us with a forestry qualification, and of course if it is over twelve feet high you can't guarantee it won't fall down so it would be prudent and cost effective to cut it down, and I happen to have a chainsaw handy.
Leading retailers and economists have slammed the Office for National Statistics after it published sales figures that suggested Britons were spending at the fastest rate for 30 years.
Despite rising inflation, higher fuel bills, lower consumer confidence and a slowing economy, the ONS said sales volumes grew by 3.5pc last month - the largest jump since 1979 - taking the annual increase in sales to a staggering 8.1pc.
Sir Philip Green, owner of retail chains BHS and Arcadia,: "These figures in no way reflect the current trend. They are totally misleading."
Justin King was equally dismissive. "The ONS doesn't appear to understand how people shop," the Sainsbury chief executive said.
"The surge in retail spending ...has raised the risk of a near-term hike by the Bank of England." said Matthew Sharratt of Bank of America.
See, under Gordon's wise helmsmanship the ever grateful people are flocking to the shops to do their patriotic duty and buy more tractors, and this shows that the wise course for our prudent leader is to increase interest rates for the good of the people.
Consumers have seen their monthly outgoings soar by 26% during the past two years driven by higher housing and energy costs, research has showed.
The amount people spend on bills and living costs has soared from an average of £945 in June 2006 to £1,281 now, according to insurer Combined Insurance.
Consumers are spending around a third more on rent and mortgages than they were two years ago, with rents rising by an average of 30% and mortgage repayments jumping by 33%.
At the same time households claim they are spending about 32% more on gas and electricity at an average of £90 a month, while other everyday bills such as television subscriptions and water rates have risen by 30%.
Council tax has increased by 22% during the past two years to average £90 a month, while car running costs are 34% higher and spending on food has risen by 20%
Families with children have been particularly hard hit, with their average expenditure on child care soaring by 77% during the past two years, while other spending on children, such as clothes, has risen by 37%.
Consumer Prices Index (CPI) annual inflation – the Government’s target measure of inflation – was 3.3 per cent in May, up from 3.0 per cent in April.
Also according to the Government Gordon Brown is a universally loved and respected statesman, the people's chosen helmsman for these globally uncertain times. Remember all good economic records are due to Gordon's wise decisions, all bad ones are either due to the Tories or world conditions.
Money Lenders Demand Governments Underwrite Tulip Bulb Mania
A coalition of 99 companies is asking political leaders to set targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and to establish a global carbon market....
"We see enormous opportunities for the financial industry, beyond the challenge we face as global citizens," said Caio Koch-Weser, vice chairman of Deutsche Bank.
"If leadership is there to create a Kyoto successor that is based on cap and trade, then it creates a global carbon market - and then we are in business."
June 19, 2008
Arctic Sea Ice Numberwatch from Darkest Africa
The Remittance Man looks at a rather iffy alarmist report over at the BBC site about the amount of ice there is in the Arctic. The obvious intention is to try and portray the reducing area of ice as some sort of global catastrophe.
Luckily he has the brains and the tools to do some analysis, and concludes:
As far as I understand statistics, the 2008 numbers are all in the green - there is no crisis.
Bring this along and I'll buy you a pint (offer valid until the money in my wallet runs out!)
Recession Quote of the Day from Ascot
"Times must be hard, Old Eggy's drinking port that is younger than his mistress"
HUNDREDS of people lined the streets of Wootton Bassett to pay their last respects to five dead soldiers.
Hearse after hearse, carrying coffins draped with Union flags were driven slowly through the High Street during the solemn occasion.
After 10 years of Labour neglect, Gordon Brown is making all the right noises about the parlous state of our troops, both on and off the battlefield.
However, does he mean what he says about respect for our soldiers? Really mean it? At the time that those five young paras were driven through Wiltshire in a cavalcade of hearses, should Brown have thought about a bigger, more heartfelt official gesture to mark their homecoming? George W. Bush was in Britain then.
How incredible it would have been if these two men had gone to Wootton Bassett to stand on the pavement together and bow their heads as the quintet of death swept by. It would never happen, of course.
Real Rockers Drive Jags
Troubled rocker Pete Doherty spends almost £100 filling up his gas-guzzling 3.6litre XJ6 Sovereign, which does just 20 miles to the gallon.
And he pays another £180-a-year on the ageing motor's road tax, and an estimated £100-per-year on engine oil.
Today a pal revealed Doherty was ''p*ssed'' about the cost of fuel, but said he refuses to buy a more economical car.
"Pete isn't really the sort of person you'd expect to drive a hybrid-type car - he's a wild man of rock, after all.''
How unlike Coldplay's Chris Martin! How refreshing in this sanctimonious world.
Scotch Law - Trampling On Rights
In Scotland, a new statutory offence of "communicating indecently" will criminalise those who send malicious and unwanted sexually offensive e-mails and texts, as well as other verbal and written messages.
So presumably if I blog "Fuck you, Jimmy" I am guilty, oh well it was only free speech after all..
A new bill unveiled yesterday proposes a crackdown on "sex tourism", with Scottish law-enforcement agencies empowered to investigate and prosecute any adult who has intercourse with a child overseas.
So the Scottish Raj has imperialist thoughts - if an act is illegal in a country then it is illegal, but the age of consent varies from country to country. It seems they want to impose Scottish law on other countries. If for instance I went to the Faroe Islands - to pick an example at random from Wikipedia, it appears I could bugger a fishy-smelling blubber-eating 15 year old to my heart's content and all they would say is "Den, som har samleje med et barn under 15 år, straffes med fængsel indtil 6 år." But when I sailed back to Glasgow I could be arrested.
And when it becomes illegal for a 20 year old to buy a drink in Scotland, will it become illegal for young Scots to buy a drink in London?
Oh well, it was only the rule of law and recognition of national sovereignty, and who cares for that as it "is for the children".
Wiltshire Farm Boys Baffle Boffins
WHEN it comes to crop circles, a simple pattern is usually enough to grab attention.
But an elaborate design, which appeared in a barley field overnight, has even stunned scientists after it emerged it depicts the mathematical formula pi.
Lucy Pringle, who has spent decades researching crop circles, said that although she thought some were man-made, she found it hard to believe such an intricate crop circle could have been created by humans.
She added: "You can do it on a computer, but you try putting that in a field in the middle of the night and achieving that degree of mathematical accuracy."
Her theory is that the designs are created by a spiralling electromagnetic force that hits the ground for a nanosecond.
Stewart Dobson, a local councillor, said: "It's either a very educated person who has done it or a very educated alien."
"It's hard to believe somebody managed to work (the design] out so it shows pi so accurately."
Cor lummy, scientists baffled! Someone managed to work out pi to ten places, how did they do that by scratching sticks and counting stones? Far too clever for mere humans, next they will be claiming they can fly!
Great Britain Dies on Kinnock's Orders
Lord Kinnock said delaying the vote would put the UK "on the sidelines", while ratifying it would put Mr Brown in a stronger position to "safeguard the ...
The BBC has now edited the news story so I can no longer quickly find out what Kinnock of Bedwetter said, just as well I suppose as I might tip the scale of what is considered to be illegal thoughts if I knew.
Thoughts Not Outlawed - Yet
You can think what you like. That was what the Director of Public Prosecutions told a conference on Monday organised by the free speech group Index on Censorship. Sir Ken Macdonald's remarks were backed up by Home Office minister Tony McNulty.
"We do not seek to outlaw thought," Mr McNulty said.
Well that is a relief, and a worry that they have to even make it clear....
June 18, 2008
- Dialing a rotary phone
- Putting a needle on a vinyl record
- Changing tracks on an eight-track tape
- Using a slide rule
- Refilling a fountain pen
- Operating a dictaphone
- Using the eraser ribbon on a typewriter
Never had an eight-track, a dictaphone or learnt shorthand but the others I can do.
Quote of the Day
But let's not forget the EU is as much a threat to our freedom as the surveillance state...Brussels, like the Clintons, is extremely reluctant to recognise defeat.
Cyd Charisse - RIP
Sheer Sexy Class.
When I was out mowing yesterday...
Pictures, diagrams and explanations as what we see down here in Wiltshire in our cornfields. I wonder what Theo discovers on his Norfolk acres? I bet it is not nearly as interesting to us geeks....
Price Control Mindset Addiction
The proposals include allowing young people to buy drink in pubs at 18, but not from supermarkets or off-licences until they are 21; imposing a 35p minimum price per unit of alcohol; and banning some promotional offers.
