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Saturday, 30 June 2007

More terrorism

It appears that the continuing war that I blogged about yesterday didn't take long to have a second movement. I wonder which religion the "Asian male"(s) purport to follow? This is getting worse and I wonder how many of the perpetrators of the two different attacks would have had no problems in getting ID cards. DO NOT let the Gordon Brown government use this as a way of forcing through the ID card legislation, it will make little difference to the war on terror, we would be better advised spending the money on Police.


Also the links of Islamic terrorism to The Haymarket bomb are getting clearer, take a read of this and see that the one of the perpetrators who was filmed escaping is believed to be a suspect arrested during the investigations into Dhiren Barot, one of the men convicted of planning car bomb attacks in London and New York in 2004. You can read more about the delightful Dhiren Barot here including how his "life sentence" was for a minimum of 40 years and that was cut to 30 years because "The Court of Appeal, headed by Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips, said that the 40 year sentence was for a terrorist who planned murder by a "viable" means. It was also stated that Barot's plot did not amount to an actual attempt and it was uncertain whether they would have succeeded and what the consequences might have been". Maybe today's events give a clue!


UPDATE:
It appears that "Two of the five terror suspects being held in the wake of the failed car bombings in London and Glasgow are hospital doctors working in the UK." So let's here none of "poverty" being the cause of terrorism, I know junior doctors are underpaid but really! I think we just need to understand that there a substantial number of people who HATE US and our way of life and whether they are UK born or incomers they are quite happy to kill as many of us in the "dar al-harb" as they can.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Haymarket bomb

It looks as though one of the groups being monitored (or maybe one not being monitored) almost struck over night in The Haymarket. A "massive bomb" according to Sky News has been defused in The Haymarket area of London.

We must not let down our guard and these murderers must be stopped from striking again. No doubt we will be told soon that it is all our fault for awarding Salman Rushdie a Knighthood and for invading Iraq. Islamic terrorism (if that is what this is) was around before Salman Rushdie was awarded his Knighthood, before the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, before the London bombings of 7 July, before 9-11... It is merely the latest manifestation of an old war, as I shall blog soon.

Burma in the news

I previously blogged about Burma and how it gets so little World attention on its human rights abuses compared to other, more open, countries. I read this morning that the International Red Cross have denounced the military government for its human rights abuses. Unfortunately nothing will change in Burma itself and the world will not interfere.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Naughty Tony?

Almost a month ago, I blogged about how Tony Bliar allegedly escaped being interviewed under caution in January "the police wanted to interview Tony Blair under caution but backed down when Scotland Yard was informed by a political intermediary that Mr Blair would resign as Prime Minister if he was interviewed under caution." It now appears that Tony has been interviewed again and possibly by Inspector Yates himself, no news yet as to whether it was under caution.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Ruled by liars

My views following Tony Blair´s sell-out on Europe are fairly unprintable. The "red lines" were as I have previously predicted false targets. This must not be allowed to happen without a referendum, I am planning a campaign - feel free to add your comments below - More details in the near future.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Listen to the people

Well that hasn't lasted very long has it? A round a month ago Gordon Brown said he wanted a "different kind of politics" this was after his team managed to ensure that no candidate gathered enough votes to stand against him. In case we all thought that Gordon meant to rule unopposed, he also said he would "listen and learn" and "to build trust in our democracy, I'm sure we need a more open form of dialogue with citizens and politicians to genuinely talk about problems and solutions... It is about a different type of politics, a more open and honest dialogue" - All quotations from the BBC.

It appears that listening to the people will not extend to the matter of the constitution European Treaty. Time after time over the past months I have read or heard that Tony Blair is desperate to avoid holding a referendum because he knows he would lose one. Excuse me, but if he knows he would lose a referendum then surely that is a very good reason not to do what the loss of a referendum would not allow him to do. Here are some examples of the sort of articles being written about this matter from The Guardian - "Britain was committed to a referendum on the constitution and is desperate to avoid holding one on its replacement", The Telegraph - "The trouble is that, in order to dish the Tories three years ago, Mr Blair promised a referendum on the constitution. Labour's election manifesto was unequivocal: "We will put it to the British people in a referendum and campaign wholeheartedly for a Yes vote...Mr Brown can read the polls as well as anyone else: he knows that, if a plebiscite were held, the Noes would have it. So he will begin his premiership with an unenviable choice: hold the referendum and be branded a loser, or drop it and be branded a liar."

When the Constitution was first proposed Tony Blair promised a referendum in order to forestall any divisions within the Labour Party, he was relieved of the duty to Carry one out (with the almost certain prospect of being defeated) by the French and Dutch voting against the Constitution in referendums. You can read here and here my previous thoughts on the Constitution's reappearance. Now he and Gordon Brown are in a bind, it is clear from what Angela Merkel has said that the plan is "to use different terminology without changing the legal substance for example with regard to the title of the treaty". Tony and Gordon have decided that the best plan is set out "red lines" that they will not allow to be crossed and therefore take the attention away from any other matters that they do allow through. I doubt that these red lines will prove to be quite so permanent as Tony and Gordon would have us believe now; here they are:
"First, we will not accept a treaty that allows the charter of fundamental rights to change UK law in any way." I am not sure how "fundamental rights" could not change UK law, but this is a nice legalese argument that Tony might pull the wool over our eyes to obscure what is happening.

"Second, we will not agree to something that replaces the role of British foreign policy and our foreign minister." The plan is to have a European Foreign Minister, as well as one for each country, not to replace as such so the wording here assures victory.

"Thirdly, we will not agree to give up our ability to control our common law and judicial and police system." This depends upon the definition of the word "control", currently we have to put into place EU legislation by passing it through our Parliament, it is accepted that over 70% of UK laws are passed as a result of EU legislation.

"And fourthly, we will not agree to anything that moves to qualified majority voting something that can have a big say in our own tax and benefit system. We must have the right in those circumstances to determine it by unanimity," Again the key phrase is "big say", we are being lined up to accept a small reduction in the planed EU powers so as to Allow Tony and Gordon to claim a victory.


Tony Blair has stated that "if we achieve those four objectives I defy people to say what it is that is supposed to be so fundamental that could require a referendum."


The EU Constitution was the brainchild of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing and he said to Le Monde that the European public was being led “to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals that we dare not present to them directly”. As the Financial Times commented recently "Although any new treaty will be streamlined and stripped of its title and constitutional flummery, most of Mr Giscard d’Estaing’s key elements will remain, including an EU president, foreign minister, smaller Commission, more majority voting and legal personality."

A FT/Harris European wide opinion poll recently reported the following:

1) A total of 75 per cent of Spaniards, 71 per cent of Germans, 69 per cent of Britons, 68 per cent of Italians and 64 per cent of French believe the treaty important enough to warrant a referendum.

2) Only 14 per cent of Britons supported the idea of a full time President

3) only Britain (41 per cent) supported the idea of European Foreign Minister

Meanwhile the Daily Express reports that "An opinion poll by ICM Research found that 80 per cent of voters want a say about Britain’s future in Europe, and only 15 per cent disagree."

Will Tony and Gordon grant us, the electorate, a referendum? As I have said above it seems unlikely, they will twist and turn to hide what is happening and try to gloss over what powers are being taken by Europe because they know they would lose a referendum.

Why will they do this? Tony has hopes of becoming the first elected (by the constituent European Governments) President of Europe. This is something that Nicolas Sarkozy has said would be a good thing. Would Tony Blair really sell out the Country so he can have more glory and so that Cherie can get back on the gravy train? What do you think? Gordon Brown is less of a Euro fanatic than Blair BUT he is desperate, so achingly desperate, to be Prime Minister that he would do practically anything to get (and keep) the title. He does not want to be Prime Minister until the next election, he wants to rule beyond, way beyond. It is being spun that Gordon Brown has promised a referendum on the Constitution Treaty, in fact he has only promised one if Tony Blair is unable to get a good deal for Britain in this week's summit of European leaders, Brown told GMTV on Tuesday that he was open to the idea of holding a referendum if Brussels win greater powers over key areas. This is all presentational bollocks and spin, there won't be a referendum because Tony and Gordon will claim, falsely, that their red lines have not been crossed, the UK will sign up for the Constitution Treaty.

What hopes do we have of preventing this from happening? As I see it, Rupert Murdoch's press could create a big fuss over Tony and Gordon sneaking the Constitution Treaty in by the back door, so maybe Gordon will promise some break-up of the BBC to satisfy and so forestall Rupert. The Conservative party could do more to oppose the Constitution Treaty but this would open up latent splits that would be brutally exposed by the Labour party and more importantly the BBC. UKIP could campaign harder but they are too prone to be dismissed by the BBC as "Little Englanders". It all looks very bleak, maybe we will have to be saved once again by one country holding and losing a referendum. Whatever happens it sure as heck isn't "listening to the people".

