1st February 2014
After the difficulties in Falkirk Ed Miliband has announced Labour party leadership elections will change. Previously voting strenghts were weighted so that all MPs and MEPs, trade unions and party members were equal irrespective of their sizes. Now it will be a straightforward one member one vote system for the person standing, with trade union members having to pay a £3 fee to entitle them to participate. Candidates will still be chosen solely by MPs as now.
2nd February 2014
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch have now reported on the Padstow speedboat crash which I wrote about on 6th May 2013. It seems possible husband and wife were having a tiff and in the heat of the moment he caused the boat to vere. If you are in a small boat in the water may think it possible someone could get a ducking. In your worst nightmares though you would never imagine I think that it might lead to death as tragically happened in this case.
After several months work 29 people were arrested by police in London, the Home Counties and Scotland on Thursday as one of the capital’s most notorious gangs was disrupted. The Met said they are focusing their attention on the groups which cause most violence in their communities. Besides drug dealing this lot apparently are involved in attempted murders, gun crime and robbery.
Ken Clarke is nothing if not pugnacious. After hearing it mentioned on the radio on Friday I see he was on Question Time the previous evening. He said those criticising the Environment Agency for their handling of the Somerset Levels floods were acting like a lynch mob. About six months ago I was travelling eastwards along the A361 there and stopped at the National Trust car park at the base of the mound at Burrowbridge. Within five minutes I was crowded by a mature gentleman in an old Land Rover whom I took to be a local farmer.
Things have been so quiet with the Arab-Israeli peace discussions I have been a little concerned about what was, or wasn’t, going on. I suspect there has been a stalemate. Anyway it seems as though pressures and emotions are now beginning to rise. I don’t think it will be very pleasant but, in my view, things will only change it people start saying what they really think. That honesty of approach, and listening by the other side, might be the key to start to see matters in a different overall light. Funnily enough it all seems to have started with SodaStream. I suspect it was a deliberate ploy of destabilisation by the Gang which I hope will backfire.
The actress Scarlett Johansson has a pomotional contract with the company and has also been an ambassador for Oxfam for the last eight years. SodaStream are Israeli and have a factory on occupied land in the West Bank. Some people it seems started criticising Ms Johansson last week for looking both ways. I expect she found that quite upsetting. Oxfam appear to have panicked and said they wanted to cut their ties with her in that situation which has now happened.
I have just seen a clip on a BBC website of the SodaStream chief executive talking to Kevin Connolly. He just doesn’t understand the fuss. His factory employs 500 Palestinians who support 5000 more. He cannot work out how that can be looked upon as a bad thing. He is pretty fed up, with the politicians in particular. He will continue doing his bit for some hard done by people. If those with more power and influence than he ever want to jump on board I am sure he will be pleased to welcome them. But the really clever thing in my view is how John Kerry has reacted.
In Munich yesterday at the annual Security Conference there he took the opportunity to say that Israel is in danger of isolating itself through it’s intransigent approach to the negotiations. People are losing patience with them. Some apparently are starting to talk of boycotts against the country. It seems a European pension fund withdrew it’s investments last month from five Israeli banks because of the business they do with illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
Mr Kerry’s remarks have hit a raw nerve. The Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister has today accused the Secretary of State of trying to hold a gun to his country’s head. If that is what he genuinely feels I think it is right for him to say so.
A First Choice jet was flying overnight from Barbados to Birmingham airport. When nearly at it’s destination it discovered a possible minor fault on board and was diverted to East Midlands. The BBC webpage refers to it as an emergency landing. It was on the ground for a short time before proceding to it’s orginal destination.
Whether they spoke to each other beforehand I do not know but both Labour and the Lib Dems have been saying this weekend they are unhappy Labour Peer Baroness Morgan is not being retained by the Department of Education when her first term as the Ofsted chief ends later this year. They suspect it is a political, not administrative, move and that she will be replaced by a Conservative supporter. A bit unusally I feel Mr Gove seems to have been left on his own today to justify what he readily admits was entirely his own decision, no doubt made after discussions with his advisers. He said he thought some refreshment at the top was needed to bring perspective.
On Friday Today reported that the Welsh government are providing £100,000 a year to fund a drug analysis service. Any organisation or individual in the principality will be able to send in a substance, such as a legal high, to be told exactly what it contains. The results, no doubt from a growing database, will be posted online. It will be interesting to see how that goes.
The programme also referred to some research carried out by the Inspectorate of Constabulary. It seems logical the incidence of rape around the country should not vary too much. However the numbers reported, and outcomes of investigations, from different forces do differ greatly. Durham Police for example record about 10 alleged rapes a year for each 100,000 people, Northamptonshire say there are 35. The conclusion is that consistency of approach around the country is not being shown. It would also be nice to know of course which are the right numbers.
There was some analysis on the civil war in South Sudan, an independent state since July 2011. The Middle East does quite conveniently divide up into Sunni and Shia blocks but the contributor said it is probably too simplistic to think of South Sudan as the two main tribes of Dinka and Nuer in that way. More likely that the former rebels who were fighting for independence since 1962 have found it difficult to adapt to democratic power. That sounds a bit like Egypt to me.
3rd February 2014
I popped into my local supermarket at about 5.30pm to make a couple of quick purchases. When I went into the toilet there was a young man in there washing his hands. He was still in his school clothes and about 5. Almost as soon as I entered he left. When I exited a few moments later I found him in the lobby before the main toilets hallway. As I walked past him I asked if he was hiding from anybody. He said no. He then left immediately behind me.
When Philip Seymour Hoffman was a drama student he admitted being an alcoholic and taking heroin. However he sorted himself out and was dry for the next 20 years. It appears he relapsed recently. Yesterday he was found dead, aged 46, in his New York apartment apparenty with a heroin needle in his left arm. It seems posible his supply was contaminated. He was well respected by his Hollywood peers and will be sorely missed.
I have just watched a Panorama programme about it’s reporter’s 10 day visit to the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. It was started by a South Korean professor with an American passport in 2001. I think he was being detained by the North Koreans at the time but managed to persuade them he was a force for good. The English speaking centre of learning attended by well connected students finally fully opened in September 2010 using Western teachers and funding from evangelical Christian sources. That though is where the similarity with our way of life ends. The broadcast clearly shows how it is possible to control several hundred young people by very simple means. Strict rules are imposed, of routine and what you are expected to say of the place where you stay. If you deviate you are in trouble. The society you see is based on secrecy and dishonesty. If the BBC man talked to any student for more than a few moments a security offical would intervene to end the conversation. Although access to the internet is allowed, only in a room with a lady at a desk blatently checking your every Google search. And yet the country’s leaders must be taking a big risk. They are encouraging the pupils, all males, to have enquiring minds but at the same time wish to enforce the party line. That does not strike me as a stable environment.
Immediately afterwards was a BBC 2 programme on sinkholes in Florida. They occur naturally in any area of limestone rock which is gradually dissolved by the acidity of rain. Unfortunately in that part of America there is a history of large holes suddenly appearing which can swallow up cars, buildings and even people. I am sure the Gang will also be involved. The rock is not uniform. Amongst it will be pockets of earth and clay. If you arrange for rain water to run over limestone under other material it will disolve that away leaving nothing to support what is above. Just like terrorism an atmospere of uncertainy and fear is created as you never know where a hole will appear next.
We had holes appear twice in my village in 2010 caused by burst water mains as I describe in chapter 6 of my book. In the first the main road was shut for three weeks and 12 homes evacuated. A similar thing happened in Broadstairs the following year, related in chapter 10. There one family could not return to their home for over 12 months due to disputed insurance claims.
Bulgaria is on the southern edge of Europe and the EU’s poorest country. It shares a short border with Turkey and it was reported on Today this morning that this year alone more than 6,000 Syrian refugees have walked across it in the hope of a better life. They are herded into bedraggled camps. It is a big strain on a society so ill equipped to cope.
The broacast was followed by Start the Week talking about Edward Snowden. One of the contributors was Sir David Omand head of GCHQ from 1996 to 1997. He suggested the episode of the Guardian having it’s computer hard disks smashed by MI5 was in fact designed to protect them. It meant state secrets held on the machines couldn’t be hacked by unfriendly intelligence agencies. I am shocked that a man of his past position has no concept of the workings of Organised Crime. It was an act of intimidation, not protection.
In researching that paragraph I see the Guardian reported last week that the present head of GCHQ, Sir Iain Lobban, will be leaving his post at the end of this year. Advertisements will be placed for a new incumbent.
I wrote about the Knights Templar on 15th January 2014. Last Monday’s FT explains why the Mexican government are so worried about them. They are a highly sophisticated organised crime gang, and a bit more. In addition they have a political and social power base pervading the whole of their region, to the point of genuinely protecting some local people and setting up drug rehabilitation programmes. Another way of winning hearts and minds no doubt.
The EU Commission has produced a report today saying that the level of corruption between it’s borders is breathtaking. It estimates the loss to honest citizens at least £99 billion a year. 50% of inhabitants think the poroblem is getting worse. 64% of Britons think it is widespread here compared with 74% across the continent as a whole. The countries where over 50% of people say their daily lives are affected by graft are Spain, Croatia, Romania, Greece and Cyprus.
4th February 2014
Parts of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Germany have been hit today by their worst blizzards for decades. 40% of Slovenia’s schools have been shut and 25% of it’s homes left without electricity.
William Hague has told the Commons today that Britain’s involvement in the Amritsar attack which I wrote about on 14th January 2014 was purely advisory. It was given months before the event.
A new Labour candidate is required for the Falkirk constituency. The present MP, Eric Joyce, resigned from the party in March 2012 after he pleaded guilty to an assault charge after an incident in the House of Commons bar a month before. This morning the Guardian has published on it’s website the full internal report from last summer on the alleged gerrymandering which took place in the selection process, started at the beginning of last year. It says there is no doubt new Labour party members were recruited to manipulate election procedures. Some Unite union members were included without their knowledge. Some signatures were forged.
I image that release is to coincide with a confirmatory parliamentay Labour party meeting last night and approval by the shadow cabinet and NEC today. The meetings ratify the new party leadership voting changes I mentioned on Saturday. There will now be a special party conference next month to give the final go ahead.
Following my note about Mr Gove on Sunday he was still on the airwaves yesterday, including PM. Just before the interview Eddie Mair referred to him as like a mole in a fairground game. You keep knocking the target down but everytime it just pops back up again.
Mongolia is an independent resource rich land locked country between China and Russia which I mentioned on 19th January 2014. Inner Mongolia is next to it and an autonomous region of China. Martin Patience has visited it for a segment of Today this morning. The advent of mining and therefore new workers means native Mongols only comprise 25% of the population. Naturally that produces mixed emotions. It is producing economic development but the old traditions are being lost. That issue of the pros and cons of immigration again.
The programme also had a interview to note that peace talks were due to start in Islabad between government negotiators and the Taliban. However I see from a BBC webpage that the officials didn’t turn up so the Taliban people went home again.
There was also a discussion on whether America’s war on drugs is changing now that Colorado and Washington State are legalising the purchase of marijuana for recreational use. Both participants agreed that any movement is going to be very slow. It is though, in my view, in the right direction.
Then I see that Nick Clegg is in Columbia today. He might have flown in via the States. The BBC webpage doesn’t say why he is there but it notes he called for a Royal Commission into our drugs’ policy in December 2012. He said we should change our focus on how to deal with the problem. It appears possible he is preparing the ground for the Lib Dems to have a distinctive policy on the subject in time for their election manifesto.
Prince Charles has been visiting the Somerset Levels today. I feel he went there because he wanted to. The comments I heard on the World at One were that local people greatly appreciated the support he was showing them. One lady said he is her favorite Royal, with the fact that he is a Libra making him particularly significant.
Last Tuesday’s FT records Justine Greening as saying the UK is going to make a fundamental shift to the way we spend foreign aid money. In future we will primarily support businees ventures in needy countries under the rationale that is the best way to help them use their own endeavours to grow to a better future. It will prevent the mind set of dependency on hand outs from rich societies which can otherwise occur.
5th February 2014
There is a wall of bad news about this morning. There has been a gas exposion in a residential street in Clacton injuring 10 people. London tube drivers are on a two day strike causing disruption to millions and the storms over the high tide have produced havoc in the west country overnight. In Kingsands the sea has broken windows of houses by the beach and strewn pebbles inside.
Journalists are not forgetting about the passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman. A cause of death has not yet been officially announced but four people have reportedly been arrested, I think in connection with the supply of illegal substances. The day before he died he visited a cash machine six times and withdrew $1,200.
