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Monday, 31 May 2010

Sunday top posts

1. The FT explain why Danny Alexander has not been caught 'bang to rights' over his CGT non-payment:
'But this morning’s story about his not paying capital gains tax on a London property appears overblown. Alexander bought his London flat in 1999 and started claiming on it only in 2005 when he became an MP; at that point it was his only home.

When he sold it two years later he paid no cgt - even though by then he had a home in Scotland (bought in 2006) and had designated the flat as his “second home” in respect of his Parliamentary allowance.

How come? Because under HMRC rules, if you move out of your main abode there is a three-year grace period during which you don’t have to pay any capital gains tax on selling it. As a result there was no obligation on Alexander to pay the levy and therefore he didn’t breach any rule. It is neither a “legal loophole” nor a piece of cunning tax avoidance.

In fact, I’m not sure the country wants a Treasury minister idiotic enough to go out of his way to pay taxes he was not liable for.'



2. Anna Raccoon beautifully explains the 'Bureaucratic Pecking Order':
'Those who can peck,
peck.

Those who can’t peck,
teach pecking.

Those who can’t teach pecking,
administer the teaching of pecking.

Those who can’t administer the teaching of pecking,
regulate the administration of the teaching of pecking.

Those who can’t regulate the administration of the teaching of pecking,
advocate at the bar, for or against the regulation of the administration
of the teaching of pecking.

Those who can’t advocate at the bar, for or against the
regulation of the administration of the teaching of pecking,
legislate about advocating for or against the regulation of the
administration of the teaching of pecking.

And this whole house of cards, legislation about advocating for
or against the regulation of the administration of the teaching of pecking,
is all paid for only by those who can and do peck...'



3. Blazing Cat Fur details (in his words, not mine):
'Ali Mallah a notorious Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Union Thug Assaults intrepid blogger Blazingcatfur! Mallah, who is also a Vice President of the virulently anti-semitic Canadian Arab Federation, is well known for his anti-Israel derangement and is shown in the video as he attempts to prevent Blazing from filming an anti-Netanyahu protest sponsored by the Leftist Islamofascist alliance in Toronto.'
This story may run and run.


4. Anna Raccoon has found another example of wasted public money:
'The financially pressed NHS has commissioned the Mother’s Union in Somerset to hand knit 150 breasts.

They are ‘cheaper than’ the £35 a boob version they used to buy.

The fake breasts will be issued to health visitors and community nurses who help support new mothers.

...


Before we could afford outreach workers to go and teach new born babes how to suck……

Jeez, no wonder the country is broke.'
There are examples of this sort of waste throughout the public sector, but if the Conservative/LibDem coalition propose any cuts the cry will be 'doctors, nurses and teachers' not outreach workers and teachers of tit sucking.


5. And talking of breastfeeding, And there was me thinking reports on a most peculiar fatwa:
'One of Sunni Islam's most prestigious institutions is to discipline a cleric after he issued a decree allowing women to breastfeed their male colleagues.

...

Dr Izzat Atiya of Egypt's al-Azhar University said it offered a way around segregation of the sexes at work.

...

His fatwa stated the act would make the man symbolically related to the woman and preclude any sexual relations.

...

According to Islamic tradition, or Hadith, breast-feeding establishes a degree of maternal relation, even if a woman nurses a child who is not biologically hers.'
There are some really strange people around.


6. Burning Our Money explains why the poor have not got poorer but richer and why the definition of poverty needs updating:
'Yes, there are plenty of people who live sad dysfunctional workless lives. But that's nothing to do with lack of material resources. That's to do with poor education, destructive personal behaviour, and our grotesque level of welfare dependency. None of which will be solved by yet more welfare cash.

Which is why we have long argued for reformulating our definition of what constitutes poverty. Ideally, we'd like to switch to an absolute standard of poverty such as they have in the US. But if we have to stick with a definition measured relative to median income, we'd settle for dropping the current poverty line at 60% of median income, and switching to a 50% line.

Why?

First, because we estimate it would save £20-30bn pa from the current welfare bill. And second, because it would increase the attractiveness of work relative to welfare (ie it would make the poverty trap problem a whole lot easier to solve).'

Israel, Gaza, proportionality and the BBC

I was going to have a day off blogging today but Israel and the BBC, not a natural alliance, have stopped that. The 'aid to Gaza convoy' was a subject that I had not covered much on this blog as I considered them a deliberate provocation and yet another propaganda trick by supporters of Hamas terrorism. Of course the BBC Saw the convoy differently and portrayed them as brave fighters against Israeli totalitarianism. The BBC reporting of the news that Israeli commandos stormed the convoy of aid ships is written as though the BBC can hardly believe their luck; 10 people killed by wicked Israelis. The article does give the Israeli side of the story but it is clear who the BBC believe. You can read articles from an Israeli perspective at Israelly Cool and I suggest that you do, especially this piece that has information that the BBC will never report.

Israel is in a no-win situation as if they had let the aid convoy in the world media would have been full of stories about poor starving Palestinians, even though they are not or should not, whilst if they stopped the convoy there was always likely to be trouble as the convoy was designed to provoke a response.

As Isreally Cool reported a few days ago, the convoy's spokespeople were claiming that: "The people of Gaza are in an actual concentration camp. They can’t come in or go out despite having the same rights we all have…We will also be placed in a concentration camp, unfortunately, if we are detained." Take a look at earlier posts of mine to see how the Gaza concentration camp is in reality, somewhat different from Aushwitz.


Now back to my no blogging policy for the day...

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Love Will Tear Us Apart - the cover versions

On the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis's death I posted a couple of cover versions of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'; Dazed and Confused recommended a cover version that I had never head before, by Worm Is Green, so I looked around and there are an incredible number of such covers and so here some are.... If you know of any others do let me know:


Worm Is Green


Moonspell


the Cure


Adam Green


Honeyroot - with the silken tones of Human League and Heaven 17's Glenn Gregory


Squarepusher


Swans


Vampyrouss


Nic Cameron


Wundergraft


Susanna and the Magical Orchestra


José González


Sam Eason


Nerina Pallot


Vitamin String Quartet


Nouvelle Vague


Bis

Mock the Week


I almost feel sorry for David Blunkett but then I remember some of his policies and I realise that he is very fair game.


Dr Who and Gordon Brown



Gordon Brown voice-over (Hugh Dennis in fine form)

'The bird has been medically examined and was being kept in an air-conditioned room under police guard.'

Weird news story of the day that:
'Indian police are holding a pigeon under armed guard after it was caught on an alleged spying mission for arch rivals and neighbours Pakistan

Ramdas Jagjit Singh Chahal, a police officer, said he suspected that the pigeon had landed on Indian soil from Pakistan with a message, although no trace of a note has been found.

Officials have directed that no-one be allowed to visit the pigeon, which police say may have been on a "special mission of spying".

The bird has been medically examined and was being kept in an air-conditioned room under police guard.'
In this time of Google Earth and mobile telephones why would Pakistan need to use a pigeon to send a message or spy in some way? But the mistrust of Pakistan in the Indian Punjab cannot be overstated.

Things we all knew but Alastair Campbell kept hidden until after the General Election

I am so unshocked by the news that:
'Alastair Campbell, Mr Blair’s former spin doctor, discloses in a new book that his boss questioned whether Mr Brown “had it in him” to become Labour leader and believed that Mr Brown preferred “wanting” the role to actually doing it.

Mr Brown, in turn, accused Mr Blair of “breaking his promise” not to stand against him in the Labour leadership election that followed John Smith’s death in 1994, and “could not get over” what he regarded as a betrayal.

The result was a simmering resentment that exploded into foul-mouthed shouting matches which left both men with “purple faces”, says Mr Campbell. He portrays Mr Brown as a brooding presence who would go “absolutely berserk” if he did not get what he wanted and told colleagues that Mr Blair “could not be trusted at all”. '
Maybe someone could find all those articles from the 2000s telling us how Tony and Gordon were close friends and were really friendly and ask them why they deliberately mislead the British electorate.


