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Monday, 31 March 2008

OK love?

Oops me saying that in his pub could lose my pub landlord his licence. Why is that NotaSheep? Here's the story, Women and Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman has used a statutory instrument that does not require a division or debate in Parliament to bring in some new legislation. This legislation will bring into force in the UK the European Equal Treatment Directive which says that women at work should not be "subjected to any conduct related to their sex which violates their dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment". As a result, business bosses will be held responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment by customers - and that those who fail to do so can face unlimited compensation claims. The regulations mean that a pub landlord could be sued if a barmaid complains about being called "love", or if she overhears customers telling each other risqué jokes. Restaurant managers and hoteliers risk being sued if staff object to an insult from a diner or a guest asking for a date.

Of course being an EU/Labour regulation there will be bureaucracy and signage, businesses will be advised to show they have tried to clamp down on sexual harassment of workers by customers if they are to guard against the risk of compensation claims, whilst pub landlords will be advised to put up warning notices telling drinkers that "harassment is not tolerated". The law will be policed by the Government's Commission for Equality and Human Rights.


So now the new puritans lead by the ever efficient Harriet Harman have found yet another way to impose their will upon the poor taxpaying public. Is there any end to the freedoms that this Labour Government will not try to restrict? Totalitarianism is the new Labour watchword.

"Hillary Clinton Fired For Lies, Unethical Behavior"

Thanks to USS Neverdock we learn from the North Star Writers that:

"The now-retired general counsel and chief of staff of the House Judiciary Committee, who supervised Hillary when she worked on the Watergate investigation, says Hillary’s history of lies and unethical behavior goes back farther – and goes much deeper – than anyone realizes.

Jerry Zeifman, a lifelong Democrat, supervised the work of 27-year-old Hillary Rodham on the committee. Hillary got a job working on the investigation at the behest of her former law professor, Burke Marshall, who was also Sen. Ted Kennedy’s chief counsel in the Chappaquiddick affair. When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career.

Why?

“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”"


Read the whole article and wonder if the BBC will cover this story, I think not...

"Clinton Pushes Housing Market Fixes As Campaign Manager Sits on Board of Bankrupt Lender"

Some Hilary Clinton news - "WASHINGTON – Hillary Clinton spends considerable time on the campaign trail bemoaning unscrupulous lenders who have left millions of Americans scrambling to keep their homes but all the while her campaign manager, Margaret “Maggie” Williams, has sat on the board of one of the nation’s once-largest and now-bankrupt sub-prime mortgage lenders.

Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson told FOXNews.com late Sunday that Williams, a longtime Clinton ally, didn’t join Clinton’s Democratic presidential campaign as a volunteer until after Delta Financial Corporation — for which Williams is a director — went bankrupt in December 2007."


Read the rest here.



Thanks to USS Neverdock for the spot.

Man Made Climate Change

I hope you are keeping up to date with developments in eco-bollocks by visiting Greenie Watch, you should.

The war on drivers continues (even more)

Today another attack on the nation's drivers, (per the BBC) "Varying charges can now be levied - with larger fines for serious offences and lower ones for minor misdemeanours such as overstaying at a parking meter."

Make no mistake this about raising revenue and I will hear no argument to the contrary. Take a look at the BBC Have Your Say for this matter and see the way that public opinion is running...

Deep-cleaning the NHS (update)

The BBC are "reporting" as I blogged recently that some NHS Trusts will miss Gordon Brown's deep-clean deadline. Of course the BBC start the article with a piece of pro-Labour spin "The NHS is likely to narrowly miss its target to deep clean all the hospitals in England by the end of March. Ministers expect 93% of trusts to have completed the process by the end of Monday. The rest have all started the cleans and will finish soon, they say."

NHS planning?

Do you remember the disaster that was the new NHS Junior Doctor recruitment system/ Well it is back in the news, the BBC are reporting that "Junior doctors are being asked to work longer hours, often unpaid, because of staff shortfalls" and why are there staff shortfalls? It would appear that the geniuses who designed the afore-mentioned IT system didn't allow for doctors to be appointed during a year, only at the designated time. This makes sense in IT consultant world but in the real world, doctors get sick, get pregnant, move even die - only now they cannot be replaced until the next "transfer window".

Government IT projects generally don't work...and this one was not an exception to the rule.

Tibetans or Palestinians

A must read article.

Stilted and lacking personality?

"The prime minister has been condemned by one of his own Downing Street insiders as stilted and lacking personality".

Just the one insider thinks this? I thought it was becoming clear to the whole Country.

Prius envy?

Not from me, or The Sunday Times.

"Coasting down the mountain into Geneva my Prius averaged 99.9mpg for a full 10 minutes. It was the highlight of my journey and improved my overall average fuel economy by a full 2mpg. But it was not enough. For all my defensive driving, slippery bodywork and hybrid technology, my average fuel consumption was 48.1mpg. I’d lost to a Beemer and I was disappointed; I had never driven so slowly or carefully for so long in my life. I’m considering buying a V8 Range Rover and opening my own oil well in protest."

The Climate Change tide is turning

Take a read of this by Bishop Hill.

More sex with objects

This time it is a man caught having sex with a picnic table, see here. "Police say that Art Price Jr was seen copulating with furniture on four separate mornings, most recently on March 14 when a neighbour recorded it as evidence...The neighbour, who remains anonymous, said he saw Mr Price in his garden turning over a round metal tale before performing a sex act upon it."

Bicycles, vacuum cleaners, roads, cars and bicycles - what am I missing?

The war on drivers continues (more)

I see that many local councils are redefining a pothole from a hole in a road 2cm deep to 4cm deep. This cuts the number of potholes in their roads so they look better and the amount they should be spending on road repairs. What with potholes and sleeping policeman is it any wonder that drivers like 4x4s? I don't drive a 4x4 and my suspension is suffering. If you want a pleasant drive in London without sleeping policeman, try areas that fall under the control of the London Borough of Barnet who have been removing sleeping policeman since the Conservatives regained control from Labour. Some roads are a real pleasure to drive responsibly along again.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

"Get off my bus, I need to pray"

True or early April Fool?.

If the former then deeply disturbing, if the latter then...

KFC corn-on-the-cob

Well I will never look at a KFC corn-on-the-cob in the same way again after tonight's Gavin and Stacey.

School Inspectors

Back in February I blogged about this Labour government announcing that Muslim private schools would no longer be subject to Ofsted inspections but would instead be inspected by the Bridge Schools' Inspectorate which would be more "sensitive" in its inspections of Muslim schools.

Archbishop Cranmer has an interesting view on this subject, take a read.

Michael Martin (again)

I was going to write a sneering indictment of Michael Martin following the revelations about the ridiculous spending on his private apartment. However I see that Letters from a Tory has got there first.

Uniform fetish?

Take a read.



Thanks to Iain Dale for the spot.

EU payments

I see that Britain will pay an extra £1 billion to the EU this year, making an annual payment of £4.1 billion. Of course this ridiculous sum is not enough for the rapacious EU and is due to rise to £6.1 billion in 2008-09 and £6.4 billion in 2009-10. This rise is thanks to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's craven collapse during EU budget negotiations as the EU managed to end Margaret Thatcher's hard won rebate.

The Conservative party have calculated that this year's £4.1 billion is equivalent to £177 for every taxpayer or would pay for 5,000 doctors. I think I'd quite like my £177 to spend as I'd like.

Deep-cleaning the NHS

Do you remember Gordon Brown promising to have every hospital in the deep cleaned over a period of a year? I wrote soon after that "There are no plans to centrally monitor the deep cleaning of hospitals." and reported that the Department of Health had said that "no specific date has been set for either the commencement or completion of the deep-clean programme." and that "There are also no plans to assess the effectiveness of deep-cleaning."

Today I learn that the money to fund the "deep cleaning" hasn't even reached all of the hospitals. The Telegraph reports that "Primary care trusts across the country admitted yesterday that they would fail to hit Monday's deadline, while others have hastily scheduled cleaning programmes for the weeekend. Figures show that only a quarter of the £57 million allocated for deep-cleaning has reached hospitals."


Something for David Cameron to bring up at PMQs on Wednesday? If he did, I wonder what fraudulent statistics Gordon Brown would counter with?