Libya has confirmed the removal of all chemical weapons from it’s territory, a process which has taken 10 years. In Syria the deadline is 30th June 2014 and the timetable is slipping. A gentleman fron the inspection authority was saying on Today this morning that he still hopes to meet the date. However earlier Brigit Kendal suggested the worry is the Sryian government are deliberately dragging their heals to give themselves an under the counter negotiating edge in current discussions.
I have written before on the unease authorities feel about the popularity of electronic cigarettes, where you just inhale pure nicotine. A lady from the BMA on the programme said they are almost undoubedly less harmful for you than tobacco but addictive nonetheless. Because they are new no one yet knows what their long term effect may be. People who just want to make money will not care, I feel, one way or the other.
I learn from the newspaper review that Danny Alexander has told the Daily Mirror he will only allow his Conservative colleagues to reduce the top rate of income tax from 45p in the pound over his dead body. I saw Mr Alexander interviewed by Jeremy Paxman the other day. There seemed to be a steel in his charachter I hadn’t noticed before.
Also it seems The Telegraph muses whether the Old Testament is as old as it purports to be. Apparently some camel bones have been found in Israel which indicate the animal was only domesticated after the book describes it as such in it’s earlier writings. Before I lost my faith in Christianity however I would want to get the carbon dating and bones double checked.
An author was asked about her interpretation of research she has carried out into immigrant communities. Her conclusion is that there are three determining factors affecting an individual’s success. If they feel like outsiders that will make them strive to overcome. Should they have self belief determination will flow. Then self control and a thoughtful outlook stops them being led astray by the chatterers in life.
A subject for the transmission was modern day slavery, in relation to Gangmasters as defined by legislation. Tom Bateman interviewed a man from Hungary who was working in the building trade. He lived as a slave in a flat in Batley behind barred windows. On any outing, such as to work, he was accompanied by six or seven minders. If he ever demured they beat him up and threatened to kill him. That continued until he became a broken man. He often saw others out with minders obviously in the same position as he. However no one else out in the street seemed to notice.
An 83 year man man fell onto the track yesterday at Amersham underground station and was killed by a train. He was a former teacher at a preparatory school near Stoke Poges which Nick Clegg attended. Last year he was found guilty in court on indecency charges against children whilst he worked there. He had admitted one charge but denied ten others. He was due to be sentenced tomorrow. It was an item on the radio news at lunchtime.
The government has allowed it to be announced today that in the summer we started testing aircraft, in our drone project called Taranis, probably in the Australian desert. All went to plan. There is a picture of the machine on a BBC website.
The actor Nigel Havers was on PM this afternoon. He felt so strongly about Bob Crow’s leadership in the London tube strike he wanted to say something publicly. He points out that Mr Crow earns £145,000 a year, has just been on a beach holiday to Brazil yet lives in a council house. He is a reasonably well off man but appears to believe he is in a class fight standing up for the proletariat. It is contradictory. I also recall reading once that Mr Crow’s brother is a wealthy stockbroker.
I see last Wednesday’s FT indirectly comments on the role Parliament now plays in our national life. It notes that BBC executives were called to the Commons 17 times in the past year to explain faults in their decison making and leadership. That authority in our society is a relatively recent thing in my view.
The same column writes about the political settlement just made in Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring started, between Muslims and secularists. It’s analysis is that it was achieved because each side was prepared to make genuine concessions from sincerely held beliefs. If your opponents see you do that they are prepared to bend as well. It asks the EU to now provide meaningful support so that the beacon of hope in a troubled part of the world is not extinguished.
6th February 2014
William Roache was found not guilty of two counts of rape and four of indecent assault against five women at Preston Crown Court this morning. It was alleged the offences took place between 1965 and 1971 when all ladies were under 16. On the steps of the court Mr Roach said there are no winners in such situations, everyone loses. We should be kinder to ourselves. I see from Wikipedia that Mr Roache has been married twice. He is a strong Conservative party supporter. In February 2009 his second wife of over 30 years suddenly died at home without any illness beforehand.
On the personal say so of the President I would think the Department of Homeland Security has today warned airlines to watch out over the next few days for passengers who could try to smuggle bomb making substances onto flights heading for Sotchi in tubes of toothpaste. I imagine that is specific intelligence which has been passed up the chain of command but even so officials have used the phrase abundance of caution. I think it unlikely therefore that anything will come of it. If it does though Mr Obama will have done the right thing. I understand that British Airways and Easyjet are our airlines which fly to Russia.
Perhaps Mr Obama has upset the Gang by getting the balance right. I have read a BBC webpage today saying that an aide to President Putin has accused America of spending $20 million a week in supporting Ukraine opposition groups. I expect that is true. Apparantly a taped telephone conversation has also appeared on YouTube in which it appears the American Assistant Secretary of State is less than complimenatary towards the EU’s handling of the Ukranian situation.
Kevin Pietersen’s friend, Piers Morgan, was on Today this morning speaking from America. Kevin has just been sacked from the England cricket team following their dismal performance in Australia without, it seems, being given any explanation. Piers refers to him as a flamboyant maverick. Kevin is apparently our highest ever run scorer. Because he is mercurial is no justification for him to be made the scapegoat simply because things have gone wrong. Piers was robust and rude, as his way. However he did say it was, as always, a pleasure speaking to his interviewer, Mr Humprys.
The was pandemonium in the House of Commons yesterday during PMQs as reported on the programme. In one way it was childish but when you are under a lot of pressure it is sometimes necessary to let off a bit of steam. I suppose, as long as they don’t forget they are really all on the same side, it is just about okay.
Half an hour later a man was saying that schizophrenia costs us £11 billion a year, to the NHS I think. My understanding of the condition is that it is a breakdown in understanding between the thinking and emotional parts of your brain leading to confusion, delusions and paranoia. The piece in question was suggesting that often Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, being taught how to rationalise in a more constructive way, can work equally well with diagnosed schizophrenics as conventional drug treatment.
Although I have made notes for myself about this on my computer I do not wish to say publicly why I believe it. We are all entitled to a modicum of privacy. However it is my opinion that in one area we are onto a hiding to nothing from the Gang. That is their level of intelligence of what goes on, not only in the corridors of power but if necessary in the life of every ordinary citizen. They use procedures for that which are not available to any national intelligence agency. The state must always, quite rightly, be values based. Because they can keep such a tight rein on things through that process is the reason why their story has never previously got out. Their spread into literally every nook and cranny in society allows them always to fight back and head off danger. To give them their due they are a pretty formidable foe. The only ultimate protection for us in my view, looking at a population as a whole, is to have a sufficient number of individuals holding a decent set of standards which they use to conduct their lives.
There was a lady on the World at One yeterday suggesting that with allegations of rape the normal presumption of innocent until proven guilty almost seems to be reversed. It is the accusers, or victims, who are looked upon as inevitably innocent and guaranteed anonymity. Whereas the alleged perpetrators, or possible victims, not accused of normal criminal behaviour are named and treated harshly by our adversarial court process. Perhaps the scales would be balanced more if, once a jury had decided who had lied, dishonest witnesses were aware that cosenquences for them could follow. Knowingly lying in court is itself a crime.
This evening’s Channel 4 News reported on the Bill Roache trial. It showed a clip of him being interviewed by Piers Morgan on ITV in 2012. In it Mr Roache said he might have slept with over 1000 women. At one stage in his life sex was like a drug for him. I suspect that once the Gang heard that, Mr Roache became an accident waiting to happen. It is a very good example of how they think in my view. They look upon a conversation like that as a partial admission of guilt. When picked on the victim will lie down and roll over. Life for many of the troops is quite an uphill battle perhaps. They have some nasty, demanding masters. Mr Roache presents himself to them as a relatively easy target. So off they go. To persuade us he is a rapist should not be too difficult. This escapade though did not come off. There will be some deflated people around this evening I think plotting how they can get their revenge.
In the same programme the Russian Deputy Prime Minister was shown saying that, in preparing for Sochi, his security forces had worked in conjunction with western agencies. I am pleased about that.
Last Thursday’s FT says that Tesco and Waitrose have agreed with Transport for London to install click and collect shopping services at 12 of their tube stations. Discussions are continuing with Amazon.
The storms are coming in across the Atlantic, under a precisely moving jet stream, one after the other. There is no let up in sight. The Met Office say we have just had the second wettest two months since the eighteenth century. The most publicised incident has been the washing away of the main railway line from Exeter to Plymouth at Dawlish. Not only that but a large chunk out of the road behind it has gone right up to the front doors of the terraced houses on the other side. That is the only place I believe the sea wall has given way. It must have been weakened, in my view, for it to have happened like that.
7th February 2014
On the day of the opening ceremony for the winter Olympic Games David Cameron is making a speech at our 2012 summer Olympics site at Stratford about Scottish independence. He will be asking Scots not to walk away. He wants them to stay with us even if no one else does.
Unlike Dawlish which faces eastwards to Lyme Bay Porthleven near Helston is exposed to the full force of westerly storms rolling in from the Altantic. Mishal Husain co-presented Today from a cafe by the water front this morning. The town has an outer and inner harbour. During inclement weather the ten yard gap between is filled by two tonne moulded slatted tree trunks to protect the little boats on the leeward side. On Tuesday however the waves snapped two of those bulks asunder letting the full force of the storm in. All the owners could do was watch their craft sink in front of their eyes.
Although the Somerset Levels are below sea level they are well protected from that source of water. I don’t expect anyone though thought it could rain so much that they would flood in the way they have . Last night water levels rose by one metre reaching virtually all the homes in the small village of Moorland. In the early hours the resients were asked to leave. Livestock was taken out yesterday.
Lord Macdonald, the former Cabinet Secretary, was speaking to fellow parliamentarians on the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee yeserday as recorded for the programme. For someone of that position he comes over as a remarkably down to earth man. He also spoke as an outsider and, really, was quite stern with them. The membership of all the main parties is less than the RSPB. They need to get ordinary people interested in politics. He suggested it might be because many of us don’t have a vote which has any effect. That certainly applies where I live. We all know who will be elected here under first past the post well before election day.
Djibouti is a highly strategic small country in the Horn of Africa near such places as Yeman, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. Frank Gardner reported from near an American military base there for the broadcast. It is a centre for American special forces and used for training armies of the surrounding countries to fight terrorism. It also provides a runway to launch drone strike in the region.
Following my note of 26th January 2014 the civilian evacuation of Homs finally started today. The fact that it took so long shows how difficult things must be for both sides to speak to each other: at least it has happened. I hope it creates a modicum of confidence in an ability to get things done.
I realise it isn’t my first go at getting this right but last Friday’s FT succinctly records that it isn’t only the position of the jet stream, as I have previously stated, which is causing our current weather pattern. The other factor is the boundary of cold air from the artic over America meeting warm air from the tropics. That is where the atmospheric depressions are formed, by the cold pushing up into the warm. There it is collected by the upper conveyor belt.
It also states that in the last quarter of 2013 the American economy grew by 3.2%. That is sufficiently high to steadily reduce unemployment even taking account of new people coming into the workforce. It has finally broken out of the swamp of tentative inaction which had been holding things back.
Another piece notes that the present head of the NSA, in post since 2005, will be leaving the organisation next month. It implies that is a result of the Edward Snowden affair. The new head is currently a vice admiral in the US navy.
8th February 2014
There is a very detailed informative BBC webpage up about Woody Allen this morning. In 1980 he beame the partner of Mia Farrow. They had one biological child. Dylan was one of the two they adopted. In 1992 it became known that Mr Allen, then 56, was in a relationship with Ms Farrow’s 21 year old adopted daughter from a previous marriage. That year Mr Allen and Ms Farrow split up. He went on to marry the younger lady in 1997 and they are still together. A few months after the breach with Ms Farrow it was alleged Mr Allen had been in the habit of sexually assaulting Dylan when she was seven and younger. The accusation was investigated by medical and prosecution authorities but the matter was dropped in 1993. In July 2013 the film Blue Jasmine was released, written and directed by Mr Allen. It opened to critical acclaim and has received several industry awards and nominations. In October 2013 Dylan spoke to Vanity Fair and the 1992 allegations were restated. Last Sunday she authored an open letter in the New York Times to Mr Allen accusing him of having committed paedophilia against her. It seems Dylan is upset about the success of Mr Allen’s movie. That is very understandably I feel. Mr Allen has been given the right of reply in today’s New York Times. He repeats that he never touched Dylan in any inappropriate way.
I have read both letters. Mr Allen says he accepts that Dylan genuinely believes the accusations she makes against him. His conclusion is that she was persuaded into thinking it by Ms Farrow. I consider that is the wrong deduction. I believe Dylan’s upsetting memory came from somewhere else. I judge that because of incidents and observations happening in my own private life a couple of years ago now. It is a subject I wrote about on 14th June 2013 although the experiences in my own family were a little different. I would be happy to travel to America and privately inform Mr Allen what those details are. I hope he would find them helpful. My invitation also extends to Dylan. If she met with me I hope it would better help her to move forward in her life and give the best of love and attention to her own family. I shall send an email to the New York Times on Monday.