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Ken does it again, but maybe his time will be up soon

Does Ken Livingstone even care about appearances any more? Last Friday, Ken blocked the appointment of seven Conservative appointees and three Lib Dem appointees to the London Fire Authority but allowed the five Labour appointees to stand as well as the one Conservative woman appointee and one each from the Green and One London parties. What was the problem with the rejected members? Did they have a criminal record? Had they supported terrorism or the killing of homosexuals? No, they were white and male, a heinous crime in Ken-land. Ken said "It is unacceptable that when there are 1,861 councillors in London, of which 555 are women and 293 from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups, all seven Conservative nominees are white and include only one woman, and all three Liberal Democrat nominees are white men... To fulfil my duty to promote genuine equality I have decided not to accept these unrepresentative nominees and to ask those who are making these nominations to ensure that they reflect London as it really is."

The Conservative chairman of London Councils, Merrick Cockell, said "It is disappointing that the Mayor has rejected two pensioners, an openly gay councillor and a councillor under 30 as being 'unrepresentative' of London's diverse communities... The fact remains these councillors were democratically elected by London's diverse communities." Yes Merrick but how many were black or Muslim, that's what Ken wants to see.

The Lib Dem leader on the authority, Mike Tuffrey, said "It is not for the Mayor to dictate to the other parties who they appoint." Mike, you silly boy, it is always up to Ken to tell everyone what to do or say; he is Mayor for life you know, well I am sure he thinks he is.

Councillor Ed Butcher told Pink News that "I have always considered my sexuality as secondary to my ability to scrutinise the Fire Brigade's performance and ensure it is ready to respond to emergencies on behalf of all Londoners... But if the Mayor wants to make a point about diversity, it is quite astounding that he has refused to appoint me for not being diverse enough... London has the highest gay population in the country but it seems the Mayor thinks they do not deserve representation... Ken Livingstone can now add gay and lesbians to the lists of groups and minorities he has personally offended." Don't worry Ed, maybe Ken was trying to follow the teachings of his friend Yusuf al-Qaradawi; you're lucky Ken hasn't suggested 100 lashes or death by stoning for you, those being the preferred punishments for homosexuals according to Yusuf al-Qaradawi and others of his ilk.

The Conservative and Lib-Dems plan to re-submit the same names and see what happens, I will keep you updated. Interestingly, BBC London news are not covering this although Vanessa Feltz covered the topic on her Radio London programme today although I only heard the first 10 minutes.


As to Ken's time being up soon, the House of Lords today voted to restrict the maximum number of terms the London Mayor can serve to two. This would mean that London would be rid of Ken at the next election. It is a shame that the House of Commons will no doubt reverse the decision. You can read coverage of the decision here and here. Ken's reaction, bearing in mind his refusal (above) to allow democratically appointed councillors to serve on the London Fire Authority is priceless "It is up to Londoners, not Parliamentarians, to decide who is mayor,". Hmm but in Ken's eyes it is up to the Mayor not Councillors to decide who can serve on the London Fire Authority.

BBC bias even in death

I actually think the BBC cannot help it, thanks to an anonymous contributor to Biased-BBC for the heads up. The BBC have a Have your Say section on their news web site. This is often a place where questions are posed from a left of centre viewpoint and the BBC find that the responses it gets are not always to their liking. If you do go to this site, then do look at the "Readers Recommended" area as well as the "Most Recent" section, always illuminating. It is very common for the BBC to request "tributes" when a celebrity dies, can you guess which recent celebrity death is marked just by a request for "comments"?

Here is a list for you:
Ronnie Barker: "Your tributes"

Jack Lemmon: "Your tributes"

Spike Milligan: "Your tributes"

Barry Took: "Your tributes"

Richard Pryor: "Your tributes"

Bernard Manning: "Your comments"


I wonder how the BBC will handle the deaths of two politicians, John Prescott and Margaret Thatcher, when the times come? In fact this is not a fair comparison, Prescott is a fool and a knave, Thatcher was a great Prime Minister, but that is not how the BBC will see it I am sure. I am sure many of the BBC still harbour rage over the miners' strike and the Poll Tax and much else, whereas Prescott was a "character".

BBC brainwashing children

I am worrying whether I was brainwashed by BBC Newsround in the 1970's but apart from an odd taste in knitwear I think I survived untouched. I don't think the same is true of today's children. The BBC have a children's news website and it includes background pieces on items of world news. These include a page on "How did the fight against terror start?" This page includes the gem "The man blamed for being behind the attacks was the USA's most wanted suspect, Osama Bin Laden." Blamed? Surely he has admitted and even gloated over the attack, hmmmm.
The page on Osama Bin Laden has even choicer comments :
"Who is Osama Bin Laden?
Osama Bin Laden is a very rich man who uses his money to run a network around the world with thousands of followers who are willing to die for their beliefs." What does this network do, run chess clubs, organise coffee mornings, or run training schools for terrorists? The phrase "die for their beliefs" hints it may be the latter but shhh don't tell anyone.

"The US is sure that Bin Laden caused the terror attacks." Does anyone apart from the US think this as well or is it just "The Great Satan"? Has Osama Bin Laden admitted this act was carried out by his chess players? Why is the BBC being so coy here, can the US never be in the right?

"This makes Bin Laden the main target for the US military." Any other countries involved in the search for Osama?

"He also dislikes America because he thinks the US helped enemies of his religion - the Israeli Jews - during wars in the Middle East. " I think Osama's hatred of the US is for other reasons and this sentence is so full of spin I feel dizzy.

"Saudi-born Bin Laden sees all Americans as enemies because they seem to take Israel's side." It will all be OK id the US leaves Israel to be destroyed by those nice men from Hamas and Hezbollah who have also attended chess clubs and coffee mornings.


The pages on the Taleban also need commenting on but I have found a more urgent page on "Hamas takes control of Gaza Strip". This needs more time to "fisk" properly and I will return to this later but in the meantime:
"Fatah wants to try to get more independence from Israel through peaceful talks. " Well simplistic but bearable statement.

"But Hamas doesn't want anything to do with Israel and is prepared to fight for what they want. " True but surely worth stating that they want is the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews.

How about the page page :
"What is Israel's position?
Israel has not been involved in the latest fighting. " That must have hurt to say, how the BBC must look forward to Israel getting involved so this line can disappear.

"The country has talked to Fatah in the past but not many positive decisions have been made." Positive by whom? Offers to hand over control to Fatah doesn't count?

As I say. more to come on this rich resource.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Satire - If only it really worked this way

Just found this on The Onion, the American satirical website - "After 5 Years In U.S., Terrorist Cell Too Complacent To Carry Out Attack" "Five years after settling in southern California and trying to blend into American society, a six-man terrorist cell connected to the militant Islamist organization Army of Martyrs has reportedly grown too complacent to conduct its suicide mission, an attack on the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station." You can read the whole article here.

It's a shame that this isn't really going to save us from future attacks.

The Queens Birthday Honours - A contrast

Two of the people honoured in the Queens Birthday Honours made me think. Salmon Rushdie's Knighthood provoked the expected reports of threats from Pakistan and from Iran. Shami Chakrabarti (the media friendly) head of Liberty received a CBE and is reported to have said that she regarded the award as an invitation to keep fighting for civil liberties.

Do you think Shami Chakrabati will defend Salmon Rushdie's civil liberties as the new death threats start?

Here's what Mohammed Ijaz ul-Haq, Pakistan's religious affairs minister, had to say about Salman Rushdie's knighthood - "The West is accusing Muslims of extremism and terrorism. If someone exploded a bomb on his body, he would be right to do so unless the British government apologizes and withdraws the ‘sir’ title,". How lovely, in the eyes of a minister in Pakistan's government, Salman Rushdie's knighthood excuses suicide bombing in the UK. Could his comments be seen as incitement?

EU democracy

How's your eyesight? On the evidence of last week Vidal Quadras must need his eyesight checking. Apparently there was a vote in the EU Parliament and Vidal Quadras decided that the show of hands meant that the motion was rejected. In fact "An electronic check then revealed that it had actually been APPROVED by no less than 567 votes to 17 (with 18 abstentions)." When asked how he could have come to completely the wrong conclusion re the voting Vidal Quadras blamed the MEPs for "not holding their hands high enough".

So is that poor eyesight or yet another example of how the EU is open to corruption?