The other, more relevant, story told by Alastair Campbell concerns Ed Balls, apparently:
'Ed Balls, the current Labour leadership candidate, is described as an “irritating and rude” man who “drivelled on endlessly” and was not regarded as a “grown-up” by Mr Blair.

...

Mr Campbell dismisses Mr Balls’s “awful” strategy papers, adding that he spoke “drivel” in meetings.'
Ed Balls - 'irritating and rude' spoke 'drivel' and not considered a 'grown-up'. Sounds accurate and explains why he is the perfect man to lead the Labour party.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Eurovision 2010

1. Azerbaijan - Drip Drop - the bookie's favourite - Nice legs, up there with Amy Pond. Very Beyonce, just the sort of funky power ballad that I dislike, but what do I know? Sung in English.

2. Spain - now that's Eurovision and dire but at least sung in Spanish.

3. Norway - bit Andrew Lloyd Webberish and terrible and sung in English, what's wrong with Norwegian?

4. Moldova - gypsy fiddling - wasn't that 2008 and nice eye makeup. Tim Curry has better looking legs in suspenders than that female 'singer' - sung in English...

5. Cyprus - Best so far, like a decent boy band ballad. Not sure about the male backing singer though... Almost had me singing along with it by the end! Sung in English

6. Bosnia and Herzegovina - Looks like Will Young, sounds like Robbie Williams, dire power pop ballad- Sung in English

7. Belgium - boy and guitar ballad - Sung in English

8. Serbia - More weird gypsy music and a weirder singer - Balkan, Balkan, Balkan come on - sung in English and ? - This is weirdest yet and sung by Martina Navratilova's lovechild?

9. Belarus - group features 'Robert Wells' not a very Belarus name. Sung in English. Pretty ballad, blondes have weird hair flick style, love the butterfly dresses! I have a god-daughter who I can sense squealing from some miles away.

10. Ireland - Mrs NotaSheep would like to say that this singer is the spitting image of Charlie Dimmock but with less bust bounce, sung in English. OK'ish

11. Greece - Can they afford to send a group? Very Greek music, Is that Russell Crowe or Jason Statham lead-singing? Sung in Greek. If Greece win could the costs of hosting the show next year bankrupt them?

12. UK - so we'll allow sung in English. Pretty boy. At least girl backing singers are not wearing the ridiculous large pants they did in the song for Europe competition. Catchy song from an Essex boy, Mrs NotaSheep wonders if an Essex boy should not be wearing white shoes.

13. Georgia - Ballad sung in English, rather theatrical, but nice tonsils.

14. Turkey - Sung in English. Has he been listening to American prog rock? 'For just one night we can be the same' did he really rhyme 'word' and 'stage'? Dreadful, it'll probably win!

15. Albania - more bloody violin and sung in English. It's catchy' so's the flu.

16. Iceland - Hera Bjork, clubby beginning - sung in English - this will not win and if it does 'see Greece'

17. Ukraine - 'Sweet People' - Is this a Scottish Videos advert? - Sung in English - Is that Kira from 'This Life'?

18. France - at least they will sing in their own language - I can see this as a World Cup song, nice 'grinding' and pelvic thrusting, and bottom spanking and some Haka; this song has everything... very catchy this could win

19. Romania - another sung in English - Is that Shania Twain? That high note jusyt gave me a headache! Catchy but also annoying.

20. Russia - 'like it or loathe it' - sung in English - oh my god definitely 'loathe' Possibly the worst tonight but I am sure lots of votes from former USSR countries...

21. Armenia - chesty girl singing to a giant apricot stone; that's entertainment! - sung in English - Mrs NotaSHeep thinks she a) looks like Angelie Jolie and b) is a 'pretty girl actually'. A song about apricot stones, truly Europe can never be one entity!

22. Germany - In the style of 'Lily Allen' is she Graham, I'll be the judge of that! Sung in English. Mrs NotaSheep thinks this could do quite well. I say she's OK but she's no Lily Allen. Weird accent, is that what a German 'doing' cockney sound like?Very Dick van Dyke!

23. Portugal - sung in Portuguese - Very very forgettable

24. Israel - sung in Hebrew - powerful singer but Hebrew is not a pretty language too many guttural chhh sounds and a bit of a whine near the end.

25. Denmark - Every Breath You Take? Has Gordon Sumner been paid a royalty. Sung in English.

Spain re-going... I'll be honest I missed the original performance as I was dishing up dinner. I'm not happy to have to watch this at all. Bloody circus music but at least song is in Spanish.

So that's only 5 songs not sung in English. Or alternatively just 7 songs sung in the language of the country they are representing.


Whilst we await the voting, here's the French song's official video with the promised bikinis...



My top 4:
France
Cyprus
Germany
Belarus



Security guards are a bit pushy!

Now the voting but life's too short to report it like I did last year, I am too close to sleep and Mrs NotaSeep is already asleep. So first a reminder of here's last year's voting, I wonder if the Scandinavian countries will give each other 8, 10 & 12, if the Balkan countries will show surprising solidarity, if Malta will give the UK 12, if the ex-Warsaw Pact countries vote highly for each other, if Greece give very little to Turkey, if Cyprus give 12 to Greece and of course if Germany give 8 or more to Turkey.


For a more intellectual outlook on Eurovision take a look at this: 'Toward an understanding of the Eurovision Song Contest: A brief survey of the extant literature'


Top 5 after voting:
Germany
Turkey
Romania
Denmark
Azerbaijan



My top 4:
France
Cyprus
Germany
Belarus

So just Germany appear in both my list and the actual result; and yes the UK have finished last.

A German Lily Allen wins Eurovision! I'd rather listen to the real thing though.

David Laws resigns and the BBC have their first scalp

David Laws resigns and unless the coalition can find another fiscally dry Lib Dem then the Labour/BBC alliance will be able to categorise any cuts as 'Tory cuts'.

Dr Who - Cold Blood

So who's going to kill the lady Silurian?

That too away some of the suspense.

Gassing The Doctor!

Dissecting Amy...

Scanning seems rather painful for The Doctor

Why celery?

Nice bit of old-fashioned peril rather than hi tech world destruction

So who's going to kill the lady Silurian? Told you the mother would do the killing last week...

Intriguing rumours surround David Laws' resignation...


'Don't tell them what happened'

Killing the hostage was never a good idea...

Silurian leader is ... under that green scaly makeup...

'A temporal tipping point'

The Silurian negotiator is 'Kevin's dad' from Harry Enfield show... Thank heavens for IMDB

Did the tongue hit The Doctor?

Kevin's dad (Heldane?)

1,000 years to prepare the Earth for sharing

And grandad can be the link between man and Silurian - naff

And Nasreen has found true love! double naff

Amy's crack is getting wider, everywhere cracks in the Universe.

Did The Doctor just put his hand in Amy's crack? (Sorry, couldn't resist) What has he got?

That gets rid of Rory, but what about them on the hill in previous episode?

Matt Smith's Doctor is rather stern and I like the 'light' and some great acting by Karen Gillan and Matt Smith...

Why 'St John's Ambulance' on the Tardis door and how is the Tardis destroyed and when...

The worst England World Cup song ever?


Neil Morrissey's appalling 'England's on the way (The lion sleeps tonight)' with some seriously dire lyrics.

Kung Fu bear


Is this for real? I think it is but it is one weird bear.

Glenn Gregory of B.E.F.with 'Wichita Lineman'


I loved this song in 1982 and love it still.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Has satire died again?

When Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, the distinguished musical satirist Tom Lehrer decided that he could no longer perform. "It was at that moment that satire died," says Lehrer, "There was nothing more to say after that."

I feel somewhat the same as I hear that John Prescott features in Gordon Brown's resignation honours list. John Prescott in the House of Lords! John Prescott the man who said that "I'm against too much flunkery and titles." John Prescott who had has less class than almost any MP I have ever seen.