A train accident has happened today in the Fench alps near Nice. A two carriage local service was travelling in an isolated high altitude area when one was literally knocked off the track by a car sized rock rolling down the mountain side. If the coach had not remained coupled to it’s partner, and descended in freefall after the rock, I have little doubt loss of life would have been far worse. As it was two people were killed and at least nine injured.
Japan weather is in the news this afternoon. A severe snow storm is disrupting air, road and rail transport. Tokyo residents have been advised to stay indoors, the first time that has happened apparently for 13 years. The BBC webpage says that last year parts of northern Japan had a record breaking 18 foot of snow causing some buildings to collapse.
Mark Harper resigned yesterday evening as a Conservative immigation minister in the home office. His letter notifying the Prime Minister has been published. It has transpired that a cleaner of his private flat is an illegal immigrant. When he took her on in April 2007 she showed him a letter from the Home Office confirming she was legal of which he took a copy. That photocopy became lost. So he asked for another record earlier this week and took the precaution of having it verified. The relevant department told him, presumably, that it was a forgery. He has therefore done the right thing in view of his sensitive positon even though he has broken no laws.
Normally, quite correctly, we do not go around distrusting strangers. I suspect therefore Mr Harper was tipped off by MI5 to check the lady’s credentials.
This morning Mishal Husain had moved to the county town of Somerset, Taunton for the Today transmission. She was based outside the control centre set up by Somerset and Avon police for dealing with the flooding. The superintendent in charge said he was coordinating the activities of 13 agencies all with a specific task to do. Mishal also interviewed a a farmer who has lived by the river on the levels for 60 years. His property has been flooded for six weeks. He said that dredging of the waterways stopped, to assist wildlife and the environment no doubt, in the 1990s. Before that it was an annual job. Eveyone now agrees it was a mistake. Human beings are more important than animals. If clearance had continued his view is that 90% of today’s inundation would have been prevented. Even so he doesn’t want to play any form of blame game. He wants to look forward to better times.
The programme also mentioned the inquest this week of Corporal Anne Marie Ellement who hanged herself at Bulford Barracks near Salisbury in October 2011. She claimed she had been raped by two more senior male soldiers. No one took any interest however. Indeed her family say she was isolated and bullied by her colleagues. If I was asked to use two words to describe my recent life those are the ones I would use. I do believe I am fighting back though.
That information led into an interview with a former soldier who has worked in Iraq and Afghanistan. He claims he was bullied, not because he was a whistleblower saying uncomfortable things but just because he stutters and didn’t fit in with the lads. When you are on a battlefield dehumanisation must be a consequence. It can build up and unify a group I think to bully a perceived weak and vunerable individual. That is how it started with piggy in Lord of the Flies. The man on Today tried to commit suicide three times in his base and about eight times in all. He was forced out of the army and is now suing the Ministry of Defence for an employer’s lack of care towards him.
An academic interviewee said he had been told by fighting sources inside Syria that the first suicide bombing by a Briton has taken place there. He was of Pakistani origin and blew up a truck full of explosives outside the gates of Aleppo gaol. It allowed a jail break of about 300 prisoners.
Simon Kuper in last week’s FT Weekend Magazine was writing about our natural inclination to feel affectionate towards inaminate objects. That is certainly how I feel about my garden and the countryside. They can’t answer back. I expect many pet owners look upon it in much the same way. I think he argues though that when you have that warm feeling, against something simple and uncomplicated, it allows you to project those negative emotions we all have onto a group who will never be able to see things as you. The example he gives is immigrants. Their allegiances must be to a far off landscape so, for some who live here, it is difficult to see how they could be people you could ever trust.
It is not often you see gossip in the FT but in the Life and Arts section of the paper Tyler Brule passed some on. Sometimes it can be a very useful source of information. Tyler was writing about the advertising you see on private news channels and the like. One of his friends has told him that expensive campaigns by fininacial institutions often seem to coincide with recently graduated young people, related to board members of those businesses, joining a TV broadcaster. That is very much how I see the world of influence working. I would call it gang culture.
I was pleased to read a piece in the main section recording its federal president as saying Germany should become more assertive in the world. It is too easy in my view to cite the Second World War as an excuse for putting your hands behind your back with the challenges of today’s age. There is too much to be done for that. Apparently 45% of Germans think their army already goes abroad more than it should. In that case I feel their leaders should explain things to them a bit better.
I noted on 11th January 2014 that Jack Straw and parliamentary colleagues had visited Iran. In an interview with the FT for that edition he says we should re-establish diplomatic relations with the country.
A piece suggests America’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks with Asia-Pacific nations are faltering. The Senate Democratic leader has withdrawn his active support probably to assist his own domestic re-election chances in November. President Obama perhaps has no option but to accept that. It seems his stated pivot towards that region could have stalled.
The paper also informs me that a jihadist group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has emerged as being at the forefront of violence currently taking place in Egypt. They are based in the Sinai Peninsula and linked to the Syrian Isis grouping I mentioned on 16th January 2014. That same note also refers to the suitability of the Sinai for future terrorist camps.
9th February 2014
Although he was just about to give a speech in Manchester last week and therefore short of time Nick Clegg gave an interview for this morning’s Sunday. He and Kevin Bouquet spoke about immigration and faith schools.
The Danish Prime Minister since September 2011, Helle Thorhing-Schmidt, came to my attention after she took a mobile phone photograph selfie of herself, Barack Obama and David Cameron when they all found themselves by chance sitting together at Nelson Mandela’s celebration event in Johannesburg. I suspect that is the same for the Gang Master. Her lunch with the FT was published in yesterday’s paper. She comes over as a charming lady, yet with a tough edge who speaks her mind and who perhaps wishes to be in charge. She has been known to use the f*** word and declined her interviewer’s request to talk about her gender too much. She is married to the son of Glenys and Neil Kinnock who works in London during the week. He hopes to become an MP in south Wales.
Denmark is in the news this morning because Copenhagen Zoo is about to put down a young giraffe, not due to sickness but because it is not suitable for breeding. A wildlife park in Yorkshire and other places have offered to give it a good home. Then a few days after the FT lunch the country was plunged into a political crisis when it became known Goldman Sachs had invested $1.4 billion in it’s state owned energy company. That offended the values of a lot of Danish people and led to a reshuffle of the minority government. The piece says the financial crisis hit Denmark the worst of all Scandanavian counties. Several banks collapsed and household debt levels were the highest in the world.
I wrote about traffic from other countries visiting this website on 19th January 2014. It dealt with the situation to the previous day. By chance on the 19th itself there was a viewing from Macedonia, once part of Yugoslavia. A single look was also made from Serbia at the beginning of February 2013. Although it is probably unconnected there have been disturbances in Bosnia-Hercegovina over the last couple of days. Hundreds of people have been injured in the worst unrest for years. Since the country’s first elections in 1996 it’s leaders do not seem to have done the right thing by the citizens. About 40% of working people are unemployed. The security minister has called for an anti-corruption tsunami.
The BBC radio news this morning reported the chief scientist at the Met Office as saying the jet stream at this time of year should be taking the low pressure systems north of Scotland.
Yesterday Princes William and Harry went to Spain. Officially it was to go deer and wild boar hunting. However I suspect it had as much to do with giving their support to King Juan Carlos’ daughter, Princess Cristina, who has just appeared in court in Majorca answering questions in relation to accusations of fraud committed by she and her husband. The trip has created negative jourmalistic comment. Separately the Duke of Cambridge recorded a video in November with his father for international distribution calling for everyone to do their bit to protect endangered animal species and their environments. To highlight the issue the Royals will be participating in various wildlife conservation activities next week. Unlike Miriam Gonzalez whom I wrote about on 22nd January 2014 the Duke of course will always be constrained from putting a different public spin on such instances as his his Spanish trip.
Monday’s FT reports that 100 French companies were then due to visit Tehran on a get to know you mission. The Iranian consumer market is 80 million strong. German and Dutch delegations are due to follow.
For some hours over the weekend there were no train services in and out of the West Country. The main railway line at Bridgwater is still under water but trains are now running past the landslip near Crewkerne at reduced speed. Flybe has managed to free up an aircraft and from Wednesday will be doubling it’s service from Gatwick to Newquay from three to six flights a day.
This morning Today trailed a Panorama programme to be broadcast tonight on an extremely blatent flouting of our immigration rules. Many foreign students wish to stay here at the end their courses but have to show they can speak proficient Enlish first. Some employees of ETS, one of the biggest language testing firms in the world, and their accomplices have been offering to pass students irrespective of their ability. The fee for the service is £500, about three times the normal cost which might result in a failure. Some might look upon that as quite good value for money I suppose. The downside though for those who took the option is that they have exposed themselves to Gang blackmail threats for the rest of their lives. The Home Secretary was on Today. It was pointed out that the scam has only come to light through a television programme, not her officials. She accepted that and thanked Panorama for their work. She said she is introducing reforms to stop such things happening in the future.
That paragraph I think means I got the source on Saturday for Mark Harper’s suspicions of his cleaner, wrong. He knew the Panorama programme was coming up and thought he should make a few checks. I must try harder not necessarily to believe what I want to believe.
More rain is forcast for this week but even before that the Thames is in flood from Marlow to Staines and the Severn is at the top of Worcester’s flood defences. An earth barrage is currently being made to protect Bridgwater from flooding as it flows from the Somerset Levels through the town to the sea. With pressures like that people are beginig to fall out with each other. Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been out and about separately today trying to keep everyone calm and focused. It is an uphill task.
I have just watched the Panorama programme. It shows staff padlocking the entrance gate from the street to their building whilst exams took place. False sitters would have been on site to replace the students who should have been in the examination. That is very much how I see the Gang work around here. Those on the ground are told to make sure they are not unexpectedly caught red handed. Provided they do that those higher up the chain will protect them as best they can. Then the broadcast showed a false bank reference and statement being produced for a student here using stolen authentic paperwork for someone with exactly the same name living in India having an account at their third largest bank.
That trick has also been played on me. I had a man stay at a holiday flat I ran once whose name was identical to someone else I had had dealings with and of whom I had good reason to be suspicious. The man was a fearful Gang helper in my view. He had no idea why he had been asked to visit and was scared to death of me. I treated him as kindly as I could. The Gang just wanted me to know how omnipresent, and small minded, they are.
When I walked into my local supermarket on Saturday there were two people with dogs in the foyer collecting for charity. Two children were taking an interest in the dogs. On the other side on the glazed entrance doors was a man just standing there staring at them. As I walked past I looked at him, and then the group behind me, so that he knew I knew what he was up to. I expect that got the Gang a bit upset. No doubt they started chattering away to each other as is their way. When I left, a new store security man, whom I have seen once before, was standing there wearing a mobile phone earpiece keeping an eye on things.
Another programme I had on this evening was about Nick Clegg on Radio 4 with contributions from senior Lib Dems and other politicians. Bearing in mind a large part of it deals with the beginning of the coalition it has been a long time in the making. I suspect it was the personal decision of the Deputy Prime Minister to accept the BBC’s invitation now. Mr Clegg refers to the difficult time wives of top politicians have. It is often tricky for them to speak out when they see unfairness or bad behaviour much as they would like to. It doesn’t always stop them though.
50.3% of Swiss voters upset the apple cart yesterday when they voted in a referendum to restrict immigration from EU countries, a club that surrounds the country but of which it is not a member. European leaders were quick to point out the obvious. If you want to get on with your neighbours you do not cherry pick and rile them in that way.
11th February 2014
I read a BBC webpage yesterday, based on FoI requests, informing me that over the past five years the Hone Office has awarded £106 million to police services around the country in special grants. Money for example was given to Leicestershire and Dyfed-Powys police for investigating the disappearances of Madeline McCann and April Jones respectively. The journalists unexpectedly found however that nearly half the money was used for policing political party conferences. There is nothing essentially wrong with that of course, you don’t get demorcracy for free. However it would be nice, I feel, if our politicians did not look upon the information as some sort of guilty secret.
Another page this morning goes with a BBC One London regional programme to be broadcast this evening on the illegal watching of satellite TV channels such as offered by Sky. If you wish to be dishonest you will easily find a crook who will sell you a year’s viewing for £120 instead of the market rate of £960. No one will pretend to you that it is above board. You will never be prosecuted as you are a little minnow and the Gang of course are beavering around in the undergrowth doing what they can to protect the big players who offer the service to you. Apparantly in some parts of the country there are now more illegal viewers than honest ones. The author says that if the trends continue the TV companies will have to change their charging structure. In that case I suspect we would all have to carry the can for those who just seek to look after themselves.