UN - the only hope for our future safety

The United Nations, the international body that everyone agrees is the only hope for peace in this dangerous world has done it again. Apparently the UN Human Rights Council is likely to adopt a reform package that will see Cuba and Belarus dropped from a blacklist, while Israel is placed under permanent indictment. The world must be a wonderful safe and secure place if the only country that is violating human rights is Israel. So the reports of slavery in China, the persecution of Buddhist monks in Tibet by the China, the genocide in Sudan (4000,000 killed, 2.5 million displaced) - sorry that is apparently due to global warming . Feel free to add your own entries in the comments section and I will update this list...

I further read that "Libya is the sole candidate for the post of Chair of a United Nations anti-racism conference to be held in Geneva later this month, upsetting human rights groups who recalled the fatal consequences to the Commission on Human Rights when it chose Libya in 2003. According to diplomats, a meeting yesterday by the Human Rights Council’s five regional groups also named Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia as among the 15 bureau members who will oversee preparatory deliberations for a 2009 gathering to follow up on the controversial Durban conference of 2001." The UN is dangerously close to going beyond parody here. Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia overseeing preparations for a conference on anti-racism. That will be Iran where racism is rife - read this or this, Saudi Arabia where the maltreatment of foreign labour is often reported, where racism toward non Saudi Arabs is rife (a good resource for this information is here and of course where non-Moslem's can be arrested for being in a city forbidden to them, see here, or here, or here. Israel is often described as an apartheid state, in fact it has a large Arab minority population (currently around 20%) with 10 Arab members of the 120 seat Knesset Israeli parliament, Saudi Arabia however imposes an official religion on all citizens, Islam, and makes the wearing of non-Muslim religious symbols all but illegal as well as the possession, importing, or distribution of any non-Muslim religious material such as the Bible. As for Russia, take a look at this BBC report from last year.

All countries will have their human rights record reviewed every four years with no review possible in the interim years, so if a Tiananmen Square massacre occurs, the victims will need to wait up to four years for redress. Even then, the duration of the review, for China as for every other country (except Israel), is limited to a mere 3 hours. If all of that were not enough, the process is a "cooperative mechanism," with the very country reviewed "fully involved in the outcome."

The moral of this story is, if you want to violate human rights and not be censured by the United Nations then just be sure you are not Israeli.

Do you think it is likely that the BBC will cover this story?

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Speed cameras

Speed cameras are a blunt instrument and a danger to the general public. I have witnessed the aftermath of several nasty accidents caused by poor driving around speed camera sites. Much of the following is drawn from Safe Speed. Speed cameras save lives because "Speed Kills" is he mantra that has come from The Department for Transport (DfT) for some years now. Let's examine the evidence...

Motorway Roadworks seem to attract speed cameras, many are now the lovely average speed cameras that seem so much more intrusive and dangerous as you drive with more than half an eye on your speedometer lest you stray more than 1mph over the ridiculously low limit set on the two mile stretch of road, meanwhile you cannot help but notice that although the road is coned off and there appears to have been some activity in the past, there is nobody working on the road at 11am on a Tuesday. Safe Speed issued a Freedom of Information request to the DfT in May 2005 and discovered the following:
effect on PIAs____________________Road works__________________open motorway
Analogue speed cameras___________55% increase_________________31% increase
Digital speed cameras___________4.5% increase_________________6.7% increase
Police patrols___________________27% reduction________________ 10% reduction

PIA = Personal Accident Injury

The truth is in the figures but of course the Executive Summary and the press releases try and hide the truth. Safe Speed identify different ways that the truth was hidden and I repeat them below but I have changed the order to reflect the seriousness of the offence:

1) The report's conclusions lump together the benefit of Police patrols (called 'other') with the disbenefit of the cameras to yield a neutral result - as reported in the executive summary.

2) The disbenefit of cameras has not been calculated out, highlighted or made clear - although the source figures are there.

3) The executive summary comparison groups are not "road works with camera : road works without camera" instead they are "road works with camera : open motorway without camera" this is how they get to claim the 1% and 2% benefits in the executive summary. In fact serious injuries are down in all road works sections irrespective of camera use.

4) Report not announced to the public - With the summary report mislinked on TRL web site

5) Report (paid for with public money by the Highways Agency) not available for public download (we had to pay £40 for it).

As I have reported before, many journalists are not happy with interpreting information presented in tables and so rely upon Executive Summaries and similar material. Perhaps a few more journalists with some mathematical knowledge might be a good idea. Maybe journalists will start looking into government figures rather more closely when there is next a Conservative government!

Safe Speed draw some conclusions from the Report and here they are:
"TRL595 is a large scale study - 4 times the size of its recent predecessors. We have absolutely no reason to doubt the honesty of the study because it really does not say what the paymasters would have liked to hear.

Road works are safer than open motorways because although the crash rate is similar, accident severity in road works is reduced.

Speed cameras are very strongly associated with an increase in the number of crashes and an increase in the severity of crashes.

We must remove speed cameras from UK motorways as an urgent matter of public safety.

We must find out who was responsible for keeping this report hidden for 18 months.

We must find out what the Highways Agency have to say for themselves about continuing to use dangerous speed cameras in UK motorway road works.

It is an OUTRAGE that TRL595 didn't fundamentally change the use of speed cameras on UK motorways, and especially at road works sections.

All those drivers convicted in the last 18 months of exceeding the speed limit by speed camera evidence should have their points refunded. Such speed camera operations - known to make the roads more dangerous should NEVER have been allowed."


Later in 2005 the DfT reported reluctantly and to little publicity that neglect of a statistical bias had exaggerated the main benefit of speed cameras by 400%. The claimed "100 lives per year saved at speed camera sites" was downgraded to 25 lives saved.

In June 2006 the DfT discovered that the ongoing beneficial trend in road crash serious injuries was only a feature of the way these crashes were reported. Hospitalisation statistics don't show the same trend and road deaths don't show the same trend.

In September 2006 the DfT discovered that the proportion of injury crashes involving any speeding vehicle nationally was only 5% - not the 'one third' that they had previously claimed. Remember, "speed kills", it appears not necessarily, not that there was any change in publicity.

In January 2007 the method of funding speed cameras was changed and some (including Safe Speed) believe that the lack of ring fencing will reduce the number of speed cameras. I disagree, speed cameras are getting cheaper as the move to digital technology increases in pace and many local authorities are vehemently anti-car, they would rather sacrifice refuse collections and services for the elderly than see a reduction in drivers being penalised for daring not to use public transport.

In March 2007 a Freedom of Information request enabled Safe Speed to discover that the speed camera side effects research (announced in May 2005) had been axed. I can only assume that preliminary findings had reported that speed cameras were making road safety worse, otherwise why would the research have been cancelled?

What can you do to fight speed cameras? You could sign up to the petition on the Number 10 website. You could write to your MP and ask what he is doing to get the May 2005 preliminary research released. You could join Safe Speed and you could also make more people aware of the facts, especially on any radio phone-ins.

BBC Bias - It's official

The Sunday Times today informs us that a BBC report says that The BBC is institutionally biased...particularly partial in its treatment of single-issue politics such as climate change, poverty, race and religion... the bias has extended across drama, comedy and entertainment, with the corporation pandering to politically motivated celebrities and trendy causes. No surprises there then...
The report also points to the danger of BBC programmes being undermined by the liberal culture of its staff...“There is a tendency to ‘group think’ with too many staff inhabiting a shared space and comfort zone,” says the report. It goes on to highlight a “Roneo mentality” where staff ape each other’s common liberal values.

A particularly telling part of The Sunday Times article is this - After the BBC broadcast a week of programmes to highlight poverty in Africa and a day celebrating the National Health Service, Adam Boulton, political editor of Sky News, told a House of Lords select committee the BBC’s coverage came dangerously close to peddling government propaganda. The programmes came at a time when the BBC was negotiating a new royal charter with ministers. Of course a Rupert Murdoch paper has a vested interest in this area of the BBC.

Other extracts include:
- details of a staff impartiality seminar at which senior figures criticised the corporation for being anti American and pandering to Islam.
- A senior BBC reporter attacking the corporation for giving “no moral weight” to America.
- Executives admitting they would broadcast images of a Bible being thrown away – but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims.
- The BBC deliberately championing multiculturalism and ethnic minorities, while betraying an anti countryside bias.

So the BBC has said that is has discovered that it is institutionally biased towards anti-establishment views rather than the status quo, towards the left rather than the centre or right, towards environmentalism rather than commerce and towards Islam rather than any other religion. Will it make any difference, I think not? In fact, does the BBC really believe it has a problem or is this report a cover, if the BBC admit to a little problem with presentation they can continue with promoting their own agenda.

