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Saturday, 31 May 2008

Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain

Tonight's History of Modern Britain was so biased it was almost a parody. Conservative governments are incompetent and bad, Labour governments are good and at least mean well. But worse, every excuse is made for the IRA and no excuse is seriously entertained for "the establishment". Also, the Yom Kippur war in 1973 apparently "broke out", strange I thought the armies of Egypt and Syria (supported by troops from other Arab countries) invaded Israel on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar. I can hardly wait for Andrew Marr's unbiased view on the Margaret Thatcher government and wonder how he will deal with the collapse of James Callaghan's.

"The first time ever I saw your face"




The original, and still the best version, by Roberta Flack.

Dr Who - Silence in the Library

A lot of shadow crossing that went un-remarked upon but an excellent episode by Steven Moffat who has written most of the scariest of the "new" Dr Who episodes - "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" and the magnificently scary "Blink". Steven Moffat also wrote the most elegant story that was "The Girl in the Fireplace". Steven will also be be taking over from Russell T. Davies as head writer and executive producer for the revived Dr Who's fifth series, to be broadcast in 2010, hopefully he will ensure that the camp factor is turned down. Whilst Russell T. Davies will have my eternal gratitude for bringing Dr Who back from the dead, his fetish for camp story lines and knowing remarks began to grate after a fairly short time.


So:
Vashta Nerada - "The shadows that melt the flesh"

"Not everyone comes back out of the dark"

"Hey who turned out the lights"


I will have trouble sleeping tonight how about the eight year olds that watched it? But hey I lived after watching the cliffhanger episode endings back when Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker were "the Doctor"

Integrating Sharia Law into European law

I have written about this matter before including here, here, here, here and here. Today I learn of a court case in France that should raise questions about the sort of justice system we want in this Country. The article is on Ireland.com and starts thus:

" FRANCE HAS reacted with shock and outrage to a decision by the high court in Lille to annul a marriage because the bride was not a virgin.

The case involving a Muslim couple has revived fears that France's second religion is eroding the country's secular tradition.

Two years ago, a 30-year-old French engineer, a convert to Islam, married a 20-year-old Muslim nursing student in the northern town of Roubaix. She had assured her fiance that she was a virgin.

The last of 500 wedding guests were still drinking mint tea in the hotel reception when the bridegroom returned, distraught because there were no bloodstains on the sheets of the marital bed. He contacted his lawyer the following morning to file for annulment. His bride later admitted she had had sexual intercourse before marriage.

"He felt tricked," the groom's lawyer, Xavier Labbée, a specialist in family law, told Le Parisien. "He couldn't imagine building a lasting union based on a lie. The court understood."

The tribunal based its decision on article 180 of the French civil code, which says: "If there was an error about the person, or about the essential qualities of the person, the other spouse may demand the annulment of the marriage.""



That's a story from France, a country that usually keeps religion and state separate; the pressure from an increasing Muslim population there will bring more of this sort of legal conflict both in France and here.


For an interesting article on the difference between the integration of immigrants into France and the UK take a look at Theodore Dalrymple


I am waiting to see if the BBC cover this story, somehow I doubt it.

Why won't Hillary Clinton drop out of the race for the Democratic Party nomination until the last moment?

Hillary Clinton is continuing to campaign, at a huge cost to her and her campaign, because she wants to damage Barack Obama enough so that he loses in the actual Presidential Election thus leaving her as the obvious frontrunner for the Democratic Party nomination in 2012.

Discuss...

Prison regime

"Three meals a day, chosen by Huntley from an extensive menu, are delivered to the 12ft x 10ft room where the pressures of serving a life sentence are alleviated by his personal freeview TV, a Sony CD player, stereo and Nintendo games console."



That's from a description in The Daily Mail who are agitated by the preferential treatment that Ian Huntley is receiving. I am more appalled that any prisoner gets this sort of treatment. This is a regime for lifers, for people who have committed one or often more murders. Where is the punishment, the deprivation of normal luxuries? Apart from being deprived of their freedom to go where they please, how are lifers being punished? 24 hour a day TV (not just the basic 5 channels but Freeview as well), a games console (presumably with access to the latest games), etc. etc. His "cell" is 12' x 10', that's bigger than many of my friends' bedrooms. This country has gone so soft, we are scared to punish in case we break a "human right" - this country is all but finished.

The BBC collective mindset

The BBC and their leftist friends truly believe that they know best; that all would be well if the proles just did as they were told - "it's for their own good, why can they not see it". Intelligent argument will not persuade someone with this mindset, it is a closed mind incapable of changing unless presented with absolutely incontrovertible facts.

Thus:
"man made global warming" will be believed in and promoted until we are all freezing in a new mini ice-age

the fact that Al-Quaeda can be negotiated with will be believed right up until the exploding of the first dirty bomb (killing many thousands) in London

the fact that Iran has only peaceful nuclear ambitions will be promoted right up until the moment that a nuclear strike on Israel succeeds

the rightness of the EU and its not being a threat to democracy and the independence of the UK will be believed after the banning of EU-sceptic political parties and the imprisoning of those guilty of thought crimes and probably right up until the first forced labour camps for dissidents open

the rightness of the Palestinians and the sheer evil of the Israelis will be promoted... sorry I can't see what would make the BBC stop believing that one...

Freedom

Freedom House monitor freedom around the world but unlike many similar organisations they do not have an anti-American, anti-West, anti-Israel agenda to push and so do not feature on the BBC very often. Take a look at their analysis of freedom, it may be at variance with that which the BBC push at you.

The map of the Middle East on the Freedom House website is interesting as it shows two things: firstly the difference between the one "free" country - Israel and the rest of the countries in the area and second how small Israel is, an area of thought that I intend to return to soon.

Do women really get paid less than men?

A hoary old chestnut that gets a huge amount of airtime especially on Radio 4 is the "scandal" that women get paid much less than men. Lattenomics has an alternative point of view with an article that actually includes statistics, something that Radio 4 would never let intrude onto such a discussion.

Here's an extract that makes a point that I have not heard before:

"If it was really true that you could hire a woman for three quarters of what you could hire a man with exactly the same qualifications, then employers would be crazy not to hire all women. It would be insane to hire men. Not only would it be insane, it would probably put them out of the business because the ones that were smart enough to hire women would have such a cost advantage that it would be really hard for the others to compete."



Here's a point that I have heard before:

"Melbourne University social researcher Mark Wooden said men were earning on average 15 per cent more than women because they put in more time at the workplace.

“All high achievers in all walks of life … put in long hours into their activity,” Professor Wooden said.

“It’s (the pay equity gap) got a lot to do with the fact that women are not prepared to work longer hours.”"

What did Gordon know?

The Rover debacle may be about to resurface and embarrass the beleaguered Gordon Brown. The "Phoenix Four" of John Towers, Peter Beale, John Edwards and Nick Stephenson were the scapegoat for the collapse of Rover just before the 2005 general election. I hear that they are now preparing a number of Freedom of Information requests so as to ascertain what the role of the Treasury was in the last days of Rover and what part Gordon Brown and his senior advisor Shriti Vadera may have played. Apparently there are rumoured to be some interesting emails that may help clear the names of the Phoenix Four and further sully that of Gordon Brown.

In theory the truth will out; but as ever when dealing with this Labour government that may not be the case.

Honda CRX del sol




I found myself following one of these cars earlier this week and had to find some video of its bizarre roof system for Mrs NotaSheep.

I think carrying one of these might cause a few problems at Heathrow airport

Interestingly designed cameras.

Friday, 30 May 2008

A wooden mirror




Fun forever has the details on how this works:

"Daniel Rozen ... designed a wooden mirror from 830 small wooden panels controlled by a computer and connected to a small camera communicating with hundreds of tiny motors. To display dark parts the mirror uses dark brown sides of the panels and for light parts light sides of the panels are used."





Thanks to David Thompson for the spot

Read and despair

Read this and despair.

The target culture and the police

The Telegraph reports in a somewhat surprised tone that:

"Police are targeting the law-abiding middle classes over minor misdemeanours so they can meet government targets, a report claims.