When I looked again at my recent Gibralta holiday snaps I realised I had forgotten to write a note about a memorial stone of which I took a photo at Europa Point at the western end of the island. It commemorates the death of the London based Polish Prime Minister in exile, General Sikorski, in July 1943. He was a passenger in a Royal Air force plane taking off from Gibralta on the way back from visiting his troops in Africa. It crashed in the sea a few seconds after take off killing 16 of the 17 occupants. The plaque has two quotes from the time by Polish gentleman. The first by a poet says, ‘And when children forget that they lived in shelters, that the deeds they had witnessed were too base to forgive, let them remember just this thing about us, that we fell in battle so that freedom might live.’ The other by the President reads, ‘We want peace based on the force of law and not on the law of force, not only for ourselves but for the whole world.’
Over the weekend I heard a BBC radio report about a sacking at the 130,000 member strong Police Federation. It has by no means been widely reported however. These details are primarily from the Daily Mail. In 2007 the Federation built a new glass fronted £26 million headquarters in Leatherhead. Inside the building is a 55 room hotel, a swimming pool and 11 grace and favour apartments. Three months ago it employed a former senior Whitehall civil servant as Communications Director to improve it’s public image, no doubt after the plebgate affair. She is the lady who has just been let go. Her deputy has resigned in protest. She has gone public saying she asked difficult questions about bullying, inappropriate behaviour and attitudes. It seems some senior individuals are in the habit of charging the Federation four figure sums in expenses using the corporate credit card they are issued with. The Federation told The Mail they couldn’t comment for legal and professional reasons.
It is getting difficult. Mr Cameron has decided to come out fighting. He came back from the West Country today and at tea time held a press conference inside No 10 to make it plain he is in charge. There is no sign of any let up in the wet weather. He will therefore do whatever it takes to sort evything out. Money will be no object. It was a show of leadership.
He mentioned that he has cancelled a visit scheduled for next week to the Middle East when he would have met Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas. I feel that can only have been planned because their talks aren’t going anywhere. This afternoon I found a video clip of Mr Hague talking to the BBC’s Hardtalk last week also talking quite negatively about those talks. For a small country we really do try and pull above our weight.
At the time I was looking to see what the Foreign Secretary had said about the evacuation of Homs. He wrote an article in this morning’s Independent concerned that the Syrian regime might be thinking of taking away men and youths from the city and murdering them as happened in Srebrenica nearly 19 years ago. I think that is the right approach. You warn people you are watching them. The government say that 300 males have been held for screening. They assure us they will act responsibly.
I first heard the term Gold Command when Mr Cameron used it in Somerset the other day. Shaun Ley said on the World at One earlier that it is the emergency command stucture we put in place to coordinate all the various agencies in an emergency. It is usually headed by the police.
There was a lady on the programme from the Met Office saying that storms and the jet stream reinforce each other in the global scheme of things. She said it has been wet for some time over the Philippines and Indonesia which has beefed up the southern hemisphere jet stream which has then gone on to feed our high altitude winds. I am not sure that makes a lot of sense to me.
On Today this morning a discussion took place about the Lego Movie which has just opened abroad. It looks as though it is going to be very popular. I see it is about a perfectly ordinary little Lego man who is mistakenly identified as the most extraordinary person and the key to saving the world. I wonder where that storyline came from. No pressure there then, especially in view of the email I sent yesterday. At least it is funny I understand.
During the transmission Mishal Husain became frustrated when she was questioning Philip Hammond about the flooding which has affected his constituency as well as a much wider area. She asked for a one word reply. Mr Hammond said politicians do not do yes, no answers. I don’t understand why that is the case but nevertheless it is nice to know.
A pleasant assignment for Sima Kotecha I should think when she went to a brewery in Hartlepool. It was to highlight that in the North East the NHS spends more per head, in terms of A&E visits, drugs and hospital admissions, for alcholhol related health problems than anywhere else in the country.
Wednesday’s FT relates that, unusually perhaps for it’s region, Yemen does seem to be gradually moving forward. It is not through any democratic process but a 10 month long National Dialogue Conference which has just ended. Delegates from all political and social hues have managed to agree on a fragile plan for the future. It shows, in my view, there should be no pre-conceived ideas about what is right and wrong. You should not wish to impose your standards on others. It is a matter of who lives where and what suits them best.
12th February 2014
Statins are a group of cholesterol reducing drugs. I see the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence have recommended this morning that possibly the number of people cuurently prescribed them by their GPs should be doubled. It seems about seven million people take the tablets at the moment because they have a 20% chance of developing cardiovascular disease over a 10 year period. The idea is that risk factor should be reduced to 10%. I believe NICE’s view is based on research carried out by the pharmaceutical companies. I think that would be a retrograde step for two reasons. Firstly it encourages a drug depencency culture. Heart problems can be caused by all sorts of things. High cholesterol is solely a factor of what we eat. To suggest there is nothing wrong with eating unhealthily but then to take society’s drug to make it alright, seems to me to give all the wrong signals. It says there is no need to control your own actions, others are looking after you. It makes you irresponsible. Secondly we all know from product recalls that mistakes are made in food and non-food manufacturing. This morning it is Toyota having to change computer software on 1.9 million of it’s cars. The Gang, I am afraid, are everywhere in our global societies. With influence like that it is not difficult to target individuals they find troublesome, in my view, by steering defective medicine their way. The necessity there though of course is that they must be taking medicine in the first place.
I have just heard a quote on the World at One. Apparantly Stalin said one death is a tradegy, the death of millions is a statistic. Once you become traumatised you do tend to lose your capacity to feel.
A BBC webpage was published yesterday about a new kind of Denial of Service computer attack. Computer servers globally all have to be at exactly the same time and they do that by connecting to special Network Time Protocal servers. In an attack this week those NTP machines were fooled into thinking lots of requests were all coming from one server. In that situation when they send back their data to it it buckles under the sudden influx of traffic and goes down. The subject of the attack, somewhere in Europe, isn’t known apparently. However the computer expert who picked it up has tweeted it could be the start of ugly things to come.
Norman Baker spoke about legal highs on Today this morning when I noticed he was called the Drugs Minister. He referred to the substances as mimicking illegal drugs but specifically being made so as to be just within the law. In some ways, for example because people think they are harmless, they are more dangerous than the real thing.
There is a wildlife crisis conference taking place at London Zoo at the moment attended by the Prince Charles and Prince William. Apparently illegal poaching around the world nets £12 billion annually. To coincide with that interest Channel 4 News had a piece about the killing of wildlife this evening, often by poisoning and allegedly by gamekeepers, in the Scottish Highlands where both men shoot. In the three years to 2011 91 birds of prey were found poisoned there. From a BBC webpage written in March last year however I see the problem is getting better. The Scottish government have introduced legislation to make landowners also liable for unlawful culling carried out by their staff.
I heard it mentioned on the radio this morning that as much rain will fall this week as we would normally see in the whole of February. The programme said that at the moment apparently 100,000 people are without electicity. I have read that 1000 homes along the River Thames have had to be evacuated.
Last Thursday’s FT says that on his recent trip Nick Clegg not only travelled to Columbia, but Mexico as well on a trade mission. He gave an interview to the paper whilst there. William Hague is to visit Columbia before the end of the month. The UK is it’s second largest overseas investor.
The paper notes that hardliners in Iran appear to be trying to fight back against President Rouhani’s liberal reforms. State television had just blocked one of his live addresses to the nation by an hour before allowing it to be broadcast. It is thought the Supreme Ruler has curbed zealots in the Revolutionary Guard, parliament and the judiciary to support Mr Rouhani.
I wrote about the killing of five prostitutes around Ipswich in 2006 in chapter 6 of my book. Although no accomplices were ever charged it seems highly unlikley the convicted man could have moved the bodies to their found locations on his own. Fortunately for justice the three men who helped Joanna Dennehy before and after she tried to kill five men, three successfully, have been brought to book. I watched her sister say on BBC TV news tonight that once she was a lovely person. Then she turned into a monster. Once that has happened to a person I am afraid the Gang are attracted to them like a little bear to honey. It is highly likely they encouraged her, probably in the most horrible manner, to violently hate men without her even realising it was happening. One of her three assistants found her the two victims she did not kill, one hid her and all helped to dispose of the bodies. None of the three will tell you why they acted as they did, I am sure. They too would be dead if they did.
13th February 2014
In last weekend’s FT Magazine Gary Silverman wrote an article about a $30 million finanical fraud case based in the city of Bakersfield, population 350,000, in California. It centred around two people, an older accommodating man and a younger get ahead type who liked money and the things that go with it. They ran a real estate business and cordinated a lot of crooks involved with buying properties using fraudulent mortgage applications. At the time, in the years before the crash, the banks would give 100% loans to anyone who could sign their name. And when the New York bankers visited to include the mortgages in their securitisation products they too thought it didn’t really matter whether the loans could be repaid or not. The house price bubble made it a gravy train for everyone. No one thought they could lose.
An analysis page in the paper records that heroin users in the USA nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012. Although numbers are still small, at under 700,000 the trend is definite. In Mieneapolis/St Paul deaths from the drug nearly tripled in the two years to 2011. With the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman it seems often dealers mix heroin with powerful legal painkillers making the effect on you much more unpredictable. The paper has ascertained that today’s users are often middle class and typically started off on prescription painkillers. They migrate to the illegal drug because it is often cheaper and easier to buy that the legitimate alternative. A tale of our times.
The editorial there asked, pretty optimistically I thought, for the three main party leaders to tell Scottish voters they would be better off with the rest of the UK. However it seems as if the next best thing has happened. This morning I see George Osborne is in Edinburgh to say Scotland cannot keep the pound if it votes yes in it’s referendum. He is being publicly suppoerted by Danny Alexander for the Lib Dems and Ed Balls for Labour.
As an Avaaz member I received an email from Russell Brand yesterday asking me to support a No 10 e-petition which I did. It has been created by Caroline Lucas MP and asks the government to commission an independent impact assessment on effects of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, within the next 12 months. The petition closes on Saturday and when I added my signature did not have many more than 50,000 votes. In needs over 100,000 for a chance of being debated in Parliament. I didn’t think it would get there. I have just looked again and the number is 100,274. Well done everyone.
14th February 2014
After deliberating for some 20 hours the jury of eight women and four men decided yesterday afternoon, by majority verdicts I think, that Dave Lee Travis was not guilty of 12 of the counts against him. The Crown Presuction Service will now look to see if they wish a retrial on the two allegations the jury could not settle. Outside the court, accompanied by his wife I think, Mr Travis said he had been tried twice, once by the court and once by the media. He prefers the court process. For me this morning’s papers have reinforced that view. They are calling for the head of the CPS chief for not being successful in court. I imagine they must prefer lynch mobs.
In one of their Cobra meetings yesterday Mr Cameron and his colleagues discussed the letter bombs which have started to be received in about five armed forces recruitment offices in the south east this week. The devices have been called basic but viable. Non have gone off. Investigators believe there is a Northern Ireland connection. It is the first time anything similar has happened since the 1990’s.
I wrote about the Syrian suicide bomber from Crawley last Saturday. The man on Today at the time said he had found out from the contacts he has for research purposes with people within the man’s group. I would like to think that British intelligence agents were involved with the man finding out. If they weren’t, in my view they should have been. At any rate with his information being out in the public domain, and not a matter of secrecy, the police have visited the man’s house looking for evidence and have held meetings with local residents to reassure them. The leaders of the man’s Mosque are thinking about what they can do to stop others like him becoming radicalised. In the same vein it was reported yesterday that a man from Didsbury has been killed in fighting in Syria. That apparently came out via socia media. Counter terrorism police are looking into the situation.
Everybody, comprising delegates from 46 counties and 11 UN organisations, moved from London Zoo to Clarence House yesterday to sign The London Declaration against the illegal trade in wildlife. William Hague spoke and Prince Harry was there. In his speech Prince Charles clearly put the problem at the door of Organised Crime. He said we should protect wildlife from their network as we do for trafficked people, and move forward in the same way as we do when investigating the trade in drugs and weapons. You follow the money and get the men at the top.
I had a middle aged lady touch me up in a supermarket queue away from home today. She simply stood too close to me as she put her groceries on the check out conveyor belt. I did not react in any way. After I had walked through I watched her from the bagging area. Eventually she glanced at me once to see if I was taking an interest in her. When she saw me looking I expect she thought I was a Gang member who had just tested her efficacy and standard of compliance with instructions.