The war on drivers continues

This Labour government's war on the motorist continues apace, now they are reported to be "minded" to cut the blood alcohol limit from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood. This reduction of itself would be extreme enough but I also see that the government are also planning to give the police the power to stop motorists at random and breathalyse motorists even if their driving is faultless. Presumably this will also be an opportunity to ask the driver for "their papers" and check their ID card with the National Identity Register. Someone could be found to be over the proposed lower limit having drunk as little as a glass of red wine. The Labour government are also looking to increase the penalty for drink driving to an automatic driving ban stays, a maximum six month prison sentence, compulsory attendance at a rehabilitation course and six points on the driving license.

Why the clampdown? The Government will claim that research shows that 65 lives could be saved. I hope you agree that the saving in life is worth yet another reduction in our civil liberties. This Labour government of course care not a jot for civil liberties, the trouble is how can they be stopped?

Zimbabwe

The BBC are reporting that "Zimbabwe's government and electoral chiefs have warned the main opposition MDC it should not declare an early victory in the presidential poll. The MDC, which has repeatedly expressed fears of rigging, has started to quote unofficial returns, saying it has 67% of the vote so far and "has won". The information minister accused the MDC of "speculation and lies"."

I am afraid that any celebration may be very premature, first there were reports last week that Robert Mugabe has many many extra ballot boxes full of votes for himself to be added to the count and if these votes are not enough then the army can probably still be relied upon to put down the MDC.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Savings

Forgetting for a moment the furore over mortgage interest rates rising despite the Bank of England reducing their base rate, the figure that struck me this week was that personal savings are now at their lowest levels since 1959. So much for encouraging prudence...

Friday, 28 March 2008

The BBC as sensitive as ever

As "she struggled to tell listeners about the death of screenwriter Abby Mann" his family must be so please that this audio is deemed worthy of repetition for the amusement of the listening public.

House Price crash continues

Even the BBC have to report that "The Nationwide has changed its prediction for property values after UK house price inflation fell to its lowest rate for 12 years.
The mortgage lender said prices fell by 0.6% in March, cutting the annual rate of increase to 1.1% - its lowest rate since March 1996. After five months of price falls, it said prices would continue to drop. This marked a shift from its previous prediction that there would be no overall change by the end of this year."

I am still predicting a 40% drop in the average UK house price from the peak last summer to the end of 2010.

Hillary - a stranger to the truth?

The web and blogosphere is alive with more and more stories of Hillary Clinton not always being entirely truthful.

NewsMax report that "After 9/11, Hillary had a problem. New Yorkers were desperately focused on their own needs for protection and they were saddled with a Senator who was not one of them -- an Arkansasn or was it a Chicagoan? Interviewed on the "Today" show one week after 9/11, she spun an elaborate yarn. The kindest thing we could say was that it was a fantasy. Or a fabrication. She said that Chelsea was jogging around the World Trade Center on 9/11 and happened to duck into a coffee shop when the airplanes hit. She said that this move saved Chelsea's life. But Chelsea told Talk magazine that she was in a friend's apartment four miles from ground zero when the first plane hit. Her friend called her, waking her up, and told her to turn on the TV. On television, she saw the second plane hit, disproving Hillary's claim that "she heard the plane hit. She heard it. She did.""


Real Clear Politics have a list of "Hillary's lies".

Prime Time Politics have a list of 147 of "Hillary's Habitual, Pathological Problem with the Truth". They also have a piece of CBS video that has more detail on the Bosnia lie, her previously telling of similar stories and her digging an even bigger hole by extending the Bosnia lie.

"The BBC is more than biased..."

A video from an unhappy TV licence payer...

Thursday, 27 March 2008

"Colombia seizes uranium from leftist guerrillas"

I haven't see this reported anywhere in the UK, according to Reuters "Colombia said it seized at least 66 pounds (30 kg) of uranium from the country's biggest left-wing rebel group on Wednesday, the first time radioactive material has been linked to the four-decade-old guerrilla war. The uranium was found in a rural area long considered a Marxist guerrilla stronghold just south of the capital Bogota."

The consensus view is that FARC are not capable of making a nuclear device or even a dirty bomb but that this is "just" a money making exercise as they try to sell the uranium to a third party. Somehow I don't think the "end users" are likely to be great friends of Western democracy.

The UK asylum system

The BBC have been leading with the story that "The Independent Asylum Commission, led by an ex-senior judge, said the system denied sanctuary to some in need and failed to remove others who should go. It said the treatment of some asylum seekers was a shameful blemish on the UK's international reputation."

The "Independent Asylum Commission" is, almost needless to say, not Independent. Here is their website and you will notice that "The Commission is directly accountable to the Citizen Organising Foundation." Take a look at The Citizen Organising Foundations website and wonder at the sheer politically correct crap on that site.

To the BBC, Migration Watch needs to be described as "right wing" but organisations such as the Independent Asylum Commission needs no contextual description.

437 BBC employees to cover the Olympics

The BBC have lost the details of 437 of its staff who will be sent to Beijing to cover the Olympics. That's 437...

Totalitarianism New Labour style

Rather a busy day today but have just learnt that parts of the Legislative & Regulatory Reform Act 2006 are being reintroduced by this Labour Government as the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill. This bill is fundamentally anti-democratic and would allow this Labour Government to do one or more of the following without recourse to parliament: curtail or abolish jury trial, permit the Home Secretary to place citizens under house arrest, allow the Prime Minister to sack judges, rewrite the law on nationality and immigration.

The battle has I am sure commenced already, take a look at Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Devils Kitchen and Ministry of Truth for starters...

Brown has a Bush moment

The BBC were so happy when they could report in 2005 that George Bush had tried to open a locked door when exiting a news conference in Beijing. They seem less happy today having to report the Queen's comments at the State banquet for President Sarkozy - "In television footage, the Queen can be heard saying to Princess Anne: "The prime minister got lost. He disappeared the wrong way...at the crucial moment.""


Somehow I don't think the BBC will publicise this as much as George Bush's unfortunate attempted exit. It doesn't pay to upset a Labour PM, but a Republican US President is fair game.


Sky News however do have the video, enjoy it via Guido Fawkes.

April 20th could be interesting

Paul Waugh in The Standard has an interesting piece of news about Ken Livingstone's registration of donations and the fact that the Electoral Commission is due to report on this matter on 20 April, read the whole article here.

Hillary "misspoke" (update 2)

It would appear that Hillary made another mistake in her recent speech about landing under sniper fire. She claimed that she "was the first first lady taken into a war zone since Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II." Unfortunately for Hillary, she was wrong on that as well, Nixon Blog reveals that Pat Nixon beat Hillary to it: "The [July 1969 South Vietnam] visit marked the first time that a First Lady had been in a combat zone, although another First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, had also visited troops on her numerous travels to England and throughout the South Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand during World War II. National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger later described how the President and his party were “whisked from the airport to the Presidential Palace in a helicopter that seemed to go straight up out of range of possible sniper fire and then plummeted between the trees of [President] Thieu’s offices."

Hillary Clinton, whatever it takes to become President?

Hillary "misspoke" (update)

Further to my post about Hillary's lack of honesty I found this piece of video which shows what Hillary Clinton may think actually happened...





Thanks to Last of The Few for the spot.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Darfur, Israel and Guardian readers

An interesting article on the Guardian's Comment is Free, take a look here. Most interesting and the reactions in the comments section are well worth a read as well.

Trying to learn in a Comprehensive school

I don't write a lot about education matters; mainly because it depresses me too much to see the waste of talent, the political indoctrination and the same mistakes being made over and over again. A blog that I recently added to my often reads is To Miss With Love and she has a post that you must read to get an idea of what I am talking about - read it here.

Sex scandals and media bias (update)

Further to this item on the way Republicans involved in US sex scandals tend to have their political party identified whilst Democrats don't, here's another example from the BBC. Kwame Kilpatrick, the Mayor of Detroit, is having a few problems regarding inappropriate text messages sent to his (female) Chief of Staff. Mr Kilpatrick is charged with perjury, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office and faces a maximum of 15 years in jail; serious charges. Take a look at the two BBC web pages that I could find regarding Mr Kilpatrick and see if you can discover which party he represents - 31 Jan report and 25 March report.

Why so coy BBC? I am sure that if this had been a Republican Mayor you would have described him as "Republican Mayor ...". The BBC unbiased by charter, biased by nature.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Darling barred

When I read Mr Eugenides's report on the campaign to have Alistair Darling barred from every pub in the UK after his alcohol tax raising budget, I was sceptical about the schemes success. However it was even reported on today's Radio 4 news as a bloggers' campaign. So, better late than never, please download and print the poster from here and let's get this campaign motoring.

