11th February 2013
27 year old police constable Philippa Reynolds was killed in in the early hours of Saturday morning. She was the back seat passenger in a unmarked routinely proceeding police car going through traffic lights in Londonderry when it was hit at speed by a 4×4 driving through red lights in the perpendicular direction. Two men in the 4×4 ran off. I presume it is they who will appear in Londonderry Magistrates’ Court today. That incident, once there was a willing driver and accomplice, really didn’t take a lot of planning. It could have happened to any of us.
You will appreciate it has been necessary for some time now for me to live as quiet a life as possible. Most weekdays I am here at my garden office desk looking through the window at my domain. The Gang do not like that. They cannot destabilise me unless they are reacting with me. So they do what they can. In my view therefore it is quite possible to slightly drug a male pheasant say, normally a hyperactive bird, so that it stands still for about fifteen minutes before regaining it’s normal demeanour. And to train wild animals such as pidgeons, blackbirds, squirrels and foxes to do silly things. When I started my Neighbourhood Watch scheme in November 2007, as related in chapter 5 of my book, I went round to my neighbours giving out leaflets. At one property I was approached by a young alsation dog (the same animal I refer to in my note of 2nd February 2013). He nipped my leg, the one and only time in my life such a thing has ever happened. When I thought about it afterwards I could see he was absolutely pertified of me. He was acting in a defensive way. If his character had been different however he could have been quite dangerous. A naturally aggressive animal put under considerable pressure, just like a human with the same characteristic, is bound to act in an excessive way.
Last week a four week old baby was in his cot at a house in south east London. Somehow a fox got into the home and dragged the baby from the cot. Fortunately the injuries sustained by the baby were not life threatening.
The Gang are funny people. They just do what is possible if it goes along with how they would like the world to be. I suspect it is them who are behind e-cigarettes which can lawfully be smoked in pubs, for example, because they contain no tobacco. They just comprise liquid nictotine, the addictive element of the fag, and an atomiser. A BBC webpage up today says there probably not far short of one million people now using them. On the other hand of course they should be preventing millions of cases of lung cancer.
If you are able to deal with the Gang’s all persuasive presence, I believe that does lead to empowerment. And probably the one part of our society where that applies more than for any other is in the field of politics. I am very pleased therefore to see it announced over the weekend that long term changes are to be made to our social care system, lasting well past a single parliamenet, primarily designed I think so that less old people have to sell their homes to pay for their care towards the end of their lives. The state shall be chipping in more. The cost will be funded out of less generous inheritance tax exemptions.
Without speaking to anyone else about his thoughts it seems, the Pope has announced this morning that he will be resigning at the end of this month. He feels, for his age and circumstances, he should step aside for new blood to take his place. One thing every human being on this earth has is the right of self determination. That applies as much to the Pope as anyone else. I think our previous Archbishop of Canterbury, who I feel was doing a good job, looked at it in the same way.
Unusually No 10 Downing Street has published it’s independent two person academic advice on the Scottish government’s wish for independence. It is that an independent Scotland would most likely become a separate state under international law meaning it would have to apply to join the EU, if it wanted, or the UN. One of the advisers, Professor James Crawford, was interviewed by John Humprys on Today this morning together with Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon who does not wish voters to think independence might be so difficult. It was noticeable that John referred to Professor Crawford, Ms Sturgeon called the gentleman James. It reminded me of the time in July 2012 when the just resigned chief executive of Barclays had learnt the first names of of the Commons Treaury Committee members interviewing him, as mentioned in chapter 13 of my book. It can come over as a little disrespectful. I expect someone had suggested to Ms Sturgeon that it would be a good idea to be friendly towards the professor. However, if that is so, I wish Ms Sturgeon had thought about it a bit more herself. When you are speaking to someone on an important subject like that, who has a diametrically opposite view to you, I think it important you keep your boundaries of conduct clear.
There was also a discussion on that programme about the ongoing horsemeat story. The French government is now getting involved as there are two French companies in the suspect food chain concerned. A former chairman of Northern Foods was saying that literally thousands of people must have known if dodgy practices were taking place. They would most probably have been going on for years. Yet not a sole blew the whistle. The Romanian government have said today they do not believe any of their abbatoirs have acted wrongly.