Gordon Brown's last laugh on the Country that he comprehensively ruined? I doubt it, I am sure that there are more skeletons in the Number 10 cupboard.

How are the Labour leadership elections going? (28.05.10 17:30 update)

As of 17:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 1 (no change) - Just David 'Mastermind' Lammy, are you not going to nominate yourself Diane, not sure if you are the right candidate?
Ed Balls - 33 (up 1) - he's there Ed Balls is in the competition, now UNITE can put their weight behind him in the Trade Unions ballot...
Andy Burnham - 17 (no change)
John McDonnell - 6 (no change)
David Miliband - 54 (no change) - keeping ahead of his younger, even smugger, brother
Ed Miliband - 45 (no change)

So who has fallen in behind Ed Balls this afternoon?
Teresa Pearce - A new MP

So Ed Balls is over the finish line and all without having to rely on Gordon Brown's kiss of death nomination.

So a three way battle, Miliband senior (the smug one), Milband junior (the even smugger one) and Gordon Brown's protoge; what a choice.

Thanks Gordon


Burning Our Money has the details behind this video showing how much time it takes every day to pay the taxes levied on us to support Labour's client state.

Starving in blockaded Gaza


This club is at Cairo Street , Remal ,Gaza, Palestine and you can call them on +972 8 2888666 or email them at info@rootsclub.ps

Does this bear any resemblance to the Gaza that the BBC and others report on? Does this look like the product of a country starving under an Israeli blockade?

Melanie Phillips has more information.

How are the Labour leadership elections going (28.05.10 12:30 update)

As of 12:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 1 (no change) - Just David 'Mastermind' Lammy, are you not going to nominate yourself Diane, not sure if you are the right candidate?
Ed Balls - 32 (up 5) - just three more today; running out of time and MPs Ed maybe you will need Gordon 'popular' Brown's nomination
Andy Burnham - 17 (no change)
John McDonnell - 6 (no change)
David Miliband - 54 (no change) - keeping ahead of his younger, even smugger, brother
Ed Miliband - 45 (no change)

So who has fallen in behind Ed Balls today? Dear oh dear, what a sorry crowd.
Geoffrey Robinson - Former Paymaster General (from May 1997 to January 1999) who had to resign after it was revealed that he had lent his government colleague Peter Mandelson £373,000 to buy a house. Another committed Gordon Brown supporter
Marsha Singh - Backbench Labour MP
Andrew Smith - Former Minister but also Chief Secretary to the Treasury when Gordon Brown was Chancellor
John Spellar - Former Minister and the third most senior whip in the Whips' Office between October 2008 and May 2010
Tom Watson - Former assistant labour whip and Minister but also... Read his Wikipedia entry for more detail...

So today's fantastic five comprise two ex Whips, one ex-Minister from Gordon Brown's department, a committed Gordon Brown supporter and one ordinary MP. Ed Balls now needs one more nomination to get through to the next stage; will it have to be Gordon Brown himself?

Tiff Needell drives the Bentley Continental GTC with the help of two models

Julius Malema update

Julius Malema and his chauffeur were rolling down the highway when suddenly they hit a pig crossing the road. They killed it instantly.

Malema tells his driver:” Go to da farm over dere and hexplain to da howner of da pig what happen.”

One hour later, Malema sees his driver coming back from the farm, his clothes all wrinkled, a bottle of wine in one hand and a cigar in the other.

“What happen to you?” Malema asks.

“Well, the Boer farmer gave me a bottle of wine, beautiful plates of food, a cigar, beautiful 20 year old brandy, coffee biscuits and cheese and their 19 year old domestic servant made wild passionate love to me.”

“My My ! What did you tell dem?” asked Malema.

The driver answered: ” Good evening, I am Julius Malema’s chauffeur and I have just killed the pig.”

Tricky question for a six year old but for a GCSE exam?

Constantly Furious reports that the following was a question on his daughter's GCSE chemistry exam:
'What fluid is used in the home for drinking and washing?

The possible answers - yes, of course this was multiple choice - were as follows:

Water, Copper, Salt or Soap?'
Tricky? Not really, no. Did any candidate get this question wrong? Is this question part if the exam to boost results? Does anyone believe that the last Labour government did not preside over a dumbing down of our education system?

'Ordinary people were misled over impact of the euro'

That's the headline of this Telegraph piece about the recent words of Herman Van Rompuy . Apparently:
'Europe's "man in the street" was misled for years over the vast political and economic implications of the creation of "Euroland", Herman Van Rompuy has admitted.

The EU's president told a selected audience of civil servants and businessmen that the Greek debt crisis and euro zone bailout had come as a nasty shock to ordinary Europeans.

He said the public was not made aware of the full social and economic implications of the currency before it was created.

"Nobody ever told the proverbial man in the street that sharing a single currency was not just about making peoples' lives easier when doing business or travelling abroad, but also about being directly affected by economic developments in the neighbouring countries," he said on Tuesday evening. "Being in the 'Euro zone' means, monetarily speaking, being part of one 'Euroland'."'

Herman van Rompuy says 'misled' I would use somewhat stronger language!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

How are the Labour leadership elections going (27.05.10 afternoon update)

As of 17:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 1 (no change) - Just David 'Mastermind' Lammy, are you not going to nominate yourself Diane, not sure?
Ed Balls - 27 (up 2) - just three more today; running out of time and MPs Ed maybe you will need Gordon 'popular' Brown's nomination
Andy Burnham - 17 (up 3)
John McDonnell - 6 (up 1)
David Miliband - 54 (up 1) - keeping ahead of his younger, even smugger, brother
Ed Miliband - 45 (no change)

So who has fallen in behind Ed Balls today?
Stephen Hepburn - An ordinary backbench MP with no discernible links to Ed Balls or Gordon Brown
Khalid Mahmood - Ex PPS who resigned after signing a letter calling on Tony Blair to stand down as PM. I note that Wikipedia report that:
'In 2001, Mahmood was selected for the Perry Barr seat by an election of local Labour party members. In the election, over half the votes cast were postal votes, causing the Sandwell branch to pass a resolution of no confidence in Mahmood and organise a petition to Labour's National Executive Committee alleging "systematic abuse" of the postal ballot system.'


So one nominator unblemished by controversy and Khalid Mahmood. Ed Balls still needs six more nominations, will he get them without having to ask Gordon Brown to nominate him?

“We will only rest when the flag of Islam flies everywhere.”

"I warn Belgium. When the burqa ban is maintained, that will be a path that will lead straight to violence." Anjem Choudary, leader of the in England banned Islam4UK, sounded very threatening in Antwerp. "We will only rest when the flag of Islam flies everywhere."
The words of Anjem Choudary who was in Belgium on Saturday, May 22, at the invitation of the organization Sharia4Belgium. You can read more here, but here's another extract:
'The message at the press conference was clear: the Western society must disappear and give way to the supremacy of Islam. “Your freedom and democracy belong in the garbage can,” Sayef ul Islam said, who calls himself “an English teacher”. […]

Not just Abu Imran spoke, but also Choudary and a further unknown Sayef ul Islam, who calls himself “an English teacher”. Sitting in the room were a dozen young Muslims from different countries, who occasionally let it be known that they fully supported the messages.

“I have a warning for Belgium,” Choudary said. “If you take away our sisters’ burqas, you walk a path that will lead to a physical confrontation. I like to be clear. Then afterwards nobody may say he was not warned. We are not like the Christians. If someone hits us, then we do not offer our other cheek.”

But to him it was not only about the burqa in Belgium, or about the ban on minarets in Switzerland. His ambitions reach much further. “We will continue until the flag of Islam flies over Europe.”'

'I Would Recommend You Panic'


Hugh Hendry of Eclectica Asset Management is worth listening to as unlike many commentators he's 'putting his money where his mouth is'. Jeffrey Sachs - 'sanguine' or superciliously complacent?


Thanks to The Daily Politics for the spot.