Officers are having to put Home Office targets before serving the public and are becoming increasingly alienated from ordinary people as a result.

The public find officers to be "rude" and accuse them of neglecting their duties and failing to respond to reports of crime.

The report, by the think-tank Civitas, said political interference meant incidents that might previously have been regarded as innocuous were now treated as crimes. "



Of course those of us who have read PC David Copperfield's excellent blog and book over recent years have long known of this phenomenon. This is the price we must all pay for the Labour government's obsession with measuring performance; the measures chosen affect the activities of those being measured and not always in the ways expected.

Rip-off Britain

Amazon UK price for a Nintendo Wii Fit - GBP 141.90 = GBP 141.90

Amazon France price for a Nintendo Wii Fit - EUR 88.20 = GBP 62.27

Amazon Germany price for a Nintendo Wii Fit - EUR 88.95 = GBP 69.88

Amazon USA price for a Nintendo Wii Fit - US D 164.50 = GBP 129.21


Just one example of many I am sure.

Democracy EU style (update)

Archbishop Cranmer has written a great article about the EU's suppression of democracy.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Has he finally lost all grip on reality?

The BBC report that:

"Former prime minister Tony Blair has promised to "spend the rest of my life" uniting the world's religions

He said faith could be a "civilising force in globalisation", bringing people together to solve problems such as malaria and extreme poverty.

Mr Blair, who is now a peace envoy to the Middle East, told Time magazine that religious belief had given him "strength" while in power."



The answer to my question is of course "No", Tony Blair has not lost all grip on reality, there is an angle...


"He is launching a "faith foundation" in New York on Friday."



You have to have to hand it to Tony Blair, as the UK economy dies on its feet mostly as a result of the actions he and Gordon Brown made over the last 11 years, he still has his eye on the main chance - money.

And yet another Barack Obama "mistake"

Barack Obama really does seem to have a trouble with telling the truth. This time he pulled a fast one during his Memorial Day speech in Las Cruces, NM. when he said:

"I had an uncle who was one of the, um, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. And the story in our family is that when he came home he just went up in the attic and he didn't leave the house for six months."



Amazing if true as Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Red Army in January 1945, whilst the US Army had yet to cross the Rhine.


The Obama camp have tried to limit the damage by saying that their man meant to say Ohrdruf, which was part of the Buchenwald camp system in Lower Saxony. Now this camp was liberated by the US Army on April 4th 1945.


Who knows the truth? Maybe Barack Obama's uncle's story has been changed over the years by the retelling of it. Maybe the only death camp that Barack Obama could think of as he told the story was Aushwitz. Maybe lots of things; but as Barack Obama tries to persuade Jewish Democrats that he is not an enemy of Israel and that he does not agree with many of his supporters who hate Israel and some of whom just hate Jews, this will not help.

John Prescott a bully - what a shock

Mary Ann Sieghart has an article in The Times in which she recounts what happened in a meeting between herself and John Prescott whilst he was Deputy Prime Minister. It all rings so true and shows John Prescott for what he is, a bully. Here are some extracts, but do read the whole article:

"He launched into a tirade. His face reddened, his finger jabbed...

...

“Right then,” he shouted. “I want you to justify every single word you wrote.”

“Are you quite sure?” I checked. This was going to be embarrassing. So I took a deep breath and began. “Well, you punched a voter and you stuck two fingers up in Downing Street. That shows that you lose your rag too easily - as evidenced today, in fact.”

“AS EVIDENCED TODAY?” he bellowed, his face by now beetroot, his fists clenched.

“Yes, I've been talking perfectly calmly while you've been shouting and jabbing your finger at me. I don't think that's appropriate behaviour in a Deputy Prime Minister.”

...

The final straw was his inability to string a sentence together. “I've not had the fine education you had,” was his justification. “You're just a snob.”

“I'm not,” I retorted. “I have no problem with Alan Johnson or John Reid or David Blunkett. They all come from disadvantaged backgrounds, they didn't go to private schools and they still manage to articulate what they want to say. It's nothing to do with snobbery and nothing to do with your education.” If a man couldn't speak clearly, I said, it was a sign that he couldn't think clearly either.

That was when he finally lost it. “So what you're saying is I'm too thick to be Deputy Prime Minister?” he yelled at me.

His two apparatchiks stiffened. “Well, yes, I guess I am,” I said in a small voice.

...


He, meanwhile, raced off to No 10 to see Blair. I later heard that he said, “I've just had that Mary Ann Sieghart in”, to which Blair replied, “That's nice”. “No it wasn't,” said Prescott, still furious. “She told me I was too thick to be Deputy Prime Minister.” Blair did the worst possible thing and laughed. “Well, she's not the only one who thinks that,” he chuckled."



It is a shame that it has taken this long for what many of us thought was the case to be confirmed. It is also a shame that people such as John Prescott will retire on massive publicly funded pensions whilst the majority of hard working tax-payers in the UK have seen their pension pots diminished by the actions of the Labour government in which he served so dismally.

Snout well and truly in the trough

The worst Speaker that many can recall, Mr Michael Martin, has won the right to retain a gold-plated pensions package of £836,000 on top of a £572,000 pension he has so far accumulated as an MP. So when the Speaker retires as an MP, or loses his seat at the next general election, he will do so with one of the most generous pensions of anyone in the UK, around £1.4million.

Only the Prime Minister, the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker - are allowed publicly-funded index-linked "life" pensions. This type of pension entitles them to half their ministerial salary, regardless of how long they have served, every year from when they step down until they die. This may explain why as I have blogged previously the likes of Jack Straw and Alan Johnston might be tempted to become a caretaker PM for even a very short period. This would allow them to retire in some luxury and certainly in more luxury than those of us in the private sector will ever be able to afford.

Snouts in the trough

The First Post reports that:

"...our MPs seem to forget that they already receive more than £60,000 a year for just 34 weeks’ work and enjoy the most generous pension scheme in Britain. An ordinary person would have to put an incredible £50,000 each year into their pension savings to receive the same pension benefits as an MP.

...

In the last five years alone, the amount of money our MPs have taken in salaries and expenses has gone up by a satisfying (for them) 64 per cent, from less than £100m in 2001–02 to over £155m in 2006–07, while the number of expense claims submitted by MPs has almost doubled from just over 30,000 a year to close to 60,000. At the same time, the number of staff employed to help our MPs do less and less work has gone up from around 1,800 to over 2,500."



Do read the rest and wonder at the sheer brass necked cheek of the freeloading scum that for the most part inhabit the House of Commons. Must watch V for Vendetta again this weekend....





Thanks to Guido Fawkes for the spot of the First Post article.

"its objectives are political not scientific"

More on the lie that is Man Made Climate Change.

The BBC and much of the rest of the media in the UK would have us believe that Man Made Climate Change is an indisputable fact and that we must restrict our CO2 emissions as a matter of urgency. The truth is somewhat at variance to this. The First Post has an interesting article entitled:

"Scientists question climate change consensus - The UN’s view that man-made CO2 is causing warming is under attack"



Please read the whole article and spread the word, here are some long extracts (my emphasis):

" Ten days ago Dr Arthur Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM) announced to a packed National Press Club in Washington DC that more than 31,000 scientists have now signed the so-called Oregon Petition rejecting the IPCC line on climate change.

Acutely aware that claims of a 'phoney list' would immediately be levelled at him, Dr Robinson pointed out that the list had been carefully vetted to confirm that over 9,000 of those who signed held PhDs....

...

This wasn't the first crack in the 'consensus' dam. In March, more than 500 people, including leading climate scientists, economists, policymakers, engineers and other professionals, endorsed the Manhattan Declaration on Climate Change.

Sponsored by climate scientists of the International Coalition on Climate (ICSC), it stated: "There is no convincing evidence that CO2 emissions from modern industrial activity have in the past, are now, or will in the future cause catastrophic climate change." The Declaration calls for governments and others to "reject the views expressed by the UN IPCC, as well as popular but misguided works such as Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth"....

...

It is not only scientists outside the IPCC who question the 'consensus': scientists whose names were included in the IPCC's list of 2,500 'consensual' scientists have also raised objections.