PS Would this be the right time for the BBC to release the Balen report?

One example from the report of bias was "Executives admitting they would broadcast images of a Bible being thrown away – but not the Koran for fear of offending Muslims." Does offending Christians not count? Would the BBC broadcast images of the Gurū Granth Sāhib being thrown away? How about the Bhagavad Gita? Should not all religions be shown the same respect or the same lack of respect? Does the level of respect that the BBC shows depend upon how likely they are to receive a death threat?

Saturday, 16 June 2007

EU CONstitution

I wrote a few weeks back about the return of the EU Constitution.

Here's an update...
It looks as though the result of next week's EU summit will be that Angela Merkel will announce that an Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) be called to discuss a new treaty. This will take the power of agreeing to the treaty (so far as the UK is concerned) away from Tony Blair and put it onto Gordon Brown. Any treaty has to be agreed to unanimously and there may well be problems getting this past the Polish government for one look set for an argument with Germany over the allocation of seats in the EU Parliament.

As I pointed out in my earlier article, the "Treaty" will bring into existence most of the Constitution. This includes a change to the primacy of European law over the UK. Currently EU law takes precedence over UK law but only by the "will" of the UK Parliament, if the "Treaty" comes into being then EU law will have primacy over UK law. Does that seem like a major change in the nature of the relationship between the EU and its member nations?

Apparently Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have "spelt out their "red lines" - the issues on which they insist they will not compromise - ahead of next week's EU summit in Brussels." These points "are: labour and social legislation; the common law system, police and judicial process; foreign and defence policy, including Britain's seat on the UN Security Council; and Mr Blair will also oppose any plan to make Britain change the "cost, scope and financial structure" of its social security system." I seem to remember a UK politician guaranteeing that the UK would not lose its seat on the UN Security Council to the EU, I will see if I can find out who that was.

Interestingly I found out today on EU Referendum that although the Constitution did not come into being, thanks to the French and Dutch people, some aspects have been brought into being "without any legal rationale. The European Defence Agency and the European Space Agency that were supposed to be set up only through the new treaty, have been set up, quite illegitimately. And that Charter of Fundamental Rights is already being used as a reference point in all legislation that comes from the European Union and cannot be rejected by Parliament. What are we going to do about that?" Well what are we going to do about it? What are you going to do about it?

Because he's worth it?

I am willing to guess that I have few if any readers earning £3,500 per day. However that is what I read Bob Kiley is currently earning. Bob Kiley is the Transport Commissioner appointed by Ken Livingstone in 2001 to run London's transport system. His initial salary was set at $4million for a four year contract. In December 2004 he received a four year extension to his contract at an increased salary of £2.4million over the term of the contract. This amount is disputed by the Tax Payers Alliance who list his salary for 2005/06 as £1,146,425. At the beginning of 2006 he stood down as Transport Commissioner in return for a severance payment of £745,000 plus a two year consultancy agreement worth £787,500 for 90 days work a year. Sounds a lot of money, well it is a daily rate three times that of when he was employed, but there's more... He is also being allowed to live rent free in the £2.1million house purchased for him under Ken Livingstone's instructions in 2001, that's worth around £13,000 a month for a total of eight years (a total of £1,248,000). Surely at those salary levels he could afford to rent his own house, most Londoners don't have a house paid for as well as having a salary, especially if they are only working 90 days a year.

Surely Bob Kiley must be working his socks off for that money; it appears not. Bob Kiley admitted to the Evening Standard recently that "If you ask me what I actually do to earn my consultancy, I'd have to tell you, in all honesty, not much."

Will Ken Livingstone explain what is going on? It appears that "The London Assembly has called for an independent watchdog to investigate the salary of London's former Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley. The London Assembly passed a motion referring the matter of Mr Kiley's employment to the Audit Commission."
You can read more about this motion here.

A Supreme waste of money

The Constitutional Reform Act 2005 provided for a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to take over the existing role of the Law Lords and some powers of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Agree or disagree with the Act as you wish but guess what has resulted? Lord Falconer, Tony Blair's ex-flatmate and now Lord Chancellor, decided that a new building was needed for this new body even though it had been happily working in its previous incarnation within the Palace of Westminster. So £100,000,000 is Lord Falconer's current estimate of the cost of setting up the new building for this new court. £63,000,000 will be the cost of converting Middlesex Guildhall, that rather dark neo-Gothic building on the opposite side of the roundabout from the Palace of Westminster. Provision of consultancy fees, IT equipment, a library and top quality furniture will add £20,200,000 to the bill. Moving the courts previously housed at the Guildhall to Isleworth will add a further £18,200,000. This makes a total of £101,400,000 in up-front costs. An absolute bargain I am sure you agree. Running costs were estimated last year at £9,400,000 a year, the latest estimate has, you will not be surprised to learn, risen to £12,300,000, a 20% increase in one year, never mind it is just the taxpayer that will pay.

If the Guildhall was operating as a court or courts why does £63 million have to be spent on converting the building? Is Derry Irvine advising on the wallpaper? Why is it costing £18.2 million to move those lower courts to Isleworth? Isleworth is not that pricey a place to relocate to.

Why does this Government waste so much money on fripperies?

Friday, 15 June 2007

3,023 and counting...

3,023 new offences on the statute book since this Labour government came to power. Is there anything they won't criminalise? Of course not!

BBC News Quiz and George Bush

I was listening to the News Quiz tonight and as usual there was a joke at the expense of George Bush, who may or may not have had his watch stolen whilst in Albania - Daily Mail article this week. Now this of course was an opportunity to joke at how stupid George Bush is - Alan Coren included the following humorous remark "the really unbelievable thing is that he can tell the time (audience laugh) by reading his watch .. the big hand's pointing upwards, the little hand's just next to Mickey Mouse's left ear (more audience laughter). Yes it is hysterical the thought that George Bush cannot read a watch but it is the received opinion and it is frequently alluded to, if not actually stated, by the BBC. What do you think, is George Bush an idiot?

Before you answer, please read the following that I found and sometimes "quote" from Eject Eject Eject.
Here is a picture of the flight controls of a F-106 Delta Dart, this being the successor plane to the F-102 Delta Dagger that George Bush flew whilst in the National Guard. The F-102 was a supersonic fighter-interceptor that cruised at around 845 mph.




Quite a few dials and controls there for George Bush to read and use. "Now, picture yourself in this chair, at 40,000 feet, traveling at one and a half times the speed of sound. Now imagine that someone has painted the windows white – you are flying on instruments. Now imagine that not only do you have to be able to fly blind, by referencing these instruments, but that you also have to stare into that orange jack-o-lantern of a radar, and interpret a squiggle that will lead you to your target. Now imagine that in addition to not hitting the ground, or your wingman, and watching the squiggle, you also have to turn those switches on the right side panel to activate weapons systems, to overcome enemy countermeasures…without looking outside, as you hurtle through air at -40 degrees F, air so thin that should you lose pressure, you have about 4-6 seconds of consciousness before you black out and die." Still think George Bush is an idiot?

"Here is a random question from the instrument rating exam I had to pass a few years ago.

Refer to figure 91:




What should be the approximate elapsed time from the BOSEMAN (BZN) VOR to the DUBOIS (DBS) VORTAC if the wind is 24 knots from 260 degrees and your intended True Air Speed is 185 knots? (The magnetic variation is 17deg. E)

A. 33 minutes
B. 37 minutes
C. 39 minutes

(It’s C., obviously)

If he had been a civilian rather than military pilot, Dubya would have had to have passed 60 questions like this with at least 70% correct. Questions on weather, radio communications, mechanical systems, aerodynamics, pilot physiology, airspace, navigation and a hundred other things. But, since he was military, he also had to know how to operate that primitive in-flight radar, plus weapons systems, rules of engagement, electronic warfare, hydraulics, fuel systems…it goes on and on."

Could you answer this question? No, but then you're probably not a civilian, let alone a military, pilot. Do you think that someone who could answer that sort of question correctly, without the use of a calculator (not invented when George Bush was flying), maybe with a slide-rule and understand aerodynamics and the other items in the above list is an idiot? Do you think that someone who could fly that plane is stupid?

What George Bush is, is inarticulate. He doesn't always come up with the right word in the right situation, but he is not stupid.

So what do you say Alan Coren?