Kenny MacAskill, the justice secretary, said: ...that many off-sales premises were "already looking for" measures such as increasing the age to buy drink – and denied they were evidence of a "nanny state". Mr MacAskill said the social responsibility fee was a way to give licensing boards "the power to recognise that alcohol is not cost free". "It has social, economic and health costs, which should not be met by the taxpayer but by those who profit," he said.
"WORLD Health Organisation advice is absolutely clear: to bring about control of alcohol consumption we have to address the price so it is fair and balanced, address the availability and then address the service provision and enforcement of the law....Price has to be controlled carefully ...We have to do something about price. Offers like three-for-two are positively dangerous...We have a long, long way to catch up in funding, because for 25-30 years alcohol services have been neglected." - Tom Wood, former chairman of the Alcohol and Drug Action Team in Edinburgh and former Deputy Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police
It's not accuracy, looks, or weight that matter most in a gun - it's that it goes bang when you want it to.
“Watch out for the mortars and RPGs,” screamed Captain Simon Chalmers, above the shooting and the revving of trucks. “My gun's f****d,” he added, helpfully.
His weapon was not the only one that malfunctioned. As I huddled beneath the muzzle of one 50-cal machinegun, a soldier struggled to fire more than one round at a time. I could hear other gunners screaming “weapon jam” as they dodged incoming Taleban rounds. I watched two mortars slam into the dust to our left and right while the nearest 50-cal guns were unable to return fire.
“It's f***ing crap ammo,” one soldier screamed at his patrol commander.
As we moved off, three things happened that will stay with me for ever: the tow rope broke, the guns on the second vehicle stopped working and we were now taking incoming rounds from our left and right. I was speechless with fear.
Jim jumped out and helped to replace the tow rope while one of the Pathfinders pushed me to the floor of the vehicle and removed the gun. All the time AK rounds pinged off the rocks and sand around us.
And we are trying to get our Afghans to stop using AKs and use our weaponry! Out in the rocks and sand they know better.
The real rate of inflation for most households is much higher. Capital Economics, a consultancy, estimates that the average middle-class family is suffering from an inflation rate of 6.3 per cent. That means a higher rate taxpayer needs to be earning 10.5 per cent, just to keep pace with rising prices.
Government's measure of inflation might as well stand for Chinese Prices Index - Telegraph
The Government's favoured measure of how fast prices are rising - the Consumer Price Index (CPI) - has today registered inflation hit 3.3 pc last month.
But that is so far removed from most people's experience of prices in the shops and at the petrol pump that CPI might as well stand for the Chinese Prices Index. This is why The Daily Telegraph has launched the Real Cost of Living Index (RCLI).. which shows a mixed basket of household bills, food and transport costs have risen by an average of 9.5 per cent over the last year. That is more than treble the official measure of inflation and more than double the Retail Price Index (RPI).
Rules the Waves
Royal Navy warships may form part of EU fleet being planned by France.
This must have something to do with the myth of a common defence force that rabid eurosceptics were told off for promulgating. Of course Britain would never surrender its defences, would it...
And if the Froggies want one of our ships may I suggest we offer the the flagship of the Second Sea Lord in his role as Commander in Chief of the Royal Navy's Home Command (CINCNAVHOME).
June 17, 2008
Sign here please
Brown's Speech on Liberty - The Transcript
Prime Minister Gordon Brown will seek to address critics of his record on civil liberties with a high-profile speech about the need to balance the demands of security and liberty.
I suppose it will be a rerun of his Speech on Liberty (25 Oct 07) - a fine speech:
I want to talk today about liberty - what it means for Britain, for our British identity and in particular what it means in the 21st century for the relationship between the private individual and the public realm.
I want to explore how together we can write a new chapter in our country's story of liberty - and do so in a world where, as in each generation, traditional questions about the freedoms and responsibilities of the individual re-emerge but also where new issues of terrorism and security, the internet and modern technology are opening new frontiers in both our lives and our liberties.
Addressing these issues is a challenge for all who believe in liberty, regardless of political party. Men and women are Conservative or Labour, Liberal Democrat or of some other party - or of no political allegiance. But we are first of all citizens of our country with a shared history and a common destiny.
And I believe that together we can chart a better way forward. In particular, I believe that by applying our enduring ideals to new challenges we can start immediately to make changes in our constitution and laws to safeguard and extend the liberties of our citizens:....
And my starting point is that from the time of Magna Carta, to the civil wars and revolutions of the 17th century, through to the liberalism of Victorian Britain and the widening and deepening of democracy and fundamental rights throughout the last century, there has been a British tradition of liberty - what one writer has called our 'gift to the world'.....
Now is the time to reaffirm our distinctive British story of liberty - to show it is as rich, powerful and relevant to the life of the nation today as ever; to apply its lessons to the new tests of our time.
So instead of invoking the unique nature of the threats we face today as a reason for relinquishing our historical attachment to British liberty, we meet these tests not by abandoning principles of liberty but by giving them new life. ...
we must never forget that the state and the people are not equivalent. The state is always the servant of the people.
We must remember that liberty belongs to the people and not governments.
It is the challenge and the opportunity for our generation to write the next chapter of British liberty in a way that honours the progress of the past - and promises a wider and more secure freedom to our children.
Hurrah! He'll be voting for David Davis next. But actions speak stronger than words, and however much he trumpets British Freedom and Liberty he has presided over the most illiberal and authoritarian crackdown on them since the Luftwaffe were flying overhead.
Let's Bomb Tehran Plan
Gulp - is that us going to drop a nuclear bomb on them or the Iranians plans on how to drop one on us?
Bin Bugs Don't Work - And Defra Knew it in 2006
Households may be overcharged for the collection of their rubbish under new bin tax rules because of glitches with the technology used to weigh the refuse, it has been disclosed...
South Norfolk, which started to use the technology widely in 2006, decided to turn off the microchips in 50,000 bins because the information they gave was incomplete.
The council won a grant of more than £1 million from the Government in 2002 for its new kerbside refuse and recycling scheme.
Is that the same South Norfolk Council which reported back in August 2006 reported that the Defra funded "Pilot study of local authority household incentives for waste management" was a failure because of " technical problems with the bin weighing software" and concluded
Although bin-weighing technology has the potential to provide waste data quickly and accurately, problems with the weighing software in South Norfolk resulted in limited data being available for the two control and one pilot parish...Other authorities intending to use similar technology in combination with an incentive scheme should ensure that the weighing software used would successfully generate the reports needed
So they knew the bin bugs didn't work but carried on...
June 16, 2008
Filthy Hospitals - No Change There
More than a quarter of health trusts in England are failing to meet basic hygiene standards, official figures show today.
The Healthcare Commission reports that no improvement has been made on a year ago.
In total, 103 out of 391 trusts admitted they did not achieve the minimum requirements, brought in by the Government to help combat the hospital superbugs, MRSA and Clostridium difficile.
More than 8,000 deaths were related to MRSA and C. diff.
Still the good news from the figures is that 93.2% do comply with the requirement to "challenge discrimination, promote equality and respect human rights."
And over in the private sector you can look up the MRSA and Clostridium difficile infection rates as well - and as far as I can see they are both a big round zero for 2007 - and they even give handy hints as how they achieve it. May I suggest someone from the NHS reads them. MRSA Info Clostridium difficile Info
Naughty Girl Wendy Blames SNP For Spanking Her
Jim Dyer, the Standards Commissioner, has prepared a report into the donations Ms Alexander received for her leadership campaign last year.
It is understood that Dr Dyer concluded that Ms Alexander broke parliamentary rules by not declaring the £16,000 for her campaign as "gifts" in the register of members' interests.
And the story is that it is a scandal because this has leaked out and Labour are blaming the SNP, not about how it shows up Wendy to be in the wrong! No concept of shame, have they?
The Lights Are Going Out Because of Europe
Blackouts that plunged 500,000 homes into darkness last month were compounded by European environmental restrictions over the use of coal and oil-fired power stations, The Times has learnt.
... industry sources say that a key factor was the European Union’s Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which sets strict limits on the number of hours that some of Britain’s largest and most heavily polluting coal and oil-fired power stations can operate before they have to close in 2015. The time is measured in “stack hours” — the length of time that chimney stacks, rather than individual generation units, are in use...
The problem has been made worse because it affects coal and oil-fired stations, two of the most flexible sources of power generation. While nuclear plants need plenty of time to boost their power output, operational oil and coal-fired stations can be fired up quickly to generate more energy.