On December 12, 2007, the US Senate released a report from more than 400 scientists, many of whose names were attached to the IPCC report without - they claim - their permission. In the Senate report, scientists expressed a range of views from scepticism to outright rejection of the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

Professor Patrick J Michaels, research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and a member of the original UN-IPCC panel, was so appalled by what he perceived as the misuse of the review procedure - with groups of IPCC reviewers, many who were not scientists, only reviewing one or two chapters of the IPCC reports - he demanded his name be removed from the IPCC's list of reviewers.

Eventually, the UN administration complied, but only after Dr Michaels threatened legal action to force the removal of his name. All of which, yet again, went unreported in the UK news media....

...

Whatever we may personally believe about global warming, serious science-based pressure is building on the IPCC to admit its objectives are political not scientific. Sir John Houghton, first co-chair of the IPCC, acknowledged as much when he stated: "Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen."

As the trickle of 'dissident' scientists becomes a stream, however, leading anti-alarmists, like S. Fred Singer, author of Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years, are describing 2008 as the 'tipping point', the year when the real science argument swings their way.

If they are right, the UN and much of the Western news media will, alarmingly, be shown to have colluded in closing down an important debate, often by marginalising world-renowned scientists as 'cranks' and 'mavericks'.

Both the UN and the media may soon be forced to jettison entirely the myth of a climate science 'consensus'. If nothing else, the fast rising number of 'mavericks' demands it."

Windfall income

I asked yesterday
"the government must have had a windfall income of many hundreds of millions of pounds since oil prices started to rise, (can anyone work out how much?)"


Today The FT has the answer:

"Here is the theory of Maurice Fitzpatrick, senior tax manager at Grant Thornton, the accountants:

Tax revenues from North Sea oil would jump from an estimated £10bn - struck when oil was only $84 a barrel - to £16bn at the current price of about $128 a barrel.
Since the Budget in March, the Treasury has already taken an estimated £820m more than its forecasts in North Sea oil tax.
The £6bn of surplus revenue would easily cover the cost of U-turns on both fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, where ministers are introducing new bands which could cost an extra £200 for drivers of inefficient cars.
Deferring the 2p increase in fuel duty by six months would cost £550m. Scrapping the revamped vehicle excise duty altogether would mean the loss of an estimated £465m next year and £735m next year - although ministers may only remove the retrospective element of this tax."



Of course the Treasury dispute this:

"But Number 10 has disputed this, saying this afternoon: “The Treasury has always made clear that the impact of high oil prices on public finances tends to be revenue-neutral over the long-term.”

Here is their argument:

The increased revenues from oil when prices are high are offset by a number of factors including:

* an increase in pump prices leads to an increase in inflation. This knocks through to the inflation-linked payments that the government has to make, including benefits, pensions, tax allowances, and government bonds.

* reduced demand for fuel from filling stations, which reduces revenue from fuel duties - as this is fixed at 50.35p per litre if people buy less fuel, revenue from this falls.
* receipts from profits made by North Sea oil companies have in recent years been to some extent offset by capital costs, and the costs that have been rising for plant and machinery and labour costs too.

So there is a net offsetting effect."



I would rather believe Grant Thornton than anyone in this Labour government.

Couldn't run a whelk stall

The Guardian reports under the headline "Labour cash crisis could bankrupt party leaders" that:

"Senior officials in the Labour party, including Gordon Brown, could become personally liable for millions of pounds in debt unless new donors can be found within weeks, the Guardian has learned.

The party has five weeks to find £7.45m to pay off loans to banks and wealthy donors recruited by Lord Levy, Tony Blair's former chief fundraiser, or become insolvent. A further £6.2m will have to be repaid by Christmas - making £13.65m in all. The sum amounts to two-thirds of the party's annual income from donations.

The figures are a conservative estimate as they do not include interest that will also have to be paid. A Labour source said that although the total debt was listed as £17.8m on the Electoral Commission website, the true level, with interest, was nearer to £24m.

The possibility that party officials and members of its national executive committee could become liable is being taken seriously by union leaders, and has been underlined by the decision of equity fund chairman David Pitt-Watson not to accept the post as Labour's general secretary.

Though he was Brown's candidate for the post, he declined the offer after receiving independent legal advice that he would be personally liable for repaying the loans and could be bankrupted if Labour's finances collapsed.

The advice from City solicitors Slaughter and May said unequivocally that leading party officials and members of the NEC would be " jointly and severally" responsible for the party's debt.

The reason is that the Labour party constitution is framed like a local club or society, and has no provision for limiting the liability of its officials or managers.

A Labour source said: "The party's constitution is like a five-a-side football club, or the local cricket club. The big difference is that the most club officials and managers could expect to have to fork out is an unpaid bill for hiring the pitch. In Labour's case, it's tens of millions of pounds."

The advice was the sole reason why Pitt-Watson, a committed Labour supporter and former Westminster City councillor, turned down the job this month.

But the reverberations inside the party have been enormous. Earlier this month the GMB union's executive decided to indemnify its two members on the NEC - Debbie Coulter, the union's deputy general secretary and a former Labour party conference chairwoman, and Mary Turner, GMB's president - to protect their homes and savings. A GMB spokesman told the Guardian: "They told the executive they would not continue to sit on the NEC unless they were indemnified. It's too much a risk for them."

As leader of the party and a member of the NEC, Brown is also potentially vulnerable. Other prominent members of the committee are Harriet Harman, the deputy leader; her husband, Jack Dromey, the party treasurer; Pat McFadden, minister of state at the department for business; Angela Eagle, exchequer secretary at the Treasury; Dawn Primarolo, public health minister; and former ministers Keith Vaz and Janet Anderson.

Anderson said last night: "I am very concerned and we should look into the situation immediately. If this is the case, I can't see how anyone, unless they are very wealthy or are indemnified, like in the case of the GMB, can serve on the NEC. I can't see who would want to be general secretary following this advice."

The party's financial plight can be shown by the current negotiations taking place with banks and donors.

The Co-operative bank, whose £2.61m loan is due to be repaid on June 30, has told the party it wants its money back, even though it is getting 7% interest. The bank has asked the unions to offer loans to Labour so the party can pay its debt, but some are refusing to do this. Paul Kenny, the GMB's general secretary, has told the Co-operative bank it will refuse to help unless the bank withdraws its de-recognition of the union, which represents staff at Co-operative Funeral Services.

Three other loans are due to be repaid on June 30 and July 1. They are a £1.54m loan from Unity Trust bank, also at 7%; a £1m loan at 6.75% from Nigel Morris, founder of the Capital One financial group, and £2.3m from Sir David Garrard, a property developer. He had already extended the loan by 15 months from April 2007.

Labour is hoping that the donors can be persuaded to extend the loan period. Sir Richard Caring, owner of the Ivy and Caprice restaurants, has agreed an indefinite extension of his £2m loan, due to be repaid last March. He has agreed to give 180 days notice if he wants it repaid.

The party's financial crisis could be compounded this autumn. Three of the biggest unions, Unison, the Communications Workers Union and the GMB have tabled motions at their annual conferences next month calling for members to disaffiliate from Labour. If this goes ahead, Labour would lose £4m of its £19m a year in donations.

The Labour party is said to be investigating whether it can change its status to a limited liability company to protect its officials and NEC members - but such a move could be open to legal challenge until it clears its debts."



Gordon Brown, Harriet Harman and her husband Jack Dromey, Keith Vaz and Dawn Primarolo could be bankrupted by this, Oh dear, how sad, never mind. As these scum have been amongst those chiefly responsible for the near destruction of the UK over the last 11 years it seems only fair that they too should suffer personally. Unfortuantely someone, somewhere will find a way for these "persons" to wriggle out of their responsibilities; in reality these people never pay for their sins, in this life anyway.

The President of the UN Human Rights Commission doesn't like hearing the truth




An old video that I seem to have failed to post previously, most illuminating though.



For more on the "just application of UN Charter principles", take a wander over to UN Watch.