In catching up after a busy week just gone I find an article in last Thursday’s FT saying that the new Secretary of State, John Kerry, has a Palestinian-Israeli peace process high on his agenda. Apparently he is a good listener. He will need the quality. I think Mr Obama might want to bring a little pressure to the situation by having set his visit to Israel for March or April. I do not believe Mr Netanyahu should see that as any kind of threat at all. We all need timetables to get things done. I am fixing myself artificial deadlines all the time which I find works very well. When I brought up the newspaper article onto my computer screen I received two nuisance phone calls. I am absolutely certain the Gang will do everything in their power to prevent any positive outcome.
America’s drone attack strategy is under scrutiny at the moment and Geoff Dyer, writing on that page, says it could quite possibly change soon. Apparently both the CIA and the Pentagon use drone strikes but the former do so in a much more opaque way. The new CIA chief will almost certainly be John Brennan who, when in the White House, has always been a stong advocate of drone policy. Geoff says therefore he might also be just the man to rein in his new troops.
A few pages further on the paper tells me about a parking scheme that was intoduced in Moscow last year. As in London you are encouraged to pay by credit card using your mobile phone. On investigation however it seems the phone number you ring is owned by a company registered in Cyprus. A Russian investment group director comments that Russia and Cyprus are so intertwined economically the latter is almost another region of the Russian Federation.
An article on the centre page suggest the ignominy of the Libor fiasco for banks worldwide is probably the biggest scandal in the history of finance. In typical Gang fashion it seems it was a strategically thought through system which nudged human beings to be dishonest without them even realising initially that that was how they were behaving.
12th February 2013
I get the feeling the world community is concerned but not frightened by the underground nuclear test using uranium which the North Koreans conducted overnight, twice as large as their last, second experiment. The UN Security Council is meeting later today and everbody agrees it was a silly thing to do. The key will be how the country’s northern neighbour, China, reacts in the longer term. The northern Korea is so dysfunctional it could not exist without Chinese support. It is cruel towards it’s people. If China thought it should happen it would be the easiest of things to make it’s sibling change it’s ways.
David Milliband was on Today this morning to coincide withe the luanch of the apparently well funded Global Ocean Commission of which he is one co-chairman. It has offices in Oxford. He says 80% of global fish stocks are currently fully or over exploited. That situation can only get worse. He points out that outside of a country’s territorial waters the oceans belong to nobody. Or looked another way of course they belong to everybody. That should give all of us the common cause to protect our oceans, with the Commission putting forward some suggestions on how it can be achieved in practice.
It seems as though our future main battle with the Gang is going to be in the field of cyber security. We have one of the largest internet based economies in the world worth £120 billion. The radio news this morning tells us about a National Audit Office report just out warning that we have a shortage of skilled individuals to deal with the situation and it could take 20 years to get up to speed. Apparantly the government are providing immediate funding of £650 million for the task, mostly to go to the intelligence services and the military.
Separately a BBC webpage reports on The Comment Group who specialise in first gathering intelligence on you and then sending an innocent looking email supposedly from a named friend or workmate. When a link in the email is clicked malicious software is downloaded onto the victim’s computer. The criminals it seems are based in China and are available for hire; by individuals, corporations or governments. If you know the right people, no doubt, it is really easy.
Theresa May has announced today that the Independent Police Complaints Commission will be expanded to investigate more serious matters, with the idea of getting to grips with police corruption and misconduct. In future police officers will have to declare any second jobs; and chief constables to record any gifts and hospitality received, onto a public national register.
Not all journalists have shown a great deal of interest but the Conservative element of the Government this afternoon published their draft proposals for a Royal Charter to oversee a new independent body for self regulation of the press. I don’t think that will be the end of the story somehow.