For power stations that have more than one burner, this has created a clear economic incentive for plants to be switched off unless they are being operated at full capacity, or until wholesale power prices increase enough for them to be economically viable to be turned back on.
Power industry executives said that the rules had contributed to mounting instability on the network because increasing numbers of power stations were not being run at any one time, reducing the margin of spare capacity and the ability of the National Grid to boost supply rapidly at times of crisis.
Yet again the insane micromanagement of our lives in the name of Greenery by the EU has catastrophic affects.
BBC Hack Discovers Rightwingers Can Be Nice
I have long been puzzled by the fact that the British left-wing media house the most gratuitously spiteful, snarky columnists while weeping all over the front page about Africa, while rabidly conservative journalists often turn out to be personally kind and thoughtful.
Libby Purves worked for some years for BBC Radio 4, as a reporter and a presenter on the Today programme and, since 1983, has presented Midweek. She joined The Times as a columnist in 1990. She received an OBE in 1999 for her services to journalism and was Columnist of the Year in the same year.
June 15, 2008
The Blogs Called It - Westminster Village and MSM Were Out Of Touch.
An ICM for the Mail on Sunday taken on Friday of adults in Haltemprice and Howden, shows massive support for the area’s MP as he seeks to resign his seat and fight a by election over Gordon’s move to increase to six weeks the length of time suspects can be held without trial....
Under the heading, “Suddenly, Labour is not laughing at David Davis” the Observer’s Gaby Hinsliff writes “..What was a crisis for David Cameron is now becoming a serious headache for Gordon Brown, who must now decide whether to discipline his rebellious MP and turn him into a dangerous martyr, or ignore him and risk others joining in, turning a by-election that Brown dismissed as a farcical stunt into a cross-party uprising. Is British politics seeing the emergence of something genuinely new? Perhaps.”
There’s little doubt that the Davis move has touched a raw nerve right across the political spectrum that cannot be categorised in the normal Right-Left pigeon holes. All this is helped by Davis’s image - with his SAS background he looks like an old fashioned authoritarian Tory but isn’t.
So where is this all going to go? It’s hard to say but perhaps the biggest losers will be the “smarty-pants experts” in the so-called Westminster village - and that will be no bad thing.
Caroline Lucas The Green Party's MEP for SE England - fisked.
Over the last year, we have looked at some of the words and ideas coming from the environmental movement through the Green Party's MEP for SE England, Caroline Lucas. With her breathless, urgent catastrophism, Lucas epitomises Environmentalism and its hollow vision, shallow intellect, and deep misanthropy......So here is another opportunity to subject Lucas's political ideas to some scrutiny.....
A long sit back and enjoy with some coffee fisk follows, concluding with:
She claims that we must change the way we live, to expect less, and to make do and mend, but that, somehow, this will make us all happier. She claims that she doesn't depend on catastrophic visions to connect with the public, yet without it, there is no imperative to give her ideas a second thought. She claims to be part of a democratic movement, yet demands that the state regulate our behaviour. She claims to speak on behalf of the poor, yet would deprive the poor of the material means to change their lives; cheap goods, fuel, and mobility. She claims to have science on her side, yet she campaigns against the benefits of science; she is against animal research, and against evidence based medicine, favouring instead 'alternative' therapies; she campaigns against the use of agricultural and industrial chemicals; and she campaigns against anything which might have the charge of 'unsustainable' thrown at it. She claims to be against the coercive influence of big business, but in its place, she would put an authoritarian government that would regulate your freedom to travel, to buy things, and coerce you into observing an 'environmentally friendly' lifestyle.
Rubbish News - Resistance To The New Regime Will Be Crushed In The German Way
The fines could be levied on anybody who bars entry to their property or obstructs a town hall official, or who "fails or refuses to provide facilities or assistance or any information".
Guidance sent out by the House of Commons Library in April states that the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act and the 2005 Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act allow inspectors to enter premises. The guidance adds: "This legislation may give authorities the ability to look through people's bins to investigate an environmental offence."
Obstructing such inspections risks a criminal record and a fine "not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale" – currently £5,000.
Separate documentation uncovered by the Conservatives has established that householders can face fines of up to £1,000 if they put out rubbish at the wrong time; put waste into the wrong type of bin; leave rubbish outside a wheelie bin; fail to close the lid on the bin; or put the bin in the wrong place.
Cuts to weekly bin collections have boosted vermin to levels last seen in the Victorian era and raised serious health risks, the pest control industry has warned.
Rat, mouse, fox and cockroach numbers are reaching record levels, while bins are becoming infested with maggots as rubbish stands for longer in hot weather.
The introduction of fortnightly bin collections by hundreds of councils has seen pest control call-outs soar, while Jeyes, the manufacturer of the disinfectant used in First World War trenches, said sales had risen by 82 per cent since the change as people tried to rid their bins of maggots.
The increasing infestation rates are putting families at risk of infections such as salmonella, E-coli and hookworm, say specialists.
Monthly collections were "inevitable" as the rate of recycling increased, said Phillip Ward, the head of waste programmes at the government-funded Waste Resources Action Programme (Wrap)...
Mr Ward said: "People don't like change so there will be resistance. But they will get used to it and we will eventually catch up with countries like Germany."
Advisory - Used hempen rope cannot be put in the green recycling bin as it has been in contact with vermin, it should be placed in th brown bin.
Davis - The Libertarian Party Candidate
DAVID Davis's by-election campaign on the issue of 42 days will be just the first salvo in a major "freedom" campaign led by the former shadow home secretary.
Supporters of the Tory MP said they are gearing up for a relentless campaign on issues such as ID cards and the surveillance state, claiming they want to redraw the Conservatives as the party of liberty, against the authoritarian Labour Party.
Davis will set out his agenda in the coming week as he aims to link the new law allowing the police to detain suspects for 42 days without trial to his wider campaign. One ally said: "David is making it clear that the only truly libertarian party out there is the Conservative Party. That is what the Tory Party was about and should be about for the future."
Not completely convinced by his libertarian beliefs, he still is an old fashioned banner of substances man, but he is talking sweet music to my ears.
Too Young To Drink - Old Enough to Vote SNP
UNDER 21s will be banned from buying alcohol at supermarkets and off licences under a controversial plan to shake-up Scotland's drink laws.
Over-18s will still be allowed to drink in pubs and bars but ministers are said to be insistent on the need for radical reform of off-sales, arguing that "enough is enough" in the battle to bring an end to Scotland's "booze culture".
Along with the increase in the age limit, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will also propose setting minimum prices for alcohol and banning three-for-two and buy-one-get-one-free deals.
Let's just cut to the chase and introduce ration cards for alcohol only redeemable at government shops, and why stop there? Do the same for chips and cakes and anything else.
But if the SNP don't trust young people to buy a can of cooking lager why do they trust them vote?
"While 16-year-olds can pay taxes, get married or serve in the armed forces, they effectively have to bite their lip when it comes to decisions that will affect them.
"At the very point that society expects young people to assume many of the responsibilities that come with adulthood, it is only right they also get the right to vote.
"That is why I am happy to announce the Scottish government's support for reducing the voting age to 16.
June 14, 2008
A Single White Feather
Read More: The Devil's Kitchen: A single white feather
Haddock Slapping A Ginger (Labour Authoritarian) Prat
Luke Akehurst gets his fair dues
Where Does Oil Come From? Silicon Valley Might Have A New Answer
Several companies in or near Silicon Valley have spurned traditional high-tech activities such as software and networking and embarked instead on an extraordinary race to make $140-a-barrel oil (£70) from Saudi Arabia obsolete.
What is most remarkable about what they are doing is that instead of trying to reengineer the global economy – as is required, for example, for the use of hydrogen fuel – they are trying to make a product that is interchangeable with oil. The company claims that this “Oil 2.0” will not only be renewable but also carbon negative – meaning that the carbon it emits will be less than that sucked from the atmosphere by the raw materials from which it is made...
Imagine a world where the more fuel you burn the more your reduce the global CO2 level. And now imagine the reaction of the Greens, will they welcome this technology, will they cease their assault on western civilization, will they stop trying to force us back to the Stone Age, to a socialist paradise, will they fuck.
(Comment No 2 on the Times Website - My question is, how safe are these genetically modified bugs? I think that there needs to be many years of testing before I would be happy. - case proven.)
A coroner has called for a change in Army policy after a soldier fighting in Afghanistan died in an armoured vehicle that had not been fitted with electronic equipment capable of disabling roadside bombs.
The vehicle in front of him was equipped with an ECM (Electronic Counter Measure) and therefore survived the attack.