There was a piece on yesterday’s Today progamme about people who come to the UK seeking aslyum but who may well be war criminals or terrorists in their country of origin. When their application is refused we cannot deport them back if, under the European Convention on Human Rights, the rule of law for them at home is not strong enough to prevent them possibly being tortured or otherwise illegally persecuted. So here they stay in a state of legal limbo. It seems 49 people are currently with us in that category.
One way of interpreting that difficulty I feel would be to say there is a clash of cultures. International law is ultimately how the world’s citizens see things. Another example of a culture clash on the edition was a row between America and Afghanistan. As part of their pull out America have handed over 3,000 prisoners they held without charge at the Bagram air base. The Afghanis have prosecuted some and released others. However the Americans are apparently particularly upset at the moment about 65 men who are just about to be let go which they don’t think should be.
On this morning’s edition the president of the International Olympic Committee could be heard complaining that politicians use athletes for their own ends. I am sure he is right but I think you have to be realistic. It seems he is unhappy David Cameron has not shown his support by going to Sochi. We have responded that Justine Greening, Secretary of State for International Development, went to the opening ceremony. I have reason to believe President Putin came here at the time of the London Olympics in 2012 for non sporting reasons. However I am pleased he took the trouble to do so. You cannot separate politics from life.
Yesterday in Parliament listened to a debate about the Police Federation which I wrote about on Tuesday. Keith Vaz announced that the Home Affairs Select Committee will be conducting it’s own investigation into the body. In relation to the plebgate affair Jacob Rees-Mogg said the federation conspired, lied and leaked to remove a Cabinet Minister from office. That he suggested is what happens in some third world countries where corrupt law enforcement agencies ensure they have the type of government they want rather than what the people would like.
Immediately after that was a lady saying how she had mended the cracked screen on her Ipad, for which she had got very expensive quotes, herself with help from the Restart Project. I know someone in a very similar position. I shall pass the information on.
During that broadcast we were waiting for the most horrible storm to come through. The team, as always, were resolutely upbeat and cheerful. They are there in a little studio all on their own with technical difficulties coming at them from all sides. But they have an audience of millions. To project a demeanour like that must make a massive difference to everyone listening.
After my note about sinkholes in Florida of 3rd February 2014, on Tuesday one appeared in the central reservation of the M2 between Faversham and Sittingbourne. Both carriageways were still shut the next day. I heard a BBC reporter explain that probably something had dissolved the underlying rock without any sign on the surface. That skin could then break at any time. Or I suppose something heavy could be dropped on it when the road was quiet. This evening a BBC webpage reports a similar hole has appeared near the sports hall of a school in Gillingham. Then last night a wall on another property collapsed which was supporting the disused Theatre Royal in Chatham. Nearby premises have been cordoned off in case of further falls.
15th February 2014
Today reported this morning, I feel, that the leadership of the Church of England wish to maintain a secure grip of their clegy, so they know exactly where they stand, during a period of delicate transition. Same sex weddings start at the end of next month but the Church itself will not be conducting any ceremonies. Clergy are being told that, although the Church has no objection to them having celibate partners of their own sex, they should not become married under the new arrangements.
The second round of the Syrian peace talks in Geneva have ended today with only the Homs evacuation to show and no date set for another meeting. A member of the opposition spoke on the transmission. As I understand it the government want to talk about combating terrorism. His side is interested in moving towards a transitional administration. I am a little perplexed that the two camps have decided to walk away from those subjects. I would have thought it clear that the main opposition have Jihadists on their flanks who they would like to see go. That is a common purpose with the government. Equally Mr Assad has made a commitment to put himself forward for election to his people. There is much to be talked about in that context to get rebel representation in the process. You really do get the feeling people are not trying as hard as they should.
The eastern United States has been in the clasp of another snow storm. Up to 1.2 million households have been without electricity and the Great Lakes have become completely frozen for the first time in 20 years.
Meanwhile Barack Obama has been to California to offer his support during their worst drought for over a century and announce an aid package worth $180 million. Whilst there he has met Jordon’s King Abdullah at the Sunnyland resort, where he saw the Chinese president Xi Jinping last summer, to talk about the present situation in the Middle East.
In 1974 there was a Greek coup d’etat in Cyprus followed by an invasion by the Turkish army a few days later. The island has been divided between the two countries ever since. Tuesday’s FT reports that after several months of quiet diplomacy by the Americans another push for a permanent peace is about to be made. The gas fields which have been discovered in the sea between Cyprus and Israel are a major factor I think. This time a majority of Greek politicians on the island are in favour of a federal settlement. If an accommodation can be found it would allow Turkey to build a pipeline under the sea to buy gas from Israel and channel it through to the European market.
The BBC takes over the funding of it’s World Service, which is listened to by 182 million people every week, from the Foreign Office in April. The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee says is it worried it’s current funding level of £245 nillion a year is not secure. It feels the future of the service should not be solely dependent on the goodwill of those at the top of the BBC.
It seems John Boehner has decided the time has come to stand up to the hardliners in his Republican party. I think his logic is good. A moderate party is likely to get more support from middle voters at the mid term elections. That paper notes he had decided to put his weight behind allowing an increase in US state borrowing in the House of Representatives to prevent an impending credit default. Even so only 28 of his side voted with him but the measure passed with the help of Democrats.
The editorial visits the out of court settlement reached between JPMorgan and the US attorney general last November. For it’s admitted wrongdoings leading up to the financial crash the firm paid a fine of $13 billion. That sum means it’s misdeeds must have been pretty awful but the fact is we do not know what they were so cannot work out whether the outcome was reasonable or not. Justice should be transparent not closed. It is like the secret American intelligence courts all over again.
Thursday’s edition relates a report from Nigeria’s Central Bank alleging that it’s National Petroleum Company has been passing $1 billion less to the state accounts a month than the sum it receives from crude oil sales. That would be corruption on a grand scale.
An in depth article there suggests that Jabhat al-Nusra is gaining ground all the time in Syria. Uniquely among opposition groups it uses western sytle political tactics to attract and maintain the support of ordinary people. Then it combines that with some extremely brutal habits.
For several days the FT had been writing about Italy and in Friday’s paper the conclusion was reached. Enrico Letta the head of the country’s miniority led coalition government since last April, resigned. He had been ousted by the young mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi. The new man will now have to face a vote of confidence in parliament.
Philip Stephens writes there about our secret agencies, the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and MI5 the Security Service. He concludes that they contain more goodies than baddies. Apparently MI6 makes about 10 applications a week to the Foreign Secretary for approval of specific undercover operations.
In chapter five of my book I go through in some detail my activities with Gang in June 2007, trying to connect those with outside events. I believe I can now understand how worried the Gang Master must have been getting over that period. In many ways he is quite an impotent individual and he knew he was going to be tested. I was really getting the bit between my teeth. Something which completely passed me by though was the possible relevance of the 2007 summer floods as I heard them called this morning by a farmer on Farming Today This Week. I would never have dreamt in a month of Sundays at the time that climatic events could be relevant. However looking at Wikipedia I see Britain was at it’s wettest between May and July 2007 since records began. The rescue of trapped people was the biggest operation by civil and military authorities in our peacetime history. Some areas in June received a month’s rainfall in 24 hours, a pattern we have witnessed again this week. The peak of the deluge was on 20th July when 4.7 inches of rain fell on southern England.
16th February 2014
I am away at the moment staying in a small community north of Aylesbury. Early this Sunday morning I had full reception on my BT networked mobile phone. Yesterday afternoon the signal was so poor it took me three attempts to get off a text.
Possibly you can see a strategy developing. There is no point sticking your head in the sand about our troubles. You get the information out to the public but in an acceptable form. You try not to fighten them and provide a positive way of dealing with it.
In that context perhaps the Security Minister at the Home Office, James Brokenshire, will be on the World this Weekend later. He has also given an interview to the Sunday Times. He says we are going to have a problem with hardened young men coming back from fighting in Syria. It is something the security services are naturally worried about. And we can all do something to help. We keep our ears and eyes open. If we hear extremist inflammatory views we pass those on. That is what Police Community Support Officers are for.
Then on a visit to Purley on Thames Ed Miliband has said we would be silly not to think we are likely to have more flooding in the future. Whether that is down to global warming or not is perhaps besides the point. The last couple of years have shown us it is happening. We need to take sensible cost effective precautions.
Following my note yesterday the Bishop of Sheffield was on Sunday this morning explaining his church’s position on the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act which becomes operational on 29th March. The Church follow Jesus’ teachings that marriage should be between a man and a woman. However they are a liberal lot and recognise that is not always possible in the real world. For their own clergy though they will do their level best to persuade them to set a good example in the image of God.
17th February 2014
On my return home I have found out that two 30 foot high fir trees in the garden of the neighbouring property blew down in the high winds overnight last Friday. Both point northward. The top 10 foot of one reached and blocked the road which the council have dealt with. Then half a mile away on one of the two lanes out of my area another big tree was down which had obviously cut off the highway for a time. That one fell due east. I can’t quite make sense of how the wind changed direction over such a short distance.
On my trip I was told in a social conversation that Aylesbury has an influential Italian community. During the Second World War the Hartwell Dog Track prisoner of war camp was built just outside the town. It housed Italian prisoners between 1942 and 1946. After the war some of those men stayed setting up their own cafe or ice cream businesses and marrying local girls. Haddenham is seven miles from Aylesbury and the village website informs me that a civilian airport opened there just weeks before hostilities were declared. During the war it was used by the military, for some of the time by the No1 Glider Training School.
Negretti and Zambra are instrument makers founded in 1850 in Leather Lane, London. Mr Negretti was born in Italy and Mr Zambra into an Anglo-Italian family from Saffron Walden. In 1964 they opened a factory in Aylesbury. One of the town’s housing estates is associated with them. Askeys, who make ice cream wafer products, is an Aylesbury company and was started in 1910 by Italian immigrant Laurens Tedeschi.
This morning an Ethiopian Airlines plane was flying from Addis Ababa to Rome. During the flight the pilot went to the toilet. The co-pilot locked the cockpit door and told air traffic control that he had hijacked the aircraft. He asked to refuel at Geneva which was granted. When there he used an emergency rope ladder to climb out onto the tarmac. He has asked for political asylum. I heard Frank Gardner say on The World at One that it was a pretty bizzare episode. The man could be sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Switzerland. His alternative was to land at Rome as expected and then he could have gone wherever he liked.
Following my note of 22nd January 2014 it was announced last week that a man, currently in jail for other offences I think, has been charged with the murder of Claire Tiltman in 1993.
Over the weekend Alex Salmond wrote to David Cameron accusing coalition minsters of bullying behaviour against the spirit and letter of the October 2012 agreement for a referendum on Scottish independence. The hot issue at the moment is whether a go it alone Scotland would be able to use the pound. Mr Cameron has said today that Mr Salmond is a man without a plan should his wish to retain sterling not prove feasible.
After my note on Saturday Matteo Renzi has today been asked by the Italian president to form a new government. I see Mr Renzi’s position comes solely from Florence, he has not been elected to parliament at all. I think that will be like a member of the House of Lords being our PM.
In March 2013 the United Nations Human Rights Council asked a panel of experts to produce a report on North Korea. It has come out today. Their approach was to interview individual victims of atrocities committed by the regime and who had escaped. Their stories were all remarkably consistent apparently. The committee says it is clear crimes against humanity have been taking place and are continuing. No one in power can now say they did not realise what is going on. I think we all understand it is China who holds the key for a solution. They are not going to do the right thing overnight. Hopefully one day they will.
18th February 2014
A couple of week ago I noticed that the steering wheel on my car was juddering in my hands as I drove. When I looked I saw that the balancing weights on the front tyres had gone as well as the plastic ties I was using to hold the hub caps on. I will get it fixed next time I go to the garage. Driving down to Gatwick this morning I passed three motorway signs, one on the M25 and two on the M23, which had the same message. It said Think Tyre, Save Lives.
I walked into the airport. On the path I was approached from the front by a running man. He made a noise as he passed and gave me a thumbs up sign. I think that was good of him. The man sitting behind me on the plane appeared a bit more uptight. As we walked off he seemed almost to run away from me. There was no need. I wasn’t intending to say anything to him. It as just when I first noticed him I was not sure if he was friend or foe.
I am staying in a hotel on the edge of St Peter Port. I was out of my room for a short time when the power failed at about 6.30pm. The light was working fine but the electric points were dead. When I asked at reception I was told a similar local power failure last happened about eighteen months ago. The electricity supply is three phase. Two of those were working and one not meaning some electricity was getting though but not all. I have never witnessed such a thing happening before. When I got back at 8pm no electricty was connected to my room at all. Full power was restored at 10.30pm. At that point I tried to boil the kettle. It did not work. The one thing I know now not to do in a situation like that is jump to a quick conclusion. You act in a calm, rational way. I tried a plug I knew was working. No luck. I fiddled around with the wires. Success. It had a lose connection in the plug. And that no doubt was arranged while I was out having my evening meal.