Even after Barclays received a public slating from Panorama last night, to the credit of it’s new chief executive he appeared on Today this morning and appeared to quite genuinely say his bank is finally going to change it’s ways. If so it is the last bank to get there. I hope he is right. For example Barclays is going to close it’s Structured Capital Markets department, which for it’s size has been by far it’s biggest earner probably for over ten years. Perhaps that is how, according to Panorama, the former top man earnt £120 million in his last six years with the bank. The SCM business advised clients how to legally avoid paying tax saving them, it is thought, billions of pounds. A current or former Barclay’s employee told Panorama that the SCM office only had about 100 people in it including 40 support staff. Yet it’s annual bonus pool apparently was £100 million. Tax aviodance had been turned into an industy hidden away within a High Street bank. Those that knew what was going on could hardly believe it.
Then the programme goes on to look at it’s private funding injection in the autumn of 2008. Amazingly some in the bank thought they could get the money from Libya. The Gang would never have allowed them to do that. It just shows, in my view, how those at the top had essentially lost their sense of reason. The Middle East connection was a far more respectable source for them. And the interest rate charged was only up to 14%. At the time Barclays told the world that over £3 billion of their funds would be coming from Shiekh Mansour, a member of the Abu Dhabai ruling family and apparent owner of Manchester City football club. Panorama has now got Barclays to agree that in fact it came from the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, or Government, itself. The fact that Barclays has never corrected the position in it’s subsequent public documents has been explained to be a drafting error. Because offshore accounts were used Panorama have not been able to establish where commissions for that money, in the form of share options, was transferred. It seems possible they may ultimately have been routed to the Shiekh. He ended up as one of Barclays’ biggest shareholders. If he benefited when he did not provide the money himself it seems legally that could constitute a bribe. It is my belief that in recent years, like News Corp, at least one Gang member supported by a plethora of Gang helpers, will have worked in the top management team at Barclays. Whether that person is still there I do not know but I suspect he might very well be.
13th February 2013
Apparently the horsemeat scandal has now touched 18 countries and Owen Paterson is in Brussels later to meet with his counterparts from the main affected countries. It seems that Romania properly exported a consignmenmt of horsemeat to a warehouse in Holland. However between there and France it became labelled as beef.
This morning a gentleman from the FSA was interviewed on Today. He confirms that meat from a licensed horse slaughterhouse at a farm in Todmorden in West Yotshire sent some if it’s carcasses to a meat cutting factory near Aberystwyth. Contaminated beef products have been found linked to horsemeat which passed through the two locations. Both premises say they have done nothing wrong.
Another piece on that programme informed us that last year there were only 23 significant deadly air accidents worldwide with 475 fatalities. Those are the lowest numbers since 1945. Good news indeed.
President Obama gave his State of the Union speech yesterday. His predicament with home issues is that the Republican controlled House of Representatives can block his wishes so he must try and get a headwind of public support behind him. I think he wants the houses of Congress to vote on his proposals wherever possible so it is not possible for individual members to hide in the shadows. So all Americans can see where they stand on the country’s important issues of the day. He must then trust that his voters have the sense to push for change which is so obviously in their own interests. He said the rubble created by the country’s worst difficulties has been moved away but America now needs an end to politically manufactured crises. He pleaded for the victims of gun crime to be listened to. He also wants to push ahead with minimum wage and education reform, immigration changes and policies to deal with climate change.
You do get the feeling there is something not quite right about the Los Angeles gunman on the loose story I briefly referred to on 8th February 2013. I think a lot of the following was also shown live on television. We are told the police were drawn to a ski resort in the area where the man had left his car burnt out. They started searching the lodges. He made a run for it in a vehicle. As he was being followed he stopped and ran off to a remote log cabin. As the police closed in a gun fight ensued and, the toatally unacceptable bit for me, a policeman was shot dead. The gunman set fire to his bolt hole. A single shot was heard from inside. The charred remains will be searched for a body. All very wild west. All very entertaining, if you have that type of mind. Almost blurring reality with fiction. And demeaning the value of life.
I write about our bombing of Dresden, in which 25,000 civilians were killed two months before the end of the Second World War, in chapter 7 of my book. On the 68th anniversary of the attack there was a moving interview with a captured British serviceman on Today this morning. He was due to executed by the Germans in the city on that day. He is still alive. He is the most common sense of men. He just tells it as he sees it. He says he does not blame the men who dropped the bombs at all. He does however feel very badly about the small group of British leaders who ordered it to happen.