Sex with a chair

If you get the chance take a look at this week's repeated episode of "Around the World in 80 Treasures" on the BBC where the last object is "The Brno chair". Watch Dan Cruickshank seemingly masturbate the afore-mentioned chair and feel somewhat dirty.

Yet another "sex with an object" story, this time without the subsequent prosecution.

John Humphrys gets an idea of what 11 years of Labour Government has lead to

Take a read of this article by John Humphrys in the Daily Mail and ask yourself "has the penny finally dropped?".

Tibet

My views on Tibet, the Chinese invasion of that country and the subsequent suppression of Tibetan religion and culture and the Han Chinese takeover of Tibet are well known. If you care about freedom of speech and repression then on April 6th come to a demonstration in London. You can find details here. The 6th is a Sunday so you are probably not at work, the Premiership football that day looks weak (Middlesbrough v Man Utd at 13:30 and Everton v Derby at 15:00) and there are few better causea. The more support there is on the day, the less chance there is of this Labour Government's seemingly private police force (The Metropolitan Police) clamping down on the demonstration as they so memorably have done before.


Here's a website that you may find interesting to take a look at.

BBC journalists arrested in Ireland

The BBC are not really covering this story in any detail, I wonder why, so take a look at The Waendel Journal instead.

Hillary "misspoke"

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear; it seems that Hilary Clinton has over-egged the pudding again. This time she was speaking about Iraq and was again trying to show how experienced she was. She described a visit to Bosnia in 1996, when husband Bill was still in the White House and probably glad she was on a different continent - well it probably gave him a chance to get to grips with exciting new areas of policy (or maybe just an exciting area of an intern). These are her words: "I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base."

The truth is somewhat different, here's CBS's report on her speech and what actually happened on the visit...






So let's examine that extract from Hilary Clinton's speech:

"I remember landing under sniper fire." - No sniper fire - so either a lie or a delusion
"There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport" - True there was meant to be a greeting ceremony - and indeed there was one
"we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base." - No, you shook hands with at least one girl, received a card from her, chatted to her and received a kiss on both cheeks from her. All the while, you, Chelsea and several others were like you, smiling and looking completely unconcerned about the possibility of sniper fire.


So did Hilary Clinton know she was lying but hoped to get away with it, or just like Tony Blair is she convinced that if she says it it must have happened that way or is her memory so faulty that she truly cannot remember if she came under sniper fire or not? All of these are possible explanations and none are ideal characteristics of a potential President of the US.


Hilary Clinton has insisted that she had simply misspoken, characterising the false claim as a “minor blip” among the “millions of words” she spoke every day. Asked about the issue during a meeting with the Philadelphia Daily News’ editorial board, she said: “I went to 80 countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book...You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things – millions of words a day – so if I misspoke, that was just a misstatement”


You may be wondering about my use of the phrase "over-egged the pudding again", well she has previously tried to claim a key role in the bringing of peace to Northern Ireland and in opening Macedonia’s borders to Kosovo refugees.

Then there is the named after Sir Edmund Hillary story, which you can read all about at the ever wonderful Snopes.com.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and an elected Upper House

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is something that I have, until today, not commented upon. Despite some reservations over the ethics of creating hybrid human-animal embryos for research, I am in favour of this bill and if I was an MP I would vote for the bill. There are MPs who for religious or other moral reasons feel they should vote against parts of this bill and I am fine with that, if an MP cannot make an honest moral judgement on a bill then that would be a poor day for democracy. Unfortunately, it seems as though Gordon Brown is not a huge fan of democracy. His position on whether to allow a free vote appears not to be driven by morality but by whether allowing a free vote would jeopardise the bill being passed. In other words, if allowing a fee vote means the bill will still be passed then he will allow a free vote otherwise he might allow moral objectors to abstain so long as that too does not cause the bill to be defeated. I even read a comment from some Labour MP that allowing MPs to vote against a Government bill would mean the end of democracy. This is rubbish of the highest order, democracy is not about the elected Government getting all legislation they wish through Parliament because they were the largest party at the last election - that would be the mark of an elected dictatorship.

The political party system takes the freedom to represent the views of their electors and their own consciences away from MPs and I believe that to be wrong. Jack Straw's proposed legislation to have a fully elected Upper House (the Senate) would exacerbate this problem as he proposes multi-member constituencies which give more control over candidates to the party machinery than would otherwise be the case. I fear that by following this path we are heading towards making an elected dictatorship even more likely as control of both Houses of Parliament by one party would be easier to achieve. The totalitarian instincts of first Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown as Prime Minister should act a s a warning to us all.

"The Iraq War is a recruiting sergeant for al-Qu'eda"

That "the Iraq War is a recruiting sergeant for al-Qu'eda" is the all but unchallenged orthodoxy. The leader article in the current edition of The Spectator answers this rather well: "It is now an all-but-unchallenged orthodoxy that the Iraq war was a recruiting sergeant for al-Qa’eda and its affiliates in this country. That may be true, but only in the sense that everything is a recruiting sergeant for this cause: the existence of the state of Israel, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the end of the Muslim Caliphate in 1924, the removal of the Taleban, the way women dress in the West. Last June, a bomb was found outside a popular West End nightspot in Haymarket. How much did the planting of the device really have to do with the removal of Saddam Hussein? Murderous theocrats do not need Iraq to justify slaughter."

Hilary Clinton - an over active imagination?

Take a look at Last of The Few for details.

Tessa Jowell

The press is full of the story that "travellers" or "gypsies" have legally purchased land next to the "country home" of Tessa Jowell and her husband David Mills and then without planning permission proceeded to set up water and electricity supplies before erecting fences and putting down paving for 32 caravans at the site. An absolutely terrible thing to happen and the legal system is deeply flawed for allowing this sort of thing to drag on for years funded by legal aid BUT three things stop me from feeling totally sympathetic to the Mills. Firstly there is Tessa Jowell's voting record, she has voted against a transparent Parliament, voted for introducing a smoking ban, voted for introducing ID cards, voted for introducing student top-up fees, voted against investigating the Iraq war and voted for the hunting ban. Second there is the way that she and her husband separated so readily when the shit started to hit the fan over the Berlusconi tax fraud and money laundering allegations. Third there is the way that she and the Olympic 2012 authorities have treated the Clays Lane residents.

"smoking is bad"

Apparently, displaying cigarettes in shops could be banned and tougher controls on vending machines in pubs and restaurants could be introduced in England under government plans being considered to cut adult smoking and to discourage children from starting.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said it was "vital" to teach children that "smoking is bad". "If that means stripping out vending machines or removing cigarettes from behind the counter, I'm willing to do that".


If this Labour government believes that it is "vital" to teach children that "smoking is bad" then why not ban smoking altogether? Surely this Labour Government's need for the tax revenue raised from taxing tobacco couldn't be the reason. I do like Ms Primarolo's use of the "will nobody think of the children" argument, that so many think negates all opposition, I do of course use like in completely its wrong sense.


For the record, and as I have said before, I do not smoke, I have never smoked, I hate the smell of cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke and hate even more the smell of stale smoke on my clothes and skin the day after an evening out in a bar or club. I avoid smoky restaurants and bars and have changed tables to avoid people smoking next to me. So I obviously supported the ban on smoking in all public places that came into force in England on 1 July 2007; actually no I didn't. This was just another way of the state controlling the public.

Why do I find it all but impossible to believe a word Jack Straw says?

Take a listen to Jack Straw's interview on the Toady programme this morning and just listen to the honesty just oozing through.

15mph speed limit for eco-towns

Is anyone surprised by this news?

A starting point?

Merseyside Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe is reported by Radio 4's Toady programme to have criticised the Court system for not implementing the five year minimum sentence for carrying a firearm. A Ministry of Justice spokesman is reported to have said that "The mandatory five-year term for possession of a firearm is a starting point...Judges must then take aggravating and mitigating factors into consideration when determining the final sentence..."Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the courts.".

I don't remember these caveats were mentioned when the Home Secretary of the day was trying to look "tough on crime" for the Daily Mail.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Government targets - yet another example of the "Law of unintended consequences"

This Labour government's love of targets has caused many problems in the areas of Education, Health, Law and Order and of course the Economy. Possibly Health has been the area of public life that has been the most screwed up by this target culture. The Guardian has details of the well known state of affairs that is the "Scandal of patients left for hours outside A&E". Put simply, this deeply inept Government pledged that all patients would be treated within four hours of admission. So what happens if a hospital fears it might miss this target and have patients waiting for more than four hours? They may already have all the staff working that they can and the staff can't work any longer because of the EU Working Time Directive. So what they do is simple, they don't admit the patients until they are sure they can be treated within four hours of admission. Yes they leave the patients sitting in ambulances outside the A&E department until they are pretty sure they can get them treated within four hours.