If Gordon Brown needs it for his car here then how much more do they need it out there?
EU Threatens Our Food Supplies
EUROPEAN proposals for pesticide control would outlaw four fifths of the chemicals used by UK farmers and cut crop yields by between a quarter and a half, says a body representing growers, food manufacturers and government advisers.
The British Crop Production Council published its disaster warning yesterday in an attempt to shock Ministers and Euro-MPs into intervening before a proposed rewriting of the European Commission rules on plant protection products takes effect towards the end of next year.
A spokesman said last night: "It is a typical European story. These proposals have been under discussion for years. Everyone assumes the dafter elements will be talked out but they disappear into various committees, which are lobbied by all sorts of people, and get worse. And by the time they come back, we are running out of time. The proposals now on the table are due for implementation in late 2009 but we saw them not much more than a month ago."...
The agricultural consultancy ADAS, a privatised government agency which still advises Defra, worked with the York-based Pesticide Safety Directorate ...said the lowest impact would be a 25 per cent drop in crop production in the UK; it could be as much as 53 per cent.
New rules for European crops would imply the need to ban imports grown to different rules elsewhere - meaning huge jumps in prices.
ADAS representative James Clarke told the forum that brassicas would become uneconomical to grow; wheat prices would have to rise between 30 per cent and 120 per cent; and potatoes 49 -100 per cent.
The BCPC says the chemicals are being singled out because they can be dangerous rather than because they actually do damage. Colin Ruscoe, chairman of the BCPC's executive arm, commented last night: "Petrol is dangerous. We are calling for a proper assessment of risk."
Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Sri Lanka say we should preferably ditch the Monarchy
The UN Human Rights Council said the UK must "consider holding a referendum on the desirability or otherwise of a written constitution, preferably republican".
The council has 29 members including Saudi Arabia, Cuba and Sri Lanka.
So why the fuck should we take a blind bit of notice of anything this bunch of corrupt bastards say? Answers on a very small postcard please.
(Has the Saudi Arabian Raghead suggested that his people might like a vote on whether they want their royal kleptomaniacs to stay in charge or not?)
June 13, 2008
And It's No, Nay, Never; No, Nay, Never, No More ...
Drive by shooting
Naughty boys down Pewsey way - don't they know you don't go for a head shot.
Friday Night is Music Night (The old old question edition)
EU referendum: Ireland rejects Lisbon Treaty
EU referendum: Ireland rejects Lisbon Treaty - Telegraph
Irish voters have thrown the EU into disarray by rejecting the Lisbon Treaty, the government conceded.
Tomorrow we can watch as the bastards work round it but today is a day for Guinness!
And whatever other bloggers might think there is only one suitable choice for the music.
Full coverage of the referendum results
One to watch today, with fingers crossed.
The beech trees of Saint Pierre de Varengeville-Duclair forest bore a poignant testimony to the D-Day landings for more than six decades. Thousands of American soldiers stationed there after the liberation of Normandy spent their spare hours with a knife or bayonet creating a lasting reminder of their presence.
Local people are calling for the few “name trees” that still stand to be classified as historic monuments and saved from the same fate.
Claude Quétel, a French historian and Second World War specialist, was horrified when he discovered what he called a catastrophe and a shameless act. “It is a typically French failing to wipe out the traces of the past,” he told The Times. “I am indignant.”
He said it, I couldn't.
Why No Bansturbation Over Nipple Rings?
The rising popularity of body piercing could "place a significant burden on health services for many years," a public health official has warned.
According research by the Health Protection Agency (HPA), one in three young people aged 16-24 have experienced medical complications as a result of having a part of their body pierced.
One per cent of all piercings have resulted in a hospital admission.
As much as a tenth of the adult population has been pierced somewhere other than their ear lobe, according to the survey.
Nipples were the most popular spot for men, who were also twice as likely as women to opt for genital piercing.
The most common complications were swelling, infection and bleeding with almost half of tongue piercings causing problems - the worst record by far.
Urgh, I have no idea why people want to put nails through their bodies, though I understand that the stud in the tongue indicates the inclination to provide extra pleasure in certain ways; and of course a Prince Albert is simply a sensible restraining strap for those who wear tight cavalry trousers, and don't wish to offend the ladies (or so his highness claimed).
And frankly if what people want to do with their own bodies, however much it revolts me, is non of my damned business. But with the health fascists clammering for bans on anything potentially harmful why do piercings get a free ride? What have they got that conker trees don't?
David Davis - The Morning After, Does It Still Seem Such A Good Idea?
Mad, embarrassing, just not done... the Westminster village as one is decrying David Davis - but I sense outside the bubble things are very different. I think he has struck a cord with the public, I think he has shown how out of touch the Westminster village is with the real feeling in the country - a feeling well summed up at Numberwatch
June 12, 2008
David Davis - That Speech in Full
Full text of the speech below - H/t Devil's Kitchen
The name of my constituency is Haltemprice and Howden. The word Haltemprice is derived from the motto of a medieval priory, and in Old French it means "Noble Endeavour".
I had always viewed membership of this House as a noble endeavour, not least because we and our forebears have for centuries fiercely defended the fundamental freedoms of our citizens. Or we did, up until yesterday.
Up until yesterday, I took the view that what we did in the House of Commons representing our constituents was a noble endeavour because with centuries or forebears we defended the freedoms of the British people. Well we did up until yesterday.
This Sunday is the anniversary of Magna Carta—the document that guarantees that most fundamental of British freedoms—Habeus Corpus.
The right not to be imprisoned by the state without charge or reason. Yesterday this house decided to allow the state to lock up potentially innocent British citizens for up to six weeks without charge.
Now the counter terrorism bill will in all probability be rejected by the House of Lords very firmly. After all, what should they be there for if not to defend Magna Carta.
But because the impetus behind this is essentially political - not security - the government will be tempted to use the Parliament Act to over-rule the Lords. It has no democratic mandate to do this since 42 days was not in its manifesto.
Its legal basis is uncertain to say the least. But purely for political reasons, this government's going to do that. And because the generic security arguments relied on will never go away—technology, development and complexity and so on, we'll next see 56 days, 70 days, 90 days.
But in truth, 42 days is just one—perhaps the most salient example—of the insidious, surreptitious and relentless erosion of fundamental British freedoms.
And we will have shortly, the most intrusive identity card system in the world.
A CCTV camera for every 14 citiziens, a DNA database bigger than any dictatorship has, with 1000s of innocent children and a million innocent citizens on it.
We have witnessed an assault on jury trials—that balwark against bad law and its arbitrary use by the state. Short cuts with our justice system that make our system neither firm not fair.
And the creation of a database state opening up our private lives to the prying eyes of official snoopers and exposing our personal data to careless civil servants and criminal hackers.
The state has security powers to clamp down on peaceful protest and so-called hate laws that stifle legitimate debate - while those who incite violence get off Scot free.
This cannot go on, it must be stopped. And for that reason, I feel that today it's incumbent on me to take a stand.
I will be resigning my membership of the House and I intend to force a by-election in Haltemprice and Howden.
Now I'll not fight it on the government's general record—there's no point repeating Crewe and Nantwich. I won't fight it on my personal record. I am just a piece in this great chess game.
I will fight it, I will argue this by-election, against the slow strangulation of fundamental British freedoms by this government.
Now, that may mean I've made my last speech to the House—it's possible. And of course that would be a matter of deep regret to me. But at least my electorate, and the nation as a whole, would have had the opportunity to debate and consider one of the most fundamental issues of our day—the ever-intrusive power of the state into our lives, the loss of privacy, the loss of freedom and the steady attrition undermining the rule of law.
And if they do send me back here it will be with a single, simple message: that the monstrosity of a law that we passed yesterday will not stand.
What part of "No Surrender" didn't they understand?
I have been down to the workshop and am lovingly looking at a big tin of Chemico Grinding Paste, all I need are nine Rustic Irish Blackthorn Coppiced Knob Walking Sticks and then I have a plan as what to do to the duplicitous bastards who sold our rights down the river last night.
David Davis - My Sort of Tory
I agree with everything David said about the erosion of our freedoms. He expressed the frustration many of us feel about the build up of the controlling state - the way ID cards, spy cameras, the loss of Habeas Corpus, the daily assault on our freedoms by nit picking regulation - now add up to an unacceptable loss of liberty. He spoke for me when he listed the monstrous assaults on freedom this government has mounted...
The Coffee House has more on The Passion of David Davis
Cameron needs to get back behind him and stop being upset that his precious grid has been kicked over. Stop being the smarmy politician and become a man of principle. Anti-politics is the new black - Davis instinctively knows this and is coming out of this best.