I am finding it difficult to get my story out. The main reason for that I think is because the Gang will only openly interfere with your life, to intimidate you, when they perceive they have to. That obviously can be very frightening for a sole person. The rest of the time however their workings are completely hidden. You get on with your life as you always have. You forget they are there. The message is clear however. We will not frighten you if you do not trouble us. Do not be enquiring or outward looking. Keep yourself in your box and your head down.
We’re on that global governence theme again. Apparantly there are eight states currently wanting to join the EU. The most important is Turkey which formally applied in 1987. Such things are the epitome of political will and I had received the impression over the last few years that everyone had pretty well given up it was achievable. The, mainly emotional, obstacles were just too great. I get the feeling now however that may have changed. Yesterday the Turkish Minister for EU affairs was in London and he gave a very confident interview on Newsnight. When asked why his country wished to join he replied that the EU is the grandest peace project in the history of mankind. I also look upon Turkey as much more Asian than European. The minister went on to say that once Turkey has become a member the club has the potential to become a global peace project.
Earlier in the programme there was a long piece on the 1984 Libyan London embassy shootings when PC Evonne Fletcher was killed. I suspect, following Mr Cameron’s recent visit to Libya, much more information has come into the journalistic domain. At that time Colonel Gaddafi and Libya were out of control ordering the deaths of opponents at home and abroad. Revolutionaries were in control of their London embassy. It seems plain good men in Tripoli knew what was about to happen as the evening before our ambassador was called to the Foreign Ministry and told the following day’s demonstration outside their London embassy must be stopped at all costs. The ambassador told them he did not have that power. The indication for me that it was a Gang scheme are Newsnight’s remarks that GCHQ recorded the command from Libya for the embassy to use violence the following day. I think it possible the specific instruction was given to a willing accomplice that a female police officer should be targeted. Even though our ambassador informed London of the warning he had received, no actions were taken to protect people in the street and the cable captured by GCHQ was not listened to until after Yvonne was dead. The circumstanacs there would seem to be virtually identical to the unnoticed message at the time of the Omagh bombing in 1998 as I go through in chapter 7 of the book.
Another place I mention in my book, in chapter 6, is the French island of Corsica. It is strong American Gang territory in my opinion. PM had a report from there this afternoon. For it’s population it has the highest murder rate in Europe. Of the last 85 assassinations and attemped killings only one has resulted in a conviction. There is an persuasive culture of impugnity for the criminals. Many Corsicans feel they have been abandoned by their national government.
As Germany is the paymaster of the EU, Quentin Peel writes in yesterday’s FT that it’s politicians are taking a keen interest in Cyprus’ financial predicament. For it’s size apparently it is the most difficult state to devise a practical solution. Any bail out conditions must not overwhelm the country’s capacity to service it’s debt nor reward foreign depositors who have used the island as a tax haven. It seems a tricky problem.
As I would expect of it the FT today describes today half the root cause of the horsemeat story (the other half being the supermarkets blind obsession with price competition). There are too many dead horses around. Criminals found the opportunity to make money out of that glut, an offer which could not be refused. Ireland is a horse mad country. But it has hit hard economic times. In 2008 just over 2,000 horses were slaughtered there. Last year the number was 25,000.
I think the FT smells a Gang story in another article in that paper. A deposit of potash has been found under the North York Moors. It seems up to 400 framers could make a considerable amount of money out of their mining rights. There is a modern day gold rush feeling in the area with many locals wanting to invest. It is likely the National Park will come under an enormous amount of pressure to approve a $1.7 million mining project.
A couple of pages further on the issue reports that Iran has confirmed it is using part of it’s enriched uranium stockpile for medical and radio isotopes. That means it will not be avaialable for nuclear bomb puposes. Possibly a confidence building announcement, possibly not.
The paper also passes on a Reuters report which hints that an Australian man, perhaps recruited by Mossad, died in mysterious circumstances in an Israeli high security jail in 2010. The Israeli government has asked it’s newspapers not to write about the story on the basis that it is embarrassing.