The Department of Health say it takes 15 minutes for an ambulance crew to deliver a patient to a hospital, clean the ambulance and re-stock if necessary and leave. Ambulance crews say it really only takes 5-10 minutes. So you may be shocked to discover that "In London, there were 14,700 occasions last year when an ambulance took at least an hour from its arrival at one of the capital's 35 hospitals to hand over a patient and be ready to respond to the next emergency. This figure includes 332 that took more than two hours." Figures from seven of England's eleven ambulance services for the last 15 months show that a total of at least 44,000 delays were reported.

Now apart from patients with broken limbs, breathing problems or having fits having to wait on an uncomfortable ambulance bed in an impromptu waiting room because some bureaucrats are scared of failing to meet a target set by another group of bureaucrats at the behest of a deeply flawed political ideology, there is the knock-on effect that if an ambulance is sitting outside A&E it can't be rushing to get to a person having a heart attack and saving their life. Oh well never mind, so long as targets are being met!

Class war on Conservatives banned?

According to The Telegraph amongst other newspaper, "Stephen Carter, the Prime Minister's principal adviser, told the Cabinet that the attacks on the privileged background of Mr Cameron and George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, had to stop. Mr Carter caused consternation by referring to the two men as "Dave and George", saying they were "good guys". He said voters would be turned off by negative attacks on their upbringing." Many papers also reported that some of Gordon Brown's attack MPs such as Ed "so what" Balls and Ian Austin cold be reluctant to follow this instruction.

I see in the Sunday Mirror that their personal attacks on David Cameron continue. Following on from "bicyclegate" comes the "news" that he is accused of comparing his untidy four year old daughter "to someone who had "fallen out of a council flat"." The Mirror obviously think that attacking David Cameron's roots is going to win Labour votes at the next election; they also breathlessly tell us that "The former PR man lives in a £2million mortgage-free home in West London, and has a country house in Oxfordshire worth £1million." I wonder how many current and ex-Labour MPs are in a similar position? Shall we start with Tony Blair, Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson?

The personal attacks continue, "Mr Cameron spoke of the "huge gap" between homeowners like him and people in social housing. But Mr Cameron is far from the man of the people he likes to claim. He is descended from King William IV, making him a distant relative of the Queen. Wife Sam, 36, is the creative director of upmarket stationery company Smythson of Bond Street. Her stepfather is Viscount Astor and she is a direct descendant of Nell Gywn, mistress to Charles II."


Thankfully the readership of the Mirror is much reduced from its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s and I would imagine is mostly read by the sort of tribal Labour supporter that buys the paper out of habit. Mind you you can also get an idea of the readership they want by looking at the two lead articles on their news website today:

"Ashley and Cheryl Cole plan dream home to rebuild marriage"

"Heather Mills tried to pull Johnny Depp lookalike"


Serious political coverage to the front as always...

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Microsoft do it again

I see that the BBC have finally realised that Microsoft have released Service Pack 1 (SP1) for their Vista Operating System. Being a Microsoft update there had to be problems and this is no exception - "Microsoft has warned that the update could clash with some security software and other programs customers may have installed on their machine...In late February Microsoft released a list of programs that SP1 could break when it was installed. Among those listed were anti-virus programs from BitDefender and Trend Micro."

Having experienced the initial teething issues with Vista I was not a fan, although I must admit the last few Vista installs have been trouble free, so the thought of SP1 should fill me with joy... However for someone reason I have a bad feeling...

Gordon Brown and Ken Livingstone

For an explanation as to why Gordon Brown has just described Ken Livingstone in such glowing terms whilst in 2000 he said that Ken Livingstone "Must not be London Mayor", take a read of Matthew d'Ancona's article in today's Sunday Telegraph. Read the article entitled "Gordon Brown is scared of losing London" here.

Does anyone believe this?

I read The Telegraph's expose of the news that "Ministers have admitted that Government inspectors are building a secret database that will eventually cover all 23 million homes in England.". Old news of course but still I found this line amusing "A DCLG spokesman said: "We have made clear many times there are no plans for a revaluation, and there is no revaluation by stealth. This means no one can be penalised for improving their home, off-street parking or having a scenic view. "The Valuation Office Agency is simply maintaining an accurate council tax valuation list."

Does anyone want to lay odds?

Snouts in the Trough

Victor Meldrew's Brother has carried out some analysis on the recently released MP's expenses and has some interesting information. Here's an extract:

"The MP from Hampstead (5 miles) claimed travel expenses of...wait for it...£12266 which works out at £24.53 per mile!! So I award the title of SOW OF THE YEAR to Glenda Jackson (Lab). Nice one Glenda! It would not be fair to ignore some of the better snouts like David Taylor Con (NW Leics)£1.45, Malcolm Moss Con (NE Cambs) £2.18, Mike O'Brien Lab (N Warwicks) £1.47and Paul Clarke Lab (Gillingham) the PPS to Ed Balls who clocked up a whopping £4.10 per mile!"

Stop ruining old songs

I have just had the misfortune to have flicked channels on Sky and seen the Comic Relief linked cover version of Run DMC & Aerosmith's classic "Walk this Way", the cover version being by Girls Aloud and Sugarbabes.

Here are the 2 videos; as they used to say before exams became multiple choice, "compare and contrast"...





An opinion piece on Barack Obama's background and support

From The Times comes a piece entitled "Barack Obama: toxic mentors start to corrode pristine campaign", take a read.

Polls

Time after time we are told that most Palestinians support peace and that if only Israel would talk to Hamas and trade land for peace the war against Israel would cease. Of course this view is total crap and now we have a Palestinian poll taken by a Palestinian organisation that shows he truth. According to Investors Business Daily and The New York Times the poll was taken by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which conducts a survey every three months and is widely viewed as among the few independent and reliable gauges of Palestinian public opinion. The poll showed that "84% of 1,270 Palestinians questioned by the center in personal interviews said they supported the March 6 shooting inside Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav yeshiva" and that "75% support for scrapping Israeli-Palestinian talks and 64% support for the Hamas terrorist group's thousands of recent rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israeli towns."

As the IBD says "The Shikaki poll shows that nearly an entire people support the murder of innocent kids because they're religious Jews. The civilized nations once fought a world war to prevent the global dominance of that kind of hate."

BBC admit inaccurate reporting

Shock, horror, the BBC has apologized for significant errors in two recent news reports on Israel. I know it's really not believable is it that the BBC would make "mistakes" in their coverage of the Israel - Palestinian conflict. Read the JPost article and see if like me you can hear the gritted teeth through which the BBC apology was made.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Treasury predicts housing market slowdown

Do you remember Gordon Brown's recent promise in the Sun that "GORDON Brown today gives Britain his personal guarantee he will save the nation from financial meltdown....“My guarantee to the British people is that we will hold on to stability in these latest tough times.""

This is at odds with this news that "The Government now calculates that it will make £800 million less from stamp duty this year than it previously forecast, because of a slump in number of people buying and selling property. The admission - in footnotes to this month's Budget - is the most official recognition yet that the credit crunch is deterring people from moving home."


So was that another worthless Gordon Brown promise?

Proving hard for Ken Livingstone to get cabs

From Saturday's Telegraph news that London's black taxi drivers are taking a political position...

"Brave is the man who tries to tell a London cabbie to keep his political views to himself, but Mandrake hears that the apparatchiks at Transport for London have just ordered them to stop distributing receipts bearing the words "Back Boris".

Our Mr Johnson is undoubtedly the cabbies' favourite to replace Ken Livingstone as mayor of London when the election is held on May 1, and, what is more, a gentleman who conveyed me from Victoria to the West End said he and his colleagues are now refusing to stop for Ken.

"It's against the rules I know but when we see him outside City Hall we just put our feet down," he told me. "I have had him in the back of my cab once and that was only because I hadn't recognised him. I slammed the partition shut because I couldn't face listening to him."

Untreatable TB

Quite a few years ago I heard that TB had reappeared in the UK thanks to the increase in immigration from the former Soviet Union. Now I learn that the first case of the XDR-TB strain, which kills half of those infected and is extremely resistant to drugs used to fight more common forms of the infection, has been diagnosed in a Somali man in his 30s who is in isolation at a hospital in Scotland.