BBC Bias an oldie but worth repeating

Finally I have found some audio of the Radio 4 Today presenter James Naughtie interviewing Ed Balls before the 2005 General Election. He started a question as follows "If we win the election" before slightly mumbling a change to "If you win the election", priceless, very embarrassing but NOT bias. You can hear the audio here.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

BBC shhhh don't mention the M word

I was listening to the news on BBC radio (I can't remember if it was Radio 4 or 5Live) about the Kurdish girl murdered by some of her relatives in Birmingham last year in a so-called "honour killing". I had heard of this case before and assumed that she and her family were Muslim and the boyfriend wasn't, I had even thought of blogging about the BBC's reluctance to ever bring a negative view of Islam into any news report. Then I heard the piece on BBC radio yesterday that said both of the families were Kurdish and it was a difference in tribes. I felt somewhat ashamed that I had jumped to the wrong conclusion and was glad that I had not blogged about this issue.

Then this article on Reuters was brought to my attention and I see that I was right in my assumptions - "Her family decided to kill her because they believed the relationship had shamed them as Suleimani was an Iranian Kurd and not a strict Muslim." Maybe the BBC are now covering this part of the story, here is the relevant BBC news web page, can you see any mention of religion? The BBC prefer to say "Miss Mahmod was killed after falling in love with a man her family did not want her to marry. Her father and uncle ordered the murder because they believed she had shamed the family, the three-month trial heard."

Now I feel doubly mislead by the BBC, their coverage on this case was so biased that it actually made me feel that I had jumped to a wrong and biased conclusion and that I was guilty of assuming that this case might have a Muslim angle.


Some more extracts from the Reuters article that I think deserve further publicity and it sure isn't going to get any on the BBC. "Honour killings were almost unheard of in Britain until a few years ago but police and the Crown Prosecution Service now estimate there are about a dozen such murders a year." That's around 12 young woman killed every year for falling in love with someone who follows (or comes from a family that follows) a different religion.

"Campaigners say that the issue was misunderstood and that the authorities had been unwilling to get involved in minority community matters for fear of being culturally insensitive." "Hannana Siddiqui of Southall Black Sisters, an organisation experienced in dealing with honour killings, said the authorities were worried about being seen to be heavy handed. That's often been the reason why agencies like the police and social services have not wanted to get involved in cases of abuse within communities because they think it would be culturally insensitive to do so," she told Reuters." Culturally insensitive... people are being killed, if that is part of someone's culture, then it bloody well shouldn't be!

UPDATE - A sad addendum to this story is this article about Banoz Mahmood's sister, Bekhal. This story gets sadder and sadder and I get angrier and angrier that this is happening in this country

Tony Blair and Libya (part 2)

I wrote last week of Tony Blair's deal with Libya to return the Lockerbie bomber in return for something or other apart from a nice photo opportunity in or near a tent in the dessert I asked "What matters to Tony Blair, other than his legacy and helping BP gain some more contracts." I read today that before Tont Blair even left for Libya (on 29 May) "Libya announced on Tuesday it will sign a $900-million exploration deal with British energy giant BP" '"We are going to sign with BP an oil-exploration and -prospecting accord on Libyan territory worth $900-million," said the head of Libya's National Oil Corporation, Shokri Ghanem.'

270 people died in the Lockerbie act of terrorism, that's around £171,000 per victim. To be fair that is considerably more per head than Tony Blair extracted from the IRA when he released a large number of their convicted murderers so as to be able to proclaim an end to "The Troubles". No money was passed over in Northern Ireland although power passed the other way.

Tony Blair weak on terrorism, weak on the causes of terrorism.

Monday, 11 June 2007

BBC - what?

Thanks to Biased BBC for alerting the world to this.

The BBC website has a short article re the reopenning of the refurbished Royal Festival Hall. A perfectly normal article "A weekend of free events is taking place to mark the reopening of the refurbished Royal Festival Hall. The Grade I listed building on London's South Bank has undergone a two-year £91m pound renovation. The 2,788-seater auditorium now has upgraded acoustics, under-seat air conditioning and increased leg-room...." After the article is a let us know your opinion question, which is not unusual. The question seems to come from an odd quarter "Should City bankers donate a proportion of their fortunes to causes like the Royal Festival Hall? Let us know what you think using the form below". The BBC can't help but see the world through a left wing filter.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Another fine idea

Peter Hain has come up with a brilliant idea. On the Simon Mayo Radio 5Live programme on Wednesday that "We should consider whether it would be more appropriate for the seller of a property to pay the stamp duty rather than the buyer. This would exempt first-time buyers from the charge. A move like this would be revenue- neutral, but would be an enormous boost to young people.". I despair of the thinking behind this, if indeed there was any thinking. Has the Orange One considered that maybe if the seller has to pay an extra charge and we are not talking small amounts, especially in London, then the seller might just increase the amount that they will sell the house for. So what will the Orange One's plan achieve? Definitely a further boost to house prices, is that what he really wants? Probably no difference in taxation income. Quite possibly a reduction in houses coming onto the market as sellers downsizing or leaving the property market decide they don't want to pay an extra exit tax and so don't sell; this would also tend to increase house prices as supply is further constricted.

I realise that this is a policy designed to get votes in the campaign for the Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party BUT this sort of policy floating may have repercussions.

More on broken HIPs

I have blogged several times about the HIP debacle, see here, here, here, here and here and to be honest I am running out of puns relaing to HIPs but as this government lurches from disaster to disaster over this policy, I have no choice but to carry on.

To recap the government haver decided to delay the introduction of HIPs for two months and then to introduce them (initially) only for the ridiculously wealthy who have a four bedroom house or larger. Of course the government didn't really thisnk this thgrough, if you remove the market for HIPs for two months and so put it into people's minds that you might drop the plan altogether, then companies who have set up to supply energy assessors might re-evaluate their position and so they have. Yesterday the Guardian reported that "Energy-assessors.com said it has laid off around 100 fully trained staff who were due to start providing energy assessments of homes for Hips on June 1." Stephen Callaghan, director of energy-assessors.com, said: "Regrettably, in light of the government's announcement last month on the future of home information packs, our joint venture partners have decided that no further investment in this company is considered appropriate at this uncertain time. We see no future in employing assessors ourselves."

The latest problem to emerge is that energy asessors are looking to the government to reimburse them for their wasted training costs. "Many who spent around £9,000 on training are considering suing the government. Just 18% of houses sold have four or more bedrooms." I read at Burning Your Money that "Total private sector costs are estimated at £100-250m, which means plenty more law suits to come.".

This was a dumb idea, from a dumb government that has cost much money to not setup, will cost more to fully introduce, possibly even more to cancel and will of coursae cost anyone selling a house more money. This government's policies on stamp duty and now this have reduced mobility of labour and constricted the supply of housing onto the market so fuelling the spiralling rise in house prices until the crash comes of course and it's coming. Joined up government; I think not.

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Dr Who

A change from the normal topics I cover but tonight's Dr Who was the best I have ever watched and I speak as a long time fan, back to the days of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. I strayed away during the Peter Davison years and hardly watched Colin Baker or Sylvester McCoy. The "new" series have been variable in quality but mostly enjoyable even if there has been rather too much of the Daleks who I believe should only be kept for special occasions. The last two storylines have been really engrossing, The family of blood was good and slightly scary but tonight's episode Blink was absolutely brilliant. I watched it and was transported back to being aged 6 and being scared by the Sea Devils. This episode was really well written, well acted and skilfully directed & shot. I really couldn't look away from the screen. Our neighbours have a statue of an eagle on the wall facing our kitchen, I walked out to our garden and gave that eagle a very long hard stare indeed to see if it had moved. I can't believe that any child of under 10 could have watched that and not have nightmares tonight, but maybe kids today have a higher threshold for terror than I did. I think that the device of having The Doctor not there in person made it that much more scary.

If you have not seen this episode of Dr Who tonight then do yourself a favour and even if you have never watched Dr Who before then watch it on Sunday at 8pm on BBC3. You will never look at a statue the same way again...


UPDATE:
Just woken up after no nightmares about statues, although I have just checked the stone eagle has not moved. Two things bother me about last night's episode of Dr Who:

1) Who threw the rock at Sally Sparrow and why? The weeping angels "kill" by touch.

2) How did the Tardis return to 1969 leaving Sally & Larry behind. The Tardis has never dematerialised in that way before, has it?

General confusion

Thanks to Devils Kitchen for reminding me that last week was the 25th anniversary of the sinking of the General Belgrano. I remember this happening, I was at school and the Falklands War brought out a surprising amount of anti-war sentiment amongst some of the pupils and much discussion in history lessons. I also remember the May 1983 episode of Nationwide when Diana Gould seriously embarrassed Margaret Thatcher about the sinking of the Belgrano outside of the exclusion zone and whilst heading away from the Falklands. This questioning became a favourite piece for the BBC to repeat as often as possible so as to attack "Thatch" and something that Tam Dalyell and Anthony Wedgwood Benn wold bang on about as often as possible during the 1980's and much of the 1990's until 1997.