14th February 2013
Today had an interview this morning with the former chief executive of the United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust who was sacked in 2010 for alleged excessive swearing in meetings. The gentleman says that was a trumped up charge and the real reason was because he had fallen out with his boss, the East Midland Strategic Health Authority. They wanted him to meet certain targets for non urgent treatment. He said, in his particular circumstances where his hospitals were overcrowded with emergency patients, that was not possible. He wanted to put the treatment of his neediest patients first. Now he will not be able to obtain any job in public health care again. His authority were prepared to pay him full compensation. However only on the condition that he never spoke to anyone publicly about his views on the running of the NHS or disclosed to anyone that he had so promised. In view of his need to provide for his dependents it was an offer it was not possible for him to refuse. However this morning he did break that promise because he believes it to be in the public interest and because it is the right thing to do.
After he had recorded his interview for this morning’s programme the gentleman received a letter from his former employer’s solicitors saying that if it were broadcast his pay off could be recovered from him and he would also have to pay all that firm’s legal costs in taking that action. He went ahead anyway. Over the last few days it has also been announced that a senior NHS director is going to review the workings of nine more trusts, after the initial five announced, following the Stafford Hospital inquiries. United Lincolnshire is one. The gentleman comments that shows a complete loss of confidence and trust in the existing management and will only serve to put more pressure on them than originally exists, for what may be very easily explained reasons.
John Major gave a speech at Chatham House today welcoming the Prime Minister’s decision to go for an EU referendum, although he did refer to it as a gamble. He said there are some in the Conservative Party who are willing to bring down any goverment or prime minister if they do not get their way over Europe. On the positive side he said the referendum could have a cleansing effect on British politics generally. I would guess Mr Major did not ask Mr Cameron’s permission to make the speech but equally he received no request not to go ahead.
15th February 2013
Last night a man who was in jail for murdering a two year old child, was murdered. If you kill someone when you are in prison you will be caught. You would have thought anyone with the smallest modicum of sense, two inmates in this case, would not look upon it as a very sensible thing to do. Unless of course they thought they had no alternative.
I was in London yesterday and spoke to someone about long lasting vapour trails in the sky, something I had not thought about before. Then blow me down this morning there was a BBC webpage up about a meteor falling into a lake in Russia where, no doubt, it will never be found. When I saw the page there was a video link at the top showing a picture of a vapour trail. Photographs have been taken of a vapour trail in the air and recordings made of a sonic boom. Russian media have reported that, in a relatively remote region of the country, 500 people have been injured and property damaged. I would like to know a few more details about all that.
Then British media have wished to link that event to a known pass of an asteroid this evening 17,000 miles from the earth. In cosmic terms that is close and astromers hope to use the event to learn more about it as it flies past.
Following my note of 20th Januray 2013 there has been another snow related accident in Scotland. Yesterday a group of climbers were walking through a deep valley in the Cairngorms, I think, when they were hit by an avalanche. Two died at the scene and three were airlifted to hospital in Aberdeen. One of those died in hospital as a result of his injuries. I relate in chapter 6 of my book how in 2005 a senior politican died in a helicopter on his way to hospital in Inverness after apparantly suffering a heart attack whilst out hill walking near Ben Stack.
An American based cruise ship making circuits of the Carribean, owned by the same company which operated the Costa Concordia, docked in Alabama in the early hours of this morning. It lost engine power five days ago causing difficulties with food preparation and sewage disposal. Many passengers had a torrid time.
Even though he does not officially take up his post until April Lord Hall, the new Director General of the BBC, has started making personnel changes to move his charge forward he says over the next ten years. Helen Boaden, the BBC’s head of news moved aside over the Newsnight Jimmy Savile programme, will become director of BBC Radio, a medium she says is her first love. Some new blood comes in the form of James Purnell, the former Labour Culture Secretay, who will be director of Strategy and Digital. Mr Purnell worked for the corporation in the 1990s.
A 26 year old man applied to a college of Oxford University for a post graduate course. It seems to me that if the man has the academic qualifications to do the work and feels he can afford it, he should be believed. However in this case the college required proof that the man could pay it’s estimate of one year’s living costs, of £12,900. When the man did not do so the college refused him entry to the course. The man is asking a court to rule that the college were not entitled to take such action on those grounds.