Guess what, The Telegraph informs us that "It is understood the patient, thought to be an asylum seeker, was screened for infectious diseases on his arrival into Britain last year. X-rays revealed TB scarring on his lungs, but the disease was not thought to be active so he was allowed to travel to Scotland... Health officials are now trying to contact his close friends and family to prevent any further outbreaks...The first case of XDR-TB was reported in March 2006, after researchers discovered an emerging global threat of highly resistant TB strains. Six months later 53 “virtually untreatable” XDR-TB cases were found in an area of South Africa with a high prevalence of HIV."


Reassuring thought isn't it that a drug resistant strain of TB is now in the UK and that we have our wonderful border controls did nothing to prevent this.

Risk-free?

Abbey are advertising their new Super-ISA as "a risk free Guaranteed Growth Plan" and that your "Capital (is) Guaranteed - so long as you keep it untouched for the full term."

Well if the Government are going to do a "Northern Rock" to any future Banks that suffer from the "credit crunch" then I suppose it may be...

The BBC seem to believe that Israel doesn't exist

From the BBC website comes an article about factional fighting within the Palestinian Ain al-Hilwe refugee camp in Southern Lebanon. The combatants are Jund al-Sham and Fatah, here's the bit that caught my eye:

"Formed in 2002, Jund al-Sham - literally the Army of Greater Syria - is a radical splinter group. Its name refers to the area covering the modern states of Syria and Lebanon and the Palestinian territories - which the group says form one Muslim land."

Hold on, can you think of another Country that might be in that area that Jund al-Sham could also want to form part of "one Muslim land"? Have the BBC forgotten about Israel or are they still trying to convince us that the Islamists only want Israel to retreat back to its 1967 borders?

Isn't Easter early this year?

"Isn't Easter early this year?" everyone seems to be saying to me this year. Yes it is I reply, but being of a geeky nature I also tell them that this is the earliest that Easter has fallen since 1913 and was in fact the second earliest possible date that Easter could fall on. The earliest possible date is 1 day earlier, 22 March and it will next fall on that date in 2285. The range of possible dates for Easter is between 22 March and 25 April, Easter will next fall on April 25 in 2038. However, it will fall on April 24, just one day before this latest possible date, in 2011.
Incredibly, the cycle of Easter dates repeats after exactly 5,700,000 years, with April 19 being the most common date, happening 220,400 times, or 3.9% compared to a median for all dates of 189,525 times, or 3.3%.

I believe this is what used to be known as "Muscular Christianity"

In yesterday's Telegraph an article entitled "Without Christianity, our society is doomed" written by The Rev Dr Peter Mullen who is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange. This is not a namby pamby, liberal lefty piece of hand wringing. This priest seems to understand what is happening in the world vis-a-vis this being the latest installment of a very long conflict between Christianity and Islam.

Here are some extracts that may give you a flavour of the article, but do read the whole thing:

"it's clear that the yobs who attacked Michael were Muslims. To their credit, the local Muslim leaders have tacitly admitted this by publicly deploring the crime. So why were the police, and much of the media, so vague as to call these thugs "Asians"? If I smashed the windows of a Brick Lane curry house and gave the manager two black eyes, you can be sure the police and the papers wouldn't describe me as a "European"."

"This attack was one small example of the persecution being endured by the Church worldwide. On four continents Islamic militants are attacking and sometimes murdering Christians and burning down churches. Why do the archbishops and bishops not lead mass Christian demonstrations against these atrocities? Instead, we have to observe the filigree intelligence of the Archbishop of Canterbury as it operates on the precise relation between English law and some "unavoidable" accommodation with sharia. He, with his whole hierarchy, strains at gnats and swallows camels.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian archbishop said that Dr Williams's words hardly made things better for Christians persecuted under sharia in his country. "Their lives," he said, "are at the very least unbearable." If Dr Williams is so intelligent, shouldn't he have known beforehand that his remarks would only give encouragement to the fanatics? If I tried to walk down the main street in Riyadh wearing my clerical collar, the religious police would throw me into jail. In Britain we allow Muslims to build huge mosques in prominent places such as Regent's Park. What does this say about the relationship between Christianity and Islam worldwide?"

"The authority of Parliament is a joke in an age ruled by spin and the Prime Minister's gang of party interest. New Labour has created its own client state out of millions on benefits and 800,000 new civil servants, bribed by the sort of job security and pension entitlements long vanished in the private sector. Public services are near collapse - try getting anywhere by road or rail this holiday weekend. The NHS is a disgrace. "State education" is an oxymoron. The Government loses our national records and lately there have been convictions for vote-rigging."

It's a scandal

The BBC are going big on the story that "Conservative leader David Cameron has apologised after being photographed ignoring red lights and cycling the wrong way up a one-way street." They have even put up the video footage for the public to view and "rent-a-quote" Labour MP Stephen Pound has been prevailed upon to comment "David Cameron aspires to make the laws of the land but can't uphold them.". I believe my views on Stephen Pound are well documented on this blog.

It is interesting that the BBC are happy to put on their web-site the video of David Cameron on his bike but have yet to make available some more interesting video of Gordon Brown. For your pleasure here it is in all it's finger licking glory...

Fifth winner of the weekly NotaSheep "No shit, Sherlock" award

"Classroom discipline is deteriorating because over-indulgent parents are spoiling their children, according to a report."

The Telegraph reports that a Cambridge University study further tells us that "Primary school pupils are increasingly difficult to teach as they throw tantrums during lessons if they fail to get their own way...Their problematic behaviour is being fuelled by growing exposure to television, computers and video games - as well as spending too long in baby bouncers and strapped into cots - which damages children's development, it is claimed..."Teachers described highly permissive parents who admitted to indulging their children, often for the sake of peace or simply because they had run out of alternative incentives or sanctions," says the report."

No shit, Sherlock.

Tibet

The repression and the killing continues whilst the West makes representations to the Chinese government. You should read Alice Thomson's article in yesterday's Telegraph for some background on this story. Here's an extract, being the story of Tsering Wangmo:

"She explained how she had been dragged through the streets by her hair, beaten with electric prongs and thrown into a water-logged, open-air prison with more than 1,000 other women after she refused to spit on the photograph (of the Dalai Lama). She was repeatedly raped and hung upside down by her Chinese guards; she was expected to sleep on the bodies of dead inmates, and when she was finally released, she discovered that her husband had been forced to marry a Chinese woman and her children had disappeared."

These are the actions of our friends the Chinese. I am sure that Gordon will press the point in his telephone meetings with the Chinese leadership, sorry that would require courage not craven cowardice.

Islamisation of the UK

I blogged a while back about the plans for a mosque in Oxford to be allowed to broadcast the calls to prayer. I read yesterday that residents of the Torquay are already having their peace and quiet disturbed by the broadcasting of the early-morning call to prayer to hundreds of Muslims who have been converging on the Trevelgue Holiday Park where they have been celebrating the Persian new year. The call to prayer has been broadcast three times a day, the first at 05:30.

Just to remind you, the Muslim call to prayer is not just a friendly reminder to get to the Mosque on time. The Muslim call to prayer is not the equivalent of a church ringing bells on a Sunday morning, it is a statement of superiority of Islam over any other religion and of Allah over any other deity, it is a claim of Islamic supremacy.


Here is the call and a translation (from Islam Online's own website (my emphasis):

"The adhan is the call given to announce that it is time for a particular obligatory Salah (ritual Prayer). Five times a day the adhan is raised from mosques throughout the world. It is a Sunnah (optional duty) that brings its own reward from Allah (God). The person who gives the adhan is called a muadhdhin. (The English word “muezzin” is a mispronunciation of the Arabic term.)

The adhan begins with an affirmation of the supremacy of Allah (God). Then comes the shahadah (profession of faith), which consists of the profession of the Unity of Allah (God), the negation of shirk (polytheism), and the confirmation that Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) is the Messenger of Allah (God). And after that, comes the call to the Prayer and to success — our eternal home in Paradise — which also implies our return to the Creator. Each line is repeated for emphasis.


Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.


Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.


Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah.

I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah.


Ash-hadu alla ilaha illa-llah.

I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but Allah.


Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah


Ash-hadu anna Muhammadar-Rasulullah.

I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah


Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah, hayya ‘ala-s-Salah.

Hasten to the Prayer, hasten to the Prayer.


Hayya ‘ala-l-falah, hayya ‘ala-l-falah.

Hasten to real success, hasten to real success


Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar.

Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest.