Sorry - I have only just got back to my computer after a night in London.
Half a gallon of fine ale with an old colleague before being royally entertained and informed by the Stockholm Network:
I was pleased to hear Stephen Pollard defend the use of ridicule and insult by blogs against politicians as a valuable part of the body politic, reacquainting them with real hustings heckles, unlike the stage managed photo-ops they are used to now.
And then on for dinner with The Devil until he poured me into a taxi as I had become a disgrace and was giggling on the floor at our neighbouring diner's very expensive Steak Tatar which resembled nothing more than a tin of cattomeat tipped onto a plate. Oh well that's another restaurant I won't be allowed back into again.
Still I haven't missed any political stories, have I?
June 11, 2008
The Shame of our Schools
Education, education, education? For shame, for shame, for shame. New Labour’s failure to rescue state education, let alone improve it, will be its most disgraceful legacy. The Conservatives should not crow; when in office they also failed to take on the forces destroying education.
Each week the news is full of reports of stagnating standards, more university dropouts (one in seven students, despite government “investment” of £1 billion since 2003), a shortage of teachers, particularly in maths and science, and a majority of underqualified teachers. However, two dismal stories stood out last week, both as symptom and explanation of what is wrong.
One of the three leading universities in the country, Imperial College London, announced that in 2010 it would introduce an entrance exam for applicants because it cannot rely on A-level results....
Also last week, Professor John White of the notoriously progressive Institute of Education told us that traditional lessons were too middle class. Instead, he said, schools should teach skills such as “energy saving and civic responsibility” through “theme or project-based learning”....
As these two stories demonstrate, quality has been sacrificed to the pursuit of equality. It is shameful..
The Prince of Wales has repaid a debt left by Charles II. The King owed £453 and 3s (15p) to the Clothiers Company of Worcester for troop uniforms ordered in 1651.
Jolly decent of him, but a Gentleman should never worry about petty things such as tailor's debts, even if it has been dragging on for a while. Whatever next? He will be paying his wine merchant? Such things are for executors to sort out.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot does that mean?
BLUF: Complex attack IVO PB ECP: SVBIED, SAF, and IDF. BDA: 1x CF(US) WIA, 2x IA KIA, 2x LN INJ, 2x AQI/ISI Killed, 1x CHU FUBAR. POO: Sadr City.
A useful decoder is provided, and includes a few I didn't know such as:
DBIED - Donkey-Borne Improvised Explosive Device.
Dancing round swords and bans
The Ghillie Callum, or sword dance as it is better known, has now been defeated by red tape, according to dance judges who have cancelled its performance at a Highland games, claiming a licence is now required to "transport a dangerous weapon"...
However, it would appear that the judges, who did not wish to be named, or quoted, are mistaken. The Scottish Government, under the Custodial Sentences and Weapons (Scotland) Act 2007, plans to establish a scheme for the licensing of knife-dealers with a view to restricting the sale, hire, lending or giving of swords and bladed weapons.
But the act is not yet in force and will have specific caveats to protect the use of swords for religious or cultural reasons. A Scottish Government spokesman said: "When we do bring forward restrictions on swords, the legislation allows defences for religious, cultural and sporting purposes among others."
I have a feeling they can thank our brother Sikhs and their duty to carry a kirpan for the caveats rather than the ancient traditions of the Scotch with their predilection for swords, dirks and skean dhus
Tesco nanny - the uninvited guest at your BBQ
A Tesco store refused to sell barbecue sauce to a customer because it contained a tiny amount of alcohol and she couldn't prove her age.
Claire Birchell, 25, was told she could not buy the Jack Daniel's barbecue sauce which has an alcohol content of 2 per cent.
Staff at the store in in Flitwick, near Bedford also refused to sell the bottle to her brother-in-law, Philip Dover, 27, who did have ID, because they believed he would just give the bottle to Miss Birchell.
And even if she was only six years old and he did so when they were at home there would be nothing illegal about it. It is none of Tesco's business to be nannying us after we have paid good money and the product's ours.
In other news:
Tesco non-food sales hit by consumer downturn - Times Online The supermarket giant also admitted that discount rivals such as Asda and Aldi were “having a moment in the sun” in a trading update that sent its shares down 2.5 per cent to their lowest level for two months.
St George's Day - The Government Splashes Out
In 2008 £116 was spent on promotion and £114 in 2007. Nothing was spent in the previous three years.
The DCMS spent £51,838 on refreshments for official meetings and engagements in 2007/08.
In 2006/07 it spent £49,954 and in 2005/06 £56,223.
At least we now know how much England's National Day is valued by the Scottish Raj.
June 10, 2008
Rock Bottom & Turning Purple - The Book they have been waiting for, and hoped it would never be published!
After 30 years of reckless living in journalism, showbiz and the music business, former something Geoff Baker is publishing a novel about fame - online and free at: Geoff Baker's Diary Of A Madman: GEOFF'S BOOK - AUTHOR INTRO
It's called Rock Bottom & Turning Purple and it is filth.
Are you in it? Is that character loosely based on you? Surely not? He wouldn't dare.
Sorry, this is just my dopamine releasing placebo for getting satisfied.
According to Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. ..
Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release...
Just hand over the keys to your Englishman's Home, you know you can trust the bureaucrats to look after your rights.
The move is part of a plan to create a 2,500-mile coastal path around England.
Natural England has identified 4,300 private homes next to the sea and 700 estates and parks where access could be necessary.
"The scale of the blockage created by exempting such areas would be unreasonable,"
"There are already places where people have to divert inland for several miles on busy public roads. They may be denied views of the sea or any sense of following the coastline at all."
Under the Countryside Rights of Way Act, which came into force in 2001 and opened up moorland, mountains and downs, the sanctity of private land is safeguarded.
Safeguarded! They stole the private property rights over thousands of acres and claim they "safeguarded" those rights because the acres were wild and woolly not neatly manicured gardens. It was uncompensated property seizure by the state. And having got the taste for it of course they want more. And what do they say?
Natural England said rural property owners would "just have to trust them" on being fair in how it went about drawing up the coastal path.
Just "trust them" with the right to seize property at their whim and continue the century-old struggle for the cherished right to roam... against the landlords' selfish veto! I should fucking cocoa.
A fight lead by the Ramblers Association, the bastard child of the British Workers' Sports Federation (a subsidiary of the Young Communist League)
Drugs Kill People - Including British Squaddies in the Futile War Against Drugs
The private warning from UK diplomats emerged as Gordon Brown insisted that British troops would stay in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future despite the UK death toll in the country reaching 100....
"I have said that Afghanistan is the noble cause of the 21st century and I passionately believe that," Des Browne, the Defence Secretary told BBC radio.
We come armed to destroy their traditional livelihoods and wonder why they fight back..
Calling Rick Stein
8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 c. rice vinegar
Salt if desired
1/2 tsp. pepper, black lg. ground
Rupert and the soldiers - sorry!
A proper apology, though I read his interview as him being very English using flippant irony, making good points. Of course it never pays to do so to a journalist as they believe irony means something is made of steel.
Cashman - what an appropriate name!
The disclosure will lead to accusations that the Euro-MP expenses scandal has spread beyond the Conservative Party.
This is only the first of many and explains the lack of crowing over Tory MEP expense exposures from the other parties. More to come. Especially as Guido has been busy gathering evidence of LibDem and Labour MEPs using European Parliament expense funds in a systematic way to fund their party machines.
June 9, 2008
I understand what girls do on a farm. DON'T leave them there abandoned!
Naughty Max the Boar escaped - luckily Mrs Englishman was on hand to entice him back to his pen. She has a way with hairy beasts...
Diary of a Madman
When Paul McCartney very publicly fired me as his PR four years ago for becoming "increasingly unstable", I had no idea that I might actually be mad.
Macca's global press release effectively made me unemployable and for a long time I wanted to nail Paul and anybody else I could blame to a tree for trashing my career.
I believed that this widely-announced instability was Paul-speak for me drinking and smoking too much, which I bitterly resented as I had always drunk and smoked too much throughout the 15 years that we worked together.
But it now turns out that Paul the Shrink was correct or at least prophetic in his diagnosis and that I am among the increasing millions who are very mentally ill.
My doctor says my problem is "severe depression". Psychologists tell me that I am also probably manic depressive, or bipolar as they call it these days, and that alcohol or marijuana or stressful events "trigger" a madness in me....
