1. Christopher Booker in The Telegraph had a fascinating piece about how local councils may be holding their rates level but they are raising money from elsewhere:
'There was a time, 40 years ago, when the most obvious source of council revenue was the rates, topped up by grants from central government – in return for which we could expect all the services that councils provided. But, largely below the radar, councils have discovered all sorts of ways in which they can take money off us, by levying charges, fees and penalties – some of which are actually illegal – for countless things that used to be free, or at least very much cheaper.
We have become familiar, for instance, with the practice whereby we must now pay for planning applications, anything from £150 for a garden shed to £250,000 for a large housing estate. We all know about the cost of parking fees and penalties, which earn councils £2 billion a year. And businesses must now pay billions to have their waste collected.
What most of us are less familiar with is the proliferation of new licensing charges for everything from pet shops to car boot sales, from riding establishments to “sex establishments” (up to £9,935, plus a yearly renewal fee of £5,000). Pubs that used to pay a yearly £10 to the local magistrates for their licence must now pay up to £1,905 to the council (plus £23.50 to notify the town hall if the landlord dies). Big pop festivals must pay £64,000 for a licence, even before they pay hundreds of thousands more to hire the police to provide security.
In 2007, the Lyons report on local government found that more than a quarter of councils were already earning more from such charges than they were from council tax. This has now risen to the point where “sales, fees, charges” and “other income” now yield some £25 billion a year, much the same as council tax.'
2. Is it just me or is there a word seeming to be missing from this article about 'Many thousands of children across England ... being sexually exploited by gangs, the Office of the Children's Commissioner suggests.'
3. CNS News report that:
'There is not a single, public Christian church left in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. State Department.Anything on the BBC about this?
This reflects the state of religious freedom in that country ten years after the United States first invaded it and overthrew its Islamist Taliban regime.
In the intervening decade, U.S. taxpayers have spent $440 billion to support Afghanistan's new government and more than 1,700 U.S. military personnel have died serving in that country.
The last public Christian church in Afghanistan was razed in March 2010, according to the State Department's latest International Religious Freedom Report. The report, which was released last month and covers the period of July 1, 2010 through December 31, 2010, also states that “there were no Christian schools in the country.”'
4. The Telegraph reports that:
'At least 200 potential terrorists are actively planning suicide attacks while living freely in Britain, intelligence chiefs have warned ministers.Oh marvelous and these people are left free to plot the deats of hundreds of Britains because ... How mnay more innocent people have to die before the fanatics are locked up or...?
A senior intelligence source has revealed that the figure is a "conservative" estimate of the threat facing the country from UK-based Islamist suicide bombers.
The would-be killers are among 2,000 extremists who the security services have said are based in Britain and actively planning terrorist activity of some kind. '
5. USA Today have an article that you should read only if you are sitting down with a stiff drink. Investing may never be the same again.
6. YNet explains that Barack Obama is advocating the ghettoisation of Jews in Israel. My only question is - why is anyone surprised by the actions in this regard of Barack Hussein Obama?
7. The Telegraph reports that:
'Facebook has admitted that it has been watching the web pages its members visit – even when they have logged out.Facebook, like Google before them, are saying it was a mistake...
In its latest privacy blunder, the social networking site was forced to confirm that it has been constantly tracking its 750million users, even when they are using other sites.'