La ilaha illa-llah

There is none worthy of worship but Allah.



In the adhan for the Subh (Dawn) Prayer (also commonly called the Fajr Prayer), the following words are added after Hayya ‘ala-l-falah:

As-Salatu khairun min an-naum, As-Salatu khairun min an-naum.

Prayer is better than sleep, Prayer is better than sleep.


The Sunnah (practice of the Prophet) recommends that while the adhan is being called, one should listen attentively and repeat it silently after the muadhdhin, but when he says “Hayya ‘ala-s-Salah” and “Hayya ‘ala-l-falah” one should say:

La hawla wa la quwwata illa billah.

There is no might or power except with Allah. "



If I was being woken from my slumbers at 05:30 by an amplified voice telling me that Allah is the greatest and the only one worthy of worship, I might be somewhat annoyed.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Gordon Brown isn't finished yet?

Polly Toynbee being delusional about Gordon Brown and the Guardian Comment is Free contributors are not afraid to tell her.

Grow up Billy

Billy Bragg is quoted in Mick Fealty's Telegraph blog as being bemused by David Cameron's love of The Smiths' music:
"The ground has shifted severely, from a situation where the leader of the Conservative party more or less formed my whole political outlook, to having a leader of the Conservative party who could have been in the audience at one of the gigs I did in the 1980s," he said. "That really freaks me out."


Why is Billy Bragg shocked that another 40 something might enjoy the great music of the Smiths and others. Just as with the BBC's obsession with ex-Etonians so Billy Bragg has to realise that Eton doesn't breed an evil master-race, or even just chinless wonders. Eton is a school that is exceptionally difficult for most to gain entry to and has the excellent teachers and facilities that assist pupils who generally want to learn, to learn.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Now I may be wrong, but I don't think Pastor Manning is a big fan of Barack Obama






Thanks to My Pet Jawa for the spot.




Pastor Manning is one angry preacher, "Barack is an emissary of the devil."

Hilary, oh Hilary






Thanks to Grouchy Old Cripple for the spot.

Postal voting

The Times reports that "Fears of widespread fraud in the local elections in May were raised yesterday after a judge said that the rules for postal ballots were fatally flawed.

Just weeks before more than two million people are expected to vote by post in local council and mayoral elections, Richard Mawrey, QC, said that postal voting on demand was “lethal to the democratic process”.

He said that the current system made “wholesale electoral fraud both easy and profitable” and accused politicians of failing to act after past scandals. He urged sweeping reforms to electoral law dealing with corruption."

Now why would Labour be so cavalier over the use of postal voting on demand? Might one think that it is because they hope to benefit from "head of household" control of voting? One might think that, I couldn't possibly comment.

Self defence in a Victorian style







Thanks to Hell in a Handbasket for the spot.

A contrary view

For a contrary view of financial topics, take a read of the articles listed here.

Education, education, education

When in 1997 Labour voters voted with "Education, education, education" and "Things can only get better" going around in their head, did they think that 11 years on the Labour schools minister (Jim Knight) would tell the moderate teaching union (the Association of Teachers and Lecturers) that primary classes of 38 were manageable and groups of more than 70 were "perfectly acceptable" if teachers were helped by classroom aides?

Figures obtained by the Conservative party last year suggested that almost 6,000 pupils were being taught in English or Maths classes of more than 50, with 715 pupils being taught in groups of more than 60. By way of contrast, Mrs NotaSheep's sub-teen godson is at a public school and apparently is being taught Maths in a class of 15.

Democracy

"One of this Government's proud achievements has been helping to bring democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq - where elections were policed by imprinting a finger of every voter with indelible ink. Yet at home it has corrupted an electoral system that the world once looked up to. Ministers were warned as long ago as May 2000 about the lack of security in postal votes. Yet they ploughed on, claiming that postal voting would reinvigorate the electoral system by encouraging more to vote. Postal voting has certainly achieved that - at least among the deceased and fictitious. Never mind an indelible fingerprint; in Britain you can put any name on the electoral register with little chance of the information being checked. You can apply for a postal vote in someone else's name, and, astonishingly, have the ballot paper sent to an address other than where the voter is registered as living. In a remarkable exception to the Government's commitment to equality, electoral registration forms are posted not directly to the voter but to the household, helping bullying community elders to cast block votes."

Ross Clark in The Times.





Thanks to Samizdata for the spot.

For the sake of balance

I have been accused of posting too many articles against Barack Obama and not enough against Hilary Clinton. So in the interests of balance here's a video of Hilary Clinton praising Heather Mills...






If it is by examining someone's friends that you truly get to know that person, then I am not sure who has the most to lose - Barack Obama by being linked to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Hilary Clinton by being linked to Heather Mills. Tough choice, Heather Mills or Jeremiah Wright - I wouldn't want to sup with either.




Tangentially here's a classic piece of video from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore...




"Your right leg, I like. I like your right leg, it's a lovely leg for the role, a lovely leg for the role and I've got nothing against your right leg. The trouble is, neither have you".

Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, the Rev Jeremiah Wright




Oops, there goes Florida...

Googling (update)

Dizzy Thinks and his correspondents have been listing some of the Google searches that have lead people to their sites. I too have been puzzling over these for a while - unfortunately I haven't noted them down before today.

Recently I have had:

scotland sheep sex for which I am the top reference

objects AND sex for which I am reference 40

victoria derbyshire is crap? for which I am reference 2

jaffa cakes and christianity for which I am obviously the top reference

alistair darling wanker for which I am reference 2 despite never calling him a wanker

Gordon brown sex object for which I am the top reference despite never ever describing Gordon Brown as such

is Caroline Flint hot for which I am reference 6

sheep porn for which this blog does not appear to be a top reference

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Ricky Gervais on Room 101

Number one item - Babies in restaurants - Oh I couldn't agree more, although babies on aeroplanes would run it very close.

Misleading the public (update)

BBC Radio 4's 6pm news included the same claim that I blogged about recently - that recent US research has shown that there were no links between Al Quaeda and Saddam Hussein's Iraq. This is not true... Follow the above link to see what the most recent research actually stated.

Another Ken related London story

Andrew Gilligan in the Standard has another Ken Livingstone related story. This time the paper reports that "The head of Transport for London is today facing accusations of political interference in the mayoral election campaign.

Transport commissioner Peter Hendy is revealed to have written emails discussing "refuting" Boris Johnson's policies on public transport, particularly his commitment to abolish bendy buses.

A series of emails seen by the Evening Standard shows that he communicated with Ken Livingstone's chief of staff - who is also a key figure in the campaign to re-elect the Mayor - about whether there was "mileage" in rebutting Mr Johnson's attack on bendy buses. Critics today said Mr Hendy's interventions raised questions over whether he had broken rules of political neutrality. As transport commissioner, he is not allowed to express political views. Mr Johnson said: "This indicates that Transport for London is caught up in Ken's political machine which is utterly inappropriate. This says more about the Mayor and the way he does business than anything else. Clearly they all think they are above the rules. It raises the question - can we trust what TfL says from now on?""


Do read the whole article, if the accusations are true then the whole matter stinks.

Eton-educated

Do the BBC mention the school of every person featured in a news report or just those who went to Eton? What is this obsession with Eton at the BBC, do they have a chip on their shoulder about the class war?

The latest appearance is in this report on Nicholas Soames' upcoming Magistrates Court appearance. Odd how this is felt worthy of a place on the BBC Politics home page whereas the Electoral Commission confirmation that an investigation was to be held into the funding of Ken Livingstone's re-election bid is felt not to be worthy of coverage. I am sure some BBC defender will say this is because Nicholas Soames is a national politician, being an MP, whereas Ken Livingstone is just a local Mayor. However, I would point out that the BBC currently have "Livingstone opens re-election bid", "Campaigner Ken - James Landale reports on London mayor's re-election launch" and "Mayor gets boost from Greens" as "Top Stories" or in their "FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS" section.


The BBC proud to support the Labour party and to indulge in a spot of class warfare when they can.

How can we hold Gordon to this promise?

The Sun are reporting that "GORDON Brown today gives Britain his personal guarantee he will save the nation from financial meltdown....“My guarantee to the British people is that we will hold on to stability in these latest tough times.""

Is this a wind-up? Has Gordon Brown really guaranteed to save the nation from financial meltdown?