How are the Labour leadership nominations going? (27.05.10 12:30 update)

As of 12:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 1 (up 1) - David 'Mastermind' Lammy finally works out how to nominate someone
Ed Balls - 25 (up 1) - just one more so far today, running out of time and MPs Ed
Andy Burnham - 14 (no change)
John McDonnell - 5 (up 1)
David Miliband - 53 (up 2) - keeping ahead of his younger, even smugger, brother
Ed Miliband - 45 (down 1!) - How has he lost a nomination? My mistake yesterday or typical Labour party accounting skills?

So who's the new nominator of Ed Balls? It's Lyn Brown, another serial PPS and government whip and someone who until May 2009 rented a central London flat using the second home allowance, despite her constituency being only a few miles from Westminster.

So that's another member of the Gordon Brown regime signed up behind Ed Balls, he really is the continuity candidate isn't he. I wonder if he will need Gordon Brown's nomination in order to reach the 33 nominations target, now that would be embarrassing!

Israel said on Monday it will keep up executions of those convicted of spying against Israel despite the outrage of human rights groups

Israel said on Monday it will keep up executions of those convicted of spying against Israel despite the outrage of human rights groups. Protests from human rights groups, the United Nations are fervent and the BBC are no doubt reaching a fever pitch of indignation.

Oops sorry I mistyped, what I should have reported is as per Ynet:
'The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas ruling the Gaza Strip said on Monday it will keep up executions of those convicted of spying for Israel despite the outrage of human rights groups.'


That explains why the protests from the human rights groups has been rather quiet and why the BBC are not reporting the story at all, although they do find the space to report that:
'Israeli prosecutors have charged two Israeli Arab activists with spying for Hezbollah, it has been revealed. '
The BBC are also please to be able to repeat accusations that:
'But Adalah, the Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which represents the men, says the charges are false.

They allege the interrogators used sleep deprivation and stress positions to extract confessions, which both men have now retracted.

"Trumped-up accusations made in indictments have become alarmingly common practice in security cases in Israel," a statement from the organisation said.

"They aim to justify the complete isolation and use of illegal methods of interrogation against detainees, and the imposition of gag orders on their cases." '
The BBC where Israel is always guilty and Palestinian terrorists pure as the proverbial.

10 things you may not know about David Miliband

David Miliband helpfully lists 10 things that we may not know about him and they are a mixture of oddities and things he's proud of. So let's take a trip into the world of the senior Miliband brother (my comments in italics):
1. David went to state comprehensive schools in Leeds and London - Oddly no mention of his degree taken at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford or his S.M. degree in Political Science at MIT

2. David was Secretary to the Commission on Social Justice, set up by John Smith, which led to Labour’s minimum wage and better rights for families - No mention of poverty traps?

3. As Environment Secretary, David spearheaded the Climate Change Bill – setting the world’s first legally binding framework for cutting emissions - No mention of the increasing doubts over the 'science' behind climate change?

4. David was behind ‘Building Schools for the Future’ a programme to rebuild and refurbish every secondary school in the country and he helped introduce thousands of new teaching assistants to the classroom - A programme that partly spent money the country didn't have and partly put the country in hoc to over-priced PFI schemes

5. As Foreign Secretary David has stood up for human rights in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Middle East and spoke out against the invasion of Lebanon by Israel - Did he also speak out against Hezbollah and Hamas bombings of Israel? If yes, then why not say so? If no, then why not?

6. David was a major contributor to Labour’s manifesto for the 1997 General Election which brought the party to power after 18 years in opposition - Did David Miliband have no say in any of the other Labour manifestos, or is he less proud of his parts in those?

7. David was the first Foreign Secretary to write a blog - So?

8. As a supporter of Arsenal FC David’s favourite player of all time is Dennis Bergkamp - Fascinating, I must vote for him immediately

9. David’s favourite book is the Gruffalo and his favourite poem is Roots and Wings - His favourite book is a children's book, has he not the intellectual capacity to read anything more challenging?

10. David’s snack of choice is a Twirl - So his favourite chocolate is a not so good variant of a smooth original, most noticeable for coming in a pair not a single!


Thanks David I think I know you so much better now; now what about apologising for being part of the government that has done so much to destroy the UK's economy and social fabric?

Who will be next?

A week ago Letters From a Tory ceased his daily letter writing and the blogosphere lost a talent. Today Beeb Bias Craig has announced that his blog is 'now officially closed' and the blogosphere has lost an even bigger talent.

Whilst LFAT was a must read and gave interesting insights, Beeb Bias Craig was one of my favourite bloggers; his quantifying of the BBC's bias was the proof that we needed that the BBC were indeed biased in their political coverage. I fear that the likes of James Naughtie, Andrew Marr and Kirsty Wark will rest easier tonight knowing that they will no longer be subject to Craig's interruption coefficients and detailed timings.

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell; 'to lose one favourite blogger, Mr NotaSheep, may be regarded as a misfortune. To lose two looks like...'

If a third favourite blogger retires then I may even have to dredge up my favourite Goldfinger quotation!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

9/11 Ground Zero Mosque update

Jihad Watch has a very interesting update to the Mosque at Ground Zero story; here's an extract but do read the whole piece:
'The leadership of Stop Islamization of America -- Pamela Geller and I -- was there as well. Hindu activists were there. Jewish activists were there. Christian activists were there. An ex-Muslim spoke via a cellphone held up to the microphone. It was a wonderful display of the unity among those threatened by jihad and Islamic supremacism that I've been calling for for years.

The atmosphere was rowdy, with tempers running high. The mosque proponents and the politicians were primarily responsible for this, as they immediately began to brand the opponents of the mosque initiative as racists and bigots. The local city councilwoman, whose name I believe was Chan, characterized all opposition to the mosque as hatred and bigotry, and said that to support the mosque was simply a matter of tolerance and pluralism. Mosque proponents distributed a written statement from Stringer, favoring the mosque and saying: "I for one never want to see our country or our city abandon religious tolerance as the result of an act of violence, even one as unspeakable as the 9/11 attacks."

This kind of talk angered the mosque opponents in the crowd, and there were many. There was a great deal of catcalling and booing of the multiculturalist platitudes and self-righteous moralizing, and the schoolmarmish chairperson of the Community Board repeatedly warned catcallers in the crowd that they would be held "out of order" -- but their threats were as toothless and empty as their moralizing, and the indignation of the crowd would break out repeatedly throughout the evening whenever another bemused liberal or smooth-talking Muslim would excoriate "hatred" and "bigotry" and extol "tolerance." Daisy Khan showed a brief Power Point presentation that said, among other things, that the Islamic Center would help non-Muslims to integrate.

Interesting word choice. Not help Muslims to integrate into the American secular fabric, but to help non-Muslims to integrate. Into...a Sharia state? Is that the goal?'

How are the Labour leadership nominations going? (Update 26.05.10 evening)

Quite a bit of movement...

As of 17:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 0 (no change) - will anyone nominate Diane or are they still waiting for Harriet Harman to pluck up the courage to stand instead?
Ed Balls - 24 (up 9) - a few more today Ed...
Andy Burnham - 14 (up 4)
John McDonnell - 4 (up 4) - Finally some nominations
David Miliband - 51 (up 3) - keeping ahead of his younger, even smugger, brother
Ed Miliband - 46 (up 5)

So who has plumped for Ed Balls today?
David Anderson - Former government PPS and member of Socialist Campaign Group
Tom Blenkinsop - New MP
David Crausby - An MP who has not troubled the government benches pre-this election
Andrew Gwynne - Previously Parliamentary Private Secretary to one Ed Balls
Eric Joyce - Serial PPS and top-claiming Member of the House of Commons for the 2005-06 & 2007-08 Parliamentary Sessions
Barbara Keeley - Former PPS to Harriet Harman and her deputy as Deputy Leader of the House of Commons from 2009 to 2010
Steve McCabe - Former full government whip
David Wright - Former assistant government whip and the man who tweeted '#ivenevervotedtory because you can put lipstick on a scum-sucking pig, but it’s still a scum-sucking pig. And cos [sic] they would ruin Britain.'
Iain Wright - Succeeded Peter Mandelson as MP for Hartlepool and became a PPS

So a better today for the diversity of Ed Balls' nominators: just two ex-whips and his own former PPS as well as four more former PPSs and two MPs with no apparent connections to Ed Balls or the former regime - why on earth would they nominate Ed Balls then?