And so the blackouts start

For around five years I have been advising clients to invest in backup generators for their offices as a precaution against the coming blackouts that will result from the government's woeful record of investment in electricity generating capacity. Now I learn that nine power stations had to shut down yesterday causing the National Grid to issue a "demand control imminent" warning and strongly urge suppliers to provide lower-voltage electricity to meet demand.

Two points:

1) So the fourth largest economy in the world cannot cope with the shutdown of nine power stations. This Labour government decided to spend large amounts of money on ridiculous computer systems, smart suited consultants and creating a client state rather that actually investing money in the infrastructure of this country.

2) Was this just coincidental? Nine power stations failing within a 12 hour period. Might that be more than coincidental? Conspiracy theory or possible fact? Here's an article from The NEw Scientist from 10 days ago:

"POWER plants could be sabotaged by a simple internet attack that shuts down their control systems.

Core Security in Boston, Massachusetts, has discovered a serious vulnerability in a software package called Suitelink that is widely used to automate the operation of power stations, oil refineries and production lines. This could allow attackers to crash Suitelink by sending an outsize data packet to a certain port on the computer running the program. Suitelink's maker, Wonderware, has since issued a software patch to plug the security gap.

Core had only just begun examining this kind of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) program when it found the problem. This may mean that more vulnerabilities are still hidden in software of this type."



Here's an extract from more on that story at CNet:

""I will tell (you) how to break into a nuclear reactor," Ira Winkler, president of security firm ISAG said as he launched into his presentation on "How to Take Down the Power Grid" at RSA 2008 on Tuesday night.

"Frankly, it's really easy to break into the power grid," he said. "It happens all the time."

First, you set up a Web server that downloads spyware onto the computers that visit.

Second, you send an e-mail to people who work inside a power station that entices them to click on a hyperlink to the Web server with the spyware. Warning them that their human resources benefits are going to be cut and sending them to a Web site with "hr.com" in the domain would work, according to Winkler, who said he has done this several times in company-approved penetration tests.

Third, you wait as the recipients--and everyone else they forwarded the e-mail to--visit the server and get infected.

"Then we had full system control," he said. "Once the malware was downloaded onto their systems...we could see the screens and manipulate the cursors."

It took about a day to set up the attack and was effective within minutes, according to Winkler.

"It had to be shut down after a couple of hours because it was working too well," he said.

This is akin to social engineering attacks that happen all the time, but this attack has more far-reaching consequences than most such attacks.

Power stations running special SCADA control software have the perception that they are more secure than other networked systems. However, they are just as vulnerable because they are connected to the Internet and run on computers that also run Windows NT, he said.

"Things are really this bad," Winkler said. "I'm not exaggerating.""



Of course there is another less likely possibility as the BBC reported six years ago:

"MI5 has drawn up a secret list of more than 350 key British institutions considered potential terrorist targets in the wake of the threat posed by al-Qaeda forces.

Key government buildings and installations vital to the economy are on the "critical national infrastructure" list.

...

The list is thought to include the country's 15 nuclear power stations, the main National Grid sites, oil installations and petrochemical facilities."



Just something else to worry about as the economy goes phut!

BBC trying to minimise the reports of house price falls

Evan Davis on the Toady programme either tried a bit of "voodo economics" or doesn't understand the relationship between 1 month and 3 month averages. Whilst interviewing a spokesman from the Nationwide building society whose latest monthly house price survey shows that prices fell by 2.5% during May, Evan Davis was at great pains to ask what the three month on three month price drop was as single month falls are a less reliable guide than that for longer periods. This is true but not the whole truth. Fionnuala Earley, the Nationwide's chief economist said that "The pace of house price falls accelerated in May as more weak economic news added to the gathering momentum of negative sentiment about the housing market." If house prices rose by 0.5% in month 1 were level in month 2 and fell by 0.5% in month 3 then the three month average would be around 0% but wouldn't that be misleading as the trend is definitely downwards.

In fact the Nationwide showed a House Price fall of 0.3% in January, 0.5% in February, 0.6% in March, 1.1% in April and 2.5% in May. Now do you think that the figure that is more indicative of the extent of the house price fall is a three month average or the latest month's figure? I wonder what Evan Davis thinks and why the
BBC are so keen to minimise the reporting of house price falls.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Balen Report (further update)

I have blogged before about the mysterious Balen Report - you can read a very dry description of this document at Wikipedia and a rather more detailed explanation of the issues HonestReporting.

Today I read in the Press Gazette that:

"The long-running Freedom of Information battle over the Balen Report, an internal review of the BBC's reporting of the Middle East, is to go to the House of Lords.

The Judicial Committee of the House of Lords decided last week to allow solicitor Stephen Sugar to appeal against a Court of Appeal ruling that the BBC did not have to disclose the Balen report on its Middle East reporting under the Freedom of Information Act.

The decision, noted in the Judicial Business section of the Minutes for 22 May, gave leave for Sugar's appeal and said that the petition of appeal should be lodged by June 5.

Sugar, a commercial solicitor from Putney, south-west London, has been campaigning for the BBC to release the Balen report - written by senior editorial adviser Malcolm Balen - to be published as part of the on-going public debate about alleged BBC bias against Israel.

In January, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal, upholding a decision by the High Court that the BBC was not obliged to release the report as it was exempt under the Freedom of Information Act.

When Sugar first made his request for release of the report under the Act, the Information Commissioner agreed with the BBC that, although it was listed as a "public authority" in the Act, it was exempted from having to disclose material held for the purposes of "journalism, art or literature" and the Act therefore did not apply.

Sugar appealed to the Information Tribunal, which backed him and said the report should be released.

The case then went to the High Court, where Mr Justice Davis accepted the BBC's argument that the Information Tribunal had no jurisdiction to uphold an appeal because the case fell outside the scope of the Act and there had been no decision against which Sugar could appeal.

That ruling was upheld in January in the Court of Appeal by Lord Justice Buxton, Lord Justice Lloyd and Sir Paul Kennedy.

Sugar contends that the Freedom of Information Act has been badly drafted and is preventing disclosure of material which should be publicly available.

The BBC says the Balen report was always intended as an internal review of programme content, to inform future output, and was never intended for publication.

The corporation argues that it is vital for independent journalism that debates among its staff about how it covers stories should not be opened up to the public gaze."



This could be very interesting, I would like more people to know about the Balen Report but I doubt that the BBC will help with any publicity... The BBC news website seems not to be reporting the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords decision.

It's called misdirection...

According to the Brown Broadcasting Corporation Gordon Brown

"Gordon Brown has urged oil industry leaders to come up with ideas for improving supplies as fuel costs soar."


Sounds impressive although the next sentence does dampen expectations somewhat:

"The government has announced moves to increase North Sea oil production, but Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said they would have no impact on fuel prices. "



The truth of the matter is that as oil prices increase, so it will become economic for the oil exploration companies to develop new oil fields. If the eco-nuts in the US were not so strident in their opposition to any new drilling in Alaska then the US could probably be the largest exporter of oil in the world within 10 years. There is enough oil waiting to be pumped out of known but undeveloped oil fields and in areas where oil is very likely to be found to keep the world running happily for many many years; unfortunately this does not fit the "narrative" of the eco-warriors of the green movement and the Man Made Climate Change believers. Oil is running out and anyway oil is bad is the "narrative" and there is practically nothing that can be done to move the "narrative" on.

The main point to be made on petrol pump prices is that the rise in the price of crude oil makes very little difference to the pump price. According to PetrolPrices.com when petrol was £1.15 a litre this was split thus:

Petrol - 37.35p
Delivery and retailer margin - 10.17p
Duty 50.35p
VAT 17.13p

So that's nearly 59% to the government coffers in tax and duty. So as the price of oil increases the government gains more in revenue.

There is a wrinkle to this that is not often explored, whilst it is true that 59% of the retail price is tax and duty, that does not mean that the government is charging 59%. In fact to get from a price without tax to the price with tax requires an increase of just over 242%. So the tax rate is actually 142%, not bad business for the dynamic duo of Gordon Brown and his little puppet friend Alistair Darling.