MPs screwing the UK taxpayer

Letters From a Tory has done some analysis on the published MPs expenses for 2006/07 and his findings are of great interest.
Of the 50 MPs who claim the most expenses, 37 are Labour MPs, one is a Conservative. "Labour have 7 out of the top 10 most expensive MP offices in the whole country." "Labour have 9 out of the top 10 most profligate MP drivers."
"Labour have 9 out of the top 10 big spenders on the train."
Labour have all of the top 10 MPs in the category of Stationery and Postage. "Siobhain McDonagh of the Labour Party...spent (wait for it) £49,107 on stationery and postage. No, I’m not making this up. She somehow managed to rack up a bill of £13,900 on stationery, and then spent an extra £35,207 of taxpayers’ money on posting letters - which was £10,000 more than any other MP in the entire country in total."

What's going on in Tibet (update)

I find the comments of Tibet's Communist Party secretary, Zhang Qingli, when he warned of a "long-term" struggle against the Tibetan exile movement deeply disturbing: "We are in the midst of a fierce struggle involving blood and fire, a life and death struggle with the Dalai clique," he told a meeting of regional leaders on Wednesday...Leaders of the whole country must deeply understand the arduousness, complexity and long-term nature of the struggle," he said in remarks carried online by the China Tibet News.

My understanding is that over a hundred Tibetans have died and many hundreds are injured but too scared to seek treatment. The West cannot stand idly by, for too long the West has made allowances for China. For many on the left, China is their great hope that some country will be powerful enough to stand up to the US and protect the world from the "Great Satan", maybe now they will realise how wrong they were - I of course realise that this will not happen as most of these people don't think, they feeeeeel.

The 2008 Olympics should never have been awarded to China, the country is not fit to hold them. I am not sure that a boycott is the right answer but someone should design a symbolic protest that athletes could take part in before each event and on the medals rostrum - something along the lines of Tommie Smith and John Carlos "black power" salute during the medal ceremony for the 200 metres sprint at the 1968 Olympics...

A great visionary has died

Arthur C. Clarke has died in his beloved Sri Lanka at the age of 90. Arthur C. Clarke was a visionary; during World War II he worked on the development of radar and in the same decade predicted that man would walk on the moon within 50 years - a feat that came true within 25 years and described how satellites in geo-stationary orbit around the earth could be used for communication. His books brought the ideas of computers, space travel and an open-mindedness towards technology to millions.

I suppose that Arthur C. Clarke is best known for two things; Clarke's Law, which saya that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." and the book Sentinel that he and Stanley Kubrick turned into one of the great films "2001: A Space Odyssey". If you have not seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" then you must watch it. Of his books, the one that sticks in my mind most is "Rendezvous with Rama" a great read and a book that shows how the author could think so clearly outside of the norms of earth science. It is a book that wonders at what could be if things were just slightly different, the first scene in Rama's museum is one that I remember almost weekly. Another must read book would be "The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke", a collection of most of his shorter than a novel stories. This book is a regular holiday read for me.


Finally here are the two opening scenes from 2001: A Space Odyssey:




Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Bear Stearns = Barren Asset

Don't you just love a good anagram!





Now corrected to the singular, thanks John M Ward

More Ken Livingstone news

On Sunday I blogged that the Sunday Times were reporting that "Ken Livingstone received a secret donation from a property developer with a conviction for fraud after the London mayor championed the businessman’s plan for a 46-storey skyscraper. Gerald Ronson, the tycoon jailed for his role in the Guinness share-dealing scandal, wrote a cheque to Livingstone for £4,990 – just £10 below the £5,000 threshold at which donations have to be publicly registered with the Electoral Commission. The disclosure raises questions over Livingstone’s use of a legal “loophole” which has allowed him to keep secret the identities of campaign donors. A spokesman for Livingstone, who is seeking a third term as mayor in May’s London elections, last night refused to reveal whether there were any other similar hidden donations. Ronson, 68, made the payment to the Labour mayor’s re-election campaign two years after he received planning permission for the Heron Tower development."

Today I read that "Answering questions this afternoon from Andrew Tyrie MP on the Justice Select Committee, Peter Wardle of the Electoral Commission confirmed that an investigation was to be held into the funding of Livingstone's re-election bid."


As I blogged last week, "I wonder if there will be any more arrests before May's Mayoral election and, if there are any, how close they will come to Lee Jasper and Ken Livingstone themselves?"

The Great Global Warming Hoax?

If you read nothing else today, read this article that carefully explodes many of the Man Made Climate Change myths that so many people have swallowed and so many politicians have grabbed hold of so as to be able to raise taxes in a "morally justifiable" way.

What's going on in Tibet?

I don't know, but I can guess. Here's what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989...

It's everyone's fault except the Labour Government

I have just listened to the Toady programme's 08:10 piece on the turmoil in the money markets. It would appear all to be the fault of the banks, the credit rating agencies; practically everyone in fact except the economic genius that has been "running" our economy for the last 11 years. This master economist has been borrowing money but hiding the money "off balance sheet" Enron style and collecting the resulting votes of the "richer" public able to live well off the false increase in the value of their home. Now that the market has turned he is suddenly impotent in the face of the very world markets whose increases he took partial credit for. It's a strange state of affairs isn't it but not one the BBC can be expected to investigate.

Monday, 17 March 2008

"Labour's popularity lowest since Brown took office"

The Guardian are reporting that "Labour has today suffered a dramatic backlash from voters in the wake of Alistair Darling's do-nothing budget, according to a Guardian/ICM poll. Support for the party has fallen to its lowest since Gordon Brown took office, with the Conservative lead quadrupling to a scale not seen since Margaret Thatcher won her final landslide in June 1987. The poll, carried out over the weekend, puts the Tories 13 points ahead of Labour — up 10 points from a narrow three-point lead in last month's Guardian poll. The lead is four points larger than in a second post-budget ICM poll published on Sunday, which also found rising Tory support....Labour support has dropped by five points since last month, to 29%, a level last seen in March 2007. This is the lowest Labour score since the Guardian/ICM series began in 1984. Meanwhile Conservative support has climbed five points to 42% — a level that would give the party a clear parliamentary majority. At the last general election, Labour won 36%, the Conservatives 33% and the Liberal Democrats 23%."


So the real headline should be "Labour's popularity lowest since 1984", oh well it is the Guardian.

Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

From Wikipedia we learn that Paul McCartney and Heather Mills first appeared in public in January 2000 and filed for divorce on 21 January 2007. Assuming that they actually started going out say three months earlier (1 October 1999), that means that they were together for 2,828 days. Today's divorce settlement of £24.3 million equates to a daily rate of just under £8,600. Not a bad rate of pay is it, I am sure it is even more than Heather Mills was charging when she was a "model".

"The West suffers collectively from the Oslo Syndrome"

Take a read of this article, a most interesting piece. Here's an extract:

"The Oslo Syndrome, taking Israel’s Oslo agreements with Yasir Arafat and his PLO as a model, refers to the inclination of some within populations under chronic attack to take to heart the indictments of their attackers, however hateful or absurd, and to insist, despite all evidence to the contrary, that sufficient concessions and self-reform will appease the attackers and end the threat. It is particularly found within minorities that are subjected to continual marginalization, denigration and assault by the surrounding majority, or small states under chronic siege by their neighbors. But, as the aftermath of 9/11 has demonstrated, even segments of powerful nations can react in this way when confronted by a threat for which there is no simple or quick solution."

"David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'"

Take a read of this article.

Misleading the public

The Guardian are reporting that "A US military study officially acknowledged for the first time yesterday that Saddam Hussein had no direct ties to al-Qaida, undercutting the Bush administration's central case for war with Iraq. The study, based on more than 600,000 documents recovered after US and UK troops toppled Saddam in 2003, concluded there was "no 'smoking gun' [direct connection] between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaida"." This seems conclusive and is of course what the Guardian and its readers want to believe. However the facts are somewhat different... The executive summary does indeed say "his study found no ‘smoking gun’ (i.e., direct connection) between Saddam's Iraq and al Qaeda" but if you look at the actual report then you would also read that (my emphasis) "Captured documents reveal that the regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda-as long as that organization's near-term goals supported Saddam's longterm vision…...Saddam supported groups that either associated directly with al Qaeda (such as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri) or that generally shared al Qaeda's stated goals and objectives...Because Saddam’s security organizations and Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network operated with similar aims (at least in the short term) considerable operational overlap was inevitable when monitoring, contacting, financing, and training the regional groups involved in terrorism. This created both the appearance of and, in some ways, a ‘de facto’ link between the organizations....Iraq was a long-standing supporter of international terrorism..."