Of the others Andy Burnham has nominated himself but more interesting are who has nominated John McDonnell: himself, Frank Field, Kate Hoey & Dai Havard - two intelligent serious Labour rebels, an MP who I have no information on and himself - a good start?


Next update at around 12:30 tomorrow.


I note that David Miliband's Labour party biography still shows his eldest son as being called 'Issac' not 'Isaac', it was that sort of attention to detail that marked the last Labour government.

Guiness really is good for you! Well maybe


I hear that a team from the University of Wisconsin have tested the health-giving properties of stout against lager and found that those dogs given Guinness had reduced clotting activity in their blood but not those given lager.

Mine's a pint of the dark stuff...

Scared of being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman? Here are some ways of dealing with him.


Plaid Cymru's Eurfyl ap Gwilym challenges Jeremy Paxman's knowledge of the facts thus showing that the chairman of University Challenge doesn't really know all the answers.



The President of Iceland Olafur Ragnar Grimsson takes Jeremy Paxman on and explains democracy and does well to sidestep Jeremy Paxman's insults "some President".
Interview from 3:47


Some helpful hints for those politicians about to face a Paxman grilling.

The eighty-fifth weekly "No shit, Sherlock" award

This week's prize goes to The Press Gazette for the staggering news that: '90% won’t pay for new Times websites'. Who'd have thought it, most people won't pay for something they get for free now - "No shit, Sherlock".

To put £6 billion of cuts into perspective

'Between July 1999 and March 2002, Gordon Brown sold 415 tonnes of gold at an average price of $276 per ounce (less than £200/oz). Since Brown's sale, gold has rallied strongly for nine consecutive years, significantly outperforming the majority of other asset classes over the past decade. Today, gold is trading at over $1,200/oz and £840/oz (or €985/oz), considerably more than a three-fold increase in price in dollars, sterling and the beleaguered euro.

More significantly, the gold sold is worth some £6.6 billion more than the £2.2bn that the Treasury received over the period of the sale. '

Thanks Gordon and maybe every Treasury minister could make this point over and over and over again until the message hits home. As an aside when will the Treasury be releasing the documents pertaining to Gordon Brown's sale of gold as per the FOI request?



Thanks to Market Oracle for the spot.

How's the Labour leadership nominations going? (Update 26.05.10 12:30)

As of 12:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 0 (no change) - will anyone nominate Diane or are they waiting for Harriet Harman to pluck up the courage to stand instead?
Ed Balls - 15 (up 1) - slowly but surely Ed? Well, slowly anyway.
Andy Burnham - 10 (up 2)
John McDonnell - 0 (no change) - Still not looking good for poor John
David Miliband - 48 (up 11) - overtaking his younger, smugger, brother
Ed Miliband - 41 (no change)

So who has plumped for Ed Balls today?
John Healey - Gordon Brown's PPS 1999-2001, more recently Financial Secretary to the Treasury and latterly Minister of State for Housing. Beat Yvette Cooper to the candidacy for his constituency in 1997

So that's yet another former member of the Gordon Brown team backing Balls. Is that Ed Balls' USP in this election, a continuation of the policies and personnel of the ever so successful Gordon Brown premiership? That seems like a sure-fire winner.

Will Diane Abbott and John McDonnell get any nominations? Will they even nominate themselves although if that is their only nomination it will look a bit sad.

The world's biggest debtor nations - Thanks Gordon

The top 20 debtor nations ranked by External Debt as a percentage of GDP. All figures are as per CNBC

20. United States - 96.5%

External debt (as % of GDP): 96.5%

Gross external debt: $13.77 trillion (2009 Q3)
2009 GDP (est): $14.26 trillion


19. Hungary - 121.9%

External debt (as % of GDP): 121.9%

Gross external debt: $225.56 billion (2009 Q2)
2009 GDP (est): $184.9 billion


18. Australia - 124.3%

External debt (as % of GDP): 124.3%

Gross external debt: $1.025 trillion (2009 Q2)
2009 GDP (est): $824.3 billion


17. Italy - 147.4%

External debt (as % of GDP): 147.4%

Gross external debt: $2.594 trillion (2009 Q3)
2009 GDP (est): $1.76 trillion


16. Greece - 170.5%

External debt (as % of GDP): 170.5%

Gross external debt: $581.68 billion
2009 GDP (est): $341 billion


15. Germany - 182.5%

External debt (as % of GDP): 182.5%

Gross external debt: $5.13 trillion
2009 GDP (est): $2.81 trillion


14. Spain - 186.1%

External debt (as % of GDP): 186.1%

Gross external debt: $2.55 trillion (2009 Q3)
2009 GDP (est): $1.37 trillion


13. Norway - 202.6%

External debt (as % of GDP): 202.6%

Gross external debt: $553.4 billion
2009 GDP (est): $273.1 billion


12. Finland - 220.2%

External debt (as % of GDP): 220.2%

Gross external debt: $402.24 billion
2009 GDP (est): $182.6 billion


11. Hong Kong - 223.1%

External debt (as % of GDP): 223.1%

Gross external debt: $672.9 billion
2009 GDP (est): $301.6 billion


10. Portugal - 235.9%

External debt (as % of GDP): 235.9%

Gross external debt: $548.45 billion
2009 GDP (est): $232.4 billion


9. France - 248%

External debt (as % of GDP): 248%

Gross external debt: $5.23 trillion (2009 Q3)
2009 GDP (est): $2.11 trillion


8. Austria - 256.2%

External debt (as % of GDP): 256.2%

Gross external debt: $827.9 billion
2009 GDP (est): $323.1 billion


7. Sweden - 264.3%

External debt (as % of GDP): 264.3%

Gross external debt: $881.5 billion
2009 GDP (est): $333.5 billion


6. Denmark - 316%

External debt (as % of GDP): 316%

Gross external debt: $627.6 billion
2009 GDP (est): $198.6 billion


5. Belgium - 328.7%

External debt (as % of GDP): 328.7%

Gross external debt: $1.25 trillion
2009 GDP (est): $381 billion


4. Netherlands - 376.6%

External debt (as % of GDP): 376.6%

Gross external debt: $2.46 trillion (2009 Q3)
2009 GDP (est): $654.9 billion


3. Switzerland - 382.2%

External debt (as % of GDP): 382.2%

Gross external debt: $1.21 trillion (2009 Q3)
2009 GDP (est): $317 billion


2. United Kingdom - 425.9%

External debt (as % of GDP): 425.9%

Gross external debt: $9.15 trillion
2009 GDP (est): $2.15 trillion


1. Ireland - 1,312%

External debt (as % of GDP): 1,312%

Gross external debt: $2.32 trillion
2009 GDP (est): $176.9 billion



Well done Gordon, maybe if a Labour government had been returned to power at the last election you could have enabled the UK to overtake Ireland. I really hope being out of power hurts you and that you just can't stop wondering what would have happened if you had called the general election in October 2007. So let that thought gnaw away at you for a while and I wish you many sleepless nights as a result.

Stephen Pound once again shows his sensitive side when dealing with the public

The Pink Paper reports that:
'Labour MP Stephen Pound has been accused of calling Arsenal’s former England defender Sol Campbell a “fairy” during a recent Premier League football match.

The recently re-elected Labour politician is said to have made the homophobic remark when his football team, ­Fulham, failed to overcome rivals Arsenal during a game at the Emirates Stadium in North London, last weekend.

The 61-year-old was heard making a string of offensive remarks whilst ranting from his £35,000-a-year ­executive box.