Over the years it has become accepted by most in the UK that the General Belgrano was sunk illegally or at least immorally. I would like to try and reverse this accepted opinion. The following facts are extracted from this Wikipedia article and from documents referenced there, including this one:

Fact 1. The Belgrano was sunk outside the 200 mile total exclusion zone around the Falklands. (W)

Fact 2. During war, under international law, the heading of a belligerent naval vessel has no bearing on its status. (W)

Fact 3: The captain of the Belgrano, Hector Bonzo, has testified that the attack was legitimate. (W)

Fact 4. Hector Bonzo, admitted that the Belgrano's decision to sail away from the Task Force on the morning of 2 May was only a temporary manoeuvre. "Our mission ... wasn't just to cruise around on patrol but to attack," (R1)

Fact 5: Though the ship was heading away from the Falkland Islands, it had been moving towards the task force all the previous day, and had only turned around because an air attack on the task force was cancelled due to lack of wind to launch planes from the aircraft carrier operating to the north of the Falklands. (W)

Fact 6. Belgrano had in fact been ordered back towards the coast to wait for more favourable conditions for an attack. Her captain, Hector Bonzo, said "We were heading towards the mainland but not going to the mainland; we were going to a position to await further orders" (W)

Fact 7. Though the ship was outside of the 200 mile exclusion zone, both sides understood that this was no longer the limit of British action — on 23 April a message was passed via the Swiss Embassy in Buenos Aires to the Argentine government, it read: "In announcing the establishment of a Maritime Exclusion Zone around the Falkland Islands, Her Majesty's Government made it clear that this measure was without prejudice to the right of the United Kingdom to take whatever additional measures may be needed in the exercise of its right of self-defence under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. In this connection Her Majesty's Government now wishes to make clear that any approach on the part of Argentine warships, including submarines, naval auxiliaries or military aircraft, which could amount to a threat to interfere with the mission of British Forces in the South Atlantic will encounter the appropriate response. All Argentine aircraft, including civil aircraft engaged in surveillance of these British forces, will be regarded as hostile and are liable to be dealt with accordingly." (W)

Fact 8. Argentine Naval officers understood the intent of the message was to indicate that any ships operating near the exclusion zone could be attacked. Argentine Rear-Admiral Allara who was in charge of the task force that the Belgrano was part of said, "After that message of 23 April, the entire South Atlantic was an operational theatre for both sides. We, as professionals, said it was just too bad that we lost the Belgrano". (W)

Fact 9. Also the rules of engagement were changed specifically to permit the engagement of the Belgrano outside the exclusion zone before the sinking - This is per Admiral Sandy Woodward's book one Hundred Days (page 219). "At 1330Z she (HMS Conqueror) accessed the satellite and received the signal from Northwood changing her Rules of Engagement. ... The change said quite clearly he may now attack the Belgrano, outside the TEZ" (W) and other

Fact 10: Admiral Woodward also made it clear that he regarded the Belgrano as part of the southern part of a pincer movement aimed at the task force, and had to be sunk quickly. He wrote: "The speed and direction of an enemy ship can be irrelevant, because both can change quickly. What counts is his position, his capability and what I believe to be his intention" (W) and other

Fact 11. In 1994 the Argentine government conceded that the sinking of the Belgrano was "a legal act of war" (W)


Some things, no a lot of things, about the "left" in this country really annoy me. The automatic assumption that what is done in the name of the UK is wrong. The assumption that what our Government tells us (particularly if it is a Conservative Government) is a lie.

How many anti-war commentators criticised the Argentinians for any of the following?:
a) invading the Falklands in the first place
b) killing UK armed forces personnel
c) attacking HMS Sheffield (not an attack craft but there to provide a long-range radar and medium-high altitude missile "picket" far from the British carriers)


As Margaret Thatcher said on the same Nationwide interview "I think it could only be in Britain that a prime minister was accused of sinking an enemy ship that was a danger to our navy, when my main motive was to protect the boys in our navy".

I think that much of this attitude to our armed forces continues today in much of the coverage of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and indeed most conflicts that the UK, rightly or wrongly, gets involved in.

I also note that the left wing commentators tend not to comment on how defeat in the Falklands War led to ever-larger protests against the military regime and is credited with giving the final push to drive out the military government that had overthrown Isabel Perón in 1976 and participated in the crimes of the Dirty War. Galtieri was forced to resign and elections were held on 30 October 1983 and Raúl Alfonsín, the Radical Civic Union (UCR) party candidate, took office on 10 December 1983. See here.

Baby boom

This week figures were released by Office of National Statistics showing that the UK birth rate had increased to a 26 year high. Leaving aside any questions over whether we want a rising population with the problem of diminishing global resources and massive Third World population growth, let's look at how how different news organisation reported this news:

The Daily Telegraph - Migrants push birth rate to highest in decades - Explained how most of the increase was down to children being born to mothers who had not been born in the UK - "Statistics also revealed that 146,944 children were born last year to mothers who did not come from Britain. In 1998 the total was 86,345. Babies born to mothers from overseas accounted for 21.9 per cent of all births last year, up from 20.8 per cent the year before." and also that "I believe the fall that we have seen was due to this (high earning female graduates) group and what is happening now is that these women are now having children but at a later age than they once did."
BBC Web News - Fertility rate 'at 26-year high' - "The upturn has been largely driven by increasing birth rates among older women." Just a brief quotation "We are not likely to get to the replacement level - two children per woman - but that is not necessarily a concern because immigration is making up for that." from Professor Danny Dorling regarding the increase in children of immigrant mothers and that's it.

Strange isn't it, the BBC just can't stop seeing the world the way it wants it to be and must confront racism whenever it can, even by ignoring any reference to inconvenient facts.

Friday, 8 June 2007

Talking tough but not following it through

The Home Office, well you know how this one is going to go just from those three words. Has there ever been such a badly run Government department? Now which aspect of this department shall we look at now? How about preventing terrorism.

Shortly after 9/11, the then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, introduced emergency laws which allowed the UK government to detain indefinitely without charge or trial those foreign nationals suspected of being international terrorists. These laws were declared illegal by the House of Lords in 2004.

In March 2005, Charles Clarke (David Blunkett's replacement following his first resignation) introduced terror suspect Control Orders. These Orders usually placed suspects under a curfew and required them to report regularly to police, creating a kind of house arrest, rather than actual prison. The problems followed thick and fast:
In April 2006 the first British citizen to have an order imposed on him won a high court declaration he had been placed under an order without a fair hearing, infringing Article 6 of the European convention on human rights.
Charles Clarke was replaced by John Reid in May 2006
In June 2006 a judge quashed control orders against six men, saying they were 'incompatible' with Article 5 of the convention, which prevents indefinite detention without trial; the government appealed.
In October 2006 it was revealed that two suspected international terrorists subject to them were on the run.
In January 2007 John Reid, the home secretary, revealed a third suspect on an order had absconded earlier in the month. In fact a total of six have absconded.

Today you can read that John Reid admitted that the "Police are prevented by law from taking fingerprints and DNA from terrorist suspects on control orders". This Government just cannot "walk the walk".

The new "plan" is to put anyone found guilty of a terrorist act or a terrorist-related offence - such as providing money or belonging to a banned group - on a "register". My how this Government loves a good register. I am sure being on a Register will really prevent further terrorist acts!


As a footnote, you will notice that I have not preceded John Reid with his preferred designation "Dr". John Reid thinks that being called Dr makes him seem serious and trustworthy. In fact John Reid can call himself a doctor because he has a Ph.D in economic history, earned by writing a thesis on the 19th-century West African slave trade written from a Marxist perspective - source and source. John Reid studied for this doctorate at Stirling University during the early 1970s. From the Guardian article we read "The campus was dominated by a swirling vortex of various Trotskyite groups from the IS (International Socialists) to the IMG (International Marxist Group). Reid led the right wing counterattack from the bastion of the Communist party - his first party affiliation."
A future article here will cover further how being an ex-Communist is no bar to political power in this country whereas any right-wing past is.

Tony Blair and Libya

Last month, Tony Blair visited Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. The visit may have included according to Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, a "memorandum of understanding", which included mention of the transfer of prisoners, with Libya. The First Minister's official spokesman last night insisted that it was not a draft and that it stated on the agreement that it had been signed by both the UK and Libyan government at Sirte, in Libya, on May 29.

Downing Street insisted that the memorandum of understanding with Libya did not cover the case of the Lockerbie bomber... "The memorandum of understanding agreed with the Libyan government last week does not cover this case."