Of course the truth is slightly at variance to my figures as the duty is a set figure regardless of the raw material cost. Regardless of this the government must have had a windfall income of many hundreds of millions of pounds since oil prices started to rise, (can anyone work out how much?), surely a reduction in fuel duty is only fair... Sorry just realised that fairness is not in Gordon Browns lexicon.

Of course the Treasury benefit from the oil industry in other ways, as well as the standard taxes on business, Corporation Tax, Income Tax and National Insurance there is a special tax on oil production in the North Sea. This tax used to be 10% but a few years ago (when still Chancellor of the Exchequer) Gordon Brown doubled this supplementary corporation tax to 20%. The result of this doubling of a tax rate; increasing production by developing new oil fields suddenly became less cost-effective. I don't suppose that Gordon Brown will be open to discussing this aspect of the oil industry and I am damn sure that the BBC will not mention it.

"locked away"

Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, has said that the £2.2 billion left in the emergency fund would remain "locked away" for the next few years and only used for emergencies. News has now emerged that because of the fall in property prices some of this money may have to be used to build the Olympic Village. Apparently Bovis Lend Lease is having difficulties raising the money needed to fund the £2 billion Olympc Village because of the aftermath of the credit crunch. The upcoming London property crash (40% is still my bet) would also drastically reduce the amount Bovis Lend Lease could receive when selling or renting the homes in east London after the Olympics.

Democracy EU style

The Daily Telegraph reports that:

"The European Union assembly’s political establishment is pushing through changes that will silence dissidents by changing the rules allowing Euro-MPs to form political groupings.

Richard Corbett, a British Labour MEP, is leading the charge to cut the number of party political tendencies in the Parliament next year, a move that would dissolve UKIP’s pan-European Eurosceptic “Independence and Democracy” grouping.

Under the rule change, the largest and msot pro-EU groups would tighten their grip on the Parliament’s political agenda and keep control of lavish funding.

”It would prevent single issue politicians from being given undue support from the public purse,” said Mr Corbett.

”We want to avoid the formation of a fragmented Parliament, deeply divided into many small groups and unable to work effectively.”

Mr Corbett’s proposals will also give the President of the Parliament sweeping powers to approve or reject parliamentary questions.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, claimed that the move goes hand in hand with the denial of popular votes on the new EU Treaty.

”Welcome to your future. This shows an EU mindset that is arrogant, anti-democratic and frankly scary,” he said.

”These people are so scared of public opinion they are willing to set in stone the right to ignore it. Freedom requires the governing elite to be held to account. They must be getting very worried if they are enacting such dictatorial powers for themselves.”

Current rules allow 20 MEPs from a fifth of the EU’s member states to form groupings, giving them a say in the Parliament’s administration and power structure.

Under the changes, the threshold would become 30 MEPs from one quarter of the EU’s member states. "



We should all face up to the fact that the EU is anti-democratic and heading towards being a totalitarian state. The Soviet Union fell apart, unfortunately we in the west have signed up to a new totalitarian state of our own. The EU have been implementing as many of the provisions of the failed Constitution as they can and regardless of the Eire vote on the Treaty it will be implemented. From that point on any changes to the EU will be carried out without recourse to the electorate. Future EU elections will only involve political parties that support the aims of the EU, dissenting parties will not be allowed to stand. Not long after that it will be made a crime to publish articles criticising the EU. How long before a UK citizen who says on a blog that the EU is corrupt, has an arrest warrant issued in Belgium and is extradited to that country to stand trial.

When the euro-enthusiasts lied about the political implications of joining the EEC back in the early 1970s and told us that it was just an economic area; the die was cast, the future is all but inevitable. Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein EU.

Googling (update 5)

One more interesting Google search term that has lead people to my site recently:

"gordon brown is mad" - For which this blog appears in 2nd place, behind an article in The Times. Oddly Matthew Parris's original article does not appear in its own right just the articles that quote it.


This is a Yahoo search that had me puzzled:

Kath Melandri bottom - I am the top result for this and I have no desire to see Kath Melandri's bottom. Two articles seem to have been conflated to get this result:

"were Simon Letterman and Kath Melandri having a discussion about something or other. ... Maybe he has always admired Kylie's musical ability and shapely bottom. ..."


The first line is from an article about the lack of mathematical ability exhibited by two Radio London broadcasters and the second from an article about Gordon Brown's alleged shunning of the cult of celebrity.

The ever present danger of the paddling pool

The MAil Online reports that:


"For nearly a quarter of a century, Lourdes Maxwell has celebrated the arrival of summer by putting a paddling pool in the garden.

This year, however, her two grandchildren and the children of her neighbours may have to find another way to cool off in the heat.

Miss Maxwell's local council has decided that the pool - which is only 2ft deep - needs a lifeguard.

The 47-year-old divorced mother of three has also been told she must have insurance before she can inflate the toy outside her house in Portsmouth."


I actually don't care if the word "lifeguard" was not mentioned or if the need for insurance was not demanded but suggested, there is no reason for a local council to get involved in any way in whether Miss Maxwell has a pool in her garden or not. The neighbours might have complaints about the noise generated by the children in the pool but until that happens the council should butt out.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ninth winner of the weekly "No shit, Sherlock" award

Week 8 was awarded very late, so here's week 9's only a little late.


Apparently:

"Iran withheld nuclear secrets from UN inspectors

Iran withheld information needed to establish whether it had tried to make nuclear arms and continued to enrich uranium in defiance of United Nations sanctions, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a new report."



"No shit, Sherlock"

I don't think he has much of a chance with any of them

The definitely not gorgeous George Galloway writes in his Daily Record column that:

"SEX And The City...

...

Journalists sometimes ask which of them would do it for me.

The honest answer is all four of them, but it's too dangerous to admit that.

There's the sweet one - great marriage material.

The lawyerly red-head - sexy and motherly. Or the voracious man-eating vamp, ankles behind her ears.

But if I had to choose just one, it would have to be the eponymous Carrie Bradshaw.

She's not the prettiest, the sexiest or the cleverest. But she would be, quite simply, the most fun."



I feel quite unwell but imagine how Sarah Jessica Parker would feel.

First Eurovision, now "I'd do anything"

First Eurovision fell victim to political voting as Russia stormed home on a wave of ex-Soviet bloc voting. Now I learn that in the BBC's "I'd do anything" show aka "Graham Norton - Looking for a Nancy" there are worries that one of the favourites lost out unfairly. Yes, there are rumours that:

"There have been reports that politicised voting from different regions of the country have skewed the votes."


Surely not, who would have thought it...

Our dumbed down education system (update)

Further to my earlier post about SATS for 14 year olds that a 8 year old should be able to answer, I see in the Daily Mail that:

"As part of a controversial A-level in popular culture, pupils will learn about the tradition of kissing in cinemas and ponder such questions as "is skateboarding better than polo?".

The qualification, being offered by the country's biggest exam board from September, also entails a study of celebrity body images and allows pupils to write about clothes and hairstyles.

One assignment requires them to "explore the relationships between cinema-going and dating" with the aid of source material like The Drifters hit Kissin' in the Back Row of the Movies.

Another asks students to describe the cultural significance of their bedrooms and friends.

The A-level in "communication and culture" is billed by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance as "excellent preparation" for higher study.

...

Coursework topics for study in 2008/09 include "retail therapy".

Students can opt to compile a project titled "explore the meanings of shopping', where they will have "clear opportunities to engage with primary sources" - like "shopping mall food halls".

Meanwhile pupils opting for "popular music as cultural communication" can investigate sources such as "CD recordings".

Further areas of study include the cult of celebrity, body modification, forms of communicating including texting, computer games, graffiti and street art.

Students will be encouraged to explain the difference between "high" and "popular" culture while tackling the poser "Is skateboarding better than polo?"

And they will also be invited to discuss why their mobiles or iPods are "important" to them.

Critics condemned many of the topics covered as unsuitable for A-level study.

Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: "Many parents and employers will consider this a waste of school time and expect an A-level covering 'culture' to concentrate on great literature, art or music."

The A-level replaces AQA's A-level in communication studies, which features on lists held by some universities of subjects considered poor preparation for degree courses.

An AQA spokesman said the syllabus had been approved by the exams watchdog Ofqual.