Maybe the Guardian could look at the whole document not just the Executive Summary and maybe they could report a story truthfully not as they would wish it to be.




Thanks to Melanie Phillips for the spot.

Surveillance society

"Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain's most senior police forensics expert."

This is an extract from this Guardian article that also contains this line "One teaching union warned that it was a step towards a 'police state'."


I know that the parallels between George Orwell's 1984 and modern day Britain are often commented upon but I believe they cannot be overstated, we are moving rather quickly to become a surveillance society.

Psychologically flawed?

Take a read of this a report of an interview with Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's ex-chief of staff. It details how Gordon walked past Jonathan Powell's desk for over 12 years without ever saying hello. "Psychologically flawed" was the phrase allegedly used by Tony Blair to describe Gordon Brown, looking at the evidence it seems Tony Blair might have been right about something.

Barack Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Nothing much in the way of coverage in the British media and especially not on the BBC. So take a look around the web for yourself and wonder what Barack Obama really thinks about the US and the world. He almost makes Hilary Clinton look electable!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Quote of the night

"I just can't bear to be touched from the waist up"



Nessa - Gavin and Stacey, series 2 episode 2

Shock horror, Gordon Brown has been fiddling the figures

This time it's CO2 figures - read the story here.

Jeremy Clarkson - WRONG

Just watching a repeat of the Top Gear Africa special and Jeremy Clarkson says that "there has never been a Mercedes rally car". Wrong Jeremy, wrong - maybe he should read this article. A 280E won the 1977 London-Sydney Rally, a 450SLC won another marathon rally, the Grand Premio Sudamericana in 1978, 190E 2.3-16 were entered in the 1981 WRC season.

"Iraq wounds worth less than Civvie back pain"

"A civil servant in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) who suffered back strain after lifting a printer has received a payout of £202,000 – more than three times the sum awarded to the youngest British soldier to be shot and wounded in Iraq.

Private Jamie Cooper, 18, a Royal Green Jackets soldier, was hit twice by mortar rounds in Basra in November 2006. His compensation was just £57,587 even though he lost the use of one leg and a hand and suffered internal injuries.

The disparity, revealed in an MoD annual report, has reignited the controversy about the level of compensation given to soldiers wounded in combat. Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, said some of the payments made to soldiers were “completely heartless”.

Cooper’s father, Phil, said: “It’s laughable really, isn’t it. You’ve got guys out there on the front line risking their lives and getting horribly wounded and then you’ve got faceless bureaucrats getting far more for straining their back lifting a printer."


As Kipling wrote:
"For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!"

"Developer gave secret donation to Ken Livingstone"

The Sunday Times today report that "Ken Livingstone received a secret donation from a property developer with a conviction for fraud after the London mayor championed the businessman’s plan for a 46-storey skyscraper. Gerald Ronson, the tycoon jailed for his role in the Guinness share-dealing scandal, wrote a cheque to Livingstone for £4,990 – just £10 below the £5,000 threshold at which donations have to be publicly registered with the Electoral Commission. The disclosure raises questions over Livingstone’s use of a legal “loophole” which has allowed him to keep secret the identities of campaign donors. A spokesman for Livingstone, who is seeking a third term as mayor in May’s London elections, last night refused to reveal whether there were any other similar hidden donations. Ronson, 68, made the payment to the Labour mayor’s re-election campaign two years after he received planning permission for the Heron Tower development."



Read the rest, I found the explanation of why under £5,000 most interesting:
"The Conservatives claimed that Livingstone was exploiting a “loophole” in election law which allows him to hide cash gifts by maintaining they are payments to the Labour party rather than his personal election fund. If payments are made to a political party, only those above £5,000 have to be declared to the Electoral Commission. However, the threshold for individual politicians – the so-called “regulated donees” – is much lower at just £1,000. Boris Johnson, the Tory mayoral candidate, declares every donation to his campaign over £1,000. But Livingstone has never made any declaration as a “regulated donee”."

Northern Rock, Bear Stearns...

Who's next? My city friends are amazed that as of yesterday I had not blogged about the near collapse of Bear Stearns. Truth be told, I find it too depressing; it's one thing to tell people that we are living through a near re-run of 1929, it's quite another to realise that we actually are.

The booming economy of the western world has been built on credit and false valuations. The birds are coming home to roost, we are in for an extremely painful five years or so. Contrary to Alistair Darling's claims we in the UK are not better placed than most to survive the coming economic storm. If Alistair believes his claim then he is a fool, if he is just saying it then he is a knave.

Is it all over for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport?

When Leeds United Football Club went under, the extent of the extravagant spending was epitomised by the alleged lavish spending on goldfish at the Elland Road ground. I read this weekend that the aforementioned Government department are spending £24,000 a year on pot plants. I wonder what the equivalent punishment would be to fining them 15 points?

"Mr Balls is by some distance the most repulsive member of Her Majesty's Government"

Not my words, but those of Simon Heffer in his column in yesterday's Telegraph. His column covers the way that MPs can change the Hansard record to cover their embarrassment (as I have also covered) and has some rather pithy analysis of Ed Balls' character.

However in reading the line I have used as a heading for this post, I was reminded of the Major in Fawlty Towers; when the American guest says "This is the worst hotel I've ever stayed at!" the Major jumps to Fawlty Towers' defence by saying "No! I won't have that! There's a place at Worthing!". I feel something similar - "Mr Balls is by some distance the most repulsive member of Her Majesty's Government" - No, no I won't have that, there's Gordon Brown, Jack Straw, David Miliband and Harriet Harman for starters...

Class sizes

"Education, education, education"? The National Union of Teachers reports that the big increase, under Labour, of spending on schools has been wasted on bureaucracy and private consultants rather than on funding improvements such as smaller classes.

Who'd have thought it, the Labour government wasting money on bureaucracy...

A Christian country?

"Vicar attacked for 'being a Christian' after hate campaign by yobs who claimed his church 'should be a mosque'" So runs a report in The Mail. Apparently "A vicar was in hospital last night after being attacked in his churchyard by two youths in what is being treated as a 'faith hate' crime. Canon Michael Ainsworth, 57, was kicked and punched in the head as one of the attackers screamed "f***ing priest". He was left lying on the ground with deep cuts, bruising and two black eyes. The attack took place in the early evening after Canon Ainsworth politely asked three Asian youths who had gathered in the churchyard to quieten down...The incident happened outside St George-in-the-East Church in Wapping, East London. It has regularly had windows smashed by youths - who on one occasion shouted: "This should not be a church, this should be a mosque."... The church is situated in the heart of Tower Hamlets where the majority of the population - some 57 per cent - belong to black and ethnic minority groups. A third are of a Bangladeshi background.
In another attack on the church, families were showered with glass when a brick was thrown through a window during a service."

BBC staff arrested in police probe into paramilitary activity

The BBC are having to report that "BBC journalists are among eleven men arrested by gardai in County Donegal as part of a probe into paramilitary activity...They were arrested under Section 30 of the Republic's Offences Against the State Act."

One to follow over the coming days.

Could the Tibet uprising be spreading?

Even the BBC report that it may have spread to Sichuan province.

Is there such a thing as a "private life" in Labour Britain?

Clive James has his doubts in this article for the Ministry of Truth.


Here is an extract:

"Most of us are capable of grasping that if everyone could suddenly read everyone else's thoughts then very few people would survive the subsequent massacre, which would effectively bring civilisation to an end. If you were living alone in a cave, you might just stay alive until the following morning, but only if you were in there alone.

To live in society at all, we have to keep a reservoir of private thoughts, which, whether wisely or unwisely, we share only with intimates. This sharing of private thoughts is called private life.

Until recently, the concept of private life was basic to civilisation. Its value could be measured by the thoroughness with which totalitarian states and religions always did their best to stamp it out. But now we have to face the possibility that the latest stage of civilisation might also be trying to stamp it out."

"Tories must get lean and mean"

Some good policy and presentational ideas for the Conservative Party from Matthew Parris.

The state of Britain today

Read this and weep for what has become of our Country. A paramedic sues an elderly couple after twisting his ankle on their front step during an emergency call.

School discipline

When I was at school through to the early 1980s, if you misbehaved you were punished and if you attacked a teacher you would have been expelled - the end. Today after 20 years or so of the liberal elite and the ruination of the teaching profession, we have a country where it is all but impossible to expel a pupil. Take a read of this article and wonder at the state of the education system in this country. We may be beyond the point of recovery, I seriously think that this country may be irrevocably broken - thanks Labour.