One Arsenal fan who was present at the match with his wife and teenage son told The Daily Mail: “Usually, if you are an away supporter in a box, you keep very quiet. We were in front of this executive box and I heard a stream of abuse.

“Two ladies behind me said they couldn’t believe the language being used, and that they thought it was coming from an MP. I turned round and recognised Stephen Pound.

“He called out to Sol Campbell ­saying ‘You are a big f***ing fairy.’ I was so shocked that I wrote what he said down in my programme. It was the language of the gutter. He went on to shout abuse at the ref saying ‘What game are you at — you f***ing w****r.’ Then I saw him leaning over the box to make an ­offensive gesture. A steward went up to him to remonstrate.”

Pound, who voted for gay ­equality rights in Parliament, insists his words were not directed at ­Campbell, saying: “I am ­thoroughly ashamed of myself. I didn’t call Sol Campbell any names — I would never have done that. But I did insult the referee because Sol Campbell brought down our striker in the penalty box, but a penalty wasn’t given.

“I am also embarrassed to admit that I gave the ‘coffee bean’ gesture. The steward is a constituent of mine. He came up to me and asked me to keep my language down because there were children present.

“I apologised profusely and said I wouldn’t do it again and sat there with my mouth zipped for the rest of the game. He didn’t ask me to leave but had he done so, I would have.”'
When does the 'recall MP' law come into effect and will it be retrospective to the start of this parliament?



Thanks to Tory Bear for the spot.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Labour Party incompetent in government and incompetent out of government


The page devoted to David Miliband's candidacy for Labour leader contains this mistake
'I am married to Louise, who plays violin for the London Symphony Orchestra. We have two lovely boys, Issac and Jacob.'
Issac? Surely that should be Isaac. Is there nobody in the Labour party who knows a little about the Old Testament - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Nobody did any proofreading? Tyical of the slapdash way the Labour party ran the country into the ground.

Labour Uncut and Ed Balls

Labour UcuntUncut are asking for questions to ask Ed Balls when they interview him, some are a little off-message:

'Paul Staines says:
Do you deny putting your friend Damian McBride up to smearing me in February 2007 after I published an investigation into the Smith Institute and the rather large payment you received from a charity in between leaving your Treasury SpAd post and being elected as an MP?


Frederick James says:
From which specific actions of the last Government do you wish to dissociate yourself and why did you acquiesce in them at the time?


Dan says:
As one of the most influential members of the last government, why did you not act to prevent the vast accumulation of debt? When you said ’so what’ to the observation that your government had accrued an enormous deficit, was that because you think that not having any money doesn’t matter?


Simon Parkes says:
1. Do you honestly think the country really want “Stalin’s Apprentice” as a PM – after the mess the previous one has made of this once a great nation. A nation that now will spend the next 10 years wandering the globe with a begging bowl trying to pay off the debts racked up by a decade + of over spending without any control just to satisfy his political ego? ACNF (a country never forgets)

2. (With reference to the above) Are you a. totally insane, b. stupid or c. a complete self serving political nonce?


Penfold says:
Where do you stand on morals and ethics, as from your history you have none.


Liam Rhodes says:
Is it fair to be capitalising on the pain, death and suffering of our troops in Iraq and the civilians killed by saying that the war was unfair, and yet not have the “balls” to say anything about it during the time you WERE in Parliament?


Teresa says:
Is it true that you are widely disliked within your own party? Why do you think that might be?


Jim Gumbley says:
What is your view on the idea which Leo Strauss attributes to Plato in the Republic, that it is legitimate for politicians to tell “noble lies” to make the populace acquiesce to the politician’s true, hidden intentions?

Is this how you and Mr Brown justified consistently twisting the truth and lying (especially with numbers) during your time in government? What were your hidden intentions? How do you square this disrespect for the public’s intelligence with your professed belief in equality?


Terrible But True says:
Do you think it might be best to give it a while before saying anything, apart from ’sorry’, to anything that gets done at the moment to try and address what was done over the last, say, 13 years?


simon says:
Have you seen the front page of todays Independent? Does leaving the country on the brink of bankruptcy it make you feel proud of your time in government?


Megan says:
Do you agree with me that you should judge a man by the company he keeps? If you do, then how are we to judge you in view of your association with McBride, Whelan, Draper, Brown et al?'
That's just form page one of three. Mind you to be fair there are some supportive messages including these two that are right on message, if possibly delusional:
'Tony says:
I know the internet is all about free exchange of ideas etc., but wading through miles of Tory trolling in the comments is really …old.

I think Ed is great and I admire a) his loyalty to GB and b)his willingness to reconnect the Party with middle Britain. But why not ask him about the visceral hatred of him that’s out there on the right wing? How will he manage it and, politically, how will that impact on his ability to get his messages across and reinvent the party?


Fabian says:
Please ignore all the pathetic Tory trolls Ed. They’ve got nothing better to do. I bet none of them would dare face you in a real debate, they know you’d make mincemeat out of them. Very brave of them – throwing insults from the safety of behind a keyboard!

The fact is the Tories are scared of you, they know you’re a tougher opponent than the Milibands etc. and you have the passion and determination to make Labour a powerful voice in British politics again.

My question to you is this: Who are your political heroes and why have they inspired you?

Good luck in the leadership contest. You have my full support!

Fabian'
Oh Fabian, are you for real? Are you in fact really one of Ed Balls' team or even Ed himself? Bless!

How's the Labour leadership nominations going? (Update 25.05.10 pm)

Movement!

As of 17:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 0 (no change) - will anyone nominate Diane or are they waiting for Harriet Harman to pluck up the courage to stand instead?
Ed Balls - 14 (up 7)
Andy Burnham - 8 (up 5)
John McDonnell - 0 (no change) - Not looking good for poor John
David Miliband - 37 (up 1)
Ed Miliband - 41 (up 2)

So let's have a look at the nominating MPs again. Who has plumped for Ed Balls today?
He's nominated himself! Ed Balls is so desperate for some momentum that he has nominated himself; excellent. And he's managed to persuade his wife to do the decent thing and nominate him too, I wonder what he's had to promise her in return for that?

Also:
Jim Cunningham - Former PPS to Harriet Harman and Mike O'Brien, not much else of note

Mike Dugher - the man with the Ray Reardon haircut - New MP but prior to his election was the Chief Political Spokesman for the Prime Minister Gordon Brown

Helen Jones - Ex government whip under Gordon Brown and latterly promoted to Vice-Chamberlain of the Household

Diana Johnson - Another former government whip under Gordon Brown and someone with an even smaller majority than Ed Balls

Kerry McCarthy - Another former government whip under Gordon Brown and currently under police investigation for revealing on Twitter the number of postal votes cast for each party before the election day

So today seven more people nominated Ed Balls: himself, his wife, three former whips under Gordon Brown, Gordon Brown's former Chief Political Spokesman and one other MP. Can you feel the distancing form the old regime? Can you believe in the momentum?

How are the Labour leadership nominations going? (Update)

As of 12:30 update today:
Diane Abbott - 0 (no change)
Ed Balls - 7 (up 3)
Andy Burnham - 3 (up 2)
John McDonnell - 0 (no change)
David Miliband - 36 (up 17)
Ed Miliband - 39 (up 4)

So let's have a look at the nominating MPs again. Who else has plumped for Ed Balls?
Kevin Brennan - Gordon Brown's former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families and then Parliamentary Secretary in The Cabinet Office alongside Shriti Vadera

Sharon Hodgson - Former Parliamentary Private Secretary to Liam Byrne in the Home Office, Bob Ainsworth at the Ministry of Defence and Dawn Primarolo at the Department of Health. Last year promoted to assistant Government Whip

John Robertson - A rebel on Iraq but also an MP who it is claimed has not paid the monies he was told to during the Expnses Scandal

Ed Balls has still not nominated himself and he has yet to get his wife, Yvette Cooper, to nominate him either.


Something of note in David Miliband's nominators, Valerie Vaz; yes Keith's sister is now an MP. I trust that she will not have similar career problems as her brother Keith "committed serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and showed contempt for the House" Vaz.