...Perhaps by standing up and admitting to it (my name is Geoff and I am mentally ill) and by being bluntly open and honest about its effects the taboo can be broken and we "weirdos" can be understood and we and our loved ones assisted in our battle to make sense of this thoroughly destructive disease.
It is then my intention to begin writing a diary of a madman to confront the demons and put this confrontation in the public domain.
Geoff is a lovely bloke, a great writer, great fun and mad as a fish - and brave as well. Good luck Geoff!
Global Warming Causes Less Sweet Mangoes
Climate change blamed as mango harvest goes sour in India - Times Online ...changes in climatic conditions mean modern mangoes are less sweet.
One more for The List
Go Vegan, cut your carbon footprint! By starving your kids!
A 12-YEAR-OLD girl in Scotland brought up by her parents on a strict vegan diet has been admitted to hospital with a degenerative bone condition said to have left her with the spine of an 80-year-old woman.
Doctors are under pressure to report the couple to police and social workers amid concerns that her health and welfare may have been neglected in pursuit of their dietary beliefs.
The girl, who has been fed on a strict meat and dairy-free diet from birth, is said to have a severe form of rickets and to have suffered a number of fractured bones.
The condition is caused by a lack of vitamin D...
One leading nutritionist, who asked not to be named, said: “They are imposing on their children something ... this very restrictive and potentially hazardous diet... which we do not know enough about to know it is safe.”
Last year, an American vegan couple were given a life sentence for starving their six-week-old baby to death. In 2001 two vegans from west London were sentenced to three years’ community rehabilitation after they admitted starving their baby to death.
Vegans, so much kinder than carnivores....
Drinking Bottled Water As Wrong As Smoking - Official
SALES of bottled water soared last month as consumers rejected appeals by a government minister to turn their backs on the industry and use tap water.
Figures for bottled water sales for the week ending 10 May show that they were 23.2 per cent higher than the same period the previous year.
The surge in sales comes despite a stinging attack on the bottled water industry by Environment Minister Phil Woolas, who described it as bordering on the morally unacceptable...supported by Tim Lang, the government's natural resources commissioner, who has said that the only way to combat the problem would be to make "people think that it's unfashionable just as we have with smoking. We need a similar campaign to convince people that this is wrong."
And in other news just to really piss the pair of bansturbators off;
Sun bathers bask on the beach, as temperatures beat those on Cote D'Azur - Telegraph
Temperatures are expected to rise even higher on Monday.
42 isn't the answer
``MI5, the director of public prosecutions and senior police officers think that this is an unnecessary extra power.
"The reality is that the 42-day proposal is entirely arbitrary."
Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, and Lord Irvine, the former Lord Chancellor, are also against the proposals. The current Attorney General Baroness Scotland, has not launched a high-profile defence of the 42-day maximum leading to speculation she may also harbour reservations.
Can you remind me who apart from Gordon, and maybe Jacquiii, actually thinks it is a needed measure?
And the Telegraph goes on to remind us that Jacquiiiiii is going pandering...Miss Smith are (sic) to meet with Muslim MPs during which she is expected to indicate her backing for compensation payments to terror suspects held for more than 28 days who are not subsequently charged. Innocent detainees may be entitled to claim up to £3,000 for each day spent in jail.
Hazel Nuts About Muslims
She said it was right that more money and effort was spent on Islam than Christianity because of the threat from extremism and home-grown terrorism.
But I thought it wasn't Islam that was the problem according to her, now all she has done is encourage the militant wing of the Church of England as it shows how terrorism pays...
June 8, 2008
ID Fraud - The Official Advice
National Insurance Numbers: What to do if you suspect or discover fraud
This text has been withheld because of exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act 2000
ID Cards - MPs Fear They May Be Used
The compulsory identity card could be used to carry out surveillance on people, MPs have warned.
Members of the Commons home affairs select committee said they were concerned that the way the authorities use sensitive data gathered in the multibillion-pound programme could "creep" to include spying.
The all-party committee also urged ministers to make plans about how to deal with the theft of personal details from the National Identity Scheme, which will build a massive database on every person over 16 in Britain.
The committee accepted ministers' assurances that surveillance was not part of current plans, ......
Shock, outrage at the very suggestion, why on earth would anyone suspect that? Why even the BBC has joined in with the news of the bleeding obvious:
Pickles Fails to Finger the Rubbish Rulers
The Defra policy document puts forward plans to cut weekly collections, shrink the size of wheelie bins and roll out new "bin taxes" of ｣466 a year, and recommends changes to planning rules so new homes get a reduced service.
These cutbacks should be adopted by all local authorities, it adds.
Eric Pickles, the shadow communities secretary, said: "This shocking document proves that ministers in Whitehall are behind the cuts to weekly rubbish collections, over-zealous bin fines and shrinking the size of household bins."
No Pickles, Defra are merely the willing lapdogs of the real masters in Brussels.
Lee Jasper not arrested....
The head of an audit panel investigating financial management at the London Development Agency (LDA) and Greater London Authority (GLA) has admitted she is "somewhat horrified" by what she has found so far.
The Forensic Audit Panel, created by London Mayor Boris Johnson after he was elected last month, has unearthed a culture in which spending was encouraged and political interference common, but where there were few checks on whether taxpayers got value for money, its head Patience Wheatcroft said.
Seven police investigations have already been launched - although two have since been dropped - and more referrals to Scotland Yard have not been ruled out, Mrs Wheatcroft said....
Asked about the organisations which the audit panel is investigating, Mrs Wheatcroft - a former journalist - said: "Quite a few of them are involved with Lee Jasper....
Nine people have been arrested during the City Hall corruption inquiry and all have been bailed. Mr Jasper was not among those arrested.
Doesn't seem to be anything on the BBC about these arrests but Gary O'Donoghue is keen to talk up Nannygate a non-story from ten years ago....
Drug Q&A; Blah and D'oh
Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie asked the government how many drug finds there had been in each Scottish prison over the last five years, broken down by type.
The answer - issued in the name of Enterprise Minister Jim Mather and not the justice department - simply stated: "Blah."
Issuing a Homer Simpson-style response, a spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: "D'oh".
Only 27% of Britons want us to remain a full member of the EU, but all the major parties do...
British voters would back radical moves to negotiate a new, looser relationship with the European Union, a survey has shown.
The Global Vision/ICM survey found that when British voters were asked about their ideal relationship with Europe, 41 per cent chose one based simply on trade and co-operation. Some 27 per cent wanted Britain to stay a full EU member while 26 per cent wanted to withdraw altogether.
If the "trade-only" option were offered in a referendum, 64 per cent said they would vote in favour. Asked what should happen if Britain sought to negotiate a looser relationship but other nations blocked the move, 57 per cent said the UK should leave the EU, while 33 per cent said it should stay in.
June 7, 2008
Another Voice For Freedom
"I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman's club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave."
Welcome to Free Blogistan!
June 6, 2008
Friday Night is Music Night (I'm the type of guy edition)
Ἐν οἴνῳ ἀλήθεια as the Greeks said
RED wine may be the next best thing to the fabled elixir of youth, new research suggests.
A compound in the skin of red grapes has been found to curb the effects of ageing, even when taken in tiny doses.
...Whether or not resveratrol can extend lifespan will require further study, say the authors.
I bet it does, I'd volunteer to help but I don't like the sound of the phrase "tiny doses".
The Erosion of our Liberties - The Quiet Man Speaks
...The Government's legislation to permit 42 days pre-charge detention brings to the fore the wider question of civil liberties. In their response to the security threat ministers have dragged us ever closer to a society in which ancient rights are seriously damaged. I doubt this is the Government's intention, but it is the effect.....
I don't believe that sacrifice of due process can be justified. If we are seen to defend our own values in a manner that does violence to them, then we run the risk of losing those values. Even worse, if our own standards fall, it will serve to recruit terrorists more effectively than their own propaganda could ever hope to.
That is no longer theoretical: we now have home-grown terrorists - born in Britain, not in Waziristan. Will they be encouraged or discouraged to rally to militancy if we bypass the sober rituals of law with which we are familiar?
The Government has introduced measures to protect against terrorism. These go beyond anything contemplated when Britain faced far more regular - and no less violent - assaults from the IRA. The justification of these has sometimes come close to scaremongering.
After terrorist attacks on London, Parliament doubled the time that suspects could be held without charge from 14 days to 28 days. Probably, that was justified. But soon Parliament will be asked to increase detention without charge to 42 days. To appease opposition, the Government is cobbling together face-saving compromises. If the measure is passed, it will be a pyrrhic victory that owes more to political survival than principle. Even so, it is hard to justify: pre-charge detention in Canada is 24 hours; South Africa, Germany, New Zealand and America 48 hours; Russia 5 days; and Turkey 7½ days.