I wonder which Libyan prisoners other than Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber Tony Blair was discussing. I remind you that 270 people were killed when Pan Am Flight 103 from London to New York was blown up over Lockerbie on 21 Dec 1988.

Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Megrahi, an agent in Libya's intelligence service, was convicted of the atrocity by a Scottish court sitting in the Netherlands six years ago. He is serving a minimum 27-year life sentence in Greenock Prison.

What matters to Tony Blair, other than his legacy and helping BP gain some more contracts.

Downing Street and the importance of foreign languages

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Downing Street website is being launched in a foreign language. What language is the website being launched in? One of the European languages? Maybe French, the language of diplomacy? Maybe German, the second or third language of much of Eastern Europe? Spanish, the language of much of South America and indeed now much of North America? Japanese, the language of much of international banking? Chinese, the language of the most populous nation on the planet and an increasingly powerful international player? No, the language chosen is Arabic.

A spokesman for Number 10 said "We want to be as accessible as we can to people across the world and this is an important step forward in our efforts to do that." An odd choice of first language, or maybe not as Tony Blair forlornly tries to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim world.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Gordon and Scotland

I just found this delicious piece of video from BBC Scotland dating from May when Gordon was still ignoring the SNP win in the Scottish Parlaimentary elections. Worth watching for the look on Gordon's face near the end - watch here

Bendy and dangerous

I have previously blogged about London's bendy buses allowing illegal free travelling. Now I hear that a report has castigated bendy buses for their accident record.

Some other issues with bendy buses:
1. They have exacerbated the problem of youth crime on London buses
2. They are dangerous to cyclists
3. They don't carry that many passengers. The average in 2002 (the last year I can find figures for) was per Tony McNulty in the House of Commons was 24
4. They are not great in a tunnel
5. They are often driven really dangerously
6. They have many, many accidents

As a driver in London, bendy buses are a menace. I was once driving along the Euston Road into London and had to turn left across the bus lane, however there was a bendy bus there blocking the left turn. I couldn't cut into the bus lane behind the bendy bus because that would have meant me risking being caught on film and fined and I couldn't stop where I needed to turn left and wait for the bus to move off as that would have held up traffic. So I drove on, turned left when I was next allowed to and wiggled my way back to where I actually wanted to be. This was never a problem with the Routemaster bus.

You must remember the Routemaster, it was designed for narrow London roads not the wide boulevards of many European cities. A London politician with his finger on the pulse of London thought once said "Only some ghastly dehumanised moron would want to get rid of the Routemaster." Strange to say that it was the same politician, Ken Livingstone, that ended the Routemaster's role in London. This was done in the name of disabled access and clean air. Disabled access being something that had to be assured on London's roads by 2017. Although disabled access is easier now with the bendy bus, it was even easier with Dial-a-Ride service that London boroughs are cutting back on as result of bendy bus provision. Bendy buses are only better for wheelchair access if their ramp works and if there is space on board, neither being always the case.

Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph article says it well "(a) fetish for modernism that can be both aesthetically and socially disastrous, as was seen in the 1960s with the building of high-rise estates that became crime-infested concrete prisons for a generation of city dwellers." and is seen now with the replacement of the friendy, easy to access Routemaster with a long metal tube having three entrances that the poor driver cannot manage access to or check that people are checking in at.

I found this ode to the Routemaster "The open step at the back means people can hop on and off easily between stops - ideal when buses are often crawling along in traffic. Having a conductor on-board means fares can be collected while the bus is moving, again saving time. There isn’t much room to stand, but that’s because nearly all the available space is occupied by the things passengers want above all - seats. And because they spend less time stopping, and are relatively small and manoevurable, they are less disruptive to other vehicles, too.". You can read the rest here.

Carbon emissions, an uncomfortable (for the BBC) truth

Yesterday the BBC were taking every opportunity to verbally attack the USA for not agreeing to binding reductions in carbon emissions, see here for one on-line example. An interesting fact emerged during Questions to the Prime Minister (PMQs) yesterday; John Redwood asked "Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Why did carbon dioxide emissions in both the UK and the EU rise last year while falling in the United States of America, and what are the Government going to do about it?" (my emphasis). Tony Blair responded "It is correct that there was a small rise here and, indeed, elsewhere in Europe. It is precisely for that reason that we have agreed a new framework for the European emissions trading system. I know that the right hon. Gentleman may find it hard to support anything with the word “European” in it, but it is none the less important to recognise that it is only through that trading scheme that we will make a difference. The fact that the European Council has now set very ambitious targets for CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas emissions is extremely important. Incidentally, this country will meet our targets under the Kyoto treaty." Note - The full Official Hansard report is not yet available, this is taken from the Daily Record here.

Five fascinating things emerge from this:
1) This is the first time I have heard that the emissions concious EU has allowed emissions to rise whilst talking at great length and volume of the need to cut emissions, whilst the USA has cut them

2) The Prime Minister still cannot answer a serious question without trying to score cheap political points at the expense of his questioner. John Redwood is a Eurosceptic (or Eurorealist) but that does not negate the truth in the question he asked

3) Tony Blair still believes that "set(ting) very ambitious targets for CO2 emissions and greenhouse gas emissions is extremely important", presumably more important than actually cutting emissions in the real world

4) Which countries are more likely to cut emissions next year, those whose emissions rose this year, or those who cut emissions?

5) The BBC report Point by Point on PMQs, you won't be surprised to see how they have edited John Redwood's question - "Tory MP John Redwood asked why carbon emissions went up in the UK and Europe last year." No mention of the nasty, evil USA doing something better than the lovely, cultured, sensitive EU can be allowed

BBC bias, it's so easy when you spot it.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A drink with dinner?

You alcoholic, you want to have a drink at home you are a menace and a drain on the NHS. Our beloved Government's Health Minister, Caroline Flint has said that "There are people, adults, who on a very regular basis are probably drinking twice the amount that is recommended." “We want to target older drinkers, those that are maybe drinking one or two bottles of wine at home each evening,” a Whitehall source said. “They do not realise the damage they are doing to their health and that they risk developing liver disease. Read the BBC's "report" here and The Times's here.

SO WHAT, IF WE AS ADULTS WANT TO DRINK IN THE PRIVACY OF OUR OWN HOMES WE WILL.

A Home Office report says there were 7.1m "hazardous and harmful" drinkers in England, costing the health economy £1.3bn. £1.3bn, that's a lot isn't it? According to helpful comment on Devils Kitchen in 2005/6 Beer & cider duties raised £3.2 bn, Spirits duties £2.3 bn and Wine duties £2.3bn. So drinkers pay around £7.7bn in taxes and duties, now that is a lot, a lot MORE.

Now I like to share a bottle of wine with the wife every couple of days and tonight we have shared a jug of Mojitos. Do we average two bottles of wine a night? no. A bottle of wine a night? Probably not even that.

Please read these blogger articles for more trenchant criticism of this abhorrent policy:
Devils Kitchen - "The state wants to control your behaviour, ladies and gentlemen, and it no longer feels that it has to be subtle about it; could anything else be so indicative of NuLabour's arrogance and the confidence that it has in its control over the social mores of the British people?"


and Tim Worstall - "People simply cannot be allowed to choose their own path to perdition, that's entirely unacceptable. We'll have to ban wine cellars, as this allows people to have too much alcohol in the house. All wine racks will have to be replaced so that only one bottle in a 24 hour period can be used, corkscrews fitted with a timer so that again, only one use per 24 hours is possible.

Of course, that won't be enough, for what of the renegades who will buy two wine racks, or two bottle openers? A full complement of Council Alcohol Officers will have to be hired and trained. Sherry and Port will no longer be for sale in those oversized 0.7 litre bottles, for they allow excessive consumption. Sales of screw top wine (shudder) by the case must of course be banned.

Once such measures are in place, the CCTV cameras placed over every drinks tray, State approved watery beer served only to those who have fulfilled their quota, then, finally, we will all be as free and as happy as it is possible to be! Songs of praise and paeans of joy will ring out across the land as we give thanks to those who will save us from ourselves!"


The control freakery of this Government is getting beyond parody and beyond belief.

EU exert more pressure

The EU Parliament have banned the use of mercury in manufacturing so that it cannot enter the food chain article 1 and article 2. As a result Britain's small but historic barometer manufacturing industry will die. This industry did receive a reprieve last year but Lord Rooker (the relevant Labour minister) decided not to make stand. The problem of mercury in barometers must be huge if it must be banned, well no it isn't; according to the British Barometer Makers Association "300 tons of the liquid metal used in the EU every year less than 30 kilos was used to make new barometers in the UK" - a strange mix of Metric and Imperial measurements there, unless they mean a tonne. Either way that's around 0.2%.
So a British industry dies because the EU say it's dangerous. Is it as dangerous as tobacco? I just wondered as the EU subsidise the European tobacco industry to the tune of €920million.