Guernsey was occupied by the Germans between June 1940 and May 1945. From some memorial plaques down by the harbour I know that just before they arrived four fifths of children were evacuated to England and in total the population halved. The Germans took 1003 men, women and children to internment camps in Germany and France. 21 of them died including five Jews who were exterminated at Auschwitz.
I booked and paid for my hire car with Argus Car Hire, an Irish company, online before I left. I went for an economy saloon with minimum insurance. My booking confirmation has Europcar on it and my vehicle belongs to Hertz. As I said to the mature lady at the Europcar airport desk that is all pretty incestuous. True competition cannot be taking place. When I walked up to the desk she showed me a card on the counter with the insurance levels and asked me which I wanted. I said it should be what I booked online. She added the lowest charge on the card for collision damage waiver insurance only, increasing my cost by 35%. She asked me to authorise payment for that and the petrol in the tank on my credit card which I did. As she was doing the paperwork I looked at my booking confirmation. It specifically said I would have no more to pay, although when I went though the small print it confirmed I would be charged extra for fuel. I pointed out the discrepancancy to her. She took the sheet from me and looked through it. We agreed it was the fault of Argus Hire and I should take the matter up with them. Nowadays I try to present myself to strangers as a low key affable individual. It was only when she realised, I feel, that I intended to take it further did she say the collision damage waiver element was voluntary. She referred to a misunderstanding between us. She asked for my credit card back so she could refund me.
She was just an ordinary lady. At no time was she uncomfortable or appeared to think she was doing anything wrong. She was trained to charge the maximum insurance she could, it was as simple as that.
19th February 2014
One of my first visits this morning was to the Fort George military cemetery. I very nearlt didn’t find it. Besides a small mark on a tourist map the only thing that directed me was a small granite stone by the road which I guess has been there for over 60 years. I think that is a shame. It is interesting if only because it probably contains more German graves than British. It is also in a lovely wooded valley overlooking the sea. There is a suitable path from the south which could be upgraded to avoid the nearby houses and room for a car park in a field by the road. I feel it would be a beneficial tourist attraction for the island. The fort itself I see was sold by the Sates of Guernsey in 1967 and then developed privately for high class residences.
The cemetery was also my first instance of crowding for the day. An eastern European family group of five drove up through the estate in their car. They got out and looked over the wall at me below. They had no idea why they had been asked to go. I think they were looking for a sign that I was associated with their Gang. I turned round, stood and stared at them. The man of my age was thinking I feel of acting back aggressively. He walked over to the entrance gate but decided against coming in. Unexpectedly though the two toddlers followed him and started running down the ramp to where I was. Worried faces all round. They were soon called back. Then shortly after I passed a lady out walking her dog, from one of the expensive houses no doubt. From her physical appearnace my guess is she takes drugs. The reason for her favour I expect was her worry that her supply would be interrupted if she did not.
My experiences today reinforced my impression received yesterday afternoon, that my crowding here revolves around my hire car. Hertz of course are perfectly entitled to have a GPS tracker on it, it is their car. If you asked them I expect they would say they don’t want it to get lost. I did get the feeling though that my companions had never come across someone like me before. They all seemed to be looking for signs of friendship. Indeed I would hazard a guess that I am a new experience for their Gang director too. I am a unique job for him and he hasn’t been told of my significance either. I think the Gang Master might have slipped up there. That is where obsessive secrecy can lead to I am afraid. I can’t imagine he would really have wanted me to write everything down about the power cut last night.
French police announced yesterday that they have arrested a suspect and an associate of his in connection with the Annecy killings. They have made it clear the only evidence they have at the moment is the similarity the man has to the artist’s image prepared from a witness’ sighting. My guess is they are hoping to give someone the confidence to come forward and divulge what they know.
I have just watched the BBC TV news about that former policeman and military reservist. There is a lot of potentially incriminating background against the gentleman. Good policework could get them somewhere. If he is guilty and they find out why he did it, the motive in my view will then move them up to a higher level.
The evening news here reports that the two week strike by French crewmen of Condor Ferries has been settled. From that I know the company is based in Guernsey not the larger Jersey. I have also noted the two Channel Island airlines Aurigny and Blue Islands both have their headquarters here. There must be a reason for that although I do not know what it is.
There has been a lot going on in Kiev over the last 24 hours. After unproductive talks between the government and opposition, pitched battles broke out around Independence Square overnight. 26 people died including 14 protesters, 10 police officers and one journalist. I have heard it alleged that all president Yanukovych thinks about is money and power. The Russians are still backing him and the west is upping the rhetoric. The head of the armed forces has been sacked. President Obama has warned of consequences if Ukraine continues to repress it’s citizens. French, German and Polish foreign ministers have gone to Kiev this evening. Mr Yanukovych says he is currently at truce with the demonstrators. The EU will be discussing the situation tomorrow.
There was a lady on Today yesterday talking about her travails with her insurance company, loss adjusters, builders and restorers after her home was flooded in Surrey over Christmas. The day the last category of men came she was out at work. When she got home they had not restored anything, nor differentiated between good or bad. They had just put everything out on the lawn and, as it was raining, all was ruined. They had inexplicably cut her good carpet. They just did not care. That stikes me as very similar to what happened at Stafford Hospital. When you are put upon by horrible people most of us lose our capacity to show kindness to others. Indeed we seem to turn on those who most need our help the most.
Danny Shaw was reporting about changes currently going though the probation system. The principle that the government wants to introduce to stop former prisoners reoffending, is payments by results. Salaried probation officer are disallusioned by the process. They have never worked like that before. A third are leaving and over 500 have appealed against the posts they have been allocated in the new system. Currently private and charitable groups are tendering for 30 contracts to mentor prisoners when they leave gaol from their first day of freedom. The only precedent so far is a scheme at Peterbrough starting in September 2010 where the advisers are former prisoners themselves. That has been successful although it is not a payments by results operation.
The chief financial officer of Sainsbury’s was on the programme calling for changes to the business rates system. It is a subject I know something about and in my view has often been used as a political football. It seemed to me the gentlman himself was approaching it that way. If he thinks the property tax is too high that could be sorted by reducing the rate charged. Nevertheless I suspect the government would be interested in being presented with some thoughtful, well researched alternatives. They have already postponed the 2015 revaluation with no plan B in sight.
I wrote about my experiences with a dog on 28th January 2014. Today visited our interactions with animals twice this morning. Firstly in connection with a pet husky dog which killed a six day old baby in their home in south Wales yesterday. A lady from the Kennel Club said that breed is not aggresive in any way. However any large dog has the capacity to play with a small moving object if they are left alone in a room on their own. Then mention was also made of swans. New York’s environmental conservation department want to start culling them on the basis they are a dangerous invasive species. Apparently they are carrying out a public consultation exercise. They need to make sure that is real in my opinion; that the true wishes of the majority of people are complied with.
Mishal Husain started with Today last September and this morning she was conducting the 8.10 interview with our former British embassador in Kiev. I thought she showed a bit of impatience that the answers coming back meant the line of her questioning was not going in the direction she wanted. I was pleased about that. She is developing her own style. It must be extremely frustrating being a broadcast journalist. You can’t force people to answer your questions if they don’t want to. But in my view there is nothing wrong, in the right circumstances, with using a bit of emotional pressure to chivy your interviewee along. They then know they can’t pull the wool over your eyes.
Before that NHS England’s national director for patients and information was on the edition talking about the delay in implementing their data sharing scheme of patients’ records. He was a man, in my view, completely on top of his game. In the few minutes available to him he brushed away the cobwebs which could have been clouding pereceptions. There is no possibilty of the programme not going ahead. It is too important for that. It is a question of working out how best to consult with the public so that every interested person knows what it is all about. We will not have to participate if we don’t want to. However he will make sure we will be aware of all the ins and outs before we decide.
20th February 2014
It is quite interesting how we move on. I recall when social media, free to the user, first started how we all scratched our heads how anybody would make money out of it. Clever people always seem to find solutions though. Today it is announced that Facebook are paying $19 billion for WatsApp, a free messaging servive you download onto your mobile device. Apparently 450 million people use it every month. It has 50 employees and it’s only income stream so far is the voluntary $1 a year it charges subscribers. No one has batted an eyelid. Facebook it seems will be able to get a return on their investment through advertising revenues.
On his way to a G20 meeting in Australia this weeking George Osborne has chosen to speak in Hong Kong about our economic recovery. He says it is not yet durable nor balanced. We must not rely on consumers and certainly not city slickers. The engine growth should come from manufacturing investment and exports. I am sure he is right.
A webpage written by Peter Horrocks, head of BBC Global News, was one of the corporations 10 most popular this morning. He says that the World Service, with it’s other broadcast and website news is seen or heard by 256 million people a week. One in 28 people in the world take information from the BBC. That of course is all about trust. It must never be betrayed.
Mr Horrocks mentions Brazil, Russia, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Bangledesh as countries where the BBC works. In my view the audience figures should provide a big confidence boost for this country.
Yesterday I visited the church at St Pierre du Bois. From a written message to the congegation I know that relations have broken down between church leaders in the Channel Islands and their bishop in Winchester. The Archbishop of Canterbury intervened last month and transferred responsibility for their stewardship, on an interim basis, to the diocese of Dover. Discussions will now take place to see if differences can be resolved.
Two girls, in their late teens or early twenties, serve breakfast at my hotel. Yesterday I thought they were quite uptight. Nothing was said but they were fussing about with the beverage table all the time. I expect they were worried one of us guests would have a go at them about the power cut the previous evening. This morning they were back to a normal routine. They probably felt bored. If you are under continuous pressure, with funny things going on all the time in a hospital ward for example, it must make a massive difference to the way you relate to the outside world.
I had four Gang single helpers around me on the plane coming back this afternoon, one man and three women. I don’t think the ladies enjoyed it very much. when I stood up during the flight to get something out of the luggage locker they all had their eyes shut. The fiftyish chap with the open necked shirt and brown suit sat on the other side of the aisle. After a bit he started facing me by using his laptop on the pull down table of the outer seat. I then faced him as I read my magazine. To be honest he wasn’t too bad either.
Hazel Blears, MP for Salford and Eccles, has told her constituency party today that she will not be standing for re-election at the next election. She wants to spend more time with her family especially her mother who has dementia.
Surprisingly to me I am wring about dogs again. This time it is because the BBC have discovered that 150 attacks by police dogs on innocent people have been reported in the last three years. £120,000 has been paid in compensation. 48 police organisations around the UK were asked for data for the report. Three refused and three said they did not store such details.
The judge in the Bernie Ecclestone hearing I wrote about on 15th December 2013 has read his decision today. He has found him not gulity on the basis that he did not influence the share sale price in any way. However the judge has referred to the transaction as corrupt. I have listened to an insert on a BBC webpage of Mr Ecclstone commenting on the outcome. It makes interesting hearing in my view. I think Mr Ecclestone feels he has done nothing wrong. He lives in a murky world and does what is needed to get things done. It is important to him though that he does not lie and is reliable. I think he would also agree that his business decisions are made after consultation with his advisers.
More people have been dying on the streets of Kiev today from gunfire. It is not acceptable especially in a country on the European continent. The government are in charge, it is their job to stop it. If they won’t take that responsibility then their backer must. I understand Mr Putin has spoken to Mrs Merkel and Mr Cameron today. Something needs to be done.
I have just seen a shaded map on the BBC TV evening news showing the amount of rain we have had recently. It is remarkable how the greatest amount of rain has fallen directly over the Thames valley and Kent. I have noticed a similar concentration before on the Welsh coast. I do not believe the incidence is coincidental.
Apparently the Department of Health has previously said that the treatment of mentally unwell children in adult facilities, other than in exceptional circumstances, would stop by 2010. Today noted this morning that it has not happened. In fact numbers are rising. So far this financial year there have been 36% more admissions than last. NHS England say they are conducting a three month rapid review into the situation.
21st February 2014
Simple is best. Perhaps that applies to the way you see things as much as anything else. Alistair Campbell wrote quite a long article in Saturday’s FT about the political aspects of our flooding. Then at the end he simply said it will end. That remark alone I feel brings hope.
The Gang Master has to be extremely careful. As far as the rest of us are concerned he must always stay within the bounds of the universal law of probability. If he does not his hidden conspiracy will be a conspriracy no longer. A flood is a life changing event for the individuals affected. For the population as a whole it is a pinprick.
Mr Campbell went through previous big events, natural and man made, which had challenged Mr Blair and Mr Brown. He cited Kosovo, fuel stikes in 2000, the foot and mouth outbreak in February 2001, 9/11 and Iraq.