Diane Abbott - a half-remembered gaffe

Grant in a comment below said
'Years ago when the lovely, but racist, Diane made racist remarks about blonde Finnish nurses, someone in the Daily Telegraph wrote a poem which included the line:-

" Diane Abbott
with her rabbit, rabbit, rabbit ".

She gets my vote anytime. Labour need a heavyweight intellectual like her as leader !'
I will admit that was a half-remembered event so I had to Wikipedia it and this is what I found:
'In 1996 Abbott was accused of racism when she suggested that "blonde, blue-eyed Finnish girls" in her local hospital in West London were unsuitable as nurses because they "may never have met a black person before". Ms Abbott's comments were supported by Bernie Grant, a fellow black MP whose constituency, Tottenham, borders hers. "She is quite right," he said. "Bringing someone here from Finland who has never seen a black person before and expecting them to have some empathy with black people is nonsense." Conservative MP Ian Bruce stated that he had "never heard such racist rubbish from a Member of Parliament in recent years". Abbott was also accused of ignorance by the Anti-Racist Alliance executive member Marc Wadsworth, who is half-Finnish, pointed out that at that time the Miss Finland, Lola Odusoga, was black, of Nigerian and Finnish descent. "She's a black Finn like me," he said. Abbott apologized for her remarks and said her main priority was to ensure that her constituents received medical treatment from the very best people "irrespective of race".'
I have no idea whether Diane Abbott is a racist, but that remark was somewhat questionable to say the least.

What a fool I am, 13 years of experience and I went and trusted the Labour party's website!

last night I posted what I believed to be the latest state of Labour nominations for the leadership as per the Labour party website. It seems that the site is woefully out of date and inaccurate (rather like the last Labour government). The Labour website still shows:
Diane Abbott - 0
Ed Balls - 4
Andy Burnham - 1
John McDonnell - 0
David Miliband - 19
Ed Miliband - 35

Whereas I am informed that in reality the current state of play is that David Miliband now has over 100 nominations, Ed Miliband over 70, Ed Balls around 20, Andy Burnham around 15 and John McDonnell somewhere around 11. But Diane Abbott is about to be nominated by David 'Mastermind' Lammy. Why is the Labour party's website so out of date? Should we read anything into the Labour party's website under-reporting David Miliband's figures by so much?

Let's remind ourselves of Labour's Higher Education Minister's 'finest hour'...
The incredible general knowledge round starts at 4:22, or 5:16 if you'd rather miss John Humphry's adoring chat.
Q1: So easy - he got it wrong
Q2: Didn't know but would guess Jamaica
Q3: So easy
Q4: So easy - he got it wrong
Q5: Tricky
Q6: So easy - he got it wrong
Q7: So easy - he passed
Q8: Easy
Q9: So easy - he passed
Q10: Easy
Q11: So easy - he got it wrong
Q12: Easy
Q13: So easy - he passed
Q14: Easy
Q15: Henry VII succeeded Henry VIII, that's unlikely!
Q16: Tricky
Q17: So easy - he got it wrong

A fine intellect and I see why he is nominating that other intellectual giant Diane Abbott.


UPDATE: It seems that the BBC are also reporting the Labour party figures so maybe my informant was wrong. Either way can I put on record that I find Ed Balls repulsive, Ed Miliband vile, David Miliband intensely irritating, Andy Burnham too made-up and Diane Abbott a joke.

Labour party site to be updated at 12:30 and 17:30 every day...

Don't forget your towel today

"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitch hiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with. "
Today is International Towel Day.


Towel Day - Don't Panic


If this post makes no sense to you then I suggest a visit to ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha which is the Official Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Appreciation Society. As well as a visit to Amazon to buy Douglas Adams' trilogy in five parts.

Monday, 24 May 2010

How are the Labour leadership nominations going?

The Labour party homepage is showing the running total of nominations for each of the highly talented individuals standing for the role of Labour leader. Currently the totals are (in the same order as the labour party show):
Diane Abbott - 0
Ed Balls - 4
Andy Burnham - 1
John McDonnell - 0
David Miliband - 19
Ed Miliband - 35

So who has loyally nominated Gordon's protoge?
Ian Austin - Gordon Brown's former Parliamentary Private Secretary
Vernon Coaker - former Minister who had to apologise for remarks that misled MPs
Jim Dobbin - MP who claimed more public funds for staff than any other MP in Greater Manchester: £99,700
Chris Leslie - the man who led Gordon Brown's uncontested campaign for leadership of the Labour Party in 2007 - How Ed Balls must wish that this contest was just as uncontested as that which his master fought.


Oddly I note that Ed Miliband has nominated himself, no false modesty there, but nobody else has nominated themselves. Does Ed Balls not think he should be Labour leader and what about his wife Yvetter Cooper, I wonder who she will plump for.

British post punk meets Caribbean steelband


Steel Harmony play a Caribbean steelband version of Joy Division's 'Transmission' Thanks to Nicholas Abrahams for the spot.

Here's the original...


Now which do you prefer?

Do people not see the problem with this? s Barack Obama 'taking the piss'?I

My piece about Barack Obama's odd way of honouring the murdered Jewish American Daniel Pearl missed a fascinating fact that the BBC amongst others have failed to mention. The BBC report Barack Obama's words that:
"This legislation, in a very modest way, puts us clearly on the side of journalistic freedom."
What they do not report is that first the ceremony raised eyebrows as the White House restricted media access as the president signed the free press bill. Also there was this interesting exchange:
when Chip Reid, a CBS News correspondent, tried to exercise his press freedom by asking the president a question about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico thus "Speaking of press freedom, could you answer a couple of questions on BP?".
Barack Obama replied "You’re certainly free to ask them, Chip,"
Chip Reid then asked "Will you answer them?... How about a question on Iran?"
To which that great preserver of a free press replied "We won’t be answering... I’m not doing a press conference today."

Free press must mean something different to Barack Oabama than it does to me. Maybe he means a press free to write articles glowing with praise for 'The One' and lauding all that 'HE' does.

Barack Obama - ignorance, a lack of respect or deliberate obsfucation?

Barack Obama's signed a law that requires the US state department to compile a public list of foreign governments that violate press freedom. This law has been named after Daniel Pearl.

Below is what Barack 'great orator' Obama managed to squeak out, he's not that eloquent without his teleprompters is he?

This is what Barack Hussein Obama said:
'Obviously, the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is.'
Really, is that what the 'loss' of Daniel Pearl meant to the world? To me it was an occasion when a Jewish American was beheaded for being a Jewish American. Khalid Sheikh Mohamed cut off Daniel Pearl's head in an act of sheer barbarism and had the murder videoed so as to help incite other Islamists to commit similar acts of terrorism on other Jews and Westerners.

At the bottom of this post is a link to a copy of the video posted by the death-cultists that includes the actual beheading of Daniel Pearl - so only follow the link if you have a strong stomach. Note how Daniel Pearl describes himself, presumably to satisfy those holding him:
"My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA."
Note also that the crimes that Daniel Pearl has to admit to include being Jewish and having visited Israel - crimes that mean he must die. And that's the problem, the Islamist terrorists want to kill as many of us as they can and the reasons for them wanting to do so are well documented and understood by all except those who do not want to know.


So, Barack Hussein Obama, the man who sat and listened to Rev Jeremiah Wright's anti-Semitic sermons in a church for 20 years can't bring himself to mention the real reason Daniel Pearl was murdered. So, Barack Hussein Obama, the man whose daughters were baptised in that same church cannot bring himself to mention that Daniel Pearl was beheaded by an Islamist terrorist. Why the shyness, or was it slyness?


Mark Steyn has his own views on this matter that I suggest you read, here's an extract:
'First of all, note the passivity: “The loss of Daniel Pearl.” He wasn’t “lost.” He was kidnapped and beheaded. He was murdered on a snuff video. He was specifically targeted, seized as a trophy, a high-value scalp. And the circumstances of his “loss” merit some vigor in the prose. Yet Obama can muster none.