"Communication and culture is a dynamic area of study with a strong contemporary orientation," she said.

'"A central theme of the specification is an exploration of the meanings and practices of everyday life.""



I despair, I really do. Giving 'A' level students a worthless 'A' level is not kind it is cruel. The academic students will rightly spurn such a qualification and those that do decide to take an 'A' level in popular culture will find that employers treat this qualification with the appropriate degree of scorn.

"But I got a 'A' level, C grade and I cant get a job 'cept in McDonalds"

Delusional or liars?

The Lib/Dems came a distant third in the Crewe and Natwich by-election and yet two days before the by-election the BBC were reporting under the headline "Lib Dems 'can still win in Crewe'" that:

"The Liberal Democrats have said they can win the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, insisting the race is "much tighter" than polls suggest.

A spokesman for Lib Dem candidate Elizabeth Shenton predicted a number of "hardcore" Labour voters would defect to the party on Thursday.

Leader Nick Clegg is visiting the constituency on Wednesday to campaign.

Recent opinion polls have put the Conservatives in the lead, with Labour in second place and the Lib Dems third.

'Positive campaign'

But Ms Shenton's spokesman said the party's own "on-the-ground" data suggested it was "within a few percentage points" of winning.

He added: "The Labour Party is no longer in the race... we have used traditional campaigning techniques - going out and meeting people.

"Elizabeth is very personable and we are trying to run a positive campaign."

...

Ms Shenton's spokesman said: "What I think will happen is that a considerable hardcore Labour vote that hasn't already gone across to us will do, when they realise that to do otherwise could give Crewe and Nantwich a Tory MP for the first time in the seat's history.""



Did the LibDems really have "on-the-ground" data that suggested it was "within a few percentage points" of winning? I would love to see this data if so.

Did the BBC really believe the LibDem campaign's claims or were they trying to boost support for the LibDems, anything to stop the evil Tories from being elected?



Thanks to Right for Scotland for the spot.

A solution to MPs expenses

This solution was suggested by "rfs" on Guido Fawkes's blog this morning. I believe rfs's blog is this one and if so I recommend you have a read through it, there are some interesting articles there...

That said, here's rfs's solution:

"Simple solution:

All MP staff are centrally funded. Each MP has an office in Portcullis House and only the one office - a second one in the constituency simply serves to allow family to "work" for them while staying at home. Each office is capable of doing everything the MP requires and will be upgraded/downgraded as their governmental responsibilities are changed.

MPs are to be accommodated in a block of flats in Central London. Bedsit type and identical with only Downing Street residents getting separate accommodation. Each party has its own floors and wireless connection - each MP is issued a £300 Dell laptop from stock with Word and email. Each flat contains a TV that will only get Freeview and a telephone that will only do national calls. It will be en-suite and have a double bed, a cooker & hob combo, a small fridgefreezer and a safe. Laundry and housekeeping will be centrally provided.

The flats will have a communal eating facility and each MP will have messing charges deducted at source each month. Every morning that the commons sits there will be a shuttle bus to take the fatter ones to the chamber or to their office in PH. They will be expected to be in their offices for 9am Mon-Fri and not leave until 4pm with the exceptions being where they have booked time to go to constituency or official business, a diary manager would co-ordinate this and an officer of the Speaker would take attendance with figures being published quarterly.

At the beginning and end of each parliament the residents will be marched out and an audit taken with missing items being paid for. A march in at the start of the next parliament will also be carried out.

Why would this be so hard to implement? ;)"



I have blogged before about the proposal that MPs should live in blocks of flats and I was a little sceptical but I hadn't considered the transport to work wrinkle and the clocking in and out idea. I also was unaware of the lengths some MPs were going to in order to work the expenses system, I now think that this sort of scheme could work BUT the accommodation should be comfortable NOT luxurious.

Our dumbed down education system

Here are some test questions:

"1(i) Give one way a mole, pictured on the right, is suited for digging through soil.

(ii) Where does the energy come from for a solar-powered mole-scarer?


2 Sharon, pictured on the left, is riding her horse. She is wearing a riding hat. Give the name of one organ the riding hat protects.


3 In very cold weather a mixture of salt and sand is spread on roads. Why are salt and sand used? (Tick two correct answers)

(a) salt makes the road white

(b) salt makes the water freeze

(c) salt makes the ice melt

(d) sand dissolves in water

(e) sand increases the friction between car tyres and the road

(f) sand makes the water freeze "



What age are these for? 9 year old children, 10 year old children, 11 year old children?
What subject is this test on?

In fact this is a SCIENCE SAT test for 14 year old children.


Here's some more examples:

"Why are electric wires made from copper?

copper is brown
copper is not magnetic
copper conducted electricity
copper conducted heat


Pupils were shown a star-shaped fossil and asked whether the animal it related to could have been a snail, a starfish, a ladybird or a slug"




Seems a little easy for a SCIENCE test? Well the pass mark was 57% last year and yet only 73% managed to pass the test.

The cream on the cake:


"A spokesman for the QCA's National Assessment Agency, which has responsibility for the SATs, claimed the paper was challenging. "Each test paper takes two years to develop and goes through a rigorous pre‑testing process," he said.

"This ensures that questions effectively assess a broad range of content from across the science curriculum and are challenging and engaging for pupils." "



This government want a stupid and compliant population so they can control the proles for their own good, naturally.

Victoria Derbyshire - the great economist

Victoria Derbyshire (VD) on 5Live this morning when a caller suggested cutting fuel duty retorted along the lines of 'what should be taxed more to make up the loss in revenue, the Chancellor has to get the money from somewhere'. I presume VD just couldn't cope with the concept of reducing public expenditure, a bit beyond most BBC presenters. I have been dipping in and out of the VD phone-in this morning and VD seems a bit fed-up with having to give car and lorry driving proles airtime; I presume tomorrow she will be back on safer territory with something baby or child related or maybe on racism.

Something else to worry about when you fly

The BBC are reporting that:

"An unwitting passenger arriving at Japan's Narita airport has received 142g of cannabis after a customs test went awry, officials say.

A customs officer hid a package of the banned narcotic in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security.

Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in.

Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials.

The cannabis is estimated at having a street value of nearly $10,000 (£5,000)."

Carbon credits, yes, yes, oh my god yes...

Tuesday morning and the BBC obsession with introducing "carbon credits" reaches new heights on the Toady programme. You can almost hear the programme have a collective orgasm as they contemplate the absolute level of control that their friends in "the Party" will have over "the proles".

It's bunting, just bunting

More Health and Safety rubbish reported in The Daily Mail:

"For more than a century, the inhabitants of Hatfield Broad Oak have marked their special occasions with strings of bunting.

In recent decades, the colourful flags have become an integral part of the annual village festival.

But from this year, they will flutter no more.

The bunting has become tangled up with health and safety red tape, and has become too costly - and complicated - for festival organisers to erect.

The annual event in the Essex village, which includes a craft fair, a dance and a dog show and ends today with a ten kilometre run, raises about £10,000 a year for local groups and charities.

Parish councillor Leigh Trevitt, 40, who has lived in Hatfield Broad Oak for 15 years, said the whole village is furious that it could no longer be marked with bunting.

Mr Trevitt, director of a paper company, said an unknown person had complained about the flags to authorities.

When organisers asked permission from Essex County Council’s highways department to put up the bunting this year, they were handed six A4 sheets of paper with conditions.

The string would have to be attached to fixed points on buildings using stainless steel bolts, which would need rigorous testing.

Mr Trevitt said: ‘The conditions are impractical and impossible. Many of the houses are listed so we couldn’t get planning permission to put stainless steel bolts on them.

‘And we could not afford professional installation. I was in the pub and a lot of people were saying we should go ahead anyway and let Highways take us all to court but a lot of the people who organise the festival are elderly and are scared of the bullies.’

He said the bunting had been used in the festival for many years without mishap. A photograph from 1907 shows flags hanging between two buildings.

‘Our village is a little piece of old England and if we are not careful we will lose all our rights,’ he added. Mr Trevitt said he was told that bunting comes under the same category as Christmas lights and that there had been two recent incidents where lights fell down.