On an earlier page I discovered that Chevening, the government’s grace and favour residence near Westerham in Kent, is used not only by William Hague but also Nick Clegg.
I wrote about the Swiss referendum result on 10th February 2014. The edition remarks that it has energised various right wing groups in France, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands, not the friends of immigrants, to push their policies much more vigorously. Now that is gang culture on a cross border scale.
The paper also talks about the legal status of marijuana in the USA. Besides Washinton and Colorado allowing it’s recreational use 18 other states and the District of Columbia permit it to be prescribed for medicinal purposes. Across the country as a whole though federal law says it must not be cultivated and sold for any purpose. The banks now find themselves in a dilemma. Thay are afraid of being prosecuted for providing new businesses in those areas with financial service. In some shops all transactions are for cash. Armed guards then have to be in attendance. Thankfully a sensible position has been taken. National regulators have let it be known that no action will be taken provided the banks act responsibly.
In the magazine Simon Kuper gently notes that many Americans tend to look upon themselves as victims, in this case because other people work harder than they and thereby steal their jobs. A fact he records is that if their new health system fails they will go back to being the only developed country in the world without guaranteed healthcare for it’s citizens. South Korean school children have been in the news recently for working particularly hard, no doubt because their parents are so aware of the history last century involving their peninsular. However their education minister says it has produced unhappiness and high suicide rates for the youngsters. He says his government’s goal is now to make it’s people happier.
The weekly column there by the resident psychotherapist refers to the truism that only people who want to, and perceive an advantage for themselves, will go to see a person like him. That I feel is all about knowing who you are and having the self confidence to believe you are not trapped in an isolated box. He says just a sliver of space for self directed change is all you need to make a real difference in your life.
I made a private note for myself about this last night and, on reflection, have decided to come back to it for publication. I think it epitomises the psychological and political nature of the Gang. I have mentioned that I walked into Gatwick airport on Tuesday. I stopped outside a row of terraced houses, in an unrestricted parking area, about 20 minutes walk away. When I got back yesterday my car tryes had been let down. I drove to a nearby garage and reinflated them.
By chance I approached my car from the opposite direction from which I left and supect I saw a mature lady with a dog come out of a household about six doors away who were responsible for the deed. She must have been tipped off that I was approaching and accepted the information with open arms without worrying too hard I imagine how the person who told her had that detail. The important thing was that someone was on her side. I stared at the lady when we passed and we did not speak. The political aspect I feel is that, although I was doing nothing wrong, it could be argued I was being unkind to the person who lived in the house I parked outside. In my defence I would say cars are always parked along that stretch of street. Mine was just one extra amongst many. However I do recognise there are always two sides to every story. In any event, because of my experience, I shall not be doing it again.
I went to the toilet at Gatwick yesterday. I expect the ladies know we men all stand together when we wee either directly up against the wall or at individual urinals in a line. However this time an individual walled enclsore had been provided for each man with an urinal and wash hand basin. I have never seen that before.
At larger road junctions in Guernsey they have a system of yellow filter boxes painted on the road surface. It is very simple, the first car arriving goes first. I found it worked very well. It also kept you on your toes. You couldn’t go to sleep. It also encourages you to be considerate to other road users.
Rebekah Brooks started giving evidence in her defence at the phone hacking trial yesterday. The consensus of press opinion this morning seemed to be that she painted a picture of a misogynist, incredibly competitive industry. Ridiculous competition is also seen I feel in our supermarkets and, I suspect, is the same world in which Mexican drug gangs perceive themselves to exist.
22nd February 2014
You get the impression that either Mr Yanukovych is very indicisive or he is someone else’s puppet. Yesterday afternoon the three European foreign ministers and a Russian delegation finally brokered a deal between the President and the three main opposition leaders. It’s ratification had been delayed for a few hours so the protesters in Independence Square, locally named Maidan, could give their approval. The 2004 constitution would be reinstated, a government of nation unity formed and presidential elections held by December. The Americans let it be known this morning that an hour long phone call about it had taken place between Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. The State Department referred to it as constructive. However I imagine when so many of your friends have just died that will make some extreme in their views and not backward in expressing them. The politicans did their very best I am sure, including the Russians, but it did not prove enough. The agreement was overtaken by events. The demonstrators as a group later decided they could not stomach the president being around for that long, he must vacate his position now. And that, we learnt this morning, is exactly what he did. He had run away to the city of Kharkiv near the Russian border, possibly hoping to go eastwards from there. You must assume he feared for his life. That in itself, in my view, is not a great advertisement for what he knows goes on in his country. However when he awoke this morning I suspect his friends told Mr Yanukovych not to be so lily livered. He issued a defiant statement that he is still president and has been ousted by a coup d’etat.
Hoever they say possession is nine tenths of the law and I think that applies to capital cities as much as anything else. Yesterday and today the parliament of the second largest country in Europe have called for polls to take place on 25th May. They also authorised the immediate release of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been in prison since 2011. As I write she is addressing the crowds in the Maidan.
As you often see in the world I think events tend to follow a line, especially when momentum is built up. of what is possible. Much the same seems to be happening in Italy. Matteo Renzi has today been sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister. He is young at 39 and has not been elected to high office. However he, with his advisers no doubt, saw an opportunity and ruthlessly took it. You get the feeling people want him to do well. Mr Renzi says he wishes to change the electoral and constitutional systems, reform the labour market and tax collection, and reduce the size of the administration. I don’t think he will find any of that particulary easy. He must have determination and staying power.
I was pleased to see Ukraine’s neighbour, Poland, was prepared to get it’s hands dirty in trying to reach a political compromise next door. As I mentioned on 11th February 2014 I think it’s actions in the second world war shows it to be a place of high ideals.
A BBC webpage reports today that a senior drugs baron has been apprehened in Mexico in a joint operation with American anti-drugs forces. His cartel apparently traffic large amounts of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the States. The US would like him extadicted to face charges in it’s courts. He had been in jail but escaped in 2001.
Associated with that story I suspect, British journalists have been told about capture of £8.5 million of cocaine in the Caribbean by our naval support ship Wave Knight. I see the US Coast Guard has supplied the Daily Mail with a photo of the seized boat on fire during the operation. I heard the story on the radio news at lunchtime. Then I see from an earlier BBC webpage that our ship carries a US Coast Guard helicopter. Last month the aircraft found $37 million worth of cocaine on a fast travelling boat.
In a sign of self assuredness I feel Mr Obama met the Dalai Lama in the White House yesterday. China had previously said it would seriously damage America’s standing in Beijing if it went ahead. When our Prime Minister did that in 2012 he was was virtually ostracised by China for some 18 months afterwards.
It seems likely Syria was also discussed in that phone call yesterday between America and Russia. The BBC TV news this evening reported that the UN Security Council, including Russia and China, have unanimously voted today to provide a programme of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Syria. Previously those two countries had thrice used their right of veto to the same proposition. Although that is obviously good to hear, Ban Ki-moon I understand did take the opportunity to comment it does not reflect well on the world that such assistance needs to be negotiated. It should really be a matter of international law.
I wrote about prostitution on 2nd November 2013. Although I have never heard it mentioned before, since 2002 Germany has had the most liberalised regime for the activity in Europe. On Thursday Newsnight’s reporter visited the largest legal brothel on the continent, in Stuttgart, where 80 women work. The industry in the country is worth 16 billion euros a year. Possibly where they have gone wrong is not having any restriction on the size of establishments. The BBC interviewed the mayor of Saarbrucken who initially was all for them no doubt on the basis that they would satisfy a need in a discreet way and protect the girls. However she now feels the size of the thing has got out of all proportion and obviously wishes it would go away. That there is a genuine demand as for drugs, alcohol and tea bags cannot be disputed I consider. The trouble with prohibition though is that lawmakers are deliberately deciding to push money into criminal’s hands. In a way they seem to be saying they don’t mind too much if such people decide to be on that illegal side of the fence. They are putting some male citizens at the risk of blackmail. And in essence I feel a society does it that way because it is a difficult, delicate subject which we don’t want to think about or deal with in a mature, caring way.
23rd February 2014
It was on the 11th January 2014 I wrote about my lights. Everything went quiet after that for about a fortnight then we got back to normal. I couldn’t be bothered to keep a record but for the last two weeks or so I have stopped replacing them. I have a track of five R63 spotlights in the kitchen and one of four in my garden office. When I came down this morning another one had gone in the kitchen. That means I currently have 4 working out of 9, three of which are in the kitchen. All 5 have blown in the last period of 14 days.
Quite possibly the person doing it in the garden is different that the one in the house. However the directing mind will be the same. I think it must be the aspect of control which is turning him on. If a light fails that means I must replace it. He is in control of my actions. I am thinking if I can break that cycle somehow. Perhaps I should set up a different form of illumination for a bit until he goes off and becomes obsessive about something else. Any other suggestions greatfully received on a postcard please.
There was a piece about prostitution on Sunday this morning. It made me reflect on something I wrote on 30th January 2014 about victimhood. The thought process today seemed to be that some men are wicked and should be taught a lesson. Women, in their own best interests, must be protected from that manipulation. I feel that is belittling women. I think it would be interesting to ask women in a survey if they think prostitutes should be able to take legal clients. There could then be follow up questions for those who answered no. I suspect those ladies might feel victimised and helpless in their lives generally and naturally therefore would not want similar emotions to engulf other women. It is very much a culture thing for that half of the population who share this planet us men.
There are reports this morning about the opulent residence of former president Yanukovich on the outskirts of Kiev. It is unguarded and people have been walking around taking photographs on their mobile phones. That any individual can have had the arrogance to live like that in a supposed democratic system is absolutely mind blowing.
The director of economic regulation from the Office of Rail Regulation was on Today on Friday saying rail companies do not inform their passengers sufficiently about their rights of compensation after poor service. For example if your train is delayed for more than an hour you are entitled to a 20% ticket refund at least, something I certainly didn’t know.
I hope it is a sign of increasing self confidence that the Syrian deputy foreign minister gave a lengthy interview to Lyse Doucet in Damascus after his return from the recent unproductive Syrian peace talks. He clearly said he does not look upon the process so far as a failure. I trust he is a man with an inclusive plan.
Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, did Thought for the Day on the programme yesterday from Rome. Later in the day he was to be made a Cardinal by the Pope. He was proud about that and didn’t mind us knowing. Good for him.
After it’s report on Wednesday the broadcast came back to the subject of frightening dogs. It went out and interviewed young men who quite clearly said they owned them to protect themselves and intimidate others. A man said some breeders are deliberately creating animals to help them do that more effectively. It is another aspect of the culture displayed by our Gang I am afraid.
There was a discussion about eurosceptimism. On the day that the European Union, as a single influential body, were instrumental in bringing Ukraine back from the brink Douglas Carswell MP argued that a small boutique style society is best for us. I really do not think he is right.
I talked about some Brodstairs residents having to leave their homes in 2009 on 3rd February 2014. I see the homes are in the news again today because a hole has appeared in their road, coincidentally just where there happens to be an existing manhole. That must be extremely worrying for them all. Kent County Council will be making a survey on Monday.
Tomorrow very unusually there will be a full cabinet meeting in Scotland, in Aberdeen. In response I imagine, the Scottish cabinet will gather just down the road in Portlethen, a town of 7,000 people. That looks like a David and Goliath story to me. History does show us the bullied plucky little man can overcome against the overpowering larger cousin. It is what the Viet Cong did to the Americans in Vietnam in the 1960s. This time it is all good clean fun I suppose.
24th February 2014
It is reported this morning that on Friday Mr Yanukovych fled to the Crimea region of Ukriane. Yesterday he was observed driving off with a few cloes aides and bodyguards in a three vehicle convoy and hasn’t been seen since. It seems the new government has issued a criminal arrest warrant for him.
I didn’t record this at the time because I assumed the man had been chosen to act on his own on the basis he would be well able to look after himself if needed. Hoewever I have now thought of a second explanation so I am going to write it down. On my last day in Guernsey I went up the Victoria Tower in St Peter Port. When I left I didn’t take the key straight back as I wanted to look at another building. That took me down a side street and as I walked along I bumped into a man who I guess is the father of the two toddlers I mentioned last Wednesday. I saw him in that group the day before. I walked a few paces behind him for a bit and made him feel uncomfortable I hope. About five minutes later I was walking into the park and behind me was a coughing person, turning the tables no doubt. I let him pass. He was a mature man wearing motorbike leathers. The other explanation I feel is that he was actually a close personal associate of the Guernsey Gang director whom he trusted. The first significant national thing that happened in my story after I visited Kent Police headquarters in July 2007 was the shooting on the M40 on 12th August that year. I go through it in chapter 6 of my book. It happened due to rivalry between the Hells Angels and the Outlaws gang.