Something Owen Paterson has always been clear about with the horsemeat scandal is that the final responsibility must lie with the supermarkets. I think the prime minister wants to ram that point home too: to chivy them up a bit. Not for any harsh reason but to encourage them to move forward in the right direction. Overnight a Number 10 spokesman let it be known that the government does not find it acceptable for major retailers to remain silent on the questions which are in all our minds as to how they managed to be selling horsemeat in packets which are labelled beef.
It seems problems with some owners and their dogs are beginning to get out of control. A gentleman from the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee was on Today this morning saying that now 120,000 stray dogs have to be collected by the various organisations annually, some of them not very placid. He said the main problem is with irresponsible breeders who raise a multitude of litters every year, no doubt for money, and whom have no thought of kindness towards the animals at all.
Many will think I am being sexist here but I want to say it anyway. I do believe there is a fundamental difference between men and women in modern day western society and, if we could recognise that, we might all be a lot happier. As an illustration an evolutionary anthropologist was on Today this morning saying his research has shown how exactly the same behaviour by men and women in a stressful situation, in this case a mock job interview, meant completely different things. The characteristic was fidgeting. For men it was a way of relieving pressure. I expect they were nor aware they were doing it. For women it meant they were feeling the stress of the situation. My speculation is that woman in our culture tend to feel a need to attract men. Their experience as they do it, when they look calm and attractive, is that they have a certain amount of control over men which makes them feel good. I have heard such ladies as lap dancers say it about their work. However when some women feel they are losing control of a situation that calmness goes. They start fidgeting nervously.
There is no doubt about it, we the public are fickle as I am sure the supermarkets’ tills have shown them over the horsemeat affair. Just think what might happen if we lost confidence in our computers and smart phones. The subject was touched on this morning by Today when they talked about the Chinese telecoms company Huawei. I also wrote about them in America in my note of 9th October 2012. In this country they and BT work together in producing infrastructure for modern telecommunications systems. With there not being much distinction bewteen the Chinese state and corporate sector the worry is that might not be in our best security interests. Nevertheless, it sems to me, if Huawei’s intentions are good there should be no problem. Then they should be quite willing to provide sufficient access to their hardware and software systems to adequately satisfy our secrity services. You ask and see how they react.
There was an article in last weekend’s FT magazine about an Amazon picking warehouse in Staffordshire and how some of the locals think it is a pretty horrible place to work. The management seem an extremely hard nosed lot, knowing no doubt they have a constant supply of cheap labour, not thinking about staff contentment at all. For example one former shop-floor manager always advised new entrants to put vaseline on bare feet under their socks, before they put on the company boots which they were obliged to wear. Otherwise they would get sores and blisters on their feet as surely as night follows day. The workers have hand held computers so their bosses can check where they are, and what they are doing, all the time. I do not know the timing but funnily enough it seems there have been moanings on the internet that Tesco do the same sort of thing in respect of the electronic armbands their warehouse staff wear. It was mentioned on Today this morning. Tesco has answered that it treats the welfare of it’s staff seriously.
17th February 2013
I have had visitors this weekend and we went for a walk yesterday coming back through the park down the road. By the entrance was a private poster of which I have seen several over recent years. It said a pet dog had been lost, gave a first name and mobile phone number and asked anyone who had seen it to make contact for a reward. If you are so inclined, especially if someone else suggests it to you, it would be extremely easy to say you had seen the animal when you hadn’t and to be paid for saying it. That would be very useful information from Organised Crime’s point of view. It would identify you as a dishonest person. Someone who could easily be drawn into their circle, for their own purposes.
Kate and Gerry McCann were interview by Eddie Mair on the Andrew Marr programme this morning. It seems the politicians of the three parties are edging towards the compromise of a Royal Charter set-up for the press. Gerry said because of the secrecy surrounding the discussions we do not understand how the new system might work in practice. He is concerned true independence of the regulatory body will not apply. Kate said she had written to a Sunday newspaper editor to express her worry that his recent story on a possible lead in the Madeleine disapperance was not so much about protecting Madeleine’s interests, should she still be alive but more about selling extra copies of the man’s newspaper. I understand the gist of his reply was that he knew best about these things and he did not value contact from the mother of the child which interested his newspaer. The only thing I can say about that is, if at this late stage we still have people around with that mindset who can’t be spoken to by proper enforcers, we might just as well all shrug our shoulders and clear off to Mars.