There is no proof that an extended period of 42 days would have prevented past atrocities. There is no evidence it will prevent future atrocities. No example has yet been given of why the police need more than 28 days to frame a charge. This is a slippery slope. Assertions that it “might be useful” simply will not do. If we are to curtail the liberty of the individual, we must have more certainty than that.
But it is not only the case for 42 days detention that is bogus. So is the case for identity cards. They were to be voluntary. Now it is clear that they will be compulsory. Yet the Government has admitted that such cards would not have stopped the London bombers. Nor will they cut illegal immigration, since asylum-seekers have been obliged to carry ID cards for nearly eight years. Nor will they have any real impact on benefits fraud, as this is typically caused by misrepresentation of financial resources rather than by identity.
The Government has been saying, in a catchy, misleading piece of spin: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” This is a demagogue's trick. We do have something to fear - the total loss of privacy to an intrusive state with authoritarian tendencies.
This is not a United Kingdom that I recognise and Parliament should not accept it.
Nor do I believe that anyone can defend another government innovation: a national identity register containing the DNA of tens of thousands of people who have never been charged with an offence....This cannot be right: for me, it is all uncomfortably authoritarian.
So is a society in which the right to personal privacy is downgraded. These days a police superintendent can authorise bugging in public places. A chief constable can authorise bugging our homes or cars.
The Home Secretary can approve telephone tapping and the interception of our letters and e-mails. All of this is legal under an Act passed by the Labour Government. None of this requires - as it should - the sanction of a High Court Judge......
No one can rule out the possibility of another atrocity - but a free and open society is worth a certain amount of risk. A siege society is alien to our core instincts and - once in place - will be difficult to dismantle. It is a road down which we should not go.
Sir John Major was Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997. In 1991 the IRA tried to bomb him and his Cabinet as it met in Downing Street
A damning article, read it all.
As a side note try to imagine the panic and measures that would result if the present crew in No 10 had three mortars land in the back garden as the Cabinet met. John Major merely said, "I think we'd better start again somewhere else" and the Cabinet moved their meeting to a room in an adjoining building.
Salmond Lords It
ALEX Salmond was criticised by environmental campaigners yesterday for using his ministerial car to travel a couple of hundred yards to dinner, and back again – twice.
The First Minister summoned his ministerial car to take him from his official residence of Bute House in Edinburgh's Charlotte Square to two dinner engagements on George Street.
But instead of signing his car off for the night, the First Minister kept it on call so he could return the short distance back to his official residence after his meals were over.
20th November and 8th January - and how do you think the poor serf kept warm as his master feasted inside? Run the engine of course!
And in other news SNP calls for drink-driving limit to be cut - Edinburgh Evening News
Quite, as they say no one needs to drink and drive, when you have a car and driver on call.....
June 5, 2008
How to read a thermometer - it is not rocket science....
The story is that the world is heating up - fast. Prominent people at NASA warn us that unless we change our carbon producing ways, civilisation as we know it will come to an end. At the same time, there are new scientific studies showing that the earth is in a 20 year long cooling period. Which view is correct? Temperature data should be simple enough to record and analyze. We all know how to read a thermometer - it is not rocket science....
NASA's published data is largely based on data from the US Historical Climatology Network (USHCN), which derives its data from thermometer readings across the country. According to USHCN literature, the raw temperature data is adjusted to compensate for geographical movements in the weather stations, changes in the 24-hour start/end times when the readings are taken, and other factors. USHCN is directly affiliated with the Oak Ridge National Laboratories' Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, an organisation which exists primarily to promote the idea of a link between CO2 and climate.
We observe that the data has been consistently adjusted towards a bias of greater warming. The years prior to the 1970s have again been adjusted to lower temperatures, and recent years have been adjusted towards higher temperatures. Prior to any adjustments, more than half the US shows declining temperatures over the 20th century - blue and green colors - i.e. the US is cooling down. However, subsequent to the adjustments the country goes dominantly warmer (red and yellow)...
....when the data is calibrated in lockstep with a very high-profile and public political philosophy, we should at least be willing to ask some hard questions. Dr. James Hansen at GISS is the person in charge of the NASA temperature data. He is also the world's leading advocate of the idea of catastrophic global warming, and is Al Gore's primary climate advisor. The discrepancies between NASA and other data sources can't help but make us consider Einstein's advice:
"If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts."
Ben Bradshaw - intellectual ability with social class (Not)
Professor Chris McManus, of University College London, said it is not surprising that most British medical students are middle-class because intellectual ability is linked to social standing...
But his comments were condemned by the Health Minister Ben Bradshaw.
"It is extraordinary to equate intellectual ability with social class," said Mr Bradshaw.
Extraordinary, but true. You wouldn't expect truth to worry a Labour Minister though would you, and as the lack of both intellectual ability and class is no barrier to becoming one their incomprehension that in the real world they are important is understandable.
I am a man who loves cats - Times Online...males are still suspicious of cat ownership. Being a heterosexual man and admitting to another heterosexual man that you like cats can feel a little like telling him that you still sleep alongside your childhood collection of teddy bears.
Fartless Cure For Zero Warming
New Zealand scientists claim to have developed a "flatulence inoculation"...
The 45 million sheep and 10 million cattle in New Zealand burped and farted about 90 percent of that country's methane emissions, according to government figures....
Under the Kyoto Protocol to combat global warming, New Zealand must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
...the warming trend for the Southern Hemisphere during the last 30 years is 0.00 °C per decade
Still the jab would come in handy for Underground passengers....
Give them an inch, or 42...
IF YOU BELIEVE THIS ….
…. I KNOW A MAN IN LAGOS WHO HAS A VERY INTERESTING BUSINESS PROPOSAL YOU’LL PROBABLY LIKE
Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, set out a new concession on Tuesday to woo Labour's terrorism law rebels, insisting that powers to detain suspects for up to 42 days would only ever be used in the most exceptional of circumstances.
Since when have the powers that be demonstrated restraint and common sense once they have been bestowed with draconian powers?
Councils have used laws designed to combat terrorism to access more than 900 people's private phone and email records in the latest example of Britain's growing surveillance state.
Town hall spies found out who residents were phoning and emailing as they investigated such misdemeanours as dog quarantine breaches and unlicensed storage of petrol.
When Ripa was passed in 2000, only nine organisations, including the police and security services, were allowed to use it, but that number has since risen to 792, including 474 councils, whose use of Ripa is soaring.
Bolton Council used the Act to check a person's mobile phone records as part of an investigation into unburied animal carcasses.
Kent County Council carried out 23 telephone subscriber checks during two inquiries into storing petrol without a licence and into a resident it suspected of bringing a dog into the UK without putting it in quarantine.
And Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in the West Midlands carried out 16 phone and email checks, six of which involved an attempt to locate and identify an alleged bogus faith healer.
Birmingham City Council, the largest council in the country, carried out the most phone checks, with 89.
Mirza Ahmad, the council's chief legal officer, said: 'Like other local authorities we at Birmingham are using these powers to respond to residents' complaints.
June 4, 2008
Oih! You looking at my bird?
The hens have arrived - another step towards self-sufficiency and away from giving half I earn to the bastards and then more when I spend what is left....
News in Brief - All you need to know about the UK today
A woman who was accused of having a knife in public walked free from court because she works with sausages, lawyers said on Tuesday.
Jane Bellas, 29, from Penrith, Cumbria, avoided a miscarriage of justice after she was noticed handling some bangers, Carlisle Crown Court was told.
Proposals to make an English bank holiday a new 'UK national day' faced a huge backlash last night after it emerged Scotland would be excluded.
People who feel cold when sat outside this summer were yesterday told by the Government to wear a jumper rather than switch on a patio heater.
Phil Woolas, the Climate Change minister, made the point as he announced that there had been a tenfold rise in the outdoor heaters at pubs and restaurants since the smoking ban came into force last year.
The minister said: “The official line to take is, when outside, wear a jumper.”
Global Warming Causes Fewer Puffins
PUFFIN numbers on one of Scotland's strongholds have dropped by 30 per cent in five years.
It is believed Scotland's most popular seabird could be suffering because of a lack of food supply caused by warming seas as a result of climate change...
Five years ago there were 69,000 pairs of puffins on the Isle of May but now numbers have dropped to just 41,000 pairs.