An Essex Highways spokesman said: ‘While we sympathise with the organisers of community events these guidelines have been set down after real events where people have been injured.’"


This Health and Safety culture is destroying Britain.

Eighth winner of the weekly "No shit, Sherlock" award

Apparently:

"Iran has secretly paid Iraqi insurgents hundreds of thousands of American dollars to kill British soldiers, according to a leaked government document obtained by The Telegraph.

...

A senior British officer who has recently returned from southern Iraq said that the existence of "Iranian finance teams" in Basra was widely known by the British military and Foreign Office, although always officially denied.

He said: "It suited Iran to arm JAM in order to allow them to have the means to hit us."

Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP and a former infantry commander said: "This report makes it quite clear that Iran is directly involved in funding the insurgency.""


"No shit, Sherlock"

Monday, 26 May 2008

Is there life on Mars?

No there isn't but there is a piece of human technology, watch and listen here at NASA's website that has so much of interest to read and watch. For some Apollo 11 images take a look here, the real story of Apollo 13 here and the story of the first American in space, Alan Shepard here and here.

Confusing cause and effect

The BBC report that:

"New laws to crack down on knife crime could cause increased hostility among young people, the Children's Commissioner for England has said.

Sir Al Aynsley-Green called for more research into the effects of increased police powers."



Let's get this straight, the claim is that clamping down on youths carrying knives could increase hostility amongst youths. Odd, Although I suppose it is true that speed cameras do increase hostility amongst speeding drivers and internet monitoring of paedophile images probably does increase hostility amongst paedophiles.

This sort of woolly liberal thinking is typical of the thinking that has lead to prisoners serving less than half of any imposed custodial sentence, should a custodial sentence actually be imposed. It is the same type of thinking that has lead to prison no longer being a place of correction or punishment and instead being a place where prisoners have their own television and games console. It is the same type of thinking that has lead to society having to understand the criminal rather than sympathise with the victim. It is the same type of thinking that has lead to pensioners living in poverty whilst benefits scroungers have their every whim catered to. It is the same type of thinking that allows some members of a minority religious group to call for beheadings and not get punished whilst someone else can call another minority religious group a "cult" and be arrested. It is the same type of thinking that has lead to just one person in 17 caught carrying a knife being jailed, I wonder what percentage of people carry a knife and are never caught or are caught and let off with a police caution. I could go on and on but I am sure you get the picture and could add your own examples.


Knife crime is an epidemic in this country, in a three month period in 2007 a knife crime was (on average) committed every 24 minutes. The Daily Mail reported that:

"Figures from 37 police forces, published by the Mail on Sunday, showed there were 5,500 serious crimes involving knives in just three months this year.

The statistic equates to one every 24 minutes, around the clock, and includes 55 knife-related murders, more than 2,000 stabbings and almost 2,500 muggings at knifepoint."



The choice seems plain, either we clamp down on crime in this country or we will spiral very quickly into a pit of violent disorder. The problem is that the only crimes our Labour government and its politicised police force are interested in are traffic offences and "hate crimes" against minority groups.

Yet another Barack Obama "mistake"




This time he keeps referring to his location as "Sunshine" whereas he was in fact in "Sunrise". A minor mistake, yes; but remember how Dan Quayle was denigrated over and over and over again for his "potatoe" gaffe. The full story can be read in The Washington Post:

"SUNRISE, Fla. -- At first, it seemed as if Barack Obama might just be speaking figuratively, as is his wont sometimes. "How's it going, Sunshine? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. It's good to be in Sunshine!" Obama declared on taking the stage this afternoon for a rally at the BankAtlantic Arena in Broward County, Fla., just west of Ft. Lauderdale.

Obama, who often comments admiringly on the climate and regional aura of his various destinations, may simply have been evoking the warmth of the Sunshine State, which he campaigned in for the first time this week after staying away for months to observe the Democratic Party's primary ban against the state. Or perhaps it was a term of endearment, similar to his recent (and later regretted) use of "sweetie" in speaking to a woman reporter.

But then he said it again, and again -- "When we are unified sunshine, nobody can stop us!" -- and it became clear: Obama thought he was in Sunshine, Fla. But he was not. He was in Sunrise, the name given to this particular swath of South Florida palm trees, bungalows and outlet stores.

If the 16,000 in attendance noticed, they didn't make it known. There was no dropoff in applause as Obama experienced recently when he opened a speech in Sioux Falls, S.D. by declaring, "Thank you, Sioux City!" before realizing that he had named the Iowa city by mistake. Perhaps the crowd here also thought the "Sunshine" might be a figurative reference, or perhaps there is simply less local possessiveness when it comes to a Sun Belt exurb with vaguely defined borders and an even more vaguely defined identity, especially given that many of those in attendance came from elsewhere in the county.

Perhaps Obama was thinking of one of the many songs that involve sunshine, or perhaps he was just hot and tired. It's been a busy week for him in Florida, and it's very warm and humid. More than 90 degrees. Too much sunshine."



The problem here is racism, or to be more exact the fear of being called a racist. The liberal press is scared to criticise Barack Obama for fear of being called a racist. See my next post for more on racism double standards in the US presidential election.



Thanks to JammieWearingFool for the spot.

Gordon Brown listening

Gordon Brown is fond of telling us that he is listening to our concerns and wants to listen more. Here's a photo of Gordon Brown listening...





Although as the person proffering an opinion is Alan Johnston I am not sure if I would bother listening either.



Thanks to Political Betting for the spot.

Another Barack Obama "mistake"

Further to this article and its predecessor here, reports of another Barack Obama "mistake". This is from Barack Obama's own website:

"When George Bush was elected, he held out the promise that this would change. He raised the hopes of the region that our engagement would be sustained instead of piecemeal. He called Mexico our most important bilateral relationship, and pledged to make Latin America a “fundamental commitment” of his presidency. It seemed that a new 21st century era had dawned.

Almost eight years later, those high hopes have been dashed.

Since the Bush Administration launched a misguided war in Iraq, its policy in the Americas has been negligent toward our friends, ineffective with our adversaries, disinterested in the challenges that matter in peoples’ lives, and incapable of advancing our interests in the region.

No wonder, then, that demagogues like Hugo Chavez have stepped into this vacuum."



Maybe someone should tell Barack Obama that the nasty Hugo Chavez was elected in 1998, when Bill Clinton was still in the White House, a full two years before George W. Bush took over the Presidency. But then facts are of little importance to the man who will bring "change"; no details just "change".

Freeloaders

The release of MPs expenses has engendered much publicity and I will be covering this in more detail soon, but one example caught my eye. This example is that of Health minister Ann Keen, 59, and her husband Alan, 70; MPs for Brentford & Isleworth and neighbouring Feltham & Heston respectively. They are husband and wife so they already get double expenses as they share a property. Not content with that, they decide that Brentford is too far to commute to Westminster from; it's an hour by car, less by train to do that journey. So they have used £175,000 of taxpayers’ money to help buy a flat near Parliament .

The Daily Mail report that:

"The couple bought the flat in May 2002 after spending six months in a London hotel.

In a letter to the Commons’ Fees Office informing officials of their changed circumstances, the Keens wrote: ‘Despite some advantages of hotel accommodation, overall we found it unsatisfactory and have borrowed…to purchase a flat within walking distance of Westminster.’

In an unusual arrangement, they used two mortgages. One loan was for £350,000 from HSBC. The other £170,000 was raised by re-mortgaging their property in Brentford, also through HSBC.

The couple argued that because the second home loan was used to raise equity for the central London flat it should be permissible on expenses.

This was apparently nodded through by officials. The property would almost certainly now be worth at £800,000, according to experts.

As well as the interest payments on their mortgage, the couple claimed £867.57 a month for ‘compulsory’ life insurance premiums attached to the home loans - a practice which has since been banned.

According to the documents, they never submitted a single receipt. Instead, they
sent two sheets of A4 to the expenses department every month, claiming £1,643.50 each month throughout 2002-03 and £1,699 each throughout 2003-04 - almost the maximum payable.