You do sense though in other areas the politicians are gaining in confidence. Theresa May has criticised some judges in the Mail on Sunday for ignoring parliamentary guidelines issued last year on balancing the interests of a foreign criminal’s family, under European law, and the public’s security in having a potentially dangerous criminal and his dependants deported. It sems one judge has ignored the advice on the grounds that it had been subject to a weak form of Parliamentary scrutiny. Perhaps the judge should put himself up for election as politicians do. Ms May says she will introduce legislation to instruct judges on the point as soon as possible.
Over the last 48 hours I am pleased to have seen or heard representatives from Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsbuys, John Lewis for Waitrose, the Coop and Iceland all talking about the horsemeat story. The chief executive from Iceland put a large amount of the blame on councils and public bodies who he says drive down their food costs for such places as schools and hospitals at every conceivable opportunity. You might have noticed that the one supermarket not listed there is Asda, owned by the extremely powerful American company Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer and the third largest global public company. I suspect they may feel there is no need to kowtow to the British government.
A new governor of Pakistan’s Balochistan province was appointed last month after nearly 100 Shia muslims were killed in a bombing. Yesterday some 80 more were killed in the same way. The governor is angry. He says his intelligence forces, who are paid to stop such things, are either too scared or too incompetent to deal with the perpetrators.
Compass, the world’s largest catering firm and Whitbread, Britains’ biggest hotel group, became embroiled in the horsemeat story on Friday. Both have found equine contamination of their products. Whitbread are owners of Costa coffee whom I wrote about on 22nd January 2013.
There was a G20 meeting of finance ministers in Moscow yesterday where the UK, Germany and France tried to get the ball rolling for large multinational companies to pay fair taxes wherever the choose to locate in the world; not to be able to play one country off against another. The Americans are supportive.
Iceland already has quite a few provisions in place against pornography. From this morning’s Radio newspaper review I see it is considering whether it could make on-line pornography illegal within it’s jurisdiction as well. Arrangements such as preventing Icelandic credit cards from purchasing pay-per-view porn are being looked at.
The police have set up a specialised unit for investgating crash-for-cash insurance scams and it’s head was on Today yesterday morning following publicity about one such accident on the A40 where it comes into London, when the targeted motorists was most unfortunately killed after the initial collision when she was walking on the carriageway. He said organised gangs now specialise in the tactic full time earning considerable sums. Often the first of a pair of cars will conduct an unexpected, but explainable, sudden manouvre causing the second to make an emergency stop. The target will then crash into the back of that car which, as it was stationary, under insurance company rules will not be found to be at fault. A vastly inflated insurance claim is then made.
The gentleman sacked fron United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust was interviewed again on that programme. The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has now written to all NHS trusts to investigate how gagging orders may have been operating. The gentleman however feels that Mr Hunt has not gone high enough. He should also be asking questions of the strategic heath authorities and the Department of Health themselves. When you are dealing with such cultural issues you have to get to the root of the problems not just the effects.
Personally I do not see anything wrong with looking at things as a worst case scenario. Then when it does not happen it gives you a boost. Gideon Rachman tied up that edition talking about an article he wrote a couple of weeks ago, on FT.com I think. He noted a few similarities between particulary China, America and Japan now and the position just before the start of the first world war. If China falls out badly with Japan over it’s island sovereignty disagreement, America will feel obliged to take Japan’s side, North Korea could start being horrible to everyone and who knows where all that might lead. In 1914 it was a territorial dispute between Austria and Serbia which through alliances drew in Russia, Germany, France and Britain.
Last Thursday’s FT editorial praises the EU and America’s just started attempts to reach trade agreements beneficial to both sides. It suggests the main benefit, if those come off, could be political rather than economic. They could show other parts of the world how to positively liberalise trade for the benefit of all the world’s inhabitants and encourage them to join the movement.