...

But what did the “loss” of Daniel Pearl mean? Well, says the president, it was “one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination.” Really? Evidently it never captured Obama’s imagination, because, if it had, he could never have uttered anything so fatuous. He seems literally unable to imagine Pearl’s fate, and so, cruising on autopilot, he reaches for the all-purpose bromides of therapeutic sedation: “one of those moments” — you know, like Princess Di’s wedding, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, whatever — “that captured the world’s imagination.”

Notice how reflexively Obama lapses into sentimental one-worldism: Despite our many zip codes, we are one people, with a single imagination. In fact, the murder of Daniel Pearl teaches just the opposite — that we are many worlds, and worlds within worlds. Some of them don’t even need an “imagination.” Across the planet, the video of an American getting his head sawed off did brisk business in the bazaars and madrassas and Internet downloads. Excited young men e-mailed it to friends, from cell phone to cell phone, from Karachi to Jakarta to Khartoum to London to Toronto to Falls Church, Va. In the old days, you needed an “imagination” to conjure the juicy bits of a distant victory over the Great Satan. But in an age of high-tech barbarism, the sight of Pearl’s severed head is a mere click away.

...

The latest appropriation is that his “loss” “reminded us of how valuable a free press is.” It was nothing to do with “freedom of the press.” By the standards of the Muslim world, Pakistan has a free-ish and very lively press. The problem is that some 80 percent of its people wish to live under the most extreme form of Sharia, and many of its youth are exported around the world in advance of that aim. The man convicted of Pearl’s murder was Omar Sheikh, a British subject, a London School of Economics student, and, like many jihadists from Osama to the Pantybomber, a monument to the peculiar burdens of a non-deprived childhood in the Muslim world. The man who actually did the deed was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who confessed in March 2007: “I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl, in the city of Karachi.” But Obama’s not the kind to take “guilty” for an answer, so he’s arranging a hugely expensive trial for KSM amid the bright lights of Broadway.

...

Daniel Pearl was the first, and in his calm, coherent final words understood why he was there:

“My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish American from Encino, California, U.S.A.”

He didn’t have a prompter. But he spoke the truth. That’s all President Obama owed him — to do the same.

I mentioned last week the attorney general’s peculiar insistence that “radical Islam” was nothing to do with the Times Square bomber, the Pantybomber, the Fort Hood killer. Just a lot of moments “capturing the world’s imagination.” For now, the jihadists seem to have ceased cutting our heads off. Listening to Obama and Eric Holder, perhaps they’ve figured out there’s nothing much up there anyway.'



This is the link to the beheading video, do not view it unless you have a strong stomach - here.

Mixed news on London Congestion Zone charging

The Western extension is finally going to be scrapped at the end of 2010. However the charge is going to rise from £8 to £10 (a 25% increase), however there will be an auto-pay system that will 'only' cost £9 per day but have a £10 registration charge. Swings and roundabouts I suppose, the benefit of never missing a payment is a definite plus but even that is at a cost 12.5% higher than the current cost. Don't forget that the Congestion Charge will have doubled in seven years by the time of this increase; somewhat above the official rate of inflation.

Israel, Palestinians and the BBC

The BBC have a tiny report that:
'Masked gunmen have attacked a UN summer camp being set up for children in the Gaza Strip, UN officials say.

The attackers burned tents and destroyed other equipment after tying up a guard.

They also left a letter threatening the head of the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), John Ging.

No group has claimed the overnight raid, but observers suspect it is the work of Islamic extremists opposed to such camps for boys and girls.'
Feel free to contrast this limited report with the full-on horror that would have been on display had an Israeli soldier even looked nastily at such a camp.


Meanwhile Ynet report:
'Israel opens huge sea-water purification plant

Officials say huge new desalination facility on Mediterranean seashore, with network of pipes beneath beach reaching far into ocean, could help solve country's chronic fresh water shortage

...

The plant, one of the largest in the world, turns sea water into drinking water. It stands next to the northern city of Hadera, the third of five large facilities that will dot the coastline, designed to provide two-thirds of the country's drinking water and reroute the National Water Carrier, a water transport system that has sustained Israel for 50 years.'
Not a word about this achievement on the BBC. As A Tangled Web notes:
'Readers may recall that late last year a regional Middle East water technology conference was to be held on the key topic of agriculture irrigation in the arid climates and desalination - both things Israel is an expert in. Many Arab States threatened to pull out if Israel was invited to attend, despite the fact that these Arab countries were desperate for the technology. I believe Israel didn't attend in the end.

Shows Israel doesn't need the Arab Nations to make progress and there is a lesson in this for all those who lobbied to stop Israel from attending. Neighbours who work together prosper - but the profound anti-Semitism of the Arab States that refuse to work with Israel stops any sense of progress. Must be something in the water... '

'Diversity is the Last Refuge of a Scoundrel'

A fascinating article by Jonathan I. Katz, have a read.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

That dog's got rhythm

What are those peace loving Palestinians up to?

IsreallyCool informs us that:
'On Friday, Hizbullah inaugurated a museum highlighting it’s terrorist “achievements” against Israel.'
Just the usual depressing story? Yes but then there's a photo of someone who made the trip to the museum openning... Naom Chomsky

You can read more about Israel's friend and world renowned intellectual Naom Chomsky here.


IsreallyCool also covers the weird story of 'The Zionist War Against The Animal Kingdom' - which seems to be more the fevered imaginings of a Palestinian blogger than based on any reality.

Welcome to the real world 'luv'

The Guardian reports on the new regime at Westminster and includes this whinge from an unnamed Labour MP complaining that she will be able to claim for a taxi home from work after 11pm:
'What happens on a January night in London? I suppose I will have to take the tube, then a bus and then a long walk home. That is not safe.'
Welcome to the real world 'luv'. Mrs NotaSheep often works late and unless it is a particularly late finish she has to walk to the station near her office, take a 40 minute tube train journey and then a mile or so walk home (unless I go to pick her up). It's called the real world, it's where we all have worked for years and where MPs are now being forced to work. Maybe MPs will now realise that the Country is a dangerous place to live in and so actually do something to make it a safer place, rather than just living off the taxpayer and not experiencing the (often dangerous) lives that the electorate live.

Too much news, not enough time

Here are some links to articles that I wanted to discuss yesterday but ran out of time:

Max Hastings explaining 'Why I fear the lights will go out in Britain' - He's right and I have blogged about this before.

The Mail with more on Peter Mandelson, Oleg Deripaska, Nat Rothschild, Aluminium, Alcoa, the loss of British jobs and questions about Peter Mandelson's role - It's a potentially explosive story but I doubt it will be allowed to gain traction.

The new government have killed the unnecessary and unloved HIPS (Home Information Packs), well done Eric Pickles - I did want to explain how HIPS were the bastard child of the EU, John Prescott and Yvette Cooper and just how bad an idea they were. Instead take a read of Samizdata's piece.

The BBC's Stephanie Flanders explains how Germany is really to blame gor Greece's economic woes:
'Whenever Germany tells you how much the Greeks are costing them, remember this: German exports to Greece have risen by 133% since the single currency started. Greek exports to Germany have risen by 13%. The resulting trade gap between the two countries is one reason why German banks are now sitting on so much Greek debt.'
If only I had time to fisk that article.

At least some little troughing piggies will have to wait before 'earning' the 'big bucks'

The way that so many ex-Labour ministers left government and went straight into highly paid consultancy or directorships was quite sickening; you know the people of whom I speak. So I was interested to learn that the new version of the Ministerial Code (published yesterday at David Cameron's behest) bars ex-Ministers from such roles for two years. So the likes of Jacqui Smith will be unable to cash in on her contacts and may have to instead get a normal job, if she is able to find one that is within the compass of her limited talents. It's a shame that so many Labour ex-ministers have already cashed in on their contacts but 'baby steps' are better than none.