Strangely they don't seem to reveal or link to "the rising sea temperature" over these last five years - see if you can find it at UK Marine Waters 2004 - Marine Processes and Climate: Sea Temperature. I can't.
O'bama - The Apprentice Boy
As the descendant of an Irish Protestant family, Mr Obama should not rely on the sort of support automatically enjoyed by Mr Kennedy, whose presidency marked the political arrival of Irish American Catholics.
So not like the bogtrotting Kennedys then, I hope he sings The Sash as he celebrates, it's his heritage after all.
Choosing Porridge As The Soft Option
Tens of thousands of prisoners are opting not to apply for early release amid allegations that Britain's prisons are now so comfortable that they are effectively "expensive bed and breakfasts".
The figures were released on Tuesday by Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, who also disclosed that dozens of people have been caught trying to break into prisons over the past few years....
Between 2003 and 2008, 42 individuals were detected attempting to break into prisons. The number of prison break-ins has increased from five in 2003-04 to 19 over the past year. Most were people breaking into open prisons...
Glyn Travis, the assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers' Association, said: "It tells me there's something wrong in society when people are breaking into prisons to bring in drugs, but the prisoners are quite happy to stay inside."
Inmates at a top security prison recently told Mr Straw that conditions there were like a "holiday camp".
"Prisoners receive a wage for being in prison, they receive a bed, a TV in all cells, Sky television in most areas for recreational use, free telephones, breakfast in bed on many occasions, cash bonuses for good behaviour," said Mr Travis. "And prison staff are forced to deal with them in such a subservient way. It's ridiculous."
Prison only works if people don't want to go there more than they want to commit a crime. You can reduce the latter a bit by teaching them basketweaving, or what ever, but facing a realistic chance of being banged up somewhere unpleasant is the real crime preventer.
June 3, 2008
Let's go walking
Not for me, I get dizzy on the edge of a pavement..
Mind how you go
Ah, happy days.......??
Swill makes sense
The EU ban on the use of animal remains to feed pigs and chickens should be lifted so that grain can be diverted to millions of starving people, one of Europe’s top food safety advisers has told The Times.
Patrick Wall, chairman of the European Food Safety Authority, questioned whether it was “morally or ethically correct” to feed grain to animals in the midst of a global food crisis.
He said that there was no scientific reason to maintain the ban.
Of course appealing to the EU on moral or scientific grounds is pointless, but showing that it might lower prices might do it. The swill feeders of the UK used to dispose of 1.7 million tons a year of biodegradable material in the most natural way possible, now it is dumped in landfill to the delight of vermin.
I have an idea how to cut waste
Residents moving into new homes in South Cambridgeshire are told they have to pay for one green recycling bin and one black rubbish bin, which cost ｣60 each.
Some people felt the price was too high and bought cheaper bins on the internet from a firm in Germany.
However, when the council learned of the purchases, the residents were told the German bins would not be emptied. One of the residents has reported the council to the European Commission for blocking trade...
Sue Ellington, who is in charge of environmental services, said the charge was to recoup some of the cost of supplying bins to new homes, which amounts to between £40 and £60 per bin.
She said: "It's not a stealth tax. We're trying to get people to cut waste.
"Controlling the supply of bins helps do that."
No, it just encourages fly tipping - councils were given the responsibility to collect rubbish because of public health, not to make money, not to impose a green ideology but to ensure as a public good that waste was dealt with correctly.
Bo Diddley - RIP
Left handed blogging only for the next few days
Apologies for the lacunae, back to full strength soon, I hope.
Comments are open.......
June 2, 2008
Stiff Upper Lip - that's the way.
Britain's traditional stiff upper lip may be a better strategy for dealing with shock than letting your feelings spill out, a new study claims.
The popular assumption is that talking about a terrifying experience, such as a terrorist attack or natural disaster, can be therapeutic and helpful.
But new evidence suggests "getting it off your chest" may not be the right thing to do....dividuals who bottled up their feelings ended up better off. They suffered fewer negative mental and physical health symptoms than people who were willing to talk.
The results have important implications for expectations about how people should react to collective trauma that affects a whole community or nation, said the researchers.
It also called into question the pleas made to people caught up in shocking events to come forward and "open up".
Thank God for that, especially if it means they stop doing it on television so we can "share the pain". Though I suppose there will be Stress Experts all over the airwaves this morning earning a crust by sharing the pain of being found out that they are just bloody nuisances.
And the weather forecast is
Meteorologists predict that this month there will be temperatures that could, on occasions, beat the Mediterranean average for June of 80F or 26C.
This will be especially true for the North, which is expected to enjoy a month of warm weather. Southerners will have to dodge the occasional thunderstorm.
However, July and August will be cooler and wetter for everyone.
A Met Office spokesman said June would be "as good as it's going to get and we're not expecting it to get any hotter"....
Met Office: Summer 2008 forecast
There is a slightly enhanced chance of more frequent cloudy and cool spells compared to recent summers prior to 2007. Nevertheless, mean temperatures are more likely to be above the 1971-2000 average.
Our forecasting methods continue to suggest that rainfall for the summer as a whole is more likely to be either near, or above average.
I think provide it doesn't snow they will be able to claim they got it right. Tricky thing forecasting the weather for this month - so much easier to forecast the climate in ten years time.....
Time for a pitchfork rebellion
A rural resident now gets 51 per cent of the sum spent on someone living in the capital.
Much of local authorities' spending is on schools, and the 20 councils with the biggest increases in education funding are all Labour-controlled.
Switching money from rural areas has meant that in the past 11 years the lowest 20 council tax increases were in traditional Labour local authorities.
Community hospitals have also been badly hit with 22 closed down and of the remaining 350, more than 50 are also under threat.
The figures reveal that between 1997 and 2005 384 police stations closed in shire areas compared with 81 in the metropolitan boroughs.
"No wonder that the biggest increases in violent crime are to be found in the countryside, up 119 per cent since 1998 compared with a national average increase of 106 per cent," said Mr Dunne, the Conservative MP for Ludlow and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on rural services..
"And not for long can country folk drown their sorrows in the village pub. Last year, more than 1,400 closed under the impact of higher taxes and the smoking ban."
"Gordon Brown has a simple strategy to win the next election: to bribe his areas of traditional strength with money pinched from Tory-voting shires."
And let's not even mention Scotland....
Levy Admission to the Lords
Lord Levy, the Labour Party's former chief fundraiser, has admitted that the rich could increase their chances of obtaining a peerage by donating money to political parties.
Lord Levy said: "Do I think it's true? Look at the facts. They will tell you what's going on. Of course it's true. That's self-evident."
Lord Levy insisted that he did not offer any peerages for loans, saying: "I have never offered anything to anybody."
Of course you didn't, it was just your charm and the love of Tony that got the cheque books out.
June 1, 2008
Ironing on Ice - Not for Dope Heads
IT IS among the most unlikely of sports to have a brush with drug-related controversy.
Over the centuries, curling has developed a reputation for being a genteel game played by middle-aged couples. But, in a move that has raised eyebrows at bonspiels, Scotland's curlers are facing random dope tests....
"I'm sure a lot of people will think: 'Why would anyone try to use drugs to cheat at curling?' But we can't afford to be complacent. We are taking this very seriously."
Unlike us southerners watching it on the telly, you couldn't watch it sober, could you?
Scottish Raj out of touch and favour with English voters
LABOUR figures have called on Gordon Brown to purge the "Scots Mafia" around him in an effort to curry favour with voters south of the border.
The Prime Minister is being urged to give key jobs to ministers seen as able to reach out to Middle England amid concern that the party will face a landslide general election defeat at the hands of David Cameron's Conservatives.
MPs believe that ministers from south of the border will be better able to appeal to middle-class voters in marginal seats across England.
Rubbish Cover Up
Ministers tried to cover up a Government-funded report which linked fortnightly rubbish collections with an increased health risk from rats, flies and seagulls, The Sunday Telegraph has established.
The report found that ending weekly collections would "significantly alter the pest infestation rates and hence the disease transmission at source", while vermin and insects could be "encouraged into the home environment".
However, the Government kept the £27,000 study, by the Central Science Laboratory, under wraps and ministers were only forced to release it when the Conservatives tabled a series of parliamentary questions.
In June 2007, Ben Bradshaw, then an environment minister, claimed there was "no evidence in published studies" to indicate a link between cutting collections and increased risks to health.
Do you see what he did there? He didn't publish the report so there was no "published study". Benny Boy wasn't lying you see but you might think he was misleading Parliament...