In the five years since they bought the apartment, Mrs Keen has claimed £87,325 under the second homes allowance and Mr Keen has received £87,803 - a total of £175,128.

In the last year for which figures are available, the pair claimed a total of £38,515 under the ACA, which covers mortgage interest, service charges, utility and food.

If they had each separately taken the £38 taxi ride from Westminster to Brentford on every Commons ‘sitting day’ that year, the bill would have only come to £11,000 - £27,000 less.

There is no suggestion the couple broke the rules. However, their case will intensify pressure for reforms of the way MPs pay themselves expenses.

Critics claim they lived so near to the Commons they should only be able to claim the London supplement of £2,700.

The housing allowances system is now under review.

A Department of Health spokesman stressed the Keens’ claims were within the rules.

But Matthew Elliott, of the Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign group, said they were ‘unacceptable’.

‘The allowance should help MPs represent their constituencies, not pay the costs of life insurance or enable them to build up a lucrative property portfolio.’"



Will the Labour freeloaders be handing over the capital appreciation in their part-taxpayer paid for properties? Somehow I doubt it.



UPDATE:
Unsurprisingly, Devils Kitchen has a more robust outlook on the Keen's. He also has the presence of mind and love of history to have quoted part of Oliver Cromwell's speech dismissing the Rump Parliament:

"It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

"Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

"Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone!

"So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!"

James Purnell backing Gordon Brown to the hilt

James Purnell backing Gordon Brown to the hilt on France 24, an interview entirely in English thankfully.

Watch it here.

James Purnell's comments backing Gordon Brown can be heard from 5:05 to 6:13, the best he can say is that the Conservatives were more split in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gordon Brown - airline pilot!

Daily Referendum has a lovely piece inspired by John Prescott's strange analogy to defend Gordon Brown's sullen demeanour - "When you get on an aeroplane, do you go and look in the cockpit to see if the pilot is smiling".

Daily Referendum imagines:

"Hullo, this is the pilot speaking. We have been informed that our arrival in New York has been delayed. This nothing to do with us, this kind of delay is happening around the world and I'm afraid it's out of my hands. Now, normally this is the point where I would say that there's no need for concern.... but, you see, ah - now how shall I put this? You know that we normally carry enough fuel in reserve for occasions like this? Well erm, we haven't today. Not my fault, you see - we've run out of money. Those fancy new seats you're sitting on cost an absolute fortune and I'm still paying for them. Yes I know they are uncomfortable and the recline function doesn't work, but hey, you've got to admit they look good - at least you'll die in style.

Now here's the rub: we haven't enough fuel to make for another airport, so there is a choice to be made. Do we crash on land or into the sea? I can't decide, I've never been very good at making important decisions. I know that is not an ideal quality when you're looking for a pilot, but I've been pushing to be one for ages and no one else turned up for the interview. So this is what we are going to do. We're going to hold a review. The co-pilot will hand out a questionnaire and we will all vote whether we want to die on the land or in the sea. I can't guarantee we will follow the review's advice, as I believe that on most occasions, I know better. And please note, this is not a referendum - I don't do them.

Please believe me when I say that even though this all my fault, I believe I'm the best qualified person on this plane to crash it. If you do by some wild chance survive this flight, please understand that I have been listening and learning and I hope you will fly with us again.

Good luck."

What's happened to the money?

Labour's massive increase in spending on the NHS has been mostly unplanned and wasted. Confirmation came this week with the news that there had been a loss of around 30,000 NHS hospital beds between 1997 and 2007. Don't worry though as Tony Blair promised in 1999/2000 that there would be an increase by 2010 of 7,000 beds and Tony Blair is world-renowned for his honesty and for keeping his promises.

Obviously the biggest reduction in bed numbers must have occurred in 1997/98 when Prudence Brown was sticking to the wicked Conservative party's spending plans. Well no, the biggest decrease actually happened in the year ending March 2007 when Prudence had opened the floodgates on public spending.

The fact that over the same period as bed numbers were being cut, the number of deaths from MRSA and C-difficle rose by 400% is entirely coincidental. Although I do seem to recall that the investigation into the outbreak of C-difficile in the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust area in 2005/6 reported that one main factor that contributed to the spread of the infection was overcrowding amid the pressure to meet hospital waiting targets.

Targets not reality

Not a huge shock but the release by nine government departments of their annual reports has shown that this Labour government has failed to meet two-thirds of its targets. If you thought Gordon Brown was incompetent then take a look at some his possible replacements: Jack Straw's Ministry of Justice missed seven of its targets, Ed Balls' Department for Children, Schools and Families missed eight, James Purnell's Department for Work and Pensions missed nine and Andy Burnham's Department for Culture, Media and Sport missed eight. It is good to see that the new Labour stars are just as crap as their more experienced colleagues.

Amongst the key targets missed were:
- reducing levels of re-offending - target reduce by 5%, result reduce by 0.1%
- halving the number of children in poverty - target reduce by half, result a rise of 200,000
- raising educational standards in secondary schools - does anyone believe any of the figures on educational standards? And they can't even meet their targets with fiddled figures
- reducing health inequalities
- improving the lives of vulnerable elderly people - reducing hospital bed numbers was a big help here
- getting more people to use public transport - ever increasing public transport prices could not have helped here although the amount of extra taxation on drivers was a good attempt to move results their way


Labour great at setting targets, crap at meeting them.

and you think trains on the London Underground are crowded





Thanks to Rachel from North London for the spot.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Oh yes...



"We're just a gleam in lover's eyes, steam on sweaty bodies in the night One of us might make it through, the rest will disappear like dew Pressure building, gettin' hot, give it, give it, give it all you got When that love explosion comes, my, oh my, we want to be someone
CHORUS
Tryouts for the human race, from Burlington to Bonn Ah, we are a quarter billion strong Tryouts for the human race, from twilight time 'til dawn
We just want to be someone
We're the future and the past, we're the only way you're gonna last We're just pawns in a funny game, tiny actors in the oldest play It's an angry sea we face, just to get the chance to join the race Gotta make it, gotta try, gotta get the chance to live and die
CHORUS
We must, we must, we must leave from here We must, we must, we must, we must leave from here Gotta make our play, gotta get away Gotta make our play, gotta get away Gotta make our play, gotta get away Gotta make our play
Let us out of here, let us out of here, let us out of here
We just want to feel the sun and be your little daughter or your son We're just words that lovers use, words that light that automatic fuse When that love explosion comes, my, oh my, we want to be someone
CHORUS"











"I was born a little premature
Mom just couldn't take no more
Had no time to learn to cry
Goodbye, Mama, got to fly
Bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye, bye
Entered school when I was two
PhD'd that afternoon
Never entered any sports
Didn't look too good in shorts
Got divorced when I was four
CHORUS:
I've seen everything there is
I've done everything there is
I've met everyone but Liz
Now I've even met ol' Liz
No time for relationship
Skip the foreplay, let 'er rip
You gotta beat the clock, beat the clock, Beat the clock, beat the clock
I did lots of travelling
Parts of me unraveling
The Army then rejected me
Said I had two flat feet
Wore them out when I was three
Too bad there ain't ten of you
Then I'd show you what I'd do
I could cheat on five of you
And be faithful to you too
But there's only one of you
CHORUS"




"This is the number one song in heaven Written, of course, by the mightiest hand It's number one, all over heaven
It's number one, all over heaven
It's number one, all over heaven
The number one song all over heaven
If you should die before you wake
If you should die while crossing the street The song that you'll hear, I guarantee
It's number one, all over heaven
It's number one, all over heaven
It's number one, all over heaven
The number one song all over heaven
The one that's the rage up here in the clouds Loud as a crowd or soft as a doubt Lyrically weak, but the music's the thing
Gabriel plays it,
God how he plays it
Gabriel plays it,
God how he plays it
Gabriel plays it,
God how he plays it
Gabriel plays it, let's hear him play it
The song filters down, down through the clouds It reaches the earth and winds all around And then it breaks up in millions of ways
It goes la, la, la......
In cars it becomes a hit
In your homes it becomes advertisements And in the streets it becomes the children
singing..."