Yesterday police received a phone call from an isolated property at Farnham, Surrey. When they went there they found the bodies of two women and four dogs. They arrested an 82 year old male dog breeder who lives there, on suspicion of murder. I recall I wrote indirectly about dog breeders yesterday.
Separately Baroness Lawrence, mother of Stephen, and the Metropolitian Police were on Today this morning talking about the force’s current attitude towards it’s black community. Mrs Lawrence said that even now when she is walking around a shop she feels it neccessary to keep her bag closed so she cannot be accused of shoplifting. She joined the Lords at the invitation of Ed Miliband in the summer of last year. I wish her the very best in achieving what she wants to achieve.
I think it fair to say the Winter Olympics which finished yesterday were a complete success. The only negative publicity I heard was about some Pussy Riot members being roughed up but even that didn’t seem particularly serious. The confidence generated in Sotchi was shown I feel by the performers who initally formed four and a bit Olympic rings before reverting to the full five. That mimicked the technical hitch in the opening ceremony when one of the rings failed to open.
Last Monday’s FT reported that the day before terrorists targeted a tourist bus at an Egptian border crossing with Israel. Four people were killed and 13 injured, most of them South Koreans.
25th February 2014
After my flight from Gibralta which I noted on 29th January 2014 I wrote a letter to Easyjet’s chief execetutive asking her to pass on my thanks to her crew. Last week I received a grateful reply from a member of the executive support department. Previously I have written to the top men at Ryanair and Tesco. They too replied positively. I do think it a shame that those in the same orbit as our law enforcement and security services to not feel completely free to act in similar ways.
Having written that I think I should record I received a nice reply from the former Kent Police chief constable when I wrote to wish him well on his retirement. Politicians too nearly always reply but you find it does not move you forward at all.
In the 1970s and 80s a group called the Paedophile Information Exchange got itself associated with the National Council for Civil Liberties, now called Liberty. It seems PIE wished to promote the views of paedophiles. If that is the case I have no doubt it was the Gang pursuing one of their silly games at the time. Even though it was so long ago a real spat has just come to the fore, with that as the excuse, between the Dail Mail and the Labour Party. Harriet Harman was the legal officer of the civil liberties group for part of the time and the argument I think is that she should have known what was happening and done something about it. Ed Miliband has come out solidly behind her. He says she has nothing to apologise for. It is a very public family like spat within the Westminster village. The newspaper wishes to force the lady to do something she doesn’t want. It is a battle of wills. Unfortunately the sides dislike each other so much it seems they can’t sort it, out of the public gaze. Hopefully it will soon blow over.
It would be nice to think that the difficulties in Ukraine will draw East and West together. We do all live on the same planet. I have just seen a clip of Mr Lavrov speaking on a BBC webpage. He said that Ukraine should be looked upon as part of the European family. Russia obviously can’t be expected to now offer the country the same level of financial support as before. Hopefully though they won’t withdraw completely. I have heard that both the EU and America are willing to make contributions to any IMF package which is drawn up. I saw volunteer vigilantees in Ukriane manning road checks on the TV last night. It is quite shocking that the state was so fragile and has now become so leaderless that they now need to do it.
Syria cannot be all bad. Since 1957 it has opened it’s doors to provide a home to Palestinian refugees in the Damascus suburb of Yarmouk. I think about 20,000 live there today. Since the civil war though they have been victimised in the most terrible way. They have been starved as a tool of war. The buildings have been shelled to smithereens. Lyse Doucet reported from there on the BBC TV news last night. She spoke to a young man of 13. He started off so bravely pretending it was not that bad. But then he just broke down in tears. It was heart rending.
Rebekah Brooks has said in the witness box today that she did not know phone hacking became illegal in 2000 nor that Milly Dowler’s phone was being hacked. That has the ring of truth about it to me. On the assumption that her office was under Gang influence the policy would have been, I am sure, to divide and rule. Some people knew a few things, some were aware of other snippets. Only a Gang director, hidden and off site, knew everything.
I have just looked at a note I wrote on 22nd May 2013 about John Downey passing though Gatwick airport. I puzzled over what to write as it seemed such a bizzarre incident. Why should a known IRA man come to the lions’s den like that, and why hadn’t he been arrested before for a crime occuring in 1982. It makes a bit more sense today. In 2007 he, with nearly 200 other people, received an offical letter telling him he was not being investigated for terrorist related offences. A judge has just decided that, in the interests of public order, he considers it more important that the state should keep to it’s word than a possibly guilty man should go free. I expect he felt he had been put in an extremely invidious position. What a clever little trick.
I heard on the radio news this morning that the American Defense Secretary has announced big cuts in American armed forces. Numbers are to be reduced by 80,000 but even so, at a remaining number of 440,000, manpower will not be sparse. That will be sufficient apparantly to fight a war in one part of the world and provide support for another elsewhere. Better safe than sorry I suppose.
Although violent crime in America is dropping as for other rich countries Tuesday’s FT says that Chicago still has the highest homocide rate there. However the police chief who took over in 2011 does seem to be producing results. Last year murders fell by 18%. The tactics are to target resources where they are needed, promote neighbourhood policing and concentrate on social service programmes.
Wednesday’s edition passed on some remarks made by the Australian treasury chief a few days before the G20 summit in Sydney. He called for emerging market economies to wean themselves off the morphine of easy money, thrown at them by bigger cousins, and embrace reform.
Tapering is the term used when money is taken out of a bloated ecomony. The goverment reduces it’s puchases of financial assets meaning there is less cash floating around out there, and it’s cost goes up. Thursday’s paper records that America started tapering last month. It seems likely it will continue that programme at an expected reduction of $10 billion a month or more provided there is no significant change to it’s economic recovery.
Friday’s issue had a piece on the next stage of the Iranin nuclear talks. After three days of discussions in Vienna an agenda was drawn up of what needs to be talked about over the next four months. The aim is to have everything finalised during July.
David Gardner says there the Syrian situation is not going well. The regime appears to be dragging it’s feet on chemical weapons destruction and, like all bullies, David thinks will only respond to others getting tough with it. I feel they would react better to Russian persuasion rather than American.
An article immediately below notes that 300 family members physically divided by the Korean war ending in 1953 have met up for six days of reunions. It is the first time that has happened between the North and South of Korea since 2010 so could be a positive sign.
The Czech Republic’s new prime minister gives an interview to the paper. He says he hopes they will be able to join the euro by 2020 depending on whether they get their economy in shape by then.
Another piece relates that 65% of Italians do not approve of the way Mr Renzi grabbed power from Mr Letta without any form of democratic process.
26th February 2014
I see my note yesterday flowing from the John Downey story wasn’t quite right. In fact 149 letters were sent by the Labour government. 38 were sent by the present coalition administration with the last going in 2012. If someone thought they could keep recent details like that under wraps they were pretty stupid in my view.
The TV programme Line of Duty is on the box at the moment. I have just watched a scene where one policeman says to another that somtimes you pick your moments to tell the truth. It is not my way. However I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago with someone close to me where I recognised that very point. Ultimately it must come down to motive. You can lie for good reasons. It isn’t appropriate to always judge people by your own standards.
After that came the BBC TV News reporting on the sentencing of Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Mark Easton said it was a truly horrific attack on an everyday London street. It made theatre of killing. It was laughing at our fundamental values and beliefs.
There was quite a bit of discussion on Today this morning about the Harriet Harman story. The then chairman of the PIE was on and spoke very genuinely I thought. Perhaps he saw better than some others at the time how his views were used to politically manipulate others. It seems the fact that children would be badly harmed by sexual relations with adults passed many by. The argument was put forward I think that it was far more important for the individual rights and free expression of adults to come to the fore. The suggestion was the kids would get over it. My take is that you listen to everybody’s views, in a situation like that, with politeness. But you do not necessarily change your mind.
Where the Gang are strong you will always get funny things going on. One area in my view is the skiing world. The programme had a piece on seven British ski instructors who were arrested by armed police in the French alps yesterday for allegedly operating without proper French licences under their employment law. If convicted they could go to prison.
27th February 2014
Angela Merkel was in London for the day today. Her address in the Royal Gallery to both Houses of parliament was the first by a German leader since 1986. She said that on her first visit to London soon after the fall of the Berlin Wall she went straight to Speakers Corner, a beacon for free speech throughout the world. She had lunch with David Cameron in his Downing Street flat and tea with the Queen. It was a get together between friends I feel.
If you know you are targeted by the Gang and have an uncomfortable moment while driving I thing you should always bear in mind that another event might be just around the corner. The first can be designed to unsettle and destabilise you. The real try often comes afterwards when you are not concentrating properly.
I was travelling to visit friends this morning. I was at a junction in a rural area waiting to turn right. The car approaching was indicating to turn left. It would drive down a connecting slip to my road before it reached me so I could safely pull out in front of it. However I noticed it was being followed by several cars and everyone seemed to be travelling pretty fast. I decided to wait. I think that was the right decision. When the lead car had cleared I could see the one behind was going straight on. If I had started to pull out he would have come close to hitting me. Any collision would have been my fault. Then a few miles further on I came up behind an RAC van. This time the vehicle was driving unusually slow. In my rear view mirror I could see a group of cars driving up fast behind me. I immediately overtook the van. If I had not I suspect the first car would have inadvertently hit me from behind as it was slowing.
when I reached my guests they told me they were having their car serviced. The garage had collected it from their home earlier. Just before I arrived the garage had rung to say the driver of their car had suffered a minor accident. When he was stationery in a queue of traffic somone ran into the back of him causing minor damage. They were asked if they wanted to be taken to the garage to view the result. Sensibly I feel, they declined. They might have found it upsetting. The garage will be providing a coutersy car whilst theirs is repaired. I was pleased I did not have to tell my friends I had just suffered a similar incident. It would have affected what turned out to be a very pleasant day.
28th February 2014
I heard on the radio news on Tuesday that British forensic experts are in Kiev at the moment to help gather evidence about where the shots came from which killed the protestors in the Maidan. It seems they have identified four firing positions. I think those specialists have freely spoken to journalists about their work on the understanding they are not identified. They have trusted the journalists and the reporters themselves have respected their wishes. The end result is that the rest of us get some good quality information.
On 27th January 2014 I made a request about how I would like to be treated by the outside world in the future. I believe my wish was taken seriously and those close to home tried to bring it about. Possibly those further away did not like the idea. Perversely perhaps I believe I have found the process beneficial. It has removed a source of worry and uncertainty for me. I know exactly where I stand. I can now concentrate a bit more on what is really important to me and stop feeling too much I have to try and help the rest of you all the time.
An item on Today yesterday reported that last year Germany had an historic paedophile story much like ours with the PIE. This time in was the Greens in the 1980s who produced an election leaflet arging for legal sex between adults and children provided the child did not object. The contributor explained that the Party at that time was a conduit for protest movements generally and this proposal seemed to slip through the net. My guess is that it was a period when the American Gang here and the European Gang there felt pretty confident. Some of their top members were paedophiles so it was natural they would want to get their own feelings and standards out into mainstream society.
Lord Trimble was on after that. He pointed out how serious the issues raised by the John Downey case are. It goes to the heart of any democratic system operating under the rule of law. If that sort of thing goes on in the UK it means the average citizen can have little faith in the workings of justice should he or she ever need it’s services. I was pleased therefore to hear later in the day that Mr Cameron had decided we should have a judge led inquiriy into the affair. That person will be able to look at all documents and interview any witnesses in private provided they agree. The report will be ready by the end of May.
Last night there was a really good display of the Nothern Lights or Aurora Borealis under clear skies. They were the most powerful, and came furthest south from the north pole, for at least ten years. There was a lady on Today this morning talking about it. She explained it was due to a recent sun burst which reached us yesterday evening. The only slightly worrying thing is that the colours meant there were lots of highly charged electric particles in the upper atmosphere. Those produce currents of electricity the possible consequences of which we don’t properly understand.
Another subject covered was the recent badger cull in North Somerset and Gloucestershire. An independent group of scientists commissioned by the government have reported it did not kill a sufficent number of animals and sometimes the operation was inhumane. Defra have said they will now have a rethink.
It is nice to see that City of London police have just led an operation making 110 arests, mostly here and in Spain but also in America and Serbia I think. Investigations, involving our NCA and the FBI, have been going on for two years. They targeted boiler room fraud where high pressure telephone sales techinques are used to get investors, mostly old, to part with their money for fake or worthless shares. You assume the person on the other end of the line is in a plush office but he could be anywhere such as a boiler room. Amongst the number apparently are 10 top tier criminals, nine British and one South African.