Bye bye Blair - well the process has started

A lovely photo on the BBC website, it's actually started to happen - full article here.



It's a removal van around the back of No 10.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Channel 4 hyperbole over Diana death programme

A trailer last night for Wednesday night's Channel 4 programme on Diana's death. Apparently her death was "one of the most terrible and iconic moments of the 20th century".

Let's have a think shall we. Diana's death was terrible for her family and friends and seemed to have an inexplicably major impact on much of the British population at the time but was it really one of the most terrible moments of the 20th century?

Here is a list of the human created disasters of the 20th century that resulted in more than a million deaths:

55,000,000___ Second World War period
40,000,000___China: Mao Zedong's regime. (incl. famine)
20,000,000___ USSR: Stalin's regime (incl. WW2-era atrocities)
15,000,000___ First World War (incl. Armenian massacres)
8,800,000 ____Russian Civil War
4,000,000 ____ China: Warlord & Nationalist Era
3,000,000 ____ Congo Free State
2,800,000 ____ Korean War
2,800,000 ____ 2nd Indochina War (incl. Laos & Cambodia)
2,500,000 ____ Chinese Civil War
2,100,000 ____ German Expulsions after WW2
1,900,000 ____ Second Sudanese Civil War
1,700,000 ____ Congolese Civil War
1,650,000 ____ Cambodia: Khmer Rouge Regime
1,500,000 ____ Afghanistan: Soviet War
1,400,000 ____ Ethiopian Civil Wars
1,250,000 ____ East Pakistan: Massacres
1,000,000 ____ Mexican Revolution
1,000,000 ____ Iran-Iraq War
1,000,000 ____ Nigeria: Biafran revolt
source


Maybe Diana's death was "one of the most terrible... moments of the 20th century" when compared with natural disasters.

Here is a list of the natural disasters of the 20th century that resulted in more than a million deaths:
World_______1917__Flu Epidemic_____20,000,000
Soviet Union__1932__ Famine Russia.Fed_5,000,000
China, P Rep__1931__July Flood E.Asia__ 3,700,000
China, P Rep__1928__Drought E.Asia____3,000,000
NA_________1914__July Epidemic Eur__3,000,000
Soviet Union__1917__Epidemic Russia____2,500,000
China, P Rep__1959__July Flood E.Asia ___2,000,000
India_______1920__Epidemic S.Asia____2,000,000
Bangladesh___1943__Famine S.Asia_____1,900,000
China, P Rep__1909__Epidemic E.Asia___1,500,000
India_______1942__Drought S.Asia____1,500,000
India_______1907__Epidemic S.Asia___1,300,000
India_______1900__Drought S.Asia____1,250,000
World______ 1957__May Epidemic_____1,250,000
Soviet Union__1921__Drought Russia____1,200,000
source

So are Channel 4 really saying that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales more than terrible than any of the above events? If they are, then they are mistaken and guilty of hyperbole.

In through the back door

Remember the EU Constitution, you know, the one that Tony Blair promised us a referendum on? This referendum promise was set aside when the electorates of France and The Netherlands voted in their own referendums (or is it referenda?) against the Constitution. Also a 2005 ICM poll reported that 81% of Britons said that there must be a referendum before any parts of the Constitution can go ahead.

That must have killed off the Constitution mustn't it? Don't be daft, the problem that the EU identified was not with the Constitution but with the electorate. So the solution wasn't to change the Constitution but to exclude the European electorate from the process of ratifying any Constitution. How could this be done?

A lovely phrase in this article from The Independent (a paper I find with very disturbing views on many matters, but that is a matter for another time) reads "across the EU, policy-makers now accept that it is virtually impossible to win plebiscites in all the key countries in the 27-nation bloc. In addition to the UK the Netherlands now hopes to avoid a referendum and Nicholas Sarkozy, the front-runner in the French presidential elections, has said he would not put a new treaty to the people." So if we, the electorate, can not be trusted to vote correctly, then our Lords and Masters must make the decision for us. What of Denmark, another country with a Euro Sceptic (or more accurately Euro Realist) population? From the same article we read "Another country with Eurosceptic public opinion, Denmark, is considering its position and its Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that an agreement might not require a popular vote." Tony Blair that bastion of democracy says "If it's not a constitutional treaty, so that it alters the basic relationship between Europe and the member states then there isn't the same case for a referendum."

So what's the plan? Germany are in the rotating chair at the moment and a 12 point questionnaire has been sent by Germany to each of the national governments. I have found a copy on the UKIP site and you can see the whole text here. The points that should most worry you are 2,3 & 4:

"2. How do you assess... the proposal made by some Member States that the consolidated approach of part 1 of the Constitutional Treaty is preserved, with the necessary presentational changes resulting from the return to the classical method of treaty changes?" In other words, do you think if we call it a Treaty not a Constitution, like we did in the past, we could get away with it?

"3. How do you assess... the proposal made by some Member States to use different terminology without changing the legal substance for example with regard to the title of the treaty, the denomination of EU legal acts and the Union’s Minister for Foreign Affairs?" In other words, do you think if we just change the terminology from that of the Constitution we could get away with implementing it?

"4. How do you assess the proposal made by some Member States to drop the article that refers to the symbols of the EU?" In other words if we drop all the stuff about flags and anthems will the plebs buy it?


Having read that last point, look at what Tony Blair had to say back in April. "Mr Blair told journalists on Thursday that a treaty amending the existing legal base would not have the characteristics of the constitution which aimed to re-establish the Union with the trappings of statehood, such as a flag and anthem." Well Tony's bought it, or more likely decided to follow the plan.


When will the decision be taken? On 21 June this year, a week before Tony Blair hands over the role of Prime Minister to Gordon Brown. So Tony can take the decision, bind his successor and the Country and then disappear off to the US lecture circuit or maybe to be the first President of Europe, now there's a pleasant thought, or not! What can we, the public, do to stop this happening? The UK is a democracy, so the answer is of course NOTHING. If Tony Blair decides to sign up, he can; I think that's wrong, what do you think?





Yes the title is a rather mangled Led Zeppelin reference.

It's shredding time

The Office of Government Commerce has started shredding copies of interim reports into government schemes. This is meant to make it harder for Freedom of Information requests to unearth the amount of money being wasted on IT projects. I will blog some more on this later in the meantime you can read about it here and here.

Monday, 4 June 2007

London 2012 logo

Is it just me or does the logo for the 2012 Olympics unveiled today look like Lisa Simpson giving someone oral pleasures.

Here are the comparative images...







No sheep were harmed in the production of this article.


UPDATE:

It appears I am not alone Theo Spark has posted an excellent animated version.


UPDATE

There are plenty of alternative logo ideas around, some serious some not. Here's a really good re-working of the logo I found on The Telegraph's web site.

Tony Blair and his threat to resign

This is just to remind people that back in January this year the police wanted to interview Tony Blair under caution but backed down when Scotland Yard was informed by a political intermediary that Mr Blair would resign as Prime Minister if he was interviewed under caution. You can read more about this here.

Apart from finding it despicable but entirely believable that Mr Bliar would try and escape the embarrassment of being interviewed under caution, I also felt that Scotland Yard should not have backed down. Tony Blair and his team have always made great play of the fact that Tony Blair has not been interviewed under caution and that he is only a witness not a suspect BBC report .

It is probably a bit late to interview Tony Blair before he hands over the role of Prime Minister to his bestest mate Gordon Brown. What concerns me is what new excuse Tony Blair will use to wriggle out of being interviewed under caution once he is no longer PM.

Sunday, 3 June 2007

The rise of the surveillance society

I was flicking channels yesterday and happened across an old episode of "Jeremy Clarkson's Motorworld". From the look of his clothing I would say it was filmed in the late 1980's however the programme was in fact made in 1995; well you don't watch Jezza for fashion tips.

The programme was set in Monte Carlo and included a scene where Jezza described the city as being three miles long by 300 yards wide and had a huge number of video cameras that kept it safe; all 160 of them. He then demonstrated how safe the city was by leaving a F500 note on the dashboard of his open top TVR when he went off to lunch. Under the gaze of one of the security cameras the car and it's large value note stayed untouched. I remember when I watched this programme back in the 1990's I thought that maybe if we had security cameras in London we would also have much less crime.

I mused about this last night as I drove into London, past more than 160 cameras of various types. I didn't feel especially safe as the main thing the cameras were concentrating on was not preventing violent crime but checking for anyone exceeding the speed limit by more than 1 mph.